Links 12/27/11

Report slams response to nuclear crisis Financial Times

Dieting for two weeks stopped my diabetes: A radical low-calorie regime freed Paul from daily insulin injections Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S). This is a report on a small scale medical study.

Book examines America’s turn from science, warns of danger for democracy McClatchy (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

How ‘overlooked’ middle children triumph in the end Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

Six common myths about US and global energy issues Sober Look

Google Roils Travel Wall Street Journal

A good data scientist is hard to find mathbabe

Anonymous denies Stratfor hack TGDaily (hat tip reader Valissa)

French unemployment at 12-year high Reuters

CIA has suspended drone attacks in Pakistan, U.S. officials say Los Angeles Times (hat tip Robert N)

Condoleeza Rice Wants a Do-Over After Destroying Iraq Scarecrow, Firedoglake

Japan and China: Small Beer Credit Writedowns

Growing wealth widens distance between lawmakers and constituents Washington Post

Bob Woodward Tells Us Now What He Knew About Newt Gingrich Two Decades Ago Brad DeLong

Wrong is still wrong and should be disregarded Bill Mitchell (hat tip reader Hans Suter)

‘Fear Gauge’ Shows Calm Before the Possible Storm Wall Street Journal

Fed’s Once-Secret Data Compiled by Bloomberg Released to Public Bloomberg (hat tip Michael Hudson)

Twist in the tale of bond market’s orphan asset Financial Times

Cohan: When Ivy Grads Pick Teaching Over Wall Street Bloomberg

The Big Lie Michael M. Thomas, The Daily Beast (hat tip reader May S). For those of you who had the misfortune never to see Thomas’ columns in The Observer, this old-school banker (a former Lehman partner from the Bobbie Lehman era, meaning before Lew Glucksman and Dick Fuld) can rise to levels of invective your humble blogger has yet to master.

Money quote:

At the end of the day, the convulsion to come won’t really be about Wall Street’s derivatives malefactions, or its subprime fun and games, or rogue trading, or the folly of banks. It will be about this society’s final opportunity to rip away the paralyzing shackles of corruption or else dwell forever in a neofeudal social order. You might say that 1384 has replaced 1984 as our worst-case scenario. I have lived what now, at 75, is starting to feel like a long life. If anyone asks me what has been the great American story of my lifetime, I have a ready answer. It is the corruption, money-based, that has settled like some all-enveloping excremental mist on the landscape of our hopes, that has permeated every nook of any institution or being that has real influence on the way we live now.

Antidote du jour:

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    1. Typing Monkey

      Young people (the prime audience for the core copyright industries) have never lived in the world of artificial analog scarcity and are voracious, intuitive consumers of every new technology. For the copyright industries (often headed by people in older generations) to ignore the digital DNA of their principal consumers is suicide. Copyright content businesses that don’t respond to consumer demand should not expect to stay in business, and most assuredly, no government should help them do so.

      Copyright laws should not act to shore up outdated business models against the tide of new technologies. Francis Gurry, director general of the World Intellectual Property Organization, has rightly argued that successful copyright policy has to be based on neutrality, and it should not “preserve business models established under obsolete or moribund technologies.”

    2. Kukulkan

      William Patry is an idiot, as is pretty clearly demonstrated by this sentence: But copyright laws rarely cause people to create things they otherwise wouldn’t have.

      Beethoven, Mozart and others wrote various pieces on commission, not because they woke up one morning and felt like it, but because someone came along and paid them to do it. Beethoven in particular thought of himself as a businessman and quite famously quoted the biblical phrase “the labourer is worthy of his hire”.

      Edgar Rice Burroughs may have written the first Tarzan novel out of love, but most of the other twenty-three he wrote because he knew there was a market for them. Frequently, he would bribe magazine editors into buying another of his works by promising them a new Tarzan story.

      Sir Arthur Conan Doyle grew sick of the Sherlock Holmes stories and killed off the character. He eventually brought him back because the Holmes stories sold significantly better than his other material.

      And so on. And so on.

      But, still, let’s take Patry at his word: let’s assume that people will quite happily work for nothing and just give away the products of their time and effort.

      William Patry is a senior copyright counsel at Google Inc. Okay, then let him and Google lead by example. Let them start giving away their services for free. Whey do they charge for advertising they put up all over the net? Why is their time and effort so much more valuable than anyone else’s? If writers and artists and composers are all expected to work for nothing, why should these pricks get paid?

      Patry is a hypocrite. He and Google believe they are worthy of their hire, but want everyone else to just work for nothing. He presents all these oh-so-clever bits of sophistry that in the end just boil down to: I’ve got mine, fuck you.

      1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

        At least he is not alone in believing that. From Wikipedia:

        According to historian Eckhard Höffner the 1710 introduction of copyright law in England and later in France acted as a barrier to economic progress for over a century, while Germany prospered in the same time frame due to the lack of copyright laws. Höffner argues that copyright laws allowed British publishers to print books in limited quantities for high prices»

        In Austria the situation seemed to be similar.

