Links 1/22/11

What’s a Bigger Draw Than a Camel Fight? A Camel Beauty Contest, of Course Wall Street Journal. The WSJ is at least a year late to take note of camel beauty contests.

Solar car speed record smashed Cosmos

NYT: “You Think Houses Are a Slow Sell? Try a Yacht” Credit Bubble Stocks

Economics of Toilet Seat Etiquette Paul Kedrosky. I want to know how he finds these studies. And you can tell the author of this one was male. If I have to explain further, you (along with this author) need remedial education. Hint: the author have missed a huge gender asymmetry in his cost analysis.

Robert Skidelsky on John Maynard Keynes Ed Harrison

BofA Says $10 Billion Is Top of Buybacks Forecast Bloomberg. This is consistent with our long-held view that non-Freddie/Fannie putbacks, where investor and bond guarantor contractual rights are not as strong, are considerably overhyped in terms of their economic potential for plaintiffs.

SEC Recommends Common Standard for Brokers, Advisers Bloomberg. This is LOONG overdue.

Low Interest Rates and Optimism About the Economy Did Not Lure Homebuyers in December Dean Baker

Surprise: Banks Ease Card Fees Wall Street Journal. Mirabile dictu.

Obama’s New Pick For Jobs Panel Sends Work Overseas Shahien Nasiripour, Huffington Post and GE’s Jeff Immelt To Replace Paul Volcker Jesse

Immelt, GE Capital, and the Financialization of Manufacturing Mike Konczal. OMG, Konczal has to explain to supposed journalists that GE is 40% financial services? The studies he cites are way too kind. GE started to provide financial services as a form of vendor finance, but decided it was a business worth pursuing in its own right and got into a ton of areas that had no direct connection with its manufacturing ops, such as LBO lending, private equity, credit cards.

MERS CEO to Leave Company Wall Street Journal

A “Secret Weapon” To Stop Second Mortgage And Credit Card Collections In Their Tracks Matt Weidner. I doubt this is a show-stopper, but could be a useful angle nevertheless.

HOT: Fed Hides Major Accounting Change Economic Policy Journal

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-01-22 at 3.53.44 AM

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  1. Paul Repstock

    MERS CEO to Leave Company

    I guess that makes it official then!
    A company with no employees now also has no CEO..
    According to Maritime Law a ‘rat less’ ship must sink.

    Whee! Who would have thought she would go down so fast?

  2. psychohistorian

    2nd posting

    The Feds major accounting change will codify the privatize the profits and socialize the losses rule, right?

    Are we at outright fascism Yves, or still some form of corporatism? Maybe we are just fucked!

    1. psychohistorian

      Sorry for my crude choice of words as resultant condition of our world but my passion got the better of me before I hit post.

      Maybe we are just in need of structural redirection in many areas, a whole new set of oligarchs, and enough BS to keep the rest of the world thinking we really are exceptional… least for another 20+ years until I am too old to care anymore.

        1. Ignim Brites

          The word fascism should be used sparingly and only in a technically correct sense, to the extent that is definable. The problem is that fascism has a particular meaning within the science of dialectical materialism and so its use as a pejorative tends to tar the user with the commie label. Also, fascism tends to be conflated with scientific racism as a theory of history and politics (i.e. nazism). So again to use fascism as a pejorative suggests that the user is imputing antisemitism to those labeled. I am not sure that this is what psychohistorian had in mind even in his anger and haste.

          The use of the classical term, plutocracy, to describe the current state of American government seems to be more illuminating and has the advantage of tying political analysis back to the classical period of Plato and Aristotle before Machiavelli liberated the prince.

          1. Stick

            “The problem is that fascism has a particular meaning within the science of dialectical materialism and so its use as a pejorative tends to tar the user with the commie label.”

            Come again?

          2. attempter

            The word fascism should be used sparingly and only in a technically correct sense, to the extent that is definable.

            We’re in luck! My most recent post


            opens up with a rigorous definition of economic fascism, and it has nothing to do with dialectical materialism.

            If you don’t like “fascism” as a term, then kleptocracy is better than plutocracy, because the latter emphasizes immense hoarded wealth itself, while kleptocracy emphasizes the act of stealing it, which is the most important thing.

          3. Ignim Brites


            Fascism is above a doctrine of politics and the state. To qualify it as economic really muddies the water even more. Kleptocracy is fine. Very Augustinian.

          4. attempter


            1. Has an economic aspect which can be separated from its other aspects and described. I think it’s clear that economically Bailout America is already fascist or quasi-fascict.

            2. All the other aspects – authoritarianism, ideological obscurantism, party-line press, assaults on civil liberties, militarism, wars of aggression, tribalism – tend to either accompany or follow the economic development. Sure enough, each of those is either fully established or well-advanced. The neoliberal refinement over the old practice is to maintain the phony simulation of “two party democracy” instead of instituting a one party dictatorship. That’s what Wolin called “inverted totalitarianism”.

