Links 11/4/10

Boa Constrictors Can Have Babies Without Mating, New Evidence Shows ScienceDaily (hat tip reader John M)

Gut bacteria change the sexual preferences of fruit flies Discovery Magazine (hat tip reader Foppe)

Twitter Bot Auto-Debates Climate Change Critics Mashable (hat tip reader Francois T)

Microcredit ‘death trap’ for Bangladesh’s poor BBC (hat tip reader May S)

The “None of the Above” Election Joe Costello

EXCLUSIVE: PSYCHOLOGICAL INOCULATION FOR A CENTURY OF CHALLENGES Carloyn Baker (hat tip reader May S). For the apocalyptically-minded, but you need to get past the ho-hum and overlong intro.

Sarkozy accused of using security service to spy on journalists Independent (hat tip reader May S). Gee, I thought J. Edgar Hoover had a file on everyone prominent….

Battered Obama took part in a ‘cover up’, says ex-regulator GFS News

So You Want to Go to Business School YouTube (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Antidote du jour:


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  1. Swedish Lex

    Regarding the immaculate conception of snakes. Does this finding in any way alter the thrust behind the Book of Genesis?

  2. Ina Deaver

    Hey! Where did you get a picture of my kids?

    We’ve always called the kids the “baby birds,” because having more than one at a time makes them look like that when they all get hungry or angry at the same time. Now as a joke they come up to me when I’m eating something yummy and say “cheep! cheep! cheep!” until I share.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If I may translate what the birds are screaming about:

      Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, a Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Bill McCullam

    One of the most painful casualties in Tuesday’s election was Richard Cordray, Attorney General of Ohio; a brave young man who deserves a medal. He is the only one of fifty to sue the big banks over the foreclosure mess. The others have a “wait-and-see”, or “what’s it worth to me” policy. Since Republicans love the big banks, the new AG, Mike DeWine, will no doubt drop this suit like a hot potato.

    1. Ina Deaver

      Hmmm . . . .would that be the same DeWine who used to be the head of the antitrust subcommittee in the Senate? Family ties?

  4. Rik

    ‘How to Destroy a Bank’, article on flash-mobs targeting banks in Playboy. Article interviewed/quotes Yves Smith & Bill Black. Similar tactics used by banks on other banks…

  5. tyaresun


    I cannot believe you included the Bangladesh Microcredit article without comment. There is a vast difference between what Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel prize winner woked on and what goes for “microcredit” these days.

    All the mafia lender types rebranded themselves as microcredit lenders after the good name created by Yunuss’ work and the results are for all to see now.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      I also found the article distasteful, but for another reason.

      Of course the policy has some bad effects. Was the author expecting that a policy as wide-reaching as microfinance would have nothing but positive stories? It’s preposterous.

      Debt increases risk. It also allows increases reward and allows people to get to a place they would not otherwise have been able to without the debt. Sometimes this is good and sometimes this is bad. Shocking development!!!

      The world is tough. Microfinance gives people a chance, but you know, nothing is promised in this world. For want of luck or skill or something in between, you might not succeed. Some people get what they deserve (good or bad), and some people don’t get what they deserve (good or bad).

      The tone of the article (to me) is laced with the ever-present argument that everything “should” be perfect and we’re going to dismantle everything that is good in the search of perfection (until everything we have is bad).

      1. attempter

        I think the “tone of the article” is laced with the idea that the world can do much better without loansharking in any form.

        And no, that’s not expecting “the perfect”, in spite of what banksters and nihilists might say. It’s wanting the minimally good. Meanwhile what we have, including the Hobbesian paean to the brutality of “luck” you just recited (except, of course, for those born rich – but that’s Ayn Rand’s God-bestowed luck too, right?), is far along the scale of badness toward the worst.

    2. Ming

      An excellent example of why the ‘market’
      for finance will always need regulation,
      policing, and evolution. Policies
      need reform… And predatory finance
      people need to be montiored and eliminated.

    3. Cian

      I cannot believe you included the Bangladesh Microcredit article without comment. There is a vast difference between what Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel prize winner woked on and what goes for “microcredit” these days.

