Links 1/7/12


    1. rjs

      asia times: The US-Iran economic war – Here’s a crash course on how to further wreck the global economy. A key amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act signed by United States President Barack Obama on the last day of 2011 – when no one was paying attention – imposes sanctions on any countries or companies that buy Iranian oil and pay for it through Iran’s central bank. Starting this summer, anybody who does it is prevented from doing business with the US. This amendment – for all practical purposes a declaration of economic war – was brought to you by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), on direct orders of the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. Torrents of spin have tried to rationalize it as the Obama administration’s plan B as opposed to letting the Israeli dogs of war conduct an unilateral attack on Iran over its supposed nuclear weapons program. Yet the original Israeli strategy was in fact even more hysterical – as in effectively preventing any country or company from paying for imported Iranian oil, with the possible exceptions of China and India. On top of it, American Israel-firsters were trying to convince anyone this would not result in relentless oil price hikes. Once again displaying a matchless capacity to shoot themselves in their Ferragamo-clad feet, governments in the European Union (EU) are debating whether or not to buy oil from Iran anymore. The existential doubt is should we start now or wait for a few months. Inevitably, like death and taxes, the result has been – what else – oil prices soaring. Brent crude is now hovering around $114, and the only way is up.

    2. tsaf

      From this article:

      “As the dollar -and the rest of the fiat currencies- are losing their value due to money printing, we are approaching a point where the world will simply reject them, and the West will not be able to have oil – at least not at “reasonable” prices by today’s standards.

      This is why the USA “must” attack all the oil states who try to break free from the dollar, and start accepting other means of payment – because no mater how much it costs them to go to war, it will cost them a lot more if the world finally gets of the “dollar standard”, and the value of the dollar goes to almost zero.

      The main thing that prevents the oil states from rejecting the dollar right now is their fear of being attacked by the USA – if that fear goes away, then they will be free to choose what currency to accept as means of payment.”


      Now check out Bloomberg:

      Iran, Russia Replace Dollar With Rial, Ruble in Trade, Fars Says

      1. PianoRacer

        This is what I have been talking about people – rejection of the currency = bank holidays, hyperinflation, and tens of millions of middle class Americans who have been lulled into complacency by several generations of peace and rule of law and world dominance (after the destruction of every other major economic power after WW2) losing everything they worked their entire lives for.

        That’s what they are afraid of, and why they’re acting like a rabid, cornered animal. Any time they do something that doesn’t make sense on its face, like the NDAA or SOPA or PIPA or even the executive’s unilateral invasion of Libya and the subsequent (literal) sodomization / murder of their admittedly despotic but for decades US-supported ruler (who was in the process of creating an African-union hard currency to trade oil in), its because that was what they thought they had to do to keep the music playing.

        Its called the petro-dollar for a reason; the only currency you’re allowed to buy oil in is the US dollar. That’s why everyone else needs it, and that’s what this is all about. When that game ends, it all ends.

        The whole thesis of this site and Yves’ wonderful book, the reams of documentation of the crimes of the bankers and the government, do you think all of that is solely motivated by greed? Certainly some, but from my view much can be explained as the desperate, panicked, terrified moves of a cornered regime.

        I would also note that a hyperinflating currency in the Wiemar Republic was the foremost cause of the discontent and desperation of the German people in the time directly preceding the trial and subsequent rise of Hitler.

        1. PianoRacer

          Think of it this way: the US dollar isn’t really a fiat currency, it is? Its backed by oil. 100 of our cotton/linen doodads that we can create out of thin air will get you a barrel of oil, and in the past its been even cheaper than that. The energy contained in a barrel of oil is something like the equivalent of… well, its a lot by historical standards. Chris Martenson makes a good analogy here:

          “And how much ‘work’ is embodied in a gallon of gasoline, our most favorite substance of them all? Well, if you put a single gallon in a car, drove it until it ran out, and then turned around and pushed the car home, you’d find out. It turns out that a gallon of gas has the equivalent energy of 500 hours of hard human labor, or 12-1/2 forty-hour work weeks.

          So how much is a gallon of gas worth? $4? $10? If you wanted to pay this poor man $15 an hour to push your car home, then we might value a gallon of gas at $7,500.”

          Now multiply that by 42.

          So the person or people who have the power to print the peices of paper (no alliteration intended) that are the only objects on the planet that can be traded for this magical substance… well, they’d probably have a lot of power, wouldn’t they? You might say they had more power than those that were actually pulling the magic goo out of the ground, since they have to expend zero effort to acquire it.

