Links 10/26/12

Why beauty is rarely worth it Telegraph

Nineteen species of fern named for Lady Gaga EarthSky (furzy mouse)

2 Siblings Killed in New York City; Nanny Arrested New York Times

How to eat a Triceratops Nature

Fish Caught in Fukushima as Tainted as a Year Ago, Study Says Bloomberg :-(

Jailbreaking now legal under DMCA for smartphones, but not tablets ars technica

Apple warns of pre-Christmas profit fall Financial Times

Eurozone nears Japan-style trap as money and credit contract again Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Austerity continues to kill European credit MacroBusiness

Hedge Fund Havens Weigh Taxes as Caribbean’s Debt Rivals Greece Bloomberg (furzy mouse)

A Finnish parallel currency is imaginable Gillian Tett, Financial Times

UK rejects bases plea as US plans Iran contingency Guardian

WikiLeaks Releases US Military Policies for Detention & Avoiding Accountability for Torture Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake

October Surprise: Romney may have screwed over his friend’s ex-wife Salon (YY). Sadly, “screwed over” is less newsworthy than “screwed”.

Robert Samuelson Takes on NYT Editorial Board: Government Does Not Create Jobs! Dean Baker

Will CDO Managers Be Held Accountable For Their Role in the Financial Crisis? Bloomberg BNA (Michael C). NC is in the footnotes!

Still The Scariest Data Tim Duy

Bipartisan Trouble Ahead Simon Johnson. Tells you why the “Financial Regulatory Reform Initiative of the Bipartisan Policy Center” is rubbish.

Hurricane Sandy Track for the Next Five Days Jesse

Burglars Posing As Repo Workers Steal Woman’s Belongings WFMY (Lisa Epstein)

Nine more banks added to Libor probe Financial Times. So has Benjamin Lawsky gotten Schneiderman to man up?

Citi Chairman Is Said to Have Planned Chief’s Exit Over Months New York Times. So why was the morning after fumbled so badly?

Banks Pushing Into Small Loans Compete With Payday Shops Bloomberg (hat tip Credit Slips)

Mission elapsed time: T + 48 and counting*

When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets. —W.H. Auden, Epitaph on a Tyrant

Occupy. Nashville, TN: “More than a dozen Occupy Nashville protesters filed a lawsuit against the state in the U.S. District Court . These New Rules unconstitutionally limit access by the public to [Legislative Plaze,] a forum universally accepted to be an area protected for the speech of the governed,” the lawsuit said.”

IA. Food: “[N]ever has an administration taken the issues raised by the food movement so seriously and stood up for small farms so aggressively. For example, USDA has institutionalized its support through the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food work within the department. Again, this will all go away if Obama loses this election and agribusiness once again runs every aspect of USDA.”

IN. Voting: ” The D party chair is asking the federal government to get involved in the wrongful purge of 13,000 voters in La Porte County last year.”

LA. Public goods: “The latest budget signed by Jindal eliminates state funding for public libraries, cutting close to a million dollars out of their budgets.” … Charters: “[S]ome private schools participating in LA’s new voucher program will be educating taxpayer-subsidized students tout their creationist views.” … Oil: “The dome that was leaking oil at the bottom of the Gulf has a new lid. BP capped and plugged the latest oil seepage coming from the site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster this week.”

OH. Voting: “Having hundreds of thousands of [provisional ballots] effectively on hold would keep the presidential election in limbo if Ohio’s electoral votes are needed for either Obama or Romney to reach the 270-vote majority required.” … Swing state Keynesianism: “White, working-class voters in OH are supporting Obama at higher levels than in other swing states, making it tougher for Romney to catch the incumbent in perhaps the most vital of all battlegrounds.”

PA. Foreclosure: “The federal court has upheld the Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds’ right to sue [MERS] and banks doing business with [MERS] for $15.7 million that she claims is owed to the county in recording fees.”

TX. Dark sky: “A small but growing number of TX cities are passing lighting ordinances aimed at protecting star-gazing.” … Voting: “TX authorities have threatened to arrest international election observers, prompting a furious response from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).”

VA. Voting: “Less than two weeks away from the election, the VA State Board of Elections website, in the midst of a ‘convenient’ remodel, features broken links and missing pages essential to the transparency necessary for confidence in the Virginia outcome. Election night, we might not have a window on Virginia results.” … Horticulture: “The de-lawning movement is slowly taking hold in the Richmond region. Converting grass into flower beds and vegetable gardens creates more attractive yards, cuts the expense of lawn maintenance and helps clean the Bay.”

WI. Corruption: “Last week, the newspaper reported that the agency had discovered it had failed to systematically track nearly $9 million in loans that are not current. As a result, WEDC’s chief financial officer resigned and GOP Gov. Scott Walker, a champion of the quasi-public agency created last year, brought in a new interim leader*.” [* Note the use of t he generic and authoritarian “leader,” as opposed to using an official title.]

