Links 5/12/10

Posted on by

“Like Neurons in the Brain”: A Molecular Computer That Evolves h+

Helping Jaguars Survive by Easing Their Commute New York Times

Earth may be too hot for humans by 2300: study Raw Story (hat tip reader John D)

Amazon Spying On Your Ebook Highlighting TechDirt

A Revaluation of Values Joe Costello

Chris Hayes on Audit the Fed: “The Single Greatest Act of Bipartisanship Since Obama Took Office” FireDogLake

16 Reasons Why California Is The Next Greece Clusterstock (hat tip reader Scott)

The de(con)struction of the “market maker” cissoko (hat tip Ricard Smith)

4 Big Banks Score Perfect 61-Day Run New York Times

Roubini Says Greece May Lead Euro Exodus, China Faces Slowdown Bloomberg

Crunch far from over, warns Bank of England chief Mervyn King Independent

JPMorgan Chase Warns Investors About Underwater Homeowners Walking Away Huffington Post. Reader Lee notes:

You must admit the time is ripe for a post and discussion on consumer ‘ruthlessness’ as TPTB appeal to underwater homeowner morality. Interesting, since investment banks righteously defend their right to ‘ruthlessness’ against all humans (consumers), never noticing that real people are the whole point of markets and economics and that bankers’ survival depends ultimately upon the trust and goodwill of we humans.

The SEC and the Financial Industry: Evidence from Enforcement against Broker-Dealers Stavros Gadinis (hat tip reader EV)

Awe and Wonderment (A Brief History of) Cassandra

How German Companies Bribed Their Way to Greek Deals Der Spiegel (hat tip reader Swedish Lex)

Governments up the stakes in their fight with markets Martin Wolf, Financial Times. Wolf draws up a list of what needs to happen for the eurozone to survive….and it looks incredibly daunting.

Paris trumps Berlin at EU table Financial Times (hat tip reader Swedish Lex)

Answers on Europe’s Debt Crisis, Part 3 Economix Blog, New York Times. Yours truly, plus Carmen Reinhart and Simon Johnson, answer reader questions

No Easy Villains May Mean No Easy Oil Lisa Margonelli The Atlantic (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:

Picture 8

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Francois T

    Re: Banks perfect 61-day score.

    I’m aware that some super traders have achieved some incredible run…over a long period of time. Names like Ed Seykota, Liz Cheval, John Henry, Jerry Parker, Gil Blake and Monroe Trout (to name a few) comes to mind.

    But a 61-day-after-day run is much more difficult to achieve. And that is within one particular industry group to boot.

    What are the probabilities of that happening, in a minimally fair market?

    1. LeeAnne

      Denninger’s done the math on this More On Goldman’s “Perfect Record”

      in A bit of math for the geeky among you… here

      “So what are the odds that in a pure game of chance the coin would come up “heads” all 60 times?

      That would be 8.67 x 10-19, or 8.67 times in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 attempts (if I counted my zeros correctly.)

      A trillion is 1,000,000,000,000, or 1012; this is about 1,000,000 times less likely than one in a trillion.”

      1. michael

        Denninger’s maths is pretty dodgy. Even assuming that ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ is equal in probability every day (which clearly it is not over a given period when the market is climbing or falling), and that each days trading stands in isolation (which is clearly absurd).

        Even with these bogus assumptions this string of winning days isn’t in isolation or standing alone either. You’re talking about the odds of one of thousands of orgs/traders getting a winning run of x days over *all* of the trades over all of the days that trading has been running …

        e.g. The odds of one person throwing a coin exactly 60 times and getting 60 heads might be vanishingly small, but if a thousand people toss a million coins the chances of 60 in a row somewhere in that lot are somewhat higher.

        Even the article suggests just how common this is:

        “Their remarkable 61-day streak is one for the record books. Perfect trading quarters on Wall Street are about as rare as perfect games in Major League Baseball. On Sunday, Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics pitched what was only the 19th perfect game in baseball history.”

        So that’s one every few years or so is it? Notable indeed … but certainly not ‘impossible’ or even particularly rare, is it?

        It goes on to mention the last time the banks had ‘perfect quarters’ – and none of them are very long ago either, only a few years ago.

        Denninger is using the same sort of dodgy maths that creationists use to ‘prove’ that complex life could never have evolved or even spontaneously came to be in the first place.

        (and this all ignores the fact that extremely rare events still do happen – by it’s very definition ‘very rare’ does not mean ‘never’).

        1. eric anderson

          I think anyone with any experience in the market senses that trading success of the kind Goldman and others have been having is almost certainly based on some sort of inside information or fraud, even if we can’t quantify what “almost certainly” really means. I think there’s enough evidence for a thorough investigation of exactly what flaws in the system might be allowing them an unfair advantage.

          After that, there should be an investigation of the amazing investment successes of our Congresscritters, who according to Mark Hulbert consistently beat the best money managers and advisors on Wall Street. I know it is legal for Congress to trade on inside information. That’s the next thing to remedy.

          You just had to get your digs in on creationists, didn’t you? Well, I’m a creationist and I agree with you that math is not a great argument, since variables are not entirely known and unquantifiable, just like those calculations Carl Sagan used to use to show the likelihood of intelligent civilizations elsewhere in the universe. Pure shinola.

        2. Pepe

          Have 4 pitchers ever pitched a perfect game on the same day?

          Citi, BoA, Chase, and Goldman Sachs all had perfect quarters. Is it really your contention that we can’t be sure that this isn’t coincidence because the math is too hard?

