Links 7/6/11

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Apologies for thinner than usual posts of my own. I’ve had a lot of related-to-blog but not post-generating activities, plus I’m behind the eight ball generally. I’ll be regrouping this week and hope to be closer to normal output soon.

Why Sex With Creatures from the Future Is a Bad Idea PopSci (hat tip reader Lance N). Aren’t a whole bunch of sci-fi plots based on precisely this premise?

The bare-faced truth about big fat liars Independent (hat tip reader Glenn C)

French nuclear power plant explosion heightens safety fears Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

Radioactive Cesium Is Found in Tokyo Tap Water for First Time Since April Bloomberg (hat tip reader May S)

Operating Instructions: The Supreme Court shows corporate America how to screw over its customers and employees without breaking the law Slate

Moment of truth for the eurozone Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Germany’s judges hold the euro’s fate in their hands Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph (hat tip reader Thomas B)

Can Italy Grow Its Way Out of Debt?Credit Writedowns

How Greece’s Political Elite Ruined the Country Der Speigel (hat tip reader Nick B)

Hiding in plain sight: Germany’s Neo-Nazis ditch skinhead look Independent (hat tip reader Jeremy B)

Collateral Transformation Services: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Economics of Contempt (hat tip Richard Smith)

Is Asbestos Defense Anti-Consumer? Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Antidote du jour:

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  1. charles 2

    The 0.14 Becquerel of Caesium 137 per litre is a complete non-event.

    To illustrate this point, because of water treatment, consider that the 90th percentile of potassium concentration of UK water is 5.2 mg per litre (I.e. 10% of UK’s drinking water is above that); 0.0117% of this potassium is potassium 40, a naturally occuring radioisotope that has an activity of 265 Becquerel per mg. So we have : 5.2*0.0117%*265 = 0.16 Becquerel per litre, about the same value. 10% of UK water is structurally more radioactive than Tokyo water !

    1. Sock Puppet

      True but missing the point. Cesium 137 is not naturally occurring. It points to a further failure of containment at fukushima.

      1. ambrit

        Mr Puppet;
        That and that the chain of transmission of radio isotopes is a lot longer and widespread than generally admitted. What’s the half life of Cesium 137 anyway? Nothing being said about that part of it over here, yet. We also need more sampling from our own West Coast, not tainted by ‘official interpretation’ of course.

        1. Agent Vanilla

          Cesium has a 30 year half life. It’s not something you want to be drinking, eating, or breathing at any concentration. It disingenuous to use one radioactive isotope to describe the risk of a different isotope. Some iodide isotopes have a half life of 8 days, cesium isotopes of 2 years, 30 years or 2.7 million years and behave differently in the body. Iodide and potassium concentrates in the thyroid. Strontium concentrates in the teeth and bones. Repeat small cesium exposure to the body is cumulative, and has defined cancer risks:

          The issue is the total cumulative exposure breathing, drinking, and eating cesium. After multiple small doses, you end up with an increased lifetime cancer risk. And from what I can see on the ground here, Tokyo doesn’t have effective contamination procedures in place. There is too much emphasis on “gambarre japan” and “positive attitude” and less emphasis controlling the spread of radiation contaminants in the environment.

          1. ambrit

            Dear A V;
            Thanks for the situation report from the ‘City of Lights.’
            Do take care of yourself. We’ll remember you in our prayers tonight because it’s getting to the point where divine intervention is needed to set things right.

      2. Fifi

        The fact that Cs-137 is an artificial isotope doesn’t matter much.

        Cesium has the same biological behavior as potassium. The body treats them the same. Cs-137 also has about the same energy of disintegration as K-40, the naturally present radioactive isotope of potassium. Actually, it’s a bit less, 1.174 MeV for Cs-137 vs. 1.311 for K-40. So each time an atom of Cs-137 goes ping, the damage is less than if it was an atom of K-40.

        So 1 Bq of Cs-137 from radioactive fallout or 1 Bq of K-40 from natural potassium have the same effect.

        It would be a very different story for strontium Sr-90, because it concentrates in the bones and stays there for a long time. It would also be a very different story for iodine I-131 as it accumulates in the thyroid, the major danger for the population shortly after a nuclear accident.

    2. charles 2

      To put it in broader perspective, the cesium in Tokyo drinking water equals 30 per cent of your recommended daily allowance of this essential nutrient. This has been a public service message from GE Consumer Pacification Services. Better living through teratology!

    3. skippy

      Shezz…give me a base line at least 10K years…so tired of the now or 20/50Y shite, oops observer / observed thingy.

