Links 12/17/11

NV AG Casto sues Lender Processing Services for fraud 4closurefraud (CarolB). Text of the complaint. Alert reader Deontos: Following the exposure of deceptive document execution practices at DOCX in Georgia, LPS then misrepresented that it had processes and internal controls in place at the LPS Default Solutions office in Minnesota to ensure that affidavits were signed properly and in accordance with industry standard. LPS senior executives expressly contradicted these representations in sworn court testimony. Lambert here: Sections 27 and following focus on the LPS desktop. Somebody should subpoena whoever wrote the requirements and the specification for LPS software, as well as the DBAs, to find out which executive(s) signed off on a system that turned out to be optimized for fraud. As the indictment says: “The foreclosure crisis has been fueled by two main problems: Chaos and speed. LPS’s business model is designed to take advantage of the former by increasing the latter.” Sounds like Shock Doctrine.

Data mining as hypothesis generation. See above for a potential application area?

A handy map of extreme weather events for 2011 (Aquifer).

Does NDAA bring the water close enough to a boil for us frogs to notice? UPDATE See also Glenn Greenwald’s detailed analysis of the text of the statute Salon (rjs).

McClatchy gets a reporter into rebellious Wukan (close to Hong Kong and closely watched, since political change in China often starts in the South.)

Chinese 1%ers running down peasants with their cars. Elites behaving badly.

500 “mass incidents” a day in China. A “mass incident” being a strike, a riot, a protest, or whatever.

So scuttle the war rumors from the usual suspects, please. China’s oligarchs have their hands full.

I was wrong about Occupy Religion Dispatches. Occupation is about occupying physical space after all.

On the picket line at Manitowoc Pruning Shears. Union PA vs. Occupy people’s mic.

Occupy is resolutely non-partisan McClatchy. Despite the best efforts of partisans.

Curation in Catalonia (Mister Wonkish). Occupy-related videos and resources.

Swags for homeless wins human rights award. Inexpensive, well-designed beds for the homeless. (I wonder if they’d be helpful to Occupiers in winter climes?)

Open ye the gates (MarthaR). I’m so old I can remember when people could just walk right into Harvard Yard.

Can Cooper Union stay tuition-free?

40% of US corn used for ethanal (KayM). Ethanol doesn’t cause diabetes and obesity. So there’s that.

Ignore the piracy. Louis CK sells DRM-free work for $5, makes an honest buck, and doesn’t degrade himself dealing with rentiers.

Halliburton thrives on fracking. Thank you, President Cheney.

The economic and social costs of sustained DISemployment. An oldie but goodie from Bill Mitchell.

The Volcker Rule: Gone where the woodbine twineth? Baseline Scenario (Aquifer).

Buddhism and John Rawls. Thai, but not kathoeyishe.

2012: The party of crazy or the party of betrayal. Mild-mannered Mark Thoma.

Like Versailles, except without the tasteful restraint Daily Mail (SusanW). “I want candy!”.

Antidote du jour: HTTP Status Cats (vja).

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Foppe

    Also important:

    The cigarette industry is not dying. It continues to reap unimaginable profits. It’s still winning lawsuits. And cigarettes still kill millions every year.

    So says Stanford’s Robert Proctor, author of the new bombshell study, Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition, a book the tobacco industry tried to stop with subpoenas and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

    Proctor, the first historian to testify in court against the tobacco industry (in 1998), warns that the worst of the health catastrophe is still ahead of us: Thanks to the long-term effects of cigarettes, “If everyone stopped smoking today, there would still be millions of deaths a year for decades to come.”

    “Low-tar” cigarettes? “Light” cigarettes? Better filters? Forget it, he said. They don’t work. Today’s cigarettes are deadlier even than those made 60 years ago, gram for gram.

    Half the people who smoke will die from their habit. A surprising number will die from stroke and heart attacks, not cancer.

    According to an article in The Nation last year, Proctor is one of only two historians who currently testify on behalf of smokers injured by tobacco products; 50 have testified on behalf of the industry. Academics from virtually every discipline have been collaborating with the Marlboro Men – and made big money doing so.

