Links 3/2/13

ECONNED is three years old today. I am finally getting microscopic royalty checks. Since most books never earn back their advances, this means yours truly wuz robbed! But I became friends with Tom Adams, Richard Smith, and Andrew Dittmer (as well as got to know people who helped in smaller capacities, plus had my first two whistleblowers of sorts on Magnetar) so it was worth it in the end.

Richard the Lionheart’s mummified heart analysed BBC

Mice That Eat Yogurt Have Larger Testicles Scientific American (Chuck L). Yes, but didn’t we learn recently that mice are bad proxies for humans?

Study: Research shows everyone does worse with online learning Raw Story. Note who paid for the research. Nevertheless, I’ve been a skeptic of the online learning fad.

Price of entry to middle class? Coffee and tickets to French movies – finance secretary South China Morning Post

Covert Malaysian Campaign Touched A Wide Range Of American Media Buzzfeed (Swopa, FDL)

More Criticism in Internal IMF Report Real News Network. For some reason, the video is down, but the transcript is on the same page.

Pushing the wrong button: Bad button placement leads to drone crashes ars technica

Hubris Isn’t the Half of It David Swanson, Truthout (May S). From last week, still germane.

Stephanie Kelton talks with Chris Hayes on Sequestration New Economic Perspectives

Neo-Imperialism and the Arrogance of Ignorance CounterPunch (Chuck L)

Bradley Manning: the face of heroism Glenn Greenwald

The Dangerous Logic of the Bradley Manning Case New Republic

Catfood watch:

Five Critiques of Arthur Laffer’s Supply-Side Model Show Tax Cuts as Junk Economics ITEP (Carol B)

Paul Krugman: Sequester ‘was designed to be stupid’ Raw Story

Obama warns of lengthy fiscal crisis Financial Times. The incoherence, by design.

Who’s winning? David Kaiser. Chuck L: “David Kaiser, insightful again but again totally oblivious to Obama as the Democrats’ own Manchurian Candidate.”

School Employee Accidentally Shot During District-Sponsored Gun Training DSWright, Firedoglake

States with “High Rate” Income Taxes are Still Outperforming No-Tax States ITEP (Carol B)

What If People Lived Forever . . . Menzie Chin, Econbrowser

What do you want? The Volcker Rule! When do you want it? Last summer when you said we’d have it! Lisa Pollack, FT Alphaville. Funny.

Sherrod Brown Teams Up With David Vitter To Break Up Big Banks Huffington Post

Jury Finds Occupy Wall Street Protester Innocent After Video Contradicts Police Testimony [Updated: VIDEO] Village Voice (Chuck L)

Wall Street’s Been So Obsessed With Elizabeth Warren It Missed The Real Threat In The Senate Clusterstock

Antidote du jour (Lawrence R):

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    1. bob

      One more. Nominated for best quote ever-

      “This looks like an orderly liquidation. By cutting costs well ahead of perpetually declining revenues from the “Inkosaurus,” as James O’Byrne calls the print edition, the Newhouses can ride the Times-Picayune down profitably while minimizing the loss of money. Once the paper reaches terminal velocity, they can shut down Advance Central Services, the print wing, tie up any potential liabilities from the paper, and pitch them into the Mississippi.”

    2. JTFaraday

      Mom always says, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

      I bet you didn’t know Mom was so influential.

  1. SqueekyFromm

    I bought a copy of Econned the first year it was out. It was great and I plan on rereading it later this year. Maybe it just needs a new jacket that reads “How Sex and Drugs Crashed The Economy”???

    You know- spice it up a tad for all zombie Americans.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Susan the other

      I didn’t read Econned. Everyday I came here and spent 3 hours reading and responding and telling myself I was going to read Econned. So, Yves, you were your own worst enemy! A new business model. I think l love it. You have created far more good with this Blog than a book could ever do. Thanks a million.

  2. Ep3

    Yves, I was thinking about senator browns proposal and relating that to campaign financing. If I were a member of the house of reps. And needed a funding boost, it would be very beneficial to me to have such a bill be introduced. I can now say to the banks ‘u might want to hand over some lobbying money or I might consider voting for this bill’.
    So do our govt ppl only issue legislation for the purposes of bringing out the campaign donors?

    1. Expat

      Ep3, using popular legislation to threaten special interests was the old way of doing business on Capitol Hill. That was how the Democrats (when they were a distinct party) governed for the 40 years that preceded the Reagan takeover. The Karl Rove innovation was that politicians could make a LOT more money for themselves AND their donors if they just asked the special interests what they wanted. Once Clinton got on board with this plutocratic poison, we were doomed. My reading of the elections since 2006 is that voters want this madness to end. Unfortunately, without a party to represent them, they are throwing their votes away. Most Democratic voters seem to realize that with Obama they are being runover by a Prius rather than a Hummer, but the distinction is apparently worth it.

