Links 5/20/10

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Weird science versus the volcano BBC

WikiLeaks founder has his passport confiscated Glenn Greenwald, Salon (hat tip reader John D). Nasty.

HP says 10,000 cows can power 1,000 servers Computerworld

Bakery chain Panera Bread opens non-profit, pay-what-you-want shop Raw Story (hat tip reader John D)

N Korea threatens war over sanctions Financial Times

There’s a tax angle to everything–including the DeepWater Horizon oil spill Linda Beale

L.A. Mayor Dismisses Warning That Arizona Could Cut Off Power Over Boycott Fox News (hat tip reader John D)

Skyscrapers rise on the back of new City cash Guardian. Dunno how fast this is moving, but office building in a major, established city on more than a modest scale is usually a bubble indicator.

China: Time to Admit To, Then Douse, Our Inflation Fire Ed Harrison

‘Naked Keynesianism’ At The University Of Texas, Says Fox News Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post

The Euro Turns Radioactive Wall Street Journal. Nothin’ like an attention getting headline.

Germany: Right and wrong on naked shorts Robert Peston

The ECB’s QE doesn’t inhale FT Alphaville

People like me in Thailand John Hempton

Antidote du jour:

Picture 14

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  1. attempter

    I’d like to hear the econo-libertarian (i.e. anarcho-capitalism) self-contradictions on that bakery story.

    Assuming they don’t scoff and say it’s doomed to fail, they might say on the contrary, “that shows how well voluntary cooperation works.” Great.

    But if it works, then why do we allegedly need the profit incentive for everything?

    The basic contradiction is how in the same intellectual motion they both exalt voluntarism yet claim there’s no such thing as “altruism”. But why would anyone who has the power to coerce others be willing to work with them on a voluntary basis, other than out of altuism (even if you want to call it by a different name)?

    I guess one test will be how well this works.

  2. bob

    The AZ story-

    What about the sanctity of contracts?

    It can’t compare with the sanctimony of Gary Pierce?

  3. alex

    Re: WikiLeaks founder has his passport confiscated

    Outrageous! Hopefully they’ll be enough public pressure on the Australian government and/or judicial action to stop this. Thanks to Yves for linking to this – hopefully it becomes a big story.

  4. Peripheral Visionary

    Re: WikiLeaks founder has his passport confiscated

    I realize that my view is likely to be in the minority, but I find the sudden rise of wikileaks to be deeply problematic. While I support greater transparency for government, I also support full accountability for those who release information that could potentially damage public or private interests.

    The press has traditionally taken that role, and the press has also been held accountable for instances where the information it released caused significant damage (e.g., a situation a few years back where a reporter leaked a name of a person of interest in a police case–a person of interest who then turned out to be completely uninvolved, after his reputation had been destroyed by the media outlet in question–the legal settlement was considerable.) The press has not done a perfect job, but the simple fact is that, by and large, it is accountable. If significant damage to public or private interests is done through inappropriate release of information by the press, there are avenues of redress available.

    The problem with wikileaks is that it appears to be designed to avoid accountability. Where do we go for redress against anonymous, invisible bloggers? If, as is alleged, they complicated police efforts in a child pornography sweep by publishing a list of the websites under police scrutiny, that qualifies as outright obstruction of justice in the investigation of an extremely serious crime against innocent victims; who will be held accountable for that?

    And it should go without saying that such an operation is extremely subject to corruption by political or intelligence operatives, although it would not surprise me a bit if the operators of the site were completely blind to that possibility. All it would take would be a few individuals with ulterior motives getting into the organization, and such an operation could be transformed into a full-blown propaganda machine overnight.

    The deep irony is that an organization committed to greater transparency and accountability for government is itself largely opaque and completely unaccountable. If opacity and unaccountability lead directly to abuse of power, why would wikileaks end up any less corrupt than the governments it criticizes?

    1. DownSouth

      Peripheral Visionary,

      That’s quite a demonstration of cognitive gymnastics you go through in order to justify censorship.

      First you butcher the definition of slander, and then you conflate your misrepresentation of slander (it is a civil offense against a private party) with “significant damage to public….interests.”

