Links 4/25/11

Apologies for thin links. Yours truly worked this weekend, and largely not on the blog :-(

Decoding Human Genes Is Goal of New Open-Source Encyclopedia ScienceDaily

Hi-res photographic proof reactor core exploded at unit 3 Lucas Whitefield Hixson (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

WikiLeaks discloses new details on whereabouts of al-Qaeda leaders on 9/11 Washington Post (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

China’s Ghost Cities and Malls YouTube, from SBS in Australia (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

God’s bankers: How evangelical Christianity is taking a hold of the City of London’s financial institutions Indpendent (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

McCoy and Reilly, An Empire of Failed States Tom Englehardt

The eurozone’s quack solutions will be no cure Wolfgang Munchau

Glencore Chairman Goes Off On “Not So Ambitious” Women Who Take 9 Months Off For Pregnancy Clusterstock (hat tip reader Amit)

A blast from the past and a reminder about the future Ian Welch (hat tip reader Michael H)

Let’s Take a Hike Paul Krugman, New York Times

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-04-25 at 6.41.54 AM

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  1. Frank

    I know quite a few financiers who pray every night that God might bless their portfolios. Some even claim that God hears their prayers and answers them, blessing them and their families with incalculable abundance, wealth and prosperity.

  2. Hubert

    re Munchau:
    Somewhat tiring to always read from Munchau that x will not work and y will not work. True enough. But status quo will not work either. They all have their “costs”.
    There is no “solution” to the Eurozone problem. It is just about who will pay and how much. The True Finns and “True Germans” think the sooner things change the less horrible the bill. And they are probably right – but horrible it will be.

    1. Curious Interrogator

      That’s the way it was planned from the start. The lenders of Europe knew which countries couldn’t afford their loans before they made them. The borrowers knew their lenders knew this. And so forth; it was all common knowledge. What is happening now is the denial of this knowledge for dramatic effect.

  3. sal

    Professionals [photographers], naturally, are upset with amateurs like Lam for diluting the market for their work.

    But I bet they like to play workers off against each other to drive down the cost of getting their lawns mowed, their carpets vacuumed, and their children taken care of.

  4. anniew

    “decent people using their faith to make sense of a dog-eat-dog world.”

    If Jesus had simply tried to “make sense” instead of trying to actually change the world, there wouldn’t be any Christianity.

    1. Curious Interrogator

      Moreover, they are the very ones who are collectively responsible for this dog-eat-dogness. After all, who are the people responsible for making sure no one can afford healthcare, and for all kinds of public resources to be privatized and deregulated causing all kinds of social darwinistic dog-eat-dog effects? Answer: they are?

      Perhaps they are trying to misunderstand their role?

    1. Dave of Maryland

      The proposed new Form DS-5513 asks for all addresses since birth; lifetime employment history including employers’ and supervisors names, addresses, and telephone numbers; personal details of all siblings; mother’s address one year prior to your birth; any “religious ceremony” around the time of birth; and a variety of other information. According to the proposed form, “failure to provide the information requested may result in … the denial of your U.S. passport application.”

      If that story is true and not fake (a plant – it smells of being fake to me, but if not),

      The State Department will no longer be issuing passports to citizens living in the US (those living abroad are another matter),


      The State Department will knowingly accept fake applications, because pretty much no one over the age of 20 will be able to complete it.

      To qualify for some Maryland state program a month ago I was told I had to present a passport ! I had passports decades ago, I used them while living abroad. They all expired years ago. They took a driver’s license, but there are a lot of states who want passports for voter ID.

      Why is the government making it harder to vote just when they’re making voting itself pointless? Isn’t this gilding the lily?

    2. doom

      They give you CIA or black-program access looking back 10 years. But now, if I don’t produce satisfactory papers, I have to give up Article 17 and disclose my entire life? Otherwise the government will take away my universal migrants’ rights under Article 12? State is responsible for human rights, which evidently means keeping them away from the American population. This is a mind-boggling breach of US commitments and obligations under the CCPR. Who do you complain to about that? Oh, right, State.

    3. DownSouth

      The security state marches inexorably onward.

      This is what the Republican, Tea Party and Democratic parties call making government “smaller.”

  5. Chas. Crumble

    An interesting twist from Japan:

    “Now the Japanese government has moved to crack down on independent reportage and criticism of the government’s policies in the wake of the disaster by deciding what citizens may or may not talk about in public.”

  6. John Emerson

    Waht are the critters in the photo? My guess is some kind of South American opossum.

