Links 7/12/10

Evidence for a ‘younger Earth‘ BBC

To the Supercave Failure

‘You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes’: Eye-tracking lie-detection PhysOrg

Intelligence: The Evolution of Night Owls Psychology Today (hat tip reader John Doe). Um, if you took this sort of thing as gospel, I went from being Very Dull (to bed by midnight, up before 6 AM, so I could work out before going to a normal day job) to Very Bright, by adopting my current very screwy hours.

Oil below the surface: UNH ocean mapping center tracks Gulf spill underwater Seacoastonline (hat tip reader Doc Holiday)

27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in Gulf of Mexico ignored by government, industry Associated Press. Bob notes, “This is a push by BP for spreading the blame around. Now, in order to prove that BP is to blame for all of the spilled oil, the gov’t has to prove that each of the abandoned wells is still safe. Another reason why they don’t want to know how much oil is coming out.”

Government washes its hands of BP takeover Independent

Who are the two big donors to Liberty Central? Is the US Supreme Court Corrupt Beyond Repair? Crooks and Liars (hat tip reader Amit)

Probation watchdog: serious crimes may be price to pay for cutting cost of justice Telegraph. Why do we never hear this in the US? Because we have private companies running a lot of prisons.

Euro Gains Damp Break-Up Talk as Merkel’s Jobs Show Strength Bloomberg. A little early to declare victory. My hedige contacts expected the euro to go to 130-135 before it goes to parity.

Euro fetters are an agonising bind Edward Chancellor, Financial Times (hat tip Richard Smith)

Tremble, Banks, Tremble James Galbraith, The New Republic (hat tip reader John M)

Bank of America comes clean – well sort of … Bronte Capital (hat tip Richard Smith)

Can Mervyn King save the UK banking system? Guardian

Antidote du jour:

Picture 12

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  1. joseph price

    Are those the same hedgie contacts that expected Sterling to devalue by 20% post election?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You need to read more carefully. It was normal people in the UK who expected a devaluation, quite a few were telling me that.

  2. rjs

    re Intelligence: The Evolution of Night Owls

    i think it works both ways, yves; as long as one is awake when no one else is: i got up at 2 AM this morning & have been working since, and am always up before you go to bed…

  3. bob

    On hours

    Call me counter cyclical. I prefer to be working without distraction while everyone else is sleeping. It’s amazing how little you miss. I can remember my meeting filled days of yore and how little was actually accomplished. The sound and fury of the constantly “busy” aside.

    I also have to look at other mammals. Most forage, hunt and travel at night. Evolution of warm blooded animals allowed this.

    During this past hot spell in the north east it was insane to do anything outside during the day.

  4. Ina Deaver

    “Intelligence” — so if I just sleep in another 32 minutes, I can go from very dull to really bright? I long ago realized that trying to get my husband up a half-hour early results in him becoming very dull, but I had no idea it worked the other way!

    These kinds of ideas make me chuckle, but I worry that someone will take them seriously.

    James Galbraith would make his father proud.

  5. Ina Deaver

    By the way – that little blurb on super caves and caving is spectacular. Talk about something that made me want to buy the book! My husband and I used to be rock climbers (many pounds and lots of children ago), and I have some appreciation for the concept of setting and holding a belay in total darkness — much less switching ropes while hanging on the rope. It can be done, but it makes a person with a normal apprehension of risk VERY uncomfortable.

    Thank you for a link that genuinely opened new vistas for me this morning.

  6. Anonymous

    BP Asset sale a precursor to seizure?

    There are many hurdles to a US seizure of BP, both legal and political, that make it appear to be a remote possibility. A practical question would the US do if it did seize BP? The US would find itself running a major oil company with operations around the world, with sharply conflicting interests with other US based firms like Exxon and Chevron.

    With a risk that world oil prices can drop below $60, at which point, BP’s cash flow sputters even as large clean up bills that come due loom, it is not an attractive prospect.

    The US does not need to seize BP per se, but need liquid assets that can be readily sold for cash, and then disbursed to the interests that make up the American polity.

    A quick calculus would suggest that the best thing that can happen might be a sale of BP assets (not its liabilities) to an American firm like Exxon or Chevron, or even a lesser player.


    Such a sale would almost certainly be paid with a combination of cash and stock, which to the US Treasury, is as good as cash in an American bank account.

    Whatever stock in an American company that BP receives in the sale can readily be seized by the US government.

    Cash, well, that is a bit tricky. If the cash were to be deposited in a US based financial institution, it would be simple for the US to make clear to the financial institution that the funds are going nowhere for at least a few hours, until they are served with a Executive Order seizing the now liquid BP assets.

    The only risk would be if the funds are transferred from the acquiror to BP via a non-US based financial institution and can potentially complicate how readily US law can reach the funds.

    All of this suggest that a sale of BP assets to an American firm is probably the “best case” option to pave the way for an American seizure of BP assets.

