Links 11/25/12

The joys of boredom! Independent (Lambert)

Code Found on Pigeon Baffles British Cryptographers New York Times (Richard Smith). It does point out that if the code was based on a one-time pad, it’s unbreakable.

Galapagos tortoise: a resurrection from extinction? Christian Science Monitor

Dotcom: We’ve hit the jackpot: Indication of FBI double-cross coup in extradition fight, says internet mogul New Zealand Herald

Obama under pressure to show Doha he is serious on climate change Guardian

As drug industry’s influence over research grows, so does the potential for bias Washington Post

SARS-like virus concerns WHO Salon

Filthy rich: Britain’s favourite dictatorship had so much oil its heiresses bathe in it… but beneath the fabulous wealth of Azerbaijan lurks very murky secrets Daily Mail. Lambert doubts the bathing in crude part, but the story has lots of local color.

Arafat’s body to be exhumed for tests Guardian

Morsi & the Muslim Brotherhood Challenged in Egypt Land Destroyer

Egypt Clashes Resume After Night Protest Over Mursi Bloomberg

Egyptian judges call for strike BBC

What REALLY happened in Ohio on Election Night Mark Crispin Miller (Bev). Experts I contacted are skeptical, FYI.

Some insurance companies to Sandy victims: You are covered for hurricanes, not floods Daily New (Lambert)

Many Moons Later, the I.R.S. Questions a Tax Deal Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

Selected Passages from Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s ‘Antifragile’ Josh Brown (Richard Smith). OMG, you must read this! UPDATE: faked, now retracted; will miss them :(

Is Stability Creating Fragility? John Carney (Richard Smith)

The Miasma School of Economics Steve Roth, Angry Bear

How Corporate America Is Turning Into a Cult and Why It’s Harming the American Employee Huffington Post. Um, how does this work in practice? With job tenures super short, it seems most would be let go before they were properly indoctrinated.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. change agent

    re. the insurance company rationale on paying up for flooding vs. hurricane… will make for interesting legal arguments, since the storm was labeled a “hurricane” until just before landfall and much of the storm surge was generated by the direction and motion of the storm while still labeled “hurricane”. “Hurricane Warnings” were provided by NWS to warn residents to prepare, not “Post Tropical Cyclone” warnings for the coast.

    Very much a chicken and egg scenario.

    From a Philadelphia news report a few days before the storm:

    “Sandy will be called a post tropical cyclone when it makes landfall, even though it will be coming in at category one hurricane strength. The name change comes as Sandy loses its characteristics as a tropical cyclone and takes on the structure of a wintertime low pressure area.

    The difference comes from the energy source. Tropical cyclones extract heat from the ocean and grow by releasing that heat to the atmosphere near the storm center. Wintertime cyclones get their energy from temperature contrasts in the atmosphere and the energy is usually distributed over larger areas.

    That said, the name doesn’t mean anything as far as impacts, as they will be the same. ”

    The same except for the insurance company decisions.

    1. LucyLulu

      Having grown up in the Bermuda Triangle, and my mother living there until her death in 2008, my understanding is that unless you specifically purchase flood coverage, you aren’t covered for flood damage. I don’t believe flood damage is even available everywhere. I do know my mother paid $28K/yr for wind and storm damage, which bugged me no end because I doubt the total of all claims the 50+ years she had the house probably didn’t add up to that much. She never mentioned flood, just “wind and storm” as her insurance against hurricanes, so I tend to doubt it. Other than loss of trees and screens from the patio, she never had damage, the house was built like a fortress (unlike what they built in the 70’s and 80’s). The only flood was when I went to fill the bath and forgot about it, flooded a bedroom and living room, lol. (Mom didn;t find it so funny.) Other homes used to flood as the Atlantic washed across A1A into where houses were built, and we came very close once, the Intracoastal was right up to one bedroom window/wall. Has flood damage been covered in other hurricanes?

      Insurance companies make their money by not paying claims.

      1. ambrit

        Our experiences after Hurricane Katrina were the same. The Insurance Companies proved themselves to be a selfish bunch of s—s. And, yes, flood insurance is indeed a separate policy. Most if not all flood policies are backed by the Feds too.
        If the process follows true to form, expect a rash of flood zone reappraisals. Places previously considered “safe” will be downgraded, and the building codes and “mandatory” insurance requirements toughened. The powers that be won’t outright ban residence on those barrier islands and flood plains, but they will work to make it increasingly expensive to live there. Soon, only the wealthy will be able to wake up to the gentle susurrus of the waves on the beach.

      2. herbert gelcoat

        most homeowners’ insurance policies in NY do not cover flooding of any kind, and they state this in big block letters. if you want to be insured for floods you need to get flood insurance.

  2. Eclair

    I guess that the title of Taleb’s new book is pronounced: ahn tee frah gee lay.

    Accent on the 4th syllable.

    1. craazyman


      It’s My new book about living in a world you don’t understand.

