Links 3/21/11

‘Drugs to the brain’ breakthrough BBC. Eeek, and if it every becomes not catastrophically costly, an new way to create substance abusers, I bet.

Cassini Discovers Methane Rainstorms On Titan International Business Times

Headway as Fukushima pumps restart Sydney Morning Herald (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Japan faces fresh food safety crisis Financial Times

Nuclear power locations GeoCommons (hat tip reader furzy mouse). A public service for the paranoid.

Google Accuses Chinese of Blocking Gmail Service New York Times

Paschal Donohoe: Why the 31st Dáil Should Not be the Default Dáil Irish Economy (hat tip Richard Smith)

‘Phantom giants’ will not save the eurozone Wolfgang Munchau, Financial Times

China’s missing M2 FTAlphaville

What’s Happening in Bahrain Explained Mother Jones (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

The NYT GIves Voice to the Educated Ignorant Young Dean Baker

BarCap ranks mortgage servicers on loss-mitigation speed Housing Wire

US banks face fresh scrutiny on lending Financial Times

The Butterfly and the Boiling Point Rebecca Solnit, TomDispatch

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-03-21 at 6.56.06 AM

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  1. sherparick

    Barry Rithholz has posted an excellent set slides on radiation risk and the Fukushima reactor disaster.

    I posted on this subject earlier but left out that I live about 20 miles from two nuclear power plants. On a day to day basis, they are far better than any imaginable coal plant. But of course the coal plant does not cause a disaster when it suddenly stops working. In fact, the moment the coal stops buring, it stops being a micro-disaster that ever day operations of a coal plant represents. Between coal and nuclear, I choose nuclear. Between nuclearn and natural gas, I choose natural gas. Between natural gas and wind and solar, I choose wind and solar. But in the U.S. being for wind, solar, and conservation means you are DFH, and all right thinking Amurikans hate DFHs, so anything they are for, Right thinking, Fox News watching, Rush Limbaugh listening, Amurikans hate. So good luck with that.

    1. Richard Kline

      Or, sherparick, rather than choosing which toxin you’ll willingly suck you could choose to fight for a non-toxic option rather than have idjits dictate your choices. Yah know, advocate and implement rather than acquiesce. If your goal is to get a better option rather than implicitly advocate that You Can’t Fight Big Capital which is what you’re doing now. . . . I’m just sayin’.

      1. DownSouth


        By far the most compelling comment on yesterday’s long thread on this subject was a link to this photo essay, showing the child victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

        It puts a human face on the disaster, and cuts through all the jargon and other technical palaver used to blot out the full scope of human responsiveness. All the patter of the nuclear lobby sounds rational, that is until it finds itself juxtaposed to these fotos.

        1. NeilK

          Whereas all the patter of the ANTI-nuclear lobby sounds rational, that is, until it finds itself juxtaposed to photos of the Bhopal disaster (20,000 dead), the Centralia coal mine fire (still going strong 48 years later), the Exxon Valdez (no comment needed) and the Deepwater Horizon spill (11 dead, environmental damage still tbd).

          Emotional photos often cause us to lose perspective on the real dangers.

          1. DownSouth

            Every one of those disasters you named was caused by the same sort of criminal negligence that caused Chernobyl.

            So one criminal act is de-criminalized by finding another criminal act that is even more egregious?

            How does one argue with “logic” like that?

          2. Milbank T. Bucks

            There is no anti-nuclear lobby.

            There is no energy or nuclear lobby either. There are just energy employees in elected government posts.

  2. DownSouth

    Re: “The NYT Gives Voice to the Educated Ignorant Young” Dean Baker

    I just wonder how well this new era of demonization and stigmatization is going to work out for the idolaters of greed and selfishness, now that racism and homophobia are no longer kosher.

    It’s one thing to make blacks, Hispanics and gays scapegoats, but quite another to use old people, public employees and the unemployed for that purpose.

    How is the sense of, and fear of, “the other” going to be created?

    1. Tertium Squid

      Whenever I see the stigmatization of the unemployed and maybe even the elderly by the employed and the young, it reminds me of the attitude of many women towards rape victims. The condemnation, “She must have done something to deserve it”, isn’t a piece of callous judgmentalism so much as a dissonant effort at putting distance between the victim and themselves. IF the victim is just like me, then I am at risk just as much. Much easier on the brain and the nerves to assume that the dreadful assault was the result of some error or provocation or some such.

