Links 2/8/12

Your blogger needed to spend most of the last two days crashing, for no apparent cause. Hopefully I will be more energetic going forward.

Tiny primate ‘talks’ in ultrasound AFP

How America made its children crazy Asia Times. Boy, does this ring true.

Outlook bleak on Olympic cheats Aljazeera

Mediterranean seagrass could be hundreds of thousands of years old Guardian (hat tip Lambert)

The seed emergency: The threat to food and democracy Aljazeera (hat tip Lambert)

Why the Energy-Industrial Elite Has It In for the Planet Bill McKibben, TomDispatch

Privacy Death Stars Approved By Congress Gawker

Dramatic drop in budget revenues Kathimerini (hat tip Marshall Auerback). Quelle surprise!

Greece misses bail-out deadline Financial Times

Capturing the ECB Joseph E. Stiglitz, Project Syndicate

Has the Euro Broken Out? Credit Writedowns

Temporary Employment: A New Ugly Rearing its Head in Europe? Angry Bear (hat tip Lambert)

China Central Bank Vows Homebuyer Support Bloomberg

Brazil privatises operations at three airports BBC (hat tip Lambert)

Ronald Reagan: Welfare Queen of Montana (or: Tax Tips for Mitt Romney) Rolling Stone

Some U.S. banks awash in ID theft tax-fraud proceeds as IRS cracks down Reuters (hat tip Lambert). I had doubts about the security of electronic filing. Wow, has the IRS botched it.

Another Campaign for Sale New York Times

Now the American right has even hijacked breast cancer’s pink ribbon Guardian (hat tip reader John L)

CONTINETTI: COMBAT JOURNALISM Washington Free Beacon. Per Tom Ferguson: Swamp creatures appear.

The 2012 Version of a Very Old Joke Angry Bear (hat tip reader Aquifer)

Admit It: Countrywide Is Bankrupt Big Think (hat tip reader Scott via Barry Ritholtz). From last week but still germane. The problem is that Ken Lewis looks not to have taken the steps to insulate BofA from Countrywide risk.

How Romney would tax us David Cay Johnson, Reuters

Bernanke: 8.3% Unemployment Understates Weakness in U.S. Labor Market Bloomberg. Mr. Market celebrates since that means Uncle Ben will give him cheap money longer.

Auto and Student Loans Drive Borrowing Surge Wall Street Journal

Short sellers target social network stocks Financial Times (hat tip reader Lambert)

The mantra of some financiers Carolyn Sissoko (hat tip Richard Smith)

Banks Paying Homeowners to Avoid Foreclosures Bloomberg (hat tip Richard Smith). Sounds like PR. I just had someone say in Baltimore banks are not responding to any calls re short sales. Notice that the first para indicates that the short sales are being done only on bank-held mortgages, and then I’d bet only on ones where there was no second lien.

Dichotomy Alert (hat tip Lambert)

Money, like hat-wearing, depends on convention, not laws John Kay, Financial Times

Antidote du jour (hat tip furzy mouse):

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  1. John L

    Interesting McKibben article. He’s saying that burning just a fifth of the world’s known reserves of oil will tip us into irreversible climate change, and that most of them therefore need to stay in the ground. Oil companies don’t like that. Any climate scientists here that can confirm the math?

    1. dearieme

      ” Any climate scientists here that can confirm the math?” If they were any good at maths they wouldn’t be “climate scientists”.

      1. Binky the Bear

        The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

    2. with the doves

      from an interview with Jim Hansen (Climate scientist extraordinaire):

      SolveClimate News: You have referred to Keystone XL as the “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.” What actual effect would it have on the amount of carbon dioxide in the air?

      James Hansen: If released all at once, the known tar sands resource is equivalent to 150 parts per million [CO2]. As is the case with other fossil fuel sources, the amount in the air declines to about 20 percent after 1,000 years. Of course, only a small fraction of the resource is economically recoverable at the moment. But if you decide you are going to continue your addiction and build a big pipeline to Texas, the economically extractable oil will steadily grow over time. Moreover the known resources would grow because there is plenty more to be discovered.

      Right now CO2 is about 393 ppm in the air. Pre-industrial level was 280. Right now we are higher than we’ve been for at least a million years or more iirc. Add 100 more, say, from the tar sands and you get an even more extreme & hard-to-deal-with number.

      We may be facing “irreversible climate change” right now, FWIW. “Flip” isn’t the right verb.

          1. FaustCarton

            Second that notion whoknu, it is the great race of these times to find the technical and economical level of application of renewables that can avoid THE war and the GW threat at the same time. I used think it was just conspiracy that advancements in renewables would be suppressed, in various ways, but I fear now that it is almost SOP for the .01’s. Tell me it isnt so, someone please?

          2. ambrit

            Dear LBR;
            Anybody do a FOI request on Teslas papers which were siezed by the Feds when he died? He died in the way back. Even the fifty year rule is moot.

      1. montanaconserv

        Currently CO2 levels are 0.03% of our Atmosphere. Looking back into our past geological history, the Earth is at it’s lowest CO2 level ever! Please review this study, and think again about what you posted…

        “Earth’s atmosphere today contains about 380 ppm CO2 (0.038%). Compared to former geologic times, our present atmosphere, like the Late Carboniferous atmosphere, is CO2- impoverished! In the last 600 million years of Earth’s history only the Carboniferous Period and our present age, the Quaternary Period, have witnessed CO2 levels less than 400 ppm.”

        1. Justin Y

          There were no humans during the coniferous period. The current CO2 level is the highest ever for human history. Are you assuming that climate during the coniferous period was perfectly comfortable for modern human society?

