Links 2/13/11

Don’t be blinded by the web. The world is actually stagnating Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

Johannesburg at risk from acid lakes Independent (hat tip reader May S)

Extra Testosterone Reduces Your Empathy, Researchers Find ScienceDaily

Surrogate mother fought legal battle after learning that would-be parents were violent Daily Mail (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

WikiLeaks Springs a Leak TruthDig (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

The Economics of Blogging and The Huffington Post New York Times (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

The West Loses Its Favorite Tyrant Der Spiegel (hat tip reader May S)

Merkel: Egypt must keep peace with Israel Associated Press

Gallery of Failed ‘Experts’: Ambassador Marc Ginsberg AntiWar (hat tip reader May S)

‘China ready to go to war to safeguard national interests’ Times of India

Malware Aimed at Iran Hit Five Sites, Report Says New York Times (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

When Income Grows, Who Gains? Economic Policy Institute (hat tip reader Deus-DJ)

Obama’s Deal with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Robert Reich (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

5 Ways Corporate Scavengers Are Making Big Money Off Our Economic Pain AlterNet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

This house believes that the global elite serve the masses Economist (hat tip reader Joe M) versus Democracy’s Fading Light Arundhati Roy (hat tip Andrew) Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader bob). More details here:

This ermine was seen outside of the Lawrence’s home in Lake Placid. Ermines turn white in the winter with a black tail that acts as a decoy for predators.

Screen shot 2011-02-13 at 3.47.23 AM

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  1. attempter

    Ermines turn white in the winter with a black tail that acts as a decoy for predators.

    One time I startled a white-tailed deer in the pre-dawn darkness. As it was bounding away, all I could see was that white flag bouncing crazily in the gloom. It was impossible to tell where it would bounce next or how far away it was.

  2. anon

    More on the WikiLeaks insider tell-all:

    War of the WikiFreaks: Inside WikiLeaks by Daniel Domscheit-Berg:
    “Reading Inside WikiLeaks is a strange experience: you are all set to read John Le Carre, but find yourself landed with Danielle Steel.”

    Assange abused my cat: WikiLeaks insider:
    “Daniel Domscheit-Berg accuses WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of many things in his book presented Thursday, but perhaps the oddest allegation is that he abused the former insider’s cat.

    “Julian was constantly battling for dominance, even with my tomcat Herr Schmitt,” Domscheit-Berg says in his book “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website.””

    1. ZN

      for a more critical view from the comment section of truthdig by EJ Dionne:

      “The article states that the author of this book himself claims to have sabotaged Wikileaks’ ability to receive documents. If true, then the author has sabotaged one of the world’s most vital journalistic enterprises. If false, then the author is a liar who is trying to undermine the credibility of…one of the world’s most vital journalistic enterprises. Yet the author of this review fails to point this out, and in fact seems to promote the book as some kind of credible “insider’s view.” How distressing that such a review should appear on a site called “TruthDig.” Does the author think that this name means “dig a hole for the truth and bury it there?” ”

      then there is Raw Story’s critical review of the review:

      these gossipy rants are entertraining for few nano seconds (^_^)

      Greetings ZN

  3. Jack Rip

    I find Arundhati Roy’s article too verbose, too bombastic and not based on solid logic. Someone who finds justification for the Mumbai attacks should not be in the business of pontification.

    1. Richard Kline

      You make no attempt to refute the factual basis of her assertions, ‘Jack;’ which you couldn’t anyway, since the facts support her contentions. You don’t engage with the morality or policy implications or her remarks. Instead, you make an ‘aesthetic’ judgment, that her style doesn’t meet your [unstate] criteria. Style, you remark on, over substance (not with any critical accuracy either I might add). Which informs us all quite clearly that the worth of your opinion on her perspective is on par with a poorly molded, platic, four-leaf clover which one couldn’t even let a babe dandle because it’s a choking hazard.

      On a day when democracy is exhalted, Roy dares to ponder seriously, ‘Is democracy sufficient? Or even successful against the issues we face?’ And you pop up, ‘Jack,’ to try to side track consideration in to inaccurate, stylistic niggling. Not to take an opposing stand, mind you; partisanship might reveal your actual agenda. No; you just show up to drow a few well crafted handfuls of sand in the crankcase of consideration.

      Again, I’d like to know: who’s paying you to monitor and disrupt blog commentary, ‘Jack?’

      1. skj

        Roy is less shrill than usual in this essay, you should have read her in her post 9/11 criticism of the yet to come American war on Afghanistan.

        Arundhati’s essay is an opinion piece, its an opinion worth listening to seriously, yet its not the whole and complete truth about India. Now yvet, even though she doesnt admit it, is biased against Indians. There are very few positive stories about India on her blog, even though India has made a lot of progress in the recent years, in areas such as social equality, economic justice, gender parity etc. Hence its natural that this essay will find its way on her blog..

        ‘Dick’ claims that he wants facts.. So here are some facts.

        >> India’s one hundred and fifty million Muslims who have been brutalized, humiliated and marginalized.