          How about common sense? or an educated guess?

        3. Anonymous Jones

          Out of the infinite number of universes that could have existed and out of the infinite number of histories that could have happened within this universe, the odds that the one universe and the one history that we have actually came to fruition are not materially different than zero.

          Yet the universe we have actually exists, and the history of our world actually happened.

          It’s a conundrum.

          Things that “can’t” happen by chance in fact happen by chance.

          FYI, believing anything definitive about cosmology or cosmogony is such truly stunning hubris and pure f*cking idiocy that it should go without saying, but we live in a world populated by a species filled with hubris and idiocy, so what’s one to do?

          No scientist can tell you where all this “energy” came from in the first place, and no man of faith can tell you who created his “God” and what was here before his “God” came onto the scene. Even if time is endless and beginningless, I’ve seen no evidence that humans have the capacity to understand what this means.

          1. MarcoPolo

            “Yet the universe we have actually exists, and the history of our world actually happened.”

            Respectfully, no. It’s not a conundrum. Obviously, it doesn’t happen by chance. Not the universe and not the trades.

    2. curlydan

      To get probabilities of this type (assuming the same independent probability of success each day), open up an Excel spreadsheet and use the BINOMDIST function (binomial distribution).


      Assuming a 50% chance of success, BINOMDIST(61,61,0.5,0) says the probability of 61 days of gains out of 61 trials is 4.3 * 10^-19.

      Assuming a 95% chance of success (Godly knowledge), BINOMDIST(61,61,0.95,0) is 4.4%.

      Assuming “just” a 90% chance of succes, BINOMDIST(61,61,0.9,0) is 0.2% or a 1 in 500 chance.

      But let’s face it, 90% success probabilities in an environment with so much noise and variability (at least to those who aren’t doing God’s work) is way too high.

      Even the best predictors in any market cannot hit these rates. For NFL football, for example, even hitting 80% of games straight up is virtually unheard of.

  2. Ignim Brites

    “Completely in opposition to his popular image, Nietzsche is one of the important and necessary democratic thinkers of history.” (Costello, A Revaluation of Values). That’s a stretch. One can make the point that the relentless exposure of private interest and personal will to power is a necessary component of a democratic society. But one who does this is not necessarily a democrat and hardly an over-man. Personally, I think the most Nietzchean of all political figures in the last 50 years was Pablo Escobar. It’s hard world.

    1. aet

      “Will to power”?
      That’s from Nietzsche’s strongly anti-semitic sister, who hacked away (edited and abridged) at his works after his death.

      You ought to read better, more accurate translations: nothing published earlier than say 1980.

      “Will to power” as F Nietzsche’s idea -LOL.
      It was inserted by his literary executor, his sister, whom he despised in life.
      It forms no part of his thought.

      1. attempter

        There’s probably not much point arguing with the kind of person who never read Nietzsche but presumes to spout “opinions” about him based on slanders derived at second hand.

        But for anyone who’s interested, I’ll summarize:

        N was an individualist, largely anti-political (so as you can see, I’m not writing from the point of view of a full “Nietzschean”, if there were such a thing; on the contrary he derided political radicals like myself), completely anti-militarist, anti-war, anti-nationalist, anti-state as such, and absolutely loathed ideological anti-semitism, regarding it as a sign of impending doom.

        In his moral philosophy, concepts like the “will to power” and “der Ubermensch” were to be understood in the spiritual, sublimated sense of intellectual and artistic creativity. The same goes for his militaristic metaphors.

        The “will to power” meant that every organism, and the forces of the universe itself, strives to grow in “power”. In people, the gutter manifestations of this are of course greed for money and power, the joy of violence, materialism in general. Nietzsche regarded all this, in the later stages of alleged civilization, as depraved, subhuman, unworthy of humanity.

        The most well-integrated human being would be in such perfect spiritual balance that he could assimilate all of his own energy within himself and thus feel empowered as one integral organism (exercise his will to power fully within himself). This would the Ubermensch, if such an individual actually existed; N regarded him primarily as an ideal.

        Since no one who generates great energy out of himself can do this, since we have to externalize the energy one way or another, the next best thing to do is sublimate the will to power through artistic and intellectual creativity.

        So that was Nietzsche’s ideal, that’s what he called upon his readers to strive toward. That’s the moral implication of his ideas “will to power” and Ubermensch.

        BTW, the definitive Walter Kaufmann translations are pre-1980.

        1. joecostello

          Hey Attempter,

          Like many of your descriptions of Nietzsche’s thought, though I’ve always been loathe to come to many conclusions, as I don’t think he ever finished, and in last writings he says as much.

          As I said in my piece, I think he’s an important democratic thinker because he tries to define the individual, he’s all about “self-government” of the person, which is an important element of “self-government” of the social whole, though he never really got there, but did leave some interesting thoughts on the matter, many contradictory.

          He was so horrified of the end of the 19th century and the burgeoning 20th, combined with his own circumstances, he retreated into, I think, some romanticizing of the hermit, for example Zarathustra. But its belied by his continued writing and concern for society.

          Anyway an important thinker, funny too, whose work never finished, but he himself said it would take centuries.

          1. attempter

            Hello Joe, interesting post.

            Yes, it’s difficult to derive any actionable political ideas from him. There’s one section in Daybreak, I forget the number, where he calls for something similar to the political relocalization idea which is slowly making its way below the system/MSM radar. But that’s just one section, and he didn’t elaborate.