    By seizing what would be liquid assets (cash, negotiable securities) worth somewhere between $100 to $130 billion at the current depressed prices of BP stock, the US would instantly be able to fully fund any clean up / liabilities and furthermore, be the lead player in dealing with any other claimants.

    The list of potential claimants against BP assets are about to explode, with oil washing up not only on Florida / Gulf coasts, but eventually, to places like Cuba, Haiti, etc.

    By seizing BP assets in liquid form, the US can in turn, dole out some of these funds back to other nations while achieving longstanding political goals including tightening the Cuban embargo.

    No doubt, some compensation will have to be paid to secured lenders who just funded BP after the blow out.

    Regardless, a discretionary pot of funds worth over $100 billion is something that is virtually irresistible to any American Administration.

    That is why BP is running out of time.

    The clock is ticking.

  7. Bates

    Here is a corrected link to the ‘Younger Earth’ BBC article.


  8. ep3

    Intelligence: The Evolution of Night Owls Psychology Today (hat tip reader John Doe).

    when I worked afternoons/midnites at a factory, I was sharp as a tack at 10pm at nite. now working days, getting up @6am, i feel dumb and lathargic all day. I was able to keep a sane schedule on the off shift. i always came home, went right to bed, slept 8 hoursish, and had time in the “morning” for my brain to wake up and warm up. the only thing sucking was our short summers in Michigan. I was having to work thursday nites (our fridays) and then stay up all day friday to enjoy the weekend, then force myself to somehow go to bed sunday morning when the weather was beautiful.
    maybe i should move to hawaii. then the sun would be on the same time as me on afternoons.

  9. EmilianoZ

    Felix Salmon posted a link to a LAT article that says that government scientists are just as frustrated with Obama as they were with Bush. The use of dispersant in the BP oil spill is just one example.,0,1700639,full.story

    I’ll just copy paste the beginning:
    “When he ran for president, Barack Obama attacked the George W. Bush administration for putting political concerns ahead of science on such issues as climate change and public health. And during his first weeks in the White House, President Obama ordered his advisors to develop rules to “guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch.”Many government scientists hailed the president’s pronouncement. But a year and a half later, no such rules have been issued. Now scientists charge that the Obama administration is not doing enough to reverse a culture that they contend allowed officials to interfere with their work and limit their ability to speak out.”We are getting complaints from government scientists now at the same rate we were during the Bush administration,” said Jeffrey Ruch, an activist lawyer who heads an organization representing scientific whistle-blowers.”

    Obama the biggest phony D-bag in US history.

  10. tyaresun

    We hold this truth to be self evident: The Supreme Court of the Unites States of America is completely and totally corrupt and needs to be dismissed with immediate effect.

    1. aet

      I take it that you are referring to the individuals on the bench, and not the Institution itself.

  11. Doc Holiday

    A Navy blimp has started looking for oil (82 days after the oil spill) and distressed wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico.
    The Coast Guard commander of the operation, Tony Lombardi, said Sunday that initial flights are over the coast of Alabama, but the missions will be expanded as needed and as the weather allows.

    ==> Go Navy, Go! What’s next, Navy Seals with oiled wings?

  12. Doc Holiday

    Whoa, wait a second, I smell some bullshit there with the Navy blimp — yes I was being facetious and stupid with the oiled wing comment, and wish now I would have put in wax wings … but back to the bullshit…

    This Navy blimp and the apparent blimp army came from Arizona, so WTF are they doing looking for oil in Alabama? I’m sure this is classified national Security shit, but on my map, the closets coast to Arizona, is somewhere around Texas (yeehaw) — and then one assumes other related beaches are close-by in Louisiana and then somewhere to the East is Florida and Alabama and Kentucky and a large region of America, where it is said the hillbilly genetic footprint was planted.

    I hate to be as off track as the Navy Blimp Team, but it took the Navy 82 days to get this blimp over towards the GOM to do something and obviously this thing has a top speed of The Whale A Skimming (speedboat) — so, I’m just really obviously trying to understand why the slowest possible vehicle in the world takes the longest possible route to the F’ing oil spill?

    Is this like a retarded metaphor, where the blimp represents universal sloth (one of the seven capital sins) and the apathy of Americans, who are being burned out by a slow-motion oil-spill event designed to grind down and wear out all interested parties??? The Navy brought in a blimp after 2 days and now they are looking for oil …… come on, even some fat kid with the IQ the size of a drum of Corexit has to wake up in the middle of the night and scream, Mom, WTF did it take so F’ing long to get that blimp to the GOM, and why the F did they “fly” over three states to get there ………Mom, Mom…….. ahhhhhhhh, I can’t breath, where’s my inhaler, where’s my mouth guard, where am I ………….. I’m falling and no one on the blimp cares about my wet dream … ???? …. *

    * The Dream Sequence has not been approved for readers under the age of 5, and the anothor did not go back over this for logic errors..

