Links 2/14/12

The Top 100 Most Strange, Odd, Perplexing and Unintentionally Funny Vintage Valentine Cards EVER! Mitch O’Connell (hat tip reader Valissa)

The Red Planet looks to have been home to a large body of water billions of years ago Scientific American (hat tip Lambert)

Google offering to pay web users to track their every move Yahoo (hat tip reader Lambert). I thought they were doing that already without paying me.

Childhood Abuse Disrupts Brain Formation: Study Bloomberg

Apple Approves Foxconn Investigation: Why Tim Cook Deserves Credit IB Times. Really? And not all the critical media coverage?

The Death of Public Discourse and the Heavy Snow of Plausibility Health Impact News (hat tip furzy mouse). Whether or not you agree with the dissident views, the censorship is troubling.

Now The Sun tries to call in its favours from Downing Street Independent (hat tip Lambert)

Greece far from safe even after debt swap Willem Buiter, Financial Times

Why no EU plan for default or euro exit? John Dizard, Financial Times

French Elections Potentially More Momentous Then Greek Vote Credit Writedowns

The ECB’s trillion euro bet Charles Wyplosz, VoxEU

Romney Runs as an Outsider but Makes Room for Lobbyists New York Times (hat tip reader May S)

Bruce Fein and Ralph Nader at Harvard Law on”The Lawless American Empire” (hat tip reader Keenan)

America’s failed promise of equal opportunity Salon (hat tip reader May s)

An American budget for the rich and powerful Jeffrey Sachs, Financial Times

STUDY: Businesses Who Employ Undocumented Workers Do Better Clusterstock. Quelle surprise!

A key driver of a US recovery MacroBusiness

So many choices (but none of them are good) Deus Ex Macchiato

It’s still not to late to adopt the Swedish model and stop the financial crisis Trust Your Instincts

Foreign critics should not fear ‘my’ rule Paul Volcker, Financial Times

Armageddon at the Strip Mall Exchequer (hat tip Marshall Auerback)

For California, Attorney General Insisted on Better Terms in Foreclosure Deal New York Times. Let’s see, the LA Times disses Harris’ effort to take a victory lap, while the New York Times cheerleads shamelessly. Who do you believe?

Mortgage Servicer Settlement by State Calculated Risk

FHA Pronounces Budget Problems Gone, Thanks to Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Dave Dayen, Firedoglake. You have to read it. Everyone seems to be double counting the money from a deal that isn’t done yet.

Financial crisis chair Angelides quits mortgage firm Reuters (hat tip reader Lambert)

Mathematics has an Occupy moment mathbabe

[AV meets Naked Capitalism] Bankers and bonuses FT Alphaville

My Application: Head of Public Relations, Goldman Sachs Barry Ritholtz (hat tip reader Scott). I am waiting to hear how his job interviews goes.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Richard Kline

    mathbabe’s thought experiment is a rich one if brief. The issues raised—How might academic disciplines integrate as opposed to dissipate their investigations? Are gatekeepers beneficial, or do they reward past views over fresh ones? Can crowdsourcing achieve quality output on a world-historical scale of reference? If we overthrow the autarky of publishers, how will relevant ideas diseminate amidst a currentless sea of ooblek?—are current, difficult, relevant, and choice. If anyone can concisely answer those questions (which partially form a problem set), we would have a far clear idea on how to turn intellectual property into a sustainable path for creators, for example.

    Publishers (by one name or another) have been the de facto quality control since they controlled distribution. They rewarded themselves inordinately for that difficult to circumvent gatekeeping (some would say rent seeking) structural position. Distribution has escaped the ability of publishers to control it; they are in the process of dying rapidly as now constituted therefore. What takes their place will determine whether creative work drowns in pirate-haunted ooblek or we see a Golden Age of creative free agency on a niche-to-scale distribution schema.

    1. craazyman

      anything she can do to make math simple would be a virtue.

      math teachers make it so complicated it’s beyond belief. all it really is is addition and subtraction. that’s it. with a little bit of absraction thrown in.

      and somehow they make it complicated, or at least they did back in my day.

      the squiggles and greek letters don’t help much, and the abstractions can be hard to grasp if they’re not explained well in a language we can all understand — like English.

      I don’t mean to be obtuse (no pun intended) but it’s a little like the relationship between modernist art and modernist literature, they are very different languages, but they share very clear formal energetic structures. If Mathbabe can apprehend and tell the story of the energetic intellectual structures and relationships in various forms of mathematical thinking, using clear English, she could really achieve something remarkable.

      1. Valissa

        This sentence explains so much about modern academia…

        Since leaving academic mathematics, I’ve realized the enormous value of being able to explain mathematical concepts to broader audiences, and I’ve been left with the distinct impression that such a skill is underappreciated inside academic mathematics.

        There is a reason I’ve been doing self-directed learning for some time. I;m interested in understanding the real world, but much of academic learning can be described as reduction-abstraction-reification which often further degrades into obfuscation. Because, after all if someone is really ELITE level smart, they must prove that to others in their field by being hard to understand (“what, you don’t understand what I’m saying? well then you are an idiot and not worth talking to” – economists are just another group that does this).

        I’ve posted this link before, but since it’s appropo here, I offer it once more.

        Opinion 104: The Shocking State of Contemporary “Mathematics”, and the Meta-Shocking Fact that Very Few People Are Shocked

        To be considered intelligent, IMO, the ability to explain complex topics to others in an understandable fashion is the key. Too bad most academics don’t seem to feel that way. Are they worried about job security or ego/status?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          From my own painful experience, the worst thing a teacher or a TA can say is, ‘It’s intutitively obvious,’ before skipping 20 steps in the proof.

        2. JTFaraday

          I think the ostensibly legitimate use of academic jargon is as a short hand method of conveying things to a community of fellow experts.

          However, it also frequently becomes a placeholder for things that the academic doesn’t want to *really* have to think about in any given context. Which may be okay, but it may also mean that the jargon is not really appropriate in the context in which it is being deployed, because the academic didn’t actually think about it.

