Links 2/25/13

Capitalism is so broken it can’t be fixed Paul B. Farrell, Marketwatch. Odd last paragraph, then.

A government at the mercy of events Martin Wolf, FT. “[I]t is not clear what a rating for a sovereign that borrows in its own fiat (government-made) money actually means.”

White House releases state-by-state breakdown of sequester’s effects WaPo. $85 billion? Expensive theatre tickets. Especially for Off-Broadway.

Sequester Threatens Top-Secret Military Research Alan Grayson, FDL

THE DIGITAL 50: The 50 Hottest People In Online Politics Business Insider

Unsuspecting Movie Stars Follow Fake Red Carpet Into Back Of Kidnappers’ Van America’s Finest News Source

Oscars protest by visual effects workers over Life of Pi Guardian

Muddy Waters Secret China Weapon Is on SEC Website Bloomberg

Failure By Design Another Word for It

One of America’s First Nuclear Plants Leaking Radioactive Waste

Survey: No nuclear plants meet new safety standards Asahi Shimbun

Recycling Radioactive Metals Disputed Consortium News (furzy mouse). But the products got glowing reviews!

Karzai orders US special forces out of Afghan province Independent

U.S. Drone and Surveillance Flight Bases in Africa Map and Photos Public Intelligence

Gibbs: I was told not to acknowledge existence of drone program as Obama press secretary Yahoo News (Valissa). “Most open and transparent in history.” They’re just laughing at us, aren’t they?

Why the Euro Crisis Isn’t Over WSJ

The Shortgage of Bulgarians Inside Bulgaria A Fistful of Euros

The rise of Europe’s far-right voices Al Jazeera. Good data, terrible interactive.

Crash Course in Demagoguery: New Book Traces Education of Adolf Hilter Der Spiegel

Surviving AIDS, but Not the Life That Followed Times (Arts)

A Tent City for Fun and Profit Times (Sports). Read to the end.

Half of Detroit property owners don’t pay taxes Detroit News

Compound Interest and Wealth Accumulation: It’s Not As Easy as You Think Retirement Researcher Blog

Britain’s colonial shame: Slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition Independent (Cf. Louis CK).

Head of the Dragon: The Rise of New Shanghai Design Observer

Pistorius case brings South Africa gun culture to global spotlight CNN

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department: Putting the “South” in Southern California NSFWCorp

Firefox takes on smartphone powers Apple, Google Reuters

Google gadgets and glasses Semantics and Data Mapping

The possibility of political pleasure: David Graeber at TEDxWhitechapel  (video)

Loudness Equals Power – Onion Talks – Ep. 2  (video)

On Consensus

* * *

Readers: I (moi lambert, and not Yves) will be in “the city” for Occupy Data (sign-up; detail) this coming Friday and Saturday at CUNY. I’m also going to go out to dinner with some of my fellows from Corrente in Chinatown, Friday, March 1, at 7:30PM. So, (a) if any NC New Yorkers know the best cheap Chinese restaurant of the moment in Chinatown, please let me know in comments. And (b) if any NCers want to come, you’re invited! (And please contact me here, so as not to clutter the comments.) Again, Yves won’t be there, and cannot, indeed should not, be cajoled about it!

* * *

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


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. alex

    re: Crash Course in Demagoguery: New Book Traces Education of Adolf Hilter

    As part of Hitler’s biography, this is interesting but not of great historical importance. I say that because biographies in general are not of great historical importance. The important lesson of this book though is the danger of letting the military become politicized in any way. Potential Hitler’s are a dime a dozen. The important question is what allows them to rise to power.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      One wonders if there are historical parallels. On the one hand, the (defeated) German army of WWII had millions of members; our (defeated) volunteer army is much much smaller. On other, our media and political environment certainly has a lot of groundwork laid for a Rambp-like figure, a “man on a white horse…”

      1. alex

        “the (defeated) German army of WWII had millions of members”

        Did you mean WWI or WWII? After WWII the Allies, having learned the lessons of WWI, quickly and thoroughly disbanded the German military. As the book points out Hitler was in the army for years after WWI, which is a very different scenario. During WWII there was a strong school of thought that it was a mistake to accept a mere armistice after WWI, which is why the allies were so insistent on surrender and occupation. Same with Japan. This book lends credence to that argument.