          Its like this: The banks/fed print the dollars, the people borrow / work hard / steal to earn the dollars, the government taxes the people and the banks and the businesses for the dollars, the government uses the dollars to buy the oil and raise the army to threaten those who produce the oil into accepting only their dollars for it.

          Neat trick, eh? But how long can they keep the game going…

        2. PianoRacer

          Oh, and the US government also trades the dollars to other countries for all their neato-toys and whizgadgets because the other countries want the dollars so they can buy oil. Remember, oil is pretty happenin’ stuff.

          Also, QE is just the process of the government going directly to the banks for the dollars instead of making the people earn them first. Very thoughtful of them! Only problem is that that can result in more dollars running around the system, which tends to drive the price of the magic goo up due to laws of supply and demand. Takes time though…

        3. nonclassical

          ..let’s all realize there are more U.S. $$$$$ in banks outside the U.S. than inside-should these no longer be needed, banked back to U.$., game over…

  1. BigBadBank

    Re: Sleepy English town roused by murder mystery:

    “In the past, royal family members would have taken their own private train but now, in these times of austerity, the royal entourage merely books out the first-class carriages on the normal commuter train from London’s seedy King’s Cross station.”

    There were plans for them to save costs by sharing the Hogwarts train from Platform 9&3/4, but these were abandoned after security concerns were raised by the Ministry of Magic.

    Seedy Kings Cross:

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        The problem, as I understand the quotation, is that the royal family has expropriated the first-class cars of a public train for its sole use, thus depriving the “commoners” of their right to travel first class on a train system built for all, most likely at public expense.

        This is how dynastic (“royal”) tyranny works in “Great Britain.”

        1. cjm

          So they’re buying all the seats in a rail car? If they’re paying the agreed fare for it and not bumping other passengers who already have reservations, how is this any worse than any other large group taking up an entire car? Becuase they were organized enough to get their tickets earlier and together?

          1. YankeeFrank

            Um, whose money do you think they use to purchase all the seats? The royals are a joke and should travel in steerage wherever they go. Fuck ’em.

        2. Lidia

          In Italy, TPTB are flogging a new fast private train conveyance (which shall obviously run on the common—public—train tracks, yet displace any number of slower and less-chic plebeian craft).

          It’s called “Italo”… and is headed by an Italian “nobleman” so “scrauso” (sleazy, second-rate and cheap) that a competent comic has devoted more TV air time to reaming him than did Chevy Chase Gerald Ford, or Richard Klein Nixon.

          Ivan Illich is the go-to reference here (“Energy and Equity” among other works), but it’s fairly easy to individually arrive at the idea that: the faster many trains go between Rome and Milan, the LESS LIKELY it is to catch any useful train between lesser stations. Slower trains, terminating or originating in smaller cities, are literally shoved off the rails.

          1. Skippy

            Well… one must get to Milan quickly! The private levels in the modeling agency stocked clubs, is a, time constrained premium.

            Skippy… off to do my – thang – train…

  2. Typing Monkey

    The U.S. economy today enjoys a rather atypical resilience. Because of strange debt, economic and policymaking structures, our system has developed some degree of immunity to global crisis dynamics. Exports are a relatively small component of economic activity, while Treasury and government-related finance dominate system Credit creation (and system spending, incomes and corporate profits) like never before. It is a circumstance that captivates the bullish imagination, especially in an election year. And, from my analytical perspective, it is also clearly a Bubble – and a rather vulnerable one at that.

    How susceptible the “core” U.S. Credit system is to global financial fears and contagion effects is certainly a Key Issue 2012. There is, after all, no system where faith in policymaking is more responsible for ongoing Credit expansion, economic resilience, inflated securities markets valuations and general confidence than here in the U.S. The biggest risk Issue for 2012 is that the crisis of confidence in policymakers now playing out in Europe makes its way to Washington, the core of both world policymaking and finance.

    1. aet

      “It is a circumstance that captivates the bullish imagination, especially in an election year. And, from my analytical perspective, it is also clearly a Bubble…”

      “It” is both a circumstance and a bubble, at one and the same time?
      Where is the author of those words, floating in “its” center?

      What’s she talking about? Seems incoherent to me…

      1. Typing Monkey

        If it seems incoherent, that is likely due to my poor choice of cutting and pasting, not the author’s argument.

