Links New Year 2013

Happy New Year to all of you and wishing you a great 2013!

Military Must Prep Now for ‘Mutant’ Future, Researchers Warn Wired

Sure, Big Data Is Great. But So Is Intuition. New York Times

In the Delhi slum home of gang-rape accused: ‘We are good people’ Guardian (May S)

Fear of Rape Stalks Indian Women Truthout

Why did it need an incident so unspeakably brutal to trigger our outrage? Tehelka (May S)

Catfood watch:

Both sides get wins in tax deal The Hill. Lambert: “Funny how ending the payroll tax holiday is just an afterthought in all the coverage.”

Fiscal Cliff Talks: AFL-CIO Urges Lawmakers To Put Brakes On Deal Huffington Post

Chief Justice Prods Congress to Resolve Budget Talks and Control National Debt New York Times. AKS: “Could Roberts be more silly? This is just shocking.”

When You’ve Lost Ezra Klein … Teddy Partridge, Firedoglake (Carol B)

The Next Secretary of Defense Counterpunch (Chuck L)

Community Center Says It Has Been Told to Cease Its Storm Relief Program New York Times (Lance N)

Judge rules for Domino’s in contraception coverage case Detroit News

The middle class languishes as the super-rich thrive Los Angeles Times

Chomsky on work, learning and freedom Crooked Timber. Psychohistorian recommended the discussion in comments.

Daughter of top doctor goes into labor after she and her Occupy Wall Street organizer boyfriend are arrested when police ‘find explosives and TERRORIST ENCYCLOPEDIA’ in their apartment Daily Mail

Experts back Deutsche whistleblowers Financial Times. We said early on that the whistleblower charges had merit.

Newtown gunman Adam Lanza’s father claims body from funeral home Guardian

Why the major global banks have become the enemy of the State and should be treated in the same way as Organised Crime or Financial Terrorists! Rowan Bosworth-Davies (May S)

WHAT IS ACTUALLY GOING ON IN ICELAND Studio Tendra (Lambert). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:

And for the new year:

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      1. RanDomino

        But there’s no reason to call them Occupy people. It’s just a Murdoch hit-piece. People should delete posts they’ve made about it and otherwise stop helping the lie spread.

      2. jest response:

        “Re: the alleged link to Occupy Wall Street (OWS) in media reports about the arrest of two Greenwich Village residents charged yesterday with possession of weapons/explosive material.
        Since its beginnings in September 2011, Occupy Wall Street has vigorously used its Constitutional rights to protest Wall Street greed, and is firmly committed to non-violence. Nonetheless, Occupy has been subjected to extensive surveillance and repression, and the NYPD takes every opportunity to link OWS to crime.

        There is nothing in the news stories to support a link between OWS and the individual arrested; his name is unfamiliar to many OWS activists. A very large number of people came through Zuccotti Park, and there are countless Occupy-related groups nationwide, so it is very difficult to ascertain if one person participated in anything related to OWS.

        We urge members of the media to refrain from spreading rumors and misinformation.”

        This is reminiscent of Breitbart.

        1. from Mexico

          It seems to me it’s full court press on the part of the lords of capital and their paid liars and bumsuckers to paint Occupy with the face of evil.

          You’ve definitely got their attention.

        2. Aquifer

          Perhaps it might be just as “legitimate” to speculate that these 2 are being “dismissed” as not dangerous, in spite of their WMDs, because, on further investigation, it was revealed to the cops they were part of an FBI plot to blow up – Occupy!

          Hey, what’s good for the goose is good for the goose stepper, n’est pas? …

          1. knative

            I knew something was up when they said that the couple only had seven grams of that explosive stuff. Just youtube that crap, and you could see that the size of the explosion from 7 grams was nothing. Like, they could blow up a small animal maybe.Also, the fact that the lady was pregnant seemed way off too. A terrorists probably wouldn’t let their babies hang around an apartment with a coffee table full of explosives that could blow them up. That sounds like something a guest on Jerry Springer would do, not any legit terrorist.

  1. Howard Beale IV

    That Domino’s article isn’t all that you think it is: buried in the article is the fact that Monaghan doesn’t own Domios’s (and hasn’t for years) and that it’s Domino’s Farms that’s suing:

    “Domino’s Farms Corp. manages an office complex owned by Monaghan and is not affiliated with Domino’s Pizza. Monaghan sold the pizza company in 1998.”

      1. Howard Beale IV

        First thing one needs to do when reading any article is read the entire article: odds are the lede will be incorrect and the real meat of the story will be buried half-way in its body.

      2. Carlaton

        You should take it off your dining list for other reasons such as health:

        Got GMOs? Eat this garbage and you will.

        One of the main ingredients of pizza is wheat along with its pesticide residues.

        Then there is the other ingredient; Corn with an EPA registered pesticide being created in every single cell of the corn kernels and its accompanying pesticide residue thanks to Monsanto’s Bt corn and “Roundup Ready” patent.

        Bugs munch on the corn and their stomach explodes from the toxic proteins expressed by the corn plant. That isn’t food poisoning that you got, it’s GMOs designed to rupture insect stomachs eating away at your stomach which creates allergies, colitis, crohn’s disase and leakage of whatever scant vitamins and nutrients the junk food might offer, but not the calories, so you eat and eat and eat to make up for it.

        The corn, along with “Roundup Ready” Soybeans, Sugar Beets, Canola and other crops is then sprayed with Roundup herbicide, which has been linked to cancer, birth defects and soil sterility.

        The cheese? Made from cheap milk from hyper productive cows injected with genetically modified Bovine Growth Hormone which causes prostate and breast cancer. Later they’ll be on in the meat filling.

        Wash it down with a Coke, which contains high fructose corn syrup from the same Roundup Ready corn and an added bonus a little mercury contamination from the industrial process used to create the HFC sweetener. Or, you could have a Death Coke which contains genetically modified Aspartame that turns into formaldehyde aka embalming fluid in your body.

        Our New Years Resolution: Eat only non GMO organic food wherever possible and work to label GMOs at the state and federal level so that we have the freedom to avoid them.

        1. Howard Beale IV

          Good luck with that-unless you grow your own foodstuffs, the odds of not consuming any non-GMO is close to zero. In addition, can you cite studies where the human population (especially children) have seen an order of magnitude increase of cancers/illnesses since the introduction of GMOs that can be directly traced back to GMOs?

          1. mk

            not true, eat whole organic foods and you can avoid most, don’t eat processed foods and if you shop at Whole Foods, use any of their 365 brand to avoid GMOs

          2. Aquifer

            HB – you of course are well aware that you are asking for a level of “proof” that can never be provided with absolute “scientific” certainty – there are too many other potential “variables” involved. Even cigarettes could be, and have been, argued to not meet that strict a burden of “proof” of the type you describe – but do you doubt they are bad news?

          3. different clue

            There are also lots of “minor” crops which have not yet been GMOed at all, such as chick peas, lentils, barley, many other beans and seeds and minor grains, fruits, vegetables, etc. You could eat their conventional versions and not get any GMO traces. And not be giving any of your money to the GMO industry.
            Do you like sardines? Sardines are wild caught. If you get them canned with water or olive oil, you are buying zero GMOs right there. Same for herring. Same for mackerel. Same for wild caught Alaskan salmon.
            And so on.

        1. different clue

          Religionist ritualism masquerading as “concience” is mere religionist bullying and dominationism. Enough of it might inspire people to demand Single Payer after all, and health-providers with so-called “conscience-clause” qualms can be forbidden from participating in Single Payer at all.

  2. psychohistorian

    Happy Teens to all, we have finally arrived to 2013, the early teens

    The Icelandic link is amazing. Talk about myth……his term, not mine, but since you asked and we texted about this recently…my favorite genius

    MOYERS: What bothers you about mysticism?

