Links 3/31/10

Magnets ‘can modify our morality’ BBC

Bobcat Walks Into Home In Port Ludlow, Washington Through Open Front Door Huffington Post

Australia reveals prototype ‘bionic’ eye Raw Story (hat tip reader John D).

Department of “Huh?”: Default Discounts in U.S. Treasury Interest Rates????????? Edition Brad DeLong

Sex infection gonorrhea risks becoming “superbug” Reuters

A Samsung Robot In Every Home By 2020? h+ (hat tip reader David C)

Meat vs. Miles Columbia Journalism Review

James Lovelock: Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change Guardian (hat tip reader John D)

The True Causes Underlying the Moscow Metro Bombings OilPrice (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

Helpless Beijing Watches The Housing Bubble Spreads To Rural China Clusterstock

Rent party Corrente

Obama warns of Iran threat to world economy Financial Times. The headline appears to represent Obama’s remarks accurately. So we want to avoid war in the Middle East….not because a lot of locals and US troops would die, no, it’s because a Middle Eastern war would be bad for the economy. Help me.

Irish banks face shortfall of €32bn Financial Times. The bank black hole is 20% of GDP

Why Germany cannot be a model for the eurozone Martin Wolf, Financial Times. This is pretty grim, even by his often dour standards.

Bill Black: To Own a Country, Rob a Bank New Deal 2.0

Antidote du jour:


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I believe magnet (as well as alcohol I suppose) not only can change morality but it can give you cancer as well. I wouldn’t put that near any part of the brain.

      Morality can be influenced by many other things as well. If we Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens ever develop ‘nuclear powered biological cells’ so that we don’t have to subsist on meat or vegetables, it would be considered immoral to kill and eat living, breathing fruits and vegetables.

  1. IF

    I was in Nalcik near Chechnya a bit more than 2 years ago. The oil might have been at some point a reason, but it has not been for a long time. Let me add that there are many pretty houses in the area and official buildings and places in towns are maintained and clean. Very unlike Eastern Europe. The Russian central government is projecting its power.

    Lets assume there would be no oil in the area. Would Putin be able to let go of this region? It is too late. The power of the Russian government has been cemented by keeping the territory together.

    Something else I noticed. In the US every freaking INS building or postal office has ugly concrete barriers to protect the content. The (or one of the?) building of southern command in Rostov on Don seemed completely unprotected in the city. No eye sore. Might be Russian fatalism. Or it might be passport control on every train station and periodic road blocks. Interesting country.

  2. Gerald Muller

    Re; Lovelock
    Indeed, humans cannot do much about climate change, for the simple reason that they have little impact on the sun spots, the small wobbling of the earth axis, the cosmic radiations that has an important effect on cloud formation etc. which are the real causes of climate evolution. Climate has undergone huge evolutions long before humans were on this small planet and will continue to do so long after we are all gone.
    The Gaia concept itself is largely flawed because our solar system itself cannot be viewed indepently of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and galaxies cannot be understood without an understanding of the universe and its origin, still under debate.

    1. sherparick

      Ah, Gerald gives me an opportunity to explore three logical fallacies. First, his argument is an example of “non sequiter.” It is true that Earth’s climate has been naturally variable, and that it has been particularly variable in the Pleistoscene (of which our own Holocene is an interglacial if non-human factors were still the lone drivers of climate). But this true statement does rebut or really say anything about the proposition that 7 billion (and growing) human beings, pumping out the equivalent of 16 volcanoes worth of CO2 and other Greenhouse gases every year, are likely effecting the Earth’s climate. This requires an explanation and investigation that Gerald does not provide. Lovelock’s argument, also displays several fallacies, but the one that struck me the most was his ad hominem arguement against Phil Jones (not named) and other GRU scientiests as mediocre non-entities produced by the democratizaton of the British university system. The TV weathermen in the N.Y. Times article also make use of the ad hominen and related tu quoque arguments when they attack the AGW hypothesis as a “scam,” but the more interesting fallacy in their argument are the fallacies of “division” and “false analogy.” They confuse “weather” which is the variable, short-term phenomena, and “climate” which is the prevailing weather of a particular geographic area for a particular season. And climate, in contrast to weather, is far more predictable and constant, which is why farmers plant lots of corn every year in Illinois, but not in western Nebraska. For us in the middle latitudes, this means winters are cold, summers hot, and spring and fall are transitions from from one state to the other. Summers are longer as one approaches the tropics, and winters ever milder, and the reverse takes place as one approaches the poles.

      With oscillations from year to year, the trend of climate here in Virginia is warmer, shorter, winters, and longer summers. Look at the change in the hardiness zones that gardeners in the U.S. use to determine plant suitability for their particluar climate and the change from 1990 to now.

