Links 3/26/10

Disputed Bay of Bengal island ‘vanishes’ say scientists BBC

Can Ubuntu Save Online Banking? Slashdot (hat tip reader John L)

Print Your Own Designer Organs h+ (I owe a h/t)

China Officials Wrestle Publicly Over Currency New York Times

China May Resume Yuan Float, Avoid Sharp Revaluation Bloomberg. Note this statement comes from an advisor to the central bank; there has been no official blink yet.

The Maestro Looks Back Jamie Galbraith

Asia’s air pollution ‘circles the world for years’: report Raw Story

Christiane Amanpour Makes The Beltway Very Nervous Crooks and Liars (hat tip reader John D)

Those Pesky Second Liens, and an update on HAMP Mike Konczal

Underemployment Hits 20% in Mid-March Gallup (hat tip reader Marshall)

Sen. Kaufman: We Are Going After Lehman Brothers Over Accounting Shenanigans(VIDEO) Huffington Post (hat tip reader Carrick)

Ambac regulator threads CDS needle Reuters

What Healthcare Success? Bruce Krasting

Will Proposed Financial Regulatory Overhaul Actually Reform Wall Street? Democracy Now

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Kevin):


The fellow sitting on the tailgate of his pickup truck never realized the show he was missing.


The little duck watches as the Eagle speeds straight at him at about 40 mph.


With perfect timing, the duck always dove and escaped with a mighty splash! Then he’d pop to the surface as soon as the Eagle flew past. This was repeated over and over for several minutes. I worried the poor duck would tire and that would be the end of him.


A second Eagle joins the attack! The duck kept diving “just in time” so the Eagles began to dive into the water after him!


After several minutes, the Eagles got frustrated and began to attack each other. They soon began to dive vertically, level out, and attack head-on in a good old-fashioned game of high-speed “Chicken”. Sometimes they banked away from each other at the last possible second. Other times they’d climb vertically and tear into each other while falling back toward the water. (The duck catches his breath at the right side of this picture.)


A terrible miscalculation! The luckiest shot of my life catches this 100 mph head-on collision between two Bald Eagles


One Eagle stayed aloft and flew away, but the other lies motionless in a crumpled heap… The lucky duck survived to live another day.


It’s sad to watch an Eagle drown. He wiggled, flapped and struggled mostly underwater. He finally got his head above water and with great difficulty managed to get airborne. To my astonishment, he flew straight toward me, and it was the most wretched and unstable bird flight I’ve ever seen!


The bedraggled Eagle circled me once – then lit atop a nearby fir tree. He had a six-foot wingspread and looked mighty angry. I was concerned that I might be his next target, but he was so exhausted he just stared at me. Then I wondered if he would topple to the ground. As he tried to dry his feathers, it seemed to me that this beleaguered Eagle symbolized America in its current trials.


My half-hour wait was rewarded with this marvelous sight. He flew away, almost good as new.

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  1. prostratedragon

    Thanks for the show! Real life manages to beat out Chuck Jones.

    (That next-to-last guy is indeed looking all too familiar these days.)

  2. Carrick

    Re: Chinese officials giving mixed signals on currency float

    In the related posts last week, I left a comment about the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) extensive ownership of large parts of the chinese economy, and brought up the likelihood that CCP internal debates about how to approach currencies issues might be highly charged. I don’t know the make up of the CCP govt, or the factions vying for power in it, but from the article Yves posted, I wouldn’t be surprised if my earlier comment proves to have been on the right track.

    As much as the CCP likes to present a unified (“harmonious”) face, the govt is struggling w/ internal conflicts that are fifty/sixty years old. The PLA has to support itself through its vast business holdings. As some constitutional restrictions keep the PLA checked against the power of other elements it he govt, those business interests may represent an incredible portion of the PLA (and its leaders and political allies’) power.

    Someone with a stronger knowledge of CCP govt & history can really comment on this. Considering the PLA’s enormous holdings (and the fact that they were entrenched long before Deng Xiaoping introduced capitalism), it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that the Commerce Ministry, is deeply staffed w/ PLA folks/allies.

    The nationalist/anti-American rhetoric the Commerce Ministry has invoked reeks of ill-timed, belligerent and out-dated propagandist thinking/play book — similar to when the PLA caught the entire CCP State Dept equivalent off guard when they decided to shoot down an orbiting satellite. They did that because they could, and thought they were better suited to shape foreign relations than the people actually tasked with the job.

