Links 3/1/12

Helicopter saves deer in Canada Sydney Morning Herald (YY). Aaw. Wish I could embed this.

Intercontinental mind-meld unites two rats Nature (Chuck L)

What Housework Has to Do With Waistlines New York Times. This is how Adam Davidson would do science. Ahem, by 1965, almost all American homes were full of labor saving devices. Washing clothes as a calorie burner? Or even vacuuming? How about beating rugs out, using a wringer washer or churning butter. And don’t get me on the subject of hormonal response (as in your body adapts to routine activity, which is one of the reasons people who don’t change their exercise routine quit seeing progress). The researchers didn’t even bother learning the basics of exercise physiology.

Kibo space robot revealed, undergoes zero G testing gizmag (furzy mouse)

China’s manufacturing growth slows Financial Times

An Economic Tragedy That Everyone Saw Coming Is Now Unfolding In Europe… Clusterstock

Euro-Area Unemployment Climbs to Record on Recession Bloomberg

Italy exposes wider crisis of democracy Financial Times

Surprise fall in UK manufacturing hits pound Telegraph

British terror suspects quietly stripped of citizenship… then killed by drones Independent (Chuck L)

The Blowback Inherent to Network Analysis Kill Lists Marcy Wheeler

Manning plea statement: Americans had a right to know ‘true cost of war’ Guardian

Bob Woodward embodies US political culture in a single outburst Glenn Greenwald, Guardian (jsmith)

Catfood watch:

The Three Huge Ifs in Obama Sequester Strategy Jon Walker, Firedoglake (Carol B)

U.S. has been doing austerity, and it’s been hurting, not helping Daily Kos (Carol B)

An empirical nail for the austerity coffin Steve Keen, Business Spectator (furzy mouse)

Deficit hawks’ ‘generational theft’ argument is a sham Los Angeles Times

Climax of the Crisis? David Kaiser. Chuck L: “I hesitate a bit on sending this as a link; Kaiser is far too easy on Obama. As Lambert frequently puts it, his seeming inclination to cave is a feature not a bug. Here’s a link to Kaiser’s previous post in this series.”

How Reagan Promoted Genocide Consortiumnews

University of North Carolina student may be expelled for rape talk The Daily Dolt (Chuck L)

In California, What Price Water? New York Times

THE OLD CUNTRY: THERE’S METHOD TO AMERICA’S MEALYMOUTHED MADNESS NSFW. Hey, I like some of the Commonwealth usage I picked up while overseas. “Shambolic” and “gone pear shaped” are great.

Wal-Mart Struggles to Restock Store Shelves as U.S. Sales Slump Bloomberg (furzy mouse). This may be true, but notice the problem is depicted as short-term. Is this PR to blunt investor worries about demand?

“Pervasive” Fraud by our “Most Reputable” Banks Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives

Breuer Reflects on Prosecutions That Were, and Weren’t New York Times. Have your barf bag ready.

Bernanke’s Credibility on ‘Too Big to Fail’ Simon Johnson, New York Times

Disclosure 3.0: Making Disclosure Smarter Lauren Willis, Credit Slips

Why Americans Are the Weirdest People in the World Pacific Standard (Chuck L). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. dadanada

    anyone think both the administration and the Republicans both really want the across the board sequester cuts to take effect and that everything else we’re seeing from them is just theater?

    1. wunsacon

      Heard on the intertubes (and probably already long accepted by many readers here): “They wanted the cuts. But, nobody wanted to leave their fingerprints on it and potentially face voter backlash.”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      According to an economic theory, called substitution, when you desperately need to distract them with bread and circuses, but when bread is too expensive, you just give them more circuses.

    3. different clue

      Wouldn’t that be hopeful? I remain convinced that Obama and the Catfood Democrats really want to use sequester to extort cuts to SS/Mcare. Obama and the Catfood Democrats have to be fought and hopefully destroyed on that basis.

      1. the idiot

        I think Obama and most of the Neo-liberal Dems have been wanting to cut “entitlements” for awhile now. This seems to give them false cover.

  2. fresno dan

    Why Americans Are the Weirdest People in the World Pacific Standard (Chuck L

    That is a facinating article, full of example that makes one take a fresh look at one’s own biases and assumptions, and even what, as well as how, questions are posed.

    “The interdependent self—which is more the norm in East Asian countries, including Japan and China—connects itself with others in a social group and favors social harmony over self-expression. The independent self—which is most prominent in America—focuses on individual attributes and preferences and thinks of the self as existing apart from the group.”

    I wonder about that – dare I say its too ‘broad”? Today I referenced a link about the revolving door – and one thing you can be sure of, the people in the private-government-private employment group believe fervently that any problems are minor in a cost benefit way and can be solved by tinkering – not a bastion of independent or radial thinking. Undoubtedly most Amercians (another group, albeit bigger) don’t think bankers pose a small problem to society.

    So I would say there are just varying degrees and varying groups. As the authors themselves noted:

    “They were making such a broadside challenge to whole libraries of research that they steeled themselves to the possibility of becoming outcasts in their own fields.

    “We were scared,” admitted Henrich. “We were warned that a lot of people were going to be upset.”

    “We were told we were going to get spit on,” interjected Norenzayan.

    “Yes,” Henrich said. “That we’d go to conferences and no one was going to sit next to us at lunchtime.””

    So they say they are the weirdest of the weird, but you see that human need for a lunch partner….

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I worked for the Japanese. They definitely have a strong code to express themselves only in certain ways and not ruffle feathers. And I worked for an Osaka bank, and Osaka (Kansei, as in from the west) are considered blunt and rude by Tokyo (Edo) standards.

      So it is true but more complicated than the genearalization would lead you to believe. Like Westerners dealing with the Japanese would always try to find the CEO or business head to get a decision. That was just laughable. The decisions are made at the bucho level (about 3 layers below the CEO) and then by a process called nemawashi, which is usually taken to be consensus. Nemawashi translates as patting the roots, as in packing the dirt around a planted tree to make sure it grows well. It is not a nice process, a lot of subtle jockeying but lots of people have a legitimate right to influence the decision.

      1. Lambert Strether

        And then there’s Thailand. Foreigner resturarant owner can’t get the “staff” to show him where the switch to turn the cooler on and off is, if indeed there is a switch, yet the little business rolls along quite nicely. Luck? Or something else?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Yesterday, some were hurt by the anti-European comments here.

          Today, we will hear from those hurt by the anti-American comments.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Not me.

            I have no control over what others will say though.

            Some people came yesterday and reacted to their perceived anti-European comments.

            How people will react today, I don’t know.

    2. alex

      “you see that human need for a lunch partner”

      The scientists didn’t say otherwise. While the article is fascinating, like many popular science articles it tends to sensationalize and exaggerate a bit. For example, the notion of fairness that the ultimatum game explored seemed to exist in all cultures studied. What varied is what sort of split was deemed fair and how much of a sacrifice people were willing to make to punish an unfair player. Quantitative difference are very important, but they’re not qualitative differences. Perhaps Americans are just more willing to eat alone if their potential lunch partner annoys them.

