Links 5/5/10

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Lack of sleep ‘linked to early death’ BBC

Graphene is Next h+ (hat tip reader Sugar Hush)

Would You Buy Your Kid an Internship at Vogue? Helaine Olen

Oil spills, crime waves and the increasing militarization of American life Kurt Cobb (hat tip Crocodile Chuck)

Back to Petroleum Kate Sheppard, Foreign Policy (hat tip Crocodile Chuck)

Response by the University of East Anglia to the Report by Lord Oxburgh’s Science Assessment Panel University of East Anglia. So much for “climategate”; the unit was “cleared of any scientific impropriety and dishonesty” by an independent investigation.

Goldman Disciplined on Short Sales Wall Street Journal

JPMorgan Chase Memo Sneers At ‘Ignorant’ Senators, ‘Time For The Grownups To Step In’ Shashien Nasiripour, Huffington Post. And who wrote this client memo?

Crisis Panel to Probe Window-Dressing at Banks Louise Story, New York Times

“The Specter Amendment would take the limited, but important, step of amending the Exchange Act to authorize a private right of action under §10(b), the antifraud provision, and other, less commonly invoked, provisions of the Act, against a secondary actor who provides substantial assistance to a person who violates the securities antifraud rule.” Tim Solanic. This is actually huge, the lack of secondary liability (which goes earlier than Stoneridge, I must admit I forget the case, but I cited it in ECONNED, and Frank Partnoy went on at greater length in his book Infectious Greed) means someone who helps a fraudster (like a lawyer or accountant) can’t be sued by the client of the fraudster. The advisor who actively enabled a fraud can only be sued by his own client.

A “Modest Proposal” for Capital Market Reform: Close Down Rule 144A Stephen Diamond and Jeff Madrick, New Deal 2.0

A bail-out for Greece is just the beginning Martin Wolf, Financial Times

OPUD MacroMan

Some really bad news from Greece – Opposition decides to vote against the deal Eurointelligence

Still Unbalanced Tim Duy

Italy: Much to play for Guy Dinmore, Financial Times (hat tip Swedish Lex)

Pre-avoiding regulation, Goldman style Paul Murphy, FTAlphaville (hat tip Swedish Lex). Unfortunately, we don’t have anyone policing pre-crime.

Antidote du jour:

Picture 10

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  1. dearieme

    “the unit was “cleared of any scientific impropriety and dishonesty” by an independent investigation”: independent my left foot! How can you have learnt so much about misbehaviour in the financial world and still be so naive about Climate Science?

    1. voislav

      As a scientist myself, the problem with climate science is not with the fundamental research but with public expectations. Usually by the time fundamental research filters down to the wider public it has been throughly checked and tested by large number of researches. This means that most of the errors, either in data or in the analysis, have been weeded out. The usual scenario is that works get published in scientific journals, there is follow-up research to prove or disprove the research. It is usually only after this point that the research makes it to the popular science magazines and mass media. So the public expectation is that the science is always (or almost always) correct.

      With climate science, due to popular appeal, the media is using unfiltered scientific journal information. Two problems with that. You have to be very versed in that particular area of research to understand these and most mass media science editors/journalists are not. You have to resist temptation to interpret “there is 10% chance of 5 meter water level rise by 2050” as “New York to be underwater in 2050”.

      The reality is that a lot of research published in scientific journals is more or less incorrect. That’s why they call it science. Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence. There is a lot of incompetent scientists out there.

      1. zanon

        No – problem is climate science is not science.

        in science you can do experiments. has there been single experiment in climate science? is it even possible?

        in science, you show your work so other can reporduce. You cannot even look at code with climate model. If you did you would die of horror no doubt.

        in science, you can check figures to make sure the same. in climate science original figures thrown away, or never released, or fudged to show 100% of “change”

        in science, your funding does not depend on result you produce. in climate science, you get paid for certain result and certain line of inquiry.

        1. K Ackermann

          Are you saying that it shouldn’t be researched? I just want to hear you say that.

        2. Michael

          “in science, your funding does not depend on result you produce. in climate science, you get paid for certain result and certain line of inquiry.”