      Skippy…yes the Victorian base line is absolute[!], royalty said so, paid for that is.

  2. ambrit

    Time travel? Ah, ha! The best treatment I ever read was Fritz Leibers’ “Try To Change The Past.” A short story that set off a series of stories based on the paradoxs, pernicious probabilities, and perverse possibilities inherent in the processional pageant. His ‘The Law of Conservation of Reality’ is one of the best literary conceits science fiction ever came up with. That, and, of course, that one of his early books, “Conjure Wife,” was the inspiration for ‘Bewitched.’ Agnes Moorhead never looked so good.

  3. hello

    India’s Supreme Court ordered authorities in the southern state of Kerala to set up a museum to help preserve a treasure worth at least $20 billion discovered at a Hindu temple (left as offerings over the past 700 years).

    financial-related pondering—would India’s development have been different had all this hard currency been in circulation instead of sequestered as offerings? (Much of the treasure was left pre-British colonization.)

    1. aet

      Makes me wonder how rich the churches of Western and Northern Europe would be today had the Reformation not happened. Or Henry VIII’s dispossession of the Abbeys – or the French Revolution, with its stripping of Churchly wealth.

      At least this stuff was not simply carted off by the brits,.

      1. ambrit

        Dear aet;
        Ahem! Read your Dickens my lad. The United Kingdom of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Normandy, Brittainy, and Aquitain [Sic] did indeed make off with a lot of it. The playing fields of Eton are paved with the spoils of the Congress of Vienna. Cheers! (BTW, why do you think the City is epicentre of the world financial implosion and not the Paris Bourse?)

        1. aet

          Well, “Duh”.

          I was referring to this particular pile of treasure under discussion – that’s still where it was when the Brits were around. (Although they may not have known about its size.)

          If I recall my corporate legal history, it was a british decision concerning how to maintain a Hindu temple in India which first sketched out a theory of “artificial personality’, to enable an ‘inhuman” contractor to enforce and be held liable for its agreements.

      1. tyaresun

        “would India’s development have been different had all this hard currency been in circulation instead of sequestered as offerings?”

        No. It would have been carted away to central asia 150 years ago, and to Europe after that. The Hindu temples in the North do not have any treasures in their vaults and you do not see much better living conditions there. In fact, there are relatively few hindu temples left in the North.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      financial-related pondering—would India’s development have been different had all this hard currency been in circulation instead of sequestered as offerings? (Much of the treasure was left pre-British colonization.)


      And it’s still not in circulation if it is in a musuem. I like to think of its time in that Hindu temple as time spent in a musuem storage room.

      My financial pondering leads me to wonder if they should start investigating every Hindu temple there, ruined or otherwise. Find 10 of those and you can buy Greece.

      1. aet

        Could be useful in backing their currency – is not Iran’s currency at present “backed up” by the Persian crown jewels?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe the Fed can persuade them to back up their currency only by the full faith (and credit) of their government, like much of the rest of the world.

          1. aet

            The full faith and credit of any government is strongly fortified by the possession of treasure, is it not?

  4. financial matters

    June 24, 2011

    King at odds with ECB on eurozone crisis

    By Daniel Pimlott

    “”“Providing liquidity can only be used to buy time,” Sir Mervyn said. “Simply the belief, ‘oh we can just lend a bit more’, will never be an answer to a problem which is essentially one about solvency.”

    The UK banking sector is less exposed to Greece than some of its continental peers, including France and Germany. Royal Bank of Scotland, still 83 per cent owned by the UK taxpayer, holds €1.1bn worth of Greek sovereign debt, while HSBC holds €800m, according to Barclays Capital. That compares with a direct sovereign exposure of €5bn at France’s BNP Paribas, and nearly €3bn at Germany’s Commerzbank.””

      1. financial matters

        maybe a red herring..

        “”In the film Casablanca, Rick (Humphrey Bogart) tells Captain Renault (Claude Rains) that he came to the city because of his health, to take the waters. Informed that they are in the desert, Rick ironically replies that he was “misinformed”. Investors and banks that purchased Greek sovereign credit default swap (“CDS”) to protect themselves against the risk of default may find that they have been similarly “misinformed”.””

        1. Skippy

          Some times I model this stuff using hydro-physics engines, for a different prospective.

          Skippy…a few *big* dawgs are drinking and pissing up stream (mining / extraction), out of sight and mind. This is ok (dilution) till hydrological volume is reduced, taint is noticeable, and every thing starts to diminish or die.

