Links 4/8/12

12-mile-high dust devil photographed on surface of Mars McClatchy (Buzz Potamkin)

A revolution in botanical nomenclature Al Jazeera

Holy Week, When Authority Is the Villain Charles Pierce

Gina Barreca: Never talk politics with your family McClatchy. There’s usually cake!

Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Rubber-Stamped by a Federal Judge David Dayen

Eric Schneiderman Urges Progressives to “Dig Deeper” to Transform the System New Deal 2.0. No comment. Needed.

Déjà vu Dot Con Economic Populist. Brutal “Jobs” Act takedown. Bucket shops aren’t the half of it.

Apple and the Cloud: A Cautionary Tale Xconomy

Pay TV piracy Hits News Financial Review

Food Ingredients Most Prone to Fraudulent Economically Motivated Adulteration Science Daily

“After ten years they let you cook the eggs…” Marginal Revolution

Job Gains in U.S. Trail Most-Pessimistic Forecasts Bloomberg

Structural change in US labor markets: Full time vs. part time jobs

Are Apple And Amazon Destroying The Job Market? Business Insider

The Top Short-Term Threat to Humanity: The Fuel Pools of Fukushima Washington’s Blog

No timetable for restarting California nuclear plant Reuters

‘War on drugs’ has failed, say Latin American leaders Guardian

The Oakland Paradox: Obama, Weed And Guns. “Guns Don’t Kill People, Medical Marijuana Kills People”

US justice department indicts former CIA officer over leaks to journalists Guardian

Fight on State: The Firing of Joe Paterno ESPN

Troubling Flaws in a Heart Device Shake Implant Makers Times

From Brother to Brother, a Kidney, and a Life (Acquifer) Times. The worst health care system in the world, occasionally redeemed by random acts of kindness from those trapped within it.

Thomas Kinkade—“Painter Of Light”—Is Dead Buzzfeed. Unnerving images.

Climbing Mount Immortality: Death, Cognition and the Making of Civilization Scientific American

Top five regrets of the dying Appropriate for Holy Saturday Guardian

Tulsa’s black community unnerved by shootings The Record

Unarmed Black Woman Shot and Killed by Chicago Police Officer Less Than a Month After Trayvon Martin Shooting Truthout

Anonymous hacks UK government sites over ‘draconian surveillance’ ZDNet

China cracks down on Maoist websites‘ FT

Bankruptcy costs and America’s household debt crisis VoxEU

A Dose Of Socialism Could Save Our States – State Sponsored, Single Payer Healthcare Would Bring In Business & Jobs Forbes, of all places.

Free Term Paper? Income Inequality and Distrust Foster Academic Dishonesty Science Daily

Golf-Ineffective Tiger apologises for Masters club-kicking Reuters. Schadenfreude.

Scientology’s ‘heretic’: How Marty Rathbun became the arch-enemy of L Ron Hubbard devotees Independent (Buzz Potamkin)

American digital public library promised for 2013 Guardian

To stream or not to stream- Is that the question? Occupy Oakland Media Collective

Sociopaths, closed minds and a bit of Mayan cosmology Bill Mitchell. How can you describe how a monetary system works if there is no money in the model?

No, Silicon Valley Did Not and Does Not Partake of the Anarchist Utopian Nature. Why Did You Imagine It Did? Brad DeLong

Antidote du jour hat tip swh

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. dearieme

    Nelly the elephant packed her trunk
    And ran away to the circus.

    Do your cherubs chirp this vile song in the US?

  2. Cletus

    Fukushima —

    Amazing that despite our unprecedented ability to communicate (interpersonally, globally, broadcast via the internet and media, in real-time, written, oral, and across language barriers), that when faced with a problem of species-ending magnitude, we bury our heads in the sand (or behind our ear buds), and carry on as if the bogeyman were not really there.

    There has, since the advent of science fiction, been the idea that if faced with alien invasion, humanity would unite to defend itself — looking past political and nationalistic differences to ensure our survival. That hopeful idea seems not to have contemplated the threat of the kind that Fukushima presents. The power of money and entrenched interests apparently trumps — by a large measure — our sense of responsibility to one another.

    Sick and sad.

    If events lead to a moderately bad outcome (which, in effect, would be as bad as a worst-case outcome), we won’t even have time to point fingers.

    1. Anon

      Wow, that Fukushima surely has to be the most devastating blogpost in the history of the blogosphere. Kudos, George W.