        “our (defeated) volunteer army is much much smaller”

        I don’t think there’s a widespread sense of defeat in our military. This is not post-Vietnam. We won the wars in a military sense, and quite quickly. It’s the occupations that became a quagmire.

        ‘our media and political environment certainly has a lot of groundwork laid for a Rambp-like figure, a “man on a white horse…”’

        Nothing new there. In fact, George Washington was literally a man on a white horse (though thank heavens he was the American Cincinnatus).

        Back when “Seven Days in May” was published and filmed I think the military was a more serious concern. These days I worry much more about elected officials and “law enforcement”.

          1. alex

            Let’s hope we don’t have one that needs an iii after it.

            Reminds me of a novel I read, set during the London Blitz. A character talking about the past refers to “the World War, as we used to call it before we knew enough to start numbering them”.

          2. Tiresias

            In my experience WW1 was known pretty universally throughout the UK until at least 1945 as ‘The Great War’. Most war memorials refer to it as such, with WW2 added as ‘1939-45’.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Your account of “history” appears to be canned by the “winners”. Compare:

          “CONJURING HITLER: How Britain and America made the Third Reich” by Guido Giacomo Preparata (London, Ann Arbor MI, Pluto Press, 2005);

          “TRADING WITH THE ENEMY: The Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949” by Charles Higham (1983; 1995 Barnes & Noble by arrangement with Lowenstein Associates, Inc., );

          “BABYLON’S BANKSTERS: The Alchemy of Deep Physics, High Finance, and Ancient Religion” by Joesph P. Farrell (Port Townsend WA, Feral House, 2010).

          “Hitler” was cast by as one of the BB Puppet Despots, like Bush & Obama here.

        2. Sufferin' Succotash

          According to Richard Evans’ The Coming of the Third Reich Hitler left the Army 16 months after the war ended.

        3. Roland

          The contrast between the peace settlements is interesting. In WW I the Allies obtained a marginal military victory but followed up with a very harsh peace settlement

          BTW with regards to Germany the harshness of the post-WWI setttlement wasn’t so much in the Versailles Treaty, but rather in the series of ever more severe revisions to the Armistice that were imposed between Nov 1918 and Jun 1919, all the while the wartime blockade was maintained. For example, the Germans were forced to hand over a large percentage of their locomotives and rolling stock during the winter 1918-19. Had such a condition been mentioned in Nov. 1918, it is unlikely that the Germans would have ever signed the Armistice in the first place. It was this series of post-facto conditions imposed under threat which engendered so much bitterness among Germans.

          The Turks for their part simply overthrew their government, repudiated the Sevres Treaty, and resumed the war. They achieved enough success in the renewed fighting that they obtained much better terms afterward.

          After WWII the Allies won a crushing military victory but followed up with what was in many ways a milder postwar settlement.

          Looking at the settlement with Japan, for instance, one can see that the Japanese had several of their major war aims fulfilled, even in defeat: (1) access to raw materials, (2) access to export markets, (3) a winding-up of European empires in East Asia, (4) an alliance to check Russia.

          It was the tacit compromise peace after a complete victory that made the post-WWII settlement so much more successful than the post-WWI settlement. One can only wonder, however, whether the post-WWII settlement would have been as successful if the Allies had not almost immediately begun quarreling among themselves. The post-WWII balance of power, which held the victorious powers in check, gave the defeated countries some room to breathe, and speeded up their political, economic, and military rehabilitation. Indeed the rehabilitation of many elements of the German and Japanese regimes proceeded with unseemly haste.

    2. ambrit

      Dear alex;
      Consider the militarization of the ‘police forces’ in America. Add the local law to the returning army vets, and you get a very large cohort. In WWI, large percentages of the serving local police forces were called up to do essentially what they had been doing ‘at home,’ police work, but in fancier uniforms. Thus, the militarization occurred ‘in the Service,’ as it were. Today, the militarization is enabled back at ‘home.’ Similar dynamics, different ways of getting there.
      The other dynamic not being addressed is that of inter military movements from the Left. The Spartacists in Bavaria, 1918-1919, are a prime example. Lenin seized power from the Karensky government in part with the cooperation of mutinying Tsarist Army units. They don’t celebrate the Battleship Potemkin for nothing after all. Numerous stories of coups by “Junior Officers” attest to the allure of reform, coupled with perceived power. A few that come to mind: Kemal Attaturk, Nasser, half of Sub-Saharan Africa.
      One really frightening aspect of present day America is the fact of the “De-Facto Abrogation of the Constitution.” American military officers swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. This wise proviso has kept the military, in the main, out of domestic affairs. Show the officers that the civilian authorities no longer respect the Constitution, and you will have let the Djinni out of the bottle.

