Links 12/19/11

Normally, screwed up plane rides are just screwed up plane rides, but mine on Sunday evening had some novel features. This was a LaGuardia to Birmingham flight on a Delta regional jet. That means you take a bus from the terminal to the plane and climb up steps.

We were on a close to normal sized airplane (unheard of for this route) and somehow, the stairs were set too high, which meant that as the plane got full of people, the door rested on the stair. They were afraid of pulling the stairs away, lest they damage the door. So they had the first eight rows deplane and sit in the bus so as to lighten the plane enough that the door might clear the stair. Whatever they did next damaged the door anyhow.

The rumor from the stewardesses is that there is no other airplane for us. Zillions of efforts to close the door (note the first eight rows are still on the bus) followed by maintenance people coming, more shutting of the door (all with clunking which sounded even to me not quite right) and shining of flashlight on the door. Then the senior maintenance guy comes, supposedly to bless the fix. He leaves and the people on the bus get back on the plane. We think something is about to happen. We get an announcement that the maintenance supervisor took pictures of the door and is getting them approved by someone higher up, which the pilot treated as good news. That was when I was pretty certain this plane was not gonna fly.

A while later, we see the co-pilot put his outer coat on and leave. A bit after that, we are told the pictures have to be reviewed by the airplane manufacturer in Brazil, and they now think we will get out faster if we get into a plane two planes down. But this being LaGuardia, we can’t walk, we have to get a bus. Said bus takes us to the terminal, has us get out, then the driver realizes he screwed up and gets us back on the bus. Then we drive back to where the planes are and sit on the bus for quite a while as the refuel the plane. Finally we get on. They did give us a free drink for the trouble.

Girl threatens to kill Santa and cook his reindeer if he doesn’t deliver Justin Bieber on Christmas

Neti Pots Linked to Brain-Eating Amoeba Daily Beast (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Deer stalkers attack ‘immoral’ cull by bounty hunters Guardian (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Growth of large private water companies brings higher water rates, little recourse for consumers American Statesman (hat tip reader Aquifer)

Keelan: The anti-ethanol uprising Bennington Banner (hat tip reader Aquifer)

How Facebook Can Hurt Your Credit Rating PC World (hat tip Lambert Strether).

Oh, for an Alexander Hamilton to save Europe! Ronald McKinnon, Financial Times (hat tip reader Swedish Lex)

Paris and London go toe-to-toe MacroBusiness

UK will fare better in this Anglo-French spat Wolfgang Münchau, Financial Times

Leveson orders inquiry into hacking exposé Financial Times (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Tory MP who attended Nazi-themed stag party loses ministerial aide post Guardian (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

North Korea’s Kim Jong Il Dies Bloomberg

Will China Break? Paul Krugman, New York Times

Protest in Wukan Understanding Society (hat tip Lambert Strether)

“Vietnam Ambush”: A Cautionary Tale Truthout (hat tip reader May S)

Study: Nearly 1 in 3 will be arrested by age 23 USA Today (hat tip Lambert Strether)

Boehner casts doubt on US stimulus deal Financial Times. So he’s retrading the deal? Charming.

Occupy Madison GA Endorses Solidarity Sing Along Standoff Daily Kos

How Business Schools Got to Be the Way They Are David Warsh (hat tip Lambert Strether). David MacKenzie in his An Engine, Not a Camera, tells a somewhat different story.

This slump won’t end until 2031 MarketWatch (hat tip reader May S)

Pay gap a $740bn threat to US recovery Financial Times. Ahem, we discussed the underlying phenomenon in 2007

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader furzy mouse):

Most babies measuring 5 ft would be considered big, but newborn giraffe, Margaret, at Chester Zoo, UK is seen as unusually small for her species. She is one of the smallest giraffes ever born at Chester Zoo, but pint-sized Margaret will soon be an animal to look up to.

Little Margaret, who is the first female Rothschild giraffe born at the zoo, is being hand-reared by her dedicated keepers. The first calf for six-year-old mum Fay, Margaret, who was born two weeks early, tipped the scales at just 34 kilos (75 lbs) and is a mere 5 ft tall.

Tim Rowland’s, team leader of the Giraffes section, said: ‘Margaret is one of the smallest giraffe calves we have ever seen. Fay isn’t the largest of giraffes and Margaret was also early which might go some way to explaining her size. ‘Margaret was having difficulty suckling so our keeping team are now hand-rearing her.

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  1. slow learner

    Sorry about the plane trip, Yves. No word yet on when I’ll finish my teleporter, as I’ve yet to start reading about quantum entanglement. (I think it’s going to be a while…)

    1. PunchnRun

      Aeroflot would have just “adjusted” the door with a large door adjuster (hammer) and sent you on your way.