            An interesting book which tries to derive an ancient Greek contest politic from N’s scattered writings on the subject is David Owen’s Nietzsche, Politics, and Modernity.

            Here’s some of my own scattered attempts to derive some political guidance from Nietzsche:


    2. renato

      More important than what N said, was what he didn’t say, and who and how misinterprets him. “Apes read philosophy, they just don’t understand it.”

      1. aet

        Nietzshe did voice his regret that he needed to be a poet – as the poets lie too much.
        Or was it “not enough”, rather than “too much”.

        As to what one needs to read Nietzsche, the man himself said that what one needs is long legs.
        – but that most of his readers instead had long ears.

    3. craazyman

      Let me liberate you, children, from the mind cage of your dualities. Every day we meditate and transcend the senseless cacophany of words into the paradise of the eternal 50 virgins. Our fee is very moderate for such an adventure. Only $4000 per week. And we offer you a comfortable matt of bamboo upon which you can sleep. Achieve Nirvana with us! Reservations are being accepted. We serve cold draft beer for relatives who do not want to participate in the meditations.

      Ramanpadara Nelbushantinavtan
      The Wordless Guru
      Holy Temple of the Eternal Fountain

      1. Gentlemutt

        Uh, thank you for that drollery. Please allow me to rephrase that question: where did Yves find that lovely photo?

  3. Gerald Muller

    Re earth too hot for humans in 300 years. In fact there is a 50/50 chance that it may be too cold. Such alarmist so called scenarios are ridiculous. Too many factors are at play and less than half are properly taken into account in present models. This is very similar to some economists models which turn out the correct result no more than 50% of the time.

    1. aet

      Got a model? No?
      Why should not greenhouse gases maintian their physical properties?
      What’s the error in the model?

      1. aet

        Economics = politics, therefore unpredictable.
        Climate = physics ; therefore very predictable indeed.

        20 years ago, they said that earth is warming.
        Observations now reflect those predictions.
        Shall we wait until the thickest see the problems too?

          1. aet

            Which model shows less than half of the factors are being modelled?

            Spreading FUD, are you?

        1. Valissa

          Bad analogy. Climate science does NOT equal physics. Not all sciences are equal. Different sciences are in different states of maturity, knowledge accumulation & validation, and stability. Climate science is a relatively young science that is very complex becuase so many other fields of science are part of it. Climate science is closer to ecology than physics, but as a younger science has less of an agreed upon knowledge base. That why there is so much controversy. This is typical of the newer fields in science. The problem is that the science is being politicized from the left and the right.

          1. renato

            Saying climate science is uncertain about whether there will be cooling is like saying economics is uncertain about whether there will be 10% per year GDP growth in the U.S. for the next 50 years.

        2. renato

          Shall we wait until the thickest see the problems too?

          Fundamental tenet of political timeliness: we wait until all the problems have been realized.

          1. aet

            Nihilistic Nonsense!
            The good work of uncounted millions of the previous generations has prevented many problems which otherwise would have arisen, just as people strive today so that they shall not have difficulty tomorrow.
            But as those problems never arose, you NOW say: all the effort is worthless, problems must realize before we can deal with them!
            Some people are blind to all that is not present to the senses.

        3. nowhereman

          Sorry, but climate does not equal physics, and it was statisticians that proved Mann’s Hockey Stick graph to be a hoax. You AGW religionists need to stop listening to the disgraced IPCC and discover the truth behind the C02 lies and fear mongering.
          We need to tackle particle pollution and not the politically motivated Carbon Tax regime.
          For Christ sake they are trying to make the gas you exhale a toxin, wake up people, they want to tax your breath.

        4. eric anderson

          aet, you need to wake up and smell the data.

          “20 years ago they said the earth is warming.”

          Yes. Yes, they did. But now what does Professor Phil Jones, head of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit say? That there has been no statistically significant warming for the past 15 years.

          Maybe that will change, and maybe it won’t. But it certainly does not fit average model predictions.

          “Climate = physics, therefore very predictable.”

          The first part is correct. Climate is physics. Unfortunately it is physics we do not understand. There are many variables in the formula we can’t accurately quantify.

          Look at this graphic, for instance:

          This is from the IPCC Summary for Policy Makers. Look at the error bars indicating uncertainty about the cooling effects of aerosols. And the uncertainty about the warming effects of ozone. In the red box I crudely highlighted at the bottom the IPCC’s estimate of the net effect of anthropogenic global warming. It is a range from 0.6 to 2.4 W m-2. That’s a heckofa wide range of possibilities they are admitting. This graphically demonstrates the uncertainty of the various parameters of climate models, and it really does not even begin to account for all the feedbacks and negative feedbacks we understand poorly and haven’t even discovered yet.

          Finally, some physicists have been the biggest skeptics about the dire predictions of climate scientists. When Al Gore was bleating “The debate is over!” the American Physical Society re-opened the debate in July 2008. “The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science. The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming ‘incontrovertible.'”

          So climate is physics, yes. Highly debatable and uncertain physics. We really just don’t know, and it’s time we face up to that fact. We can’t base public policy on wildly uncertain results. That’s nuts.

          1. bystander


            1. Do you actually understand the difference between the claims:
            a) that there has been no statistically significant global warming since 1995
            b) that there has been no global warming since 1995?

            You have also claimed on this blog that temperature data have been massaged, to show a warming trend. Please square this with whichever of 1a) and 1b) you actually believe. Show workings.

            “The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change”.

            This is untrue, and the APS has rebutted the story. Do try to keep up.

