Links 3/17/12

Lambert again contributed a ton of today’s links.

Alec Baldwin’s PETA Ad Alleges Elephant Abuse In Circuses Huffington Post (hat tip H Sniffles)

Eavesdropping Iguanas Use Mockingbird Calls To Survive Scientific American. I know there are a lot of different types of iguanas, but we had one when I was a kid, and it seemed to be pretty dumb. So natural selection does seem to work!

New Biplane Design Stops Sonic Booms LiveScience

GPS Tracking Disaster: Japanese Tourists Drive Straight into the Pacific ABC

Using virtual worlds to ‘soft control’ people’s movements in the real one PhysOrg (hat tip reader Robert M)

Revealed: Murdoch’s secret meeting with Mrs Thatcher before he bought The Times Independent (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Renault car sales – a troublesome chart Sober Look (hat tip reader Scott)

‘This American Life’ Retracts Episode on Apple’s Suppliers in China New York Times

Key Patriot Act opinions may not be classified Politico

Kony video-maker detained for public drunkenness, masturbation SFGate. Only in America…

Sex Strike: A Dad’s Support For This Event Booman Tribute (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Big word left out of hyped Obama video Oliver Knox

Explaining America’s macro puzzles: The worst of all worlds Free Exchange

Gas Prices Jump, Poised to Keep Rising Wall Street Journal

The Biggest Bankruptcy in American History Motley Fool (hat tip reader May S)

Bleak outlook for US newspapers Financial Times

Special Goldman pile on wrap, a largely Lambert feature (look at how excited Reuters is about this):

Goldman person leaked Apple, Intel secrets: lawyer Reuters

Goldman reviews conflict-of-interest policies Reuters

Exclusive: Goldman’s God problem goes away, for now Reuters

Under fire, Goldman finds friend in New York’s mayor Reuters

Bloomberg defends Goldman Sachs on radio show New York Post

What Happened to Goldman Sachs? Justin Fox, Harvard Business Review

Has Wall Street Really Changed? (Guess what I think) Michael Hirsh

Gorman Says He Told Staff Not to Circulate Op-Ed on Goldman Bloomberg

Cheaters Always Prosper: A Daily Rundown Rundown Esquire. This one is fun.

Check Out The Hilarious Animated Version of Greg Smith’s Resignation From Goldman Sachs Clusterstock (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Weather alert: sun could be bad for risk assets Financial Times

A Thursday Night Present… (More Bankster Frauds) Karl Denninger

Ex-CBO Staffer’s Warnings About Foreclosures Ignored Dave Dayen, Firedoglake. Glad Dayen took this up.

Florida’s Rocket Docket Redux Bankruptcy Law Network. Per reader Deontos: The Chief Senior Judge of Duval County, on his second day back in the saddle, actually threatened to throw a lawyer in jail because that lawyer had the audacity to insist he be allowed to argue the law.

Abigail Adams’s Secret Business Ventures: Echoes Bloomberg (hat tip reader Steve Mihm)

When Do Humans Want to Share the Wealth? Steve Roth, Angry Bear. Important.

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Robert M):

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  1. Max424

    Are those flies or ticks or freckles on the lion’s face at 2:28? Are they caraway seeds!

    What the hell are those things? We need a zoom-in Mark II.

      1. Max424

        Are you sure they’re not caraway seeds? Maybe the big boy was eating a salami on rye, and got a little sloppy.

        Note: I do need to get out more. I admit it. People have taken to calling me, Hermit Man, on those rare occasions when I allow them a fleeting glimpse.

  2. Max424

    Hear little birds chirping outside my window. Lot’s of em. They’re puttin’ up a high volume racket, is what they’re doing.

    I usually don’t have to deal this amount of ambient noise until mid-April.

    March 17 and the little birds are back. In numbers. Impossible.

      1. Max424

        Two months sounds about right.

        Up here in Buffalo in late winter, we are supposed to be bundled up tight for the cold nights, and the cold days; and dealing with nasty conditions like heavy snows, slush, sleet, and freezing rain.

        Instead, it was almost uncomfortably warm in my pool room yesterday. So much so, that we though about turning the air conditioner on! In winter, in Buffalo.