        This would meant that neither Mozart’s nor Beethoven’s work was covered by any copyright. But that’s just a guess, I am no expert on the subject.

        1. Kukulkan

          Höffner argues that copyright laws allowed British publishers to print books in limited quantities for high prices

          This assertion doesn’t work for a couple of reasons.

          First, the 1707 Act of Union which brought England and Scotland together created a situation in which the London stationers (the distinction between publisher and printer was a later development, so they were the publishers of the day) assumed that the Edinburgh stationers were now under their jurisdiction. The Edinburgh stationers disagreed. This manifested itself in an ongoing conflict in which the London stationers maintained that various English publishers had the rights to certain works; the Edinburgh stationers replied that they only had the English rights, and various Scottish publishers had the Scottish rights. So the Edinburgh stationers would bring out Scottish editions which were frequently sold across the border.

          Second, the Statute of Queen Anne established the term of copyright at 14 years (raised from the originally proposed 7 years) from date of first publication, with a grandfather clause allowing for 21 years for works already in print. As the copyright on these older works ran out (in 1731) the stationers started agitating for an extension which Parliament refused to grant. The stationers then started arguing that they had a common law perpetual copyright based on ownership, so the works still weren’t in the public domain. Since not all printers went along with this, there were many “unauthorised” editions of these older works being printed, which led to a series of law suits, culminating in Donaldson v Beckett in 1774, in which the House of Lords decided that copyright was of limited, not perpetual, duration and that the older works were indeed now in the public domain.

          Between these two factors, it was effectively impossible for British stationers to keep any work in limited supply, no matter how much they may have wanted to.

          Further, the seventeen and early eighteen hundreds saw a veritable explosion in British literary production, much greater than what that happened in France or the German States. Since Höffner lumps France and England together, then their similar copyright systems should have had similar effects. They didn’t, so clearly something else was in play.

          The development of German copyright is complicated, not least because Germany was divided into so many different states. As such, I don’t know exactly what the copyright status of Mozart and Beethoven’s work was during their lifetime, but since different states routinely didn’t respect one anothers copyright regimes, even if they had copyright, it probably wouldn’t have been all that effective.

          However, my point was that people like Beethoven and Mozart did not work out of sheer love of the effort. They worked for pay. Indeed, before copyright, the standard model for artistic production was patronage, in which people would create works because they were paid to do so by wealthy lords and the like, who would then show off the work to gain social status.

          What copyright did was democratize this process, so the support of lots of ordinary people, each buying a copy of a work, was sufficient to support a creator. People started producing material that appealed to all sorts of audiences, not just the aristocracy.

          Patry says that copyright should not act to shore up outdated business models, but I don’t think that working for a living is an outdated business model. Well, not for those who aren’t part of the 1%. Maybe the one percenters can live off capital gains; the rest of us still expect to work and to get paid for our efforts.

          1. Lyle

            Just to point out that for Beethoven and Mozart it would be more important to look at Austrian Copyright law, as they were in Austria, and Vienna was the music capital of Europe at the time.

      2. Foppe

        If you work on commission, you do not need copyright protection. The protection is just ‘needed’ for the distributors (who can then grow large rather than middlingly large). See Boldrin & Levine’s Against Intellectual Monopoly (Freely available online.)

        1. Kukulkan

          If you work on commission, you’re still getting paid for it.

          The reply was to William Patry assertion that copyright laws rarely cause people to create things they otherwise wouldn’t have. Since, Paltry also says copyright should give authors the financial incentive to create works the two are in contradiction.

          If copyright serves to give people financial incentive to create works, then his assertion that it rarely causes people to create work they otherwise wouldn’t have, comes down to the claim that people don’t do the work for financial incentive. That is clearly wrong.

          Sometimes people work for reasons other than financial incentive, but most of the time that’s why they do the work they do; whether that financial incentive is commissions or royalties.

          Claiming otherwise is what shows Patry to be an idiot.

          1. aet

            Maybe so: but current US copyright law is horrible, proposals for its modification are even worse.

            Think about it:


            “Two bills now pending in Congress—the PROTECT IP Act of 2011 (Protect IP) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House—represent the latest legislative attempts to address a serious global problem: large-scale online copyright and trademark infringement. …The bills take aim not only at the Internet’s core technical infrastructure, but at its economic and commercial infrastructure as well. Credit card companies, banks, and other financial institutions could be ordered to “prevent, prohibit, or suspend” all dealings with the site associated with the domain name. Online advertisers could be ordered to cease providing advertising services to the site associated with the domain name. Search engine providers could be ordered to “remove or disable access to the Internet site associated with the domain name,” and to disable all hypertext links to the site.

            These drastic consequences would be imposed against persons and organizations outside of the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts by virtue of the fiction that these prosecutorial actions are proceedings in rem, in which the “defendant” is not the operator of the site but the domain name itself. Both bills suggest that these remedies can be meted out by courts after nothing more than ex parte proceedings—proceedings at which only one side (the prosecutor or even a private plaintiff) need present evidence and the operator of the allegedly infringing site need not be present nor even made aware that the action was pending against his or her “property.”