    ASIMOV: The same thing bothers me about mysticism that bothers me about con men. It isn’t right to sell a person phony stock, and take money for it, and this is what mystics are doing. They’re selling people phony knowledge and taking money for it. Even if people feel good about it, I can well imagine that a person who really believes in astrology is going to have a feeling of security because he knows that this is a bad day, so he’ll stay at home, just as a guy who’s got phony stock may look at it and feel rich. But he still has phony stock, and the person who buys mysticism still has phony knowledge.

    And then to follow up on the back and forth about faith and reason…again my favorite genius

    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. Bill the Psychologist

      ASIMOV: “Yes, I have to say, I can’t wait until everyone in the world is rational”

      Well, if we have to wait for that, then God help us !

      Argument closed.

      (to be perfectly fair, I did not read the article, and BTW, mysticism is not at all the same as astrology.)

      1. from Mexico

        There is an element within the contemporary atheist community that ranks right up there with the greatest and most dogmatic mythmakers of all times. Stephen Jay Gould, himself a self-proclaimed atheist, calls them the “Darwinian fundamentalists” in his famous essay in the NY Times by that same name:

        Another critic of the Darwinian fundamentalists is the moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt:

        In what follows I will take it for granted that religion is a part of the natural world that is appropriately studied by the the methods of science. Whether or not God exists (and as an atheist I personally doubt it), religiosity is an enormously important fact about our species. There must be some combination of evolutionary, developmental, neuropsychological, and anthropological theories that can explain why human religious practices take the various forms that they do, many of which are so similar across cultures and eras. I will also take it for granted that religious fundamentalists, and most of those who argue for the existence of God, illustrate the first three principles of moral psychology (intuitive primacy, post-hoc reasoning guided by utility, and a strong sense of belonging to a group bound together by shared moral commitments).

        But because the new atheists talk so much about the virtues of science and our shared commitment to reason and evidence, I think it’s appropriate to hold them to a higher standard than their opponents. Do these new atheist books model the scientific mind at its best? Or do they reveal normal human beings acting on the basis of their normal moral psychology?


        Yet Dawkins has referred to group selection in interviews as a “heresy,” and in The God Delusion he dismisses it without giving a reason. In chapter 5 he states the standard Williams free rider objection, notes the argument that religion is a way around the Williams objection, concedes that Darwin believed in group selection, and then moves on. Dismissing a credible position without reasons, and calling it a heresy (even if tongue in cheek), are hallmarks of standard moral thinking, not scientific thinking.

        And yet one more critic of the Darwinian fundamentalists is the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson:

        In retrospect, it is hard to fathom the zeal with which evolutionists such as Williams and Dawkins rejected group selection and developed a view of evolution as based entirely on self-interest. Williams ended Adaptation and Natural Selection with the phrase “I believe that it is the light and the way.” Here is how Dawkins recounts the period in his 1982 book The Extended Phenotype:

        The intervening years since Darwin have seen an astonishing retreat from his individual-centered stand, a lapse into sloppily unconscious group-selectionism … We painfully struggled back, harassed by sniping from a Jesuitically sophisticated and dedicated neo-group-selectionist rearguard, until we finally regained Darwin’s ground, the position that I am characterizing by the label ‘the selfish organism…”

        This passage has all the earmarks of fundamentalist rhetoric, including appropriating the deity (Darwin) for one’s own cause. Never mind that Darwin was the first group selectionist. Moreover, unlike The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype was written by Dawkins for his scientific peers, not for a popular audience!

        1. JohnL

          Ah, good stuff. The interesting thing about the selfish gene idea is how well it supports the myth of rugged individualism and competition versus community and cooperation, becoming really just an extreme version of a monotheistic religion with an in group of size one, and the self as God.

          1. AbyNormal

            seriously ‘good stuff’ JohnL.
            hang on…i’m taking you with me!
            (just ignore the screamin villagers with fire…they burn themselves more often than me’)

          2. from Mexico

            JohnL says:

            The interesting thing about the selfish gene idea is how well it supports the myth of rugged individualism and competition versus community and cooperation, becoming really just an extreme version of a monotheistic religion with an in group of size one, and the self as God.

            If one reads Michael Allen Gillespie’s Nihilism Before Nietzsche, one learns that the nihilistic secular ideology proselytized by the Darwinian fundmentalists — notions such as “the imperial I” or “the absolute I” — has its roots in the philosophies of the German philosopher, Johann Gottlieb Fichte (May 19, 1762 – January 27, 1814.

          3. emptyfull

            What!? You mean a scientist talking about human nature might actually have been influenced by his temporal and cultural situatedness? Impossible!

          4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Whenver God is mentioned, I am reminded of the God Spot or the God gene.

            It may or may not exist but my question is this: Is there a Revolution Spot in the brain? Is there a Revolution gene?

          5. Aquifer

            MLPB – oh, so THAT is what they mean by the “G” spot – i always wondered about that …

        2. Brian

          whether god exists but as an atheist I doubt it? Sorry for the paraphrasing, but if you have doubt about the existence of a magic muffin made from primal fear, you aren’t an atheist and it is unfair to yourself to claim you think you are.
          Apart from the interview, have you folks read both Asimov’s fiction and non fiction? There is no muffin involved.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Asimov didn’t write it but I can imagine God-fearing robots living/working/worshiping in the Foundation.

          2. craazyman

            God went to a psychiatrist and said “Doctor, I’m having a confidence crisis, I’m beginning to think I’m actually an atheist. How can I cope with this?”

            “Have you tried prayer?” the psychiatrist said.


            I just made that up. hahahah

          3. They didn't leave me a choice

            As an atheist myself I consider these fundamentalist atheists to be just as bad as their theist camp equivalents are. Not only is their screaming and absolutism preventing discussion just as the religionists is, but their attitudes mask the vast crowd of practical atheists who just don’t care about the question of god one way or another.

            Plus I have this gut feeling of disgust towards anybody who claims to know a fact about the universe as an absolute, incontrovertible truth. That’s NOT the way science is done, neither is it the way anybody singing haigiographies towards the scientific method should act. (Sorry for the true scotsman.)

          4. Aquifer

            craazy – God, not believing in himself? Hmmm, another case of low self esteem – a good woman might fix that, methinks …

          5. craazyman

            OK Acquifer, you asked for it. :)

            Deep Thoughts

            If God signed up for eHarmony, what would he put down for “occupation”?

            If God had hot date for Friday night, would he think twice about wearing a toga and sandals?

            If God was out on a first date, would he let his date hold his staff if he needed both hands to reach for his wallet to pay for the taxi? Probably. I think most guys would. hahahahaha

            God and Mother Nature were out on a date. It must have been going well because Mother Nature coyly said “I think I feel some rain coming on, is there anything you can do about it?” So God raised his staff and arrogantly commanded the sun to shine for 16 hours while he ignored Mother Nature and admired his work. That’s what made the Sahara Desert.

            bowahahahahah. Crackin myself up and it’s only 7:30 a.m.

          6. Procopius

            MLTPB: “Asimov didn’t write it but I can imagine God-fearing robots living/working/worshiping in the Foundation.”

            Clifford Simak wrote it. I think the title was “A Choice of Gods.” A group of robots set themselves up as a religious order after most humans mysteriously travel to the stars. Simak wrote some great stuff, but going back to it I feel a little uncomfortable. Oh, well, the Golden Age of Science Fiction is fourteen.

        3. craazyman

          If you hung Darwin up on a ceiling with a toga and gave him a staff to point, he’d be indistinguishable from God. Maybe that’s what confuses them.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Craazy, if I have to make up a quote, I would offer this: if humor does not conquer, if humor does not bring victory, nothing will.

    2. from Mexico

      Personally I much prefer Albert Einstein over Asimov. Furthermore, a great deal of recent scientific research is demonstrating that Asimov’s notion of animal rationale is little more than an elitist myth, confirming an argument that has been made by a great many philosophers, theologians and historians for at least 2500 years. Here’s Einstein:

      During the last century, and part of the one before, it was widely held that there was an unreconcilable conflict between knowledge and belief. The opinion prevailed among advanced minds that it was time that belief should be replaced increasingly by knowledge; belief that did not itself rest on knowledge was superstition, and as such had to be opposed. According to this conception, the sole function of education was to open the way to thinking and knowing, and the school, as the outstanding organ for the people’s education, must serve that end exclusively.