          It can also serve to cover up things the academic really *doesn’t* understand.

          This has an amplified effect on learners in that one frequently feels the need to immediately adopt the language of experts, and as a result one may *never* really engage in the thinking that previous generations of experts may have engaged in when constituting the short hand terminology in the first place. Yet the short hand terminology remains a fundamental part of the conceptual architecture of the discipline, and all you actually know is the jargon and not what it was meant to represent.

          This all serves some practical purpose as one really *can’t* constantly reinvent the wheel, but one also runs the risk of then fabricating nothing but nonsense using little understood or archaic concepts as a substitute for real thinking and then having the entire structure collapse on one’s head.

          Business increasingly does this too. It’s one aspect of what’s wrong with the MBA degree. Although you don’t need an MBA to find yourself swept up in this.

          1. JTFaraday

            In other words, ELITE level smart can often be more cover than anything else, and even as a student one needs to figure out how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

            Which can be politically tricky because as a student you’re not “supposed” to be able to do that for yourself.

        3. JTFaraday

          Oh, and look– a mathematician and computer skeptic. Imagine that!

          “For the good of future mathematics we need generalists and strategians who can see the big picture. Narrow specialists and tacticians would soon be superseded by computers.”

          Let’s hope all our Bill Gates acolytes in the public schools had enough sense to turn off the calculator functions.

        4. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Yep. Actually, TIMID men dominate Academia, as a rule, and they always try to cover their insecurity, their whatever with summary dismissal of students. The word *A$$-whole* comes readily to mind. There are exceptions.

        5. Lidia

          The heinous thing is how this mystification has trickled down even to grade-school education. I went to MIT, and I couldn’t figure out the instructions for my nephew’s first- and second-grade math homework. I wish I had kept copies of the insane handouts he got each day!

          There’s a whole industry in coming up with new pedagogical “programs” which make math harder by trying to make it “easier” or more approachable.

          He didn’t get credit on addition problems (i.e., 6+8) unless he showed his work (carried out a precise series of non-inutitive and elaborate ritual steps they had imposed). WTF??

          1. craazyman

            show him how to count to 30 on two hands.

            base 5 on one hand and base 10 on the other.

            it works!

            why is it always so hard??? I think you have to follow the money.

        1. Valissa

          To be fair, a big part of the problem is the way academics are rewarded in their careers. I’m sure you are familiar with the phrase “publish or perish.” Typically professors are rewarded/promoted based on publication (which is research oriented), and not so much on their teaching ability. Teaching well (good communiations skills) is a different skill from research and does not seem to be rewarded in the same way. Oftentimes the professors who are good teachers and prefer to focus on that aspect, end up in second tier or less elite colleges and universities. So if you want to take the occasional college course to learn something new, you’re often better off taking classes at your local college/university or community college. Especially in science, technology or business where you get local professionals in those fields teaching night classes.

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            *Publish or perish* and *the outside offer* are hallmarks of the Academic RACKETS. It’s a rigged game.

            NB, Ph.D.

          2. Neo-Realist

            Sometimes even the professionals in the field of what they’re teaching aren’t all that good–in a so called lesser elite college, I had an accounting instructor who worked in the field do nothing more in his instruction for every lesson than to ask us questions from the back of the chapter in the textbook without any instruction in the concepts displayed in the chapter. And this college was a business school that specialized in such subjects.

        2. craazyman

          some are bad without meaning to be, others out of an inexcusable negligence, and the very worst out of a desire to grand-stand their egos. It’s a real obstacle course!

          I once had a math professor (Introduction to Complex Variable Analysis that I took as an undergrad) who couldn’t even speak English! He wasn’t a bad dude, some German guy who had a little BO odor, but man it was not exactly easy. Although the material wasn’t all that complicated. Just basic calculus if I recall. with a few little “i” thingies thrown in. That’s about as far as I got before the partying took over completely. haha

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I believe the only math one needs to succeed in life is inequalities, as in, $1 billion > $2000.

      ‘My spouse is worth $2000,’ said X.

      ‘Oh, yeah? my spouse is worth $1 billion,’ countered Y.

      With that mastery of math, Y becomes very successful in life.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You can call it new math, or other dirty names, but for those who can see, the following is true:

          0.01% >>>> 99.99%.

          ‘You are taking me to Veggie King?’

          ‘You are taking me to the newest 5-star Michelin restaurant?’

          Guess which one our wizard at math inequalities would choose?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


            1 extramarital affair > 0 extramarital affair.


            Divide both sides by extramarital affair, and you get

            1 > 0.

            Thanks to our excellent education system, almost all of us have successful applied that abtruse math concept.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Here is a more complex math inequality:

            1 brand BMW > 1 brand new Toyota.

            ‘My father drives a brand new Toyota’

            ‘Oh, yeah? My mother drives a brand new BMW!’

            C students will be confused by the 1 on both sides of the inequality, but A-students know it’s true intuitively.

    1. James

      See now, why do we gotta be bad mouthin’ lizards like that anyway? At least lizards don’t go around tryin’ to destroy the planet.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I think those lizards are cute. They are like live dinosaur toys and they look wonderfully iconic, posing (or probably sunning themselves) like that.

        1. James

          Absolutely! Their skin has a certain surreal aspect to it as well. Almost like one of those chain link undergarments that the knight’s of yore used to wear. And the expression is pure zen. Good stuff!

  2. Michael Vaughn

    Note the National Review clown’s canard about “Obamavilles” in the strip mall article – which is true, if not big news, otherwise. Who did he think was President in 2007, when the loans were made. Maybe he didn’t read the first part of his own article.

