Links 1/23/10

Moscow’s stray dogs Financial Times (hat tip reader Michael T)

NASA: 2009 tied for 2nd-warmest year, 00s hottest decade too ars technica (hat tip reader John D)

GOP-linked company tracks online users’ ‘loan-worthiness’ Raw Story. Now I know why my hard core tech buddies like encrypted chat.

More NYT paywall math Felix Salmon

Magnetic activity in brain ‘diagnoses stress disorder’ BBC

On Bullshit Epicurean Dealmaker (hat tip Richard Smith). A fine post on a topic near and dear to my heart.

Swedish Bank Fee Sets Example for America New York Times (hat tip Swedish Lex)

Debt Burden Now Rests More on U.S. Shoulders Floyd Norris, New York Times

Millions Against Monsanto Daily Kos (hat tip reader Michael T). This is from two weeks ago but still today’s must read. I’ve seen Monsanto stories off and on, and they are deeply disturbing. Monsanto makes UNorth look good.

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Garrett):

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  1. attempter

    Devastating commentary on aspiring totalitarian Monsanto, who once hired Arthur Andersen to reverse-engineer a strategy for them to get from where they were (around the turn of the decade) to world domination of the food supply.

    Seed saving and trading is one of the key programs we need for freedom activism and relocalization.

  2. Dan Duncan

    Yves, because I know how much you hate bullshit, I just knew you’d also want this excerpt from the IPCC to be included with the NASA report on just how hot it was last year (from The Times interview with Dr Rajendra Pachauri, heqad of IPCC):

    The IPCC’s 2007 report, which won it the Nobel Peace Prize, said that the probability of Himalayan glaciers “disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high”.

    But it emerged last week that the forecast was based not on a consensus among climate change experts, but on a media interview with a single Indian glaciologist in 1999.

    The IPCC admitted on Thursday that the prediction was “poorly substantiated” in the latest of a series of blows to the panel’s credibility.

    He and other leading glaciologists pointed out at least five glaring errors in the relevant section.

    [Here comes my favorite part, though….]

    It (IPCC) says the total area of Himalyan glaciers “will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 square kilometers by the year 2035”.

    The head of the IPCC acknowledged, though—THERE ARE ONLY 33,000 SQUARE KILOMETERS OF GLACIERS IN THE HIMALAYAS. (!!!)

    He also admitted that it was “really odd” that none of the world’s leading glaciologists had pointed out the mistakes to him earlier. “Frankly, it was a stupid error,” he said. “But no one brought it to my attention.”

    [Freaking awesome!]

    BTW: I love the beginning of the NASA article. “2009 would have been REALLY HOT…seriously, it would have been scorching…we promise–it would have been HOT, HOT, HOT…but for the fact something unusual happened.

    [And for that “something unusual”, the article doesn’t even explain. It just inserts a link! Of course, any explanation would have been quite redundant as we all know what that “something unusual” was: Everyone north of the Equator FROZE THEIR ASSES OFF.]

    Back to the article…

    “But don’t worry, Global Warming is still upon us. See, the fact the end of ’09 had the deepest freeze in 50 years —{And I shit you not, this is directly from the NASA article}—BUT IT ONLY ENDED UP SHIFTING WARM AND COLD AIR AROUND.”

    Seriously, Yves, this is getting embarrassing.

    I know you’re busy, so I’ll save you the trouble:

    Hat Tip: Dan Duncan

    1. mannoclay

      Are they part of the Bureau of Labor Statistics? Like when BLS states that Unemployment is 10%, it is really 22% when you eliminate all the “fudge factors” (

      Lies, damn lies and statistics.

  3. eric anderson

    Yes, the data-massaged surface temperatures were quite high in 2009. Meanwhile, back in the world of reality…

    What were the un-massaged readings at sites where sensors were not poorly placed (as happens in so many locations — see )? What were the un-massaged temperatures at sites not subject to rising heat island effect for the past 100 years?

    When you let NASA get their grubby hands on real data, they can warp it into something like this:

    (image from this article: The Smoking Gun at Darwin Zero ) Actually, that is GHCN, not NASA per se, but unless I’m mistaken, NASA is using GHCN data.

