Links 1/18/12, Stop SOPA Day

Lots of Internet protests planned, and we may get our tech act together to participate (I don’t fool with the site plumbing but my tech guy is on the case). Looking at a partial day shutdown during prime time.

The Web to “Go Dark” January 18th to Protest Censorship Bills George Washington

Google Plans Home Page Protest Against U.S. Piracy Measures Bloomberg. Notice the new PR tactic. Protests that might get noticed are deemed to be “publicity stunts”. This by people who are heavy users of PR.

“Can’t seem to face up to the facts” Three-Toed Sloth (hat tip reader Foppe). Debunks a Slashdot link from yesterday.

A Guide to the Dark Side Science Now (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Bed Bath and Beyond recalls radioactive tissue holders after they set off police radiation monitors aboard a delivery truck Daily Mail (hat tip reader 1 SK)

GEODOG GPS-enabled collar lets you find your dog using your smartphone Gizmag (hat tip reader furzy mouse). Why a collar? Why not a chip?

‘Unruly’ fliers: Delta flight diverts on champagne request USA Today (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). A real “he said, she said.”

Industry Weighs Effect of Ship Accident New York Times and Americans recall panic, chaos after shipwreck USA Today (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). If you’ve been on a cruise, you are put through a drill early on to tell you where to go in an emergency and you are reassured the crew knows what to do. Yet another example of theory v. reality.

Project to Pour Water Into Volcano to Make Power Associated Press (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

China: A Country Where No One is Secure Caixin

The ECB is Engaging in Massive QE Marshall Auerback, Credit Writedowns

Jon Stewart’s Devastating, Dark Segment on Factories Where iPhones Are Made Alternet

World Bank warns emerging nations Financial Times. What are they supposed to do? Assume the brace position?

Iran to return US secret drone… as a toy RT (hat tip reader 1 SK)

White House seizes on Romney’s tax admission Financial Times


Analysis: The great hedge fund humbling of 2011 Reuters (hat tip reader ScottS)

In Citi appeal, who will speak for Rakoff? Alison Frankel. I thought there was an above my pay grade reason the Rakoff ruling should not be subject to appeal. Cleary, no one cares about such niceties.

Mozilo Tied to Loan to Top Lawmaker Wall Street Journal

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader furzy mouse). An albino hummingbird, photographed by fifteen year old Marlin Shank:

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  1. dearieme

    The Delta story: is it anything more than a problem of a couple unreasonably expecting German levels of competence on an American airline?

    1. Peripheral Visionary

      It’s hard to tell – as Yves said, it’s a he said/she said situation. But between a first class passenger and a flight attendant, I’ll take the flight attendant’s side by default. Flight attendants have a difficult job, passengers need to learn to be more respectful toward them. Even – especially – first class passengers. Sitting in first class does not give a passenger the right to be abusive toward a flight attendant.

      1. Jane

        I would like to hear accounts from eye-witnesses before I pass judgement on either party in this dispute.

        There has to be a YouTube video somewhere. It is permitted to use your phone/camera in flight as long as the device is in ‘flight mode’.

    2. tyaresun

      I have flown Lufthansa and spent time at the Frankfurt airport. I did not see any differences in service levels. Also, you can have a very memorable experience if you are a person of color in transit at the Franfurt airport.

      1. bman


        As a brown-skinned man I (and others like me) was singled out by immigration and security and asked for papers while getting off the plane, and then a few times, during my 4-hour layover in Frankfurt. We were off the plane for refuelling, we did not even step out of the airport. White people were just left alone. It seems trivial, but the contempt in their attitude came across nicely

        I vowed then never to fly through Frankfurt, and never have in the last 17 years, in all my cross-continental trips from Asia to US.

        1. tyaresun

          I was trying to be ironic about the treatment at Frankfurt airport. You can be the CTO of a $1B silicon valley co travelling on a US passport but the folks there will keep staring at you as if you will reach for the Exit the moment they stop. LOL.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Even the untouchables don’t deserve that treatment.

            Maybe it’s more shocking to the CTO of a $1 billon Silicon Valley company. But that should have nothing to do with the fact that no one should be treated that way.

            In fact, that CTO can turn a bad experience into a productive one by helping to get rid of the caste system in India.

    1. William Wallace

      Brookesly Borne learned this the hard way, Greenspan and Summers threatened to take away her pension if she didn’t shut up about the CFTC BS.

  2. aet

    RE: Judge rakoff

    “Speak for the Judge”?

    Did the learned Judge not give reasons for deciding as he did?

    If so, the Judge has already “spoken for himself”. if he did not, then it’s too late now.

    The question now is: does the good Judge’s reasons for deciding as he did withstand the review of more senior Judges?

    Did he correctly decide the case ?

    So what’s with the “who speaks for the poor voiceless judge” blather?

    PS: The learned Judge Rakoff is also wrong in his reasons for not letting Mr Picard go after Mr Madoff’s preferred “investors”.


    But you all will have to wait a long time for that appeal, the Judge has ruled. Enough time to let the “Madoff scandal” cool off some more?

  3. K Ackermann

    It’s unbelievable how Rakoff’s reasoned opinion is being appealed and possibly subjected to mandamus.

    If there is any doubt about who the SEC works for, know this: we may pay for it to exist, but it works exclusively in the service of it masters – Wall St.

    1. aet

      ANY unprecedented decision OUGHT to be appealed.

      To give that decision added strength if it is correctly decided, and to quickly extirpate its further influence if it is not.

      But please! DO note carefully the use of the word “unprecedented” in the foregoing!