      It is fascinating to watch the middle class turn on itself. Like those passengers shaking their heads and wagging their fingers at the fools who are in the water, while they themselves cling securely to the deck of the Titantic. Oh but for the grace of God go I…

      George Orwell from The Road to Wigan Pier:

      “Take for instance the different attitude towards the family. A working-class family hangs together as a middle-class one does, but the relationship is far less tyrannical. A working man has not that deadly weight of family prestige hanging round his neck like a millstone. I have pointed out earlier that a middle-class person goes utterly to pieces under the influence of poverty; and this is generally due to the behaviour of his family—to the fact that he has scores of relations nagging and badgering him night and day for failing to ‘get on’. The fact that the working class know how to combine and the middle class don’t is probably due to their different conceptions of family loyalty. You cannot have an effective trade union of middle-class workers, because in times of strikes almost every middle-class wife would be egging her husband on to blackleg and get the other fellow’s job.”

      1. craazyman

        Orwell was a giant.

        That quote brings to mind a story I read in the NY Times in early in 2009 about some dude who lost his high six figure finance job in the downturn and had found a new one that paid “only” $150,000 per year.

        He had kids and his wife who wanted the prep schools, Hampton house, co-op . . . the whole rodeo. The journalist quoted her reaction to his turn of fortune. She said angrily about it and him, “I’m doing my part, but he’s not doing his!”

        I wonder if they made it to 2011.

        But it’s not right to make it about women and I really don’t like the “Who’s worse, male or female?” shtick. But Orwell captures a certain undeniable social truth that permeates men and women and how they relate.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I always wonder why it’s the male bowerbirds who have to do the impressing.

          And what’s up with queen ants and not king ants?

          It seems nature is asymmetrical…does it have anything with having more matter than antimatter in the universe?

        2. Name (required)

          Not entirely apposite but an exemplar of attitudes – here in New Zealand recently the ex-director of a failed finance company which lost its investors $millions and whose assets are currently being held by the authorities pending the outcome of fraud and other criminal matters, applied to the court to have a Porsche released to him as his wife needed it to run the kids to school.

          The application was denied, and he expressed surprise and disappointment.


    2. Milbank T. Bucks

      How is the sense of, and fear of, “the other” going to be created?

      We’re working on it.

  3. inmadison

    Thank you SO much for the posting “The Butterfly and the
    Boiling Point”.

    It is inspirational, in particular on the role of women in

    I’ve walked in many of Madison’s marches and been amazed at the number of women, 60+ in age, who are out there trudging in the cold and snow. Nurses, librarians, teachers, auto workers, they are enraged.

    They’re furious that Walker plans to fix the budget problem on the backs of children and the poor. (800 million in cuts to education, massive cuts in medical care for the poor.)

    Meanwhile,two-thirds of Wisconsin corporations paid NO income taxes last year (citation: Wisconsin Department of Revenue)

    I saw a sign that summed it up for me:
    “Now you’ve pissed off Grandma.”

  4. Matthew Klein


    I am a huge fan of your work (as well as Richard’s of course). If you read what I wrote (as opposed to Dean Baker’s disingenuous summary), I did not blame entitlements for the problems young people face in today’s economy. Far from it. I simply pointed out that the young will likely be the biggest losers in any future deficit-reduction plans:

    “As governments across the developed world balance their budgets, I fear that the young will bear the brunt of the pain: taxes on workers will be raised and spending on education will be cut while mortgage subsidies and entitlements for the elderly are untouchable. At least the Saudis and Kuwaitis are trying to bribe their younger subjects.”

    That does not absolve the TBTF looters from putting us in this position. Unfortunately, it is not possible to simultaneously point out that young people are disproportionately suffering AND explain why in only 650 words.



    1. abelenkpe

      Years ago read the book The fourth Turning. It also suggested the same and so far seems to be right on in that regard.

      Don’t think it has to be that way though.

  5. Tertium Squid

    What the?

    “US Treasury to sell $142 bn worth of toxic assets”

    From the article:

    “‘The market for agency-guaranteed MBS has notably improved since the time Treasury purchased these securities in 2008 and 2009,’ it said in a statement.

    The Treasury hopes to net $15-20 billion profit from the sale, depending on market conditions.”