Supply chain. Walmart: “The key to Walmart’s success has been getting low-cost goods to customers at precisely the right moment according to microanalysis of market patterns. But that is also what makes it so vulnerable to work stoppages. Workers at key points in the supply chain can create massive disruptions in the process. ”

Outside baseball. Disposition matrix: “A paramilitary spy agency empowered to kill in secret via remote control. What could go wrong?” … Disposition matrix: “”It really is like swatting flies. We can do it forever easily and you feel nothing. But how often do you really think about killing a fly?” (CFR) … Disposition matrix: “Like last year’s NY Times piece that first detailed the murder racket being run directly out of the White House, the new Washington Post story is replete with quotes from ‘senior Administration officials’ who have obviously been authorized to speak. Once again, this is a story that Obama and his team WANT to tell.” … Disposition matrix: “[T]he government wants Americans to know all about the horrors. It is increasingly eager to discuss its programs and to describe how it goes about murdering ever greater numbers of people. The government does this so that Americans become accustomed to the murders, precisely so that Americans regard the murders as a matter of routine, everyday business.” … Disposition matrix: “In response to the Post story, Chris Hayes asked: “If you have a ‘kill list’, but the list keeps growing, are you succeeding?” The answer all depends upon what the objective is” (cf. self-licking ice cream cone). … Disposition matrix: “A bureaucratized paramilitary killing program that targets people far from any battlefield is not just unlawful, it will create more enemies than it kills.” … Disposition matrix: “When the president kills you with a drone strike, that means you are a terrorist.” … Disposition matrix: “If politicians can get away with not knowing what a ‘kill list’ is, which has been prominently featured on the front page of The New York Times, who’s guessing they’ll be able to plead ignorance about something as bureaucratically innocuous-sounding as ‘disposition matrix’?” … Disposition matrix: “[T]he NCTC is also the government outfit in charge of crafting a ‘disposition matrix’ to oversee the management and institutionalization of the US government’s extrajudicial assassinations — a power the Obama administration asserts it can (without due process) apply to US citizens as well as foreigners.” … Disposition matrix: “Should he win the election in two weeks, Romney will inherit an institutionalized, bureaucratic machine for using lethal robots to target and kill suspected terrorists and their allies. Killing Osama bin Laden was a one-time event; this ‘Disposition Matrix’ is Barack Obama’s real national-security legacy.” 

Grand Bargain™-brand Catfood Watch. PR: “Over 80 CEOs from some of the world’s largest companies announced Thursday they were calling on Congress and the White House to strike a deficit deal sooner rather than later.” Desperate people make better serfs. … Bullshit: “The chart on the right, from Rex Nutting, shows what’s actually going on: total US debt to GDP was rising alarmingly until the crisis, but it has been falling impressively since then” (Felix Salmon). “Impressively” iff you believe financial ratios are more important than the real economy.

The trail. Russell Means: “May we, the next generation of elders, never forget those who’ve pierced a path with their tongue and spine for our voices to be heard.” … Polls: “Obama 73% to win w/ those polls added. Bottom line simple: Romney is trailing – slightly – in tipping point states” (Nate Silver). Consistent narrative. …. The state of the republic: “‘And Nate Silver is like my Racing Form.’ ‘But what about the issues? Pakistan? Education? A woman’s right to choose? Who will be on the Supreme Court?’ ‘You’re kidding, right?’ said Tony. ‘You know what Nate Silver says your vote in Illinois is worth in terms of the outcome of the election? Less than .1%.  Unless you live in the suburbs of Canton, OH, your vote is worth bupkis mit kuduchas. Given that, I’m better off concerned about my bets at Intrade. Right now I got Obama at about 57% to win. Although Nate Silver has him a little better.”” …. Voting: Lambert here: Putting people who have entirely justified skepticism of e-voting in the same “truther” bag as Jack Welch? I’m throwing a flag (which I hate to do because I read that blog avidly).

The Obama vs. The Romney III. Alan Grayson: ” Let’s go over the basic facts. There are two large oceans that separate us from 191 of the 193 other countries in the world. Our northern border has been peaceful since 1812. Our southern border has been peaceful, more or less, since 1848. In the 229 years since the Treaty of Paris, establishing our independence, foreign military forces have attacked American territory only twice – in both cases, on the outermost periphery.” … Police state: “[Lynn U student Cody] Luongo said that in the days before the debate, security around campus began to gradually escalate, and by Monday it was an almost like a state of martial law. Beginning five hours before the debate and lasting for another hour after its conclusion (it ran from 9 to 10:30 p.m.) every movement was regimented and oversee.”

The Romney. Celebrity endorsement: “‘Like I said, never before have I endorsed a single candidate ’til now, so let me hear y’all repeat after me.’ Meat Loaf said, leading a call-and-response with Mitt Romney’s name, the crowd repeating it after him.”

The Obama. On Romney: “[OBAMA: ] [Kids] look at the other guy and say, ‘Well, that’s a bullsh—er, I can tell.'” Pure projection. … Air war: “‘Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy,’ [the actress in Obama’s “Your First Time” TV ad] says, referring to casting your first ballot for Obama.” Yes, but did Mr. Hope and Change respect you in the morning? Also too, the ad apparently clones an ad from another Presidential campaign: Vladimir Putin’s. Ha.

* Slogan of the day: Energetically Complete The Task of Party Rectification, Bring About a Basic Turn for the Better in Party Spirit!

Antidote du jour:

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  1. fresno dan

    As Kade Crockford of the ACLU of Massachusetts noted in response to this story, the ACLU has long warned that the real purpose of the NCTC – despite its nominal focus on terrorism – is the “massive, secretive data collection and mining of trillions of points of data about most people in the United States”.
    As Kade Crockford of the ACLU of Massachusetts noted in response to this story, the ACLU has long warned that the real purpose of the NCTC – despite its nominal focus on terrorism – is the “massive, secretive data collection and mining of trillions of points of data about most people in the United States”.

    War is peace

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      skippy, goes to show that TED is the prime source of canned liberal catfood. Did you notice that the sponsor is the folks who made possible the “Workplace Efficiency” of the THIRD Reich– Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and on and on?

      Go TED! Show us how IBM UberEfficiency Rules! Under the “Law Merchant” – *mitt schlag* – in Reich IV going on Reich V. Thank you, thank you, Boss.