      My thesis is this: don’t exert the effort to try to understand, just pretend you do and hope you get lucky.

      If you’re too lazy to learn advanced math, this book will be for you!

      Those quotes from NNT are hilarious. I think will leaf through his book at the bookstore. Who knows what might happen after that? When you want to sell books, there is no such thing as bad PR. This man may need his own reality TV show. I would watch!

      1. Susan the other

        Funny. Reminded me of the Life of Brian – No I’m not your savior so please go away! Amusing to think of Taleb as a telekinetic reincarnated child beauty queen.

    2. Valissa

      Bust a meme! Celebrity intellectual picks a meme to write a book about, then collects evidence to support how pervasive it is. Of course such books should be clever and witty and self-fawning. Ta da! Success!

      One meme that has been selling lots of books in recent years is “resilience”. How is anti-fragility different from resilience? That’s a question that could keep plenty of bloggers busy writing both boring and entertaining BS about.

    3. Rich

      To paraphrase Steve McQeen in the movie Tom Horn; that man is so great his mother would have to stand on my shoulders just to kiss his ass.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Ah … now I get it! Nassim Nicholas Taleb is supporting himself by writing the copy for those Dos Equis ads:

    His charm is so contagious, vaccines have been created for it.
    Years ago, he built a city out of blocks. Today over 600,000 people live and work there.
    He is the only man to ever ace the Rorschach test.
    Every time he goes for a swim, dolphins appear.
    Alien abductors have asked him to probe them.
    If he were to give you directions, you’d never get lost, and you’d arrive at least five minutes early.
    His legend precedes him, the way lightning precedes thunder.
    He is … The Most Interesting Man in the World.

    In Taleb’s first magnum opus, Fooled By Randomness, the reader learns that Taleb has mastered stochastic math the way Steven Hawking has mastered physics. His anecdotes highlight individuals who believed they were prospering, only to be wiped out by an extreme event such as the stock crash of 1987, the bond crash of 1994, a helicopter crash in the leafy suburbs of London, and so forth.

    Incredibly, Taleb then claims that as an option trader, he does the opposite: patiently buying far-out-of-the-money puts which expire worthless for years on end, only to explode in value when welcome disaster finally strikes. That’s like buying thousands of Pick-6 lottery tickets daily, believing that a big win will bail you out — not bloody likely!

    Thanks to his verbal firepower, Taleb’s megalomaniacal rants are as entertaining as Charlie Sheen on a cocaine binge. But at root, there’s something seriously hinky about this guy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him show up on the front page someday, for reasons related to notoriety, rather than his receiving the multiple Nobel prizes which he feels he deserves.

    1. LucyLulu

      So, Taleb was serious? It wasn’t attempts at humor? Surely nobody could be THAT conceited, could they?

      1. ambrit

        Dear LL;
        Yes, they can. I’ve met quite a few over the years. That personality type isn’t as rare as you would imagine.

      2. Susan the other

        I know; that was my first rationalization too. I thought: god, even on my drunkest days I’m not that disconnected.

        1. Susan the other

          i’d like to nominate two commenters, Craazyman and Jim Haygood, for the Make-You-Spit award. And take up a collection for them to start their own show on Comedy Central.

  4. El Snarko

    The “Corporate Doublethink” article is particualrly lame. Twenty five years ago I worked for a distributor that employed a lot of people such as myself: Educated, reasonably smart, highly trainable, despising of the management, and unmotivated by the pay structure. Oh yeah…the worked sucked as well. Still, we all had to be someplace every morning and this was that for us. There were paid vacations, complete benefits and zero real chances to get ahead. Little did I know I was at my apex…anyway:We did business with Honda and way back then we held informal contests coming up with our own versions company songs. This was beyond groupthing, and truely was a case (for some) of the Stockholm Syndrome. So the trope of “disengage intellect, warp mind, get pay check” is nothing new. And like returning war vets the “gold watch’ and benefits at the end of the rainbow dissolve into others pockets.

    1. Middle Seaman

      The article doesn’t seem lame to me. It could have been less impressionistic and more of a social/historical study, but it does provide a correct picture. Had I written it, I would say that companies tend to operate as Soviet/Chinese societies. They have a mythology, discipline, need for absolute dedication and harsh enforcement.

      True, 35 years ago one could see the beginning of the trend. Snarko, true to hir name, emphasizes the fact the old and new times are quite similar. In my opinion, both the quantity and the quality of the Soviet company increased as the GOP became more like the communist party of 35 years ago.

  5. Renodino

    Re: Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood Story. Republicans take note. This how you make “good things” happen. Being a radical minority can have its benefits if you play your cards right. President Ryan wouldn’t have wasted any time.

    1. LucyLulu

      It’s ironic because conservatives I know (and Faux News) saw Morsi as a member of radical terrorist group, the one that spawned bin Laden, the ultimate boogeyman. They decried how Obama had allowed our ally, Egypt, to be overrun by terrorists. Not even ‘allowed’, but intentionally ‘assisted’ an Islamic terrorist group to gain power. I argued that the Muslim Brotherhood probably represented the most “moderate” faction of the choices.