        Arundhati is the one making the assertion here, she should provide facts and figures to back it up. Half of Indian movie stars are Muslim, a significant percentage of the Indian cricket team is Muslim, the commander of the army in Kashmir is muslim (, two of the presidents have been muslim, one of these two has also been the leader of the Indian defense research development organization (DRDO) (, Muslims have their own religious personal law that governs familial disputes (marriage, divorce, inheritance and so on), Muslims have the right to maintain, if they want, exclucivist educational institutes where they decide what they want to teach and give preference to their co-religionists in admissions etc., the owner of the largest India software firm – WIPRO – is a muslim, so I must ask, how is the Indian muslim minority brutalized, marginalized and humiliated? The onus of proving this should be on Arundhati and not simply by assertion alone! I am not arguing that muslims in India face no harassment or discrimination, I am simply saying that they are hardly the powerless victims at the mercy of ‘rampaging hindu hordes’.. Even in the riots that she labels as the Gujarat genocide, she fails to mention the official death count – ~ 1000 people people died, out of whom 254 were Hindus, hardly the one sided affair she wants to project!

        >> After the carnage, Narendra Modi pressed for early elections. He was returned to power with a decisive mandate from the people of Gujarat. Five years later he repeated this success: he is now serving a third term as chief minister.

        This statement makes it seem that Modi won round after round of elections based only on the backlash that resulted from the Godhra/Gujarat riots. It ignores the fact, that under his Chief Ministership, Gujarat has made a tremendous amount of progress – educating the girl child, empowering women in local decision making bodies, making the Indian bureaucracy accountable.. His is the only state in India, where when Industries want to setup a factory, they have to buy the land from the people at market price, none of the gun point acquisition that goes on in other left dominated states in India.

        I am not saying that India is without warts, the treatment of the adivasis (forest dwelling tribes) is shameful and needs improvement, India needs to crack the muslim code, India needs a solution to Kashmir, the downtrodden and the voiceless needs to be empowered more – Yet, arundhatis essay asserts that the Indian state is evil and whatever that is happening there is not for Good. I am saying that this essay is one sided, and that is the reason it found its place on yvets blog.

        1. Richard Kline

          My name is Richard, and it’s on my driver’s license; use it if you want any serious discourse. You do not, skj, put your own name out there, so evidently you have something to hide.

          Your remarks about Muslim celebrities are tokenism at its very worst, and speak more about your analytic honesty and intentions than any statistic alone possibly could. Muslims in India are accepted in many communities and parties, but target by Hindu fascist organizations which are abetted by one of India’s two largest political parties. I don’t use the adjective ‘fascist’ lightly in this regard, and anyone doing the research understands that it is _fully justifies_. Indian national opinion is not so severely prejudiced, but organized anti-Muslim violence by state governmental authorities is still a constant risk. You seek to minimize that in a trivial way, and I condemn your trivialization of the issue.

          Would I personally call the pogroms in Gujarat to which you allude ‘a genocide’? Personally, I would not, but then I don’t live there, nor do I deal directly with human rights activists who must contend with the STILL UNPROSECUTED perpetrators of that and other pogroms. The figures for casualties which you cite are false; I’ve seen many figures substantially higher, but in fact the actual death toll was unknowable because a) many were burned to death, and b) the local authorities collaborated _extensively_ in immediately disposing of evidence and suppressing investigation. I notice, skj, that none of that information made its way into your remarks. Ergo, I mark you down as a propagandist if you’re not merely self-deluding.

          You elect to describe Ms. Roy as ‘shrill.’ Again, an aesthetic distinction. I find you no different than ‘Jack,’ and I suspect that you are in fact the same individual, employed by the same person. (Your first name wouldn’t happen to be Andrew, would it, buddy?) One not immediately involved may perceive her remarks on, for example, that problematic context in which Naxalite tribal insurgents must act to defend themselves from state violence and expropriation. Her discourse there may be painted as ‘shrill’ if one thinks there’s little cause for concern. Your position evidently, given your gross misstatement of the pogrom in Gujrat _and in the surrounding region as well_. If one looks at that context for the tribals, her remarks are sustained as factual, and hence ‘shrill’ is a deliberately distorted descriptive of her position. Whether one endorses an armed resistance or not to the problems confronted by the Naxalites is another matter; that is something to think on closely. But the reality of their problems cannot be dismissed by a pissant troll who spreads factually inaccurate sludge to defame someone whose politics they disagree with.

          I’m not going to stoop to your blather about 9/11 remarks by Ms. Roy or anyone. 9/11 was patent blowback from US crimes abroad. Blowback by crazies, I would say that is my perspective (she can speak for herself). Your conception, skj, that you can invoke kneejerk endorsement for racist disproportionate response by US authorities to the events of 9/11, not least to cover up their own incompetence in preventing the event, further reveals the kind of methods and arguments you wish to see as decisive. That’s on you, and your problem. No one who wants to understand _what actually happened and happens_ needs to waste a further five seconds on your particular kind of half-hidden bias.

        2. Richard Kline

          skj: “[Nahendra Modi’s] is the only state in India, where when Industries want to setup a factory, they have to buy the land from the people at market price, none of the gun point acquisition that goes on in other left dominated states in India”

          A neoliberal semi-paradise, run by long time HIndu fascists for the corporate elite, that’s what Maharashtra is too much. ‘A fair price’ for whom?

          Your obvious sympathy, no let’s be clear _open endorsement_ of corporatism over populace, your quoting of bogus statistics to make your point seem substantive in what amounts to propagandistic lying, your profession of ‘progress’ gussied up with charity handouts for photo-op projects while the poor are subjected to police repression mere blocks away, make _your_ agenda fully clear. *Icckkkk*

          Again, I’m left wondering: who is paying you?

      2. DownSouth

        Intellectually Roy stands heads above the two Economist authors, Whyte and Ben-Ami. However, even though she sees that Modernism has carried us just about as far as it can, she still doesn’t seem to be able to break out of Modernism’s straight jacket.

