Links 9/23/11

Faster than light particles found, claim scientists Guardian (hat tip reader barrisj). So if particles can move faster than light, this means our most basic understanding of how things work is wrong (or at best super incomplete). I’ve long thought our cognitive capacities are far too limited for humans to have the foggiest notion of how things really work (I am sure craazyman can do a much better riff on this theme, his smashed pumpkin explanation of egodicity yesterday was spot on).

Opera, Einstein, and Why Economics Is Not a Real Science Peter Dorman, EconoSpeak

Google Unearth: Aussie discovers new treasures from the past – from his office Sydney Morning Herald (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

EU to speed recapitalisation of 16 banks Financial Times. Only the banks that nearly failed the laughably forgiving stress tests.

Spain’s Banking Mess Floyd Norris, New York Times

With a Joint Statement, the Leading Economies Try to Reassure World Markets New York Times. This was the political equivalent of administering a placebo.

Visa, MasterCard to Raise Small-Purchase Fees, Analyst Says Bloomberg (hat tip reader Jim H)

GOP debate: Rick Perry again in the cross hairs in Florida debate Los Angeles Times. Is the plan to bore the electorate to death? A few debates are interesting, but I’m getting debate fatigue, and the election is more than a year away

House approves spending measure opposed by Senate; shutdown possible Washington Post

The men who crashed the world Aljazeera (hat tip reader Glen). If nothing else, a window on how the rest of the world views the financial crisis.

WARREN HITTING UP BANKERS? Politico. You need to scroll down to see this item, but it’s a smear. Expect to see more. Cravath is a white shoe law firm, not a bank, the attorney is a bankruptcy lawyer, Warren is arguably the top bankruptcy professor in the US. So tell me what the problem is?

The real recession never ended MSN Money (hat tip reader Carol B)

Times grow harder for the US working man Financial Times. Buzz Potamkin writes, “They figured that out only now?”

Could Riots Happen Here? Slate (hat tip reader John N)

Herbert Hoover: 1931 Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union Ed Harrison

The Social Contract Paul Krugman. BTW, Krugman was so bummed out about the markets yesterday he needed an antidote du jour. I’ve been bummed out since the crisis was over (or more accurately, since the Obama economics team was appointed, since it was clear nothing would be fixed and we’d have a crappy economy which would hurt a lot of blameless people and another crisis relatively soon). So days like yesterday don’t bother me as much as they ought to. Of course, he has reason to expect people to listen to him, whereas I just tell myself that Sisyphus has the best biceps.

Wells Fargo accused of forging loan documents Las Vegas Review Journal. So much for Wells’ annoying insistence that it is cleaner than the other big banks. Key sentence:

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is expected to file criminal charges against bank and title company employees, as well as notary publics, over allegations of robo signing.

Moody’s Bank Downgrades Assailed as ‘Too-Big-to-Fail’ Persists Bloomberg

Kentucky AG Conway Joins Growing Coalition Backing Schneiderman on Foreclosure Fraud Dave Dayen (hat tip reader Carol B). Further confirmation that the settlement talks are not a happening event (save maybe some “peace with honor” face saving efforts).

Countrywide protected fraudsters by silencing whistleblowers, say former employees iWatchNews (hat tip reader Deontos)

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader wawawa). This struck me as particularly funny, in part because the dove employs precisely the same tactic my Abyssinian Blake uses on me, save he goes for very hard head butts to the back of my head accompanied by aggressive purring (this is a feline version of plausible deniabilty: “I’m not being a jerk, really. I like you and I’d like you even better if you got up and fed me.”). And my reactions are a lot like the cat’s.

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  1. toxymoron

    Re: Faster than light particles found.
    All of this domainof physics is taken over by cognitive capture, even worse than in climate change, economics or finance. To put it simple: the theory of ‘relativity’ (“Einstein”) requires space to be without energy, while the theory of quantum mechanics (“quarks”, “bosons”) requires space to be full of energy. Between the two is a gaping hole, about 90 orders of magnitude in size, ie larger than the size difference of a neutrino and all of the universe.
    This incompatibility means that at least one of these theories is wrong and perhaps both. You will never admit a physicist admitting such a thing. Worse, for the last eighty years, they have been trying to build a grand theory of everything (“the standard model”), including both quarks and gravity, so ignoring this total contradiction.
    And you can’t even start to explain, because you don’t understand the maths they use.
    Don’t expect changes soon. We all laugh about the ‘math’ being used in economists’ models, but physicists look more and more like ‘economists with maths’: totally wrong.

    1. aet

      How is the publication of this research evidence of “cognitive capture”?

      Wouldn’t it be stronger evidence of the “cognitive capture” of the discipline of physics if such research were un-reported and ignored?

      I think that people who think that ALL science is erroneous are the ones suffering “cognitive capture”.

      Such people are expressing their prejudice that people actually do not know, and in fact can never know, anything at all; that is to say, they express their prejudice for intellectual nihilism, which just so happens on the social and legal plane to allow the vigorous and powerful, in any society which adopts that view of science, to have things arranged as they dictate they should be. What could be argued against them, if all science is in error?

      They advocate a “we-can-know-nothing” philosophy, adopted and advocated to help a “do-nothing” political leadership – to do nothing NOW, that is, to help those harmed by policies which they adopted in their GW Bush “know-it-all” phase – when they DID NOT CARE what people had to say about what they did, “because you don’t know what we know”.

      Now, the line is, “no one can know anything, so we must do nothing differently”.

      Yeah, right: just like they now say that the reason that right-wing policies have failed to produce prosperity, or even to maintain what prosperity there was, is because they were not right-wing enough.

      They advocate that we abandon rationality as a guide for social and political action. “Science proves that science is wrong”, they say.

      IMHO it is NOT science which is in error when people speak so.

      1. JohnanB

        Seems as I get older I watch “science” (the dreaded generalization) fall into the trap more and more where “theory” is portrayed as fact. Having seen many of the things I was taught as a child either re-canted in their entirety or found to be a very small part of a larger picture has led me to understand science is almost always a work in progress and subject to revision. There was however a time not all that long ago when scientists understood this as well and hedged accordingly.

        1. aet

          t Yes – science is all about the details, much less about the “big picture”. For journalists, and their readers, such detail is tedious – and this has repercussions on how science is viewed by the public. The eyes glaze over, as science IS specialized and technical, by and large.

          As to the science of economics, imho it would be well to remember that postulated “rational economic behaviour” differs from culture to culture, and perhaps even within the same culture, from time to time.

          What is the “rational” thing to do with money found in the street?


          How’s about those who turn it in, and subsequently don’t claim even if no one comes forward later to claim it? Is that ‘”economically rational”?

        2. alex

          “science is almost always a work in progress and subject to revision”

          Very true, and very important to keep in mind.

          “There was however a time not all that long ago when scientists understood this as well and hedged accordingly.”

          I’m not so sure there was ever a golden age of scientific humility.