            “I crudely highlighted at the bottom the IPCC’s estimate of the net effect of anthropogenic global warming. It is a range from 0.6 to 2.4 W m-2. That’s a heckofa wide range of possibilities they are admitting.”

            Oh yeah? What range of possibilities would satisfy you? Justify your preference.

      2. Sugar Hill Dad

        The greenhouse gas model for global warming states that greenhouse gases will cause the outer atmosphere to heat up first and that, eventually, this greenhouse effect will transfer ever downward until the surface of the earth is hotter than it otherwise would be. That is the model.

        But now we have hundreds of satellites orbiting the earth that take the temperature of the outer atmosphere and guess what? It’s not hotter! Not at all!

        Temperature measurements on the surface of the earth reveal that temperatures around major cities are somewhat warmer than elsewhere. They call it the heat island effect. And this may not be a bad thing.

        As for ice melting, the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica — the place where all those dramatic photos and videos of huge chunks of ice falling into the ocean are taken — represents about 2% of the mass of Antarctica. The calving of ice into the ocean there has been going on for 12,000 years. One reason is that the Ross Ice Shelf is not supported by land. It just sticks out into the ocean.

        By contrast, the rest of Antarctica is a continent roughly the size of the Continental U.S. and Mexico put together. The ice on this continent is MILES deep and continues to get deeper every year.

        A picture is not an argument. Showing ice calving into the sea is NOT scientific proof of anything!

        The truth is we don’t know what causes climate change. We know more about the surface of the Moon than we do about climate on earth. And we won’t learn any more about the earth’s climate so long as cherry-picked data are used to frighten people to death for purposes of Fund Raising and Taxation.

        As for models, why are they even relevant? A model is a computer program into which you pour numbers which produce a result. Since we don’t know what causes climate change, these models are useless! Since when is a “model” the same as a fact?

        As for the Greenhouse Effect, that Theory has been disproved. Deal with it.

        1. Valissa

          Bravo SHD! Well said! However it’s not a “compelling narrative” worthy of mass mythologizing… alas, as always, the truth is not glamorous and exciting. It pales against the seductive acopalyptic vision of humanity’s “sins” causing problems from which we need to be SAVED. Christian undertones abound, and political rationalizations play them up. It’s really very entertaining if you are a student of mass hysteria.

          1. renato

            Truly, the oil and coals companies are the underdogs here, fighting those ruthless propagandist climate scientists.

          2. Valissa

            Renato… waked up and smell the funding propaganda… the oil companies are also funding the global warming research and they also like the climate bill… the oil companies are playing both sides of the climate debate.

            Stanford University has received $225 Million from ExxonMobil, Toyota and Schlumberger for its Global Climate and Energy Project. That money will be combined with a $50 Million donation from alumnus Jay Precourt whose career as an oil engineer included such companies as Hamilton Oil and Tejas Gas Corp. The new entity will be named the Precourt Center for Energy Efficiency, see

            3 oil giants to support climate legislation
            U.S. senators unveiling energy and climate change legislation Monday are expected to be joined by three major oil companies — a significant show of support from an industry whose endorsement could be key to winning Republican backing for the proposal.

          3. Valissa

            The oil companies are supporting the climate change bill and climate change research for the same reasons that the health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies supported the so-called Health Care Reform bill… which personally refer to as the Health Insurance Industry bailout bill. During the health care debates it came out that the insurance companies were writing legislation for both the right and left (applying the appropriate propaganda for each side), thereby attempting to control the whole debate in their favor.

            The oil and coal companies are doing the exact same thing in the so-called climate change bill. Playing both sides so they can end up in the best position to profit in the end.

            Once upon a time, I was a good little liberal and I used to believe like you. Then slowly as I was learning about propaganda and the politics of wealth and power I gradually realized I was being duped and my environmental ideals hijacked by the oil and coal and related industries.

            However I respect your right to be a ” global wsarming believer” just as respect anyone’s right to their religious beliefs. However I beleive in the separation of church and state, and that includes the church of holy environmentalism.

          4. renato

            There are two different issues: 1.) whether the science is correct, 2.) whether the oil and gas companies are manipulating the political process for their own benefit. Demonstrating 2.) doesn’t disprove 1.)

          5. renato

            Once upon a time, I was a good little liberal and I used to believe like you.

            The infamous “converted critic” ploy; with a little back-handed name calling (“liberal”) thrown in. Nice.

        2. aet

          Infrared passes through the atmosphere to the earth’s surface,is reflected from the surface and retained in the atmosphere: it DOES NOT, and NO MODEL CLAIMMS, thatit heats “from the top down”.

          I do not trust you to give an accurate description of the model: where’s your citation?

          1. Sugar Hill Dad

            In order to maintain [the atmosphere’s] own equilibrium, it re-radiates the absorbed heat in all directions, both upwards and downwards. This results in more warmth below, while still radiating enough heat back out into deep space from the upper layers to maintain overall thermal equilibrium. Increasing the concentration of the gases increases the amount of absorption and re-radiation, and thereby further warms the layers and ultimately the surface below. (emphasis mine)


            Thus, one of the proofs of the validity of the Greenhouse Gas Theory of global warming is an increased temperature of the upper atmosphere. Data from satellites has disproved this.

            Is the earth warmer today than it was 100 years ago? Yes. How much warmer? My best guess is 0.1 degrees centigrade. Will the earth be warmer or cooler 100 years from today? My best guess is yes, by about 0.1 to 0.2 degrees centigrade. Will this be a bad thing? Will it cause the end of the world? No. A slight warming of temperature will mean longer growing seasons in most of the world. That’s not a bad thing.