        Whyte and Ben-Ami stand at opposite poles of Modernist thinking. On the right is Whyte. His notion of man is that of classical economics. Man is a rational being who has been purged of all emotion and feeling. This zombie-like figure is amoral, being incapable of either good or evil sentiments. His entire moral repertoire is thus reduced to practical utility.

        Belief in this mythical conceptualization of man led to untold human suffering. So to counter this myth came the counter-myth—-a world devoid of objectivity and utility but full of feeling and emotion. Perhaps this counter-myth was nowhere better expressed than in this essay by one of the leading artists of the Soviet Avant-Garde, Kasimir Malevich:

        [T]he visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.


        The art of the past which stood, at least ostensibly, in the service of religion and the state, will take on new life in the pure (unapplied) art of Suprematism, which will build up a new world, the world of feeling ….


        The emotions which are kindled in the human being are stronger than the human being himself… they must at all costs find an outlet they must take on overt form they must be communicated or put to work.


        The black square on the white field was the first form in which nonobjective feeling came to be expressed. The square = feeling, the white field = the void beyond this feeling.

        But this counter-myth, just like the myth it was meant to replace, was also amoral. Even utility maximization was devalued, as Malevich goes on to explain:

        And so there the new nonobjective art stands the expression of pure feeling, seeking no practical values, no ideas, no “promised land ……


        Nothing in the objective world is as “secure and unshakeable” as it appears to our conscious minds. We should accept nothing as predetermined as constituted for eternity. Every “firmly established,” familiar thing can be shifted about and brought under a new and, primarily, unfamiliar order.


        We have ample opportunity to become convinced that we are never in a position for recognizing any real utility in things and that we shall never succeed in constructing a really practical object. We can evidently only feel the essence of absolute utility but, since a feeling is always nonobjective, any attempt to grasp the utility of the objective is Utopian.

        From this wildly optimistic counter-myth spring statements like this from Ben-Ami, completely devoid of the objective realities so meticulously detailed by Roy:

        From the 1970s onwards the Western elite have retreated from the notion of progress. Although they pay lip service to economic and social advance they have become strikingly ambivalent in practice. On one hand, they recognise that economies can benefit from growth and companies need to make profits to survive. On the other, they have accepted the idea that growth needs to be circumscribed by several sets of limits: environmental, social and moral. Often there are so many caveats that the whole project of economic growth is called into question.

        This acceptance of limits is best described as “growth scepticism” because it typically takes the form of adding caveats to the professed support for prosperity. For example, a common argument is that growth needs to be curbed to respect natural limits. This might sound sensible but it is not. From Francis Bacon, a great British scientist and statesman, in the 16th century onwards a key principle of Western thought was that human progress meant dominating nature. Not destroying it but reshaping it to benefit humanity. Nowadays, in contrast, the typical response to natural challenges is restraint rather than advance.

        And just like in the myth and the counter-myth, Ben-Ami renders no moral judgments, other than perhaps pursuit of utility. There is no recognition that there might be bad people in the world doing bad things.

        And this is where I fault Roy. She is certainly light years ahead of Ben-Ami, who is in complete denial of objective reality and the fact that there are bad things transpiring in the world. But she just can’t bring herself to say that it is bad people that are making these bad things happen. Instead, she falls back on Modernism’s “rational,” utility-maximization explanations:

        Most of the genocidal killing from the fifteenth century onwards has been an integral part of Europe’s search for what the German geographer and zoologist Friedrich Ratzel famously called lebensraum, living space. Lebensraum was a word he coined to describe what he thought of as dominant human species’ natural impulse to expand their territory in their search for not just space, but sustenance.

        “Dominant human species’ natural impulse to expand their territory in their search for…sustenance”? Completely missing here is an acknowledgement of the concept of original sin. “Man fights his battles with instruments in which mind has sharpened natures claws,” Reinhold Niebuhr wrote in Moral Man and Immoral Society,

        and his ferocities are more sustained than those of the natural world, where they are prompted only by the moods and the necessities of the moment. The beast of prey ceases from its conquests when its maw is crammed; but man’s lusts are fed by his imagination, and he will not be satisfied until the universal objectives which the imagination envisages are attained. His protest against finiteness makes the universal character of his imperial dreams inevitable. In his sanest moments he sees life fulfilled as an organic part of a harmonious whole. But he has few sane moments; for he is governed more by imagination than by reason and imagination is compounded of mind and impulse.

        Perhaps the reason Roy doesn’t want to admit to the notion of original sin is because she believes (mistakenly, I believe, because of her adherence to Modernist dogmas) that it pours cold water on the possibility of human progress. As Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote of Niebuhr here:

        The notion of sinful man was uncomfortable for my generation. We had been brought up to believe in human innocence and even in human perfectibility… Andrew Carnegie had articulated the national faith when, after acclaiming the rise of man from lower to higher forms, he declared: “Nor is there any conceivable end to his march to perfection.” In 1939, Charles E. Merriam of the University of Chicago, the dean of American political scientists, wrote in “The New Democracy and the New Despotism”: “There is a constant trend in human affairs toward the perfectibility of mankind. This was plainly stated at the time of the French Revolution and has been reasserted ever since that time, and with increasing plausibility.” Human ignorance and unjust institutions remained the only obstacles to a more perfect world. If proper education of individuals and proper reform of institutions did their job, such obstacles would be removed. For the heart of man was O.K. The idea of original sin was a historical, indeed a hysterical, curiosity that should have evaporated with Jonathan Edwards’s Calvinism.