    Am I missing something? Wasn’t the purpose of the mortgage backed security buyout to give TBTF’s “full” imaginary value for toxic assets? It doesn’t matter how much the market has “notably improved” if two-fifths or whatever of the mortgagees have defaulted! How can they claim a profit when their book value on the Treasury’s balance sheet is pipe-dream high? My BS alerter is beeping like crazy. Surely they have cherry picked the best ones to sell and are keeping all the dreck, or there’s some fancy accounting going on.

    I don’t know how we’d find out, though, since our government doesn’t tell us what it is doing.

    1. Grigor Alexandrovich

      I hate to break it to you, but it doesn’t matter how costly, risky, unhealthful, corrupt, dangerous, stupid, or evil something is. Once the politicians receive the bribes, there is no going back.

  6. gil mendozza zuntzes

    A CITIZEN OF NEW HAMPSHIRE… We the American people forget all the bad stuff and we American’s should be Up in Arms Screaming and fighting. We the Poor,Gullible,Stupid and Crazy Hard Working Americans have been Gang Raped by…
    “Star Queen Wrinkles Two Face” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her running mate in 2012 Barack Obama. Obama alias George Bush…Obama’s Regime is not different then Gadhafi’s nor Mubarak’s… Barack Obama is a Tyrant too… Cruel and Oppressive Ruler… Your hands are atained with Blood… You are not only Killing our young people but Innocent…Innocuous Men,Women and Children; Sacred Human Beings in AFGHANISTAN and IRAQ. The American People have a difficult issue; You have been using the American People and Hiding Under the Skirts/Pants of Hillary Clinton for over two years… my question to you…Who is making the decisions here?… The United Nations Security Council… Whish id the threshold of Pain for the World, with just only one voice!… Our U.S. Government!!! Barack my good Ex-friend… Do you think that this is a Reality Show?… Attaking Libya illegally without anyones permission… Congress!.. then you running like a Rat to Brazil. Now you have a Broken Promise of Oath of the Office of the Presidency… like previous criminal Presidents.

  7. Jim

    There are some wonderful sentiments expressed in the essay by Rebecca Solnit.

    “The boiling point of water is straightforward, but the boiling point of society is mysterious.”

    “When does the fear evaporate and the rage generate actions the produce joy?”

    “…the buttefly is born aloft by a particular breeze that was shaped by the flap of a wing of, say, a sparrow, and so behind causes are causes, behind small agents are other small agents, inspirations and role models, as well as outrages to react against.”

    “As long as you say there is no hope, then there will be no hope, but if you go down and take a stance then there will be hope.”

    We all seem to exist in an environment of radical human freedom where contingency is insurmountable and metaphor may be as close as we get to reality.

  8. kevinearick

    False Gods Always Seek Something For Nothing

    The problem remains the same , false gods and false prophets, sometimes called economists, but always money-changers somewhere in the corporate nexus property chain, desperate to prove false assumptions in every known dimension, breeding in the assumptions from birth, before the individual brain has an opportunity to develop a healthy balance across the fulcrum, to the end of the latest empire of false boundaries, built specifically to pump in irrational supply and pump wealth back out across the membrane, from those who earn it in the present to those controlling the gates built in the past, on an exponential curve of consumption half-cycles that compose a black hole with momentum over time, until it becomes a virus and consumes everything in its known dimensions.

    The release mechanism was separated before it was stolen and then distributed through efficient best-business-practices across a global economy that is now imploding to reconstitute and trigger the mechanism, which will catapult the pod forward when the black hole snaps, for those who were intelligent enough to swim beyond the known dimensions of the current. Those who control an economy in the present can only see the past, as all their proffered solutions demonstrate. They are, by nature, thieves, which is neither good nor bad; it just is. A lot of times 2 and 2 can be made to equal 3, but sometimes it equals much, much more that 4.

    Evolution, like everything else, is a function of quantum physics. Spirit precedes emotion which precedes outcomes, not the other way around. The future is created, which is why there is no evidence of God in time. Time is the artifice. Economic profit is a function of intelligent investment in the future on the front end, not the back end. Therefore, love is patient, by choice and unconditionally, exactly the opposite of practice within an empire.

    Understanding is one thing; practice is another, which is why effective parents are required, to build the platform upon which the children and empire stand. The voices in the heads of the masses are History, which is exactly wrong, which is why History repeats itself as a self-fulfilling prophesy. Time is the illusion, which is the secret to creation, and there is no time like the present.

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