Links 12/31/12

The 9 most newsworthy dogs of 2012 The Week

Star struck! Dazzling collection of Hubble Telescope photographs released this year captures countless swirling stars as they sparkle in space Daily Mail

The Best of Los Angeles Street Art 2012 (PHOTOS)  HuffPo

The Year in Music Sasha Frere-Jones, New Yorker

8 Results for “”Best of 2012″” MIT Review

The best leadership moments of 2012 WaPo

Hillary Clinton hospitalized with blood clot AP

Mother of gang rape victim taken to hospital after collapsing at cremation as it emerges daughter was set to marry man she was with when attacked Daily Mail

Syria is many conflicts rolled into one. It is also at the centre of two regional struggles Independent

Descent Into Holy War: What’s Really Happening in Syria Truthout. I thought Obama was going to recognize the Syrian rebels? Did I not get the memo?

Chinese think tank: conflict inevitable between Japan, China over Senkakus Asahi Shimbun

Raising the curtain on 2013 FT

Great Drought of 2012 continuing into 2013 Jeff Masters, Weather Underground

Pro-marijuana campaign looks ahead after 2012 victories Reuters

Fecal Cliff

No fiscal deal Sunday; Senate to return for dramatic New Year’s Eve NBC. “Dramatic” rather lets the cat out of the bag.

Fiscal Cliff: GOP Gives In On Social Security Cuts In Stalled Talks (UPDATE) HuffPo. So now Obama wants chained CPI but the Republicans don’t.

Going Over the Cliff Is the Only Way to Save the Government  Jeffrey Sachs, HuffPo

Spending sequester emerges as key to deal The Hill

Another year in thrall to the central bankers FT

Dr. Black Did It as a Shorter; Here’s the Data Angry Bear (in response to).

Experts back Deutsche whistleblowers FT

Not Holding My Breath But… Eliot Spitzer: ‘We’ve turned a corner’ – Wall Street Should Expect Criminal Cases in 2013 4closurefraud

Empires of Illusion and the Credibility Trap Jesse’s Café Américain

Top 8 Dumbest Responses After the Sandy Hook Elementary School Mass Shooting in Newtown, CT BradBlog

On Vampire Capitalism and the Fear of Inoculation Harpers

Maria Popova: why we need an antidote to the culture of Google Guardian

Building Congregations Around Art Galleries and Cafes as Spirituality Wanes Times

Open data is not a panacea mathbabe

Facebook security hole allows anyone to view private New Year’s Midnight Delivery messages and photos The Verge

I don’t want to download your app Dan Newcome

Were Obama’s Early Ads Really the Game Changer? Times

Economic wave may course through icy, but melting, Arctic McClatchy

The tech debate blasts off (a linkfest) Towards a leisure society. Robots.

Antidote du jour:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post on by .

About Lambert Strether

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


    1. from Mexico


      The gun lobby surely is diligently working these threads of late. The pro-gun and pro-violence messages are popping up on every thread, regardless of the topic at hand.

      A great many of these arguments are based on Mao Zedong’s assertion that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” This allows the gun lobby to rally under the banner of freedom fighters — as the last great defenders of guerilla or people’s war.

      Do people need to be reminded, however, that the United States grew out of a completely different tradition and philosophy of the origins of power, and that is that power comes not from the barrel of a gun, but from the consent of the people?

      And then there’s the delicous irony of how the right-wing corporatists have all of a sudden become freedom fighters, invoking the methods and philosophies that have traditionally been those of left-wing insurgencies. For those who buy into the notion that the right-wing corporatists are freedom fighters, I’ve got some nice ocean-front property in Arizona to sell you.

      1. JTFaraday

        “A great many of these arguments are based on Mao Zedong’s assertion that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”…

        Do people need to be reminded, however, that the United States grew out of a completely different tradition and philosophy of the origins of power, and that is that power comes not from the barrel of a gun, but from the consent of the people?”

        Ah, the selective memory of Cold War era American history and the political theory that issues from it.

        Let us not forget that the newly minted US fedgov, which some have convincingly argued was formed in part against the extant democratic activism of its day, garnered its “consent” to said government through the use of more than mere rhetorical warfare on what was then the “western frontier.”

        Most notably, in western MA (“Shay’s Rebellion,” in the language of the victors) and in western PA and OH (the “Whiskey Rebellion”), although I am starting to think we ought to start compiling a list of American peasant rebellions, as European historians have done for feudal Europe, upon which our contemporary theorists have also gone soft, taken with its later chivalric gloss.

        William Hogeland, who has guest posted here—and I can’t believe I’m going to quote him because the way he can’t even say “John Adams” without prefacing it with “the elitist” really gets under my skin—has this to say about the Whiskey rebellion:

        “At the heart of American whiskey production, Hamilton used his powers under the new Constuitution to cartelize the whiskey business for rich, militarily connected commercial operators, remove whiskey’s democratic finance effect as a currency, end poor people’s marginal access to cash (it was a cash crop), and bar small producers from the market.