          The problem though with educating people about the “work in progress and subject to revision” nature of science is to make it clear that there is a vast range of certainty or uncertainty about different scientific ideas. The recently reported and fascinating discovery of miRNA in the food we eat affecting gene expression is in a very different category from theories that have withstood centuries of scrutiny. Yet some people will take the tentative nature of scientific “truth” to mean it’s all a bunch of easily dismissed guesswork, while others take every utterance by somebody in a white lab coat as gospel.

        3. BondsOfSteel

          This doesn’t mean that science was wrong… only incomplete.

          When I studied electromagnetics, I was surprized to learn that most of the equations we leared in the 101 classes were generalized, dumbed down versions. For instance, Ohm’s law, I=V/R is really a generalization… I, V, and R are really tied to differental equations, and the simple version is tied to the concept of Free Space. Once you go into the real world, the constants in the diffEQs are no longer zero and the differences are large enough to matter.

          Neutrinos are qirkly little things, with very little mass and energy. Maybe the diffEQs matter… who knows. But it’ll be exciting to find out :)

          1. Lyman Alpha Blob

            “This doesn’t mean that science was wrong… only incomplete.”

            Exactly right! Those arguing that science bears some similarity to religion because both require some “faith” in the unseen simply do not understand what science is and are likely confusing the scientific definitions of “theory” and “hypothesis”.

            Isaac Newton wasn’t wrong. He just wasn’t exactly right and Einstein improved on his theories. But Newton’s theories were a perfectly good predictor for the events that could be measured empirically at the time. I’m assuming all those equating science with religion in this thread do not use a GPS, since it incorporates what is just a “theory”, ie relativity, in getting them from one place to another accurately.

            Any good scientist will admit what they do not know. If they don’t they aren’t really a scientist. I am not a scientist but my own admittedly dilettante-ish impression is that there is something very Ptolemaic about the Standard Model of particle physics. But we don’t have to just decide on my word against several decades of theories by physicists, we do experiments to find out who is right. And those experiments are being done right now at the Large Hadron Collider among others. My understanding is that the LHC does have the required energy to find the elusive Higgs boson (aka The God Particle) that would help complete the Standard Model. But they haven’t found it yet and there are reports that the likelihood of finding it is becoming smaller. And scientists are OK with that. A big part of science is not just proving a theory, but ruling out ones that don’t stand up to empirical evidence. I’m sure there are many careers that will be ruined if the Higgs doesn’t show, but science as a whole is OK with there being no “God Particle”. They will eventually find a new theory to explain the evidence, much like Einstein improved upon Newton and others have and will improve upon Einstein. Would a priest or a rabbi or an imam be OK with admitting there was no God? There’s been no empirical evidence for one in the thousands of years of historical record documenting religion and yet these people still persist in their beliefs despite no evidence whatsoever. That’s the difference between religion and science.

            Many economists suffer from similar delusions as religious leaders – they continue to espouse theories even when those theories have no basis in fact and have been shown to be wrong. Of course, it’s often directly related to the material well being of both economists and religious charlatans to hold the beliefs that they do. Don’t know of too many multi-millionaire and billionaire particle physicists though.

            If anyone wants to read a great book on science, check out cosmologist Sean Carroll’s take on entropy and the arrow of time called From Eternity to Here. After reading it I didn’t have a much better understanding of what entropy is than when I started and it was especially frustrating to read the first third or so. Then Carroll made a comment to the effect that readers might be tempted to add to the entropy of the universe by throwing the book in their hands into the fireplace out of frustration that it spends so much time talking about how much we don’t really know. After that I was hooked. While neither I nor the author nor many scientists can say exactly what entropy is, after reading the book I have a much better understanding of what it is not, and that’s a good part of the battle. He also explains quite well how science is in fact attempting to fix the contradictions between many of the leading 20th century theories.

            First comes the hypothesis. Then come the engineers. if the expected results match the actual empirical results, you’re a lot closer to a scientific theory. That’s how science works.

          2. propertius

            Assuming, of course, that the results can be replicated and that there isn’t some fundamental flaw in the experimental design. Newspaper reports are inadequate to determine this (and I haven’t read the paper yet, in fact I’m not sure it’s been posted).

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Is it OK to turn in incomplete work?

            If we don’t know yet whether the Space Shuttle is safe, should we still launch it?

            If we don’t know if another country is really planning something dangerous, should we still launch an invasion?

            If we don’t know the side effects, should we still launch that drug?

            If we don’t know if high speed particle collison would destroy the universe, should we still go ahead with that?

            Remember, betting on a $100 million sovereign debt that has a 50% chance of going totally bust will cost you at most, $50 million.

            Betting on the rupture of the the space time continuum and the destruction of the universe (damage = infinity as far as I am concerned) at 10 to minus googolplex probability, the damage is INFINITE as any number times infinity is still infinity.

            It would be arrogant of science to claim imcomplete knoweldge and act like it’s complete.

          4. Lyman Alpha Blob

            I think you’re creating a straw man there by accusing scientists of arrogance for claiming complete knowledge of anything. Often claims of arrogance are made by those who haven’t read what the actual scientists have to say. The ones I read express doubt and skepticism all the time.

            I’ll give you this – it’s my belief that human beings will never be able to definitively prove anything. My favorite philosopher David Hume said something to that effect. You may have observed the sun come up every single day of your life and every single person you know tells the same story. But you can’t prove that it will come up tomorrow. The best you can say is that there is an extremely high probability that it will based on the knowledge at hand. The laws of physics may accurately describe the motions of heavenly bodies, but you can’t prove that those laws are immutable. They could change tomorrow. ( or yesterday if these FTL neutrinos turn out to be correct, which I doubt)

            This philosophy came well before quantum mechanics came along making similar claims about uncertainty – there is no way to ever know everything about anything because the observation itself throws off the results. The best you can do is estimate the probabilities to a very high degree of accuracy.

            But in my opinion, if we don’t want to remain stagnant vegetables, we have to go with the best we have to work with. Show me a “50 million” in nature for example. Or even a “2”. You can’t because they don’t exist. They are conventions developed by human beings to describe what we see around us, but they work for what we need to get done.

            I mean, you can’t prove that you won’t trip getting out of bed in the morning and knock your head on the counter and die. So why risk getting out of bed? :)

            For those who distrust mathematics, this story by Ted Chiang is a really fun read. What would happen if suddenly you could prove that 1=2 and that the foundations of mathematics are completely wrong? – Division by Zero.

          5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It’s probably my writing.

            I wanted to say, they claim incomplete knowledge but act like they have complete knowledge.

            To recreate big bang will be one example with its very, very, very, very, very, very, very small probability of inflicting infinite damage.

            I am sorry. It’s not the probability.

            It’s the probability times the damage that gives you the probable damage. And infinite damage times a very small number is still infinite damage.