      One will probably find but rarely, if at all, the rationalistic standpoint expressed in such crass form; for any sensible man would see at once how one-sided is such a statement of the position. But it is just as well to state a thesis starkly and nakedly, if one wants to clear up one’s mind as to its nature.

      It is true that convictions can best be supported with experience and clear thinking. On this point one must agree unreservedly with the extreme rationalist. The weak point of his conception is, however, this, that those convictions which are necessary and determinant for our conduct and judgments cannot be found solely along this solid scientific way.

      For the scientific method can teach us nothing else beyond how facts are related to, and conditioned by, each other. The aspiration toward such objective knowledge belongs to the highest of which man is capabIe, and you will certainly not suspect me of wishing to belittle the achievements and the heroic efforts of man in this sphere. Yet it is equally clear that knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and the longing to reach it must come from another source. And it is hardly necessary to argue for the view that our existence and our activity acquire meaning only by the setting up of such a goal and of corresponding values. The knowledge of truth as such is wonderful, but it is so little capable of acting as a guide that it cannot prove even the justification and the value of the aspiration toward that very knowledge of truth. Here we face, therefore, the limits of the purely rational conception of our existence….

      [I]t appears glaringly that civilized mankind finds itself at present in grave danger, In the totalitarian states it is the rulers themselves who strive actually to destroy that spirit of humanity. In less threatened parts it is nationalism and intolerance, as well as the oppression of the individuals by economic means, which threaten to choke these most precious traditions.

      A realization of how great is the danger is spreading, however, among thinking people, and there is much search for means with which to meet the danger–means in the field of national and international politics, of legislation, or organization in general. Such efforts are, no doubt, greatly needed. Yet the ancients knew something- which we seem to have forgotten. All means prove but a blunt instrument, if they have not behind them a living spirit. But if the longing for the achievement of the goal is powerfully alive within us, then shall we not lack the strength to find the means for reaching the goal and for translating it into deeds.

      — ALBERT EINSTEIN, Out of My Later Years, New York: Philosophical Library, 1950 and Science, Philosophy and Religion, A Symposium, published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York, 1941.

      The above and two other essays Einstein wrote on science and religion can be found here:

      Einstein’s Kantian metaphysics is quite a powerful antidote to the Pythagorean rationalism evangelized by Asimov.

      1. Dave of Maryland

        Einstein, like Azimov, is over-rated. Einstein’s rejection of astrology, for example, can be traced to this remark:

        Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.

        Science has insisted that astrology is a form of gravity, and Einstein, who re-wrote the book on gravity, was the authority. Which is a curious blind spot in his otherwise outstanding intellect.

      2. JohnL

        Einstein named Spinoza as his greatest spiritual influence. From Wikipedia on Spinoza (remarkably like Buddhism):
        “Spinoza believed God exists and is abstract and impersonal. [1] Spinoza’s system imparted order and unity to the tradition of radical thought, offering powerful weapons for prevailing against “received authority.” As a youth he first subscribed to Descartes’s dualistic belief that body and mind are two separate substances, but later changed his view and asserted that they were not separate, being a single identity. He contended that everything that exists in Nature (i.e., everything in the Universe) is one Reality (substance) and there is only one set of rules governing the whole of the reality which surrounds us and of which we are part. Spinoza viewed God and Nature as two names for the same reality, [69] namely the single substance (meaning “that which stands beneath” rather than “matter”) that is the basis of the universe and of which all lesser “entities” are actually modes or modifications, that all things are determined by Nature to exist and cause effects, and that the complex chain of cause and effect is understood only in part.

      3. psychohistorian

        So, lets bring all this high faluten thought back to one of the ideas of this wonderful blog…..critical thinking.

        What does faith ( who’s faith? ) add to critical thinking that is of use for social organization? Are we going to wallow in figuring out who’s faith will lead us or use reason and logic to try and find our way at this time, with what we know at this time?

        As I have said elsewhere, I most resonate with the thought of Lao Tze,”The way that can be named is not the real way”.

        I don’t have an answer and am happy and humble with the unknown…..and believe that awesome unknowing should be more significant in our thoughts than the myth of faith.

        To me, if you validate the myth of faith, then you might as well say that economics is a science instead of the mythological cover it is for our class system built on inheritance and accumulating private ownership of everything by the few.

        1. Aquifer

          What does faith add to critical thinking? Oh maybe just that, unlike gravity, you have to have a good deal of faith in CT to use it ;) As for whose “faith” – well one (wo)man’s “faith” is another’s “fact” and still another’s “BS” – so go figure, but remember, though figures don’t lie, liars do figure ….

          You “believe” in awesome unknowing, but have no use for “faith” – you must admit this is a bit of a puzzlement …

          Ph, if you limit yourself to only that which you can repeatedly pull out of an equation or a test tube, you life will be impoverished indeed … there is nothing “rational” about love ….

          1. Garrett Pace

            Au contraire, “they” have already quite explained love, though as an object of “greedy gene” utility it is a rather feeble and transitory thing. In a test tube, it is only useful when it promotes self interest.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            As for whose “faith” – well one (wo)man’s “faith” is another’s “fact” and still another’s “BS”

            From Asimov: 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.

            He (Asimov) then said something about transferring faith.

            Perhaps we can ‘reason’ from these that faith is to be confined to oneself, allowing the same to others, but not to be transferred or imposed on others.

            I call combining faith and rason ‘faithson.’ You may call it ‘reath.’ That’s co-existing with pluralities.

          3. Aquifer

            GP – they have “explained” it “chemically” or, ironically, teleologically, ISTM, but the experience of it is hardly something i would describe as a “rational” process. However, as i have said before, I suppose the heart does indeed have reasons that Reason knows not of …

        2. Garrett Pace

          Reason and logic would be great if people were really capable of it. I view the effort to create the perfectly rational human as an attempt to turn us into computers.

        3. from Mexico


          You state that “I don’t have an answer and am happy and humble with the unknown,” but then you have quite a go at making a tautology of critical thinking, reason and logic.

          As I stated before, animal rationale is quite the masterpiece of elitist fiction, at least when it comes to questions of morality.

          Why fiction? We don’t know from where morality derives, but recent scientific research is pretty conclusive in that it does not come from reasoning. Here’s how the moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt explains it:

          Our brains, like other animal brains, are constantly trying to fine tune and speed up the central decision of all action: approach or avoid. You can’t understand the river of fMRI studies on neuroeconomics and decision making without embracing this principle. We have affectively-valenced intuitive reactions to almost everything, particularly to morally relevant stimuli such as gossip or the evening news. Reasoning by its very nature is slow, playing out in seconds.

          Studies of everyday reasoning show that we usually use reason to search for evidence to support our initial judgment, which was made in milliseconds.

          Why elitist? The most in-depth explanation I’ve come across is to be found in Carroll Quigley’s The Evolution of Civilizations. He recounts the history of how rationality has been used to manipulate and exploit the masses ever since the days of Pythagoras and Plato, despite the fact that they knew a priori that the world is an irrational place.

          Here’s how Hannah Arendt puts it:

          Marx’s definition of man as animal laborans stood in conscious opposition to and challenged the traditional definition of man as animal rationale.

          Animal rationale, allegedly the translation of zoon logon echon, still shared with Aristotle’s definition the lack of equal applicability to all men, for not all men are equally “rational,” equally capable of theoretical thought. It was the capacity to give and to listen to theoretical reasons, rather than the practical intelligence of men, that the adjective rationale primarily aimed at. The later interpretation of the rational part of man as “common sense,” despite or perhaps because of its eminently political indications, was never used to define the essence of human nature, even though this common sense was supposed to be equally strong and came to the same conclusions in every single individual. Before Marx only Hobbes — who with Montesquieu was the greatest though not the most influential political thinker of the new era that was beginning— had felt the necessity of finding a new definition of man under the assumption of universal equality.