      There’s also a vast difference between what Yunus said he worked on, and what he actually achieved. His actual achievements are rather less impressive than the hype, even if one discounts the near failure of his bank (and its subsequent move towards more conventional banking).

  6. El Snarko

    So the micro credit article demonstrates that bankers are bankers? SO ?

    This Carolyn Baker article is smart people talking crap. Another 70’s style dystopian rap. They can do better.

    There has been quite a lot of criticism of education here and on the net (college and advanced degrees) Much of it is, to my mind, pathetically elitist:Boo Hoo I spent $$ on this degree and I cant make it up in one year. I got a masters in Poli Sci and I am not secretary of state, I got an MBA (who dosent?) and I am not running the place, I got a masters in Bio Chem and I dissed by the lab techs. Jezzy grow up! Your expectations are too high, especially when in 09 half the workers made 26 and change. You are smarter than a similarly educated Indian, Indonesian, Russian, Brit or Mexican how?

    Since we are globalized wages will float to a balance point that splits the difference. Its inevitable. As pie eaters outgrow pie bakers the rewards will shrink, except in asymetric situations. That is the only area in which “good money” will be made. Hence the bankers and finacnial guys resistance to change. Who wants to be paid like a Nigerian?
    Just sayin…Ergo, we will see an ero of competing bubbles that will be defended as if it were the Kings Castle Keep…because to those involved it is!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One should examine and criticize education for the purpose of educuation is to teach one how to examine life; otherwise, it’s not worth it.

  7. attempter

    The Baker interview with Foss has lots of good stuff.

    This is why local currencies and time banks work. Relocalization works because you can get the same kind of buy-in for local strategies that you once had at a much higher level.

    Relationships of trust are the absolute foundation of society in all times. That’s what Transition and similar initiatives are about, and initiatives like this really can be successful even in very hard times.

    Although the eventual goal is real cooperative communities, these kinds of alternative trust systems can be important in the transition. It’s a formalized asset founded on the reliability of people you know and work alongside, and so can substitute for all the phony “assets” which we intellectually know are worthless, but whose form we’ve been emotionally indoctrinated into craving.

    So what about several friends pooling resources and starting a small business together-a business that provides goods or services that people need?

    Pooling resources is great, but borrowing money is not. In a deflation, almost no money is changing hands, and therefore, you have almost no economy. At that point, if you have a business and have to service a debt, forget it-you’re gone. Therefore, good preparation means borrowing no money at all.

    We need to find alternative ways of funding ventures. I know it’s very difficult to figure out and make work, but however long we remain mired in the bank-debt mentality, for that long we’ll fail to get to the heart of the problems.

    Investing in skills is a very good idea. Being able to build and repair things is going to be an incredibly valuable skill. There’s so much planned obsolescence in our economy that if someone can keep a washing machine designed to last only four years going for ten, they have a very valuable skill. Also, people setting up some kind of health clinic when healthcare is no longer available will be a phenomenally valuable service for their community.

    This is part of what I was talking about yesterday in the links thread.

    And here’s more from the interview:

    For all of the systems that fail-systems that have been built from the top down, we must build parallel structures from the ground up. If we don’t, when centralized systems start to fail, we have to provide parallel structures or we won’t have them. Often, the provision of services is more valuable than the provision of goods.

    We’re going to get away from the idea of material wealth in general, so a lot of things that we currently regard as essential, we will come to understand are not….

    Basically, people have to be prepared for our centralized life support systems beginning to fail. They don’t fail all at once, but all these centralized systems that we provide from the top down are going to get less reliable. Not that they go away instantly, but they get rationed, or they are only available at certain times. Of course, we’re not used to living that way, and for some people that will be catastrophic.

    People could pool resources, get a little mini-van and set up their own local bus service with it. People will most certainly need to create their own food co-op’s, and they can also create their own community renewable energy infrastructure. If the scale is kept local, people will accept it far more readily than structures that are beyond local scale and simply imposed on them. Community powered wells are also another possibility depending on the area of the world in which you reside. Different things will work in different places. Community water filters would be a great option if the water coming out of the tap is a little if-y-of course assuming that water is coming out of the tap.