    2. K Ackermann

      You’ll see some scientists admit the problem. Roger Penrose sees a radical change to the theories as inescapable – as obviously you do, and should.

    3. Richard Kline

      So toxymoron, I agree with you broadly though I might emphasize some pieces differently. General relativity explains some things very well, particularly key experimental results of its time. But there was a lot it didn’t explain, and incongruous experimental evidence cropped up over the generation following. So the magnificent crutch of quantum mechanics was mathed up. Quantum mechanics has the beauty of very accurately gauging more recent experimental evidence—while having the rather large flaws of neither any theoretical grounding whatsoever nor a way of reconciling its approach with general relativity, as you say. Physicists admit all this, but dash it all they are about doing experiments, and to get the funding for their exceedingly expensive experiments they have to sound confident, so confident they sound.

      The modest fact, rather like a plutonium mouse in the bedding, that _neither_ theory can explain sensible is gravity. This inability to explain a fundamental dynamic indicates that, yes, _neither_ theory is fully ‘right.’ In particular, the ‘particles, we just need more particles’ approach of the Standard Model of the last fifty years has been an ever deepening theoretical hole in the ground. I’ve been waiting for some clever theoretician to get past it, get over it, or get around it, but no, they’re all trained in the same stuff and it’s groupthink to the x. So it was going to be wildly divergent experimental evidence that punched a vector through existing theory. Maybe that’s what we have now.

      Hey, just try turning spacetime inside out: things fall into place, that’s my view of it . . . .

      1. toxymoron

        Look at it this way. The Ptolemean world view (earth at center, with the sun, the moon and the planets running in circles around it), was a good model. If you knew the relative position of, say, the moon and Mars, you deduce the positions of Venus or Jupiter. But even the ancient Greeks knew it was wrong, as observations did not match the model. So they added circular orbits on top of circular orbits to explain away the mismatch between theory and observation.
        Today, we get Schrödinger cats, 11-dimensional strings and so on, but not the beginning of an alternative solution.
        Look at cosmology, same problem. For the Big Bang to work, you need 3 or 4 ‘miracles’ (the cause of the Big Bang, the cause of the Inflation that followed shortly thereafter, dark energy, and dark matter).
        So modern physics seems closer to magic and miracles than the 19th century science on which our modern world is built.

        1. Valissa

          I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men’s minds without their being aware of the fact. — Claude Levi-Strauss

          Since the quantum world is invisible to the human eye and therefore not literally real in the same way a car engine is, for example, much imagination is needed to describe any theories about it. In this way, the quantum world is much like any mythical world… dependent on it’s believers agreed upon stories.

          1. craazyman

            so true. so true.

            Patrick Harpur explains it all in his masterwork “Diamonic Reality.” I found it in the New York library, by accident.

            Just don’t read it when you’re by yourself on a dark and stormy night in an old house with the shutters banging in the wind, or you might scare yourself half to death.

            That’s what happened to me, and it wasn’t even an old house or very windy or even raining. There was a deer making wild calls and it came up to the window in the dark where I was reading in bed, and at first I thought it was a demon just messing with me for penetrating its veil with my consciousness. I was scared half out of my mind. Now I’m used to this kind of thing, but it took a while. ha ha.

          2. Valissa

            hey craazyman, I think it was on your recommendation here in the comments section some time last year that I bought Daimonic Reality. Agreed that it is an excellent book and he has a very clever way of attempting to describe the Collective Unconscious Imagination/The Otherworld/NOR (a Michael Harner term, NOR=Non Ordinary Reality). Perhaps my favorite term is Mundus Imaginalis coined by French philosopher-theologian Henri Corbin, although I suspect he would not approve of the intellectually sloppy and indiscriminate way I use it… LOL…

    4. Moopheus

      ” You will never admit a physicist admitting such a thing. ”

      What? Trying to understand the gap between relativity and quantum mechanics has been the topic of major research programs for decades. Books have been written about it. String theory and other even more exotic theories have been proposed to account for it. Scientists are well aware that science is not complete; it’s why they keep going to work in the morning.

      1. Richard Kline

        Nah, the physicists just want relativity and quantum mechanics to kiss and make up; it’s all theoretical ‘counseling.’ The idea that one of them needs to gut the other with a positron beam or just start banging a third party doesn’t turn physicists on at all. String theory was just a fancy fudge to make everything work, fer instance, rather than a way to figure out a) why everything didn’t work, and b) throw out much of everything for something odd and new. Physicists are terrified of being thought ‘queer’ for trying something really different, so it’s all hairsplitting of the orthodoxy positions and such.

        1. Typing Monkey

          Physicists are terrified of being thought ‘queer’ for trying something really different, so it’s all hairsplitting of the orthodoxy positions and such.

          It’s not that simple. String theory is one of three major possibilities that is seriously being considered (and, IMO, the least likable of them). I’m not sure why the general public jumped on this particular bandwagon, but as usual, the majority of the public is likely to be wrong :)

    5. craazyman

      just think how tragic it would be if physics ever nailed nature completely, with one seamless perfect model, that explained everything.

      that would be the worst intellectual crisis imaginable.

      what would physicists do then?

      become economists? ah ahhaha hahahaha ahahahah

      1. Jim Haygood

        Wasn’t it an ex-physicist economist who proposed the ‘pushing on a string theory’?

        We’ve got the problem all jocked out … now we just need the ten-dimensional matrix equations!

      2. Valissa

        errr, excuse me but the there is some question whether physics seeks to explain the natural world. Much of physics is very un-natural just like much of religion… LOL

        “one seamless perfect model, that explained everything”

        That would be monotheism. Since I am not a monotheist I do not believe in supremely perfect models of reality. Life is messy and multifaceted. As below, so above ;)

        btw, I have never “believed in” the Big Bang Theory. Is it just me, or does that sound like the result of mental masturbation taking the place of real life sexuality?

        1. craazyman

          I think you’re on to something.

          When you look at the world through rose colored glasses, everything is pink. :)

          I think a lot of guys have that problem, even ones that aren’t physicists and especially when we start drinking, but it’s Nature’s fault.

          1. Valissa

            The facts is that all of us humans were “created” as the result of a “big bang” experience (our parent’s sexual activity). So it’s a very appealing and natural seeming meme/myth which has very ancient sources.

            From ancient Egyptian mythology, the story of the god Atum is illustrative:

            As one of the cosmic Neteru [Egyptions word for gods], Atum is not born from anyone and so he has no navel. … His mystery is the very first, the original impulse behind manifestation. Before Atum there is no material universe, there is only nonbeing, and no separation of one thing from another. The primordial elements exist in darkness, they have not yet become perceptible as physical substance.

            Atum is the sacred fire of life that rises from the primordial waters of Nu to form a hill, which he himself becomes… Through the power of this fire Atum stands … and projects himself outward so that he is born into the world. “He took the phallus in his grasp that he might create joy in himself, bringing about the twins Shu and Tefnut.” (Budge, 1969) [note: shu=dry, tefnut=moist] …

            The seed that Atum projects from himself is identical with the Sanskrit ‘bindu’, the concentration of cosmic creativity in an infinitesimal point or seed.

