Links 2/12/11

Spending the Kitty on Pooches Wall Street Journal

Bizarre mammals call using quills BBC

Press release reveals journalists believe everything they see on the Internet PhysOrg. I will never link to PhysOrg again after reading this “story” (except maybe cute animal stories that have little informational value). First, the underlying research involved “students”, both of seventh graders, not professional journalists. Second, the sample size for each of only two studies was so small as to clearly be unreliable as far as making generalizations was concerned: one was 25, the other 53.

CO2, birth & death rates by country, simulated real-time Breathing Earth (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Science Programs Hit Hard By Proposed Budget Cuts Slashdot

Chinese stock markets and European politics MIchael Pettis

China Agritech: a follow up and China Agritech: more photos – more detail John Hempton. Looks like Carlyle has more than a little egg on its face.

Avoiding a New Pharaoh Nicholas Kristof, New York Times (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

HBGary Fees: “Dam It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta” Marcy Wheeler. High end trolling is surprisingly well paid (or maybe not, who knows the split between the firm that got the assignment v. the people who do the work).

Audit Notes: HB Gary Federal, Bank CEOs Stock Sales, Adam Gopnik Ryan Chittum. Good for CJR to make noise at the lack of MSM interest…..

Former Fox News employee: ‘Stuff is just made up’ Raw Story. Nice to have official confirmation.

Vermont Gov. Proposes Single-Payer Health Plan NPR (hat tip reader Scott S)

Servicers, loan insurer stocks soar on Treasury’s GSE report Housing Wire. Confirms whose interests are served by the reform trial balloons.

$1.30 > $1.00 James Kwak

Who Says Republicans Have No New Ideas? Robert Reich

The Shock Doctrine in Wisconsin Swopa, FireDogLake

Bank Bailouts Explained Transcript Omid Malekin (hat tip reader Mat)

Consumer Recovery Keeps Slip Slidin’ Away Michael Panzner

3 Ex-IndyMac Executives Are Accused of Fraud New York Times

Corporatism masquerading as Liberty Ed Harrison

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Thomas R):

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    1. Gerald

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  1. Richard Kline

    I’d love to see Charles Ferguson or Errol Morris to a takedown on Faux News and how Murdoch’s creeping corporatism dovetails with his own personal wealth and oligarchical handjobbing. This totally corrupt outfit is rotten ripe for expose. When we have a string of their own ex-employees anonymously outing them, you can tell that the stink internally is so vile the dead bodies in closets exceed anything yet known.

    Sunshine is the best cure for corruption of the brain matter . . . .

  2. Jack

    Yves,I find it more than a little ironic that you first link “Press release reveals journalists believe everything they see on the Internet”

    followed a short while later by
    “Former Fox News employee: ‘Stuff is just made up’ Raw Story. Nice to have official confirmation.”

    ESPECIALLY when the source for the Fox story was made by an anonymous source. You diss the gullible journalist link, but then praise the Fox link as being “official comfirmation” of your own personal views.

    Uh, does anyone else see the irony here???

    It would probably be better to have officially acknowledged partisian bias from each news source, instead of each outlet continuing to believe that their rendition is fair and balanced.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      There is no contradiction. Making stuff up relates to output. Believing relates to input. And didn’t you read my comment? The PhysOrg headline had NOTHING TO DO with the headline. So you believe a made up headline and Fox News too?

  3. Mat Albert 5416

    Re: Bank Bailouts explained transcript

    Sorry, when I posted the “Bank bailouts explained transcript” (in response to “So why is the FCIC Protecting Bernanke & Co.?) I didn’t realize there’s a direct link to the “Bank Bailouts Explained” video, for anyone who prefers not to read the transcript:

  4. Yearning to Learn

    Second, the sample size for each of only two studies was so small as to clearly be unreliable as far as making generalizations was concerned: one was 25, the other 53.

    to me it’s funny that you post this, as I just used a similar argument on one of the “Links” threads this week. (the link about axillary lymph node resection for cancer).

    Most non-scientific Americans (humans?) are NOTORIOUS for not understanding how to read and evaluate a study, nor draw the correct conclusions from said study.

    If it were only as benign as the infamous Tree Octopus. As I discussed this week, we had a major generational shift in vaccination behavior based on ONE (fraudulent) study that only had 12 children. The study itself was crap and most of us who knew how to read a study immediately cautioned against making incorrect conclusions about importance and meaning, even before we knew the whole thing was a fraud.