  3. JTFaraday

    re: Study: Research shows everyone does worse with online learning, Raw Story. “Note who paid for the research. Nevertheless, I’ve been a skeptic of the online learning fad.”

    What’s the matter? Watching Niall Ferguson on the History Channel Online isn’t educational enough for you?

  4. jsmith

    I hope every good American fascist gives a hearty fascist welcome to the new dictator of Detroit scheduled to arrive in the next week or so!!

    “The declaration by the governor follows the finding by a six-member review team, headed by Democratic State Treasurer Andy Dillon, that a financial emergency exists in the Detroit. The city of Detroit now has a 10-day window in which to appeal the governor’s decision. Snyder indicated he would wait until the end of the appeal period before announcing his choice for emergency manager.

    Under provisions of a new state law set to take effect later this month, emergency managers are armed with the power to void union contracts, cut services, sell city assets and privatize city functions. The new law replaces the previous emergency manager legislation, Public Act 4, which was repealed by Michigan voters in a popular referendum last November.

    Detroit reportedly faces a cash shortfall of $100 million by June and has some $14 billion in long-term debt, although these figures are disputed. If Snyder appoints an emergency manager, as appears all but certain, Detroit would be the largest city in the US placed in state receivership.”

    Hey, maybe it’ll be Mario Monti, huh?

    Seriously, though, I hope everyone really and truly recognizes that they live in a full-blown fascist state right now here in the United States of America.

    1. JTFaraday

      Hey, you know, what if the mammoth free 100,000 pupil-strong Moocs aren’t about cheapo on-line education at all, but about trying to keep an internet addicted generation from stumbling upon the real news?

      It is interesting that the war drums really started pounding about the Moocs over the summer following OWS.

      Someone must be corrupting the youth…

      1. jsmith

        Cheapo education with some side benefits, three of which that come readily off the top of my head:

        1) MONEY MONEY MONEY!!! Besides garnering money from the Gates Foundation, the list of VCers who have backed companies like Coursera etc have a stellar reputation for aiding and abetting in the destruction and selling off of America’s public institutions.

        Wait, the backers of the MOOC phenomenon are the same people on Obama’s economic advising teams?


        2) Universities finally – whew! – can officially and completely get out of the education business and devote themselves full-time to corporate research projects.

        You wanna TA for money? How about a little T & A instead, grad student?

        3) Impressionable – read: curious and potentially un-brainwashed – youngsters will further be deprived of a place to physically congregate with other like minds.

        Gee, where did all those protests start in the 60s again?

        Kent What?

        Better that they are all online in their parents basements getting an – chortle – “online education”, right? snicker

        Hey, maybe we could somehow turn the city of Detroit into a SIM-esqe MOOC for the youngsters!!

        Or at least an “educational” laser-tag park where every “student” wears GOOGLE GLASSES!!!

        OMG!!! I need an emergency-manager for my pants!!


        1. Cynthia

          The irony of a computerized and globalized world economy is that it enables both the centralization of wealth and the decentralization of information.

      2. jrs

        Online education is a practical option for adult education (perhaps the ONLY practical option for adult education period). Say you are working at least 40 hour weeks, and commuting a couple of hours a day to work. In other words you are an ordinary employed adult. In class education adds another hour to your commute every day you have classes (commuting to the college), bringing the time spent in traffic up to about 3 hours a day, plus hours spent in class in a state of utter exhaustion.

        1. JTFaraday


          Oh, I shouldn’t get into these kinds of discussions. Deep down I’m probably really a deschooler.

          My problem with on-line education– today, tomorrow it might be something else– is that I think it is part of the agenda to narrow even further the already narrow boundaries of acceptable discourse.

          Just look at all those comments about how great it would be for the great unwashed to watch pre-recorded on-line TV lectures delivered by a handful of people who managed to get approved to teach by the top schools, (not to mention the economies of scale!).

          To take my quip from earlier, neoconservative Niall Ferguson “Yes” but anarchist David Graeber “No.” And we know this is probably so because the latter himself believes his intellectual framework is why he failed to get a permanent job at one such aforementioned “top achool.”

          But he does have a job at a lesser school. Although to hear some people talk, the goal is to put those schools out of business.

          And, truthfully– despite its massive Republican delivered federal government subsidies– on-line for-profit education doesn’t have a great track record if you look into it, in terms of any metric you can look at or in terms of any corrupt practice you can dream up. Not that it isn’t in good company in the real world.