          2. craazyman

            I have had that exact same line of thinking and in fact, just today, I was also considering how much more appealing American Indian and other world creation myths are than the Big Bang. It’s maybe not that strange how the Big Bang is so western linear rationalist and brittle in its formalism, hovering over a fantastic underlying propensity for irrationality as the agent of its energy. I don’t trivialize the incredible achievement of western rationalist thinking from Greek geometry to Quantum Mechanics, but clearly there’s a limit beyond which it just cannot go, as the Greeks themselves said, and beyond that limit is probably where the most profound truths of the universe live and they seem to find their natural form in stories more than in numbers. BTW, it sounds like Atum needs a girlfriend or at least a trip to a massage parlor. LOL.

    6. Peripheral Visionary

      “Cravath is a white shoe law firm, not a bank, the attorney is a bankruptcy lawyer, Warren is arguably the top bankruptcy professor in the US. So tell me what the problem is?”

      What blog am I on?

      I really don’t think we should have to explain this. Cravath is heavily dependent on the continuing health of the banking industry, as are the other white-shoe law firms, as bankers are their first and best clients. They need the bankers to stay in business and be as profitable as possible. That they see her in a favorable light speaks volumes.

      To be blunt, I think the progressive left needs to brace itself for disappointment on Warren. The fact is, despite some insightful research, she is deeply immersed in the wealthy class of bankers, lawyers, academics, and politicians, and cannot help but see things from their perspective. It is extremely telling that the video that sent the lefty blogosphere into a tizzy had her highlighting the social obligations of a factory owner (must be a proverbial one – there aren’t many of the real thing left in Massachusetts) – not a banker, not a lawyer, not a politician. That speaks volumes. For her, “the rich” equals factory owners; not, apparently, the bankers, lawyers, and academics who form her social circle.

      Again, the left should brace itself for disappointment from Warren. And, ideally, start looking for someone with dirt under her nails who hasn’t spent a lifetime in the closed circle of banking, law, academia, and government.

      1. Peripheral Visionary

        My apologies, this should have been a general item rather than a response to the very insightful discussion regarding science. :)

        1. Valissa

          Thanks for your very imsightful comment on Elizabeth Warren, regardless of where in the thread it ended up :)

          She is most definitely one of the neo-liberal elites… looks the part, talks the part, acts the part. Because of this the fact that she claims she “feels the pain” of the middle class and wants to be their champion in the senate always ends up feeling very artificial to me despite my really wanting to believe her. In a subtle way it is condescending (as elites, esp. from Harvard, typically are unconsciously) the way she wants to help the “little people”/middle class. But this is her brand so she’s going to run with the storyline and maybe she even believes she can “help” us as a byproduct of her ascending to the House of Lords… you know, noblesse oblige and all that perhaps coming back into style [cough, cough, gag].

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        First, I have been very critical of Warren’s becoming a tool of the Dems.

        Second, did you bother reading the Policito snippet? Might help before accusing me of being wrong. The piece says Warren is “hitting up bankers”. I’m sorry, it is NOT hard to explain that Cravath is a law firm. And I don’t care WHAT barmy definition you use, Cravath is NOT a bank and an attorney at Cravath is NOT a banker. The charge is inaccurate on its face.

        The evidence is that it is ALSO inaccurate in characterization. The lawyer in question has known Warren for some time. It is logical for Warren to hit up/get donations from people she knows personally.

        Third, you have NO idea whether this particular attorney represents creditors (banks) or debtors (the companies going bust). So his clientele may not be banks. Cravath is known as an M&A firm in particular, and debtor work typically involves asset sales (go look at the business of the top debtor advisory boutiques like Gordian Group, for instance).

        1. Valissa

          I could not find the bit on Warren over at Politico, after extensive searching. The link you provided had nothing on her as far as I could see (and I scrolled down as directed). Also could not find any articles via Google News search with the title you gave above. However, when I tried searching on her name and Cravath this is what I found.

          Elizabeth Warren Campaign Already Hitting Snags

          But she is also looking to the financial community to raise money. An email from Cravath, Swain & Moore Partner Richard Levin, who heads their restructuring practice to banking colleagues endorses Warren as “a thoughtful, unselfish, rational advocate for the economic interests of the middle class…She isn’t anti-bank. Rather, based on her extensive work studying the consumer financial system, she understands the need for rational regulation to correct inadequacies and simplify the market in consumer finance.”

          You might also find this article on Warren and political sexism in MA of interest.

          Elizabeth Warren faces surprising headwinds

          In some ways I can see his point, but a counter indicator is that in the 2008 Dem primaries Hillary won MA despite huge Obama support from Deval Patrick, Kerry, etc.

          btw, I would assume peripheral visionary knows your stance on Warren and was speaking to the left in general.

          1. Yves Smith Post author


            The implication of the piece is that the Cravath partner is part of her formal fundraising apparatus and the letter effectively came from her. There’s NO evidence of that (in fact, from what I can tell, she’s way behind the eight ball in organizing her fundraising). In fact, the absence of further specifics (was this letter for a big ticket dinner where he is on the fundraising committee? Is he part of one of her campaign committees? No mention of ANYTHING along those lines) is telling.

            And who are “banking colleagues”? How does Politico know who was on the distribution list for this letter? He might have been dumb enough to show who the recipients were, but I doubt it. And although it is spin-meistering to say she is pro consumer rather than anti-bank, you ALSO need to understand that there are a lot of people in what are often incorrectly depicted as “banks” (investment managers, hedgies) who are hugely pissed off at the predatory conduct of the TBTF banks. A colleague contacting sympathetic people in the financial services industry is not proof of the Politico allegation, of some sort of sellout.

            I’ll admit she is and has gone overboard in trying to present what she wanted to do at the CFPB as a win/win (no way it could be ultimately, an effective consumer regulator would stop bank looting) and I see that as troubling. I’m bothered at her trying to run from controversy when being effective involves controversy.

            But she DID have a lot of community banks in her camp, or did you forget that part? They tend to market on being nicer and more honest than the big banks.

            You need to understand that Politco is a tool of Wall Street. I have a piece underway that is going to run tonight on this topic.

          2. Valissa

            Yves, of course I know that Politico is a “tool” as is are the MSM outlets in general. I don’t read it that often for that very reason, and when I do I take all info with several grains of salt. Plus, as I explained… I never read the Politico piece because I couldn’t find it! I gave you the link I read about Cravath which was from a different source. Your response did not really address anything I said. It was not my intention to add to your annoyance, and was actually looking for some further discussion based on the add’l links I provided.