    This is an egregious example of artificial data “adjustment” but I suspect hardly uncommon.

    We need to see the algos and let them be properly vetted out in the open for all to see, otherwise we get manipulations like “hide the decline” and “fudge factor.”

    Sea level rise certainly is not accelerating and appears to be moderating.

    Everything is quite normal for a recovery from a mini ice age. The only way we are in trouble is if you assume an unproven amplification of CO2-based warming — which is exactly what is assumed in IPCC climate modeling. But the feedbacks are not all known, and they may actually resist — not amplify — the warming. There are known unknowns and unknown unknowns.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      Without making any normative judgments on the matter, let me just state that it’s my experience that many, if not most, of our fellow species members are afraid of the “unknown” and have shown tendencies of a cognitive bias to prefer a passive reaction to the unknown over an active reaction that may worsen an unknown situation.

      Again, this is totally non-normative. It’s even a matter of perspective over what is an “active” response here and what is a “passive” response. It seems that most believe that a rise in CO2 levels would be the “active” while certainly many think attempts to reduce (or stem the increase) would be the “active.” This is all absurd, but still…that’s humanity.

      Whatever, the point is, as you aptly point out, that we are dealing with known and unknown unknowns and once people are focused on it, it sorta makes them uncomfortable. You can try to persuade them that there are unknowns in all parts of life and that tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Good luck with that. You probably have a better shot at creating a populace that sees the world another way via genocide (not that I’m recommending this!).

    2. rootless cosmopolitan

      Reader eric anderson is apparently the one who doesn’t like reality. Therefore, the data have to be massaged, manipulated, forged. Of course. Like the conspiracy theories always go. And being “proven” is the alleged massaging by cherry picking one station (sic!), showing one figure, which doesn’t even have to do anything with NASA/GISS-analysis, and which is being passed around as alleged “smoking gun”. The GISS scientists use the unadjusted GHCN data in their analyses and do their own adjustment for the urban island heat effect. eric anderson obviously doesn’t know that. He just spreads some false rumor. He demands to see the algorithms, suggesting he is being prevented from checking the validity of GISS’s analyses. Doesn’t he know how to go to GISS’s website and how to download the codes? It’s all available there to the public. There one also can see the graphs for individual station data (e.g. for Darwin Airport) that are used in the GISS analyses.

      That’s how I love the so called “climate skeptics”. One can watch them grasping for straws. It’s really getting embarrassing. Not for Yves, though.


      1. eric anderson

        I linked to one graph as an example. I also linked to a site where over half of the temperature/weather reporting stations in the USA have been documented and photographed. People who eschew cherry picking can go to that site and look at the poor siting of a large percentage of these weather stations. Some of the data is compromised from the initial instrument readings, even before the warmists start manipulating it.

        The sea level graph I linked to is not cherry picking. It is global.

        I’m sorry, but your charge of cherry picking falls to the ground. And anyone who took the slightest trouble to examine all sides of this issue would know it.

  4. John

    Regarding Monsanto: They are truly an evil company. They use the e.coli virus to invade a seed’s cells and infect it with their biotechnology. I suspect people would be outraged if they knew what they were really eating when they eat GMO food.

    Also, pretty much every time there is a discussion on the web about biotech, there will be a bunch of responders (paid shills?) who tout the supposed benefits of biotech and how it’s going to help feed the world. All one has to do is read those letters in the dailykos article to see that the reality on the ground is that GMOs bring death to people and death to biodiversity in general. The biotech researchers who work on this stuff have to be sociopaths who care nothing about what they are doing to the world.

    On a slightly lesser scale of evil, our doctors know nothing about natural remedies. Go to a doctor and he is very likely to prescribe you a pill of some kind. I suppose that is what they are taught in school.

    Case in point: I go to my doctor complaining of bad acid reflux. He subscribes pills. Later, I learn through some Web research, that certain foods leaving behind an ‘acid’ ash after digestion and certain foods leave behind an ‘alkaline’ ash. See this chart:

    So, I switch up my diet to eat more alkalizing food and my acid reflux is starting to go away. When I start feeling acid reflux coming on now, I just eat more alkaline foods.

