Links 2/8/11

Climate readiness ‘to boost economy’ BBC

Flu breakthrough promises a vaccine to kill all strains Guardian

Why lunch with the girls beats a night with a man Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S). I hate to get empirical, but the evidence is than men have to “invest” less than ever before to get laid….

N.Y.U. Report Casts Doubt on Taliban’s Ties With Al Qaeda New York Times (hat tip reader furzy mouse). So are any of the official rationales for why we have boots on the ground in the Middle East even remotely accurate? Not that anyone will take notice at this late date….

AOL-HuffPo Milestone Duly Noted Michael Wolff MediaWeek (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

End of the DLC era Politico

10 Things Conservatives Don’t Want You to Know About Reagan AlterNet (hat tip reader James P)

Issa: We’ve Know for Decades That the Policies I Called for Don’t Work Mark Thoma

Montanta Legislator Introduces Bill to Create Armed Paramilitary Groups AlterNet (hat tip reader furzy mouse, who points out the Billings Gazette version is less alarming.

Wall St. Joins S.E.C. in Plea for Bigger Budget Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times

Money managers lose faith in AIM regulation Telegraph (hat tip reader Vlad)

Wallison and the three “des” – Deregulation, Desupervision and De Facto Decriminalization Bill Black, Real News Network

Political shift poses test for Warren Boston Globe. Lambert Strether labeled this “Watch Elizabeth Warren being put back in her box.”

Resurfacing exchanges Unreasonable Response (hat tip Steve Waldman via Richard Smith). I actually think this is very clever, and is a not-bad solution when the other options look for the most part to be truly dreadful (except the Fed is so awful at regulation that I don’t underestimate their ability to continue to be asleep at the switch)

Bankruptcy Filings Hit 2-Year Low in January Bob Lawless, Credit Slips

Conflict of Visions: Housing Market Reform and Recovery Chris Whalen, Institutional Risk Analytics. The dirty secret is the real first loss position in RMBS (not the equity, which gets the bennies of excess spread but the bottom rated layer), is that there never was much in the way of buyers ex CDOs.

Citigroup Settles Fraud Cases Tied to Texas Mortgage Assigner Bloomberg (hat tip April Charney)

Wall Street Knows Meltdown Was Just Bad Dream: Simon Johnson Bloomberg. I’m glad Simon is keeping up the drumbeat on this one.

Recognizing the Language of Tyranny Chris Hedges, TruthDig (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-02-08 at 5.37.22 AM

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  1. financial matters

    Yes, hard to believe that anyone still thinks these ‘top financial players’ need these huge bonuses so that they can keep their companies performing so well… from the Simon Johnson article…

    “””It’s even harder to believe that someone with such views is not only the top officer at one of America’s largest financial institutions, but one of the many that only exists at all because the government bailed it out with billions and billions of taxpayer dollars — something Benmosche and too many of his fellow CEOs in finance pretend never happened. “””

    “””Golub was pushed out of AIG by Benmosche, who now runs the show. All of this reminds me of the bizarre mixture of ignorance, hubris and misjudgment displayed by Charles Prince and Robert Rubin, the chief executive officer and senior board member respectively, at Citigroup Inc. during the run up to the financial crisis. One kept dancing until long after the music had stopped; the other said he had no idea there was any music playing. “””

  2. hondje

    Yves: I like the thumbnail and top 3-5 headlines look vs the original way the links were rolled up, but I think that this format will force you to be pickier about the order of the links

  3. ChrisTiburon

    Re: Tyrannical language…

    Another often embraced in the media gem is the forced
    mindset of politically correct Orwellian language.

    For example, “Partner”…How do you equate a married
    couple of say fifty years with a shack up in Provincetown? This word fills in nicely.
    The use of this word in this
    context is a form of violence against society in that it decontextualizes whatever it is appended to and lessens the value of everything while it enshrines and clothes in dignity what previously was merely sordid and temporary.

    1. dearieme

      I dislike “partner” too, but the claim that “The use of this word in this
      context is a form of violence…” is foolish.


    “…. I hate to get empirical, but the evidence is than men have to “invest” less than ever before to get laid……”

    However the quality gap is much more disproportunate… And….. I can tell you from first hand experience, that all the good looking, inteligent, witty, charming, independent,assertive women are lesbians who think, and rightfully so, that all the good looking, inteligent, independent, men are gay….

    1. ChrisTiburon

      “I can tell you from first hand experience, that all the good looking, inteligent, witty, charming, independent,assertive women are lesbians…”

      There is something lacking in inteligent women…

      ” The one-L mama,
      She’s a beast.
      The two-L mama,
      She’s a feast”

    2. Wade Nichols

      “I hate to get empirical, but the evidence is than men have to “invest” less than ever before to get laid….”