        The author, btw, is clearly on the “it’s a bubble” bandwagon.

  3. Typing Monkey

    Re: NYTimes misleads on crisis:

    With tensions between Iran and the United States rising, and Republican presidential candidates agitating for a more confrontational stance, it is imperative that outlets like the New York Times get the story right. If the Times wishes to do better than it did during the run-up to the Iraq War, it should be more careful.

    Where did anybody ever get the idea that the NYTimes has any desire to “do better” this time around? Hell, what has the Times ever done to show that it has any desire to learn from *any* of its mistakes, whether it be international coverage, national coverage, or local coverage???

    It’s sort of funny to note what kind of crap a paper can get away with printing after being labeled a “liberal” organization. It’s even funnier to think that the Times believes that it can find enough idiots to actually pay for its continuous drivel.

    1. DC Native

      Coming from the New York “We won’t call it ‘torture’ if the President tells us not to” Times, you have to know you are ingesting a steaming pile of bull**** nearly any time the topic is war, peace, the economy, Israel, etc. Even their culture section is rife with petty vendettas [just look at how they’ve treated Gore Vidal over the years].

      Same with the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc.

      In other words, actual journalism is in extremely short supply. Much easier to simply take talking points from the government and write “he said, she said” articles that never even attempt to determine whether he OR she is telling the truth.

      Personally, I’ve stopped trusting papers, television shows, and websites. Now I just trust certain people. Yves Smith, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Matt Taibbi, the Cockburn brothers, and a few others. The list is short, for sure.

    2. Mel

      PBS the weekend before this ran a documentary about the fate of the paper Press. Internet, dearth of advertising, etc. Not mentioned — that so much of the copy around the ads is blather, and even pieces that look like they might be substantial have a strong probability of being drivel. I mean, if I want to read a made-up article, I can write one. (Cheery wave to Benjamin Disraeli.)

  4. Jim3981

    Regarding propaganda.

    It’s difficult to find news sources propaganda free. The television is loaded with it. The newspapers are loaded with it. Many websites are loaded with it.

    Even Web commentary can draw in commentary from live propaganda pushers from what I can tell. Get on a hot topic and you will draw in official propaganda supporters within a few hours.

    The most eye opening topic that appears to be drawing the propaganda spin was on the recent Mayan article that claims to have found Mayan ruins in the state of Georgia. One has to sort through the facebook comments to understand fully, or better yet, read the original article then read the following press releases to see how the story changes from the original article.

    Somebody needs to invent a web-bot-bullshit-sniffer or something.

    1. zephyrum

      “Somebody needs to invent a web-bot-bullshit-sniffer or something.”

      They have. It’s crowd-sourced. Thanks for participating!

  5. johnson

    Does watching a lecture and reading on line an education make? Perhaps? I don’t believe it.

    Still love free lectures.

    1. Susan the other

      Free courses and lectures from the best universities. For free? How nice. And the for profit “universities” will be challenged to match such value. So now personal computers have put newspapers out of business; magazines, colleges, universities; maybe soon the public school system will be streamlined and standardized to eliminate all but a few teachers; we now have on-line doctor consultations. Going shopping in the elaborate heated buildings called “stores” is a thing of the past; banks, churches, entertainment venues, political networks; land-line telecom, television studios and production companies… etc. How can we pretend not to notice? Probably wont need any new commercial buildings for a century. The services are as decimated as manufacturing. Maybe more so.

    2. craazyman

      Makes it easier than ever to skip class and do bong hits.

      In the old days sometimes you’d have to get half way to class by foot before you decided to punt. Now you don’t even have to leave your chair.

      This is progress!

    3. some college

      maybe not an education, but free lectures do inform. i’ve been listening to lectures for free online from MIT and many others for years, very grateful to have access to the info.

  6. Norman

    Hate to be a nag here, but it seems the server is doing an eye test, you know, how small the print one can read? I almost have to get the binoculars out to read the print and I sit about 2 feet from the monitor. I can adjust, but then I have to readjust afterward again. I guess that’s the price one pays for getting old!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You control the print size on your browser. You probably mistakenly hit the button in the menu bar that reduces print size. You can make it bigger. This is not something I control, it’s on your end.

      1. MIWill

        Wait. What? It’s on the browser? All that Nigerian email promising print enlargement, you mean it’s possibly a scam?