            So the conclusion is that if we tolerate economic fascism, we’re certain to end up with the full-blown political variety. Just as soon as the criminals decide to dispense with the neoliberal strategy, which they’ll have to once they create enough resistance to themselves.

            So we should act as if that’s a foregone conclusion. People always make big claims about what they’d do if they had a chance to kill Hitler before he had any power. Well, here we are again, and there’s your Hitlers-in-development, and all those alleged anti-fascists are looking like empty blowhards.

            (BTW, it’s false that a fascist regime is necessarily anti-semitic or “scientifically racist”. Mussolini’s wasn’t. He didn’t enact anti-semitic laws until many years into his regime, under Nazi pressure, at the time he wanted closer relations with Hitler. But that wasn’t a natural feature of his system.)

    2. Cedric Regula

      I hope it doesn’t go over Ron Paul’s head that the Fed just unilaterly decided to use the Treasury as a “high yield” hedge fund. But it might.

      I wonder if we will get one of those glowing reports from Timmay about how much money the government is making from it’s investment in Maiden Lane? Or will he just consolodate it with Fannie and Freddie?

      It will be interesting to see how the shell game works if and when inflation rises and the Fed needs to shift their attention to restrictive monetary policy. Ben has lots of confidence in his new policy tool of paying interest to banks, er, I mean on reserves and we will have to wait and see if he can do it at 5% rather than just at .25%.

  3. Rex

    Toilet seat: Yves said, “If I have to explain further, you (along with this author) need remedial education.”

    I apparently do need this education. Please explain. As a guy, I know I usually must raise the seat for my most common usage. I don’t see why someone who wants to sit on it, can’t see if they need to adjust the current situation.

    Is it an aesthetic thing? I never could figure out why men are required to always leave the seat down. I have heard women complain that they have actually sat on a toilet and found porcelain rather than a seat. That’s why we are crude animals.

    That’s just stupid. We men can notice if it is up or down and adjust as needed. Are women not sentient. If a doorway that you usually walk through was closed, would you walk into the door.

    On this lose-lose argument, I am forced to recall a nasty vindictive thing my mother once did. I don’t know if it was premeditated or accidental. She lashed one of those big fluffy toilet seat covers on the toilet seat lid. It was so thick and fluffy that the toilet seat, if raised, would not stay there by itself. It was possible for a man to stand before this evil contraption and urinate from a standing position, but it was probably easier with the various juggling of zippers and hand functions to just acquiesce and sit down.

    Ugh. I probably just enabled many female toilet terrorists with that story.

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      Think of how a woman approaches the toilet. Butt first.

      If you are in a hurry and don’t look, and the men in the house didn’t put the seat up, you sit down with the seat up. That means you drop unexpected extra few inches on to cold porcelain at best, and if then men in your household are at bad at aiming at most men are, you land in stale piss to boot.

      1. Rex

        Sorry, not buying into it. — One last attempt.

        Men also use the butt first configuration some of the time. I have found my eyes aid me in aiming my butt and also are able to discern the state of the target.

        A couple of times an alimentary emergency made me not very concerned about the state of the target. In that case, raw porcelain might actually be the safer alternative.

        OK, too much information on a crass subject. I don’t concede, but will abstain from further debate.

        1. Ina Deaver

          Rex, here’s the deal: if you don’t live with a woman, do whatever you want with the seat. If you do, and wish to continue to, I highly recommend that out of love for said woman you put the seat back down when you are done. Because regardless of whether you think it makes any sense at all, trust me when I say that it matters a great deal more to us than it means to you and constitutes an extremely rude awakening in a dark bathroom, whether you left the seat up and we fall in, or you left it down throughout and we sit in a puddle. Again, if you just think of it as a little favor you do, to bring more kindness into the world, it will bother you less.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Your logic is still faulty and shows a lack of empathy.

          Butt first is not standard operating procedure for men, and hence leaving the seat down is a change from reflexive behavior if they live with a woman (look to see if seat is down because you need to raise it if so). So they have a modicum of attention on this topic.

          A woman living with a man aspires to have trained him and will USUALLY be in “trust bur verify” mode, but when in a hurry or in the dark will forget, and the experience described above is pretty unpleasant. So even if incidence is infrequent, the resulting discomfort is annoying.

          1. Still Above Water

            Neither explosive diarrhea nor dark of night have ever prevented me from plumbing the position of the privy seat prior to planting my posterior upon it. But 20 years of marriage have convinced me that there’s no way to convince a woman that she is capable of this, or that it’s obviously more efficient to leave the seat where it is after using the loo. I’ve long since concluded that it requires far less energy to leave the seat down than to suffer the consequences. Any good analysis of the phenomenon should reach this conclusion. ;)

        3. Lidia

          If there are equal numbers of males and females in the household, the majority of toilet use will be Seat Down.

          Thus, it makes sense to leave the seat in the position most likely to be needed.

          1. laughingsong

            What we need are toilet seats attached to them little pedals, like those found on trash bins. Problem solved.
            Disclaimer: yup, I’m a woman.