  7. DownSouth

    Re: “China’s Ghost Cities and Malls” YouTube, from SBS in Australia (hat tip reader furzy mouse)


    Absolutely fabulous.

    It goes to show that regardless of the starting point, whether it be communism or industrial capitalism, with globalism the end point is the same.

    Practically every country in the world is trapped in a similar predicament. Whether it be the U.S. or China, or any of hundreds of places in between, the only people of any worth to the various governments are financial speculators.

    An array of abstractions is used to cater to the financial speculators. Concepts like money, GDP and debt—-products of the human imagination—-are manipulated so that they serve only the interests of the financial speculators, while the masses are being slowly but systematically politically marginalized and impoverished.

    And as this process proceeds, the financial speculators and the governments that serve them are becoming increasingly more calloused, increasingly more certain than ever that they walk with the angels, and increasingly more absolute in their belief that the abstractions they have created somehow, magically, have something to do with the daily existence of the vast majority of flesh and blood human beings.

    If we continue down this road, the outcome can only be disaster.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If a good capitalist can make good money off a ghost house or a mystery house, then even a not-so-good ex-communist capitalist should be able to make tons of money off a ghost city full of ghost houses.

    2. RA

      That was the best piece on the ghost cities I’ve seen yet. I am more dumbfounded every time I see one.

      I have not yet seen a report on this topic even on CNBC from U.S. media. Either the U.S. media is completely inward looking or there is a cover-up going on (probably a little of both). This is probably going to go down as the single greatest asset bubble in human history when all things are said and done.

    3. Curious Interrogator

      Yes but disaster for whom? Speculators will be mostly wiped out, and then everyone in China will be able to afford housing. Maybe that was the plan all along. The only thing that’s necessary now is for the Chinese to impose a tax on land. That would set the big unwinding in motion. The other alternative is for things to occur in a “disorderly” manner.

  8. Philip Pilkington

    Re: the Munchau piece:

    “The list of potential accidents is long, but they share a joint theme – serial political crisis mismanagement.”

    Munchau needs to take a more holistic view of the European crisis. The so-called ‘wild card’ of national governments acting on the basis of the nation state isn’t some random element of chance inserted into an otherwise pristine situation — no, it goes right to the heart of the problems with the Eurozone project generally.

    Munchau needs to ask himself: “Will people act like good Eurocitizens — or do they identify with their own nation-state?” The answer should be obvious. Those who are blind to this have only themselves to blame.

    “Too long you looked on the ones you never should have seen, blind to the ones you longed to see, to know! Blind from this hour on! Blind in the darkness — blind!”” — Oedipus

    1. Philip Pilkington

      Oh, and on the China video. The investment analyst jokes that they will be able to get the occupancy rate up if the prices fall close to zero. Is that really as much of a joke as he seems to think it is?

      I mean China is still an ostensibly Communist country. In addition to this, one of the CCCP’s main fears is of open revolt — CCCP officials are still haunted by the memories of the cultural revolution when Maoists raided their offices to determine if they were or were not ‘counter-revolutionaries’ or ‘capitalist-roaders’.

      The drive at GDP growth is part of this dynamic — keep people employed in order to keep them off the street. If China is faced with a bubble bursting I see no reason why they wouldn’t simply give the housing away and chalk it up as a public-investment project.

  9. JeffC

    Have another look at the “Hi-res photographic proof reactor core exploded at unit 3”.

    That aside, look at the photos carefully and you’ll see that it was not floors 3 and 4 that were blown off as the author claims. It was the fourth floor only, which floor is quite tall. In the diagram and in the other photos you can see a seam on the outside of the building where floors 3 and 4 meet, and it is clear that everything above this point is what was blown away. In the fourth photo, made much of by the author, on the upper left you can even see the rectangular hole in the floor of the fourth floor – see diagram – where raising/lowering with a crane took place, and down from that on the photo you can even see the edge of the spent-fuel pool. It’s still there (though the whereabouts of its former contents are fair to wonder about).

    Understand this is not from a nuclear apologist. I’m firmly anti-nuclear, in fact. While engineering systems might be perfectable, corporate management systems will never be, and corner-cutting to impose dangerous externalities on the rest of us will never cease to be a central feature in nuclear-power management. Nevertheless, we need to be careful about embracing/forwarding the sloppy analysis of the shrill.

  10. ron

    China’s Ghost Cities reflect the same financial stream as the U.S. with overpriced housing relative to household incomes.

