Links 8/19/12

Genetically engineering ‘ethical’ babies is a moral obligation, says Oxford professor Telegraph. Ooh, do I not agree. The human genome is a complex system, and the rule in complex systems is you don’t understand them well enough to go from A to B in a direct manner. IE, saying “I’m going to produce more healthy (however dimensioned) children” is not likely to succeed. Read up on “obliquity” for details.

Your car, tracked: the rapid rise of license plate readers ars technica. Another reason I’m glad I don’t own a car.

Twitter’s API changes will have a real impact on news developers Nieman Journalism Lab

Fracking Fallout in Ohio: ‘Throwing Up Until the Blood Vessels in My Eyes Burst’ Yahoo (p78)

Fighting fracking: introverts edition Pruning Shears (Carol B)

Please, sir, can I have some less? Sydney Morning Herald. Only in Australia….

Assange ‘to emerge from embassy’ BBC

This Is Awkward: The Politics of a Chinese Orgy New Yorker (Lambert)

US punched Bibi, Barak in the face ynetnews (Carol B). I was wondering about that remark…

Beware a Beautiful Calm Maureen Dowd, New York Times

Fazaga v. FBI: Eroding democracy, in two dimensions at once People’s Blog for the Constitution (Carol B)

The Watchmen’s Misdirected Gaze New York Times. I will leave it to readers to have fun with this story.

Pre-Trial Slave Sues Jail for $11 Million—in Vermont Yahoo (Lambert)

The Big Bet That Nothing Will Happen in the Weeks Ahead Michael Panzner

Fed: Foreclosures Have Little Influence on Prices of Nearby Homes Appraisal Institute (Michael R). More from the Ministry of Truth. No, the price dampner is the condition of the home. Oh, and they found the “peak” in terms of impact, was “just before the last step of foreclosure.” Yes, that’s because most homeowners leave before ejectment! This is such a transparent exercise in trying to disprove the obvious that it’s an insult to intelligence.

Goldman, Still Playing in Bayou’s Mud Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

Standard Chartered Fought the Lawsky and the Lawsky Won Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies Tim Duy

Punishing Cheaters Promotes the Evolution of Cooperation Scientific American (furzy mouse). So this will tell you why we are in a mess. Our mechanisms for coordinated punishment are broken.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Kokuanani

    Yves, Lambert, how do I send something to you? There’s no e-mail address listed in the links. I wanted to tip you off about this:

    The following is an excellent take-down of a site purporting to “compare” Romney & Obama tax plans.

    As we head into campaign season, I assume we can expect to see these “tax calculator” lies spread all over. It would be good to being our inoculation agains them NOW.

  2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Yup, everything is black and white.

    But if you examine it further, the wider world beyond the immediate is all gray.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Acutally, the oringial Greek title was ‘Zebra, the Greek Philosopher.’

        But Greek, being synomous with mis-translation (actually, that applies to almost all languages), both into and out of, for example, bailout the country/bailout the banksters, etc., it bacame ‘Zebra Philosophy.’

  3. YankeeFrank

    I’m sure I’m a hopeless luddite when it comes to gene-screening, but I don’t buy the notion that single genes are responsible for so many complex behaviors. Sure there are some genes, like those that are clear markers for disease, but do those markers mean that removal totally voids the chance for the disease? I am suspect of scientists who say “this causes that”. They are surely over-confident in their predictive abilities. To some extent the fault lies with science writers who write in definitive statements things that are surely just theoretical… but I question the idea that genes alone are responsible for violent behaviors. So much conditioning and life experience shapes such behaviors. How do we KNOW that gene X leads to behavior Y ? It just seems so pat and simplistic. Perhaps someone more informed can convince me or at least explicate this to some extent.

    Oh, and Yves, not having a car doesn’t mean you can’t be tracked — I’m sure you’ve read about that former CIA-run face-recognition system in place all over Manhattan? And cars are so fun! It’ll be a shame once I can’t afford gas anymore.

    1. Richard Kline

      So Yankee, the evidence for specific genes controlling specific behaviors is zero. You’ll notice how very seldom those advancing these fantasies are actually professional researchers of behavior as opposed to behing professional manipulators of genes. You’re not a Luddite at all here. Rules of evidence don’t go out of style with each new, ambitious, grant-hunting generation to talk their way down the pike.

      1. Mark P.


        [1] Well, you’re absolutely right to point out that the people who opine in public along these lines, as this fellow Julian Savulescu does, are usually not practicing biogenetics people.

        In particular, the suggestions that engineering people who are going to be automatically ethical is fairly ridiculous, if the suggestion is that one is going to engineer human individuals who behave in a “genetically pushbutton” fashion (to use your phrase below).

        [2] HOWEVER, that said, it’s the journalist who wrote the article who’s suggesting that. Savilescu himself is saying something more nuanced, though I’d still take his ideological premises with a large grain of salt.

        [3] What he’s saying is that we’ve found in quite a few instances where specific polymorphisms and alleles correlate strongly with dispositions towards specific behaviors.

        This is absolutely true. The science to back this up is copious, though it remains mostly out of the public eye because, firstly, our society has a hard time dealing with innate human differences as many people — perhaps yourself? — are deeply offended by the notion; and, secondly, because journalists distort and generalize it in various ways when they get hold of it, either overblowing it (as here) or ridiculing the whole notion to suppress it.

        An example?

        Well, there’s irrefutable evidence that behaviors like criminality, risk-taking, childhood hyperactivity,and alcoholism are associated with variants of D4 dopamine receptor and D2 receptors.

        The particular one that’s best studied is the 7r version of dopamine — DRD4-7r. What that means is there’s a repeat polymorphism in the gene – a 48 base pair repeat, which is 16 amino acids, so the length of that receptor varies. 7r is the version that has 7 copies of that repeat and that’s the one that associated with impulsiveness, criminality, etcetera.

        DRD4-7r is not random. It crops up in some populations more than others. It’s most common in the new world among South American Indians and such; it’s completely absent in North-East Asia and among Kalahari bushmen. The theory is that it got evolutionarily selected for among the populations where it’s relatively highly prevalent because people out in the wild did better with it and when they settled down and ceased to be hunter-gatherers they didn’t do so good.

        1. Mark P.

          Here’s just a very few samples of the copious literature, starting in 1996.

          [1] “Dopamine D4 receptor (D4DR) exon III polymorphism associated with the human personality trait of Novelty Seeking”
          Nature Genetics 12, 78 – 80 (1996)

          [2] “Population and familial association between the D4 dopamine receptor gene and measures of Novelty Seeking”. Nature Genetics 12 (1): 81–4. doi:10.1038/ng0196-81. PMID 8528258.

          [3] Evidence of positive selection acting at the human dopamine receptor D4 gene locus

          [4] “In our genes” by Henry Harpending and Gregory Cochran

          This article proposes ….
          “The D4 dopamine receptor (DRD4) locus may be a model system for understanding the relationship between genetic variation and human cultural diversity. It has been the subject of intense interest in psychiatry, because bearers of one variant are at increased risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (1). A survey of world frequencies of DRD4 alleles has shown striking differences among populations (2), with population differences greater than those of most neutral markers. In this issue of PNAS Ding et al. (3) provide a detailed molecular portrait of world diversity at the DRD4 locus. They show that the allele associated with ADHD has increased a lot in frequency within the last few thousands to tens of thousands of years, although it has probably been present in our ancestors for hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.’

          [5] A preliminary study of dopamine D4 receptor genotype and structural brain alterations in adults with ADHD.
          Monuteaux MC, Seidman LJ, Faraone SV, Makris N, Spencer T, Valera E, Brown A, Bush G, Doyle AE, Hughes S, Helliesen M, Mick E, Biederman J.
          Clinical and Research Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
          “An emerging literature has demonstrated an association between the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) gene and volumetric brain abnormalities in children with ADHD. However, these results have not been extended to adults and have not addressed the impact of comorbidity. Our objective was to examine the DRD4 7R gene and volumetric brain abnormalities in adults with ADHD while accounting for comorbidity with bipolar disorder (BPD). Subjects were male and female adult outpatient referrals stratified into two diagnostic groups: 24 with ADHD, 19 with ADHD and BPD, as well as 20 male and female adult community controls without ADHD or BPD. We measured volumes (cm(3)) of a priori selected brain regions (superior frontal, middle frontal, anterior cingulate, and cerebellum cortices) by structural magnetic resonance imaging. Among adults with ADHD, subjects with the 7-repeat allele of the DRD4 gene had a significantly smaller mean volume in the superior frontal cortex and cerebellum cortex compared to subjects without this allele. In contrast, no such effects were detected in the adults with ADHD + BPD or controls. Our findings suggest that volumetric abnormalities in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and cerebellum may represent an intermediate neuroanatomical phenotype between DRD4 genotype and the clinical expression of ADHD in adults, but only in ADHD subjects without comorbid BPD.’

