Links 10/25/12

Shark Falls from Sky Onto Golf Course? LiveScience and Fish Out of Water: Live Shark Found at San Juan Hills Golf Course Capistrano Dispatch (furzy mouse). Cue the frog scene from Magnolia.

The Man Who Spent 17 Years Building The Ultimate Lamborghini Replica In His Basement Wants To Sell It Jalopnik

A Tech Geek on Why We Need the Humanities Big Think

Peak Australia MacroBusiness

Austerity Grinch steals Europe’s Xmas MacroBusiness

In Greece, Without a Job or Health Care New York Times

How Profligate was the Greek Government? Multiplier Effect

Desperate to keep the police on side, is the Greek government overlooking violent abuses? New Statesman (Niki)

Speech given by Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England To the South Wales Chamber of Commerce at The Millennium Centre, Cardiff (FT Alphaville, courtesy Vlad)

US rejects calls to scrap Libor Financial Times

Occupy Goldman Sachs. They have a sense of humor. Scroll down to the donation box.

Gupta Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Insider Trading; $5 Million Fine Wall Street Journal. More on this later.

U.S. Files $1 Billion Suit Against Bank of America for Fraud New York Times. More on this later as well….

The Central Fact that Folks Don’t Get about Fannie and Freddie’s Role in the Crisis Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives

Social Security a Far Better Deal for Workers Than Modern Retirement Plans Dave Dayen, Firedoglake

Banks Mark Up Costs For Bounced Checks By As Much As 470,000 Percent Clusterstock

Deposit Insurance – Who is it for really? Golem XIV

Ritholtz Sees “Major Cyclical Correction” Barry Ritholtz. Similar to our musings yesterday.

US Shale Gas Bubble is Set to Burst OilPrice

Shapley Nobel Resurrects Von Neumann Versus Nash Debate Econospeak

* * *

Mission elapsed time: T + 47 and counting*

For mine own good,
All causes shall give way: I am in blood
Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er. –William Shakespeare, MacBeth

CA. Charters: “Six weeks into the school year a charter school in Rocklin is closing its doors. Four hundred kids were told Friday that their school would close, and Tuesday was their last day.”

FL. Foreclosures: “FL has the highest percentage of home loans in foreclosure in the country. So why is more than $300 million [in settlement money] that could help homeowners sitting unused?” … Foreclosures: “State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkle Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, had proposed Monday that some of the [settlement] money go to state employee pay raises.” … Grayson/Long: ” ‘I want to try to redirect our economic policies toward the greater good instead of what’s good for Wall Street [and] redirect foreign policy toward peace instead of what’s good for the military industrial complex,’ said Grayson, who points to his efforts to ‘save’ Social Security and Medicare, as well as tax the rich, regulate banks and come to the aid of foreclosed homeowners.” Refreshing, but “trying is lying” (AA). … Charters: “The principal of a failed Orange County charter school took home a check for more than $500,000 as the school closed down in June and is still being paid thousands of dollars a month to wrap up the school’s affairs.” … Voting: “The FBI confirmed Wednesday it is investigating fraudulent letters that falsely tell eligible FL voters they may no longer be U.S. citizens and that they could go to prison if they cast a ballot in the Nov. 6 election. The hoax is a puzzling one. If the letters were meant to intimidate people from voting, why were they sent to leaders of the R Party, where they’re easier to detect?” False flag?

IA. Food: “About 50,000 IA families will have less help paying for groceries come Nov. 1, after the federal government changed how they calculate the food assistance program, or food stamps.” … Permitting: “Supervisors voted 4-1 to send a letter to recommend the Department of Natural Resources turn down Ditch’s application for a 5,661-hog confinement. The supervisors’ letter carries no weight with the DNR unless they also take points off Ditch’s ‘master matrix,’ scoring his application. If the county sends a passing score to the DNR, the agency is prohibited under state law from further review of the matrix.” Home rule?

IL. Chicago way: [A] heartfelt thanks to the City Club for giving the great Diane Ravitch a high-profile venue to be so prominently heard. If you get a visit from city building inspectors, you’ll know the mayor was not pleased.” Ha ha?

LA. Pipelines: “Cherri Foytlin, an indigenous South Louisiana mother of six and wife of a Gulf Coast oilfield worker, chained herself to the gate of a Keystone XL pipeyard.” … That sinkhole: ” If you’re planning to participate in the big ‘Thank You’ march where we carry giant photos of President Obama from downtown Lafayette all the way to Port Fouchon (which I’m sure will be organized any minute now) all we ask is that you take care not to step in any sinkholes along the way.”

NY. Banksters: “Under the Responsible Banking Act, which took effect June 28, Quinn and Bloomberg had 60 days to appoint representatives to a board that would examine the mortgage and lending practices of the banks that hold the city’s money. Quinn has only appointed one of her two representatives, while it does not appear that Bloomberg has named his selection.” … Food trucks: “[A]ccording to the Department of Homeland Security, ‘a food cart can be used as an excellent surveillance platform due to their access and long duration stays.'” (hmm). … Taxes: “In a 4-3 decision, the Court of Appeals said lap dances are subject to sales tax, rejecting an argument by the owner of a Colonie strip club that the sensual gyrations are on equal footing, taxwise, with the ballet.”

OH. GOTV: “Heard from Team Obama in Ohio? 36% [of “voters”] Heard from Team Romney in Ohio? 29%.”

TX. Pipelines: “Today it appears TransCanada is planning to circumvent its original easement contract and build its toxic pipeline around the west side of the tree blockade.” A kink in the pipeline? … Cronyism: “The collapse of bioenergy producer Terrabon Inc., which was awarded $2.75 million in 2010 and was backed by large Perry political donors, raises questions about whether the state’s Emerging Technology Fund launched in 2006 could now be worth less than what taxpayers have put into it.”