    As great as the Chinese are at working with subtlety, demonstrating persistence, etc. Some genuine belligerence and plain in-fighting might get confused for the aforementioned. We could be seeing the intelligence in the party desiring currency revaluation, and the entrenched PLA trying to get ahead them by making noise now. These economic interests aren’t just their source of individual wealth. An large portion of their non-constitutional power in the govt might come directly from their economic power. Any people/factions interested in divesting them of that power might be praying for an opportunity to do so, especially when it presents itself as an imperative financial and foreign relations crisis.

    relevant quote from the article:

    “The new description suggested to many economists that the current value of the renminbi was temporary and that the central banker, Zhou Xiaochuan, was preparing the Chinese public for a stronger renminbi.

    But other Chinese officials, particularly at the Commerce Ministry, have fought back in the last two weeks, stoking nationalism and anti-American sentiment by loudly declaring that China would not be told what to do by the United States.”

    1. Carrick

      p.s. – If the Commerce Ministry and the central banker really are going head to head, it is a realy sharp move on the Ministry’s part. By stoking nationalism and old long-exploited fears of weakness and inferiority to the West, the Ministry has made this a “face” issue for the central banker.

      Now not only is Zhou contending w/ public and investor anxiety about a stronger RMB, he is also faced with the prospect of losing face for the entire People’s Republic if he submits to U.S. demands (even more so if the U.S. Congress and Treasury go on record protesting China.) Similarly, CCP leadership support for revaluation might dry up when “face” (and internal perceptions of power/strength) gets injected into this.

    2. ndk

      I totally don’t buy it. The PBOC would be the last entity in China to push for such a revaluation. It would bankrupt them instantly and extremely embarrassingly. Furthermore, the quote itself is singular, ambiguous at best, contrary to everything else, and published for an audience that desperately hopes it’s true.

  3. attempter

    Those pictures are great.

    It reminds me of the coolest wildlife sequence I ever saw. A red-tailed hawk grabbed a mockingbird in midflight. (This started about ten feet above my head; the hawk must’ve been perched right above me in the small tree I was sitting under, and I never knew he was there.)

    But the hawk only managed a flap or two to regather his purchase on the air when a crow divebombed him.

    The hawk panicked, released the mockingbird (who flew off), and went over and perched on a fence to collect himself. But nothing doing. The crow buzzed him again, driving him off to another point on the fence. Then to another tree. Then to another tree. This went on down a line of trees.

    I watched this for maybe ten minutes. The last I saw of them there was one dot that kept diving at a second dot, which would then try to move further away.

    I wish I had pictures of that.

    1. Carrick

      I wonder if the crow was motivated to help the mockingbird at all, or just to clear the hawk from his territory. Crows are super intelligent.

      1. Albert

        I have many times seen packs of crows gather around birds of prey to harass them until the bird of prey gives up and flies away at which point the crows all fly off in different directions.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Crows will only tolerate Blue Jays in their perceived territory and thats only because Blue Jays are about as mean and tough as it gets for that sized bird.

          Theres a crow colony near me, and if go buy it, its like a dead zone. You can’t hear any animal noise when the crows aren’t at home.

          1. Ina Deaver

            One of the most impressive things I’ve seen (and the noisiest) was a huge red-tailed hawk attacking a nest of blue jays. The parents attacked and screamed and wheeled, and they beat off the big bird a couple of times, but eventually they tired, and she made off with a chick in each talon. The blue jays were left with one chick and a sense of outrage – but the hawk was enormous.

            Blue jays are incredibly mean, but a determined hawk with chicks of her own is not a beast to be deterred.

      2. attempter

        I think many birds combine to look out for one another vs. various predators. Another time I saw a hawk in a tree with a murder of crows perched nearby heckling it and making such a ruckus in general that no prey animal could have missed the point.

        And I’ve often seen all kinds of birds tag-teaming my cats when I used to have outdoor cats. (My cats now stay inside.)

        1. MarcoPolo

          During breeding season they defend territories and don’t flock together, but otherwise they often forage in mixed specie flocks. It is especially noticeable in the tropical rainforest where you can sit for hours and not hear anything until one of those flocks comes through and there are birds everywhere. Not only that but some species lead the parade, some stay to the middle, and others dependably bring up the rear. We assume that more eyes are better than a few at spotting predators and that here is safety in groups.

          1. Skippy

            Defending territories during breeding season you say, come down here when Magpies are nesting. I’ll lone you a ice-cream bucket and see if you can make it across the school oval…lol.