  11. Ignim Brites

    If Obama loses in 2012 will progressives be able to take power in 2016? Given the current lineup of the Senate, it will probably be 2018 before the back of the current Republican surge can be broken. Progressives would be better off on concentrating on NE/NY and California secession if Obama loses in 2012. This might be achievable by 2016, even 2014 if Republicans have a huge win in 2012. And a big Republican win will increase enormously the moral responsibility of progressive leaders to pursue secession as the key to establishing progressive civilizations in North America, given the probability of a Harper victory in Canada in a couple of days. Time to start polling the young generation at Harvard, Yale and Columbia as to their willingness to pursue secession. It is their world that is at stake.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      Playing out California secession in theory is endless hilarity. What would the denizens of Orange County do? Militarize their sons and daughters to fight against the liberals trying to secede? Send out their (dark) gardeners, maids and nannies as front line fodder (in lieu of slaves) because they and their children are too soft and too incompetent to actually fight? Would the liberals be willing to militarize for the fight over the water from the Colorado River? Would Indian casinos triple their revenue if everyone in CA needed a passport to get to Vegas? Would retirees in Arizona repatriate in order to live with their children and avoid the hassles at the immigration lines at the CA border? Would we install Spanish as the new national language???

      I’m sure we could figure this all out in four years or so. The San Fernando Valley has only been trying to secede from the City of LA for 40 years. [I know you were joking.]

      1. Ignim Brites

        There is no reason to expect any violence as a consequence of secession. The Supreme Court of Canada has already legitimated Quebec secession. It seems reasonable to that either by constitutional amendment or Supreme Court decision, state secession can be legitimated. It is amusing to think of the apoplexy of Orange County denizens at the prospect of a progressively dominated California. But these citizens would have the opportunity to move to other states remaining within the United States. Frankly, I think one of the conditions for legitimating state secession is that the state seceding would have to grant to counties within its borders the right to secede. This would allow Orange County to secede from California and apply for admission to the US as a territory.
        There is nothing particularly rational about the borders which define a people, a demos. One can see this clearly in the immigration debate. So if someone want to redraw the boundaries of the demos, there hardly can be any rational argument against the right to strive for that.

  12. kevinearick

    Source Code: Time Travel

    The answer to the traveling salesperson problem is the traveling salesperson of traveling salespersons.

    Think about enterprise architecture from the perspective of the traveling salesman. Efficiency is the shortest path between two points only in a dying system. You want to collect the pieces of your gate system at the greatest benefit/cost at maximum effective risk. Standing in line for scarce resources is not the answer. Those that got out of the portfolio model and into the $US/Canadian, 30 year bond, oil, and then silver as suggested are now way, way ahead of the markets. That’s the past. Now, invest wisely in the future.

    Present day tactics are a function of future strategy, which focuses the looking glass over time. Quantum physics nets out time. Clarity is a function of distance. What is the distance on the timeline between yourself and others?

    OK, so, I have spent my life on the road, in planes, trains, buses, and autos, exchanging information with all types of people in all types of places. Who is stupid, me for being the homeless guy standing on the side of the road with his thumb out, depending on the kindness of strangers, or the people speeding by the superintendent of global enterprise architects, racing to reach the comfort of their artificially manufactured addictions.? Effectiveness versus efficiency is a short-term/long-term looking glass. Seek clarity and balance before settling into the “reality of any track. Balance, balance, balance, with an exit gate, and direction before speed, always.

    The point of the Supreme Court case was to begin cauterizing the Family Law gate system, to begin turning the global IC economy in on itself, as the intent of Family Law was simultaneously exposed across the Internet, creating the necessary positive feedback to weld the parallel in place. Because the legacy sexists cannot admit participation in the ignorance racket, much less correct their behavior, ignorance spread like cancer across the empire and paper profits to hide the fact grew like a virus.

    Quantum physics tells you that a counter-force always develops in orbit around such nuclear black holes, with a much smaller, more adroit population serving as the lever on the other side of the virtual fulcrum, in a random distribution relative to the nucleus, to avoid detection and grow the semi-neutral center of the resulting circuit.

    The most powerful navy is operated by effective families of necessity, because a real economy requires the associated real durable, durable goods orders to create effective tradable surplus, and the most powerful navy has set the course for millennia due to its ability to contain. The diluted US Navy is now being overwhelmed by Internet activities in a newly minted dimension, which will ultimately result in the navy of the next empire. The kids are going to space, with or without, and the name on the side of the vessel is irrelevant to them.