UT. Thugs: “Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and it is primarily composed of “old and gray” women. Its mission is to encourage elders to advocate on behalf of the environment–in particular, our public lands–and to hike on them whenever possible. Because of their advocacy for wilderness, greater protection for public lands and closing unauthorized all-terrain vehicle trails, the Broads have become controversial in some rural western areas. On Sunday morning a member of the group found the exit gate padlocked shut and an old-hag Halloween mask, doused in fake blood, hanging in effigy. Underneath the mask was a milk jug with the inked threat: “Stay out of San Juan County. No last chance.” Nice!

Outside baseball. Real estate: “As for farmland prices continuing their rapid increase in value, these are still relatively safe at today’s levels so long as policy continues to ensure returns by way of mandated corn use for ethanol as planned, the existing crop insurance program, and quantitative easing by our central bank.” … Top two voting: “Elections in a democracy are supposed to be about choice. Proposition 14 and the Legislature reduced voters’ choice and made California elections less democratic.” … Orwellian language: “Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the ‘disposition matrix‘” (more; more). Because “thoughtful” and “nuanced”! … Police state: “A portable device known as an IMSI catcher, also known by the generic term stingray, acts like a fake cell tower and tricks your mobile device into connecting to it even if you are not on a call.” … Political blogs: “[MARKOS:] That chaotic cacophony of amateur online voices was beautiful while it lasted, though.” Oh, please. … Econoblogs: ” By my count, 40 are going strong, if you include blogs like my own which simply moved house, while 12 have died. Which over a five-year period is amazing.” … Pensions: “Generations of teachers, city, county and state government workers agreed in good faith to forgo immediate wage increases now in favor of benefits in their retirements. Cities, states and school districts took the money out of workers checks [but] never felt obliged to keep their promise and pay their part of those pensions. Pension managers mostly said not funding the pensions was OK because they could make smart enough investments to compensate. The crash of 2007 and 2008 made lots of their smart investments worthless. [Big city mayors, governors and school district execs] they have to recast their broken promises as ‘unfunded liabilities’ and the retirement benefits previously agreed upon as excessive, greedy, and unsustainable.”

Grand Bargain™-brand Catfood Watch. Interview: “Initially, the White House had asked that the conversation [with the Des Moines Register] be considered off-the-record and its details not shared with readers. … Interview: “[OBAMA:] I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs. And we can easily meet — “easily” is the wrong word — we can credibly [to whom?] meet the target that the Bowles-Simpson Commission established of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, and even more in the out-years, and we can stabilize our deficit-to-GDP ratio in a way that is really going to be a good foundation for long-term growth [yeah, like FDR in 1937]. Now, once we get that done, that takes a huge piece of business off the table.” … The deal (2011): “But the major elements of a bargain seemed to be falling into place: $1.2 trillion in agency cuts, smaller cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients, nearly $250 billion in Medicare savings achieved in part by raising the eligibility age. And $800 billion in new taxes” (via Digby). … Interview: “After paging it through it, one question is obvious: Why would the White House seek to suppress something so innocuous? It’s little more than boilerplate stump speech yada-yada-yada.” Well, only if throwing elders and the sick under the bus for the sake of arbitrary financial ratios that having nothing to do with the real economy is “innocuous.” … Betrayal: “Major labor unions and dozens of liberal groups working to elect Obama are worried he could ‘betray’ them in the lame-duck session by agreeing to a deal to cut safety-net programs. The liberal groups are planning to launch an aggressive campaign immediately after Election Day to pressure Obama and Senate Ds not to endorse any deal that cuts Medicare and/or Social Security benefits.” Typical liberals. Try for leverage only when you don’t have it. The gays and hispanics did better, earlier.

The trail. Voting machines: “[T]hese [H.I.G. Capital] voting machines could be rigged in Romney’s favor” (BradBlog). … Voting: “The rigged machines myth is not only distracting, but harms the effort to get out the vote” (Think Progress). … Voting: “According to, there are more than 45 million registered voters in America whose electronic votes will not be backed up with a paper record. America [writes Victoria Collier] ought to look to Ireland and Germany for answers. Both countries dabbled with electronic-voting regimes, blanched at the inherent security concerns and susceptibility toward partisan abuse, and have chosen to do away with the use of such voting machines” (advantage, BradBlog). … Swing states: “[LYNN SWEET:] When I talked Plouffe on Monday after the debate, I asked him if he had a top tier of battlegrounds. Said Plouffe, ‘I can’t do that. They are like children. They are all special and we think we can win them all.'” Oh, please. … Models: “The probabilistic forecasts issued by FiveThirtyEight have been quite close to Intrade and those at other trading and betting markets over the course of the election” (Nate Silver). … Control of the house: “Rs are in a strong position to keep control of the House next year as political analysts predict that Ds will fall more than a dozen seats short of a majority in the Nov. 6 election.” … Ground game: “These basic characteristics were repeated in all the offices I visited [in OH, CO, VA]: The Obama offices were devoted almost entirely to the president’s reelection; the R offices were devoted almost entirely to local candidates, with little presence for Romney.” …. Horse race: “The ‘pros’ tell us that Romney is catching up, the quants say he is falling behind” (James Fallows)

Emergent parties. Candidate bios: Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode, and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson. … Debate: “The people who are throwing away their votes are the ones who are so scared of the other side winning that they are willing to sacrifice everything they believe in to vote for a guy they don’t really like. You don’t have to settle.”