            But I don’t know any of this for certain because NOBODY knows this for certain. We don’t have enough data! All data is cherry-picked and hyped as proof that the world is ending in order to raise money for fear-mongering environmental groups (which are really just law firms teamed up with public relations firms) and by levying taxes such as the Carbon Cap and Trade Tax.

            Does this mean we have nothing to worry about? Of course not! We must take the time and expend the effort to LEARN about the global climate. We must be willing to accept the measured results of our tests. We must demand that all data be made available for peer review.

            Consider this: From 1890 to 1940, the recorded temperature of the earth increased. Not much industrialization during this time relative to post-1940. Also, temperature records from 1970 to 2000 also show a general increase in temperature.

            But from 1940 to 1970, the temperature records show that the earth was cooling significantly. If industrial-generated greenhouse gas causes the earth to warm, why did it cool off during the greatest period of increased industrialization? (World War II, destruction of public transportation in favor of automobiles, etc.)

            The temperature cooling was so significant that Climate Scientists in the 1970s were predicting a New Ice Age by the year 2000. And it was scary, end of the world stuff, too! As frightening then as 20-foot sea-level rises is today.

            And consider this: Ice samples from thousands of years ago show carbon dioxide levels in the earth’s atmosphere that far exceed any measurement taken today. Thousands of years ago we had NO industrialization. And there weren’t enough bovine farts back then to fill a single weather balloon.

            Fact: The calving of icebergs from the Ross Ice Shelf of Antarctica has been going on for over 6,000 years! During that same period of time, the thickness of the ice on the Continent of Antarctica has been INCREASING for the same period of time.

            We need to do more, much more research on the earth’s climate. Let us take the time to accrue actual knowledge of our world. What could possibly be wrong with this suggestion?

            Tim in Sugar Hill

  4. Peripheral Visionary

    Re: The SEC and the Financial Industry: Evidence from Enforcement against Broker-Dealers. The article does not mention one very simple factor which makes a world of difference: the bigger firms have better lawyers. They also have and endless supply of them, and all the time and money in the world to do battle in court.

    That results in the SEC being a seriously compromised situation when it comes to pushing cases, as it knows that significant cases against the largest firms can result in endless years in court and can become bottomless pits for resources, with the very real possibility that nothing but embarrassment for the Commission comes out of it, should the case be thrown out of court. I don’t know how to level that playing field, but it is a very real factor, probably the largest factor of all.

  5. Valissa

    This headline… “Earth may be too hot for humans by 2300” wonderfully proves my point about the tendency toward apocophilia not being limited to religious nuts.

    “Apocophilia” 1. An attraction to, or taking pleasure in, end-of-society scenarios, such as global nuclear war, or worst-case peak-oil or global-warming.
    2. apocaphilia – a fascination with the end of the world

    Now that all you are quaking in your boots about this possibility of an overheated earth (hell on earth, you might say), all you have to do to be SAVED is invest in one of the new carbon casinos. There’s a fortune to be made here for sure!

      1. Valissa

        Carbon is the most common element on the planet… let me repeat that… carbon is the most common element on the planet… almost everything on this planet has the element of carbon in it.

        So the idea of a “carbon tax” is just another propaganda frame.

        Why are the real and immediately dangerous environmental problems getting ignored?

        Nicholas Kristof on… New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer

        17,000 potentially harmful chemicals kept secret under obscure law
        Of some 84,000 chemicals being used commercially in the United States, some 20 percent — or 17,000 — are kept secret not only from the public, but from medical professionals, state regulators and even emergency responders, according to a report at the Washington Post. And the reason for this potentially harmful lack of openness? Profit. A 1976 law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, mandates that manufacturers report to the Environmental Protection Agency any new chemicals they intend to market, but manufacturers can request that a chemical be kept secret if disclosure “could harm their bottom line,” the Washington Post reports.

        1. Valissa

          How about pollution taxes instead! Or better yet, pollution regulations that have some bite to them. Name the toxic chemicals and tax them based on their health and encvironmental consequences. The fact that “carbon” is being focussed on instead of pollution shows that propaganda is happening… which is when soft or vague terminology replaces harder more precise truthful terminology.

          If I thought carbon taxes would do the job that I think needs to be done, I would play along with the framing.

        2. renato

          I hate to correct anyone in matters of scientific fact, but Carbon is not the most abundant element in the earth’s crust

          or in the Earth’s atmosphere,

          or in the ocean

          or even in the human body

          Not that this has anything to do with Carbon taxes.

          1. Valissa

            My bad, you are correct… I was remembering my organic chemistry. Nevertheless, it’s still a propaganda frame, IMO. Perhaps I’ve been spending too much time researching propaganda as a tool of wealth and power seeking, and this whole global warming game is simply a wholesome, noble and altruistic anomaly.

          2. nowhereman

            But we are carbon based life forms, and the AGW religionists won’t be happy until we are all eliminated.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    That beautiful photo of a Berber and his camels – it looks like it was taken over 100 years ago.

  7. DragQueen Capitalism

    The fault, dear readers, is not in our climatologists,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

    How can the same Banks that preach that only when every person acts only in his own self interest can the magic of the free market work, then complain, when they do so by walking away from an insupportable fiancia burden, one they were enticed to take on, against their better judgment, by those very same banksters, that they are being immoral?