          1. ambrit

            Dear Justin Y;
            The climate back then was just dandy for the dinosauria, and they evolved into the Greys. What’s not to like?

  2. John L

    Crazy children, seed emergency.

    Gates foundation mentioned in both these, pushing computers in schools and frankenseeds, on top of yesterday’s geoengineering. A pattern here of high-tech “solutions” that don’t work and enable rent collection.

    1. YankeeFrank

      After foisting an inferior computer OS onto the world, causing untold productivity losses and stress issues, Gates moves over to destroy education and farming… great job Bill!

      1. K Ackermann

        That inferior operating system cost $65, putting a computer in most every home.

        Anyone could have come along with a better, more affordable OS, but none did.

        1. John David Stone

          GNU/Linux is indeed free — free in the political sense , and also widely available at essentially zero cost. And it is also better than Windows under almost any metric, unless you’re interested exclusively in playing video games.

          1. b.

            It is not free with respect to the time ivnested to get anything done. I used, and worked with, Linux for over a decade, professionally, and created products and contributions for it. I despise Windows with a passion. But day one experience, learning curve, and productivity are shit under Linux. Free Software is driven by needs of programmers and engineers, and comprehensively fails to address the needs even of home users with different interests and backgrounds.

            Windows wins not because it is sound or good, but because of providing a minimum level of productivity – quite high with some of its products – out of the box. The daily attrition costs of its good-enough implementation of bloated feature accretion and abysmal usability for high frequency UI tasks (Fitts Law anyone) becomes obvious only after the sunk cost has taken users beyond the point of no return. Not that Windows products do not suffer from the same “best from programmers for programmers” dynamics – MSVC sucks less than MSWord. But Linux fails to provide any kind of scalable experience, and, for ideologically hampered distributions, does not come with “not free beer” applications many casual users couldn’t find or download even if they ignored atrocious package management systems.

            Or maybe all that has changed?

            There is a reason Linux desktop adoption has peaked. It is inherent to the Free Software approach, and the “bizaar”. Not that it cannot be fixed, but that hasn’t happened. Even with corporate support – original Mozilla, OpenOffice – parts of the ecology are fundamentally broken. Pity, too.

        2. LeonovaBalletRusse

          K A, “no one did.” Certainly not Steve Jobs, although if his character had matched his PR, he might have done it.

    2. aet

      You’ve not presented – because you don’t have any? – NO evidence for your sweeping generalizations about the state of the educational systems and their effectiveness…anyhow, which particular State are you talking about?

      US, UK, Germany,Canada, Sweden, China…..?

      Educational systems differ markedly from place to place.

      1. aet

        You use computers, do you not?
        Why shouldn’t children be taught as early as is practicable, how to use them, and how they work?

        OH, maybe you want to “preserve the mystery of computers” – and how they function – to be the special knowledge of only big business/State operatives and technicians: for knowledge is power, isn’t it? And children who start early are the very best computer programmers of all, just look at Mr Gates’ or Mr Jobs’ biographies, if you don’t believe me and … well, that may be a problem for those who would use computers in, or as, social control mechanisms.

        IMHO, people ought to know how the systems they depend on function, and what they’re good for, and what they’re not good for. And at as young an age as is practicable, too.

        People ought to learn as much as they can, as quickly as they can. And one of the goals of education is to help people to do just that.

        Keeping kids from the computer as a general principle solves no problem, nor does it obviate any difficulties, in the education of people.

        It’s just another manifestation of the need to control others simply by exerting arbitrary control, and the need to make excuses for that exercise.

        Computers are not the problem.

        1. John L

          The link “How America made its children crazy” provides evidence that computers are part of the problem.

        2. Wendy

          did you read the article? if so, can you respond to any of the factual assertions therein with facts, not opinion?

        3. svaha

          I grew up at a VAX terminal, my mom’s form of babysitting while she got her PhD. Computers were not a mystery to me, I learned how to type, write basic programs and was introduced to ubergeeks at an early age.

          Learning how to use Facebook at school is not a good use of time. They have plenty of access to computers at home, and many of them already have smart phones.

          What Einstein once said about radio is also true of the internet:

          Think gratefully of the big number of unknown engineers who simplified the instruments of communication via radio and adapted them to mass production in such a fashion that they have become ready to be used by everybody nowadays.

          And everybody should be ashamed who uses the wonders of science and engineering without thinking and having mentally realized not more of it than a cow realizes of the botany of the plants which it eats with pleasure.

        4. JTFaraday

          I think the days of learning “how computers work” in public schools are long gone. Before Gates and Jobs, et al, in order for students to learn *anything* about computers, schools had to offer programming courses because that’s all there was.

          Now, thanks to Gates and Jobs et al, there is this profusion of “productivity tools” and responding to those like a monkey– to the point of “dependence” as you say– combined with the ubiquitous “socialize them for work” mentality, has imposed a mindless habituation routine on young people who are barely even literate.

          The GPS is making people dumb, you can count on it. It doesn’t HAVE to be that way, it “just happens” that it IS that way.

          So, how does that happen?

        5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The 0.01% control the 99.99% by indoctrinating them with the belief that they must always out-smart their fellow 99.99%ers, because, well, things are limited in this world.

          They start you before pre-school, all the way up to graduate school and even after that, as you transition into your internet blog commenting career. Beat up on each other or YOU WILL NOT SURVIVE!!!

          No room for cooperation.