        People who call Hamilton smart are understating the case. The whiskey tax was inspired, a miracle of multileveled policy integration. And all of its mechanisms served the old (banker Robert) Morris purpose of ‘opening the purses of the people’: moving widely scattered wealth from the mass of ordinary people upward, to the few bondholders, cementing high finance to national government projects. The tax funded 6 percent tax free interest in gold and silver for the (national debt) bondholders. Many of them were the same industrial distillers, commercial farmers, absentee landlords, and merchant lenders whose (business) enterprises directly benefited from the tax as well.”

        (From Hogeland, Founding Finance: How Debt, Speculation, Foreclosures, Protests, and Crackdowns Made Us a Nation).

        That was Hamilton’s part. When things developed into outright protest, former military man and new President GW put down the rebellion and made everyone involved sign loyalty oaths to US fedgov. Hogeland adds

        “Washington then stationed federal troops indefinitely in the region where he’d had the prisoners rounded up. In that process the sovereignty of the United States was established.”

        I think Hogeland’s point is well taken about how US sovereignty was founded in action in real time and through the use of federal finance policy and the use of force, as opposed to its bare existence as an idea on paper.

        That said, no their guns won’t save them in this century either. That fact does not, however sadly, contradict Mao’s statement that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” all too much of the time.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Didn’t those who failed to consent, and it is said that there were not a few, moved to Canada?

      2. Rolands

        I don’t know if armed citizens in the USA can prevent the consolidation of the authoritarian capitalist regime.

        However, I don’t see much reason why any citizens in the USA should give up their firearms until they can at least see positive proof that the central authorities are willing to give up all the powers they’ve claimed since the world wars.

        It is said that armed citizens’ uprisings are usually defeated by the armed forces of the state. Well, duh. Of course that’s what happens. You don’t revolt against the government because you’re convinced that you’ll win. You revolt against the government because you’re convinced you must fight, because you do not want to have it said of you that you lived in such times and witnessed such things, and failed to rise. There are worse things than defeat, disgrace is merely subjective, and death comes to us all anyway.

        Besides, sometimes you actually do accomplish something, and when that day comes, you take your part of the human story and move it all in a different direction. Whole new concepts can become possible. When we defeat those who wrongly claim the right to rule over us, we take the lead authorship of history. It can be tremendous, and dwarfs the petty reckonings of the utilitarian.

      3. Jack Parsons

        Bringing whiskey into the tax system had very important consequences for farmers. Remember, you had to get your goods to market with horses, not trucks. Moving wheat to consumers was fantastically expensive. So, if you brewed your own whiskey, you could pack a lot more value into what you hauled with the horse. Plus, and this was really important, if you left it in the barrel it automatically gained value! (Barring the ‘angels’ share’.) You could not do this with money, because banks were not trustworthy. Timberland, farmland and whiskey were the only “rentier” investments available.

        Thus, when you read about the prodigious amounts of hard liquor consumed in pre-industrial times, that is why: distilled spirits packed a financial wallop. In 1920 half of the US was rural. From then to the present, people have moved to the cities and hard liquor consumption has steadily dropped. Cheap transport for farm goods is the cause of the latter.

    2. lakewoebegoner

      sheesh, people have watched “Red Dawn” a bit too much.

      Reminder, the US government won at Waco….and that was with the ATF/FBI B-team.

      1. leftover

        So tell me…what is the official liberal capitalist line on Waco now?
        I mean…has the body count been revised?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Er, the commenter was pointing out that the gun[nut|owner|advocate] talking point of mass gun ownershipy as a barrier against tyranny was a fantasy.

          Smarter trolls, please.

          1. from Mexico

            Lambert Strether said:

            …mass gun ownership as a barrier against tyranny [i]s a fantasy.


            There are some serious flaws in the logic that private gun ownership serves as an impediment to tyranny. In Mexico, the cartels have way more fire power than the government, and it would be difficult to find anything more tyrannical than them.

          2. leftover

            So anybody who may misunderstand your BS or make a mistake or disagree with you is a troll?
            Why don’t you just ban me if I offend you that much.
            It must be glorious to be you. So smart. So perfect in every way. So chock full of all the answers everyone doesn’t give a rat’s ass about.

            You people are no different than the right-wing slobs you disparage for fun. You’re just as intolerant and just as bigoted.
            Thanks for teaching me that, at least.

          3. Garrett Pace

            What a fascinating dual argument you make, Down South:

            1. Gun ownership is futile because government has a monopoly on violence and there’s no way armed citizens can compete.
            2. Gun ownership is bad because the wicked, armed cartels of Mexico are more powerful than their government.

            By fussing around with the idealized fantasy of single, armed, “rugged individuals”, we miss what (I think) is the future of weapons in America and elsewhere: paramilitarization and organization, a la those dreadful cartels.

            I think that happens regardless of the legal atmosphere. As America sinks further into corruption, inequality and “might makes right”, I don’t know that there’s any avoiding it.

