Links 2/28/13

Victory for Victor Meldrew, as pessimistic people ‘live longer’ Telegraph. See? We reality-based types are gonna outlast the rose colored glasses types! A favorite topic of mine, see: The Dark Side of Optimism.

It’s not your fault you don’t learn from mistakes… your brain is just wired badly Daily Mail (May S)

Genomes and language provide clues on the origin of Homer’s classic Inside Science (Lambert)

Step Inside the Real World of Compulsive Hoarders Scientific American. Lambert: “I don’t know why society doesn’t frame banksters as akin to hoarders except with money instead of kleenex boxes or whatever.” I cannot relate. I like throwing things out and file infrequently because most stuff becomes irrelevant after 3-4 months.

One Nation, Under Monsanto Counterpunch (May S)

Sugar is behind global explosion in type 2 diabetes, study finds Guardian. Duh! Time to tax, or at least end ridiculous subsidies.

Dairy Industry Wants to Sneak Aspartame into Milk Care2 (furzy mouse)

How female employees are less prone to distraction and more likely to get a job done Daily Mail (May S). An effort to establish positive stereotypes about women. But is it nature or nurture? As in men are more powerful, and part of being powerful is loafing.

College football: Recruiting? Brainwashing is more like it Associated Press (Chuck L)

China blames US for cyber-attacks Guardian

Educating Indonesia Aljazeera (May S)

A Taxpayer Revolt Against Bank Bailouts In The Eurozone Wolf Richter

EU agrees to cap bankers’ bonuses Financial Times. This is badly designed. Will just lead to higher salaries. But will make it harder to pay trader lavishly, so the side effects could be interesting.

No Food, No Phone, All Heat, Some Light: Dispatches from the Pari Passu Hearing Anna Gelpern, Credit Slips. On the Argentine bond row.

Former Insiders Criticize Iran Policy as U.S. Hegemony Counterpunch (May S)

White House stonewalling drone investigation say congressman from both sides of the aisle AFP

Catfood watch:

Peterson’s Puppet Populists Mary Bottari

Workers fear sequester will cost jobs Guardian. Hhm…skepticism about the polls.

U.S. Antitrust Division in Phila. lost many veteran lawyers Philly (Paul Tioxon). Sequester-socking.

Remember: Sequestration was Obama’s Idea Glen Ford (Carol B)

Obama’s Sequester Replacement Plan Would Be Deeply Unpopular Jon Walker, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Woodward claims White House threatened him The Hill. A must read. However, Blodget disagrees (oh, and a threat was not a threat? Please. Woodward may be playing drama queen but I don’t think he’s that off base. A White House official is not at all the same as PR firm whores. Agents have plausible deniability. A staffer is inside the tent). Separately, I don’t know whether to be flattered or insulted. When public officials (not the WH, let me assure you, smaller fry) have seen fit to threaten me, they have lacked the guts to do so directly. They tried to get an intermediary to carry the message, and the intermediary refused.

Progressive Caucus Folds Counterpunch. This is important. Grayson and Takano circulated a letter saying that the signers would vote against Social Security and Medicare cuts. All those brave talkers who said they opposed cuts were no shows. That’s the Vichy Left in action.

Scalia: Voting Rights Act Is ‘Perpetuation Of Racial Entitlement’ ThinkProgress. Someone needs to put a serious hex on him for this, of the “all the bad stuff you did comes back on you tenfold in this lifetime”. Problem is it is gonna take him several lifetimes to work all his bad Supreme Court karma.

Senate Confirms Lew at Treasury Linda Beale

Stéphane Hessel, writer and inspiration behind Occupy movement, dies at 95 Guardian (Chuck L)

RealtyTrac: Foreclosure sales uneven across the nation Housing Wire

What Bernanke Didn’t Say About Housing Caroline Baum, Bloomberg

Why It’s Smart to Be Reckless on Wall Street Scientific American (Richard Smith)

Economic crisis ‘balkanized’ global finance Washington Post. Harry Shearer writes: “Wouldn’t this all be good news?” I need to read the entire report, but I can tell you the short version is: McKinsey is unhappy that its bank looter clients aren’t making as much money and therefore can’t spend as much on McKinsey consultants. Claudio Borio and Piti Disyatat of the IMF already debunked the premise of the McKinsey paper, that cross border finance flows are in any meaningful way related to trade flows. Gross financial flows are 60 times trade flows. Get a grip. This cross border action has just about squat to do with the real economy.

Antidote du jour (Humane Society, via snel):

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  1. dearieme

    “Sugar is behind the global explosion in type 2 diabetes”: up to a point. Part of its increase in the UK is a result of redefining what constitutes diabetes, and giving financial incentives to GPs to diagnose it. My endocrinologist tells me that I am on the verge of being diabetic in the UK but would be firmly non-diabetic in the US.

    P.S. I consume little sugar, not having a sweet tooth nor eating much processed food. I do get quite a bit from fruit, I suppose.

    1. Keenan

      dearieme – Mr Dudek is correct. Refined carbohydrates, grains and starches are pretty much the same in the metabolic sense. You may want to avoid or severely limit foods with high glycemic index and high glycemic load – See here: – and consider looking into a “Primal” diet.

    2. Ron

      150 used to be the U.S. standard and now its 125 after fasting. I have been a type 2 for the past 20 years and was not over weight, played in the men’s soccer league till age 50 and still very active at 66. Type 2 diabetes is more complex then just higher sugar levels but whatever its effect on each person one needs to change there eating routine in some manner or face significant health risks.
      Changing eating habits for most people is difficult and many cannot make the necessary change. Food labeling has been critical for me in evaluating food purchases as it provides sugar content information on a per serving basis. American’s consume way too much sugar as it is loaded into every mass produced food source available so expect significant negative blowback from the public if sugar content is reduced in the food supply.

    3. cenobite

      Dr. Robert Lustig (UCSF) says it’s sugar, and specifically it’s fructose.

      Fructose is 100% metabolized by the liver, and the metabolities are toxic. Those metabolites cause insulin resistance (leading to type 2 diabetes), very low density lipoprotein and triglycerides, and uric acid.

      So, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and gout: all from cheap, ubiquitous fructose.

      1. Ron

        Type 2 can be lack of cell Sensitivity to insulin; inability to produce insulin besides just high sugar levels in the body. Without high levels of sugar in our food supply type 2 would still be present in the population but not at these high levels.

      2. different clue

        Gary Taubes wrote an interesting article recently titled Is Sugar Toxic? In briefest, the article reminds us that every disaccharide sucrose molecule disassociates in the intestine into a molecule of glucose and a molecule of fructose, which are both then absorbed into the bloodstream and handled from there. In other words . . . sucrose is 50% fructose, just as high-percent fructose as high fructose corn syrup. Taubes is not trying to suggest that HFCS is not any more toxic than sugar. He is suggesting that sugar itself is Just AS toxic AS HFCS. Here is the link.

          1. dearieme

            Thanks for the suggestions, folks. It seems that I should give up fruit, honey, bread, oats, ….