          And your indictment of economics to defend rationality is the irony of ironies. Economics is the epitome of secular rationalist thinking, the poster child of everything that can go wrong with the abuse of rationality and science.

          1. psychohistorian

            Your comment that economics is the epitome of secular rational thought made my jaw drop.

            Is this the same economics that talks about animal spirits and the invisible hand as cover for the decisions made by the rich.

            Let me provide some more from that Moyers/Asimov that say more about why economics in NOT affiliated with science in any way

            MOYERS: The fundamentalists see you as the very incarnation of the enemy, the epitome of the secular humanist who opposes God’s plan for the universe. In 1984, the American Humanist Society gave you their Humanist of the Year Award, and you’re now president of that organization. Are you an enemy of religion?

            ASIMOV: No, I’m not. What I’m against is the attempt to place a person’s belief system onto the nation or the world generally. We object to the Soviet Union trying to dominate the world, to communize the world. The United States, I hope, is trying to democratize the world. But I certainly would be very much against trying to Christianize the world or to Islamize it or to Judaize it or anything of the sort. My objection to fundamentalism is not that they are fundamentalists but that essentially they want me to be a fundamentalist, too. Now, they may say that I believe evolution is true and I want everyone to believe that evolution is true. But I don’t want everyone to believe that evolution is true, I want them to study what we say about evolution and to decide for themselves. Fundamentalists say they want to treat creationism on an equal basis. But they can’t. It’s not a science. You can teach creationism in churches and in courses on religion. They would be horrified if I were to suggest that in the churches they teach secular humanism as an alternate way of looking at the universe or evolution as an alternate way of considering how life may have started. In the church they teach only what they believe, and rightly so, I suppose. But on the other hand, in schools, in science courses, we’ve got to teach what scientists think is the way the universe works.

            MOYERS: But this is what frightens many believers. They see science as uncertain, always tentative, always subject to revisionism. They see science as presenting a complex, chilling, and enormous universe ruled by chance and impersonal laws. They see science as dangerous.

            ASIMOV: That is really the glory of science – that science is tentative, that it is not certain, that it is subject to change. What is really disgraceful is to have a set of beliefs that you think is absolute and has been so from the start and can’t change, where you simply won’t listen to evidence. You say, “If the evidence agrees with me, it’s not necessary, and if it doesn’t agree with me, it’s false.” This is the legendary remark of Omar when they captured Alexandria and asked him what to do with the library. He said, “If the books agree with the Koran, they are not necessary and may be burned. If they disagree with the Koran, they are pernicious and must be burned.” Well, there are still these Omar-like thinkers who think all of knowledge will fit into one book called the Bible, and who refuse to allow it is possible ever to conceive of an error there. To my way of thinking, that is much more dangerous than a system of knowledge that is tentative and uncertain.

          2. psychohistorian

            Whoops, that was more to the religious part, here is the science part that speaks to why econ is not a science

            MOYERS: Is there a morality in science?

            ASIMOV: Oh, absolutely. In fact, there is a morality in science that is further advanced than anywhere else. If you find a person in science who has faked his results, who has lied as far as his findings are concerned, who has tried to steal the work of another, who has done something other scientists consider unethical – well, his scientific reputation is ruined, his scientific life is over. There is no forgiveness. The morality of science is that you report the truth, you do your best to disprove your own findings, and you do not utilize someone else’s findings and report them as your own. In any other branch of human endeavor – in politics, in economics, in law, in almost anything – people can commit crimes and still be heroes. For instance, Colonel North has done terrible things, yet he’s a hero and a patriot to some people. This goes in almost every field. Only science is excepted. You make a misstep in science, and you’re through. Really through.

            MOYERS: You love the field, don’t you? You love science.

            ASIMOV: Oh, I’m very fond of it. I think it’s amazing how many saints there have been among scientists. I’ll give you an example. In 1900, De Vries studied mutations. He found a patch of evening primrose of different types, and he studied how they inherited their characteristics. He worked out the laws of genetics. Two other guys worked out the laws of genetics at the same time, a guy called Karl Correns, who was a German, and Erich Tschermak von Seysenegg, who was an Austrian. All three worked out the laws of genetics in 1900, and having done so, all three looked through the literature, just to see what had been done before. All three discovered that in the 1860s Gregor Mendel had worked out the laws of genetics, and people hadn’t paid any attention then. All three reported their findings as confirmation of what Mendel had found. Not one of the three attempted to say that it was original with him. And you know what it meant. It meant that two of them, Correns and Tschermak von Seysenegg, lived in obscurity. De Vries is known only because he was also the first to work out the theory of mutations. But as far as discovering genetics is concerned, Mendel gets all the credit. They knew at the time that this would happen. That’s the sort of thing you just don’t find outside of science.

          3. from Mexico

            @ psychohistorian

            Well I certainly don’t blame Asimov for wanting to excomunicate economists from the scientific faithful.

            But what about evolutionary biologists like Richard Dawkins and the other Darwinian fundamentalists? The psychiatrists who refuse to sign off on the DSM to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses? The climate scientists who stridently deny AGW? The tobacco industry scientists who swear that smoking doesn’t cause heart or lung disease? The list is quite long. Everybody and his dog wants the imprimatur of science on his special interest pleading or ideological conceit.

            Asimov seems rather adept at zeroing in on religious fundamentalism, and turning a blind eye to similar failings in science. If he would get out more, he would learn that dogmatism is quite normal in the world of science, and that not all religious folks are fundamentalists. His world seems to revolve around the same sort of realist ontology and syllogistic logic that is the bane of rationalism.

          4. psychohistorian

            Asimov died in 1992, I believe, 20 years ago now. That must make him irrelevant to our current world, huh?

            Can we get back to talking about whether reason or faith is a better tool for defining our desired social organizations and their relative strengths and weaknesses?

            I would like to read about concrete examples of faith based potential improvements to our current social organization….why don’t religious leaders talk about inheritance and private ownership of property….if they do I would appreciate links, please and thank you

          5. Aquifer

            ph –

            “Can we get back to talking about whether reason or faith is a better tool for defining our desired social organizations and their relative strengths and weaknesses?”

            Why not use both? Why do you insist on denigrating the concept of faith when you repeatedly tell us what you “believe”?

            “I would like to read about concrete examples of faith based potential improvements to our current social organization….why don’t religious leaders talk about inheritance and private ownership of property …”

            Well , i am not into quoting Scripture, I’ll leave that to others – but you have specifically asked so how about the Sermon on the Mount? Or the thingy about a rich man having a hard time getting into heaven or the early Christian communities whose well to do members supposedly sold all they had for the support of the “commune”? Or, or, or …..

            ph – it’s all out there – you don’t have to go there yourself, but don’t deny that it is there ….

        1. They didn't leave me a choice

          I claim no knowledge of his spirituality, however, how does ANYTHING in that link of yours prove anything one way or another on this subject?

          1. diptherio

            Sorry, I wasn’t trying to PROVE anything, just taking a cheap shot. I just can’t forgo an opportunity for iconoclasm. I hope that isn’t a problem.

    3. Dave of Maryland

      Despite Asimov’s best work – and that of many colleagues – the world is becoming more irrational by the day. Astrology, which has been with us since the very beginning and will be with us right up to the very end (so just try and shout it down) is nothing more than the earth’s relationship to the Sun, Moon and planets, as synthesized and radiated from the Earth itself, in the form of the 12 signs of the zodiac.

      Signs of the zodiac do not fall from an empty sky. They radiate from a living earth. Which is why, if you want accurate long-range weather forecasts, that you go to astrology to get them. The Old Farmers have been denying it for nearly two centuries, but astrologers they are. The general gist of weather, two years in advance, is easy. Picking out major storms is hard, but then, major storms are hard no matter how you do it. The annual Daytona Beach race has had one hitch in 50 years. They’re just up the road from NASA, which routinely postpones launches because of bad weather. In February, one day in four has rain and you can’t run a race on wet track. What does Daytona know that NASA doesn’t? Betcha they won’t tell. Too many self-important Azimovs for safety.