            All this current debate is about is clamoring for government to pacify and neutralize us all so that lonely, Grendel-like crazies won’t terrorize us. I find this a rather uninteresting distraction from more substantial risks at hand. Troubled loners will find it difficult to take over society.

            (I myself don’t care to own a gun right now, by the way.)

          4. Lambert Strether Post author

            @Garrett Pace Dunno about Grendel-like figures. I do think that in terms of thinking systemically about collapse, that gun advocates/owners have a more integrated approach than most of ‘the left’ (whatever that means, but, say, including me). That said, I don’t agree with their systems view, and I think that the question of what happens to guns (and ammo) when the supply chain collapses is an open one. The whole picture reminds me of those people who were selling underground shelters for when the morlochs went feral, which included, among other amenities, flat screen TVs. Well…

          5. keith

            Exactly. If you look at the most recent revolutions in the Arab world you can see just how effective even very creative and somewhat well-armed civilians are against even C-level national militaries and their paramilitary adjuncts. If it wasn’t for outside support in both cases, neither movement would have overthrown the existing governments as happened in Libya and looks to be happening in Syria. You don’t stand up an effective and well organized large military force without a long period of training even with the most motivated people.

            Take the US civil war for example. If the most effective field commanders of the US officer corps had not defected to the South then the South would not have had any chance at all. Any civilian only insurrection is doomed to fail without either a weak military or without large defections from a strong military. The idea that Cletus, Jethro, Dan and Bob can all take to the hills and be effective against even an undivided B-list military is nonsense.

            And added consideration is how well the NSA monitors e-mail and other communications. Do you think that all these gun owners don’t phone or e-mail their buddies about the new guns they just bought? Or post on internet forums about what they own and their attitudes toward government? The government having access to that is better if they ever decide to confiscate everyone’s guns than having a gun registry because you know there will be guns that don’t get registered.

          1. citalopram

            Afghans have been fighting for decades. Also, a lot of them are being blown up by American helicopters and planes. They don’t have stinger missiles anymore.

        2. Paul Tioxon

          What, you got away? Agents must have been too bury with all the prying of guns from cold, dead hands.

    3. craazyman

      These gun debates rarely penetrate the right issues. Take the Bushmaster for example.

      It’s a ludicrous tool. Its very name vainly presupposes the marksmanship skills any true rifleman achieves only through practice, sometimes after whiskey and entertainment. A man who closes his eyes and sprays his load everywhere all over the place doesn’t qualify as a rifleman. He may even put out his eyes and go blind.

      A real rifleman slowly works up to the point where he can pull a trigger and demonstrate his skill, with a minimum of fumbling around. That’s a real Bushmaster. Not only that, but the Bushmaster rifle is too short and it’s not thick enough. Something like a Winchester 1894 Lever Action is far superior and you can hang it up on your gunrack above the fire and proudly display it.

      This whole debate is beside the point. And think about this: If citizens can ban together to fight off the government Bushmasterbaters by spraying their own loads at them, why can’t those same citizens come together and vote for a government that doesn’t shoot at them in the first place?

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        You wax so eloquently, craazy. These people know nothing and think they can pull the wool over our eyes!

      2. Aquifer

        ” … why can’t those same citizens come together and vote for a government that doesn’t shoot at them in the first place?”

        I’ve been wonderin’ that meself …

        Ballots or bullets – it appears that most know more about usin’ the latter than the former – which ain’t sayin’ much ’cause it appears they don’t know how to us the former at all …

        1. Fíréan

          The ballot box is already “owned” and rigid, and the people you decry know that only too well.
          Are you new here?

          1. Aquifer

            The best way to keep people from using their power is to convince them they have none …

            TPTB have succeeded quite well if they have convinced you of that …

          2. Aquifer

            To clarify – TPTB will be quite happy if they have convinced you you don’t – have any power, that is ….

      3. bobw

        “…why can’t those same citizens come together and vote for a government that doesn’t shoot at them in the first place?”
        1. Gerrymandering
        2. PACs with seeminglhy unlimited funding

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s a nice, green-music story.

      And we should encourage people to do that – playing music themselves, sing their own songs, write their own music and tell their own stories.

      I was impressed readig about about the life story of Brubeck, who passed away recently, that his mother wouldn’t let him listen to the radio. She believed if you wanted to listen to music, you should play it.

      That’s what it’s all about – we are all artists. We all can be creative in all spects of our lives, instead of giving that up to, say, Hollywood, which is another ecnoomic sector that can be smaller, with fewer jobs and still the 99.99% are better off.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Let us recall American self-reliant roots, American liberty expressed. Can we not return to “the good life” as originally defined for FREE Americans?

        “Thoreau On Man & Nature” (© 1960 Peter Pauper Press, Mt. Vernon, New York).

        Poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson:


        If the red slayer think he slays,
        Or if the slain think he is slain,
        They know not well the subtle ways
        I keep, and pass, and turn again.

        Far or forgot to me is near;
        Shadow and sunlight are the same;
        The vanished gods to me appear;
        And one to me are shame and fame.