        I think Niebuhr’s take on original sin was similar to that of Erasmus, so that makes him a child of the Renaissance. And that makes him quite different from the thinkers of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the events of which led to the 17th-century Counter-Renaissance, which was the crucible of Modernism. What sets the Renaissance thinkers apart from Reformation, Counter-Reformation and Modernist thinkers is that they eschew the quest for certainty, for absolutes. As Schlesinger goes on to explain of Niebuhr’s beliefs regarding original sin:

        Original sin, by tainting all human perceptions, is the enemy of absolutes. Mortal man’s apprehension of truth is fitful, shadowy and imperfect; he sees through the glass darkly. Against absolutism Niebuhr insisted on the “relativity of all human perspectives,” as well as on the sinfulness of those who claimed divine sanction for their opinions. He declared himself “in broad agreement with the relativist position in the matter of freedom, as upon every other social and political right or principle.” In pointing to the dangers of what Justice Robert H. Jackson called “compulsory godliness,” Niebuhr argued that “religion is so frequently a source of confusion in political life, and so frequently dangerous to democracy, precisely because it introduces absolutes into the realm of relative values.” Religion, he warned, could be a source of error as well as wisdom and light. Its role should be to inculcate, not a sense of infallibility, but a sense of humility. Indeed, “the worst corruption is a corrupt religion.”

        This of course made Niebuhr not only the enemy of the old-style religious fundamentalists, but the new-style secular fundamentalists, who banished good and evil from human consciousness, as well.

        1. Richard Kline

          I suspect that Roy rejects sin on the basis that it is an objective invention of value, both unnecessary for personal morality, corrosive of personal choice and self-realization, and created and sustained for the purpose of third-party social control. I haven’t read all her thought, but she is strong on personal responsibility. Personally, I don’t support the concept of sin at all; it’s been intensely destructive. One can oppose wrong on the basis of outcome without needing to posit some superordinate valuation. I say that even though I like much of Neibuhr’s thought personally.

          Malevich was an extremely interesting individual. We’d have a better world if we knew nothing of Warhol and everything of Malevich, but his side lost the cultural struggle in Russia, so he’s too much forgotten.

    2. McPhilip

      Ignore Jack’s comment.

      It’s a long read, but Democracy’s Fading Light is well worth it. The point about the hijacking of language is spot on, and I found it very helpful to hear another viewpoint into just what’s going on with the Maoist ‘terrorists’.

    3. craazyman

      I usually just channel everything since there’s really no need to flow other people’s thoughts when you can just flow your own.

      The Pilot Wave is the big problem. The Pilot Wave is like an arching lightening bolt that wavers in wild gyrating swings in the noousphere. Like something Nicolai Tesla would have shot from one of his towers. Animals have pilot waves for each combination of DNA that forms each species.

      The elephants have one. The mice and crickets have them. So do the fish and the birds.

      For humans, the pilot wave is based on local consciousness and formed through the propagation of the life force into abstraction and into the nousphere — where the Jungian archetypes also are active.

      This is n-dimensional mind-space. Sort of like Hilbert space. The method of wave propagation is something of a mystery. I’m working on that one — after a few glasses of Cote du Rhone and Zanax.

      The Gnostic Mind wave is the solo wave. And each tribal unit is comnanded by the Pilot Wave in conflict with the Gnostic Solo wave — which propogates through the tormente of the flesh and through language. As John said “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God” But JOhn was a Greek, I think and so he was biased in that way.

      The death of democracy is the death of the gnostic intrusion into the Pilot Wave and the usurpation of the pilot wave by the DNA Serpent Snake tribal collective consciousness.

      I do not believe that the author was approving of the Bombay bombing, only observing the inevitability of these acts when the Pilot Wave becomes, literally, a Satanic manifestation. Satanic in the colloquial sense, not in the etymological sense or in the cultural pyschoanalytical sense.

      The essay or speech or whatever it was was very strongly articulated. It was good writing. She’s clearly channeling the Englightenment Thinkers and Jesus and the Greeks and some aspect of the Romans.

      Why it was that such notions didn’t enter into the philosophies of other cultures is sort of odd. It wasn’t that they were absent completely. I think it was a matter of the evolution of language more than anything. Julian Janes in the Origin of Consciousness makes some arguments in this regard.

      All in all. I appreciate the author’s point of view. I do not think she was justifying anything. I had half expected some radical intellectual shallow and historically ignorant anti-western rant — that from a nation that has a brutal caste system, a brutal dowry system, and throws its women on the funeral pyer (or used to) alive with their dead husbands. What can they teach anyone? Except how to be savages.

      But she made it a Gnostic Channeling session, and she flowed her own thoughts against the Pilot Wave. So she’s on the side of the Good Guys. I tip my hat to her.

        1. Cedric Regula


          I thought “Beezlebub” was the correct word for the discredited word, “Satan”? (very possible I’m wrong about that)

          So this paragraph,

          “I do not believe that the author was approving of the Bombay bombing, only observing the inevitability of these acts when the Pilot Wave becomes, literally, a Satanic manifestation. Satanic in the colloquial sense, not in the etymological sense or in the cultural pyschoanalytical sense.”

          should read,

          “I do not believe that the author was approving of the Bombay bombing, only observing the inevitability of these acts when the Pilot Wave becomes, literally, a Beezelbubeon manifestation. Beezelbubeon in the colloquial sense, not in the etymological sense or in the cultural pyschoanalytical sense.”