          [6] Differential neural response to alcohol priming and alcohol taste cues is associated with DRD4 VNTR and OPRM1 genotypes.
          Filbey FM, Ray L, Smolen A, Claus ED, Audette A, Hutchison KE.
          Department of Psychology, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

          [7] Dopamine D4 receptor polymorphism modulates cue-elicited heroin craving in Chinese.
          Shao C, Li Y, Jiang K, Zhang D, Xu Y, Lin L, Wang Q, Zhao M, Jin L.
          Huashan Hospital affiliated to Fudan University, Shanghai, 200040, China.

          ‘…abusers recruited from the Voluntary Drug Dependence Treatment Center at Shanghai. RESULTS: Significantly stronger cue-elicited heroin craving was found in individuals carrying DRD4 VNTR long type allele … CONCLUSIONS: The results of our study suggest that DRD4 VNTR polymorphism contributes to cue-elicited craving in heroin dependence, indicating DRD4 VNTR represents one of potential genetic risk factors for cue-induced craving.
          PMID: 16703401 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

          [8] D2 and D4 dopamine receptor polymorphisms and personality.

          1. Mark P.

            Lest you think I’m cherrypicking, there are literally many, many hundreds of paper on DRD4. Overall, I would say these below are the most scientifically solid.

            1: preliminary study of dopamine D4 receptor genotype and structural brain alterations in adults with ADHD.
            Monuteaux MC, Seidman LJ, Faraone SV, Makris N, Spencer T, Valera E, Brown A, Bush G, Doyle AE, Hughes S, Helliesen M, Mick E, Biederman J.
            Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2008 Oct 24;147B(8):1436-1441.

            2: Dopamine receptor genetic polymorphisms and body composition in undernourished pastoralists: an exploration of nutrition indices among nomadic and recently settled Ariaal men of northern Kenya.
            Eisenberg DT, Campbell B, Gray PB, Sorenson MD.
            BMC Evol Biol. 2008 Jun 10;8:173.

            3: [Dopaminergic polymorphisms and regulatory problems in infancy]
            Becker K, El-Faddagh M, Schmidt MH, Laucht M.
            Z Kinder Jugendpsychiatr Psychother. 2007 Mar;35(2):145-51. German.

            4: High sibling correlation on methylphenidate response but no association with DAT1-10R homozygosity in Dutch sibpairs with ADHD.
            van der Meulen EM, Bakker SC, Pauls DL, Oteman N, Kruitwagen CL, Pearson PL, Sinke RJ, Buitelaar JK.
            J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2005 Oct;46(10):1074-80.

            5: Sequence variants of the DRD4 gene in autism: further evidence that rare DRD4 7R haplotypes are ADHD specific.
            Grady DL, Harxhi A, Smith M, Flodman P, Spence MA, Swanson JM, Moyzis RK.
            Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2005 Jul 5;136B(1):33-5.

            6: Dopamine receptor 4 (DRD4) 7-repeat allele predicts methylphenidate dose response in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a pharmacogenetic study.
            Hamarman S, Fossella J, Ulger C, Brimacombe M, Dermody J.
            J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2004 Winter;14(4):564-74.

            7: Dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) gene in Han Chinese children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): increased prevalence of the 2-repeat allele.
            Leung PW, Lee CC, Hung SF, Ho TP, Tang CP, Kwong SL, Leung SY, Yuen ST, Lieh-Mak F, Oosterlaan J, Grady D, Harxhi A, Ding YC, Chi HC, Flodman P, Schuck S, Spence MA, Moyzis R, Swanson J.
            Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2005 Feb 5;133B(1):54-6.

            8: [Presence of DRD4/7R and DAT1/10R allele in Chilean family members with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder]
            Carrasco X, Rothhammer P, Moraga M, Henríquez H, Aboitiz F, Rothhammer F.
            Rev Med Chil. 2004 Sep;132(9):1047-52. Spanish.

            9: The dopamine D4 receptor gene exon III polymorphism is associated with novelty seeking in 15-year-old males from a high-risk community sample.
            Becker K, Laucht M, El-Faddagh M, Schmidt MH.
            J Neural Transm. 2005 Jun;112(6):847-58. Epub 2004 Oct 27.

            10: Gene-environment interaction in hyperkinetic conduct disorder (HD + CD) as indicated by season of birth variations in dopamine receptor (DRD4) gene polymorphism.
            Seeger G, Schloss P, Schmidt MH, Rüter-Jungfleisch A, Henn FA.
            Neurosci Lett. 2004 Aug 19;366(3):282-6.

            11: The genetic architecture of selection at the human dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) gene locus.
            Wang E, Ding YC, Flodman P, Kidd JR, Kidd KK, Grady DL, Ryder OA, Spence MA, Swanson JM, Moyzis RK.
            Am J Hum Genet. 2004 May;74(5):931-44. Epub 2004 Apr 9.

            12: High prevalence of rare dopamine receptor D4 alleles in children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
            Grady DL, Chi HC, Ding YC, Smith M, Wang E, Schuck S, Flodman P, Spence MA, Swanson JM, Moyzis RK.
            Mol Psychiatry. 2003 May;8(5):536-45.

            13: Evidence of positive selection acting at the human dopamine receptor D4 gene locus.
            Ding YC, Chi HC, Grady DL, Morishima A, Kidd JR, Kidd KK, Flodman P, Spence MA, Schuck S, Swanson JM, Zhang YP, Moyzis RK.
            Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Jan 8;99(1):309-14. Epub 2001 Dec 26.

            14: D2 and D4 dopamine receptor polymorphisms and personality.
            Noble EP, Ozkaragoz TZ, Ritchie TL, Zhang X, Belin TR, Sparkes RS.
            Am J Med Genet. 1998 May 8;81(3):257-67.

            15: D4 dopamine-receptor (DRD4) alleles and novelty seeking in substance-dependent, personality-disorder, and control subjects.
            Gelernter J, Kranzler H, Coccaro E, Siever L, New A, Mulgrew CL.
            Am J Hum Genet. 1997 Nov;61(5):1144-52.

            16: Dopamine D4 receptor exon III alleles and variation of novelty seeking in alcoholics.
            Sander T, Harms H, Dufeu P, Kuhn S, Rommelspacher H, Schmidt LG.
            Am J Med Genet. 1997 Sep 19;74(5):483-7.

            17: Linkage disequilibrium between an allele at the dopamine D4 receptor locus and Tourette syndrome, by the transmission-disequilibrium test.
            Grice DE, Leckman JF, Pauls DL, Kurlan R, Kidd KK, Pakstis AJ, Chang FM, Buxbaum JD, Cohen DJ, Gelernter J.
            Am J Hum Genet. 1996 Sep;59(3):644-52.

          2. YankeeFrank

            Is “novelty-seeking” code for criminal behavior (and I don’t mean crime-without-victims crime, I mean actual crime that hurts actual people), or does it mean what it says? Because novelty-seeking behavior seems like a close relation to human ingenuity and curiosity, no? What a horrifying idea that we would select out such a useful trait from humanity. Also, the idea that a gene is present in a large swath of people who display certain “negative” behaviors does NOT mean that removal of that gene would remove those behaviors. I have to agree with Richard Kline here, this just sounds like over-simplified hokum if the claim is that we can make a more pliant population, or weed out undesirables, based on specific genes or gene combinations. I am very wary of such a movement — its connection to civil rights and privacy, and in fact its relationship to sound science in general. The past 150 years are full of “scientific discoveries” that led to horrible consequences when such “discoveries” were used as attempts to create a “happier” (read:more compliant) populace. From lobotomizing depressives and epileptics in Victorian England and beyond, to the eugenics movement as the basis for a vast racist “scientific” literature and political movements, to the experiments at Tuskegee and in Hitler’s camps, our history is littered with horrible events committed by (to paraprhase Monty Python) those “who were so wise in the ways of science”. And of course, this time is different, because we have advanced science beyond that old and embarrassing silly stuff (of course, in our supreme arrogance not realizing that this is exactly what they were saying and thinking when they were busy stirring up peoples’ brains).

