Links 5/21/11

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The dairy farmers who returned to Fukushima’s fallout path Guardian. Be sure to watch the video. Per Buzz Potamkin: “Only in Japan: farmers face radiation poisoning to be with their milk cows. ”

Mammals’ large brains evolved for smell BBC

Q&A: How today’s tech alienates the elderly PC Pro

A Nightly Orwellian Ritual: the “P”BS NewsHour Paul Street (hat tip reader Tom Ross)

How Power Corrupts Wired (hat tip reader Don B)

Was Strauss-Kahn set up by vengeful Americans? The First Post

IMF Aborted Internal Investigation of Strauss-Kahn in 2008 Bloomberg

How to spot a psychopath Jon Ronson, Guardian

Eurozone crisis may derail Irish recovery, warns IMF Guardian. Lovely. Ireland played ball when it could have stonewalled, and looks about to pay an even higher price.

For the Highest Fliers, New Scrutiny Wall Street Journal

Politico Has Not Heard About the Collapse of the Housing Bubble and Economic Crisis Dean Baker

The extend and pretend exposé – coming to a bank near you Tracy Alloway, Financial Times. The latest on accounting games in commercial real estate….which if you have been watching, are pretty substantial.

Debt Ceiling: No Chance of US default Warren Mosler, Credit Writedowns

Interactive map: State unemployment, April 2011 Economic Policy Institute

Was LinkedIn Scammed? Joe Nocera, New York Times

Eric Schneiderman vs. Wall Street and its political servants Glenn Greenwald

America’s 10 Biggest Constitutional Myths Atlantic (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Henry Kissinger talks to Simon Schama Financial Times

Antidote du jour:

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  1. attempter

    Re corporate liberal filth about the Constitution:

    This perp’s agenda is to defend the health racket bailout, one of the most reactionary (in the author’s own terms, “right-wing”) policies in US history, by fraudulently claiming that totalitarian interpretations of the commerce clause have a historical and internal consistency basis. These are both false. (This interpretation is also clearly tyrannical from any common sense point of view, but then all our ideologues of all stripes are agreed in wanting to suppress common sense.)

    He also lies when claiming that the argument over “regulating inactivity” is new. On the contrary, it’s been disputed at least since the rogue SCOTUS decision Wickard v. Filburn, which was the seminal case for using the commerce clause as a totalitarian vehicle.

    Lest anyone think “totalitarian” is hyperbole, read the history. I describe some of it here

    including quotes from related SCOTUS cases which make it clear that in principle there’s nothing which couldn’t be construed and “regulated” from the point of view of its alleged effect on “commerce”, which in practice means its effect on oligopoly profits.

    As I write about in that post, if you take the Wickard doctrine, reinforce it with a SCOTUS decision in favor of the insurance Stamp mandate, and apply it through the powers bestowed by the recently enacted Food Control bill, and there will be no limit to the government’s ability to force everyone to use, for example, synthetic fertilizer, synthetic pesticides and herbicides, GMO seeds, etc. They’ll be free to literally ban backyard gardens, if they judge that such gardens hinder the viability of interstate food commerce. Read the quotes if you don’t believe me.

    Same for relocalization in general. In principle, if this started hurting Walmart’s bottom line, the government could forbid economic relocalization on the grounds that it was harming interstate commerce. If you don’t believe me, read the SCOTUS quotes.

    And can anyone explain this non sequitur in other than deficit terrorist terms?

    are the midst of a very dangerous political crisis. Gridlock in Washington is pushing the United States toward a first-ever default on payments on the national debt.

    Good! Let’s default. The only danger here is that conservatives and liberals will continue to successfully collaborate on the deficit terrorist project. (Yet here too the people have been refusing to fall for it. Poll after poll, and exercises like the Peterson/Obama “town hall”, show the people are not biting.)

    It looks like this liberal swine wants to hit every pro-Obama, pro-corporate talking point. This is going to be some series on such a perverted view of the Constitution.

    To conclude, I’ll say again that the health racket bailout was the most vile piece of treason against the people one could come up with. We know that private health insurance rackets serve no purpose whatsoever. We know that they’re pure rentier parasites. We know that Single Payer is the only solution which works (in the context of this centralized system) in both delivering better care and costing less. We know that Obamacare (a Republican policy originally authored by the Heritage Foundation) was intentionally designed to provide worse care at a much higher cost. We know its real goal was to prop up insurance profits by protecting the rackets from having to compete with non-participation (thus the mandate to buy an expensive, worthless Stamp). We know it’s also an austerity bill designed to drive people out of employer-provided insurance and into the far more expensive individual “market”. We know it’s designed to absolve employers of any responsibility for their employees’ health care, while the government gets to continue to abdicate its own responsibility to pay for this care. We know awareness of Single Payer was systematically suppressed by the administration, liberal NGOs, and the corporate media, since anyone who learns about it sees right away how rational, moral, and practical it is. But the interests who suppressed it wanted an irrational, immoral policy which is impractical from every point of view except that of corporate profiteering.