          As far as your 40 hour a week student is concerned, the deck is stacked against that person completing a course of study no matter what. My sister in law, who is a stay at home mom taking classes in a real world school, still asks me to babysit for her sometimes just so she can do her homework.

          Jumping through hoops is not learning. By now, I think we’re all hip to that misapprehension. It is true that a student at a “top school” will get away with that and your on-line student will not.

          Your on-line student will lose out to the hoop-jumping person who put their a** in the chair at community college or state university night school which, believe it or not, still exists.

          They simply jumped through a higher hoop. Case closed.

          Ugly, I know.

    2. jsmith

      More on this coup which – surprise – is fully supported by the Democratic mayor and other assorted lackeys:

      The problem is not the lack of resources, but the monopolization of society’s wealth by the rich, which control both big business parties and every level of the government. They claim the US is a “democracy,” but the working class—the vast majority of the population—has absolutely no voice in the political establishment. It is not a democracy but a plutocracy, a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.

      The democratic pretenses have been shattered by the process of establishing an emergency manager. Republican Governor Snyder and Democratic State Treasurer Andy Dillon are trampling over the will of voters who repealed Public Act 4, the previous Emergency Manager law. Following the repeal last November, the legislature rushed to enact a replacement law that was just as draconian and undemocratic.

    3. patricia

      Emergency manager law was repealed by MI voters in Nov but another version was slipped through during Dec lame duck. Eager little fascists, aren’t they? These fine specimens of humanity roam freely in the USA, and they have no originality. They do the same things in Detroit that Yves and crew have been clarifying for years. Never believe that they haven’t thought carefully with multiple contingencies. “Obama-is-over-his-head” has been BS from the beginning.

      The world socialist site says that it is not a race war but a class war. But in Michigan, there is no difference between the two, and that makes it more intractable. See for eg Eclectablog:
      FYI, the high debt number thrown around is a misnomer. Half of it is tied to the Water/Sewer that has serviced the metro area; power over it has been ongoing dispute. It has more assets than debt. The deepening hole of the actual debt is due more to interest rates than “overspending”. And “overspending” doesn’t cover the basics because everyone here is poverty-stricken and there is no property tax base. The state has been uninterested til now.

      If interested, Huff Po has surprisingly broad info,

      1. jsmith

        Yes, race is a factor MI but speaking to race allows fascist scum to pit impoverished worker against impoverished worker in divide-and-conquer strategies.

        In addition to the higher percentages for minorities, MI has over a million white people living in poverty who due to the framing of this issue as a “black” or “urban” issue are setting themselves up for the hammer to fall on their heads in the future once the low-hanging fruit of urban areas is taken care of.

        Dated info from 2011 but chosen to back up above claim:

        I’m not denying that there’s a load of racism tossed in for good measure amongst these fascists but a la the WSWS and the later MLK – where’s from Mexico when you need him? – the proper response to said situation needs to be as all-inclusive and color-blind as possible as sheer numbers is the only real advantage the commoners have against TPTB.

        The WSWS has really been all over the Detroit/Michigan saga for a while as they are based in Oak Park, MI.

    4. Doug Terpstra

      Shock Doctrine gets test flight in Detroit (thought it would be California). The emergency financial manager will have the power to “void contracts” … in order to avoid debt repudiation of course, at all costs, with the notable exception of worker penions. Those will be first on the block to ensure that Jamie and Lloyd are not harmed.

      Pay no attention to the obsolete US Constitution:

      Section 10 – Powers prohibited of States

      No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

  5. Brindle

    Chris Hayes has a good piece on SCOTUS and the Voting Rights Act.

    It’s hard to fathom the world Roberts, Alito and Scalia live in—a world where the history of slavery and torture in the USA is a minor footnote compared to the exaltation of Randian gibberish.

    —“In his dissent from a 2006 Texas voting rights case, Roberts famously proclaimed that he found the government’s intensive involvement in achieving racial equality in redistricting an icky affair. “It is a sordid business,” he wrote, “this divvying us up by race.”

    And a year later, when the court struck down two school districts’ broadly popular integration plans, Roberts declared his rationale with the fatuous declaration that “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”—

  6. Garrett Pace

    On online learning not working so well.

    I think one point is valuable: that doing things online doesn’t AUTOMATICALLY make them better.

    And for all its drawbacks, as far as self-directed learning the internet is having a self-evident benefit. Holy cow – I can look at I don’t know how many translations of the Iliad or Beowulf, or scans illuminated manuscripts of Piers Plowman, and on and on. (Though resources like wikipedia give undue emphasis to certain experts and anecdotes on subjects, and make people feel like they know what’s going on when maybe they shouldn’t.)

