Links 7/18/11

I should be back to something closer to regular programming tomorrow. I’ve taken a partial break over the weekend and will be largely off the grid on Monday.

Beehives stop elephant crop-raids BBC

Anti-PowerPoint revolutionaries unite Lucy Kellaway, Financial Times. Hah, I’m not alone in refusing to do PowerPoint.

How to start an online social network from scratch Ed Harrison

China Cities Value Land at Winnetka Prices With Bonds Seen Toxic Bloomberg (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

Why Japanese government bond yields are so low NoahOpinion (hat tip Ed Harrision)

ECB and Merkel clash over Greece Financial Times (hat tip reader Scott)

Plan D stands for default . . . and the death of the euro Wolfgang Munchau, Financial Times

America’s inefficient health-care system: another look Lane Kenworthy (hat tip reader Francois T)

For News Corporation, Troubles That Money Can’t Dispel New York Times (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Les Hinton sacrificed, but the worst is yet to come for News Corp Guardian (hat tip Robert N)

London police chief quits over hacking ties GJSEntinel (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

News Corp. at 50% Discount Shows Diminishing Murdoch Bloomberg

Wall Street Journal hits back over phone hacking scandal in editorial Guardian (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). He deems it delusional, I deem it merely desperate.

Divide and Conquer Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard (hat tip reader Bruno)

Debt ceiling breakdown could shatter the Republicans Clive Crook, Financial Times

How Muslim-Bashing Loses Elections Stephen Salisbury, TomDispatch

The Blame for Fannie and Freddie Dean Baker

Tale Of Two Countries: The Growing Divide Between Silicon Valley And Unemployed America Washington Post (hat tip reader May S)

Hunger Stalks California’s Rural Communities TruthOut (hat tip reader May S)

Obama Passes Over Warren, Names Deputy to Run Consumer Agency Time. Suffice it to say we said it was clear Warren would not get the nod, but I would much rather have been proven wrong on this one. This is a real loss. I’ve been largely off the grid for the last couple of days but will have more to say about this shortly.

Letting Bankers Walk Paul Krugman

Wall Street’s Euthanasia of Industry Michael Hudson (hat tip Joe Costello and reader Bruno)

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Valissa):

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  1. Richard Kline

    Re: Hackergate, it Just Gets _Better_. The sheer mass of individuals involved in approving illegal payments from Murdoch’s tentacles together with the number of individuals in the Metropolitan Police taking said lolly ‘or goods in kind’ means some of them are bound to sing once pinched. There is no way to head off the scandal now; resignations are far past pointless since interviews stretch to a distant time horizon. It seems highly doubtful that James Murdoch will escape investigation, and if he is collared Murdoch family control of their properties, such as remain, is more than doubtful. I hold little hope for an American investigation as sweeping as that in the UK, but then too Murdoch’s power in the US, both politically and in media dominance, is much less so the ability of the man and his brood to bunker up on this will be thinner armored too.

    One could think of no person more deserving of progressive, convulsive, and total execration than Rupert Murdoch—and wait, wait, the choicest morsel is that the scoop of his time in the media industry is _by his competitors on HIM_. Oh, sweet justice, grinding blind and slow, takes in a well-shod toe and gears in the rest of media’s Dorian Gray one steely tooth per ambit . . . .

    1. Cedric Regula

      Now we know the answer.

      It comes down to three things: 1) financial repression, 2) home bias, and 3) dysfunctional equity markets.

    2. craazyman

      I got it after about 10 seconds!

      Nearly everything I know about economics I learned from reading posts here at this website. I readily admit I don’t know alot, because I’m a lazy student with a scattered and short attention span.

      So what I’m about to say isn’t a big surprise or uniquely insightful, but Japan can print the currency it owes and Italy can’t. So Japan has no real financially valid default risk that needs to be priced in to its debt, whereas Italy does because it can’t print euros. And if long-term rates are a composite of expected short-term rates over a long period of time, and if you think short term rates are going to be about zero for a long time because of all the money printing, then long term rates should be low, regardless of the debt load, if you can persuade yourself that inflation isn’t a big threat.

