Links 1/16/12

How did a giant diamond stolen in a daring London raid end up in a Hong Kong pawnshop? Independent (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Cartier Turns to More Discreet Watches Bloomberg

Your Storytelling Brain Big Think (hat tip reader Aquifer)

Man’s homemade canon explodes, killing him, as sons watch McClatchy (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). Probably Darwin Award winner

30Yr Study: Organic Farming Outperforms Conventional, Chemical Farming FriendsEAT (hat tip reader Aquifer)

‘Yoga can damage your body’ article throws exponents off-balance Guardian. Hah. I happen to like yoga, but anyone who does not know that there are instructors (and not just newbies) who like people to push their bodies into classical poses whether or not they have the flexibility or body proportions to do it is naive. And some postures are prone to causing injuries. Some schools are better at recommending alternative postures that will stretch the same areas.

Are We Really Monolingual? New York Times. This struck me as pretty desperate. Yes, using a language at home is too narrow a definition, but the author goes way too far in the other direction. It takes some doing to find Americans who are highly skilled in more than one language (and his “was fluent in Mandarin 20 years ago” doesn’t cut it. I was fluent in French once, and if you don’t use it, you lose it).

NYC Startup Founder Says Schumer’s Office Told Her the Senator ‘Is In Favor of Censoring the Internet’ BetaBeat (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). Well now that’s official.

EPIC v. Department of Homeland Security: Media Monitoring (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Bills to Stop Web Piracy Invite a Protracted Battle New York Times

You Can’t Read This Book: why libel tourists love London Independent (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

S&P is right about Europe MacroBusiness

Flag in Greece, Europe Aims to Limit Damage New York Times

Greece’s creditors seek end to deadlock Financial Times

Iran warns on output rise after sanctions Financial Times (hat tip Joe Costello)

The Navy Is Depending on Dolphins to Keep the Strait of Hormuz Open Atlantic Wire (hat tip Lambert). Cue The Cove.
Drone Disasters Nick Turse, TomDispatch

Renminbi deal aims to boost City trade Financial Times. A poke in Geithner’s eye?

Huntsman to drop out of GOP race, endorse Romney Washington Post

Stephen Colbert’s PAC Calls Romney a ‘Serial Killer’ Atlantic Wire (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

How Fares the Dream? Paul Krugman. Whoa. I’m not sure blacks would agree class is necessarily a bigger issue than race. What about the rate of black convictions and imprisonment, or the way blacks were and probably still are steered into more costly home and auto loans?

Scotus set to spank 9th Circuit again McClatchy (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Troubled RI city in receivership loses democracy Associated Press (hat tip Joe Costello). The Greek solution is becoming popular.

The five stages of economic grief MacroBusiness

Bank results threaten to dash US hopes Financial Times (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

JPM Chase Quietly Halts Suits Over Consumer Debts American Banker. In case you missed this last week.

Advice to a Generic Candidate Fred Reed (hat tip reader Chris M). You will enjoy this.

Antidote du jour (hat tip DCblogger). I once saw an exhibition on Indian art that featured crows, and the display included a considerable discussion of corvid intelligence. One scientist was quoted saying something like, “The stories you hear about the intelligence of most animals are exaggerated, but with corvids, they are understated.” The only anecdote I recall was a man was trying to frustrate a crow by giving him more than he could carry away (there was a reason I now forget why it was clear the crow would take any food and go). He tossed two doughnuts at him. The crow immediately stuck his beak through the hole in one, grabbed the other, and took off.

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      1. Pearl

        So…..what I really want to know now is–

        Did crows get the idea for sledding from watching humans, or did humans get the idea for sledding from watching crows????

        I have a very small doggie who, every so often, escapes from our backyard and runs into the woods. On one such occasion, after having called and looked for our little escape artist for about 15 minutes, I finally became aware of a crow cawing. I headed off in that direction–and that’s where I found our doggie.

        In and of itself, that experience would not be very interesting. What makes it interesting is the fact that it has happened about a half dozen times since then. It has always been the caw of just one crow, the cawing does not begin until I have been calling and physically searching for at least a few minutes–and the cawing has lead me to the naughty doggie every time!

        (Personally, I think that’s a lot to “crow” about. :-) )

    1. Max424

      Great link.

      I like how the video ends, too, with the crow flying off with the sled. Perhaps what we witnessed was just a simple warm-up on the bunny hill, and now our crow is away to take on the more thrilling but treacherous, church steeple.

    2. gse

      Phew. A few months ago I was walking my 80lb dog off leash in a field, and had a scary moment as she started chasing an injured, low-flying crow. The other crows began loud cawing. I called my dog back before she gained on it, and she was very close.(She immediately came back to me, she’s that kind of dog). Maybe now we have good crow karma.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      So, it’s not an insult to call someone a birdbrain.