    I know a guy who spends most of his day researching certain historical subjects, and then generating content for interested online communities. He is considered quite an authority on these subjects, but as far as I know he’s just looking up stuff that’s available online to anyone.

    1. Stephen Nightingale

      Secondary sources are quite good, and very voluminous. And it is so much more time-consuming to pull some Umpteenth century original document from an archive and decode it than look up the online transcription of someone who painstakingly did do that.

      Anyone who can google ‘Titulus Regius’ can become an expert on the rise and fall of Richard III.

  7. frosty zoom

    re: yogurt enhanced mice..

    did you know that studies have shown that men who do yoga are able to stretch longer?

  8. Jennifer

    Yves I know I am slow, but can you explain how you were robbed if you are getting more money, do you know that the book sold x amount of copies and you therefore should be getting something else?

    1. Ned Ludd

      Since “most books never earn back their advances,” she’s joking that her advance must have been too paltry.

      1. diptherio

        Yeah, took me a second too. Typical finance-type thinking, there. Most of us would be bragging (“yeah, most books don’t sell enough to cover their advance, but mine did”), but Yves sees it as “leaving money on the table.” Classic ;)

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Without revealing too much:

          # of Amazon reviews is probably a not bad proxy for sales. I don’t know that specific cases of how much someone got in advances, but the few I do suggest my meager advance was indeed a ripoff.

          1. One book that got 2.5x my advance got less than 1/3 my reviews

          2. One book that got 5x my advance got double my reviews

          And no, this was not due to being a first time author, book 2 was by a first time author.

          1. diptherio

            Hope you don’t think I was casting dispersions, just a weak attempt at humor.

            Your back-of-the-envelope calculations got me wondering, though. Did you use a literary agent? Did those other two authors? The numbers seem pretty random, like maybe everyone involved is just kinda “shooting in the dark.” I dunno…

            At any rate, thanks for taking the time to write Econned. It’s been valuable education for many of us.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    What if people lived forever…

    Wrong question, I think.

    It should be: ‘What if some people lived forever…’

    The way it will most likely occur is that one day Singularity will arrive (not with machines replacing humans, but with billionaires being able to afford the expense to live forever, though the medical/scientific knowledge for that trick was mostly funded by the public who won’t get to use it), and only the 0.01% could afford the engery/resources and the relatively stress-free lifestyle required.

    1. wunsacon

      Prime, for me, too, that’s the $64 quadrillion question:

      Will immortality science — the product of:

      – an 18 billion year-old universe
      – that spawned a 4 billion year-old earth
      – that spawned…okay I’ll skip a bit
      – that spawned 10,000 years of human society-wide investment in understanding our natural world
      – that spawned…okay I’ll skip a bit
      – that spawned public education, that raised literacy rates and, therefore, the world cognitive bandwidth for new research and thus accelerated R&D
      – that spawned research into computers and medicine that accelerated R&D yet again
      – that eventually spawns immortality science

      — be reserved for the rulers?

      Or will it be shared with those formerly-known-as-“working-class”-now-replaced-by-robots-and-have-no-job-to-earn-income-with-which-to-“pay”-for-anything?

      >> one day Singularity will arrive (not with machines replacing humans, but with billionaires being able to afford the expense to live forever

      I’m wondering about that, too: Will the AI Event Horizon arrive before or after the Immortality Event Horizon? (I prefer “event horizon” over “singularity”…) Well, if the AI Event Horizon happens first and if we’re still in control of our AI cloud, we can ask it to research immortality for us and grant it to us.

      (Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Any sufficiently advanced magician is indistinguishable from god.)

  10. Valissa

    UK’s ‘naked rambler’ arrested for nudity, again

    Fossil Critter Pee Reveals Past Climate Change

    Pat Robertson: Goodwill Sweaters Could Have Demons, No Harm In Praying Over Them (video + article)

    FYI, Robertson is chuckling while he’s talking about praying out the demons, and it turns out he’s not anti-science either.

    In November, Robertson stunned many fundamentalist Christians when he told the viewer that science proves the Earth is billions, not thousands of years old.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Scientific American…

    It seems, too frequent for my comfort, that it is trying to rename itself to Scietific Vatican or Scietific Haitian, which is actually a valiant attempt at the right direction, because after all, science should be universal.

    But as they say, one must drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    It will be a busy day so I don’t have much time today for the blog, but I wonder if outperformance leads to high rate incomes taxes or high rate incomes taxes lead to outperformace in the above link…

  13. Valissa

    News getting you down, then watch this! News anchor cracks up while reporting on swimming cat
    That poor cat looks pretty miserable, gotta wonder why the owner thought this was a good idea.