    We know that anyone who still supports the health racket bailout, like this writer, is a criminal.

    1. meticulous observer

      You call it a health racket bailout, but the health racket was never in trouble. On the contrary, their monopolies yielded amazing opulence for them and the other parasitic monopolists like big pharma, the device makers, and hospital management.

      1. attempter

        Between bottom up pressure for actual reform and the growing number of people making the rational choice to go without overpriced “insurance” which insures little or nothing, the position of the insurance rackets was looking to become untenable.

        That’s why they pretended to let themselves be thrown kicking and screaming into the briar patch of Obamacare. Obamacare is designed to guarantee a high extraction rate from a forced market while letting them continue to gut the payout aspect of the phony policies.

        (It’s amazing how many people don’t understand the business model of insurance companies. Um, it’s to minimize payouts. By definition a “health care” system based on these rackets actually wants as much as possible to evade providing health care.)

    2. Susan Truxes

      Bailouts buy time. Nixon said that the Vietnam war was a “cork in a bottle.” I always took this to mean the VN war was buying time, keeping us afloat. We are now finally sinking, but still bailing. I was overwhelmed by your response above and your “Relocation and Federalism..” Because I do not know the court cases and the narrow issues. I have never even followed the broader legal issues; I’m just naturally horrified. But your last points (above) about health care are right on in my opinion. What the hell happened to single payer?

      1. attempter

        “Overwhelmed” meaning you don’t know whether to believe it? Then you should research it. It’s a major part of what we’re up against.

        What happened to Single Payer is simple enough. The administration, liberal groups, liberal bloggers, and the MSM collaborated in pushing a bait-and-switch, by insisting the “public option” was going to be the adequate centerpiece of the program, while Single Payer had a media blackout imposed upon it.

        As soon as SP had been properly driven out of the range of ideas even discussable by Serious People, the public option bait was then switched out. Its concept was steadily watered down and then purged completely. Just to be on the safe side, a second bait-and-switch, the “progressive block”, was trumped up by some Democratic congressmen and some liberal blogs. The whole thing worked like a charm – all the “progressive” morons and cowards were played like fiddles from day one to the day the vicious bill was passed.

        Of course, there was never any obstacle whatsoever to Single Payer, other than the criminality of Democrats and corporate liberals, and the stupidity and cowardice of “progressives”.

        1. Susan Truxes

          I sense you are right; it is over my head; I have not researched it; but I acknowledge that it is my responsibility to d so. I think you are correct. But what if everyone feeling as I do researches it and comes to the “correct” conclusion and they are ignored. What then? Where is the government? I have no power. I only know they are screwing with me.

          So I conclude this: When government is put in a position to ingore citizens and various political positions, it is by definition no longer a government.

          1. attempter

            Once you recognize that trickle-down “representative” government is illegitimate, and that only true democracy has any moral, rational, and practical validity, that’s how you start to regain power.

        2. Doug Terpstra

          Clearly and forcefully stated, attempter, as always. Thanks again for your tireless effort in cutting through the calculated lies of the power elite. Your description of the death of single-payer and public option is maddeningly accurate; it still causes smoke to billow from the ears. I tried posting a paraphrase of your comments at the Atlantic site but got lost in fruitless loops for approval, perhaps by design (or maybe the administrator was raptured; it’s after six here so clearly I didn’t make the cut).

          Epps presumes to debunk popular myths about our constitution—without acknowledging the obvious reality that our constitution itself is now a myth. GWB was right about that: it is “just a goddamned piece of paper”, with which he presumably wiped himself or stuffed his jock cup. (And Obama is following suit, hopefully with an unused copy.) In our new state of eternal war and its innumerable “patriotic” exceptions, it is now nothing but a convenient fiction trotted out by the power elite to wield only for propaganda, profit, or violence.

          We can also safely presume that, like our “betters” today, the founding slaveholders did not trust democracy either in denying the right to vote to slaves, women and renters. And the current Supine Court, by enshrining corporations as persons, even though they have no souls, cannot be put in prison, nor executed (unfortunately), has rendered the constitution a tragicomical farce by as well. The idea that it affords equal protection and equal rights to all is sadly absurd: just ask lifetime GITMO ‘guests’ deprived of habeas corpus, victims of US torture/rendition, or the hundreds of thousands of “collateral damage” in our illegal drone wars (oh wait, you can’t ask them).

          But you’re so right about Epps twisted logic about what he calls “a rational healthcare system”. The idea that Health Racket lobbyists can write up and bill, force it through Congress, and then force people to purchase their defective-by-design product (systematically withholding of treatment), is viscerally repellent. Obamacare mandates are explicit corporate welfare and manifest extortion. If the constitution could ever be construed to sanction such a moral offense, then it deserves to be relegated to the toilet.