      “Liberal” Psycopaths are no better than “Conservative” Psycopaths.

      Let’s cut the crap: “No Bullshit” says We the People’s *Glorious Physician* —


      1. Jonathan

        IBM is no less evil today, and quite possibly more so. Technology insider Bob Cringely has written much over the past several years about them, with a focus on their labor practices, acquisitions and customer relations (all as resources to be exploited then discarded). He offers a particularly cheeky example in his most recent post Don’t Mess with IBM: One Downside of Suing a Tech Company That Thinks Like a Law Firm but most of his writing is great readin’ and he generally knows what he’s talking about.

        Fine observation on TED, and go Jill go!

  2. Synopticist

    Whats with the crazy conspiracy talk about republicans using voter computer screens to steal elections in very tight races?

    I mean C’MON!! This is the party of honest Mitt!!

    Just because they’ve sponsored a voter suppression drive and are fired up by a base of certifiable lunatics financed by hard-right plutocrats doesn’t mean they’d actually CHEAT, right? Perish the thought.

    1. Beppo

      I thought there was a strong batch of evidence that showed Bush aligned technology people messing with votes in Ohio in 2k4. The main republican technology consultant also set up Ohio’s secretary of state website and digital voting thing, and for some reason their votes bounced to out of state servers, and returned with Bush winning. As you may remember, this didn’t match the exit polls at all.

      Digital voting machines that leave no paper trail are not to be trusted. Venezuela has a much more secure and transparent set of elections infrastructure than the United States. And it really stinks

  3. Jackrabbit

    It seems to me that the optimal course of action for third parties is to work together. They should find some way to pool their resources and votes received.

    I know it’s unrealistic to expect that these principal-based parties would/could work together but they really have no chance otherwise. And to expect that they will get a better hearing 4 years from now is naive. The two major parties will always have the money advantage, and their anti-competitive practices will probably increase. Furthermore, third-parties always have an uphill battle against public perception that they have ‘agendas’ and are ‘untested.’

    There is a good case to be made TODAY for working together. First, we face something of a national emergency, and second: the four major third parties agree on a core set of policy (excepting some of Virgil Goode’s positions – but he may join with the other three if there is a realistic chance at winning).

    Yes, there are differences between the candidates and Parties that belie their general agreement on issues during their debate but the core policies that they DO agree on contrast sharply with the Republicans and Democrats.

    A unified effort prompted by the urgency of the situation that we face as a nation would get a lot of attention and would lesson concern that any one party would get far with their own agenda (beyond the agreed-upon core policies). Many voters that are reluctantly voting R or D would vote for the coalition instead and many voters that are sitting on the sidelines would be enticed to vote for a real change.

    It is late in the election season but I don’t any other realistic way to break the two-Party stranglehold. (Any other suggestions are welcome.)

    in other countries governing coalitions are created AFTER the election. To have a real chance, US third-party candidates have to find some way to work together BEFORE the election.

      1. Jackrabbit

        I’m not suggesting a campfire.

        If you saw the “third-party” debate, there seemed to be agreement among the candidates on several core issues.

        Together, they represent a real alternative to Obamny/Robama.

        Separately, they appeal to their own (small) constituency and protest voters – and they all lose.

        I know its not likely. But I thought it was worthwhile to bring it up and see what people think.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I think we could have a “small[er]” state right now by ending the empire. Say what you will about Ron Paul, he got that right, which must be a profound embarassemnt to career “progressives” (oh ha ha ha. What am I thinking?

      Maybe the emergent parties could agree on an imperial rollback (like, to the shores of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans) and worry about everything else later.

      As I keep saying, “Versailles is a sac of pus waiting to burst.”

    2. ZygmuntFraud

      I’d suggest they consider fielding candidates
      in state legislatures, also strategically
      decide which party for each state county to
      face-off with the duo-poly.

      A lot of things that are important (such as
      the judiciary of a state and the oversight
      committes, also Secretary of State for State Z)
      happen purely in State (one of 50) elections.

      Further example: overseeing Notaries public, they
      at least have a “bully pulpit” untill the
      “mavericks” get “disappeared” [I’m not saying it’s
      probable, just a note of caution].

    1. ambrit

      Thank you for that link! The Love Comic cover part was great! Plus, a free Nipsey Russell poster! What’s not to love. These politicos are really spending their campaign contributions wisely, ain’t they? (I’m waiting for this campaign to sink back to levels not seen since the Election of 1860.)

    2. Ned Ludd

      Over the past week, ohtarzie had an interesting discussion with vastleft and others about how the left in the U.S. – not just liberals, but also high-profile critics of Obama like Chomsky and Ellsberg – always lead people back into “compliance” with the system and into voting for the Democratic Party. vastleft drew a distinction between hand-wringing and decisive dissent. Some liberals and leftists engage in continuous hand-wringing over the Democratic Party; but they still counsel a vote for the Democrats, no matter how bad, come election time.

      FDL is doing it’s job of gatekeeping the left. At the end of the day, no matter how much you are appalled by Obama, no matter how many times FDL criticizes Obama, you still must vote for him. Obama and the Democrats, in Jane Hamsher’s own words, passed a bill that was “a dangerous and unprecedented step on the road to… the textbook definition of fascism”. Well, if you vote for fascism, you will get fascism.