            I respect the fact that science tries to answer deep questions, but in the scientist’s search for relevance and “discoveries” that can be applied to the real world, a lot of misery and terrible science has been unleashed. I would tread very carefully with attempts to prove causation and application of the “studies” you have linked. Of course, in our current world of fascistic corporate capitalism, the idea that a pharmaceutical or other medical multinational would actually behave responsibly with such “knowledge” when there would be so much money at stake is laughable. I fear we are headed for an era of “experimentation” upon our imprisoned populace, fully government funded and using the latest in “ethical” application techniques, of course. A lot of bad science and horrible cruelty will come from this, and the fact that you aren’t even questioning the most basic notion of causality with the studies you mention is alarming. With “science” like this, there is no way to empirically study the cause and effect of these proposed gene therapies without throwing medical ethics out the window and actively experimenting on human subjects, knowing nothing of what may result. Good luck getting voluntary subjects, and since the consequences for social control and cohesion are SO IMPORTANT (to the small mind of the bureaucrat, who sees the end of a placid society as justification enough for pretty much anything) we will see those imprisoned by our cruel and malevolent police state become the first unwilling subjects. Good science indeed.

          3. JEHR

            Mark P, you must be the most patient person around today. Thank you for bothering to give all this very useful information. The mere fact that you did makes me believe there is a lot to learn from genetics but those letters are proving to be too much for me right now.

          4. LeonovaBalletRusse

            Actually, couldn’t we K.I.S.S. and modulate “excessive” sex hormones to start, or–better yet–follow Dr. Maria Montessori’s advice with regard to children at puberty? She recommended taking them out of school and other regimented environments, and placing them in “prepared environments” within Mother Nature: active farms and other guided living and working natural environments, perhaps on the model of the ORIGINAL Kibbutzim, with plenty of adults around, good work to do, and a lot of healthy food to eat.

        2. LucyLulu

          I’ve also read several journal articles of studies that attempt to correlate different gene-mappings seen in disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, and their response to various medications used in treatment. For example, patients suffering from melancholic depression and who share a common gene-mapping might be studied for their response rate to prozac vs. wellbutrin vs. effexor vs. placebo.

          1. charles sereno

            Prof Samuelson (slip!) Savulescu thinks genetic selection should be voluntary. Non-violent, ethical designer children will never survive competing against the rest of us “normals.” Hmmm. Does that mean that alcoholism, psychopathy, and a disposition to violence will be SELECTED FOR?

          2. LucyLulu

            You may have hit on something. Are current events the result of natural selection, the next evolutionary step of homo sapiens? :)

        1. knowbuddhau

          The ability to tinker with genomes to produce desired outcomes is highly overrated.

          Humbled by the Genome’s Mysteries
          By Stephen Jay Gould
          Published: February 19, 2001
          (New York Times)

          Two groups of researchers released the formal report of data for the human genome last Monday — on the birthday of Charles Darwin, who jump-started our biological understanding of life’s nature and evolution when he published ”The Origin of Species” in 1859. On Tuesday, and for only the second time in 35 years of teaching, I dropped my intended schedule — to discuss the importance of this work with my undergraduate course on the history of life. (The only other case, in a distant age of the late 60’s, fell a half-hour after radical students had seized University Hall and physically ejected the deans; this time at least, I told my students, the reason for the change lay squarely within the subject matter of the course!)

          I am no lover, or master, of sound bites or epitomes, but I began by telling my students that we were sharing a great day in the history of science and of human understanding in general.

          The fruit fly Drosophila, the staple of laboratory genetics, possesses between 13,000 and 14,000 genes. The roundworm C. elegans, the staple of laboratory studies in development, contains only 959 cells, looks like a tiny formless squib with virtually no complex anatomy beyond its genitalia, and possesses just over 19,000 genes.

          The general estimate for Homo sapiens — sufficiently large to account for the vastly greater complexity of humans under conventional views — had stood at well over 100,000, with a more precise figure of 142,634 widely advertised and considered well within the range of reasonable expectation. Homo sapiens possesses between 30,000 and 40,000 genes, with the final tally almost sure to lie nearer the lower figure. In other words, our bodies develop under the directing influence of only half again as many genes as the tiny roundworm needs to manufacture its utter, if elegant, outward simplicity.

          Human complexity cannot be generated by 30,000 genes under the old view of life embodied in what geneticists literally called (admittedly with a sense of whimsy) their ”central dogma”: DNA makes RNA makes protein — in other words, one direction of causal flow from code to message to assembly of substance, with one item of code (a gene) ultimately making one item of substance (a protein), and the congeries of proteins making a body. Those 142,000 messages no doubt exist, as they must to build our bodies’ complexity, with our previous error now exposed as the assumption that each message came from a distinct gene.

          We may envision several kinds of solutions for generating many times more messages (and proteins) than genes, and future research will target this issue. In the most reasonable and widely discussed mechanism, a single gene can make several messages because genes of multicellular organisms are not discrete strings, but composed of coding segments (exons) separated by noncoding regions (introns). The resulting signal that eventually assembles the protein consists only of exons spliced together after elimination of introns. If some exons are omitted, or if the order of splicing changes, then several distinct messages can be generated by each gene.

          The implications of this finding cascade across several realms. The commercial effects will be obvious, as so much biotechnology, including the rush to patent genes, has assumed the old view that ”fixing” an aberrant gene would cure a specific human ailment. The social meaning may finally liberate us from the simplistic and harmful idea, false for many other reasons as well, that each aspect of our being, either physical or behavioral, may be ascribed to the action of a particular gene ”for” the trait in question.

          But the deepest ramifications will be scientific or philosophical in the largest sense. From its late 17th century inception in modern form, science has strongly privileged the reductionist mode of thought that breaks overt complexity into constituent parts and then tries to explain the totality by the properties of these parts and simple interactions fully predictable from the parts. (”Analysis” literally means to dissolve into basic parts). The reductionist method works triumphantly for simple systems — predicting eclipses or the motion of planets (but not the histories of their complex surfaces), for example. But once again — and when will we ever learn? — we fell victim to hubris, as we imagined that, in discovering how to unlock some systems, we had found the key for the conquest of all natural phenomena. Will Parsifal ever learn that only humility (and a plurality of strategies for explanation) can locate the Holy Grail?

          The collapse of the doctrine of one gene for one protein, and one direction of causal flow from basic codes to elaborate totality, marks the failure of reductionism for the complex system that we call biology — and for two major reasons.

          First, the key to complexity is not more genes, but more combinations and interactions generated by fewer units of code — and many of these interactions (as emergent properties, to use the technical jargon) must be explained at the level of their appearance, for they cannot be predicted from the separate underlying parts alone. So organisms must be explained as organisms, and not as a summation of genes.

          Second, the unique contingencies of history, not the laws of physics, set many properties of complex biological systems. Our 30,000 genes make up only 1 percent or so of our total genome. The rest — including bacterial immigrants and other pieces that can replicate and move — originate more as accidents of history than as predictable necessities of physical laws. Moreover, these noncoding regions, disrespectfully called ”junk DNA,” also build a pool of potential for future use that, more than any other factor, may establish any lineage’s capacity for further evolutionary increase in complexity.

          The deflation of hubris is blessedly positive, not cynically disabling. The failure of reductionism doesn’t mark the failure of science, but only the replacement of an ultimately unworkable set of assumptions by more appropriate styles of explanation that study complexity at its own level and respect the influences of unique histories. Yes, the task will be much harder than reductionistic science imagined. But our 30,000 genes — in the glorious ramifications of their irreducible interactions — have made us sufficiently complex and at least potentially adequate for the task ahead.

          We may best succeed in this effort if we can heed some memorable words spoken by that other great historical figure born on Feb. 12 — on the very same day as Darwin, in 1809. Abraham Lincoln, in his first Inaugural Address, urged us to heal division and seek unity by marshaling the ”better angels of our nature” — yet another irreducible and emergent property of our historically unique mentality, but inherent and invokable all the same, even though not resident within, say, gene 26 on chromosome number 12.

    2. Andrea

      Ppl differ in their sex, their size, their digestion, the shape of their nails, tongues….. their dopamine receptors…

      Their ‘genes’, have now become some vague marker of personality characteristics in a kind of essentialist hocus-pocus.

      Essentialism downplays the role of education, society, culture, politics and even finance, and promotes seeing individuals as always imperfect (according to various shifting schemes, remember women had smaller brains and were considered incapable of driving) and potentially fixable by lucrative industries (e.g. Big Pharma.)

      Additionally, the more ppl feel different, isolated, out of synch, inadequate, the more they turn to authority and snake oil merchants. Communities are destroyed, atomized, and become dependent on medical and Gvmt. oversight bosses.

      At the same time, to cover up, lip service is paid to ‘difference’, as to handicapped athletes who perform wonderfully, the mentally challenged who manage college, etc. – you can do it too!