        They reckon ill who leave me out;
        When me they fly, I am the wings;
        I am the doubter and the doubt,
        And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

        The strong gods pine for my abode,
        And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
        But thou, meek lover of the good!
        Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

        from “THE GOLDEN TREASURY OF THE BEST SONGS AND LYRICAL POEMS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: Selected and arranged by FRANCIS TURNER PALGRAVE/With an Introduction and additional Poems selected and arranged by C. DAY LEWIS” (COLLINS, LONDON AND GLASGOW, Reprint 1963, 1954; First published 1861)


    Re: Eliot Spitzer: ‘We’ve turned a corner’ – Wall Street Should Expect Criminal Cases in 2013

    Now, what can be done about getting Spitzer to run for NYC Mayor? He’s the only person that I know of who can bust the balls of our elite.

    1. Heretic

      Mr. Spritzer talks a good game, but does he deliver? When he was doing prosecutions he did extract some multi billion dollar penalties from Wallstreet; was that effective in deterring Wallstreet from deterring even larger, more destructive activities? The billion dollar penalties are small fractions of a single year’s profit for a Wallstreet firm; IT was undeterred by such a nuisance penalty.

      Talk is cheap. Who else do we know who talks a good talk but when given the Power to deliver, he does the opposite? And let’s not forget the Ashley Dupree debacle…a small but important issue,

      Conversely, what actions could Spitzer do, that would indicate to us that he can really be trusted?

      1. DANNYBOY

        Let’s see:

        He got Hank Greenberg out of AIG. I guess you know of many more Chairman removed by prosecutors?

        He was so hated and feared by Wall Street that he got outed for visiting a prostitute. I expect with your extensive knowledge of the Street’s habits, you already know that all those sob’s that he was pursuing, spent more time with prostitutes than their families.

        And why should you trust him…BECAUSE HE WANTS TO GET EVEN WITH THOSE F’s. Best motivator in the world.

        But I guess you already knew that, what with your lifetime on the Street. Funny, I never saw you…

      2. Jim S

        Hah, if Spitzer was ever re-elected to public office, he’d be under the microscope so bad he couldn’t fart without a spectro-analysis being run on it. That, and when his wife sneezes he probably sings soprano. He wouldn’t have room to misbehave, so the only thing he could do is go after the bad guys!

      3. Yves Smith

        False causality. Did you miss that Spitzer was taken out of action, almost certainly as a result of aggressive private detective work? It’s almost certain AIG was behind it, given that Greenberg is the biggest SOB in finance (no exaggeration) and it has close ties to the CIA (as in it has long provided cover for CIA operatives by pretending to be their employer in foreign locations), is know for extreme hardball legal and business practices, and I would therefore assume has also regularly uses private detectives.

        Taking down Spitzer was a WIN for Big Finance. It said when you stand up to them, you had better have absolutely pure in your private life, and I don’t mean just sexually, I mean no even remotely questionable financial dealings (tax shelters), no dubious friends (say college buddies who were now controversial), kids with drug problems, etc.

        Spitzer was too successful. That was why he had to be turned into an example pour decourager les autres.

        1. JohnL

          And why no one gets that kind of job without an Achilles heel that can be used to remove them if they get out of line. #Petraus #Strauss-Kahn

        2. Aquifer

          That’s why i was sooo pissed at his arrogance – he HAD to have known that they were out to get him, yet he persisted in his extracurricular activities ….

          As they say “he coulda been a contender” but he threw it away ’cause he couldn’t keep his pants zipped …

          I can’t help wondering if he will re-enter the fray – Cuomo is a disaster, but if he has WS behind him …. which makes me wonder if he didn’t provide a little grease to slide Spitzer out ….

          1. DANNYBOY

            Dear Aquifer,

            Please explain how Spitzer’s screwing a prostitute prevented him from being an effective prosecutor.

            Other than the sorry state of affairs where a man gets removed from his responsibilities because of ‘morals’.

            Or is is morally acceptable to remove him from his responsibilities for screwing a prostitute so that he can no longer effectively prosecute financial executives that were screwing prostitutes, widows, teachers, Rabbis, orphans, bus drivers, nuns…

          2. Yes, but...

            That’s why i was sooo pissed at his arrogance – he HAD to have known that they were out to get him, yet he persisted in his extracurricular activities ….

            Wouldn’t have mattered. These things can be manufactured outright or spun from existing less incriminating events just as easily.

          3. DANNYBOY

            This idea of waiting for the Perfect Man must have its basis in some religious idealism. How about we just accept that a tough guy who’s willing to fight on our behalf is good-for-now?

            Sorry to disappoint you.

          4. diptherio

            They can’t all be Ralph Nader, ah well. At least he hasn’t faded entirely from public life, which is what I thought would happen. And really, given who he’s up against, being overly scrupulous would be a definite handicap.

            So long as he keeps harassing the real bad guys, he’s alright by me.

          5. Aquifer

            Fascinating the speed and consistency to line up, literally, in defense of Mr. S activities and suggest I am the one with the “problem” ….