      Why 12 signs? Why not 11 or 13? The answer will surprise: The zodiac has nothing to do with the skies. The zodiac is a grid of Elements mapped against Energies. On this particular level, there are four elements: Air, Earth, Fire and Water. There are three essential states of energy: Having energy. Resistance to energy. No resistance to energy. The sky has none of these qualities. The earth has them in abundance. That science has different terms is of no importance. Aristotle is a better grounding, but that will take me back to the Italian, German and French Renaissances as well as the results of the 30 Years War. Oliver Stone is not the only historian.

      So in this 4 x 3 grid, there is going to be a setting for water that resists energy. Which is to say, Fixed Water, which is to say, stagnant water, which has been given the popular name of Scorpio. Stagnant water is dangerous, as everyone knows. There is going to be a setting for a flame that is eternal, which is to say, Leo (the leader, who is sometimes memorialized in this way), as well as a flame that starts fires, which is Aries (the pioneer), and sparks that fly about uncontrollably: Sagittarius, the gadfly. So far as fire is concerned, there are no other possibilities. Astrology works because it describes reality. There is nothing more fundamental.

      At some point the relationship of energies and elements were mapped into the sky, using solstices and equinoxes as anchors. This was possible because the earth, as a whole, is a crystalline structure, or so say Stixrude and Cohen, modern scientific researchers (London and Washington, look them up). If the earth is a crystal, if meteorites are crystalline, then most likely the other planets are as well and astrology is nothing more than the relationship of giant planetary crystals, in particular the alignment of the earth crystal with the sun crystal. The planets-as-crystals are more than big enough, more than close enough, to have exactly this kind of relationship, which, inverse square law to the fore, can be graded by sheer distance. Uniquely, the earth is also covered in a liquid crystal, which is water.

      This grid was also mapped into playing cards, which is why there are four suits (each of which is traditionally associated with an element), with three court cards on top of them. Kings are energy, Queens resist energy, Jacks do what they are told: Cardinal, fixed and mutable. When a king heads the suit of Spades, which are air, the suit is Libra (cardinal air). When the queen heads it, it is Aquarius (fixed air). When the jack heads it, the suit is Gemini (mutable air). Sharp observers will doubtless find the same grid in other guises.

      Asimov and his friend, Arthur C. Clark, were dang fine writers, but fools overall. This little rant will convince no one who is not already convinced. Astrology is as physical as any of Newton’s Laws. If “science” was actually “scientific”, it would have set itself the goal of explaining astrology, rather than waste 350 years suppressing and denying it and in the process discrediting itself utterly.

      Which is why the world is becoming more irrational day by day. Science has failed. Religion has failed. When there is no leadership, the people perish. Welcome to 2013, the first year of the new Mayan calendar.

      1. AbyNormal

        They often say, “What’s the point in astrology if you can’t change your destiny?”. Well, it’s true that you can’t change your destiny, but still it helps knowing about gravity.
        kedar joshi

      2. psychohistorian

        On the scale of myths I put astrology above economics if that means anything to you… encourages us to look up at the sky and all we don’t know.

        And as I said elsewhere, I don’t think it is in our best interest to use myth to “set the boundaries” for social organization.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I don’t have an answer and am happy and humble with the unknown…..and believe that awesome unknowing should be more significant in our thoughts than the myth of faith. – PH

          I agree that we don’t know and will probably never know with the brain we’re born with.

          As for Laozi, I would translate it a little differently: It’s easier to say what ‘ ‘ is not, and a lot harder to say what ‘ ‘ is.

          1. psychohistorian

            I keep wanting to bring the discussion back to the relative merits of reason based social organization solutions versus those based on somebody’s faith.

            I would rather start from a basis of rationality and put more focus/value on social proscriptions based there than any stemming from a faith base.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            PH, when I look for things agree with you with (need an editor here), instead of what not to, I find plenty to work with.

      3. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        “There are three essential states of energy: Having energy. Resistance to energy. No resistance to energy. ”

        What are the zodiac symbols for “No resistance to energy”?
        We’ve been looking for a superconductor. A patent on those zodiac symbols would be worth big bucks, methinks.

        But Sun Crystal sounds like an avante garde jazz band to me. Not fusion jazz, of course. But I got the Liquid Tension Experiment album, so they have picked up on the idea that nothing is really amorphous, so everything might as well be called a crystal. Planets and all.

        Then of course Freddy Mercury understood all this and formed the Rock band Queen, which untimately completes the link between the above concepts and the Court Cards.

        So this is all quite artistic, in a musical way. Music is all math they tell us – so it’s just a short jump to real science from there!

        Also, Did the Mayans know they would need a new calendar? Just wondering.

        1. Aquifer

          They figured out what the world would be like when the old one ran out and figured it wasn’t worth the effort …

      4. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Dave, have you seen the video at YouTube below? Re purpose of astrology and the Zodiak, relating to Architecture, Geometry, desire for favor, control, wealth:
        “Conspiracy UK Present – Secrets in plain sight. Amazing full video”
        (Published on Aug 16, 2012 – by conspiracyuk)
        Compare with: “BABYLON’S BANKSTERS…” by Joseph P. Ferrell.

    4. 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.”

      You really like this bit, don’t you – this being the 3rd time you have posted it …

      Perhaps you have noticed by now that Mr. Asimov admits quite clearly that it is possible that he himself suffers from an excessive trust in rationality …

      So quite apart from Mexico’s excellent contrast via Einstein, 2 points could be gleaned from your own hero’s statements 1) he admits that he may EXCESSIVELY trust “rationality”, i.e it may not be quite as trustworthy as he believes, and 2) he may excessively TRUST rationality, i.e. have faith in it …

      Look, ph – nobody here is crapping on Reason – it is a wonderful tool in Hs’ tool chest, but it is not the only one, nor is it even the only one that can be said to produce “truth”, in the Jamesian sense of it ..

      As for mysticism – which you also seem to have no use for, it is actually the enemy of religious hierarchy because it eliminates the need for their services as “intermediaries” between the individual and the ineffable …

      i found it amusing that you actually used the “myth” of Icelandic financial perspicacity to repeat your attack on the “myth” of religion – This really bugs you, doesn’t it?

      Perhaps you might wish to consider the possibility that you, like your hero, might also be suffering from an excessive trust in rationality ….

      A simple aside – i find it interesting as well, and see this a lot, all over, that in discussing things of this nature, perhaps especially, one feels it necessary to quote “experts” or at least celebrities as “proof” of assertions that any one of us could just as reliably make from our own experience but which are somehow discounted if they come from “nobodies” – It appears that even when we speak of something which cannot be “proven” one way or the other through the admittedly limited perspective of Western science, we still feel the need to pull out Western scientists, or science fictionalists – ha,ha,ha …

      1. craazyman

        speaking of science fiction, all those galaxies seen through the Hubble Telescope aren’t really there — unless you have your own Hubble Telescope and are looking through it.

        The telescope creates the galaxies! No doubt some astronomer would say the galaxies are there no matter what, but then they’d make you look through the telescope to see them. Otherwise, they have no way to prove they’re right.

        You just have to have faith in science. hahaha

        1. Aquifer

          By George, or Frank, or Herman, or whoever – methinks you have summed the whole thing up quite well indeed!

        1. Aquifer

          Ineffable – “too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words”

          Ah you are a very smart fellow indeed if you can express all your experience in words – either that or you have a poverty of experience ….

      2. diptherio

        The only religion I’ve ever really believed in:

        I think Asimov, like many, fails to distinguish between linguistic descriptions of metaphysical realities, which are different between religions and cultures, and practical, ethical teachings, which actually show a wide agreement across traditions.

      3. JTFaraday

        partway through your comment somewhere I realized that I do lead with my gut a lot of the time and then my brain has to figure out why my gut thinks what it thinks.

        That goes along with what Downsouth was saying about the origins of “morality.”

        But, at the same time, at this point in my life I have to think that “my gut” is already informed by “my brain,” so in the end it’s not so clear to me.