      The job of society is not to seek out markers for ‘criminal propensity’ or the like (Orwell) but to accommodate everyone as best as can can.

      Much of the science is of course complete rubbish. It exists because it pays those who do it, they join the bandwagon of Oh! there is new bio test, a new spectrum disorder, a new potential fix.

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I understand Ebay is banning magic potions, spells and curses (that last ones, fortunately, you can still get everywhere on the internet…even here). Come to think of it, you can still get all of them on almost all economic blogs.

    In any case, now that we have all turned Chinese, we know crisis means both danger and opporunity. Here is one major opportunity for magic potions/spells/curses practitioners to show EBay how powerful their products can be. Maybe Craazyman will seize this chance to get in front and position his trades accordingly…the mother of all shorting opportunities.

    BTW, I believe in getting my readers off their mental couches and so, I am not providing any links.

    1. craazyman

      If I went short, I’m sure it would go up.

      I already knew it isn’t easy to get rich quick in the stock market, but I’m finding out for myself.

      My friend a semi-retired money manager advised me to do the opposite of what I wanted to do. So if I wanted to go long, then go short. The problem is that if you decide to go long, then say “OK, that means I should go short”, does that mean you really want to go short, so you should go long?

      I just need to get lucky. So maybe I’ll buy a potion. I was in Chinatown yesterday wandering around. There’s a lot of stuff down there that might work. Some dude tried to see me an herb for my stomach. he couldn’t speak English but he seemed confident he could help me. haha. that’s the way it always is when you have cash.

      1. LucyLulu

        You could use a more scientific approach and use the method that resulted in more winning picks than Wall Street money managers could choose. Get yourself a chimp to pick out your stocks.

    2. F. Beard

      But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8 [emphasis added]

      Who ya working for, beefy?

  5. Richard Kline

    We are never going to be able to ‘genetically engineer’ speific behavior, let along complex behavior in a multi-variate social context. Those who think we _can_ genetically button-push behavior are some of the craziest rats I’ve ever seen scamper by pixel or page. I recommend avoiding them as if they were armed and raving to themselves. They’re are the current iteration of the folks who thought eugenics were the best promise for improving society. Regardless of the validity of that premise, ‘improving the breed’ unleahsed a real nest of ghouls from society’s brainbox, empowering every kind of hater to try their hand culling ‘what was undesired.’ No, let’s NOT go anywhere in that part of the research map.

    1. Mark P.

      So here’s why I’ve made such a point about what the actual science seems to be saying, as opposed to your blanket claim that it’s all as fatuously crazy as the old eugenics.

      What one leading scientist stressed to me was that the investment and biotech industries are actively following up on his and his colleagues’ work.

      I quote: “In the face of embarassed silence from the world’s scientists, they’re not inhibited. They want to make money and are on it like crows on roadkill.”

      In other words, nobody gets to say ‘let’s not go there.’
      Groups in various regions of the world — not least Asia — are already going there.

      1. LucyLulu

        Absolutely. Biologicals are where bigPharma is putting all their marbles right now in terms of their development line. While serious misgivings about the slippery slope we may find ourselves on may well be warranted, Mark is quite right about the capacity for gene manipulation being right around the corner. Nurture may certainly have modifiying effects upon nature, however the science is IRREFUTABLE that certain gene patterns are more predominant in some behavior patterns, just as they predominate in some physical disease processes.

        Ethical behavior controlled on one gene? That seems a bit far-fetched given the complexity of ethics and their initial appearance during a late stage of personality development.

      2. Lambert Strether

        And you consider this good news?

        What one leading scientist stressed to me was that the investment and biotech industries are actively following up on his and his colleagues’ work.

        What could go wrong?

        1. LucyLulu

          If they try to manipulate behavior, as stated before, the ethics get hairy. But what if they can cure or control diabetes, the source cause, instead of trying to target the effects of the disease? Should we not go there? We’ve already started with chemotherapies that target the cancer cells and not others, and modulate the inflammatory and immunity functions of other cells.

          Even with behavior, let’s assume a man (or woman) has suffered their entire life from debilitating depression caused by what is found to be a “faulty” gene mapping that causes dysregulation of serotonin. A treatment is found that can relieve him of his depression and allow him to lead a “normal” life. Should he be deprived of that treatment? Who makes the decision about what treatments are ethical? The president and Congress? SCOTUS?

          The answers aren’t going to be so cut and dried and the technology is coming soon to a theatre near you.

          1. jsmith

            “If they try to manipulate behavior, as stated before, the ethics get hairy. But what if they can cure or control diabetes, the source cause, instead of trying to target the effects of the disease? Should we not go there?”

            1) Why do you think that people – e.g., government scientists – already haven’t started trying to manipulate behavior using this science? Just because you haven’t read about it in Nature doesn’t mean it’s not already been happening.

            Gee, I wonder what the over 1500 (ex)Nazi scientists involved in Operation Paperclip did for the U.S. government after WWII, huh?

            Sure, some were rocket scientists but definitely not all:


            Here are some highlights:


            “This led to a confrontation because of the experiments with typhus on concentration camp prisoners. In applying the Ipsenschen murine typhus vaccine Dr Rose was in 1943 commissioned to inquire with the Hygiene Institute of the Waffen-SS, whether in the Buchenwald concentration camp one could one test the vaccine on prisoners”


            Blome worked on methods of storage and dispersal of biological agents like plague, cholera, anthrax, and typhoid, and also infected prisoners with plague in order to test the efficacy of vaccines. Eduard May, director of the SS Institute for Practical Research in Military Science, collaborated with him in experiments on “the artificial mass transmission of the Malaria parasite to humans”, with infected mosquitoes dropped from planes. Blome also worked on aerosol despersants and methods of spraying nerve agents like Tabun and Sarin from aircraft, and tested the effects of these gases on prisoners at Auschwitz.”

            Nah, I’m sure with that track record spanning more than 60 years our government has had NO interest in putting this science to nefarious purposes.

            Just to refresh you memories as to the ethical standards of our government concerning science and civilian populations here’s just ONE example:

            Tuskegee experiment


            “Why not go there?”

            Um, maybe because at some point Western man should grow up and realize that he’s not immortal, that he will die and that there is not a cure for death.

            Death is a natural part of living and our society’s utter fascination with trying to elude it is major vein of our propaganda system as it helps to promote the neoliberal tenet that technocrats and other mavens of science have everything figured out, that our world under their noble leadership is only going to get better and that therefore we should trust them with directing the course of life on earth.

            Do I need to spell out why THAT is not a good idea?

          2. LucyLulu

            Ma cher Leonova,
            A study was done by one of the vet schools on the use of prozac in aggressive dogs. It was found the dogs became more mellow and friendly.

            Perhaps if prozac were used in the drinking water of DC we could avert some wars?

            I haven’t assumed anything about government research into behavioral control. As I recall, testing was done with lsd way back in the 1960’s. And research into the use of gene-mapping to improve psychiatric treatment is being openly conducted as previously posted, whether condoned or not.

        2. enouf




          @jsmith and @leonova



          @ LucyLulu

          What is the diffexxxxxxxxxxxrence between being addicted to illicit (illegal) and non-illicit (BigPharma) Drugs?

          Is it;

          — Functionality
          — Compliance
          — Obedience

          All of the above and more?

          Oh wait .. .could Profiteering motives be at play here? hrmm …. nah… [/sarcasm]


      3. jsmith

        Ah yes, Mark P. neoliberal booster:

        “What one leading scientist stressed to me was that the investment and biotech industries are actively following up on his and his colleagues’ work.

        I quote: “In the face of embarassed silence from the world’s scientists, they’re not inhibited. They want to make money and are on it like crows on roadkill.”

        Not to try and put words in your mouth Mark P. or wait around until after you’ve left the discussion to opine – only a complete ahole would do that – you’re saying that since people have decided that there is a way to make money off of genetic manipulation it is therefore necessarily a good thing?

        Do I need to provide evidence to your esteemed mind of how science and profit have often produced horrible results or are you comfortable knowing that I could?

        I do know how upset you get when posters omit things from threads which don’t consider up to your snuff. (snort)

        1. jsmith


          Why shouldn’t we look at the scientific/corporate track record as concerns GMOs and see how well that’s turned out, huh?

          I mean, first science identified the genes etc in plants that were responsible for certain phenotypes and then they went about altering them.

          Now we have Monsanto et al literally cramming the shite into our fields and down our throats.

          Is the science you’re boostering concerning humans very much different?

          Why should we not expect similar – and likely much much worse – situations arising out of trying to harness this science for our own humanistic – and neoliberal/capitalistic – ends?