          What about the 0.01%? Do they need education? Technical education? If you were a 0.01%er, do you need to be smart? That’s a silly question. You don’t have to be smart, in the sense we 99.99% know what that that word means. You need to be street smart – here we talking about 0.01%-streets, streets that are paved with fiat money. The knowledge, the dark art you need is knowing how to manipulate the 99.99%. You can’t get this knowledge from any known university in this world. Typically, it’s passed from father to son, or mother to daughter.

          So, yeah, sure. Continute to try to out-smart your fellow 99.99%ers with your technical education. Get it so you can stay ahead of them. And now out-smarting others has become just a reflex. Sometimes, some even do it just for the sadistic pleasure it give.

          There, maybe I am less, but I am smarter than you. Where is my cookie? I need some food in my stomach before I empty my brain of thoughts (balance is the key here), as I head to my zazen session.

          1. JTFaraday

            Actually, you CAN learn how to manipulate the 99.9% in universities.

            The Obama campaign did a great job manipulating the D-Party primary in the Oppression Olympics vs Hillary (and Billy Jeff–a real necessary adjunct there), in which Obama would necessarily come out on top by virtue of being on the bottom, ie., the most oppressed.

            Worked like a charm–you could see it coming from MILES away. WHO SAYS women’s and ethnic studies degrees are “useless”?

            That said, I’d rather be able to find my way around without needing some robot to tell me when to turn left.

          2. FaustCarton

            I get your point MLTPB, there is this unecessary struggle imposed on us through the artificial scarcities that people like Jaques Fresco talks of – which we see ultimately manifested through the operation of fiat fraud, corporate accounting fraud (things so brilliantly covered in this blog),the ‘dumbing down’ through blind overuse of IT ( it is a v.different thing to understanding the real tech. that makes it all work) and which all results in ones semi-conscious competitive fight with your collegue/neighbor
            for said artificial scarcities( that end up also causing real starvations!).
            A humble suggestion is the need to move in the direction suggested by people such as Steve McIntosh (strange coincidence of name) in his book “Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution”. I know there is a lot to read in one lifetime but this is well worth it; until we can move to a society which thoughtfully appreciates our different realities there can be,well, no presence or future. Time is agin us, but we can get there.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe it’s time for a global non-proliferaton of bad science/technology treaty.

      Ideally, we stop everything and try to sort what is good and what is bad, instead of compounding what is bad with something worse.

    4. Parvaneh Ferhadi

      The New World of Work by Bill Gates 2005 (Excerpt):
      In a new world of work, where collaboration, business intelligence and prioritizing scarce time and attention are critical factors for success, the tools that information workers use must evolve in ways that do not add new complexity for people who already feel the pressure of an “always-on” world and ever-rising expectations for productivity.

      We believe that the way out of this maze is through integration, simplification, and a new breed of software applications and services that manage complexity in the background, and extend human capabilities by automating low-value tasks and helping people make sense of complex data.

      Full version:

    5. mk

      “Now the American right has even hijacked breast cancer’s pink ribbon Guardian (hat tip reader John L)”

      Screw the Komen org., Sandra Brinkler, Ari Fleischer, Karen Handler and their “pink ass cure”.

      I give directly to Planned Parenthood every month. They were there for me when I was a teenager and I will give to them until the day I die. And I don’t tell them how to spend the money I give them. Planned Parenthood is about medical services and education, they are not political at all.

      The Komen org is clearly about politics. Don’t give them anything, don’t participate in their activities. Put them on your SPAM list. Starve them of any donations and let them die.

      From now on, when Komen org. asks for money, I will use it as an opportunity to tell them what I really think of them, just like I do with Obama’s fundraising folks.

      I hope others will do the same.

      1. LucyLulu

        Approx. 80% of donations to Komen are spent on the organization’s administration costs. You are better served by donating directly, at least you know that all of your funds are making it to PP.

  3. YankeeFrank

    Oh the funhouse that Continetti fellow lives in… makes me dizzy just contemplating it… so the history of the past decade is that the right has been in retreat due to the liberal wolfpack media… fascinating stuff…

    …with one party in this country a warmongering, dictatorship and police-state worshiping, neoliberal supporting bunch of hypocrites and fascists, and the other being the Republicans… abandon all hope ye who enter the United States of 24%… er I mean, 8.3% unemployment!

    1. barrisj

      Additionally, check out the “Moon of Alabama” blog today on more reporting on how “the West” is hellbent to push destabilisation of Syria into civil war/regime change, with the usual suspects already “on the ground”:

      Libyan Salafis Killed In Syria

      Borzou Daragahi is the Middle East and North Africa correspondent for the Financial Times. He just tweeted:

      borzou Borzou Daragahi
      Wow – Misurata revolutionaries announce combat deaths of three #Libyan fighters in #Syria

      This is the first confirmation of what former CIA agent Philip Giraldi reported back in December:

      Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to Iskenderum on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals as well as volunteers from the Libyan Transitional National Council who are experienced in pitting local volunteers against trained soldiers, a skill they acquired confronting Gaddafi’s army.

      Giraldi, without naming any sources, also claimed:

      French and British special forces trainers are on the ground, assisting the Syrian rebels while the CIA and U.S. Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel cause, enabling the fighters to avoid concentrations of Syrian soldiers.

      The obvious attempt of regime-change the U.S., its European followers and its Arab stooges are engineering in their service to Israel, could eventually push Syria into the direction of a civil war. The Israelis believe that a weakened Syria will be good for them.

      But, like nearly always, the blowback of such a campaign is likely larger than the gain and in the end will disappoint the instigators.

      Notice how quickly “free Libya” rather disappeared from most US media coverage (though not European)? Inasmuch as Libya now is an Afghanistan-style mish-mash of militias, tribal warlords, and meddling Gulf States “advisors”, nothing new here, folks, just the sound and fury of freedom on the march!