      1. wbgonne

        I think that consensus is at a break point. The older folks like Chomsky and Ellsberg simply cannot conceive of abetting the election of a Republican. But many other people no longer subscribe to the lesser of two evils argument, partly, I think, because Obama has truly proved to be the More Effective Evil, not the lesser. In any event, the role of Obama as the Great Confounder will diminish rapidly beginning immediately after the election, and that is so whether Obama wins or loses. I expect an upswell of post-election Progressivism (though I may be uncharacteristically optimistic about that). In any event, the Democratic Party will be forced to deal with its identity crisis: either is is the party of Progressivism or it is the party of Neoliberalism. It can no longer be both. If, as I fully expect, the Democratic Establishment doubles down of Neoliberalism, what do the Democratic Progressives do post-election? Is a party schism inevitable?

        1. Aquifer

          The irony is that the Rep, Nixon, that stuck a stick up Ellsburg’s settee was, in many ways to the left of Obama ..

          All politics is personal …..

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            A, that’s why they had to get rid of him. “Use and discard” is the motto of the ruthless Bush-Rock-Kissinger Killer Nexus. Look what they did with Clinton. Well, to “Capitalists” such as these, other people’s ruin is “nothing personal.”

        2. Aquifer

          What do the Dem progs do? What they have always done – practicing all the ways they can protest for their fans, while finding excuses for Obama and doing nothing to upset the Dem applecart – Kucinich being the model

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        As mentioned before, those in high places finally see that they have set up “The Next Holocaust,” a dire outcome foreseen since at least 2006, by some.

        Let’s just call the blind Dr. Chomsky of MIT a Staufenberg-come-lately, a little slow on the trigger, still in denial of “reality.”

        1. Doctor Brian Oblivion

          Chomsky was warning about neoliberalism by name as early as 1999. Were you even aware of the term at that time?

          Chomsky spoke out against the Vietnam war before it was safe and popular to do so, risking his career, his freedom and the safety of his family. And he has continued writing and speaking out against the status quo ever since.

          I suppose it’s more critical though to root out the gatekeepers and false critics who craftily criticize government policy regardless of party label for the sake of purity. That’s where the real threat and locus of power lies.

          Jesus Christ, as if there aren’t enough actual threats to deal with. This liberal rejects the circular firing squad, thanks.

          I know it’s tempting to spice up reality with a bit of understandable paranoia, but things are pretty dark without going there.

      3. Hugh

        My suggested terminology for sites like FDL is “Trojan horse” but gatekeeper works too. The tell is their failure to break with the Democratic party and their hostility to emerging parties.

        As for Ellsberg, Krugman, Sitglitz, etc., I call these Establishment liberals. I think their usual backing for the Democrats obscures the fact that their ultimate allegiance is to the elites to which they belong.

  4. LeonovaBalletRusse

    NC Link today:

    //October Surprise: Romney may have screwed over his friend’s ex-wife Salon (YY). Sadly, “screwed over” is less newsworthy than “screwed”.//

    Maybe this is how the “magic undies” work: by the time you get them off, the thrill is gone, so there’s a “disincentive” to “do wrong.”

  5. wbgonne

    “IA. Food: “[N]ever has an administration taken the issues raised by the food movement so seriously and stood up for small farms so aggressively. For example, USDA has institutionalized its support through the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food work within the department. Again, this will all go away if Obama loses this election and agribusiness once again runs every aspect of USDA.”

    Is this legit? Frankly, I have a hard time believing that Obama ever does anything to hurt Big Business, whether it’s Wall Street, Big Oil, Agribiz or any other obscene clot of wealth.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Well, for some definition of legit. Here’s how I saw it:

      1. Obama picking up another splinter group (in this case, the farmers who sell to NPR-listening foodies (and, to be fair, the libertarians who live in the woods, if Iowa has woods)). The larger way to frame this is:

      2. “Swing state Keynesianism” a la the auto bailouts, the bailouts being (IMNSHO) carefully targeted with 2012 in mind. (There was a reason for that stupid 60 mile high speed rail project in FL, eh?)

      I think the programs are legitimate, but basically a tiny little corner of the Ag Department is doing what it ought to be doing. Frankly, I think the argument is bullshit. Believe it or not, the anti-corporate, “off the grid”-type right is very sound on food.

      1. wbgonne

        Thanks for the reply.

        “Believe it or not, the anti-corporate, “off the grid”-type right is very sound on food.”

        I do believe that. In a sense, anti-corporatism is neither Right nor Left as traditionally defined in U.S. politics. The future — assuming we have one — will be the coalescence of anti-corporatist forces from varying suasions. The major impediment, which you obliquely (and snarkily) alluded to above (“I think we could have a “small[er]” state right now by ending the empire. Say what you will about Ron Paul, he got that right, which must be a profound embarassemnt to career “progressives” (oh ha ha ha. What am I thinking?”) is the role of government. I think that, in a capitalist state, corporatism will inevitably gather power unless the state — acting as the agent of the People — checks that otherwise inevitable development. My call for a strong state, however, is on domestic issues. I am in full agreement with you — and Ron Paul — that we must end our imperialism and militarism. That part of the state, like much of the rest today, has been already been co-opted by corporatism. We fight to protect the corporatists’ money.

        1. kimyo

          Another Monsanto man in a key USDA post?


          Thanks in part to many high-ranking appointees Obama has installed, no agricultural revolution is in the offing. The government continues to channel public resources disproportionately to conventional growers — benefits that then flow to the corporations from which they buy their seeds and chemicals and on to agribusiness processors in the form of cheap grain. When Vilsack got to D.C. he copied his boss, jackhammering a patch of concrete at USDA headquarters to plant certified organic vegetables and calling it The People’s Garden. While it was interpreted by some as a symbol of his commitment to sustainable agriculture, the gesture was just as readily criticized as green-washing.