    1. ambrit

      Mr. Vaughn;
      I’m not so sure that the “Obamaville” quip is a canard. The comparison is to Herbert Hoover and “Hoovervilles.” The two cases are quite similar. Hoover inherited an unsustanable economic system that crashed. His responses were, to be brief, ‘more of the same.’ The major collapse continued unabated, and, as a result, the infamous ‘Hooverville’ tent cities sprang up. Hoover didn’t set in motion the causes of the tent cities, that honor goes all the way back, I’d suggest, to Wilson and the excesses of Americas’ WW1 production ramp up.
      Obama is in a similar situation as was Hoover back in, say, 1930 or 1931. Obama is repeating Hoovers mistakes. If, as local fight fans may suspect, Obama is a DINO (Democrat In Name Only,) then the contractionary policies issuing out of Washington are not artifacts of gridlocked Congress, but carefully crafted tools for looting. Be that as it may, the end result is the same, miles of empty strip malls. Since Obama has done nothing substantive to address this problem, why, yes, let’s call them “Obamavilles.”

      1. tom allen

        DINO (Democrat In Name Only) suggests that the majority of Democrats do not share his views. This would seem provably false, at least at the elected level.

        1. Praedor

          DINO should now become a Good Thing(tm) by meaning a person who does NOT agree with the Democratic Party on most things (neoliberal/corporatist party). A DINO should be someone who opposes openly and in voting corporate “personhood”, big money in politics, opposes neoliberal “free trade” agreements, opposes any tax cuts for the wealthy, any and all welfare for corporations, etc. Similarly, a RINO should also be seen as a good thing. This could be a Republican of the older school, when Republicans were virtually liberal in comparison to today (say, under Nixon).

          Kucinich would be a DINO, for instance.

          1. ambrit

            Dear Praedor;
            It is indeed a sad commentary on our times when Richard Nixon is fondly remembered as a moderate. I remember demonstrating against him. Now I sort of wish he were the Republican nominee. At least then we would have one candidate somewhat in touch with reality to choose.

    2. jimmy james

      Williamson has impeccable Koch credentials, having done time with their “Institute for Humane Studies.”

      Keep that in mind. The “Obamaville” quip isn’t an accident; it’s propaganda.

    3. Dale

      This is the “Bush Depression” since it started on his watch and through his policies. Of course the proper name might also be the “Clinton-Bush-Obama Depression”

  3. Rex

    “It’s still not to late…”

    OK, wrong kind of 2. No biggie in this interchangeable than/then world. But in the title?!

  4. ambrit

    In reference to “The death of public discourse..” Here laid out on black and white is the future of the internet if the internet ‘censorship’ laws are enacted. The demonstrations in Europe last week show this not to be a parochial issue. History teaches that dissident ideas break out in unexpected ways if the ‘authorities’ try to suppress them.
    The elites are making a supremely stupid mistake in trying to suppress ‘public discourse.’ Such ranting and raving, to take on the part of advocatus diaboli, acts as a pressure relief valve for society. Remove that and you most definitely will not like what takes its’ place.
    Kudos to Mr. Conte and his friends. They are fighting the good fight, a just war if there ever was one.

    1. rask

      It all sounds very dire, but the truth is that a significant number of studies have been undertaken to look into the link between autism and vaccines. Despite the spin put on it, researchers and public health professionals were very concerned about it when the link was first proposed and remained concerned about autism in general. It is a major public issue and a lot of money goes into researching its causes and potential treatments. No link has been found between vaccines and autism. However, that has not stopped the belief of the legion of parents who clung to the link as a focal point for the pain of having an autistic child, as a place to put their blame, and as a way to assage their personal guilt (the fact that nothing can be done never stops one from blaming one’s own self.) Unfortunately, the decision of a parent not to vaccinate has very real consequences for the rest of society. Diseases that used to be all but eliminated are again afflicting children across the country. Having an opinion not backed by scientific evidence, no matter how strongly one beleive that opinion, does not entitle one to news coverage. Add to that the fact that the opinion is causing real public harm and one should be able to understand why public health officials have been pleading (there is no real mechanism for them to demand) that news outlets stop giving page space to this dangerous superstition.

      1. Praedor

        True enough. The entire conspiracy nonsense about vaccines promises to be a HUGE public health disaster to come. Will these anti-vaccine parents sign legal waivers when they refuse to vaccinate stating that they will NEVER sue EVER for any illness, disability, or death of their child from any avoidable disease (if vaccinated)? Then OK, don’t vaccinate your kids but suck up the human cost.

        I would be looking towards the bane of modern life: chemicals in everything and virtually everywhere. Pthalates are EVERYWHERE, even in the arctic and antarctic, in every creature tested. They screw up development and mimic hormones. That is a guarantee to cause problems, but that is just a small piece of the chemical soup we all swim in. The water we drink is contaminated, the food we eat is contaminated, the air we breath is contaminated. But instead of looking to where the real (likely) culprit lay, these clowns go after vaccines.

        1. rask

          I wish I could be ok with people signing waivers when electing to not get vaccinated, but a vaccine does not protect an individual 100%. To be effective, the vaccine needs to be applied across the population. The illness is then able to spread less and less through each cycle and eventually virtually disappears, never finding a foothold to grow into an outbreak. However, with an unvaccinated segment of the population to maintain its presence, outbreaks will occur and will affect the vaccinated. Although the vaccine provides resistance, it does not provide immunity. If enough people choose not to vaccinate, the vaccinated begin to catch these diseases anyway. This is especially distressing with some of the childhood diseases we have managed to control that are now coming back.

        2. LucyLulu

          There is an additional harm to society beyond the risk to the child whose parent chooses not to vaccinate. The risk to children who are unable to be vaccinated, due either to allergy to vaccine component or being immunocompromised. Therefore the presence of increasing numbers of unimmunized children are increasing the likelihood these non-vaccine-tolerant children will be exposed, many of whom are least able to fight off disease. It isn’t that pediatricians are trying to infringe on parental rights to choose not to vaccinate, its that these parents’ choices have consequences that extend beyond their own children.

    2. joel3000

      When I was a kid in the early 70’s we knew of one child amongst our extended family and neighborhood that was on the autism spectrum. Now, I see these children everywhere, including in my extended family. Four out of five on my nephews, spanning both my wife and my sides, have neurological disorders spanning from mild to moderate. These children are all over the place, I know them well.

      It is a perfectly reasonable scientific question to ask if the burgeoning vaccine schedule is related to this epidemic. The science of this, as some like to assert, is hardly resolved even though papers have been written. You cannot have a debate in which one side is bullied, attacked and silenced, like those who question vaccine efficacy and safety are.