      2. AnnieB

        In addition, if I may add a health note, Dr. Oz and other practioners have pointed out that, when the toliet is flushed, water and its contents burst into the air. This toilet water falls onto whatever is on the nearby counter, including toothbrushes. Closing the lid before flushing eliminates this health hazard for all.

      3. LeeAnne

        who the hell sits on a toilet seat she/he hasn’t seen first -maybe a blind person? You may turn butt first, but your eyes are in the front of your head -the direction in which you’re walking.

        1. Tokyo Rose

          Poll your women friends. I am pretty certain you will find you are unusual in not having had this experience.

      4. mike

        So how do you cope with a toilet that has a seat and a lid? I find it astonishing that anyone would sit on the porcelain accidentally – akin to walking into closed doors. Are they not self-aware?

        I think i’m with tokyo rose, they should both be down before flushing anyway. Unless you want to droplets of urine and faecal matter spread across your bathroom.

        The thing that most puzzles me is why most women load the dunny roll the wrong way around, with the paper running down the wall rather than in easy reach off the ledge of the roll.

        1. Tokyo Rose

          Seems like you are generalizing about women from a small and biased sample. as in Lee Anne above. If you’ve ever been trying to get dressed in great haste (as in bathroom multitasking), it can happen. For instance, as in bundling up pantyhose while en route to loo so you can put them on while using said loo. And this is an exceptional occurrence, but those exceptions are a bit jarring.

          Think about it: why would women be so insistent on this topic if it was merely about raising and lowering the toilet seat? It wouldn’t be worth making a fuss otherwise.

    2. rd

      After having lived in places with several females for several decades, I can assure you that discussion of this topic is in the same “no-go zone” as “How do I look?,” “Have I gained weight?,” or “Why would you wear uncomfortable and dangerous high heels?”

      As an engineer, I have proposed technical solutions to the problem, such as the toilet seats with the gap at the front. That generally resulted in the end of the discussion with a threat of said toliet seat wrapped around my head.

      I understand the typical male navigational argument of “look where you are going” but unfortunately women are trained from birth in this country to believe that the toilet seat is always down and so they do use no-look approaches, similar to texting while driving.

      In defence of the women, I will note that there is a percentage of the male half of the species that treat bathrooms as barnyards. I am not surprised at that when I am at sporting events with lots of beer flowing. However, I have been surprised over the years at the state of some mens rooms in office buildings.

    3. LeeAnne

      the toilet seat cover protects the plumbing. if you leave a gaping entrance to the plumbing, like an open toilet uncovered, items large enough to seriously disrupt water flow will and does occur.

      I’ve experienced having to call a plumber -very expensive in both time and money for a stopped up toilet. When the router didn’t work (hitting something solid), he had to take the toilet off its moorings to turn it upside down and investigate. Stuck at the mouth of the plumbing was a small heavy scent contraption that plugs into the wall -an unmovable heavy object that fell in and disappeared.

      So there …

      1. LeeAnne

        correction to “items large enough to seriously disrupt water flow will and does occur.”

        items can fall in the toilet that are large enough to seriously disrupt water flow and stop it up.

        1. LeeAnne

          i grew up in a large family of 6 girls (not all at the same time) -and a mother, brother and father – and have also owned and managed residential real estate and hotel accommodations. Never in my long life have I ever heard of or experienced sitting on the toilet porcelain by mistake.

          this particular thread is a perfect example of the extremes modern man (and woman) will go to intellectualize the most common sense things in life.

          next, we’ll have a PhD on the subject, no?

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I would hazard either your men were well trained (likely given the male/female ratio) or they were so badly trained you had to be vigilant. And I sincerely doubt anyone in a professional context (which is what your property/hotel experience would be) would discuss this topic, let alone in a social context. The fact I had to spell out what is obvious to most women says this is not discussed in sufficient detail all that often.

          2. Skippy

            One observation, you can smell the ammonia in bathroom tile floors. years of boys and men with bad aim or the occasional accident. For this reason alone I retrained myself to sit down, health.

            On another note toilet paper is one of the worst inventions the western world has created, the ecological damage is massive, the manufacturing (trees, chemical process, energy), the strain on the sewer system. etc etc.

            Skippy…men urinate standing up and diamonds are a girls best friend…sheez…marketing triumphs again!

          3. Tokyo Rose


            That was actually pretty rude. I’ve had girlfriends make the same observation to me on this one. You seem to be the unusual one on this topic, or else have such a leisurely life you’ve never had to pull yourself together in a huge hurry. If you are trying to do five things at once to get out the door (and women have more elaborate dressing rituals than men), it’s not that hard for this to happen. It has nothing to do with common sense, it has to do with being distracted.

          4. Lidia

            Skippy, my hero.

            I just can’t get the pee smell out of the tiles in the “boy’s” bathroom.

            Do you do phone consults?