            This not only violates basic principles of due process by depriving persons of property without a fair hearing and a reasonable opportunity to be heard, it also constitutes an unconstitutional abridgement of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that governmental action suppressing speech, if taken prior to an adversary proceeding and subsequent judicial determination that the speech in question is unlawful, is a presumptively unconstitutional “prior restraint.” In other words, it is the “most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights,” permissible only in the narrowest range of circumstances. The Constitution requires a court “to make a final determination” that the material in question is unlawful “after an adversary hearing before the material is completely removed from circulation.”

            The First Amendment to the US Constitution is at odds with the way of the legal doctrine of “copyright” is being used now as to the internet, a punitive use with the avowed aim of stifling the ultra-cheap distributive and reproductive technology enabled by the internet – is it not?

            Which shall it be then, when push comes to shove: the First Amendment, or British-based and derived “copyright” law?

          2. aet

            Ooops…left out the closing quotation marks, which ought to have been at the end of the third paragraph from the end, after the w existing quotation marks .

            The last two paragraphs in my message above are not from the article cited in the preceding body.

            I’d hate to mislead anybody about who created what….

          3. Kukulkan

            This would be the Stanford Review published by Stanford University whose School Center for Internet and Society just received a two million dollar donation from Google? The same Stanford School Center for Internet and Society who recently hosted a panel specifically titled “What’s Wrong With SOPA?” that didn’t allow any speakers who supported the legislation? That Stanford Review?

            In other breaking news, tobacco company funded academics decry the economic effects of trying to prevent lung cancer; oil company funded academics deny the existence of anthropogenic climate change; and American health industry funded academics explain how Australians, Britons and Canadians all hate their socialist health care systems and how introducing such a system to the US would lead to Death Panels.

            It’s nice to see there’s such a concern for due process when it comes to sites promoting piracy, but zero concern for the complete lack of any sort of process at all when those creating content are arbitrarily deprived of their rights. Instead they’re just told to “suck it up”.

            Which shall it be then, when push comes to shove: the First Amendment, or British-based and derived “copyright” law?

            Of copyright law derived from the US constitution? Article One, Section Eight. Or did the First Amendment specifically overturn that part?

      3. Jim Haygood

        Let’s accept, for purposes of discussion, that authors need copyright protection to encourage them to work (although millions of bloggers don’t seem to be motivated primarily by copyright protection, if at all). Then perhaps you could explain why their heirs — children and grandchildren — need to be protected and rewarded for work they didn’t do.

        The Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act extended copyright terms to life of the author plus 70 years and for works of corporate authorship to 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever endpoint is earlier.

        As a result of this naked grab by Disney to retain its 1928 copyright on Mickey Mouse, most literary works published in our lifetimes will not be in the public domain until our great-grandchildren are middle-aged.

        In the U.S., the original 14-year copyright term extended exclusivity for perhaps a third of a human lifetime; now it’s two or three lifetimes. This reaches the level of cultural oppression.

        So egregious is the corporate overreaching in locking up our cultural patrimony for our entire lifetimes, that many now feel quite justified in using digital piracy to engage in wholesale theft from their oppressors, who employ harsh criminal penalties to enforce their two-fisted money grab.

        Screw the MSM — download a Disney Torrent today!

        1. curlydan

          Thank you, Jim, for showing the kernel of corruption in U.S. copyright law. It’s the extension of this copyright period for corporations like Disney that led us to our current path with these new copyright laws. We hold our own progress hostage to Mickey Mouse and Disney so that Disney can make a few million more on Mickey each year when really they must make tons more on new characters like Buzz and Woody.

          Really, people must be allowed to copyright their material for some period of time. But these long extensions just promote laziness and rent seeking from corporations, ultimately reducing the productivity of a nation.

        2. Hugh

          Thanks, I too thought of the egregious Sonny Bono law. Copyright is not about struggling artists trying to make a buck but vast media empires enforcing and collecting rents in perpetuity, at our and our culture’s expense.

          1. justanotherobserver

            Anybody ever read the supreme’s ruling on the disney copyright act ?

            it’s quite easy to read.

            the SC basically punted and said the term is up to congress and if they make it forever, well that’s just too bad. there’s some strict constitutional interpretation for you.

            the most amazing thing about the ruling. that SOB Scalia actually said what needed to be said about it, and took the others to task for such a rididiculous interpretation.

            let’s remember that the founders wrote in a limitation PRECISELY because of rent-seeking by those who were friends of the king who granted them permanent ownership of works.

        3. Ransome

          It is part of the escalating class war. The have’s and the have not’s of information. Only the wealthy and connected can access technical papers.

        4. Yves Smith Post author

          Gotta disagree with you on the blogger motivation business. Except for people who have a full time paycheck (academics and professional bloggers like Felix Salmon) no blogger I know of is happy to see his work ripped off without attribution, and most are not happy to see it reposted in full without permission. They want traffic on their site to have a conversation among readers and to get ad revenues.