      By the way, Environmentalists also make lots of false arguments and misuse the issue of AGW to advance parts of their agenda that don’t necessarily follow even if AGW is true. (See Bill McKibben in this month’s Scientific American.) For instance, if someway could be found to miraclously change the economy back to a subsistence, non-market economy with no industrialism or burning of fossil fuels, natural cycles would indicate that we would enter another period of very cold weather and extensive continental glaciation within next 10,000 to 50,000 years (and may still anyway after we have burned up all the available oil, coal, etc. the CO2 therby released gets weathered out of the atmosphere over the next 1,000 years).

      Unfortunately, in the U.S. and the U.K., this argument has become completely tribal (hence the ad hominem tu quoque arguments), so nuance, ameloriation, and common sense (would it not be better to tax pollution and consumption more, and labor and savings less?) are forgotten in the struggle to see who will win.

      1. eric anderson

        I don’t think there is much nuance in the work of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, either. Unless you count statistical manipulation and data cherry-picking as nuance. Since the CRU is the bitch of IPCC, it casts a pall of doubt on the whole enterprise.

        The truth of the matter is that predictions of the future are being put forth based on climate modeling. Now, by what reasonable measure can it be said that these climate models have had any success in predicting anything? In the Climategate emails, one of the most recent was Kevin Trenberth: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t…” This is a simple acknowledgment that the models don’t work. They can’t account for what we are seeing occur before our very eyes.

        It’s “back to the drawing board” time.

        I for one would like to know precisely how much we have warmed in relation to past episodes of warming, and what role various human activities have played. (Humans produce cooling factors like aerosols, too.) We are not close to understanding this. We are not even in the ballpark.

        The most important point is that we are unable to make good public policy in a state of near total ignorance. And we should not try. At this point we can only say that the true data looks less alarming than we’ve been led to believe by people running around with their hair on fire, and the people wanting to tax us to death for energy use.

    2. eric anderson

      Actually, humans are too stupid to measure climate change. Or at least the ones tasked with the job have certainly made a cluster**** of it. Maybe if they would just stick to simple measuring, and not massaging the data?

      Taking out the global warmers’ fudge factors, and looking at raw temperature data of rural weather stations (getting away from local heat island effects), what do we see for the past 100 years? We see that today’s temperatures in the USA (apart from localized heat islands) are not even as warm as the 1920-1950 period. Look at the graph yourself.

      Al Gore, you’ve got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.

  3. a

    ” So we want to avoid war in the Middle East….not because a lot of locals and US troops would die, no, it’s because a Middle Eastern war would be bad for the economy. Help me.”

    Mabye that’s a step forward, though? Often I hear the argument that war would be good for the economy.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Yves, you can help yourself by upping the antidote dosage, as I suggested the other day.

      Double it!

  4. MarcoPolo

    We can all relax. Recession is over and everything is back to normal.  Kraft, maker of both synthetic food products and similar profits and longstanding member of the S&P AAA authorized debt brigade bought Cadbury, a like food producer with independent profit structure in a deal that was sure to be create value to shareholders if not to economic efficiencies. Though shareholder Warren Buffet disagreed.  The transaction has already proven so successful that “Kraft Chief Secures 41% Pay Rise”.

    Be sure to call your broker to get your piece of this action.

  5. i on the ball patriot

    ” So we want to avoid war in the Middle East….not because a lot of locals and US troops would die, no, it’s because a Middle Eastern war would be bad for the economy. Help me.”

    The FT article is ‘registration required’ which I don’t do, and will never do. Maybe you could label registration required articles as such, or at a minimum have them open in a new window so that when readers who feel the same about not registering close the FT window they will go back to NC instead of being faced with a blank screen and the chore of having to reestablish the link to NC.

    Not having read the article (FT, blow hard tool of the man, sucks anyway), I would guess Obama is warning of Iran as a threat to the world gangster economy because Iran practices interest free Islamic Banking and it was scamerican gangster bankers — who have the world by the interest balls — that had him elected.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet

    1. eric anderson

      Mr. i on the ball, you have not kept your eye on the ball.

      I have pointed out more than once that you can read FT articles in full without registration, by typing the exact title of the article in a google search. Click on the return — usually it will be the first search return.

      I agree with your refusal to register. But there are workarounds. And after all, it is important to know what Obama’s teleprompter wants us to know about Iran!

      1. i on the ball patriot

        Thanks Eric, I am familiar with the google search workaround. My comment was a suggestion for NC to keep and build readership. Many people have searches open in a new window and get in the habit of closing the window instead of using the back button and so drop off the NC site. They won’t remember the title, let alone type it in (copy and paste is easier), and so move on to another site.