          Certainly like any good ad/propaganda campaign we’ll hear the cuddly stories about how this technology will allow a family in Bangladesh to have three bowls of rice a day instead of two or how Little Ginny’s diabetes is now under control but with nary a word as to the profound forces we are playing with and their potential for catastrophe.


          Because this shite’s gotta get out NEXT QUARTER or it’s your ass, McGinty….

          1. jsmith

            Brilliantly for those in power.

            The vast majority of humanity…

            Does that mean maybe we shouldn’t use quants and HFTs as the basis for a market?

            Nope. It only means that we just haven’t found the right algos yet but don’t worry next quarter at the latest!

            For more on how we’ve become enthralled sheep who instead of looking for real solutions, wait around for our technocratic “betters” to figure things our for us, see my post below.

            Oh, they so smart….

        2. LeonovaBalletRusse

          jsmith, History shows humans seek ADVANTAGE, which Totalitarian Extraction Capitalists now DEFINE as: “ALL material wealth/resources/power goes to .01%DNA, dribbling to their .99% Agents du jour, and NONE goes to “the rest.”

          The “culture” today is the “Gimme” and the “TotalWar” culture, bred by the population’s exposure to TRAUMA of every kind, including the trauma of violent TV, films, wars, riots, and video “games” that morphed the brains/nervous systems of children for decades, as well as the trauma of relentless lies and merciless propaganda. The damage is done.

          Is there anything that .01%DNA will NOT do for their advantage in perpetuity?

          1. enouf

            I think we need more S.W.A.T. raids on Amish farmers seeking to voluntarily exchange their homegrown raw milk … oh yeah, and 4 year old girls need to stop their terrorist activities of chalking in parks and sidewalks, and their parents sent to prison. I also think DHS and it’s thousands of paramilitary tentacles and our militarized police forces need to shut down all those Lemonade Stands that are so dangerous to the neoliberal/neocon technocratic suit-wearing stool samples which comprise the .01%.

            If only we could alter the above-mentioned terrorists ways through genome manipulation — perhaps then, we can finally get that “GMO labelling” so desparately needed tattooed onto their foreheads.


  6. Daily Kos reader

    As a Daily Kos reader I refuse to believe Barack Obama is a cynical opportunist who only serves the interests of the 0.01 percent.

    I believe he intended to prosecute Bush and Cheney war crimes, but wasn’t able to, and even if he is continuing America’s global torture prisons, at least Obama had the good taste to move these torture chambers out of sight and out of mind.

    As a Daily Kos reader, while I find Obama’s illegal wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq and the endless slaughter-for-profit of the banking-military-industrial- complex somewhat disturbing, I know deep down Obama is a good-hearted man.

    And although I’m a little worried about his kill list and expanded power to murder Americans anywhere in the world, nevertheless as long as Obama is in office I believe we’re in good hands and I feel confident he will only murder bad people suspected of terrorism.

    As a Daily Kos reader, I’m glad that I’ve finally got the health care, even if this means I have to buy a defective product from a private insurance company with a long history of denying legitimate claims.

    But Obama really tried his best to give us a single payer healthcare system, it’s just this particular healthcare reform is the best he could do, and I’m grateful to him, because at least it’s better than nothing.

    And as a Kos reader, I’m kind of bothered by the fact that part of the “bank bailouts” involved Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner developing a program called HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) designed to intentionally dupe hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure into wasting months or years of their lives “negotiating” with banks that had no intention of modifying mortgages.

    However I don’t blame Obama for this, he was acting with the best intentions and probably never imagined that Geithner would turn out to be such a bad man.

    Nor does it bother me that the Obama Administration negotiated a mortgage settlement that gave banks blanket retroactive immunity for illegally foreclosing on several million homeowners using fraudulent, forged and backdated documents in foreclosure proceedings. That was never the intention, the negotiated mortgage settlement was intended to do good.

    And as an investor who handed over all of my money to Obama’s good buddy Jon Corzine, I’m kind of P***ed off he lost all of it, and now I’m destitute, however this was due to an accident, it could’ve happened to anyone, and I don’t blame Corzine for losing all my money, or the Obama Admistration for failing to prosecute him.

    At least Corzine is trying to make up for this by offering MF Global investors a free breakfast at Denny’s where I can choose between a Jr. Grand Slam (Three silver dollar pancakes served with one egg, one bacon strip & one sausage link) or the Slam Dribbler (Four Pancake Puppies lined up at center court sitting on whipped cream with two bacon strips. Served with syrup and raspberry sauce for dipping.)

    Because the only thing I love more than Denny’s Slam Dribbler pancake puppies sitting on whipped cream is getting dressed up in my Obama T-shirt and Obama baseball cap and using the Kossack reader app on my iPhone to spend hours and hours reading (yep, you guessed it) Daily Kos.

    1. Brindle

      Daily Kos is essentially a management device for the Democratic Party. Under the guise of being progressive–DK’s real message is “trust our leaders”. It has a strong authoritarian streak.

    2. Emo Punk Bi Girl

      Congratulations from a fellow Kos reader!

      Well listen up to what I say I wasn’t born just yesterday I’ve been down the road and back a time or two

      Well this should come as no surprise

      You can’t pull the wool over my eyes I’ve had it up to here now I’m through

      And I’m sick and tired of fools, Tired of playin’ by the rules Time to strut my cool,

      I read Daily Kos, and listen to NPR, Cause my Mama didn’t raise no fool

      Mama didn’t raise no fool, I read Daily Kos, and I listen to NPR, cause my Mama didn’t raise no fool

      So don’t tell me no stories And don’t tell me no lies,

      I read da’ Kos, and listen to Adam D, cause my mama didn’t raise no fool

    3. Andrea

      Ha ha ha ;) too funny.

      Scary also, see a genuine (?) v. popular blogger:

      “…President Obama is popular, loved and respected by anyone who isn’t racist, anyone who can think for themselves, anyone who has seen the utter destruction that happened to this country in the 8 years of Bush/Cheney. Anyone with a thinking mind, rather than one that is putrified by hate and resentment that President Obama is doing an amazing job in the face of such utterly ridiculous high school antics of the House, and on top of that people love him, want to be close to him, reach out to him, and will be thrilled when he spends four more years in the White House.”

      Hero and authoritarian worship. The blogger regularly posts pics of Obiman kissing babies, being down-homy, etc.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Hey, that sounds a lot like Melissa Harris-Perry, straight from Obama campaign headquarters at MSNBS.

    4. Doug Terpstra

      Well done, DKR! Since you’ve looked so deeply into Obama’s soul, we’ll just trust you and hope that change is coming. Your attitude and persistence is great: when you find closed doors, you simply open another in the wall with your head, even block walls —truly inspiring. You are a stellar example of the power of biogenetic engineering. There must be huge profit potential in that.

  7. Chris Rogers

    I take it the Daily Kos is not supportive of Obama or the Democrats.

    Kind of reminds me of the UK’s Guardian Newspaper – full of bullshite basically!

  8. Up the Ante

    Tut, tut, Mr. Weill, you neglected to subtitle your article, it should have read “Standard Chartered Fought the Lawsky and the Lawsky Won, and somehow Standard’s Partners Won the J.-Weill ?”

    How else to explain relatively good detail yet able to forget the dreaded mention of Deloitte and Standard’s General Counsel ??

    1. LucyLulu

      Yes, awful article. Bad math and bad science.

      First the risk of cancer after annual dose is understated, although not dramatically, perhaps a third. He then states Denver as needing to have added risk by having environmental radiation that is 3REM in excess, but in excess of what? Denver naturally has high radiation levels (as does Iran). He also understates the risk to local residents by using annual exposure risks and ignoring the increased risks from acute exposures, e.g. 200 mREM/2 mSv over 2 wks (~6 uSv/hr), which were prevalent outside the evacuation zone, ten times that or more in some areas. I also would not presume that the data the Japanese have released to be complete or accurate. They certainly have not shown themselves to be trustworthy thus far.

      The author is surely correct that fatalities won’t approach that of the tsunami that caused the accident at Fukushima. But geesh, it won’t be as bad as Hiroshima and Nagasaki either. All things considered, the Japanese did a (surprisingly) effective job of limiting deaths and toxic exposures from the accident, esp. considering all the missteps along the way. Somebody up there was watching out for them.

      What’s scary is the lack of lessons learned and failure to take seriously, at least so far (knock on wood, it ain’t over yet), how close it came to being a disaster of epic proportions. That includes the US and our 100+ nuclear facilities, all over 30 yrs. old. Maintenance is very expensive. Decommission is very expensive, too. Both are cheaper than building new facilities though (and govt must guarantee loans which historically have had high default rates, as well as provide excess insurance, and usually grants as well….. not in this Congress). Jackzo (sp?) was the only one on the NRC that took risks seriously and he was torpedoed.