    Sounds like a replay of “the paradox of thrift” garbage. All of a sudden, every person doing what’s appropriate for their own financial survival is, in aggregate, bad for the economy, an unheard of heresy being spouted by the very preachers of market fundamentalism who not 2 seconds ago were proclaiming that ONLY when every person does what’s appropriate for their own financial survival can free markets work.

    Unabashed usurers whining about their victims’ immorality … that must be a new level of irony.

  8. Hubert

    “How German Companies Bribed Their Way to Greek Deals Der Spiegel (hat tip reader Swedish Lex) -”

    has any other way to a Greek deal ever been found ?

  9. Anonymous Jones

    Just one reason why California is *not* like Greece:

    …Debt-to-GDP ratio…

    But seriously, California has immense problems. Who doesn’t? At the same time, although California does perform a lot of accounting tricks to “balance” its budget every year (as mandated by California constitution…not the tricks, the balancing) by hiding long-term liabilities, those liabilities, as a percentage of its “GDP,” are not on the scale of Greece’s liabilities. Enough. The spreads on California’s debt are a marker for likely default based on structural voting problems, liquidity, and the legal requirement for a balanced budget every year, not because California has Greece-level problems.

    I can’t wait until California gets “bailed out” by the federal government. First, though, I’d like an accounting of federal-tax-dollars-out and federal-spending-in over the last 50 years.

  10. Hugh

    I think sometimes the liberal site firedoglake has to declare a victory simply because progressives have so few. But my understanding of the Fed audit runs something like this:

    1. It will go from December 1, 2007 to the date of enactment of the bill. This leaves out the run up to the housing bubble burst and the burst itself (which I usually fix at August 9, 2007 when the BNP Paribas funds froze starting the first big panic).

    2. It is a one time only audit. Most here think there will be another crash in the not too distant future although timeframes vary. The lack of ongoing audits encourages moral hazard at the Fed in dealing with it. An audit is a means to accountability, not accountability itself. It is not clear if another audit will ever happen but even if it does, as happened this time around, it will be greatly delayed. As for accountability, we are still waiting for both the housing bubble (2 1/2 years ago) and the meltdown (1 1/2 years ago).

    3. The wording of the amendment suggests that while programs will be audited the individual transactions within them may not be. If this is correct, I am not sure how this advances us that much from what we know now.

    4. I am also unsure if there will be much of a context in which to place the audit. My impression is that the Open Markets Committee remains out of bounds. So we will not get why the Fed acted as it did.

    5. I have seen no indication of what kind of an auditing approach will be used. Will it be mark to market or mark to model? If it is mark to model, then the audit becomes essentially pointless.

    6. The 96-0 vote is not something to applaud. It is deeply suspicious. One view is that Senators were so afraid of voting against this that a unanimous vote was a foregone conclusion. Yet these same Senators were not afraid a few minutes later to defeat the Vitter amendment which contained the original and more substantial Paul-Grayson auditing language. In a hyper-partisan, bitterly divided Senate, the truth is that only something as innocuous as naming a post office branch can get passed with a vote like this. I mean if you want to sell a vote like this one, 20-30 no votes would have given the impression that there was something here to oppose, that there was some substance. Unanimity, on the other hand, especially in an election year, conveys the idea that there is nothing to oppose because there is nothing there.

    1. LeeAnne

      I agree and feel its another sell-out.

      The dramatic point in congressional questioning of the FED came when Grayson questioning Bernanke caught him in a BIG LIE.

      Questioning Bernanke about the FEDs authority to circumvent Congress in their transactions with ‘foreigners’ involving more than $500B that Bernanke claimed was authorized and had “been used numerous times over the years,” Grayson, referring the FED’s own balance sheet responded on the contrary, that 0 (zero) such transactions to foreign banks had been made previous to those currently in question at which time Barney Frank brought down the gavel.

      The new audit authority would seemingly bury all of that –anything prior to 2007.

      This circus is just too much. Everyone involved is so compromised just to stay in the game and God only knows for whatever other reasons. Its so like the FBI under the guy in the cross-dressing frame of mind having something on EVERYONE else in government.

    2. Glen

      I agree that the re-worked audit bill is most probably a white wash.

      But most telling is that our President who has bent over backwards for bi-partisanship doesn’t support a Fed audit.

      Good grief, why doesn’t all the Congresspeople, Senators, President, and SCOTUS judges just start publishing a price list at Fed daily or Fedweek so us voters can not only vote them into office, but buy their stinking votes too.

  11. LeeAnne

    JPMorgan Chase Warns Investors About Underwater Homeowners Walk Away

    Freddie’s former chairman and CEO, in noting that the firm had seen a rise, used different terminology to phrase it.

    “[T]he term that[‘s] used for people walking away when they are caught up upside down, more frequently used in autos than it is in homes, is ruthlessness. Right?

    And we are seeing an increase in ruthlessness and I think, it is probably not just speculators or investors, but [I] think it is a different period and the changes… we have seen an enormous amount… [have] the potential for changing consumer behavior,” Syron said according to a transcript of the call.”

    Considering we need a revolution and hope for a peaceful one this isn’t a bad place to start -–consumer ruthlessness! Yeah, consumers. Bring it on.

    I remember shortly after 9/11 when domestic fascism began to take hold in my country and our freedoms eagerly trounced upon after the depression of a Supreme Court appointing a dumb ass as president whose warped intellect was surpassed only by his talent for destruction, when a scholar from India doing her thesis on the American court system expressed the feeling to me that Americans would right things; they always do she said. It had more than a ring of truth to it.