      For the record, we stopped vaccinating my daughter before she was two. Her cognitive skills are excellent (she meets and exceeds her age goals) and she rarely gets sick.

      1. Lidia

        My sister has an autistic kid, but he was like that from birth looking back on it (constant screaming, not feeding well, never sleeping). She’s flirted with the vaccine thing but has now latched on demons as the cause (I wish I were kidding).

        I think it could well be plastics and all the other chemicals we are surrounded with. Even shopping around the outside of the supermarket, I see that almost all my food is in contact with plastics. We have Roundup everywhere, PCBs, mercury from fish, you name it.

    3. Patricia

      I agree. Moreover, parents don’t generally complain this loudly/constantly for the sheer jollies of it, especially if they’re raising disabled children. So what’s up? It seems that something goes wrong with some kids after vaccinations. Maybe there’s causation, maybe there isn’t. It needs to be studied.

      One can do dozens of the most elegant double-blinded studies indicating something opposite of the anecdotal. Yet, most studies make narrow points, hardly larger than the anecdotal against which they are contrasted.

      Why the antagonism? “Conspiracy theorists!” say the establishment. “Corrupt establishment!” shout the parents. And the genuine problems are left unresolved.

      It is possible that vaccinations damage, in some not-yet understood way, a small percentage of children. If so, how do we understand it? If so, how do we proceed? We don’t want to admit that everything carries risk. And by not admitting that simple fact, we close down good research and leave those impacted alone, belabored, and unsupported. Given that, it is not surprising that the parents go on extreme tangents.

      And now, let’s heave more harm on top of them–shut down the discourse. That’ll resolve the problem. Yeah, uhuh.

  5. dearieme

    vaccinations: my daughter had all of hers, bar one for which there was a contra-indication in my medical history. Are people really going to be forbidden such exemptions?

      1. dearieme

        Here’s the quotation: “Here in the United States, many states are moving to get legislation passed to remove vaccination exemptions currently allowed for religious or other medical reasons, making vaccinations mandatory according to government force.”

          1. Lidia

            I don’t know about the source, but they must be talking about the HPV vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer and which religious fundamentals object to because it removes one of God’s useful scary punishments for females having sex.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      EoC is right on this. He is right most of the time, which is why it is so annoying when he decides to shill for the Administration. Although I would have been more withering in my treatment of Taylor if I were him.

  6. ArchLover

    While I can sympathize with parents who are worried there might be a connection between vaccines and autism, as Rask points out, there has been a lot of research into this…it’s not like doctors are emotionless automatons. And I would suggest that for those who decide not to vaccinate, we would have to go one step further than Praedor suggests. Many of our vaccines are not effective if there is a full blown epidemic/pandemic, they mainly succeed at providing a widespread barrier of entry and/or containment. How many parents would agree to sign a waiver if it included not just an inability to sue if their own child gets sick, but the ability of every other sufferer of an epidemic to sue them for having contributed to its start?

    1. joel3000

      Sadly this is not true. Research that is not done within a context that allows free and open debate is merely propaganda. Researchers who question the efficacy and safety of vaccines are hounded, harassed and bullied to the point that any one who values their funding knows to steer clear of the topic.

      Take it a step further though, do you really want the government to have the ability to mandate shots or pills, without specific reasons? Do you not see the danger of this trend? Whooping cough is bad, but the loss of sovereignty over one’s body should be even more threatening to you.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      There is NO research on multiple drug interactions (as opposed to pairs) and NO meaningful research on the effects of the huge increase in the number of vaccines kids now get. Many are for stuff like German measles which is not life threatening, not even close. Yet we have a huge increase in the % of the population that is allergic and in the % that is severely allergic (as in someone eating peanuts three rows away in an airplane will cause a a life threatening allergic reaction).

      This IS an issue, even if you try to pretend not. Kids now get 3x the vaccinations they get when I was young. And people are now encouraged to get flu shots. Huh? Unless you are old or feeble, they are not life threatening. And they prevent flu only in about 60–70% of the cases anyhow (as in they have to forecast the prevalent winter flu, and they get it wrong). Why are we vaccinating people for nuisance-level ailments?

      1. tert

        not sure if you’re aware but in addition to the standard childhood vaccination regimen, some other things have changed since you were a kid

      2. Tyzão

        I think you pretty much indicated in your post — unless you are old and feeble, these illnesses pose no threat…very powerful force, the old and feeble

  7. Dale

    kamala Harris was an absolute disaster as district attorney in San Francisco. Pretty, petty, political and willing to
    acquiesce to the most venal lothario to ever occupy the
    mayor’s office. Her track record is puffed up by bad journalism supporting bad politics supporting Potempkin polices.

    She will continue the charade of the Democratic Party as a friend of the Middle Class if she rises to any higher level of power.

    Here is a story in the San Francisco Chronicle today about
    the insider corruption that occured with her protogee and boyfriend the mayor and about which she did nothing when district attorney.

    “S.F. embroiled in kickback probe

    Case involving two of the city’s former technology vendors involves officials at the highest levels.”

  8. Walter Wit Man

    “New York Times. Let’s see, the LA Times disses Harris’ effort to take a victory lap, while the New York Times cheerleads shamelessly. Who do you believe?”

    Neither. The main reason I look to these sources is to see what the current state propaganda is and to see the (often factually accurate) leaks. It’s foolish to look to either of these organs as giving us the real inside story.

  9. jsmith

    From the death of public discourse:

    “On January 23, Evgeny Morozov wrote an article for Future Tense called “Warning: This Site Contains Conspiracy Theories” which proposes the notion that search engines should label and flag websites that engage in discourse about the potential link between autism and vaccines. Morozov suggests that Google and Bing install a “pop up message” advising readers to “check a previously generated list of authoritative resources before making up their minds.”

    So, I guess by the same yardstick NC could be considered a “conspiracy site” as the US governmental authorities could claim that Yves’ writing on the illegality of the entire mortgage crisis doesn’t gibe with the official dicta especially if/when the banks are completely cleared of wrongdoing, eh?