The Obama vs. The Romney III. Civil resistance: “The 15 young adults, part of a college-based group called the Dream Defenders were nonviolent, [and] arrested on charges of unlawful assembly. The group was formed in April after the Trayvon Martin killing. The organization’s biggest issue with both Obama and Romney is that neither has addressed the problem of young kids being ‘taken out of schools and put into criminal justice systems,’ said [Cecilia O’Brien, a Florida State University student] of the group, which has about 100 members. “Everyone definitely feels it was worth it. We feel like this issue is so serious that we’re all willing to put ourselves on the line for the issue.”

The Romney. Empathy: “Among political independents, 49% say Romney is the one who is more empathetic with ongoing economic woes; 45% say Obama is more in tune.” Staggeing.

The Obama. Memes: “And though they are generated and sustained by grassroots Internet users [oh, really?!], Obama has played a key role in popularizing many of them.” … Data point: “Across the board [at Cafe Press] pro-Obama thongs are leading the underwear market, with a whopping 80% of purchases.” …. Microtargeting: “These data are then used to create profiles for the purpose of ‘microtargeting’ — deciding which messages to pitch to whom, through emails, direct mail, phone calls and such. Katy Culver, a UW-Madison assistant professor of journalism, calls this approach “Big data, small targets.” Some people are pursued as donors, others as potential converts, and still others as committed voters the campaign wants to keep engaged to ensure turnout” (sounds familiar). … Never behind: “[T]he narrative has never held that Obama is behind – due to all of his different paths to 270.”

* Slogan of the day: Enthusiastically welcome the victorious opening of the 113th Congress!

Antidote du jour:

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  1. leftover

    Re; Mt Thugs
    Just to be clear…
    San Juan County is in Utah, not Montana. The Missoula Independent, the paper that ran the story, is in Montana, Missoula County, but San Juan County is in Utah.
    While it’s certain there’s no shortage of thugs in Montana, these particular thugs, who padlocked that gate and posted upon it a not-so-veiled threat, were active in San Juan County, Utah, not Montana.


      1. leftover

        Thank You, Lambert.

        To fill the now empty MT slot…I know you like bugs…
        Somewhere in HERE is a ladybug.
        Or so the story goes.

        The whole campaign finance thing is already played out. And the wolf hunt…speaking of thugs…is just too disgusting to mention.

  2. Jim Haygood

    From ‘Social Security A Far Better Deal …’:

    But the universality of the program, the lifetime of payments and the simple reality of defined benefit retirement programs make it a far better deal for workers than providing a sum of money to play with in the stock market.

    If this were a prospectus, the author would go to jail for penning mendacities like that. The average post-Boomer can expect a negative rate of return on what they put in to Social Security. Such a deal!

    In 1924, Edgar Lawrence Smith (no relation to Yves) tabulated returns on stocks and bonds since the mid 19th century, and found that stocks outperformed. Smith’s book, titled Common Stocks as Long Term Investments, happened to coincide with a ferocious bull market that was underway at the time.

    By 1935 when Social Security was legislated, both common stocks and Smith’s book were in disrepute. Social Security’s trust fund was designed to hold exclusively Treasuries (unmarketable ones to boot, but that’s another story).

    Not until 1964 did Fisher and Lorie revisit the question. They found that common stocks returned 9 percent from 1926 to 1960, while Treasuries averaged about 4 percent. Here is their seminal paper:

    A fundamental result of the Capital Asset Pricing Model — the foundation of finance since the 1960s — is that stocks must offer higher returns than bonds to compensate for their higher risk. Every pension fund implicitly accepts this theory by holding some equities. But Social Security soldiers on with crippled returns.

    Has FDL author David Dayen ever heard of the Capital Asset Pricing Model? Judge for yourself:

    He has a BA from the University of Michigan, and prior to blogging was a TV/film producer and editor for a decade, and performed stand-up comedy in clubs and colleges across the country. With all these multiple careers, he hopes to one day find something he’s good at.

    Why exactly someone with no evident qualifications should be lecturing us on what a ‘great deal’ Social Security is, entirely escapes me. If this is comedy, we ain’t laffin’ …

        1. ZygmuntFraud

          TM: Trademark sign, usually for a registered trademark.

          32: ?

          R with circle: ?

          C within circle: the “universal” Copyright symbol.

    1. Klassy!

      So, you’re attacking the author because of his lack of credentials and you’re citing research that was funded by Merrill Lynch?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I don’t know myself if the average post-Boomer can expect a negative rate of return.

      I would like to know if they do get less than what they put in, who has the money then? It can’t be due capital losses, if we talking about Treasuries and holding them to maturity.

      On the other hand, if they get more than what they put in, then who is paying the difference?

      Is it just one generation lucking out with another generation (or generations) subsidizing?

    3. Lambert Strether

      I have heard that people who advise others on how to invest their money recommend that their clients take into account their own tolerance for risk; whether you can “sleep nights” under one particular strategy counts in that strategies favor.

      Personally, I would have a hard time sleeping at nights if I knew my retirement was at the mercy of the parasites, grifters, and coke-addled whoremongers of Wall Street. In fact, we have social insurance programs like Social Security exactly for the purpose of buffering citizens from the boom and bust cycles engineered by these unconvicted perps.

      It’s one of the misfortunes of the times that Wall Street is using arguments such as yours to sink their tiny rent-sucking mandibles into what’s left of my cat food fund after my privatized retirement accounts, such as they were, evaporated in the last bust, but then I suppose since both parties are for it, and The Obama has blessed it, it’s going to happen, so I might as well try to see to the humor of it, and seek sleep and solare through the cheap rotgut I’ll be able to afford (helpfully increasing the actuarial soundness of Social Security by shortening my lifespan, the unspoken policy objective here….)

      1. Klassy!

        But don’t you feel so empowered with your 401k? (403b? 527?)
        Sure, all your gains have been erased, but you are the master of your destiny!