      1. Foppe

        Sure, but how on earth can it be “unprecedented” to decide not to rubber-stamp decisions like this?

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        No, there really was some technical reason this ruling should not be subject to appeal. It was in an MSM story at the time of the original decision.

  4. aet

    Who does the US Congress work for?

    RE: SOPA


    Gives the government the right to unilaterally censor foreign websites.
    Gives copyright holders the right to issue economic takedowns and bring lawsuits against website owners and operators, if those websites have features that make it possible to post infringing content.
    Makes it a felony offense to post a copyrighted song or video.

    This bill turns us all into criminals. If it passes, then you either stop using the Internet, or you simply hope that you never end up in the crosshairs, because if you’re targeted, you will be destroyed by this bill. You don’t have to be a big, mean, nasty criminal — common Internet usage is effectively criminalized under this law. This bill will kill American innovation and development of the Internet, as it will become too risky to do anything of value. It is toxic and dangerous, and should not, under any circumstances, be supported.”

    Text copied without permission from:

    Were SOPA in place, NC and Yves would now be guilty of a serious felony, simply ’cause I can post that here.

    1. sleepy

      Once the government begins taking down domain names, I think it will only be a matter of time before some techies create a different, parallel domain name system.

      Most likely, new search engines would be created as well on the fly, one step ahead of the gumshoes.

      Talk about a whole new can of worms for the government. It should watch what it wishes for.

      Oh well, just speculating premised on the old chestnut that techies and hackers are always one step ahead of government.

      1. Typing Monkey

        Interesting logic–it mirrors the arguments the financial industry makes re: regulating them…

  5. DP

    It took a “chief investment officer” 20 years to figure this out?

    “After 20 years of investing in hedge funds, I finally realize they are not the holy grail but an asset class with enormous fees, illiquidity, high leverage and hidden risk, given their lack of transparency,” said Bradley Alford, chief investment officer at Alpha Capital Management.

    The headline about hedge fund managers being “humbled” is a laugher. They don’t get humbled, when they’re too far under their high water mark to earn performance fees in the foreseeable future they just shut down and start another fund.

    1. YankeeFrank

      Remember that the Fed has been happily blowing bubbles for hedge funds to profit off of for over 15 years now. Of course the hedgies take credit for their insightful investments but as we know monkeys would do as well in a rising market. Now that the bubble blowing is failing, the veil is removed from the eyes of the lazy and half-smart.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        To be fair, no monkey could predict beforehand when a rising market would come.

        Sadly, no Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens could either.

        1. F. Beard

          Sadly, no Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens could either. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I call bull-shit. Low cost imports from China allowed the Fed to keep interest rates low and that in turn fueled the asset boom.

          The whole central bank thingy is to counterfeit but not so much that the population catches on via price inflation.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Perhaps in a general way that the market will rise, but not the exact (or even approximate) magnitude, duration or the number of corrections along the way.

            It’s like saying all economists will be dead in the long run, but then even a monkey knows that…I hope.

    2. Maximilien

      @DP: Yeah, the ol’ you-win-I-win, you-lose-I’m-gone racket. (But don’t forget to add my 2% commission to your losses.)

      At the racetrack, a hedge-fund manager would be called a tout. Touts (when they’re not being run off the grounds) walk up to suckers and say, “Hey buddy, I gotta really good horse today. Give me twenty bucks and I’ll give it to you. If the horse wins you owe me 20% of your winnings.” Same old you-win-I-win, you-lose…well, try to find me.

      Most horseplayers know enough to steer clear of touts. Why don’t so-called sophisticated investors?

  6. Tim

    Great action page here with lots of techno things,
    links and good reasons why every American should fight



    Tell Congress you OPPOSE Senate 968 “Protect IP Act” (PIPA) and H.R. 3261 “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA):

    Phone your Member of Congress via nifty Progressive Change app
    Contact Senators who are refusing to meet with constituents about PIPA.
    Reverse Robocall pro-PIPA & pro-SOPA MOC + Lobbyists (More at Ars Technica)
    EFF Congressional Emailer – Oppose Internet Blacklisting (PIPA & SOPA)
    ECA Congressional Emailer – Don’t Censor Our Internet!
    OpenCongress Congressional Emailer – Oppose SOPA
    Generic Congressional Emailer (You’ll need your Zip+4)
    Petition Congress – Protect Innovation, Dump SOPA (Progressive Change )
    Outside the US? Sign Petition Opposing US Censorship of Global Sites (EFF)



  7. Sean

    Re: GEODOG GPS-enabled collar lets you find your dog using your smartphone

    “Why a collar? Why not a chip?”

    GPS is an active device that requires it to be powered by a battery or some other power source. Since the collar would also need to transmit a signal to the user it would consume even more energy than your run of the mill GPS. This would certainly be impractical as an embedded device inside an animal.

    Chips that are currently put in animals are passive RFID devices that require no power source to be utilized.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      Plants, we will worry about them later….

      1. Binky the Bear

        The pile of chewed off dog collars at the dog park says you’re mistaken. also, too, Jurassic Park, and such.

  8. René

    Are you able to make a triple jump and connect the SOPA Act (or the NDAA ) and its initiators with the paragraphs underneath?

    “No one can fully explain the formal hostilities of the 20th century. Several, such as the Vietnam War and Pearl Harbor, were obvious provocations, created by apparently false-flag events. But lift the curtain and Western funding becomes evident for both the Soviet Union and Germany’s Nazi period. The wars of the 20th century in particular, both hot and cold, increasingly seem to have been phony ones.