    People have to be creative and ask: What am I getting from the top down, and how else could I get that instead? This is being resilient.

  8. William

    It’s true that Boas are unique among snakes in that they give live birth, but what kind of “science” publication refers to birthing young as “having babies?” Sheesh. Science for Dummies.

  9. Ron

    The “None of the Above” Election:

    Democrat or Republican? just another Ground Hog cycle election in America!

  10. Cynthia

    “Battered Obama took part in a ‘cover up’, says ex-regulator”

    No surprise here. Obama has shown what a fascist he is in the way he’s using his ill-gotten, anti-American, unconstitutional presidential powers that he inherited from Bush to protect our war criminals from prosecution. So don’t be too surprised to see him extend these powers to our financial markets in order to protect our financial criminals from prosecution as well.

  11. eric anderson

    I find most defenders of the anthropogenic global warming orthodoxy have a bot-like character. So the bot is redundant.

    My bottom line position is that I don’t know. I am full of doubt. Certain data fills me with doubt. Mainly, the paleoclimate data plus the raw temperature records of rural stations situated so that heat island effect is not a possible confounding factor.

    In the article, a sample exchange with the bot went as follows:

    “Tim Lindell: Exactly what have the Dems done for science lately outside of climate change fraud and windmills?

    “Turing Test: @Tim Lindell… NOAA past decade was warmest on record and with 10 key climate indicators worsening.”

    My response. Paleoclimate records show that this is far from the warmest decade on record. Current temps are not even the warmest within the latest brief warm period between long ice ages, i.e. past 15K years. IPCC panel tried to fudge their graphs to get rid of the warm period about 1K years ago. Also, untampered-with temperature readings from rural stations show current temps are not the warmest even within the past 100 years. Take out the heat island effects and raw temperatures show a picture of stasis. Show me a solid dataset of stations far from cities or other localized heat sources that support the claims of 1 degree global temperature rise/century, please.

    I’m willing to change my mind. But I have a bot-like automatic rejection of data I don’t trust because the means of its collection and statistical manipulation are not transparent.

    I love science. Scientists, I have learned not to trust. Too many heretics in the church of reason. See: Hal Lewis resigns from the American Physical Society

    Fortunately, with Republicans now back in the game in a major way, perhaps some of the unscientific science will be investigated in a more thorough manner. And Cap-and-Trade is dead. Being a man of doubt, I think that’s a good thing. But I’m not sure.

        1. Sundog

          Humans exist due to a symbiotic relationship with fuels created by plants capturing solar energy (the “external stomach” of cooking food). We are likely to have a strong tendency to imagine that our relationship with these fuels is “God given”, if you will.

          I look forward to hard data on investment based on the concept of self-replenishing oil fields, to the extent the funds are provided by the broadest investment community rather than a community of believers.

  12. Sundog

    Glenn Beck cites Nouriel Roubini; Roubini responds:

    Glenn Beck is confused on what deflation versus inflation is

    David Shere, “Glenn Beck might not know what the word “deflation” means”

    Beck: When will these experts lose a little bit of credibility? When will we start listening to our own guts, and to common sense? …. I love my global economists tweeting ….

    1. Sundog

      Beck: The price of your house? Deflation. The price of food? Inflation.

      He’s on the right track here, which is that the US population will continue to suffer a decline in standard of living (excepting those within the finance corona of NYC or the equally richly and lawlessly blessed defense contractor corona of DC).

      My suggestion is to write down bad debt; eliminate policies that encourage debt; radically simplify the tax code; eliminate tax on employers in favor of tax on consumption; impose confiscatory taxes on corporate executives and the boards that bid up their salaries to ridiculous multiples of average workers’ earnings.

      The Senate should consist not of state representatives (where Wyoming with 300,000 is equal to California with 37,000,000), but representatives of the urban conglomerations which are the loci of American dynamism.

      These changes could keep the American experiment running for a while. Otherwise, continuing loss of legitimacy in the face of increasing resource scarcity and we’ll all be Mexicans regardless of heritage.

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