Links Christmas Eve Day


  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    About the fury over housing price in Beijing, I wonder if bits of land around Tiananmen Square is worth more than California?

    That will definitely confirm China has surpassed Japan.

  2. Foppe

    “Ex-IMF official still lost in the incredulous void Bill Mitchell”
    While I agree on disagreeing with Johnson, it seems to me that Mitchell is missing the point by at least as much, and Johnson is at least more politically astute.
    What fantasy-land does Mitchell live in that he thinks he can say “deficits aren’t a problem” when the GOP has (starting with Newt Gingrich) used the deficit argument time and time again to argue for reducing social spending? The political reality is that the decreased SST income *will* result in fewer IOUs in the SSTF, and this *will* result in the GOP claiming SocSec needs to be gutted further “because it has (by our actions, but never mind that, we can’t fix the past) become insolvent.”
    The fact that Mitchell is willing to deny this makes him the worst kind of idealist.

    1. Rex

      “What fantasy-land does Mitchell live in that he thinks he can say “deficits aren’t a problem” when the GOP has …”

      What fantasy land do we all live in when the GOP defines our reality. Since I have begun to become aware, from a little reading on the subject, of sovereign fiat economies, I see that the deficit problem is more of a political ploy than a reality. We are all living in fantasy land of many facets. The “deficit problem” is just one of the BS memes we are being sold that divert us from the more important issues we are ignoring and really could be tackling.

      1. Paul Repstock

        I think you are exactly right Rex. The “Deficit” is just another facet of the debt sword held over our collective heads. The fact of it’s scale and the fact of it being government debt is meant to show us that only government can deal with it?? Therefore there is no incentive for any government to ever pay off it’s debt.

        I am assuming that any news from Iceland will be quashed by the media, except to detail the hardships imposed by sanctions from the international financial cartel…

    2. attempter

      Mitchell isn’t denying that deficit terrorism is a problem. He’s trying to counteract that Big Lie by teaching that deficits aren’t a problem under these circumstances.

      Although, my preferred primary argument is to point out that anyone who claims to care about deficits but supports the Bailout, the wars, Pentagon budgets, and corporate welfare in general, is obviously lying.

      It is obviously true that literally no one among the elites cares about deficits under any economic circumstances, and anyone who claims to care is obviously lying.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        You’ve declared it here quite clearly and it bears repeating—ad nauseum: anyone who votes for unfunded wars, racket mandates, and unpaid plutocrat’s tax cuts while looting old folks insurance is quite plainly a traitor and enemy of the American people. And that includes POTUS!

        The audacity of hypocrisy and outright malice is now so in-your-face brazen that it has left the “professional left” and “liberal elite” quite stupefied and incapable of articulating a cogent response. The Powell doctrine of shock-and-austeria has inflicted the equivalent of a Novocain shot directly into the brains of the political ‘intelligentsia’ leaving them paralyzed and impotent. We’re on our own here.

  3. Jim Haygood

    At the conclusion of the Diaghilev article in the NYRB is a passage which sounds strangely like market commentary:

    The old nostalgic celebrations are being reactivated in a kind of vacuumatic perfection, and with an abundance of detail that might have been unnerving only fifteen years ago but that is entirely apposite to our era of technological omniscience and aesthetic vacancy.

    Let’s dance!

  4. Rex

    Have yourselves a merry little Christmas.

    I have at least three friends that are on the boundary of becoming homeless and destitute. I’d place myself in the the middle of our society, but a fortunate winner in the game. Something must be broken to have several people I relate to in this situation at one time. I would not expect to see my friends in this position.

    I read this blog looking for the reasons we got here and thoughts about the ways out. I see some of the former, but not many signs our society is ready to try a few changes that might slow our pace to the edge of catastrophe.

    I so would like to feel some of the vib that generated all the traditional Christmas music of post WWII. No wonder. They had just come through the depression and that immediately followed by possibly the worst war the world has known. The 50’s was a time to catch a breath and enjoy life’s opportunities. Fabulous Christmas music ensued.

    Unfortunately now does not seem to really be a season of comfort and joy.

    1. Lidia

      Rex, the “tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy” were the news of the supposed Savior, thus people could look forward to checking out of their material life of slavery and poverty, and have the limited possibility of checking into heaven.

      That shiny object has been dangled in front of folks for 2000 years. I expect an uptick in escaping from reality in this fashion.

  5. Jim Haygood

    ‘Ex-IMF official still lost in the incredulous void,’ says Bill Mitchell.

    How can a void be ‘incredulous’? If we were dealing with a more sophisticated intellect, one might suspect an attempt at anthropomorphism. But anthropomorphism works better with tangible objects, not a ‘void.’