          Vilsack is a Big Ag man, and as head of the USDA, he commands a $134 billion annual budget that includes agriculture subsidies, the National Organic Program, and food-stamp and nutrition programs. A longtime ally of genetically engineered agriculture, as governor, Vilsack picked a fight with biotech companies because they were not planting their untested genetically modified seeds in the state — he didn’t want to miss out on the action. More recently Vilsack proclaimed that rural growth must rely more heavily on expanding exports of commodity crops, agribusiness-monopolized biotech, and biofuels, most of which in the U.S. are refined from genetically modified corn.

          Both Obama and Vilsack are ardent champions of biofuels, a boon for agribusiness and biotech but a disaster for family farmers and the environment.

          1. different clue

            If one wants non-corporate non-toxic smallfarmers to have a survival-supporting market for their product, one has to accept that NPR-listening foodies are a major part of that market. So if NPR-listening foodies are keeping non-corporate non-toxic small farmers commercially alive and “standing on the land”, then three cheers (or at least two cheers anyway) for NPR-listening foodies.

        2. DiamondJammies

          One thing the real left (as opposed to Democrat Party hacks) and the libertarian right can agree on: this current state is in opposition to the freedom of the American people. We might be able to work with that.

          There’s also an agreement in opposition to U.S. militarism that we can work with. (I don’t think it’s an agreement on opposition to U.S. imperialism because the libertarian right is perfectly happy with the economic component of imperialism that goes under the rubric of “free trade” and are more isolationist than internationlist.)

          In China history called upon the left and right to form a tactical, temporary alliance to oust the truly greater evil of Japanese imperialism. The most important thing for the left in any such alliance would be to maintain our independence.

          One thing the libertarian right needs to get a clue on though: Obama is in no way, shape or form a socialist or a communist. Every socialist and communist I’ve ever spoken to knows he’s a stooge for the capitalist oligarchy that runs the country. One example: forcing the people to purchase a product from a private entity is one of the least “communist” things a human being could possibly do. (A communist policy would have been total expropriation and nationalization of the health care industry, i.e. the complete elimination of for-profit healthcare. And it would have been wonderful, as is clearly demonstrated by the fact that every rich country that has abolished the profit system in healthcare has objectively better health outcomes than the U.S. History has ruled definitely on this matter: communist healthcare is far superior for the vast majority of people than capitalist healthcare.)

  6. LeonovaBalletRusse

    Lambert, “Outside Baseball” today is superbly chilling. Your tight “Disposition Matrix” aggregation is a Tragic Symphony. You surpass yourself, as must we all.

  7. Garrett Pace

    Boring Beauty –

    The conformist nature of the beautiful is a valuable insight. It’s the apotheosis of caring what other people think. Modern human “beauty” is also a standard of arbitrary rules that are a means for competition. It’s a means of excluding, of separating people into groups of winners and losers. As various artificial means make the standard easier to attain, the standards change, becoming even more exclusionary. Like an arms race, the artificial methods become even more painful, invasive and expensive, and proceed to secondary features. Once everyone has the right kind of bust or eyebrows the competition will proceed to other features.

    If there’s any physical feature or type that even the very ambitious are unable to alter (or better, can only be altered through very expensive effort), that feature will become an important part of beauty – even if it’s, say, toenails or clavicles.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      “Beauty” today is a facsimile of an “ideal” in some Agent’s or Marketer’s/Propagandist’s head, maybe even in a Quant’s head “just taking orders.” It is a set of images for .01%DNA Social Destruction purposes, created by plastic surgery, liposuction, Botox, photoshopping, air-brushing, and ruthless hype. Like all else from the .01%+.99% today, it is a FRAUD perpetrated upon We the People (especially “young target market” people).

      This perversion is born of the Tavistock Institute, along with other perversions inspired by the commercial implementation of the work of Sigmund Freud and his nephew, Edward Bernays, in the British Imperial DNA’s drive to destroy We the People of the U.S.A.: once the successful competitor to the British Empire and its Agency in America See and hear ex-MI6 Agent John Coleman (Naturalized Citizen of the U.S.) on YouTube for How It Works.

  8. LeonovaBalletRusse

    Lambert Link to Catfood Commission 26Oct12:

    //Unless you live in the suburbs of Canton, OH, your vote is worth bupkis mit kuduchas. Given that, I’m better off concerned about my bets at Intrade. Right now I got Obama at about 57% to win. Although Nate Silver has him a little better.”” …. Voting: Lambert here: Putting people who have entirely justified skepticism of e-voting in the same “truther” bag as Jack Welch? I’m throwing a flag (which I hate to do because I read that blog avidly).//
    Lambert, does Wall Street re-hypothecation come with that? I mean, is “Intrade” an OTC Exchange, or a Dark Pool, or what?

    1. Susan the other

      Me too. This one is really interesting. This leopard is smart. Compared to all the dogs I have ever known (much as I love them) who have charged porcupines and suckered right in by taking the easy way out and biting them on the butt – the part that porkys offer because then they swat them with their tail and the dogs run off howlling. This leopard is going for the neck.

  9. JTFaraday

    re: Why beauty is rarely worth it, Telegraph

    “Beauty is boring. And the evidence is piling up.”

    That’s exactly what Honey Boo Boo says.

  10. Garrett Pace

    Dilbert’s Scott Adams is a clever futurist who I rarely agree with, but his ideas are usually thought provoking.

    Here’s the future he wants. I think it a horrifying dystopia:

    “The designers and engineers at Apple have crossed some sort of psychological barrier that will someday be recognized as one of the great transitions in civilization. They literally engineered love. And by that I mean they created a device that stimulates my body chemistry in a way that feels somewhat similar to love. And I think that accomplishment will someday be seen as a bigger deal than we recognize today.”