        1. Ms G

          I remember when they were telling us to “buy and hold,” stick it out for the long-term (“ignore headwinds” — that is what stupid, irrational people – cough – short term traders do), dollar cost averaging is a Miracle that will keep multiplying your pennies. Then in 2007 I looked at my account and thought: but what happens when all the pennies are gone? How does dollar cost averaging multiplying Empty build my retirement fund? Mostly it was too late to have that thought for any useful purpose. I’m sure this has been the case for tens of millions of us. Strangely, since 2007 I have not heard one politician, grass roots activist, advocate, blogger or citizen rally for: “Bailout 401ks, 527s, etc etc. — Dollar for Dollar Put Backs.” Instead, dead silence.

          1. Klassy!

            This is a good book that was written at the beginning of this century.
            Touches on many problems of the economy that are only amplified now. Dared to speak of income inequality (and the authors were no radicals). It did not become a bestseller because well, it’s too downbeat, modest, and does not really engage in flattery.
            If you want ot make money you have to flatter your audience.

    4. Ethax

      “If this were a prospectus, the author would go to jail for penning mendacities like that. The average post-Boomer can expect a negative rate of return on what they put in to Social Security. Such a deal!”

      Like any tax, the social security tax functions to reduce aggregate demand; how stocks perform relative to bonds is irrelevant to social security.

  3. Brindle

    Re: Iowa food….

    The hog CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) will likely turn Otter Creek into Shit Creek.

    —“Opponents, including some who live near the Ditches’ property, question several matrix scores, including plans for manure disposal and the distance from the planned hog barns to a well. Langston thinks the county may have grounds to challenge the well distance and the operation’s proximity to Otter Creek.

    “There are some water issues,” she said.”

    1. Lambert Strether

      I filed it under “permitting” however, because I’ve never heard of this matrix concept, and I wondered if it was applicable to other permitting processes, e.g. fracking. Also, the subsidiarity and local control were interesting.

  4. citalopram

    On the Rocklin Charter school:

    “They’re not behind him,” Borchers said. “He’s a very manipulative man. I don’t think he speaks the truth. I don’t think he cares about the children. I think he wants a virtual school so he can put more money in his pocket.”

    The first thing to note here is that parents want this charter school. They want their kids to go here, and that’s not surprising because Rocklin is a higher-dollar area, and people there have money. Placer County is conservative as well.

  5. JTFaraday

    re: FL “The principal of a failed Orange County charter school took home a check for more than $500,000 as the school closed down in June and is still being paid thousands of dollars a month to wrap up the school’s affairs.

    The check for $519,453.36 in taxpayer money was cut to Kelly Young, principal of NorthStar High School, two days after the Orange County School Board accepted the school’s plan to close in lieu of being shut down for poor performance…

    …Young’s payout was based on a contract that called for her to be paid about $305,000 per year through 2014, even though the school’s contract was up for renewal in 2012. She was paid 85 percent of her remaining contract…

    The highest-paid principal at a traditional Orange school this year made $116,565…

    …”The law is very clear that school boards cannot put limits or control how a charter school spends their money, including payouts like this” or salaries, said Sublette. He called the payment “immoral and unethical” and noted that it could have paid the salary of five district principals for a year…

    …Students at the school, which was based in a group of concrete portables on Curry Ford Road, had no access to computers, a library or cafeteria service. An evaluation of the school this past spring found that it lacked appropriate materials to teach struggling readers or English language-learners.”

    Always entertaining, where our neoliberals think the endless fount of public largesse should really flow, (especially when it spells “fail upwards.”)

    1. citalopram

      The parasite scammers are always the first in line for Federal money, all the while pointing the finger at the most vulnerable in society for their transgressions.

      The irony is thick, as is the chutzpah.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For that kind of money, we should start sending Peace Corps volunteers to Orange County charter schools instead.

      It’s always worse when it’s in the name of compassion, under the guise of assistance.

    3. Lambert Strether

      As I keep saying, I never know whether to file charter stories under “charters” or “corruption.” Because it seems like corruption in the form of looting the public purse is the operational definition of charters, because we even get to the shysters and grifters that such scams inevitably attract.

      1. Carla

        How about a special new category: Scamming Children. I bet you’d tap a rich vein of subjects to file under it.

      2. Ms G


        The category is: “Corruption (Charters).”

        How these people are not ending up in jail on fraud, misappropriation or larceny charges is beyond me. How states keep licensing them with the mountains of evidence that charters appear, in fact, to be fraudulent enterprises by design, is beyond the Milky Way. The individuals involved are indistinguishable from mafia and drug gang folks that get arrested and shackled every day.

    4. ZygmuntFraud

      Hello JTFaraday,

      I’m trying to come up with a good descriptor for those who make money (lots) on the back of taxpayers in apparerently slimy or unconscionable ways:

      – “elite” federal welfare bums ?


  6. dearieme

    “Social Security a Far Better Deal for Workers Than Modern Retirement Plans”: other things being equal, if you receive subsidies from someone else you are likely to be better off than if you don’t. Astonishing!

  7. Verloc

    The return of Grayson is the most we can possibly ask from this election. PR independence – genius. Uses self-determination to undercut the CIA agenda of the Cuban-exile faction; also happens to be in exact accord with the most rigorous interpretation of human rights law. And then he goes and breaks the official propaganda frame over his knee by speaking the forbidden word p-e-a-c-e, obtruding the law into national security discourse.

    Best of all, he’s going to win, unless the permanent state gives him the old Huey Long hail of stray bullets. They won’t yet, they’ll try to buy him off first. Then they’ll hit him with a million honey traps on yachts named monkey business and canoodler and fucknsuck and like that.