        I’m also not convinced that such gut reactions are necessarily exclusively moral. It seems to me they could just as readily be self interested, in that sort of Darwinist/Freudian/Hobbesian strain of thinking that we seek our own preservation.

        And, indeed, I think the history of “western morality” including in its religious articulations, contains lots rationalizations for the self interests of discrete groups, although I wouldn’t say that that’s all it does, pace the odious Dawkins his cohort of Four Horsemen of the New Atheism who seem to think that traditional “religion” is responsible for every evil that exists in the world.

        In fact, one of the things I find suspect about this cohort of New Atheists, is its public emergence in the same period in which all kinds of chickenhawks were constructing rationalizations for war against the irrational Islamofascists in the run-up to the Iraq War.

        (Just my gut talking).

        1. JTFaraday

          I suppose the public emergence of the MMT-ness alongside the bank bailouts and the need to prosecute the War in the face of growing public disapproval is another one of those strange coincidences.

          1. JTFaraday

            Especially because the Horsemen of the MMT money are not exactly cutting the peasants any slack, whether they’re sitting on the couch eating bonbons or whether they’re making minimum wage cleaning the public toilets.

          1. JTFaraday

            We’ve already established that I don’t think your gut instincts go nearly far enough.

            Whether that has to do with the brains that inform them or not, I can’t really say. I just know that I find talking to you pointless.

        2. Aquifer

          I have come to think there are different levels of knowing and describe them thus – the most numerous are the things I “know” with my “brain” – these are varied, may come and go, are subject to acceptance, alteration, rejection. Of these some slip through and become things i “know” more deeply with my “heart”, if you will, and of these some filter still farther down and become things i “know” with my “gut”. There aren’t a whole lot of those, but they are the ones I “know” best of all …

          Of course one could argue the process is reversed and the fundamental gut level knowledge accrues more attachments on its way “up”, instead of brain stuff shedding on its way down – but ….

          Hmmm that reminds me of something i read somewhere, if i read it properly – that the gut actually has more neural connections than the brain, so maybe it IS “smarter” :) – wish i could remember where i saw that …

    1. diptherio

      “…a largely fruitless effort to find victims of botched foreclosures at the 14 biggest mortgage servicers…”

      WHAT?!? Didn’t look real hard did they? All you have to do is look for the name “MERS” on any foreclosure document. Oh my…

      1. Aquifer

        Shucks – they looked for them in the same place W looked for the WMDs – under the desk, of course – what more do you want?

  3. dearieme

    In the Chomsky comment thread, I thought the funniest bit was ‘David Graeber’s definition of communism as any behavior in line with the principle of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”’.

    1. diptherio

      No, this one was way better than giving the classical definition of communism:

      It would be an interesting society where we compensated people for the menial and/or degrading nature of their jobs, rather than forcing those in the weakest bargaining positions to accept jobs that are simultaneously menial, degrading *and* underpaid and then rationalizing it as their voluntary decision. Gee, they must really love degradation and obsequiousness!~Chris

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In Sharism we ask one question.

        To whom does the GDP belong to?

        1. the 0.01%

        2. the 99.99%

        3. everyone, but in porportion to his/her ‘contribution,’ whatever that is, which may or may not be based on his/her abilities, but what he/she is passionate about.

        4. everyone, without regard to ‘contribution’ but overyone shares equally, together with single payer healthcare.

  4. Inverness (@Inverness)

    The Iceland article is quite devastating. I’d love to see more analysis on that one.

    1. from Mexico

      Indeed it is devastating.

      We were led to believe that Iceland thumbed its nose at the transnational banking cartel, but come to find out it’s just another neoliberal wet dream.

      I think you’re going to have to go to Latin America (certainly not Mexico) to find anyone who is actually standing up to The Man.

      1. Inverness (@Inverness)

        Sounds right. Bolivia, Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil…

        What makes those societies exceptional? I don’t know nearly enough about South America. I’m guessing a history of land reform, extremely well-organized grassroots groups, socialist ideas, and frankly being sick of US-supported coups, extreme poverty.

        1. Aquifer

          Hmm – I suspect it has a great deal to do with the fact that the indigenous communities were not as thoroughly devastated in SA as they have been in NA – they retained enough of their community, tradition, cohesion and, perhaps most importantly, IMO (though i am admittedly biased) their land ethic to be able to “regroup” when the US temporarily took its boot off their necks to focus on the ME … Can you imagine the American equivalent of an Evo Morales, e.g. …

          Contrast with what is going on in Canada, even, which has a far more extensive “place” for First Nations than we do ..

          1. Aquifer

            Touche! You are right …. i guess i was thinking aloud that the odds for an indigenous head of state were considerably lower by orders of magnitude in NA than in SA – but nevertheless not impossible!

    2. Susan Pizzo

      I have followed the Icelandic crisis closely and while I read with interest the insider’s observations provided in today’s link, I did not find them devastating. Rather, the link served as an update on an ongoing struggle and an object lesson on how difficult it is to prevail long-term against the banking cartels. If you read through the comments to the end, you will find the blogger admits that the people of Iceland were valiant in their pots-and-pans uprising, their anti-bailout referendums, their efforts to craft a new constitution, and their pursuit of justice against the banksters (whose wholesale looting was reported on originally by Wikileaks and whose prosecutions are just beginning in earnest). That the political elite should collude with their global partners is hardly surprising (I do wish the blogger would use the term ‘neoliberal’ rather than ‘libertarian/progressive’, btw). That the people of Iceland should find themselves on the losing end of things at this point is indeed disappointing, but the reason they became icons of resistance is because while the rest of us were sitting around dazed and confused like the shock doctrine victims we were, THEY STOOD UP! They got involved. They did everything they could to spike a crooked game. I’m sorry the Icelandic blogger does not seem to appreciate what his countrymen and women have achieved. They were and continue to be an inspiration to us all…

  5. Jackrabbit

    Many left-leaning people are hoping that Obama will be more favorable to progressive issues in his second term. Obama skeptics seem like such sourpusses in contrast to progressive optimism.

    I thought about this a lot after the recent Hagel discussion. It’s not convincing to reference Obama’s past actions because this optimism explicitly rejects those examples. So here is my forward-looking reasoning in a nut shell:

    Presidential Libraries Don’t Build Themselves (PLDBT).

    The Obama Administration is much too practical to take up progressive causes in a major a way. Hagel is a case in point. IF he is nominated, it is much more likely to be because of his loyalty to Obama and Obama’s desire to benefit from picking winners and losers in the coming defense cutbacks than any real policy change.


    1. charles sereno

      I suspect that Obama is really interested in gaining greater executive control of the military/intelligence apparatus. If Hagel gets in, he’d be loyal and could serve as a distraction. Obama’s aims are similar to Rumsfeld’s. His tactics are much more sophisticated. E.g., he purposely gave the impression of being unwillingly dragged into the unsuccessful Afghan “surge” by ground commanders, thus deflecting responsibility and appearing wiser.

      1. Aquifer

        He’s the CIC, for cryin’ out loud! How could he be “unwillingly dragged”? That would make him look like a total jelly donut …

    1. diptherio

      So the MI Supreme Court finds $3.75B of voidable mortgages at JPM alone (how many of those are in foreclosure?), but the OCC can’t find victims of botched foreclosures and so prepares to settle with the 14 largest servicers (frauds) for $10B total. Ah yes, it all makes so much sense…not. Maybe the OCC should ask the MI Supreme Court for help in tracking down a few more botched foreclosures before they let the whole industry off with a stroke-on-the-wrist fine. But that would be asking for too much, wouldn’t it?

      1. Lambert Strether

        That story is linkworthy IMNSHO.

        * * *

        But from the Department of We’re Gonna Have To Work On Our Cliches, “wrist slap” is what you want. “Wrist stroke” has other connotations, not all of them about putting in golf….

        1. diptherio

          Nope, I meant what I said. For the Banksters, less than one billion a piece is a definitely a “stroke,” not a “slap.” Any creepy sexual imagery conjured up by my phrase is totally appropriate, imho. Maybe I should start referring to minuscule fines for systemically fraudulent behavior by TBTF financial firms as “love bites.” I’m mean, obviously the OCC and the Banks are in bed together, no?