          PS. deserts and water…yes…plus oceans, yet can not drink too…methinks.

  5. Tertium Squid

    “Aren’t a whole bunch of sci-fi plots based on precisely this premise?”

    Ha! Since sci/fantasy nerd-dom is pretty much a male realm, this article isn’t so troubling for those plots. FTA:

    “They found that females that mated with males from the past or future died off sooner than those that mated with their own generation.”

    So if the DUDES are okay…

    As for the research itself, what does that say about inter-racial mating? Probably nothing. The sample groups in the study had an estimated difference of 160 generations. There are bloodlines in New Guinea that are likely to have diverged from mine more than 80 generations ago – 3-4 generations per century means 2000-3000 years ago. (Which, since neither of us traveled through time to the present, means more than 160 generations of divergent evolution.) Does this mean that mating between our cohorts is dangerous for women? Doubt it, but who knows.

    I have a strong suspicion that some of what they observe is due to the effects on the shrimp from their hibernation.

    Still, makes for a great headline.

    1. Dave of Maryland

      What you’re saying, I think, is that whores in ports have shorter lives than their sisters. Which I think is the truth.

    2. Cedric Regula

      Finally I have a moment to give this some thought. I think the answer is recreational sex is OK, kind of like with cousins, except without the social stigma, perhaps.

      But serious breeding is probably a no-no. There was that movie that I forgot the name of where hostile space aliens beamed the DNA of a super hot blonde hottie to earth. Considering she was beamed from light years away, that counts as from the future, I think. But then Earth scientists grew her from a test tube, just like the hostile space aliens intended. Her single minded mission was to breed human hybrids.

      Now this chick was bad news. If she didn’t like you, she stuck her tongue thru your forehead and out the back of your head. If she did have her way with you…same ending.

      Don’t know what that has to do with shrimp. I thought that was District 9, and no one would have sex with them.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I believe Der Spiegel is being provincial.

    It should have been, How The World’s Elite Ruined The World.

  7. Cynthia

    “Amazon Drops California Associates to Avoid Sales Tax”:

    This goes to show that Amazon out-competes its brick-and-mortar competitors like WalMart because it has a tax advantage over them, not because it provides superior products and services to its customers. Amazon is clearly profiting from a tax system that’s rigged in its favor. So if Amazon loses its competitive edge over WalMart and other brick-and-mortar retailers when the playing field is leveled with regards taxes, then it should no longer be regarded as a huge moneymaker in the eyes of Wall Street.

    1. Eureka Springs

      As an Arkansan who lives in wal-mart country I buy all kinds of things through amazon because I cannot find these items in any local stores… including wal-mart. Wal mart is cheap – as in poorly made for a not so decent price, it’s generic and limited. It seems to me sales taxes should be collected in the state/point of sale. Why states, including mine, now find the idea of charging sales tax on items sold beyond their borders an acceptable idea is just beyond me. How can they begin to enforce such law efficiently? Why should merchants have 50 state sales tax forms to submit each and every month? Not to forget sales taxes are high in most places already and regressive.

      1. Cynthia

        No doubt that taxing retail products is regressive, Eureka Springs, but it’s very difficult for state governments to increase taxes on property and income. And with so many state governments deep in debt, collecting taxes on retail products bought online will go a long way towards getting them out of debt.

        Online retailers have had the luxury of not having their products taxed, enabling them to become extraordinarily profitable by beating out many of their competitors in the brick-and-mortar space who’s products are taxed. So it’s about time for online retailers to start competing on a level playing field against brick-and mortar retailers, but this can’t happen until their products are taxed at a state level. It would be less complicated and thus more efficient for the federal government to collect taxes on retail products bought online and then distribute a large portion of the revenue generated from these taxes to state governments, but right now we don’t have a tax system like this in place to do this.

        1. propertius

          It would be less complicated and thus more efficient for the federal government to collect taxes on retail products bought online and then distribute a large portion of the revenue generated from these taxes to state governments

          Thus depriving states of an independent source of revenue and further consolidating Federal power. The history of “revenue sharing” in the US suggests it would be only a matter of time before the revenue from such a national tax would be diverted into the general fund, and states would be left with ever-smaller block grants.

          1. Externality

            In order to streamline highway construction, the federal government began collecting fuel taxes and redistributing them to the states. Shortly thereafter, both parties started using the process as a way to impose social and other policies popular with East Coast elites. States that failed to raise their drinking age to 21, support the War on Drugs, lower their speed limit to 55 mph, etc. lost some or all of their highway funding. This practice was upheld by the Supreme Court in a case called South Dakota v. Dole.