            Is it the fact that it was prostitution, specifically, that brought him down that folks are protesting or that folks have a hard time with my disagreement with his carelessness in exposing himself, literally and otherwise, to being brought down at all? Or is it rather something else that has nothing to do with Spitzer … as in:

            “This idea of waiting for the Perfect Man must have its basis in some religious idealism.”

            Sorry, DB,, this has nothing to do with “religion”, but cold hard practicality – it was just plain ole’ dumb ..

            Do you not think that perhaps Mr. S, on reflection, to the extent he was honest with himself, might be/have been equally pissed at himself for having been so careless, at least, (though frankly methinks arrogance is a better description) to have put himself in a position that gave his enemies so much ammunition to use against him? Did he think he was untouchable?

            Whether or not dropping one’s pants outside of one’s own bedroom is an offense worthy of removal from office is beside the point (I happen to think it is not, for the record) – the point is he had to have known that he was painting a bull’s-eye on his derriere when he did so …

            That prostitution should not be illegal is missing the point – that it is and he knowingly, repetitively, engaged in an illegal activity that he had to have known would put his ability to go after the bad guys in jeopardy is my point. Sorry if such stupidity by a man in his position pisses me off ….

            Can’t help wondering if the reaction to my reaction would be different if “Eliot” had been “Eleanor” –

            C’mon, guys, admit that it WAS a stupid thing for a guy in his position to do, or can’t you even do that …

          6. DANNYBOY


            Sorry for the delay, but I just got back from New Year’s celebrations, but do think you deserve a response to you question: “Can’t help wondering if the reaction to my reaction would be different if ‘Eliot’ had been ‘Eleanor’

            I believe that if Eliot Spitzer had been Eleanor Spitzer there would have been no hullabaloo about paying high-priced call girls for extramarital sex. That is because there is such a disgusting stigma placed on woman having sex under these circumstances, that they need to get paid.

            So this is yet again a double standard that we have chosen to believe. Add this to the hurdle that Spitzer needed to be mistake-free to pursue criminal financiers and murderers, and we’re all set to have what we have.

            And how do like what we have?

          7. different clue

            Perhaps if we want to gain and retain effective people, we need to “pre-forgive” them for any personal morality breaches they may have “committed” or may decide to “commit” if those breaches haven’t or won’t in-themselves interfere with their public effectiveness at their public jobs.

            When Spitzer was “outed”, what if the people of New York had all decided to accept and support Spitzer against his-and-theirs common enemies the way a commanding majority of the American people supported Clinton against his-and-theirs common enemies all during the Lewinski so-called “affair”?

        3. LucyLulu

          I’m less optimistic about criminal prosecutions on Wall Street. I couldn’t help but notice the criminal charges were brought against employees of a Swiss bank, residing in Europe, and against its Japanese corporate affiliate. If I’m not mistaken, there were no direct links to Wall Street or the U.S., nor were charges brought by any US agencies.

          Is Holder planning to return to Covington & Burling when he leaves DOJ?

      1. psychohistorian

        I should have been specific and if you don’t want to watch it all, the points I am referring to are in the last video, towards the end….it starts with a carry over about mysticism that is worth hearing also.

        1. psychohistorian

          And now I found the part I was referring to in textual form..YEAH!!!!

          MOYERS: Is it possible that you suffer from an excessive trust in rationality?

          ASIMOV: Well, I can’t answer that very easily. Perhaps I do, you know. But I can’t think of anything else to trust in. If you can’t go by reason, what can you go by? One answer is faith. But faith in what? I notice there’s no general agreement in the world. These matters of faith, they are not compelling. I have my faith, you have your faith, and there’s no way in which I can translate my faith to you or vice versa. At least, as far as reason is concerned, there’s a system of transfer, a system of rational argument following the laws of logic that a great many people agree on, so that in reason, there are what we call compelling arguments. If I locate certain kinds of evidence, even people who disagreed with me to begin with, find themselves compelled by the evidence to agree. But whenever we go beyond reason into faith, there’s no such thing as compelling evidence. Even if you have a revelation, how can you transfer that revelation to others? By what system?

          MOYERS: So you find your hope for the future in the mind.

          ASIMOV: Yes, I have to say, I can’t wait until everyone in the world is rational, or until just enough are rational to make a difference.

          1. Aquifer

            “MOYERS: Is it possible that you suffer from an excessive trust in rationality?

            ASIMOV: Well, I can’t answer that very easily. Perhaps I do, you know.”

            Yes, perhaps he does …

            Even he admits that is possible, ph, so why can’t you?

    1. Aquifer

      Wow – let’s hope the damn rig sinks ….

      “all four engines on the Aiviq (the fancy new tow ship) failed. ….. contaminated fuel might have caused the engines to malfunction,….”

      How ironic – the fuel that they are drilling for, that contaminates the sea, contaminated the engines of the ship towing the rig that drills for it – karma?

      And what happens when those same fierce arctic storms un-moor the rig or the platform from the hole in the sea floor and the crude flows out – they can’t even tow a rig, for Pete’s sake, how the hell could they plug the hole?