    And what was the result of these wars? In almost every case, an equally phony solution was applied. Having apparently created a military conflict, the power elite proposed the SOLUTION – more government, more authority-from-the-top-down, more economic interference, price fixing, market meddling – inevitably leading to more recessions, depressions, social tension and … further justifications for military activity.

    We could go on … but really there is no need. It is all over the Internet now, thousands of articles, testimonies, descriptions, in manifold, merciless, electronic glory. The impossible crimes of the Western elite are reported, thusly, in detail. It is clear, indelible and unalterable.”

    1. Walter Wit Man

      I certainly make those connections. My full awakening to the fascist takeover of this country coincides with the rise of the internet and my breaking free of traditional media. I can see how the internet is a problem for the fascists.

      For instance, I have been looking into the fascist coup of 1933. The DuPonts and Rockefellers and other fascists seem to have been promoting fascism in the 1930s (they paid for favorable news coverage of Hitler, formed the American Liberty League, etc.). They also armed Germany and had financial ties with Germany (for e.g. the elder Bush had some assets frozen in 1942 when it was finally forbidden to deal with the Nazis–which was later returned at a profit).

      Anyway, the American fascists tried to recruit a man on white horse to lead retired soldiers in a coup–as had happened in Europe–an American Hitler. Smedley Butler was recruited for the job of Hitler and went along with the plan but was really a double agent and revealed the coup! He got names and details of the plan (evidently there is evidence they also planned concentration camps for Jews and undesirables). So Butler was a hero (if he’s telling the truth).

      But the Democrats barely fought back and instead held congressional hearings, largely largely in secret. This was the first Un-American Activities Committee (and in an irony the fascists would turn this tool around for their benefit as they used it to chase phantom communist plots). FDR evidently agreed to keep the congressional hearings secret and not prosecute some of the biggest names in America (just like Obama, eh?). There is evidence that someone tampered with the congressional record and much of the materials were disappeared. (Dick Nixon later was charged with scrubbing the Bush’s ties to Hitler so maybe Dick Nixon is partially responsible for this?)

      FDR also seemed to allow or support the provocation of the Japanese. I don’t know this history that well but I suspect a compromise between the right wing fascists and the neoliberals in the Democratic party (or soft fascists–see e.g. the pro Hitler Joe Kennedy as ambassador to Britain). Maybe FDR agreed not to punish the 1933 coup plotters if his New Deal was passed and war started on his terms?? Maybe the Democrats didn’t like going to war for the oil men but GM seemed to do pretty well in the Democrats’ war (and Prescott Bush eventually got his seized Nazi money back, at a profit, and the right wing fascists didn’t do poorly during the war either).

      In the end, the Bush’s and other fascists not only armed Nazi Germany but they also sold the arms that defeated Nazi Germany.

      Then in 1963 it appears that another coup was pulled off with the killing of Kennedy and another war started in earnest a year later.

      There are many other examples of the fascists in America supporting both sides in a war or simply creating war for no reason. Look at Iran v. Iraq. Or look at Panama, where Bush whacked a guy that used to be on his side (just watched a documentary on how the Panama war was a false flag attack as well). Same thing with Saddam Hussein.

      These fascists are out of control.

      Hopefully the cat is out of the bag but I don’t doubt the fascists view a free internet as the enemy.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        To clarify: Nixon was “charged” with scrubbing the Nazi record of its ties to American fascists in the sense he was ordered to do so by Dulles of the CIA in 1945 when Nixon was a Navy officer.

        The CIA evidently then funded Dick Nixon’s run for office. This is the first instance I’ve heard of the CIA running people for office. I’ve long wondered why people weren’t shocked when it was discovered George H.W. Bush did the same thing–basically ran for office while working for the CIA. How many of our politicians actually serve the CIA rather than us?

        There are compelling clues that both Clinton and Obama were assets of the CIA, for instance.

        I also wonder if Bush and Nixon were rewarded with the presidency because of their guilty knowledge of many of these acts.

      2. Because

        Your forgetting that Jews were the main financier of the ALL. Hitler was financed by Jewish financiers as Gregor Strasser said. If you want to go really bat shit crazy, Hitler AND the Bolshevicks were always formented and run by capital. Considering the amount of documented Wall Street support for both “revolutions”, it makes you think.

        It brought the US up to a economic empire.

          1. Walter Wit Man

            And I don’t really know much about that author. It seems like the facts are legit, and it’s well argued and written, but I don’t know if I am sold on the libertarian perspective; I doubt the bankers really had socialist goals when they funded the Russian revolutionaries. I think they just wanted to make money off war or they wanted to overthrow the Russian government.

            To the extent Jewish bankers took part in the Russian revolution, they had a reason to oppose the tsar apart from economic reasons. And I’m sure Jewish bankers did business with Hitler because they were like other bankers–they put their personal interests above everyone else and donn’t care about others. I remember reading that Mussolini had a more nuanced relationship with Jews and had some Jewish supporters.

  9. Yearning to Learn

    Looking at a partial day shutdown during prime time.

    Noooooo!!!!!!!! Don’t punish us for the misdeeds of our leaders.

    Yet one more reason to hate my politicians… sigh.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Going dark on SOPA Day.

      Unfortunatlely, the universe is mostly dark – every night … and every day. Pick a random place in space, and it would look like what you see on a cloudless night on Earth. We are exceptional (Earth-exceptionalism) being this close to a star.

      This darkness is different from the universe being made mostly of dark matter and dark energy. That is more like the financial universe being made mostly of dark souls and dark accounting entries. To know more, you probably have to read up on ‘The Quantum Financial Universe’ – not sure if it has been written yet.

