Links 3/31/13

Devastated dolphin mourns for her dead baby by carrying it on her back while swimming Daily Mail (May S)

Human colonization of the Pacific left piles of dead birds in its wake ars technica (Carol B)

Subway hero: Man jumps to rescue of stranger on Philly tracks Christian Science Monitor

The iPhone Killed My Creativity readwrite

DIY: The New Amphetamine Trade OCCCRP (Richard Smith)

How could Christians not hate Jesus, on some level? Guardian. Well, if you are not devout, your feelings may not rise to that level of intensity.

North Korea increases tensions with South by issuing threat over factories Guardian

Argentina One-Sixth Bond Offer Seen as ‘Thumbing Nose’ Bloomberg

Argentina’s desperate exchange proposal Felix Salmon

Iceland Indicts Bankers Over Financial Crisis American Banker

Russians In Cyprus: It’s Not About Tax It’s About The Rule Of Law And Property Rights Forbes

Beppe Grillo “We are the French Revolution Without the Guillotine” Michael Shedlock

EU in ‘denial’ that sick economy costs lives, say health experts Reuters

The Tequila Crisis: The Prelude To Europe’s Economic Storm Testosterone Pit

Short of Money, Egypt Sees Crisis on Fuel and Food New York Times

Ahmed Errachidi: ‘We shared one thing in Guantánamo Bay – pain’ Guardian

Where Are the Country’s Least Happy and Healthy Americans? New Studies Reveal America’s “Sadness Belt” Alternet. Ahem, a recent survey found Maine to be the second happiest state in the US, just behind Hawaii, very much surprising Lambert. This survey shows Maine to be in the third quintile in terms of unhappiness and Hawaii to be in the second, indicating these happiness surveys are highly unreliable.

The Supreme Court’s Radical New Precedent Truthdig (Carol B)

Investigators Discover NRA Materials in Newtown Killer’s House Mother Jones

40 Years After Watergate, It’s Almost Impossible to Hold Government Accountable Alternet

As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester New York Times

The Walmartization of the American food chain is making communities poor and poorly fed Daily Kos (Carol B)

Let’s put a sales tax on Wall Street Angry Bear

Washington law firm sues bank regulator over foreclosure reviews Thomson Reuters. This is gonna be FUN!

The Five Ways Deflation Has Already Taken Hold Bloomberg

Feminism’s Tipping Point: Who Wins from Leaning in? Dissent. Great shredding from a woman who had been Zuckerberg’s speechwriter at Facebook. I’ve been singularly uninterested in the hype about Sandberg’s book but found this piece extremely worthwhile. For instance:

By arguing that women should express their feminism by remaining in the workplace at all costs, Sandberg encourages women to maintain a commitment to the workplace without encouraging the workplace to maintain a commitment to them. And by launching a feminist platform, Sandberg is able to contain the broader threat that a feminist critique poses to Facebook’s business, simultaneously generating more power for herself and her organization — Silicon Valley “revolution” at its finest. This maneuver, as I learned in my years at Facebook, is how the game is played, and both Sandberg and Zuckerberg play it well. The question the rest of us have to ask is, what does the game do for those not at or near the top? Are workers playing or are we getting played?

Antidote du jour:

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    1. Dave of Maryland

      Look at the map again and you will see the unhappiest states also have the most extreme weather: Tornadoes, thunderstorms, blizzards, with much loss of life. Which leads to the question,

      Does bad weather generate unhappy people?

      Or maybe it should be,

      Do unhappy people generate bad weather?

  1. craazyman

    It’s Getting Bad

    I always wondered if there was something wrong with me since I found no use for a smartphone. It reminds me of a story I read about an anthropologist who showed a south pacific tribal chief a telephone. The chief was unimpressed. “Who would I call?” he asked skeptically.

    I’m not sure I want to see myself that way, but truth is truth. Then there’s this book by Zuckerberg’s speech writer. Why does somebody with a brain need a speechwriter? Why would anyone go to hear a speech by Zuckerberg anyway? Why would anyone sign up for Faceplant — um. I mean facebook? I never have. That should be embarrasing, but it isn’t, I’ll be honest.