          Don’t mean to quibble, and we can always agree to disagree :)

  4. Diogenes

    Kudos to Yves for being cited in Frank Rich’s Sunday op-ed in today’s New York Times:

    “The commission’s report, full of fascinating detail, received mixed reviews. One critic, Yves Smith, of the financial blog Naked Capitalism, chastised it for not digging into how the financial industry profited obscenely (and in her view, fraudulently) by deliberately creating “toxic instruments” like subprime-mortgage-backed securities just to bet against them.”

    1. hermanas

      I second that. Frank is one I like and it almost stunned me when he mentioned Yves this morning. She keeps saying no one is paying attention to “little ole me”. Surprise baby, you’re in the big time now. You go girl!

      1. Francois T

        Ditto! Yves made it to the Harry Schearer Le Show (excellent interview BTW!), the Dlyan Ratigan, now Frank Rich!

        Tremble CNBC and MSM bullshitters of all strains! Make way for the technician who knows!


  5. Ignim Brites

    “We live broadly as we did 50 years ago.” (Guardian, stagnation piece). Not even close. 50 years ago we would not have been able to go to Aljazeera real time to get news from Egypt. 50 years ago a company like Walmart could not have created an efficient global supply chain. 50 years ago the kind of mass movement of people around the globe would only been the movement of armies. The stagnation thesis is just a pretext for government to take command of the economy. That will work well.

    1. Richard Kline

      Sixty years ago, Gandhi mobilized more people than were in all of the armies of South Asia combined. And sixty years ago, the peonage of Walmart’s supply chain was called out as the colonialst exploitation it still is. They weren’t so dumb, sixty years ago, let’s just keep that in mind, sez I . . . .

      1. Ignim Brites

        But Ghandi’s mobilized masses were not in the US or Europe. The point is that the argument that the world has stagnated technologically in the last 50 years is bizarre. And that is because they weren’t so dumb 50, 40, 30, 20 years ago. Now whether or not the technological advances are sustainable, whether or not the world has the material and human capital to reproduce and extend the advances of the last 50 or even the last 500 years, that is a more interesting and subtle question.

    2. Glen

      Seems to be working well in Communist China. Not so well in the USA where the capitalist have taken control of the government after running the economy into the ground.

  6. Sufferin' Succotash

    I guess mass immigration didn’t begin until the Reagan Administration and all those photos of immigrants on Ellis Island circa 1900 are just fakes.
    And such entities as the Dutch and English East India Companies could not possibly have begun global supply chains four centuries ago either.
    I’ve often wondered what it might be like to be totally ignorant of economic history prior to the era of Saints Ronnie & Maggie.

    1. Francois T

      “I’ve often wondered what it might be like to be totally ignorant of economic history prior to the era of Saints Ronnie & Maggie.”

      Wonder no more Grasshopper! Just look (if you can tolerate the assault to your reason) at Fix News everyday, and read RedState, TownHall and all these Temples of Bliss. (as in “Ignorance is Bliss”, that is!)

  7. Jim


    Joanie Greggains did a show on KGO810 radio Feb 12 2011, at 9AM PST about flouride in the drinking water. She interviews two doctors that describe how Flouride is bad for people’s health, yet they keep putting it in the drinking water.

    The Flouride strips the body of all kinds of enzymes and has arsenic, as well as makes the body absorb more lead.

    You may want to listen. One of these days we will all wake up and figure out the CDC is actively working AGAINST our best health instead of trying to protect it. I already know, but hope others figure it out too.

  8. Tom Crowl

    RE: “Extra Testosterone Reduces Your Empathy”

    Not at all surprising… but maybe this will be:

    That reduction in empathy for the ‘hyper-masculine’ is an evolutionary characteristic enhancing the impact of that same individual’s biological altruism drive! This frankly isn’t being attended to or properly understood.

    (Biological altruism is rooted in distinguishing behavior and attitude towards an in-group as opposed to an out-group… its not fundamentally about being ‘nice’…)

    In other words… he’s ready to FIGHT to protect what’s his!

    So perhaps its no surprise we are selecting for CEO’s and leaders with strong ‘tribal’ tendencies…

    But biological altruism is also connected to natural human community size (Dunbar’s Number). This is problematic is scaled societies.

    And why elite’s lose touch…

    Frankly citizens rank somewhere between a resource to be exploited and an enemy to be suppressed.

    Which is why its so important for both governments AND large corporations to know just who’s boss! That’s not as hard to do as many think given the proper tools. (We need to empower more diverse ‘tribes’!)

    Social Networks & The Social Organism: Healing the Breach

    How Would Hunter-gatherers Run the World? (Psst… They DO!)

    Finding Roots in a Shifting Landscape: Facebook and the Future of Social Networks

    1. Max424

      I say, submit away. Today, we had ocelots and ermines. Who knows, tomorrow, maybe it’s bobolinks and marmosets.

      Personally, I don’t think you can have overkill in the antidote(s)de jour.

  9. Independent Accountant

    I read Frank Rich’s piece and agree with it except for his believing the SEC has insufficient funds to do its job. The SEC has more than enough money to function. Its employees have no incentive to chase major league Wall Street miscreants. Why? They look to be employed by them or their law firms. The SEC has time to write comment letters on registrants with $196 in assets and 32 stockholders. You read that right. One of our clients, just a public shell, got a comment letter. Why does the SEC look at such entities? Why does it select a weak case against Goldman, get $550 million or 4% of what Goldman got from the AIG bailout, then act as if it is protecting the public interest? The SEC is part of the problem, not part of the solution. The SEC’s enforcement division should be shut down.