    3. bmeisen

      Very worthwhile article – here’s hoping that it will help more Americans to reflect objectively about their culture and the way it influences (I’d rather say “determines”) their behavior. In a nutshell Individualism is a dog chasing its tail.

      A related point comes from Daimond’s Guns, Germs and Steel: remember that the population that became the first American citizens was drawn from a gene pool in which intelligence was of secondary importance. European colonists were above all resistant to germs and diseases related to livestock.

      1. alex

        “the population that became the first American citizens was drawn from a gene pool in which intelligence was of secondary importance. European colonists were above all resistant to germs and diseases related to livestock”

        That would apply equally to Europeans who stayed in Europe, as well as most Asians and Africans, who also had livestock and/or various tropical diseases (e.g. malaria) to contend with. Hence Americans are hardly unique in that respect.

        Also beware of Diamond’s tendency to oversimplify if it suits his thesis, or make grand generalizations. While many Old World diseases may be mutations of livestock diseases, diseases like bubonic plague and malaria have nothing to do with livestock.

        1. Valissa

          To be fair to Diamond, he never claimed he had all the answers or that his theories were even correct. He knew the difficulties and risks involved with writing a long history with a particular slant. He said he hoped others would take his ideas and study them further to test them. As is often the case, it was others who attempted to cast his ideas into stone and then attacked him from there. After all, it’s way easier to be a critic than to have thoughtful discourse on a complex and ambiguous topic.

          I read Guns, Germs and Steel shortly after it came out and it totally inspred me to study history in a new way. I sought out what I call “long histories’ meaning history books that cover long periods of time in order to attempt to discover trends, patterns and themes. Writers of long histories are always professors later on in their careers (over 50 and many are semi-retired) and wanting to attempt to pull all the pieces together after years of specialization. In every one of the long histories I’ve read, somewhere in an intro or appendix, I’ve found these two points: (1) academic history in the past 50 years or so has become very detail oriented and focussed on narrow time periods and subject matter,and agenda driven, and that this needs to be balanced by a more empirical approach and looking over longer time periods so we can learn more about how things change over time and why, (2) some type of admission of the limitations of the long overview approach and hoping others will take it to the next level.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I have always wondered how they, people a long time ago, figured out the procession of the planet.

            My guess is that 1) long term view and 2) team work, something we lack sorely today.

          2. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

            There are still surprises in store, I suspect. Noted authors Sterling and Peggy Seagrave, through the voice of Sterling Seagrave, claimed in an “undergroundish” Internet radio show that the Boxer’s Rebellion in late Imperial China was an event that had no militants/rebels/boxers in Peking, that the story that there were rebellious Chinese Boxers in Peking was invented by a British polyglot Edmund Backhouse and written for a British newspaper by an English-speaking Australian named George Ernest Morrison using in part Edmund Backhouse’s inventions. Peggy Seagrave found Morrison’s private diary of the Peking events of 1900 around the Legation Quarter told of lots of looting by foreigners, and even Morrison participated.

      2. jrs

        The thing about American individualism, which may exist to a certain degree as an ideology, is that it utterly clashes with the actual American economic system (oligopoly capitalism). Such a hard conflict of ideology and actuallity seems destined to product widespread unhappiness.

        In such an economic system the individual really doesn’t matter, except in thier narrow role as a consumer, but during most of their life they are a cog in the machine, living like an ant, a profoundly unindividualistic life. And one with very few options if you wish to “escape the system”, because everything about the system drives you back into it by necessity.

        American politics frankly doesn’t strike me as terribly individualistic either, with everything resolving into the dupoly, you’re either a D or an R.

        1. jrs

          In short I think consistent individualism means anti-capitalism (or at least against this form of capitalism). A tradesman of course had more ability to express thier uniqueness than an employee of a large organization and the hippy tradition is far more individualistic than most aspects of American life. And I’m pro-individualism, anti-capitalism (or anti this economic system at least).

          1. bmeisen

            To clarify, Geertz extending Mead and Kuckholm argued that culture consists of relatively rigid rules as well as prefernces for interpreting the dynamics of daily life. American individualism is a pattern among the interpretive preferences currently accessed by many Americans as we attempt to make sense of the world. These preferences are sustained, are made attractive by diverse actors who often consciously promote a way of seeing the world, and who as often unintentionally assert an influence on our decision making.

            For example many American college students see higher education as a personal choice, made for one product among an assortment of products in the American higher education market place. They typically make the choice based on the belief that it is a good investment, i.e. it promises handsome returns. This is a pattern of thought promoted by parents, priests, and politicians, a classic Individualist approach to an substantial interpretive challenge for young Americans: education is my choice, it’s me making myself better, improving my earning potential. By applying this interpretive prefernce many are willing to take on debt.

    4. Ron

      the WEIRD mind article reminds me how difficult it has been to modify traffic signals on our local street to encourage cut through traffic to move from a local street onto the main arterial. Opposition to the plan did not want to experience any inconvenience in there daily driving habits even if it meant the community as a whole would benefit and the local street became safer. After watching the city transportation committee it seemed clear that community based concerns had a low priority versus individual expression. This generates a political and legal system that produces significant social tension as it attempts to modify laws that inconvenience various groups and individuals. Gun control on a national level comes to mind…

  3. patricia

    “Why Americans are the Weirdest…” That’s a wonderful article! Thanks for linking.

    Among many evocative statements: “As Norenzayan sees it, the last few generations of psychologists have suffered from “physics envy,” and they need to get over it.” The idea that the only through science can we “know” anything has damaged our thinking and knowledge development in nearly every field.

    Even in economics, the idea that mathematics describes anything worth knowing has ruined the field. Because it leaves out all other knowledge, as if it doesn’t exist, it turns into another religion, as Pilkington ironically points out. The majority of it is unexamined faith.

    In a similar way, cognitive-behavioral therapies have taken over psychology. Even here in comments, there’s the occasional meme of contempt for “social sciences”–people who sense that knowledge has gone wrong but merely wishing to return to hard science as the only worthy method for acquiring knowledge.

    Then at the other end, are the Christian evangelicals who have completely rejected the knowledge that science offers, to the extent that they don’t even know what it is and can no longer tell good science from bad.

    1. bulfinch

      Keen observations. I agree there is a relgious aspect in the tendency of adherents of specific disciplines to not only fancy their lens above all others as the only one through which the world can be properly assessed, but to also ridicule other approaches, like the soft sciences, as cheap mingle mangle.

      In fact now that you mention it, I’ve seen a little of this silly behavior in myself from time to time…

      1. Ron

        American belief in our frontier values of individual rights and expression has a religious look and feel. Americans are constantly concerned about there individual rights and expression and on the other side is the Amish who have used religion to create a community based living standard.

        1. Susan the other

          I thought Henrich’s Ultlimatum Game had an anti-bias, a built in assumption that ignored even American instinct! The Machiguenga weren’t that different. They were skeptical of a too-generous offer. Like being skeptical of the Mafia when they make you an offer you can’t refuse. I’d call that a basic cognitive structure if there ever was one. Humans don’t quite trust each other no matter which culture they belong to. We have laws in this country to help protect us. We call this behavior ‘extortion.’ We only get weird when banks do it. Then it isn’t illegal, it’s just immoral. But it is indeed universally immoral.