    The drug war escalates ;) ‘Marijuana cannon’ fires pot across border fence

    Some pretty swanky austerity here… Britain’s government sells French wine to pay its drinks bill–sector.html

  14. thesystemoftheworld

    Congrats on the ECONNED anniversary, writing it might not have been particularly financially rewarding for you, but reading it was extremely educational and inspriting for me, and I’m sure many others.

  15. Jackrabbit

    Congrats Yves and thanks for a great blog.

    I found NC via Calculated Risk. I started reading CR and commenting on CR shortly after the financial crisis in 2008. It was just after Tanta died (sadly).

    While I had really enjoyed CR at first, I came to believe that CR was too lax in attitude, too comfortable in life, too conventional in outlook. Bill didn’t seem to be very interested in changing anything, just financial reporting (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I respect CR for what it is and the commentariate is great.

    The other problem for me, is that I have limited time. It takes a lot of time to follow a blog and make attempt to make worthwhile comments. So it became a choice of CR community vs. trying to help (or help someone else) make a difference. I switched to NC about 2 1/2 years ago. A short time later, Yves used one of my comments (regarding TARP) as a “pulled from the comments” post.

    Having worked on Wall Street, and having some understanding of securitization. I initially thought that some bad apples had gone off the rails and Wall Street needed reforms to bolster its credibility in the eyes of the world. But as I came to understand the scope of the problems, I grew more and more concerned. And my concern broaden to other areas corrupted by money and croynism – like climate change and democracy itself.

    It is surprising to me that more people are not concerned with the issues raised on NC (I think that is changing). But I am heartened and grateful for Yves dedication and perspective.

    And a quick thanks to NC contributors and commenters, too! Sometimes after I spend a few minutes thinking about potential comment/reply I give up because I realize that it would simply take too long to write something worthy of the level of discourse on NC.

    1. Eclair

      Ah, Jackrabbit, you have encapsulated my journey to NC – well I didn’t work on Wall Street. And I do think CR’s Graph Gallery is great. But, tweaking the current system? Probably not gonna work.

  16. Jim Haygood

    Reaction in Argentina to the appeals court hearing in New York this week (Anna Gelpern’s blog post about it was linked at NC a couple of days ago.):

    Alfonso Prat Gay, Congressional deputy of the Civic Coalition and former central bank president, spoke yesterday after the Court of Appeals hearing in New York. The court invited the Government to set a payment formula by March 29th, to resolve litigation with holdouts over $1.33 billion in defaulted debt.

    After the court decision, President Cristina Kirchner announced that the payment formula will be the same as was offered to those who entered the debt exchange in 2010.

    “The last time she spoke about the issue, the President said not one peso nor one dollar for the vulture funds. So clearly there is a change; the government is concerned with this situation. The strategy of acting macho is no longer working,” said Prat Gay in an interview with Radio Mitre.

    According to the deputy, Argentina “will offer what they already paid to the exchange bondholders. The House of Deputies has already indicated that this proposal will not be accepted.”

    What a mess Argentina’s obstreperous widow in black has made of this situation!

    As Anna Gelpern observed in her blog, the US appeals court is furious with Argentina and is not going to cut it any slack. The debt indenture contains a pari passu clause, so Argentina can’t just stiff-arm the holdouts.

    On the other hand, the holdouts didn’t enter this costly litigation just to settle for the same 30 cents on the dollar that the exchange bondholders received in 2010.

    Presumably Argentina could still settle with the holdouts for (say) 50 cents on the dollar, and make the present litigation go away. But then the existing exchange bondholders might file a fresh lawsuit demanding equal treatment.

    Meanwhile, the Black Widow has so radicalized the situation domestically with her rants against ‘vulture funds’ that the Argentine Congress is unwilling to pay even the original 30 cents on the dollar to the holdouts.

    Checkmate! Best guess is that this intractable mess splats colorfully against the wall. Then Kristina raises her middle finger to the world and announces, ‘Que vayan a la mierda, foreign devils! We won’t pay one penny to any of you, ever. Screw you all!

      1. craazyman

        That’s a lot of work — doing your own research and all that. I read it and said “That sounds right to me” and just accepted it as truth, freeing up time to work on options strategies to get rich quick. Jim seems to know what he’s talking about and he confirms my pre-existing bias on this one. They’re all crazy down there, even more than Italy. How can he be wrong? No way.