    Despite this, parental anxiety SKYROCKETED and vaccination rates fell across the western world, especially against MMR.

    TO THIS DAY many parents fear the MMR vaccine, even after conclusive proof demonstrated outright fraud in the original study (Lancet, 1998, primary author Wakefield, redacted). Even after most of the co-authors WITHDREW THEIR OWN NAMES from the study because they realized they were duped by this ass Wakefield.

    TO THIS DAY you have people like Jenny McCarthy who go on Oprah lamenting how the vaccines cause autism, like in her child. Except her child never had autism. Her child got “cured” of autism. But autism has no cure. How did she do it?

    Simple, she is an idiot ex-Playgirl bunny who had a child with probable Landau-Keffler syndrome. She “did some internet research” or whatever and then bulldozed her way into people’s homes and lives spewing misinformation of the worst kind… that of a zealot.

    but you see… what plays better with the Average American? Jenny holding her poor “autistic” child in her lap crying on Oprah? Or a dry boring study with big words published in some esoteric science journal?

    The study loses EVERY time.

    So as a scientist let me just say that I can only WISH that the scientific data being published by journalists was as GOOD as the PhysOrg article which at least got basic ideas about the study correct.

    (on a side note, I might have been fooled into believing in the tree octopus!)

    1. Paul Repstock

      Yearning; “Ignorance is curable, stupidity isn’t”. The problems arrise in differentiating between the two, and then to convince the ignorant that they wish to be cured.

      We often blame the MSM for the crap they disseminate, however, they are in the ‘business’ of selling news. Murdock, Black, et al are business men. They provide whatever the highest bidder pays for???

    2. eric anderson

      As I lifelong student of science, I wish scientific studies were as good as… well, as scientific studies are supposed to be. But they aren’t.

      “The Truth Wears Off” New Yorker, Dec 13, 2010

      As a sufferer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, many of my fellow-sufferers became catastrophically ill following vaccinations, and I wish that common vaccines had better evidence of efficacy to balance the risks and side effects that we strongly suspect are there. But, for many vaccines, the evidence does not meet the standards many critical epidemiologists think is appropriate.

      “Does the Vaccine Matter?” Atlantic Magazine, Nov 2009

      I WISH that climate scientists were not constantly fudging the temperature data at Hadley CRU, or withholding from other scientists the data, methods, and algorithms their studies are based on — or even threatening to destroy their records rather than release them.

      I wish science was more honest and reliable. But science has crapped in its own nest too often and too publicly for the thinking masses (not to mention the unthinking masses) to give it the high priest status — the role of arbiter of truth — some seem to believe it deserves. Sad, but true. Welcome to the court of informed public opinion.

      1. Paul Repstock

        Eric; I arrive back at carping on the same old demand. We must have accountability! Sometimes I too am guilty of spouting on some poorly understood aspect. But, nobody really assumes that I’m an expert and do not make decisions based on what I say.

        We need some mechanism to encourage “experts”, to qualify their statements. At present they are not motivated to do that. In fact the opposite is true. Anyone showing less than absolute conviction and links to studies is given no credibility and certainly does not get funding.

        If Mr. Wakfield had been forced to disclose the financial benifit he was recieving from the parents of autistic children, his study would have been scrutinized better. And if there had been some mechanism, whereby he could be held accountable for his dissinformation, then I doubt he would ever have published it.

        The “truth” may be an ellusive and moving target, but we should not allow charlatans and fearmongers to make a prostitute of it.