          5. Skippy

            @Lidia, the only things I know to work are straight bleach allowed to soak over night or eucalyptus oil (damn good stuff for everything), repeat as necessary, it may take some time due to the previous inundation…lol.

            Skippy…other than that its re tiling I’m afraid, it’s all porous material…eh.

          6. Lidia

            Thanks, Skippy. My Italian DH never uses TP (we have bidets). I haven’t given up the TP habit, for the most part.. too automatic for me. :-/

      2. Dmx

        I think women should just take control of the situation and not rely on their male compatriots.
        Women – raise the seat when you’re done. Problem solved.

        1. Tokyo Rose

          You still don’t get it. The issue is the seat not being down and the consequences to women of seat not being down. This is, as Yves put it, asymmetrical. Men face the toilet, higher odds of pee in meaningful amounts not winding up in water when they pee if they don’t raise seat, with resulting smell and/or need to wipe down seat (extra work/hassle) providing adequate incentives for them to raise seat for their OWN benefit. Raising seat is a selfish act for men and since they need to address the loo every time they pee, the are pretty certain to have a visual reminder.

          So men don’t need a reminder of what to do, they face adverse consequences generally lead them to lift the seat. But women face potential adverse consequences if seat is up and they in haste trust that their men have done the right thing when they haven’t.

          1. rd

            and then theere is the engieering solution used by mens’ rooms all over of providing a urinal. Problem solved!

    4. craazyman

      I’d just piss all over it.

      They’d learn fast.

      boooowaha aha aha ahahaha ahahaha ahahahah!!!

        1. craazyman


          Where’s the Ball these days? I miss his trenchance and verbal dexterity. To be honest, I just thought of somebody putting a fluffy cushion on a toilet seat so it wouldn’t raise all the way — and my mind screen started showing me pictures of damp wet white yapping poodles like they ladies all walk in New York. Thoe poodles are slighly yellow near the skin and that got me going — and then I thought about all the times I’ve pissed after about 6 beers. Sometimes I was lucky just to hit the water. I suppose it’s a form of revelry, not machismo. I’m not very macho, although I do work out hard and have the body of an NFL wide receiver.


          1. Skippy

            I don’t know how to say this but, your disdain for the opposite sex is worrisome and indicative generally of a few classic malady’s. The signs are all there, its just a matter of which shoe fits, maybe this is the gravity which holds you back from abs]tention…eh.

            Skippy…not to worry…my defectiveness is apparent too.

          2. craazyman

            oh skip c’mon now.

            You’re taking it all to seriously.

            It’s just a bit of fictional fun.

            Real life is one thing, what I joke about here from time to time, in a fictional character way, is quite another.

            I doubt you real all my posts — I certainly don’t read everyone’s due to time constraint — but your point is not at all true or valid, either here in a fictional sense and certainly not in my real life as a real human being.

          3. Skippy

            I do read *all* comments (the eye of Mordor is upon you *sark*), as a fellow gastronomic I like to sample everyone’s flavors, hear their thoughts, best way to become a better mental cook…eh.

            BTW saying things like: me paraphrasing here “I let them have me time to time, Beer, pizza, football and working out” for a tight aesthetically pleasing body et al can come back and bite ya on the backside. Your projection is a choice, like locker room gay jokes, funny thing is the joke is really on many of them later on in life.

            Forgive me for my attitude, I have been a confidant to countless women over my life and its a bit of a sore spot with me.

            Skippy…Personally I blame the parochial system but, that’s a very long story of the sun and the moon.

    5. DumpTheBankInfoJulian

      Dear Men,
      The answer to this question always confuses me…..especially because the only proper way to flush is with the seat and lid DOWN, then flush. So, you should never find the lid up OR the seat up. Period.

      The End.

    6. Crazy Horse

      May i join this delightful discussion about the origin of our core values?
      I was posted to a small town in Columbia for two years of Peace Corps service some several decades ago. I assure you that in the entire country this earth shaking debate never took place because the toilet consisted of a hole in the floor.
      ps. According to the World Health Organization Columbia now ranks ahead of the US overall health standards. Could it be that Freud was correct in his theory of annal compulsion and that there are in fact more aspects to health care than the color of toilet paper?

      1. Lidia

        After reading about “humanure” I am dismayed every time I use the john.

        I’m flushing away valuable fertilizer, and paying for the privilege.

  4. DownSouth

    Re: “Robert Skidelsky on John Maynard Keynes” Ed Harrison

    Fantastic interview!

    Looking at Keynes through the modernist/post-modernist prism, there seems to be some incoherence.

    The acknowledgment that emotions (animal spirits) play an important part in determining human behavior is a post-modern concept. It is a step back from the modernist credo that rationalism explains all.

    The need to inject money at the base of society, as opposed at the top, is also a post-modern concept. This makes for a diminution of the hierarchical, class-structured social order that constitutes one of the key pillars of modernism.