    Much like how other business and economic sites would be labeled/shuttered if they continue to document the fraudulent numbers put out by our “authorities” as concerns inflation, unemployment, retail numbers and the various exchange indices themselves.

    All of them would be labeled and/or shuttered as well.

    In addition, any site that proposed alternate explanations – i.e., conspiracy theories – as to the imperialist aims and murderous campaigns of resource allocation and hegemony the US has been engaged in over the last 50 years and the means by which our government has waged these campaigns would also be labeled and/or shuttered.

    Given the lies that we as US citizens have been force-fed over the last 50 years from any number of authoritative sources, I really don’t understand how some posters here are so easily swayed by the claims of authority.

  10. Susan the other

    AV meets NC. Enjoyed Yves’ take on Occupy as she is a pro on the subject of finance and what to do about it. And even the pros are mindboggled – so why should Occupy stand up and issue 14 Points. I like these insights: 1. Whatever the finance industry does from here on in should be socially valuable, and 2. If bankers were/had been even a little contrite, the public would not have become so disgusted. I’m staying tuned for what I can be optimistic for. Got my doubts, though.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think we should all take Mother Nature out for dinner.

      Sure, she doesn’t seem to care but she is the only one we got. In this sense, it’s like most relationships I know.

      Perhaps one day soon, we will discover another planet, and it will be tempting to want to dump Mother Nature then, but until that time comes, she is our Valentine.

      So, let’s all show her our love for her…for now at least.

  11. Walter Wit Man

    Turkey issues first veto in NATO history, opposing Israel’s inclusion in the armada off Iran! [was not able to post comment and suspect it was the link–google the quote below to find the actual link]

    And is promptly ignored.

    “It is an open secret in Turkey – and the waves of arrests seems to confirm it – that the US and the military top brass want to bring Erdoğan’s government down because it is considered ‘too Islamic.’ For sure in the past no Turkish leader dared arrest a former chief of the Turkish Pentagon – as Erdoğan did a few weeks back – and throw him into jail on charges amounting to high treason.

    So the latest Israeli affair has the clear signs of a crisis waiting to happen. It is impossible for Turkey to co-exist with Israel as a full or even a ghost member of the alliance.”

    I guess this is similar to the situation when a liberal Senator requests a hold on legislation but the masters oppose the hold–parliamentary procedure is ignored. The masters benefit from the law but are never subject to it. Oh, and democracy and NATO are a sham . . . but we knew that.

    So anyway. Seems like games are afoot all over the world. Interesting perspective on Turkey in the link.

  12. Valissa

    re: Why no EU plan for default or euro exit? by John Dizard

    That is the most sensible article I’ve ever read about this whole euro situation.

    For those of you who don’t have a subscription (I finally bit the bullet and bought a subscription in December), some of my favorite parts…

    Political leaders and their vast staff organisations have set up yet more entities, such as the European Financial Stability Facility and the European Stability Mechanism, which provide yet more opportunities for careerists, and yet more confusion about who makes decisions. It would have been much more productive to come up with two sets of clear policies; one to deal with sovereign defaults within the eurozone, the other to provide for procedures for a member country to give up the euro as a national currency. …

    Come on. The trick, if you can call it that, is not to make the contingency planning secret, but to make it boring. They are very good at that in Frankfurt and Brussels.

    Taking the airport-fiction-nightmares out of euro departure by putting procedures and a model schedule together would reduce the forbidden-fruit attractiveness of the idea. The markets and the public would be better able to weigh the true economic costs and benefits of euro membership. Also, from the eurocracy’s point of view, in negotiations with obdurate counterparties the blackmail of supposedly uncontrollable contagion would be much less powerful. …

    A consistent policy for dealing with sovereign default within the eurozone would have even more recent precedents to draw on. Charles Blitzer, a former International Monetary Fund official who worked on many sovereign debt restructurings over the past couple of decades, says the eurocracy’s fundamental mistake was to assert, against the evidence, that a default would be “unacceptable” or even “unthinkable”. Why not just make it a routine – an expensive, unpleasant, routine, like divorce?

  13. proximity1

    Not on topic but, I would like to ask:

    What is the significance of the black squares which appear next to some of the posted comments?

    I have tried to figure this out intuitively but I can find nothing consistent to account for them.

    thanks in advance to those who explain it.

    1. Cal

      I believe that they show the position of the reply versus other replies. The black square shows it to be a reply to a reply to a reply. Notice the black circle, first reply, then the empty circle as a reply to that, then the black square(s).

      You could have figured it out if you were a visual type.
      Boy, am I going to get slammed if I’m wrong.

  14. LeonovaBalletRusse

    ATTENTION NC readers: Here’s a VALENTINE to NC from

    Mike Lofgren *explains it all for us* in his blog: “The Right-Wing Id Unzipped” — by Mike Lofgren, Truthout | NewsAnalysis — Tuesday, 14 February 2012.

    This must be read in entirety for full comprehension of what we face.

    Compare with NC LINK 2/14/12 from Bloomberg: “Childhood Abuse Disrupts Brain Formation: Study” —

    Compare with the writings of Gabor Mate, M.D., re connection between trauma and drug addiction; Mate was interviewed by Amy Goodman on *DemocracyNow!* during year 2011.

    The *Republican* masses are damaged by trauma of various kinds, they are in desperate want and despair that only *God on Earth* can FIX, and “they are NOT going away.” These are the living tools and SS of the .01% and their .99% trickle-down Agency. This is the Fourth Reich, evolved from the Third, by the SAME DNA at the TOP.