  10. Max424

    Iran, you shouldn’t toy with us (literally). You might think that we won’t attack; because you know, that we know, you have no nuclear weapons program. But you would be wrong.

    Check this out Iran: we never gave a hairy rat’s ass about your future weapons of mass destruction capabilities, because one small asset in our military arsenal (an aircraft carrier) can wipe you off the map in a matter of seconds.

    You ARE pissing us off, though, but it’s not the mean things you say about Israel or your laughable sabre rattling that is getting under our skin. What we really bothers us, is the destination of your exported oil (not towards us!), and the new denominations it is trading in.

    I recommend following the Michael T. Klare link in the Escobar piece. Klare spells out how the US is now applying the Carter Doctrine to the entire globe, and not just to the middle-east, as originally intended.*

    *This is something Carter, a smart boy, anticipated, and feared. But the Carter Doctrine, Jimmy hoped, would be applied only as a temporary, stop gap thing, because his other baby, his brilliant 10 Point Program, if followed, would wean us off imported oil by ’85.


    Here’s the Klare link:

    1. René

      The 8 minute video underneath explains why Carter’s brilliant 10 Point Program has not been implemented.

      It also explains why many other BRILLIANT programs have not been implemented or were aborted. Make sure you watch the last 4 minutes!

      Corbettreport, The Last Word on Snake Oil;

      1. Max424

        Yeah, the evilest of all consortiums (GM, Firestone, Phillips, and Standard), tore up our entire trolley system! A complete national public transportation network, one hundred years in the making, erased, in a matter of years.

        Those motherfuckers! And how powerful are they?

        Love trains, too. Wish I could hop on a bullet train, and go somewhere, but alas, I can’t, and never will, all because the brilliant 10 Point Program was abandoned, before it was even considered.

        That poor, prescient bastard Carter. He was right. Oil will be our ruin.

        1. Max424

          Hell, I wish I could hop on a warm and inviting trolley and ride it down to Buffalo’s best pool room. But instead, at this very moment, I am wasting precious gas warming up my frozen vehicle, all so that I can drive 10 damn dangerous and inhospitable miles through the windswept tundra.

    2. Typing Monkey

      Umm…I don’t normally comment on politics (mostly because I don’t give a damn), but you’ve completely misread the existing situation. The US is currently bending over backwards to tell Israel to tone things down, and it is trying equally hard to signal to Iran that it has absolutely no intention of attacking anytime soon. The signals have ranged from cancelling (fine–postponing) the war games to leaking stories of Israeli false flag operations basically telling Iran that Israel acted alone in its latest assassinations of nuclear scientists. When Iran captured an American drone, the US deliberately avoided going in and trying to capture it for fear of being caught committing an act of war. The signals have been pretty clear.

      Israel in turn is toning down its rhetoric (I can only imagine what type of pressure was exerted behind the scenes for it to do so, but the pressure must have been pretty damned intense).

      As to why this is happening, I can only guess. Aside from the US being pissed at Israeli posturing, there could be other concerns–potential price of oil, potential additional quagmire after having finally gotten the misadventure in Iraq out of the headlines, potential backlash from China and Russia, or perhaps a belief that Iran is set to implode soon anyway. Or it could be something else entirely–I have no idea. But the signals have been very straightforward.

      Incidentally, the US position is now more dovish than the relative doves of the Iraq war–France is virtually agitating for a war (I guess Sarkozy wants another five years in Elysee, although for the life of me, I can’t understand why such an incompetent would want to make a fool of himself for another half decade–especially when he could be having fun with Bruni instead…). Cameron has been quite aggressive for whatever reason. Even Canada’s Harper seems more interested in war than peace. Of all the countries that I would have imagined being more belligerent than the US, it never would have occurred to me to consider Canada…

      1. Walter Wit Man

        On the other hand, the U.S. just sent 15,000 troops to Kuwait because of Iran. And did so very quietly.

        It also recently came up with a wild allegation of an Iranian assassination plot in the U.S.

        It is pushing sanctions intended to cripple its oil economy. Some sanctions go into effect this summer and have been progressively getting stricter over the last few years. It is unclear how much effect these will have but it’s clear the U.S. is trying to cripple them and using all its political might to do so.

        The U.S. and Israel are engaging in covert war in Iran. There has been an increase in assassination of scientists and there has also been bombings of sites in Iran in the last year. In addition to much else.

  11. TomOfTheNorth

    I suppose it’s a symptom of reaching one’s limit but the item in today’s links I found most fascinating was that the antitdote du jour was photographed by someone named ‘Marlin Shanks’. Emotes all manner of imagery: fishing, golfing prison, Wild Kingdom…..

    what a freaking great name…

    1. craazyman

      Not only that, but somebody named Marlin Shanks can’t possibly be 15 years old.

      You have to be at least 42 with an overcoat on and in need of a shave to have that name. You have to come out of your mother like that, 42 years old, coat and all, but you can come out in miniature and just expand over time.

  12. Peripheral Visionary

    Re: “Industry Weighs Effect of Ship Accident”

    As far as I can tell, the ship in question was up to standards – its crew had been trained, the passengers had been briefed on evacuations, there were sufficient lifeboats, etc.

    The problem was, in the event, the captain and many of the crew simply couldn’t be bothered to do what was expected of them, and were in such a hurry to get themselves off the ship and save their own lives that they did not properly carry out an orderly evacuation.