  2. rjs

    just a question, yves; entering your site at i see nothing but the 5 most recent post headlines…

    is this a format change? if so, how can one who only visits in the morning know if there might have been 6 posts overnight?

    1. EconCCX

      >>how can one who only visits in the morning know if there might have been 6 posts overnight?<

      There's a Comments RSS feed, but it's malfunctioning. Stuck on November 13.

      Yves, another WordPress blogger experienced the same behavior, and reported this resolution:

      "If you can believe it, it looks like it was a setting on my Simply Exclude plug-in. Under Manage Category Exclusions, Feed Visibility in RSS/RSS2/Atom feeds, I had it checked, 'include only,' when in fact, it should have been checked, 'exclude only.'

      Therefore, it was only including the category that I was really intending to exclude, from my feeds."

      (If you'd be willing to grant a lowly commenter a temporary ID and password, I'd be thrilled to look in and fix this, even if it's not a "Simply Exclude" issue.)

  3. rjs

    re: Growth of large private water companies brings higher water rates, little recourse for consumers…

    & with fracking, most private water sources will become contaminated, forcing homeowners with wells into that arrangement too..

    1. Tempus

      That is the plan. It is a feature, not a bug. Neoliberalism has ALWAYS been all hard-on about privatizing water in Latin American countries upon which it was inflicted. It fully enslaves the little people to the 1% in that country and puts the boot of US companies on the throats of the people of other countries.

      As for fracking and well water contamination…if someone came along and poisoned your well, it would be considered attempted murder, definitely a form of assault. One should react to an attempted poisoning the same way in all cases: act in self-defense and take out the poisoner. You have a universal inalienable right of self-defense. Someone tries to kill you (poison you) and you have an absolute right to respond accordingly. That is the best way to curb this crap.

    1. M. Lefebvre

      Personally, I prefer the Bombardier planes for short hops. But that’s probably since I live in Canada, and have more experience in De Havilland Canada/Bombardier DC-8s.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Yikes — surely you meant to type Bombardier DHC-8!

        The Douglas DC-8 competed with Boeing’s 707 in the 1960s … but is long since retired from passenger service.

        It would be cool to establish a retro airline, with vintage interior appointments (such as fabric curtains on the windows) and stewardess uniforms (including nylon stockings with a seam in the back). But my business plan calls for DC-3s, with the props going whackety-whackety, in lieu of the deafening turbine whine of them early jets.

        1. Richard Kline

          So Jim, I would _definitely_ fly in retro DC-3’s on such an airline. They represent one of the greatest pieces of industrial design ever; certainly on a top ten list. . . . Back when American’s ‘built things that worked,’ a largely forgotten (i.e. killed and buried) concept in our present times.

  4. Sock Puppet

    @Aquifer, thank you for keeping the water and ethanol issues in the spotlight.

    UK and France have been in a continuous state of war since 1066. Rest of the world may safely ignore them as neither has any significant colonies any more.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Bloomberg rips S&P:

    Four months after Standard & Poor’s stripped the U.S. of its AAA credit rating and said the world’s biggest economy was no longer the safest of borrowers, dollar-denominated financial assets are doing nothing but appreciating.

    Government bonds have returned 4.4 percent, the dollar has gained 8.6 percent relative to a basket of currencies, and the S&P 500 Index of stocks has rallied 1.7 percent since the U.S. was cut to AA+ from AAA on Aug. 5. The cost for the nation to borrow has fallen to record lows since S&P said the U.S. was no longer risk-free, with the average monthly yield in November on 10-year notes below 2 percent for the first time since 1950.

    History shows that a rally following a sovereign downgrade isn’t unusual. After S&P cut Japan in February 2001 to AA+ from AAA, its 10-year bond yields fell below 1.15 percent four months later from 1.46 percent.

    Buffett, the biggest shareholder of S&P rival Moody’s Corp., said after the S&P downgrade that the U.S. should be “quadruple-A.” John Bellows, then the acting assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy, said S&P made a $2 trillion “mistake” in its math and then changed the rationale for its decision to politics. S&P denied it made an error or altered its reasoning.

    S&P said two weeks after the reduction that it would replace Deven Sharma, its president, with Douglas Peterson, a Citigroup Inc. executive. David Beers, head of sovereign ratings, said last month he was leaving to join the Bank of Canada next year. Mark Adelson, who oversaw S&P’s methodologies, was shifted to a research position on Dec. 9.

    Hey, we all hate the rating agencies. But this article is what I would call naive, peanut-gallery stuff. Its main hobby horse — four months of market outperformance following a downgrade — proves nothing.

    Post-recession, for instance, junk debt regularly outperforms Treasuries, since junk trades more like equities. This seeming market anomaly in no way means that their relative ratings are reversed.