            As the feds became more involved in school funding, they began requiring that schools make some student records available to military recruiters, allow recruiters on campus, support the War on Drugs, etc. Schools that refused to comply not only endangered their funding, but that of their entire school district, and in some cases, state.

            A national sales tax system would merely give the federal government the ability to pressure states to comply with an endless stream of diktats from DC. States that even hesitated to comply would face faux hysteria regarding the value of their municipal bonds, tales of schools and hospitals closing, etc. The elites in DC do not need more power.

  8. turning japanese

    >>For vegetables, Japan has a limit at 2,000 becquerel of iodine per kilogram and 500 becquerel of cesium a kilogram.<<

    That's very reassuring. Any limits on the cesium/kg of my own body mass that I can have after eating these vegetables? I thought not. What a country!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For tea leaves, what are the limits?

      By the way, this is the world according to plant smokers/eaters/drinkers:

      Democrats – the grass party
      Republicans – the tea party

  9. David Henderson

    Prussian Blue is approved by the FDA to combine with cesium within the intestine. Its then eliminated.

    Prossian Blue is generic, cheap, and has only one German company manufacturing doses in FDA-approved form.

    1. turning japanese

      So you take prussian blue with every meal from now until whenever? And the cesium in your bones? How do you get rid of that?

  10. Injustice Inc.

    re:Operating Instructions: The Supreme Court shows corporate America how to screw over its customers and employees without breaking the law

    According to the article it also shows corporations how to legally defraud investors (you form a shell corporation to write your prospectus and other communications. Then you can lie as much as you want in them.) Next term: how to screw over shareholders, bondholders, partners, auditors, and suppliers.

    1. propertius

      It seems to me that the Court’s position is that individuals should have no options for redress except extralegal retribution. I think this will end badly.

      1. L.Beria

        With the panopticon up and running this will be a tremendous boon to the private prison industry, which is allowed to enslave its prisoners.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This world badly needs a Non-proliferation of Concentrated Wealth Treaty.

      I mean, I would also like a Non-Proliferation of Useless Research Papers Treaty, but I think that’s too much to ask in one day.

  11. Susan

    Der Spiegel: How Greece’s Elite Ruined the Country. This article, and the one from yesterday about Juncker’s bellicose statement along with a blurb on Credit Slips about Berlin quietly selling off Greek bonds but nobody knows who to: I think I just caught a whiff of the invisible unwashed hands of Goldman Sachs. Why has there been a gag on all info regarding Goldman in this matter. Nothing reallly since it was revealed that GS helped the Greek Kleptos join the EU by issuing currency swaps to hide their debt. Betcha the EU and Germany in particular have been demanding that Goldman step up and buy what is surely going to be a big fat Greek writeoff.

    1. Valissa

      For trash talking on Goldman Sachs check out this Keiser Report episode (27 min.) which focusses on the Greek financial woes. Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis is interviewed for the second half of the show (starts as ~14 min.) The entire show is HIGHLY recommended for both content and entertainment value :)

      The show has an almost smirky style of information delivery and quite a different (from MSM) point of view. It is produced by RT(TV network) note: this wiki article is under dispute, no surprise there given that the Russians fund the network…

      For more on Max Keiser

        1. Glenn Condell

          Max is the site I click to after this one each day. Not nearly as much chewable meat there, more a link fest and a klaxon for Max and Stacy’s refreshingly strident views, but it has lots of interview clips too, and for someone who has to wash the dishes or hang the clothes on a regular basis, it’s good to be able to ingest info hands and eyes-free.

          Virtually everyone I have followed into the entrails of the GFC in the last few years has ended up talking to Max (and he is actually a pretty good interviewer, almost always having read enough of the work of his guest to manage a quite forensic examination of it) – Keen, Hudson, Taibbi, Schiff, Kunstler, Orlov, Ellen Brown and Catherine Austin-Fitts, Mish, Bill Black, Ritholtz, Lira, Ed Harrison, Nicole Foss, Denninger, and now Yanis Varoufakis, who used to work at my Uni and whose ‘Modest Proposal’ for Greece is starting to be noticed and talked about in official circles.

          It is a bit of a surprise really that Yves hasn’t been on (so far as I know). Max’s hyperventilating style might not be her cup of tea and it sometimes irks me too, but it is necessary to have expressions of pure righteous outrage and contempt out there, if only to act as an Overton-window style outlier to help drag the centre away from the lethal status-quo conventional wisdom being peddled by the govt, the media and of course the bankers.