      I’ve been trawling through the links on and off all day, and the must-see one is this:

      Expert Warns: Water Leakage from the Unit 4 SFP Will Mean “THE END” (Mar. 8, 2012)

      The discussion of why spent fuel can’t be moved easily from the spent fuel pool of Reactor 4, and the consequences that’ll follow if the SFP collapses or leaks, starts at around 03:10. Watch and weep.

      Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear notes that the Fermi 2 plant, less than 300 miles from Chicago and hence O’Hare, has 500 tonnes of spent fuel sitting in its own SFP.

      I have no words at this point.

    2. psychohistorian

      To me this is one of the clearest proofs that the media is completely effective in brainwashing the public.

      We are faced with a potential species eliminating event and it is clear we are ignoring the facts on the ground.

      Given the stupidity of the class based social organization of Western cultures, we haven’t climbed very far up the civilization ladder anyway and our demise is not from very significant heights. The Cosmos will burp and carry on.

    1. mk

      Eric Schneiderman has a great message:
      But the importance of progressives’ efforts can’t be overstated. “Great strides in social justice don’t come out because of politicians, they come out because of movements.” The movement has to put pressure in all the right places — most importantly by reviving the fact that government plays a vital and positive role in every American’s life.
      I heard Van Jones on Democracy Now! recently talking about the same thing, nothing changes until the masses organize and apply the pressure to politicians/corps to force the change, a movement.

      One person can’t make change. Mr. Schneiderman is asking for help from the masses, starting with some consciousness raising, then identifying/applying pressure where it counts.

      1. diptherio

        But can we really take Schneinderman seriously after he sold out so monstrously on the Foreclosure Fraud Settlement? He talks about “one set of rules for everyone” right after signing off on a settlement that allows Bankers to get off scott-free after flagrantly violating the law and their own contracts. Schneiderman may make a good point, but it’s awfully hard to hear it coming from him. I mean, even the devil can quote scripture for his own purpose.

      2. Glen

        I find his message incredibly disturbing. Apparently, it takes political pressure like OWS to get Eric to do his job which is investigating and prosecuting criminals who break the law. And it takes more political pressure to get the President to acknowledge that we are a nation of laws.

        We voted in both of these guys to fix the system, break up the big banks, investigate, prosecute and throw the crooks in jail. I can almost guarantee that the AG and the President will get voted out of office for not perp walking crooks to jail.

        I know, I know, I’m going to get Obots telling me then we’ll just get Republicans that won’t do anything. What do you think happen in 2010? Dems stayed home because there was no point in voting for the Dems that did nothing. If we had been voting for the President, Obama would have been lost too. Obama’s biggest single failure was not acting forcefully to show that he was going to clean up Wall St and get rid of crooked banks.

        Until the DC Democrats and the President get it through their thick skulls that they are being held responsible for cleaning up Wall St and throwing the crooks in jail, they will continue to get voted out of office.

        So why aren’t the Republicans being held to the same standard? Because everybody knows this is the Republican dream economy, created through thirty years of dedicated effort since Reagan. They are not going to make changes to a system they built.

  3. Dave of Maryland

    In reality, you can no more envision what it is like to be dead than you can visualize yourself before you were born. – from Climbing Mount Immortality

    I’m tired of this pseudoscientific crap. That we “don’t know” what comes before birth and that we “don’t know” what comes after, as an excuse for scientifically induced materialistic terror. Or Biblical Bible-bashing. It’s not that both are wrong, but that both are holding the world in cruel hostage.

    The “science” community should wake up. There has been a full century of research in precisely these two areas. Many people, in fact, compulsively remember their own births, night after night, year after year. It’s just they were never told that falling dreams are the memory of birth itself.

    Nor is it hard to induce memories of past lives, the most recent past life in particular. The thoughts and ideas at the end of your last life are the same thoughts and ideas that filled your head when you were three, five, eight years old. Remember?

    Nor is it hard to make contact with the dead. TV psychic John Edwards is doing it for show and doing it the hard way. (What he does is quite very real. I’ve been down that way.) I’d reach out and teach him a couple of tricks, but I presume he’s satisfied with what he does. I can stop hauntings, I can stop possessions, I can stop obsessions, I can stop serial suicides and I can teach it.

    Science tells us we descended from apes and that there was once a big bang and I don’t care either way. Science can have its trivialities.