        5. Kukulkan

          Then perhaps you could explain why their heirs — children and grandchildren — need to be protected and rewarded for work they didn’t do.

          They don’t. The current period of copyright is far too long.

          Originally, the proposed period of copyright in countries under British law (which included the American colonies at the time) was seven years. This was extended to fourteen years in the actual Statute of Queen Anne, with a possible extension of another fourteen years if the author was still alive when the first term expired, which created a total possible period of twenty-eight years.

          Over time that got extended to 28 years plus another possible 28 years (for a total of 56 years total), then to lifetime of the author, then to lifetime of the author plus 50 years (the argument being that the extra time was needed to cover surviving family, so spouses and children wouldn’t suddenly be reduced to penury).

          Personally, I thought the lifetime plus fifty years was kind of pushing it, but I suppose it’s possible to imagine circumstances in which it could be justified. Whatever my feelings, though, everyone seemed to be willing to accept that period.

          Extensions beyond that are, I think, just ridiculous.

          Disney, as a corporate entity, would have had copyright for 75 years. When Michael Eisner became Disney CEO in the early 1980s he discovered that a large part of the company’s earnings (around 60-70% IIRC) came from their older material, whose copyright would be expiring over the next few decades. Eisner responded to this in two ways:
          First, he pushed for the creation of new material that would prove to be as popular;
          Second, he started lobbying for an extension to the term of copyright.

          The first response led to things like co-funding Pixar and the new wave of animated movies starting with The Little Mermaid (1989). The second, of course led to the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998.

          The first response is how copyright is supposed to work. You produce something that’s popular, you enjoy the benefits and income from that for a while, then it goes into the public domain and you have to create something new. The public benefits in a steady flow of new material, rather than the same old stuff constantly recycled.

          The second response may have made good business sense, but is really a perversion of the idea, so I’m not going to defend it. As I said, I think such extension are ridiculous.

          However, we’re not discussing the term of copyright, we’re dealing with an attack on the very concept because companies like Google, Megaupload and the like make money from pirated material and don’t want to see that cash flow interrupted.

          Screw the MSM — download a Disney Torrent today!

          If you’d said “download a Disney Torrent of material that’s over 75 years old and should be in the public domain”, I might agree with you, but that’s not what you said.

          And, oddly enough, that’s not the material that’s being pirated. It’s the new stuff, material that would be copyright even under the original fourteen year term.

          1. Richard Kline

            So Kukulkan, I fully agree with your remarks. Many who ‘want information to walk free’ hope to profit from someone else’s effort for nothing. And in my experience, _all_ of those of such persuasion have never in their lives produced any work of imagination or invention that was more than trivial if that. In short, their argument is all about _other people’s_ information being made free.

            That said, current US copyright is ridiculously too long, as you say. 75 years by itself struck me as remarkably long. One really gets into the realm of rent-seeking at that duration, yes, in my view, and I say that as someone who writes and researches original work. And personally, I’d support a hard, low cap on corporately owned copyright; lower than for individuals, and automatically lowered upon purchase. Much of the venom behind the ‘end copyright’ argument is driven by, in a phrase, patent exploitation by corporations, both of patents and copyright.

      4. EH

        But, still, let’s take Patry at his word: let’s assume that people will quite happily work for nothing and just give away the products of their time and effort.

        This is a non-sequitur. Working without copyright is not the same thing as working for “nothing.”

        1. LucyLulu

          And to tie in with Yves post above, not giving attribution for somebody else’s work is something else yet again, e.g. plagiarism, which is not negated merely by some paraphrasing here and there.

        2. Kukulkan

          This is a non-sequitur. Working without copyright is not the same thing as working for “nothing.”

          No, this is the heart of the issue.

          The original Statute of Queen Anne was titled “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned”

          American copyright law is based on Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution, clause eight of which reads: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

          Even William Paltry says in the article linked to that copyright “should give authors the financial incentive to create works”.

          The business model by which creators are paid is built on copyright, whether the creators collect the payments directly, or are paid by someone who then collects the payments for the material or are paid by someone who collects revenue for selling access to the audience attracted by the material to advertisers. The business models can get pretty involved, but they all rest on a foundation of copyright — that is, exclusive use of created material for a limited duration. Without that, there is no money flowing into the system to pay the creators.

          Ignoring this is just obfuscation.

          The piracy model promoted by companies such as Google, Megaupload, Rapidshare, Hotfile, Depositfiles, Megashares and others is essentially a variation of the advertising-revenue model. Only they don’t pay the creators, they make money either by selling advertising access to the audience attracted by pirated material or by offering enhanced access to the pirated material.

          Since they aren’t paying for the pirated material, content creators are expected to provide that material for free. That is, the creators work for nothing.

          They are also denying revenue for other companies that do pay content creators, and so eliminating the money used to pay those creators while still using the products of their time and labour. That is, the creators work for nothing.