          There is a place for quiet contemplation of this mess and for reasoned debate about responses to it, but we cannot lose sight of those who are both prime architects and beneficiaries of it. Anger and a desire for redress are entirely appropriate here and Max has done more than most to give expression to it.

  12. Dave of Maryland

    Re: Bare Faced Truth About Big Fat Liars.

    Leave it to “science” to ignore the obvious.

    It’s election season next year. The people who will run are frauds, every stinking one of them. How can you know?

    Simple. You get their date of birth, you set up a crude astrology chart. You look for hard aspects to Neptune and maybe Pluto.

    Nails ’em every time. Nixon had Sun opposite Neptune, Capricorn to Cancer. Oppositions are I lie to you because you lie to me. Cold and calculating.

    Tony Blair has Neptune opposite Mercury. Same thing.

    John McCain has Neptune sandwiched between Sun & Venus, all in Virgo. That’s a swindler.

    Bush Jr. has Neptune square his Moon. That’s rose-colored glasses delusion.

    Sarah Palin has Sun square Neptune. She (unlike Nixon & Blair) actually believes what she says, but none of it is real.

    Michele Bachmann, a chart I’ve just now started to work on, has Neptune square Mars. If she gets into office, be afraid. Be very, VERY afraid, as that’s way more nasty than barefaced lies. One book I have describes that as “self-destructive and cruel.”

    Their Wiki pages will give you the data, you can get the chart on-line (set for noon), you can read the result straight out of a book: Sakoian & Acker’s Astrologer’s Handbook, the best $16.00 a political junkie will ever spend.

    So far as the US is concerned, there is hardly a major national figure, in either party, who does not have this tell-tale stain.

    As I mentioned elsewhere, you can have astrology, or you can have elective government, but you cannot have both. Astrology strips away lies, it’s one of its outstanding features. Which is why astrology is banned, always has been, always will be. The rich & powerful want their secrets. Without astrology you must guess, and most of the time you will be wrong.

    They smile and they lie, they smile because they know they lie, and most of all, they smile because they know we’re suckers who believe their lies. With Bush it was literally a sneer. How much more awful can it be?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I have a long way to go in astrology and much to learn.

      Is it good or bad to have Venus opposite Mars?

      And by the way, can we work backwards and find the date of birth date that’s auspicious and with that in hand, go look for our leader like the Tibetans?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Wil that make Vestal Virgins cry?

            Or in the case of the Japanese, the virgin princess at Nonomiya shrine.

          2. ambrit

            Honorable fellow travelers;
            Considering the Japaneese ceremony of ‘Seppuku,’ examining the entrails of bankers will be merely prudent behaviour to make sure that they have adequately “apologized” for their crimes.

      1. James

        Don’t know about Venus and Mars, but a full moon aligned with Uranus is ALWAYS a bad sign, although a very revealing one at that.

        1. Cedric Regula

          Would a Saturn Uranus be a libertarian? Or would Eric Holder be a Saturn Uranus?

          1. Dave of Maryland

            On Thursday morning Yves cried that Obama had betrayed us, had sold Social Security down the river.

            Astrology can stop that. It can reveal what the motivations are, it can show the truth of the matter. The art of being elected is the art of hiding who you really are. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. This problem is inherent in elected government, there is no solution. Astrology is the not only the best tool, it is the only tool. You will find it to be thorough and merciless, but only if you use it.

          2. ambrit

            For some reason this reminds me of Philip K Dicks’ musings on the meaning and efficacy of the ‘I Ching’ embedded in “The Man In The High Castle.” It and Astrology both assume a Jungian ‘Racial Unconscious’ to be at work. Having grown up in a Materialist family, I find such an assumption to be dubious. We all have our little quirks.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The leaders have their own organic farms and people in China are mad?

      There was a time when even the poorest ate organic food.

      I think that was before the arrival of Science.

  13. bryan willis

    best article & comment in reply I have seen on the Murdoch phone hacking.
    What the papers won’t say
    by Peter Oborne
    & comment
    “The excuse that Rebekah Wade/Brooks didn’t know about the phone-hacking because she was on holiday beggers belief.

    If the editor of the biggest-selling Sunday newspaper honestly goes on holiday and doesn’t stay in touch with the office while one of the biggest news stories of the year is happening either demonstrates her downright incompetence or is a prima facie lie.”

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