      1. G3

        Moon of alabama is a good one.

        One more on the links between Syria and Libya (via Angry Arab blog):

        “On the other hand, what needs to be made very clear is that the lowest recorded number of people killed on the back of Western military intervention was in the Libyan case. As an observer in the International Criminal Court case on Libya, I can confirm to you that 52,000 people were killed in the war there. There is not a single positive example in history of Western military intervention. In Rwanda, the humanitarian corridor established did nothing to stop the genocide. ”

        One reason why we won’t hear about Haytham al-Manna on the lame stream media is because he is anti-imperial and against NATO intervention.

      2. G3

        Don’t cha know? The “free” Libyans and those killed by NATO humanitarian bombs are now “unpeople” (the term used by Chomsky). Like those killed by O-bomb-a’s drones.

  4. skippy

    Mining Corporations caught planning Climate Denial

    Australia exports a huge amount of the natural resources that we burn, this affects the lives of everyone on the planet. For instance they export more coal than any other country by far, 7x more than the USA.

    Caught on hidden camera is Climate denialist ‘Lord’ Monckton planning with a room full of mining executives to gain control of Australia’s media, preferably by “encouraging those we know who are super rich” to establish a +Fox News style network.

    Climate Denier Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp already owns 70% of the major press in Australia and 25% of the largest TV network. Abusing this power Australian scientists say he’s “Set humanity back twenty years in its fight against Global Warming”. In return they’ve received several death threats.

    This week mining billionaire Gina Rinehart became the largest shareholder in Fairfax media, having already bought a stake in Channel Ten. But this new video reveals this move is bigger than one woman’s ambition — it’s part of a coordinated and very deliberate strategy.

    Skippy… need Antidote…

    1. René

      “Australia exports a huge amount of the natural resources that we burn, this affects the lives of everyone on the planet.”

      The main culprit is mercury. It is released when you burn coal. Mercury affects our brains and kidney’s, badly.

      Solar (thermal) energy is a real (partial) solution. It can deliver 100% of the Earth’s (electric) energy needs within a few decades if we (the 99%) decide to work on that collectively.

      “Within 6 hours deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes within a year.”

      – Dr. Gerhard Knies

      Prince El-Hassan bin Talaal of Jordan (which has no oil) sees only one difficulty and that is the competition it might create with the traditional monopoly of power… oil (coal / gas) and increasingly the emphasis on nuclear power.

      “I think the paradigm shift comes from the fact that we are talking about 10 billion people within a very few years and therefore time is tight to prepare for this 10 billion. Either the 10 billion will be killed to attrition of wars and regional calamities or affordable and sufficient water, food and energy as well as a stable economy and climate are used as indispensable precondition for civilised life on the planet. And that’s where I go back to the complementarities between human warming and global warming but whether it is politically acceptable is a question of egocentrism versus compassion. Do we want to live in a caring world or do we want to live in a world of vested interests?”

      Here come the Sun (Rob van Hattum, VPRO Backlight)

      1. René

        RE: Tomgram: Bill McKibben, Why the Energy-Industrial Elite Has It In for the Planet

        “Telling the truth about climate change would require pulling away the biggest punchbowl in history, right when the party is in full swing. That’s why the fight is so pitched. That’s why those of us battling for the future need to raise our game.”

        Maybe the alternative media could watch and than write about the documentary, “Here comes the Sun.”

        As a starter.

  5. Dikaios Logos

    Yves, I’m interested in the fact you spent the last two days crashing, since I did as well, including a totally sleepless Monday night/Tuesday morning, I’m almost willing to believe their something in the air. While yes, the plural of anecdote is not data, I can imagine a full moon plus extraordinary solar storms could have done a number on those of us extra sensitive to light, particularly as I am more or less in the same part of the world as you.

    1. Jim3981

      On the west coast here. I’ve been crashing and have had a bunch of lung irritation…

      They have been spraying those chem trails Saturday and Sunday all day. first time I’ve noticed chemtrails out here(hadn’t looked before). Multiple large planes(3 or more) passing at the same time.

    2. Dave of Maryland

      It was the full moon, dammit. Exact at 4:54 pm EST on Tuesday, but effectively full from 8:24 am on Monday until 12:32 pm today, Wednesday. Some full moons are nastier than others, I confess I don’t know exactly why. The next full moon is the afternoon of March 8. In effect from late on March 6th until midnight on the 8th. You’re warned.

      I have to wade through dreck about children jacked up on computers and drugs, and science that gets phonier by the year. Makes me glad my kid is home schooled and takes dance lessons.

      Late Medieval culture was superior to this. It had to be: Only a superior culture can give birth to the self-serving, and, given enough time, every superior culture eventually will, to its shame.

      1. K Ackermann

        I thought about home schooling my kids, but I was afraid they’d end up with an idiot for a teacher.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It has been unusually warm here (not Europe, of course).

      The new normal:

      Spring feels like summer
      Summer feels like, well, super summer (it’s got to be good with ‘super’ in it).
      Autumn feels like, well, summer again.
      Winter fees like spring.