        News is, we’re going to see 75 degrees before the week is out. There were reports of brush fires along one of our interstates yesterday. Brush fires! In Buffalo, in winter.

        1. sleepy

          It hit 80 up here today in northern Iowa, a good 40 degrees above normal. No winter to speak of. No ice fishing for the first time in my memory. Little snow.

          I hope this is not a portent of another obscenely hot summer, though I suspect it is.

      2. Max424

        Lambert, browse the once-in-a-lifetime anecdotal evidence in this thread.

        Read Seraph, about a third of the way down:

        “I don’t think the methane gun has gone off [yet]. Though the cartridge is in the chamber.”

        That’s the key. If that “methane gun” goes off, we’re no longer dealing with the exponential function. We’re dealing with tetration.

        I don’t understand the math, but I know what it means.

      3. Max424

        This chart sums up a lot of things:

        In many ways, the neo-liberal global growth model hit the oil ceiling by as early as the late-1980s.

        Look at the forced exponential upward trend in global coal use to make up for it. That’s not a temporary thing, either. There is no question: thanks to the constraints of Peak Oil, mankind’s Second Great Coal Epoch* has begun.

        What does this mean? Well, for one thing, it means the “methane gun” is likely to go off a lot sooner than we anticipated.

        Often, when I’m on the inter-tubes, I do nothing but look at exponential curves. Hey, you can’t get away from them –there are so many. And they add up. It’s like; what do you get when you let the Exponential Genie out the bottle, and allow it to subdivide, and multiply by those subdivisions?

        Tetration, is what you get.

        *btw: I’m in the Peak Oil camp that believes peak oil is really about peak coal. Peak oil is done deal. The BIG question is: how long can the sputtering, neo-liberal exponential growth model run using the old reliable; the now exponentially depleting finite resource known as coal.

        1. Skippy

          Look down here some time, coal or farm land, great barrier reef, thingy.

          Skippy… its becoming a mess.

        2. Lambert Strether

          Neo-liberalism* and exponential growth — nice.

          That’s the functional perspective. I’d also say from a structural perspective:

          Neo-liberalism and scale free networks (that is, power curves with a few winners at the top, and a long tail of losers).

          NOTE * Not capitalism as such? Why?

          1. Max424

            “Not capitalism as such? Why?”

            Capitalism seems to have too many definitions. I would be happy to replace neo-liberalism with the word capitalism, if we could all agree that the apotheosis of capitalism is worldwide slavery; the sovereign state has withered away (been stripped and incinerated; everywhere), and been replaced by slave-states, slavers, slave handling middle-men, and slaves.

            I think of the neo-liberalists as the purists who are determined to speed up the ineluctable process by which –a somewhat reluctant– capitalism rendezvous with its one, true, Satanic destiny.

            Note: Fascism is more of a regional thing, because of its nationalistic element, of course. Still, I see fascism as a kind of feeder system for the big leagues. Hey, all signs say that having fascist states everywhere, is a good first step for the capitalists.

            And the elite neo-liberal guard is thrilled as well. Only one more barrier to break down; sovereignty.

      4. bob

        Usually one of the coldest spots in the 48-

        At least a month ahead, if not more. Two seems too much.

        The maple syrup people were tapping trees at the beginning February around the CNY area.

        This is from march 20 2010, for comparison-

        The tress are already staring to bud here. That’s bad, especially for apple growers south of the thruway.

        Fires will only get worse when we do get another frost. Maybe by May?

  3. LucyLulu

    I was wondering when somebody would finally get around to proposing a sex strike. However it should be limited to involving only those men advocating the repressive women’s health legislation, after all, no need for any women to suffer unnecessarily. And should any of these men suffer from, um, how should we say, impaired enthusiasm levels, odorless/tasteless Viagra drops should be temporarily readily available.

    “I’m sorry, dear. Not tonight, I might be fertile.”

    1. ambrit

      Mz Lulu;
      Would it also be illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley, like a modern “Lysistrata?” Or maybe, for all you Austraelophiles, Norman Lindsay.
      I prefer Frank Herberts’ take on the question, “The White Plague.”
      This is another skirmish in a battle as old as time. Much of the Old Testament appears to be a history of the power struggle between the old Fertility Cults and the ultra masculine Hebrew Father God.
      Thank heavens I’m getting old enough that this is no longer an all ‘consuming’ issue. Off to work…

  4. vox

    Denninger’s link blocks TOR so you might have to use a relay. I wonder if he knows that his platform is inimical to basic privacy protection. You’re seeing more of this lately from Big Brother’s unwitting accomplices.