    Science can’t cure us of simple ailments, nor can science tell us what happens 15 minutes after our hearts stop, so what good are they? But so long as they’re the 800 pound bully in the room and won’t let anyone else talk, you won’t know.

    Stop feeding the bully.

    1. craazyman

      can you tell me where SKF will be in one year? :)

      Of course, you might get lucky. But somehow I don’t think I would, once I put real money down.

      It’s like that. There’s imagination and then there’s reality, and telling the difference between the two gets harder and harder the more thought you give it. At least, that’s what I think. The seem to run together once you get past a certain point, and maybe that’s the real reality.

    2. justanotherobserver

      science can’t cure us of simple ailments ?

      what a ridiculous statement. penicillin – by way of science – cured my strep throat.

      science is doing a lot more for this world than a bunch of con artists and morons who think they can talk to the dead.


    3. sglover

      “I can stop hauntings, I can stop possessions, I can stop obsessions, I can stop serial suicides and I can teach it.”

      I’ll grant that the notion of “serial suicides” is novel — I always thought everybody got at most one of those. Otherwise, in this sentence alone you’re making some pretty extraordinary claims. You should produce some equally extraordinary evidence to back them up.

      But if my experience is any guide, this simple, reasonable observation will be taken by you as proof of my “narrow mindedness”.

      1. diptherio

        “The soul hypothesis has been slain by neuroscience showing that the mind (consciousness, mem­ory and personality patterns representing “you”) cannot exist without the brain. When the brain dies of injury, stroke, dementia or Alzhei­mer’s, the mind dies with it. No brain, no mind; no body, no soul.”–climbing mount immortality.

        Wow, obviously someone has not done much research since every religion/spiritual path I have examined goes to great lengths to make clear that the “soul,” “atman,” “essence,” etc are NOT the same as personal consciousness, memory, personality, emotions etc. This is the distinction between the “small-s self” and the “big-S Self”, the soul and the “commanding self,” or the conditioned and unconditioned self. They haven’t refuted the claims of the “mystics,” only failed utterly to understand what they’re saying. The above sentence is merely a display of ignorance, not any kind of refutation.

        1. psychohistorian

          So now, where is the science proving the soul exists?

          Perhaps it is in the same place where the science behind religion exists.

          I will take the cosmic resonance of my body over a faith based soul any day.

        2. sglover

          ” the “soul,” “atman,” “essence,” etc are NOT the same as personal consciousness, memory, personality, emotions etc. This is the distinction between the “small-s self” and the “big-S Self”, the soul and the “commanding self,” or the conditioned and unconditioned self. They haven’t refuted the claims of the “mystics,” only failed utterly to understand what they’re saying. ”

          Well, you haven’t exactly cleared it up yourself.

          I’m not sure why you replied to my comment; your remarks seem only obliquely related to anything I said. But what you did say only reinforces my own conclusions about New Age hokum. You’re simply bending words from their usual meanings to others that you’d prefer, and then claiming that this demonstrates or proves something. It doesn’t. It doesn’t make you a savant, it doesn’t mark you as gifted with some special insight. It marks you as muddled.

          Your comment reminds me of Abraham Lincoln’s parable:

          Q: If you define “tail” to mean “leg”, how many legs does a horse have?

          A: Four.

    4. propertius


      I can call spirits from the vasty deep.


      Why, so can I, or so can any man;
      But will they come when you do call for them?


      Why, I can teach you, cousin, to command
      The devil.


      And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil
      By telling truth: tell truth and shame the devil.
      If thou have power to raise him, bring him hither,
      And I’ll be sworn I have power to shame him hence.
      O, while you live, tell truth and shame the devil!

    5. sglover

      “There has been a full century of research in precisely these two areas. Many people, in fact, compulsively remember their own births, night after night, year after year. It’s just they were never told that falling dreams are the memory of birth itself.”

      I’d like to see you produce ANY evidence for this. Even the flimsiest speck.

  4. Ben Wolf

    I considered Kincaide’s work pretty but aestheticlly bankrupt. He was a commercialist out to make bucks, not an artist driven by creative need.

      1. Ben Wolf

        To the contrary. It might be pretty but also completely lacking in soul, which his work always was.

        1. evodevo

          Aghhhh! I think I’m having a diabetic attack.
          Seriously, I have friends who would have given their right arms to get one of his “prints” for over their mantel. He saw a need and filled it – it was commercial from the start. Impossibly idealized village scenes with, I noticed, almost no people. Interesting. Xtian right wingers especially vulnerable to his marketing skills, and you’d better not mention the seamier aspects of his life in their presence! True followers … with a child-like view of the world.