    “MORAL POLITICS: How Liberals and Conservatives Think” by George Lakoff (1996, 2002);

    *How It Works* — Connect the dots and the DNA:

    “ESCAPE FROM FREEDOM” by Erich Fromm (1941);

    “FLIGHT FROM REALITY: by Norman Taylor (1949);

    “The OPIUM WARS: The Addiction of One Empire and the Corruption of Another” by W. Travis Hanes III, Ph.D. and Frank Sanello (2002, 2005);

    “THE PURSUIT OF THE MILLENNIUM: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages” by Norman Cohn (1957, reprint 2009);

    “THE FAMILY: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power” by Jeff Sharlet (2008); “C STREET: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy” by Jeff Sharlet (2010);

    “‘THE GREAT DERANGEMENT: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, & Religion At the Twilight of the American Empire” by Matt Taibbi (2008);

    “SACRED CAUSES: The Clash of Religion and Politics, From the Great War To the War on Terror” by Michael Burleigh (2007, 2008);

    “THE OCCULT ROOTS OF NAZISM: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology” by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’;

    “BABYLON’S BANKSTERS: The Alchemy of Deep Physics, High Finance and Ancient Religion” by Joseph P. Farrell (2010);

    “CONJURING HITLER: How Britain and America made the Third Reich” by Guido Giacomo Preparata (2005);

    “META-POLITICS: The Roots of the Nazi Mind” by Peter Viereck (1941, 1961);

    “THE OLD BOYS: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA” – Expanded, unexpurgated, and with an updated preface” by Burton Hersh (1992, 2002); — “The Tavistock Agenda” – “The Tavistock Institute for Global Manipulation” and the book: “FUTURE SHOCK” by Alvin Toffler;

    “HITLER’S BENEFICIARIES: Plunder, Racial War, and The Nazi Welfare State” by Goetz Aly – tr. Jefferson Chase (2005, 2006);

    “TRADING WITH THE ENEMY: The Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949” by Charles Higham (1983, 1995);

    “Old NAZIS, the NEW RIGHT, and the REPUBLICAN PARTY: Domestic fascist networks and their effect on U.s. cold war politics” by Russ Bellant (1988, 1989, 1991);

    “GEORGE BUSH: The Unauthorized Biography” by Webster G. Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin (1992);

    “AMERICAN DYNASTY: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush” by Kevin Phillips (2004);

    “NOBILITY and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History” by Plinio Correa de Oliveira (1993, YORK, Pennsylvania);

    “FUNNY MONEY” by Mark Singer (1985, 2004);

    “CRONIES: Oil, The Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate” by Robert Bryce (2004);

    “MADE IN TEXAS: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics” by Michael Lind (2003);

    “GANGS OF AMERICA: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy” by Ted Nace (2003);

    “The Coming Anarchy” by Robert D. Kaplan, Essay in The Atlantic Monthly, (February 1994);

    “THE IDEOLOGY OF TYRANNY: Bataille, Foucault, and the Postmodern Corruption of Political Dissent” by Guido Giacomo Preparata (2007);

    “WAR IS A FORCE THAT GIVES US MEANING” by Chris Hedges (2002);

    “THE BUBBLE OF AMERICAN SUPREMACY” by George Soros (2004);

    “AMERICAN FASCISTS: The Christian Right and the War on America” by Chris Hedges (2006) – (with quotation from Blaise Pascal: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”);

    “THE SHOCK DOCTRINE: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” by Naomi Klein (2007);

    “OPIUM: A History” by Martin Booth (1996);

    “THE WARS OF AFGHANISTAN: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of the Great Powers” by Peter Tomsen (2011);

    “AREA 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base” by Annie Jacobsen (2011); — “Do you Believe in Magick? (4 of 6)” [1-6] (pq92k2); and “The 12th Crusade-Zionism vs Islam-WW3” (dunky3940);

    “PROPHETS OF WAR: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex by William D. Hartung (2011);

    “RACING TOWARD ARMAGEDDON: The Three Great Religions and the Plot to End the World” by Michael Baigent (2009);

    “CHAIN OF COMMAND: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib” by Seymour M. Hersh (2004);

    “THE BUSH AGENDA: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time” by Antonia Juhasz (2006);

    “THE AGE OF FALLIBILITY: Consequences of the War on Terror” by George Soros (2006);

    “LOSING OUR DEMOCRACY: How Bush, the Far Right and Big Business Are Betraying Americans for Power and Profit” by Mark Green (2006);

    “REPUBLICAN GOMORRAH: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party” by Max Blumenthal (2009);

    “DEATH OF THE LIBERAL CLASS” by Chris Hedges (2010);

    “Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer–And Turned its Back on the Middle Class” by Jacob S. Hacker & Paul Pierson (2010);

    “GRIFTOPIA: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America” by Matt Taibbi (2010);

    “WRECKLESS ENDANGERMENT: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon” by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner (2011);

    “THE WRECKING CREW: How Conservatives Rule” by Thomas Frank (2008);

    “TOP SECRET AMERICA: The Rise of the New American Security State” by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin (2011).

    My fellow Americans, IT’S A CONSPIRACY of the Fourth Reich and the “Religious Right” equivalent of “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” to profit the .01% and their trickle-down Agency the .9% for a Total of 1% v 99%. IT IS A SET OF RACKETS by those participating in a Global Organized Crime Syndicate.

    Bring RICO! Cry TREASON! File “The Tyrannicide Brief” against George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, James Earl Carter, who did serve as Agents of this Foreign Power while in Office as President of the U.S.A. File suit in the International Tribunal against them for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.

    OCCUPY Charlotte 2012 for Victory of the 99%:

    Chris Hedges: Secretary of State
    Abigail Field: Attorney General: Dept. of Justice
    Catherine Austin Fitts: Secretary of Housing/Local Loans
    Max Keiser: Chief of Staff
    Gretchen Morgenson: Press Secretary

    MORAL REVOLUTIONS have happened before, and here’s how:

    “THE HONOR CODE: How Moral Revolutions Happen” by Kwame Anthony Appiah (2010).

    *UPPITY* 99% UNITE! We have nothing to lose but our fear!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The 0.01% are the 1% of the 1%, the king of kings, if you will, of which, the Perisan king, Darius, who did in fact explicitly call himself that, the king of kings, and the ancient Greeks knew him all too well, was but just one of them.

          1. LucyLulu

            Your math is correct, Prime. 0.01% = 1/100 of 1% = 1% of 1%.
            Sorry, Leonova, too OCD to let this pass.