      So, what say conservatives now? Funny how much control a few billion in aid per year affords you. Question: Was Israel using Gaxa as a test run for Iran? Testing their military/security apparatus? Testing level of US support?

      1. ambrit

        Dear LL;
        Wheels within wheels. Israel is always interested in how their army handles “situations.” Any competent commander is. More interesting is the possibility that the recent flurry of more ‘sophisticated’ missiles fired at Israel from Gaza could be Iran probing the Israeli missile defense systems capabilities. If hostilities do break out between the two nations, look for lots and lots of intermediate range missiles to be shot directly from Iran towards Israel. Who knows what the warheads will contain. Iran may not have proper Nuclear Weapons yet, but who knows? There is always the dreaded ‘Dirty Bomb’ to worry about. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Iranians pack a few pounds of powdered enriched uranium around a bursting charge and be prepared to lob it at Tel Aviv if the Israelis were stupid enough to use any of their nuclear arsenal on Iran.

      2. ohmyheck

        From yesterday:

        “Petraeus has been a major supporter of the proxy wars in Libya and Syria . In those efforts he has promoted a policy of collaboration with rightwing Islamist regimes and Islamist opposition movement” and it says he was not in favor of war with Iran. This article discusses how Eric Cantor was involved. Must read, imho.

        But then, from that link, another link:

        It was an attempted Repub coup, and Petraeus did support war with Iran.

        Like ambrit said-wheels within wheels—which wheel is it?

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      NC Link: “Morsi & the Muslim Brotherhood Challenged in Egypt Land Destroyer”
      “A MOSQUE IN MUNICH: NAZIs, The CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West” by Ian Johnson (New York, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010);
      GOT GOLD? Gold mining stocks? Keiser silver coin?

  6. karpodiem

    Hear ye, hear ye –

    The 2nd (!) annual (unofficial) NC holiday meetup is quickly approaching. Last year we gathered for drinks at Trinity Place, which is adjacent to Zucotti Park. It was loud, crowded, but hey – it moved the discussion along a bit, and helped with the awkward moments that invariably come with meeting people who comments on a blog (but NC is not you average finance blog, amirite?).

    Hope to see some fellow NC readers at Trinity place on Friday, December 14th at 7pm.

    Here’s a link to the event page –

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          “N.C. Club hegemony” above means “North Carolina Club hegemony” — The “Marines” – Maritime Industry and Law – Yale – Walker-Bush Plantation Nexus – Bank of America – Burroughs-Wellcome Research Triangle Park – The North Carolina University Triangulation for Anglo-American Establishment White “Confederate” Cult Supremacy.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        “Kogard Courtyard”
        The Kogod School of Business, the first business school to be established in Washington DC in 1955, has provided business education in the United States capital for more than 50 years. Located in the nation’s capital, where decisions on policy and regulation regularly affect the ways business is conducted and technology is used around the world, KOGOD’S CURRICULUM IS INSPIRED BY AN APPRECIATION OF THE STRONG TIES BETWEEN BUSINESS AND POLITICS. AMERICAN UNIVERSITY’S 84-ACRE (340,000 M2) CAMPUS IS LOCATED NEAR MANY EMBASSIES AND GOVERNMENT OFFICES, PROVIDING THE SORT OF INSIGHT INTO THE POLICY MAKING AND REGULATORY COMMUNITIES THAT ONLY PROXIMITY CAN BRING./
        /Kogod students represent more than 75 countries, and one-third of the faculty hails from outside of the U.S. The Kogod School of Business is focused on interdisciplinary education through collaboration with other academic disciplines within American University’s colleges to create innovative programs that produce well-rounded leaders who can adapt to and anticipate change.
        Founded in 1955 as the School of Business Administration, the School was housed in the McKinley Building. IN 1979, ROBERT KOGOD, a major real estate developer and president of the Charles E. Smith Companies, made A MAJOR DONATION TO RENAME THE SCHOOL the Robert P. and Arlene R. Kogod College of Business Administration. In 1999, the school moved into its current location, formerly the John Sherman Meyer Building, vacated by the Washington College of Law. The building received a major renovation, and the school changed its name to the Kogod School of Business. In 2009, the school opened a 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) expansion. The new Kogod includes a FINANCIAL SERVICES AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY LAB, BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH LAB, a center for career development, seven additional classrooms, three breakout rooms, and a new student lounge.
        . . .
        Kogod offers several graduate degrees including an MBA, Master of Science in Accounting, Master of Science in Finance, Master of Science in Real Estate and Master of Science in Taxation. Also available are joint MA/MBA programs with the SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL SERVICE and joint MBA/JD and LLM/MBA programs with the WASHINGTON COLLEGE OF LAW. The Wall Street Journal ranked Kogod graduate programs #36 in their regional recruiter ranking.[4]/
        /A brand-new program that will be introduced in Fall 2012 is the Master of Science in Sustainability Management, one of the first programs of its kind in the country./
        . . .
        /2010 marked the launch of the KOGOD GLOBAL MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE (KGMI). KGMI is an intensive one-week program for practitioners and graduate students that explores the critical importance that emerging markets play in the global economy. . . . The program includes site visits to institutions such as the EXPORT-IMPORT BANK of the United States, the INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND, the OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE, and the WORLD BANK.// [extra. caps mine]