          1. attempter

            Although the written Constitution was pro-elite and pro-rich by design (as Madison explicitly admitted in Federalist #s 10 and 51, among other places), it also intentionally excluded corporations from any constitutional rights or prerogatives (Franklin and Madison each proposed passages dealing with corporations, but the Convention voted against any mention whatsoever).

            So although the written document is flawed to the point of having been a counter-revolutionary hijacking, it still wasn’t as bad as fraudulent pro-corporate interpretations have subsequently rendered it.

            As for the sovereign constitution (prior to any written document), there can be no doubt by now that its legitimate form can be only positive democracy.


    1. DownSouth

      • Noam Chomsky said: “In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial.”

      Well that leaves the United States out.

      • Noam Chomsky said: “The existence of flat earthers does not change the fact that, uncontroversially, the earth is not flat.”

      “Flat earthers.” That pretty much describes the people who continue to support Obama despite rapidly accumulating evidence of his perfidy and betrayal. I see where Cornel West is slowly becoming less ambiguous in his criticisms of Obama and on this video is now calling Obama a “black puppet for corporate plutocrats” and “black mascot of Wall Street.”

      The plutocrats seem confident that, by controlling the timbers that constitute society’s structure, they will have no problem maintaining control of the society. Things can change rapidly, however, as we saw with the moral awakening the U.S. underwent in the 1930s.

      Without this sort of moral awakening, however, it seems the United States’ better days are behind us.

      • Noam Chomsky said:

      The most immediate and significant consequences are likely to be in Pakistan. There is much discussion of Washington’s anger that Pakistan didn’t turn over bin Laden. Less is said about the fury in Pakistan that the US invaded their territory to carry out a political assassination. Anti-American fervor had already reached a very high peak in Pakistan, and these events are likely to exacerbate it.

      Pakistan is the most dangerous country on earth, also the world’s fastest growing nuclear power, with a huge arsenal.

      If Obama were to wake up in the morning and ask himself: “What sort of grand symbolic gesture could I make today to destroy American influence and legitimacy around the world?” I don’t think he could have come up with a much better answer than the assassination of Obama.

  2. Sock Puppet

    Psychopaths: Heard Jon Ronson on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show this week stating that 1% of people are psychopaths, but that this number rises to 4% among CEOs and similar. Tempting to play “spot the psychopath” among politicians, CEOs, central bankers, media figures, religious leaders…

    1. DownSouth

      There’s an interesting documentary film—-a rather in-depth case study of one psychopath—-on the internet called I, psychopath.

      I didn’t much care for Ronson’s article, because to me it doesn’t fully set out Hare’s position. Granted, diagnosing a psychopath, as the above documentary explains, is a very complicated matter. But just because someone doesn’t meet the clinical definition of a psychopath does not mean that they’re OK. That seems to be Ronson’s implication. But he’s mistaken. There are several other psychopathologies in addition to psychopathy—-sociopathy, narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder—-that can explain the highly destructive behaviors that have become so common in the corporate executive suite, as Hare explains in Identifying Psychopathic Fraudsters: These Men Know ‘Snakes in Suits’~Interview with Dr. Robert D. Hare and Dr. Paul Babiak:

      Hare: The terms psychopathy and sociopathy refer to related but not identical conditions. Psychopaths have a pattern of personality traits and behaviors not readily understood in terms of social or environmental factors. They are described as without conscience and incapable of empathy, guilt, or loyalty to anyone but themselves. Sociopathy is not a formal psychiatric condition. It refers to a pattern of attitudes, values, and behaviors that is considered antisocial and criminal by society at large, but seen as normal or necessary by the subculture or social environment in which it developed. Sociopaths may have a well-developed conscience and a normal capacity for empathy, guilt, and loyalty, but their sense of right and wrong is based on the norms and expectations of their subculture or group. Many criminals might be described as sociopaths. Narcissistic and histrionic personality disorders are described in DSM-IV, and their differences from psychopathy are outlined in “Snakes in Suits.” Briefly, narcissistic personality disorder involves an excessive need for admiration, a sense of superiority and entitlement, and a lack of empathy. It does not necessarily include the lifestyle and antisocial features of psychopathy, outlined earlier. Histrionic personality disorder is defined by excessive and overly dramatic emotionality, attention-seeking, and a strong need for approval. It lacks the lifestyle and antisocial features of psychopathy.

          1. Ming

            The financial and power elites of our nation would consider Jesus a sociopath, since He would denounce the culture of obfuscation and the virtues of ‘massive wealth accumulation’ and ‘self interest’.

          2. attempter

            Unfortunately, that would follow from this false and pernicious quote:

            It refers to a pattern of attitudes, values, and behaviors that is considered antisocial and criminal by society at large

            But the fact is that while to some extent sociopathy would be relative to the mores of a society, it’s primarily an absolute.

      1. Foppe

        I’m not sure what it means for your quote here, DS, but Narcissistic PD will be removed from the DSM-V as a “diagnosis”, because it’s so broad a definition as to be fairly useless.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You have to love the psychological profession. I’ve known enough narcissists to be pretty confident it’s a real syndrome and destructive, if not to the narcissist (who seems to do just fine, but the people around them suffer). The key indicators are a normal affect (they fake normalcy quite well) and a deep seated lack of empathy.