    2. taxpayer

      If you are using the Firefox browser, get the “nosquint” add-on. It allows you to customize enlargement for each site. I am enlarging NC by 5%; you can pick any amount.

      1. Bill C

        thanks very much for the Nosquint addon tip..

        Although I know how to adjust the print manually, being able to set the levels for each site is very helpful, as not all of them respond to the same leveling combo.

  7. ThinkItThrough

    That “whining” thread absolutely blew my mind. I’m a native New Yorker, and have lived here my entire life. I started out making 20k a year, moved slowly up to 40, 60, 80, and peaked out a couple of years ago at 100. Now I’m back to 75 due to pay cuts (with a few dozen thousand in savings.) The people in that thread making 300, 400, 500+ with millions in savings that feel poor must not actually be living in New York, but on Mars. I’m flabbergasted. Mind completely blown. Wow.

    Part of their feelings of being poor has to do with the cost of raising their children, so why would some of them have so many (or any, for that matter), if they wind up feeling poor? How about stopping at one or just staying childfree so you DON’T feel poor? The logic escapes me.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      The logic of these people is even worse than the dc v. child-free question.

      They act like the expenses for the things they lavish on their children are *required*.

      Ummm, it’s the very fact that you spend so much on your child’s education that *makes* you rich.

      I’m so sorry that you spent so much trying to give your child a competitive advantage vis-a-vis mine (which is exactly what you’re doing (even though technically, I don’t and will never have children)) that all you can afford in a 90’s model Beamer. It saddens me, really.

      The poor don’t get to give their children this expensive of an education.

      Ahhh, duh…

  8. SR6719

    In case there are any New Yorkers, or ex-New Yorkers, out there who used to read the Village Voice back when you had to pay for it, back when it still kind of mattered (at least to the five boroughs), well, if you hated their snotty film critics as much as I did, then you might appreciate this article:

    “Film critic J. Hoberman got axed from the Village Voice today……J. Hoberman is one of several dreary senior citizen critics who’ve been around for thirty or forty years, hogging the few paid gigs that still exist, like David Denby at The New Yorker and Richard Corliss at Time. They all came of age in the 1970s and are pompous old coots whose superior attitudes and infuriating writing styles were already firmly in place when they were pompous young coots.”

    1. craazyman

      I never understood film criticism. It always seemed like a tendentious waste of words. Either a small peepee pissing on something it couldn’t do itself if it had to. Or Hollywood PR inflating something so mediocre that end up walking out rather than wasting the next hour caged in a chair in the dark watching the rest of it.

      After a while I stopped going to movies, like Holden Caulfield himself.

      But One of the best movies ever made was “Don Juan de Marco” with Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando and, I think, Fay Dunaway. I almost cried when Johnny Depp took the pill at the end to make himself sane. It was like the death of beauty itself. It got mediocre reviews but it was a work of absolute genius. You really have to be your own critic. That’s the only way that works.

      1. SR6719

        craazyman: “a small peepee pissing on something it couldn’t do itself if it had to”

        That’s a perfect description of most film criticism. Many critics are frustrated film-makers who get their revenge by attacking what they could never do themselves.

        I agree Don Juan DeMarco was a good film.

        If you never saw David Lynch’s masterpiece, “Mulholland Drive”, you might like it. Just don’t expect the film to make sense in any kind of literary or narrative terms. To me, the best film is about learning to think in images, not words. Film should have more in common with painting than literature, and this is why most film critics (like the majority of art critics) are such a waste of time.

        “If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.” – Edward Hopper

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Hopper – My same exact thought! Love that quote.

          I always admire those who go straight to the displayed (a painting, an Egyptian mummy or a Mi Fei calligraphy) bypassing the curator’s words initially or all together. That immediate, intuitive experience is so exciting.

          1. SR6719

            Yes, when I took my daughter to the MoMa, for instance, I encouraged her not to pay for that thing they plug in your ear, but instead to look at the paintings without any sophistication, without that language coming through the academic circuitry, look at them like a child seeing the world for the first time.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        An addition to the “very good, maybe even great and unappreciated” list is Magnolia (although Julianne Moore’s performance is really out of kilter). The first appearance of Tom Cruise in the picture (won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it) is hysterical, and it generates a ton of tension at multiple points without ever using violence.

        But I think a lot of people did not like the deus ex machina at the end…..