        2. Maximilien

          Take a look at his rendering of houses. The lights are on (every bloody one of them!) but nobody’s home.

          The perfect metaphor for the emptiness of Kincade’s “art”.

  5. briansays

    i believe a public option bill has been drafted by some member of the cali legislature
    not sure if its been introduced and if so whether being held in committee to see how the dust settles

  6. Up the Ante

    “Issa, whose district includes the plant, said he hopes at least one reactor will be running over the summer, ”

    Issa most decidedly does not “get it”.
    This guy from the NRC “gets it”, and ‘got it’ early on,

    From: Nosek, Andrew
    Sent: Friday, March 18, 2011 11:36 AM
    “I understand everyone in the agency is getting their emails (regarding Japan’s accidents) FOIA’ed by the associated press. This should be fun. ”

    GE’s been ‘getting it’ early on as well, having had 70 employees mounted astride their nuclear-powered unicorns AT THE FUKUSHIMA PLANT SINCE DAY ONE.
    see that same enformable website

    These people do ‘get it’,
    “Concerned residents in the area around the plant have bought Geiger counters that plug into smartphones and iPads to monitor for any potential radiation emissions from the plant. ”

    San Ofore right on the shore as if West Coast tsunamis have never occurred ?

    27 March 1964 – Good Friday tsunami. After the magnitude 9.2 Good Friday Earthquake, tsunamis struck Alaska, British Columbia, California and coastal Pacific Northwest towns, killing 122 people. The tsunamis were up to 6 m tall that killed 11 people as far away as Crescent City, California.

    1958: A very localized tsunami in Lituya Bay, Alaska was the highest ever recorded: more than 500 m (1500 ft) above sea level.

    “Native American Oral traditions tell of tsunami’s destruction hundreds of years ago”
    “One winter’s night in the year 1700, a mysterious tsunami flooded fields and washed away houses in Japan. It arrived without the warning that a nearby earthquake usually provides. ”

    Can’t occur in San Diego ? Hawaii, so ‘isolated’ from big quakes,
    “..damaging tsunami caused by distant earthquakes have occurred with startling frequency in Hawaii: 1837, 1841, 1868, 1869, 1877, 1883, 1906, 1918, 1923, 1933, 1946, 1957, and 1960 ..”

    The Mayor of Kyoto City, doubtless a yak puppet, is promoting “key words: “speed”, “power”, and “heart.” ”
    Interesting choice of words.

  7. Jim3981

    There is a CIA Whistleblower Susan Lindauer that is a true american patriot.

    She talks about how she notified everybody of 911 in advance, and her CIA boss got a $13 million dollar tax free pay-off. What an eye-opener for anybody still suffering from cognitive dissonance about the 911 attacks.

    She has all kinds of video on youtube, but found this one particularly good.

    1. Up the Ante

      Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars is another source of the same warnings from an intercepts group referred to as ‘the hysterics’.

    2. neo-realist

      With such information at hand, it makes me wonder why Susan has not been “suicided”? Is this a controlled leak? disinfo? Or are TPTB so convinced of their thorough brainwashing of the American Public that it isn’t necessary to stop her?

      1. Jim3981

        Maybe they have their hands full! Isn’t everybody giving TPTB a hard time lately? We might never find out…

        I’m guessing they wanted to shut her up while they got a few laws passed. If you watch her video she mentioned the threat of indefinite detention was her biggest nightmare. Now guess what? We have the NDAA…. ugghh.

        Like you said, maybe it doesn’t matter with the Lie/disinformation media machine. Who knows, but Susan Linduar strikes me as being the real deal.

      2. Walter Wit Man

        They tried to suicide her. They tried to drug her and she was the first non Arab to have the PATRIOT Act against her.

        Mukasi finally ruled she was mentally unfit to stand trial so they released her. She spent years locked up with few rights and they tried to drug her and disappear her into a legal black hole–like Jose Padilla.

        Unless she is disinfo. It does seem like they would have simply killed her . . . but who knows, maybe she was able to fight her way out to be a whistleblower . . . I can’t think of any motive to spread disinformation.

    3. René

      Why didn’t I know about Susan Lindauer? I think she is real. This is very important information.

