Links 4/5/10

Pebbles help penguins mate BBC

Sundolier Robot Pumps Sunlight Indoors for Powerful Daylighting Inhabitat. Might be vaporware, but sounds intriguing.

The Mindless Menace of Violence Archein

New adversary in U.S. drug war: Contract killers for Mexican cartels Washington Post (hat tip reader Paul S)

Pope’s immunity could be challenged in Britain Associated Press (hat tip reader Swedish Lex)

Sparen wie die Letten – was Griechenland erwartet Welt Online (hat tip reader Hans)

Life with the seedy men of the City Independent (hat tip reader Swedish Lex)

Greece will default, but not this year Wolfgang Munchau, Financial Times

Deflation on the prowl as Bernanke shuts down his printing press Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph.

US must not gamble on the renminbi Clive Crook, Financial Times. Crook agrees with the notion that the RMB is artificially cheap and creating distortions, but IMHO he overestimates China’s willingness to cooperate.

Both stories on the front page at Bloomberg now: Stock Bulls Increase With Share Buyback Spending Signaled by Profits Surge and Bond Buyers Seek Record Protection From Rating Downgrades: Credit Markets. Now admittedly, not all companies with public debt have public equity, but this still looks a tad divergent, no?

Reis: U.S. Office Vacancy Rate Highest Since early ’90s Calculated Risk

How Washington Abetted the Bank Job Susan P. Koniak, George M. Cohen, David A. Dana, and Thomas Ross, New York Times (hat tip reader Don B)

Robert Reich: Greenspan, Summers, and Why the Economy Is So Out of Whack Huffington Post

Lending is capital- not reserve-constrained billy blog

Antidote du jour:

Picture 78

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  1. dearieme

    “What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created?” The United States of America.

    1. Peter T

      Not only 1776 – 1783 but also 1861 – 1865. Without the latter war, the USA could look very different today.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Imagine if the South wasn’t in the U.S. I could be booking my flight to Proxima Centauri right now.

  2. Carrick

    Re: dearieme

    And it dismantled the British Empire, and will might do the same to ours..

    1. Skippy

      When will the human race find the singularity it needs, to over come its insecurity, gods not working so far…eh.

  3. Carrick

    RE: Sundolier

    Why would this sort of device use such a small surface area. I’ve seen similar designs that use a cheaper plastic parabolic mirror — even if they’re imperfect, they must reflect and concentrate more light them something with 1/6th(?) the surface area.

    From what I gather, the big cost barriers to this kind of thing are the parabolic mirror, the helioscope (or whatever its called), and the fiber-optic wire needed to pipe the concentrated light. The inventor of the design I saw had developed some option to fiber-optic that could handle the heat. This was something I saw on Discovery Science two years ago, and had heard nothing since though, so who knows…

    1. IF

      Same here. Pretty small area (hard to judge, maybe 2m x 0.3m or 600W peak before transmission losses) and high cost. A skylight would have done, but does not reach inside of large buildings.

  4. Bates

    RE: ‘Lending is capital- not reserve-constrained billy blog’

    Interesting article including many options for future banking regulations/changes.

    Two options that would make major changes to banking as it impacts Main Street and the real economy sans the FIRE sector:

    “In a system where the capital requirements are too low, the public exposure to bank failure is that much higher and the moral hazards are high. While the best option is to nationalise the banking system and make it 100 per cent focused on public purpose, the more realistic case is to ensure private banks have adequate buffers to insulate the system against panic.”

    Or do we already have ‘banking duality’, ie; a FIRE system allowed to run rampant untill the inevitable crash and then government stepping in to rescue the system with private sector money?

    “Further, from a Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) perspective, there should be no relationship between growth overall and the limiting of private credit. If the increased capital requirements stifle private credit access then there is more space for public goods production and public infrastructure provision.”

    “Modern Monetary Theory???” There is nothing modern about privatizing gains of banks and dumping the losses onto the taxpayers! Conviently, the government always steps in to prevent the bankruptcy of banks and the Fed/Treasury after they have caused a near collapse of the world financial system.

    The only way to stop the rampant rip offs of the private sector is for individuals to get out of debt and remain out of debt…in time, the rip off artists now employed by Wall St will return to selling used cars or some other type of employment that will not cause the near destruction of the real economy. IOW, starve the FIRE sector untill it returns to about 7% of US GDP.

  5. velobabe

    Life with the seedy men of the City
    “If I was angry I was ‘on my period’; if I was happy I must have ‘got some last night’.
    jes, you just can’t win.
    what do you think of this stuff, kevin in brussels?

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    That dolphin is apparently thriving in this post ‘End of the World’ times of ours.

  7. kevinearick

    Building the Looking Glass

    The nexus pays individuals to adopt single-amplitude, single-frequency efficiency, and increases the pay for those that bring others into the system, re-enforcing the breeding of efficiency. The result is a shrinking population of open-loop thinkers, which must move farther and farther out on the lever, to balance a growing population of closed-loop thinkers. And the nexus gets better and better at hunting fewer and fewer. That’s evolution at work.

    The nexus operators are fully aware of the problem, but are powerless to change the course of human behavior, developed over thousands of years. Their only choice is whether they want to continue riding in front of the parade, or lose everything, because they are not built to climb, other than to get into the float.

    The problem most new climbers have is building the necessary transformer. Nothing is gained, and much energy is dissipated, by taking the system personally. The nexus must expend considerable organizational potential energy to attack, although it appears otherwise. Inexperienced climbers will lash out, returning the energy and then some, resulting in nexus charge and climber discharge.