  6. ambrit

    Reading the NYT op-ed piece about the Obama sell out to big money, (as usual they’re a bit late to the game,) I did some collateral site surfing and came up with a truly gag reflex inducing op-ed piece, “What Wikipaedia Isn’t Telling You,” that lays out the next phase of the elites ongoing war against truth and justice. (The American way is another matter entirely.)
    Now, the people are a bunch are a bunch of mindless sheep, according to the recording industry shill who ‘wrote’ the piece. They marched lockstep to kill the ‘virtuous’ SOPA and PIPA bills on the say so of ‘misguided’ or perhaps, the tone of the piece suggests, nefarious actors like Google and Wikipaedia. When reading ‘between the lines,’ (an activity I strongly recommend everyone make a habit of,) the aforementioned actors are conflated with “criminal gangs peddling counterfeit pharmaceuticals.” Oh my, what’s in my Xanax craazy? D—, it’s making me see non elite approved facts on my internet too! When will this tormenting freedom end!!!? It reminds me of the old, old, joke about LSD 25. (The Owlsley stuff, not the modern c—.) “LSD 25! It absorbs 25 times its’ own weight in excess reality! Try some today!” I am here to tell you; anyone who falls for this latest spiel about internet ‘piracy’ and the death of Western Civilization it’s guaranteed to cause has gotten hold of some of the new improved LSD 100!
    As for the NYT; how about a new fun term: Nytered, (pronounced – neetrd) – the state of being of captured news purveyors, laughably compromised, obviously partisan, out of touch with reality. Syn.-neutered, corrupt.

    1. Hugh

      Sherman who is the CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America got savaged in the comments.

      As per the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, copyrighted material created after 1978 has “copyright protection for a term ending 70 years after the death of the author. If the work was a work for hire (e.g., those created by a corporation) then copyright persists for 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever is shorter.” (wiki)

      Yet even for works created before 1978 if the copyright was renewed, they are copyright protected for a maximum of 95 years, much like the material created after 1978. This means, if I understand things correctly, that a movie like Casablanca which came out in 1942 will be under copyright until 2037.

      Sound recordings are a little different in that copyrights can extend beyond the 1923 boundary. Most other works created before 1923 are in the public domain.

      In any case, we live in a world now where virtually all the material which has been copyrighted from our birth, and all of it if someone was born after 1978, will be under copyright the whole of our lives. What this amounts to is a massive seizure of the commons of our cultural heritage by corporations.

      1. b.

        The sad thing is that retroactive extension of copywright – for existing works – is unconstitutional on its face. Instead of focusing on a magical “too long” number of years the Supreme Court would have to conjecture out of thin air, Lessig should have focused on that.

        Copyright could be constrainted by “use it or loose it” provisions, or even mandatory licensing at prevailing rates – nobody objects to concepts to prevailing wage, so why should rent seekers be exempt. But that they were allowed to get away with retroactive extension for existing works indicates the system cannot be reformed.

  7. Tyzão

    Regarding the Brazilian airports, Guarulhos really needs a make over, one of the worst airports for a major city, probably worse than Miami. Also wondering about the status of the high speed train line that is supposed to connect Rio to SP through SJdCampos etc…never saw it really happening, wonder if that has been scrapped. Berlin is another capital city in dire need of a new airport, but Schönfeld should be opening soon.

    1. Tyzão

      oops – Berlin – Brandenburg Airport, say its going to be the biggest in Europe, when it opens later this summer

  8. ambrit

    Esteemed Blogatrix;
    Oh frabjous day! Thank you for the link to the “Washington Free Beacon!” I haven’t laughed so hard in a while. I had seriously considered it to be on a par with “The Onion” or Colbert. These people really believe what they’re saying! One quote says it all; “The striving and conniving moderate Republican Richard Nixon…” If Tricky Dick is now viewed as a moderate, then Overtons’ Window for these nutters is off the wall and sitting alone, upright on stilts in the middle of the side yard like some demented modernist, (dare I say dadaist,) sculpture. Again like the mentioned art piece, the field of view depends on ones vantage point. Those of us who step back and view from afar enjoy a 360 degree prospect. To those looking out from within that absurd window, the point of view is a big fat Zero. (And No, I’m not arguing a Zen interpretation of Reactionary world views.)
    While I sit here still chuckling, I wonder; what if that poor fellow stuck between the two tigers had been hanging onto the roots of a blueberry bush?
    Kaor fight fans!

    1. 2laneIA

      “Esteemed Blogatrix”

      Good one.

      The image of the Overton Window in splendid isolation on the lawn made me go try to read the Continetti piece. I say try, because I started reading the first few words of each graf about halfway through, then gave up and read only his conclusion, such as it was. I must not have the right brain chemistry for it, as I thought it was boring and stupid.

      1. ambrit

        Dear 2A;
        Your stylistic criticism is correct. Boring and stupid however, are no barriers to belief. As the scenario unfolds, belief gives strength to the will to act. A case in point being the Texas School Textbook Committee, infiltrated and then taken over by Fundamentalist activists. Now, as a result, a previously ‘extreme’ position concerning science is being pushed into non-extreme states educational systems simply due to the state of Texas’ size and undue influence in textbook publishing circles.
        So, after I stop laughing, sometimes I have to cry.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          ambrit, the Storm Troops for the .01% constitute the *Religious Militant* — you know, *God’s Army* to help the .99% do “God’s work.” That’s work for *God*: the .01% “Top out of sight” (see “CLASS” by Paul Fusell).

  9. Yearning to Learn

    I, like others including Yves, have been wiped out since Sunday night. And I mean wiped out. Thus, my empathy chip is low on power.

    Reading the Romney tax article makes my blood boil. Yet another redistribution of money towards the ultra rich. At least I’ll be one of the lucky few to get a massive tax break… too bad it comes at the expense of most Americans.

    But as I said, my empathy chip is low today, and I’m tired of fighting for people who don’t seem to want to be fought for. Today I feel like I should just sell out and push for a Romney win so I can cash in on the backs of the little people.

    1. Praedor

      One word to fix all that ailes you: coffee. Ummmmmmm coffeeeeee.