          3. Valissa

            Yves, perhaps you could provide the text of the Politico bit that you are objecting to (I checked the link again and, nada). Then maybe I would understand your points better… or maybe someone else could be so kind as to provide that text or a link that gets you to it so I can actually read it for myself. Then I might possibly understand what the fuss is all about.

          4. Valissa

            Thanks for the link LucyLu, but that article says the same thing that I just excerpted above from a different article on the subject. What I am trying to understand is why this particular piece of political gossip is so upsetting to Yves. It’s just gossip, it was hard to find anyway, and it’s no worse than any other mostly-not-quite-true political gossip or MSM propaganda. Obviously some people will try to smear Warren and some will glorify her – that’s politics. So what is the big deal about it?

          5. Yves Smith Post author


            Don’t you recognize a smear when you see one? Just because it is couched as “gossip” does not mean it is benign. This is classic Rove, they are trying to go at her strong point.

      3. LucyLulu

        I have been following Ms. Warren for well over a year, and you won’t find anybody who would rather see criminal prosecutions of bankers than me. I don’t understand the problem with this piece. Anybody, and particularly in this economy, can go bankrupt and need an attorney to help sort out their affairs. Many, many banks have gone under in the last few years, and most notably, they haven’t been the big six, but the ones on main street. And yes, even they deserve to have representation. The email recommendation stated that Dr. Warren advocated fair regulation, not preferential treatment. Fair regulation, and enforcement of those regulations, is what consumers need, no more and no less.

        Implying that using a factory owner as an example is a sign she wouldn’t go up against more ‘professional’ elites is making an unsupported assumption. If you look at her past record over the last 20 years, nobody has fought as hard for consumer rights as Dr. Warren, particularly in the credit card arena….. to increase disclosure and transparency and reduce predatory interest and fees. There has been no sign up to this point that she has been corrupted by her associations with the rich and the powerful, and shouldn’t we consider her innocent until proven guilty? Okay, so she is smart and talented and has managed to become successful at what she does. (And it wasn’t handed to her on a silver platter, she comes from a working class family herself.) Should she be ashamed for not having rough hands? How can an industry ever get cleaned up if nobody with integrity who understands the financial world ever fights for changes? At least give her a chance to fail before you condemn her.

    7. invient

      Just to throw a few theories, other than string/M, and see where the discussion goes…

      1.) Vanishing Dimensions Theory –> i.e. the further we look back, the less and less dimensional the universe appears to be… My money is on this one, just because it is the most testable.

      2.) Garret Lisi’s E8 Theory –> its nice, but unlikely.

    8. Benedict@Large

      This is all much ado about nothing. The particle was obviously some sort of new and exotic derivative, except that instead of making risk magically disappear, it made distance disappear.

    9. DocG

      The media are continually over-hyping anything that might look sensational. I seriously doubt that this finding will hold up. Neutrinos have been measured in every possible way, many thousands and possibly millions of times and such a result has never before been reported. From the account given in the article it looks like a very simple minded experiment was conducted and could easily have been misguided.

      As far as Relativity vs. Quantum mechanics is concerned, by now it looks very much like these two “rival” theories are BOTH right. The relation between the two can be characterized as “complementary,” to borrow Bohr’s terminology. Imo there will never be a unified theory of the universe because the universe is axiomatically complementary, along several different axes (no pun intended).

  2. Diego Méndez

    Floyd Norris’ article on the Spanish banking mess is an excellent recap.

    I am glad to hear my country’s regulators aren’t telling as many lies as elsewhere. I am afraid this won’t change things, since problems are way bigger than a single, medium-sized country could ever resist.

    But resist ’til the very end we must.

    1. Jim Haygood

      On the sign in front of the apartment project:

      NUEVO TRES CANTOS (‘three new songs’, if I understood correctly). And a happy family dancing to the beat!

      Spanish developers are so lyrical. Too bad it turned out to be their swan song.

    1. Tyzao

      Interesting, I was always more of a Leibniz fan and his ideas about Monadism, and the particles of “sand” in all things…besides he was a lawyer, businessman, and a presumedly a lot more — so much better to go the way of the Renaissance man, than the Mad scientist…after all, they aren’t really mad scientists anyways, just mad engineers once you think about it

      1. citizendave

        A philosophical approach has always seemed more sensible to me. A PhD in physics is a Doctor of Philosophy. We cannot reproduce the origin of the universe in the lab. I like to ponder the question “what problem does this universe solve?” (My opinion is that the solution is “bodies” — atoms, stars, planets, humans.) Quantum mechanics and string theory and the rest are interesting, but those lines of inquiry are but sub-texts in the whole verse. To my way of thinking, it’s like analyzing a flea on the elephant’s hide. It tells us very little about the elephant.

        As for us humans being able to comprehend this universe, one of my professors pointed out that because we are organic to the universe, we share in whatever qualities the universe has, and so it is at least plausible that we would be able to discover our own true nature.

        Since you mentioned Leibniz, I think about him when I think about the problem of trying to discover the origin of the ideas which appear before my mind’s eye. The ideas seem to originate within my own mind, but all I can say with confidence is that I experience my mental phenomena. When I go looking for the mechanics of the projection room, at least when I am sober, I find a deep mystery.

  3. Richard Kline

    That work in satelitte-resolution archaeology is way cool. We be clever monkeys: find a tool, and we find a use for it.

  4. Jim Haygood

    From Ed Harrison’s post of Hoover’s 1931 speech:

    No external drain on our resources can threaten our position, because the balance of international payments is in our favor; we owe less to foreign countries than they owe to us; our industries are efficiently organized; our currency and bank deposits are protected by the greatest gold reserve in history.

    We can only dream about being in this position today.

    Note that Frank Roosevelt ran against Hoover the following year on an orthodox balanced budget (i.e., Austerian) platform. He just wasn’t serious about it!

  5. Richard Kline

    The Slate article on the precipitation of riots is quite good. It contains, however, a link to a paper by Duncan Watts on behavior cascades in crowds which is seriously interesting, and worth anyone’s time to click through to the .pdf and peruse. Sez I.

  6. parascientist

    Regarding “Google Unearth: Aussie discovers new treasures from the past – from his office”

    Since about 2003, I’ve been using Google Maps and Bing Maps to find previously unrecognized segments of glacial moraines in southern NE. It works for me. I’m just an amateur.

  7. Phil

    23 cents to purchase a $2.00 item? The answer to this problem is very simple. It’s called going into your
    bank and talking to the teller and withdrawing CASH.

    For large purchases we pull a check out of our wallet and use it at a merchant that knows us and trusts us. If for some reason on the rare occasion where they won’t take a check, we announce to the cashier that they are going to lose 4 to 6% to the credit card company. The manager will usually intervene and take the check.

    The only time we ever use credit cards is to buy gas
    from company owned stations. No fees ever paid, checks written to pay the credit card placed in the U.S.Mail.
    We get things back…total cost? 12 .44 cent stamps a year.

    It takes a little time every month but it’s fun to know
    that everyday economic transactions can hobble the bastards that are ruining our country.