            Meantime the papers recommend the Mediterranean diet, which involves (in my experience) plenty of fruit, honey and bread. I already consume lots of fish, which is part of the Mediterranean habit, olive oil, and a little wine. I’m darned if I’ll give up oats.

            Mind you, the fructose-phobia seems implausible to me. We’re great apes who evolved in the African trees. Our distant ancestors must have principally consumed fruit.

          2. different clue

            I think he is saying we have been toxically exposed for only the last two hundred years with the mass mechanization and distribution of plantation sugar. And then super-mass hyper-toxically exposed to further dose-increases over the last less-than-fifty years.

            Before that, sugar/honey/etc. was rare and precious and too-little-intaken to make a metabolic difference. I will re-read the article to see if I misunderstood what he is saying . . . but I am fairly sure he is saying that toxic sugarloads is a very modern event.

          3. Robert Dudek

            Hunter gatherers ate mostly meat and berries and wild grains (and fish if coastal). But those berries were very small and sour, nothing like most of the hybrodized berries we see now (which have been selected for yield and sweetness).

            It is entirely correct that refined sugar has only become commonplace in the last few centuries, as well as the ubiquitous presence of refined flour-based foods.

            These two together are responsible for most of the glycemic load in our modern day diets. They are very dangeous when consumed on a regular basis.

          4. Carla

            I consume a high-protein, high-fat, low-carb diet myself, but nevertheless, I feel compelled to point out that average life expectancy 200, 500, 1,000 years ago was much lower than it is today. Of course, many factors other than sugar were and are involved.

          5. different clue


            Our distant ancestors ate whatever they could pick, pull, dig up, find, or run down and kill. Fructose in the fruit was diffusely distributed over a huge water and fiber load in the fruit. No such fiberload accompanies the 50% pure fructose in HFCS or sugar or honey. 300 years of exposure to toxic hyperloads of sugar and its fructose are a Darwinian filter that we are only beginning to pass through and be differentially selected by, evolutionarily speaking.

    4. Zachary Smith

      *** P.S. I consume little sugar, not having a sweet tooth nor eating much processed food. I do get quite a bit from fruit, I suppose. ***

      You are very fortunate not to have that ‘sweet tooth’, for most everybody I know has the curse, myself included. IMO you’re doubly blessed by your avoidance of processed food. Many years ago I read a book titled “Trace Elements and Man” in which the author demonstrated that in his lab rats refined sugar and processed foods (polished rice, white flour, etc) caused a much higher rate of diabetes. After much work he concluded that a chromium deficiency was the cause of this.

      These days researchers are becoming aware that rats aren’t always good models for humans, but I still pop a chromium supplement every now and then. Even if there is a connection, the line between too much and too little is a darned small one, and I don’t want to even approach an overdose of the stuff. Probably natural sources are best, but for me sweet corn is seasonal and I detest sweet potatoes.

  2. craazyman

    maybe pessimisic people live longer because they think:

    “what’s the point of dying since I’ll probably just go straight to hell”

    bowhahahahaha ahahahahah

    that was interesting observations about Italy, Lidia, if you’re reading this. given all that, I don’t see how they’ll organize themselves to leave the euro. It seems like they’ll just make do with whatever.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I swear I heard a show on NPR a few weeks back about self-deception was necessary to achieve success in life. An example of swimmers who could block any realistic assessment of the situation to just concentration on the contest…or something like that, whereas people not inclined towards self-deception but insisting on looking at the world realistically and pessimistically didn’t do so well.

      Assuming that was not more propaganda by the sponsoring non-profits that were fronted by NPR, does it mean successful people live not as long as non-successful people?

  3. David Lentini

    “Some people will never learn – and now scientists think they know why. People who keep repeating the same mistakes have less active brains.”

    They’re called “economists”.

          1. different clue

            If only there were a way to cut their SS/Mcare and no one else’s. In a perfect world, the oBAma voters would have THEIR SS/Mcare cut to zero as punishment and the rest of us would have OUR SS/Mcare totally unaffected.

            The fact that saving OUR SS/Mcare from the Catfood Cuts which the Obamabots support would have the effect of saving THEIR SS/Mcare from those same Catfood Cuts is bitter price to pay . . . but it is a price I am prepared to live with in order to save MY SS/Mcare from the cuts which the Obama scumvoters support inflicting on us AND themselves.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That sounds like the Japanese right-wing nationalist writer Mishima and his Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavillion).

    1. jrs

      Shorter of breath and one day closer to death … everyday. Smile, or rather grumble and bitch about life and the world, and you’ll probably live long enough to get Alzheimers and cancer.

    2. peace

      Pessimism seems related to the social psychology construct called prevention focus while optimism seems related to a promotion focus. According to this categorization, individuals perceive the world and act with either a prevention focus that accentuates risks and security or a promotion focus that accentuates gains and advancement. Promotion focused individuals take risks and screw up our economy or possibly their own health. Alternatively, prevention focused individuals are more cautious and probably follow guidelines regarding health prevention or guidance regarding impending bubbles or the importance of appropriate levels of leverage.

      Before the fiscal crisis social psych studies usually found that promotion focus lead to better outcomes. I was derisively labeled as prevention focused by a senior colleague. However, after the fiscal crisis, more studies reported and validated the benefits of having a cautious prevention focus. Yes, unfortunately, it seems that the zeitgeist can systematically bias the design of studies to validate preconceived expectations; so that a risk-taking disposition was previously valued and validated; but currently a cautious disposition is more often validated.

      BTW: I consider myself (and you?) a cautious pragmatist instead of a pessimist. Thanks for the link!

      1. peace

        I meant to write
        BTW: I consider myself (and maybe? you, Yves) a cautious pragmatist instead of a pessimist.

  4. dadanada

    “I like throwing things out and file infrequently because most stuff becomes irrelevant after 3-4 months.”

    If you were smart, you’d put your junk on Ebay where compulsive hoarders would pay you for it. And a university library might buy your notes.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      eBay is too much work and junk is junk. Better stuff gets given to building guys or charities.

      And the papers are junk, not “notes” but the thought it kind.

      1. different clue

        Ebay used to be more fun some years ago, and I used to buy some very worthwhile non-junk there. Much of which I still have. But it has been carefully degraded over the last few years.

    2. Larry

      I used Amazon to sell off a bunch of books and DVDs that were just collecting dust on the shelves. I found it to be much easier to use than Ebay, though for one item (electronic) Ebay proved to be the go to route. Everything else was donated.

  5. monday1929

    I am thinking, “That cold-blooded turtle just wants a warm body to curl up to…”, but, isn’t that what we all want :)

  6. patricia

    Regarding aspartame in milk: The writer first insinuates that it would be in all milks, then that it would be in flavored dairy products. So which is it? Aspartame shouldn’t be anywhere but neither do I like deception.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The aspartame in the drinks would not be on the label, raising the question of what drinks it would be in.

      1. different clue

        The issue of government-sanctioned secret poisons in food products will eventually get offensive enough to enough people that a marketing space will open up for Certified Full Disclosure foods . . . which make a point of listing every single ingredient added, no matter how “inert” or “low percentage”.