        Makes me think rather than writing another book Yves should work with Lambert to get rich quick with the “Troll Swatter (TM)” the internet troll fly swatter. I bet they could hire some programmers to make it real. Think of a virtual fly swatter smashing your comment and flattening you in effigy. I bet you could sell it to people like Barry Ritholz and Krugman and media empire places that have blogs and cash. Writing a book involves tedium and exhaustion. Get rich quick first, then you can do things at a relaxed pace, even writing a book but with a Long Island Ice Tea next to the keyboard. That way if things get tense you can kick back and have a few sips and chill.

          1. AbyNormal

            jeeze i ‘tangled’ that entire reply craazy.(obviously)i prefer Texas Long Island Tea’s…’tango’ on aby

      1. from Mexico

        These neanderthal judges in New York are clueless.

        US hegemony in South America is over, but it may be sometime in the next century before they and Obama figure this out.

        “Latin America is not Washington’s to lose; nor is it Washington’s to save,” finds a CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force. “U.S. policy can no longer be based on the assumption that the United States is the most important outside actor in Latin America. If there was an era of U.S. hegemony in Latin America, it is over,” the Task Force concludes. However, “Washington’s basic policy framework, however, has not changed sufficiently to reflect the new reality.”

        “Era of U.S. Hegemony in Latin America is Over, Says CFR Task Force”

        And the Council on Foreign Relaitions isn’t the only one pronouncing US hegemony in South America over. Just Google US hegemony in South Ameerica.

  17. rich

    Lords of Disorder: Billions for Wall Street, Sacrifice for Everyone Else

    The President’s “sequester” offer slashes non-defense spending by $830 billion over the next ten years. That happens to be the precise amount we’re implicitly giving Wall Street’s biggest banks over the same time period.

    We’re collecting nothing from the big banks in return for our generosity. Instead we’re demanding sacrifice from the elderly, the disabled, the poor, the young, the middle class – pretty much everybody, in fact, who isn’t “too big to fail.”

    That’s injustice on a medieval scale, served up with a medieval caste-privilege flavor. The only difference is that nowadays injustices are presented with spreadsheets and PowerPoints, rather than with scrolls and trumpets and kingly proclamations.

    And remember: The White House represents the liberal side of these negotiations.

    That means that all of those banks’ CEOs, men (they’re all men) who preen and strut before the cameras and lecture Washington on its profligacy, would not only have lost their jobs and fortunes in 2008 because of their incompetence – they would probably lose their jobs again today.

    Tell that to Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, or Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, both of whom have told us it’s imperative that we cut social programs for the elderly and disabled to “save our economy.” The elderly and disabled have paid for those programs – just as they paid to rescue Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein, and just as they implicitly continue to pay for that rescue today.

    Dimon, Blankfein and their peers are like the grandees of imperial Spain and Portugal. They’ve been given great wealth and great power over others, not through native ability but by the largesse of the Throne.

    Trillion-Dollar Tribute

    The right word for that is tribute. As in, “a payment by one ruler or nation to another in acknowledgment of submission …” or “an excessive tax, rental, or tariff imposed by a government, sovereign, lord, or landlord … an exorbitant charge levied by a person or group having the power of coercion.” (Courtesy Merriam-Webster)

    In this case the tribute is made possible, not by military occupation, but by the hijacking of our political process by the corrupting force of corporate contributions.

    The fruits of that victory are rich: Bank profits are at near-record highs. Most of the country is still struggling to dig out from the wreckage they created but, as Demos’ Policy Shop puts it, “for the banks it’s 2006 all over again.”

  18. frosty zoom


    Today, The National Rifle Association is pleased to announce our new program to arm America’s Heroes, our school kids. For too long our youngsters have been plagued by the incompetence of their armed protectors, constantly worried about the next lunch room tech or maintenance supervisor accidentally gunning them down. The only way to defend against bad stupidity is with good stupidity.

    And so, with much pride, the NRA

    1. frosty zoom



      Today, The National Rifle Association is pleased to announce our new program to arm America’s Heroes, our school kids. For too long our youngsters have been plagued by the incompetence of their armed protectors, constantly worried about the next lunch room tech or maintenance supervisor accidentally gunning them down. The only way to defend against bad stupidity is with good stupidity.

      And so, with much pride, the NRA is here to reveal our new program to arm our future, America’s Children. We call this ground-breaking measure, Students Living Under Guns, or SLUG.

      We hope every community in the land of freedumb will join us in this endeavor to make the homeland safer.

      Thank You and Goodnight.

      1. AbyNormal

        this situation woulda had a different outcome…

        TURNER, Ore — Some parents and students in the small town of Turner, near Salem, were upset after a lockdown drill sent kids running for their classrooms in terror Wednesday.