    1. LeeAnne

      John, thank you for the reminder. I’ve been meaning to keep a list of acid and alkaline foods for good preventive health care.

      My own experience trying to track down the cause of leg pains getting progressively worse led me finally to a quirky article on the Internet on salt that solved the problem.

      The food situation is terribly complicated given the variety of foods available and differences between people’s life styles. But that doesn’t excuse the absolute venality of the pharmaceutical industry and the right given them to return to the mass advertising of prescription medications that had been abolished around the beginning of the last century.

      The article I found was against sea salt which I used plenty of. But after so many years looking for an explanation I was ready and tried their solution getting rid of my usual sea salt in exchange for the Himalayan salt recommended in the article, and it worked!! –leg pain gone.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    00s being the hottest decades?

    Thank God it was not a leap decade; otherwise there would an extra boiling year.

  6. charcad

    r.e. Moscow’s stray dogs Financial Times

    These “yard dogs” are a feature in all Russian cities, large towns and villages. Also in all vacation cabin (“dacha”) neighborhoods. They have well-established begging and foraging routes. And they appear to separate into smaller sub-groups of size 2-3 to follow these routes. A slightly downsized huskie-like animal appears to be the evolving form.

    “The stray dogs of Moscow are mentioned for the first time in the reports of the journalist and writer Vladimir Gilyarovsky in the latter half of the 19th century. But Poyarkov says they have been there as long as the city itself.”

    I expect these animals have been a feature of Russian and Eurasian village and town life for over a millenia.

    1. rootless cosmopolitan

      Please tell what your graph is showing. I haven’t found how one get to this graph. It certainly doesn’t show the annual and global mean temperatures. If I had to guess I would say the graph under your link shows the temperatures for the territorium of the United States south of Canada. For the whole year? Or for a certain month/season?

      You can’t refute a statement about the annual and global mean temperature anomaly by showing something totally different.

      This is the actual graph of the annual and global mean temperature anomaly from the NOAA-analysis, although it only seems to go until 2007.

      It’s quite different to the graph under your link, though.


    2. Rickstersherpa

      To Mario Sanchez, Dan Duncan, and Eric Anderson and other Libertarian Global Warming Deniers trolls on Naked Capitalism, I can only quote Oliver Cromwell’s plea to the General Council of the Church of Scotland, and it will probably be received with equally deaf years:

      “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

      First of all, when presented with data, you now simply dimsiss it as corrupt, without evidence of how it became corrupt or why. The few scientists who have become climate skeptics argue that their colleagues are hungry for “grants.” Hoever, it is they, through books, speeches, and grants from the Coal, Electric, and Oil industries who seem to have become wealthy.

      I am pretty skeptical after this week’s Supreme Court decision that anything will be done over the next ten years about climate change. What congressman from a competitive district or any Senator is going to risk Exon-Mobil dropping $5,000,000 dollars into their race calling them anti-jobs and risky for the economy? This is not to say they are corrupt, except in the ordinary human way that they, as professional politicians, want to keep their jobs. So you guys have won e won. But I hope you don’t have children or grandchildren, or even plan yourselves to be around in 20 years, because I am afraid we are about the see the tragedy of the commons played out on a grand scale.

      This is because the physics of Earth’s climate really does not care about you or I. It will react and change as CO2 reaches 500 ppm and more as it always has. The global climate is going to get warmer and we will see the results of this, and the shifting of the external costs of burning fossi fuels to those with the least political clout to defend themselves from climate change.

      For those with an open mind, and trying to understand how the changes can cause some of the remarkable weather of hte last few weeks, where it has snowed in Florida and rained in Greenland, check out this link and how the Gulf Stream has moved to the west of Greenland, see

  7. MichaelC

    What is Prop Trading?

    That’s an easy question to answer.

    Any position that ends up in the Var exposure is prop trading.