    Why waste your mind? I guess you have to waste it to realize you are. It’s a chiarascuro. Then the feminist angle. Oy Vey. Anything with an “ist” or an “ism” at the end of it is just a placeholder for stupidity. That’s just true, the way the sky is true. There is no discussion.

    Then the thing about hating Jesus. I thought that was gonna be stupid as hell, no pun intended. And it was. Erudite in an incomplete, narrow myopia of constrained mindspace. Sometimes you feel it coming and there it is.

    People need to read less and space out more. Even me. Reading too much will mess you up. All sorts of BS and nonsense choke your mind as you stare at somebody else’s thoughts and wonder why they don’t make sense. After a while you realize and then looking out a window at a tree is like a miracle. Wasting time is better than almost anything somebody can do. Then things come down you, floating down to you and you reach out and just grab them.

    You can’t do this with macroeconmics entirely. There you need to outsource your thinking, to somebody willing to go hear speeches and look at news and all that. Thanks! It frees up lots of time to waste, utterly, staring at things out a window.

    1. ambrit

      Dear craazyman;
      I know you live in a big city, but, staring at nature stuff while outdoors yourself is way more fun. I wonder what the view from the top of the Chrysler building at dawn would be like though. (Sort of like an early Georgia O’Keefe painting?)
      Happy Easter, Zen master sama.

      1. AbyNormal

        Hear Hear!

        I think it’s so foolish for people to want to be happy. Happy is so momentary–you’re happy for an instant and then you start thinking again. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous. o’keeffe

        Interesting Holiday to Interesting NC’rs

          1. AbyNormal

            ive copied/painted a many of her works but not her physical technique, yet ‘ )

            I hate flowers. g.o

        1. diptherio

          It seems to me like the desire to be constantly “happy” might have something to do with addictive behavior, which is rampant in our society. I see it everywhere, actually.

          The consumerist dream is that you can buy your way to constant happiness. The spiritual dream is that you can meditate and pray your way there. In the US, many have sought to combine these two dreams, seeking constant happiness (nay, bliss) through a combination of consumerism and spiritual escapism (see The Secret and the Prosperity Gospel for New Age and Christian versions, respectively).

        2. please

          Funny you say that. It’s a well known chinese curse that someone hopes you are born in interesting times. Something not everyone understands.

          1. Nathanael

            “May you live in interesting times” was referred to as an “ancient Chinese curse”.

            The curse is actually from late 19th-century Britain (the originator *attributed* it to China perhaps as a way of deflecting attention).

            The interesting times he was worrying about were the rumblings leading to World War I. So yeah. He had a point.

    2. McKillop

      May I suggest “It frees up _ utterlywasted_ time.”

      I get caught up in this ‘gift’ of the ‘net’.
      My kids, say, want attention and for quite a bit I put them off with, “Just a minute.Just a minute. I _said_ ‘just a minute.'”
      They don’t quite get it that I’ve got to put some twit right.
      Smart boys who’ve learned from my example, they afterwards eat supper late and cold and without any ritual, without me, having ‘just finished’ their game. Smart boys, they ignore my whining about family time.
      Desoite all my efforts I’m not much smarter (even about economics!) and so what? In the circles around which I travel there’s only a bit of interest in details. And no power to correct, beyond the personal.

      But yesterday, and a few before, I walked about on some land that I own.
      The snow is melting and the river’s more open water than ice. A small flock of Canada geese, some swimming, some ranping on iceflows brayed either amorously or possessively. Some small critter (I think a pine marten but can’t be sure because there was no mob of footballers to mob it -you know, so it could be on t.v. and linked!) scurried to cover.
      On Thursday I caught a glimpse of a coyote that, having caught sight of me, I’d guess, loped away.
      Not just passive, I played in puddles on the road, came home with soakers and some up-lifted spirit.