      2. Binky Bear

        Sorry, but science works. Eventually a better approximation of the truth will emerge, and people will one day make fun of the old superceded ideas and the people who concocted them just as people of former times made fun of those who were right too soon.
        There are many places where scientists fail, but where those failures can be tested and disproven, they will be corrected. For climate change, I spent last week reading thesis after thesis (Google Scholar Hollah) from different universities, published peer reviewed papers from all over the world, and short articles that all show late Holocene climate change that is outside of cyclical phenomena.
        Further, they show that climate regime change occurs rapidly in a cascading array of related coeffects-ENSO and PDO affect the Aleutian Low changing the flow of moisture and warm and cold air over Canada, affecting the North Atlantic, making places warmer and colder, wetter and drier, with difficult to predict effects. Even if the Fox Nazis and oil funded deniers were absolutely right about all the UK researchers, NAU and Illinois and Magadan and Japan and Canada and Norway get the same results? The lake cores match the ice cores match most of the surface temp data from weather stations matches most of the satellite data. How could a bunch of poorly funded scientists beat the well funded Carbon industries?
        They can’t.
        The main difference is that climate deniers never do any research or produce their own data. They simply spread FUD and personal attacks and the litany of bad arguments we saw with the tobacco industry (e.g. Manufacturers of Doubt). Did you know Al Gore is overweight, lives in a big house because he’s really rich from Occidental Petroleum and inventing the Internet, and is eight kinds of hypocrite? So is Michael Moore, and Rachel Maddow is a lesbian who hates America, like Keith Olbermann. The climate is fine, why do liberals hate the climate? Because they are commies who want to steal the Koch Family’s money and force them to be merely multibillionaires instead of almost trillionaires. They will still be the richest people on the cinder.
        As for CFS, you are describing a symptom, not a disease. You may have chronic depression, Lyme disease, Mononucleosis, or any of a number of other diseases that are causing your CFS. A good doctor or even a good patient should be able to deduce through process of elimination what the cause of CFS symptoms. It doesn’t take a conspiracy of vaccine manufacturers or Illuminati to give you symptoms.
        In science and life the only thing you can do is do it for yourself; get help when and where you need it or can; and share what you find out. You can’t control most things in life, so control what you can and don’t feel you have to take peoples’ word for anything.

        1. Paul Repstock

          Everyone should have a right to an ‘opinion’. You are correct to state that we must all take a personal responsibility for examining the logic of the latest “facts”. But, I still feel that there must be consequences for intentional lying, by missrepresention or distortion.

          Without some basis of integrity, our civilization is becoming a “Tower of Babel”. Our governments with their propaganda, are more guilty of this than most private entities. But, they certainly don’t have a lock on the market.

          Diogenes would dispair of today’s world.

        2. ginnienyc

          Binky Bear, your comments about climate change are well-taken, I think. However, you step outside the limits of your personal knowledge, or current scientific knowledge, when you speak of CFS. Yes, its a stupid name for a real disease, or spectrum of diseases. You are apparently unaware that last year a paradigm-breaking study was published in Science magazine that CFS is possibly caused by a known retrovirus, XMRV. There have been subsequent studies that either support this, or don’t, but the evidence is sufficiently compelling that the NIH has appointed Ian Lipkin, the epidemiologist, to head a blinded study to find XMRV in the blood of patients who meet the CDC criteria for CFS>

  5. Larry Elasmo

    Re: Avoiding a New Pharoah

    For some reason, I can’t link to the NY Times to read this story, but nevermind, I assume it’s about Mubarek.

    Ever since learning that Mubarek might have a net worth as high as $70 billion, CNBC must be shitting all over themselves in an effort to invite him as a guest host for Squawkbox in the morning.

    That way Joe, Becky and Carl can spend three hours fawning over another billionaire, as he relates the story of his rise to the top.

    Joe Kernan: Mr President, tell us the courageous story about your Eclipse Yacht at $1.2 billion?

    Mubarek: Well, this yacht is 524 ft and 10 inches (162 m) long. The interior of the yacht was designed by Philippe Starck. This yacht can host 115 guests with 88 crew members. It has a large aircraft hanger, 2 helicopter pads, 11 guest cabins and 2 swimming pools. It also has several hot tubs and disco hall. You can find 3 launch boats and a mini submarine that can submerge up to 50 meters.

    Becky Quick: Mr President, it’s also reported to be equipped with an anti-paparazzi shield in the form of lasers that sweep the surroundings, for when they detect a CCD… clever of you, Mr President, what a profile in courage……..

  6. RBM411

    @Yearning to Learn

    Ever listen to Imus? His idiot wife comes on his show spewing the same garbage at least once a month. She talks about it like she is some kind of expert on vaccines. His show reaches, what, 2 million people a day.

  7. fresno dan

    $1.30 > $1.00 James Kwak

    “Bruce Bartlett (hat tip Catherine Rampell) reproduces a table from a paper by Suzanne Mettler showing that most people don’t realize that they are beneficiaries of government social programs.
    But these are the analogous figures for some more classic welfare programs:

    * Social Security retirement and survivors’ benefits: 44%
    * Unemployment insurance: 43%
    * Medicare: 40%
    * Social Security Disability Insurance: 29%
    * Medicaid: 28%
    * Food stamps: 25%”

    “But right now, it would be a distinct improvement if people would vote their self-interest.”