        1. ambrit

          Mr. Strether;
          You were in fine form with those posts. What’s scary is how quickly the system is tipping over into authoritarianism. The old fashioned concept of Fate begins to show its’ visage again. Are we in the state of cascading events now?
          The other worry is the relative obscurity of the #occupy movement today. I understand that they are doing good work, but, and here’s the kicker, where are the splashy shiny high profile public “happenings” that grabbed the general publics’ attention then. (Only a year ago!?) There seems to be a falling away from the “Popular Front” model into a “work behind the scenes” model. One, I would assert, is necessary for regime change, the other good for carving out a niche in the status quo.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Well, when you write “work behind the scenes” you have to ask who sets the scenes. I really need to think through how to get back to a campaign countdown model that covers the hinterlands instead of taking the chatter in the Acela cars that aren’t quiet as the be-all and end-all….

          2. different clue

            Perhaps effective police suppression has effectively suppressed any further Public Happenings from happening? Perhaps diffuse and leaderless erosion is the only way for Occupists to undermine and weaken Class Enemy Power over time?

          3. ambrit

            Dear clue;
            I wasn’t there, but a mental contrast between the travails of the #occupy folks, in New York at least, and those of, say, the ’60s Civil Rights marchers doesn’t give much encouragement. True, the CR activists ended up with the support of what is arguably the last progressive Administration America had; L.B.J.s. But, if America has turned the corner and is rushing headlong into the “Night of the Long Knives,” then all bets are off. We are faced with the Kafkaesque spectacle of an authoritarian government striving mightily to manufacture a public opinion that approves of its’ actions. Civil disobedience is now treason in the eyes of the authorities. As wiser heads than mine have observed, America has begun its’ Imperial Death Spiral. I just hope we can avoid being sucked under with it when it goes.

          4. different clue


            That’s why I think uncivil obedience might achieve more than civil disobedience will achieve in the foreseeable future. “Uncivil obedience” would be various forms of sullen grudging obedience with regime laws and directives while granting zero cheerful compliance to regime wants and wishes. People would have to work out what that would mean and how to do it. Part of it would involve mass leaderless economic rebellion and obstruction against the economic goals and desires of the Master/Owner Class . . . if we can figure out in detail who and what they are and who they ARE NOT. For example, I don’t feel social-class threatened or exploited by my modestly successful dentist who owns his own dental practice. But I am aware of the deadly threat to my survival posed by Monsanto and all those who work for it. Or for example . . . is my local credit union really the local face of the same kleptocracy which Big Banksta is a central part of? Am I wrong to think it isn’t?

            That reads so diffusely because I am still trying to work out what I am trying to get at. Here is another way of trying to get at it . . .

            You can bring a ten ton elephant to the Washington Monument and have the elephant push on the Monument from now till forever, and it will never fall over.
            Or you can bring ten tons of moles and gophers to the Washington Monument and give them all the time they need to dig all the soil out from under one side of the Monument. Eventually, it will fall over.
            (Or you can bring ten thousand protesters to the Washington Monument and have them march around it, waving their little signs and screaming at it. It will never respond to them. It can’t hear them. It don’t gots no ears, you dig?)
            Now . . . what if we were to substitute “J P Morgan” or “Goldman Sachs” or “Big Banka” for the metaphorical referrence to “Washington Monument”? How many millions of people would have to learn how much about concerted and focused and targeted economic erosion activities in order to spontaneously self-organizingly beCOME their very own “ten tons of moles and gophers” . . . digging all the soil out from under one side of Big Banka until Big Banka falls over? That’s the sort of knowledge which could lead to Leaderless Mass Economic Rebellion if it were systematised and weaponised and disseminated far and wide enough. I suspect that Mayor Bloomberg and his backers may have feared that such knowledge/information resided somewhere in those Five Thousand Scary Books in the Original OWS Mothership Library which he took such pains to destroy.