          I wasn’t too enlightened by this research but I do think it is good to look at ourselves objectively. I imagine our northern European ancestors learned to be compulsively on time because they never wanted to be locked outside the palisade in January after the sun went down. Etc.

          1. diptherio

            So you think your explanation of machiguenga behavior is more valid than their own explanation of it? Sounds like cognitive bias to me…

          2. Susan the other

            No. That’s how I read Henrich’s analysis when he said they were hesitant to take the money because they did not know how it would obligate them. So I think that is evidence of a certain universal instinct to be cautious.

          3. Really?

            I’m going with diptherio’s original take on this one. By the way, LOVED the article. Bookmarked it for future reference even.

    2. alex

      “The idea that the only through science can we “know” anything has damaged our thinking and knowledge development in nearly every field.”

      While that may be true, limiting yourself to a scientific approach in a (hopefully) scientific field seems appropriate. I see no contradiction in a scientist attending church, but arguments from Faith would be inappropriate in a scientific paper.

      “the idea that mathematics describes anything worth knowing has ruined the field”

      No, the problem is the idea that mathematics describes everything worth knowing. Worse still is the idea is that our mathematical knowledge, or our current ability to make quantitative measurements, is always adequate to the task at hand.

      1. patricia

        To be sure, hard science is an important way to gain knowledge and understanding. It is amazing, actually. Perhaps satisfaction with its clear and semi-sure discoveries has enchanted Western humans until we’ve let contempt creep in for other vital but messier knowledge, the types only gained via indirect and foggy methods.

        I also agree that there is no contradiction in a scientist who also has spiritual faith. Even more particularly with an economist, careful attention to a chosen religious pursuit could allow him/her to release the social science from its current religious constraints.

        It is a huge problem when the idea of faith is seen as covering the unexamined and unmoored. Faith is a held conjecture, a proposal into those areas where current knowledge doesn’t extend. When faith emerges from the knowledge at hand, it has meaning. When it just appears ex nihilo, it is used to excuse anything.

        Andrew Levine explores some aspects of this even while he uses a strictly Western viewpoint:

        1. bulfinch

          Faith as an existential stopgap; the jury rigged joinery welding the gap between that which is readily measureable and that which is only imagined. I like it.

        2. Really?

          Just so long as you know that there is a difference between faith and mere “religion.” “Faith” is the still somewhat malleable belief in things yet unproven and/or unseen, while “religion” is the athersclerotic politicization of such faith (definitions mine). Faith, I’m totally down with; religion, not so much.

    3. Brindle

      There are quite a few westerners who accept man caused climate change but see it as an economic opportunity.

      Whether it is the rising of sea levels or the disappearing arctic ice, the planetary changes are seen as a niche for the savvy entrepreneur.

      This view of the planet as a jumble of components and variables which can be isolated out of the whole is most extreme in the WEIRD mind. Not good, IMO.

      1. Really?

        There are also quite a few disembodied planetary spirits/forces/gods who view the western view of the world as sheer madness, and who are now more than willing to demonstrate that fact physically to the purveyors of that madness. In short: it’s not NICE to fuck with mother nature!

        The world we live in is not entirely “knowable.” Never has been, never will be. It’s western man’s unique conceit to not only refute that fact, but to flaunt it. Once again: it’s not NICE to fuck with mother nature!

    4. Lambert Strether

      One wonders if the emphasis on numbers is so pervasive because numbers can be plugged into the Excel spreadsheets that report financial ratios.

      Perhaps it is a cross-cultural generalization that ruling class manners and mores are aped?

      1. patricia

        Yah, some seem to enjoy aping those who they consider “their betters”. Slave fantasies.

        It seems that as we’ve been ever more inundated by complexity and impending catastrophe, we’ve increasingly become frantic for simpler places (see also academic specialization and the amplified legalism in religion).

        But the panic for order/structure usually ends in ghettos made in our own image, from which we extrapolate world-views. Which exactly describes the existence and manners/mores of the ruling classes. Perhaps most of us have only enough energy to long for their pretty pleasant ghettos.

        The impulse towards order and retreat can be useful, though. Focusing on locality and life basics is the only way forward that I can see. But it is a focus, not a ghettoization. And it is working from the imagination, not a fantasy of financial ratios.

      2. Ron

        Reducing reality using math or numbers seems to be a better alternative then viewing it through our culture based ideology which seems to be the what the WEIRD culture experiment showed. The Weird culture experiment seems to show the extreme bias inherent within cultures while math may seem cold and at least provides some basis to understand reality other then our cultural orientation.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I could not disagree more.

          1. You become blind to what you did to reduce the information to numbers. Aside from in the world of transactions, pretty much no information comes in pre-existing mathematical form

          2. You undervalue or exclude information that is difficult/clostly to capture and/or “soft”.

      3. Garrett Pace

        Hence the attractiveness of “kill count” objectives. It’s measurable! Relates to Manning’s statement:

        “We were obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and ignoring goals and missions.”

        So long as the US kills 10 for every American that is lost, we are making progress and will “win”. That’s how we tracked progress in Vietnam.

        1. Ron

          no, thinking more along the line of Quantum mechanics or other uses of mathematical language in physics to create visual and working models that represent a physical reality or interaction that is beyond our visual limits and intelligence to see or understand.

      4. Really?

        And as an Excel spreadsheet expert, I can honestly report that most managers don’t even begin to comprehend (or even try) the data that they convey. Even here in the “data driven” west, I get the increasing feeling that our heart’s simply not in it anymore. Our rational minds simply can’t deny what our irrational minds are literally SCREAMING out loud anymore: this is ALL SHEER MADNESS!

  4. Jim Haygood

    From the Pacific Standard article on weird Americans:

    ‘People are not “plug and play,” as he puts it, and you cannot expect to drop a Western court system or form of government into another culture and expect it to work as it does back home.’

    Nor can one expect to drop American munitions into another culture and expect it to work. During WW II, Britain’s Bomber Harris and America’s Curtis LeMay bombed the living sh*t out of civilian populations in Germany and Japan, respectively. Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki; hundreds of thousands burnt alive.

    Then the allies conducted war crimes trials of defeated enemies for mistreating civilians. Definitely an example of a culture which sees itself as so disconnected from others that it isn’t even subject to the same moral standards.

    Today the inexplicable American belief in the cleansing efficacy of bombing — which borders on civic religion — continues with Commander Obama’s incessant pounding of Af-Pak, Yemen and now Africa to annihilate his self-designated enemies.

    You might think that having spent some formative years in the more group-oriented culture of Indonesia, Obama would think differently on this subject. But you’d be wrong. More likely his ‘Terror Tuesdays’ trope derives from a far older cultural tradition of ceremonial human sacrifice.

    1. alex

      “You might think that having spent some formative years in the more group-oriented culture of Indonesia, Obama would think differently on this subject.”

      Why? What does group vs. individual oriented have to do with bombing civilians? Nothing about group oriented says everybody is in the group that matters. Hence it could be group oriented, but with the “American group” or the “British group” or the “Allied group” being the one that matters. If you think that being group oriented steers things away from killing civilians, consider the Rape of Nanjing and numerous other Japanese atrocities.