    Hmmmm. So government social INSURANCE programs is a codeword for “welfare?”
    First, I think it is extremely disingenuous to imply that people believe it is not “welfare” when it is still currently advertised as social insurance. As well as the fact that the vast majority of people get back little (I have never collected unemployment in my life, but I’m glad it is there) compared to what they have PAID in (hopefully, I will never collect disability insurance).

    “The credits are based on the amount of your earnings”

    I accept that the money I will get from SS is not the money I actually put in, nor that it was “invested.” It comes from current contributors (employees).

    So I really don’t understand Mr. Kwak’s point. It isn’t that social security recipients a bunch of welfare cheats? Or are they not nearly getting the benefits they deserve? Should everyone on social security accept that it is a social welfare program???…to accomplish what???

    Or that our wonderful government GIVES us more than we have EARNED? That government should tax other sources of revenue more to fund social security? SS recipients should demand higher social security taxes so they get increased benefits?

    Being a packrat, I actually have every year end W-2 I ever got. I have paid in about 100K – now mind you, this is back when a dollar was worth 25 cents, instead of the current 7 cents. At the rate of my benefits, I will exhaust the total in a mere 4 or 5 years.
    However, this is without adjusting for inflation, something that is pretty much due to modern monetary policy. It doesn’t take into account the debate about how accurate inflation figures are, with a mere 0.1% when compounded over 30 years having a profound impact on the net amount of funds generated at the end. It doesn’t take into account alternate investments. It also doesn’t take into account that it is highly unlikely that I will live more than 5 years past retirement age.

    Although Mr. Kwak ostensibly thinks of himself as progressive, buying into the assertion that SS recipients are getting more than they paid into the program is an assertion, and in my view, highly debatable. There’s plenty of research asserting that SS recipients standard of living is falling. It can just as easily be argued, that by preventing drug importation, that what ever paltry benefits are provided by medicare, they are more than wiped out by protecting cartels. And don’t get me started about who benefits from 0 interest rates…

    So no, I don’t accept that SS recipients are getting more than they put in.

  8. will

    I think you misread the PhysOrg release – they are critiquing the press for reporting that this “Study” about the gullibility of kids is legitimate – PhysOrg is saying the study is not legitimate, and the press mis-reported the whole thing.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      If so, it’s incredibly badly written, both the headline and the article. And I did read the full article. Just read the headline. It makes a statement that goes way beyond the misreporting of two not-very-widely reported studies (if that’s what it is supposed to be about). This is Clusterstock style headlining at best, which is at odds with what PhysOrg purports to be about.

  9. emca

    Okay, so where’s the chaos?

    We were told by Mubarak and commentators here an abroad that Egypt must keep Hosni to prevent sinking into the abyss of mob rule.

    Now that Mubarak has taken early retirement and will live off monies stolen from Egyptian people, the air-waves are strangely silent.

    Well maybe we’ll get some disorder out it yet; it must be remembered democracy is a messy process prone to arguments and conflicts of perceived self-interest.

  10. Altimod

    There is a new pharaoh named Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey who has been hand picked by the US, mascareding under turning secular Turkey into so called ‘moderately islamic’ country that can be modeled for the rest of the muslim world.

    He handpicks judges, prosecutors whom jailed anyone opposing him, including politicians, journalists, businessman, and current and former 4-start, 5-star army generals that has been arrested under fabricated allegations with no chance given to defendant attorneys at new selected ‘independent’ judicial system similar to Hitler’s Nazi regime.

    Harvard economist Dani Rodrik, whose father in law, a former 5-star general has just been arrested. Dani along with his wife, Pinar, has literally trashed down the fabrications yet new pharaoh Erdogan still can be shown as a model leader for the rest since its CIA under Neocons Cheney, Rumsfeld et al. had crafted ‘Greater Middle Eastern’ where Turkey is leading the muslim pack.

    Read the whole scheme in how Dani Rodrik’s dedicated blog:

    1. Dennis

      This is hilarious. Thank you for a good laugh, its always nice to see a CHP propaganda piece crop up in the most random spots.

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