        “Reynolds, Kogod” — Naked Cap MeetUp in the Mouth of the Beast, D.C.?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It’s early enough….why don’t you see if you can reserve some TABLES????? Last year, we got the vibe that we could have…..

      That would make it a lot more comfortable, even if it doesn’t solve the noise level. I promise to table hop if you succeed.

  7. LucyLulu

    What a coincidence to see this link to the NYTimes today, Yves. The Fairfax/Odyssey Re case immediately jumped to mind as a prime example during the discussion of the IRS not issuing decisions in advance the other day. Not that Fairfax likely called the IRS to ask if what they did was okay, surely they wouldn’t have tipped the IRS off to their dealings, but that the IRS took years to make a final ruling. Not all issues are black and white, and often these questionable cases lead to the IRS issuing “clarifications”. Last I heard, quite a while ago, the case was still pending. It’s also an example of how having enough money means one can avoid taxes. I mean, Fairfax bought a damn reinsurance company so they could declare all their losses (while us peasants, not having the luxury of buying our own corporation to launder our losses, are only allowed to take $3000 of losses in one year). I strongly suspect high-powered tax attorneys such as those used by people like Romney would take advantage of questionable strategies on the gamble they will prevail if questioned. Romney can pay far more for talent than Uncle Sam, after all, who is stuck with loons like Bachmann. :D I’m just waiting for the announcement that there will be an amnesty on repatriation of foreign profits if they promise to create jobs, ya know its coming. Then the IRS audits poor schmucks like me that can’t afford a tax lawyer (like you, I have a very healthy respect for the IRS, who can deem you guilty until proven innocent, so I’m going nuts right now).

    And I can also attest to the IRS having misinformation. I have sent my auditor copy of IRS code as she has told me I need to meet criteria quite different than stated in their code (and what I complied with). That’s what happens when the tax code is several volumes thick and changes every year. Yet J6P, who can’t make change, is expected to be able to do his own taxes. Whatever……..

    And you’re right, tax attorneys are high, perhaps the highest paid of all attorneys. (I dated one, left him for my ex, sigh…should have at least kept in touch.) They go back to get their master’s in tax law after getting their JD.

    Is the IRS picking up on the number of audits they are doing? For years it seemed like it was rare to hear of anybody being audited. Lately, not so much.

    Sorry for the rant. But as usual, you were spot on, Yves.

      1. ambrit

        Lucy Lulu. Hey, give him a break. He IS a lizard person. Doesn’t that count?
        PS. Don’t tell me last years box of Crunch and Munch was Kibbles and Bits!

        1. LucyLulu

          No, don’t worry your poor little heart. I know you and everyone else here are cat people so I gave out Meow Mix.

          I’m very thoughtful like that.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Hey, I like dogs, the breed of cat that seems to be best at enslaving me (Abyssinians) is halfway to being dogs (you can leash train them, for instance). But cats are lower maintenance.

    1. kareninca

      Here is an extra antidote for today:

      Last week we went to our friends’ yard for the evening dog-frolic. It was very dark out, even in the yard. Our dog – a German-Shepherd Golden Retriever mix (we think) started sniffing at something. Then she stood back, and looked at me and my husband, seeming upset.

      My husband went over with his flashlight and found a bird. At first we thought it was badly injured because it could barely move, but then we saw it was caught in a bit of the netting they work into sod these days. We snipped the netting, and it flew off.

      All the while that we messed with the bird and the netting, our dog sat by looking concerned. The Australian Shepherd ran frantically around in circles, thinking she ought to be doing something. The Dachshund yapped into space. Only the Husky was kept outside the gate, since she would have acted like a CAT and KILLED it.

      1. TK421

        What a good dog! The more I watch dogs, mine or other people, the more I’m fascinated by how much more complex they are than I used to think.

      2. LucyLulu

        Thank you for sharing something to restore a bit of sense to this group before all felt compelled to read articles about boredom. Being around cats will do that to you. Do you think that cat people are little bit off perhaps?

        True happiness is a 50 lb pit bull curled up in your lap.

        *Haven’t read the article yet, LS, it’s probably very good. No insult intended. It can be hard to detect intent in written word and my humor tends to be dry…. and questionably humorous. (It kinda got me in trouble with Yves once.)