    1. EH

      Ugh, the cigarette war has been won already. We don’t need Prohibitionists like MADD stinking up the place worse than tobacco ever did.

      1. Foppe

        Myth #1. Nobody smokes anymore. If you read the media, smoking sounds like a dying habit in California. That’s far from true, said Proctor. Californians still smoke about 28 billion cigarettes per year, a per capita rate only slightly below the global average.

        So why do we have this illusion? “We don’t count the people who don’t count. It’s not the educated or the rich who smoke anymore, it’s the poor,” said Proctor.

        Also, look at popular social trends – the recent trendiness of cigars, for example. Or the current fad for hookah parties. He recalled one such event at Stanford: “They would never have a Marlboro party. But hookah is just as addictive, and just as deadly.”

        Myth #2. The tobacco industry has turned over a new leaf. “The fact is that the industry has never admitted they’ve lied to the public or marketed to children or manipulated the potency of their project to create and sustain addiction,” Proctor said. “A U.S. Federal Court in 2006 found the American companies in violation of RICO racketeering laws, and nothing has changed since then. And the same techniques used in the past in the U.S. are now being pushed onto vulnerable populations abroad.”

        Myth #3. Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. Proctor pointed out that most people begin smoking at the age of 12 or 13, or even younger in some parts of the world. “Do they know everything?” Proctor asked rhetorically. “And how many people know that cigarettes contain radioactive isotopes, or cyanide, or free-basing agents like ammonia, added to juice up the potency of nicotine?”

        1. Valissa

          Shockingly people often don’t do “what’s good for them”! Even more shockingly people tend to rebel against such structures emanating from the reformer bully pulpit. And I wholeheartedly support such rebellion!

          Personally I don’t like this anti-cigarette peer pressure any more than I liked the pro-cigarette peer pressure of my youth. Actually the anti-cigarette peer pressure is worse because of all the judgmentalness and moral superiority. Even though I have never been a cigarette smoker (don’t like the smell) I find myself defending them more and more.

          Overall, I really dislike the modern health nut version (typically from so-called liberals/progressives) of the moral majority with all of it’s puritanical and judgemental attitudes. I support people’s right to all the “minor” vices. Life is hard enough these days…

          1. Jim

            I’m disappointed that so many Dems continue to hike the REGRESSIVE excise tax on cigarettes. I say tax them at the same rate as other products or make them illegal.

            If I were a smoker, I would not vote for any Dem that increases the tax on this addictive product.

    2. ShaunB

      Remember that, courtesy of the Tobacco Settlement, state governments are now partners in the tobacco industry. More taxes are paid on a pack of cigarettes than the producer earns in profits. I predict that big tobacco is safe from government restrictions. ;-)

      1. bob

        There are also huge and growing underground markets. Here in NYS, where a pack of “legal” cigarettes can fun from $10-15 a pack, there is a growing movement away from national brands. Native American Reservations, who for years were able to sell national brand tax free cigs were shut down by recent state laws.

        But, the laws don’t apply to cigs made by native americans. $3 a pack smokes can be had very easily. There have been numerous local news stories about people getting pulled over with thousands of dollars worth of these “tax free” cigs.

        1. Birch

          Corprations selling cigs to poor people, with a big cut of the profits for government, sounds like fascism. Native people on reserve selling cheap tax-free smokes to white people sounds like divine retribution.

          I read a little while ago about big-corp tobacco sales in poor countries. Apparently they’re booming, bit time.

  2. Richard Kline

    The NDAA, soon to be known as “The Assange Act” if the US has it’s way. Under this Act of Congress as written, anyone, anywhere in the world can be snatched, secretely imprisioned, permanently, without trial, without recourse, without disclosure, at the sole discretion of a sitting President. That’s more power than God. It matters not that this act is both blatantly unconstitutional and flatly against all international standards of human rights, with a stroke of a pen Barack Obama is about to grant himself and his successors ad infinitum this putative right forever more. Of course it will only be used against ‘really bad people.’ How do we know? Prez says. How do we know they’re bad? Prez says. –Actually, the Prez doesn’t even have to say; he simply has to sign a secret order no one ever gets to see.