          Refusing to recognise the underlying business model is just being deliberately obtuse.

      5. Avedon

        I think you’re confusing “financial incentive” with “copyright”. If I do work for hire because somebody pays me, that has nothing to do with *my* copyright.

      6. Bill Patry

        I replied to this on another thread. In short, the views ascribed to me by Kukulkan are a complete lie. Read the book to see what I really think. You will never find out by reading the trash he spews out.

  1. dearieme

    “that proscriptive spirit lingered on right up to 1970, when everything started to change”: ah yes, the baby-boomers, the sixties, everything changed for the better, didn’t it?

    Mind you, anyone who implies that MacArthur might be some sort of role model is inviting loud raspberries.

      1. aet

        But seriously: if you wish to administer (or occupy) foreign territories and countries, General MacArthur is as good a “role model” as any, I suppose.

        But do we really wish to colonize or administer foreign territory nowadays?

        MacArthur may have had his virtues: but imho he’s “yesterday’s man”. Literally.

        1. context

          Illustrious Beginnings…

          U.S. Army intervention

          At 4:45 p.m., commanded by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the 12th Infantry Regiment, Fort Howard, Maryland, and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, supported by six battle tanks commanded by Maj. George S. Patton, formed in Pennsylvania Avenue while thousands of civil service employees left work to line the street and watch. The Bonus Marchers, believing the troops were marching in their honor, cheered the troops until Patton ordered the cavalry to charge them—an action which prompted the spectators to yell, “Shame! Shame!”
          Shacks that members of the Bonus Army erected on the Anacostia Flats burning after the confrontation with the military.

          After the cavalry charged, the infantry, with fixed bayonets and adamsite gas, an arsenical vomiting agent, entered the camps, evicting veterans, families, and camp followers. The veterans fled across the Anacostia River to their largest camp and President Hoover ordered the assault stopped. However Gen. MacArthur, feeling the Bonus March was a Communist attempt to overthrow the U.S. government, ignored the President and ordered a new attack. Fifty-five veterans were injured and 135 arrested.[10] A veteran’s wife miscarried. When 12-week-old Bernard Myers died in the hospital after being caught in the tear gas attack, a government investigation reported he died of enteritis, while a hospital spokesman said the tear gas “didn’t do it any good.”[14]

          During the military operation, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, later President of the United States, served as one of MacArthur’s junior aides.[15] Believing it wrong for the Army’s highest-ranking officer to lead an action against fellow American war veterans, he strongly advised MacArthur against taking any public role: “I told that dumb son-of-a-bitch not to go down there,” he said later. “I told him it was no place for the Chief of Staff.”[16] Despite his misgivings, Eisenhower later wrote the Army’s official incident report which endorsed MacArthur’s conduct.[17]

  2. juneau

    Low calorie, low glycemic index diet with lots of fresh vegetables, lean meats and some fruit, how sensible and nutritious! one caution-I would keep my fluid intake up with this kind of restriction, very high ketone production and dehydration would be a real risk if one didn’t pay attention to staying hydrated and that can be a big problem in diabetes.

    I am realizing that the worst part of these healthy diets is doing this in the presence of friends and family and co workers who will undermine you, sometimes with love-kind of like trying to get sober living in a bar. Not too easy. But very worthwhile.

    Happy Belated Holidays!

    1. LucyLulu

      My understanding of the low-glycemic diet is that it doesn’t eliminate carbohydrates, only limits them and recommends the replacement of simple carbohydrates like sugar and white bread with more complex carbohydrates, e.g. pasta, whole grains, which would reduce the chance of extreme drop in insulin levels that would precipitate ketone production (as would avoiding severe calorie reductions). More importantly, there is a distinction between ketosis and ketoacidosis. Ketosis is a normal physiological response to low insulin levels, and refers to the presence of ketones that results from the burning of body fat for energy. Ketones are not toxic, nor is ketosis inherently dangerous in somebody who is otherwise healthy. Ketoacidosis is a more complex condition that occurs in uncontrolled diabetes and results in high glucose, low pH, and other electrolyte and physiological changes, and can potentially result in coma and death.

      I am not a dietician, but the low-glycemic index diet looks very similar, to me, to the ADA diets I see recommended for diabetics. The other point I’d make is that its long been known that weight loss can reverse type II diabetes. I’ve personally seen many cases where people have lost relatively modest amounts of weight and been able to discontinue oral medication and maintain normal blood sugars. By the same token, I’ve also seen the same with hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. In fact, I have a very good friend who was 50 pounds overweight, 5’11”. After his recent loss of excess weight due to a scare with chest pains (which turned out to be essentially “heartburn”) while hiking in the mountains, he was able to discontinue all three different medications needed for blood pressure control, cholesterol medication, and his oral glycemic agent and his bloodwork returned back within normal limits. As an added bonus, he found his sexual performance improved. ;=)

  3. joecostello

    the six myths about global energy is the same old industry propaganda, one would never think that we know “conventional” oil peaked in the US in 1970, yes we always knew the tar sands etc were there, but thats not cheap oil, yes the US doesn’t get a lot of its oil from the Persian gulf, but we control the gulf to control global oil, and we’ve spent trillions in the non-war over the past four decades to control a depleting resource but they use nigeria as an example, because the 20 year Iraq expedition was about democracy right?