    However, the method Keynes chose to bring about a more egalitarian social order was very modern. The role of government in the United States has historically been very modern, that is it has used the power of a sovereign nation state to take money away from the base of society and reinject it at the top, sort of a reverse Robin Hood scheme. Kevin Phillips in Wealth and Democracy does a great job of documenting how this has happened, with precious few exceptions, throughout the history of the United States. What Keynes did was to take this practice and turn it on its head. He wanted to use the powerful central government to take money from the rich and give it to the poor, a reversal of the traditional role of government in America.

    A post-modern solution, however, would have required a diminishment in the power of the centralized nation state, perhaps with the devolution of some powers to the local level. We really don’t know what this post-modern world looks like, because it doesn’t exist yet and getting there will require a healthy dose of creative thought along with a hell of a lot of trial and error.

    So even though Keynes’ ends were post-modern, the means he proposed to achieve those ends were very modern.

    1. Larry Elasmo

      I agree the interview was very well done. And thanks for your comment pointing this out, or I probably would’ve skipped over that link.

    2. craazyman

      these economists always amuse me, darkly sometimes, because they always presupposes some inarticulated and utterly ambiguous teleological order that “an economy” somehow inherently possesses and that drives its purpose.

      And then they go off on the math, taking Isaac Newton as their patron saint.

      The planets seem to have some sort of purpose. They go around and around and around. And balls dropped from towers go down. And there are natural laws that regulate these actions.

      But for economies, as summations of individuals, the purpose seems to me like one of those vector fields that Richard Feynman used to portray Quantum Physics. And that’s just a metaphor of mine, not especially precise.

      The economists sort of assume but don’t specify where the economy begins and ends. The boundaries are indistinct. The members are indistinctly defined. I know I often reference the metaphor of the tribe, because to me it’s an essentail foundational structure for the analysis of boundaries and inherent psychic energies that empower economic structures and transactions.

      If one assumes that “the poor” are part of the tribe, there is one form of economic logic. If they are outside, there is another. And then there is a form of logic that says the rich are better off by helping the poor to stop being poor, even though it may mean a wealth transfer in the short term. But in the long term the rich are better off because society is wealthier. Of course, if you want to be one of wealthy few, for prestige sake, then it’s better off if the poor are poor.

      Economics is 16 equations and 19 unknowns. But there sure are lots of ways to try and solve them. LOL. But they nevern will. That is the one thing that can be proved, mathematically.

      1. Larry Elasmo

        For economists, knowledge of the actual economy is irrelevant to their career.

        Have you heard the one about the mathematician, the accountant and the economist who apply for the same job?

        The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks “What do two plus two equal?” The mathematician replies “Four.” The interviewer asks “Four, exactly?” The mathematician looks at the interviewer incredulously and says “Yes, four, exactly.”

        Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The accountant says “On average, four – give or take ten percent, but on average, four.”

        Then the interviewer calls in the economist and poses the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The economist gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says, “What do you want it to equal”?

  5. Superduperdave


    Does it bother you that President Obama just traded Paul — “Take your beating like a man, banksters” — for Jeffrey Immelt, the man who was CEO during the period that the SEC says it ran up hundreds of millions of Enron-style fake profits?

    It weirds me out that I haven’t seen anyone talking about this…

    1. LeeAnne

      Superduperdave, I would never presume to speak for Yves. But my guess is she wouldn’t answer a rhetorical question like this.

      Allow me: (certainly not speaking for her)

      the SHOCKS of the last twenty years, beginning with the public pornographic display that seriously and intentionally weakened the dignity of the US office of the presidency before the entire world; the political/military/industrial coupe that occurred with the Supreme Court appointment of Bush who then proceeded to front for the dismantling of the American constitution, all civil rights for American citizens and those in the rest of the world over whom the US government hold sway in a financial and military hostage situation, have convinced many of us that the balance of rights has with Obama finally tipped over into fascist authoritarian Banana Republic territory.

      What is to follow is foreseeable. We have a goon squad at ALL the airports -privatizing them makes no differene. Its still the Federalis claiming authority over every inch of our lives and our speech including torture, holding without charges, ID demands for employment and walking down the street, driving a vehicle -all travel -rendition to strange lands practiced in archaic torture methods, etc etc etc..

      What is to follow is what has followed in every such criminal take over of government.

      We are not amused -or surprised by anything at this point worth discussing.

      1. DownSouth


        Glenn Greenwald had a post on this the other day, about how far America has traveled down the road to a fascist police-state.

        I live in Latin America, so am very much aware of the Dirty Wars. These were sponsored by the United States beginning in the 1970s, both in Mexico (where I live) as well as other Latin America countries. What Greenwald describes in his article very much fits the Dirty War template.

        However, I believe the drive on the part of the U.S. government to terrorize the American population into submission is only one ingredient of a larger witch’s brew. The desire to terrorize the American people is bad enough by itself, but it has combined with other corrosive elements and the final product is a police state mentality that touches the lives of many more Americans than one might imagine. Contrary to what Greenwald contends, it goes well beyond affecting only those “engaged in any actual dissent.”