    The world _should_ rebel against us, and they will.

    1. ScottW

      The irony, or dare I say hypocrisy, of this bill is Congress declares the entire World a battle field so anyone can be detained any where until the conflict ends (which is never), yet refuses to acknowledge that the rules of detention under the Geneva Convention must apply.

      1. Mel

        I wonder who Yakov Smirnoff will sue for ruination of his livelihood.

        “In America today, they can pick you up off the street, take you away, and no-one will ever see you again.
        In Soviet Russia …

        ah crap.”

      2. Walter Wit Man

        Yes indeed! People are losing sight of the fact that they also expanded the war to pretty much the entire world in addition to the detainment policies.

        There was never legal justification for the wars in Yemen or Somalia for instance, but now Obama is on stronger ground.

        They killed two birds with one stone–endless war across the world and new detainment policies. Right when Obama pretended he was ending the Iraq war and right before the holiday break. Awesome job Democrats.

  3. Jim Haygood

    ‘Since November 9, [Harvard] Yard has been off-limits to undocumented visitors: for security reasons, we are told.’ —

    Very telling. Of course, with Harvard hosting so many legacy admissions from our degenerate political class — you know, the ones whose lips move as they haltingly ‘read’ — closing Harvard Yard probably saves a lot on both Secret Service and private security to protect these kids. Not to mention the failed politicians who haunt the place as visiting professors.

    But the lockdown is omnipresent. My wife and I attended an author’s speech at a college in midtown Manhattan, never imagining (having purchased tickets online) that we would be demanded to ‘show our papers’ to poker-faced uniformed guards to get admitted. Not having her drivers license handy, my wife was only able to skate through with a credit card. Otherwise, we would have been ejected for lack of ID, without which functioning in US society is no longer possible.

    As for Glenn Greenwald’s rhetorical question about whether NDAA brings the water close enough to boiling for frogs to notice, just look around you at the police checkpoints, the protester pens, the video cameras, the license plate scanners, the TSA-style gauntlet required to enter an airport, a courthouse or a legislature. Anyone who doesn’t ‘get it’ yet is well-qualified, by dint of uninquisitiveness and acceptance of authority, to guard those who do.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m so old I remember when “lockdown” wasn’t even a word.

      It’s really disgusting, and the worst is that there’s a whole generation now who’ve known nothing else (although this is one encouraging “I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it”-like aspect of Occupy).

    2. ScottW

      My experience with folks standing in airport security lines is the vast majority look at their shoes when I remark about the insanity of TSA. Most seem excited about proving to some low skilled worker they are not terrorists and maybe they welcome the opportunity to do so in more venues (e.g., Malls). These folks are like those who criticized the Miranda decision claiming they would be happy to talk to the police since they had nothing to hide. It seems like the more security measures that are implemented the more people accept them.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Case in point … last month, the liquor shop at a local supermarket implemented a universal ID policy: EVERYONE — even 80-year-olds — had to show ID, which they proceeded to SCAN (thus not only reading your age, but potentially recording your name, address, DL number, etc.). This is valuable demographic info for marketing, and unlike in a customer loyalty club, sign-up is involuntary when you shove it down customers’ throats.

        Patrons rebelled, inundating the management with complaints. I slammed them in writing as ‘corporate fascists.’ The store backed down from the universal ID rule, because it infuriated we geezers, who fundamentally are from a bygone, liberty-oriented American culture that no longer exists post-9/11. But now their new unwritten guideline is to card anybody under 40.

        The purpose of such rules is to eliminate any need for employees to exercise judgment. Can’t tell a grey-hair from a teenager? NO PROBLEM — just follow the procedure, meatbot. And don’t think too much — it ain’t good for ya.