            I can only hope my diffuse vision leads somewhere, because I am not brave enough to hit a policeman in the club with my bare face. And it therefor feels unseemly to me personally to advise others to face the crowd-torture technology which organized police forces will roll out any time now (L-Rads, Raytheon Oven Rays, etc.) while telling how very much I am ( way way) right behind them.

            We will know if numbers of creative young people embrace the path of uncivil obedience when people begin writing the words to a song I imagine . . . titled “We Shall Undermine” . . . to be sung to the tune of We Shall Overcome.

  2. YankeeFrank

    Okay Lambert, for Shanghai Chinese, try “Nice Green Bo” on Bayard Street. Its a very good and cheap, hole in the wall style restaurant with a wonderful variety of dumplings and other great items. The pork, salty egg and mustard green soup is a must.

    But if you want some excellent Vietnamese, try “Pho Viet Huong” on Mulberry on the block south of Canal St. Their pho is great, but they also have a huge menu of wonderful items: the salt & pepper squid is great, and the bbq beef on vermicelli is amazing.

    For amazing Thai, Pongsri Thailand Restaurant on the corner of Baxter and Bayard across from the park is the best in the city.

    That’s the two cents from a long-time downtown resident.

    All places should have plenty for vegetarians to enjoy as well.

      1. YankeeFrank

        Just to clear up any confusion, the place used to be called “New Green Bo”, now “Nice Green Bo”. Not sure why the name change, the food seems the same.

        Lambert, they have one or two biggish tables that can seat 6-8. Only issue is there may be a line and I don’t think they take reservations. I advise getting there early on a Friday, or you can wait up to a half hour for a table.

        1. Georgann

          I do business with Koreans and their businesses change names about every 5 years. I was told it’s because of a tax exemption in force since the Korean war… new Korean businesses are tax exempt for 5 years.

          SO – of course – they just cancel their tax license and put the business in another family member’s name 5 years into.

          I know one fellow in LA whose business has had 10 names in the years I’ve done business with him… he confided in me after about 5 name changes..

          The Vietnamese may have garnered the same deal. So much of this stuff is hidden from view of the Average American schmuck.

          And schmucks we certainly are.

          1. YankeeFrank

            Well, its hard to say who owns this particular restaurant, but its certainly run by Chinese immigrants. My attitude is if the government wants to give you money then you’d better take it, because they will find other ways to take it back anyway. Kudos to the Koreans. Does it bother you because they’re Korean? Because you should take a look at how much (nothing) GE manages to pay in taxes every year, and every other major “American” corporation before getting mad at the Koreans.

          2. cwaltz


            Not the poster you were asking but I think MOST people don’t agree that American companies like GE should be getting off scott free. I tend to be of the position that if you utilize resources like roads(to get your products to sell), schools (to get trained employees) or services (like police to protect your product from getting stolen) then you have a responsibility to help pay for these things, not dodge taxes just because you can exploit a loophole.

          1. YankeeFrank

            As long as you are willing to wait a bit it shouldn’t be a problem. I know of another Shanghai restaurant called “Joe’s Shanghai” that is good but its more famous and expensive.

            If you can’t do the wait I would try the Vietnamese.

      1. YankeeFrank

        The Vietnamese place I mentioned can handle large parties (Pho Viet Huong). And its amazing. Really really good.

    1. YankeeFrank

      That’s a good one. Dontcha know? Haventcha heard? Our government no longer responds to the needs of the people.

      Just wait til they start cutting food stamps and social security and mass starvation begins. Then we’ll see how well planned the police state is.

      1. dale pues

        That’s a good point. What would happen if 45,000,000 Americans were cut off from food assistance? After a couple of days without food I become very irritable. One week, two weeks without a proper meal? I believe most people would go practically insane.

    2. ambrit

      Dear Bridget;
      We’ll probably see something like the Squatters Rights of olden times, or repeats of the Anacostia Flats/Bonus Marchers fiasco.