    Nowadays too many of our relationships are professional and superficial as such. Technology can do us one better by giving us powerful relationships with non-sentient entities.

    I find that loving provides a stronger feeling than being loved. How does one show one’s gratitude to Siri?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      GP, this is evidence of his shameless pandering to the .01% now driving such “utopias of love everybody” as The Venus Project, the Zeitgeist set, etc.; and it goes along with the .01% Agenda to eliminate property rights of the We the People the Plebeians of their New Age/NWO Polis that Orwell and Aldous Huxley knew was coming, if H.G. Wells had his way with us, but tweaked.

      He’s a shill. I guess if you want to keep your position in comfort, you must join the parade (like that political campaign in The Prisoner: “Free for All” — oh, well, I guess it beats a lobotomy.

    2. anon y'mouse

      or how about we just choose to never leave our mother’s wombs, out of a solipstic desire to have the world revolve around us and our desires and psychological states.

      dilbert should grow up.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Giants are in orange and black – the same colors we have on this site and Halloween.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Beauty link.

    “…who carried out part of the research, that “beautiful people tend to focus more on conformity and self-promotion than independence and tolerance”.

    This was my hunch before and it is still my hunch now. For independent hunter-gathers, the appearance is not critical, as long as it blends in with the envirnoment and the bison you’re hunting.

    You need to be ‘beautiful’ if you can’t hunt-gather, so you may live on the kindness of strangers.

    That is, beauty has its beginning from sponging off others.

    At least, that’s what I tell all my ‘beautiful’ friends…and myself sometimes (my good days).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To be beautiful, you must have the sponge-gene.

      As we humans get prettier with each generation, it would seem that there are more and more spongers.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        My theory is that cats have known about this genetic engineering fact for a long time.

        That’s how they conquered the human race.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I suspest at one time, the conformance-gene was good for the group.

          Today, the competiton gene rules, having replaced the cooperation-gene. And the conformance-gene only benefits the 0.01%.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      This is BS. Think Hedy Lamarr: Exceedingly beautiful, body and soul, and so creatively/brilliantly unconventional that the “Defense” sector still employs her technological invention.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think there are few possibilities.

        You can have your sponge-gene and smart-gene simultaneously, as they are not necessarily mutually exclusive, especially after eons of interbreeding.

        Another is that beauty might have evolved out of the sponge-gene but might have since divorced from it, once it’s widespread throughout the population, so one could not sponge off with it.

  12. Jim Haygood

    Another triumph for the world’s worst central banker, Argentina’s Mercedes Marcó del Pont:

    Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s foreign-exchange controls are driving pesos underground.

    A quarter of Argentines are keeping their pesos at home, up from 19 percent a year ago, according to a survey conducted in September. The increase reflects how people are shifting money out of banks to trade dollars in a cash-dominated black market where the cost of the U.S. currency has surged 35 percent this year.

    The migration of cash out of the financial system is stripping banks of funding and undermining Fernandez’s efforts to hold down interest rates and bolster an economic rebound. The 30-day deposit rate has jumped 1.8 percentage points in the past four months to 14.8125 percent. A three-day decline of 0.8 percentage point that pared the increase in the benchmark rate will prove short-lived as annual inflation of 24 percent drives more Argentines to move money into the underground economy, said Eric Ritondale, an economist at Econviews.

    “Money’s moving out of the banking system and out of the formal economy,” Ritondale said in a telephone interview from Buenos Aires. “As much as the government wants to promote the use of pesos, the truth is they won’t be able to achieve it. You can’t get it done” with interest rates below inflation.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I haven’t done research on the sourcing, so I can’t say “disinformation campaign,” but do, readers, feel free to think it…

      Readers, do we have any reliable sourcing on Argentina?

      1. ZygmuntFraud

        One approach would be to learn what backers
        of Evo Morales in Bolivia think of the goings-on
        in Argentina.

        For that to work, I tend to think one has to
        be able to read Spanish and understand
        spoken Spanish …

      2. ZygmuntFraud

        According to the Web-page below, Cristina Kirchner
        supports Evo Morales (president of Bolivia) and also
        Rafael Correa (president of Ecuador).

        Kirchner also has mentioned trying to
        get Paraguay expelled from Mercosur and/or
        Unasur based on an “undemocratic” or undemocratic
        fast-track impeachment this year of the
        former President of Paraguay Fernando Lugo.


    2. Jim

      I would prefer Mercedes Marco del Pont to Draghi.

      And so should any progressive who values democracy and sovereignty.

      Of course, there are certain liberals who couldn’t care less about how Draghi is subverting democracy in Europe, so long as the “small group of far-sighted statesmen” in Brussels continue to rule by decree. To those liberals, Draghi is the guy.

      But let’s not fool ourselves. You ask 1000 Argentenians and 1000 residents representative of the 17 countries which comprise the EZ.

      And I guarantee you that Argentines are far more content with del Pont than EZers are with Draghi.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    3Q GDP grew at an annual rate of 2%???

    I don’t get it. We’re seeing bad 3Q corporate earnings. How much will they revise this later?

    1. Bert_S

      Public Service Announcement

      Your TV screens and computer monitors will be returned to you on November 7.

  14. craazyman

    The Head Drop

    This is so hilarious you might die laughing. After I was killed dead in my chair reading too many macroecononics articles on the internet, I ascended to the Bardo Realm from which I now peruse the news of the earth, but I no longer read macroeconomics articles. If you die laughing at this, maybe I’ll see you here with your aura glowing like a magic rainbow. hahaha

    1. Valissa

      Ya don’t have to be dead to be in the Bardo zone I think it’s more likely you are in a liminal state/trance state. At least that’s what reading macroeconomics does to me… I zone out pretty quick so try and keep a candle and incense nearby so I can get caught up on my meditation practice… I’m way behind on that so reading economics is a way I sometimes use to enter a state of non-being when more traditional methods fail.