  8. citalopram

    Sugar is sugar whether it comes from corn or cane. There is nothing inheritantly magical about cane sugar.

    1. Elliot

      In baking, cane sugar outperforms beet sugar which won’t caramelize (it burns and solidifies). Not sure about corn sugar, never seen it in crystal form. (Beet sugar shills expected in 10-9-8-…). it really does make a difference which sugar you use in cooking.

  9. briansays

    medicare runs on a 6 percent overhead
    yet they increase the eligibility age

    but they impose a public option to buy a crappy product from a private insurance cabal which is allowed to skim/loot 15-20 percent of every premium dollar for non care costs such as million dollar salaries for top execs and shareholders

    right tell me again how cutting costs is your priority

    you want a grand bargain?
    repeal the massively unpopular mandate and create a public option
    people will buy into it and the money can support medicare rather than line an executive’s or shareholders pockets

    1. Eureka Springs

      I think medicare is closer to three percent than six. And I think you mistake what the “public option” was trying to do. We didn’t get a public option… we got a mandate to buy private for profit insurance at whatever they want to charge… as long as they can cook down the books to look like an overhead of 15 to 20 percent. (HA!) A public option would have allowed at least some of us who fell under the mandate an option to buy into a medicare/public type plan… not only a private for profit plan.

      Health care should be a human right. Probably with an expanded tri-care (VA style) or single payer (Medicare style) system.

      1. Carla

        Ahem. Health care IS a human right. The fact that the United States refuses to recognize this right does not make it any less valid.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    470,000 percent for bounced checks.

    How much should they pay you if they undercount your deposits?

    Would you settle for 300,000%?

    ‘Excuse me, Mr. bank manager, you made a mistake with my deposit. It should be $1 more. So now, you owe me $3,000, sir. Oops, sorry, it should be $2 more. You really owe me $6,000, my lord.’

  11. Garrett Pace

    Why we need humanities:

    “Uninformed by the human empathy and awareness that are the raison d’etre of these disciplines, technology is ethically neutral at best, anti-human at worst. But with the liberal arts as its animating spirit, technology’s potential benefits are limitless.”

    Bravo. When I see the broad infatuation we have with our devices, and our bold vision of a future where robots do everything (including occupying vacation homes and going to Disneyland?) it makes me want to turn off my computer and learn to translate Beowulf.

    It all has to add up to SOMETHING, or it’s just ones and zeros.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Whoever controls robots and drones…big drones, small drones and microscopic drones, controls humanity and the world.

      It is time for a global ‘non-proliferation of robots’ treaty.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        My other fear, that keeps me awake at night (or is it that extra bowl of matcha), is that once the Chinese learn how to make robots cheaply and can program them to earn money, spend it all and then take on more debt than affordable, there will be no need for Americans any more.

        What would robots buy though to keep their ‘economy’ going and prevent other robots from losing their ‘jobs?’

        That’s something for the advertising industry to worry about. It’s not my field.

    2. ZygmuntFraud

      The humanities is good at showing or illustrating the misdeeds of the past or fictive misdeeds that are credible (in good novels).

      – Dickens on 1800s England poor

      – savagery in the religion wars in Europe, the Catholic/protestant&presbyterian&lutheran Big Divide.
      [ starting in the days of Martin Luther, Henry the VIII of England, those years, roughly].

    3. Elliot

      “More and more I come to value charity and love of one’s fellow being above everything else… All our lauded technological progress-our very civilization-is like the ax in the hand of the pathological criminal.” -Albert Einstein.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Shark falls from sky.

    If this happened 3,000 years ago, and you refused to believe in gods, you would be considered primitive like the extinct Neanderthals who most likely had no idea of gods, maybe believe in some mysterious magic of bears and bison, but probably had no idea of gods.

    Ok, they wouldn’t know anything about the Neanderthal Man, but it was possible the Hobbits in Indonesia still lived and they would laugh at you as another primitive Hobbit.

  13. Valissa

    The basics of Bond analysis… Booze, bonks and bodies

    The Island Where People Forget to Die

    A sense of place – Geography matters as much as ever, despite the digital revolution

  14. Garrett Pace

    Disposition Matrix…

    The WP article is remarkable.

    “The problem with the drone is it’s like your lawn mower,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and Obama counterterrorism adviser. “You’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.”

    There’s the future. We, surrounded by enemies whose hatred and suffering we cultivate like a gardener cultivates a garden. We watch the world with fear and paranoia, and cut off the heads of those that rise too high.

    We are pouring out blood and terror across the earth.

    “For an administration that is the first to embrace targeted killing on a wide scale, officials seem confident that they have devised an approach that is so bureaucratically, legally and morally sound that future administrations will follow suit.

    Wow. That’s amazing. Turning murder into a bureaucratic process makes it morally sound?

    “During Monday’s presidential debate, Republican nominee Mitt Romney made it clear that he would continue the drone campaign. “We can’t kill our way out of this,” he said, but added later that Obama was “right to up the usage” of drone strikes and that he would do the same.”

    My disappointment is considerable, to see a fellow Latter-day Saint say that.

      1. Garrett Pace

        Hadn’t thought about the artificial nature thereof – should say that modern gardens are kind of the same.

        What gets me about the simile is that mowing the lawn is mundane, an uncreative and automatic maintenance exercise.

        Like changing the oil on the global death machine.

      2. scraping_by

        According to Veblen, a lawn is a conspicuously unconsumed pasture. At least it’s a status symbol.

    1. Roman holiday

      Legally sound. CCPR Article 6:

      1. Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

      2. In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court.

      3. When deprivation of life constitutes the crime of genocide, it is understood that nothing in this article shall authorize any State Party to the present Covenant to derogate in any way from any obligation assumed under the provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

      4. Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence. Amnesty, pardon or commutation of the sentence of death may be granted in all cases.