    2. YankeeFrank

      Equating the crushing of fascist Germany and Japan, both of whom were aggressors in WWII, who did untold damage (and yes, a lot of firebombing of civilians, and worse) and weren’t willing to surrender even once defeat was a certainty, with Obama’s drone wars is facile and stupid.

      I’m so tired of apologists for Germany and Japan who ignore the context of their complaints utterly and focus on narrow targets with the aim of shaming those who were defending and fighting for their lives. Both of my grandfathers’ lives were inalterably damaged by their work defending Europe and the US from fascist Germany and its horrifying onslaught (and one of them never even used his gun, despite dropping behind enemy lines in order to shut down Germany’s test nuclear reactors), and they were some of the lucky ones. Germany and Japan, and their apologists, have no right to cry that they received harsh retaliation for their aggression.

      Frankly, after all of the German aggression of the 20th century they are lucky we didn’t totally destroy their nation. And now look at them, subjugating Europe economically instead of militarily, how much has the Prussian culture really changed? Sure they have been curtailed militarily, so now they are using their banks to dominate and ruin other nations, all while hiding behind German pride instead of owning up to their own corrupt banking sector.

      And yes, the US has become a monster, but we weren’t back then, and trying to suggest so does a disservice to those who fought the war we really needed to win, and distorts history for narrow and petty whining-rights. Good job.

      1. YankeeFrank

        And, because I am proud of him, I will mention my other grandfather, who was a pilot and officer that ruined his life psychologically because his job during the German firebombing of Britain was to not just fly fighter planes against the German bombers, but also to continually push young men, almost boys, into fighter planes to go up and die defending civilians from Germany’s air war. He fought in “bomb alley”, the path most German bombers took to destroy not just London, but as much of the British towns and villages as they could. Hitler’s aim was to terrify and destroy resolve by terrorizing and murdering the British public. And somehow, the fact that some German cities were firebombed when Hitler refused to surrender (and started rounding up old men and boys to fight, shooting them if they refused) balances the equation in your mind… and I haven’t even mentioned the holocaust. You need a moral readjustment, and to avoid equating past and present so you can make some facile and blind comparisons.

        1. patricia

          It is possibly good for Americans to own their parts in the WWII. It was rotten to bomb the hell out of Dresden and to nuke Japan. They were aggressive actions that multiplied the horrors birthed by WWII German/Japanese leadership.

          It doesn’t minimize the central culpability of WWII Germany/Japan, doesn’t make a sham of the war crimes trials, and in no way disrespects the actions taken by those soldiers who took up arms in defense (and paid with their lives on the battlefield or throughout their civilian lives afterwards).

          The burden and perspective you carry because of your family’s experiences are important. War is effing horror, beginning to end and beyond, falling indiscriminately on the culpable and innocent. Clarifying culpability can offer insight on how to stop doing it anymore. Or at least, less often. Or maybe just a way to manage it. I don’t know.

          It must be particularly nightmarish to watch the same wretched seeds begin to proliferate in your own country. Because while we are not yet at that massive level, we are on the same fast track, not yet exact in fact but in spirit and intent. Which is why comparisons are made, I think.

        2. Really?


          You’ve really got to get over all of this sentimentalist “us and them” shit. It’s no way to continue living you’re life.

      2. alex

        Does that mean that you’re categorically opposed to world conquest, mass murder and genocide? I’ll accept it, but perhaps that’s too absolutist for some.

    1. bob

      It was very strange. The narration made no sense at all.

      Glad to hear that the deer lived, but again, is that plural or singlar? There were two, then one in the video. The narrator also says something about a “doe” which would make 3?

      I also have to question using a downdraft which could have just as easily cracked the ice.

      Ya, ya…everyone is a critic…Is that paris hilton’s helicopter?

  5. scott

    I’m surprised the cat cafe thing has spread to S. Korea. Cats are treated as vermin there, not pets. I couldn’t find cat food the last time I was there.

    The Cafe sign says “nekko-no ji kan”, or “cat time (interval)”. Too bad they don’t use strays.

    1. Jessica

      Tiny matter, but it is “neko” not “nekko”. The difference matters more in Japanese than in English.
      And Yves’s “Kansei” above is “Kansai”, meaning “west of the barrier”. That is a tricky one because “west” is sometimes “sei” and sometimes “sai”.
      The word for “pedantic” is “gengakushumi”.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I normally do know how to spell Kansai, but 1. I have name dyslexia and 2. I wrote that on 4 hours of sleep. I was also having other minor cognitive issues today. Funny, when I was younger, going with little sleep either messed me up less or I was in denial about its effects.

  6. Goin' South

    Re: Americans Are the Weirdest–

    That is indeed a must-read. It reminds me of the experience I had reading Graeber’s Debt. Scales flew from my eyes as the There-Is-No-Alternative defense of our current social, economic and political arrangements was revealed to be a fraud.

    Anthropologists are quite useful, but what this article reminds us is that the Earth’s cultural diversity is very precious. Analogous to the way that preserved rainforests may hold some wonderful drug that can save us from medical calamity, so may some “primitive” society hold ways of looking at the world and ourselves that may save us from the ravages of our own sick culture. Without them, we may find ourselves trapped in some cultural dead-end from which we cannot even escape because our very perceptions have been so molded (twisted?) by that diseased culture.

    1. Really?

      Analogous to the way that preserved rainforests may hold some wonderful drug that can save us from medical calamity, so may some “primitive” society hold ways of looking at the world and ourselves that may save us from the ravages of our own sick culture. Without them, we may find ourselves trapped in some cultural dead-end from which we cannot even escape because our very perceptions have been so molded (twisted?) by that diseased culture.

      American-style global corporate capitalism perhaps?

      1. psycohistorian

        How about private ownership of property and inheritance?

        These class defining elements created and maintain the global inherited rich that own and direct those corporations you are referring to.

        Private ownership of property and inheritance are the keys to our class based social structure and to the “auto” of Western society that they are running off the cliff.

        1. Really?

          No argument there. Birds of a feather… I, me, mine… We, our, ours, increasingly tightly defined…

  7. Praxis

    I wonder how many will realize the import of “Why Americans are the Weirdest People in the World” for the study of economics and political-economy?

    After all, it does constitute experimental refutation of the entire underlying premise of classical and neo-classical economics. If social structure and culture are deeply and inextricably linked and causally prior in shaping the “human nature” of individuals in societies, then conventional economics universalist and individualist assumptions about human nature are clearly false.

    Perhaps even more worrying to conventional economics is that the experimental results being obtained seem to strongly confirm Marx’s hypothesis that what we regarded as an inherent “human nature” and individually formed ways of thinking are in reality deeply and fundamentally a product of our social structure and culture.

    1. alex

      “it does constitute experimental refutation of the entire underlying premise of classical and neo-classical economics”

      True, but I doubt that it will change anything. Even staying within the bounds of one culture (say American or British) it’s been shown time and again that many of the assumptions of neo-classical economics are nonsense.