      “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

      (Donald Rumsfeld, 12-2-2002)

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Hey, I’ve posted links to her right on this website at least a few times. And analyzed the implications of it.

        It is indeed very intriguing allegations–which is why the corporate media has ignored it.

        1. René

          Stupid of me because I normally do read your comments.

          I like Susan, she is doing a marvelous job.

  8. F. Beard

    Generally, I don’t like to post long cut-n-pastes but I could not reign in my enthusiasm for this succinct explanation of bank lending:

    from Sociopaths, closed minds and a bit of Mayan cosmology by Bill Mitchell:

    “In the world we live in, bank loans create deposits and are made without reference to the reserve positions of the banks. The bank then ensures its reserve positions are legally compliant as a separate process knowing that it can always get the reserves from the central bank.

    The central bank has to guarantee reserves to the commercial banks on demand in order to guarantee financial stability. The viability of the payments system is an essential aspect of the maintenance of financial stability.

    So the monetary base (currency plus reserves) always adjusts to the broad monetary aggregate not the other way around. Further, the base can move independently of the broader aggregate depending on what the central bank is doing with its balance sheet.

    In other words, the central bank can expand the base at the same time as the broad aggregate is falling. That is the situation that most of the world was in a few years ago as central banks engaged in various balance sheet manouevers such as quantitative easing and other strategies via their standing facilities.

    While this was going on, demand for credit from the private sector was drying up and so the broad monetary aggregates were in decline.

    The is the situation still in the Eurozone and the UK. In the US, the base has expanded dramatically as a consequence of the US Federal Reserve’s asset purchase program, but more recently the broader aggregates have shown some improvement as business firms start investment (a bit).

    Banks are not institutions that wait for deposits so as to build up reserves which would then allow them to on-lend at a margin in order to profit. The conceptualisation suggests that if it doesn’t have adequate reserves then it cannot lend. So the presupposition is that by adding to bank reserves, quantitative easing will help lending.

    To repeat, bank lending is not “reserve constrained”. Banks lend to any credit worthy customer they can find and then worry about their reserve positions afterwards. If they are short of reserves (their reserve accounts have to be in positive balance each day and in some countries central banks require certain ratios to be maintained) then they borrow from each other in the interbank market or, ultimately, they will borrow from the central bank.

    Apparently, that thinking is the equivalent of Mayan cosmology.”

    1. Susan the other

      I really enjoyed Bill Mitchell’s synopsis too, but I’m almost too confused to ever grasp what will be a solution, except to simply supply all the money needed to run a functioning government which maintains a sufficient level of well-being for all citizens. Including full employment (but that’s still a fiscal-political thing). My take away was that Bernanke is sophisticated and agile, and he handles things as best he can given a private banking network to work with. I think we are only one small step away from turning the banking system to our advantage by making it a regulated utility. So if we do achieve a national Bank Utility, this utility will also become a fiscal-political thing and this transformation will smooth the way to also ensure full employment.

      1. LucyLulu

        I wish I could share your optimism. Given our political environment, I can’t see the banks ever being allowed to become a utility or even adequately regulated. Who would make the push for this to happen that has sufficient power? There are too many well-padded pockets of opposing legislators, esp. those who propose we need less government, to see that it gets done.

        Perhaps I have become too cynical……. It all seems so frustrating. Hopes get raised only to be dashed. Look at who the nominee is for the Republican party. What kind of statement is it when a Stepford candidate is the best they can come up with? Need anybody say more?

        1. F. Beard

          Look at who the nominee is for the Republican party. LucyLulu

          The Repugs must want to lose. How can the “Religious” Right vote for a Mormon – a cultist?

          The good news is that that atrocity will pry many Christians out of the Repugnican Party. I suggest the Democrats compromise on abortion and welcome them back.

          Or maybe we’ll have a successful 3rd Party if the Democrats won’t bend.

          1. Aquifer

            The Dems have done quite enough “compromising” already on too many other things over the past decades – they are worse than useless, they are complicit …

            We will have a “successful” 3rd party when we the people get off our rears and vote for it – it is just that simple. Start here:


          2. SidFinster

            Hate to break it to you, Holmes, but it ain’t gone happen. At least not any time soon.

            If there is one thing that is an article of faith in today’s Democratic Party, that would be abortion.

  9. LeeAnne

    Déjà vu Dot Con the story doesn’t go far enough.