    There are roughly 50 million parents acting randomly relative to the old dimensions, but with a unified mind in the new dimension, developing the navigation system for the new enterprise, collecting the necessary “real estate” for 25 cents on the dollar and investing the rest in required family skill sets. Do you work for Caesar (the computer) or does Caesar work for you?

    Empires maximize debt, and we installed all kinds of delay mechanisms / make-work in the US economy to drive the USSR out of business, but the resulting efficient global IC chip economy needed to be replaced with the resulting peace dividend, which never happened because a whole lot of ignorant people got greedy, as they always do, when they saw the potential of the ponzi casino.

    Family Law creates the AC empire economic cycle, favoring males when net investment is required and females when net consumption is desirable. Consumption with leverage, Fed monetary expansion w margin control, accelerates the stock market. Women were already being brought into the nexus labor market to leverage immigration, the university compliance HR network system was diluted 100:1, and everyone got make-work jobs, in an unsustainable, disposable, exploitation, scarcity economy, driving wages down, real estate up, and off-shoring the remnants of the real economy to cheap foreign knock-offs of the American Enterprise System, which are now accelerating much faster into the implosion because they have fewer delay mechanisms and exist beneath the reserve currency being floated by the global pyramid scheme called The Imperative.

    Legacy is now placing its last bet on pushing monetary policy through Microsoft and Boeing, which are the two dumbest corporations in the system, because they are completely subsidized and controlled by the US Government, which is demonstrably incompetent, each with plenty of programmers, assigned to do what they did yesterday, faster today. If you want to see the affect of misguided and misspent youth over the course of the last two generations, visit downtown Seattle; talk about the blind leading the blind… .The universe is in the business of creating new dimensions faster than the old dimensions may be re-computed, which is why you must forego the past to enter the future, but once you do so you can affect both the present and the past.

    If you want to learn to program, get out on the road and gain clarity of purpose first. Critters tend to be lazy, impulsive, and resistive to change. Act accordingly.

    1. MIchaelC


      Well, for whatever it’s worth, I,for one,(and I’m sure I’m not alone) am grateful that you broke the story first, and did a a better job of telling it (with fewer resources, to boot) than the prizewinners.

      More than that, you broke it in context. One of the great disappointments of ProPublica’s gotcha, guaranteed to win a Pulitzer, is that the Pulitzer bit was the prize for ProP, while the telling the actual story, and exploring the ramifications, was your aim.

      I’m certain Magnetar and it spawn are THE central story of the disaster, and remedying the underlying flaws that Magnetar exploited so successfully is the prize needed.

      1. john c. halasz

        I’d been wondering, since early on, what motivated Yves in her blogging, since it obviously couldn’t be in her self-interest, business-wise. But, like Tanta and perhaps Bill McBride, I think it wasn’t just the foreboding of what was obviously forthcoming, but a sense of personal violation with respect to a sense of craft in her chosen profession. Admittedly, an ethics of craft isn’t everything, but it’s certainly something, though ever depreciated in its market “value”.

        But if one’s professional craft is to simplify complex matters to the point that “everyone” can understand them, beyond the point of meaningful intelligibility and effective remedy, perhaps one deserves a booby prize.

        And I’d long been wondering why what was so obviously “baked into the cake” was taking so long to become manifest, (if it actually has done so, given the obfuscatory policy response). Yves’ work was a key piece of the puzzle there, (together with all the other complicated details that I, as an outsider, learned about the finance biz here).

        But I wouldn’t say, from my POV, that the Magnetar “trades” were THE central story. I’d say that the global CA deficits were the central story in an otherwise obviously decentralized world.

      2. Rex

        Yeah, that rather sucks. I remember saying WTF? when they wrote that article long after Yves’ book.

        I guess it falls nicely in to the current context where our broken world heaps rewards on those who don’t really deserve it, or often those who REALLY don’t deserve it.

        I am reminded of peacemaker Obummer’s Nobel Prize.

  13. lark

    I find Christian ethics powerful and persuasive but so often people use religion to justify their own morally dubious choices. It seems peculiar that the bankers, riding the tide of rising inequality right to the top, are finding refuge in Christ. Count me as skeptical.

    1. Curious Interrogator

      Well, I have also been curious about this. I think it’s fair to say there isn’t one Christian ethics. In fact, just about anything can be sanctified by some version of Christian ethics.

      Take the “just war” doctrine that goes back to Augustine. Some would say that contradicts most of what Jesus was purported to have said as well as a couple of commandments that God was supposed to have given Moses written in stone no less. Once you can justify war as “holy” you can justify most anything.

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