    Of course best is the idea of “market prices” when from the days of old Mr. Rockefeller the oil industry has never been about markets.

    Just like banking and money, America can’t come close to having an honest conversation about oil, and of course the tip-off on this one is the title claims to be about “global energy issues” but its only about oil, well if you’r in the oil business, you know that’s all that matters Bubba.

    1. Dan B

      Agreed. There’s nothing about peak oil, energy return on energy invested or the economic and ecological sustainability of shale oil, tar sands, etc. This is propaganda of the diversionary, “gee, that’s interesting” type. It’s all true but diverts attention away from the big issues. America’s “leadership” will not grasp peak oil’s implications -which are now undermining finance, politics, social life, and the economy- until all explanations based upon the rancid paradigm of perpetual grwoth are empirically invalidated. We’ve got a horribly bad mismatch between those holding power and the knowledge -about as useful as Ptolemaic astronomy- they rely upon to make policy and strategy.

      1. Asher M

        Agreed. I’m surprised this link was included here. Some of it is right, but highly misleading. For example, myth #2 that US oil production is increasing. Yes, it went up marginally, but it’s still 43% below peak production in 1970.

  4. ones and zeros

    Re: Growing wealth widens distance between lawmakers and constituents

    “Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home ­equity.

    Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.”

    But if New York economics professor Edward N. Wolff is correct, or close, then the cutoff for the top 1 percent of American households, in terms of net worth, is around $9 million……

    So the average Congressional representative with around $725,000 has a net worth 35 times greater than the average American with $20,500, yet they still have 12.4 times less than the top 1 percent where the cutoff point is $9 million, 439 times greater than the average.

    Do you think the goal of these “representatives” is to serve the 99 percent with a lousy net worth of $20,000 or is their goal to accept whatever bribes they can get their stinking hands on, hoping they too can accumulate $9 million and one day enter the lower realms of the one percent?

    Gee, I wonder which it is?

    1. young Porky Pig holding out the anarchist’s bomb

      The Lichtenstein artwork that sold for $43.2 million in November, consisted of a panel taken out of a comic book, recreated in paint.

      $43.2 million divided by $20,500 (the average American’s net worth) gives you 2,107.

      So, for those at the top, a scene taken at random from a comic book is worth 2,107 times more than the average American.

      Just to put things in perspective.

      1. Ransome

        The $20,000 man is considered a cost, the artwork is considered an investment. A strong argument to tax idle capital out of the system.

    2. James

      Here’s an idea for Congressional deficit hawks: how about means testing congressional and presidential salaries? Dollar for dollar reduction for every buck of pre-adjusted gross income over their government salary. Wow! I’ll bet that might spark some interesting debate. And make ’em report all their government perks, discounts, etc. as personal income (Fund raising dinners valued at the top ticket price + salary value lost while not on the job. Cross country ride on AF-1? Pony up!). And give ’em all a nice, friendly personal IRS agent of their very own follow them around and help familiarize them with the new rules. Hey! Taxes are hard. It’s the least we can do to make their lives just a little bit easier.

  5. Jaundist

    the haiku in the Money Quote:

    on the landscape of our hopes,
    excremental mist.

    2012 is gonna be a riot.

  6. Jim3981

    From the Bob Woodward article on Gingrich.

    “Weber portrayed Gingrich in various ways throughout the 1992 interview, at one point calling him “a high-maintenance friend and ally, needy” and at another saying that “Newt, as you know, views himself as the leader of a vast, national interplanetary movement.”…

  7. Bill C

    @Michael M. Thomas, The Daily Beast

    “excremental mist on the landscape”….

    Love this expression, I must incorporate it into my apocalyptic vocabulary.

    So much more genteel (but still descriptive) than “shit storm”, same effects.

    1. craazyman

      why doesn’t Mr. Thomas like OWS?

      Doesn’t he like screaming hippy chicks with tatoos? I just read that Tom Golisano has a 35 year old girlfriend (Monica Seles herself) and he’s 70. That made me smile. I thought it was all over for me when I hit 33. I guess it keeps going if you watch your diet.

      Maybe it even keeps going in the astral body. I hear tell of that possibility and would prefer not to find out quite yet. although I do have to say that some of those Incubus chicks are hot but you have to really watch their tricks.

      I’m hoping the scene warms up again with the Spring time. I’m thinking OWS is gonna rock and roll and we just need to be buff and lithe when it happens. No pot bellies or flabby pectorals. Mr. Thomas it is not too late to work on the washboard abs.

      1. craazyman

        oops. Incubus is for the homosexuals. I meant succubus. You can’t confuse them if they’re in front of your astral body, but the terminology can be confusing.