      No doubt there are many commenters who know this stuff cold. I don’t. But it seems to me the control of currency might be a factor too. And then if you want to go off the deep end and start contemplating what money is, then it gets kind of spacey into borrowing from yourself and owing yourself and the value of the currency being related to the social stability and abstract productive potential of the society’s forms of organization that it lubricates.

      As long as the money being printed finances socially and culturally sustainable forms of cooperation and productivity which we can call “society” and “industry” ETC. then there shouldn’t be hyperinflation of the currency because it’s inflating into productive forms of human organization. But if social cooperation breaks down into anarchy, then all hell can break loose. And the money could become worthless. Most of that would occur through changes in the imagination that regulate a person’s perception of social obligations and order.

      1. Cedric Regula

        That, and the article said the Ministry of Finance is making the zombie banks buy all the government bonds.

        So that’s like Uncle Samurai saying “we” will take “my” money and “we” will buy “my” bonds.

        Don’t know what they need all those Japanese for over there.

      2. ambrit

        If my reading is accurate, didn’t the German Hyperinflation of the 1920’s result from a conscious decision by the Weimar Government to do just that to get from under the exorbitant demands of the Versailles Treaty Reparations Clause? So, shouldn’t the anarchy and social turmoil be viewed as results of the hyperinflation, and not causes? That said, what’s to stop Greece, Italy and the Perhiphery States from decoupling from the Euro and hyperinflating their debts away? In that scenario, at least they’d get some visible good out of all the rioting and anarchy. As an added bonus, they’d show the elites just how badly they can screw things up. Nothing so concentrates a bankers mind as an angry mob burning down his summer house; especially when he’s inside it.

  2. Foppe

    Here’s another nice article by Felix on the ‘Murdochalypse’:

    The single most important task facing Rupert Murdoch right now is to persuade the world that the illegal goings-on in the UK were isolated and not indicative of the News Corp culture more generally. He’s tried this with zero success in the past: first he said that they were isolated to a single reporter, and then to a handful of people having their phones tapped, and then to the News of the World — but in each case the scandal proved bigger than News Corp would have had us believed.

    News Corp properties, including most notably the WSJ, are circling the wagons. They still say that the problem was confined to a single publication, that it’s not endemic to News Corp generally, and that anybody who suggests otherwise is biased both ideologically and competitively:

    We also trust that readers can see through the commercial and ideological motives of our competitor-critics. The Schadenfreude is so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw. Especially redolent are lectures about journalistic standards from publications that give Julian Assange and WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur. They want their readers to believe, based on no evidence, that the tabloid excesses of one publication somehow tarnish thousands of other News Corp. journalists across the world.

    That editorial has achieved the remarkable feat of making the WSJ editorial page even less respected than it was before — especially since its publication coincides with a wonderful column from David Carr which shows just how a culture of aggression tipping over into illegality was widespread in News Corp, not only in the UK but also in the US.

  3. Cedric Regula

    The DJ Kitties are great, but I’d like to see a version edited and choreographed to Herbie Hancock’s “Rocket”.

    1. Valissa

      Herbie Hancock! That’s a flash from the past. Herbie Hancock played at my college prom (the only one I went to because I was dating one of the prom co-chairs). The other band that night was Larry Coryell and the 11th House. We gave new meaning to the phrase “Head Table” as we had numerous bongs at the center of the table instead of a flower arrangement, each festooned with a brightly colored helium balloon. Students and professors alike stopped by often to chat with us ;) It was the late ’70s and we thought pot was about to be legalized, and it pretty much was on campus. Students walked around smoking joints without a worry. Although off campus one still had to be careful. And this was an engineering school, btw.