      And we put the folks who signed the permits in office, not once, but several times ….

  2. from Mexico

    “Empires of Illusion and the Credibility Trap” at Jesse’s Café Américain is interesting stuff.

    I’ve always been a fan of Chris Hedges, even though I think he falls short of other great religionists in their maturity, folks like Martin Luther King, Gandhi or Reinhold Niebuhr.

    When Hedges speaks of the ability to discern reality, he never really qualifies what his reality is or commits to any specific epistemology. Furthermore, he leaves the question as to the human ability to discern reality unaddressed. He only speaks of reality versus illusion, as if it were self-evident what reality is. Therefore I always get a sense of maliaise while listenting to him. MLK and other more formidable religionists never left one at a loss as to what they believed, or why they believed it.

    Hedges, for instance, realizes that American exceptionalism is a secular and religious national myth. He doesn’t seem to realize, however, that all great empires are founded on this same sort of national mythology, nor the very important role that powerful mythologies have played in empire building. He therefore gets caught up in the paradox of lamenting the demise of American exeptionalism while at the same time invoking the notion that we should adhere to “reality.”

    Hedges also doesn’t have any problem repeating the barter or neoclassical theory of money, seemingly unaware that he is invoking another popular piece of American mythology.

    1. from Mexico

      Hedges also implies that reality is more adaptive than mythology, but as Nietzsche pointed out, this belief is itself a departure from reality.

      1. JohnL

        American exceptionalism is a special case of western, white, or Christian exceptionalism. It has its roots in the old testament Hebrew exceptionalism. Male God hunter or herder peoples and their religions tend to be male dominated, belligerent, imperialistic, and feature an exceptional “in” group (Americans,whites, Christians, Hebrews, brahmins) a less human “out” group (brown people, native Americans, African Americans, muslims, palistinians, dalits, indios, occupy, welfare queens…). Older godess, agricultural peoples and their religions not so much. Thanking Joseph Campbell for this insight.

    2. knowbuddhau

      Thanks for spelling that out. That’s how I’ve felt about Hedges, too.

      One of these days, I gotta read Nietzsche. It’s just so intimidating. Can you suggest companion books, introductions, primers?

        1. from Mexico

          Two other books that treat of great empires that had powerful national mythologies that worked until they didn’t work are:

          Imperial Spain: 1469-1716 [Paperback]
          J. H. Elliott (Author)


          The Weary Titan: Britain and the Experience of Relative Decline, 1895-1905 (New in Paper) [Paperback]
          Aaron L. Friedberg

      1. psychohistorian

        Here is a snippet of another guy you should read….much smarter than I….this speaks to our earlier interaction.

        MOYERS: Is it possible that you suffer from an excessive trust in rationality?

        ASIMOV: Well, I can’t answer that very easily. Perhaps I do, you know. But I can’t think of anything else to trust in. If you can’t go by reason, what can you go by? One answer is faith. But faith in what? I notice there’s no general agreement in the world. These matters of faith, they are not compelling. I have my faith, you have your faith, and there’s no way in which I can translate my faith to you or vice versa. At least, as far as reason is concerned, there’s a system of transfer, a system of rational argument following the laws of logic that a great many people agree on, so that in reason, there are what we call compelling arguments. If I locate certain kinds of evidence, even people who disagreed with me to begin with, find themselves compelled by the evidence to agree. But whenever we go beyond reason into faith, there’s no such thing as compelling evidence. Even if you have a revelation, how can you transfer that revelation to others? By what system?

        MOYERS: So you find your hope for the future in the mind.

        ASIMOV: Yes, I have to say, I can’t wait until everyone in the world is rational, or until just enough are rational to make a difference.

    3. craazyman

      It’s like a Mobius strip:

      America is exceptional because people like Chris Hedges become book-salon celebrities on TV instead of jailed, shot or hung.

      As long as folks like Chris Hedges become book-salon celebrities on TV instead of jailed, shot or hung, America will remain exceptional.

        1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

          That would be be Mark Mobius at Templeton.

          But I did meet Miss Moebius and her friend Esha Print at a strip club in CA one time.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I was trying to say, instead of thinking or talking about it, they acted – they educaetd themselves.

          That’s an act. That’s doing something.

    1. Jim S

      I debated the wisdom of replying to this, but here goes.

      If someone thinks about his life and decides atheism makes the best sense, fair enough. But most people that drift away from religion are not really thinking about it at all, and as knowbuddhau expressed yesterday, we should be concerned about that (granted knowbuddhau also pointed out shortcomings of atheism with regards to social order). Does one really need to believe strongly in something? Perhaps there is no moral imperative, but we’re seeing the result of what happens when a society ceases to believe in anything much.

      From that perspective, this drive to increase attendance through socialization can miss the point. If someone attends but never really examines his life, it’s of no real benefit to him or to the community. Not all new churches overlook this, but I think many do.