        “I was on the playground and I see everyone screaming, running into their classrooms,” said fifth-grader Carter Bourassa. “I turn around and there is this guy climbing over the fence with a stick.”

        Carter said the man was dressed in a hoodie.

        “I thought someone was going to kidnap us or kill us,” said Carter. “I was scared and there was a lot of people crying.”

        The kids raced inside to their classrooms. Carter said the man then started banging on the windows.

        According to the principal of Turner Elementary School, it was all part of a surprise lockdown drill. He admits things went too far when a student teacher, acting as the intruder, got too aggressive.

        boneheads need more oxygen to their brain…downward facing dog b4 guns

        1. frosty zoom

          wow, just, ugh..

          i’m surprised they didn’t dress the student teacher in a burka.

          speaking of boneheads:

          “WINDSOR — Parents at a South Windsor school are expressing outrage after teachers led graduating students to believe they were heading to Disney World for a year-end trip, only to reveal the next day that the kids were the butt of an elaborate joke.”

  19. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Congrats on ECONned’s third birthday! I see references to current economics analysis as roughly the equivalent of medicine using leeches, so methinks it’s had a long, slow impact.

    Extraordinarily beautiful photo today.

  20. Herman Sniffles

    Regarding the mouse testicle study, their protocol of feeding Quiche to the control group makes one seriously question the veracity of their findings.

    1. frosty zoom


      they say you are what you eat. a diet of muchos huevos is bound to do something.

  21. Ms G

    “Lackeys of the Peter Pinguid Society” (An occasional series chronicling things seen and head on the streets of New York City).

    It is March 2d, 2013, at about 12:30 p.m., on 8th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, an overcast Saturday in New York City.

    Walking West towards Sixth Ave., two young men in their early or mid-twenties — dressed to the (outdoor gear) nines — are deep in animated conversation regarding what appears to be the launch of their careers in finance. THey could be NYU graduates or NYU MBA degree students. A fragment of the conversation carries throught he air about 20 feet away — the boys are debating their options as Young Turks of Finance.

    Boy # 1: “… no, because as soon as the company is doing well it gets bought out and everybody gets fired — services is the *worst* position to be in … :

    Boy # 2: “Yeah, I know …”

    Boy # 1: ” … Private Equity, with captive capital and fee-based [sic] …”

    Boy # 2: ” … yeah, but then you have to reinvest …”

    Boy # 1: ” Well, but you have a good 5 to 7 years – no risk — private equity is definitely the best way to go … ”

    Writer’s Note. This story relates actual events. No liberties were taken in rendering the dialogue.

  22. diptherio

    Yves, how can you be a skeptic of on-line learning when you are the proprietor of a popular on-line learning site?

    Seriously, I’ve learned way more in this “on-line classroom” than I did in the on-line course I actually paid for. My experience was that without direct or real-time interaction, no group discussion was possible and the instructor’s job seemed to be mostly the putting together of a curriculum. Waste of money, if you ask me. Little more than a blog with a ($2000/course/semester) pay-wall (though admittedly, I have only one data point to draw on).

    1. anon y'mouse

      having taken a few online learning courses, i think that it highly depends upon both the subject matter and the interest/knowledge level in the topic that the student has. i would agree with your point about no discussion being possible, and since individuals tend not to remember verbatim things that they (only) read, in-person lecture and discussion time being available is part of the process of drilling the information into one’s brain. if you already know about or have a strong interest in a topic, you’re going to learn about it almost osmotically and doing that on your own time *might be best.

      i took distance-learning video courses to refresh my lost math knowledge. since i had known but forgotten the info, it was very useful as a refresher. watch video lectures, mail in assignments and show up for exams. it’s difficult to know how well these work for ‘unknown’ knowledge. i used to watch a series on cable access for western civ with one of the ‘great’ instructors (princeton, was it?) and thought that was really swell, but since there was no reading component (entertainment is not instruction) could not possibly be said to have deep knowledge of the subject outside of what i already had learned in high school.

      i took some online courses where i knew nothing about the topic, and after taking the class still felt like i knew nothing about the topic. meanwhile, similar on-site classes had comparatively less work, but more discussion. obviously, my learning style requires this personal transfer since i -felt- that i knew more about the subject matter of onsite classes afterwards. long-term retention is still the biggest problem with any learning.