        1. SR6719

          I loved that fantastic, convoluted suicide attempt in Magnolia, which the director adapted from an urban legend known as the Ronald Opus case, about a hypothetical suicide.

          I won’t describe what happens for anyone planning to see the film, however anyone not planning to see the film can read about the Ronald Opus case here:

    2. michael

      Well, I did read the Voice when it mattered, at least beginning in the mid-6os, and can’t disagree more about Hoberman–probably the best American film critic then and now–one who never pandered, always simply deeply intelligent. (Denby, Corliss have nothing in common except perhaps their ages.)
      This idea that good criticism–of anything–has nothing to offer is odd coming from commenters simply out to criticize. I guess it’s that some might be getting paid that hurts.

      1. neo-realist

        Agreed about Hoberman–able to deconstruct film on a variety of levels–aesthetic, psychological and political in a very engaging writing style.

        One of the best since Canby at the NYT.

      2. Runninge A. Fowle with mars spirit rover

        As for Voice film reviewers, I liked some other guy much more, but they fired him of course. How did Hoberman survive so many of the Voice pogroms for so long?

        The Voice is down to about 20 pages and is a pathetic shell of its former self; they are doing Hoberman a favor here by ending his living death.

        Joe Bob rules but let’s note that Hoberman was right about the Coen’s bad Indian gag and getting a free ride on the Night of the Hunter soundtrack.

      3. Runninge A. Fowle with mars spirit rover

        PsychoScarecrow is another underappreciated and overlooked film that Hoberman never bothered to review.

        Sometimes you’re just in the mood for an ax-wielding mutated nerd in a scarecrow outfit with a giant pumpkin on his head.

        The basic story: five dope-smoking screwups in a convertible who go into the woods to party and become squirrel meat.

        First the car breaks down. (Shades of “Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”) Then they decide to walk across the spooky cornfield. (Shades of “Children of the Corn.”) Then they’re startled by a larger-than-life scarecrow. (Shades of “Pumpkinhead.”) Then they decide to roast weenies and listen to excruciatingly off-key love songs composed by the hunky Eric. (Shades of every slasher flick made in the eighties.) And finally Eric gets in a fight with the nerdy Floyd, Floyd slinks off into the cornfield and dies, and when they find his body, there’s only one thing to do:

        Stuff it inside the scarecrow so nobody will know.

        And, oh yeah, one more thing: hollow out a giant pumpkin and put it over his head. The cops will never expect that one.

        Pretty soon we’ve got fairly predictable Spam-in-a-cabin, with the ax-wielding Floyd picking them off one by one with some kind of goofy European disco music welded onto the soundtrack like an annoying appendage.

        It does, however, satisfy the first rule of drive-in moviemaking: Anyone can die at any moment.

  9. taunger

    “Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi appealed to the US Supreme Court.
    Bondi argues in her legal filings that a dog breathing air outside a home is not the same as a search.”

    She’s right – but that’s not what happened. A trained dog was brought to perform a task and signaled its completion.

    A cop breathing air inside a home is not a search either, but the other things he’s doing would be illegal without a warrant or permission. Duh.

  10. brian

    doggies and the 4th amendment
    if i recall my crim law course from law school many years ago there has always been an exemption from warrants for human officers under the plain view doctrine

    if you consider the dog the same or as an extension of the officer it doesn’t strike me as much of a reach to extend the doctrine to what amounts to plain nose

    1. ohmyheck

      About those dogs. I hope they are better trained than they were in 1983.
      I was leaving Greece for Italy via boat, and my backpack was lined up on a long bench, along with a dozen or so others. Naturally, the dogs stopped at mine. The officials got excited. They opened up the front pocket of my pack, only to find a couple of pairs of, um, “used” underwear. This was followed by a mass-eruption of laughter from all my fellow travelers. Even a few of the Greeks were amused. Not so much the dog-handler.

      1. yartrebo

        My only encounter with a police dog was the same thing. Dog sniffs backpack. Dog smells food. Dog finds food.