          Got some hard evidence to back up this wildly cow-dung claim?

          1. zanon

            astronomy is certainly science. it is famous for predictions being made of planetary bodies, and then observed evidence overthrowing theories.

            began will galileo. nothing like the client science.

            And yes, please do look at guidelies for government grants. you will see lots for examining the impact of climate change on x, and none for “is climate change real”. Compare budget for DoE from 1970 to 2010. Hard evidence in $$$ for all to sees

    2. Stelios Theoharidis

      Can anyone confirm this?

      NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – In what is looming as another public relations predicament for Goldman Sachs, the banking giant admitted today that it made “a substantial financial bet against the Gulf of Mexico” one day before the sinking of an oil rig in that body of water.

      The new revelations came to light after government investigators turned up new emails from Goldman employee Fabrice “Fabulous Fab” Tourre in which he bragged to a girlfriend that the firm was taking a “big short” position on the Gulf.

      “One oil rig goes down and we’re going to be rolling in dough,” Mr. Tourre wrote in one email. “Suck it, fishies and birdies!”

      The news about Goldman’s bet against the Gulf comes on the heels of embarrassing revelations that the firm had taken a short position on Lindsay Lohan’s acting career. More here.

        1. Cynthia

          For a moment there I thought the story about Goldman betting against the Gulf and then setting it on fire, so to speak, was for real. That’s what makes great satire.

    3. Stelios Theoharidis

      In the world of financial fraud there is a significant return to dishonesty. Drinking the coolaid results in considerable remuneration.

      Science on the other hand outside of the applied varieties where drugs or engineered items are being produced does not pay that particularly well. In those areas you can see considerable fraud particularly by pharmaceutical companies that are fudging the effectiveness of their drugs. But, so what you are trying to tell us that there is a conspiracy amongst all of these climate scientists in order to maintain their 60-100K a year salaries. Or is it because being climate scientists is getting them laid on a regular basis. There is some obvious dishonesty in the clean technology game, some algae companies have already collapsed to prove that. But, these climate scientists are not doing anyone a diservice, it is the trolls on the internet and specific denial ‘scientists’ paid by PR firms and oil companies trying to feign skepticism that are doing themselves and the general public a great harm.

      There is large amount of climate and atmospheric data to support the science here. The fact that scientists are constantly disagreeing with each other in order to make their models more accurate in regard to this data and predictive in relation to future trends, criticizing each other on a regular basis. But these minute disagreements do not take anything away from the general trend, they actually reinforce it as a discipline.

      The greatest lie ever perpetuated by the right is that they were the underdog. It has resulted in a swarm of fools supporting them by the ignorant notion that they were some sort of legitimate countercultural force, when in fact they were just part of a terrible joke, bought and paid for in a PR scheme.

      1. Valissa

        Scientists are just as prone to group think and belief fads as the rest of folks. Anyone who has read a bit on the history of science can see that very clearly. Ultimately the scientific method prevails but that process can take a very long time. After all once an idea gets established, published and has academic promoters whose own careers are based on it, then it can be tough to dislodge it.

        I have long questioned modeling as providing legitimate “answers” (I did a bit of mathematical modelling of computer traffic at one point in my career) … as modeling always has the problem that you can’t possibly put everything in the model so you have to select a set of items to put in your model and hope you haven’t left out anything important. It’s way too easy with models to get the results you desire, and much of it is unconscious (and reflects the surrounding groupthink). Since climate science is a relatively young science, and there are so many factors that aren’t well understood yet, it is important to be cautious about results derived from modelling. However scientists are humans who want to build careers and get paid well, and cautious statements don’t pay well in climate science right now.

        BTW, I do believe that climate change is occurring, but also that climate change has always occurred! I believe that humans impact the climate but it is unclear exactly how much or what we can do about it. I also support alternative energy and pollution controls. However I do not trust that one can legislate climate. Someone please show me the science that says we humans can control the climate or even one day of the weather. Do folks really believe that the carbon casino of cap-and-trade will save the planet?