        Not to be a pessimist, but this isn’t going to turn around. Soon, those who grew up in the ‘lockdown’ era, never knowing anything different, will be an invulnerable majority. Today’s sinister parody of free-dumb is normal life to them.

        Hey, you still get to vote for the Depublicrat executive dictator of your choice. Coke vs. Pepsi, comrades — either way, you win!

        1. EH

          I slammed them in writing as ‘corporate fascists.’

          I bet that’s the comment that did the trick.

          So now their policy is to card everyone without gray hair. How do they know whether you’re under “40” until they see your ID?

        2. craazyman

          I bet a lot of women nearing 30 were secretly flattered. But for guys, it’s just annoying.

          I was ID’d in a Chicago O’Hare airport pub last year when ordering a draft beer, and I thought “What the f—ck?” (I am north of 40, we’ll leave it at that). And they said it was a universal policy.

          Although it did give me a brief jolt of fantasy that I somehow retain a youthful bloom. haha hahaha ahahaha. One look in the mirror crushes that dream.

    1. PL

      So similar the Marquis’s coach running over a peasant boy in A Tale of Two Cities. And if a coin was thrown, was it thrown back?

  4. Goin' South

    Great links again, Lambert. As far as I’m concerned, NC is the place to get the news in the morning whether you or Yves are doing the compiling. This morning, it led me into reminiscing. At my age, it doesn’t take much.

    The story about the Harvard lockdown revealed to me how a process begun in the early 70s had progressed building-by-building until it finally encompassed the holy Yard gates.

    Back in those days, the river Houses were open to visitors. You could walk through the Eliot House entrance, for example, and go right to a friend’s suite.

    A problem developed with a spate of armed robberies. The brigands were not after the legacy crowd’s gold watches, but the cash and stash of the numerous students engaging in drug dealing. Two Winthrop House b-ballers who foolishly dealt to townies opened their door one night to be greeted by a pistolero demanding their money and their inventory. A freshman roommate of mine who took up dealing tried to be more discriminating. Jimmy Fund skaters and Smithies were among his clientele, but even he had his suite burglarized and his precious hall-of-fame briefcase stolen.

    So a new security regimen was instituted. Guards were stationed at one entry to point to each of the Houses, and a Harvard ID was required to enter. The hoi polloi could use a free phone at the entry to call a friend who could come let them in.

    Thus began the closing of Harvard.

    One piece of trivia about Harvard drug dealers: there was a Grade D movie that came out at the time not quite in the spirit of “Love Story” or “Paper Chase.” It was named “Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues.” Since there was a dealer in our crowd, we got a big kick out of it. The screenwriter was some guy named Michael Crichton.

  5. Buzz Potamkin

    I tried to send you some links and got a “not valid” response to the e-mail address from yesterday’s Links post. Could you e-mail me your correct address. I put mine in this form and you can validate with Yves. Thanks.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think the question here, probably the only question, is what should the cat get for Santa this Christmas?

  6. Aquifer

    “Ethanol doesn’t cause diabetes and obesity. So there’s that.”

    Hmm, so how do you explain all those beer bellies?

  7. Doc Holiday

    Republicans hailed the decision to add the Canada-to-Texas pipeline as a major victory for their side, arguing that it forces Obama to make a quicker decision on moving forward with the 1,700-mile-long project to transport more oil from northern tar sands to the Gulf Coast. Obama angered some in the fall by delaying approval of the pipeline until 2013, citing a need to work out environmental concerns.

    1. LucyLulu

      And unemployment compensation and the payroll tax cuts were extended for two months until a way they can be found to be paid for. Note that the extension of the tax cuts on the wealthy, which has been resoundingly affirmed, have not had any similar requirement that they be paid for. The party of low taxes and small government has shown their true colors once again. They only support low taxes for the wealthy and cutting government assistance for the poor.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Two months! And the neoliberal dems get to play the victim/cheap capitulating date card for less and less every time.

        Despicable. Why don’t we the people just admit we are under a bipartisan systemic coup?