  7. Garrett Pace

    Football programs recruiting children

    What a funny culture of violence we perpetuate. Our military recruits children in much the same way.

    Those F-18 flyovers at sporting events aren’t for nothing.

    In his shrewd and interesting analysis of the history of war, Gwynne Dyer observed this, about the techniques and atmosphere of basic training in the US Marine Corps:

    “…But there is nothing in all this (except the weapons drill) that would not be found in the training camp of a professional football team.”

    Which says a lot about basic training, but also something about football.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I have been wondering if conditioning doesn’t start early and in the most familar of palces – one’s own home, where a typically human dwelling consists of many cells with walls delineating ‘private ownership’ of a particular space within that dwelling.

      It seems to scream separateness, divisions, etc. from, basically, your first day here in this world.

  8. JGordon

    “Telegraph. See? We reality-based times are gonna outlast the rose colored glasses types! A favorite topic of mine”

    While I don’t mean to put a damper on your jubilation at being so in-touch with reality, from my perspective the narrative often conveyed here on Naked Capitalism is only marginally less out-of-touch than that of CNBC–the difference being that while you do at least recognize the nature of our corrupt system (to an extent), you still offer bizarre and illogical solutions to the corruption (if only the elites could print trillion dollar coins and snatch guns from everyone then everything would be unicorns and rainbows forever).

    1. AbyNormal

      “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
      Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
      the lorax

      (be like water, myFriend…b.lee)

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      You’ve just made clear you understand neither the political argument for the coin (the 14th Amendment gets you to the same place) or the economics. This is not about rainbows, it’s about fiscal multipliers. So whose afflicted with distorted perceptions? Looks like projection to me.

      And we don’t do ponies here.

      1. JGordon

        You think that I don’t understand your falacious beliefs about economic theories? In fact, I do understand them, and that’s why I disregard them. It’s not like the theory of stimulus is hard to grasp. It’s just probably wrong.

        But even if you don’t agree with me, at the very least if you are going to retain your intellectual honesty you should stop stating that your ideological beliefs on monetary matters are empirical facts, if for no other reason than that there are at least some economists (who I dislike on general principle admittedly–but you do seem to give some of them credence) that have produced economic research that shows that your fiscal stimulus and money multiplier ideas are no good.

        Cogan, John F,, and John B. Taylor. “The Obama Stimulus IMpact? Zero. Wall Street Journal, December 9, 2010

        But besides that, this is a completely pointless red herring anyway, since my main gripe is that you want to increase the power of corrupt kleptocrats. And your trillion dollar coin will certainly have that effect regardless of whatever else it does.

        For the politics of the situation? We are involved in a full-scale currency war right now, and failure to take into account what the rest of the world will do to America if such a ridiculuous thing were to happen is a major political oversight on your part. I don’t really understand what you all are thinking. You are looking at a tree and then blithely assuming that you understand the whole of the forest from studying the tree. It’s a kind of self-rightess certitude that’s incredibly dangerous (not to mention annoying and falacious) wherever it pops up.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You are seriously quoting a Wall Street Journal op ed as if it was authoritative? That is the best you can do? There are academic studies that have concluded that the Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages are completely dishonest. And I’ve read a fair bit of Taylor. He’s a hard core ideologue and his work does not stand up to much scrutiny.

          Bruce Bartlett, a conservative, set out to write a book debunking Keynes. He looked at the data and changed his mind, which cost him big time among his fellow travelers. The IMF, which has been administering austerity for decades, has been forced to admit it does not work. As I said, the fiscal multiplier is greater than one. Taylor is a hard core conservative ideologue. I’ve read a lot of this work and it does not stand up to scrutiny.

          Everyone who looked at the Obama stimulus at the time who was not ideologically opposed said it was too small and poorly designed (too much tax cuts, which are just about the weakest form of stimulus) and would also kick in too slowly. So your argument boils down to “one time, an antibiotic dose appears not to have worked, ergo, antibiotics don’t work.” That does not even begin to wash.

          And the 2010 analysis is also a crock because it turns out the GDP fall in 4Q 2008 was much worse than originally estimated. Originally, it was pegged at a fall of 3+%, it was later determined to be a fall of 8.9%.

          1. skippy

            The great part is…. after constantly cracking a fat about moral and ethical failures… the commenter uses Rupert’s rag as buttressing source… a paragon of the aforementioned quality’s fore sure!….

          2. EconCCX

            Yves, JGordon is correct. The phenomenon is Debt Deflation. Not as Keen understands it, but as Soddy and Graziani understood it. When a fee to your bank is deducted from your account, it doesn’t “flow” to your bank but simply vanishes; the bank is that far ahead by no longer owing it to you. Aggregate reserves (MB) remain unchanged. M1 goes down. Debt deflation. When you write a check to a bank, that check clears by means of reserves. Aggregate reserves remain unchanged. M1 goes down. The bank’s net worth goes up; that does nothing for money, which is a circulating medium of exchange. Again: Debt Deflation.

            People and institutions deeply in debt make many such payments. Usury limits have been abolished. There’s a percentage removed with every card swipe payment. The problem isn’t one of insufficient stimulus but rather with the present multi-tier engineering of money itself.

            Federal Reserve banks, owners of Treasuries purchased by the “Fed”, are dividend-paying private institutions, not the right arm of government. A fact to which MMTers, save Joe Firestone, are indifferent.

            The world desperately needs what you do. Hoping you’ll put your mistaken certainty to the side at long last.

    3. skippy

      Ok… get a big tat on your forehead stating ***Provide no Care if in Duress***.

      Skippy… In fact… if your suffering too much… I’ll put you down at zero cost[!], assisting the universe is my reward!

  9. Brindle

    Re: “Progressive Caucus Folds”

    The Progressive Caucus should disband, slink into the crevices or just be vaporized. It serves no purpose other than to be Obama puppet with the word “progressive” displayed on its clown hat.

    —“It’s one thing — a fairly easy thing — to tell someone else what you hope they’ll do, as 107 House Democrats did recently in a different letter to President Obama: “We write to affirm our vigorous opposition to cutting Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits. . . . We urge you to reject any proposals to cut benefits.”

    It’s much more difficult — and far more crucial — for members of Congress to publicly commit themselves not to vote for any cuts in those programs, which are matters of life and death for vast numbers of Americans.—“

    1. Montanamaven

      Too bad this Counterpunch article is by Norman Solomon. Used to be a fan but he became another “Obama is up to no good but I’m still gonna vote for him” people. If he had been elected to the House, he most likely would have signed this pledge of Grayson’s. Certain members are always allowed to vote a certain way as long as the bill still goes through though. So this skepticism is keeping me young?

      1. different clue

        Its one thing to tell your Officeholder(D) that ” I won’t vote for you unless you vote this way on that”. That allows the D-leaders to count up votes and permit at-risk officeholders to vote “this way on that” so they can tell their concerned constituents: “I voted this way on that, just like you asked.”