        I want to see strightforward pollution mitigating guidelines, not all this bulls**t about climate change. Climate Change is to the elites of the Left what the Patriot Act was to the elites of the right… a way to gain power, money and influence.

        1. psychohistorian

          I agree and want to take it further. IMO, your call for “strightforward pollution mitigating guidelines” speaks to the same sort of solutions we need elsewhere….like separating retail from investment banking.

          A bigger nut to crack is changing the direction of the societal engineering by the Fed and its puppet masters. In case you don’t notice they currently are owned by whatever yo want to call the oligarchy of rich at the top. The trends of their increased social control (is the US fascistic?) and increased income and wealth disparities need to be reversed.


        2. Anonymous

          “I am acutely aware of the fact that the marriage between mathematics and physics, which was so enormously fruitful in past centuries, has recently ended in divorce.”
          — Freeman Dyson

          ‘We have to learn again that science without contact with experiments is an enterprise which is likely to go completely astray into imaginary conjecture.’
          – Hannes Alfvén (His Nobel Lecture: )

          ‘But if there was no Big Bang, how -and when- did the universe begin? “There is no rational reason to doubt that the universe has existed indefinitely, for an infinite time,” Alfvén explained. “It is only myth that attempts to say how the universe came to be, either four thousand or twenty billion years ago.”‘
          – Anthony L. Peratt, ‘Dean of the Plasma Dissidents‘, The World & I, May 1988, pp. 190-197

          ‘… the way in which modern mainstream astrophysicists treat theories which they do not like. Rather than disproving them, they will refuse to read about them.’
          – Review The Northern Lights

    4. Valissa

      You make a point I have long wanted to make myself, but did not have the courage. I think the answer is that Yves does not have a strong science background, she has a strong financial and economic background. That’s why I come to this site, because I don’t have a strong financial and economic background and I appreciate what I have learned from Yves and her many great contributing authors. Because I have a storng science background it’s easier for me to see the lying and corruption of the traditional sciecntific method. And ironically, some of the info about financial propaganda that I learned here at NC I have found very helpful in seeing the propaganda in the global warming arguments.

      Just today I finished up the book “Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche” by Ethan Watters. Highly recommended! The chapter on how SSRIs were heavily marketed to Japan (focussing on Paxil), with lots of backstory on how SSRIs have been promoted in the US and worldwide despite all the side effects (which were not published, and actually white washed out of the published papers), shows many problems with the current state of science, corporate funding, marketing of desired narratives (which creates the groupthink) and how science gets corrupted.

      From the book, p. 241
      “The story of this study, and the problems that it highlights are not isolated. After two decades of working at the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Marcia Angell became convinced that the system by which these drugs gain scientific status is broken. “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgement of the trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines,” she wrote in 2009 in the New York Review of Books. The problems of ghostwriting and payments to researchers from the drug companies, she said, reached their most florid form in the field of psychiatry and the studies of SSRIs.”

      Doesn’t the fact that 3 of the big oil companies are behind this so-called climate change bill and that this bill heavily supports building nuclear reactors for power make folks wonder what the real motives for promoting “climate change” ideology?

      1. Michael

        “Doesn’t the fact that 3 of the big oil companies are behind this so-called climate change bill and that this bill heavily supports building nuclear reactors for power make folks wonder what the real motives for promoting “climate change” ideology?”

        Well frankly – no, no it doesn’t. Straw man argument if ever I saw one.

        One hint: anything to do with ‘hydrogen economy’ is actually all about natural gas. Or anything to do with ethanol is about big agri-business.

        Secondly, just because the bill has the words ‘climate change’ associated wit it doesn’t mean it’s actually going to address anthropomorphic climate change. Just look at the ‘health care bill’ and what little it had to do with healthcare, and how much it had to do with private profits.

  2. attempter

    Re Eurointelligence:

    Glad to hear some slight good news from Greece.

    As for this:

    It signals a return to the politics as usual at a rather early stage in the adjustment process, and destroys any hope of a national consensus, which is so critical when it comes to the implementation of long-term adjustment programmes. (Remember the IMF said the whole adjustment would take 10 years!)