    2. Jim in MN

      When I was little I was up first thing in the morning fishing off the dock at our cabin. I caught a perch. Being little, I ran up to get mom or dad and left the pole on the dock with the perch hooked.

      When we came down, instead of the little perch there was a fair sized bullhead on the line instead. It had taken the opportunity to eat the perch and ended up hooked. Oops!

      I was pretty mad about it I seem to recall. Darn bullhead.

    3. MarcoPolo

      Though perhaps anything is possible a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) taking a Mockingbird, or any other bird is improbable their being more fond of rodents. I imagine something from genus Accipiter. I know; picky, picky.

      1. Ina Deaver

        Cooper’s hawk in particular is hard to tell from a red-tailed for a lot of people. Between the sharp shinned, red-tailed, red shouldered, and the Cooper’s — it’s not easy to make an identification for the average person.

        I’ve seen a red-tailed go after birds (baby birds, admittedly). That particular hawk shared her territory with two great horned owls: she couldn’t afford to be picky.

        I’ve seen a mated pair of Cooper’s, on the other hand, turn my mother’s bird feeder into their own kind of feeder.

        I’m from extreme South Texas, and we have some fairly incredible birding down there. Every other telephone pole sports a golden eagle or a Mexican eagle, and an entire flock of more than 500 individual palmetto parrots roams my parents’ neighborhood.

        1. MarcoPolo

          Another birder. Good. A few weeks ago Antidote d jour was Hoopoe. I posted the Latin and nobody got it. I was soooo disapointed.

        2. MarcoPolo

          “Every other telephone pole sports a golden eagle or a Mexican eagle…”

          And STFL of which I’ve only seen more of in Costa Rica

      2. attempter

        ‘Fraid not. It was a red-tail alright. They’re abundant enough here that it’s an obvious novelty when I see something different.

        It’s true that I was never enough of an expert to tell a Coopers’ from a sharp-shinned, but I could tell a male red-tail from something different.

        Besides, like I said, I had a very close-up look at it.

    4. donna

      I have a pic of a three way standoff between a mocker, crow, and red hawk, all sitting atop a tree I had just had trimmed, staring at each other. It was fascinating to watch them…

  4. Gerald Muller

    Re the island supposedly vanished near Bangladesh due to sea level raise. Most probably this island just sank. Many islands in this part of the world such as the Maldives are sinking in the earth crust.
    Integrists global warmers attribute this to ocean levels rising due to ice melts but this simply is not true.

    1. Roger

      Actually the current sea level rise is mostly due to the warming of the Ocean. It expands as it warms.

  5. LeeAnne

    Great story and photos Yves. Thank you for the laugh –relief recovering from Cormac McCarthy’s apocalyptic novel of scorched earth life living in death The Road.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Polluted air circling the world for years is bad enough. But polluted ideas like the one about God’s work being done by Wall Street bankers, who have committed and will undboutably continue to commit crimes against humility, will, sadlly, last for centuries and more.

  7. wunsacon

    Does anyone care what Greenspan thinks? Really. The guy is a has-been. Made one good admission about being shocked/wrong. And that’s it.

  8. velobabe

    oh my god thank you so much for this presentation. what a beautiful story and ending. i am so pleased.

    was this an slr camera, certainly not your iphone.
    really steady hands documenting this. wow up close of the recovery.

    the clueless guy sittin on the truck bed, with tall waders?

    what part of the country? i see bald eagles all the time, mostly in the winter cause you can spot them in trees with no leaves.
    i see the red tails right now, mating season, and that could be viewed as sorta violent like this act between the balds.
    well, i guess the duck made them so frustrated they just do what most males do, revert to fighting to get their way.

  9. Jim S

    re: Bruce Krasting’s post, I’m afraid I’m not grasping the health care bill. What I’m getting out of it is that it’s reducing average individual costs by increasing the size of the insurance pool, the additional total cost being underwritten by the taxpayer in general and by individual payers such as Bruce in specific. Total costs also increase because a greater spread of risk will be insured (if pre-existing conditions must now be insured, what categories of risk will be excluded?). Is this anywhere close to understanding the fiscal premise of the law?


    1. Jim S

      Trying to remember ECON 120, “total cost” should instead be “equilibrium cost”, and it is increasing because the demand curve is shifted to the right. ABC, 123 …


  10. Jesse

    Does the story about the island in the Bay of Bengal imply that someday Manhattan real estate may be even more underwater than it is today?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I am told if a hurricane were to hit Long Island at just the right approach, the storm surge up the sound would flood Manhattan to about 14th Street.