  15. LeonovaBalletRusse

    YVES, why is the future head of *CommuCap* China paying a special visit to OMAHA? Does the King of the U.S.A. grant audiences there from his throne?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      My ERROR above. It is the King in IOWA that will give audience to the Chinese heir apparent. Connect Nixon-Kissinger, China, Iowa from way-back-when.

      NPR now is saying it’s all about an *agriculture and friendship* fest in 1985.

      Well, NC readers, I beat them to it: In 1984 I arranged for key representatives of *The People’s Republic of China* in New Orleans (they exhibited at The New Orleans World Fair) to be received, entertained, and educated by a successful *Small Business* there–his heart’s desire–and to exchange gifts. Moreover, I was able to go over Chuck Knapp’s head in order to arrange for Ron Filson of the Tulane School of Architecture to receive graciously the working Dam exhibit that The People’s Republic of China wanted to present to Tulane as a gift. This act *opened the door of the School to China* I was informed by Professor Filson. And I did much for Tulane and the Chinese besides in 1984.

      Do you think I was rewarded for this great accomplishment on behalf of Tulane University? How much do you know about Academia?

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        The name of the Mayor of the *small town* in IOWA who will receive the next head of CHINA is *HOPKINS* – got that? – HOPKINS! HOPKINS! HOPKINS!

        Connect the dots and the DNA for the bonding of the Global .01% forever.

        Jack London: “THE IRON HEEL” – dig it.

  16. AR

    For those interested in learning more about the effects of early chid abuse, listen to the first approx 40 minutes of Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, in which Gabor Maté, Robert Sapolsky and Richard Wilkinson describe the devastating effects of abuse on the developing brain and mind.

    For a lengthy technical description, read Allan N. Schore’s ‘The Effects of Early Relational Trauma on Right Brain Development, Affect Regulation, & Infant Mental Health’

    Norman Doidge’s book The Brain That Changes Itself describes amazing interventions that enable people to retrain their brains to make up for various deficits. The hippocampus retains stem cells, which enable us to prevent mental decline as we age, if we actively use our brains learning new skills, languages, etc., and via exercise, as cited in the Boomberg article. The proposed reason for why exercise stimulates hippocampal growth is that exercise brought us into new environments, requiring learning how to survive in them, as hunter-gatherers.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      AR, yes, “learning new skills” and new ways to RE-INTERPRET EVENTS of our *history* is the key to recovery; and this is what a great *Cognitive Therapist* facilitates. Thank you Veronica Lenard, MSW, and Louise Dunbar, M.D.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      AR, see drug addiction and death of Whitney Houston within the frame of Alice Miller’s book, “The Drama of the Gifted Child” – and of “The Obsidian Mirror.”

      See also:

      “Marlene: Marlene Dietrich, A Personal Biography” by Charlotte Chandler (2011);

      “DANGEROUS SECRETS: Maladaptive Responses to Stress” by Michael Weissberg, M.D. (1983);

      “THE WORDS TO SAY IT” by Marie Cardinal – Preface and Afterword by Bruno Bettelheim (1992, 1983);

      “THE GIRLS WHO WENT AWAY: The Hidden History of Women Who surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade” by Ann Fessler (2006);

      “STALKING IRISH MADNESS: Searching for the Roots of My Family’s Schizophrenia” by Patrick Tracey (2008);

      “THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE WESTERN” edited b Jennifer L. McMahon and B. Steve Csaki (2010);

      “SACRED MATTERS: Celebrity Worship, Sexual Ecstasies, The Living Dead, and Other Signs of Religious Life in the United States” by Gary Laderman (2009);

      Pick your poison. Or change the environment:

      “ANARCHY EVOLUTION: Faith, Science, and Bad Religion in a World Without God” by Greg Graffin & Steve Olson (2010);

      “SMALL ACTS OF RESISTANCE: How Courage, Tenacity, and Ingenuity Can Change the World” by Steve Crawshaw and John Jackson – “Foreword by Vaclav Havel” (2010).

      OCCUPY Charlotte 2012: END RULE BY KINGS

      BILL BLACK/YVES SMITH 2012: Power to the People: JUSTICE NOW!
      Chris Hedges: Secretary of State
      (you know the rest by now)

    3. Patricia

      However, there are some who “re-interpret events” and practice “new skills” until they can see and walk on rainbows, and yet remain psychologically damaged.

      To maintain otherwise regarding the severely traumatized would be like blaming victims of torture for not working hard enough, or in the correct manner, to “get over it”. Or some of our soldiers.

      They are similar to those who are paralyzed through accident and can’t manage to retrain their brains to re-function their limbs. It is a deeply sad fact that sometimes irreversible damage occurs. And they need our society’s ongoing support.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Patricia, what you describe is the result of BOGUS *Cognitive Therapy*. There’s a lot of B.S. out there, and I guess you’ve seen a lot of it.

        There is no substitute for THINKING (v. *believing*). It is true, however, that some people are *damaged beyond repair*. These are the prey of the 1%.

        1. Patricia

          Hi, Leonova!

          I don’t mean damaged beyond repair. Those who are truly damaged beyond repair are no longer alive. I mean getting on with life, disabled. Like a person who is paralyzed through accident, and can obtain a lovely life, although hugely altered.

          Healing for such a person looks different, that’s all. And they need support.

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            Patricia, I consider such as Rev. Haggi to be *damaged beyond repair* and thus a zealous *religious recruiter* of avid *executioners* for the Fourth Reich.

  17. VietnamVet

    Reading “Not too late to adopt the Swedish Model” I wondered why not do it. Likewise, watching “Downton Abbey” I wondered how the aristocratic Earl of Grantham makes his money. I keep forgetting we all have been time warped back to the dying days of the Gilded Age. Oligarchs control the Governments. Land and rents are wealth. No haircuts or write downs for the rich. Screw Workers and the Greeks.

    The follies of the “The Guns of August” are playing out again, centered on Iran.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      It looks like there is no getting to the bottom of the Black Bloc matter. So far, it’s just “he said/she said”. The Black Bloc needs to show its face and present its Manifesto about now.