          My suspicion as to the real reason psychologists are writing narcissists out of their playbook: they have zippo success in treating them. Some years ago, a friend insisted I read a M. Scott Peck book (yes, not a great idea) and in it he tried treating a narcissist and mentioned in passing that they are not well “known” by therapists because they hardly ever seek treatment and treatment pretty much always fails with them.

          1. Francois T

            Neuroscience latest discoveries seem to indicate that empathy has much to do with hormones and receptors; meaning, there is much physiology involved in the capacity to feel empathy.

            I, for one, strongly believe that psychopathic narcissism is an organic brain disease. I can’t prove it, but the abysmal failure rate of success in treating those people speaks volume.

            It’d be better to install an oxytocin pump to these patients than trying psychotherapy.

          2. ScottS

            I thought I read the article here, but something I read said that constant stress leads to a physical atrophying of the regions of the brain that are responsible for empathy.

            This explains the shocking behavior of victims of constant abuse as well as social climbers (everyone’s out to get me types). Stress kills.

    2. meticulous observer

      “4% among CEOs and similar. Tempting to play “spot the psychopath” among politicians, CEOs, central bankers, media figures, religious leaders…”

      4%? Seems like only 4% are NOT psychopaths. Tempting to play spot the sane guy.

    3. we_are_toast

      I know a Psychopath. If you are around one, you should be scared, very scared. I had never met one before, until about 5 years ago. We were on the board of directors of an HOA together. At first, his constant, and I mean constant attempts to manipulate the board, I brushed off as just being aggressive. Then came the lying. I knew he was telling the board many things that simply weren’t true. When I challenged him, without skipping a beat, he would come up with a new lie. Finally, we had a long conversation, and my jaw was dropping on the floor. He was very charming, but you could see he was constantly assessing you to see if he was reaching you. If you showed any doubt, he would change his story in mid sentence and actually contradict what he said at the beginning of the sentence.

      If 1% of the population are Psychopaths, 98% of the population is susceptible to the manipulation. It’s the cult like behavior of the people being manipulated by the Psychopaths that can do the real damage. I watched as he manipulated people to turn against their neighbors who had been life long friends. I watched as his vicious lies about our neighbors got so bad, many had to sell their homes to get away from him.

      He would send out incoherent emails late at night to the board. I once counted 5 lies or attempts to manipulate in one sentence. I feel utter contempt for the people he manipulates into doing his dirty work for him.

      I scored him a 33 on the test. I’ve met plenty of people who I thought were dishonest, or lacked concern for others, or who were downright mean spirited, but I’ve never met anyone like this before. Just as a Burglar doesn’t have to come in contact with you to shake up your life, a Psychopath doesn’t have to be a violent criminal to destroy the lives of many around him.

    4. bmeisen

      Great piece! Interesting that Ronson also got around to Al Dunlap, ex-CEO at Sunbeam who was also discussed by Partnoy in Infectious Greed.

  3. dearieme

    “amplified by self-congratulation that America is a nation of laws”: not if you drown the wench. Or are Governor of Arkansas.

    1. aet

      Although it appears that the laws against slander and libel are weak, too.

      Once the Republicans have the Senate, how long before they impeach Obama?

  4. dearieme

    What on earth is a “myth” about “4.The Constitution does not provide for separation of church and state”? The words “separation of church and state” do not appear in the Constitution; the words about religion that do appear are a good deal more specific and intelligent than a windy generalisation such as “separation of church and state”.

    1. Sufferin' Succotash

      The words “right to privacy” don’t appear in the Constitution either. So I guess the Fourth Amendment isn’t really about privacy.
      BTW, “no law respecting an establishment of religion” and “no religious test” mean…what? That the Constitution doesn’t provide for separating church and state?

      1. dearieme

        The laws meant just what they said: they established two restrictions of the Federal government. That’s no doubt why they did not lead to the immediate disestablishment of those Established Churches that existed in the USA when the Constitution/Bill of Rights was adopted, nor of the immediate prohibition of religious tests in the states.

        1. Sufferin' Succotash

          Non sequiturs anyone? Of course the restrictions on Federal powers only applied originally to the Federal constitution, as Marshall made clear in the Barron v. Baltimore eminent domain case.
          Judging by the Congressional debates at the time, Madison & Co. wanted to prevent the contemporary state-level controversies over tax assessments to support clergies etc., from becoming nationalized. It’s almost as if they wanted–wait for it–to build a wall of separation between church and state. Could that have been[insert heavenly chorus]their Original Intent?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Why do Star Trek fans immerse themselves in a TV show that ended decades ago? They savor the lost classics.

      Hell, we could re-enact the ridiculous con-con in Philadelphia, except that the elitist federalist plotters neglected to keep a transcript.