  8. scraping_by

    Re: Ms Rice

    My kids got me into watching Jon Stewart a few years ago. I found myself agreeing with many of his conclusions but wondering about the actual critique. I thought there was a lot more that should be said rather than “Uncool! Uncool!”

    Then Ms. Rice showed up and Mr. Stewart had a roaring good time laughing about her jolly, silly escapades in the Bush Administration. Now, any definition of the term “mass murderer” that doesn’t apply to Ms. Rice depends on some pretty wild verbal gymnastics. While I’m sure she could be personable, is it really easy to forget the number of lies needed to create the conquest of Iraq? Admittedly, the dead, maimed, and displaced weren’t of the inner circles, but out here in flyover land we look at people as people. Fellow human beings. God’s children.

    And by the way, it’s all flyover land, except for the enclaves of the better people.

    The political celebrity thing is alive and well, as opposed to the celebrity political thing. The Republican debates could be seen as tabloid level celebrity cat fights, with nothing but catch phrases separating the faces. There’s no policy, just bitchiness.

    And someone who helped author one of the great, unnecessary tragedies of our time can be rehabilitated by a little bit of PR puff.

  9. briansays

    Greetings from Cali
    Ah yes the Condi Rehab Tour
    We have already begun to see the occasional article
    Perhaps too quiet down on the Farm for her??
    More likely the Republican Party of Cali long banished but desparate for statewide office (Senate should DiFi retire?)thinking not beyond the symbolic (a woman and a black?) but even the voters have moved beyond that
    Recall Arnold…

    As for Iraq as one with far more knowledge once said:

    “Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them. Actually, also, under the very odd conditions of Arabia, your practical work will not be as good as, perhaps, you think it is.”

    The Evolution of A Revolt (1920)

  10. Susan the other

    Michael Thomas was properly angry. Where are all the others, who I assume are the good guys who still live within the 1%. MacArthur might have been a superficial poser, but he comes from the last patriotic generation who proudly met their call to defend their country. Do we have to go back that far to find a quote?

  11. barrisj

    Condi…feh! Worst NatSec Advisor ever, and a myopic SecState. From ignoring Richard Clarke’s warnings about impending al-Qaeda action leading to “9-11”, to her absolutely moronic statement about “…birth pangs of a new Middle East”, this fool and her bosses foisted a murderous, anti-democratic, and ultimately self-defeating policy mix throughout the Middle East and Afghanistan. Another case of a failed politician sanitising her grotesqueries with book tours and selected interviews. What a bloody shower!

  12. kravitz

    Busy for a Tuesday after Christmas. And kinda another one for some.

    Court Grants Appeal of BofA $8.5 Billion MBS Accord
    “An appeals court on Tuesday granted an appeal of a controversial ruling that moved consideration of Bank of America Corp’s $8.5 billion settlement over mortgage debt to federal court.”

    and… gotta keep those future employers happy…

    SEC Seeks Emergency Halt to Citigroup Fraud Case

  13. LucyLulu

    I’ve often asked how increasing domestic oil production would bring oil prices down in the US, as is often claimed in the political arena, since all oil ends up going into one global pot, and never been able to get an answer (outside of the nominal effect of increasing global supply). The article debunking the six myths seems to answer the question once and for all. It won’t.

    Also, the environmental crisis being created by the oil companies in Nigeria seems to get minimal media attention. Entire villages have seen their livelihoods disappear, poverty is rampant, farming and fishing have disappeared, health problems are on the rise, and life expectancies have dropped by almost one half. Oil production in Nigeria represents a classic argument for what can happen in the absence of adequate regulations. The photos from the region make compelling arguments.

  14. H Sniffles

    As a middle child I would like to say that the biggest benefit was being able to inflict tortures on my little sister taught to me by my elder brother. I’ve always suspected that the eldest child gets the brunt of the parent’s ignorance about child rearing. The young couple is totally unprepared – no matter how many books they read – so they overreact. By the time the youngest child arrives the parents are so confused and disillusioned that they just couldn’t care less what the little demon does. So it’s the middle child that has the best chance of getting a measured, balanced dose of child husbandry.

  15. Hugh

    The Michael Thomas post is excellent. Finally, someone who is actually willing to use the word “kleptocrat”. And he is correct when reform, even the possibility for reform, fails, then all that is left is revolution or submission to oppression.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      I look forward to what Thomas calls “the focused tsunami of retribution . . . To make the bastards pay, properly, for the grief and woe they have caused . . . in a manner in which the pain is proportionate to the collateral damage.” (bearing in mind there has been considerable loss of life, as well as jobs, hearth and home.)

      I’ve heard many plead for a “truth and reconciliation” commission, which in South Africa, kept the neolibs entrenched. What’s sorely needed is a “truth a retribution” commission, which leaves the perps dead or otherwise unable to ever again inflict themselves on humanity.