        It may be another thing to tell your Officeholder(D) that
        “I won’t vote/give/call/anything for ANY officeseeker(D) ever again if this or that actually passes.” That is what I told my officeholders, though I need to tell them again obviously. That I will never vote or anything else for another officeholder(D) if any changes whatsoever are made to SS/Mcare. I will be grading on overall results, not on any particular officeholder(D)’s “effort”.

        1. CRLaRue

          Why would you vote democrat or republican?
          If reading NC has tought you any thing, would it
          not be that our left-right, blue-red debate is
          is a joke on you!!

          1. different clue

            If I tell my officeholders(D) that I won’t vote D anymore under any conditions or outcomes regardless . . . then what threatening or bargaining power do I have over them? Well . . . none anyway over the ones who are auditioning for big private sector payouts. But still some over the ones who put the ego-gratification of re-election ahead of the monetary gratification of after-office payouts.
            So if I tell them I will NEVer vote for them EVer again IF a certain outcome which I reject is the outcome which they allow to happen, that implies that I WILL vote for them again IF the outcome which I reject ends up being prevented. And since I want to save my SS/Mcare survival benefits from the death-by-salami-tactics which Obama and the Catfood Democrats are conspiring to achieve, it makes survival sense for me to tell my (D)officeholders that I will vote for them again if the Catfood Plan is killed and if they were involved in successfully killing it. That is what occupies my mind for the next few weeks and months until Obama’s term ends or until the little mutherfukker gets himself impeached.

            I will have plenty of time to vote for hopeful third party choices in due course. But for me for now . . . until the SS/Mcare war is won or lost esPECially in the Senate . . . “you go to war with the Party you have, not the Party you wish you had, or would like to have had at some future time.”

    2. dolleymadison

      “The Progressive Caucus should disband, slink into the crevices or just be vaporized. It serves no purpose other than to be Obama puppet with the word “progressive” displayed on its clown hat.”

      BAHAAA – I am so stealing this line…

    3. Doug Terpstra

      Well said, Brindle. The Progressive Caucus is an Orwellian facade without depth or substance that yields to the slightest breeze or whiff of lucre. When we finally get the transformative values and integrity we need in Washington, there will be rejoicing and dancing in the streets.

  10. Don't fuck with Lambchop

    Woodward’s a spook, always has been. (see arbitrary reams of Russ Baker’s meticulous stuff) Woodward’s intent here seems to be to push the executive to take the power of the purse from congress by decree, the same way the executive took war powers from congress and stripped the judiciary of its residual independence. Because as John Bennett knows, the best puppet ruler is an autocrat.

    1. Synopticist

      Woodward’s a republican trying to stay relevant. He’s been criticised for talking BS on the sequester, and this is his comeback.

  11. Montanamaven

    On hoarders: I wrote a piece comparing hoarders to the 1% when a friend of mine came back from a vacation and told me of the “hundreds of yachts” in the harbor.
    The image of the rich as hoarders did come to me by watching a show last year called “Restaurant Impossible” where this really fat guy in flip flops who owned the restaurant tried to explain why he had piles of magazines, broken signs, Christmas decorations strewn every where in July, etc…to the host.
    Since then I’ve mentioned it to both my liberal friends and conservative acquaintances. The image seems to work. I was going to find a cartoonist to depict a rich cat sitting in a recliner surrounded by stacks of Forbes and Town and Country with caviar and creme fraiche dribbling down his chin watching CNBC or something like that. But real life intruded. I found a picture of a fat cat clutching 20 dollar bills but it was not in the creative commons whatever that really means. So I have just a picture of a fat cat. If anybody has a fat cat that would allow himself/herself to be photoed clutching bills, preferably $100 or maybe some Treasury bonds, I’d love to use it. It could also be one of the NC sidebars. Or even better, somebody do a cartoon. Maybe a contest?

    In regards to Glen Ford’s piece on Obama coming up with the sequester: A caller to the Mark Thompson radio show yesterday mentioned it and a piece by Bill Black reminding us that it was Obama’s WH that came up with this. The host,Mark, and his guest Ron Daniels chuckled and said, “Oh that Glen…Ha. Ha. Ha. What else would you expect him to say.” or words to that effect. They conveniently ignored the Bill Black part and went on to explain how the WH had no choice but to sign on to this sequester idea.

    Almost everything is propaganda and it’s exhausting trying to push back at all. And the ridicule and laughter is really insidious and certainly not warranted with a real genius like Glen Ford. Didn’t somebody here link to a piece that said, “Isolate the radicals…” One of the ways is to mock them.

    1. cwaltz

      I actually tend to think that hoarding is kinda the opposite of 1% syndrome. A lot of times these people had some sort of horrible thing happen that causes the compulsion. Ever watch “extreme couponing” show? Most of the women I’ve seen on the show seem to have a version of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They had a time period where they were worried that they wouldn’t be able to feed their families, so as a response they hoard food, even though the period of time has passed and they’re food secure. It doesn’t seem to be greed or entitlement related as much as trauma related.

      1. Montanamaven

        I grew up with a Depression era Dad who regaled us with stories of gathering up tobacco along the road, then making cigarettes out of them, and selling them. And looking for fruit in dumpsters. Then he had shell shock in WWII and always had to “calm his nerves”. His traumas led him to a life dedicated to seeing that the handicapped got educated and started one of the first schools of its kind in 1950. He threw most everything away and never kept much including my Howdy Doody Doll!! Trauma is a strange thing. I’m still remembering Howdy.
        Young people growing up in this dysfunctional school system we have now with parents working non-stop with little time to be truly free may be creating hoarders both rich and poor. My idea was to make the disgustingly rich also look like the people we feel sad about or, let’s be honest, pity. We should also pity the rich guy who amasses wealth that he doesn’t even know what to do with while hurting a whole lot of people in the process. Caveat: We should probably ostracize the greedy sociopath hoarder and help the poor one. Maybe have to switch places?
        But I will rethink this image.

      2. Mark P.

        It’s really evident in meth heads that, as the upper parts of their minds get peeled away, there’s something deeply-wired in the more primitive part of the human brain that’s programmed towards seeing accumulation of arbitrary objects as an aid — as that primitive brain reckons in its illogical fashion — to our survival.

        I’ve seen meth heads, male and female, turn hoarding behaviors — as in living in storage units and spending all their waking hours obsessively going around yard sales and collecting street-junk — into the whole of their life-styles.

        There’s no reason, of course, that aberrant accumulative hoarding behaviors aren’t being manifested by a few of the one percent, too.

    2. Ron

      Mainstream media reflects corporate business thinking and in this situation business interest particularly defense driven are not happy with reduced spending nor government worker unions. Woodward is another corporate creature reflecting the interest that signs his check.

  12. Bas

    The anti-European bias here – as elsewhere in the english speaking world – becomes both more pernicious and ridiculous with every passing day.

    Yesterday, dangerous clowns like Berlusconi and Grillo were hailed as modern Garibaldis, valiantly defending Italy from the EU’s austerity Diktats.

    Today, the EU bonus cap, the _only_ serious attempt to curb bankers’ looting anywhere in the civilized world, is disparaged as ‘badly designed’, with its only hope being its ‘side effects’ – unintended, of course. No mention whatsoever as to what would constitue a good design, nor how far American lawmakers have come to implementing anything like this.