      5. Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women.

      I’ll live to see that fucker pleading in the Hague.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        ¡De Acuerdo! Mere mpeachment for high crimes is now wholly inadequate. Though conflicted about the death penalty, if certain egregious acts warrant it, the following provision seems especially pertinent in this case:

        “In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime…”

      2. Cynthia

        It seems to me that it really doesn’t matter who we are killing with our drones. If the country involved does not approve the strike, it is then murder and a war crime. Pakistan did not give prior approval for the assassination of Osama bin Laden, so that too was a murder and war crime.

        Don´t pay attention to the hype about who they kill, whether they were terrorists or not, because it is totally irrelevant in the cases where the local government didn’t give prior approval for the attack.

    2. Cynthia

      It has been shown time and time again from World War II on through Vietnam, almost since the inception of the U.S. Air Force, that war on civilian populations by air power, i.e. this concept of dropping bombs on people, is militarily senseless. It develops no military advantage on the ground, and only riles up adversaries to fight harder against those dropping the bombs. Yet the bombing practice continues. Drones are just the latest high tech version of the same old war crime.

      What is abundantly clear is that our drone war is the mirror image of the Nazi V2 attacks which terrorized London with rockets known also as “Buzz Bombs.” Perhaps the strategy is to intentionally terrorize the Muslim civilians into submission and hence erode support for any resistance from within. During the Soviet/Afghan War, civilians were deliberately targeted under such a strategy. That, however, failed. But it seems that we never learn from history and as the wise-man therefore said “we are doomed to repeat it.”

      1. Garrett Pace

        There’s more facets to air war than that, I think. I posted this a month ago, from Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia:

        “It is the same in all wars; the soldiers do the fighting, the journalists do the shouting, and no true patriot ever gets near a front-line trench, except on the briefest of propaganda-tours. Sometimes it is a comfort to me to think that the aeroplane is altering the conditions of war. Perhaps when the next great war comes we may see that sight unprecedented in all history, a jingo with a bullet-hole in him.”

        The interesting thing in the present case is that we get to ignore the consequences of air war because all the dying is being done by other people far away.

  15. EmilianoZ

    The stinginess of the 1%, Marie Claire edition.

    Jean-Paul LUBOT, some bigwig at Marie Claire Paris, wants to try a new restaurant but doesn’t want to pay for it. He has his secretary email the restaurant owner, Pierre Jancou, to get an “invitation” in exchange for an article. But the Jancou guy would have none of it. The whole email exchange is just hilarious:

    Now, Marie Claire had the LUBOT guy apologize for the email exchange:

    So pathetic! To avoid paying a few hundred euros the guy is now a laughing stock.

  16. kevinearick

    Revolution: Explicit Incremental & Implicit Quantum Democracy

    When the empire dismisses you, it is denying implicit democracy, with explicit democracy, because you do not exist as an individual, but as the product of many, compounded by time. Backlash is inevitable. The empire is yesterday. You are tomorrow, so long as you do not accept the self-fulfilling assumptions of empire. Empire necessarily places itself and its adherents on a shrinking island of scarcity, by design.

    Thus, the empire rewards stupidity as intelligence and punishes intelligence as stupidity, measuring its own potential in the process, until it can’t, and its politicians are professionally spoiled children, seeing how far they can go, until they can’t, with constituents all seeking something for nothing, until there is no more. The empire is a lottery machine, of, by and for oppression, with lots and lots of squeaky wheels, all cutting in line for a chance to win reparations.


    Study of such men…coupled with evidence of their writings had circulated widely among scholars, first in manuscript and later in printed form, suggested that modern science was not suddenly born with Galileo, but rather emerged about that time after a long period of incubation.

    The principle sources of Galileo’s effectiveness as I see them were intimately related to the temper of the time. It was Galileo who, by consistently applying mathematics to physics and physics to astronomy…brought mathematics, physics, and astronomy together.

    Astronomers were drawn to his physics by his eminence in astronomy; mathematicians took up his mechanics because he was a respected professor of mathematics. It is interesting that most of Galileo’s scientific contemporaries tended to fret over details. Galileo, however, even in his earliest studies, defied Aristotle.

    “You are not the first to feel a great repugnance toward recognizing this nonoperative quality of motion among those which share it in common.” Galileo (classic)


    [I]t gave no predictive power; indeed, there was a rather shocking disharmony between the ‘scientific’ astronomy of Aristotle and Ptolemy’s highly effective ‘saving of appearances.’ The former might be nearer to ‘science,’ but it was of no service to navigators or to others interested in concrete applications.

    All he can show is that the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic model does not fit the appearances and must therefore be rejected. He cannot prove that his own alternative, the Copernican one, is the only other possibility, and so he realizes that HE CANNOT PROVE IT TO BE ‘TRUE NATURE.’

    Newton frequently tended to define his approach by an implicit contrast with that of Descartes, just as his predecessors (including Descartes) had done fifty years before …with a paralyzing fear of exposing his thoughts, his beliefs, his discoveries, in all nakedness to the inspection and criticism of the world.

    [T]he formulation of hypotheses on the basis of empirical data sufficiently exactly stated to allow the hypothesis to be stringently tested…It had been foreshadowed by many writers, from Plato onward, but not until Newton were the data which could operate sufficiently exact to allow it to be used with any great success. It was this ‘method’ that ultimately detached natural science from its parent philosophy…

    “It is possible, however, in this way to establish a probability which is little short of certainty.” Newton


    Was the magically animated universe of Bruno, so close to the magnetic universe of Gilbert, a better guess about the nature of reality than these seemingly so much more rational universes of the mechanistic philosophers?