  8. JEHR

    I love that article on boredom. It hits exactly the right note. When one is waiting for an appointment or a bus there are so many things to look at or listen to that we might otherwise not notice if we weren’t waiting. I keep a small artist’s pad for sketching when I am waiting for my appointment for blood tests in the hospital. I have lots of sketches of the backs of people’s heads and I guess that would be considered boring.

    Everyone should read that article.

    1. TK421

      That’s a good idea. Who knows, maybe those people would let you draw the front of their head if you asked. They might be bored and looking for some diversion, too.

  9. Bev

    Yves, please ask your experts to talk to Mark Crispin Miller and Cliff Arnebeck to see what convergence may happen versus any disagreements that you suggested about their article you cite:

    What REALLY happened in Ohio on Election Night

    Because, like scientific knowledge, good journalism and history can (if we are brave and lucky) become more correct over time. It is more important to get it correct than to get it first. And, to own up to mistakes in early knowledge by updating and correcting as we go along in time. It is the thing that can give a non-omnipotent person the courage to speak at all when happily, correcting wrong information is so doable.

    I have such high regard for Cliff Arnebeck and Mark Crispin Miller and as well as you, that I want to see this discussed with all the experts involved.


    Some background and contact info for Mark Crispin Miller who could use even a fraction of the successful fund raising that you have accomplished because of your good works and information.

    About News From Underground

    News From Underground is a daily e-news service run by Mark Crispin Miller, a Professor of Culture and Communication at NYU. It is based on his belief that academics, like reporters, have a civic obligation to help keep the people well-informed, so that American democracy might finally work.

    If you’d like to receive updates delivered to your inbox daily, sign up for News From Underground Alerts:


    Message from Mark: “I am a one-man operation, although assisted greatly by some volunteers, and, now and then, by people paid by others for one-time projects. There is no shortage of skilled, dedicated folks out there who want to help me. There is, however, nothing I can pay them with, unless you decide you can contribute something.”

    Please donate via the ChipIn widget above or via paypal to



    Just what are your experts suggesting but not yet saying.

    1. Chris A

      Miller’s post is rather muted and oblique. I had to give it a second read to understand what he was suggesting.

      1. Bev

        Cliff Arnebeck wrote the letter not Mark Crispin Miller who provided an introductory sentence. Maybe my post was also confusing: I only listed the link and name of the post, and then added my own thoughts.

        It is a brief post. The Anonymous hacking is still being looked into. The bulk of the story is first person with Cliff Arnebeck saying what he did, and what he supposes was the response to his legal action. I think it is clear.

        What REALLY happened in Ohio on Election Night

        Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis are the two Ohio attorneys who deposed Mike Connell, and who have otherwise been working to expose Karl Rove’s election thievery since 2004.

        From Cliff:

        Some hackers/spooks hacked Romney’s computers, which crippled his election day get out the vote activity. However I fail to see how this relates to Rove’s meltdown on Fox News that night.

        A successful hack of the Romney campaign computers would have affected all of the operation, would have been illegal, and would have been known to Rove early on election day. So, it does not explain Rove’s dramatic disconnect over Fox’s calling Ohio for Obama at the 11 PM (EST) news hour.

        The hack we discovered was limited to Ohio. Its use was coming from Bob Urosevich the same guy who personally delivered a malicious patch in Georgia 2002 which flipped the votes and outcome in their governor and US Senate races. Our exposure of the problem in court through one of the top cyber security experts in the world (so certified by NSA) occurred at about 3:15 PM on election day.

        Urosevich would have been informed that the fix had been exposed and that an Ohio judge with jurisdiction had expressed willingness to adopt the corrective action recommended by our expert. He and the one operative who would have been positioned pull the trigger, instead nixed the operation. Neither of them would have been so foolish as to contact Rove to inform him that the Ohio fix was off. Rove’s communications were surely being monitored by law enforcement authorities.

        Thus, Rove’s mistaken rant over Ohio being prematurely called for Obama.

        Cliff Arnebeck


        I am sure as more detail is provided and verified, it will be made available.

  10. dcblogger

    How Corporate America Is Turning Into a Cult and Why It’s Harming the American Employee Huffington Post. Um, how does this work in practice? With job tenures super short, it seems most would be let go before they were properly indoctrinated.

    Pretty funny coming from the Huffington Post and Arianna’s eagerness to get her employess to join her cult.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      dcb, for “Arianna’s cult” see “Fractal”
      “Figure 1a. The Mandelbrot set illustrates self-similarity. As you zoom in on the image at finer and finer scales, the same pattern re-appears so that it is virtually impossible to know at which level you are looking.”