      1. Aquifer

        “There are no atheists in foxholes”

        ISTM that some, if not many, atheists are actually anti-theists …

        1. Jim S

          If I may:

          Matthew 5:39 “But I am saying to you, you shall not rise up against an evil person, but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him also the other.”

          Luke 19:40 “He said to them, ‘I say to you that if these would be silent, the stones would be crying out loud.'”

          Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are they who make peace, for they will be called the children of God.”

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I would add that mythic reality is best approached through direct experiences.

        Thus, the less is said/written/thought about, the better.

        Also mystical reality as well.

        I hope I didn’t say too much about it here.

        1. Aquifer

          As they say – the best things cannot be said, the next best are misunderstood and the rest is conversation ….

          Sad, isn’t it, that so much is misunderstood ….

      3. Yes, but...

        Religion is the politicization of faith. The two don’t necessarily (nor ideally) have a single thing in common. Religion demands that individuals subsume their personal faith/beliefs in favor of those of the organized religious hierarchy, which has in turn subsumed itself to the corrupting beliefs of the nation state which grants its very right to exist in the first place. Individuals of true faith would never commit to such an unholy bargain.

      4. citalopram

        In my opinion, it does make the best sense. I think former religionists such as myself have all come to grips that religion is hogwash. There is no credible evidence for it at all.

    2. dale pues

      I’ve been waiting for a religious experience all my life. It hasn’t come yet. I’m losing my faith that it ever will. It would be very cruel of God to make me wait until I’m on my death bed before he decided to speak to me. I think about it less and less.

      1. Jim S

        I’ve never had a religious or mystical experience either, and don’t believe that I ever will, so I was a little saddened to read MyLessThanPrimeBeef’s comments, too. Supposedly 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 people will have a mystical experience during their lifetime. My first reaction is: that’s a lot!; but my further reaction is that the majority of us will never know that aspect of reality. Are we poorer–are we inferior–human beings for lacking it? I don’t believe so. We all are given different lots in life: a few are born with silver spoons, but most are not; and many are born to outright brutal and short lives. Yet we do not count the worth of men and women based on their circumstances; no, we should measure them by their response to both hardship and plenty. And many given plenty do not measure up. So I think this is also true of mystical experiences. We may walk a different road, but it’s not the road itself that matters.

        dale, whatever your road, may the Lord bless you and keep you, may he make his light to shine on you (be it mystical or mundane), and give you peace.

      1. Aquifer

        We’d aint the economy no mo …., though maybe some states are figuring out weed could be the economy, and if we’d would wisely welcome weed whenever, wherever, we’d wish, maybe we’d could get our economy back – and even if we’d didn’t, who the heck would care? :)

        Does weed fit in with Permaculture?

        1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

          Weed would but we’d might not.

          Been keeping an eye out for good scorpian recipes. Till then, hoping our grocery stores stay stocked.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Yep, the Rockefeller-Kissinger-Friedman “Shock Doctrine” works like a charm. Guatemala had bananas, the U.S. has Oil&Gas for “export” and for “war machines” needed by the Global Reich in order to Do Profitable Business. We now are obviously “resource-cursed” and the “efficient genocide” of starvation looms large within our borders. To these criminals, is the U.S. any different from Guatemala, Chile, Honduras, or the Middle Eastern targets of PNAC?


      this was meant to be a reply to Jim’s comment on my comment on Spitzer. But now, I’m thinking that it is actually a very good generic comment, and widely applicable.

      I guess Freud was right about those mistakes.

      1. DANNYBOY

        Spitzer did his sworn duty with a vengeance. In another time and place he would be a Hero. In our distorted, corrupt, Kafkaesque world he has been cast out.

        Do you see the problem?

        1. Aquifer

          To paraphrase some fellow above – This idea of waiting for the Perfect World must have its basis in some religious idealism.

          i live in this world, and in this world, he screwed up …

          Now, do YOU see the problem?

          1. DANNYBOY


            you have convinced me that Mr Spitzer’s actions were irresponsible. In fact he admitted that at the time. And, I too am disappointed in him.

            And I hope you get a better solution. Good luck with that.

  3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I guess it’s time for the year in review, the best of 2012, etc.

    Any nominations for Luddite of the Year? I mean, we Luddites are humans too. Actually, I think robots also qualify, if they are programmed in a certain way. So, yes, we will consider Luddite robots as well for Luddite of the Year.

    1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      probably too many to compile even a small sample of potential candidates.

      here’s my 2 cents

      Japan and China for remembering that the Senkaku Islands are important

      Petrius for turning the CIA into a computer dating service

      The USG for capturing so much technology and rendering it socialy useless.

      Whomever it was that decided to store the internet in Utah

      NASA for sending a robot to Mars to sample the environment

      The Mayans for finally proving calendars are hogwash

      that’s a start

      1. JohnL

        Actually the Mayans were right. Not sure who deserves the pride though. Them, or us for being too dumb to notice.

      2. Garrett Pace

        “Whomever it was that decided to store the internet in Utah”

        Ha! Whenever we drive by that I tell my boys, “That’s where all our emails will be kept.”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            People complain their parters don’t listen to them, their children don’t listen to them and their bosses don’t listen to them.