    Add to the story this: total Google surveillance, indeed ‘ownership’ of all your emails, searches, YouTubes, etc.

    add Bucket Shops Purchase Google Ads to Tailor and Personalize their telephone and Internet pitches for selling IPOs to your individual wishes and needs, to your elderly parents, your young children. Look at all that lottery money that can be tapped for Wall Street. Look at all the poor people soon to be out on the streets, tapped out by professional telephone hustlers.

  10. johnson

    Interesting, seems that the painter of light™ did a Disney Collection. I wonder if that was before or after the notorious peeing incident and Winne the Pooh?

  11. scraping_by

    RE: Digital Library

    The first brave attempt to conquer paper, Project Gutenburg, was sabotaged behind the scenes. Right now it’s a slow growth when it started as a wildfire among the web.

    The cooperative for turning books into plain text is Distributed Proofreaders. It was crowdsourcing before the term was invented, hundreds of online volunteers cleaning up OCR output from out of copyright books. Nothing worse than doing a second draft on a made session of typewriting. It was fun and it worked like a charm.

    However, the Proofreading site came to a dead grind when the cabal who ran it began putting in more stages and more checking. Instead of first pass, clean draft, make the book, it was three stages of first pass, two of second pass, final check, then final construction. The claim was greater accuracy in the final product: the reality was throwing sand in the gears.

    Information wants to be free might be inappropriate anthropomophism. It’s more correct that information is the nexus of the insider/outsider battles. I don’t doubt the information industry will use the courts to protect itself, but they’ll also almost certainly use any other means to hand.

    1. Hugh

      Interesting. I did some proofing at Distributed Proofreaders but eventually gave up in frustration. I got the impression that the people running it had no conception of how books were actually put together. Their overarching rule was that the digital text should conform to the printed text as closely as possible but almost all their rules were about how to change the digital text away from the printed text. Worse, the rules they did have only really covered the very simplest of texts. Anything that was a little more complicated wasn’t covered by them and it was clear that the project manager had never looked at the text to assess in advance where the principal problems might lie.

      Etexts are different from print texts, but what was so odd about DP was where they adhered to and where they departed from how the print text was put together.

      And as you say, the unnecessary multiple layers of proofing created a huge backlog and slowed the process of getting texts out to the public to a near halt. The whole process could be greatly simplified and streamlined but the people running DP are both impervious and hostile to even the most obvious suggestions.

      As for Project Gutenberg, where DP’s product is published, a few months ago I saw they had Bagehot’s Lombard Street. I downloaded it and reformatted it to make it easier for me to read. In doing so, I noticed quite a few errors (not just in formatting but in numbers and dates) in the text. I sent some emails to PG pointing out where and what they were. Nothing happened, so I emailed again asking what was going on and received a response that everything had been taken care of. We went back and forth on this a few times. Each time they would say, “Oh, we thought it was taken care of. We’ll take another look.” And then again nothing would happen. The truth is most Project Gutenberg texts have errors in them even after their supposedly rigorous vetting at Distributive Proofreaders but it is largely useless to point them out.

      So long story short, I think Project Gutenberg was a great idea but it has been effectively hamstrung by the people running it.

      1. scraping_by

        Gutenburg was and is a good idea. As long as it’s up my kids don’t have to spend a couple hundred dollars buying their books for their classes, or just to read the classics. Lifelong learners can easily dip into the library, and anyone in the developing world with any kind of Web connection can start their education.

        The inner circle at DP chose to take up the Encarta model of check, check, recheck, and check again just when the Wikipedia model of crowdsourcing for both material and editing became workable. There’s some mistakes so outlandish it’s hard to believe they’re mistakes. I imagine the ultimate fate of both was part of that decision.

        Whether at Gutenburg or some other site(s), public domain literature is going to be part of common knowledge and not just a commercial product.

        1. Hugh

          I would agree that Project Gutenberg has all kinds of curiosities and odd little treasures. But despite hoopla to the contrary, it remains very anglo-centric. I am probably more familiar with the French canon than the English one, but it struck me how much of the great works of French literature were missing or available only in English.

          There is also Wikisource in various languages which has some interesting titles, but how to post a work there looked fairly opaque to me. My two favorites for French literature because they include a lot of popular selections are:


          Like you I am a strong supporter of the public domain.

  12. Jim3981

    Another attempt at internet freedom takeover?