  5. Rotter

    If they can get such good close up shots of the lions running away with beetle cam why do they need beetle cam?

  6. Rotter

    And as for alec baldwins “ad for PETA alledging elephant abuse” frankly, who cares. until baldwin stops doing commercials for capital one, who are abusing humans. isnt PETA activism a way for semi-idle overclass shmucks like baldwin to assuage their guilty conscieneces?

  7. curlydan

    On the Stockton article, is there anyone from around those parts? First the article says, “According to Standard & Poor’s, 52% of the city’s budget already goes to paying the local constabulary, and another 30% more to paying firefighters”. OK, 82% of the budge for police and fire. Suddenly, the article does a u-turn with (paraphrasing) “the real problem is the pensions.” Is that the real problem? I saw some other whoppers like a $60M hockey rink. Is municipal bankruptcy just a short-cut towards union and pension busting?

    1. Jim

      Good question.

      I found this…

      Even after proposed cutbacks,

      2011-12 General Fund Expenditures after Cutbacks

      Police 53%
      Fire 25%
      Mgmnt & Support 9%
      Community Services 6%
      Public Works 4%
      Other 4%

      Pensions are a subset of the 75% Police+Fire

    2. Jim

      From the same document cited above..

      68% cut in library hours.

      Community Services – Library

      In this reduction scenario, public hours at the City’s branch libraries would be cut from a high of 231 open hours per week in 2008-O9 to a new low of 75 public hours per week in 2011-12. Staffing reductions would be among the deepest of City programs, from a high of 105 full time staff in 2008 to 46 in 2011-12, in addition to a cumulative reduction of 33 part-time staff. One of the City’e 5
      branches has already been closed.

  8. Susan the other

    Angry Bear, When Do Humans Want to Share? Roth reports we want to share the gain when we have achieved it thru voluntary cooperation. But usually our deluded fantasies of rugged individualism blind us to what we have been given, it is not immediately apparent that anyone has voluntarily helped us, and so we don’t want to share. So sharing is a sign of gratitude.

    Some thoughts: There was a bit of research recently indicating that dogs keep track of the times they were treated unfairly in comparison to another dog. We humans also have long memories for such slights. Sounds like instinctive bean counting when you unfairly do not get what you want; but when you do get what you want, also unfairly, you don’t tally it up at all.

    Another point about the desire to share, besides when mutual cooperation is recognized in the effort to achieve, is the desire to share pain and misery. Justice. But those desires are the dark side of sharing. When there has been a big miscarriage of fairness. So it is also a question of scale. And then there is always the petty pleasure of Schadenfreude.

    The dark side of sharing is required to remedy things like white collar crime which socializes losses without sharing any of the gains. Or more commonly referred to as Theft. But, ironically of course, we don’t question sharing when there is a big give-away; everybody gets a tax cut.

    Is this the question: how do we promote willingness to share as a nation? We do it by applying a code of equity and law enforcement. The voluntary aspect eludes me simply because we are so close to giddy when we get what we want that we leave it out of the equation completely. So I doubt we humans will ever refine our sense of gratitude.

    1. F. Beard

      Is this the question: how do we promote willingness to share as a nation? Susan the other

      That would follow from abolishing the government enforced counterfeiting cartel, the banking system. Then it is likely that business would have to use its own common stock as money and thus “share” wealth and power.

    2. craazyman

      wow. if dogs are that smart, maybe they can use the internet.

      I was sitting around thinking of clever get-rich-quick schemes and somehow “Facebook for Pets” popped into my mind.

      I’m usually late for the parade, so it’s probly being done already. But if not, this could be the chance of a lifetime.

      Getting people to share seems more complicated. If you ride the bus or subway in New York you see all sorts of people — crazy mean-looking and vacuous types, some hugely obese and others hard sick with tatoos and murderous thoughts, some eating smelly McDonald’s food and talking loudly on cell phones — that you can’t imagine sharing anything with. You wouldn’t mind if a huge foot came down from the sky and squashed them, as long as it didn’t splurt blood everywhere.