            ‘But we listen,’ says the goverment.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      On second thought, I strongly urge we consider Luddite cats as well.

      They say Luddite humans attract Luddite cats…or is it the other way around?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That explains why my cat insists on inspecting the inside of the dryer personally every time we are in the laundry room.

          Still, life is a big mystery and that’s why I am searching the net looking for a book called, “What do cats want?”

          They say it’s even deeper and harder to comprehend than ‘What do women want?” and, for some people, “what do men want?” It’s rumored that only 5 people in the world understand it.

          1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

            They are mysterious. Someone told me once that cats are just dumb and don’t know what they want. But I prefer not to believe that. I recall back in high school that our siamese cat clearly wanted to Rule. Everything.

    3. Aquifer

      So what would a Luddite robot decry – the invention of humans?

      Well at least there can’t be neo-Luddites :)

      Personally, i think Ned Ludd was right …

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sometimes there is virtue in being late.

      I hope this is not of the ‘Dewey won’ variety.

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        We are off the cliff due to votes not happening in time.

        But some details are

        Under the Senate plan, those with household income above $450,000 or individual income above $400,000 would be taxed at 39.6 percent, up from 35 percent. Those with lower income would be taxed at the current, reduced tax rates put in place under former President George W. Bush.

        Also no cuts to defense or the rest of the discretionary budget.

        Then this:

        Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor he agreed with Obama that preventing the fiscal cliff tax hikes was more important than dealing with spending, for now.

        So starve The Beast – and we’ll figure out what The Beast eats next year.

        Happy New Year

        We’ll be doing this every year too, I am now convinced.

        1. LucyLulu

          Never fear……. we reach a debt ceiling within a couple months that can and will be held hostage in exchange for spending cuts. Drama, doom, and last minute deals are the new American exceptionalism.

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    most unsensical comments of 2012:

    10 A ‘made a fool of’ for a ‘made a fool of,’ and we will all soon be fools.

    9. We are a tax sovereign. We can tax as much as we want.

    8. You don’t study me. I STUDY you!

    7. Be a mental-green. Recycle ideas. Don’t throw them away.

    6. We are all Sharists at heart. Join A.S.A.P now!!!

    5. Not happy with all the hi-tech excesses of today’s material world? Can I interest you in joining S.O.U.L.?

    4. Do unter vegetables as you would vegetables do unto to you.

    3. We’re not the Rich People’s Republic of China.

    2. If you can’t say it
    in seventeen syllables
    then just forget it

    1. Less consuming or great waste – your choice.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I meant nonsensical comments of 2012, not unsensical.

          Sometimes, they are called foolish comments. I listed 10 I can think of.

  5. Butch in Waukegan

    Another year end review.

    The Reader’s second annual awards for political “achievement”

    Rahm figures prominently, including . . .

    THE BILL CLINTON AWARD … for saying one thing and doing something else even after you’re caught doing what you say you’re not: Mayor Rahm Emanuel—for the second year in a row! He still hasn’t hired those 1,000 new cops, reformed the city’s TIF program, or ended the gimmicks in the city budget, like diverting water and sewer tax revenues to things that have nothing to do with water or sewers.

  6. Hugh

    Angry Bear makes a good point about games being played with the CPI and Social Security.

    As Angry Bear notes, the Social Security Administration uses the CPI-W for wage and clerical workers, instead of the CPI-U for all Urban Workers. The CPI-U is generally considered the “official” CPI number, and is usually higher than the CPI-W. And both of these are generally less than the CPI-E, the experimental measure of the CPI for the elderly. But there is an extra wrinkle that the Social Security Administration uses quarterly not monthly changes to the CPI-W in its calculation of its COLA. I took a quick look at the two and, unless I made a mistake, there is a significant difference between them: 1.7% the official COLA and 2.5% figured monthly.

    1. Aquifer

      Does the fact that games are being played surprise you? Personally i would be surprised if they weren’t …

          1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

            Actually, Howlin’ Wolf saved our lives one night at Eddy Shaws place on the S. Side of Chicago. After he told the crowd it wasn’t cool to kill white boys, Eddy came over to our table and wanted to know if we were a rock band like the Rolling Stones. He said he gave his guitar licks to Keith Richards(thad be true). We said ,no, but we’ll take another round of beers. I’m still alive to tell the story!

          2. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

            Opps, I mean mean Hubert Sumlin was the guitar player. Eddy Shaw was the sax player and owner. Howlin’ Wolf was sitin’ on his chair telling everyone to be cool abouts da white folks in da joint.

  7. tiebie66

    Isn’t anyone troubled by that fact that by 2099 every last tree in the Saharan and Arabian deserts may have burnt down? And you’re fretting about gun control?

  8. Aquifer

    On Vampire Capitalism ….

    “But when we begin to see the pressures of capitalism as innate laws of human motivation, when we begin to believe that everyone is owned, then we are truly impoverished.”

    Amen ….

Comments are closed.