    2. bob

      There is already a well documented supply bottle neck on the gulf coast.

      Also, I think obummer (or his administration) is protecting Buffet’s investment in Burlington Northern.

      Both “sides” are wrong….Imagine that.

  8. Ignim Brites

    Is the dp the party of betrayal? To be betrayed you first have to trust. The fact is there are many, many, many private sector six figure earning dirtballs influential in the dp. These people get very nervous about the prospect of tax increases on income. Dems would be way better off focusing on tax reform measures as a trade offs for extending the payroll tax cut. And why extend these every year. Why not take the position of making these permanent. At least that would give the them the talking point of favoring the Obama tax cut over the Bush tax cut. Or talk about paying for making the payroll tax cut permanent by ending the tax deductibility of interest on mortgages over $500K. (Well that will make a lot of dp players nervous too). But the dp is way too poisoned by McGovernite sell outs. Time to start thinking about third party campaign by Jimmy Hoffa. But that won’t work either. Fact is the republic is lost.

    1. LucyLulu

      Tax reform is a lot to hope for from a “do-nothing” Congress. But assuming it could be done, is it a concession the democratic party really wants to make? The GOP idea of tax reform includes not only eliminating loopholes but “broadening the tax base”. In GOP speak, “broadening the tax base” means making tax policy more regressive. Besides, they have already made it clear that any tax reform must be revenue neutral.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Betrayal? Well, I’d call the outcome of the hopey change schtick a betrayal. Sure, nobody important believed it, but a lot of little people did, and a large fraction of them are still willing to give The Droner the benefit of the doubt (what doubt?).

  9. Quisling Molecules

    “For today we have lost Christopher Hitchens, but we have gained an irony: For Hitchens died on the day that his beloved Iraq War Debacle came to an end….

    “Why, America? Why all the shameful blubbering over this bloodthirsty limey hack? What is wrong with you people?” – John Dolan, eXiledonline

    And in this weekend’s Counterpunch, Alexander Cockburn provides an antidote to the “shameful blubbering”:

    [on Christopher Hitchens] ….”I guess the lowest of a number of low points was when he went to the White House to give a cheerleading speech on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. I think he knew long, long before that this is where he would end up, as a right-wing codger. He used to go on, back in the Eighties, about sodden old wrecks like John Braine, who’d ended up more or less where Hitchens got to, trumpeting away about “Islamo-fascism” like a Cheltenham colonel in some ancient Punch cartoon. I used to warn my friends at New Left Review and Verso in the early 90s who were happy to make money off Hitchens’ books on Mother Teresa and the like that they should watch out, but they didn’t and then kept asking ten years later, What happened?

    Anyway, between the two of them, my sympathies were always with Mother Teresa. If you were sitting in rags in a gutter in Bombay, who would be more likely to give you a bowl of soup? You’d get one from Mother Teresa. Hitchens was always tight with beggars, just like the snotty Fabians who used to deprecate charity.

    One awful piece of opportunism on Hitchens’ part was his decision to attack Edward Said just before his death, and then for good measure again in his obituary. With his attacks on Edward, especially the final post mortem, Hitchens couldn’t even claim the pretense of despising a corrupt presidency, a rapist and liar or any of the other things he called Clinton. That final attack on Said was purely for attention – which fuelled his other attacks but this one most starkly because of the absence of any high principle to invoke. Here he decided both to bask in his former friend’s fame, recalling the little moments that made it clear he was intimate with the man, and to put himself at the center of the spotlight by taking his old friend down a few notches. In a career of awful moves, that was one of the worst. He also rounded on Gore Vidal who had done so much to promote his career as dauphin of contrarianism.

    He courted the label “contrarian”, but if the word is to have any muscle, it surely must imply the expression of dangerous opinions. Hitchens never wrote anything truly discommoding to respectable opinion and if he had he would never have enjoyed so long a billet at Vanity Fair. Attacking God? The big battles on that issue were fought one, two, even five hundred years ago when they burned Giordano Bruno at the stake in the Campo de’ Fiore. A contrarian these days would be someone who staunchly argued for the existence of a Supreme Being. He was for America’s wars.