    That isn’t a problem that is going to be solved by regulation or policy changes. It is a simple problem that, when push came to shove (literally – there were reports of people pushing other people out of the way to get onto the lifeboats), certain people were unwilling to put others’ safety above their own. No amount of regulation or safety standards are going to change that.

    If the captain and crew are willing to put their own safety at risk in order to ensure the well-being of the passengers, there will be an orderly evacuation with a minimum loss of life; if not, there will be mass panic and catastrophic loss of life. (The contrasting case here is Captain “Sully” of the flight that went down in the Hudson, who at great personal risk ensured everyone got off the flight – end result, zero casualties.)

    The bottom line is, no amount of regulation or policy-making will fix moral rot at the core of society. It may mitigate its effects, but it will not fix it. No amount of regulation or policy-making can serve as a substitute for people putting other peoples’ best interests ahead of their own.

    1. lidia

      There is a backlash against this ‘moral rot’. The Coast Guard commander who figured out that the captain was only pretending to be on board the ship as he was calling in his distress call, yelled “Vada a bordo, cazzo!” [“Get back on board, for fuck’s sake!”].

      The audio of this call has been making the public rounds, and there are already T-shirts with “Vada a bordo, cazzo!” out, and the Coast Guard guy has become a sort of national hero:

    2. Ransome

      He doesn’t sound like a real captain in many respects. He sounds like a political appointee on a milk run.

  13. Peripheral Visionary

    Re: iPhones

    This may have already been pointed out, but these exposes on how the iPhone are made could not have happened before the death of Steve Jobs. Actually, there have been complaints regarding conditions in the offshore factories for years, but they had little or no traction in the mainstream media, which I have to think is due mostly to the “halo effect” surrounding Jobs – people were so enamored with him and the success of Apple (and were so enamored with the devices that Apple was making) that they simply did not want to hear anything contrary to what they wanted to believe.

    I have nothing personal against Jobs – but I think that, in retrospect, it is becoming clear that he was not a saint so much as he was an absolute master of marketing, who sold himself as being something other than the businessman that he actually was.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Supreme Master of Marketing sells not himself, or herself, but remains hidden and sells this age as something other than the age it really is.

      Well, that’s how I imagine it.

    2. MacCruiskeen

      Jobs didn’t have that much power, and Apple was far from Foxconn’s only big customer. But it’s not in the interest of any consumer electronics company for Americans to understand what goes on in those factories or begin to care about it.

      1. PQS

        Or to have even the slightest idea how big the profit margins are on their shiny little toys.

        I loved the part where Stewart says that going to prison might be preferable to earning .31 an hour at these jobs.

  14. Susan the other

    Enhanced Geothermal Systems. The immediate confluence of abundant water and an active volcano are no longer necessary, hopefully. The thing that prevents Nevada from developing its geothermal possibilities is lack of water. The Colorado is already divided up and jealously guarded. Maybe a pipeline from the Columbia River? If river water spilled it would not create a toxic mess in a fragile desert ecosystem, it would just water the rabbit brush.

      1. Peripheral Visionary

        Thanks for the link. The Oil Drum – as usual – provides a refreshing level of honesty. The engineering challenges are considerable and real, even if the potential is there.

  15. Valissa

    Wells thrives with dull but worthy strategy

    Wells Fargo has gained a reputation as a boring earnings machine, eschewing the exotic adventures that have brought its competitors to the brink of failure and concentrating on the dull but worthy business of traditional banking. On Tuesday it again reaped the rewards of the strategy, with a 20 per cent increase in net income in the fourth quarter against the same period last year to $4.1bn, or 73 cents a share. That narrowly beat analysts’ expectations and put Citigroup in the shade. …

    Wells’ focus on the bread and butter of banking activities, including making loans and taking deposits, has earned it the title of largest US bank by market value. Fourth-quarter net income surged after the bank increased its mortgage banking and lending activities while reducing the reserves it holds to cover potential loan losses. An increase in the bank’s stock of outstanding loans, securities and mortgages held for sale also helped raise profits.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ‘Though I only wish my Wall Street darling bank would pay a little more on their savings accounts to help pay for the ever-inflating gasoline or my baby’s favorite: Marie Antoinette Cake.’

      – Entry dated 2/18/2012, from the journal ‘American Savers Held Hostage, Day 3218.’

  16. James

    Re: pouring water into a dormant volcano to produce power. Oh yeah! Am I the only one , or does this just have unforeseen catastrophic consequences written all over it? PBS had an excellent piece on Frontline last night concerning Fukushima and the likelihood that its real long term impact will be to drive us back into the arms of dirty (aka “clean”) coal and the rest of the downscale hydrocarbon industry. Hardly news I know, but all the same… The cheap energy economy’s day of reckoning lumbers ever closer.

    1. F. Beard

      Wasn’t Krakatoa volcano meets sea water = KA-BOOM!

      Modern life is way too dangerous for a money system based on theft and usury, doancha think?

        1. LifelongLib

          When the movie came out, I recall somebody pointing out that Krakatoa is actually WEST of Java…

    2. Jim

      You want unintended consequences? What about the unintended consequences of a fringe element of the Democratic Party (of which I consider myself a member) that continues to insist on…

      (i) Ethanol, despite the impact it’s having on food prices, disproportionately hurting the poor.

      (ii) Ethanol, despite its corrosive impact on an automobile

      (iii) Solar, despite the vast quantities of fresh water required for its operation.

      I can go on and on. And all this against a backdrop of cheap carbon energy.

      It’s as if a fringe element of my Party wants to create a problem where none exists.