    Merchants appreciate cash too, it simplifies things for them and raises their profit margins on what’s sold.

    Don’t complain about swipe charges, find a small local bank that offers free checking and make a point to withdraw cash.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      I’ve recently been part of a “Cash for Charity” promotion, in which we encourage customers of local businesses to pay with cash, and we the businesses then give 2% of all cash payments to a group of local charities, the most prominent being a local youth homeless shelter.

      Seems to kill a few birds with one stone…

    2. aletheia33

      fees on purchases that merchants are forced to pay to credit card companies are significantly hurting the economies of small towns.

  8. Max424

    YS: “…whereas I just tell myself that Sisyphus has the best biceps.”

    Too funny.

    Sisyphus was a motherfucking house, there’s no doubt about it. I myself, am not a house; I’m built more on the lean and wiry side, so I can’t be pushing boulders destination mountaintop — I’d break long before I didn’t …quite…complete… my appointed task (if there was one).

    But what I can do, is I can play pool. So I’ve decided; I’m going to play a game of straight pool, to infinity, against an imaginary opponent.

    There’s no telling what the outcome will be. Right now, I’m ahead 4,328 to nothing — so I’m feeling pretty good. But I have a sneaky suspicion, this nagging thing at the back of the brain, that somehow, someway — some tragic day! — the table rolls will turn against me, and I will fail in the end (if there is one), to run em all out.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s interesting it’s not 20% or 2 times faster than the speed of light but just a little bit faster.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From the first link, also interesting:

      And when it does, because of how hugely energetic these neutrinos are, you produce either a muon (for a mu-neutrino) or an electron (for an electron-neutrino) that’s moving close to the speed of light in vacuum, and faster than the speed of light in your liquid!

      When you move faster than the speed of light in a medium, you give off a special type of light known as Čerenkov radiation. If you line the outer rim of your neutrino detector tank with photomultiplier tubes, you can not only detect this radiation, you can use the information from it to reconstruct exactly where and when, in your tank, this neutrino interacted with one of your atoms!
      Now, in the past, we’ve found that these neutrinos move, more or less, at the speed of light in vacuum (c), as expected. One experiment based out of Chicago, a few years ago, found marginal evidence that neutrinos might move just a tiny bit faster than the speed of light, at 1.000051 (+/- 0.000029) c.


      So, it has been done before?

  9. Jessica

    Lee Smolin in his book on string theory makes two interesting points.
    1) That string theory has remained unproven far longer than any previous major theory. In the past, core theories were either proven or disproven fairly quickly. By the way, his history of major physics theoretical advances was fascinating because the described what physics was facing before each breakthrough. In university, I learned in terms of what we knew afterwards, which is good for learning the physics but not as good for learning the “epistemology of physics”.
    2) Because there are far more PhDs than tenure positions available, the aging dinosaurs have much more control over the research of up-and-coming physicists, so paradigm shifts are much more difficult. This may account for the
    “cognitive capture”.
    Thanks for the explanation of relativity=empty, quantum mechanics=full. I never saw it explained that way. Fascinating parallel with Tibetan Buddhist cosmology. (Not that one proves the other.) By the way, the Tibetans do not resolve the contradiction in their cosmology either.
    The notion of a new theory that went beyond reconciling relativity and quantum mechanics is also new to me. I have read a lot of what is written in this area for amateurs, but it does all seem to stay with the realm of “relationship counseling”. Relativity is from Mars, quantum mechanics is from Venus kind of stuff.

    1. Fraud Guy

      One quibble on this.

      The Earth centered solar system was first postulated in ancient Greece. The data to confirm this was not found until the 1400’s. That would be a considerably longer time from wild-eyed theory to accepted mainstream idea than string theory.

      1. toxymoron

        The ancient Greeks had three models: earth-centered, sun-centered, and the ‘real’ one. They (mainly Aristotle, iirc) choose the earth-centered model for philospohical reasons (man is center of the universe), and they were convinced that the orbits must be circular, as the circulat orbit was ‘perfect’; but there own observations put a lie to that. And so they added orbits on orbits on orbits, as making the model more complex was easier to do than admitting they selected the wrong model.
        The vision of Jupiter’s satellites put that model to death, but a number of people refused even to watch through Galileo’s telescope, so that they could maintain their illusions.

  10. Up the Ante

    “You’re looking at it and you’re going, Oh my God, how did it get to this point?” Foster recalls. “How do you get people to go to work every day and do these things and think it’s okay?”

    It’s called the Bush effect. When it became evident they DID intend to invade Iraq, and you’ll note it was quite international in response, the fraudsters kicked out the jams w/Bush providing cover. Defensive (reassign FBI agents to terror) and offensive (wiretaps, ..) cover.

    Predictable from the fake Texan? ‘Think Big, then collapse it.’ Doesn’t sound like the traditional Texan philosophy.

  11. barrisj

    Particle physicists have been forever searching for “the theory of everything”, which, in my mind is an enormous conceit, as I do share Yves Smith’s thought that the human mind is of such limited cognitive or intellectual capacity to realistically or rationally sort through the vast imponderables of the natural world. Stephen Hawking certainly is the public face of this quest for “the answer”, but even he has had to walk back some of his earlier pronouncements, viz, black-holes, for one. But the nature of science being what it is, there will be people of such brilliant insight such as Einstein, Feynman, Hawking, et al who will persevere in elucidating the Holy Grail of cosmology, and in the process invite refutation of previously held beliefs or indeed their own formulation of “laws” that in turn can be overturned by a devastatingly clever series of experiments. Thus, the Large Hadron Collider work currently underway to either confirm or refute the Standard Model, and the search for the so-called “God Particle”, the Higgs boson. These studies may yield results that could go undetected for years because of the limitations of the human mind to interpret data well beyond contemporary man’s ken. When one concentrates the mind to find a result posited beforehand, one can easily overlook data of a far more fundamental importance, especially when these data points occur in astonishly short time intervals. Time will tell – so to speak – whether the neutrino claims can hold up to replication, but the particle physicists who presented the work have invited both a challenge and a new way of apprehending subatomic phenomena. They should be applauded.

    1. Joe Rebholz

      “… the human mind is of such limited cognitive or intellectual capacity to realistically or rationally sort through the vast imponderables of the natural world.”

      How can we know what limits there or what they might be if we don’t try. That’s what scientists do. They try. They keep trying.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s like trying to teach your dog that 3.2 x 1.5 = 4.8.

        He doesn’t understand it and he doesn’t understand that he doens’t understand.


        It’s his brain.

        There are things we won’t understand unless we have a better brain.

        1. Mark P.

          But this may change: the technologies are emerging.

          Furthermore, there is historical precedent. That is, we have a clear idea what the outlier in human mental performance could look like — John von Neumann — and von Neumann could do a lot.