    I thought he was relatively solid on Israel/Palestine, but there too he trimmed. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency put out a friendly obit, noting that “despite his rejection of religious precepts, Hitchens would make a point of telling interviewers that according to halacha, he was Jewish” and noting his suggestion that Walt and Mearsheimer might be anti-Semitic, also his sliming of a boatload of pro-Palestinian activists aiming to breach Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. (His brother Peter and other researchers used to say that in terms of blood lineage, the Hitchens boys’ Jewishness was pretty slim and fell far outside the definitions of the Nuremberg laws. I always liked Noam Chomsky’s crack to me when Christopher announced in Grand Street that he was a Jew: “From anti-Semite to self-hating Jew, all in one day.”)

    As a writer his prose was limited in range. In extempore speeches and arguments he was quick on his feet. I remember affectionately many jovial sessions from years ago, in his early days at The Nation. I found the Hitchens cult of recent years entirely mystifying.”

    1. Foppe

      Thanks for that. I am too young to have known him from before his post-9/11 crap, but I never really understood why this fellow got such a large audience. But I guess it was for the same reason people thought Tony Blair was a great “Labour” leader.

    2. Maximilien

      “He also rounded on Gore Vidal who had done so much to promote his career as dauphin of contrarianism.”

      Yeah, I was surprised by Hitchens’ gratuitous attack on Vidal.

      But then, allowances must be made. Hitchens was a life-long heavy drinker, and steady drinking eventually catches up to even the best. The temperament sours, the irritation grows, and finally the anger flares, like it did with Hitchens. In the end, he was a victim—of alcohol.

      I didn’t particularly like his writing. But his travel essay “Ballad of Route 66” is a marvelous, hilarious piece.

  10. Hugh

    I reminded of the observation that everything that was old is new again, also known as history repeats itself, those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it, and its variants, history does not repeat but it rhymes, what we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history, etc.

    Anyway there are many examples in history of ruling classes which lose their legitimacy and in response to that loss expand the tools of state violence and repression to deal with vague enemies. Whoever these enemies are doesn’t matter. The real targets are the 99% wanting their state back. So it is that when you would know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. Repression is not about guilt, or, at least, not about guilt in its usual sense. It is about control. The surveillance state and extra-Constitutional security apparatus our elites are putting together is not directed at vague someones with whom you have and feel no connection. They are directed at you and yours. The comforting bromide that you are safe because you have nothing to hide is quite simply wrong. To those who repress, those in the 99% are guilty not because of something they did. The 99% are guilty because they are the 99%, and what they might do. We are from the point of view of illegitimate elites all future criminals, and to them a criminal is a criminal is a criminal.

  11. Susan the other

    “Military Preparedness” – A Chinese Military Industrial Complex? How else are they going to control all those riots. The Chinese people have an inbred distrust of government. A Police force doesn’t have a chance. But an army that everyone must join does. Look on the bright side: an MIC promotes technology. The Technology the world needs today is green technology. Etc. Maybe it is more likely that we have moved our Marines and carriers to Australia to assist China control its own population. It is hard to imagine a population of 1.2bn being controlled by their ratty provincial police.

  12. Jessica

    “Buddhism and John Rawls. Thai, but not kathoeyishe.”

    By “not kathoeyishe”, I am assuming you mean “not exoticizing Thai culture” and do not not mean something roughly equivalent to “un-gay” (as in “that’s so gay” used as an insult).
    Although using that term itself (do most people know that term now?) is more respectful that the usual odd translation “ladyboy”.

  13. Ms

    I realize that this site has had some of the best coverage of the foreclosure settlement talks but I am looking to compile or find a webpage that has a timeline with links to all of the news articles about the proceedings. Additionally if there is a site that already has developed a summary or a primer that would be great.