    Turn the digital wave into an analog wave, by rotating/deflecting it. If you rotate, it has no choice but to follow. Build the analog out of components of different digital sources. Traveling down several different paths simultaneously will drop the components into place, and build the looking glass, while the nexus assumes that its filtering mechanism is operating correctly upon exit. Help the nexus help you, despite its persistent desire to conform you at a profit.

    Invest in yourself; learn to teach yourself. It may not pay off today, or tomorrow, because you are jumping quantum energy levels, but it will pay off, if you are persistent. After several thousand years of evolution, the remaining jumps are just too great to carry others, or non-performing assets, up the mountain.

    If you are climbing, all you can do for others is provide some assistance on the margin. Cutting paths serves the targeting mechanism of the nexus. If you are done, and are still interested in the future, provide virtual stations for the climbers.

    Most communities are locked into the grid, but the grid is losing power from its perimeter inward, in pulses. Pick your spots carefully, and diversify to re-enforce rotation. Do not collect the components in a pattern, or serially. If you do not know what you are going to do next, neither can the nexus. And buying something from China does not help the Chinese worker. It pays multi-nationals to build economic slave camps against which they will want you to compete. Trade surplus directly.

    Counter-weight size, shape, and location is completely adjustable, depending on the power you give it – how you feed it. The nexus is very good at what it does. Partner up with another climber of complimentary skills only so long as the feedback loop is constructive, and random. Each must build his or her own key; no one passes upstream through the looking glass without a key of their own design.

    Disneyland rents keys.

    1. kevinearick

      I don’t envy those who are trying to climb the mountain with kids in tow and a spouse that is determined to stay in the valley below, which is about to be flooded.

      My last apprentice, which is a shark, is working on that problem now, attenuating elastic lines.

      1. kevinearick

        the efficient economy slices and dices a multi-dimensional analog wave in time, separating it into simple-dimensional dc components/heuristics, inserting middlemen to increase efficiency over time, throwing out everything that is not immediately useful, and then puts it back together, and amplifies it into a center of gravity. once complete, the controller is bypassed. in the meantime, evolution moves forward. relative to evolution, the wave is compressed into a gravitational field.

        the other half of the looking glass reverses the process. the entire structure moves forward accordingly in a quantum wave, at the tipping point precipice, in an inchworm-like reactionary movement, jumping the gap/strait, or the fulcrum collapses, the bimodal distribution cleaves, and speciation begins, with the two parts on different sides of the gap.

        1. kevinearick

          millions of people, on the leading edge of the wave, are already on the other side of the gap, and the gravitational portion is steaming toward the edge, as evolution moves its fulcrum out from underneath non-performing assets. the gap is the difference between where the center needs to be and where it is.

          non-productive asset prices need to fall sufficiently to put them back into effective production. hiding/hoarding them is counter-productive. Unfortunately, those assets are all a lot of people have to show for participating in a compliance economy, which itself is now obsolete, and the obsolete government structure replaced the natural family and community bonds that would normally serve the required transition, to re-enforce the past.

          Let’s see if ThyssenKrupp corrects.

          1. kevinearick

            that “useless” stuff to the efficient economy is all an the other side of the gap, where it turns out to be quite useful, and the FIRE economy turns out to be obsolete.

            avoiding evolution is like playing with FIRE.

  8. MichaelC

    Links recommendation:

    I Saw the Crisis Coming. Why Didn’t the Fed? Michael Burry (NYT oped 4/3/10)
    Another notable Greenspan smackdown.

  9. Sundog

    Cheers for the WP link on trans-border outlaws. I spent four months bumming around southern Mexico in ’81 and later spent several years in Tucson, an hour from the border, also back in the ’80s.

    In 2000 I nearly bought a beautiful parcel half-way between Tucson and the border, but even then it was apparent that the border zone was getting out of hand and I backed off for that reason. The community had its 15 minutes last year when some border vigilantes murdered a man and his nine-year-old daughter in a deranged bid to steal drugs and money.

    For excellent perspective on America’s other drug war, I highly recommend “Can Anyone Pacify the World’s Number One Narco-State?” by Alfred McCoy. The economy of Afghanistan is one of the biggest challenges facing the US today, and McCoy takes a whole systems approach. I wonder if agent-based modeling could contribute to implementing his recommended solutions at the local level.

    And for a slammin’ 20-minute presentation on why the black economy matters in the grand scheme of things, check this video of Misha Glenny recorded May 2009 in Switzerland. I don’t care for the title he chose (McMafia), but I do highly recommend Glenny’s book.

  10. kevinearick

    politics is an expensive business

    as the planned economy froze up, people were faced with ruin

    where the state could no longer support them in a manner in which they became accustomed

    privatized law enforcement … made the law … to fashion the emerging economy

    perfect storm

    politics is an expensive business

    1. kevinearick

      controlling energy:

      According to testimony before the US House of Representatives in March 1999 by the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan together have 15 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. The same countries also have proven gas deposits totaling not less than nine trillion cubic meters. Another study by the Institute for Afghan Studies placed the total worth of oil and gas reserves in the Central Asian republics at around US$3 trillion at last year’s prices.

      Not only can Afghanistan play a role in hosting pipelines connecting Central Asia to international markets, but the country itself has significant oil and gas deposits. During the Soviets’ decade-long occupation of Afghanistan, Moscow estimated Afghanistan’s proven and probable natural gas reserves at around five trillion cubic feet …

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