      Have you ever seen how turtles meditate

      Bardo trance inducer one

      Bardo trance inducer two

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You might try watching political debates too, if you don’t happen to have a macroeconomics book handy.

        1. Valissa

          Watching political debates triggers a totally different effect for me. They make me more productive… things like doing the dishes, going for a walk, turning on some dance music to get some exercise, and occasionally a fit of housecleaning. I think it’s a yin-yang thing… macroecnomics triggering a yin response and political debates a yang one.

          1. Valissa

            This is a key reason why I try to avoid political debates. Who wants to be all gung ho productive at 8pm or later? Much rather be drinking good whiskey and watching something relevant on the TiVo… like one of those new acopalytpic TV series “Revolution” or “Last Resort”!

          2. Valissa

            Vive le difference, MLTPB… thanks for being you!

            It applies in so many ways

            On the flip side

            The youthful attitude

            Not everyone agrees

            The downside×262.png

  15. Cop 633

    Cop 633 here. Will Faye Wong help me get out of this place, to find integrity, wholeness in the Indo-Australian Archipelago? Or will she go with Cop 223? Too early to tell.

    Meanwhile, the affair of the Norwegian tennis balls continues to plague us. I ventured into the basement, Faye Wong was there on her knees before the washing machine, which was filled with Norwegian tennis balls. She was in tears. I took her hand. “What?” I said. “Oh, 633,” she said, “is everything galley-west* (see footnote) Everything?” I gave it some thought. Then: “So you’ve been reading Macroeconomics articles again?” She looked away. “It said these Norwegian tennis balls could be washed in an automatic washer and dried in an automatic drier without deleterious effects. I had to try it, didn’t I?”

    footnote: *Galley-West = into destruction or confusion (probably alteration of English dialect collywest badly askew) First Known Use: 1875

  16. kevinearick

    Empire Self-Fulfilling History & Quantum Mobility

    “ ‘He is a good man,’ Judge Jed S Rakoff said of Mr. Gupta on Wednesday. ‘But the history of this country and of the world is full of examples of good men doing bad things.’” (Brilliant/sarc)

    Bernanke is playing with peanuts to keep this thing going another day, relative to what has already been exhausted, whatever figure you care to place on middle class liquidation, or more directly, capsizing the American Enterprise System, for a globalization scheme that does not work. Go figure.

    As a laborer, the most important lessons in the Bible are remain unknown, create multiplier effects locally, and travel to create multiples of multiples. Capital is bred to hunt you down, employing the middle class to do so, building its potential in the process. When you want to release that potential, let it find you. Act wisely, because you have to go through Lazarus to re-initiate.

    When they delay you, they increase pressure on themselves, because delay is the beginning, middle and end of what they do. You will not take robot stupidity personally if you keep your pipeline sufficiently loaded to render their behavior irrelevant.


    Moreover, the example of the ancients prescribed that such histories ought to be written from a purely political point of view. In order to become histories, chronicles and memoirs had to be purged of all extraneous non-political material. The exclusive emphasis on politics had the effect of narrowing the lessons of history from broad prescriptions of moral philosophy to rules of political conduct. History became the handmaiden of politics.


    Everyone understands well enough how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep his word (reference to Cicero), to live with integrity and not by guile. Nevertheless, the experience of our times teaches us that those princes have achieved great things who have looked the keeping of one’s word as a matter of little moment and have understood how, by their guile, to twist men’s minds; and in the end have surpassed those who have rested their power upon faithfulness.

    You ought to understand therefore that there are two ways of fighting, the one by the laws, the other by force. The first is proper to men, the second to beasts; but since in many instances the first is not enough, it is necessary to have a recourse to the second. A prince, consequently, must understand how to use the manner proper to the beast as well as that proper to men…

    Since, then, a prince must of necessity know how to use the beastial nature, he should take as his models from among beasts the fox and the lion; for the lion does not defend himself from traps, and the fox does not defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to scent out the traps and a lion to ward off the wolves.


    Much of what we now classify as medieval political theory…They could no more see the forest for the trees than the theorists could see the trees for the forest. Therefore they did not feel impelled to analyze the means or the resources necessary to achieve those [political] goals, which they simply prescribed as categorically imperative.

    Scarcely less well known is More’s brilliant feat of tracing the failure of criminal justice in England to a legally maintained set of social and economic arrangements which by locking men into their poverty drove the poor to steal out of despair, and then, by establishing the death penalty for theft, made it only prudent for the thief to murder his victim.

    Surely this combination of lessons of antiquity with the quick and accurate reading of the economic and demographic facts of life as they affected the aristocracy, this perception of the church as a useful by-route for a social mobility which was itself a means of releasing and diffusing social pressures, surely all this in the face of the contemporary habit of thought which almost automatically triggered a spasm of horror at the mere notion of such mobility, entitles Seyssel to join More and Machiavelli…It was this habit of confrontation shared by all three that enabled them to see through and beyond the stale hortatory moralism…

    The consequence of this sharp deflation of expectations was to render Seyssel’s enterprise possible.


    …for the mood of disillusionment and self-criticism, of analysis and introspection, which becomes evident when man looks into himself is at the root of Donne’s poetry just as it informs the whole of Montaigne’s writings and reappears in Shakespeare’s dark comedies and his tragedies. [T]he ‘Spirit of the Ages’ tends to express itself in the mood and tenor of its poetry…can we believe in anything like the rapid change from an optimistic outlook in 1590 to a pessimistic one in 1600?