  11. rich

    CEO Council Demands Cuts To Poor, Elderly While Reaping Billions In Government Contracts, Tax Breaks

    To understand the importance of banking profits to the members of the deficit council, one need look no further than the two top-ranking members of the Campaign To Fix The Debt’s steering committee, former New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg (R) and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat. Gregg is currently employed as an international adviser to Goldman Sachs, while Rendell collects his paycheck from the boutique investment bank Greenhill & Co.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      rich, N.B. book published in York, Pennsylvania in 1993:
      “NOBILITY and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History” by Plinio Correa de Oliveira (York, PA, The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property [TFP]: “a registered name of The Foundation for a Christian Civilization, Inc.); preaching gospel of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Bavarian Hitler Jugend), now Pope Benedict XVI; and featuring the Foreword by Morton C. Blackwell, “Nobility” sycophant, Republican Committeeman of Virginia, and effective minister of youth education for Ronald Reagan President.

      Consider the latest “sports-boy abuse” scandal in PA; consider Biden’s beloved “Roman Catholic (White) Blue Collar Workers” in PA; consider “Philadelphia” itself, its history within the frame of the “Philadelphes” of France; consider the “City of Brotherly Love” of Founder Benjamin Franklin of the Parisian Lodge of “Neuf Soeurs”.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Michael Hudson is The People’s Mensch, a Real American Hero, the ONLY one willing to lay it on the line. His last word is “THEFT.”

          ARREST those in the “Conspiracy to Commit Theft” of Social Security through “privatization.”

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            Moreover, ARREST Members of Congress who ever have aided and/or abetted THEFT of the Social Security Trust through de facto embezzlement/looting. CLAW BACK these assets from M.C. pensions/payouts to M.C.’s (converted into whatever form of “wealth” today, even of their heirs), as penalty for aiding/abetting fraud/theft by /looting/embezzlement while in Office.

          2. ambrit

            Dear LBR;
            Couldn’t they be, er, “s— while trying to escape?” (I know, I know, sweetness and light rule the cosmos.)

    2. LucyLulu

      From your link, Blankfein says that SS was never intended to support workers for 30 years after working 25……

      First, I don’t know who gets to retire on SS after 25 years. Do they not work until they reach 40-42? I was getting a paycheck, 20 hrs/week at 15, cleaning kennels and bathing animals (actually loved it, stayed til left for college, but was promoted, wanted to be vet so they let me do everything when owners not around!). My mother wanted us out of the house, and we wanted out of her house just as bad. Don’t think I’m any exception here with 40 yrs working and counting.

      More importantly, he’s right.SS wasn’t meant to be a sole source of income, People also had company pensions. 401K’s were also never meant to replace pensions as it is well known that people never save nearly enough nor do they make the same returns as a pension does (after fees), average annual return on 401K has been 2.x% Did Yves do an article recently? Think so.

      Carly Fiorina, on Meet the Press today, responded to Al Sharpton (he does cut to the chase and get it right sometimes) when he said “You’re asking all the people for shared sacrifice when not all the people shared in enjoying the wealth and prosperity. That isn’t fair.” She said it wasn’t fair that you had govt workers earning big fat pensions while cities and counties were going broke and firemen were losing their jobs. What a hypocrite. Let’s talk about who had big fat compensation. It wasn’t govt workers.

      From the Fix the Debt Group in your article David Cote, also on MTP, said as soon as the deficit was addressed he would start hiring lots of workers as would other CEO’s, that it will bring all kinds of money off the sidelines. What a crock of sh*t! They’ll hire people when they think can make money off the additional labor, not before, and not after. The debt has nothing to do with it. A market for the additional product or services, yeah maybe.

      Is this supposed to be like “cutting taxes creates jobs?” You don’t need to be a business owner or CEO to figure that one out.

      They had somebody else on, not sure who (Patty Murray?, only half watching) saying we could raise the retirement age, no problem, we’d done it couple times before. Great. Easy to say for Congress, they only work about 45 days per year. Let’s make them get a real world job, at real world wages, with real world healthcare, and confiscate those insider portfolios. Maybe they could be blacksmiths……. until they are 70. It’s the only profession where your ass is higher than your head.

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        I can help out Blankfein with the math and put his worries to rest.

        Let’s say you go to college and graduate at 22. Add 25 years and you get 47!

        Early retirement SS you can get at 62.

        Subtract 47 from 62 and you get 15.

        That means after 25 years, you must have enough savings to live for 15 years before qualifying for early retirement!

        Not likely for the 99%, so Lloyd is worrying about a bunch of ghosts collecting social security.

        1. rich

          they don’t seem to worry about this though?????hmm…

          How Charter Schools Fleece Taxpayers

          In government, if I help myself to taxpayer dollars, we call that embezzlement and I go to jail. In the private sector, if I help myself to taxpayer dollars, we call that innovation and I get hailed as a visionary exponent of public-private partnership. That’s the lesson of a Nov. 17 investigation by Anne Ryman of the Arizona Republic into the state’s charter schools.