    (that’s your connection to Egyptian weeding of astronomy and astrology, origins of the Bible, and masons, if you want to go there. From the perspective of labor, the lizards are just a constant, a derivative, of gravity, until polarity is swapped at threshold.)


    [A]side from the extraordinary increase in scientific material, there is a perfect explosion of philosophical speculation beyond the confines of Aristotelian philosophy, with its unique cosmos, as the only possible natural explanation of the way things are. In part, this may be associated with the check put by the Condemnations of 1277 at Paris.

    BRING OUT THE (solid state) LAZER [mini-me]!

  17. Max424

    re: shark descending on a golf course

    This is a surprise?

    Sharks and Republicans (same thing) are all I’ve ever run into throughout my verdant playing days (which stretch pretty far back).

    When I walk into most clubhouses, I think myself a sage lamb entering shark infested waters.

    But sagacity can save you for only so long, when you’re a lamb amongst sharks, and I expect to get eaten any day now.

    Note: Last day of Indian Summer for Buffalo tomorrow, looks like. I’ll be out there in three layers, firing at the flags. Why not, I say, as we won’t be able to go pin huntin’ again till Spring.

    Winter’s furry is coming, and it don’t creep in on cat’s paws, not up here. At least … that’s the way it use to be …

  18. curtisneeley

    The law REQUIRING censorship of internet wire and radio communications has been United States law since June 19, 1934! The lawsuit seeking enforcement of this law requiring that no indecent or obscene material be communicated to minors has already been filed and will be served early next month. There is no corporate drive behind enforcing this law and it makes absolutely no difference if the entire WEB goes *black* to protest. “Free Speech” is a _conditional right_ and not an absolute right.
    “*_Neeley Jr v FCC et al_*”:, (“*5:12-cv-5208*”:
    *^^^_complaint_^^^, . . . . . .(^Docket mirror^)*

  19. Synopticist

    2 years jail for Gupta. Unbefu*kingleivable.

    Mind you, if he’s done it in London, he wouldn’t have spent a day inside.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Seems terribly harsh doesn’t it? But the worst part is, where the usual money penalty is only a small fraction of the take, Gupta has to pay a full half his loot in fines, netting only $5 million when he gets out. Crime just doesn’t pay as much as it used to. If this becomes a trend, a career in finance may hardly be worthwhile.

      But hey, at least he’ll get out in 18 months, and of course he gets free dental and healthcare. Plus, if he goes to Otisville as expected, there are amenities like gym, rec room, courts, sports fields, libraries, etc., to make it barely bearable.

      “Mr. Gupta’s lawyers argued that he be given probation and ordered to do ‘rigorous’ community service, possibly in rural Rwanda, an idea the judge dismissed as a kind of ‘Peace Corps for insider traders.'”

      “‘This is a fall from grace of Greek tragic proportions,’ Mr. Gupta’s lawyer, Gary Naftalis, told the judge in pleading for leniency. ‘I think he has suffered punishment far worse than prison already.'”

      BTW, “Unbefu*kingleivable” is common typo. Remember ‘i before e’. I’m surprised your spell-checker didn’t catch that.

  20. emptyfull

    Re: Greek police

    Do you think the German government is aware of how close Greece is getting to a genuine fascist coup? If the police are tipping towards supporting Golden Dawn’s political violence, then the rising possibility of a Mussolini-style take-over can’t be ignored, especially if the economy implodes further.

    Could the Germans really live with that? If not, then the German political class better wake up fast and find a way to stop further deterioration in Greece.

  21. diane

    ‘Off topic,’ and nanosecondry obscolesced (so ‘they’ [so sadly, ‘we’, collectively] imply, with horrifying weaponry at hand …for those who aren’t ‘buying.’), yet not, ..can I add this comment? (have previously tried to, twice, and failed):

    I always find it amusing that those who finger wag about hoped for stability with the Change or Die Theory, versus some stabilization (which word, contrary to your comments, does in fact happen quite frequently in nature, and does not equate with aborted growth, or stagnation as you imply) are usually those with the most economic and environmental stability in their own lives, whether they acknowledge it or not. Certainly they are not those whose villages are being droned upon, those unable to find employment, or those living under bridges and eating out of dumpsters, all of whom have seen more than enough man made CHAOS.

    It’s even more amusing that those same persons are filled with rage when deprived of those everyday life stabilizers they take for granted in their own lives; like: a livable income; a safe neighborhood where people aren’t being indiscriminately droned, or driven to crime to survive; or a thermostat and furnace in 10⁰ weather.

    Not saying you fit the bill, though I do think it’s likely. Most people I know have now had their lives decimated by financially driven, man-made chaos, and yearn for some “stability” at this point.

    Ton further clarify, the above is a comment in response to “bluntobj”‘s comment (as follows), on the: 10/24/12 Philip Pilkington: Why “Free Markets” Accommodate Speculation and Lead to Disequilibrium ( thread:

    Administer prices? My yes, we need a return to Blue Eagle! That worked out so well…

    I have to shake my head in wonderment. What part of government fixed prices sounds good? Wages and profits then become fixed by government fiat in a natural progression, corporations and industries get to buy special “exemptions” or price increases, etc.

    As an aside to PP;

    Housing is the worst possible example you could have chosen, and supply of real estate is only a small part of the speculative driver. Credit expansion, credit quality, human behavior, and government distortions in regulations from financing, land use, building codes, taxes, and incentives have far more to do with price fluctuations than location.

    Commercial buildings aren’t worth spit without the tenants to occupy them, houses have minimal value in prime locations without employers or jobs nearby, Ag or resource land isn’t worth anything if it can’t grow or produce, even if it’s in the best location.