          Add mechanical computation into the mix — which von Neumann is primarily responsible for having pushed into existence — and we could reach quite a ways beyond the limitations of a intellectually-gifted ape evolved for the African savannahs.

  12. b.

    YS: “…whereas I just tell myself that Sisyphus has the best biceps.”

    Awesome :)

    The science “discussion” in the comments gives me tooth aches, though. Not understanding a specific piece of specialized science is common enough and understandable, if lamentable. Lack of basic scientific literacy is inexcusable, and moves us from citizen democracy through expert oligarchy on to rent-a-liar “high priests of technology”, threatening the foundations of open society. Failure to understand the scientific method is too much to bear, and, when caused by willful ignorance, unforgivable.

    Is the real world process of science, as conducted by fallible humans, flawed? Of course. Does the bear? One only has to witness the interaction between an earnest, honest scientist and a magician to understand that, aside from the usual whorehouse issues, even the best suffer cognitive bias – say, towards reproducible results, and absence of malicious agency and deception. Add to that the usual con artists, cheaters, and cooks, as well as the sloppy and the incompetent. But unlike art and other human endeavors, science as a culture strives to explicitly describe itself as derivative work based on prior art, and science as a meritocracy is measured against what is assumed to be an objective reality – unlike, prudently, mathematics, or, fraudulently, economics.

    Theoretical high energy particle physics has been in a limbo for decades simply because the models and theories developed as part of the standard model describe the experiments, and nobody was willing to foot the construction and electricity bills to move the experiments up the orders of magnitude of energy required to test any of the competing, metastasizing supersymmetries strung together. Karl Valentin offered an authorative summary of all human discourse – especially blog comments – as “everything has been said already, just not be everybody yet.” Theoretical physics without experiment is a corollary: “Every possible assumption has been published already, just not in every combination yet.”

    The most amazing thing about the universe might well be that we could fit a linear accelerator capable of big bang energies into the universe, but it would take a few million years to build it, and a lot of CDS leverage and compound interest to finance the effort. Until then, you will have to live with the consequences of math – limited only by our capacity to commit it – having lower costs than hardware.

    The invariance of c is one of the most frequently tested and most often verified theories in physics. Even the accelerator used to feed the experiment discussed verifies it a million times a second, as the particles in question move through the vacuum tubes at lightspeed. The scientific method postulates that none of this validation matters – only falsification matters. Hence, if the result should be confirmed, it would indeed indicate that science works, not the opposite. It would be a pleasant surprise, and would affect neither the utility nor the beauty of Maxwell’s and Einstein’s accomplishments, or any of the work spent over decades to test them.

    And frankly, I would be surprised if the result was published in the expectation that it is confirmed. Sadly, I would expect that, sooner or later, an error is found, and/or another experiment fails to confirm the findings. Then, physics will remain stuck in that limbo between abundant theory and insufficient experiment. There is inevitably an asymptote, too. Not only can quantum mechanics or general relativity – or Newtonian mechanics – be discovered only once, not only is increasing complexity and lack of intuitiveness reducing the window between learning and research over an individual scientists lifetime, but the cost of experiments always outstrips resources, and increasingly so. As a society, our commitment to science less and less matches the scope and depth of the problems we are expecting to solve. Instead, we get schadenfreude from the peanut gallery, all while a Few Good Nerds are trying their best to push and roll the lot of us up the slopes of our own cognitive deficiencies.

    It’s like having to read the blatherings of “The End of Science” again. This ain’t Cold Con Fusion. Yes, there are the enlightened, and then there are the merely lit, but the posture of “science is just like everything else” is about as honest as “government is the problem”, and at least as destructive. If there is a part of science you don’t understand, maybe it’s not the scientist, or the science, or the concept of science, or its presentation that’s the problem – maybe, just possibly, it’s you?

    Yes, the universe – and the human brain, for that matter – might very well be not only beyond our understanding, but beyond our ability for understanding, and – pace Goedel – maybe we can even attempt to prove this proposition. But science isn’t actually about some “satori” of comprehending “how things really work”. It just strives to come up with compact – at best, beautifully concise – descriptions that generate useful predictions, over and over, and all that, for the purpose of failing the test. Talk about Sisyphean efforts on the gerbil wheels of apparent futility: pushing your own brain up the slope against a billion years of evolutionary cost optimization of “the cheapest offer” is about as existential as it gets.

    1. Valissa

      Sometimes people here like to be intellectually playful and irreverent. Then sometimes other people overreact to that and feel the need to be very serious and earnest. To each their own.

      “We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.” – Albert Einstein

      Imagination is more important than knowledge.
      Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
      – Albert Einstein

      “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” -Albert Einstein

      His theories may not all hold up, and that’s as things in science should be. But those qutoes will be “true” forever ;)

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Yes, the universe – and the human brain, for that matter – might very well be not only beyond our understanding, but beyond our ability for understanding, and – pace Goedel – maybe we can even attempt to prove this proposition. But science isn’t actually about some “satori” of comprehending “how things really work”. It just strives to come up with compact – at best, beautifully concise – descriptions that generate useful predictions, over and over, and all that, for the purpose of failing the test.


      It’s indeed humbling to contemplate that the very real possibility that the unvierse is beyond our capability to comprehend.

      And science should be about comprehending how things really work.

    3. Joe Rebholz

      “Yes, the universe – and the human brain, for that matter – might very well be not only beyond our understanding, but beyond our ability for understanding, and – pace Goedel – maybe we can even attempt to prove this proposition.”

      Agreed. Yes but we are working on both the universe and the brain. It’s just that there seems to be a period of little progress for a while in Physics, but neuroscience is making great progress. Just as we cannot prove a given computer program has no bugs (can never get in a loop), we probably can prove no theory can be complete in some sense of explaining everything. Maybe it will be new and better theories all the way up; or maybe not.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We can easily imagine that to our smarter descendents or more intelligent aliens, contradictions plus many incomprehensible things (to us) are perfectly comprehensible, that 5 + 4 = 16. If things are weird and we can’t understand it, it’s us that’s the problem.

        It could be that world that has been described to us is that way because our brain is what it is. And it works for us like the dog’s concept of the world works for him.

        Maybe then we can all just relax.

    4. Up the Ante

      I can sympathize w/your desire for ever greater energies for experiments.

      But it does serve to step back and wonder why the lack of any characteristics of these particles between these energy levels of experimentation. Are we characterizing these particles beyond suggesting they are transitory in what we imply is a runaway process suggestive of momentum called the Big Bang?

      Don’t mean to sound too cerebral w/the above but is it any more of a view than a keyhole achieved through brute smashing of objects into other objects?

  13. Susan the other

    Anybody see/remember the German physics experiment where they were timing a signal of Bethoven (?) transmitted thru a brick of solid lead? I didn’t dream this did I? And the experimenter was stupefied because the signal raced through the lead and was received before it was sent… How did they explain that one? Bad clocks?