        What Obama’s ‘teleprompter’ doesn’t want you to know, their lies of omission, is more important than what is on Obama’s decoy FT ‘teleprompter’.

        You know, like maybe the war on terror is a cover for the war on INTEREST FREE Islamic banking …

        Its kind of like the ATF ‘war on drugs’ — of which Obama is the big slime ball drug lord — funded by the alcohol and tobacco lobby/cartel to stamp out any ‘free market’ competition from other drugs.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        1. Cynthia

          What the war on drugs and the war on terror share in common is that both of them are cash cows for the security-industrial complex. So I doubt that we’ll be seeing an end to either of these wars anytime soon.

  6. NotTimothyGeithner

    Concerning the Samsung robot in every house, there is evidence the Western world wouldn’t tolerate a non-R2D2-type robot such as C-3PO in their homes even if it was available. A combination of the memory of chattel slavery and science fiction probably wouldn’t lead to a market in the Western Hemisphere.

    1. NS

      Must be that evidence comes from men who don’t do housework. heh. I’d buy one NOW if it was available, emoticons or not.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Count me a skeptic.

      Robots wont’ take off as a householder until they appeal to the basest human desires – you know what I am talking about.

      1. NS

        Um, that doesn’t take much design work or sophisticated software to accomplish. Animatronics have come a long way, ya know. Just look at the short span of man on the planet to see how much brain power it takes to perform that task. Its so easy, A CAVEMAN can do it!

        Perhaps that feature could be an ‘add on luxury’ (complete with virus protection and fetish accommodations..oh I slay me) for these versions. For those that demand the best..designer/custom work for appearances.

        For the rest of us more practical folks, we can have what we want, utilitarian hw/sw that doesn’t complain about taking out the trash and WILL do the windows. ;-)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          What, you have one that looks just like Yves?

          I mean, Yves Montand. I am asking this for an old lady next door.

  7. Hugh

    Re Iran, some of us have been making the case against a war with Iran since the days of Cheney’s saber rattling. The neocon view is that we could bomb a few sites in Iran and just walk away. But there are about a hundred sites that would need to be taken out if Iran’s nuclear programs were to be destroyed. Some of these are difficult to get at because they are underground or in urban areas. Some are also heavily defended. This would mean taking out not just the site but in many cases the defenses. It would also mean having to take out most of Iran’s military capabilities. This would mean a very large aerial campaign, and would involve not just military targets but most of Iran’s infrastructure, communications, bridges, electrical grid, and ports. About the only thing not targeted would be its oil industry. Iran is a large country geographically: around 640,000 sq.mi., larger than Iraq 170,000 and Afghanistan 250,000 combined. It has a population of 70 million, give or take a couple million, again making it larger than Iraq and Afghanistan combined. It also has long borders with Iraq, Afghanistan, and the oil-rich Gulf. Even if hit very hard, it is likely that Iran could strike back directly against the US in all 3 of these areas. And it could use Hezbollah to destabilize Lebanon, involve Israel, and possibly use Hezbollah as a platform for terrorist action more generally. Hamas would be less effective because Hamas is less effective.

    The hardline regime’s power in Iran would be strengthened not weakened, since dissent against it could be portrayed as lack of patriotism to the country in time of war.

    As I said above, an attack on Iran would threaten US interests in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Gulf. It is important to remember that the Straits of Hormuz are a chokepoint through which something like 20% of the planet’s daily oil supply passes through. That could be threatened by nothing more than a speedboat full of explosives. Fancy missiles are not required. It is important to realize too that the threat is every bit as effective as the actual deed. Think about what an Iranian pledge to shut the Straits would do to the rates on insurance underwriting on tankers. The futures market in oil is already highly manipulated. An attack would send it through the roof and plunge the world’s pseudo-recovery into stark depression overnight. Not only would our allies, the Europeans, and the Japanese not thank us for this. China for economic reasons and Russia for political ones would not be happy either. The Gulf states may fear Iran but they hate the prospect of war and the destruction of their commerce even more. The Moslem world would also see this as yet another attack on them, even if Iran is mainly Shia.

    Most of these reactions would be unchanged if the initial perpetrators of an attack were Israeli, not us, because it would be very difficult to deny US complicity in any such attack. And it could well force our involvement, something the Israelis would likely deny even as they counted on it. Our troops are currently overstretched and even though a bombing campaign would be an Air Force and Navy affair, these too are constrained. From what countries would the Air Force fly its sorties from? You are looking at long range strategic bombers, air craft carriers, and cruise missiles. It isn’t enough for a country the size of Iran.