    2. Thorstein

      Alas, the conventional economist has the ready answer that “the Machiguenga should adopt the (superior) thought system of this Shining City on the Hill”. And he has an army and drones to back him up. And the Hill pays him well.

    3. diptherio

      In my senior seminar, as an econ undergrad, I repeatedly tried to bring-up this point: that our conception of people as utility-maximizers might be due not to universal human nature, but rather due to the fact that we (economists) grew up in a culture where “he who dies with the most toys wins.” As usual, I was labeled “weird” and dismissed.

      I would hope that this evidence is as well received in the economics discipline as it apparently has been in other social sciences, although I find it telling that no responses from economists are mentioned in the article. We’ll see. Kahnemann’s and Tversky’s work has been out for some time now (showing that economists assumptions of human behavior/motivation don’t even hold up for Westerners) and we’ve yet to see much response. We now have “behavioral economics” as a sub-discipline, but its impact on the fundamentals of neo-classical analysis has been essentially nil.

      I have to say, while I enjoyed the article for obvious reasons, it is a little annoying that social scientists are just becoming hip to this reality of human perception. Much of post-modern criticism seems focused on highlighting just these kinds of cognitive biases in our theorizing. Anyone who has read Robert A. Wilson’s The Cosmic Trigger series, or listened to a couple Alan Watts lectures, or checked out Alfred Korzybski, should not be surprised at all by these findings.

      Korzybski thought that people do not have access to direct knowledge of reality; rather they have access to perceptions and to a set of beliefs which human society has confused with direct knowledge of reality. Korzybski is remembered as the author of the dictum: “The map is not the territory”. ~Wikipedia

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I have been some thinking on my own about herd mentality.

        And after doing my own thinking, I am inclined to believe that herd mentality is not all bad…at least not all the time.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      …fundamentally a product of our social structure and culture…

      For a while now, I have carried this question with me – why is it that a largely Christian nation remains a largely Christian nation, for many geneations (used to be for thousands of years) and a largely Buddhist nation remains a largely Buddhist nation, for many generations, and a large Islamic nation remains a largely Islamic nations, for many generations, with each nation filled with wise and independent thinking/probing/seeking/searching/questioning men and women?

  8. Lambert Strether

    Medicaid game-changer. Turns out ObamaCare was — and I know this will shock you — a Trojan horse for privatization. As soon as the Republican (mostly Southern) governors get their heads around the deal Obama is actually offering, they’ll be all for it, as Arkansas now is. The “market state” in action….

    * * *

    Thanks, “progressives,” Obama fans. We owe you a solid.

    Hat tip Avedon for the link.

        1. different clue

          I have read that Vermonters would “like” to create a statewide single-payer system. Is that true? Would they really “like” that? If they would, are they really working to try and create it? If so, is there anything in current law pre-outlawing the attempt ahead of time?

    1. Eureka Springs

      Hello? I emailed you that link minutes after it went up…)

      As for important matters… Conservative estimates are already coming in that this will cost at least 3k per person more than leaving people in the existing medicare ACA plan/system. I asked what do ‘we’ get for this, an end to deductibles and co-pays perhaps? An end to tiered policies on the ‘exchange’? And end to treating dental, optical, metal health like bling options on a new car? Of course not! This is ALL neoliberal grift.

      Not one Dem commenter, much less Dem official in AR has expressed a modicum of contempt for this, this neoliberal caste system carved deeper in stone… not one so far.

      Demo blowhards are already trying to call (an option-less plan) the private option. Here in AR the Dem Gov and now all State House Dems are cheering this move. A death rattle of Medicare if you ask me.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Overloaded as my travels approached, apologies.

        * * *

        Come on. The Dems aren’t really calling this the “public option,” right? Even for Dems, that’s hard to believe.

      2. jrs

        Yea, something I will never get. There are decent arguments for the private sector being better at some things, and there are decent arguments for the public sector being better at some things. But these type of “public-private partnerships”, ie private corporations with private profits funded via government spending are pretty much always a complete disaster. You’d think that would be widely agreed upon by now but there’s too much money in it.

        1. Ms G

          Public-Private-Partnerships (or “PPPS” as they are known in Neo-Liberal Kleptocratic Power Point jargon) are simply vehicles to transfer taxpayer money and public assets to private individuals and corporations. No more, no less. They are an integral element of Kleptocracy’s Looting Program and have been since the late 1970s.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Some call it ‘contribute $0.99 and loot all you want all day long’ welfare for the 0.01%.

          2. skippy

            A report on Queensland’s finances is expected to recommend selling off major assets to reduce debt.

            Former federal treasurer Peter Costello’s report will be handed to the Queensland government on Friday.

            The Commission of Audit he has led says it would take 50 years to pay off Queensland’s debt if nothing was done, The Courier-Mail reports.

            The sale of electricity assets such as Energex and Ergon would raise the $25 to $30 billion needed to reclaim the state’s AAA credit rating, the Costello report says.

            “If the government were to achieve a consistent fiscal surplus of one per cent of revenue year after year, it would take 50 years to reduce debt by $25 billion,” it states.

            “The state will have to manage its balance sheet quite differently.

            “If it is to substantially reduce debt, it will have to review its assets.”

            The report recommends the state also consider selling some of its other government-owned corporations (GOCs), such as water infrastructure manager Sunwater and the Queensland Investment Corporation.

            It says Queensland’s GOCs are costly, with $300 million spent in the past three years on electricity generator CS Energy.


            Queensland: Stop the assets sell-off!

            By Andrew Martin

            The Queensland ALP government, re-elected in March, has put forward legislation to sell off the port of Brisbane, Queensland Motorways, Forestry Plantations Queensland, Queensland Rail’s coal business and the Abbot Point coal terminal in the state’s north. All of these government-owned corporations (GOCs) provide significant income for Premier Anna Bligh’s government.

            Her government’s actions confirm the warning in the July 2008 Direct Action that the restructuring of Queensland Rail (QR) was privatisation by stealth. It appeared that the biggest losers from the restructuring would be QR’s employees, followed closely by commuters. But the restructure was revised and employees remained directly employed by QR, creating some hopes that the plans for privatisation were on hold.

            Now that the government has announced at least some of its plans, it is clear that the billions of dollars it is pouring into QR are intended to fatten it up for sale. In 2007, QR pulled in a total revenue of $3.25 billion and announced plans to spend between $8-10 billion on infrastructure in the next five years. The rail group has six long-term customers — BHP Billiton, Felix Resources, Xstrata, Muswellbrook Coal, Centennial and Gloucester Coal — and it freights more than 25 million tonnes of coal a year. The current planned expansion of the Abbot Point terminal will double its capacity from 25 million to 50 million tonnes per year; the long-term goal is to quadruple its export capacity. QR revenue rose to $4 billion in 2008. The after-tax profit has not been announced but is believed to be substantially more than the $194.5 million made in the 2007-08 financial year.


            Skippy… Both labor and liberal party’s are complicit, from state to federal. My kingdom for a AAA credit rating[!], as it is, the only metric that – humanity – can be judged by.