  11. brian

    outline for Obama’s first tv ad
    from wonkette

    Glen Patrick Wells is a former steel worker from Peculiar, Missouri who was laid off as the result of Bain Capital’s restructuring of his former place of work, GS Technologies. Wells is so infuriated by the work of “predatory capitalist” Romney that he says he will now support MoveOn’s efforts to make Bain Capital Romney’s Swift Boat moment of 2012. Even though he also hates Obama!
    Appearing in this video, which is like a Coen brothers film without any jokes, Wells paints a pretty grim picture of the situation at Kansas City’s Worldwide Grinding Systems, as it was formerly known. The steel mill, which was acquired by Bain in 1993, had been around since 1888. The suits from fancy-land (“They looked like a bunch of high school kids to me. A bunch of Wall Street preppies,” says another former mill employee) gave the company a makeover, renaming it GS Technologies. By 2001, the company had declared bankruptcy, and soon after closed its doors, resulting in a loss of 750 jobs. Now, to do the numbers:

    Overall, Bain made at least $12 million on the steel company it created by merging the Kansas City mill with another in South Carolina before the new entity declared bankruptcy in 2001. Bain also collected an additional $900,000 a year through 1999 for management consulting services, public filings show.

    Wells and his co-workers, on the other hand, lost health benefits and received reduced pensions. Many of them had worked at the company for decades.

    Wells is actually a conservative: he voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and John McCain in 2008. But he is so furious with Romney that he’s decided he’ll support Obama, should Romney get the Republican nomination:

    Right now, if Romney gets in, I am so disgusted that I will probably vote for Obama and I detest him…Anyone who is willing to put a predatory capitalist in office deserves to get Obama.

    A helluva strategy! For those looking to acquire some of Wells’s blood-curdling rage, Reuters has published this giant exposé on the GS Technologies saga. [Washington Post]

    1. craazyman

      there could be a dimension to the 2012 election never before seen in American politics.

      each candidate will have a core of former supporters so disgusted by the empty soul-less hack they thought they loved that they vote for the other guy just to say “F-ck You (insert candidate’s name)!”.

      Will the FY votes each other out? Or will one candidate’s loathsomeness be so extreme it decides the election in the other’s favor? It’s almost funny.

      1. Praedor

        Try writing in something like “Buddy Roemer”.

        Not a whacko like Paul.

        Not a complete nutbag like all the other GOPers.

        Not a filthy, corrupt piece of shit liar like Obama.

      2. ohmyheck

        Personally, I can’t wait to watch Obama and the Republican Candidate debate. Seriously, what exactly can they debate about? Now that Obama has a record, what is he going to say? “If you look really hard you actually can find some daylight between us. See? It’s there, really!” Or, “My drone is bigger than your drone?” It will be fascinating, a repertoire of nuances.

    2. Jim

      If PE firms are so bad, why are so many public pension funds, at the direct request of Dem mayors and governors, increasing their PE allocation?

      And as for crony capitalism, I don’t think there’s been a more consequential crony capitalist than President Obama.

      Compare/contrast how Bush treated his pal, “Kenny Boy”, and President Obama treated his pal, Steven Rattner.

      And I say all this as a Dem.

  12. Brian

    re; Silver and Zero Hedge. Strange how the author of the hit piece didn’t bother to note it was a post from a named guest poster acting as an individual and not associated with ZH.
    Strange how the author forgets to mention the common knowledge to anyone that reads ZH that ETF doesn’t equate to the actual physical product and is considered a scam to manipulate prices. Nor does the author appear informed about this scam, or address this regarding backwardation as it might apply.
    But what is really outright humorous is that the author is so misinformed that he believes Tyler Durden is a real person rather than the pen name for the various contributors to the site.
    Why would so many false statements be worthy of a link on this site to someone this ignorant?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, please, do you understand ANYTHING about blogging? From what I can tell via comments from authors who have their stuff cross posted on ZH, the original “Tyler Durden” is responsible for the editorial picks on that blog. He does not give guest posters they keys to the kingdom (the right to put up posts on their own).

      The person running a site responsible for what appears on it, wether it is a guest/cross post or in his own name.

    2. ohmyheck

      Did you read the comments? Very informative, you should try it. Here is one:
      “What is well established, however, is that the original ‘Tyler Durden’ is one Daniel Ivandjiiski, a former trader who was barred in 2008 by FINRA for insider trading (an open-and-shut case).”
      That’s just for starters….

  13. mk

    “NYT Misleads Readers on Iran Crisis FAIR. Quelle surprise!” – My partner insists on a subscription to the paper, so I have to tolerate its presence in my home, but I don’t allow the NYT to cover the floor of my bird cages, my birds’ poop has more integrity than the New York Times. I use LA Weekly or the Funny Times instead.