      1. ambrit

        Those were gentler more civilized times. I remember the Campus Cops running the local fuzz off with a vengance when they caught them trying to make a bust at the Student Center. It was two in the morning and a crowd formed and cheered ‘our boys’ on. One of the campus cops was an aquaintance of mine who was a senior Philosophy Major. He later commented that the ‘freedom of the campus’ was a well established legal principle going back to the Middle Ages. Now look at us.

  4. BillF

    Clive Crook says the following at the start of the “Debt ceiling breakdown could shatter Republicans” Financial Times piece.

    The emergence of the Tea Party in 2009 posed two questions. Would the movement capture the Republican party and, if it did, would this strengthen the resistance to Barack Obama’s liberal project or cripple it?

    Liberal project? Really? Is he serious?

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I am curious, who played James Bond in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun?’

    Is it possible to fire a silver bullet with it when you have to defend your cave when commerce stops?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I was just trying to establish the existence of silver bullets and golden guns.

        1. Valissa

          In Ian Fleming’s novel, the golden gun is a long-barreled gold-plated Colt Peacemaker .45-calibre revolver that shoots golden bullets that are jacketed with silver that are cross-cut at the tip on the dum-dum principle for maximum wounding effect.

          Found this article by searching on the key words. Great opening sentence, but mostly apocaphilia of that time after that.

          Risk of Ruin

          Groping in the dark for the golden gun with silver bullets, should they get their hands on it- the Fed, Treasury, and the political bodies at large, may soon discover they have been on their knee’s pleading to engage in a willfully ignorant round of Russian roulette with a fully loaded revolver.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That daydreamer is talking about a goldne gun with silver bullets policy while to the more pratical minded, it about cave defense with golden guns and silver bullets.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            By making man caves part of the public sector, cave men were able to affordable unlimited number of man caves.

            It was an accidental discovery, but boy, was everyone happy after that. No more worrying about hunting bisons where one might lose an arm or a leg.

  6. KFritz

    The bee story is wonderful. Good information and journalism to include a precis of the genesis of killer bees.

  7. young yuppy naively surprised by the confederacy of dunces that run many corporations

    “Anti-PowerPoint revolutionaries unite Lucy Kellaway, Financial Times. Hah, I’m not alone in refusing to do PowerPoint.”

    Millions of hours of work would be liberated if in lieu of Powerpoint, full-length memoranda were circulated beforehand and meetings were just to answer any ambiguities questions not covered. Unfortunately, the majority of people (including lots of decision-makers) stink at expository writing and Powerpoint is the perfect way to hide their inadequacy.

    1. craazyman

      yeah. better start learning how to channel because there’s no way to ever get there by rocket ship. ha ha ha.

      A highpoint in my life was locating Andromeda through my kid’s 200 power refractor scope when I was 12, out in the winter front yard. It was a fuzzy glowing blur the size of a piece of lint. But I found it, and I saw it live. I was a god — briefly.

      I tip my hat to Mr. Suturin.

  8. scraping_by

    Re: Police Chief Resigns

    Paul Stephenson was the one who gave us the volcano of lies when newsagent Ian Tomlinson was clubbed from behind and killed by one of the riot police. Tomlinson was innocent and the police were interfering with a legal demonstration. Everything the police said, about being pelted with rocks while rendering aid, the bogus autopsy, who rendered first aid and how soon, all were proved lies within days. And he was the one who spake all.

    He was apparently enthusiastic shopping each bogus story as the old one went up in smoke. Perfect liar, gave each new fabrication complete sincerity, never once admitted the previous lies had been shot down. Deny, deny, deny.

    There are some grunts in the force who are going to, unfairly, get hosed for doing the technical and manual labor necessary to give News Inc illegal access to British anti-rights technology. There is no need to feel any such sympathy for the head of this fish.

    A good, if short, look at the Tomlinson case:

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Oh, what a tangled web we weave

      when we first practice to deceive

      And when we’ve practiced for a while,

      How we do improve our style!”

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