      So let’s a write a docudrama! The ‘three-fifths rule’ debate oughta be interesting. ;-)

  5. Elliot X

    Re: A Nightly Orwellian Ritual: the PBS Newshour

    from the article: “For years now, my wife and I have sat down with dinner weekday nights to behold with a mixture of amusement and contempt the Orwellian exercise in corporate and imperial hegemony that is Lehrer’s NewsHour”

    That’s as far as I got.

    You mean there are still people on earth who watch Lehrer’s NewsHour on PBS?

    And let me guess, they spend their weekends reading Time magazine and watching Lawrence Welk reruns of the Chicken Dance?

    Lawrence Welk: The Chicken Dance

    1. Dirk77

      I admire and appreciate his willingness to endure it every night so that he can report back to the rest of us. I usually go only so far as to read the WaPo headline (“Establishment person says…”) as I walk by the newstand on the way to work. Must move Chomsky to the top of my list to read.

    2. Susan Truxes

      Yesterday’s article on PBS’s Need to Know about Afghanistan pissed me off so much I was speechless (except for an enraged rant that got deleted), a rarity for me. PBS has gone from bad, to worse, to evil.

      1. Sock Puppet

        We’re fortunate to have a local NPR station (WNYC) that doesn’t need government funding.

  6. Elliot X

    Melissa Harris-Perry (Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University) tries to join Cornel West in distancing herself from Obama, but she just can’t quite seem to get the hang of it.

    Melissa Harris-Perry: “….I have many criticisms of the Obama administration. I wrote angrily about his choice of Rick Warren to deliver a prayer at the inauguration. I have spoken on television about my disagreement with drone attacks in Pakistan….etc etc”

    After reading her article, Michael J. Smith concludes:

    Yet, presumably, she’s still “in”.

    Oh, and “scathing,” Melissa? Are you writing your own reviews now, a la Glenn Greenwald? Scathing, from Melissa, is a lot like being savaged by a dead sheep — to quote the late Denis Healey.

    Thursday, May 19 “Bellum intestinum”

  7. DownSouth

    Re: “IMF Aborted Internal Investigation of Strauss-Kahn in 2008” Bloomberg

    Piroska Nagy, an IMF economist who had a brief romantic relationship with Strauss-Kahn in January 2008, wrote a letter in which

    Nagy praised her former boss as a “brilliant leader with a vision for addressing the ongoing global financial crisis. He is also an aggressive if charming man. . .”

    A “vision for addressing the ongoing global financial crisis”? Oh well, it looks like there’s trouble in paradise. One can’t help but be reminded of Edmund Burke’s hesitancy to place his imprimatur upon the liberal promised land:

    I should therefore suspend my congratulations on the new liberty of France until I am informed how it has been combined with government, with public force, …with morality and religion; …with peace and order…. Liberty, when men act in bodies, is power. Considerate people, before they declare themselves, will observe the use which is made of power.

    Or what George Orwell wrote in “Rudyard Kipling”:

    All left-wing parties in the highly industrialized countries are at bottom a sham, because they make it their business to fight against something which they do not really wish to destroy. They have internationalist aims, and at the same time they struggle to keep up a standard of life with which those aims are incompatible. We all live by robbing Asiatic coolies, and those of us who are “enlightened” all maintain that those coolies ought to be set free; but our standard of living, and hence our “enlightenment,” demands that the robbery shall continue. A humanitarian is always a hypocrite, and Kipling’s understanding of this is perhaps the central secret of his power to create telling phrases… It is true that Kipling does not understand the economic aspect of the relationship between the highbrow and the blimp. He does not see that the map is painted red chiefly in order that the coolie may be exploited. Instead of the coolie he sees the Indian Civil Servant; but even on that plane his grasp of function, of who protects whom, is very sound. He sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them.

    1. craazyman

      I have solved the DSK scandal. This became clear to me today as I was wasting time channeling, like I usually do.

      HE OD’d on PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN! and had a total Fantasy Attack that he was Captain Jacques de’Love of the Black Flag waving pirated French Merchant Marine 2-masted schooner — La Bateau Ivre.

      And she was no hotel maid. No sir. She was a mermaid in disguise, burning with a fiercely repressed but pyrotechnic love for the Captain himself.

      He had to relese her from the inner agony, oppressed in a dreamy fishlike delerium, so she could escape the darkness of the silent deep and incarnate in her womanly body.

      I would not call this episode a mistake, so much as a manifestation of a higher form of consciousness, for which there is probably a pharmaceutical cure, and a few million dollars to the maid wold help too. Better than cleaning toilets for life. let’s write a happy ending to this tale while we can. There’s already so much sadness in the world. Why add to it.

    2. Indigenous Centurion

      highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them.

      Cotton’s getting high — time to grab a mint julep and start getting high.

      Did cotton ‘gen make the repression game even worse? Do today’s inventions make things worse? The iPhone? The time-clock that I punch? The Orwellian TV and its Nielsen/s Ratings that are “watching you”? Do labor saving devices free up our teens long enough to let them pose nude for their text messages fully illuminated by porno attachments? Have nail-guns cheated us out of our exercise?