  10. Joe Costello

    “Dont be blinded by the Web”

    This is good if light.

    It’s much more revolutionary than this guy thinks and most importantly most of the good innovation is not going to be found in the production/consumption model, for example what does 21st century government look like?

    I have to say one of the most amusing economic anecdotes, and really that’s what they all are, is growth of population is necessary for robust economic growth, in reverse, it’s what many point to Japan’s last two decades problem. But if this was true, sub-Saharan Africa should have been the greatest growth economy of the last half-century. Or another example would be the “robust” growth of Germany in the last two decades with the annexation of tens of millions from the East. I bring this particular anecdote up because of the increasingly popular notion that immigration and births will keep the US housing market from a decade(s) slide….so, I got this house in Niger I’d like to sell you.

    Industrial economics and its institutions are becoming strangleholds on economic vitality, just as our two century old constitution becomes a straight-jacket on self-government.

    1. leroguetradeur

      No, it does not follow from the assertion that population growth is necessary for economic growth, that all population growth will lead to economic growth.

      I agree that Japan is a counter example to the first proposition, because it shows economic growth without population growth and that the first proposition is false, but Sub Saharan Africa is not a counter example.

  11. John Merryman

    The premise of the Guardian article, that the pendulum is swinging back from the privatized world of the last thirty years to one where public cooperation is re-emerging, should be considered in light of many things going on, such as in Egypt, where community reaction is rebelling against the use of free market dogma to atomize any sectors of society that stand against the power of capital.
    The ultimate breakdown will come when it is finally understood that capital is itself a public contract, which those in control have been systematically corrupting for their own benefit.

  12. Frank Lavarre

    Re: Democracy’s Fading Light

    Excellent article by Arundhati Roy! Thanks for linking to it, as I would never have found the article on on my own.

  13. Hugh

    Reading the wikileaks story, I am surprised that Obama and the US government went so bananas over this organization, well other than their own paranoia and incompetence. It seems like the best strategy was just to sit back and watch it implode. You have both Assange and Domscheit-Berg talking about the importance of the “work” but both and who knows how many others in the organization regularly letting ego and personality subvert it.

    Assange may be an asshole who can’t keep his fly zipped but he was very successful in raising wikileaks’ media visibility. The strategy too to outsource story writing on the leak material to a group of traditional media outlets was inspired. It not only got the material out to a worldwide audience but exploited the competition between these outlets to make sure that the material would be played up as much as possible, that it would appear on the frontpage and not page 26.

    Certainly there were trade-offs. The New York Times coverage was notably squishy. The Guardian’s coverage too as time has passed and more about its involvement has come out was not muckraking. Rather we had ossified members of the MSM pushed beyond their usual modest limits by a story that was too good to pass up.

    So while Assange may not have been the perfect front for wikileaks. He was a showman and that’s what the group needed.

    What I find odd is that having achieved media prominence Domscheit-Berg acted as he did. Let’s just run through some of the oddities. He says that he and Assange lied a lot about wikileaks, and then suddenly he’s all for truth. And now too he is all for transparency, but also for protecting the leakers and the innocents. As to the first of these, this is precisely why a leaks organization needs to be opaque in some of its workings. These large US government document dumps are suspected to have come from Bradley Manning but wikileaks played no role in the events leading up to his arrest. Given that hundreds of thousands in the government had access, it is surprising they weren’t leaked sooner.

    As for innocents, much was made about the Afghanistan leaks putting innocents at risk and wikileaks was legitimately criticized for this. But the fact is, as admitted by the Pentagon itself, there has never been any evidence that any innocent was actually harmed from the leaks. More, in the Department of State cable releases, wikileaks has only been putting up at its site the cables released by its MSM partners and keeping their redactions.

    Then Domscheit-Berg relates he helped lock up the wikileaks site so it couldn’t receive online submissions. This at a time when wikileaks’ notoriety looked like it would greatly increase such submissions. I mean if the “work” is so important why go so far out of his way to sabotage it. And it could be argued by making whistleblowers go to greater lengths to make such submissions he was placing them in greater danger. How does that square with his desire to protect sources?

    Finally, the article indicates that Openleaks isn’t up yet. Why not? Supposedly, Domscheit-Berg has access to the “architect” that he says really put wikileaks together. So if they have the core structures of wikileaks already to work off of, how come it is taking them so long to launch their own site? And even when it is up, if it ever is, will anyone notice?

    1. Richard Kline

      ” . . . [O]ther than their own paranoia and incompetence,” Hugh, buddy, this is what drives _all_ decision-making inside the Beltway. It’s a carefully created illusion that ideology is the driving force as opposed to gross opportunism, personal net-out, and a profound wish to avoid any responsibility for outcomes.

      But what really drove Beltway response to Wikileaks was this: exposure shaves off the veneer of authority and allows observers to make up their own minds. States can’t tolerate citizens knowing the facts or what is really done because the spackle of venality, bad faith, and incompetence which is the most of actual policy erodes the status, and hence the effect, of authority. Wikileaks is far more dangerous to power than any armed insurgency, that is fact, and power knows it. It is signature of the incompetence of American higher-ups that they’ve let their panic at exposure be so openly displayed. This is an indication of the actual _weakness_ of authorities lies and position.

      Now, when is the citizenry going to catch on to that . . . ?

  14. wunsacon

    The “world” is not stagnating. “Technology” and the “top 1%” are doing better than ever.