      It amazes me sometimes that anybody gets along at all.

      Sharing is harder than Facebook for Pets.

  9. Hugh

    “Bleak Outlook for US Newspapers” is pretty much a standard hash without any real insight into their problems beyond “it’s the internet.”

    The key paragraph doesn’t occur until the very end. Most newspapers remain profitable. It’s just that their profit margins are not as high as they once were. If Wall Street investors buy up newspapers and then load them up with debt, they need high profit margins to finance the deals. So they cut staff, quality, and corners wherever they can. Bureaus and desks have become a thing of the past. Much of the content even at major dailies originates with wire services.

    So readers end up with an increasingly inferior product at the same time that most of them are being made poorer by Wall Street looting and free alternatives are showing up on the internet. Quality is important because print newspapers, at least their headline sections, have a much longer cycle than their online counterparts.

    That “quality” is increasingly found on the internet. Traditional media love to diss bloggers and their “opinions,” but bloggers and commenters, such as on this site, do far better analysis than the bland propaganda that comes from newspapers like the NYT and Post. Even the charge that we feed off traditional media is less and less true. Traditional media isn’t covering as much. Because of their increasingly corporatist outlook arising out of media consolidation, they also don’t cover, or cover poorly or in a distorted fashion, stories that don’t mesh well with that outlook. Just look at the Occupy movement, the mass actions in Wisconsin or Wikileaks. Or the coverage of Wall Street and its frauds or the corporatist nature of the two parties, for example.

    The best original reporting on these has not come from the media, and especially the print media, which could handle longer form investigation of these, but from the blogging community. And more than this, where we bloggers have access to the primary materials: government reports, data, judicial opinions, etc., our reporting is completely independent of the traditional media.

    When I look at the decline in newspapers, and traditional media more generally, I cannot help but see the link to kleptocracy. People are much poorer because of it and fewer and fewer have the disposable income to spend on a product that does not inform them or address their needs. And yet, and yet, despite all this, most newspapers remain profitable. The advent of radio didn’t kill off newspapers. Just as television didn’t do away with one or both either. Nor is the internet responsible for the demise of newspapers. They are dying because they are being looted, like the rest of us.

    1. curlydan

      Thank you, Hugh, for bringing this up. After all the newspapers “die”, guess what? They’ll come back again, possibly privately owned, and they won’t need to increase EPS every quarter because they won’t have a bunch of greedy shareholders holding up progress.

      I feel sorry for people who subscribe to newspapers today, or worse, for those who buy them from stands. The papers are such a ripoff. Luckily for the corps who own them, their dwindling customers are fairly price inelastic.

  10. kevinearick

    Occupy Free Agency & Soaring Rent Myopia

    Devotion: To forsake all others; to love, honor and obey.

    Avoiding the unknown results in prisoners dilemma, devotion to the empire, through the path of least resistance, peer pressure.

    Average RE has already collapsed beyond the Great Depression record; hysteresis has grown beyond Georgia and is enveloping the Carolinas on the way to Virginia; Congress just cut contributions to the boomer social security system again, which is already cash negative; New England unions with bankrupt pension plans are employing their remaining horde to buy jobs directly; Southwest police pension plans are bankrupt; the Central Plain is experiencing record drought, the weather is beginning to twist around it, and infrastructure is collapsing; DC is now issuing yet another round of stimulus to the West Coast; and don’t the rentiers in Washington State jack up rents again for another round. That’s it; just keep priming that dead f***ing Laffer pump. Are those Apples or tulips being propelled by the same closed-system program language that lifted RE into the stratosphere?

    Power corrupts when it is delayed. A majority forms to take control and pays agency to maintain that control, flipping over the bottom-up economy into a top-down, fixed lottery, ponzi consumption activity. Then agency begins to work to its own end, systematically shorting out pieces of the majority with fraudulent districting, the middleman playing both sides against each other. And all their children are born in a movie theater, which they never leave, projecting out the empire into the future.