    Var measures exposure to market risk. Var is the measure of market risk used to determine the amount of capital required to support the trading activities at banks under the BIS capital framework. There is no uncertainty about what constitutes trading risk (prop trading) . Indeed, the market risk capital requirements were designed to enable the prop desks at banks the flexibility to manage the market risks of their prop activities free of regulatory interference regarding the component pieces, provided they held capital against the books..

    Market Risk exposure (which includes credit risk translated into market risk through capital market and derivative activities (i.e CDO and CDS) arises through the trading activities of the institution.

    The “who can tell what’s customer driven and what’s prop trading “ argument is completely bogus. If the activity leaves the institution with net market risk exposure, that activity is prop trading. I believe this is Volcker’s view.

    To determine what is appropriate prop trading for an institution, review the var exposure by trading desk at each institution, then determine which prop trading desk rightfully belongs in a federally backstopped institution. To be precise, review the positions feeding the Var. The risk calculation methodology issues are irrelevant for this argument.

    For example, if the structured products desk at GS generates market risk and thus var, and if it’s a major profit center, GS needs to convince us that this is an activity that should be supported by any type of govt support.

    As another example, Volcker was pretty clear that CITI shouldn’t have a commodities desk. He was a factor in the Phibro spinoff. I don’t think he will consider GS’s commodity trading (a big profit center) as an good commercial banking activity.

    GSr defense that the prop trading represents a sizeable but small % of their revenues is nonsense. They may make the lions share of their trading profits on transaction spreads, but the additional % they designate as prop trading on the residual exposure is a piece of the whole trading activity that is considered as “prop’ trading under the global banking standards.

    I’m exasperated by the press coverage, especially in the NYT and WaPo which seems to be perpetuating the myth that the bankers are just too clever and any attempt to regulate is guaranteed to be gutted and dead on arrival.

    Bullshit. Your recent reporting is a clear sign that that mythology has lost its power to mesmerize.

    That plus the fact that Volcker is nobody’s fool, that he can deflect Barney and Dodd like mosquitos , he’s now O’s boss, and that he sees the bankers for what they are.

  8. Sundog

    The entire United States Senate is flying on a plane when its engines start to fail. The plane starts falling through the sky. There are 100 senators on board, but only 41 parachutes. The Democrats say, “Let’s give all the parachutes to the Republicans — that way we can just sit on our fat asses and die while the plane crashes because we’re a bunch of self-hating pussies.”

    The current state of climate science, like that of medicine and every other field of scientific endeavor, will look ridiculously primitive in 2020 let alone 2050. Given the downside potential of quick and massive methane release in the far north; given that US dependency on foreign sources of oil is not a positive either for our finances or our “defense” posture: it’s clearly in the interest of the US public to establish a carbon tax that starts small and ramps up on a defined schedule over no more than ten years.

    The Volker broadside fired this week will be ephemeral without international backing. The Tories are apparently on board; my question is whether he’s pulled together pan-European support for the program. I expect some posturing as it’s very much in the domestic political interest of some to let the “Anglo-American model” flail in the wind. Nevertheless, Western elites are uncomfortable with the perspective that authoritarian China seems to be kicking the ass of phony & fraudie “capitalism”.

    The shareholder/board/management model of US corporate governance decisively failed in the current debacle. America’s Supreme Court responded this week by giving corporations more power.

    BTW Sundog is the commenter formerly known as ComparedToWhat?

  9. NancyinStLouis

    I read with interest the Daily Kos article. I worked at Monsanto in the 80’s and early 90’s (in IT), but haven’t kept up with current products to any extent.

    Yes, I agree that bGH is a bad thing. I couldn’t believe it when they went ahead with it. From what I saw, it was strictly a marketing decision.

    Yes, I agree that if they are truly forcing monocultures on the world it’s a very bad thing.

    But I do know that Monsanto has NEVER made pesticides, as one commenter posted. They make herbicides. That makes me suspect a lot of the other letters as being somewhat misinformed.

    BTW, they used to make flavorings. An old timer told me how the researchers had to test all the flavors on the typical common weeds to make sure they didn’t kill them before selling off the flavorings division! They did verify that chocolate flavoring doesn’t kill weeds, thank the lord!

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