  15. Max424

    From the Qiushi Journal(CPC): “What is the most powerful weapon China has today? … our foreign exchange reserves … If we use it well, it is a weapon …”

    Hey, somebody is finally starting to use their Szechuan noodle.

    Yes China, you have the dominant chip stack. In that position, when more than half the chips at the table are in your stack, you’re supposed to win — if you play smart, and avoid a divine sequence of bad beats, victory is LIKELY assured.

    But what you’re missing, China, you dummies, is your dominant position at the table is much greater than you imagine. Your foreign exchange reserves are not your most powerful weapon — not even close. Your most powerful weapon — the big cannon — is your sovereign fiat currency. While your opponents artificially constrained and unguarded chip stacks are being steadily pilfered by their middlemen banking systems, your safe, publicly held chip stack is not subject to any middleman’s ante. Even better, your chip stack is unfettered; should it be dented (or not be dented — who cares!), it can be replenished, to any level, at any juncture.

    In other words, China, if you print with a sovereign purpose, and you do not do cower — on those rare occasions — when a wee bit of inflation pops up, you are the mortal lock of locks.

  16. rd

    An interesting article on space shuttle safety showed up today. Here is a link to the article (I haven’t been able to locate the actual report yet):

    A few key things in this article:

    1. Management estimates of shuttle safety were 1,000x greater than the engineers’ estimates (that’s a shocker!-not).

    2. The engineers’ estimates were still too optimistic by one order of magnitude (actually not too bad for a very complex system attempting to accomplish never before done things).

    3. The current solution to the shutdown of the shuttle fleet is much less complex Russian systems.

    4. The future solution is private industry space flights (that will be interesting to see how they handle risk/profit tradeoffs).

    Now if NASA were a Wall Street enterprise, the managers would have been hedging their bets by buying CDS’s on each space shuttle flight since their engineers would be telling them that the risk is mispriced compared to what the managers are telling the public, the politicians, and the flight crews. Then when the shuttle blows up, they can high-five each other because of all the money they made off of their bets while still getting paid to put the shuttle up their in the first place. They would then have lobbied to have all the same players left in charge. The bonuses would be even bigger than when it hadn’t failed. It would be financial engineering at its finest.

  17. Francois T

    Re: Stagnation.

    A tidbit that previously escaped y attention should get more discussion:

    Cowen also completely underplays how the indulgence of inequality has crippled western economies:it is inequality that is undermining educational attainment.

    Dude! It’s Tyler Cowen you’re talking about here…so, surprise cannot be more than infinitely weak, at best. As for the relationship between inequality and undermining of educational attainment, this is the first time I read a journalist mentioning this. Anyone has some specialized knowledge or insights about that? Because if it is true, all the SOTU speeches in the world about “teachers being the nation builders” is a steaming pile of grade-AAA enzyme-free pachydermic doodoo, if redistribution does not take back a more democratic (for the politically challenged: not democrat) flow of funds.

    In particular, global finance, creating a new class of super-rich, has become an insupportable tax on enterprise and growth everywhere, especially in Britain. Even so, the world economy is being given a continual and powerful boost as countries such as India, Brazil and China use existing technologies to raise themselves up towards western standards of living. All this is absent from Cowen’s account.

  18. Henri

    The Economics of Blogging and The Huffington Post New York Times

    Look at Business Insider and the millions they have attracted including two separate investments from Huffington co-founder Ken Lerer.

    Consider the traffic that NC attracts or the traffic leader in eco blogs, Zero Hedge.

    If business insider has received $5m in funding what is NC or ZH worth and what about Calculated Risk or Mish’s blog.

  19. Herman Sniffles

    “Ermines turn white in the winter…” Proof of Intelligent Design? Does God want wealthy women to own pretty coats?

  20. wasd

    The inside wikileaks review is incredibly sloppy.

    Domscheit-Berg writes that the organization has lost its way and betrayed its principles, and that, because it went astray, he and another employee deliberately crippled it. The author claims that he and this man, whom he calls “the architect,” before their departure shut down the platform WikiLeaks uses to accept submissions, essentially locking the door to new material and walking off with the keys. He says the system still isn’t fixed and implies a fix isn’t likely.

    I am sorry but thats just not whats in the book

    The book doesn`t mention Domscheit-Berg sabotaging anything.

    At issue is that later in the book Assange start talking about “suspending” Domscheit-Berg. A chat sessions planned for discussing Assange talk of “suspending” Domscheit-Berg gets moved ahead when Domscheit-Berg was “caught” trying to fix the e-mail server. Assange had allegedly broken it trying to kick people including Domscheit-Berg out of the e-mail system. Allegedly Assange ended up locking even himself out. Quite the opposite of sabotage. The submissions system was designed by the architect, and it was designed to be separate from the e-mail server and the wiki website. The book makes IIRC no mention of Domscheit-Berg doing anything with the submissions system. Definitely not in the later chapters.

    It was the architect who, after typically staying out of the internal politics, decided to leave the project and takes his software and system design with him (IE the submission system). Domscheit-Berg says he handed in everything when he left, except that the architect an he still hold on to the documents that were in the submissions systems as the architect took it down.

    Domscheit-Berg does not ask that wikileaks change it internal politics or policies. He simply asks that before he and/or the architect hand back the material that wikileaks get its security back in order. This time without the architects work. The material likely still contains bits identifying sources and probably isn`t the kind of stuff that should be only in the hands of someone who cracks a wikileaks server.