        Here are the ingredients in my witch’s brew:

        1) The Dirty War: U.S. government sponsored terrorism targeting the American people.

        2) The Power of Nightmares: U.S. government sponsored propaganda creating an irrational fear of terrorism coming from without.

        3) The Trap: The ideology that everyone operates solely out of greed and self-interest, and the crafting of public employee incentives based on this doctrine.

        Conclusion: Far more than just “law-abiding, dissenting citizens” are directly affected when police agencies go rogue.

        1. Paul Repstock

          Down South; #3 is by far the most dangerous and insidious.

          Here in Canada our police are more balanced (excepting that they are also targeted by the back side of the same propaganda machine and are used as tools of the system).

          Our greatest problem is that the our country was sold in a package deal 20 years ago. Most our citizens still refuse to accept the truth because it is to humiliating.

          1. DownSouth


            In 2003 Mexico City hired Rudolph Guiliani as a consultant to recommend solutions to its burgeoning crime problem.

            Using the theory explored in The Trap, (the heading and the intellectual framing I borrow from Adam Curtis and his film), a compensation schedule was worked out whereby police officers were paid a reward for each suspect for a property crime they apprehended. Furthermore, recognition, honors and promotions were based upon the number of arrests each officer made.

            Needless to say, this, combined with Guiliani’s theory that little offences lead to big offences, proved to be an unmitigated disaster. Police officers focused all their efforts on the easiest to apprehend suspects. The severity of the crime committed ceased to be a factor. Thousands were apprehended on the most trivial of charges and upon the flimsiest of evidence. I knew several persons who went to prison for stealing less than $100 usd, one for stealing a sandwich (torta). I knew an 18-year-old boy who was arrested and sent to prison for ducking under the tollbooth to the subway, an offence that involved 2 pesos–about $0.15 usd. Any person who was accused was immediately arrested, regardless of how outrageous or farfetched the accusations leveled against him were. If there was a major crime, innocent bystanders were snatched off the street, regardless of guilt—the only important thing that mattered was that there were lots of arrests. And in the end even all that proved insufficient for some police officers. Some resorted to framing innocent people, just to collect the reward and enhance their career opportunities. Perhaps the saddest part of all this is that the truly tough criminals, those who were difficult to apprehend, were no longer even pursued. All attention was focused on quick and easy targets.

        2. Elliot X

          Some of the comments that follow the Greenwald post correspond with the kind of thing I’ve been hearing on the grapevine and suggest that the pattern of harassment may be more widespread, and more random, than Greenwald himself indicates, in that it does not appear to be strictly limited to political activists or dissidents.

          For instance, the following comment to the Greenwald post can be found towards the bottom of the page number 2, out of 45 pages:

          “I work in Canada for a major US multinational (a Dow component). Big Business with a capital B. The area that i work in is not a local branch plant operation serving the Canadian market, but an integrated part of the US operations.

          I cannot tell you how many times in the past 2 or 3 years I have had colleagues tell me how they have flown the wrong way around the world on business, just to avoid changing planes in the US, or how many trips to the US they have avoided because of the possibility of harassment.

          These are not activists, just businesspeople. The point is that even beyond activists, the complete lawlessness and arbitrariness of the due process free attacks on personal liberty and security of the terror regime have chilled even apolitical types…..”

          1. Paul Repstock

            Elliot, the poster was probably right, but it should not be suggested that these tctics and abuses are limited to the US. Canada’s government and by extension the airport security people have gone mad with power.


            Also, this is not new. 7 years ago I had an altercation with a screener at a small Northern airport. The woman became nearly appoplectic when I insisted the a 3/8 inch x 2 1/2inch bolt she found in my day bag was not “a tool”. I would have suggested that the “tool” was standing opposit me, but I realized I was allready perilously close to being denied my flight.

          2. DownSouth


            I have a number of wealthy Mexican friends who, because they don’t like being treated like John Dillinger, avoid the United States like the plague.

            For others, however, the allure of the best shopping in the world, the most exciting city in the world (New York) or the glitter of Las Vegas overcomes all the unpleasantries.

          3. DownSouth


            The difference between the U.S. and Canada is that the federal law enforcement agency implicated in the story you linked apologized.

            In the U.S., however, if you compain they put you on a suspected terroist list so that the next time you enter the U.S. you really have hell to pay.

            The reason that law enforcement officials and prosecutors in the U.S. can operate with impunity is because they have something called “immunity from suit.” Texas Lawyer has an article that discusses it here.

            The bottom line is that law enforcement officials and prosecutors can arrest and prosecute a person on grounds that are either trivial or completely false. They can do so knowing the person is innocent. They can lie profusely. And they can do all this knowing there will be no price to pay for their aberrant behavior. Quite the contrary, the taxpayers pay them to engage in this aberrant behavior. A most egregious example of this is a murder case which occurred in Norfolk, Virginia as reported by PBS Frontline here

            Now compare this to the accused. If he lies to a law enforcement officer, it’s a criminal offense. And granted there are the legal protections that Greenwald speaks of. But protection at what cost? One who is falsely accused still has to defend himself in court. Lawyers don’t come cheap, and most Americans probably can’t afford them anyway, putting justice completely beyond their reach. And this doesn’t even touch upon the psychic damage inflicted upon the victims of these inquisitions.

