Links 11/15/10

Sorry for thin posts, have to be up early for an appointment, then run to the airport, and appointments on the other end. Please check back, Richard Smith will provide some insightful material on the brewing Irish mess.

Cocoa genome ‘to save chocolate’ BBC

As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data on Rising Seas New York Times (hat tip reader Crocodlie Chuck)

War to the Horizon Tom Englehardt

Blind Man’s Bluff: Hitchens Pays Obeisance to His One True God Chris Floyd

De-legitimizing public education Washington Post (hat tip reader May S)

Shocking State Fair Scandal, Wage Theft Epidemic, Spur Nationwide Protests
Truthout (hat tip reader May S)

Putting Money on Lawsuits, Investors Share in the Payouts New York Times

Paychecks for CEOs Climb Wall Street Journal

Losing the Battle, Winning the War? Menzie Chinn

Morgan Stanley Board of Directors and Press Release (hat tip reader MA). I’ve long know of catfood commissioner Erskine Bowles’ role as a board member of Morgan Stanley, but I got comments from some savvy readers that this might be news to quite a few people. I thought it was welll understood that Bowles is a card carrying member of the Hamilton Project, which means his sympathies with the concerns and pet desires of the financial services industry trump whatever liberal sympathies he claims to have.

Obama! A Modern U.S. President (musical spoof) YouTube. Either the irony in this is way too subtle, or it misses the point of using “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Priates of Penzance as its point of departure (the aforesaid patter baritone song establishes that the Major General is very highly skilled in all sorts of things that are irrelevant to modern warfare).

The World as He Finds It Paul Krugman, New York Times

MacIntyre on money Propsect Magazine (hat tip reader Michael Thomas). From last month, but very much worth reading.

Antidote du jour:

Picture 3

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  1. russell1200

    The chris floyd web site allows for some rather nasty hijacker spyware. I get an immediate warning when I go there.

    Are you making the assumption that everyone has the same level of protection on their computer as you?

    1. Rex

      I think I’m pretty well protected and I get no warnings on the Chris Floyd site.

      What, specifically, do you see there that is so dangerous?

    2. lambert strether

      Nothing from Floyd’s site in Firefox, either.

      I’d sure hate to think that Russel1200 is a detractor who just doesn’t want us to check that site out. But presumably they warned the webmaster, and sent her a screen shot so there’s proof, right? So that’s sorted.

    3. Anon

      The link for the Chris Floyd article goes to, which when clicked on inside of Google Reader gets redirected to a site that tried to load a trojan and then to and On the other hand, when I click on the link from within the page, it correctly redirects to

      1. russell1200

        Sorry to be slow in responding. As noted above, the Chris Floyd site (likely one of the ads) tries to load a Trojan onto your computer. The Trojan will reset your start menu so that it will continua sly reload itself. Whether you get the warning or not depends on your level of protection and your computer settings.

        As a side note, zero hedge is also known to try and load annoying as related garbage as well, and I have seen other sites make a point of not linking to it even when they come up with some interesting information.

  2. attempter

    The IEA continues to adjust its projections downward:

    I like how the chart projects that conventional production will neverthless magically remain a steady, straight line thru 2035. (They simply compensate for projected declines from existing and known fields by postulating enough “fields yet to be found” to keep production constant. That sounds scientific.)

    Re “investor” parasitism on lawsuits:

    Every time I see an example like that ground zero firefighter I wonder, do any of these guys ever have an epiphany about the elites for whom they risk their lives, even when those same criminals are directly assaulting them?

    Does the MSM make sure only to provide examples of Panglossian types who, in spite of their own personal vicimization, still think “deep down the elites are good people”? Or is that the only mindset they’re capable of?

    What do they think at the V.A., where any informed person would feel like he’s besieged at the Alamo? (Even warrior-boy McCain made a point of saying how much he hates it and wants to gut it. And that’s the guy who actually was in the service, however incompetently.)