  17. cahokia

    Thread to discuss “Banking industry regulations and consumer protection” hearing on C-span2 (NOW).

  18. Valissa

    Great news! The web protests have made an impact.

    Web Protests Piracy Bills, and 2 Senators Change Course

    Websites flexing muscle in push against online piracy bills,0,1209707,full.story

    Also it’s been a hot topic on Bloomberg News channel today, with the Reddit guy making some great points. Have not noticed any love for the bill there.

    1. Ms G

      The rising volume and expanding reach of opposition is heartening. Simultaneously, the rhetoric on from the “industry” is growing shriekier and more menacing. Ex-Senator Dodd wasn’t holding back today, characterizing the blackout as:

      “an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.”

      Am I missing something? Isn’t this the definition of Dodd’s job description as PR flunky for the MPIA?

  19. Ms G

    Kudos to those who have made emailing Representatives and Senators to express opposition to SOPA/PIPA (et al) so easy.

    I have 2 Senators + 1 Congressperson. I found it significant that not one of those 3 listed “SOPA/PIPA” or even “Internet” as a “subject/issue” in their drop-down “issue” menus. As though SOPA/PIPA wasn’t even in their world of issues. I was left to either select “Other” or “civil rights” (where “other” was not even an option.”

    In the case of Sen. Gillibrand, e-mail doesn’t work — after you click “send” it just spins and stalls. Optimism says it’s because so many constituents are sending InternetBlackoutDay messages.

    1. curlydan

      I experience unending delays trying the “Contact Me” button on my rep’s home page, too. I highly suspect the Congress critters are going to get hammered today–just by Wikipedia’s going dark alone.

  20. financial matters

    An interesting balancing game. QE doesn’t necessarily lead to inflation if demand is very depressed. As long as it can keep from leaking out into commodities which seems to happen at least in part by banks and others with access to low interest ‘hot money’ speculating in this area looking for higher returns on investment..

    The ECB is Engaging in Massive QE Marshall Auerbach, Credit Writedowns

    “”But democracies don’t “do” deflation very well. Contrary to conventional wisdsom, it’s the eurozone’s currently ruinous fiscal austerity policies that are truly politically unsustainable””

  21. Al

    Craig Stapleton, the United States ambassador to France and partner to George W. Bush. Despite mounting evidence linking Monsanto’s GM corn to organ damage and environmental devastation, the ambassador plainly calls for ‘target retaliation’ against those not supporting the GM crop. In the leaked documents, Stapleton states:

    “Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory. Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices.”

  22. kevinearick

    The Traveling Salesman: Family

    So, the trick to eliminating the insulator is, of course, suspending time, delaying friction with the centrifuge, which means that you must be able to time travel relative to the empire, to complete 5 jobs while the manufactured majority struggles to complete 1, by filtering out empire make-work, beyond the knowledge of the empire, looking ahead to algebraic reduction.

    Timing, timing, timing. Get to the gate, pick up the key from the key of keys, unlock it, drop the key, walk through, and lock the gate, as you build the ladder. Orbiting is a function of setting up the centrifuge dimension gaps. Don’t wait in line, unless the empire is watching.

    Societies advance when participants learn to migrate through the event horizons elastically, like a flock of seagulls diving in and out of a moving center from all dimensions, learning to become a school. The empire is throwing out bread as bait. The greater the circulation, the greater the economic power.

    Creation is the false assumption of false assumptions, distilled into backlash. It’s child’s play; learn to play effectively by playing to learn. Accepting any bipolar assumption calcifies the system, relative to the non-conformers. Balance/moderation in all things.

    The economy is a balance between marginal income from organic growth and financial leverage from the legacy balance sheet. What nearly no one in the calcified empire gets, professor, is that the NPV window depends upon confidence in the navigation skills of future generations. Look around at your crop. As the empire passes the tipping point to zero real balance sheet value, because it has cut itself off from the planetary diversity motor for an extended period of time, its denizens begin to wake up to their sunk cost status.

    Legacy families employ their children as slaves to the past with increasing desperation to maintain economic power, increasing the empire’s anxious State, promising equal outcomes to an increasingly irrelevant middle class, with viral replication of the example due to the positive feedback in the civil marriage ponzi. Equal opportunity of participation comes from new family formation, which cooperates to emerge from the churn pool flux, initially in a dimension well beyond the empire’s reach, due to quantum advance in the waveform.

    It’s a confidence game. The market runs sideways with increasing volatility, in several dimensions, on the probabilities of bifurcation and reintegration (notice bipolar of bipolar requiring less than two bits). New family formation, closest to the planet, steers the ship, upon which legacy families compete for the best birthing, over longer and longer time.

    The captain largely supervises harbor entry and exit. In the middle of the voyage, new navigators are trained by granting them freedom to work at the behest of legacy families. Those leaving the deck to do so are distilled out. Ships that continually return to the same port go bankrupt and capsize, captained by the false assumptions of History.

    The point of being homeless is to erase the corporate impulse response programming and dump associated nonperforming assets, to increase event horizon choice along with the ability to mimic their impulse responses, just long enough to build each step of the ladder. Begin with the exit, in an exit of exits.

    Participate in different areas of the distribution simultaneously, to obtain and drop their keys to your key of keys in the neutral zone. As the empire expends from its balance sheet, fueling mindless economic activity to the end of certifying robot participation, it adjusts the centrifuge chasing non-conformers, braiding the rope of nonperforming assets around its neck.

    Real marriage, quantum entanglement in the neutral zone, allows you to perform this operation without many of the risks normally associated with homelessness. Because the drilling process has commenced, the AC cycle begins to flip, and communities grow around them, as confidence momentum builds.