            As attempter once pointed out, if there is to be a double standard, it seems like it would be law enforcement officers, solicitors and judges, because they wield so much more power than the average citizen, who would be held to a higher standard. But in the United States it’s just the opposite.

          4. Elliot X

            DownSouth and Paul,

            A woman who works for the French embassy told me that it’s not uncommon for foreigners entering the USA to experience extreme harassment at the airport, for no apparent reason, and many of them are afraid to ever come back to this country. She’d recently heard from a French woman who, along with her five year old daughter, were detained and interrogated for over 2 hours at Charlotte-Douglas airport, with her daughter screaming the entire time. As far as she could tell there was no reason for the interrogation other than TSA officials having the power to do whatever they want, and without suffering any consequences.

            And she said that American citizens are the only people who seem to be unaware that this kind of harassment is going on.

            So, responding to Paul, this would seem to support what DownSouth is saying and indicate that the situation here is probably a lot worse than what you have in Canada.

          5. Paul Repstock

            Yep..some sort of insane “bunker mentality” happening.

            And I say ‘insane’ because it makes no sense. Only foreign billionaires and diplomats are welcome, Ofcourse they don’t need to go through the screening..there might actually be consequences??

            It all makes me wonder if some sort of lobotomy or brainwashing/indoctrination is required to work for airport security outfits???? What happened with the pilots protest?

            As far as the older lady in Calgary is concerned’ what really upsets me is the lack of courage or even care from bystanders. In my Canada, I would expect every able bodied citizen within half a mile to form a protective barrier to prevent an elderly lady from being strip searched in public!
            And to hell with the security twits and missing your flight!!!

        3. Crazy Horse

          Down South, I have observed that your frequent posts to this site are extremely knowledgeable and well reasoned. Upon learning that you are an expat I wonder if you have noted the same ideological disjunction that I have observed as an American living in Canada?

          Specifically, an amazingly high percentage of Canadians I talk to believe that 911 was an inside job designed to sell the planned oil wars in the Middle East to the American public.

          The rate of building collapse, melting point of steel, mode of collapse, and particularly the recorded statement from the lease owner of Building 7 that it was brought down by planned demolition all render the official explanation completely without merit. Yet virtually no American intellectual from the left, middle, or neanderthal right will even consider any theory that doesn’t require the laws of physics to have been suspended. If they did they would probably loose their university grants and teaching position–.

          So what do Mexican intellectuals believe took place that September day? Does the century of US invasions from the Dominican Republic to Panama, the CIA coups and death squads in Central America and the coup in Chile give them a different basis from which to consider what their Uncle Sam is capable of, or has it become ancient history there as well?

          1. Skippy

            Monies has no ethos, it is nihilism incarnate, whom issues the reserve currency and why, nihilistic fear exported with a happy meal like toy, consumerist bonfires to drive out the very same fear it births with in us, affluent status.

            Skippy…tender mercy’s once reserved for others are coming home to roost (post WWII was a grace period, for a bit), generational memory has been eradicated by MSM revisionism, free market philosophical reworking of Darwinism to suit powers design, begets old history revisited, we will repeat.

    2. attempter

      It seems like lots of people don’t realize that Immelt’s just another bankster, albeit in “manufacturer” clothing.

      That sure is the lie the MSM’s peddling.

      Here’s a classic statement by Immelt describing the neoliberal version of fascism:

      The interaction between government and business will change forever. In a reset economy, the government will be a regulator; and also an industry policy champion, a financier, and a key partner.

    3. Ignim Brites

      For those of you who regularly read this blog but otherwise don’t get out much, it is worthwhile noting that the appointment of Immelt is a major poke in the eye of Bill O’Reilly. Either this is just the kind of mistake that a disintegrating administration regularly makes or a brilliant prelude to a sophisticated re-election strategy. It is difficult to say; but I doubt it was the former.

    4. Karen

      The problem is, by now nobody is surprised by this. Paul was marginalized right from the start, so very little will probably change because of this…

  6. AR

    When I traveled in New Zealand I learned to always put the seat up before flushing, because the toilets always splashed. When I had the option of choice among several stalls, I’d select the one with the seat up, hoping that meant I’d not have to wipe it down first.

    In our house, we heat with wood, and keep the bathroom door shut, except on days we shower. (We’re retired.) It can be 46º in there. My husband had a ‘thing’ about keeping the lid down. I refused, because it meant more time with a cold butt for me, whereas he generally didn’t have to expose his butt. He only occasionally forgets to put the seat down :-)

    p.s. I’ve really enjoyed reading Yves’ blog. In case Comcast cuts off my access, I just wanted to thank you, Yves, before it’s too late to do so.