  6. AbyNormal

    a short film playing at the 6s

    “The world says: “You have needs — satisfy them. You have as much right as the rich and the mighty. Don’t hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more.” This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. The result for the rich is isolation and suicide, for the poor, envy and murder.”

  7. dale pues

    I’ve been waiting for a religious experience all my life. It hasn’t come yet. I actively sought it out for a while, until looking for sex became more fruitful. Ironically,I found sex in the very place I sought out God, in the church. He would be very cruel to make me wait until I’m on my death bed (or after) before he decided to speak to me. I think about it less and less.

    1. optimader

      I had one this moring inteh bathroom due to the excellent dinner voices told me to have last night.

    2. Jack Parsons

      Too much acid did it for me, but I’m secular. I can see how a religious person would interpret the experience as directly interacting with his gods.

  8. JEHR

    I must admit that I was fooled by the Icelandic take on their banking crisis. The CBC interviewed the President of Iceland (Grimmson)and his take was a glowing one in favour of Iceland. I should have read the transcript of the full interview rather than take to heart the summarized version.

    Full transcript of interview by CBC:

    To find out that no country was able or willing to nationalize or break up any of the banks makes the whole financial crisis even more depressing.

    1. diptherio

      Yeah, I got fooled too. I felt like he was talking to me in the blog post…ugh. Should have known better than to take a politicians word for it, I guess.

  9. michael hudson

    Regarding the excellent Icelandic summary, I can say from personal involvement that he is entirely correct.
    What you should note is, first, that the sponsors of the banks are the Social Democrats and Green coalition (with a former Communist youth as their finance minister in charge of the giveaway). the labor unions are backing the banks !, because they have invested their pension funds in bank stocks and taken a creditor position. So this is Thatcher’s “labor capitalism” with a vengeance.
    Second, the Social Democrats/Greens paid Paul Krugman to come up and give a rave review to the bank vultures, in his New York Times and other columns. They know well how to buy the liberal opinion-makers.
    Third, the Icelandic voters are so disgusted that a new party is being created to win in next April’s elections. This will soon be quite a challenge to constitutonal and international law. I expect that the guiding principle will be “ability to pay.” Debts will be rejected when they threaten to transform and destroy a domestic economy.
    Fourth, the tax system will be changed to recover the giveaway of thermal power to foreign aluminum companies, and to close foreign transfer pricing.
    So I hope that the world will get a much better and more realistic post-Krugman view of matters in about four months.

    1. optimader


      Do I remember correctly that you were (are) an economic consultant at some level in the Icelandic government?

      I spent some time there this past summer and was fairly dioriented at the extent to which the local assessment of the crash and aftermath was in variance withthe porridge doled out by the foreign Media. I gather a lot of middleclass Icelanders had 50% plus pension funds haircuts overnight in the Bank implosion.
      Incidentally, I did see the “prison” at which some few participants reside. Great frustration expressed that it is more akin to a residential hotel than prison. At the least, it’s in a beautiful location.. could be one of the many private salmon fishing lodges.

      One operational issue they do have as a country is their excellent healthcare is under stress due to the expatriation of HC professionals to the EU as a result of salary disparity.
      The high level of frustration expressed is that it’s a country conrolled by a relatively unsophisticated small pool of farmers that gamed by the financial sector. Presidents wife is old line European aristocracy, perhaps influenced leveraged money to drop anchor in Iceland to play their game. Rumors of Russian Vor wanting bad debts repaid by the government.. Ugly scene.

    2. Aquifer

      It has occurred to me for some time the cognitive dissonance that occurs when Labor invests it’s retirement hopes in the welfare of WS ….. Invest in Treasuries instead and put folks in office who will guarantee an adequate return ….

  10. barrisj

    Re: LATimes art. on “middle-class” woes: credit Obama, the Mittster, and the MSM for reclassifying those whose incomes go up to $250000 pa as “middle-class”, as this is now a widely accepted and non-challengeable benchmark for purposes of who is to be “protected” by changes in tax policies. In fact, there is even an attempt during “fiscal cliff” so-called negotiating to float a figure of $400000 annual income as among those deserving a “tax break”. There are only a few lone Dem Senators who have been vociferous in attempting to recast “middle-class” taxpayers as individuals or families whose incomes range from round $40K to $70K pa as truly representative of what once was a thriving middle class, but now seen as people struggling to keep collective heads above water. Again illustrating the power of continual repetition of memes to redefine what was once a generally agreed-upon socio-economic subset. Not to mention the death-by-a-thousand-cuts of what was once a reasonably functioning progressive tax system.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps there is a category between the rich and the middle class; and this is no insult to anyone making $250K/yr, but you are not the rich, sorry.

      I know some people do act like they are part of the rich making only $250K/yr. But they are just wannabees.

      These people should realize they are the 99.99% and should stand with the 99.99%. They don’t really make enough to lobby the government like the truly rich can. They don’t even make enough to own a NBA/NFL/MLB term, nor take a couple of months off, every year, to sail the Caribbean.

      1. lakewoebegoner

        progressive/liberal politics died when the-powers-that-be/the GOP/Reagan convinced traditional middle-class Americans (say household income up to $100k) to delude themselves to think that they were really upper class.

        Gotta keep the estate tax and capital gains/dividend taxes low! So that joe six pack saves a couple of hundred bucks a year while Warren Buffett and the Kochs save millions.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s what they do.

          They define the rich anyone making $250k/yr or $400k/yr; after that, the billionaires don’t have to do fighting anymore.

  11. diptherio

    “Happy New Year to all of you and wishing you a great 2013!

    Military Must Prep Now for ‘Mutant’ Future, Researchers Warn Wired”

    Are you f#@king with us Yves?!? Talk about sending mixed signals. Ooohhh…that makes me giggle.

    1. diptherio

      Hmmm…read the wired article and this (among other things) stood out:

      The report authors also question whether the military shouldn’t get give potential enhancement subjects the right to opt out, even though the subjects are otherwise subject to military training, rules and discipline. “Should warfighters be required to give their informed consent to being enhanced, and if so, what should that process be?” the researchers ask.

      Seems to fit in quite nicely with something Dan Kervick wrote about on the NEP blog the other day:

      Gawd, I can’t wait for our cyborg-dystopian future! At least it won’t be boring…

        1. diptherio

          Let’s see, I’m on pg. 227 of Econned and I’m staring down Graeber’s Debt and Keen’s Debunking Economics, so…I’ll put it on the list ;)

          Thanks for the tip, though. Next time I get a hankering for fiction I’ll check her out.

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        John Scalzi examined it in great detail in the “Old Mans War” series. It’s the R answer to Medicare.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        He had a TV series on the history of Western art. I enjoyed that one. Sad to hear that.

        1. lakewoebegoner

          “Shock of the New” and other of Hughes’ works are on youtube.

          A must-see if you’re into art or history/sociology/anthropology.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Mutant future link.

    Is it about genetically modified clones of robots?

    GM robot clones – that’s mutant alright.

    1. barrisj

      Yes, and what happens when these “enhanced” creeps complete their service requirements and are released into the civilian world? “Superstrains” of PTSD? Multiple outbreaks of mass shootings? If ever there was a “This is America” story, it has to be this one.

      1. optimader

        “what happens when these “enhanced” creeps complete their service requirements and are released into the civilian world?”