      Happily (if happiness can be defined by “winning” the lessor of two evils) Romney wont be Prez. Even less possible is Newt, Santorum, Paul, my neighbor’s dog, though the latter would be a vast improvement on all the others.

      We are left with the least horrible of the worst of the worst so what we will get is…more of the same as now! Woohoo!

      1. René

        You have made a mistake in your political analysis.

        Ron Paul is doing an amazing job in waking up America.

        Yes, you can disagree with all or some of his policies but he can’t be worse than your neigbour’s dog.

      2. DSP

        “It’s morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money”
        Canada Bill Jones’ motto.
        Murphy’s Law and other… Arthur Bloch

        Supplement:A Smith and Wesson beats four aces.

  10. Benedict@Large

    From “Dramatic drop in budget revenues” on the Greek crisis:

    “… value-added tax receipts posted an 18.7 percent decrease last month from January 2011 …”
    — and —
    “Finance Ministry officials attribute the slump in VAT receipt figures to the major cash flow problems that enterprises are facing. Some of the latter are choosing not to pay …”

    Talk about denialism. The Greek government is letting a bunch of foreigners savage their economy. They should all be hung … after proper trials are conducted, of course. We wouldn’t want chaos to break out there, would we.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In a way, Greece is like Odeyssus who was lured first by Goldman Sachs into thinking there was fame and glory in the Euroland and now is trying to go home, but sirens like Sarkozay, Merkle and the IMF are making sure that home will never be reached again.

      Alternatively, Greece is like an illegal immigrant whom the known coyote Goldman Sachs smuggled into the Euroland and sold into slavery.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Ben, history shows that there is *something funny* about accounting in Greece. Talk to someone at PIMCO. Talk to William K. Black.

  11. mk

    “Privacy Death Stars Approved By Congress Gawker”

    how much for a forcefield to block their site of my property? How much for a closet full of clothes that block their site of me?

    1. ambrit

      Dear mk;
      The traditional defensive gear is the well known “Tinfoil Hat.” Given that headgears’ suspicious similarity to the wizards hat of antiquity, a serious reexamination of the provenance of ‘modern’ science seems in order.

      1. mk

        hilarious! Agreed, “a serious reexamination of the provenance of ‘modern’ science seems in order”.

        Of course force fields and clothes that make us invisible to their spying drones/etc. may seem ridiculous, but on a serious level, the “arms race” is on and we have to find ways to protect ourselves.

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        ambrit: the “Cloak of invisibility” is what’s required. But NOT being on Facebook is a start.

    2. Rex

      From context I deduce that your intent is to block certain sites from their sight.

      (Citizen’s act of internet grammar and spelling policing.)

      1. ambrit

        Dear Citizen Rex;
        No! Not another ad grammerian arguement!
        I assume you also threw in that inverse square joke as an easter egg. Thank for playing in the fields of the Webster. (Despite my erratic spelling I have a warm appreciation for that worthy gentlemans efforts.)

  12. Susan the other

    Is Stiglitz saying that the Bundesbank is OK with involuntary restructurings because as a democratic institution it can make the rules? And is he saying that the ECB has no such mandate and stands in jeopardy of being the bag holder of last resort and victim of the shrewd hedge funds holding all those CDS? Has it ever been implied that this was a set up?

  13. Hugh

    Stiglitz appears deeply confused or maybe a little captured himself when he avers that banks that bought CDS to cover their positions acted prudently. It’s pretty bad when Stiglitz starts trying to tell us which gamblers were the “good” ones.

    1. Jim

      If you were the CFO of the bank, and your competitors were eating your lunch by buying CDS, thus enabling them to free up more capital, what would you have done?

      (a) Not buy the CDS, thereby lowering your returns, and jeopardizing your job as well as that of the CEO…or…

      (b) Buy the CDS, allowing you to compete on a level playing field?

      1. Hugh

        Competitors, level playing field? What we are talking about here are a casino and gamblers placing bets. That is a far cry from bankers making responsible decisions about loans and investments.

  14. Mel

    “How America made its children crazy”

    A few connected arguments from known facts would be nice. Anybody see any? Maybe I was distracted by the rage.

    “Truthy” is the best I can say about it.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Mel, it’s true. Read Maria Montessori, M.D. to see why. *Total War* includes the destruction of children with DNA of the *Other*–i.e. of the non-.01%. The DNA of the .99% that serves the .01% will be spared until they also become “useless eaters” like the 99%. When that time comes, they will be able to utter:

      “Then they came for me.”

      See how it works? The truth is revealed in the *Press* after the damage is done.

  15. Susan the other

    I think the article on making our kids crazy missed the cause. We really didn’t give kids computers in the 60s or 70s. True, we stuck them in front of the TV and it was pretty awful. We can’t blame ADD on water and food additives so much because China has fouled food and water too, but perhaps undetected alergies and too much sugar are good candidates. And no exercise. I don’t think computers are weapons of mass dimentia. I think our very mindless culture is the weapon of mass dimentia. And forcing kids to take Ritalin is a crime. I didn’t know kids could be forced to take it.

    There is probably a similar attitude in China as in Japan where they say “Never go against the child.” Instead of stuffing the kid in a closet, perhaps they actually interact with their children. Does Japan restrict computers for children? Does China?