    Put simply the costs of an attack on Iran have always been radically too high. Worse it is essentially a given that Iran’s nuclear programs would not be destroyed. It is also a given that Iran would every reason to pursue a nuclear weapons program, not just the current nuclear ones, following such an attack.

    It is good that Obama recognizes some of this. The question is can we believe him.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      Sounds like a perfect target if the wealthy ruling elite Global Military Industrial Banking Complex interests were in reality to destabilize the entire Middle East and throw the planet into a perpetual conflict that would further eliminate middle class populations and drastically cut their resource consumption.

      Yes, the costs might be “radically too high” for old fashioned vanilla greed that was focused on profit, but pernicious greed, now focused on control, and using perpetual conflict as a mainstay method of that control, would not consider those costs “radically too high” at all.

      And it would end the threat of INTEREST FREE Islamic banking.

      And no, you can not believe Obama!

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  8. carping demon

    Yves, thank you for the recent links to Corrente.

    i on the ball: wouldn’t it be better to demand a modicum of attention from people following links? All you need is Firefox and a mouse to get anywhere, no typing required.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      Oh yes, of course, demanding a modicum of attention from people following links would be much better. I have Firefox and a mouse thank you. Be careful of that third rail on the way out.

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  9. plschwartz

    The clusterstock piece on China is a wonderful miniature of China’s problems in governance.
    First is the casual corruption of state workers. Second the lack of any regard for law on the local level. And third is how limited is the writ of the central government.

  10. kevinearick

    Open source gave the cartels motor control to learn about physics. The cartels employed the principles of motor control to fully integrate the global economy.

    In a simple nation/state enterprise (add circuits for the global economy), the primary tap of the evolutionary circuit depends on understanding the recursion of physics. The secondary tap depends on a net individual liberty feedback loop with the controller, government.

    Government cannot see the net liberty feedback mechanism. All it understands is controlling the motor, with a labrynth of capacitors and resistors. Left to its own devices, all of its solutions will involve increasing control, until the economy comes to a dead stop, while it feeds its own loads, and never closes the motor contacts.

    The motor, Wall Street, naturally wants to be free of control, to run at will, and will seek to bypass both the control and the loads, pull excessive amps, weld the starter contacts, and short itself out. The motor contacts are welded, and government is discharging its capacitors to feed its own loads.

    Taps shift to increase and decrease power. NASA is stuck, because it has been fully incorporated within control, through the HR mechanism. Now, it’s going to take a look at these motor controls.

    The laws of physics are the laws of physics, everywhere, at all times. The only difference between sub-systems is clocking. NASA needs to get out of the solar system to justify the cost of space exploration with economic profit, by learning about the fulcrum of fulcrums mechanism. (it’s like dirt bikes for kid physicists)

    In the meantime, it needs to focus on solving routine space problems from earth, on land, in the sea, and probing the air. The cost of space exploration will more than pay for itself, but not so long as NASA is housed entirely within the control mechanism.

    NASA knows too much about too little, because it is being choked.

    1. kevinearick

      It cannot be denied that for a society which has to create scarcity to save its members from starvation, to whom abundance spells disaster, and to whom unlimited energy means unlimited power for war and destruction, there is an ominous cloud in the distance though at present it be no bigger than a man’s hand.

      I ask you to look both ways. For the road to a knowledge of the stars leads through the atom; and important knowledge of the atom has been reached through the stars.

      Primarily it is not a world to be analyzed, but a world to be lived in.

      To interpret man’s religion to man’s science in not only mutually intelligible, but mutually interdependent terms, remains, as I believe, the great task of our time if we are to see any stable order in events, or make any consistent sense of experience.


      1. kevinearick

        the law follows behavior, first informally, then formally.

        the only different variable is the magnitude of the half-cycle swap from demographic acceleration into demographic deceleration, meaning that the new motor has to be engaged within range of the equilubrium position.

        unless you want to travel through the war pathway, I would suggest you begin with post WWII, and adjust for WWII experience, then continue back in History to do the algebraic reduction.

        you can assume that the new motor is on the shelf and ready to go, or you can assume that there is no time to build a new motor, in which case human civilization will crash in a big way.

        or you can continue to assume that the old motor is not fried, and continue to pursue incremental solutions. The insiders are not buying into this option.

        there are roughly 7 billion people on the planet, so there is nearly an infinite number of ways to combine individual behavior changes, which remains the choice of each individual.

        1. kevinearick

          the scientist sold out science, for a few coins, which were quickly bet on the proposition that the unknowable had no place in science. now, the future is up for grabs, at great risk, for those bold enough to pursue it.

Comments are closed.