    As Bloomberg notes in the example from Japan, a ‘sell the downgrade rumor, buy the downgrade news’ effect occurred in 2001 also. Yet the downgrade wasn’t mistaken — Japan ended up being downgraded again later. Similarly, S&P’s U.S. downgrade will look better after four years than it does after four months, I reckon.

    This is not to defend the gross malfeasance of the ratings agencies in the CDO debacle. They should have been held fully liable, liquidated, and their management turfed out to Pennsyltucky to dig ditches with their bare hands, as mean German Shepherds and Dobermans lunged at them, Bull Connor style. Justice, comrades!

    Does S&P’s management purge after the U.S. downgrade represent an admission of error? Or does it mean that instead of Wall Street twisting arms to get undeserved high ratings (as in the CDO debacle), now the big, bad U.S. Treasury does the arm twisting? I don’t know the answer, but I suspect that debt ratings untainted by powerful influence probably don’t exist anywhere. And more’s the pity — as Neil Young used to sing, ‘We’re finally on our own.’

  6. Jeff

    Re Deer Culling

    Is there a named sport where you sit in the dark and use a high powered rifle to shoot at vehicles with spotlights
    that are shooting at deer?

    Seems like it would put the lampers on equal footing with the deer.

    1. juliana

      “Deer spotting” is illegal around our rural outpost, but even the old guys my DH hunts with do it. Drinking beer, spotting deer, driving on deserted country roads. Until he joined them this fall, I had been kind of creeped out when I spotted the spotters going past my place with their lights.

  7. Lloyd C. Bankster

    Re: Girl threatens to kill Santa and cook his reindeer if he doesn’t deliver Justin Bieber on Christmas

    The kid isn’t thinking straight.

    Why kill Santa? Why not kidnap him, hold him hostage, then hire Stephen Friedman and Tim Geithner as consultants, while she negotiates multi-billion dollar ransom payments from the government?

    1. A Good Bankster

      Also why is she giving reindeer meat to the homeless? It should fetch at least $25 per pound for the prime cuts, and $20 per pound for Blitzen Burgers.

  8. John M

    I’m reminded of Richard Harris taking on the role of the Wizard’s school headmaster. Why? Because his granddaughter said she’d never speak to him again if he didn’t.

    I know, the situations are rather different.

  9. Valissa

    From Bill Gross… The ugly side of ultra-cheap money

    Gresham’s law needs a corollary. Not only does “bad money drive out good,” but “cheap” money may as well. Ultra low, zero-bounded central bank policy rates might in fact de-lever instead of relever the financial system, creating contraction instead of expansion in the real economy. Just as Newtonian physics breaks down and Einsteinian concepts prevail at the speed of light, so too might easy money policies fail to stimulate at the zero bound.

  10. empireofpassion

    Yves, here are a couple of nice pictures for the Antidote of the next 20 days (sorry for the long url):;_ylt=AsDpVj1DYMODNJqgZNqV4Hf59XQA;_ylu=X3oDMTM3MTlpMGFrBG1pdAMEcGtnAzFjNGRiOGQ1LTg2MWQtM2VjMC05NmM0LWQwMGJmOTg1ZTJlYgRwb3MDNQRzZWMDZW5kX3NzBHZlcgNhMjYyMGZmNi0yYTUxLTExZTEtOWJmZS03OGU3ZDE1ZGJlYWM-;_ylv=3#crsl=%252Fphotos%252Fodd-couples-animal-style-1309298302-slideshow%252Fodd-animal-pairings-photo-1324232049.html

  11. justanotherobserver

    neti pots: love ’em and, fortunately, have always used distilled water since the first time I used tap water.

    The chlorine in tap water makes it an unpleasant experience.

    One wonders why the chlorine isn’t enough to get rid of the naegleria ?

      1. ginnie nyc

        Actually, Yves, our water is chlorinated. There are efforts being made to reduce the amount of chlorine present(by also treating the water with ultraviolet light), but chlorine is still in use. See page 6, under Water Treatment, of the city’s DEP “New York City 2010 Drinking Water Supply & Quality Report”.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I am pretty sure this is a recent development. I know people who live on the Croton viaduct, and at least historically, it was notable as one of the few major city water supplies that was not chlorinated. I heard this from lots of locals who seemed pretty knowledgeable. But this was 20 years ago, and there has been a lot of development since then, and more people means less pristine water supplies.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      She has another letter to the Sun.

      ‘If you don’t shine, I will have to kill you…’

  12. Donebenson

    Regarding the McKinnon article in the FT on Alexander Hamilton, I think the critical observations in the comments to the article are superior to the article.