    Whenever I hear a term like “national consensus” coming from the top down I reach for my revolver. That’s code for the gangs looting the country while crucifying the people. Not to mention citing the IMF as a rational public interest entity! We know governments, globalization cabals, and their flacks in the media and academia are our enemies.

    I don’t know if this is a “politics as usual” maneuver or not, but as I said in the other thread, anything that mucks up the works of the Bailout machine is a positive step.

  3. Hubert

    Goldman naked shorting:
    Curiously there is no mentioning of how much money the WSJ is writing about. Dec08/Jan09 was not a trivial time in the markets.
    Does that mean ?

    1. cometman

      I find that WSJ article and this one from Reuters on a similar subject to be very misleading, if not flat out false.

      Here’s the SEC ban from the fall of 2008. It is not a ban on naked short selling – it’s a temporary ban on legal short selling. The ban was later extended but only for a short period. Personally I don’t think the ban on a legal practice should have been instituted in the first place but that’s bedside the point.

      The point is that the shorting Gioldman was fined for took place after the ban they had supposedly violated had expired. From the Reuters article:

      Regulators said that because of a bookkeeping error, the Goldman unit between Dec. 9, 2008, and Jan. 22, 2009, accepted about 385 orders to short stocks where it had not first borrowed or arranged to borrow the securities as collateral.

      Now that does describe naked short selling, but naked short selling is and was already illegal, it was simply ignored by the SEC. To date I have not seen any investigation of who was responsible for the illegal naked short selling that drove Lehman’s price into the ground in a matter of days.

      So if Goldman is being fined for naked short selling, that has nothing to do with the SEC ban of legal short selling from what I can tell. You also note that Goldman did not have to admit to any wrongdoing. But naked shorting is wrongdoing! It’s counterfeiting stock plain and simple and it’s illegal!

      What this looks like to me is a blatant and deliberate collusion between Goldman and the SEC where Goldman pays a slap on the wrist fine, admits no wrongdoing, and the whole practice of illegal naked shorting gets brushed under the rug.

      If I’m off base here, somebody please let me know.

  4. Peripheral Visionary

    Unpaid internships are definitely an issue that needs to be addressed. As a college student, I had to find paying work during the summer, as working for free (particularly out of state) was completely out of the question with bills that needed to be paid. I did not realize it at the time, but that reality put me at a significant disadvantage in comparison to students whose parents could cover the costs while they took up good (but very much unpaid) internships at prestigious companies, while I was working a rotating shift at the factory to pay the bills. It has subsequently taken me longer to work my way into better job opportunities than many of my peers.

    It remains one of the many subtle ways that class advantage is perpetuated, but it is something that could easily be addressed by simply enforcing the existing laws, i.e. enforcing minimum-wage restrictions for internships. Particularly for the wealthiest companies, e.g. legal firms and financial firms, there is no reason not to pay interns a small wage (other than keeping out undesirables from the lower classes who have bills that need to be paid, that is.)

  5. K Ackermann

    That article about speeding up computing 1000x was a bit thin, just as so many similar claims have been.

    It never mentioned one word about the material being used in gate contruction, and never mentioned the one metric that can be used to sniff out viability: gain. The ability to lift the signal out of the noise is what makes existing silicon gates viable. That’s a fundamental requirement, and it would have been nice if the article mentioned is graphene gates exhibited gain.

  6. tyaresun

    On the Kurt Cobb article, I certainly agree with that. Here in San Diego, a lot of the policemen are ex-military and I get the sense that their behavior has become more trigger happy in a last few years. They have shot and killed a number of citizens who in past would have been simply arrested. At the very least, in the past, the police would have tried a lot harder to resolve the situation before resorting to shooting.

    Perhaps they are bringing home their experience from all the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    1. gordon

      There are days, like yesterday when I was watching Hilary Clinton abusing Iran yet again, that I wonder whether anybody would notice if Mr Cobb’s military coup took place. What would change?

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    If you think death as a kind of sleep, then siphoning off hours of sleep on a daily, or nightly, basis, will result in time being deducted from one’s life expectancy, or early death.

    The solution is to sleep as often and as long as one can.

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