    “An onrush of condemnation and criticism kept the SOPA and PIPA acts from passing earlier this year, but US lawmakers have already authored another authoritarian bill that could give them free reign to creep the Web in the name of cybersecurity.
    As congressmen in Washington consider how to handle the ongoing issue of cyberattacks, some legislators have lent their support to a new act that, if passed, would let the government pry into the personal correspondence of anyone of their choosing.
    H.R. 3523, a piece of legislation dubbed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (or CISPA for short), has been created under the guise of being a necessary implement in America’s war against cyberattacks. But the vague verbiage contained within the pages of the paper could allow Congress to circumvent existing exemptions to online privacy laws and essentially monitor, censor and stop any online communication that it considers disruptive to the government or private parties. Critics have already come after CISPA for the capabilities that it will give to seemingly any federal entity that claims it is threatened by online interactions, but unlike the Stop Online Privacy Act and the Protect IP Acts that were discarded on the Capitol Building floor after incredibly successful online campaigns to crush them, widespread recognition of what the latest would-be law will do has yet to surface to the same degree.”

  13. F. Beard

    Thomas Kinkade—“Painter Of Light”—Is Dead Buzzfeed. Unnerving images.

    Why “unnerving”? Yes, there is plenty of ugly in the world but there are often breaks when a truce is called.

  14. F. Beard

    A Dose Of Socialism Could Save Our States – State Sponsored, Single Payer Healthcare Would Bring In Business & Jobs Forbes, of all places.

    I’m not surprised. Fascists are not principled and they know it too.

    1. Susan the other

      I assume single payer will happen. It can’t happen fast enough in my opinion. I’m for it because it will be a benefit to us all and considerably cheaper. But this does not mean that there will be no private practices and specialty clinics. The rich will ensure this niche.

      1. John L

        Perfectly possible to have a private practice layer on top of a single payer system. UK and most European countries do this. Works just fine.

      2. neo-realist

        I could see the public option happening on the state level in the near term at best. At the national level, our government is far too venal, dysfunctional, contemptuous of the mob, and brought and paid for to emanate from the feds.

      3. LucyLulu

        Agree with John. I’ve seen the public option in both UK and France, and talked with people who were part of it. It was many, many years ago though in UK. But both have private options available to tack onto the public option for those with the money. It’s a good solution, everybody can get what they want. My relatives live in France, two are physicians. If you use the private insurance, the public option still pays the same as if you had used it, and the private picks up the difference for the extra bells and whistles. One impediment to bringing it here would be physicians. In universal health care, at least as implemented in Europe, while they are still more well off than most people, they aren’t compensated as well as some of our specialists are in this country, perhaps more along the lines of our general practitioners. There is quite a difference between GP’s who may get $85 for office visits with all the overhead involved and surgeons getting a thousand or more per hour doing surgeries three days per week with hospital surgical suites and all OR staff provided at no charge (to the physician anyways, but patient is charged, quite substantially).

  15. F. Beard

    10 Unbelievably Sh**ty Things America Does to Homeless People

    For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.

    Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field, until there is no more room, so that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!

    In my ears the LORD of hosts has sworn, “Surely, many houses shall become desolate, even great and fine ones, without occupants. Isaiah 5:7-9 New American Standard Bible (NASB) [bold added]

  16. gs_runsthiscountry

    RE: “After ten years they let you cook the eggs”

    Brilliant read and loved the addendum too.

  17. Seal

    re: botanical nomenclature by Marder see also:
    technocratic regimes entail, by default, an abdication of the political decision-making capacity.

    From the dictatorship of persons we transition to the dictatorship of things; the organisation of the polity becomes dependent less on the arbitrary element of decision-making and more on the “iron laws” of the market.

  18. skippy


    Just yesterday, The Australian published an article, “Australian housing market just a jobs crisis away from collapse.” It paints the picture of weak housing market with sales turnover at 16 year lows, listings up 23 percent over the past year and construction of new homes down 25 percent since the stimulus ending in June 2010. But, as the article states, the best leading indicator is mortgage approvals. Most people require a loan to purchase a property. Mortgage approvals have plunged 25 percent since the first home buyers boost ceased.

    According to the article, despite a very weak market, falls have been somewhat benign as arrears remain low. The Australian writes “People losing their jobs or running into trouble with their own small business is the main cause of people falling behind on their mortgage. Forced loss of employment has been very low until now.”

    “Rising unemployment could unleash a wave of distressed sales in the housing market. With the fundamentals of housing supply and demand already so weak, the price movement could be much larger than the present downward drift, with which the Reserve Bank appears comfortable.”

