Links 5/16/10

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Google Thinks Sexual Older Women Are Gross, But “Sugar Daddies” A-OK Alternet (hat tip John D). Oh, and remember those awful Asian girl ads that Google thought went well with articles about the Chinese economy?

Scientists forecast decades of ash clouds Times Online

Swan tackles large eel BBC. Eeew.

Steve Jobs Offers World ‘Freedom From Porn’ ValleyWag

Shorebank Closer to Closure Wall Street Journal.

Barack Obama sends nuclear experts to tackle BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil leak Telegraph

Scientists Find Giant Plumes of Oil Forming Under the Gulf New York Times

Blanche Lincoln Neglects to do Her Homework Steve Benen

The Deficit Problem Is Not “We, the People,” It is “You, the Incompetent Elite” Dean Baker. From last week but still worth reading.

James Tobin’s Hirsch Lecture Rajiv Sethi

Lingerie And Sex Shops Defy Recession, Open New Stores Huffington Post. False indicator, lingerie and lipstick do well in recessions.

Foreclosure Law News: Terminate with Extreme Prejudice FireDogLake (hat tip reader John D)

A Credit Union That Played With Fire Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

The global crisis and political extremism Markus Brückner and Hans Peter Grüner, VoxEU

Antidote du jour:

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  1. attempter

    Re “Global Crisis and Political Extremism”:

    We should start out by recognizing that neoliberal corporatism is itself an extreme ideology and practice. But because it has been dominant for several decades it benefits from the Status Quo Lie, whereby it falsely represents itself as the moderate, natural, non-ideological baseline, and represents any counterattack upon it, even those which would bring us back toward what actually is a more moderate, rational state of affairs, as “extremism”.

    One current example of this is the lie that the aggressively ideological Fed is actually not ideological at all, and that attempts to render it democaratically accountable, and even (god forbid) to have it act more in the public interest and not the Wall Street interest, would be illegitimately “politicizing” it. The truth is that the Fed already is a politically radical organization.

    Getting to the study, it confirms the already well-known trend of history, that in the kind of situation we now have in the West, where a large group (the temporary “middle class” now being liquidated) which had achieved some level of economic power is now rapidly losing that power, the most common response is not to fight back against the robbers themselves, but to let themselves be misdirected into fighting among themselves. That’s how fascism rises and triumphs, and every indication is that’s the path we’re on now. (The ratio of fascist symptoms to actual revolutionary signs must be something like 100:1, though I haven’t yet started compiling a tally.)

  2. Richard Kline

    The contamination of the near shore Gulf needs a signifier to grasp this foul event. I’m designating it ‘the Blob’ in my remarks hereafter. Would that it swallowed some of the careless greedheads in the corporate food chain which spawned it. Like, y’know, if we cast an executive into the Pulsating Deep every other day to appease the Blob that it lieth offshore for time to come. Hmmm . . . .

  3. Richard Kline

    Both Hekla and Katla in Iceland have had massive climatic impacts in past eruptions. If they have a serious episode, you won’t have to read the news to feel the impact. One big happy world, what?

    Chipper furry mulligan: “Folding green stuff; I never leave home without it.”

  4. dearieme

    “…according to Thor Thordarson, a volcanologist at Edinburgh University.” On the subject of Viking volcanoes, I’m not going to argue with Thor.

  5. kyle

    I’ve managed to live all but two of my years free of Steve Jobs and his seriously inferior, expensive and over-hyped hardware.

    1. Zephyrum

      I am very far from a fan of Steve Jobs, or Apple, and their massively arrogance. Their products are indeed expensive and over-hyped. But saying their products are inferior is incorrect.

      Annoying though it may be, Apple’s offerings are beautifully designed and well-executed. Their technology leadership has repeatedly prodded the rest of the computer industry to advance far more quickly than they would have otherwise. Everyone is better off for their efforts.

      One would like to believe that Apple’s hubris would be balanced by mediocrity, but that is not the case. Then again, great things have often arisen from distasteful origins.