      1. RanDomino

        Just take it. A lot of people do. The issue with Detroit is that it’s so dangerous that you’d be a fool to do it alone. But if a group tried to do it in force (maybe several dozens) they’d probably be noticed, I suppose.

  3. bmeisen

    Re Slaveowner payouts

    Tie to the Oscars: Spielberg’s “Lincoln” treats the abolition of slavery via the 13th amendment as something along the lines of baseball’s World Series – unique and superlative, a historical event! Fits nicely into the American exceptionalism meme. The Independent article reminds us that the US was a little late in fact in the movement, that the British abolished slavery in 1832, about the same time that Prussia abolished Leibeigenschaften which was essentially serfdom as practiced by Prussian elite from Hamburg to Talinin. The really interesting thing about the 13th amendment was that it was passed by white men who were not slaveowners and who lived far away from the slave populations that would be entitled to if not ask for civil rights. The real pinch was felt when former slaves began to migrate.

    1. Sufferin'Succotash

      Even the despised French beat the US when it came to emancipation. Slavery in France’s colonies was abolished in 1848.
      BTW, I thought Prussian serfdom was abolished in 1808, or was that something else?

      1. bmeisen

        Yes, you’re right I think. German Wikipedia’s “Leibeigenschaft” page indicates that abolition occured in Prussia around 1807, in Mecklenburg around 1822. And even the Russian czar beat the US, abolishing their form of serfdom in 1861. It is incorrect to see Lincoln and the abolitionists as political visionaries – they were I suggest aware of what their European colleagues had already accomplished, were informed of the arguments made overseas, and were eager to catch up – especially knowing that they wouldn’t have to have the shifty dusky folks hanging out around their woodpiles.

    2. alex

      “Spielberg’s “Lincoln” treats the abolition of slavery via the 13th amendment as something … unique and superlative, a historical event!”

      Are you arguing that the passage of the 13th Amendment was not an historical event? While obviously the US was far from the first country to abolish slavery (a fact I learned while attending a public school in the United States), I dare say the passage of the 13th Amendment is worth at least an historical footnote. Curiously, a movie about an American President views this historical footnote in the context of American history.

      “the British abolished slavery in 1832”

      The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 banned slavery in most of the British Empire in 1834, though it was not completely abolished until 1843.

      And, while certainly no justification, as an important political and historical point, you should note that in start contrast to the southern United States, slavery in the British Empire had become of relatively little economic importance. This was due to the dropping price of sugar and the fact that Caribbean slavery (with its far higher mortality rate than in the US) depended heavily on the African slave trade (as opposed to slaves having children), and the African slave trade was banned by the British Empire in 1807. The US banned it one year later.

      “The really interesting thing about the 13th amendment was that it was passed by white men who were not slaveowners and who lived far away from the slave populations that would be entitled to if not ask for civil rights.”

      Then how do you explain that to reach the required ratification by 3/4 of the states, it had been ratified by Maryland, Missouri, Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia?

      1. bmeisen

        A 2/3 majority was required in the sitting Congress – all rebel seats were vacant except for Kentucky which had a Unionist delegation. The subequent ratification of the Amendment by states legislatures took place over a longer period – southern states ratified after their secessionist governments had been replaced by the first reconstructionist ones. Louisiana did not formally adopt the Amendment until the last couple of years.

        1. alex

          “all rebel seats were vacant except for Kentucky”

          Kentucky was not a rebel state.

          “The subequent ratification of the Amendment by states legislatures took place over a longer period”

          The required 3/4 of states ratified it less than a year after it’s passage by congress. All the states I listed ratified it during that period.

          “southern states ratified after their secessionist governments had been replaced by the first reconstructionist ones”

          Maryland and Missouri never had secessionist governments. Moreover, you wrote that the “really interesting thing about the 13th amendment was that it was passed by white men who were not slaveowners and who lived far away from the slave populations”. Reconstructionist governments or not, does that apply to the Southern states I listed?

          “Louisiana did not formally adopt the Amendment until the last couple of years.”

          Louisiana ratified the 13th Amendment less than a month after its passage by congress. You’re confusing it with Mississippi, which in a symbolic gesture, ratified it in 1995.