    In the beginning, you are together 7/24, helping each other eliminate the impulse cost structure, by bringing each other’s subconscious social voices to the surface, and redirecting them toward effective adaptation, building the root bond. When you fail to smoothly prevent impulse response, move, skipping the next step on the temporary plan. Make a new plan as you go. 0; -1(History) X -1(plan) = 1(future). Simple math beats the empire every time.

    Employ/build the new communication system as you go, replacing the social alter egos with an effective alter ego, each other (simple replication across generations in civil marriages, which favor the more irrational spouse, leading to irrational markets). Create time/torque differential by learning to present arguments effectively. Leave the friction behind, with the empire.

    “Give Me a Kiss to Build a Dream On”

    1. F. Beard

      Does ANYONE understand this guy? Just curious.

      And if anyone finds me equally incomprehensible, please speak up.

      1. James

        Actually, I think I’m beginning to get it with this one. I’ve always been intrigued by this guy, much like Bible verse I might add. Although I may very well be craazy, but then again, ain’t we all?

        1. Lidia

          I don’t understand *this* one, but I have felt as though I’ve understood others.

          Probably says something odd about *me*, but I have found them Kind of baroquely glorious in their way.

          1. F. Beard

            They are poetic but truthfully they remind me of my younger days on drugs, particularly pot and maybe speed.

            I love the Bible because it is consistent once one’s mind has been adequately stretched and cleansed of preconceptions. And if Biblical thinking is insane (which I don’t believe for a second it is) at least I will be in the company of tens (hundreds?) of millions who think the same including some of the most famous men in history, such as Newton.

      2. Typing Monkey

        You’re a bit more comprehensible (and concise), although your logic and conclusions are not. I always attributed that to mental faculties declining in old age… :)

        1. F. Beard

          although your logic and conclusions are not. TM

          Then please refute them.

          As for “old”, I find your thinking to be rather conservative and old. I expect better from someone with the humility to dub himself a Typing Monkey. :)

  23. barrisj

    In other news (Laura Rozen posting):

    Leaks on delayed U.S.-Israel war-game reveal fissures
    On Sunday, Israeli media reported that a massive U.S.-Israel missile defense exercise planned to take place in the spring had been postponed, ostensibly because of Israeli budget cuts.

    Israel’s Ministry of Defense and the U.S. European Command had been preparing to jointly issue a statement on the decision to postpone the war games–called “Operation Austere Challenge 12”–in order to portray the delay as a mutual decision and routine, an Israeli official told Yahoo News Sunday.

    But because the decision to postpone the war games leaked first in Israel, plans for a joint statement didn’t materialize Sunday, and rumors subsequently abounded about what explained it. Was the United States distancing itself from Israel’s hawkish stance towards Iran, some Iran watchers wondered. Is it plausible that Israeli budget cuts could explain why the massive exercise–to involve thousands of American and Israeli troops–was being postponed from April until the second half of 2012–since it would seemingly cost just as much to conduct the drill a few months later?


    Pentagon: Israeli-U.S. Missile Exercise Postponed at Israel’s Request (Updated)
    Jan 17 2012, 12:56 PM ET

    Here’s an interesting development in a story I wrote about earlier today: Despite claims made in the Israeli press that the Obama Administration, worried about provoking Iran, initiated a postponement of a massive joint Israeli-U.S. missile defense exercise scheduled to begin later this month, Pentagon officials say it was the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, who asked his counterpart, Leon Panetta, for the postponement. The claim that the exercise, dubbed “Austere Challenge 12,” was scrubbed from the calendar because the Obama Administration feared provoking the Iranian regime is “baseless,” one senior Pentagon official told me just a few minutes ago, in a telephone call initiated by a group of senior defense officials.

    One of the senior defense officials told me this: “Minister Barak called Secretary Panetta and asked if we could take the exercise off the calendar. The Israelis were concerned that they did not have the resources in place to carry it out effectively.” The exercise, which was to begin with a live-fire drill, would have involved several thousand Israelis as well as several thousand American military personnel, and Barak told Panetta, according to these officials, that Israel could not pull together the resources necessary to stage the exercise successfully. “Our military is much bigger than theirs and this exercise was going to consume a much larger portion of their resources,” the official said.

    Ever since this “joint exercise” was made public, hardliners in Tel Aviv and Washington interpreted this as the Obama Administration’s putting “all options on the table” vis-a-vis Iran’s nuclear program, and indeed shifting toward military confrontation as a riposte to Iran’s “stubborness” in continuing its nuke programs despite sanctions. Either the entire military “exercise” business was just a PR ploy to “scare” Iran into groveling submission, or there actually are sane people in Washington who realise that allowing Israel to continue to be the tail wagging the American dog is just totally ludicrous, if not criminally insupportable. More to come on this I’m sure.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      I used to read tea leaves like this and hope that there were military people that were pushing back against war. But now I see no reason to believe these leaks anymore than we should believe a straight up news release from either the American or Israeli governments.

      It’s propaganda.

      Who knows what happened and why. They aren’t going to tell us the truth.

      These conflicting messages have been a staple over the last ten years (Panetta and CIA saying Iran is NOT pursuing a bomb while all “serious” politicians pretend otherwise and prepare for war). My skeptical guess is they are raising tensions and then backing away simply to provoke Iran and propagandize the American people. Period.

      They certainly benefit by fooling left-leaning people into thinking war is not decided yet. My guess is the decider has already decided and he doesn’t give two figs what liberals think about it. He simply wants to trick liberals into thinking he gave peace a chance.