          In her examination of Arizona’s 50 largest nonprofit charter schools and all of Arizona’s nonprofit charter schools with assets exceeding $10 million, Ryman found “at least 17 contracts or arrangements, totaling more than $70 million over five years and involving about 40 school sites, in which money from the non-profit charter school went to for-profit or non-profit companies run by board members, executives or their relatives.” That says to me that in Arizona, at least, charter-school corruption isn’t the exception. It’s the rule. And that’s just in the nonprofit charter schools. Documentation for the for-profit schools is not publicly available. What are the odds that charter-school proprietors operating in the dark are less inclined to enrich themselves at public expense?

          The self-dealing is entirely legal.

  12. Max424

    I was at my computer the other morn and I was bored. Yves’ links were particularly bland. My peak oil doom sites were filled with –surprise!– interminable gloom, and the New York Times was, well, The New York Times. Dull as dishwater. The Blasé Lady.

    It was the same old crap, everywhere I clicked. Yawn.

    At that supremely uninteresting moment I noticed my cat was staring at me, probably had been staring at me for quite some time.

    Cheezer, my 15 year old female. A little arthritic, a little on the lazy side. No longer seeks The Action. Has lost her inner-killer, the thing that lit her spark.

    Stares out the window now mostly, when she isn’t doing nothing.

    So I said, to rekindle a little of that youthful, whatever, Do you know what we’re going to do old girl? We’re going to play … Tin Foil Ball!

    With that I scooped her up with great enthusiasm and placed her in front of her goal, the hall doorway, and I got out the tin foil ball and my hockey stick, a six inch ruler, and I began to take some mighty slappers.

    And Cheezer made some saves, and kicked them out, and then she made some great saves, and kicked those out too. It was like old times! I felt a grand rush, so I let go a rising screamer that would have gone out the window in the summer, but she picked it out of the air with her paw!

    Lightening quick cat! I cried. Like Dominic Hasek in his prime!

    But she left it out a tad too much, and I snuck in on the rebound and tucked it neatly under her armpit for goal. And that was that.

    Cheez arched her back, looked at the offensive object behind her, twisted, got up, walked away from the game, away from Tin Foil Ball, out into the kitchen, where she sat by her half filled dry food bowl.

    I was mad. I was hurt. I said, I get it, cat! So this is what this was all about. Food? And your bowl is always, what, half empty?

    I got out the dry food bad and poured dry food into her half FILLED dry food bowl, and said, I don’t know how you eat that shit, gatto. Do you know what that shit tastes like? It tastes like unflavored baked aggregate!

    And dry food is boring! Do you got that? Boring, boring, boring. Just like you!

    She ignored me, so I sat down and watched her eat. Crack, crack, crack. I sat there for about 20 minutes, just watching Cheezer eat her dry food like I always do.

    God, I could watch all day, I love it so. But I had things to do. Exciting things. And my day was just starting.

  13. MacCruiskeen

    ” Um, how does this work in practice? With job tenures super short, it seems most would be let go before they were properly indoctrinated.”

    Anyone who’s worked in or for any big organization in the past few decades knows that “working in practice” is not really a requirement for management to try implementing the latest consultant-produced fad. Doesn’t work? Just latch on to the next fad.

    Also, it’s not to hard to see that if a lot of companies do it, then workers become used to being treated that way, even if no one really has a complete grip. After all, they don’t need lifelong devotion, just pliancy and a willingness to sacrifice personal life for company gain.

  14. scraping_by

    Re: Dotcom

    The FBI is a Fire Department with a policy of arson.

    Reading Mark Felt’s A G-man’s Life: The FBI, being ‘Deep Throat’, and the Struggle for Honor in Washington one of the major themes is keeping the Bureau independent of political influences from the Administrations that come and go. This left it under the political sway of Hoover and his hand picked circle. And outside legal influence.

    The confusion of means and ends never seems to bother him, or, I assume, agents in general. So if a labor leader in FBI custody throws himself off a 14 story building, or dumb Muslim boys nod their head when the question is bombs (the psychology of cult leadership is well known) they’re playing some game that doesn’t involve the rest of us. Except as duck pins.

  15. LeonovaBalletRusse

    NC Link “Dotcom: We’ve hit the jackpot: Indication of FBI double-cross coup in extradition fight, says internet mogul New Zealand Herald”

    “William Engel – Carpathia”? Spooky stuff.

  16. Hugh

    People like Taleb and Roubini have had very successful and remunerative careers out of making a single observation about our corrupt and kleptocratic financial system, without ever recognizing its corruption or criminality. Establishment liberals like Krugman have done much the same recycling a few pithy observations as well, again without acknowledging the criminal nature of the whole. I suppose the main difference between Taleb and Krugman (and I would suspect Roubini) is that Taleb has not learned the art of recycling his memes and so has taken to shark jumping instead.

    1. Valissa

      Makes sense to me :)

      Jumping the shark, part 1

      Jumping the shark, part 2

      What sharks want

      Jumping the shark is not just a metaphor for this guy

      Signs your life has jumped the shark

    2. skippy

      Hay when you have a system built on devouring the weak to feed the troops and you run out of weak…. well… some of the troops become the new weak…

      Skippy… that’s what happens when you make deals with the wraith.