    Tomorrow, of course, the eurozone will implode again. Just like last year, and the year before.

    This blind hatred for everything EU, euro or even European used to be just pathetic. Now it’s become pathological.

    1. craazyman

      and worst of all it’s bad for your financial health.

      How all the oh-so-edrudite subtely self-effacing pompous pontificators with their contemplative and condescending critiques were so superciliously sure of themselves, weren’t they, that the euro would blow up in . . . when was it . . . 2011? 2012? . . . do we hear 2013? . . . going once, going twice . . . 2014! we have 2014! do we hear 2015? . . .

      any day now, no doubt about it, just keep your cash stash ready for the bargains that will emerge . . . somewhere . . . over the rainbow . . . where lies are true . . and the schemes that you dare to scheme really do come true . . . eventually they’ll be right, just about when the asteroid hits and that will be the reason, not the euro

    2. Ignacio

      Anti-european? You must be kidding. I think that Yves’ take, signalling the big EU mistakes, is definitely pro-european (pro-europeans). It clearly shows an empathic behaviour. Something that meany european “leaders” lack these days.

  13. bmeisen

    Scalia and racial entitlements

    The Voting Rights Act was a pathetic attempt to address a wide-spread and pernisciously successful element of American anti-democracy – voter suppression. The system is built on keeping voters away from the ballot, be they white or black or purple. The keeping-blacks-away got so bad that they had to do something about it – the result is called “history”, i.e. Johnson gets pat on the shoulder from the Liberal class and King weeps. Scalia is a scoundrel in a great American tradition – racial entitlement!! LOL

  14. jsmith

    From Greenwald’s latest:

    Bob Woodward on the Emperor:

    “Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document?’ Or George W Bush saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to invade Iraq because I can’t get the aircraft carriers I need’ or even Bill Clinton saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to attack Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters,’ as he did when Clinton was president, because of some budget document.

    “Under the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement, I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country. That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.”

    Taken with the college football piece – hello! peewee footballers in states across the nation have been running the exact same plays as their future high school programs for years in order to brainwash build “programs” – it’s literally the greatest testament to the American propaganda system that Americans can say things a la Woodward – of Watergate fame, no less – without the slightest tinge of conscience or self-awareness.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA, aren’t those North Korean mass demonstrations effing hilarious!!! Why, how ridiculous do all of those people look shouting the same slogans, doing the same dances, etc all in honor of some nut case leader!!

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA, look at al the footage of the sycophantic Commie leaders and propagandists spouting one encomium after another over their failed system!!

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA, those dirty Arabs and their societies are so undemocratic why look at how their women are treated!!


    Yes, yes, I understand that Woodward is a well-rewarded propagandist but it’s even more a testament to said system that he – a person who was given built his entire career exposing the abuses of Presidential power – is even able to say such things.

    I’ve said this before here but well-intentioned people really should understand that ANYONE reliant upon “the system” for their “success” and celeb status can not be taken seriously no matter how clever, insightful or seemingly honest.

    Especially if they’ve been hailed as a government “reformer”, etc.

    They are the enemy.

    The TV people are NOT your friends.

    The music people are NOT your buddies.

    They are there – a la pee wee football – to drill “the plays” into your head so by the time you’re in high school you’re already part of the “the program”.

    Hey, with any luck maybe some “leader” will try and recruit you when you’re just exiting the 8th grade, huh?


  15. docG

    Woodward wasn’t threatened. He’s just getting a bit senile. I’m starting to wonder: is the lunatic fringe becoming mainstream? (just a thought)

    1. ohmyheck

      My thoughts exactly. He just sounded like an old gas-bag, raving baseless “observations” from his dementia-addled brain.

      Over-and-out, Mr. Woodward. It’s time for you to be put out to pasture, along with the other befuddled pundits and pols who helped create this Global Mess we are in.

  16. HotFlash

    “maybe pessimisic people live longer”

    Yes, we do. I believe it is a punishment. I was feeling OK until I attended my father’s 90th b’day last summer, and I realized that I am probably in for another 30 years of this shit. This is not a cheering thought.

    1. AbyNormal

      couple yrs ago a female doc said to me “women are living longer thanks to medical advancement, so what do you plan to do with the next half of your life ‘Aby’?”

      my reply was quick n simple…”$TRUGGLE”

  17. Anon

    Yves – The LA Times has an excellent op-ed.

    The “generational theft” argument is a sham. It’s an attempt to get around the fact, so distasteful to the enemies of government social programs, that Social Security and Medicare are hugely popular. As Marmor observes, if you can’t put across the case that these programs are undesirable, “you have to make them look uncontrollable, ungovernable, and therefore unaffordable.”,0,1359954.column

    1. Klassy!

      That was a well written opinion piece. He stuck with the facts and stayed away from the whole partisan rancor angle.
      No wonder the writer is stuck in a relative backwater such as the LA Times.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        LA Times may be a backwater place, but I believe it broke the story about La Angelless synchronizing their 4,000 + traffic lights the other day.

        Hopefully, next on the agenda is to rationalize their parking meters. I don’t see why, in terms of economical value, the fine for 5 minutes pass meter expiration should be as expensive as 30 minutes pass expiration. You are only deprieving another driver, if there is any at that time around the block, 5 minutes of his usage, instead of 30 minutes.


    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘Payroll taxes have more than covered what today’s average retiree will receive back from Social Security.’ — Michael Hiltzik

      This statement is factually correct, yet deeply deceptive too. Imagine that you deposit $1,000 a year into a savings account for 30 years. When you close the account, the bank hands you $29,000 and says ‘your deposits more than covered what you’re receiving back.

      Well, thanks a lot! From a greedy banker’s point of view (the standpoint Hiltzik adopts), that’s just great.

      But of course, you’ve just been ripped off, big time. Thanks to compounding, you should receive back much MORE than you paid in. The same should be true of SocSec, but it isn’t.

      Assume that a person started working in 1972 at age 25, making that year’s average per capita income of $4,717. This person stopped working at age 55, making $31,481 (again, the average per capita income in 2002). Each year, 15.3% of salary (the FICA tax) was put in an investment account holding 50% stocks and 50% bonds.

      Today, the account would be worth $487,000, more than 15 times the final 2002 salary. That’s the sort of multiple you expect from half a lifetime of compounding.

      In turn, even at a modest projected yield of 4%, this $487,000 would purchase a 20-year annuity of $2,580 per month, escalating at 3% annually. Twenty years is longer than the expected lifespan of a 65-year old adult.

      $2,585 is TWICE the average SocSec payout of $1,262 a month. The problem with SocSec is not that it’s too generous to the elderly, but rather that its inappropriate and imprudent 100% allocation to Treasuries starves it of investment return and thereby impoverishes its participants.

      For the middle class, investing 15.3% of their entire career’s salary at near-zero return is a kind of financial holocaust. That’s how kindly Uncle Sam prevents most working folks from ever accumulating any significant net worth.