      1. kyle

        Like financial innovation, apple’s innovation isn’t so great:
        from DRM

        to antitrust

        to viruses that other computers have (apple claimed it didn’t get any)

        to middling reliability ratings,

        low levels of satisfaction with their operating system,

        there is actually much much more wrong with apple.

        In the end, you pay double for the same components in a spiffy case.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Is it too much to ask a computing device, by any human maker, that is self-healing, self-feeding, self-maintaining, self-cleaning, self-updating/improving/adapting?

          Many animals do not just one, but many of those, you know.

          Humans have much to be modest about, if only they realize it.

  6. MindTheGAAP

    The Deficit Problem Is Not “We, the People,” It is “You, the Incompetent Elite”

    Was it we the people who were too dumb to see an $8 trillion housing bubble

    Yes. Somebody was buying those houses. Having found myself arguing (and losing) with many, many otherwise sane people who thought it was a brilliant idea to put basically no money down and take the equivalent of IO mortgages or ARMs at a time when housing prices were hitting historical highs, and having argued a decade earlier with many people who thought that buying internet stocks was a “sure thing” I have no doubt that people are too dumb to see any bubble, no matter how closely spaced they are to each other or how extreme valuations get. People who laugh at the Dutch being stupid enough to pay for black tulips in he 1630s should do a quick comparison to our modern manias. I suspect most would be shocked at how the numbers compare, and how much stupider we’ve become over the last 400 years.

    “If there had been no bubble and the economy was still chugging along with 4.5 percent unemployment,”

    No! No!! NO!!! Unemployment was at 4.5% because of the bubble!!!

    the budget would either be balanced or close enough that no serious person would be expressing alarm (check out the pre-crisis CBO projections).

    1. The CBO projections are notoriously optimistic due to the way they must be tabulated.

    2. “no serious person would be expressing alarm” at annual deficits of hundreds of billions of dollars? LOTS of “serious people” were expressing alarm over the deficits of last decade (hell, we can go back to the Reagan years if you like). Wiki gives a decent idea as to the obscene amount of debt (hundreds of billions annually) that’s been issued even during the bubble–ie, at a time when gov’t revenue coincide most favorably with expenditures to produce basically ideal conditions for the gov’ts balance sheet:

    The “post-bubble” has merely shown that the US is willing to test the absolute limits of how much debt can be issued in how short a time, and that it will continue to test them until it faces its own (sovereign) credit crisis. Moreover, the Treasury has decided to increasingly borrow on the short end of the curve, so this debt will have to be rolled over ever more frequently (and the buyers will also be asked to finance the ever-increasing deficits as they occur), thereby ensuring that such a crisis will occur sooner rather than later.

    But if the problem is only the elite, then surely individual debts would be low, right? Not a chance:

    Note that debt rose both throughout the boom AND that it increased as a function of disposable income at a time when interest rates were at historical lows.

  7. Doc Holiday

    WARNING!!! 2-Butoxyethanol 2-Butoxyethanol

    2-Butoxyethanol – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    It is the main ingredient of many home, commercial and industrial cleaning solutions, such as Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner. It is also a major component (30-60% by weight) of Corexit 9527, an oil spill dispersant product.
    The primary manufacturers are Eastman Chemical, Dow Chemical and Equistar in the United States.
    Some animal studies indicate that it produces reproductive problems, such as reduced fertility, death of embryos and birth defects.[3] People exposed to high levels of 2-butoxyethanol for several hours have reported nose and eye irritation, headaches, vomiting and a metallic taste in their mouths. In addition to inhaling 2-butoxyethanol vapor, research has shown that skin can also absorb 2-butoxyethanol vapor from the air, making skin a major pathway of exposure to this chemical. It has been linked to some autoimmune diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome and autism and some forms of anemia.
    2-Butoxyethanol is frequently found in popular cleaning products. It is difficult for consumers to know whether their favorite cleaner contains the chemical because manufacturers are not required to list it on the label.[4][5]
    This compound is on California’s list of hazardous substances,[6] though it was removed from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‎’s list of hazardous air pollutants in 1994

  8. Ronald

    Sugar Daddies websites are part of the internet porn business which means huge dollars to Goggle and the rest of the internet business crowd.