      My further guess is war is certain and they are ramping up tensions now in case they need to spring a war to stop Ron Paul getting the Republican nomination. It looks like Romney will be okay and Paul won’t get it, and Paul won’t have enough time to run in a third party, so then Obama and the gang will have time to start a war in the summer or fall.

      A real push back against war would look different than canceling one war game.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Like Iran, Japan was a target of the U.S. for a long time. The first war plan was made against Japan in the 1890s I believe (and the U.S. took Hawaii in 1898). Plan Orange was later changed and finalized around 1923, I think (wikipedia is down so I’m flying solo here). This was the most significant of the color coded war plans of that time period.

          There are other similarities:

          The U.S. is attempting to strangle the Iranian economy as it was trying to strangle the Japanese economy in the 30s. Many thought this provoked Japan to attack.

          Also, the U.S. was supporting Japan’s enemy, China, with weapons, and the Flying Tigers, the mercenary pilots plucked from the American military, were heading to the Pacific theater before Pearl Harbor. I believe some of the pilots were helping the Chinese even earlier and claim downing Japanese planes before Pearl Harbor.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if there were other covert actions against the Japanese at the time as well.

          1. blueanthrax

            ah false flag attack this time may go nuclear … and axis of evil like mr bush stated may materialize. how much japan would pay for a nuke in 41? the night is young in pongyang. antilery in dien bien phu in 54 and nuke in telaviv in 2012. how about that?

          2. Ms G

            Walt – yes, that was my train of thought.

            Bernanke must have told Obama that WWII got the US out of the Great Depression.

            Wish I could wake up and realize it was all just a bad dream.

          3. Typing Monkey

            As I posted above, I believe that you are both completely misreading this situation. The US is *not* trying to wind down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and trying to keep Pakistan from erupting just so that it can start another war in Iran. That’s just not in the cards–at least not for a while.

          4. Walter Wit Man

            Typing Monkey,

            I’m skeptical the U.S. really wants to wind down the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Obama certainly tried to keep troops in Iraq and has basically followed the Bush long term plan there (only the rhetoric changed). Sectarian violence has increased recently there as well–and based on historical precedent it very well could be a U.S. terrorist operation–if anything the U.S. benefits from more violence in Iraq because it justifies a further U.S. military prescence there.

            Nor do I think the U.S. wants to cool Pakistan down. The NATO bombing of Pakistani troops seemed intentional. Plus, the U.S. just did the bin Laden execution operation against Pakistan’s will and has been engaging in drone attacks. Plus, the U.S. rhetoric has heated up. Seems to me they are increasing tension rather than trying to cool tensions.

            You could be right about waiting to attack Iran though. How many years now has attack been imminent? When did W put them on the shit list? The imminent attack game seems to serve a domestic political purpose–mostly to scare liberals into supporting Democrats–but maybe that game has run its course and they want to use Obama to finally do the deed.

            But I really think Ron Paul has something to do with recent tensions (and maybe the war games). I wouldn’t be surprised if they dialed up the military rhetoric to push Paul down in the primaries.

          5. Jim S

            “Japan’s enemy, China”? Who is propogating this garbage? China was Japan’s enemy in the same way the sick old lady is the enemy of the purse-snatcher, the same way the cow is the enemy of the wolf, the same way an English village was the enemy of the Viking raiders. Have you seen the pictures of Nanking? Do you think the Koreans hate the Japanese just because they thought of Pokemon first? Has it crossed your mind for an instant that the rest of the world might have reservations about letting a bunch of psychopaths rule Asia?

          6. Walter Wit Man


            It was probably a poor word choice. “Adversary” may have been better than “enemy.” They were military antagonists . . . is all I meant by it. There was no value judgment.

            I don’t mean to say that China was the aggressor and Japan was innocently targeted by the U.S. Japan was an aggressor.

            Good point re Nanking too. The USS Panay was bombed there and the U.S. patrol of the Yangtze should also be added to one of the provocations for war.

            Again, I’m not saying Japan did not have imperial intentions . . . .

  24. Hugh

    Is our universe dark or merely lumpy?

    On another dark matter, isn’t Carnival the parent company for the Italian cruise that hit the matter in the dark? Which leads to the question who hires these guys, who oversees them? To me, this doesn’t look like simply a captain problem but a systemic one for the cruise ship industry. It sure looks like the captain and crew were hired more for their leisure and entertainment skills than in their knowledge of how to run a ship.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More dark questions.

      These recall the dark days of multiply choice questions favored by our schools.

      Question Number 1. Which of the following is called the Dark Continent of Finance:

      1) N. America
      2) Europe
      3) Both

      Question Number 2. Which is the darkest financial city in the world:

      1) New York
      2) London
      3) Washington
      3) All of the above

    2. James

      “To me, this doesn’t look like simply a captain problem but a systemic one for the cruise ship industry. It sure looks like the captain and crew were hired more for their leisure and entertainment skills than in their knowledge of how to run a ship.”


      And the problem is…? Cruise patrons beware.

  25. ChrisPacific

    So, is the splash screen currently on the home page your partial day shutdown in action, or a banner ad gone rogue? Or have you been hacked?

    It’s hard to tell since there is no background info or context, and the splash also seems to be disabling links. I only found out about your planned shutdown because I clicked through to this post, which I wouldn’t have been able to do if I hadn’t turned JavaScript off.

    There is no way I’m clicking that link in the splash unless I’m sure it’s something you put there and not a scripting attack of some kind.

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