    A competent editor might suggest ‘void of incredulity’ to fix the garbled syntax. But that would still leave the rich Christmas fruitcake of the ‘infinite fiat’ cargo cult described in the text.

    The summer heat has obviously baked out the brains of this antipodal anomaly.

  6. DownSouth

    Bruce Sterling does a major hatchet job on Pvt. Bradley Manning.

    This is a shame because the truth is that few of us, including Sterling, known much about Manning or what his motives were. This doesn’t stop Sterling, however, from letting his imagination run wild. Sterling is, after all, a fiction writer, and that is what fiction writers do, no?

    The problem is that Manning is not a fictional character from one of Sterling’s novels. He is a real flesh and blood human being, and as such should be accorded some modicum of dignity.

    Perhaps an even more disturbing aspect of Sterling’s jeremiad is its dishonesty. For what little is known about Manning flies in the face of Sterling’s characterization of him. Manning “lacks political awareness,” Sterling tells us. “He has only his black-hat hacker awareness, which is all about committing awesome voyeuristic acts of computer intrusion and imagining you can get away with that when it really matters to people.” Manning is an “unworldly American guy who probably would have been pretty much okay if he’d been left alone to skateboard, read comic books and listen to techno music.” But this doesn’t go low enough for Sterling. He concludes by lumping Manning together in the same league as Monica Lewinsky:

    Bradley Manning now shares that exciting, oh my God, Monica Lewinsky, tortured media-freak condition. This mild little nobody has become super-famous, and in his lonely military brig, screenless and without a computer, he’s strictly confined and, no doubt, he’s horribly bored.

    Now compare Sterling’s characterization to the conversation Manning had with Lamo, the blogger who reported him to the authorities, as reported and discussed by Glenn Greenwald:

    Lamo: what’s your endgame plan, then?. . .

    Manning: well, it was forwarded to [WikiLeaks] – and god knows what happens now – hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms – if not, than [sic] we’re doomed – as a species – i will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens – the reaction to the video gave me immense hope; CNN’s iReport was overwhelmed; Twitter exploded – people who saw, knew there was something wrong . . . Washington Post sat on the video… David Finkel acquired a copy while embedded out here. . . . – i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.

    if i knew then, what i knew now – kind of thing, or maybe im just young, naive, and stupid . . . im hoping for the former – it cant be the latter – because if it is… were fucking screwed (as a society) – and i dont want to believe that we’re screwed.

    Greenwald: Manning described the incident which first made him seriously question the U.S. Government: when he was instructed to work on the case of Iraqi “insurgents” who had been detained for distributing so-called “insurgent” literature which, when Manning had it translated, turned out to be nothing more than “a scholarly critique against PM Maliki”:

    Manning: i had an interpreter read it for me… and when i found out that it was a benign political critique titled “Where did the money go?” and following the corruption trail within the PM’s cabinet… i immediately took that information and *ran* to the officer to explain what was going on… he didn’t want to hear any of it… he told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs in finding *MORE* detainees…

    i had always questioned the things worked, and investigated to find the truth… but that was a point where i was a *part* of something… i was actively involved in something that i was completely against…

    Greenwald: And Manning explained why he never considered the thought of selling this classified information to a foreign nation for substantial profit or even just secretly transmitting it to foreign powers, as he easily could have done:

    Manning: i mean what if i were someone more malicious- i could’ve sold to russia or china, and made bank?

    Lamo: why didn’t you?

    Manning: because it’s public data

    Lamo: i mean, the cables

    Manning: it belongs in the public domain -information should be free – it belongs in the public domain – because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge – if its out in the open… it should be a public good.

    Greenwald: That’s a whistleblower in the purest and most noble form: discovering government secrets of criminal and corrupt acts and then publicizing them to the world not for profit, not to give other nations an edge, but to trigger “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.” Given how much Manning has been demonized — at the same time that he’s been rendered silent by the ban on his communication with any media — it’s worthwhile to keep all of that in mind.

    But more than Sterling’s callousness, which derives from his inability to discern the difference between one of his fictional characters and a living human being, or his complete disregard for any truth, I think the thing that disturbs me most is his complete and total lack of judgment. “It’s the damage to the institutions that is spooky and disheartening,” Sterling says of the leaks, “after the Lewinsky eruption, every American politician lives in permanent terror of a sex-outing. That’s ‘transparency,’ too…”

    So in Sterling’s mind, there is no difference between Clinton’s sexcapades and U.S. soldiers riding around and shooting innocent civilians from helicopters. These two events are of moral equivalence, and there’s no distinction between what has traditionally belonged in the private realm and what has belonged in the public realm.