          1. ambrit

            We’re all a little screwy down here. Mississippi just sent their 1995 ratification of the 13th Amendment to the proper authorities in Washington for “Recording.” Ol Massa just managed to be 148 years late in recognizing how things done changed. And this is the place the NeoCons want America to emulate!
            I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

          2. bmeisen

            Thank you for the corrections. I hold Lincoln in high esteem. My main point is the tendency of Spielberg to feed the American Exceptionalism delusion.

  4. 80on40

    David Graeber wears his insight into social and economic history differently in
    DEBT : The First 5,000 Years, than The Democracy Project.
    The book by the same name, so far only referenced in several interviews. Max
    Keiser tossed a few soft balls his way a few weeks ago, by way of introduction to the soon to be released book, and Graeber’s glamour makeover. The Ted X talk of Feb 12, pre-makeover, highlights the author and activists’ interest in
    public gatherings. His role to create Occupy Wall Street is remembered by the
    crowd control crowd, the nightly news industry, Bloomberg and many others.
    My hope going forward is Graeber have a chapter on Robert’s Rules of Order.

    1. bmeisen

      He seems to understand pleasure as liking it when we do something and so his theme is poorly chosen because there is a big pleasure payoff associated with politics – power, and I believe that I would like it if I was able in the US to do politically what I think should be done: stop fracking, start a massive public works project that would produce the world’s greatest high-speed rail network, defund the military, stop drones, fund education, abolish the death penalty, reduce prison populations, stop Monsanto and big ag, turn TBTF into public utilities, prosecute banksters, promote affordable housing, reform the tort system, convert to renewables …

      1. Susan the other

        My takeaway was that Graeber was indeed talking about debt. Debt by virtue of inequality. And that it is inequality that nullifies democratic politics. I expected him to put a word in for a debt jubilee but instead he spoke of the potential joys of politics. Enjoyed his telling us that nowhere in the Constitution is there a mandate for “democracy” – in fact that mandate is intentionally absent. Of course we all know that. This is the part I liked especially: democracy can only happen after there is an egalitarian society. It’s the age old conflict.

        Also really enjoyed Rupert Sheldrake’s Ted vid. Maybe combine Graeber and Sheldrake and meditate on a better world!

        1. jrs

          Personally my mind starts wandering at the mere mention of high speed rail. You mean starting in the middle of nowhere and nothing because anything else might raise land conflicts, projected to use a large chunk of the output of hoover dam every day just to run (it’s the furthest thing from green it seems to me, a massive massive energy suck) – noone needs trains to be that fast – speed has massive energy costs, costing vastly more billions than expected with estimates growing all the time. I didn’t vote for that boondogle in the first place, why won’t it just die already?!?!

          1. bmeisen

            What kind of an energy suck is 300 million private motorized vehicles on the roads plus a million or two big rigs? Plus a middle- and long-distance trasport system that depends effectively on one technology – jet-powered aviation – that has 20 years left to live. And oh it is the least efficient means of motorized transport of people. Seems like you’re disgusted with the messy kitchen while ignoring the soup on your chin.

          2. different clue

            Well, if we are going to do something useful for rail travel, a deep, broad, and detailed rail network which would allow almost everybody to travel almost anywhere major by rail at or under a hundred miles per hour would be more useful to more people than a few prestige 200 mph rail lines which will never amount to a broad network.
            Comparing hypthetical high speed rail to plane travel or car travel is a misplaced comparison. The better comparison would be comparing it to a hypothetical total-coverage normal-speed rail NETwork. If we can only have one or the other, I would prefer the normal-speed rail NETwork instead of the few high speed rail lines.
            ” High speed trains. Your Concorde on rails.”

  5. Valissa

    The latest 1st amendment attack! Maine man can whistle, but he must keep moving
    Lambert, is this you ;)

    The latest in fine literature… Tea cozies and pencil sharpening vie for oddest book title award

    The latest in jerk science… Studies: Being a Jerk Is Contagious–being-a-jerk-is-contagious-190516322.html

    1. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

      My guess is the bird must belong to “3DAvianGenus Compositie”, but judging from it’s relative size to the praying mantis, it must have a wingspan of 100 ft.

  6. briansays

    interesting read on Shanghai
    as the years roll by and given its increased dominance i am intrigued how the long rivalry with hong kong will play out
    will the sar simply be renewed after 50 years or will it expire with a full merging into the mainland?