      In fact, you might actaully be complimenting that person.

    4. craazyman

      Even the Crows are Crazy, It’s True

      There’s a place in Virginia where I grew up and still go there to see family. When I go for walks along the back streets that run through woods I’m alone and usually lost utterly in thought, but the crows see me and for some reason always start to scream and fly furiously from tree to tree. I have never done anything to them, ever. Why me? Am I some kind of Hitler of the Crows? Why can’t we just get along–in silence, enjoying the woods? I don’t know. But it makes me mad. The anger of innoncence, falsely accused. I’m a trained marksman and a very good shot with a rifle. This is the suburbs and you can’t do that. But if you could, I’d crack off a round or two, humming it right by their beaks just to brush them back and make them think. Don’t f—k with me, crows. And shut up.

  1. G3

    Ah, Central Falls, RI. O-bomb-a and his education sceretary Arne Duncan applauded the firing of all teachers at the Cnetral Falls high school in 2010.

    Droner O-bomb-a did this while speaking to US Chamber of Commerce ! And crowed about how teachers who can’t make students rote learn and vomit facts in the exam shouldn’t have their jobs. I am waiting to see if the voters will fire him because he can’t govern.

  2. SidFinster

    When I was a kitten growing up in Iowa, farmers have numerous stories of crow smarts. Like a man trying to chase crows out of a barn entered the barn with a rifle, and the crows would fly out. But if he entered using a length of pipe, the crows would stay put.

    Supposedly, crows also have as much indivuation as do humans or even cats.

  3. René

    The Hidden Dark Agenda of Public Education

    “The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment to all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to PUT DOWN dissent and originality. That is the aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues, and other such mountebanks, and that is the aim everywhere else.”

    – H.L. Mencken, The American Mercury, April 1924

    “Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.”

    – Joseph Stalin in an interview with H.G. Wells, 1934

    1. Mansoor H. Khan

      Rene’ said,

      “to PUT DOWN dissent and originality”

      In order to encourage creativity and originality the educational system needs to focus on the right brain use (as well as the left bran use). The arts and philosophy have to be encouraged.

      mansoor h. khan

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        you look at the cave paintins at Chauvet and you say to yourself, these guys had nothing to do with our so-called educational system but they had orginality and creativity…probably more than our finest graduates have.

        They probably didn’t commit genocide against cockroaches either. I notice other primates don’t seem to display the over-enthusiasm (as David Adamson might put it) to exterminate cockroaches the way we do…

      2. René

        Absolutely right, Mansoor. Was it not Einstein with his mathematical skills (left brain) and his imagination (right brain) which allowed him to travel on a ray of light… which ultimately led to his famous equation E = MC2 ?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          With creativity and orginiality, it’s possible one day we will see a world beyond E= MC2.

          A new paradigm to replace the old, tired one and we have to be open to the possibility that it could come from the oddest places…beyond our educational system, beyond anyting we might expect.

  4. TulsaTime

    Canon- I hate to disappoint, but no Darwin award is possible since his sons were watching. His weak genes are ready to contaminate the pool unless the children are removed.

  5. 80on40

    Hitchhiking throughout my life and picking up those thumbing their way forms relationships with storytelling (Your Storytelling Brain) consider: a vehicle stops
    to give you a ride. First words after “hello” uttered by either party is alway “how
    far you going” or “I can take you to Pumpkin Center, OK?” maybe even “how long
    you been standing there?” Point is, within moments the exact duration of the
    relationship and its reciprocal is given. Any misgivings express themselves often within moments for each person. Serious doubts signal an early exit “No thanks”.

    The beauty of this lies in the foreknowledge that driver and passenger each
    have a vested interest in safely arriving at point B plus the added enjoyment
    of sharing stories that become crafted to the duration while together.
    Hopping freights is slower but more exciting- but thats another story.

  6. YankeeFrank

    Re JPM/Chase drops collections — an anecdote:

    a friend in NY was being sued by Chase for a defaulted credit card account. A few months ago Chase filed a dismissal with prejudice out of the blue… we were marveling at this and wondering why… we still are but perhaps these units weren’t as profitable as the article makes out — getting a judgment is one thing, collecting on it is another. Especially when, as now, so many are out of work (can’t have wages garnished) and don’t have the money any other way.

  7. aesop


    A thirsty Crow found a Pitcher with some water in it, but so little was there that, try as she might, she could not reach it with her beak, and it seemed as though she would die of thirst within sight of the remedy. At last she hit upon a clever plan. She began dropping pebbles into the Pitcher, and with each pebble the water rose a little higher until at last it reached the brim, and the knowing bird was enabled to quench her thirst.