    Bruce Sterling may be a great novelist, a great artist. But this conveys no special moral insights. As Time art critic Robert Hughes said: “There is no generalizing about the moral effects of art, because it doesn’t seem to have any.”

    1. cypherpunk

      Have you ever read The Hacker Crackdown by Sterling? It is non-fiction. Freely available, too. It is a foundational documentary piece on hacker culture. Are you aware of the cypherpunks? I read their stuff and listened to a couple of them talk when I was at SF State in about ’92-’95. Sterling gives a good account of these (thoroughly non-fictional) characters.

      Sterling is not relating Manning to one of his fictional characters, he is comparing him to actual living hackers he knows. Sterling doesn’t name these hackers, but I wouldn’t doubt he knows many of them. And, I think it’s pretty clear from the transcript DownSouth quotes that Manning does in fact lack “worldly awareness”.

      From DownSouth:
      “So in Sterling’s mind, there is no difference between Clinton’s sexcapades and U.S. soldiers riding around and shooting innocent civilians from helicopters.”

      That’s just bull.

      Sterling is not perfect. He grates on my nerves from time to time, but I’m sure that’s his intention.

      1. Dirk

        Since Yves linked to this article, I was hoping for more clarity than I got. It seemed to me that Sterling could have made his points in far fewer words if he just skipped all the dancing around poetic stuff. In understanding, concise reads are the best. There is art there, but it is in the distillation. That said, I’m not sure what Sterling was really talking about.

      2. DownSouth

        The need to believe in phony wonders sometimes exceeds not only logic but, seemingly, even sanity.
        –The Rev. Canon William V. Rauscher

        The true-believer syndrome merits study by science. What is it that compels a person, past all reason, to believe the unbelievable. How can an otherwise sane individual become so enamored of a fantasy, an imposture, that even after it’s exposed in the bright light of day he still clings to it–indeed, clings to it all the harder?
        –M. Lamar Keene

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Thanks, DownSouth, for setting the record straight on Manning. It’s not credible for Sterling to have honestly confused him with self-involved cypherpunks. This clearly impugns Sterling as a collaborator. He should stick to fiction, even if it doesn’t pay as well as hatchet hackery.

      1. attempter

        It doesn’t get any more pathetic than when someone’s reduced to plagiarizing hacks like John Burns.

        The fact that Manning was actuated by simple human ideals like a hatred of tyranny is unintelligible to a nihilistic hack like Sterling, to whom nothing is real outside of ones and zeroes. But it must make him feel inferior and ashamed in some vague way, so he feels the need to assimilate it to his own gutter level. Since he doesn’t know how to do that, he looks to the likes of the NYT to tell him what to write.

  7. craazyman

    They outsourced Santa!

    That little critter’s hands and feet make him much more efficient at climbing up and down chimneys. And Santa Inc. doesn’t have to pay him even a tenth as much as the fat white man that got axed. And not only that, he’s lighter by about 180 pounds, so they can fire half the reindeer squad.

    And the new Santa probably eats insects and grubs, so no need to leave cookies out by the hearth when you go to bed tonight.

    So we have another fat unemployed white guy. We have 4 reindeer that are wandering, depressed and looking for a sleigh to pull. And rather than baking cookies together in the kitchen for Santa, Mom & Dad are trying to kill time flipping channels on the big screen TV.

    But Santa Inc.’s stock price is up and so are the bonuses.

    Have an “Efficient Christmas” everyone!

    ho ho ho

    1. avgJohn

      Not much to chuckle about these days. But I gotta admit, you had me laughing out loud with that post :>)

  8. Hugh

    You know for someone as sad as Bruce Sterling he sounds remarkably self-satisfied. And what’s up with all the stereotyping? If Manning, Assange, and wikileaks don’t conform to one set of stereotypes, Sterling just stuffs them into others. Reading the piece, I kept asking myself so what is Sterling’s point? Where’s his analysis? He wants to cast this all in terms of cyberpunk culture. That’s not an analysis. It’s not even terribly original. Assange is a hacker?! Who knew? Manning grew up in our computer filled culture and spent time around computers like tens of millions of others? Shocking. At the end I just had the impression that Sterling was doing a slightly more sophisticated, and certainly wordier, rendition of the standard media spin, which has been to make this more about the personalities than the content. And even when the content is tangentially referenced it is to phrase all those wonderfully literate folks at State. It’s classic misdirection. Trash and belittle the whistleblowers and then who cares what was in the leaks or why our government operates the way it does?

  9. F. Beard

    Thank you Yves and gang and all the commenters for sharing your thoughts this past year. i think it has and is making a big difference.

    Merry Christmas to all!

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