  9. EmilianoZ

    PEW, the policy branch not the research branch, made a poll about financial reform:

    In each of 5 states (AR, ME, MA, TN, UT) it questioned about 500 people who said they were very likely to vote in the November elections.

    An overwhelming majority favored “protecting consumers from harmful business practices by providing better information to make decisions about financial products and services”, which should be the role of a toothy CFPA.

    However, depressingly, as an average of the 5 states, only 62% of the people polled deemed financial reform critical to economic recovery. And, even worse, only 47% said “they would feel less likely to vote to reelect their Member of Congress, if Congress does not take action on financial reform legislation this year”.

    This tells me that the populace still does not take financial reform seriously enough. With less than half willing to vote out their representatives, there is no chance those will feel compelled to enact anything meaningful. It seems to me the populace needs another crisis to wake up to reality, a crisis even worse than this one.

  10. itad?


    So, it’s a circuit, in from the sun, out through the core, resulting in diversity of life, relativity among symbiotic circuits, and humans have shorted the primary circuit, increasing core and atmospheric T, creating a vice, energized by environmental variability, in a feedback loop, approaching the limit switch with massive momentum, because the gravity of human behavior cannot be changed in real time.

    Finance is an articulation mechanism. As adaptive individuals abandon the dc debt manufacturing system on the margin, load is lost, resulting in a runaway, debt chasing debt, increasingly shorting the short, and there is nowhere on this planet to hide. The US Constitution is standing at the BRICK wall as the empire implodes toward it.

    Agency has been creating symptoms exponentially, and paying itself to address them linearly, with consequential pay raises along the way, relying on a giant buffer to cover the deficit, created by similar, but extinct species, and it is running out of buffer.

    You’ll have that with an ivy league monopoly of the US Supreme Court, nominated by an ivy league monopoly of Administration, and confirmed by Congress, which pays selected voters with short-term pork to accept long-term ivy league control of agency, through ivy league lobbyists and staffers, from old families that adamantly argue that there is no relationship between family law, which disposes of natural new family formation in a disposable economy, and financial outcomes, which is why the chain reaction cannot be stopped, leaving slingshot development and speciation as the remaining probabilities.

    Slingshot development is a function of accelerating through the wall at a speed faster than the knowledge of the wall, virtual organization across a new medium. The Internet is becoming a sunk cost, the flux is fluid, and the looking glass is about to be moved again. Whether the new justice is a liberal or a conservative is of absolutely no consequence.

    The US Supreme Court has been trying to prove that it can effectively short natural new family formation, with agency, for decades, unwinding all previous investments, and replacing them with agency, in a hollowed out economy, fully owned by the old families, through the ivy league.

    How’s that working?

  11. bob

    The Deficit Problem-

    He fails to make the point that once again abdication of responsibility to make a national policy decision on health care is in fact a policy on health care- Let the people who have been making the decisions all along continue to do it.

    There is a very simple choice for those under 40 years old in the US today- Get a job in the health care industry (most likely without any benefits), or find a way to get out.

    The national policy decision that was made, by default, was for most of the productive capacity of the younger generation to be put to work for large multinational drug and insurance companies taking care of an older and increasingly oblivious generation of boomers.

    Remember that when you need your diaper changed.

    1. carsteen

      The average American already works about 2 months out of every year to pay the insurance companies. Who will pay them if everyone works for them directly, or if they drop out?

  12. KFritz

    That cute groundhog is eating somebody’s (I’m assuming) assiduously cultivated Swiss chard. In my small part-time farm youth, that was a bad outlook for woodchucks. Somehow they never looked that cute.

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