      Translation: I’m not really getting empirical, I’ve simply found a study that confirms my own personal agenda!

      Must be a disgruntled woman with low value on the “dating market” trying to increase her “hotness” factor. Nice try, but the alpha male “bad boys” have no interest in you no matter how hard you try!

      See “Roissy” for further details……..

    3. craazyman


      It always amazed me how little the massagie parlors would charge for whatever you wanted. They were all from Korea and didn’t speak English. They were 20 or 21 or so. What could they do to earn money like that? I could tell some stories. LOL.

      I’m sure it’s worse now, with all the illegal immigration. And I don’t go anymore anyway. But it must be worse. Everything else is.

      I feel the spirit too hard now (no pun intended) to make it work anymore. I feel the chain of slavery around every sweet little curve of the neck that used to drive me wild. I once paid with a travelers check, just cause she got me going and I said “sure”. Now I would just see a child, lost and enslaved. And I wouldn’t even be able to touch her, without feeling evil to the bone.

      That’s the problem at the low end of the market. You get life’s roadkill. Up at the high end you get the pros. I’d never ever pay that much, ever. Unless I was rich as Charlie Sheen, and then I’d probably party like him.

      What the hell. At that end of the market it’s more about free will and self definition. It’s not about survival anymore or circumstance or being abused like a dog by the people you want to trust. Not when the price is high. No, people are crazy anyway and money just makes them crazier. Let them go crazy together. Why not? it’s better than going crazy alone.

  5. Ignim Brites

    “Firms such as AIG or Barclays could collapse in the same fashion that Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. went bankrupt, and cause chaos around the world. No sane government would want that to happen, so at the moment of maximum distress — and contrary to all promises — a bailout will be provided.” (Wall Street Knows Meltdown Was Just Bad Dream: Simon Johnson)
    Maybe, maybe not. Investors who bet on this have to consider that governments might be too slow to react because the political climate is anti-bailout. In the scenarios contemplated, the time for government action might be hours rather than days. Who wants to bet on that. And the perception that governments may be too slow to react will only increase the speed at which these TBTF institutions collapse, making it even more unlikely that they can be saved in a timely fashion in a crisis.

  6. ChrisTiburon

    Re Militias:

    “According to the Southern Poverty Law Center…”

    Oh yes, the highly respected moral authorities and
    experts step in to offer their unbiased personal opinion.

    Why is it that fundamentalist churches are mocked,
    and rightly so, when they offer their social
    commentaries on what is happening in America,
    but some special interest donation sucking salary
    generating group like the SPLC is quoted as chapter
    and verse?

  7. Elliot X

    Re: NYU Report Casts Doubt on Taliban’s ties with Al Qaeda

    I was going to read and comment on the Taliban article but when I click on the link above it’s taking me to the FT’s article “SEC sets sights on mortgage disclosure”, so instead I’ll link anyone who might be interested to another fascinating article over at Counterpunch entitled, “The Deepening Mystery of Raymond Davis and Two Slain Pakistani Motorcyclists” which begins as follows:

    “The mystery of American Raymond A. Davis, currently imprisoned in the custody of local police in Lahore, Pakistan and charged with the Jan. 27 murder of two young men, whom he allegedly shot eight times with pinpoint accuracy through his car windshield, is growing increasingly murky. Also growing is the anger among Pakistanis that the US is trying to spring him from a Punjab jail by claiming diplomatic immunity. On Feb. 4, there were massive demonstrations, especially in Lahore, demanding that Davis be held for trial, an indication of the level of public anger at talk of granting him immunity.”

    And the article goes on to point out:

    “….his (Davis’) arrest and detention, and the pressure by the US Embassy to spring him, are leading to an outpouring of rage among Pakistanis at a very volatile time, with the Middle East facing a wave of popular uprisings against US-backed autocracies, and with Pakistan itself, increasingly a powder keg, being bombed by US rocket-firing pilotless drone aircraft.”

    1. ChrisTiburon

      The widow of one of the men that he shot has just
      committed suicide by ingesting some pesticide.

      This is sure to further inflame…

      Maybe Sati can be replaced by a new word;
      A combination of suicide and pesticide…


      Meanwhile, let’s keep spraying it on our food, bedclothes, communities and incorporating it into soap, plastic, footwear etc.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Puzzle du jour

    Can ants be domesticated?

    Is that the key to saving our civilization?

    How can one get in on the ground floor of that growth industry?

    1. Dale

      Where “investment” is measured not exclusively in monetary terms, but also in a currency that holds value to the female: things like self-confidence, status, athleticism, kindness, intelligence, height, etc. Some of these are genetic, but others represent an investment on the part of the male in order to attain them.

        1. ChrisTiburon

          Damn, I was finally getting a semblance of some logic out of it when I read your disclaimer.