    The article claimed that the objective of an education is to learn to learn. I think it is more fundamental. I think the objective of an education is to learn to be curious. Give all children solid fundamentals and you are at least half way there. They then have the tools necessary to find the answers to their questions. And I do not yet see how computers obstruct learning the fundamentals. I think computers are an effective medium if they are used properly.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Sto;
      Indeed, forcing children to take Ritalin is a crime, against them and the society which will have to deal with them in the near future. Check out Ritalin, it’s an amphetamine derivative that was not adequately tested on children when it was approved by the FDA. In fact, almost no drugs approved by the FDA are tested for developmental effects on children. (The very concept raises serious ethical issues.) Anecdotal evidence is now coming to light suggesting that early and prolonged use of these amphetamine analogues has serious permanent effects on brain development. Just another case of profit trumping humanity.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Dogen, the guy who brought Soto Zen (I think, I always get it mixed up with Rinzai Zen) to Japan from China, he came across his satori while washing rice in the kitchen (Legend? Myth?).

      To this day, to become a sushi chef, you start by cleaning the kitchen for a few years and nothing else.

      With this kind of cultural support, it’s less dangerous to immerse your kids in computer and the associated abstract world. Kids got to be shown how the sausage is made (clarification: hands on, not by watching a youtube video on sausage making for dummies). Here, it’s more like, today, we will show you how to work the computer keyboard and tomorrwo, you can design CDO-squared (I am exaggerating a lot).

      1. DSP

        Tell me and I will forget.
        Show me and I might remember.
        Involve me and I will learn.

        Old Chinese saying.

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Is is normal for children to be born curious. This means *trouble* for Authoritarian parents.

  16. LeonovaBalletRusse

    YVES, re “Privacy Death Stars” — the linked piece does not mention that, not only *security* eyes will be in the sky, but also *media* eyes in the sky. So I guess this opens the door for the REAL payday for Google & Facebook Top Dogs.

    And now, the entire Global .01% is on board. It’s Total War of the Global .01% and their trickle-down Agents the .99% for the Total Grift 1% against The Rest.

    1. LucyLulu

      Yes, ma ballerine, the media could also have drones as it currently stands but that is always subject to change at a later date. The state may well decide to make it illegal for anyone to operate drones besides the government, not wanting visual confirmation of certain activities……….

      Did I ever mention to you my grandmere used to pal around Paris with Isadora Duncan?

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        It must have been horrifying to know/see how Isadora died. But “those were the days” for independent women with talent, brains, and sass.

  17. scraping_by

    RE: Campaign for Sale

    The defense of Barry comes in two flavors: one, he’s too weak to do what he promises, and two, he’s so stupid he thinks he is doing what he promises.

    The DOB #1 by the US Pravda has the virtue of being to the point. With the other supporters, all they have to do is keep smiling and pretend they don’t know lying when they hear it.

  18. b.

    I don’t want to beat that dead horse’s head of Stoller’s “Liberal Policy Needs Big Gov” I found, but this needs to be noted:

    “Fully 77 percent of liberal Democrats endorse the use of drones… Democrats approve of the drone strikes on American citizens by 58-33, and even liberals approve of them, 55-35.”

    Greenwald argues that thanks to Big O there is a bipartisan consensus, but also claims that partisan responses are mostly “Its OK If My President Does It” – somewhat contradictory. The latter does not seem to be true of conservatives – who do express agreement with Big O – but is true of “liberals”. Hence Greenwald’s original observation that

    “‘conservatism’ is now a term used to describe personal loyalty to the leader (just as ‘liberal’ is used to describe disloyalty to that leader), and no longer refers to a set of beliefs about government”

    cannot simply be inverted. It would appear that mindless “conservatives” are more principled than mindless “liberals”.

    I propose that, to avoid further cognitive dissonance between Stollerian “liberal” and principled liberals, members of the former group should be referred to as lie-berals. That would make the Democrats the Big Lie-beral party, and a lie-berability, both of which seems appropriate.

    1. LucyLulu

      I disagree that mindless conservatives are more principled. Just look at the voting records of Congress. The GOP consistently votes along party lines. The Democrats, not so much.

  19. LeonovaBalletRusse

    YVES, with regard to Rick Santorum’s reception near Dallas, connect the dots between abortion, “Down Syndrome children, and enforcement of suffering.

    Note; Sarah Palin also played the “Down Syndrome Child” card. Why?

    It’s all about the Ultraconservative Religious subordination of women to men, and their will to impose the obligation to bear and raise Down Syndrome children, as a demonstration of “Christian virtue”–which is the MASK for the Master Class Male’s will to see HIS DNA dominate culture and resources. The MASK is kept in place through the vitality of *religious institutions*. The mantra is: “We Christians are Virtuous; therefore We suffer; therefore Everyone must suffer as we do.”

    The play, “Joe Egg” revealed the tragedy of the situation, and revealed the fact that a man in this situation likely will abandon his wife and child. Ultrasound and *pre-natal* testing made this tragedy OPTIONAL, through the timely abortion of the foetus. As a result, the legalization of abortion became an important right for Americans, and the result was the Supreme Court’s verdict on Roe v Wade. This right helped families to avoid that tragedy.

    Then came the *Culture Wars” centering on the manic Male’s “My DNA v Your DNA”–especiallly within the frames of White v Dark and Christian v Muslim. This Breeding War in which women are instruments for the reproduction male DNA (note universal preference for boys and abortion of girls), wore the MASK of *Religious Solidarity” and “Religious Virtue” anent the ISSUE of *abortion*. As Christian women were FORCED to bear Down Syndrome children, they began to position themselves as martyrs for God, which helped them to BEAR their grief over this tragedy, because they must deny that this situation is a tragedy. A Christian converts tragedy to martyrdom, a time-honored adaptation to tragedy.

    Now, if Christian women must suffer, then ALL women must suffer, hence the hostility of Christian women against abortion for any reason, and Planned Parenthood, which might facilitate abortion by other women.