      Now we got to buy a running machine, plug it into the wall so-s it will burn up *the man’s* energy. So-s it will increase our electrical power bill. So-s larger check for power will bounce with overdraft fee. Overdraft fee for the man? Do guns kill people? Does civilization repress the populace? Or do people with guns kill people?

      Civilized people repress the populace?

      You are my people, Populace.

      Start thinking, My People

    3. Susan Truxes

      Just before he died, FDR said it would take 50 years to allow China to gear up because they were so far behind the industrial revolution. Well, it has happened, thanks in part to our patience. The world no longer takes advantage of Chinese coolies, it takes advantage of all coolies. And each country must adjust accordingly. One thing you can give the United States is their faith in capitalism and their willingness to be patient. Where we go from here is not classic capitalism.

      1. Hideo Gummikrokodil

        50 years to allow China to gear up because they were so far behind the industrial

        China is just another word for lot of diverse places. The nuclei for progress of China are 香港 and 台灣, but not in that order. We need to reaffirm our loyalty to our oldest ally. That’s what friends are for.


  8. Philip Pilkington

    On the IMF-Ireland piece:

    “”Slower growth, and higher unemployment, further ratings downgrades and developments in other euro area countries have contributed to a rise in bond spreads that hinders Ireland’s prospects to regain market access on affordable terms in the near future,” it said.”

    Okay so far so good… but wait…

    “The IMF praised Ireland’s determination to tackle government spending and bank deficits, saying it was making good progress towards meeting targets set by the EU and the IMF. Dublin’s plans to boost jobs with extra cash for training and incentives for businesses also gave the country the best chance of generating growth and tax receipts, it said.”

    Someone needs to call the men with the big nets and send them down to IMF-land. There’s something wrong with those folks — truly wrong… wrong in the brains!

  9. Philip Pilkington

    That psychopath piece is absolutely magnificent.

    “Becoming a psychopath-spotter had turned me power-crazed and a bit psychopathic.”

    And with those words Ronson sums up the problem with psychology/psychiatry as a discipline. When we start making lists that’s all well and good — but WE judge whether people possess these traits.

    What if I have a psychological tendency to see people acting in a grandiose and superior manner everywhere? Well, a psychologist would say that I have an inferiority complex, right? But what if I never had this quote-unquote ‘diagnosed’ and then became a psychologist? Well, I’d start diagnosing ‘grandiose sense of self-importance’ — a very common ‘symptom’ in many ‘disorders’ — in a disproportionate amount of people.

    Psychoanalysts used to be keenly aware of this problem. They called it ‘counter-transference’. But as psychoanalysis was gradually dropped, this problem faded into the background.

    I worry about the psychology profession today. I really do. I know one psychiatrist who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia — but without a proper screening process (as the psychoanalysts tried to have), this is inevitably going to happen. It’s deeply, deeply concerning…

      1. Artaud the Schizo

        “Psychoanalysis was from the start, still is, and perhaps always will be a well-constituted church and a form of treatment based on a set of beliefs that only the very faithful could adhere to, i.e., those who believe in a security that amounts to being lost in the herd and defined in terms of common and external goals” – Gilles Deleuze
        (Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia)

        1. Philip Pilkington

          “And the first to collaborate with what you are rebelling against, right here at Vincennes, are you yourselves; for you fulfill the role of slaves of this regime. The regime is putting you on display.” — Jacques Lacan, speaking to a group of rowdy students in 1969.

          “Terrible pity what happened to the psychiatric profession. It was on the right track once — before it was undermined and derailed from within. A story well told by Adam Curtis in ‘The Trap’: ” — Me, about six posts down

  10. Jim Haygood

    From ‘How today’s tech alienates the elderly’:

    Also, if you look at the number of icons on each package and compare, say, Microsoft Word today to the first incarnation of Word, there’s about three times as many icons. If you’re a novice, that’s much more difficult to get your head around.

    No kidding. Microsoft is one of the very worst offenders. From the origins of word processing, the ‘File’ menu has been a global standard. But in the 2007 ‘upgrade’ [sic] of Word — no File menu! Turns out it’s concealed behind a large button with a meaningless Windows logo on it. Totally unintuitive, totally uncommunicative. Estupido!

    This week, I discovered (in a review) that Windows Media Player includes a graphic equalizer. DOH! Who knew? Even if you did know, you wouldn’t be able to find it. In ‘Now playing’ mode, you have to right-click on a blank area (who’s going to think of that?), select ‘Enhancements’ from the pop-up menu, and then (one more layer down) Graphic equalizer.

    WTF? On your car radio or your sound system, the bass and treble adjustments are right up front. Why would they be buried in an obscure submenu in a media player?

    In future, I think Microsoft should hire Earth-origin programmers, instead of square-headed, grey-skinned off-planet types whose way of reasoning is just fundamentally alien to humans.