      1. Bridget

        That could easily be interpreted as an argument for favoring the privatizing of SS……something that will quickly get you tarred and feathered in these parts.

      2. different clue

        That’s assuming every bubble compounds forever and never busts nor bursts. Would all the people who have seen their 401ks turn into 201ks and then 101ks place their trust in that happy belief?

        SS/Mcare is our survival insurance in case all our compounding bubbles burst in the meantime.

  18. Jackrabbit

    With virtually all income gains going to the 1% isn’t the Fed just chasing its own tail?

    What is the ‘wealth effect’ for those who are already wealthy?

  19. McWatt

    The French president, François Hollande, said Hessel was an “a huge figure whose exceptional life was devoted to the defence of human dignity”.

    “It was in pursuit of his values that he engaged in the resistance,” he added, concluding: “He leaves us a lesson, which is to never accept any injustice.”

  20. JEHR

    I’m sorry but when I read about the letter to be signed by progressives, I was reminded of Grover Norquest’s “no-tax pledge.” Are these not the same kind of thing although one is destructive and the other is not? What is missing is an agreement on what is best for the citizens and not what supports the ideology of any party. That discussion should take place without any signing of this or that pledge.

    1. different clue

      One difference appears to be that Grover really means it, and tries to force his signers to really follow it.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      So you are saying you favor Social Security and Medicare cuts. You’ve been conned.

      There is no reason to cut the deficit now and if you think you are concerned about debt levels, cutting fiscal spending now is the worst thing you could do.

      The debt hysteria is being used to sell cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

      And on top of that the CBO forecasts are a crock:

      So tell me again what is wrong with refusing to cut Social Security and Medicare?

      1. JEHR

        Nothing is wrong with refusing to cut SS, Medicare and Medicaid as they are destructive. However, using the same tactic (i.e., signing a pledge) does not get at the problem of progressives not supporting what is best for citizens. Pledges are part of the broken system no matter what side it is on. There must be better tactics available to keep citizens safe.

  21. bill

    On the women working harder than men, it’s more important whether someone accomplishes a task rather than how long they work on it. And, if one can accomplish a task in less time, and there’s then free time it’s likely good for productivity get some down time. The study doesn’t really tell us much. And, people aren’t averages. Also, it would be interesting to know about standard deviations and gender of the top “performers” for example.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I continue to see the female/male pair not so much in physical terms but in energy/chi terms.

  22. someofparts

    Well, in Dark Side of Optimism, the writer cites Kroger for being a realistic-minded company that made changes as the market changed.

    Update time. Kroger is still pursuing the chic high-end consumer, but they are also hideously, laughably, right-wing. What they have gained by moderizing the offerings on their shelves is being lost by (1)having visibly miserable employees and (2) placing things like Ann Coulter’s spittle-flecked screeds on prominent display.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Companies are not people.

      Management changes, the company changes.

      The HP of today is not the HP of David Packard and Bill Hewlett.

      Microsoft has been more continuous due to Ballmer, part of the early team, still being in place.

      Goldman has changed a lot since the J Aron crowd (commodities acquisition made by Goldman in the 1980s) is now in charge. The Weinberg family (Sydney Weinberg was personally responsible for Goldman’s rise in stature) is in despair about what has happened to Goldman under Blankfein.

      Monsanto started becoming evil after Rumsfeld became CEO. I had it as a client in the early 1980s. It was a big normal sorta dumb but very profitable chemical company back then. IIRC Bain was responsible for its push into seeds. Eeek.

      1. Crazy Horse

        I think you’ve got that upside down, Yves. Typical liberal illusion, blaming individuals for systemic problems.

        Corporations are social organizations operating within a system of rewards and restraints. They actively try to out-compete, undercut, and destroy competitors. Part of that drive lends them to try (with more success the more powerful they become) to buy off or eliminate restraints to their power—-like economists with the wrong ideology, regulators of any flavor, congresswhores, presidents—.

        In the process they recruit, develop and empower individuals with the ruthless drive and sociopathic personalities that will help them achieve dominance. It doesn’t follow that JPM would suddenly become a shining beacon of enlightenment if only Jamie Dimon were replaced by a nice person. And of course there is zero chance that JPM would ever place a person with a fully developed conscience at its helm because that would be bad for profits. Send Dimon to his deserved retirement at Guantanamo and the corporation will soon find someone even more ruthless to take his place.

        1. Crazy Horse

          Yves, not to deny that corporations can be managed with different personal styles, especially during their formative years or in a bygone competitive era.

          My point is that the systematic nature of corporations operating in capitalist society drives them to become more oligarchic and sociopathic, and to recruit leaders that are suited to their growth in that direction.

  23. Ignacio

    The daily mail intentionally misinterprets the results of the brain research they report in their headline. I understand they wanted a provocative title bur provided most readers don’t go beyond the first two lines, at the end, an erroneous message is sent.

  24. russell1200

    Within the construction industry I have generally found your “typical” female managerial level employees to be better than your “typical” male. They are more diligent and more detailed orientated. They are about equal in people handling skills. But I have generally put down the differences to self-selection. It’s not an high prestige, nor an easy industry to work in. The woman who are in it I think are a little likely to have chosen it over an alternative career path.

  25. Susan the other

    Thanks for the Inside Science “Geneticists Estimate the Publication Date of the Iliad” by Joel Shurkin. I bet his books are good because the article was really good, even if it is my favorite subject. And I wasn’t surprised that the results confirmed what scholars have established as the date, 700 BC =/-. Because as per last para attributed to the geneticists: “I study language because it… replicates with a fidelity that is just astonishing.” Language is really a marvel.

    1. Synopticist

      Yeah, really interesting that.
      The estimate they came up with was around what historians had always believed.
      I saw something recently that indicated a passage in the Iliad, the Catalogue of The ships, probably DID represent an earlier, pre-Homeric poem. They used a similar tecnique as in the link.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I wonder if words are evolving faster in today’s internet world.

        Aren’t we better than people of old? We are not fooled by the legend about how the swan raped Leda who then gave birth to Helen.

  26. Kos

    Re: The Progressive Caucus Folds Again

    A Pwog Story

    Outside his window thirty-five-year-old Percival Pwog watched his wife Priscilla Pwog, square and squat as a mailbox (red sweater, blue lumpy corduroy pants), as she looked around poignantly for someone to wipe her overflowing nose.

    The sky was sunny and blue. A filet of green Silly Putty disappeared into fat Priscilla Pwog as Percival turned to greet his wife who was crawling through the door on her hands and knees.

    “Yes?” he said. “What now?”

    “I’m ugly,” she said, sitting back on her haunches. “Our children are ugly.”

    “Nonsense,” Percival Pwog said sharply. “They’re wonderful children. Wonderful and beautiful. Rethuglican children are ugly, not our children. Now get up and go back out to the smokeroom. You’re supposed to be curing a ham.”

    “Everything is going to hell. The Pwogwessive Caucus folded. And the ham died,” she said. “I couldn’t cure it. I tried everything. You don’t love me any more. The penicillin was stale. I’m ugly and so are the children. It said to tell you goodbye.”