    Sarah Palin then, and Rick Santorum now, play COMPLEX dog-whistle politics when they play the “Down Syndrome Child” card. And the Pope is smiling.

  20. WorldisMorphing

    …another animal pile-up ?

    Your choice of picture betrays you Yves !
    Now we know…you love cuddling…!

    …then again …who doesn’t ? …

  21. kevinearick

    Mannerisms of Addiction

    You are born into addiction, surrounded by increasing opportunity for additional addiction. No one alive today is responsible for empire History. Each and every individual is responsible for what it looks like tomorrow. The empire is a fusion machine, a black hole of algebraic reduction, from which diversity/fission emerges, in quantum integrals. It’s a space time event horizon bomb. We are replacing it with a computer.

    The rough adjustment dial is Family Law, largely an implicit social function, which shorts all income event horizons back to the churn pool, to balance legacy asset conservation, and it is connected to the common law short, back through the history of empires, which had much more planetary surplus to exploit.

    Because we have reached geographic saturation of current human behavior, resulting in a decline in supporting diversity, empire finances are blowing up, as climate volatility increases, because agency is connected in a positive feedback loop.

    This breeding program feeds taxation addiction, implicit and explicit, in all its forms, to deliver final adjustments to the income event horizons. To hide its “sins,” agency increasingly expands credit beyond income, with negative relative interest rates, borrowing from future generations, based upon the empire assumption, to reward increasingly rigid horizon mannerisms, eliminating mobility/circulation in favor of control, as it loses control, becoming increasingly arbitrary, capricious and malicious as it gets farther behind the curve.

    So fed, private corporate maximizes population spending to drive scale, feeding the event horizons credit in return. EMPIRE PRICE IS NOT A FUNCTION OF COST. Price is a function of how much the resulting irrational market will bear. Cost is a function of agency, which will always exceed price, creating the necessary inflation to hide itself, maximizing profit on legacy assets and socializing the losses against income. Treasury maximizes the tax base; the Fed prints, right up until the point of revolt threshold. And Congress sets the lottery pool.

    From the perspective of intelligent parents, watching the curve calculus, the system crashed in the 70s, at which time they diverted all investment, which agency backfilled with financial leverage. Legacy behavior cannot stop itself, and you have what see and what you don’t see before you. With the new language comes new equations, new behavior, and a new empire, same as the old empire, with a new dress, more event horizons in the mix.

    It’s all about separation of charge and the root of recursion. You must play stupid when working for the empire, and act intelligently when working locally. That’s as plain as I can make it. At fusion/fission equilibrium, each horizon recognizes and willfully ignores the mannerisms of the meek, which are submissive in word and dominant in action, AT THE FULCRUM TIP.

    Bullying is self-adjusting. It says look at me; I am too stupid to think. Each click/horizon has its bully, which is bullied by another up the line of central control, which naturally attracts people pleasers, passive aggressive bullies themselves, all conforming to codes of conduct, part socially implicit, part codified in law, implicit and explicit. We all make choices from birth, to conform or not, lawfully or not. The longer the addiction, the more difficult the change. The law is a mountain to be climbed and surpassed.

    All muscles, especially the individual brain, expand memory and need exercise for circulation, to extend health, but it is the meek, the one that exercises all muscles in balance, that inherits the earth. The point of teaching children civil manners (please, thank you) is to extend each horizon conformance set, creating a path of mobility through all, to symbiotically increase horizon number and circulation. Intelligent children are the common flux that ensures continued adaptation.

    Legislative control naturally seeks equal outcomes; local parents seek equal opportunity. On the open side, premium rests upon individual collection, examination, and creation of data for symbiotic planetary adaptation. Agency may only approximate these integral with derivative equations, grouped into relatively arbitrary horizons. It not only fits the data to see itself, but it also requires YOU to give it the equations. IT CANNOT THINK; IT’S A LEAST-COMMON-DENOMINATOR FUNCTION.

    THERE IS NO PLAN. A plan is a starting point, entry into the wave. Conditions change, so the stack is reordered with a hash table function. Think of it like a to-do list, which you are learning to prioritize with experience riding waves. Ever notice the rich kid and his flock with billion dollar boards enthusiastically entering the surf at exactly the wrong spot, and reluctantly asking the locals for direction after wearing themselves out.

    So, the Feds can no longer pay the localities for allegiance, to control local property price discovery…and the community needs to attract intelligent young people…simple math beats the empire every time, because it is a stupid computer. Perform the swap, implicitly and then explicitly, to employ local resources more effectively. Tradable surplus, not agency, acts as the negative feedback loop to equilibrium.

    True price discovery is not possible with local dependence upon central control. Communities must be self-sustaining. Think in terms of the cost of nutrition, not the cost of food. Think in terms of providing a home, not the cost of housing. Think in terms of developing the necessary tools, not the cost of clothing. Those refusing to abandon the old big city model are largely FUBAR.

    If you need a break here and there, by all means, watch the sh**-show, but from a safe distance, and only as entertainment. Government can only see itself, and it only knows what you tell it. Never go down a one way street, unless you are the only one with an exit. Let the empire build its blind alley around your exit.

    1. FaustCarton

      Astonishing piece again K. Brilliant. I believe a great possibility is with

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Brilliant, thank you. One point: you write: “local parents seek equal opportunity.” But is this so? I have seen that parents tend to seek advantage over others, for their children, and for themselves–often through their children.

  22. dcblogger

    In his book, Assault on Reason, Gore made a very good case for computers having a positive affect upon brain development. Of course, he was comparing it to TV. But he had a great opinion of the way computers cause users to actively engage their brain as opposed to veggeing out with TV.

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