        Militia rev 2.0

  13. LeonovaBalletRusse

    Wishing you all love in the New Year. Enjoy the perfect beauty and humanity of the poems below by Guillaume Apollinaire. Since “poetry lives in the mouth” read them aloud with pleasure. The symbolist poetic ideal was to write without punctuation, and the reader knew to speak the poems “line by line” (pause at the end of each line), while observing the classic Alexandrine convention of poetic speech. Share the Apollinaire’s “poetic joy” of creating a symbolic world as you read the following aloud, taking your sweet time, enjoying the blissful freedom of Apollinaire’s artistic expression–the only freedom he knew when he was in prison. Enjoy the satisfaction of speaking and hearing the depth and refined beauty of French expression in the early twentieth century by an accomplished French poet. Recognize that full engagement with the freedom inherent in great works of art may be the only freedom left to us for the rest of our lives.
    Le Pont Mirabeau

    Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine
    Et nos amours
    Faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne
    La joie venait toujours après la peine

    Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
    Les jours s’en vont je demeure

    Les mains dans les mains restons face à face
    Tandis que sous
    Le pont de nos bras passe
    Des éternels regards l’onde si lasse

    Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
    Les jours s’en vont je demeure

    L’amour s’en va comme cette eau courante
    L’amour s’en va
    Comme la vie est lente
    Et comme l’Éspérance est violente

    Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
    Les jours s’en vont je demeure

    Passent les jours et passent les semaines
    Ni temps passé
    Ni les amours reviennent
    Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine

    Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
    Les jours s’en vont je demeure
    Poeme lu au mariage d’Andre Salmon – le 13 juillet 1909

    En voyant des drapeaux ce matin je me suis pas dit
    Voilà les riches vêtements des pauvres
    Ni la pudeur démocratique veut me voiler sa douleur
    Ni la liberté en honneur fait qu’on imite maintenant
    Les feuilles ô liberté végétale ô seule liberté terrestre
    Ni les maisons flambent parce qu’on partira pour ne plus revenir
    Ni ces mains agitées travailleront demain pour nous tous
    Ni même on a pendu ceux qui ne savaient pas profiter de la vie
    Ni même on renouvelle le monde en reprenant la Bastille
    Je sais que seuls le renouvellent ceux qui sont fondés en poésie
    On a pavoisé Paris parce que mon ami André Salmon s’y marie

    Nous nous sommes rencontrés dans un caveau maudit
    Au temps de notre jeunesse
    Fumant tous deux et mal vêtus attendant l’aube
    Épris épris des mêmes paroles dont il faudra changer le sens
    Trompés trompés pauvres petits et ne sachant pas encore rire
    La table et les deux verres devinrent un mourant qui nous jeta le dernier regard d’Orphée
    Les verres tombèrent se brisèrent
    Et nous apprîmes à rire
    Nous partîmes alors pèlerins de la perdition
    A travers les rues à travers les contrées à travers la raison
    Je le revis au bord du fleuve sur lequel flottait Ophélie
    Qui blanche flotte encore entre les nénuphars
    Il s’en allait au milieu des Hamlets blafards
    Sur la flûte jouant les airs de la folie
    Je le revis près d’un moujik mourant compter les béatitudes
    En admirant la neige semblable aux femmes nues
    Je le revis faisant ceci ou cela en l’honneur des mêmes paroles
    Qui changent la face des enfants et je dis toutes ces choses
    Souvenir et Avenir parce que mon ami André Salmon se marie

    Réjouissons-nous non pas parce que notre amitié a été le fleuve qui nous a fertilisés
    Terrains riverains dont l’abondance est la nourriture que tous espèrent
    Ni parce que nos verres nous jettent encore une fois le regard d’Orphée mourant
    Ni parce que nous avons tant grandi que beaucoup pourraient confondre nos yeux et les étoiles
    Ni parce que les drapeaux claquent aux fenêtres des citoyens qui sont contents depuis cent ans d’avoir la vie et de menues choses a défendre
    Ni parce que fondées on poésie nous avons des droits sur les paroles qui forment et défont l’Univers
    Ni parce que nous pouvons pleurer sans ridicule et que nous savons rire
    Ni parce que nous fumons et buvons comme autrefois
    Réjouissons-nous parce que directeur u feu et des poètes
    L’amour qui emplit ainsi que la lumière
    Tout le solide espace entre les étoiles et les planètes
    L’amour veut qu’aujourd’hui mon ami André Salmon se marie
    Poems above by Guillaume Apollinaire — from:
    “GUILLAUME APOLLINAIRE: ALCOOLS – Suivi de Le Bestiaire Illustré par Raoul Dufy – et de Vitam impendere amori”– nrf – Poésie/Gallimard (© Éditions Gallimard, 1920).
    This little book is A FEAST for those who hunger and thirst for real life.

    RECALL when “la belle France” conjured images of slow love, not fast money? When men were lovers and thinkers, instead of heartless robots? Would any français worth their salt forsake France for Belgium, for love of money over love of France? The French passports of these crass traitors should be revoked forever, and the People of France should re-discover their timeless worth without delay. Citoyens, claim your pre-eminence in “joie de vivre,” love, learning, and incomparable style, in a land richly imbued with natural beauty and bountiful life through centuries. Show us how to live as humans again.
    “Allons enfants de la patrie/ Le jour de gloire est arrivé.” WALK FORTH.

  14. Marc Andelman

    On iceland, how could a country with only about 300,000 people ever have been taken seriously enough for its banks to blow , what was it, a 150 billion? dollar , or some large figure, hole in the world economy.?

  15. diane

    Thank you so much for your Einstein comment above “from Mexico” ….indeed, if sterile ‘logic’ was the only valid operative for humankind, things would be even more horrid than they are now …certainly inspired music and art would cease to exist …and humans would no longer put their lives on the line to save others’ lives …as logic has it that the first rule for life is self-preservation of the physical body, ……..sigh.

    In other venal news of the day, the APA (American Psychiatric Association) is quite ready to cement sadness as a Mental Illness ( )in May (no doubt with the help of the DOD, which enlisted quite willing upper echelon APA ‘leaders’ in torture at Guantanamo et al), while removing a seeming blocked connection to compassion as a possible Mental Illness …. and Google has now hired that sociopath Kurzweil ( ), instead of just merely funding that hideous sterile ‘logical’ Singularity Institute which neighbors Google, NASA, Moffet Field, Peter Thiel’s Mountain View office, and an AI (Alien Intelligence? Or is that some Human Sociopaths’ Intelligence?) Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) extension. Yup, just an inch away from those Google glasses to a ‘Scientifically’ proclaimed necessity for a chip in the noggin to download data from most special logicians’ brains (such as Kurzweil’s Daddy’s Brain), for all those irrational emotional humans (outside of the upper Masters of the DOD, Kurzweil Page Brinn and a handful of other sociopathic techy wunderkind Homogenously Pallid ALL BOYO logicians) And we thought those obsessively worshiped and powerful ‘Scientists’ William Shockley and Wernher von Braun were Venal, Racist, Monsters.

    All one needs do is take a very close look at the stunning and silenced despair, homelessness, and racial/gender/’educational’ class/age demographics going on in the obscenely DOD/CIA et al subsidized $ilicon Valley to see how sick and twisted the currently worshipped ‘Science’ of the $UZ$ is …. to ‘get it.’

    From When Man and Machine Merge Written by David Kushner for Rollingstone Magazine’s February 19, 2009 issue ( ):

    Kurzweil’s most ambitious plan for life after the Singularity, however, is also his most personal: Using technology, he plans to bring his dead father back to life. Kurzweil reveals this to me near the end of our conversation. It’s a bright, clear afternoon, and we can see the river that runs behind the trees outside his wide office windows. The portrait of his father looks down over him. In a soft voice, he explains how the resurrection will work. “We can find some of his DNA around his grave site – that’s a lot of information right there,” he says. “The AI will send down some nanobots and get some bone or teeth and extract some DNA and put it all together. Then they’ll get some information from my brain and anyone else who still remembers him.”

    When I ask how exactly they’ll extract the knowledge from his brain, Kurzweil bristles, as if the answer should be obvious: “Just send nanobots into my brain and reconstruct my recollections and memories.” The machines will capture everything: the piggyback ride to a grocery store, the bedtime reading of Tom Swift, tr»e moment he and his father rejoiced when the letter of acceptance from MIT arrived.

    Bolding mine. Yup, quite the logician Ray Kurzweil is, nice that he’s obsessed with his own daddy too, the hypocrisy among the ‘logical,’ ‘scientific’ crowd, … is horrifyingly stunning.

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