      1. Up the Ante

        The Japanese re-played the Russian hand after Chernobyl, no media presentation of worker illness/fatalities ’til decades later.

        Are we really supposed to believe no one has grown sick from radiation since the meltdowns, especially amongst TEPCO’s subcontracted workers ?
        If we assume the lack of reports is the whole story, too much like .mil-speak.

        And the Japanese forbidding ships from how large a distance off the Fukushima coast ? Couldn’t be a reason for that, right ?

        And after dumping reactor water that had been in contact with nuclear fuel in the ocean, water leaking into the ocean nonstop, these are not events we will call “surprisingly effective”.
        No cookie.

        ” .. the Japanese did a (surprisingly) effective job of limiting deaths and toxic exposures from the accident .. “

          1. Up the Ante

            Exactly. Fukushima Diary had a recent page where using Japanese govt. stats. showed Japanese seafood imports to the U.S. are unchanged from before the tsunami.


            Using the oceans as a nuclear dump has been going on for some time, read some Bellona reports to gain a sense of how much.

            Fish oil capsules from cold water fish ? Have at ’em if you wish, can’t trust the sources.

          2. LucyLulu

            In partial defense/clarification, IIRC, seafood isn’t being caught off the coast of Fukushima. Fukushima is on the NE coast of the island and the currents sweep the discharge from the nuclear plant to the northwest and away from the island. Seafood caught on the west side of the island and further south would theoretically be safer than seafood caught off Alaska.

            I don’t blame anyone for being leary of Pacific seafood. I’m not a seafood fan myself, other than occasional shellfish (Gulf shrimp after oil spill anyone???) but the radionuclides will persist for generations and travel up the foodchain as mentioned. I’ve asked an international environmental radiation type person (can’t recall her title right now) about the expected dilution effects of the Pacific and never could get an answer. My hunch is the answer is unknown, complicated by changing/unreliable estimates of the amount of discharge from Fukushima and its level of radiotoxicity.

            I stand by my statement about commending Japan for the lack of immediate casualties or radiation sicknesses in the wake of accident. No deaths were reported, compare that to Chernobyl. While the Japanese participated in widespread coverup, I don’t believe that any deaths were hidden. For one thing, during the early weeks, the government had little involvement in the management of the disaster. It was delegated to, or dumped on, Tepco as their problem to handle. There will be an increase in long-term fatalities however which will of course be minimized, just as we saw after our own desert testing back in the 50’s and 60’s. In fact, retired nuclear workers volunteered, and were used, to work on the cleanup, knowing the long term risks, and assuming their natural deaths would likely occur about the time the effects of radiation were kicking in.

            One other thing to bear in mind with Fukushima and the coverup is that being exposed to radiation bears a large stigma and discrimination in Japan. After WWII, those who were exposed to the nuclear bombs were shunned from the rest of society, and even their later offspring. Some of those who have been exposed have been reluctant to come forward for fear of similar shunning and discrimination.

          3. LucyLulu

            Correction: Ocean currents head northeast, not northwest from Japan. Time, seasons, directions, its all soooo confusing in other parts of the world.

          4. Up the Ante

            LucyLulu said: “While the Japanese participated in widespread coverup, I don’t believe that any deaths were hidden. ”

            Really?, as Karl Denninger would say. lol. Lucy is implying that her postmortem remote sensors attuned to the Japanese social fabric, kind of like the focussing capabilities of the HAARP-weapon [lol], can pick up death signatures from radiation, yet did not ? Such a self-centric relation calls into question a number of things, for instance Lucy has implied that her perception of events, because the Japanese media engaged in “coverups”, aka ‘self-censoring’, empowers her to rise and claim the role of lead reporter, remotely and unchallenged by self-censoring information sources in Japan, 4th Estate deposed. Lead reporter has investigated and no deeper story than funded-consensus corrupted domestic media is allowed to report IN REAL TIME, is it ?
            Rather adolescent a trend of thought, and quite simply points up either serious deficiencies in education or intent.

            Then we have “Time, seasons, directions, its all soooo confusing in other parts of the world.” Really, again, ? Yet your “confusion” dissipated in your 2:21 AM comment with your listing of details, then it returned in your ignoring that the diesels were dead because they were placed foolishly.
            “Given the hand they were dealt, they did a hell of job. ” TEPCO didn’t do A DAMN THING! Intent or education, again. [trolling]

            The only Japanese who did do as much as they could are the people themselves, helping others.

            Here’s what TEPCO “did” — Okutama Reservoir,



            Hot spots and blind spots
            The mounting human costs of Japan’s nuclear disaster

            Hotspots are only possible in international media, it’s OK for children to play on radioactive playgrounds, eat radioactive food, all we need to do avoid radiation’s effects is “smile”, and “There will be an increase in long-term fatalities however .. ” because the self-centric one has deemed it to a consensus-product ??

            Can it.

          1. LucyLulu

            This attitude pisses me off. I have plenty of issues regarding Fukushima but given the magnitude of the disaster, what it was like working at ground zero, they absolutely should be commended. You had a nuclear plant with three reactors running, three more on the premises, and several elevated fuel pools. First they were hit by a major quake, followed by short notice of evacuation for coming tsunami. They had to run to higher ground. Many workers didn’t return after the tsunami, wanting (understandably) to check on their families. Maybe you didn’t see the pictures of the devastation. Those who stayed to work ended up bunking there, volunteering to risk their lives to save others, not knowing if their families were alive or not. Most workers later said they had accepted they probably would not leave alive. Just a few miles north, fuel refineries were burning out of control. They had three reactors with no power and no cooling, something they were not prepared or trained for, having been declared it would never happen. Nuclear reactors unfortunately can not be just shut off, they continue to generate huge amounts of heat, which in turn creates high pressures. They were using flashlights, didn’t know the integrity of any structures, using car batteries and 200 ft cables in attempts to run monitoring equipment, only to have structure topple and slice only 200 ft cable. They had three reactors in various stages of melting down. Most of the workers that day were day workers, or temporaries, not skilled nuclear technicians. Nobody had ever been in a meltdown before. The Japanese culture has a strict hierarchy of looking to superiors for direction before taking action. None of the three Tepco execs were available for ~24 hrs. By the following morning, the first radiation was being measured in the neighboring community. Recall that infrastructure for evacuations were down, just as no trucks could get through to Fukushima to deliver diesel generators (and they were too heavy for helicopters). The nation was preoccupied with 15,000+ missing, many dead, over 100,000 homeless, and billions of dollars of damage. Yet there were no deaths. There were two workers who suffered radiation burns after standing in contaminated water. I’ve read literally thousands of pages on the accident from a wide variety of sources. I’d be surprised if there were more than a handful of other exposures leading to illness, and there may well be none. It’s known that workers exceeded recommended amounts, and workers didn’t consistently wear dosimeters, as there weren’t enough working ones to go around, so the number of workers who exceeded dosages is surely underestimated. Though subsequently they did attempt to follow-up with internal radiation measurements on those workers they could find.

            Yes, I think it’s pretty damn commendable that there weren’t any deaths except the two from the tsunami. Given the hand they were dealt, they did a hell of job. If, Lord forbid, an event of similar magnitude should happen here, I hope we fare as well.

  9. Ep3

    Yves, I have to throw in some sarcasm regarding the poor lady who got sick from fracking. Well, in free America, she can move to wherever. She don’t have to live near the fracking if it’s making her sick. Or, she could buy wonderful fine purified water from the store, paying for what should be free (but money is the great equalizer. If ppl aren’t motivated by money, and it doesn’t divide the haves from the have nots, then no one will work hard). Luckily she lives in the country with the greatest health care in the world. So that when her insurance company discovers that her illness was caused by an outside factor, they can refuse to cover her treatments. Finally, she must realize that shes not one of our holy job creators and tho it’s terrible that she got sick, we can’t pass restrictions on job creators that might interfere with their god blessed skill to extract as much wealth as possible from the pain and suffering of everyone else.

    Seriously yves, it’s absolutely terrible what this woman has gone thru. I ‘pray’ that something good comes from what has happened to her.

  10. Schofield

    Chosing between self-enhancing and self-transcending behaviour (egoism and altruism ) is a difficult business at the best of times and one reason we attempt to have democracy. Unfortunately, democracy often depends on understanding the complex behaviour and impact of systems such as money. For example, very few understand Sectoral Balances Analysis and Modern Money Theory and consequently we have the economic and political mess we currently live under which very closely resembles chimpanzees electing other chimpanzees with levers pulled at random to make things happen such is the very poor knowledge base. Being ethical just isn’t enough, understanding the implications of the systems we use is equally important.