      1. Mindrayge

        I believe that Hurricane Gloria – back in 1985 or 1986 – was the last close one for that kind of scenario. It was packing winds of 120 MPH when it was skimming up along New Jersey but it made its turn to the Northeast rather quickly and hit the outer end of Long Island.

        The real danger for New Yorkers with a hurricane is the winds. The buildings act as funnels and amplify the speed of the winds significantly.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Some people worry that a rock the size of the Isle of Man would break off the volcanic island of La Palma in the Canaries that would cause giant tidal waves, or mega-tsunamis, that will sink Manhattan, among other places.

  11. kevinearick

    what was the federal deficit in January? …

    The Craving for Identification vs Open Source

    The nexus replicates lab rats into a majority to identify the thinking remainder, because it cannot think for itself. Show it nothing, tell it nothing, give it nothing. It is a thief by nature. Let it steal the old processes that you are no longer using. The result is the output gap. Adjust it as necessary, to allow efficient consumption or to catalyzing effective production.

    But beware. The nexus understands relativity as a stand-alone concept; that’s how it controls the perception of the distance to the maturity wall, through the self-fulfilling prophesy of its history. Otherwise, it is a rock, which has its uses. The trick to being more patient than the rock is to be a frequency shape-shifter. Be different kinds of rocks. It’s a psychological problem, what yours appears to depend upon.

    Spending 20 hours a week being a lab rat is in everyone’s interest. There are 168 hours in a week, and you can change cages if you get bored. The better you understand the system, the more roles you can play, the more you will see, the more you can participate, the greater your returns.

    Your value system is your own. Your returns will increase to the extent you “migrate” across the system, and will decrease to the extent you replicate your value system. The nexus vortex is an algebraic reduction of such values over time. There is nothing personal about it. Its operators get paid to match its frequency, in monopoly money.

    Kids are like aliens. To the extent replicative force is applied, an equal and opposing force develops. To the extent the nexus hunts them, their numbers dwindle, and the length of the lever increases.

    Enterprise System History

    We had a system where the big bosses came out of the ivy league and the rest came up from the factory floor, which was better because the latter understood that they were being promoted because they could not do the work, but were good at the support functions. Once the university system was replicated into a diploma mill, the bosses were all conditioned to supervise compliance in an “education” vacuum, and then sent over to be bosses, resulting in nexus cancer.

    The bottom line is that the work has to get done, the boss has to be told how to think and simultaneously has to believe he or she is doing the directing. The holdup is that the bosses now really believe the mythology, that they are directing the economy, because they are in the driver’s seat, as the economy drives straight downhill, under drive-by wire limitation.

    Of course the HS dropout rate is escalating. The kids appear to be rocks. There is nothing real about Washington D.C. It’s a center of gravity.

    Hiring authority transferred from the line supervisor to the multi-national HR function, individuals with restaurant management degrees hired to direct development, and the chosen all going into finance were all pretty good clues to where this was all headed: the pot and the kettle taking turns calling each other black while zombies watched on tv and the real economy cratered.

    1. kevinearick

      The nexus discards fathers, for about the 1000th time in History, and expects the kids just to go “ok, you’re all powerful; I’ll be your slave.” All the vortex can see is itself. All it can do is replicate WHAT IT SEES. It’s insane. It does the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. Show it no discernable load, and it discharges through the resulting short.

      Space travel, whether on the ground, in the air, or in a vacuum, is all about saturation to gravity implosion.

        1. kevinearick

          when the black hole runs out of external load, it ignites the internal load, in a quantum expansion, seeking additional external load.

          once they cannot sell debt, they must print, but, in this case, there is no additional external load, because they fully integrated the global economy.

          deficit terrorist

  12. Skippy

    One day a florist went to a barber for a haircut. After the cut, he asked about his bill, and the barber replied, ‘I cannot accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.’ The florist was pleased and left the shop. When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a ‘thank you’ card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

    Later, a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replied, ‘I cannot accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.’ The cop was happy and left the shop. The next morning when the barber went to open up, there was a ‘thank you’ card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

    Then a Congressman came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay his bill, the barber again replied, ‘I can not accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.’ The Congressman was very happy and left the shop. The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen Congressmen lined up waiting for a free haircut.

    And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the politicians who run it.

    Skippy….e-mail from a friend in Co.

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