  14. Susan the other

    Aljazeera’s The Men Who Crashed the World. Toward the end of the 43 minutes of a standard and recognizable account of how the crash unfolded we see Hank Paulson go into his own meltdown. He says “The British just screwed us” because their finance minister won’t let Barclays buy Lehman’s assets. I thought that was a very curious response from a man, our Treasury Secty, pleading with another country to do some part in holding up the banking system. That other country, the banking weasels of the world, refuses to help because they refuse to burden their own taxpayers. I’d really like to know two things. First: what went down at the beginning of our big MBS orgy between the UK and us? Was their Lehman refusal a form of betrayal? And second: why did Paulson, only about a week later, back off of his original plan to use TARP to buy up the bad mortgages and stabilize the housing market and instead go with the British plan to stabilize the banking industry?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This Paulson account, even though I am sure he was sincere in this case, is really misleading. While it was the British regulators that did deliver the bad news to the US, the record released by the FSA shows the the board of Barclays was not gonna do a deal unless it was subsidized by the US. And the US was not gonna subsidize a deal at that juncture.

      Basically, Bob Diamond, the head of the US for Barclays and the interface with the US regulators, had given the impression that Barclays was more eager to do a deal on the terms the US regulators wanted than it was. So they’ve maintained they were blown off by the British regulators when in fact they were misled by Diamond. Big difference.

  15. Jim Haygood

    02:00 Silver futures log biggest daily percent drop ever
    02:00 Dec. silver down $6.48, or 17.7%, to end at $30.10
    01:54 Gold settles 5.9% lower at $1,639.80 an ounce

    Durn … seems like only three weeks ago that Da Bugz were swaggering around, kicking sand in the face of heathen agnostics who questioned their entitlement to thirty-dollar-a-day gains.

    I picked their pimp-rolling pockets, and closed shorts today. Time to fade Benny Bubbles’ bond trade … his trading is so inept, he makes Da Bugz look like frickin’ rocket scientists!

  16. Max424

    (Not related directly to the links today, but it is related to oil, which is related to all the links today, because oil is related to ALL things;)

    I just finished perusing Washington’s Blog,

    and as a result, I’ve arrived at a startling conclusion: the Carter Doctrine is the all-time heavyweight champ of official (or unofficial) foreign policy themes and proclamations, moving past former title holders like the Monroe Doctrine, non-inverventionism (not to be confused with Isolationism, which is entirely different), the Domino Theory, Unconditional Surrender, Pax Americana, and — I can’t remember the exact words of the former cattle rancher, President, and influential NYC Police Commissioner known as Teddy R., but it went something like — “Walk on your tippy toes, but pack a can of whup ass in your back pocket.”

    Yup, seems like every President since Carter has pursued a remarkably similar foreign policy; it’s be creatively lazy, desultory, muddled and confusing in most international affairs, but always, keep the Presidential Peepers laser-focused on the oil-rich Middle-East, because if funny business starts to arise there, or even hints that it might want to start to arise, your Presidential Iron Fist must be prepared to crash down upon the offending country — or countries, whatever the case might be.

    Now how many wars we fightin’? Five? Six? Not enough. In the immortal words of one of our early Dead Patriots: “We have not yet begun to fight!”

    Here’s a relatively relevant passage from the Amy Goodman interview of Wesley Clarke (via the irrepressible George Washington):

    “…we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”

    Hey, Obama! You’re behind schedule! As Abe Lincoln might say (if he were still alive), “Obama’s got a case of the slows.”

      1. Max424

        Yeah, the “Cairo speech” looks absurdly quaint in retrospect, doesn’t it? At the time, Obama was just another neophyte new-elect Prez, holding the foolish belief, that HE was in operational command of US foreign policy.

        Wrong, Barrack old sod. YOU… are a rubber stamper. Oil and the US military industrial complex are in command of US foreign policy; have been for at least forty years, and will be, for at least another forty more.

        The Carter Doctrine (79): Henceforward, oil will lead the US military around by the nose, and at all times, the US military will obey oil, like slavish dog, and all the Presidents that come after me, whether in their heart of hearts they be doves or hawks, will have one function, and one function only; pen stroke the paper work.

  17. mk

    “Of course, he [Krugman] has reason to expect people to listen to him, whereas I just tell myself that Sisyphus has the best biceps.”

    Krugman works for the New York Times, you and your blog are so much better, you have integrity, you’re credible and trustworthy! Thanks for all you do, I’d listen to you before anyone writing for New York Times.

  18. VCarlson

    I have to say I’m not terribly surprised about the faster-than-the-speed-of-light thing. I’m no physicist (Newton I can intuit, anything else, I’ll take your word for it), but I’ve noticed for years that there have been some pretty fancy explanations for particles that “appeared” to exceed the speed of light.

    Those explanations made me think of orreries, ever more complex mechanical contraptions put together to explain how observed astronomical phenomena could still be explained by the accepted knowledge that the earth was the center of the universe. Once that idea was abandoned, the models got much simpler.

  19. LucyLulu

    From Huffington Post link in Firedoglake piece on KY attorney general:

    But consumer advocates are not united in the belief that the investigation has been inadequate. Some progressive law enforcers and other attorneys say the investigation — which has been largely shielded from the public view — is grounds enough for a deal that could give immediate relief to homeowners, by setting rules for mortgage practices and potentially offering monetary assistance.

    “We all agree that banks have behaved abominably and they must be held accountable. It’s my strong belief that the multi-state AG effort is attempting to do exactly that,” said attorney Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, in an email. The attorneys general, he added, “have done a significant investigation/examination of serious servicer misbehavior in the foreclosure and loan modification processes and I believe that the fair resolution of their negotiations offers the best hope for immediate relief for consumers faced with the possible loss of their homes.”

    So, in other words, the article reports an alleged consumer advocate group as stating that there has been a “significant investigation/examination” into the allegations being covered by the settlement agreement. It goes on to say the investigation however has been shielded from the public. Is this meant to imply that if one can find no evidence of an investigation its because of its “secretive” nature? Because as Yves has reported previously (see link below) and as reported elsewhere, there has been no investigation. NY AG was reported as stating that no documents or depositions were taken, which one would presume would be required in a cursory investigation. One would also presume that an AG that was a member of the lead investigation team would be aware of any “shielded” investigation occurring. Elizabeth Warren has also expressed concern about the lack of investigation. So, who is telling the truth? I know who I believe. I’m with Yves on this one. Miller was backtracking on the promises he made to Iowa homeowners within a month of the 50 state AG commission being announced. Time to send another email. I think I may be on the FBI watchlist now. ;)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      After I speculated that there had been no investigation, I have gotten confirmation from someone who was involved in the talks that there was no investigation. Maybe they have done something in recent months, but I can’t see how. Any time Schneiderman issues subpoenas to banks (and he does NOT leak this to the press) the media is all over it. The AGs would have every reason to publicize any investigation, and there have been no footprints.

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