  11. Lambert Strether

    Modo puts the boot in. It’s all over but the screaming.*

    NOTE * Modulo some incredible Rovian coup de theatre engineered by that portion of the billionaire funding not going to Obama.

    1. all the news that's fit to eat me

      Don’t quite get what about Dowd’s column is fatal. Prepackaged media contempt for the hillbilly perv Clinton in ’96 or Dumbshit Quayle in ’88 was unavailing. Much depends on the timing of the next big banking paroxysm: before November, or after? Most importantly, the election is still close enough to steal.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Perhaps I’m being too snarky and terse. And it could be that MoDo is not an adequate proxy for the political class. That said, I think the dates on your examples are telling. Let’s try from 2000 on:

        1. 2000 Gore: Loser, hated by political class (“earth tones,” “invented the internet,” “sighs”)

        2. 2004 Kerry: Loser, hated by the political class (“swiftboating,” “parasailing”)

        3. 2008 Obama: Winner, loved by the political class.

        Not saying direct causation, just saying they are very good weathervanes for the winds of (visible) political power.

    2. all the news that's fit to bite me

      Hm. Always thought of it as, 00 and 04 were stolen, and 08 was not close enough to steal (a bit too much of a debacle for the GOP,) so the deep state opted for the ol’ fake purge. Dems don’t mind when elections get stolen out from under them, since they’ll get their turn if they play along with the bullshit fake democracy (Gore & Kerry both fell all over themselves in their eagerness to concede.) Electoral theft is necessary when you as the permanent state have a lot to stuff up the population’s ass, like now,

  12. LucyLulu

    Wow, Aussie execs voluntarily giving up their bonuses! But then do American shareholders ever muster up a 25% block of votes against the board’s recommendations?

    1. skippy


      They did not make their projected targets. Its just a means to make some badly needed optical hay, were doing it tough too… eh. Too much down ward pressure on assets, weakening demand.

      Skippy… I think the point – is – that aussie exec’s vs some American exec’s, would never try and BS the general public to that degree. Too much cohabitation down here for that, they like to go out side once and awhile.

      1. LucyLulu

        Down below you have the good sense not to reward poor performance. Here in the US, we paid bonuses as usual when execs brought their banks crashing down to the point of requiring hundreds of billions of dollars of bailouts. The argument was made they had been pre-agreed and the banks couldn’t afford to lose their “talent”. If this was their talent, maybe we should have replaced them with the flunkies.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Another reason to be happy for car non-owners: $58 parking tickets.

    $58 parking tickets?!?! Only?!?!

  14. jsmith

    Regarding the breeding of ethical babies, GMO food and biological pharmaceuticals:

    Here’s a novel idea.

    Why not instead of using science to try and patch up the vagaries of the neoliberal capitalistic system we live under, why don’t we – gasp! – get rid of the effing system?

    Instead of living under a system that rewards sociopaths and deviants, why not get rid of the system?

    Instead of living under a system where certain segments of the population consume up to 30 TIMES as much as other segments of the population leading to starvation, deaths from preventable diseases, water depletion and a myriad of other problems, why not get rid of the system?

    Instead of living under a system where we are so brainwashed that we all walk around with our thumbs up our a$$es waiting for science to figure a way out of the mess, why not get rid of the system?

    Basically, the boosterism of science as the means by which we are going to solve all of our problems dances around and around the fact that the entire conversation is predicated upon keeping the existent system wholly intact.

    It sure sucks that sociopaths occupy the highest echelons of our society and now everyone is acting a freaking sociopath to get ahead, what to do?

    Not reward sociopaths anymore?

    Nope. Genetically modify our DNA and make a profit!

    It sure sucks that people are starving in Africa and Asia while Americans consume 30 times as Asians and Africans in food and energy, what to do?

    Give them some of our surplus food and energy?

    Nope. Genetically modify our food’s DNA and make a profit!

    It sure sucks that people are dying of preventable diseases in the US and around the world because they can’t afford medicine, what to do?

    Give them some medicine for free?

    Nope. Genetically modify our micro-organisms and make a profit!

    If you’re willing/able to look beyond the system we suffer under, you see that the answers to many of society’s problems are much simpler than crunching proteins in a lab and are a lot safer and more effective – that is unless you’re an elite sociopath.

    Oh well.

      1. jsmith

        Before anything can happen, people – especially Americans – really have to realize how much they have been brainwashed and made ideologically dependent upon the system to create solutions to problems and change.

        I stated earlier, I really believe that 90% of Americans already know more than enough as to how terrible the system is, it’s just that the propaganda is so effective at making people dependent upon the system for ideas that they can’t see the larger picture/outside the system.

        There were definitely many reasons that socialism took hold in early 20th century America but the lack of television etc – I believe – was one factor that really made it possible.

        Without constantly being told by their “betters” that they needed more this, more that, who was to blame, how to fix it people weren’t as apt to meekly accept the horsesh*t that they so readily do now.

        Sorry, we just have to remain competitive…

        The government’s budget is just like a family’s…

        We’re going become a service/information society without job loss…

        And on and on and on.

        I believe it was much easier back then to look at your paycheck and say – wait a second, I’m getting effing screwed, the boss man’s stealing my money and it’s time to do something about it.

        That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for the modern man to get to that point just that it’s that much more difficult to get above the din and realize – hey, I’ve been getting screwed for DECADES and somehow I was convinced that I WASN’T getting screwed. How did that happen? What are we going to do about it?

        It’s a long road out of the propagando-sphere but a necessary voyage.

  15. Severe

    “Your car, tracked: the rapid rise of license plate readers ars technica. Another reason I’m glad I don’t own a car.”

    What will you do, Yves, when “facereaders” are everywhere. You know, it’s just a matter of time before they’re as common as traffic lights.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Severe;
      To cut the lady some slack; she does live in a dense pack urban environment. To those of us out in the exurbs, private transportation is a necessity, unless one chooses to go all the way back to Nature. The other dimension of the transport debate is the true freedom of mobility, and association private transport provides. A recent back and forth I recently had over the uses of Social Media brought that home to me. Each system has ‘gate keeping’ methodologies ‘baked in.’ True face to face interaction, I’ll argue, gives the individuals involved much higher chances of escaping observation and outside manipulation. Recent work for the DoD regarding super sophisticated social media bots comes to mind. A real person is demonstrably a real person. Lines on a screen, however….

  16. barrisj

    Some excellent leisurely Sunday reading:
    (via Greenwald)1.The Terrorist Delusion: America’s Overwrought Response to September 11
    2. The new totalitarianism of surveillance technology

    While the authors argue in (1) that illusion piled upon delusion continues to nourish the “we are forever in the crosshairs of Islamic radicals”, Naomi Wolf, in (2) sets out exactly to what use much if not all of the high-tech tracking and surveillance “anti-terrorist” hardware and software developed in the last decade is going directly into domestic spying against anyone and everyone deemed “suspicious” for whatever reason by “the authorities”.
    BTW, check out this story about an ex-US Marine being rounded up by the FBI for “terroristic postings” on Facebook:

    U.S. Marine Arrested for Facebook Posts
    (SALEM / RICHMOND) – A decorated U.S. Marine who served his nation in two wars, Brandon Raub, of Richmond Virginia, was arrested for airing his critical views of the U.S. government on Facebook this weekend. We just reported yesterday that a Human Rights activist in Bahrain is being prosecuted for six Twitter messages. Politically, this country is increasingly resembling Bahrain and other nations that arrest those who speak out critically over federal policy.
    The law enforcement officials rolled up to the man’s home around 7:00 last night. “He was there, the FBI, Secret Service and Chesterfield Police showed up in a storm,” she said.

    Thomas says her son was questioned about why he was writing certain comments, “He basically said ‘I have some disagreements with the government and share this’, and they said, ‘You have to go with us'”.

    “He was handcuffed, not read his rights, put into a Chesterfield Police Department vehicle and taken to John Randolph Psychiatric Hospital in Hopewell, Virginia,” Thomas said

    Can’t vouch for all the facts in this story, but it has been taken up by loads of “patriotic” bloggers and 9-11 skeptics.

    1. ambrit

      Sir, (or madam,);
      Ah yes. The old, carted off to a Psychiatric Hospital for “Observation” trick. Anyone with a knowledge of the Late Great CCCP will recognize this tactic at once. We have become The Enemy.

      1. Mel

        It would be ostentatious and churlish to do something that would make Buddy Vladimir Putin look bad. Keep in step.