            PS. Thank you Milton Friedman and assorted ass-hats of antiquity… Some guy on a cross was a negative GDP indicator… bad credit ratings will do that… eh.

          3. skippy

            Setting up asset sale of century

            The ports of Gladstone and Townsville were named as candidates to go to the highest bidder. Gladstone Ports Corporation in particular had a very rosy outlook, forecasting earnings before interest and taxes of $121.76 million this financial year, with total trade expected to rocket when the first shipments of liquified natural gas are due for export off Curtis Island in 2014.

            Sell it all (or most of it) – Costello audit

            EDITORIAL: Time to move on asset sales

            EDITORIAL: Power to the Premier

            State Treasurer Tim Nicholls insisted yesterday that any sales would not proceed unless a mandate was provided by Queensland voters at the next election.

            Audit commission chairman, former federal treasurer Peter Costello, said now was not a good time to sell.

            “What I recommend is not to do something today,” he said. “I’m saying there’s a window that’s going to open up in two to three years’ time and I would be looking to make sure that if that window opens and there’s a big benefit for the people of Queensland, I would be ready.”

            That window centred on clarity over the carbon tax – which would be removed if there was a change in federal government in September – and renewable energy targets due for review in 2015.

            Mr Nicholls said the Government had already instructed the boards of state businesses to ensure such firms were “run in the best way possible”.

            He said a debate needed to begin in Queensland over whether owning such assets was the best use of capital.

            The privatisation recommendation was welcomed by industry groups yesterday, especially if proceeds were to be used to retire state debt and invest in infrastructure.

            The Australian Industry Group’s Queensland director, Matthew Martyn-Jones, said the report confirmed the need for a serious reform program.

            “Critically, the Commission of Audit’s Executive Summary notes that the primary responsibility of government is as a service delivery enabler, rather than necessarily being the service provider,” he said.

            “There are many examples where services are more effectively delivered by those outside government with strong links to targeted community sectors.”

            A Chamber of Commerce & Industry statement said “the privatisation of the state’s electricity assets will be a crucial priority”.

            “The business community is supportive of an asset sale program given the experience of Victoria, particularly the electricity asset privatisation program that resulted in significantly improved service outcomes and lower prices,” it said.

            “CCIQ believes a successful campaign to privatise assets would be immediately repaid many times over.”

            The Government was also expected to outsource service delivery in health, education and rail transport.


            Skippy… Sovereignty is for sale

          4. skippy

            So here is the executive summary of the final Queensland Commission of Audit report. The government is NOT releasing the full report till some yet unknown later date. Its what you expected folks – calls for privatization and attacks on the conditions of publicly employed workers – from a friend


            skippy… Two options in the Neoliberal world… stare down at the occupants of – The Pit – (optional for those with a morbid fascination – most preview the grand landscape – oblivious to others suffering – thanks social Darwinism… cough… Hubert) or stare up from – The Pit – IF – your not – compressed by the multitudes of body’s constantly raining down (intentionally pushed for profit).

            PS… DAILY DEVO 10: God’s Big But



    2. Zachary Smith

      I don’t dare put on a blood pressure cuff right now – I’m afraid I might damage the machine.

      During the years of the Texas Torturer every time something really awful happened, I’d tell myself “this is as bad as it gets”. Then something worse would happen when the Codpiece Commander would outdo himself.

      That’s the basis of the helpless rage I’m feeling right now. I’ve come to realize BHO is very, very bad, but I didn’t have him pegged nearly low enough. And he keeps getting worse now that he’ll never again face an election.

      I do try to keep up with politics, but the very first I heard of this “privatization” business was about a week ago when I read a cheery piece at the Washington Monthly blog.

      From what I can tell, BHO invited Big Insurance to write themselves their dream bill, then lied through his teeth to get it passed. 906 pages and (according to Word 97) 389,436 words of legal gibberish.

      I’ll confess I voted for him in 2008 primarily on account of my revulsion for Bush, but as awful as the Republicans were and still are, I’ll cheer any attempt to impeach him.

  9. Laughing_Fascist

    The NYTs Lanny Breuer story starts with:

    “After spending four years under the microscope as he led investigations of some of the world’s biggest banks, Lanny A. Breuer hasn’t lost his swagger.

    The 54-year-old prosecutor, with a Rolodex as thick as his Queens dialect, will leave the Justice Department on Friday, emboldened after mounting recent cases against banking giants.”

    The article’s author is Ben Protess, the Times go to guy for Mary Jo White. What I find amusing about the above language is that Brteuer’s failure at DOJ was so utterly complete that Protess has almost nothing to work with when trying to create an image of Breuer as tough on banks. “Led investigations” and “mounting recent cases” are all sound and no fury. Conspicuously absent from the story are examples of real prosecutions.

    With Breuer not prosecuting even a single large bank or a single executive from a large bank, Ben Protess’ work as a Breuer fairtale writer will be an uphill slog. Condolences to Ben for getting this wretched “Rehab the Lanny” assignment.

    1. Ms G

      ” … after mounting recent cases against banking giants.”

      Protess doesn’t have little to work with, he’s got nothing to work with. So this statement is a straight up innaccuracy, fabrication, misrepresentation, lie, whatever you want to call it.

      Not surprising, but still brazenly “Wow.”

    2. Ms G

      Adding. Whoever ends up hiring Lanny Breuer is also going to have to hire an additional person in their PR department to deal with the damage control arising from hiring damaged goods.

        1. Ms G

          Klassy! Ain’t *that* the truth! Though seeing it stated as you did in a few crisp words, really brings the (pretty fundamental) point home. Hey, we’re great, we’re ExcEPTional: We are Numero Uno in PR and PROPAGANDA!

          How godawful is that, when you spell it out?!

    3. briansays

      when he no doubt(?) returns to C&B or othe biglaw he will no doubt occupy a role as a billing partner in charge of the care and feeding of the client making sure they are happy (aka the billings are reasonable for the results in the clients mind) with the heavy lifting being done by others

      1. Ms G

        ” … with the heavy lifting being done by others.”

        Exactamundo. Associates get bummed out when they’re told they’re not up for partner and therefore being given “time to find a new job,” even though in the past 20 years there’s never more than a .01% chance of an associate in his/her “class” (year of entry to the firm) making partner.

        The “bummed out” part fades away, though, when they realize it had nothing to do with their legal skills or substantive contribution to the actual work (aka the heavy lifting). It has everything to do with playing golf and who-do-you-know (aka “rain-making”).

        (I just realized that “rain-making” is a real insult to all peoples who have ritual dances to invite rain so they can have a good harvest.)


        1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

          While on the topic of big law firms, there was a “horror” movie called The Devil’s Advocate where Al Pacino was a senior partner at a big New York law firm. I’m not sure what reality is supposed to be in that fantastical movie.