  7. ambrit

    First- This is a quintessentially Green antidote.
    Second- Forbes has a piece on back scatter x-ray surveillance machines mounted in vans! The company, in the article, says they have sold over five hundred of the ‘platforms,’ mainly to the DoD. Some though, have ended up in the hands of local law forces. (“We’re just looking for bombs hidden in your bra maam. Move on.”)
    The old maxim is proven once again; any weapon developed will be used.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Sequester…military research…threatened…

    Africa…drones…drone bases…droning on about drones….

    To kill two subjects with one comment; I believe there are two ways to save money and replace drones:

    1) we GM (genetically modify) bee brains so a) bees accept our (i.e. humans’ or more specifically Pentagon’s) preprogrammed flight plans and/or receive updates via satellites b) receive orders to commence stinging enemy combat soldiers/terrorists.

    2) instead of GM the flight plan portion, we manufacture a few realistic looking drone-bees that can do drone-dances which guide the main attacking squadrons of real attacker bees to the target areas. We might call these traffic-directing bees Saturday Night Fever bees.

    The upfront research might be costly, but I envision it will be much cheaper to produce. We also replace those dreadful looking drones we have now with green, biogradable, radar-evading, all penetrating bees that can go covert in the sense that they afford the military commanders to make an attack look ‘natural.’

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “[I]t is not clear what a rating for a sovereign that borrows in its own fiat (government-made) money actually means.” – Martin Wolf

    As long as you don’t commingle the two functions – money printing and your own spending/borrowing, most fiduciary agents interested in being trusted (the key word, trust) know the responsiblity not to commingle the two, it’s clear what it means.

  10. patricia

    Re Detroit taxes: In the spirit of “all the news that’s fit to print”, the Detroit News doesn’t mention the fact that few urban properties are owned by the people who live in them.

    There is a looong tradition of absentee landlords who can’t bother to keep up the properties or pay taxes. The homes are run into the ground and then abandoned–year on year for 40 years, thousands upon thousands of houses fallingfallingfallen. Eventually one simply runs out of properties, and so it’s almost over.

    This unpleasant little fact slips everyone’s mind, even the ones who live just outside the city limits. See the comments. Disgusting.

    But yes, as a Detroit home owner, I pay an atrocious tax rate.

    1. Klassy!

      Yes, the comments were odious. That seems to be expected any time you have an article about some problem with the city of Detroit. I shouldn’t read them.
      I figured most of the scofflaws had to be landlords. Your tax rate is atrocious.

  11. Valissa

    Fragments of ancient continent buried under Indian Ocean
    Until about 750 million years ago, the Earth’s landmass was gathered into a vast single continent called Rodinia. And although they are now separated by thousands of kilometres of ocean, India was once located next to Madagascar. Now researchers believe they have found evidence of a sliver of continent – known as a microcontinent – that was once tucked between the two.

    In case I am not the only one who wondered what happened to Pangea, here’s the short explanation…
    Rodinia is a supercontinent that existed between 1300 – 600 million years ago.
    Pangea is a supercontinent that existed between 360 – 245 million years ago.

    For you hard core science buffs… Pangea, Gondwana, Rodinia and the supercontinent hypothesis

        1. Chauncey Gardiner

          Both pieces to which you linked are beautiful music. Thanks, Valissa. Profoundly moving to see the Pinochet regime didn’t bludgeon the people’s spirit beyond the point of no return. With respect to the second piece, I have been a fan of aboriginal dreamtime art since I first saw a showing at our little local art museum many years ago.

          The Seychelles are said to be the remnants of Gondwana that were left parked in the middle of the Indian Ocean as the Indian subcontinent plate made its way north before eventually colliding with Asia to form the Hymn-a-layas – as Jim Whittaker, RFK’s mountaineering friend used to say.

          It’s all still unfolding geologically. Big tectonic plates shift over time. …Analogies?

  12. JGordon

    “[I]t is not clear what a rating for a sovereign that borrows in its own fiat (government-made) money actually means.”

    That’s a pretty dumb quote. What it means is that the money you lend the sovereign government that prints its own currency will be worth more, in industrial production terms, than when you lent it money. See, people use those ratings the governments get for that purpose.