    Last, seeking for stability is in fact a quest for death and destruction. Chaos and adaptation are vital forces in renewing life, economies, and civilizations. That which refuses to grow or change and instead seeks “stability” will be destroyed.

    1. diane

      Sorry, “To,” not “ton.”

      and I am dumbfounded and horrified that no one else bothered to counter “bluntobj”‘s “Chaos” comment, on the Pilkington thread (unless their comments never made ‘the grade,’ like mine (see first “blockquote” above) didn’t, when I initially posted it).

  22. skippy

    May I direct your attention to… The Australian Wobblies.

    In addition per my earlier thread and I direct especially at those, that view things through knee caps and spit our toes as facts with out even the most cursory examination of actual on goings.

    The Guardian’s description of Australia’s opposition leader Tony Abbott as “neanderthal” is not unreasonable. Misogyny is an Australian blight and a craven reality in political life. But for so many commentators around the world to describe Julia Gillard’s attack on Abbott as a “turning point for Australian women” is absurd. Promoted by glass-ceiling feminists with scant interest in the actual politics and actions of their hero, Gillard is the embodiment of the Australian Labor party machine – a number-crunching machine long bereft of principle that has attacked and betrayed Australia’s most vulnerable people, especially women.

    Shortly before Gillard’s lauded rant against Abbott, her government forced through legislation that stripped A$100 from the poorest single parents – almost all of them women. Even Labor’s own caucus reportedly regarded this as “cruel”. But that is nothing compared with Gillard’s attacks on Aboriginal people, who remain Australia’s dirty secret, suffering preventable diseases such as trachoma (blindness in children), which has been eliminated in much of the developing world, and scourges that hark back to Dickensian England, such as rheumatic heart disease, even leprosy. I have seen Aboriginal homes in which 30 people are forced to live, because the government refuses to build public housing for them. Indigenous young people are incarcerated in Australian prisons at five times the rate of black South Africans during the apartheid era.

    Gillard has continued with gusto the authoritarian and mendacious 2007 “emergency intervention” designed to push Aboriginal Australians off their valuable land and box them into “hub centres”: a version of apartheid. She and her indigenous affairs minister, Jenny Macklin, have implemented this inhumanity in defiance of international law. In a speech last year, Gillard, like most of her predecessors, blamed the victims of Australia’s unresolved rapacious past and present. I have just spent several months in Aboriginal Australia; and the views I have gathered from remarkable, despairing, eloquent indigenous women of Gillard and her “feminism” are mostly unknown, ignored or dismissed in this country. Watching Gillard address the UN last month and claim that Australia embraced “the highest ideals” of human rights law was satirical, to say the least. Australia has been repeatedly condemned by the UN for its racism.

    Gillard came to power by plotting secretly with an all-male cabal to depose the elected prime minister, Kevin Rudd. Two of her conspirators, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, sought inspiration in the US embassy where Gillard enjoyed an unusually high approval rating. This was understandable. Her views on aggressive war might be described as neanderthal if they were not Victorian; referring to the dispatch of Australian colonial troops to Sudan in 1885 to avenge a popular uprising against the British, she described the forgotten bloody farce as “not only a test of wartime courage, but a test of character that has helped define our nation and create the sense of who we are”. Invariably flanked by flags, she uses such guff to justify sending more young Australians to die in faraway places, essentially as American mercenaries – more soldiers have died under her watch than that of any recent prime minister. Her true feminist distinction, perversely, is her removal of gender discrimination in combat roles in the Australian army. Thanks to her, women are now liberated to kill Afghans and others who offer no threat to Australia. One Sydney feminist commentator was beside herself. “Australia will again lead the world in a major reform,” she wrote. A passionate supporter of the Israeli state, Gillard in 2009 went on a junket to Israel arranged by the Australian Israel Cultural Exchange during which she refused to condemn Israel’s blood-fresh massacre of 1,400 people in Gaza.

    skippy… some bitterness to wash it down with…

    Motherland – Natalie Merchant

    1. Valissa

      No wonder she and Hillary are such good buds!

      Clinton and Gillard bond over hairstyles

      IMO, the best peacemakers are former warriors, because they more deeply understand what’s at stake. But Hillary and Julia both seem to curry favor with men around them by acting like tough broads, so are constantly seeking to be perceived as warriors and are therefore stuck in that archetype in a way that is not genuine… and so they become hawks with no sympathy for the prey.

      1. psychohistorian

        Thanks for the Aussie update skippy, albeit, bad shit.

        I agree with Valissa that the women in power positions now are there because they are better at being fake warriors than the surrounding fake males.

        Real warriors would not stand being controlled by the global inherited rich to control our society in such a manner.

        1. skippy

          Forgive me…

          If some knew, what can I say… it doesn’t have to be like this… we don’t have to go down that tired road… but it comes…

          I don’t care about myself… whilst so many others… for what reasons… rational excuse… live so despairingly… altruism or… we visit the ancestor thingy… its a hard choice…

          skippy… trouble me… disturb me…

  23. Klassy!

    re: third party debate roundup. I pretty much agreed with the author. I came away from the debate feeling really good about Rocky Anderson. I was a little disappointed with Jill Stein and her assertion that everyone should go to college because we have to “train for the skilled jobs of the future” (or something like that. This seems like neoliberal boilerplate. I was also annoyed that they wasted a question on marijuana legalization (maybe it was more broadly about the drug war but it became all about marijuana.) There are so many bad things about the drug war and it is tiresome that for many it begins and ends with legalizing marijuana. I just fail to see how that will put much a dent in the corruption and violence in Latin America if that is the only drug leglaized.

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