  3. Toby

    Re: MacIntyre on Money:

    I like the way this guy thinks (I admit I hadn’t heard of him until now, so thanks NC):

    “This rift between economics and ethics, says MacIntyre, stems from the failure of our culture “to think coherently about money.” Instead, we should think like Aristotle and Aquinas, who saw the value of money “to be no more, no less than the value of the goods which can be exchanged, so there’s no reason for anyone to want money other than for the goods they buy.” Money affords more choices and choice is good. But when they are imposed by others whose interest is in getting us to spend, then money becomes the sole measure of human flourishing. “Goods are to be made and supplied, insofar as they can be turned into money… ultimately, money becomes the measure of all things, including itself.” Money can now be made “from the exchange of money for money… and trading in derivatives and in derivatives of derivatives.” And so those who work in the financial sector have become dislocated from the uses of money in everyday life. One symptom of this, MacIntyre contends, is gross inequality. In 2009, for instance, the chief executives of Britain’s 100 largest companies earned on average 81 times more than the average pay of a full-time worker.”

    He must have influenced John McMurtry, whose “The Cancer Stage of Capitalism” goes into the above in great detail.

    Nice to read of smarter and more erudite humans than I propounding a position I find eminently sensible. Money is simply a tool to affect complex trade and should be designed to demote its role as ‘store’ of value to as low a point as possible. Real wealth cannot reside in money, or in individual commodities (such as gold), but rather in networks such as ecosystems and societies, and the health thereof.

    One quibble: choice is good up to a point. There can quickly be too much choice, and different people respond differently to ‘freedom’ of choice.

    1. Ming

      You said “Money is simply a tool to affect complex trade and should be designed to demote its role as ’store’ of value to as low a point as possible. Real wealth cannot reside in money, or in individual commodities (such as gold), but rather in networks such as ecosystems and societies, and the health thereof.”

      I disagree with your assessment… the value of money is in fact predicated on the health and availability of resources, ecosystems and societies
      in general… The more healthy the better. And it is very important that individuals and corporation have an ability to defer their consumption till some future time when consumption is wanted or needed, hence we have used money as a method to store value for the future ( savings).

  4. K Ackermann

    Was the link to the WaPo article on public education snark?

    I ask knowing that WaPo and Kaplan University are owned by the same company.

    WaPo has a massive conflict of interest discussing matters of public/private education and, probably for this reason, prints a considerable amount of material attacking public education.

    If you want to see a real mess, look at Kaplan.

  5. Valissa

    re: Paychecks for CEOs Climb

    Just another poke in the eye to people with (and without) regular jobs…

    In case anyone is wondering why tuition keeps increasing…
    Columbia, Yale, Penn Presidents’ Pay Topped $1 Million in 2008, Study Says

    The tech elites are just like any other elites… ever more for those at the top…
    Google gives top execs big pay bump

  6. eric anderson

    “Climate scientists readily admit that the three-foot estimate could be wrong. Their understanding of the changes going on in the world’s land ice is still primitive.”

    Yes, this is what I keep saying about climate science. Not just understanding about glacial ice, but understanding about the cooling effects of aerosols, amplification or reverse-feedback of CO2 forcings, changes in albedo, stratospheric water vapor from CH4 — all primitive. Actually the terms used in the IPCC report is “LOSU” i.e. level of scientific understanding. The LOSU on the factors I mentioned is “low” or “medium to low,” according to the IPCC. How can you make reliable projections based on factors for which the LOSU is low? Garbage in, garbage out. Uncertainty in, uncertainty out.

    If scientists are seeking data on sea level rise, it is not hard to find. Try the University of Colorado.

    The data show a very boring, very steady average rise of 3mm/year, or roughly an inch every decade. Just eyeballing the graph, it appears to me there has been a slight decrease in the rate of climb since 2003 or so. Does this look alarming?

    For some counter-intuitive reasoning and hard, cold facts see the latest Atlantic Magazine article by James Fallows: Dirty Coal, Clean Future.

    It is inevitable. We must go with the flow, even if that is an ice flow. It will be better for mankind if we learn to adapt to climate changes, rather than taking uncertain steps to control that which we do not understand.

    1. Hugh

      Thanks for the link. I especially like your depiction of Krugman as a corporate liberal astroturfer. When all is said and done, he is just another Establishment shill, a Trojan horse liberal.

      1. attempter

        There should be a parlor game for predictions:

        How will Krugman end up justifying gutting SS?

        It’ll probably be part of a grand package, an “improvement” on the deficit commission proposal he just rejected. (But in the course of rejecting it he has taken on the deficit terrorist theme himself with some gusto, writing his death panel post in the context of such a dogmatically assumed need for deficit-cutting, it’s like he feels he’s in competition with Leonhardt.)

        Maybe once it’s coupled with his death panels and that “VAT” he’s championing, he’ll call it a necessary part of the mix.