      The end result of all your mental gymnastics is that the difference between the private and public realms and between civil and criminal law (and punishment) disappears. To top it off you completely ignore what both slander and public discourse is all about—-truth—-and whether falsehoods were actually uttered.

      In the public realm, there are no slander laws, no civil penalties for uttering lies or falsehoods, and the threshold for criminal prosecution is set very high (screaming “fire” in a crowded theater, inciting violence, etc.). This is by design of the people who wrote our Constitution:

      …that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them…
      –Thomas Jefferson

      1. Peripheral Visionary


        This is about more than slander. This is about control of information, and whether or not release of information can be damaging, and if so, if those who release it should be held accountable.

        I understand that the justification being offered for this behavior is that it is intended to hold government accountable, and to expose lies. But the simple fact is that there appears to be no limitation on what could potentially be released. Could tax returns of individuals be released? Identities of witnesses under government protection? Access codes for government information systems? Names of victims of sexual crimes and graphic details of the crimes committed? This is not simply an issue of reputations; there are also security, criminal justice, victims’ rights, and privacy issues at stake that need to be seriously considered.

        The simple fact is that I do not see these individuals imposing any significant limitations on their behavior; and, as I pointed out, there is no accountability. With the press, there is a level of transparency and accountability that ensures that egregious violations of the public trust can be subject to civil and criminal penalties as appropriate. Such actions are rare, and should be rare, but are effective in ensuring that the most potentially damaging information is handled more carefully. With anonymous internet information leaks, there is no sense of considering what impact the release of information may have, and what the most appropriate way of handling it would be.

        And this can go both ways. I do not doubt for a second that some of the people rushing to wikileaks’ defense are precisely the same individuals who were outraged following the release of the e-mails of the climate scientists and were calling for severe criminal penalties. It should be evident that this anonymous, untraceable release of information has every capability of being turned into a weapon of information warfare, and is subject to use by parties more interested in advancing political objectives than holding government accountable, and we therefore should be seriously considering whether or not it is something to be celebrated and supported.

  5. wunsacon

    Yves, me thinks I remember today’s antidote de jure! It’s only an “antidote” if the pic is *new*!

    … Ugh. That’s it. I’m going back to sleep.


  6. LeeAnne

    Germany: Right and wrong on naked shorts Robert Peston

    The tone of articles like this, ‘let’s all be gentlemen bankers and sit around the table and agree on fair tactics and give fair warning,’ when fraud and corruption are banker’s tools of the trade is such worthless punditry.

    Give me Karl Denninger on the same topic here, Jesse here, and Max Kaiser for truth telling with a healthy dose of justifiable irreverence and comic relief here

  7. Ed

    I’m also curious about the Arizona story. Can U.S. states actually do this? Can a state behave with another state the same way Russia sometimes does with natural gas shipments?

    And why can’t Calfornia generate its own electricity?

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    How many bankers does it take to power 1,000 servers?

    By the way, does anyone know where I can get solar-powered tanning beds? I am going green.

  9. itad?

    Grounding the Circuit

    Why are you on this planet?

    When you stop asking yourself that question, you are in trouble, because there are plenty of other people that never stop asking.

    The empire is gravity, nothing more. Left to its own devices, it will short itself out EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    Employ gravity. The minute you fight, it recognizes you, which is the same as entering its field, and it’s prone to develop into a black hole. It’s eager to develop clicks because that makes it more efficient, which is all it cares about. Once you enter the field, it has also captured everyone like you, in a relativity circuit, just a matter of time, which means it has already moved its force to identify and capture the next relatively unique body.

    If it were a war, and it’s not (gravity is stupid, stubbornly ignorant), fighting gravity is like going to battle against a nexus of generals, within a cadre of officers, surrounded by an army of enlisted personnel, by attacking the enlisted front line, instead of cutting the head off. You may slay a couple of soldiers, who have no idea why they are there, but you will be swarmed by their compadres, and the generals will be sipping tea and laughing in any case.

    Gravity is the ground for the system. Government is the neutral/return. What does the current through the neutral look like when: the loads are balanced, one phase is pulling disproportionately, or a component in a particular circuit is open or shorted? What do you want to do with that signal?

    Currently, most people are yelling at it. Hello.