    He points out that after he left wikileaks had been hosted by Amazon in the US which would make connections easier to monitor for the NSA and that the submission instructions are not on a HTTPS secured site so people can easily monitor who is looking up how to submit material. Ideally one wouldn’t want sources to get caught before they have even submitted anything.

    Domscheit-Berg admits to lying a lot? Dont remember reading anything like that. He admits to going along with exaggerating the size and scope of wikileaks. When wikileaks said it had 300 expert volunteer they were counting everyone on the mailing list.

    I have met Domscheit-Berg and have seen him and Assange do talks about wikileaks. When they are both on stage answering questions it is very obvious that Domscheit-Berg is a modest details oriented tech guy who always has even the smaller facts at hand while Assange likes the big picture and tall stories. Just go trough the video archives of the talks they did at Chaos Communications Congress and Hacking at Random. I can vouch that Domscheit-Berg having some technical skills, I have yet to see any evidence that Assange did any programming in the last decade.

    If what Domscheit-Berg says is true, then for the foreseeable future WikiLeaks will be unable to accept new documents that aren’t either handed to the website physically or mailed to it.

    Well if the politics inside wikileaks remains the way it is described then yes, but if Assange hires some decent programmers and a volunteer named as the technician gives them the basic design of the old submissions system they should be able to build something like it in a couple of days.

    That is, if Assange knows how to delegate and hire people, which he allegedly does not.

    Another surprise is that the WikiLeaks “insurance” file probably exists—that secret, encrypted file of damning information that Assange once threatened to release if anything bad happened to him or his website.

    Dude, the file is on all the bittorent sites of course it exists!

    The questions are what if anything is inside, how would the key be released, who has the key, where is it kept, how is it secured etc etc etc. Domscheit-Berg points out that putting it on bittorent for the world to see, instead of lots of USB sticks for moderately trusted people is that it is now guaranteed that well funded private sector intelligence outfits (and maybe even states trying to play in the big leagues) are trying to crack it. The smart money says AES256 isn`t gonna be easy to crack for quite some time but why take the gamble?

    if Domscheit-Berg’s retelling of facts is correct, [Assange… is] sexually profligate,

    I like Domscheit-Berg and the guy spend all his money on wikileaks, I like the book, I think its a book people should read but really, there is no sex in the book. I am sorry.

    It has a chapter on Assange and woman, but thats just that, Assange and woman. Domscheit-Berg quotes Assange talking about little Assanges running around in every continent and discusses both of them talking about their likes and dislikes in woman. But other than that Assanges sex life is kept private. Assange is called a mysagonist who ended up with emancipated woman in a society that has strong laws on their side and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty and shouldn`t involve wikileaks in this private matter period. According to the book many wikileakers felt Assange should step back a little to avoid his private live from interfering with wikileaks while Assange felt the Swedish charges were wikileaks interfering with his private life…

    It spend more time discussing how stupid Domscheit-Berg feels about not spending enough time on his girlfriend leading to an eventual breakup. I have come across her and yeah, he is an absolute idiot on that front.

    Domscheit-Berg believes an organization founded on transparency should be transparent in how it functions, and that both sources and the innocents mentioned in leaked documents should be better protected. In practice, Assange doesn’t agree.

    In my recollection of my copy Domscheit-Berg emphasises the importance of protecting low level innocent people mentioned in documents and mistaken identities… but he defends Assange on that front. He calls the harm minimization badly managed, not bad.

    The initial reason for their lies is clear: Both wanted to make the system look more widely supported and more technologically powerful and secure than it actually was.

    ??? Yeah that must be why people use aliases when doing controversial stuff online and responding to a threatening legal bluff e-mail with a counter bluff.

    The point of the book is IMHO to explain how Domscheit-Berg tried to stick to his principles.

    The idea that a sole hacker could break what was likely an NSA-approved military encryption [of the collateral murder video] is far-fetched, but one should note that Assange was convincing enough to make a believer of The New Yorker.

    That makes no sense, how would a source know what to leak without access to the keys? Also the video downlink from predator drones was for years unencrypted and transmitted in easily usable consumer format and modulation. So much for the argument that all DoD videos are encrypted properly if they are encrypted. Clearly any encryption was done by the source.

    So the linked review sucks and if you want the facts just get to book, my only complaint is that it is too short. Even if you are not into wikileaks its exciting and funny and its kind of fun to see how a couple of people managed to achieve so much.

  21. carping demon

    Re “China ready to go to war…” Does anybody know what “as flies do not stare at seamless eggs” means?

    1. leroguetradeur

      You must be new here. You need to read Marx, Hegel, Lenin Lacan, Heidigger, Husserl, Derrida, Niebuhr, Roy. Then it will all become clear.

      But to cut it short, the phrase is an elliptical statement that insiders use to refer to the obvious: we live in a corrupt society run for the benefit of a conspiracy of the rich which is doomed by impending global warming and we would be much better off if it were run by the Chinese Communist Party, who would make it more truly democratic, free and environmentally responsible.

    2. leroguetradeur

      Oh, and the phrase also contains cunningly packed within it the idea that of course this replacement of our present institutions by the CCP is historically inevitable given the dialectical march of the historical world-idea as revealed to Hegel by the ineffable.

    3. Ina Deaver

      Uh, Carping, substitute “there’s no smoke without fire.” Flies can’t get into eggs without a crack – they don’t smell interesting or produce any interest. But if there is a crack. . .it will widen, and they can get their eggs in.

      So if they flies are interested, you may not be able to see the rot, but it is there.

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