    1. Philip Pilkington

      That’s completely unfair on the elderly. Microsoft have been alienating their customers — young or old — for years.

      You see, Microsoft think that their customers are all extremely stupid, so they need big glowing buttons that don’t actually do anything rather than an operating system that actually responds to user’s needs (Apple are even worse offenders, but we won’t go there).

      Hiding behind a veil of populism and interactivity, these companies are disgusting elitist creatures. And, as copyrights and other monopolistic practices dissipate in the future, time will wear them down to a nub of their former selves. Can’t wait.

      1. Sock Puppet

        Actually their UIs were better before they started using focus groups and “real people” to help design them.

  11. ambrit

    Electronica Fans;
    My techno son in law made some serious brownie points, and cash too, when he changed the operating system for the mid-small company he first worked for out of school from Windows to Linnux. The majesty and mystery of Linnux seems to be the internalization of Turings’ insights. Let the system fix itself! At least in the Linnux cult, unlike Microsquish, you don’t have to marry within the clan, and insanely long hours are by choice, not socialization pressures.

  12. Hugh

    I like that, “Nightly Orwellian Ritual”. It’s a nice turn of phrase. Of course, substitute the word “daily” and it could apply equally well to cable and network news and the mainstream media in general.

    When I go to the MSM, it is both to glean what facts I can about a story, as a starting point for my own researches, but also to assess the spin, Conventional Wisdom, and propagandizing that are being used to sell it. The NewsHour is not particularly useful for this because by the time it comes on I have long since gotten this info from cable or the Times, WaPo, etc.

    NewsHour watching is mostly about marveling at how incredibly vapid it is. Probably why I do it so rarely. I can’t even stand to watch the Shields and Brooks segment anymore. I mean it used to have a certain entertainment value. I have always been much struck by how Shields resembles the dormouse at the teaparty in Alice in Wonderland. Most of the time he is somnolent, occasionally he’ll wake up with a totally startled expression on his face, say something incoherent, and then fall back asleep. It’s great fun the first few times but after a while it gets old. Brooks on the other hand always came armed with a goofy expression and a list of talking points. The charm there was to see how come hell or high water he was going to succeed in mentioning them all.

    But these are small pleasures and they soon pall. Most of the time NewsHour coverage runs the gamut from A to not quite B. All of the correspondents there have mastered the art of the inarticulate interview where they ask no challenging questions, never question assertions no matter how false, and pose no follow ups no matter how obvious.

    The big issue with Jim Lehrer’s departure is will anyone notice?

    1. Elliot X

      Hugh said: “NewsHour watching is mostly about marveling at how incredibly vapid it is”.

      I wish I’d thought of that line when I tried ridiculing the NewsHour a while ago.

    2. Patrice

      Hugh: “The big issue with Jim Lehrer’s departure is will anyone notice?”

      How could anyone notice his departure?

      Here’s a sample of Jim Lehrer quotes:

      1. I’m in the reporting part of journalism.

      2. I’m not in the judgment part of journalism.

      3. I’m a journalist and that’s what I do.

      4. As I say, I’m a discourse advocate. What form it comes is less important to me than the fact that there is discourse.

      5. There’s always a germ of truth in just about everything.

      Definition of the word “vapid” from the free Merriam-Webster dictionary: Lacking liveliness, animation, or interest; dull

      Example of lifeless vapid talk: Jim Lehrer NewsHour

  13. Hugh

    Re psychopathy and sociopathy, psychiatric terms go in and out of style even within that profession, and then too there is a difference between lay and professional usage of them. I think the move has been for a few years now to categorize these under the heading of Anti-Social disorders.

    The other thing is to distinguish between the trait and the disease. Many have the trait. Few have the disease. On the other hand, the severity of the trait exists on a spectrum to the disease. The hallmark of disease is usually when it so compromises the individual that he/she can no longer function safely on their own.

    1. Philip Pilkington

      “…psychiatric terms go in and out of style even within that profession…”

      Damn straight they do. Which shows that it’s a dubious ‘science’ altogether. A sort of fringe medicine. Medicine has it’s ‘fads’ too — and they’re usually bogus.

      Here’s an interesting look into the past. A full copy of the DSM-II — issued in 1968 listing all the different ‘disorders’ (PDF):

      The DSM has only gone downhill since then. As they’ve attempted to become more and more precise by isolating more and more ‘symptoms’, clustering these together and calling them ‘disorders’, the classifications have become more and more ridiculous.

      In the contemporary DSM (DSM-IV) I’m genuinely convinced that you can read back some of the author’s own neuroses from the listings.