      1. mk

        yes, the proper tools, a tool story:

        Some 800 metres higher up the mountains from my sturdy little inn lives Josef Haid, an old school friend from my Salzburg days. He looks back on a career as a prestigious business consultant who turned the fortunes of not a few companies from a downhill slide to new heights of success. But what he considers his real life’s work is not his worldly achievement but a small volume of thoughts entitled On the Side of Life. When his secretary typed it, she begged him ‘for heaven’s sake’ not to let it transpire to his clients that he was the author. ‘They will believe you are a crank’ she said, which brings to mind my late great friend Fritz Schumacher who, when asked whether he was not often considered a crank, replied: ‘Yes, but I never minded because a crank is a tool which is simple, small, inexpensive, economical, efficient and-added the author of the subsequent international bestseller Small is Beautiful-‘ it makes revolutions’.

        Leopold Kohr in his forward, From the Outside Looking In: Experiences in Barefoot Economics by Manfred Max-Neef (via Wikipedia)

        (those clips are hilarious, especially smack the pony, thanks!)

  14. Fred Roper’s Company of Wonder Midgets

    In Philip K Dick’s novel, “The Simulacra”, advancement into the elite was achieved through talent shows held in the White House.

    It looks like he might have dreamed the future.

    Rather than subject the American public to another 10 months of a meaningless national election, why not have the candidates appear on American Idol instead? Have each of them perform a song and dance routine, and afterwards have a panel of judges critique the contestants’ performances. Finally the public would vote for a winner by SMS texting, and we’d have it all over with in 30 minutes.

    Repeat the same process for every elected official in the country, and the end result could not possibly be worse than what we already have. Yet think of the savings in time and money!

    With the election over, the US media could get back to doing what it does best: “weighty” enunciations on whatever is completely superficial, or spirited debates with zero degree of meaning.

    For instance, they might have a Town Hall Meeting to debate the pros and cons of Kim Kardashian’s giant breasts, with David Brooks defending the right breast and attacking the left breast, Ezra Klein defending the left breast and attacking the right breast, and Anderson Cooper serving as moderator.

    1. ambrit

      Sounds a lot like Isaac Asimovs Resident of the United States idea. Roughly, perfect polling to the nth less one degree, find the most “average” person in the country, and give them a very special questionnaire. Run country on results gained.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Free online education.

    It is good for those who aspire to the next Edison or some guy who wants to invent the next personal computer in his garage.

    On the other hand, it will be interesting to see how you would fare with your free online MIT education will in getting employed competing with a guy/gal who paid top $$$ for his/her MIT diploma?

    It could be that free online education is valued much less or it could be that it is really valuable getting a job. In the latter case, kids will of course save that tuition money and stop applying to MIT. Then, eventually, there will be no money to pay the professors. In that case, there will be no more free online education.

    I hope I am just too pessimistic.

    1. ambrit

      Dear MLTPB;
      Aren’t you somewhat confusing getting an education with getting a degree? I’ve worked for several idiots who just happened to have the ‘proper credentials.’ Now as to whether that makes me the idiot….

    2. mk

      different people will use the information in different ways for different goals/results… not everyone using the info is going to go for the same kind of job, or even use it to get a job.

      some people just like to learn and how nice to have the option instead of what’s been offered on the likes of broadcast tv like when i was a kid.

      reminds me of something interesting i read about, Max Neef and barefoot economics (maybe a link from here?…) where the poor learn to get around the current system, maybe the info can be used to that end too…

    3. Glenn Condell

      My sense is that in time universities will decline in importance. They began and thrived through centuries in which, with no connectivity over distance, you had to physically go to the citadel to learn and have that learning certified so that you could hang your shingle or be employed by firms, institutions, etc. Now you can learn what employers need you to know lying in bed in your PJs.

      No more tyranny of distance, though of course students who imbibe from afar miss out on all those synergies and enhancements to thinking that the collective ‘student experience’ at Uni provides – the brainstorming and arguments over coffee or something stronger. But the fact that these advantages are so unmeasurable, so resistant to inclusion in any bottom line means that perhaps in the sort of utilitarian economy we look like inhabiting in the next decade or two there will not be much room for them. That is a process that began years ago in any case.

      Cash-strapped potential students of the future may look for avenues for nuts and bolts learning which don’t load them up with lifelong debt. Employers, similarly doing it tough, will be looking for employees who aren’t expecting to be paid the excess, the premium that an Ivy League degree currently bestows. Especially when they may well have hired such people in the past and been a tad disappointed in the value of their investment.