  10. AbyNormal

    Stealth Austerity: University of North Carolina is threatening to expel a student who spoke to the press about UNC’s handling of her sexual assault case

    Rape Talk in America, by the Numbers:

    ~According to the Department of Justice, a low estimate of the number of women who talk about getting raped every year is 150,000. When you consider that that’s out of between 300,000 to 1.3 million women who are raped, that’s an awful lot of talking.
    ~Approximately 32,000 women in the US are impregnated against their will each year as a result of rape, and you just know they’re gonna talk about that. The hard truth is she’ll be talking for two.
    ~The United States has the 13th highest frequency of rape in the world, and yet if our colleges are any indication it feels like we’re #1 in terms of talking about it.
    ~97 percent of rapists are never incarcerated, which means that they are in no way protected, and live in constant fear of running into the assaulted woman. Em-barrassing.
    ~Studies show that college students think 50 percent of rapes claims are false, even though only 2-8 percent are actually estimated to be false claims. That means these women who talk about their rape aren’t even convincing, making the whole ordeal that much more unnecessary. Why torture your victims when science has shown that they won’t even believe you?

    Ethics and morality no longer exist in our world. It’s a luxury of the past, afforded only to those who had a future.
    t.m.williams, undead winter

    1. russell1200

      The reporting is confusing me.

      As I understand it, she originally pressed charges against her ex-boy friend in the honor court.

      She lost. Which doesn’t mean that she lied, it just means that it can be hard to prove cases against boyfriends.

      Later, she comes out in the complaint against UNC, because she did not like the way she was treated in the honor court, and feels that she was pressured in not pursuing the matter further.

      Now, the ex-boyfriend, has counter charged her in the same court. Given, that as the accuser, he now has the same high hurdle, he will also likely fail.

      That is my (grosssly simplified) understanding.

      Of course the fiasco in the initital reporting of the (next door neighbor) Duke Lacrosse player case is hovering in the background.

  11. AbyNormal

    8:30 AM Personal Income Jan
    -2.4% expected
    -3.6% HELLo

    ah paging Dr. Spin…bring Crash Cart

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am afraid craazyman has to tell the pilot to turn the jet around and cancel the appointment with his Parisian real estate agent…Dow up 26 as we speak.

  12. Synopticist

    “SUPRISE fall in UK manufactoring”

    Yeah, i’m so f*cking SURPRISED I fell off my chair.

    1. Chris Rogers

      Revert back to Steve Keen’s article linked higher up in in ex-PFC Chuck’s posts – tis a great shame Keen is considered on the looney side of economics and recently been knee capped by his University in NSW,

      Now there’s a real conspiracy, as for the Eastleigh By-Election, what an absolute load of crud.

  13. Valissa

    Confirmation of weirdness of Americans…

    ‘I Love Him,’ Dennis Rodman Says Of North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

    ‘Girls Gone Wild’ Files Bankruptcy to Fight Vegas Debt

    Confirmation of how Americans are like most every other group… elites with friends in the right places get favors…
    Va. governor restores Scooter Libby’s vote rights

    1. Really?

      How’s that? I’ve used it liberally for both, with pretty much equal reactions. Matter of fact, might be the BEST knee-jerk reaction word I know of for either sex. Might be a paper in that for an enterprising PhD.

  14. Cannon fodder playing Perry Mason

    Cringing suckup judge Denise Lind is very proud of her fake dichotomy opposing the transcendent values of “good order and discipline” and avoiding discredit to Manning’s “own moral code.” Because, like, nobody ever thought of that stuff before Manning dreamed it up. This laughingstock court is the payoff for training all domestic lawyers to ignorance of human rights and humanitarian law. Can you imagine what a Garzon would do to the fourth-rate GI hacks in this pathetic kangaroo court? I’ll live to see Denise Lind pleading in a real court for her central role in promoting aggression and war crimes.

  15. Jim in MN

    Yves, I emailed you a guest post draft/idea a couple of days ago, on ‘Frugality or Fragility?’….just following up in case you missed it or don’t know that it’s from “me”.

    Feel free to let me know if you’re not interested either here or via email reply. Just wanted to give you a first look.

  16. Valissa

    In honor of the pope’s resignation, some cartoons…

    Because ‘I’m sick, old & tired’ is such a suspicious reasons for retiring

    Both could be true!×362.jpg

    Possibly a popular confession, esp. in the Vatican

    Take a hint, part 1

    Take a hint, part 2

    1. Valissa

      Petrus Romanus?

      Some cartoons require an explanation…

      The Papal Apocalypse! Doomsday fanatics claim next pontiff will be the last according to 12th century Prophecy of the Popes

      Prophecy of the Popes

      I’ll bet some of you thought the apocalypse market collapsed after last year’s disappointments… bwahahahahaha

  17. Sanctuary

    The whole “telepathic rats” with a “brain net” thing sounds just like the Borg to me. I guess this is how it starts.

  18. from Mexico

    @ Why Americans Are the Weirdest People in the World

    Great article which brought to mind this from Melvin Konner’s blog:

    The other study, equally beautiful, published in Nature one day earlier, provides a remarkable contrast. It is called “An Anatomical Signature for Literacy,” and it proves the profound power of human agency over the brain. It begins:

    After decades spent fighting, members of the guerrilla forces have begun re-integrating into the mainstream of Colombian society, introducing a sizeable population of illiterate adults who have no formal education. Upon putting down their weapons and returning to society, some had the opportunity to learn to read for the first time in their early twenties, providing the perfect natural situation for experiments investigating structural brain differences associated with the acquisition of literacy…

    The study, done in Bogota and at the Basque Center for Science in Bilbao, showed that learning to read, even in adulthood, specifically increases the anatomical connection between the two halves of the brain, in areas linking vision and language.

    The young former guerrillas decided to put down their weapons, learned to read, and changed the anatomy of their brains. It is hard to imagine a better case for the ability of the subjective self to change the objectively visible one. The study is one of many warnings to those who may too readily conclude that if something is seen in the brain, it must be causing what is seen in the mind.

    Not so. It is only a correlation, another set of data to be meticulously compared with those of thought and behavior, leaving the task of discerning causality as difficult as ever, sometimes more so. Yet it is very, very important data, and it can certainly change our sense of ourselves—especially if we are among those who think of the mind as something separate from the brain.

  19. wunsacon

    >> U.S. has been doing austerity, and it’s been hurting, not helping Daily Kos (Carol B)

    But, check out:


    What’s weird is: I wanted to check how much of Tim Wallace’s budget jump stems from Obama putting more of the war spending onto the single, regular budget rather than as separate items. I googled for some information and find conflicting claims. Man, this country is f’d up if there’s “debate” over whether some of these rather large numbers were in or out of the budget.

    And the whole thing is a joke, given that the Fed has given the *top 1%* anywhere from $1-2 trillion in cash (and much more in market gains).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      At this point, every one of the architects of today’s mess considers his or her reputation and career too big to fail.

  20. PeonInChief

    Grr. Yeah, women would be thinner if we just beat a rug or two. My mother never beat a rug. Ferhevensake, my grandmother never beat a rug. The only thing I can think of that has changed is that my mother did more ironing in the 1960s than I do, as the dresses we wore to school were all-cotton, as were my father’s shirts. But there was no churning of butter or beating clothes with a rock at the river either.

    1. bobw

      I remember seeing my mother iron sheets in the 1950s…lots of sheets for a family of eight. BTW, she was not fat, but was “heavy”. After years and years of doctors telling her she must be cheating on her diet they decided it was thyroid.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I don’t know about women doing more rug-beating, but men, in my humble opinion, can use more fire-wood chopping, instead of watching football on TV.