      i came to have the opinion that almost all of the online classes were piling on the assignments and required readings, as well as mandated ‘discussion groups’ (very hard to find something relevant to say that the other 57 people have not already mentioned). i felt that this was simply justification for charging full-price for a course where students do 3x the busy-work of a normal class and walk away with no more ‘knowledge.’ piling on the assignments also defeated the semi-stated purpose of online classes to “save time” for the target audience, whom most of my fellow students strongly resembled—fully employed adults with 3 children and multiple obligations preventing them from attempting a regular class schedule.

      a lot of these people really seemed to like these courses. i don’t. most onsite courses now have online supplemental reading material AND assignments. my walk-away from all of this is the more information is out there, the better and the more free it is the better, but i don’t see the cost reducing for those of us forced/forcing ourselves to engage in it in a formal way, and online learning is MUCH more difficult if you are a novice. some students indicated that they took online for courses that ‘didn’t count’ and didn’t interest them, that they were going to BS through anyway.

  23. Jack Parsons

    About the deer rescue: that was some amazing flying. Hovering over thin ice, directing the downdraft. Jeezus. That chopper pilot, male or female, is entitled to wear pants slung low.

    1. dale pues

      I was wondering what the poor deer must have been thinking: Oh nature! Here I’ve fallen through this damn ice and that whirlybird thing is after me too!

  24. Zachary Smith

    *** What If People Lived Forever . . . ***

    When I went to the link I was expecting a science-fiction or sociology type of thing about the effects on human behavior and society. What I found was a lot of economic stuff I’ll admit I didn’t understand for the most part.

    The parts I did (or thought I did) understand I’m going to label pure nonsense. How’s THAT for putting the old neck on the chopping block? :D

    Many years ago I was deeply influenced by a chapter in “Living Within Limits”, a book by the ecologist Garrett Hardin. Fortunately it’s online.

    On page 18 of the sample is this:

    *** In 1913 a wealthy man named Jonathan Holdeen set up a number of trusts, to run variously for five hundred to one thousand years. At maturity the benefits were to be distributed to family members and charities. At a modest 4 percent compound annual interest a bequest of $100 would amount to 33 billion dollars in five hundred years; continued for one thousand years, the accumulation in a single such account would be more than 10 quintillion dollars ($1.08 x 10 exponent 19). And Holdeen set up 186 such accounts before dying in 1967! ***

    Unless I’m mistaken that’s a sum equal to a million trillion dollars.

    Imagine your single immortal guy sets up such an account, wanders off for a thousand years, and when he returns he owns pretty much everything. If he made dozens of such deposits the situation is even worse. The whole concept is nonsense, and Hardin explained the forces making this so starting at the bottom of page 19.

    Bank Robbery
    Bank Failures
    Market Crashes
    Repudiation of Debts

    Selecting from some of his text:

    “It is a great wonder that the human mind should ever have conceived such a thing as compound interest, unthinkingly assuming that interest is capable of compelling dead matter — gold or whatever — to breed like rabbits.
    Aristotle knew better: “Money is sterile,” he said. Yet during the past thousand years we have built a civilization on the seldom questioned assumption that money is fertile. “Make your money work for you!” bankers say — meaning, “Make it breed for you.” At this late date millions of people believe in the fertility of money with an ardor seldom accorded to traditional religious doctrines.”

    There are times when usury is not a bad thing, but the notion that money can breed is one I’ve pretty well shed.

  25. JGordon

    “Jury Finds Occupy Wall Street Protester Innocent After Video Contradicts Police Testimony [Updated: VIDEO]”

    Oh police and other elites are allowed to engage in criminal activity without fear of prosecution. In fact, they likely got promotions, bonuses, and accolades because of their lies. You might accuse me of being hyperbolic there, but of course in all reality we both know that I’m only stating facts.

  26. AbyNormal

    “He made the boxes because he was lonely. He didn’t have anyone to love, and he made the boxes so he could love them, and so people would know that he existed, and because birds are free and the boxes are hiding places for the birds so they will feel safe, and he wanted to be free and be safe. The boxes are for him so he can be a bird.”

    A.Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife

    good night yellow birdie

  27. Seal

    There’s a bar out west here [Studio City in LA] called Maeve’s Residuals where you can buy your first drink with a residual check if its less than dollar. If your micro-royalty check qualify this would be a good place to start a toot if you’re out this way.

  28. Kaz Augustin

    Barisan Nasional, the party currently governing Malaysia, has lots of problems but make no mistake, Anwar Ibrahim is NOT “pro-democracy”. Yes, he may use those terms (and has done to curry favour with then US VP, Al “Clueless” Gore), but words do not translate to action. The fact that he has allied himself with the local ultra-Islamist Taliban party, PAS, should speak for itself.

    But no, let’s not let a good “foreign government propaganda” story get in the way of actual analysis.

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