    Now many years later as the fascists continue to gain power and continue squandering the American legacy, I think she could be right after all. The American spirit could just be there quietly organically wending its way through the system for the big one; throwing this rotten corporate fascist enterprise down the nearest sewer in their own muck.

    And perhaps the work of the traitorous bankers will unite all people more surely than it has already united the bankers of the world.

  12. eric anderson

    Reply to bystander:

    “Do you actually understand the difference between the claims: a) that there has been no statistically significant global warming since 1995 and b) that there has been no global warming since 1995?”

    Yes, I understand the difference. But if you look at the global temperatures, I see no warming trend whatsoever in the past ten years. And it isn’t “statistically significant,” either.

    “You have also claimed on this blog that temperature data have been massaged, to show a warming trend. Please square this with whichever of 1a) and 1b) you actually believe. Show workings.”

    Yes, I claim they are massaged. It is as plain as day if you look at raw versus “corrected” temperature trends. If I say there has been no statistically significant warming according to the official “corrected” readings, and that the temps have been massaged upward, that means actually there was cooling. But the massaging is a separate argument. An argument I believe any open-minded person can appreciate by looking at the poor placement of weather stations at It does not take a climate scientist or a physicist to understand and appreciate the warped temperature readings that will occur when thermometers are placed too close to artificial heat sources.

    As for the APS, it is true that in one of their journals, they reopened the debate on climate change. I can give the link to the pdf, if you don’t believe me. And there are still many prominent members of this organization calling for a change to their official policy statement. Yes, there are well-credentialed phsyicists, and not a few of them, who are skeptical of AGW claims, especially in the wake of Climategate.

    1. renato

      Coming from a creationist background, I think it must be hard to understand that all scientists are skeptical by nature, and do not “believe in” their results the way creationists believe the Earth really was created in 6 calendar days roughly 6000 years ago. Even the climate scientists who see the vast preponderance of evidence in favor of human caused global warming would admit they could be wrong. They would also admit they could be wrong about gravity. Somehow, that isn’t challenged as often.

      1. aet

        None of these denialists live north of 60 degrees, I’m guessing.
        It won’t be global warming, it’ll be global storming.
        And there are feewdbacks already kcking in.
        My guess is that a petro-economuy =a necro-econmy over 600 years, tops. There is no reason to suppose that the environment in which we evolved is that robust to great changes in the chemical composition of our atmosphere.

        We are conducting an uncontrolled large-scale geo-physical experiment.
        It could turn out very badly.
        But hey! For a few generations, the oil co people made out like bandits, did they not?

        1. aet

          Seems the prudent thing to do would be to base our actions upon the best that the scientists have got: and right now, that view is that the earth is changing too fast fo its life forms to adapt, and that our generatiobn opf heat-retaining molecules into the atmosphere is the primary cause.
          So why is the “conservative”position the imprudent one, ion this issue?
          Could it be that oil has been grotesquely over-priiced sinc about 1965?

    2. bystander

      “Yes, I claim they are massaged. It is as plain as day if you look at raw versus “corrected” temperature trends. If I say there has been no statistically significant warming according to the official “corrected” readings, and that the temps have been massaged upward, that means actually there was cooling.”

      What trends? Your whole initial point was that there was no statistically significant trend in the corrected data. Explain why you think you can discern one in the unmassaged data. It looks very much as if you apply the significance criterion only when it suits you. Well, you can’t have it both ways.

      “As for the APS, it is true that in one of their journals, they reopened the debate on climate change.”

      You are retreating from your prior claim (quite right too):

      “The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science. The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming ‘incontrovertible.’”

      “I can give the link to the pdf, if you don’t believe me.”

      I believe you, that’s not the point. You already gave a link, but you’ve overlooked the APS rebuttal, which is the bit in red at the top.


      “…there are well-credentialed physicists, and not a few of them”.

      Either you believe that appeals to authority don’t carry any weight (yesterday’s position) or you believe that they do (today’s). Again, you can’t have it both ways.

      1. aet

        Other are more eloquent and better-spoken than I:

        « Previous | Main | Next »
        US climate change bill: Your reaction
        09:01 UK time, Wednesday, 12 May 2010

        A major bill aimed at reducing America’s reliance on foreign oil and fighting global warming has been unveiled by US senators. What should the US do about climate change?

        After healthcare reform, passing a climate change law is Mr Obama’s biggest legislative priority.

        Senator John Kerry revealed that the bill proposes cutting US carbon emissions by 17% by 2020 – it also includes provisions for relaxing rules on offshore oil-drilling, a highly controversial subject in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

        Does the climate change bill cover all the important factors? What should President Obama do about oil drilling, power generation and carbon emissions? How will the bill affect you?

        * Bookmark with:
        * |
        * Digg |
        * Newsvine |
        * NowPublic |
        * Reddit
        * – What’s this?


        Sign in or register to comment.

        * Previous
        * Next

        * 1. At 10:14am on 12 May 2010, 23 years 10 months and counting wrote:

        First thing they should do is resolve not to listen to the denialist conspiranoia.

        Complain about this comment
        * 2. At 10:15am on 12 May 2010, Osric wrote:

        To be fair, being that the US is also the grand capital of climate change skepticism it’ll be a miracle if he can make any meaningful changes at all.

        To put into perspective what he’s up against, i recently came accross someone, in an American forum arguing that the BP oil spill was a lot of fuss about nothing because oil is a 100% product of nature and therefore could not adversely affect the environment.