  18. AR

    Patricia @ 6:12

    I am a victim of torture. As an infant. Are you telling me to give up hope of perhaps being able to improve my emotional life, maybe even retrain my right brain, via neurofeedback or amygdala retraining? Should I give up? I don’t feel very stood up for by your comment. Instead I feel like you intended to invalidate my comment.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      AR, get to know Dr. Gabor Mate and his group; never give up hope. The body, including the brain, is a self-healing organism.

    2. Patricia

      Lord, no, AR, I don’t mean that at all. I was obviously unclear in my statement. There is growing peace for people with complex PTSD and I am a testament to it. It’s just that there’s no cure-all. I am damaged and have to live with it. But I have learned to do so. And I enjoy being alive!

      I am reminded of an argument I had with my father when I was young. He thought the lovely tall symmetrical blue spruce in our front yard was far more beautiful than the gnarled wind-torn pines along the Oregon coast, whereas I believed the coastal pines to be much more complex and interesting and beautiful. I did not know at the time that I was arguing for myself.

      By the way, I did some amygdala retraining and found it useful. I wish you all the best, AR, knowing how hard it can be, sometimes, to live through one’s days.

      I salute you for your courage.

        1. AR

          Patricia @ 10:01 pm

          Thanks for the clarification, and my best to you. The Pete Walker link is most helpful. Thanks.

          I’m at the beginning of my journey towards finding joy in being alive, after 6 decades of fawning, to use the newest word in my vocabulary! I’ve only just this year learned of all this as the explanation for my woes, and I see that my insatiable addictions to learning and exercise saved me from the usual sorts of addictions that would have been destructive, instead of healthy distractions from, and alleviators of the pain…..until recently.

          I think the reason it took so long to figure this out for myself is that, as a ‘gifted child’ even my therapists failed to see the true reasons for my obsession with excellence in my work, despite describing details of my childhood. This is an indictment of much of the psychiatry and psychology professions as far as I’m concerned. Despite all of the successes I achieved in my life, as an athlete and an artist, I never enjoyed anything I ever did, even those pursuits that derived from the ‘true me.’ There was always the overlay of ‘fawning’ attached to everything.

          Can you provide a link for the amygdala retraining you mentioned? The one I found is

          Thanks again!

          1. Patricia

            You sound somewhat like me, defending against trauma with learning and art (but not athletics, for me). They are very good defenses! Unfortunately all defenses eventually break down, as you know. Yet they probably kept you going until your subconscious found the strength to actually face the crap.

            Yes, I used Gupta’s method. I kept at it gently (not fastidiously) over a period of a year and it lowered my general level of hyper-vigilance quite a bit. Gupta promises complete cessation of difficulties if properly used, but let that go and just see what it can offer.

            In psychiatry/psychology, if you stick to the area of PTSD (particularly complex PTSD or DESNOS), you will find the most help. It is important to go outside the illness modality. PTSD is damage, not illness. Also check into dissociation—that defense in particular ruins enjoyment.

            I found a wonderful therapist, half of whose clients are vets. She uses any therapeutic approach that seems appropriate at the time, from Psychodynamic to Cognitive to Marsh Linehan’s Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to amygdala retraining. When there is complex trauma, complex treatment is required. Seems sensible, really.

            David Baldwin has an excellent site that contains a large collection of useful articles by PTSD professionals. Shore’s article is in there.

            I have an extra email address: I’d be glad to pass on more of what I’ve learned, if you want.

          2. Patricia

            Oh, and I forgot Judith Herman’s “Trauma and Recovery”. That is the basic text and very very useful. It’s older, from 1997, but remains fairly definitive.

    1. Lambert Strether


      Abdullaw, a Tashkent resident who described himself as an intellectual, said it was right to stop the concert.

      “It’s the birthday of our great ancestor Mohammed Zahiriddin Babur,” he said. “Why should we celebrate some artificial, lightweight event? It doesn’t fit our mentality and our history.”

      Reminds me of that study that shows people who don’t read the newspapers or listen to the teebee are actually more well informed than those who do….

  19. LeonovaBalletRusse

    YVES & LAMBERT, one of the LINKS of today, 2/14/12, entitled: “Bruce Fein and Ralph Nader at Harvard Law on ‘The Lawless American Empire'”, is well worth investigating, and is MOST timely–especially since Bill Black on Apple in China was featured in LINKS today also.

    In addition to the text, there is a video of the live addresses of Bruce Fein and Ralph Nader, by turns, to a group of Harvard Law Students. These are impassioned addresses of great importance and urgency, and are extremely moving. Everyone should hear this, to keep as a FRAME of reference for the *institutional criminality* that we at NC rail against daily, which is the constant source of content for Yves Smith and Bill Black.

    Bruce Fein speaks first, with fire and keen sincerity. Ralph Nader follows, with a virtual indictment of Harvard Law School, the presumed Voice of Authority when it comes to Constitutional Law); and entreats the Law Students present to enter a time-honored Profession rather than a lucrative Trade.

    Toward the end, Nader reads and distributes a list of 10 grievances against the Obama Administration written by Jonathan Turley. He speaks of the failure of *moral courage* of wealthy citizens after 9/11 (including “George Soros who was against the War”), for their failure to mount huge advertising campaigns via the mass media, condemning what they knew to be illegal, despotic practice, so as to educate the public and produce a groundswell of public opinion against the criminal practices of the Bush Administration.

    Finally, Nader calls on Law Students at Harvard and everywhere (whoever can be reached online) to exert their *moral authority* and mount “a MOVEMENT to RESTORE CONSTITUTIONAL PRACTICES and the greatest idea of Western civilization, which is due process.”

    They should follow his advice. This video should be forwarded, as “a shot heard round the world,” if not as *the last trumpet*.

    Cry TREASON! Sound the Shofar!

    OCCUPY America! We the People: Sovereign Agents of Justice

    Chris Hedges: Secretary of State

    *UPPITY* AGENTS UNITE! We have nothing to lose but our shame.

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