    Of course, the government could just dispense with the whole borrowing money thing and I’ve heard that Weimar and Zimbabwe had some success with that strategy in the past. So I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that America will be going down that path as well. You monetarist keynsian paper bugs will have your free lunch and eat it too. Isn’t life great? Money for nothing and chicks for free.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Of course, the government could just dispense with the whole borrowing money thing and I’ve heard that Weimar and Zimbabwe had some success with that strategy in the past. So I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that America will be going down that path as well. You monetarist keynsian paper bugs will have your free lunch and eat it too. Isn’t life great? Money for nothing and chicks for free

      If you want to throw around Weimar and Zimbabwe as examples then you need to read Ed Harrison on hyperinflation.

      The key conditions are a large amount of foreign denominated debt combined with a collapse in production capacity. Neither of these is the case in the US, as he discusses in detail at the end.

  13. KFritz

    Memo to Rep Grayson:

    The Brits have their own BBSOs (Ballistic BROWN spherical objects), but they insist on bouncing them in the launch process.

    1. Synopticist

      13% of the economy is house building.
      Sounds like Spain and Ireland in 2005.

      The question is, is there enough genuine demand for that much living space in China, still? For sure, people buy them as investments, but are there Chinese people to live in them?

      Have they built way too many houses, already?

      That’s the thing. They did in Spain and Ireland, and thats a catastrophic problem. Not only do you get massive debts from loans and lost savings, a huge chunk of your economy evaporates, and won’t come back.

  14. gordon

    From the link about Bulgaria:

    “The number of Bulgarians in Spain increased by 14 500 in 2010, and a further 13 000 in 2011”.

    Bulgarians in Spain, eh? We haven’t seen population movements like this since the Visigoths.

    The linked article is well worth reading.

  15. gordon

    On the subject of the Oscars, apparently “Argo” bears only an incidental relationship to what actually happened:

    That qualifies it as a propaganda movie, I think; along the lines of “How Our Heroic Wehrmacht Defeated The Communists At Stalingrad”.

    It makes me think differently about Hollywood. I’m now looking at a lot of the pseudo-historical and military movies as propaganda and/or recruiting advertisements.

    1. ambrit

      Dear gordon;
      Well, ever since I read about how the Hollywood studio heads conspired to kill Sinclairs EPIC campaign to bring real socialism to California in the Thirties, I’ve viewed most Hollywood product as elitist propaganda.
      Also, having distant family members involved in making Hollywood movies, the nearly irresistible urge to break into a chorus of Steely Dans’ “Showbiz Kids” comes over me from time to time.

      1. AbyNormal

        While the poor people sleepin’
        With the shade on the light
        While the poor people sleepin’
        All the stars come out at night
        After closing time
        At the guernsey fair
        I detect the el supremo
        From the room at the top of the stairs
        Well I’ve been around the world
        And I’ve been in the washington zoo
        And in all my travels
        As the facts unravel
        I’ve found this to be true

        They got the house on the corner
        With the rug inside
        They got the booze they need
        All that money can buy
        They got the shapely bods
        They got the steely dan t-shirt
        And for the coup-de-gras
        They’re outrageous

        Show biz kids making movies
        Of themselves you know they
        Don’t give a fuck about anybody else


  16. RanDomino

    David Graeber TED talk:
    1) “Um uhhmm um”
    2) A BLOCK IS NOT A VETO! NO! Is HE the one who got that stupid idea into Occupy’s process? A Block means “if this group goes through with this proposal then I will leave the group”. If someone blocks, either the proposal is withdrawn or the group splits- which is perfectly OK! It could actually mean a more inclusive movement, since now you have two separate groups with more focused tactics. In fact, that’s essentially what happened with Occupy, when it split into the ‘direct action’ and ‘occupy the ___’ (i.e. Occupy the SEC, Alternative Banking Group) camps (and the liberals just left)- except that by doing it intentionally it would have been a hell of a lot cleaner.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “The Joy of Sects”… meaning that splitting into fractally smaller groupuscules on ever smaller doctrinal differences actually did work rather well for Protestants.

  17. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

    News Flash

    After many years, real clown – Beppo – finally wins Italian election.

    Markets down around the world.

Comments are closed.