  7. Don

    So any truth to the rumor that Obama stood barefoot in the snow overnight outside the US Chamber of Commerce?

    I guess Bush lite was too lite for our oligarchs.

  8. catlady

    I’m late to join the argument, but in my household to avoid battles over the toilet seat, both the seat and the lid are kept down, so both genders have to lift something to use the toilet. It also keeps the cats from drinking out of the toilet. And prevents things from being dropped in the toilet by accident. And what’s more, my husband prefers to pee in the sink, he says it’s more hygienic (he always rinses the basin) and prevents all those odors and messes caused by men missing the toilet and the splash-back effect. Think about it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s therapeutic to drink your own urine – I saw that on a recent Taboo TV show.

      Think about that.

      1. craazyman

        try it, and let us know how it works. :)

        It couldn’t be any worse than liquified wheat grass.

    2. Jim Haygood

      The UK Guardian had an article about this a few weeks ago, pointing out that your husband’s practice is a water saver — the sink can be rinsed with a quart or two of water, versus 1.3 or 1.6 gallons for a toilet flush (or even 5 to 7 gallons, if it’s a pre-1985 model).

      It follows that just wizzing off the back porch is the ultimate in enlightened green living.

        1. Dirk77

          You might consider trying to live near a field that fertilizes with “biosolids” or a park that irrigates with “reclaimed waste water” before fertilizing your food garden with human waste. Viruses and bacteria, rogue proteins, medicine byproducts, etc., from other people, or even yourself – you really need to be careful in this day. I am not saying there is a danger at the level of becoming a cannibal, but why not try crop rotation first?

          1. AR

            I live on a farm. The farmer across the street fertilizes his pasture with CAFO turkey or hog manure twice a year.

            We’ve been growing all of our own vegetables for over a decade. Started the humanure 3 years ago and used it for the first time in 2010. So far no illness and no complaints from giftees. We figured 2 years of composting would be enough time. We have a thermometer, and it heats to over 140º.

          2. Dirk77

            It would be safer to burn up the waste and deposit the ashes, but would that make a good fertilizer? Anyways, good luck.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I understand that after that photo was taken, for months, the poor cat had to have acupuncture treatment for its bad back.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I guess I forgot to add my standard refrain – another Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens folly.

  9. Cedric Regula

    “Solar car speed record smashed – Cosmos”

    At least now we know how many solar panels it takes to run a toaster.

  10. dearieme

    Pees in the sink? My dear, a gentleman (as AR implies) pops down the garden and pees on the compost heap. At least in summer.

  11. carping demon

    The whole toilet seat thing takes on an entirely new aspect if you grew up using an unlighted outhouse.

    1. Skippy

      Ditto, my grandfather (on the farm) loathed the idea of one defecating in ones own living space, nary 15 paces from the kitchen. So out to the pigs paddock where the outhouse resided, Missouri seasons non withstanding he would go.

      1. Lidia

        Our dog seems to find our practices confounding, as well.
        He tries to eliminate well away from the living areas.

  12. Bevis

    Comments about toilet seats probably won’t put you on the no-fly list, but the stickier ones definitely will. Most of you are probably already on the bowl, and just don’t know it yet. Does anyone else feel like big brother is watching and listening in cyberspace? Or are we all hiding behind a proxy?

    1. Paul Repstock

      My feeling is that it doesn’t matter. If dissenting people won’t stand up for themselves and others, they still are not improving their position or future. The reliable ones are already listed in the book??

      1. Bevis

        Hard to know what the price of dissent will eventually be for Americans. Ominous signs everywhere already, with citizens being encouraged to report any sign of “suspicious activity.” Writing certain buzz words is likely to produce the same eavesdropping as saying them by phone. The NSA is listening and the currently adapted technology allows for powerful and instant identification of “persons of interest.”

  13. Thunder

    How bout if we all just add urinals in the design of bathrooms? May add a couple thousand extra to the price of a house but since the value is inflated anyway, it’ll come to a median eventually. Man pees in the urinal, women in the toilet. Problem solved.

    First time post, but this discussion is actually ludicrous when put in a male/female dichotomy. It’s actually slim pickings in a world of big ones.

  14. ChrisPacific

    I think everyone is missing the point on the toilet article. Leaving all the Battle of the Sexes stuff aside for the moment, we can say that:

    1. There is a reason why most women prefer the toilet seat to be left down (the one Yves supplied, which is the same answer I’ve received pretty consistently from different women whenever I’ve asked the question in the past)

    2. That reason is not the one that the author supplied. Instead, he managed to invent a spurious reason that has nothing to do with the real one, thereby rendering his whole argument and conclusion irrelevant.

    For those reasons I think the article works quite well as a parody of modern economic writing, even if probably an unintentional one. I find it particularly amusing that even though the author could easily have discovered the flaw in his formulation simply by speaking with some of the people he was attempting to analyse, he apparently did not feel it necessary to do so. Again, all very much according to the playbook.

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