    I am basically looking to bring some people who are not up to speed with the proceedings a concise or condensed collection of materials to read.

    Any suggestions would be welcomed…thanks!

  14. bob

    Re- Open ye the gates (MarthaR). I’m so old I can remember when people could just walk right into Harvard Yard.

    In the early 00’s they were started a policy of randomly locking some of the gates, apparently in an attempt at “taking back the yard”. All it did was piss people off, never knowing which gates would be open.

    Harvard, if I am not mistaken, was one of the first “land grant” schools. This should not be “legal”.

  15. Valissa

    Tom Engelhardt… Their bread, our circus

    In ancient Rome, the emperors provided the capital’s inhabitants with “bread and circuses”. Ever since, that combination has been shorthand for rulers buying off the ruled with the necessities of life and spectacle.

    In Rome, that spectacle involved gladiatorial and other elaborate games of death that took place in the Colosseum. In this age, our rulers, the 1% whose money has flooded the electoral cycle, are turning the election itself into our extended circus.

    This year, a series of Republican televised “debates” has glued increasing numbers of eyeballs to screens – and not just Republican eyeballs, either. Everyone waits for the latest version of a reality show to produce the next cat fight, fabulous gaffe, late-night laugh line, confession, denial, scandal, or plot twist, the next thumbs up or, far better, thumbs down on some candidate’s increasingly brief political life in the arena.

    Think of it as their bread and our circus. Who can doubt that, like the crowds of Rome once upon a time, we await the inevitable thumbs-down vote and the YouTube videos that precede and follow it with a kind of continuing bloodlust? The only problem: however strange all this may be, it’s not, at least in the old-fashioned sense, an election nor does it seem to have much to do with democracy. The fact is that we have no word for what’s going on. Semi-democracy? Unrepresentative democracy? 1% democracy? Demospectacracy?

    Recommend reading the whole post. The only thing I disagree with is that 60% of the population will vote in the coming election. I’m thinking that voter turnout will be especially low next year and that many who do vote will be writing in names (or statements of electoral disgust) instead of voting for party candidates.

  16. Clonal Antibody


    On the Louis CK experiment, I am glad he came out in the black. Another way to do it is by means of “the Street Performer Protocol (1999) and its variation The Wall Street performer protocol (2001)

    Consider a world without copyright enforcement. People write books or music but they get paid only for a single performance or print run. Once the work is released, anyone who likes it may make copies and distribute them. In that world, high-quality, easily copied works like stories, novels, reference books, and pieces of music are, in the economic sense, a “public good.” That is, the creators of these works must spend scarce resources producing them, but they do not reap most of the benefits.

    This leads to the prediction that these works will be produced a good deal less in that world than in ours, and a good deal less than the consumers of these works would like. However, for various technical reasons, we appear to be heading into a world that will look a lot less like our world, and a lot more like that world with no copyright enforcement.

    In this paper, we consider a very simple and common approach to funding the production of public goods such as advertisement-free radio and television stations and impromptu music performances in public places. The artist offers to continue producing their freely-available creations so long as they keep getting enough money in donations to make it worth their while to do so. We discuss social, financial, and technical arrangements that can make this approach work fairly well, though we don’t believe it will ever provide a complete solution to the problem of paying creators for their creations. We primarily discuss the way a specific instantiation of this idea, called the “Street Performer Protocol,” might work.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Aw, come on. That was a hard-working investment banker who suffered a searing, life-changing — “will never forget,” “heart-stopping moment,” “deepest sympathies go out” and so forth — event due to circumstances totally beyond his control. Move along, people, move along. There’s no story here.

    1. Bhikshuni Lozang Trinlae

      Re 1)

      “The rupee value has depreciated by more than 20 per cent so far in 2011 and hit a record low of below Rs 54-level last Thursday against the US dollar.

      On Thursday last week, the Reserve Bank swung into action to check slide in rupee value and speculations by imposing restrictions with immediate effect on forward trading in the local currency by FIIs and traders, and also capped the banks’ exposure to the forex market. “

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