    “The ham,” she said. “And Digby Digby from Hullaballoo has flooded our inbox with email. Again. He says that now Obama’s gonna do all the stuff he promised.”

    “Get up,” he said softly, “get up, dearly beloved. Stand up and sing. Sing Parsifal.”

    “I want a Pwogwessive Twiumph,” she said from the floor. “It would take all the ugliness out of our lives.”

    “I want to talk to Katrina vanden Heuvel. Go for a ride in her new BMW. We have a lot to talk about, Katrina and me.”

    “It’s senseless.I’ve been caulking the medicine chest. What for? I don’t know. You’ve got to give me more money. Ben is bleeding. Bessie wants to be an S.S. man. She’s reading The Rise and Fall. She’s identified with Himmler.

    “And why, oh why, did the Pwogwessive Caucus fold again? Where’s our hope and change? It’s hopeless hopeless.”

    Percival: “Hush your mouth! We can’t undermine the president right now. We’ve got to help the Democrats get control of the House in 2014! Or do you want the evil Rethuglicans to keep blocking everything? Wait until after the mid-term elections, then we Pwogs will rilly rilly put the pressure on.”

  27. Z

    IMO, the thing that obama and co. are upset about in regards to woodward is that woodward is starting to make a move towards saying: hey, obama wanted the sequaster becoz he wants cover to cut ss and medicare. Up to this point, the dc media has been compliant with the whole sequester fell from the sky bullshit or the republicans are fully responsible for it nonsense. woodward … not a favorite of mine, that’s for sure … at least is starting to call out obama on it in saying that he wanted it and that the threats such as only putting one aircraft carrier in the middle east is obama trying to talk up the sequester and try to scare the public into accepting benefit cuts as unavoidable.

    Mind you that woodward is not at that point yet, but that’s the road that his reporting and logic is leading to and obama and co. are desparate not to be called out for their utter traitorous activity of constantly constructing crises and dragging the country through this bullshit just so that they can rob us of our ss and medicare benefits and obama can then add another magnitude of wealth to his bank acoount when he goes on his post-presidency tour. woodward is starting to pull back the curtain imo and the obama and co. don’t want that. This may also be the reason that the head pr man of the establishment is now starting to talk down the danger of the sequester that he was just last week talking up.

    obama: not just a bad president, but also a horrible human being.


      1. different clue

        Let’s hope Woodward isn’t just “dialing for dollars”. Let’s hope Woodward is really “pressing for pain”.

  28. brian

    Re: one nation, under monsanto

    “Glyphosate now shows up in wells, streams and in rain.”

    I am not sure how glyphosate would get into rain? Rain water is produced through the evaporation of water. As far as I know, only gases such as SO2 and NO2 can pollute rain.
    Glyphosate also degrades pretty rapidly. Confused about the information and article.

    1. different clue

      Evaporation is one step in a two step process which produces rain. Evaporation is how water diffuses into a gas and gets into the atmosphere. Water vapor (a gas) then has to re-condense back into liquid water before it can fall back out of the atmosphere as rain. It condenses around microscopic nucleating agents into near-microscopic droplets. Enough droplets close enough to eachother in a big enough bunch to reflect light or cast shade we can see . . . get themselves called a cloud. Sometimes droplets within the cloud merge with eachother into drops of condensed liquid water too big to resist the pull of gravity. They then fall back to earth as rain. If glyphosate is air soluble as a gaseaous vapor and also water soluble as an aqueous solution, why wouldn’t volatilized glyphosate in the air dissolve into any water droplets it encountered? And fall back to earth in any rain those glyphosated water droplets merged to form? The proof of that would be whether scientists are detecting any glyphosate in rain. I don’t know that they are, but I see no a priori reason that they couldn’t.

      I have read that glyphosate has a 25 year half life in soil, and farmers have been building up the persistent in-soil inventory of carryover glyphosate through years of steady application.

      I read that Paul Craig Roberts is aware of Professor Don Huber and of Huber’s warning-letter to Vilsack. Some of Roberts’s links are Huber-related. Here is a link to a Huber interview not referrenced by Paul Craig Roberts.

  29. Hugh

    The Progressive Caucus is a recurring political joke. Its only point is to manage progressive expectations which it always then betrays. Like most old jokes, it was never that funny to begin with and ceased being funny long ago.

    In keeping with the theme of political betrayal (Glen Ford), of course, Obama was behind the sequester. It is one of a series of crises that either he or the Republicans have engineered all to the same purpose of attacking social programs like Social Security and Medicare. It is just typical propaganda work of the media to treat the sequester as if it was a natural event like a hurricane and not the deeply cynical and completely corrupt con that it is.

    And with regard to rot and corruption, Scalia is a POS and his so-called intellectual abilities have always been overrated, just read some of his opinions for confirmation. The Court’s whole history with the exception of the Warren years has been to champion the rights of an age’s 1% against its 99%: the propertied against the unpropertied, slaveholders against slaves, factory owners against labor, segregation, and now corporations and rich against the rest of us.

    I saw Greenwald use an interesting formulation recently where instead of the usual blather about the Court’s conservative and liberal wings, he distinguished between its more conservative and less conservative justices. Indeed the Court has four radical reactionaries: Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas, one largely radical reactionary Kennedy, and four center-right justices: Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor. All nine are corporatist in their outlook. It really just a question of how anti-99% they are. With regard to the voting rights case, Kennedy is the swing vote and the one to watch.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      “Obama was behind the sequester. It is one of a series of crises that either he or the Republicans have engineered all to the same purpose of attacking social programs like Social Security and Medicare.”

      It’s so evident that this has Shock Doctrine formula written all over it. My guess is the stock market will soon “take a fall” soon, giving everyone important enough a good scare for “negotiations” to begin in earnest. It’s creepy and dispiriting to realize how gullible people are to swallow the swill, after years of the same. It’s a great recipe for boiled frog.

      Yes, even Thomas appears wise compared to Scalia, probably because he keeps his yap shut; never hear a peep out of the man. Scalia reminds me of mean clown in a black robe — a boorish bully who’s just too full of himself and likes to waggle his jowls. The last great flash of wisdom I recall from him was the ‘brilliant’ broccoli metaphor for the Obamacare mandate. I wonder if these clowns in robes rehearse their skits like an SNL troupe before going live.

  30. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why it is smart to be reckless on Wall Street.

    Maybe it’s scientific to answer that question, but as it turns out (mabye one tiem too often), it’s not the right question.

    It should explain, instead, the asnwer, ‘Why it is not wise to be reckless on Wall Street.’

    Perhaps it’s another manifestation of unwise-intelligence.

  31. SR6719

    Topic: Guy Debord for dummies

    I don’t agree with the solutions this author proposes, and the example of détournement offered seems pointless, but other than that, this is a pretty good short introduction to Guy Debord’s thought.

    A couple of excerpts:

    “Life is no longer directly lived instead we live through a representation of life (images, particularly the ‘autonomous image’ = or self-image as a conceptual identity within the framework of the capitalist system of social relations).