  17. jsmith

    Regarding Lucy Lulu and others cuz I didn’t want to stretch the thread so thin above:

    The reason I brought up past government involvement in the dark side of science was not only to highlight such things as Operation Paperclip and the Tuskegee experiment but to also remind everyone of the very cozy relationship between our defense/intelligence industries and the private science sector.

    One large example:

    Oracle was the code-name for a CIA project which Larry Ellison was “allowed” to turn into a for-profit corporation once his work was “done”.

    Sure, this happens all the time but when one digs deeper one comes across such entities as the CIA venture capital firm In-Q-Tel which has not only provided start-up money for many, many tech firms but also biotech firms.

    Here’s the IN-Q-Tel mission statement:

    “Launched in 1999 as an independent, not-for-profit organization, IQT was created to bridge the gap between the technology needs of the Intelligence Community (IC) and new advances in commercial technology.


    “As a strategic investor, we make investments in startup companies that have developed commercially-focused technologies that will provide strong, near-term advantages (within 36 months) to the IC mission. We design our strategic investments to accelerate product development and delivery, and specifically to help companies add capabilities needed by our customers in the Intelligence Community.”

    Here are some exposes that are quite disturbing including a link to In-Q-Tel’s investments page where it lists the biotech companies it invests in.

    And those are the companies the CIA ADMITS to having relationships with…

    So, although your suggestion that it’s better for things to be “out in the open” seems to be true at face-value realize that many, many science/tech companies are receiving money from the CIA and departments of defense in exchange for… what?

    The excitement of helping bring fledgling companies to market?

    I don’t think so.

      1. jsmith

        A quick perusal of some of the obvious biotech firm’s websites listed on the In-Q-Tel Investments website shows that the CIA is currently interested in companies that provide for the analysis, detection and enrichment of DNA samples.

        Surely, it’s to utilize in the War on Terror, right?

        Like when we got Osama’s DNA before we ditched him in the drink?

        Thanks, In-Q-Tel!!!

        Yes, this doesn’t mean that there’s an Island of Dr. Moreau at Langley but again these are the companies the CIA admits to investing in and sharing/stealing technology from.

        Nothing like having some of the greatest scientific minds at your disposal especially when you don’t have to formally enlist them into the CIA, huh?

        1. LucyLulu

          I absolutely agree with you about the dangers. Our government has committed horrible acts in the past, and still is. Asserting the science isn’t possible or isn’t happening won’t prevent future abuses. We need more people educated about the research being done and having more conversations. Like I said, I was taken aback the current research wasn’t common knowledge. People here are very intelligent and well-informed, the most likely to be in-the-know.

          When cloning became possible in sheep, a ban on human cloning occurred only because people knew about it and voiced protests against further research. We’re not there yet (as far as I know), but it isn’t science fiction. We’re on our way, and we could be there within another generation.

  18. dSquib

    Coates wrote this at the Times. “Obama’s (Perceived) Transformation”

    Greenwald observed: “What makes this Ta-Nehisi Coates column so good is that where it ends up is not where you think it will as you read it”


    Specifically that it begins as a rather dull election season comment about Republican memes about Obama’s supposedly brutally negative campaigning, and ends up talking about the drone bombings of the al-Awlaki father and son.

    Coates: “That way lies the abyss. I am not simply thinking of Senator Reid’s shadow war, but of the president’s. Obama’s tough guy bona fides were largely built on the expansive bombing campaign he launched against Al Qaeda, a campaign that regards due process and the avoidance of civilian casualties as indulgences.”

    Nice one. He goes on:

    “Let us grant that the execution of Anwar al-Awlaki, said to be the mastermind behind the foiled underwear bomb plot, should not much trouble us. But surely the killing of his 16-year-old American-born son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and the secrecy around both acts, should.

    I like to think that the junior Awlaki’s (reportedly accidental) death weighs heavy on the president’s conscience. In fact that weight does nothing to change the net result — from this point forward the presidency means the right to unilaterally declare American citizens to be American enemies, and then kill them.

    During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama earned the G.O.P.’s mockery. Now he has earned their fear. It is an ambiguous feat, accomplished by going to the dark side, by walking the G.O.P.’s talk, by becoming the man Dick Cheney fashioned himself to be.”

    Credit where due, sentiment like this is unlikely to pop up in the coverage of most Obama supporters. It is not, after all, on message.

    Though Coates is still naive. He likes to think al-Awkaki’s “reportedly accidental” killing weighs on the president’s conscience, in the next sentence he assumes that weight as fact. A 16 year old kid, estranged from his father for 2 years, was killed for no reason, and you hope the president has pangs of remorse? Yes we can! Such is the low standard for the lethal presidency I suppose. And accidental as reported by whom, exactly? The White House. Although they claimed junior was of military age anyway, so in keeping with total war morality, no biggie. Though that wasn’t true anyway. He was in a “warzone”, i.e. somewhere in Yemen, about a thousand km from where his dad was obliterated.

    The best part comes in comments, most of which is from Obama fans so little of which addresses the al-Awlaki’s naturally, and most of what does supports it. But there’s this gem:

    “I wholly agree that Obama’s embrace of Bush/Cheney extra-leaga/extra-constitutional powers is more than a little troubling. Like Mr. Coates I am deeply troubled by the President’s attitude and actions…

    This illustrates Obama’s great flaw, something which the good citizens of this nation are obligated to oppose…..but not now.”

    Oh good lord, yes we should oppose extralegal assassinations of American citizens, including children… just as soon as Obama takes Florida and Ohio.

    1. Mealies

      Coates, you despicable shit-eating hack. No mention of principle, just verbal stylings like “the man Dick Cheney fashioned himself to be.” Smoove. Feign ignorance of Hague Convention (IV) Article 25 as well as Rome Statute Articles 8.2.a.i and 8.2.b.iv. No one gives a shit about your hero’s conscience. Is he a criminal or not? What does he have to say for himself? In the ICC, where tough guy Obama belongs, persuant to UNSC referral – if he had a vestige of the balls of a Liddy or a North to forget the law and take his medicine for his beloved country – nothing matters but the facts. The facts show Obama’s a criminal and a coward.

    2. Daily Kos reader

      (Ta-Nehisi Coates, writing for the Times): “I like to think that the junior Awlaki’s (reportedly accidental) death weighs heavy on the president’s conscience.”

      Look, The President feels real bad about killing that 16-year old American kid for no reason, he feels bad about all these civilians getting slaughtered for no reason. And that’s good enough for Daily Kos readers, so why isn’t it good enough for everyone. Let’s move on, shall we?

      How about discussing P*ssy Riot and what a bad man Putin is?

  19. Jim S

    RE: General Dempsey’s remarks

    Presuming that Israel’s true objective is to draw the US into placing a naked blade against Iran’s throat, and further presuming that Israel is willing to actually strike Iran unilaterally to achieve this, the US would have been better advised to play coy rather than to than to issue such a firm (if coded) refusal.

  20. Schofield

    “LeonovaBalletRusse says:
    August 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Schofield, an effective, just democracy requires mature participation. Go figure.”

    I have. That’s precisely the point I’m making.

    1. aet


      A democracy requires participation.

      That’s it. ‘Effective”? “Just”? “Mature”? Whose opinio0n determines those qualifiers to be necessary? Without any debate, huh?

      “A democracy requires participation” – that’s the TOTAL limit of ALL the truth contained in the statement expanded above to read …”an effective, just democracy requires mature participation” – the extraneous adjectives are ONLY assertions of PURELY PERSONAL PREJUDICE AND TASTE – no more nor less – and add untruth to the statement.

      Those wholly un-necessary qualifiers of the simple truth, that democracy requires popular participation: “effectiveness”, “maturity”, and “justice” ( particularly that word, “justice”, used in some floating, undefined sense ) – do not enter into the definition of democracy AT ALL.

  21. Andrew

    When I saw your link re moral obligations and genetic engineering I was struck by what a simplistic, headline grabbing stance it was for an ethics professor. Complexity theory aside, which is interesting enough, you would never get two professors of moral philosophy to agree on which traits could be regarded as unequivocally moral in all situations.

    Then I saw who was behind this: the Uehiro Centre for practical ethics, and I recalled that I got in to an email exchange nearly a year ago with Prof Savulescu about a research piece being put out by one of his junior associates. The headline grabbed by that research was:

    ‘Want an ethical career? Become a banker’

    It ignored the damage an investment banker could do during his or her career and focused instead on how much more they could earn and therefore donate to good causes. I found it bizarre.

    Together these pieces suggest to me that they simply like to stir it up at Uehiro with contrarian positions for the sake of it, or perhaps funding time is approaching and they need some coverage.

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