    What is your purpose? Neither empire nor government can answer that. Without a functioning feedback signal, everything just returns to the recycling drain, and right now, lots of people are swirling down that queue. Long-term investment return is a function of net liberty, which is a function of individual initiative to create social economic profit, to balance the gravitational field, to put it to work. The quickest path between two points is not a straight line, which is why the speed of light is so slow.

    Both the planet and the universe have time on their side for a reason. The relativity circuit nets out everything, except unique talent, which must deploy energy, beyond the knowledge of gravity, which creates/transforms the voltage potential. Return on social economic profit is a function of distance from the knowledge horizon of gravity. Different components in the circuit require different distances, from both gravity and each other. Confidence in the unknowable makes the circuit.

    You have no brain, but you have $1000. You walk into a store that has everything. Computers cost $1 and brains cost $1000. What do you buy? By relinquishing education to the empire, people are effectively buying computers, video games and Big Macs, and competing for the privilege. Computers are not the problem. Perspective is the problem.

    By far and away, most symptoms are a result of low quality on the front end, which is a function of the recursive feedback loop to gravity. On what planet does smart technology for stupid people make sense? Letting the empire “think” is one thing, actually acting on its “thoughts” is another.

    When you walk into a trouble event, you are going to receive all kinds of crazy trouble signals, because everyone is trying to fix the circuit, with no understanding of the circuit, and you have to deliver a smooth output signal to realign the circuit, without getting lost in the recursion, which means that you have to take advantage of the relativity circuit in your head, building all kinds of parallel circuits over time, getting in and getting out, moving, and getting back in again.

    Is the coil to the correct load energized? What is not the problem, from the power rails to the coil? Is this the first time the component has failed? Is it the design of the component, the sub-circuit, or the supra-circuit? What does the environmental feedback circuit look like? What is the history of prejudice in the troubleshooting process?

    So, the market-makers constantly reset the market, to filter out transaction classes they don’t like, and take their profit on both sides, like a crooked bookie. Why?

    (winning by setting the rules, and changing them as necessary is nothing new)

  10. anon

    “I’m also curious about the Arizona story. Can U.S. states actually do this? Can a state behave with another state the same way Russia sometimes does with natural gas shipments?”

    Pierce is simply pointing out LA’s probable hypocrisy WRT the boycott of AZ. He’s offering to renegotiate LA’s contracts with AZ power companies: “If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation.” If LA is serious about the boycott, they should jump at the chance to dump their contracts with AZ power companies. I really doubt that they’ll do that, though.

    Of course states, or any other party, can renegotiate its contracts with any other party. And IMO Pierce is right in pointing out the hypocrisy of boycotting AZ only when it’s convenient to do so but continue to benefit from contracts with AZ when it’s in LA’s interest to continue those ties. (FWIW, I don’t like the AZ law at all but I don’t like political grandstanding or hypocrisy either, which is how I view LA’s threat to boycott AZ.)

  11. sam hamster

    Washington’s blog had a piece about the danger of the oil fumes to the fishermen. I have worked with many chemicals, painting. I know that you don’t need someone to tell you when the air isn’t safe and you need a respirator. I guarantee that these fishermen need to be wearing respirators, but 99% are not.

    Why? When you get workmen in a group, the old timers tease the guy who wants to wear a mask and “can’t take it.” Also, the sweat and the heat make them damn uncomfortable. Also, you can’t “shoot the sh_t” wearing one.

    It takes courage and discipline to wear a respirator in a workspace. You will hear these fishermen complain later how they “didn’t know,” but don’t believe them. The smell alerted them, but they chose not get and wear a mask.

    So, like after 9/11, don’t believe the hype about respirators. The story is not as simple as it seems.

  12. M.InTheCity

    Re: The Guardian Story. They still haven’t hit the number of cranes they did a couple of years ago. Although I was looking around yesterday and was impressed how close they are getting to pre-credit crisis levels. Back in early ’07, I was at the top of the Tate Modern looking at all of those cranes and was just astonished anyone thought this was normal.

    We’ll know it’s getting near the end (bubble burst) when they finally start on the giant condemned building on Queen Victoria St, near Bank. That buidling has been siting there waiting to be torn-down and rebuilt for several years now.

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