    This is the Spectacle. It pretends to offer unification but in reality it is only unified in that it has generalised separation creating an almost impenetrable false consciousness of human relations based on commodity fetishism and reification (see Lukacs History & Class Consciousness).

    The Spectacle uses a particularly ingenious method to mask itself: internal struggles. These struggles create a semblance of ideological dissent but in reality they are two aspects of the Spectacle in a ‘sham battle’…..”

    1. SR6719

      One for the road.

      Speaking of Homer…

      “Other eras have had their own great conflicts, conflicts which they did not choose but which nevertheless forced people to choose which side they were on. Such conflicts dominate whole generations, founding or destroying empires and their cultures.

      The mission is to take Troy — or to defend it.

      “Yet your bones will waste away, buried in the fields of Troy, your mission unfulfilled.”

      On a battlefield King Frederick II of Prussia rebuked a hesitant young officer: “Dog! Were you hoping to live forever?” And Sarpedon says to Glaukos in the Twelfth Book of The Iliad: “My friend, if you and I could escape this battle and live forever, ageless and immortal, I myself would never fight again. . . . But a thousand deaths surround us and no man can escape them. So let us move in for the attack.”

      When the smoke clears, many things appear changed. An age has passed. Don’t ask now what good our weapons were: they remain in the throat of the reigning system of lies. Its air of innocence will never return.”

      from “In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni” a 1978 film by the Guy Debord, the title of which is a medieval Latin palindrome meaning “we turn in the night and are consumed by fire”.

    2. different clue

      You know where was the very first place I read about/heard about Guy Debord and the Situationists? In an editorial/article by Christopher Walters in the not-just-a-farming-newspaper Acres USA.

  32. Hugh

    Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge came up with the theory of punctuated equilibria, that evolution was not slow and steady but characterized by long periods of stasis interrupted by periods of rapid evolutionary change. In the absence of stressors, evolutionary change can be quite slow. This is how various species of dinosaurs could exist for millions of years with little change and how we continue to see “living fossils” like sharks, horseshoe crabs, and coelocanths.

    So if evolution is nonlinear, it is problematic to apply a linear analysis to genetic change, and even more so linguistic change. Languages exist both in space and time. They are creatures of history and are, consequently, inherently non-linear, changing as they do due to the convulsions which spark Gould and Eldredge’s punctuated equilibria.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s a very good point.

      We may be assuming too much…as usual. After all, we are Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens and no one should dare to be anti-science.

    2. Jessica

      Perhaps language does not have much statis, just sudden chaotic change (for example, English after 1066 and the Norman Invasion) and steady change.
      Until the advent of mass education and the creation of standardized languages, the replication of language from one generation to the next, even from one year to the next, contained more “mutation” than genetic reproduction normally does.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Today, after the advent of mass education, but with people being more liberal with words versus say 50 years ago, we seem to coin new words or use words differently (you are bad, meaning your are good), mutuating words voluntarily this time, instead of involuntarily before the advent of mass educcation (due to mistakes as a result of not being educated).

    3. direction

      Being fond of evolutionary biology, I agree. there are a lot of features driving evolution: the regular mutation rate, the abrupt stochastic change that renders punctuated equilibria, etc. I fail to see much parallel with the evolution of language.

  33. direction

    “men are more powerful, and part of being powerful is loafing.”

    I’ve been sitting in my deck chair by the pool thinking about this statement all afternoon. And drinking, of course. And listening to the maid scrubbing away behind me. (Well, actually it’s my boyfriend and he’s cleaning the grill)

    and the longer I sit here listening to the ocean breeze, the more powerful I feel. But it’s so much more than just a feeling. I am actually becoming more powerful by the minute.

    maybe he’ll bring me another beer.

  34. Peter Pinguid Society

    Coming soon to the US of A, along with 24/7 drone surveillance…

    Brains endowed with the gift of precognition (the “precogs”) who will identify crimes (committed by the 99 percent) so that squads of police (the “precrimes”) can intercept and neutralize the 99 percent criminal before he has even had a chance to commit his crime.

    We are the Peter Pinguid Society, we are the 0.01 percent.

  35. bob

    aspartame in milk-

    How about “fat free” half and half? Corn syrup made to look like dairy, and sold in a container that makes it look like “dairy”. But, even they are required to list the ingredients. No “dairy” as far as I can tell.

    1. Bridget

      Whatever it is I’m eating, drinking, or cooking….if I need to substitute fat free half n half, I’d rather not eat.

  36. Ms G


    FCC obligingly determined it had no real authority to regulate internet (remember that one?). One result: our piss-poor broaband market (crap service, price gouging). The only remaining piece of regulated telecom is wire/switch systems. The same ones that the elderly, the poor and those in rural areas depend on, and can still (marginally) afford because of whatever regulations are left at FCC.

    Comes now ATT, with a sickeningly simple plan to drop all of its switch/wire systems and go 100% IP (voice, data). The result will be? 100% unregulated telecom.

    This is a good article from WIRED.

  37. Bridget

    Ultimately your children and grandchildren will decide if they’ve been robbed. Did you raise some good ones?

  38. vachon

    CNN’s Wolf Blitzer read the full email from Gene Sperling and Woodward’s fawning email response tonight. Oh, please. If this is threatening, stay the heck away from politics. The email was not only taken out of context, it was a straight up serious policy discussions. Even GOP apologist Ari Fleischer couldn’t bring himself to say it was threatening.

    Woodward is not only a cranky drama queen, he’officially relevant.

  39. Tim

    While I appreciate the interest in both Homer and language shown by some of the comments here, unfortunately the study summarized in the article linked to is pretty much worthless.

    The problem is that the authors don’t understand the peculiar problems of the Homeric text, which came together as a result of a long oral tradition and subsequent oral transmission. You cannot date such a text using the extremely blunt glottochronological tools they have chosen.

    The title of the article (“Linguistic evidence supports date for Homeric epics”) is just laughable in view of the fact that actual linguists have been studying these texts for 200 years using philological and linguistic methods which form the basis for the very simplified glottochronology they end up using. They congratulate themselves on having independently reached the same result as actual scholarship, as if their methods were on a par with those of the classicists and Indo-Europeanists.

    It’s actually quite shocking to a professional classicist and historical linguist (which I am) to read such statements in print, which evince an ignorance of scholarship which is complete. The problem of when the Homeric text crystalized is extremely complex and after 200 years of study it is clear that strictly linguistic arguments (that is, those of actual linguists, not geneticists) can only outline a window of about a century, as far as the language of the poems goes; and there is the further problem of what happened to the (oral or written) text over the following two centuries or so (and things did happen).

    The obvious question, of course, is why such garbage gets published at all. Is this just another attempt on the part of philistines from the ‘hard sciences’ to provide quick answers to problems in human history without any understanding of why the problems they would like to solve are problems in the first place? Who benefits from that? If scientific methods really could answer such questions, why, we wouldn’t have to bother with history and culture in the first place, would we? That would make the Steve Pinkers and Jared Diamonds of the world pretty happy. Or do the geneticists just have too much time in their hands?

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