    2. Ms G

      This article was a real doozy! I immediately thought of that advertising from the 50s and 60s showing wives and their BFF washing machines, dish detergent, counter cleaners … Dear Lord! But I do think that part of the whole late-stage Neo-Lib zeit-geist involves a new version of Stepford-Wifey females — breeding for greatness and well accessorized with 1,000 dollar strollers and Jacadi and Patagonia wardrobes for the little treasures starting at age 0 until they switch to Armani Couture and Loboutin. Whatever.

      Until one of Obama’s Departments of Oppression shows up on my door and tries to make me “get some excercise with housework” I know just how I’m going to use my bottle of Clorox!

      1. Ms G

        Edit — “I’m not going to worry about it until one of Obama’s Departments of Oppression shows up at my doorstep to order me to get some more excercise with housework, at which point I will know exactly what to do with my bottle of Clorox.”

        Sorry about that. It’s one of those days. Started with losing my keys :)

        1. Ms G


          Translation: WTF.

          It’s the last frontier in consumer demographics from ultra-luxe down to luxe. Aston Martin stroller — really!

          1. Ms G

            the consumer demographic referenced is the set comprised of “neonates” (otherwise known as new-borns or infants).

  21. rich

    COLUMN-The political clout of the super-rich-Chrystia Freeland

    MIAMI, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Louis D. Brandeis, the American jurist, famously warned: “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

    Brandeis’s cri de coeur was inspired by an indignant observation of the shenanigans of America’s robber barons during the Gilded Age. Today, we live in a data-driven age, and some careful students of the connection between money and politics have now amassed a powerful body of evidence to support Brandeis’s moral claim. A lot of it is assembled in a report by the progressive research organization Demos, published this week.

    One of the most striking findings is the extent to which economic power translates into political power.

    Institutionally, this is an era of unprecedented democracy – one of the triumphs of the 20th century has been the extension of voting rights to all adults in a lot of the world.

    But even in the United States, the country that thinks of itself as being the world’s leading democracy, it turns out that those rights do not translate into much actual political power. David Callahan, co-author of “Stacked Deck,” the Demos report, describes the super-rich as “supercitizens, with an outsized footprint in the public square.”

    I looked at lots of survey data that indicated what people at different income levels wanted the government to do, and then I looked at what the government did,” Gilens explained.

    “For people at the top 10 percent, you could predict what the government would do based on their preferences,” he said. “But when the preferences of people at lower income levels diverged from the affluent, that had no impact at all on the policies that were adopted. That was true not only for the poor but for the middle class as well.”

    Gilens is a social scientist who is careful to stick to his data. But he told me he was “definitely surprised by the extent of the inequality.”

    “If you value democracy, if you value the ability of people at all levels of income to shape government, which is what it means to be a democracy, then, yes, you should be very worried,” he said.

  22. sd

    The article about Reagan and Reagan’s actual encouragement of genocide in Guatemala is beyond horrific. It is my personal belief that Ronald Reagan was a sadistic sociopath who used his ‘charm’ to hide how much he enjoyed inflicting pain.

    1. issacread

      I read a book about those years in Guatemala called Silence On the Mountain that I found long years ago at the library. It was written by human rights worker Daniel Wilkinson. I’ve never forgotten it.

    2. bobw

      In the late 70s I worked for a company that made some of the last metal-cased handheld radios. We got a letter from the Guatamalan CIA in praise of the case…they were pleased that they could hit people with it and it still would work.

  23. kevinearick

    Weird Americans: Only a majority in a closed system assumes everyone has the same circuitry.

  24. Jim

    So what do you think From Mexico—Kant argued that speculative reason was never able to conceive the world in terms of the latter’s intrinsic identity. Rather all speculative truth claims were premised on appearance and consequently reason could never transcend its own presumptions to achieve a knowledge of the world in itself.

    Yet isn’t Kant’s claim that knowledge of the world is defined in how it appears to us sufficiently universal–to make it possible for him, and perhaps for you,– to argue in favor of truth claims that are independent of all contingent cultural traditions.

    Could Kant’s thinking on the inevitable subjective nature of all human understanding be seen as a rigorous universalism, since understanding is seen to have uniform characteristics common to all rational beings?

    Isn’t the Kantian Enlightenment premised on the idea of reason as an a priori source of critical evaluation independent of, and prior to, all other evaluative sources?

  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    Your ego is speaknig when you say you are the richest.

    Your ego is also speaking when you say are the poorest.

    Your ego is speaking when you say you are the most normal.

    Your ego is speaking when you say you are the weirdest.

    Saying Americans are the weirdest is not far from American Exceptionalism.

    People are not that different, under the top layer.

    1. Really?

      Saying Americans are weird is EXACTLY the same as saying they are exceptional, both of which is true. We ARE exceptional in that we ARE weird, neither of which are good things, necessarily at least. But in our case, neither are good in any case, given that we’ve ALSO become infected with hubris, the idea that “we’re all that.” The idea that we’re somehow “superior” to anything else currently on offer. OH! How the mighty fall!

  26. Bill of indictment

    UR-text folder: of the human right to peace. A witness to official crimes has exercised the right and now it’s real. Whatever the regime does, it’s all downhill from here. Fucking bullshit USA, let it die.

  27. optimader

    re:Kibo space robot revealed, undergoes zero G testing

    The eyes are actaully solid state infrared imaging arrays for targeting a spaced based chemical laser weapon..

  28. Ms G

    Sickening 60 seconds of Obama getting snarky with AP reporter (“do you have a suggestion as to what I should do”), but more important is the lead-in: in the first person, from the man’s own mouth, Obama proudly spells out his “balanced” position (translatable as: accelerating the destruction of the 99.9% on the rack of poverty):

    Don’t watch this before going to sleep.

    1. Ms G

      Short version:

      “Look, I’ve already told them (Republicans) that I’m on board to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and all “entitlement programs,” and I personally sealed the deal to deliver every last one of my constituents (from Medicaid people to income people) to the insurance companies — what the hell else do you want from me? If you think I’m going to offer Boehner my slush fund bribes and kickbacks you are not even close. That is *so* not on the table, lady. ? So you have to tell me — because I’m really interested in clarifying your question — what you suggest I should do.”

      1. Really?

        Golden opportunity missed, although thrust in the lap of a mere (presumably) neutral reporter as punishment for asking the question.

        Bottom line: WHY is anyone paying any attention to any of this current budgetary bullshit anyway?

        Smoke and mirrors. Smoke and mirrors. Smoke and mirrors…

        1. skippy

          The only thing the Republicans are PO’ed about is… they won’t get to hang the trophy of entitlement cuts – on their – lodge wall – next to Friedman’s sacellum – and receive his worldly gifts…

          Skippy… their getting priced out of the market…

          1. Ms G

            “they’re getting priced out of the market”

            good one. what’s good for the goose, etc.

        2. Ms G

          Yep. But it’s up to all of us to stop “bothering with the deficit / budget B.S.” and take some kind of action …

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