  7. EmilianoZ

    I’d like to go back to Taibbi’s piece about the foreclosure debacle. There’s a lot of good stuff in that article but one things bothers me.

    “Why don’t the banks want us to see the paperwork on all these mortgages? Because the documents represent a death sentence for them. According to the rules of the mortgage trusts, a lender like Bank of America, which controls all the Countrywide loans, is required by law to buy back from investors every faulty loan the crooks at Countrywide ever issued.”

    If that’s true, why are investors not suing BofA? If a house is foreclosed, it will probably be resold at a much lower price causing a loss to investors. Why not make banks like BofA buy back those faulty loans?

  8. Hugh

    Krugman is just dishing a riff on the narrative that Obama is too cautious, or more precisely that he won’t fight for what he believes. This is, of course, hogwash. Obama is a corporatist fulfilling a corporatist agenda. He is doing exactly what he believes. The fault is not in his execution. It is in Krugman’s premises. The Democratic party is run by people whose goals are diametrically opposed to those of the party’s rank and file. There isn’t a Democrat in the Congress or the White House who hasn’t, or wouldn’t, sell out the party’s base at a moment’s notice. If nothing else the great healthcare debate should have taught us that. But Democratic apologists like Krugman keep counseling us not to believe our lying eyes. It is a line that has gotten really, really old.

  9. Henry

    I get a malware warning from that Chris Floyd page, too! Second time I tried it, I got redirected to a really shady-looking site…

  10. sherparick

    I guess people are just more comfortable with their stereotypes regarding Krugman. When I read some of the comments like those above I am just left wondering if these folks actually read Krugman, or just read people ranting about Krugman. Krugman has always been an Obama sceptic, in part because being the data, realist, kind of guy he is he actually read Obama’s position papers on the issues back in 2007 and 2008 and discovered the guy definitely of the center-right on economic issues, really not much to the left of Evanh Bayh. After all all the cool kids were neo-liberals and believers in the “free market.”

    Look back at his columns and blog posts written from January 2009 to March 2009. For a forecaster, he has been remarkably accurate on both the pattern of economy (the freefall being arrested, slow growth, and then a fade toward stagnation as the stimulus ran out) and the politics (that the Democrats would pay a big price for slow growth, getting into bed with the big banks, and high unemployment come November 2010). Krugman is certainly well off, but he, Stiglitz, Baker, and Jaimie Galbraith are all considered untouchable for administration positions because they have gone off the neo-liberal reservation; or to use another metaphor, they are considered “unsound” by the big boys in the Democrats wing of the banking establishment.

    1. attempter

      Evidently you’re the one who either doesn’t read Krugman or does so only wearing blinders, if you can’t comprehend that he:

      1. Supports the Bailout.

      2. Was Shill #1 for the health racket bailout (the most reactionary bill in modern times, even more than the 2005 bankruptcy “reform”).

      3. Has gone absolutely silent on Obama’s war, which he allegedly opposed when it was Bush’s war.

      4. Is the loudest voice engaging in the xenophobic misdirection exercise of China-bashing.

      5. Just engaged in a major pro-austerity shift with his demand for “death panels” (his own only semi-ironic term) and regressive taxes.

      6. Has systematically depicted Obama as “progressive” in intent but weak in execution.

      7. Has systematically depicted all the criminals (Democrats, Republicans, economists, the banksters themselves) as basically well-meaning (or at least not malevolent) but misguided or crazy in execution.

      (I probably left out a few.)

      Krugman’s record on all of these is clear as day to anyone not blinded by his own Democratic partisan stereotypes.

  11. cheale

    Re: delegitimizing public education: this process is well underway in the UK and Spain, with the creation of academies in the UK and concertado schools in Spain.

    Twenty years in the future when these countries don’t have the scientists, engineers, doctors etc. (let alone all the other people that society needs to function) that they need, it will be too late…

    And it’s easy to say teachers should protest, but in these semi private schools it’s very difficult to do this, if they want to keep their jobs. In fact, society should protest, because education is the preparation of the next generation for the future…

  12. Skippy

    Apocalyptic watch:

    GWB is getting rave reviews from his old base… they cry…tears in their eys…incoming!

    Skippy…2012 will be a hoot…they could run on the “get into the pit” campaign and win…lol.

    PS. which Island should I live on ummmm.

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