    “But how can a mathematically perfect pendulum driven by an exactly repeating oscillatory force produce motion that is best described as noisy?”

    1. ZygmuntFraud

      I’d say: simply read about the dynastic struggle
      that initiated the Hundred Years War between
      France and England.

      One irony there for me is that English peasants
      were enrolled in armies of the descandants of
      William the Conqueror (the French speak of
      “Guillaume le batard”) of Normandy, to
      fight on French soil or for ports:
      Batlle of La Rochelle, etc.

      Under the Normans, the Old English nobility
      of pre-1066 was “eliminated” …

  17. SR6719

    Re: Why beauty is rarely worth it

    Changing the subject from physical beauty to beauty in art, the American painter Barnett Newman once said: “the impulse of modern art was the desire to destroy beauty”.

    This is mostly true although I would qualify it by saying post-aesthetic modern art, for there is such a thing as aesthetic modern art, whether abstract expressionism or the figural representations of Egon Schiele, Picasso or Lucian Freud.

    There is in fact a kind of stand-off (not to say futile war) between unequivocally and uncompromisingly aesthetic art and unequivocally and uncompromisingly post-aesthetic art in modernity, that is, between absolutely beautiful art (sometimes with no trace of the ugly which makes it creatively incomplete and inadequate) and art so aesthetically indifferent that it’s hard to understand why it’s called art.

    And it’s worth noting that Newman, however different his paintings are from Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, nevertheless agreed with Duchamp that painting should be “at the service of the mind”, that is, according to him it should be an “intellectual expression”.

    For painting and the art world in general, it’s been pretty much downhill from there….

      1. craazyman

        no offense to all you boneheads with the Nikon D3 and a fancy tripod. A Fuji Quicksnap works just as well if you point it at the right thing.

        1. craazyman

          This was supposed to be a comment about macroeconomic theory. I don’t mean to poke harsh fun at photographers since I am one sometimes, and I’m not that good.

          If people only bought stuff they really need, the entire global economy would collapse.

          It might yet, if people realize this all at once.

    1. Valissa

      Yup. The article Telegraph discusses beauty in a very narrow pop media fashion, yet beauty is a multifaceted ideal. I have this perhaps crazy theory that we need the artists (using that word as loosely as possible) to rediscover and re-member beauty and express that redscovery in all the arts so that collectively we will all be inspired to create more beauty in the world.

      “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it” – Confucius

      “We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting.” – Kahlil Gibran

      “Beauty saves. Beauty heals. Beauty motivates. Beauty unites. Beauty returns us to our origins, and here lies the ultimate act of saving, of healing, of overcoming dualism.” – Matthew Fox (the heretic priest, not the actor)

      “Beauty awakens the soul to act.” – Dante Alighieri

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I agree that ‘beautiful people’ is a nonsensical description, pretty much like the term, ‘fastball’ when one guy’s fastball is very fast and another guy’s fastball is, well, slow.

        A better description is a ‘fairly straight ball,’ as in his ‘fairly straight ball’ is 98MPH.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      SR6719, Recall that many “successful” modern artists were backed by the CIA, which fact was somewhat recently brought to light. The CIA also brought us the “successful” literary lights of our age, paying for their promotion in The Paris Review.

      There is NOTHING they won’t do to destroy “spontaneous human culture.” We are but slaves born on the “Corporate Plantation” made in Their Image for Us, as Ralph Nader has recently made clear (link to Ralph Nader illustrating this fact on YouTube is on the thread of NC Links Comments today).

  18. scraping_by

    Beauty, according to the neurobiologists and sociobiologists and all the other strict Darwinians is our attraction to health and vigor, in hopes of leaving behind survival-ready offspring. Dunno. I’ve rarely felt like a caveman at cocktail parties.

    It’s true that beauty, like anything else, can be compressed into a technology and sold. Paints, surgery, fashion, other manipulations, all for a price. Didn’t we have someone talk about technology without liberal arts? Something the same thing.

    I can’t find the reference, but it’s been pointed out the ideal female body type was about 50% over the insurance company ideal weight in the 19th century, advertising you could afford to eat more than you needed, and about 50% below ideal weight in the 20th century, advertising you could afford the leisure to exercise and play games.

    The idea that those who follow fashion do little else does ring true, and I can see the spillover effect.

  19. LeonovaBalletRusse

    N.B. “Politics” feed yesterday from NYT:

    //Crucial Subset: Female Voters Still Deciding
    While female voters generally tend to favor President Obama, that cannot be said of white women without college degrees, a subset known – in this race – as waitress moms.//

    Jill Stein is a Working Mom Who Knows About and Cares for Working Moms.
    Waitress Moms are Working Moms.

  20. LeonovaBalletRusse

    I mean, hasn’t China been set up to become the next British Imperial Raj, replete with expats playing tennis, cricket, and drinking Pimm’s Cups and primo tea?

  21. bulfinch

    RE: Physical Beauty — I know there’s a general idea of what we perceive as beautiful, but this formula itself is pretty conservative and of little interest to someone like meself – a draftsman and sometimes sculptor. I like complex compositions when it comes to shape and color, especially human physical features. The not-immediately easy-to-like beauty is the most exciting in my experience. I get annoyed when people conclude that the opposite of symmetry is ugly, as in the article. I honestly do not get that.

  22. bulfinch

    I know it isn’t personal — I simply sense the vast majority of people have poor insticnts (pedestrian aesthetics).

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