    Necessity is the mother of invention.

  8. Petey

    “Paul Krugman. Whoa. I’m not sure blacks would agree class is necessarily a bigger issue than race.”

    MLK ended his life leading the Poor People’s Campaign.

    As per Wikipedia:

    Jobs, income and housing were the main goals of the Poor People’s Campaign. The campaign would help the poor by dramatizing their needs, uniting all races under the commonality of hardship and presenting a plan to start to a solution. Under the “economic bill of rights,” the Poor People’s Campaign asked for the federal government to prioritize helping the poor with a $30 billion anti-poverty package that included a commitment to full employment, a guaranteed annual income measure and more low-income housing.

  9. Tertium Squid

    Huntsman endorsing Romney:

    Crud. Would have liked him to endorse Paul. I’m probably too optimistic about his public statements, but I liked having him in the race as evidence that not all handsome former governor Mormons are establishment sell-outs.

    Guess he’s establishment after all.

    Oh well, we still have Eldridge Cleaver.

    OH CRAP, he became a Republican.

    Well, there’s still me…

  10. Red Morlock

    “I’m not sure blacks would agree class is necessarily a bigger issue than race.”

    Which blacks? An oldie but goodie: Blacks See Growing Values Gap Between Poor and Middle Class | Pew Social & Demographic Trends: “African Americans see a widening gulf between the values of middle class and poor blacks, and nearly four-in-ten say that because of the diversity within their community, blacks can no longer be thought of as a single race.”

    Identitarian blacks say it’s ultimately about race. So do identitarian whites. Though they believe it, it ain’t necessarily so.

    1. Petey

      “Which blacks?”

      Worth remembering that the holiday we commemorate today is not African-American day. It’s MLK day.

      And, as noted upthread, MLK ended his life fighting for the Poor People’s Campaign, which was intentionally class-based, not race-based…

  11. Paul

    Thank you for promoting the advantages of organic agriculture. Here’s THE site to learn about it

    At the marketing end, all is not well however.

    Retailers like Whole Foods, and wholesalers like United Natural Foods Inc., continue to push “natural” products at a premium price, while, in effect slowing down the growth of organics with their near market monopoly. In fact, the majority of products sold and distributed by Whole Foods Market and UNFI are not certified organic, but rather so-called “natural.”

    Meanwhile, independent and cooperative grocers often offer more certified organic products at competitive prices… However, the annual $50 billion natural food and products industry is threatening to undermine the organic movement by flooding the marketplace with conventional products greenwashed with “natural” labeling = “conventional-with-a-green-veneer.” Natural products are routinely produced using pesticides, chemical fertilizer, hormones, genetic engineering, and sewage sludge. “Natural”,”all-natural,” and “sustainable,” products in most cases are neither backed up by rules and regulations, nor a Third Party certifier. These are label claims that are neither policed nor monitored.

    Here’s a chart of the massive players taking over the organic food market. Buy from local or small producers
    whenever possible.

  12. Susan the other

    Story Telling Brain. Prof. Gazzaniga. The left brain is the interpreter. Two thoughts: 1. The Native Americans tell stories that almost make no sense, kind of like Beowulf. But they are intriguing, they’re just are not Aesop with clever metaphors. So I think “interpretation” is up for interpretation. It might be said that there is not much meaning to semantics and so the left brain makes it up entirely. Eventually the stories become idiomatic, we come to love certain words and metaphors. Like Blah blah blah. And we create language out of thin air.

    And 2. Has anybody else read Julian Jaynes’ The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (early 80s). I think he gave women credit for evolving the first corpus callosum (and so some self awareness) – don’t know how scientific his book was. It was way fun to read. I remember his example of a basic lack of self awareness: when you imagine yourself diving into a pool of water what do you see? The answer always is that you are an observer watching yourself dive. The answer never is rooted in the basic senses of actually imagining the temperature and sensation of the water.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think it could be a defect that we need storytelling.

      We don’t stop at what is is.

      We have to have a story about why we are here, how the world was created, etc.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From yesterday about corporations.

    Can you incorporate a nation?

    With a limited liability incorporated nation, capitalized at a few hundred bucks perhaps, you can lend it bombs and planes for it to invade other countries. Because it’s a limited incorporated nation, the most it will lose is its few hundred bucks equity, and the bombs and planes it borrowed.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And when the mission is accomplished, you can just declare bankruptcy and set up another incorporated country…unless there is a debt jubilee, then you don’t even need to mess with the paperwork, even if it’s just routine.

  14. Susan the other

    Fred Reed (never heard of him but he is to die for). Advice to a Generic Candidate or “a freshly caught president.” Here’s the take away line:”… the unexpected happens and the enemy is not as stupid as the stategy requires.”

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