    Last month we reported on Roy Morgan’s private unemployment gauge – ABS unemployment figures ‘defy belief as job losses mount’- Roy Morgan. Historically, both the ABS and Roy Morgan indexes have tracked each other, but in recent months Roy Morgan’s index has taken a turn for the worst. The separation is thought to be attributable to the different measures used to create each index, and suggestions the ABS figures are likely to be lagging.

    Rising unemployment is consistent with expectations. Falling house prices are hammering consumer confidence through the negative wealth effect, causing consumers to tighten their purse strings. With jobs underpinned by discretionary spending, and you don’t have to look to deep at the retail sector to see the consequences unfolding.

    Do you expect house price falls to start accelerating this year with increases of unemployment? If so, by how much?

    » Homes with negative equity on the increase – The Sydney Morning Herald, 20th March 2012.
    » Property price falls lock homeowners into loans – Adelaide Now, 20th March 2012.
    » Prudent Mortgage Lending Standards Help Ensure Financial Stability – Reserve Bank of Australia, 23rd February 2012.
    » HOME OR BUST: Default fears as Australian banks return to high-risk loans – News Limited, 15th March 2012.
    » Australian housing market just a jobs crisis away from collapse – The Australian, 19th March 2012.
    » Home buy bargains – A Current Affair, 16th March 2012.

    Skippy…. this holidays retail spending… is baddddd.

    Kohler: business is marginal, economics is gross
    by Alan Kohler

    There’s an air of growing panic among Australia’s business people. Company directors are calling for a budget deficit, retailers feel like they are peering over a cliff and everybody’s worried sick about the carbon tax and the high currency.

    Metcash’s Andrew Reitzer reported yesterday that he is seeing “unprecedented and prolonged challenging operating conditions”. The IGA supermarkets are battling deflation of 0.9%, with specials making up more than half of all shopping baskets and as result Metcash is laying off 478 people.

    Meanwhile the Reserve Bank and Treasury are insouciant. RBA Governor Glenn Stevens merely said yesterday that “considerable structural change is occurring”, while putting off a rate cut. Treasury is working with the government to produce one of the toughest budgets in the nation’s history.

    I can’t remember a time when the policymakers and the real world diverged as much as they do now.

    It’s entirely possible that business people are in a funk unnecessarily and that the bureaucrats in Canberra and Martin Place have a better idea of what’s going on, but I doubt it. The truth is that both the RBA and Treasury have been getting it wrong, and both are being forced to adjust their economic forecasts downwards.

    At yesterday’s RBA meeting, according to Governor Glenn Stevens: “The board judged the pace of output growth to be somewhat lower than earlier estimated.” But they stubbornly put off a rate cut anyway.

    Last year’s federal budget forecast real GDP growth this financial year of 4%, which now looks absurdly optimistic. For calendar 2011, growth was half that figure and there is no reason to think it will be much different for the financial year — perhaps a little more than 2%.

  19. Max424

    Thomas Kinkade … “unnerving images.”


    A real artist just died a few days ago, Elizabeth Catlett. Her images could be unnerving too, but in a very different -anti-mall- kind of way.

    Who needs buttons? Here’s a personal favorite, Invisible Man.

    Black people, rejoice! We will all be invisible soon –all races, creeds and unterclasses. That’s the beauty of global neo-liberal Capitalism. In these early stages, it may not distribute its hate equally, but clearly, it does hate on everyone, and it will get everybody in the end.

  20. Foppe

    Re: “No, Silicon Valley Did Not and Does Not Partake of the Anarchist Utopian Nature. Why Did You Imagine It Did? Brad DeLong”

    I can only search DeLong’s blog via google, but I find it pretty telling that the only other post I can find about Graeber’s book or work is another one about this same quote. Sure, this is an exceedingly dumb mistake, and Graeber’s subsequent defense of it makes little sense to me; however, it would seem that Progressives Like DeLong (that is, of the smug technocrat every-ailment-is-just-a-policy-adjustment-away-from-being-fixed-and-nothing-fundamental-is-wrong variety) are predictably using it as an “intellectual” excuse not to engage with the rest of the book.

    1. Goin' South


      DeLong to Graeber is like Choo Choo Coleman to Mickey Mantle. And Choo Choo decides to point and laugh–repeatedly–when Mickey happens to strikes out.

      I’d think DeLong would have the decency at some point to STFU, given his history of being wrong.

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