      In that scenario, employers of any size might turn to creating their own in-house assessment/examination departments which draw from the various operational wings of the firm assessment tasks which test up-to-the-minute requirements crucial to performance, with the usual police checks and perhaps some psychological screening. They will do their own certifying and might end up hiring more useful and productive employees as a result.

      Of course, the other pole of Uni’s importance (aside from teaching/learning/certifying) is research, and it may be that there are less grounds for being sanguine about the effect of a higher-ed decline on that into the future. I don’t feel qualified to ruminate on that.

      Exacerbating all this is the fact that Unis are increasingly perceived as purveying incomplete (and at times false) information, shaped in some disciplines by establishment imperatives and suffering from a lack of a the instantly flexible response mechanisms apparent in less institutional settings. While it may be true that any improvement in our condition may well come from Uni-educated people, it is unarguable that we have been driven into this ditch largely by persons who sport letters after their names.

      Like the gatekeeper MSM, the higher ed sector is a big, slow beast, less able to react to change than the more nimble midges buzzing around them. But like the MSM, which after all can staff foreign desks and implement costly, long term investigations which are beyond bloggers, the Unis have the infrastructure and standards-based vibrancy of intellectual community that smaller concerns and individual learning cannot match, and maybe can’t do without. A happy balance is required it seems to me but I’m not sure what it would look like, and even less certain how it might be achieved.

      I worry that if worst case scenarios emerge, spending on education will be seen increasingly as discretionary or even foolish. Disclosure – I work in assessment at a big Uni. Maybe in ten years I will be running exams for interns at some company or other, certifying nerds from poor socio-economic backgrounds who have bootstrapped their knowledge online and bypassed the twin-chinned scions of privilege. I would certainly be happy to contribute to a circulation of the current elites.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I think I know that deer.

    Once I had a conversation with it, sorry, with him.

    He was quite a philosopher.

    He asked me if we painted cloud ceilings in beehives, would the bees be more productive.

    Needless to say, I was quite impressed by that inquiry.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    If beauty or ugliness is a measure of how much one deviates from the norm in a bell curve, and if we assume, hypothetically, that the cutoff is 5%, then a certain percentage of the world’s population on that end of the spectrum will always be considered ugly.

    Since we have more people than ever before, it means we have more ugly people than any other time in our sad history…superficially speaking of course.

    1. ambrit

      Oh my, you need to read Umberto Ecos’ book on Uglyness. Then, his companion piece on Beauty. Semiotics is NOT a pornographers dream.

  18. bob

    The picture with the gawker piece on rich people feeling poor was great. That carriage is beautiful. Compare that to the Hummer knock-offs moms charge around with today.

    The piece itself, not that illuminating. I think the 250k that obummer brought up was deliberately set there to divide, and ultimately castrate any reform.

    My advice for income tax reform goes like this- Start at the very top. Deliberately single people out. Let them be forced to lobby their way out with their own dime.

  19. mitchw

    yves, I get a pop up for a consumer survey just about each time I come here. Don’t make me ask Jesse Pinkman how to take care of this.

  20. mitchw

    Geloest! My cookies are automatically deleted whenever my Chrome browser closes. So your service thinks I am a newb.

  21. H Sniffles

    The trick is to get a good cup of gourmet costco coffee and read Naket Capitalism first thing in the morning. This will give you a very good overview of who we are all getting screwed by on that very day. Then, just as the caffeine is kicking in, flip over to zerohedge for some really outrageous bullshit that will help the caffeine make your heart race: ‘Europe is imploding!!’ ‘Gold going to $87,952 an oz by October!!’ ‘War starts tomorrow!!’Then click over to Calculated Risk for a very balanced view of our current economic situation, things like: ‘real estate will fall for awhile longer, then inflation will kick in and real estate will stabilize in nominal terms but continue to drop for awhile longer in inflation adjusted terms. Then a little while after that real estate will start going up again.’ First NC, the ZH, then CR. That’s the ticket IMO.

    1. chad

      hahahah you described my mornings pretty much right on, just trade the Cosco coffee for the standard issue office coffee in the break room.

      Oh one other thing, I would place Denninger’s blog between NC and ZH. You just don’t dive into the crazy of ZH you need an onramp like market-ticker to ease you in to traffic ;)

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