    1. blimpie

      NAVAIR, never the most mission-critical service component, has been trying to hang onto funding by pitching airships for border security and drug interdiction, so it make sense that they might be used to pacify nativist Arizona yokels.

  13. michel

    Very odd stuff on crime and prison. The UK prison service is making the argument that if we release people early, there will be more crime, and more murders and rapes, but says that this is worth doing to save money on prisons.

    Yves then argues that the reason such arguments are not heard in the US is because prisons are run by private companies in the US.

    I am bemusedly trying to follow the logic. It does not seem to have anything to do with private versus public. What it has to do with is whether you look forward to raising your chances of being raped or murdered. In the UK, the comments have provoked howls of protest. However, one does have to accept that there is a tradeoff. Protecting us by locking people up does cost a lot of money. The question is, whether this is value for money. I don’t know. In the case of rape and murder, probably it is, however expensive it is. These are life changing events, if they happen to you, and they are things we have a right to expect protection from.

    After all, this is a known risk that is being addressed. We think it is perfectly fine to engage in extraordinarily risky measures to minimize a tiny threat from global warming which we don’t actually know how to quantify. Here we have a real risk, with a costed measure that will lower it.

    Lets consider using the precautionary principle here, with numbers on it. If there is only a risk of x that a child will be murdered by this person, and if it will cost y to lower that risk to zero, is it not worth investing the money?

    1. aet

      The “hard time” net drawn too finely catches too many harmless small fry along with the prize fish:

      Seems clear to me.
      Every thing is a compromise when it comes to governing hundreds of millions of individuals.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The day when they can breed humans who can function without sleeping would be the same day they come up with an economic scheme that’s always booming, without recessions or depressions.

    1. Jojo

      I don’t think so. Perpetual motion (growth) has yet to be discovered.

      But you might want to read the award winning Beggars In Spain SF trilogy by Nancy Kress, which tells the story of a future where a segment [mostly very wealthy] of the human population has been able to be treated so that they no longer need sleep, a device that provides unlimited energy virtually for free and the impact that these two developments have on human civilization…

      1. aet

        Breed people who can metabolize sunlight, water and raw chemicals, and then we’d be talking changes.

  15. scraping_by

    One could have seen the Liberty Central scheme coming.

    Those dears of SCOTUS have claimed that corporations have the right of free speech, and that giving money to politicians is free speech. Ergo, it’s right and proper for corporations to buy any legislative outcome they want.

    Now, there’s not much difference between creating statute law and creating case law. They’re two different stops on the same process. So, if bribing legislators and the president can be called free speech, then bribing judges can be called advocacy.

    Old guys like me might howl about criminal behavior, but the justices are applying the black letter of the law. If it isn’t defined as bribery, or if bribery is defined as legal, then it’s legal to bribe. Always remember, the Holocaust was lawful.

    Basically, the black robe gang has decided there’s a lot of money on the table and it’s time they picked some up.

  16. ChrisPacific

    That Night Owl article is a classic example of how to misinterpret statistics: in this case, the idea that correlation implies causality.

    I would say the biggest factor influencing people’s waking and sleep times is their job. People with lower IQ tend to have different jobs from those with high IQ (I’d expect more manual laborers, for example, and fewer university researchers) and so naturally you would see differences in average waking and sleep times as a result. I’d consider that a much more likely hypothesis than the idea that we have some kind of early-to-bed instinct that only intelligent people can overcome.

    This difference would be particularly pronounced among young people of school leaving age, as higher IQ people would be more likely to go to college and/or graduate school, while lower IQ people may already be entering the workforce as a laborer for example. Did you notice that the subject group was “Americans in their 20s?” Why in their 20s specifically? Maybe they tested all age ranges and that’s the one that best supported their findings?

    Finally there’s the question of whether average is a meaningful statistic in this context. Take shift workers, for example. If a factory runs three 8 hour shifts starting at midnight, 8:00am and 4:00pm, and staffs all three equally, is the average waking time for their workers really meaningful? How about if the factory changes the shifts so they begin at 4:00am, noon and 8:00pm – are workers getting up 4 hours later on average, or earlier?

    A classic example of this type of fallacy is the observation that there is a close correlation between the number of priests in a community and the total consumption of liquor. In fact they are both proportional to the total population of the community, but presenting it this way invites a tempting (but wrong) conclusion.

  17. KFritz

    “Who are gonna believe–me or your LYIN’ EYES?” Chico Marx

    “You can’t hide your LYIN’ EYES’ The Eagles

    Does life imitate art, or vice versa?

  18. bob goodwin

    “Who are the two big donors to Liberty Central? Is the US Supreme Court Corrupt Beyond Repair? ”

    This is ideological pornography ala Glenn Beck. The word corrupt should be used properly, because there is a dangerous amount of corruption in government. A wife of a public official should have first amendment rights, and should be able to raise money for a political organization she runs. That is in no way similar to people going back and forth between government and richly paid patronage.

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