        Complain about this comment
        * 3. At 10:25am on 12 May 2010, in_the_uk wrote:

        Reject taking action on MMCC until the cause is proven, if its ever proven. Research into renewables is still valid. MMCC diverted funds to be reinstated to tackling real polution such as the oil tanker problem and other damage preventing measures.

        If the US is similar to the UK, a lot could be saved by not throwing away money on useless ‘solutions’ to a manufactured problem.

        Complain about this comment
        * 4. At 10:32am on 12 May 2010, pzero wrote:

        Less hot air from Obama would be a good start…………

        Complain about this comment
        * 5. At 10:54am on 12 May 2010, James T Kirk wrote:

        To pre-empt the usual suspects who claim MMCC is a myth and a scam:

        What’s a myth?

        That CO2 is a greenhouse gas?
        That mankind’s activities have increased its atmospheric concentration by 30% since 1750 and is continuing to rise by about 2% a year?
        That adding more greenhouse gases must, unless basic physics is wrong, retain heat and so cause global temperatures to rise?

        It is a myth that it is a myth, perpetuated by creationist leaning, scientifically illerate, self centred people who would rather do all they can to deny it so they can happily continue their lifestyle whilst leaving future genetations to sort out the mess.

        I suggest you read something like:


        Even Exxonmoibil:

        If you have real evidence that the science is wrong take it up with NASA.

        If you seriously think there is a massive global conspiracy going on which allies such strange bedfollows as eco-loonies, the vast majority of scientists, every national science academy, 192 governments (of all political complexions), all oil and energy companies, global companies in many industries (many “threatened” by climate change), all mainstream political parties AND no-one is breaking ranks on the conspiracy, you are seriously deluded.

        None of these doubt the science on climate change. Some may doubt how serious it will get and how fast and others may doubt whether policies can be adopted that make a difference and keep our lifestyles. That’s what should be being debated in the US Climate Chnage Bill: whether the policies are realistic and implementable and strike the right balance, not whether MMCC is real. The latter has been “proven” beyond reasonable doubt. Predictions and policies can and should be debated, but the fundamental science is robust.

        What the sceptics consistently fail to recognise is that if they put forward another explanation for the observed rapid climate change over the last 100 years or so, they must also explain why the 30% rise in CO2 levels since 1750, largely attributed to burning of fossil fuels and change in land use, hasn’t retained heat as basic physics says it must. Greenhouse gas physics has been well understood for over 100 years and if sceptic scientists have discovered some new properties of greenhouse gases that have eluded other scientists then they must present the evidence and present it for the scrutiny of the scientific method, which includes a rigorous peer review process. At the moment we have a well documented rise in CO2 levels that can be shown to be from burning fossil fuels; we have a proven rise in temperatures globally; we have an agent (CO2), a mechanism (greenhouse effect) so it hangs together scientifically. CO2 absorbs and emits infrared radiation. This can be measured in the laboratory. It can be measured by pointing instruments at the sky. And the emission, and effects of its absorption, is measured continuously by weather satellites orbiting the Earth.

        The sceptics I do hear about actually aren’t debating the premise that manmade CO2 is changing the climate. What they are debating is whether we should do anything about it and what the effective mitigation strategies should be if we do. What is clear is that demand for fossil fuels is going to continue to increase this century, leading to insecurity of supply. If we are to maintain our standards of living, then alternatives must be found and those alternatives need to be low CO2 sources. Rather than debate the science that most of us are not actually qualified to do, we should debate the correction, mitigation and adaptation strategies that affect us all, recognising we are mere custodians of the planet, not its owners.

        Many of the sceptics here are treating the scientific debate like courtroom or debating society debate: use rhetoric to put forward all sorts of argument to obfuscate the real evidence. They dance from one argument to another suggesting a lawyer’s concern to win the case rather than establish the truth. Their courtroom style argument for the defence seems to be that their client isn’t doing it, but even if he is doing it’s harming nobody, and even if it is harming anyone it cannot be stopped.

        They have every right to assert their opinions. They are right that scientific predictions of future climate change from computer models are inherently unreliable and right to warn that market-led solution to climate change may not work. But neither of these is to be celebrated nor reasons to doubt the established science that manmade CO2 has largely caused the currently observed climate change and will continue to do so.

        Lastly, I would far rather be taken for a fool by future generations because we acted and the science was wrong, than be vilified by them for not acting when we manifestly should have.

        Block-quoted from one James T. Kirk, commenting onthe BBC news discussion of the USSenate’sproposed Climate-Chamge Bill.

        1. skippy

          Bloody Ripper!!!

          I think all total deniers should be place on an island with adequate natural supply…and let them experiment them selves.

  13. K Ackermann

    If the market were completely predictable by up to 1 day in advance, they 61 for 61 would be rational.

    The trading streaks we are seeing make a mokery of the market. It says the market is being shaped.

    The question is, what is the value at risk during these streaks?

    Also, what is the noon-averaged P/E for the S&P500 right now, and how does it compare to the non-adj P/E in the past?

  14. wunsacon

    >> The temperature cooling was so significant that Climate Scientists in the 1970s were predicting a New Ice Age by the year 2000

    Christ! Stop repeating this nonsense.

    A *handful* of scientists working without computers or else with punch cards make a wrong prediction one year in the 1970’s. You’ll find a handful of people who believe any proposition. But, what we have today is a consensus of climate scientists.

    1. renato

      I believe it was the journalist, classics major, and partisan hack “Lord Monckton” who also put forward this scientific hypothesis.

Comments are closed.