      Terrible pity what happened to the psychiatric profession. It was on the right track once — before it was undermined and derailed from within. A story well told by Adam Curtis in ‘The Trap’:

  14. kevinearick

    Community Development / Jamming the Exits

    The problem from the bottom-up is that the economy does not have sufficient torque to pick up the kids, which requires a healthy reserve built up throughout the rest of the demographic system, to provide the necessary support structures, but the efficiently computerized economy has completely spent those reserves down to nothing over the last two generations, attempting to replace the multi-generational investments in family with government, and the momentum of that process has resulted in debt on top of debt on top of debt, borrowing to pay interest on interest, hidden by financial instrumentation. As a result, there is no real money in the pension accounts, only false promises to pay out of future income, and no one to pay into those accounts. Crash is certain.

    The problem from the top-down is that the perps have systematically retired themselves out and installed feminists, paid in control and credit, to monitor the Titanic from the helm as it makes its final descent into the red sea of debt, and these feminists have no experience running a real economy. They have never seen anything in their entire lives but entitlement jobs, credit, and material goods in return for compliance to debt, which has systematically replaced “hard” power with “soft” power.

    The book managers are about to learn that countries can and do go bankrupt, even with a global economy. Their theory is that the US Reserve System, based on general fund faith and credit, can issue bonds and fund programs in perpetuity with infinite monetization. That has been tried repeatedly throughout History and has failed every time. The remnants are carried along as an example to give people notice.

    As the ponzi scheme grows, the black hole of monetization sucks all investment out of productive applications and delivers it to the agency entitlement system. As it does so, the connection between the human and planetary economies is severed, and the planetary economy becomes increasingly volatile. Initially, the ponzi economy pays itself through debt issuance to respond, creating economic activity, along with positive feedback. By the time everyone necessary to overturn majority rules realizes that positive feedback for planetary volatility is a bad thing, it’s way too late, because bred behavior cannot be changed in real time.

    If you want the majority of human beings to perish, do nothing or start communities from scratch, with hydro-electric and good soil, moving back and forth in a corridor that will have increasing fishing and hunting opportunities due to the collapse of the human economy and sub-weather systems that temporarily improve with global weather volatility. Currency is only required to balance abundant systems with scarcity systems. Only people interested in fixing the old system have to worry about that.

    You need scarcity systems to develop the necessary thrust to reach each next orbit, and avoid the regular extinction phases. Extremely long-term thinkers are very few and very far between, for obvious reasons. For most, it is now a choice between flood and drought. In any case, they will have natural calamity to blame. That’s stupid for you. If you need a black hole, appeal to greed.

    So, there I am, living on the beach in Encinitas, on Neptune. You know, investment bankers, etc, etc, and my job is to take care of the San Diego County coastline, for the Port of San Diego, with nearly 60 miles to roam, and my wife’s grandmother is in real tight with Assembly of God. One evening, after I have refused to go along with their spending ideas, the army shows up – fire trucks, cop cars, supervisors, paramedics, the works – gumball machines flashing in the night, penetrating light through all the neighbor’s windows.
    My wife is immaculate, hundred dollar hair, you know. She’s physically perfect, so they take turns trying to get me upset enough to cuff me, but fail, so they end up taking her out on a stretcher, complaining of verbal abuse. I don’t have to bother with the trial court to appeal. There is nothing constitutional about Family Law; it’s a catch-all for independent thinkers to prevent leakage and ensure economic turnover.

    By the time the State of California was done, it assigned me $1.2 million in debt, which it used as an asset base to borrow against, the County entered arrears in my file for a date before my child support payments began, and the federal government made it illegal for me to work. The gals in HR at the Port of San Diego “gave” me some time off and fired me for job abandonment. She ended up on welfare with a car and home from her grandparents (I only enter into physical leaseholds for property). Crack me up.

    The current feminists are just the latest greedy people to come down the conveyor belt. Feminism is a symptom, not a problem. Old school thinking isn’t quite as stupid as the new-schoolers “think.”

  15. F. Beard

    What do psychopaths have to do with our economic problems?

    Oh, I know. It’s not the system’s fault; it’s just some bad eggs got in and made a mess.

    Then where are the prosecutions? Is the justice system mentally ill too?

    1. Susan Truxes

      this makes sense because just look at strauss-kahn: he messed around with his fly down for decades and all of a sudden, when he becomes monetiarily inconvenient, he is indicted, PLEASE…

    2. scraping_by

      Because the system, in the end, is people.

      We’d like to think the system is procedures, routines, rules, laws, social mores, aspirations, hopes, dreams, obligations, definitions, insurance, limits, tests, and the nobility of a job well done. But any and all of that can be and is perverted by those motivated to do so. The most elaborate system is made of and run by people.

      The smart psychopaths can only be handled with proper, condign punishment, so out of proportion the least possibility of getting caught is not worth it. The dumb psychopaths, the ones convinced that getting caught and punished is impossible, can provide object lessons for the smart ones.

      1. F. Beard

        The system itself is crooked. Banks have the government enforced and backed privilege of creating temporary money -so-called “credit”- and lending it out. In effect, they are counterfeiters.

        1. psychohistorian

          It is not that the system is crooked. The “system” you are referring to is the ongoing amalgamation of full or partial socipaths that are willing to act against the best interest of the masses to keep the inherited rich in power and control.

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