  9. Dale

    “I hate to get empirical, but the evidence is than men have to “invest” less than ever before to get laid….”

    This highly depends on the physical attributes of the female. The amount of investment required is directly proportional to the answer to this question: “If, for some reason, a prophylactic malfunction occurred, how likely is it that the woman would become pregnant and bear a healthy offspring?”

    1. Dale

      Where “investment” is measured not exclusively in monetary terms, but also in a currency that holds value to the female: things like self-confidence, status, athleticism, kindness, intelligence, height, etc. Some of these are genetic, but others represent an investment on the part of the male in order to attain them.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Free advice for the Chinese Foreign Minister: find a panda that plays Ping-Pong.

    You get two diplomatic initiatives for the price of one.

  11. fish

    I hate to get empirical, but the evidence is than men have to “invest” less than ever before to get laid….

    Then the Whig theory of history is true…..we are on a constantly improving arc of development.

  12. Goldilocksisableachblonde

    ” the evidence is that men have to “invest” less than ever before to get laid… ”

    I need a new investment advisor.

  13. Cedric Regula

    Here’s my sci-fi list. Tried posting it under the 2/7 link, but it didn’t seem to take, so I’m trying again here.

    Ok. Here we go. I tend to favor “over the top” sci-fi over “serious sci-fi” where the author may limit himself too much to plausible extrapolations of real science. Then much of this falls into the broader category of “speculative fiction” since it’s not always about spaceships, time travel, robots and space aliens. You can of course get more description on these at Amazon and see what may be to your liking.

    Dan Simmons – Hyperion

    Won just about every sci-fi award in 1994. But this was just the first book and all it did was character development and lay out a few of the initial plot lines. Then he came out with Fall of Hyperion, Endymion and Rise of Endymion. The story expanded thru all of space and time and kept getting better.

    Dan Simmons – Ilium and Olympos

    Can you have the Greek gods, Achilles, Helen of Troy, the Eloy, Shakespeare demons and space faring, Shakespeare quoting robots all in the same novel? Yes, but it takes quantum physics to get it all to work properly.

    Then couple of his newer novels are good…The Terror and Drood. His powerful writing style can take any subject matter and turn it into a spell binding story.

    Neal Stephenson – Snow Crash

    This is the cyberpunk classic.

    Then for historical fiction, try the Baroque Cycle series if you can budget for 3000 pages of reading. Covers 1700 England and Europe plus or minus 50 years. Has sort of a focus on rapidly evolving science, finance, politics and religion of the period. But done from the viewpoints oftentimes of fictional anti-heroes that go romping thru England and Europe and causing all sorts of trouble for the powers-that-be.

    If 800 pages pages is more to your liking, Anathem was good.

    Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle – The Mote in God’s Eye and The Gripping Hand

    This is the First Contact genre classic.

    All their other collaborations are worth reading too. On his own, Nivens wrote the Ringworld series. The first two novels started out great, then the next two fell a bit short of potential.

    Charles Stross

    The only thing of his I haven’t read is his “Merchant Princes” series. Everything else was good. For some really funny parody he does the “Laundry Files series”:The Atrocity Archives, The Fuller Memorandum (A Laundry Files Novel), The Jennifer Morgue.

    Tim Powers

    He’s the master of Magic That Don’t Work So Good.

    Try Anubis Gates – PO’d ancient Egyptian Sorcerers go to England to get their revenge.

    Last Call- Bugsy Siegel is really The Fisher King , gets knocked off, and then things just really start going downhill for Vegas.

    John Scalzi – The Old Man’s War series

    Finally someone wrote a sci-fi novel about Earth fighting space aliens. This series does it well and nearly makes it seem like a new idea.

    So that should keep you going a while. And be sure to pass on the list to any economists you may know or meet.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Well, if we are talking sci fi…

      My favorite recent sci fi/fantasy author is Kage Baker, the Company series for sci fi (starting with The Garden of Iden) or the Anvil of the World and followups for fantasy. She’s not as good with the hard science as someone like Vinge, but makes up for it with a keen eye for culture and the human condition. Her characters are extremely readable and often very funny.

      As for my all-time favorite, it’s hard to choose but Roger Zelazny is tough to beat. ‘For a Breath I Tarry’ (novelette) is probably my favorite work of his, although almost all of it is good. In the unlikely event that there is someone out there who hasn’t heard of him, you are in for a treat.

      Sadly both authors have now passed away (prematurely in both cases).

  14. Michael H

    Sorry this is off-topic, related to a Tom Franks column in this month’s Harper’s entitled “Servile Disobedience”.