  13. Susan the other

    Vietnam Ambush. Still after all these years Vietnam is salient for the confusion surrounding it. And it translates directly to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Iran, etc. The confusion of aggression obfuscates the decision. Negates the purpose. In fact the embarrassment of war is the direct result of contradiction and runs too high and painful to acknowledge the question of why with clarity. So it just gets sloganized with patriotism. It is a crazy world we live in. No political group remains conscious of the facts. But individual people do.

    1. Rex

      That’s a complicated analysis. War is actually pretty simple, in principle. I missed this yesterday; not sure if anyone will read this but I’ll say a little.

      I lived a similar experience to the book author’s. Drafted, did the normal draftee tour — two years in the Army, one year walking around Vietnam carrying an M-16.

      Sometimes wars really do need to be fought, but none I’ve seen in my lifetime. I remember the hurt and turmoil I felt around 2002. The propaganda from the top government Vietnam draft dodgers, now leading the charge, was coming hot and heavy. The justifications seemed awfully thin for the commitment we were about to make. I remember thinking over and over, “We are going to do it again in my own lifetime. We have learned nothing from Vietnam.”

      I always felt that if we had the draft in the last decade, these wars would have been ended much sooner. But the draft-dodging leaders immediately began by sending the Reserves to Iraq. The Reserves were a shelter for many of them during Vietnam. I tried to tell others how revolting it all was, but nobody seemed to grasp what I was getting at.

      It should be interesting, in the financially raped United States, which shows no signs of plentiful good times soon, to see how well these well trained and seasoned killers fit in to a society that has so little use for so many people who are struggling to find a way to earn a living.

      I only did one year in Vietnam. Many of these recent soldiers have done much more. It doesn’t just shrug off.

  14. Flying Kiwi

    The author of “London and Paris go toe-to-toe” writes:
    “I seriously cannot believe that Europe would make such a decision without requiring a referendum, but I have stated before I am surprised by the lack of democracy in modern Europe”

    When it’s quite clear that highly-paid and supposedly highly-trained economists haven’t a clue how to resolve the problem what could possibly be gained by putting it to a referendum – apart from the Pilate cop-out of being subsequently able to claim that the resulting catastrophe was everyone’s fault.

    The choices electorates make are and can be no more than broadly philosophical – which bunch of ego-driven upstarts demonstrate a world-view that most-closely reflects one’s own. Expecting any electorate to drag itself away from the TV to make technical decisions regarding the most effective way of financing a continent is something no-one can seriously expect.

  15. Valissa

    The hunt for Britain’s ghost trains

    The Gerrards Cross ghost train is one of several ethereal services that wend their eerie way around Britain’s rail network, almost unknown to the public and running mostly empty, since they operate at deliberately inconvenient times – often offering their passengers no prospect of getting home again.

    Yet these zombie services have a very real existence in the minds of the bureaucrats who control our rail system, since they help to maintain a fiction that a railway line is still open, when it has effectively been abandoned.

    1. the map is not the territory

      “Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen…….The most ordinary word, when put into place, suddenly acquires brilliance. That is the brilliance with which your images must shine……Bring together things that have not yet been brought together and did not seem predisposed to be so.”

      – Robert Bresson, Notes on the Cinematographer

  16. Herman Sniffles

    Most of the heather moors and peat bogs in Scotland used to be dense forests of oak, birch and Scots pine. The kind of forest King Arthur liked to hide in. The Scots have been trying to bring some of this forest back, to their great credit, but there are too many deer and they eat all the young trees that are planted. The only reasonable argument made in this article IMO is that bounty hunting (getting paid per animal killed) is less responsible than using salaried hunters. And I’m not even sure that’s correct. My father wrote fish and wildlife policy for the California Dept. of Fish and Game for 30 years, and I heard him say many times “when you’re trying to make wise management decisions, the only people who give you as much trouble as the environmentalists are the sportsmen.” I feel very sorry for the Scottish Forestry Department people. These are professional highly trained individuas who are just trying to improve Scotland, an already wonderful place. If they think shooting deer at night with spotlights is the correct way to thin the herd, then it probably is. One reason “spotlighting” is illegal in all 50 US states is that it is so effective. When you put a spolight on a deer at night it freezes and stays absolutely still, so you can take a measured accurate shot that sends it to the promised land with the least chance of its being wounded and suffering.

    1. F. Beard

      Playing God is stressful, no?

      What previously kept the deer population in check, I wonder? Wolves? Big cats?

      But yes, death by high-powered rifle sounds pretty humane. But one day:

      And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
      And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
      And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
      And a little boy will lead them.
      Also the cow and the bear will graze,
      Their young will lie down together,
      And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
      The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
      And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.
      They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
      For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
      As the waters cover the sea.
      Isaiah 11:6-11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

      Isaiah is from the “bloody” Old Testament.

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