      PS. now for something completely different: Key & Peele: Pegasus Sighting

      I cant help but feel this video is sort of racist
      LifeOM 4 days ago 59

      u clearly havent seen the lepracaun in alabama video

      Ryan Bradshaw in reply to LifeOM (Show the comment) 1 day ago 23

      PSS. Personally I think Taleb has jumped the Pegasus… sharks have been around to long… Too mathematically linear thingy…

  17. Antifa

    Alas, the poor, bony pigeon found up a chimney is actually carrying a deeply encrypted version of several words from The Funniest Joke In The World, originally written by the late Ernest Scribbler of Brighton.

    Anyone who hears it, in English or German, dies of laughter moments later.

    It would be very unwise to attempt to decipher the joke at this point as Britain is not currently at war with the Hun. I cannot stress enough how dangerous this joke is. I myself saw two words of it in ’43 and am confined to an institution to this day because of it.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Antifa;
      I had never thought of that possibility. You’re right, of course. The pigeon in question is from before Professor G Lister developed the deadly “Ultimate Melody,” which was later quarantined by the Geneva Convention. (Contrary to the stories arc, enough evidence remained to reconstruct the auditory oddity.)

    1. JTFaraday

      “HUDSON: I think the voucher system you’re talking about is for Medicare and for Medicaid, not Social Security. So what are we talking about now? Social Security [crosstalk]

      JAY: Yes, I’m sorry. Not voucher, but to create Social Security as a private fund that people can invest. And I thought Obama and Biden said they would not support that.

      HUDSON: Yeah, I think that’s correct. This is a Republican plan. I don’t think it’s the Democratic plan to support privatization. When the Republicans say look at Chile, that’s a wonderful thing to do. Every single pension plan put in by Pinochet’s party at gunpoint in the 1970s, every one was looted by the employers and by the banks and went bankrupt by the end of the 1970s. That’s why the Chilean voters threw out the party and voted for the socialists, who were against doing this. So all you have to do is look at Chile.

      But of course the Republicans are looking at Chile and say, my god, we can put all of the private money into the pension funds to be Social Security funds to be invested, and then we can steal it all, we can steal trillions of dollars, we can get richer than we’ve ever dreamed of if we can only have the right to steal. And that’s what this is. The—what the—talking about Social Security reform is theft, and that’s what it should be called, theft.”

      Well, I don’t know. Obamacare wasn’t “a Democratic” idea either and look how that turned out.

  18. j.s.nightingale

    Bringing the Galapagos tortoise back to life is such a Barnum and Bailey menagerie moment. People are born, they live and they die. Species speciate, flourish and become extinct. It’s what we all do. The joy and marvel of the Galapagos is its illustration of a vast range of species descended from common ancestors, giving an empirical demonstration of evolution. The flip side of this is that common ancestors become extinct. Producing a mash-up of ‘Lonesome George’s’ genotype will teach nothing we don’t already know about selective breeding.

  19. ChrisPacific

    Synopsis of the Dotcom story: the FBI warrant to shut down Megaupload was based on their failure to delete certain files which they were in fact legally obliged not to delete, in order to cooperate with an earlier search warrant and investigation against one of their clients. Nice Catch 22 there.

    I would be inclined to regard this as incompetence rather than conspiracy, simply on the grounds that if it was a conspiracy I think they’d have done a better job of it. The fact that two different agencies were involved (the earlier warrant obliging the files to be retained was issued by Homeland Security) adds some support to this theory. Since Megaupload was never accorded due process, none of this came out in the wash as it would normally have done.

  20. scraping_by

    Re: Culty Walmart

    One thing libertarian and other antigubmint types scrupulously avoid is the idea that private business can be a source of oppression just as malign and far reaching as any government.

    Wally’s corporate Newspeak (the B vocabulary) rose up in the Evangelical/capitalist world of direct marketing, the power of positive thinking when you’re thinking about money. It deliberately substitutes enthusiasm for reflection, making emotional gestures instead of considered decisions, concentrating on present impulses over long-term goals.

    One common theme in the motivational speaker racket is pushing all responsibility for outcomes on the mark, er, marketer. Many people will get violent if you point out the same action can result in many different reactions, that when you depend on conditions not under your control (always) the outcomes can’t be all your efforts. They usually start shouting about ‘work harder! work harder!’

    One question of any con game is who’s the fool and who’s doing the fooling. The cynical slogans and relabeling behind turning over your life to someone else’s benefit may seem like sheep and wolves. But even those pushing this snake oil are falling for another game.

  21. Maximilien

    Page 156 (from Taleb’s book): “Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.”

    Just for the record, the four cardinal virtues are: Prudence, Temperance, Justice, and Fortitude. Honesty is not one of them.

    Fortunately for Taleb, sloppiness is not one of the seven deadly sins.

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