      Thomas again:

      “When the great day comes, Wall Street will pray for another Pecora, because compared with the rough beast now beginning to strain at the leash, Pecora will look like Phil Gramm. Humiliation and ridicule, even financial penalties, will be the least of the Street’s tribulations. There will be prosecutions and show trials. There will be violence, mark my words. Houses burnt, property defaced. I just hope that this time the mob targets the right people in Wall Street and in Washington. (How does a right-thinking Christian go about asking Santa for Mitch McConnell’s head under the Christmas tree?)”

  16. sljdflkj

    I wonder what Rice would say about the Iranian bun in America’s oven, if only she wasn’t deathly afraid of starting a chain of recrimination that would land her in an execution chamber, her rightful home. Nobody who starts a war has any excuses. The fact Rice isn’t on suicide watch tells us everything we need to know about her moral constitution. She sleeps very well, thank you! And thanks for asking!

  17. Max424

    From: Six common myths

    “Myth #3: If the US produced more of its energy requirements, the price at the pump would be lower.

    This is a common misconception and is not true in the global economy.

    Eurasia Review: … it would not matter much if the United States produced 100 percent of what it consumed or whether it all came from the Persian Gulf, because the price at the pump is determined by the worldwide oil market. If more oil is put on market from anywhere around the globe, the price will go down; similarly, if oil production is cut anywhere in the world and not offset by increases elsewhere, the price will go up.”

    The people at Eurasian Review and Sober Look are not only drunk, they’re in a near catatonic state of inebriation. On the floor, passed out, puke dribbling out the corners of their mouth, annihilated.

    Have these people NOT heard of the country, Saudi Arabia? An article about world oil production, and they know not of the planet’s foremost oil producer?

    Does Saudi Arabia charge world oil prices at their pumps? FUCK NO. They charge whatever they want.

    Who are these idiots at Eurasian Review and Sober Look? And how did they get space on this blog?

    Note: A kindergartner could have looked this up on Google. Unbelievable.

    1. LucyLulu

      Saudi Arabia may charge whatever they like at their pumps but the prices we charge at our pumps are dependent upon global oil prices. Therefore, since we live in the US and not Saudi Arabia, the point holds true…….. contrary to conservative political propaganda.

      1. Max424

        The point does not hold true. If the United States produced 100% of the oil it consumed (like Saudi Arabia does), it could say to the world markets, “Go fuck yourselves,” and set the price at a level most beneficial to its citizens.


        Why am I arguing this? And what the hell does “conservative propaganda” have to do with anything?

        Note: Those nitwits told us the Iraqi Invasion wouldn’t cost us anything. Even dumber on Cheney’s part, we didn’t get Iraq’s oil, the Chinese and the Russians did.

        In the arena of war profiteering, Dick Cheney proved himself a cagy, ruthless mastermind. But as a viceroy? Only an idiot.

  18. Anonymous Comment

    Surprise, surprise. Not so different from what we would expect – here or there.

    “‘Secret’ Environment Canada Presentation Warns of Oilsands’ Impact on Habitat”by Mike De Souza

    “The warnings from the department contrast with recent claims made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Environment Minister Peter Kent…”

  19. b.

    I had a somewhat adversarial exchange with Lawrence Lessig once, where I argued that his arguments before the Supreme Court – as they were presented by him in interviews – were doomed to failure. I argued that, instead of asking the court to pick an arbitrary duration beyond which copyright could not possibly be extended, the core proposition should have been that copyright extensions for works already created are unconstitutional, and have always been. Its chances of success (before the actual, not a hypothetical, Supreme Court) would likely have been little better, but it would have made the point quite clearly. The whole purpose of Sonny Bono would have been demonstrated quite clearly.

    Tying duration to the creator’s lifetime, or to profit made, or demanding a “use it or loose it” proposition would have served similar purposes. The understanding of the purposes of copyright, and its constitutionally uneasy position versus monopolies and free speech, has deteriorated so much – witness the “right to be paid, duty to work” blathering above – that at this point fighting the windmills might have to be aimed at education, not judicial and legislative “success”.
    I am a published author, but being trained as a scientist, I have always thought that it is the vanity and essential dishonesty of art that fuels the insanity of copyright, more than corporate greed. Just like science, art is created by those standing on the shoulders of “giants”, which happen to be of equal stature. The scientific project would have been impossible with copyright, patents, and the outsized claims of intellectual “ownership” of “property”. Math itself would be impossible as a proprietary project. As much as it might offend the simple minded, the most staggering of humanities accomplishments were possible only as cooperative, non-profit projects conducted by those that decided not to become investment bankers, and the incomprehending and ungrateful louts that claim to own this or that part of human civilization benefit from technology and antibiotics just as much as anybody else. Maybe artists should focus more on credits, acknowledgements, and more introspection with respect to their creative process – their “artistic method”, and less on how to help corporations take away “at will” and “for hire” any idea of inalienable creatorship and ownership that might be left. I have worked a dozen years in a “creative” industry, and in my view, art has been held back by proprietary property squatting as much as science is starting to be held back by patently idiotic claims of ownership encoded in self-defeating laws that owe everything to actual and intellectual corruption, and nothing to democratic or creative thinking.

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