    I was using my remote control to look for the weather channel this morning and landed on CNBC’s squawkbox show by accident. And just watching the interviewers for 20 or 30 seconds, sucking up to another billionaire, pissed me off enough to send the following email to CNBC:

    To whom it may concern,

    In an article in this month’s Harper’s magazine, entitled “Servile Disobedience”, Tom Franks writes: (speaking of the rich) “We’ve built an entire culture of courtiers and sycophants to make their every waking hour an otherworldly delight.

    Americans are born to assist the wealthy; it is our inalienable duty. We like to think of ourselves as people of untamed independence, but any observer not steeped in our culture would quickly conclude that we are a nation of footmen.

    And so…

    “As both a rejoinder and homage to Ayn Rand, let us consider a different sort of strike, one that might help the emotionally arrested rich in their time of need.

    I propose a 24 hour refusal to fawn. A servility strike. A day without deference.

    For one day let the nation’s doormen do their job without smiling….Let janitors at Princeton mop no vomit from the dormitory stairwell…. Let the nation’s limo drivers require that passengers open their own damn doors.

    And addressing CNBC directly:

    “Let the production interns at CNBC send the on-air “talent” to fetch the coffee.

    And, just for one day, let the “talent” ask their interviewees hard questions.”


    But of course the chances of CNBC’s so-called talent asking an interviewee a hard question is, to quote James Howard Kunstler, about “the same chance as a bluebottle fly has of conducting the next Easter mass at the Vatican.”

    End of email. If anyone at CNBC even bothers to read it, it probably won’t be any of the “talent”, but at least sending it made me feel better.

    1. Tim Goswell

      The Tom Franks’ “Servile Disobedience” article is excellent, and deserves to be read out loud. Too bad it’s not available online without a subscription to Harper’s.

      But you left out one of his best lines:

      “Our leaders in Washington are considering cutting Social Security because retaining it might require the rich to chip in more than their current percentage. If it’s a choice between spending our dotage in helplessness and filth and our high net worth friends having to forego next year’s Learjet, Americans will choose the personal sacrifice every time.”

  15. KFritz

    A thesis: With the departure of Paul Volcker, Elizabeth Warren is completely isolated in the Obama Admin. However indirectly, as long as Volcker’s voice could be heard amidst the ‘financially-captured’ voices, Tall Paul had her back. An isolated person will become powerless.

    Greenberger’s smarm in the final paragraph is priceless.

  16. ScottS

    Re Liz Warren:
    Asked if she has had to be more measured in her public comments, Warren said: “What has changed is I’m now part of a very large organization, and that means that I coordinate with many different people on every aspect of building the consumer agency. When I give a speech, for example, there are many different sets of eyes that help me think through my arguments and tighten my language,’’ she said. “If anything, that process makes my public comments stronger and more meaningful.’’

    Wow! The Stepford reprogramming is going gangbusters!
    “No, I love being told what to do. It’s much less of a burden not having to think.”

    1. KFritz

      Comparing Elizabeth Warren to a Stepford wife is unwarranted villification. There is no hint of Ms. Warren becoming a vacuous trophy.
      Further, it isn’t part of her job now to make independent policy statements. She never hestitated to do so, because here sole public power was to influence public opinion through her writing and media appearances. Whether she’s in agreement with her ‘superiors’ or not, her job is to formulate policy, NOT to influence public opinion. I’m willing to bet that even Turbo Tim checks in w/ the West Wing before he makes dramatic pronouncements. Only Joe Biden gets to say stupid things about Hosni Mubarak.

      If she eventually leaves the Admin after they undercut her in her job, I’ll bet that she expresses herself quite nicely, while maintaining a sense of civility.

  17. hermanas

    “One kept dancing until long after the music had stopped; the other said he had no idea there was any music playing.”
    Feels like the sun is coming out. Let’s flesh out these characters.

  18. ChrisTiburon

    Re: AOL-HuffPo Milestone

    “It’s an advertising play…”

    What’s an ad?

    Smart people use Firefox along with
    its free ad on, Ad Block Plus, set their
    preferences to “never remember my history”,
    close their browser every night and
    never wake up with a plate of cookies.

    Don’t forget Flash Flush, a free download for Macs
    that erases the flash cookies on their resident
    software that are not deleted when you close Firefox.

    1. miguelito

      Another trick is to add entries to the hosts file of the computer so the URLs of the advert companies don’t load. Of course, doing that would disable your ability to click on sponsored links etc… something my wife complains about.

      1. ChrisTiburon

        That’s what Ad Block plus does. It looks up a list over every ad server in the world that is updated
        constantly and blocks Firefox from loading them. You can disable it if you want ads to load and/or you can see a list of the scripts that it is blocking, often numbering in the dozens.

        We taxpayers paid for the internet with our tax dollars that funded DARPA through the Defense Dept. We have no more obligation to look at or click on ads than we do to look at or respond to billboards along taxpayer funded highways.

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