    Call it feudalism, communism, socialism, capitalism, chauvinism, feminism, Catholicism, whatever you want. It’s all the same sh**show. You are only as good as your word, aggregated, and the American word carries no currency in the world any longer, outside of the FIRE insurance scam. If you agree to do something, do it, with devotion, or be mowed over, which is why the Fed had no choice but to let everyone and their brother electronically print, aka the USSR, and there is no putting that genie back in the bottle. When they start firing high dollar feds, and they will, be at your exit door.

    If a corporate individual with free speech can print at will to support its own religion, the embedded exit in the US Constitution, adding 2 and -2 to get 4 or any other number it wants, the biological individual must be able to print (and could do no worse), to balance the system. You print every time you open your mouth. Fashion your words accordingly, to build the necessary rungs on the ladder out. Print your own money, beyond empire perception, with the last rung catalyzing recognition, aggregated.

    Politics is empire TV. To the extent you exit gracefully, all will be well. Your profit depends upon entering the procession correctly. Induction is counter-intuitive. There is one and only one path to change human behavior in real time and that circuit runs through intelligent children. Turn threat into opportunity, through rents.

    A good deal of US RE is already down 75% to prop up the likes of Mendocino, a good deal of global RE is already down 75% to prop up Germany, the Pentagon pencil pushers can’t get out of their own way, and the best bomb builders do not work for pedophiles. GE imagination at work can copy words, but has no context.

    Question Presented: What can you do for yourself, your family, and your community to eliminate agency and balance trade, to the end of true price discovery?

    1. F. Beard

      What can you do for yourself, your family, and your community to eliminate agency and balance trade, to the end of true price discovery? kevinearick

      Genuine alternative private currencies would accomplish much of that.

  11. Herman Sniffles

    Animal cruelty is an interesting topic. Disney was probably the most lurid example of anthropomorphic schizophrenia mixed with the vile mistreatment of God’s creatures. That old 1950’smovie “The Great Adventure” about two dogs and a cat who travel across Canada (or was it “The Incredible Journey”?)is a great example. Anyway, the movie does a wonderful job of turning animals into people,they literally overflow with the rich emotional mosaic of human social life. But if you research the movie’s production a little, you find that one of the most evil, psychotic animal trainers in Hollywood worked on its production for Disney, and he used hideous methods to make the poor things act like lost children. He would literally hang the dogs by the throat with a roap until they passed out in order to make them perform anthropomorphic stunts. And he liked to use powerful electric shocks a lot. The result? An entire society who thinks animals are human beings. One of Disney’s executives was famously heard to say, when it was pointed out to him that Disney movies give false human attributes to animals “Yah, and you know, flowers don’t sing!” The problem is that beagles really don’t cry at operas, and lizards don’t write poems (not very good ones, anyway). But, hey, thank God there are still places like North Dakota where a person can go grouse hunting without having balloons full of red paint thrown at them. She was very thoughtful in that regard. And by they way, if Zerohedge has B of A ads on their site, why can’t Alec Baldwin do a commercial for Capital One? Oh that’s right, elephants have a heck of a time holding the credit card between those big funny toes of theirs.

  12. scraping_by

    Ah, yes, media day…

    Kony 2012″s creator is to be commended for his fine distraction from the very real fact checking going on about his PR campaign. Most people just sneer about “critics.” Our brave soul went out and created a story to wash all these fact-filled carping out of the media space. Going the extra mile. Definitely up the agreed upon charges.

    And as to fact-checking Mike Daisey’s story to death, we’re in familiar territory. In Rick Wartzman’s Obscene in the Extreme: The burning and banning of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath he noted the work of several Chamber of Commerce hacks in disputing every statement in the book, then publishing pamphlets claiming each disagreement was proof the story was complete fiction. The obvious rejoinder that this was a novel came to mind, along with the observation that the story was, in the main, reasonable and accurate.

    Ah, if NPR would only fact-check and have an hour special on Barry’s claims about Iranian nukes. Maybe some of the legacy liberals would wake up and see dead Muslims. But despite their claim to have street cred with the educated segment of society, they won’t allow them to let anything not corporate PR into their media space.

    And Murdoch arranging with Thatcher to go around law to get papers under his control? Common sense is no longer a good guide to defining the word “conspiracy.” Not with the bland shrug by the authorities when this sort of back room deal is made plain. Alex Jones gets a better wardrobe, we’re all in his worldview.

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