        1. McKillop

          I do whenever – even if I need guilt to inspire them; but you know kids. . . conned by contrivances.
          My older boys -young men, really, are now beginning to use the place as an enticement to beautiful young women. The youngest -9, just- enjoys the freedom.
          I’ve convinced them, however, and so far, that the land _must_ not be sold, that, if money is what’s wanted from the place, ‘leasing’ is best over the long run. And water rights are valuable beyond measure. And timber rights and mineral rights.
          I guess that would make me a “rentier”, but the hardest temptation to resist is acting on the well-meaning advice of others, and the times, of ruining the place fora buck. Or selling it so as to be able to travel, or ‘realize its worth.’
          Money’s been made to count for so much that one of the first, and repeated, questions is: “How much is it worth?”
          The threat of its loss provokes violence in the 9 year old, disdain in the rest of us.
          (I said the boys were smart.)

    3. Susan the other

      What the burro said: How wonderful it is to do nothing and then to rest afterward. (A saying from a Mexican tile.)

    4. Richard Kline

      Splendid screed; reminds me of meself, if wearing ‘you’-colored spectacles.

      Smartphones make peoples stupid—and I jut bought one! Social necessity to be able to text [not a ‘smart’ function, I know], plus a few useful bells and whistles. Reading the article: two hours a day, oy gevault!, spend staring at the unreadably tiny scribbles of it. The one ‘useful thing’ which I would like to do with this device, read and edit MY OWN documents, Apple has made between excessively different and actively impossible to actually do. No, I’m supposed to crack my braincase and let SomeCorp eat my life/time inside and deposit their excreta in its place. Not; so not. I actually can _read_ a map quite well; I actually can look where I am and assess how to get from here to there and where ‘there’ is; why do I need a blindred map function which eliminates the geographical context which allows one to orient oneself and thus not need the blindered map function? There are uses for a smart phone . . . I’m sure . . . I’ll find them. Once I download that flashlight app which was thoughtfully excluded from the start-up bundle. (Apple, I’m talkin’ t’ YOU.)

      The larger point regarding the degredation of ones ability to think in consquence of staring constantly at devices which involve next to no thinking but instead are trance inducing is something I have argued vehemently for years. Want to be a drone? Power up the phone. Play those ‘games;: interesting people would be designing their own instead in the same minutes burned (or writing poetry because why not).

      But the emphasis on ‘boredom’ in that article, or on ‘wasting time’ in your remarks craazyman, is, from where I stand, just a bit wide of the mark. If one actually, y’know’, _has thoughts_, or more concretely creates anything, there is always a great deal to consider. Now, I’ve spent 30 years acquiring a facility with creative thought, so I’m an outlier out in the long tail on that, to be sure. I have more projects than I remotely have time. Much of that time in transit or waiting which for others is dead is for me editing or organizational time on pending or current work—and I need that ‘file time.’ Furthermore, the link between unstructured time and creative insight does exist, but it is not well presented in the article. Much of what happens with creative insight lies in getting two different concepts into ones awareness at the same time and realizing how useful one (or both) of them enhances understanding of the other. It is this interdisciplinary cross-fertilization which is essential for insight, especially for creative insight, but it is just this kind of multi-mode thought which is exactly _impossible_ on mono-focus info-streams and media devices. The smaller and more focuses screen at which one stares, the smaller and less potent the observations which result is the rule. Yes, ‘smart’ devices MAKE one stupid because their cognitive aperture is too small to accomplish anything smart within it. This will become an increasingly serious problem in our society I feel sure.

      Zoning on the phone would seriously impact my productivity, and in fact it has been ipso facto obvious to me since long that those who _do_ zone on the phone manifestly have nothing better to do. They weren’t creating anything anyway. Only they weren’t born that way . . . they all knew how to dream, and learn, and entertain when they were children (barring rare organic deficits). They weren’t ‘bored’ then; they’ve been trained to be bored. ‘Eductation’ has taught them that they don’t know anything. Media has taught them that they don’t perceive anything of worth with their own senses. Work has taught them that they can’t make anything ‘saleable.’ Family has taught them that their observations are small change at best. Shopping has taught them that their own ideas have no net value. Life has taught them that they are uncreative drones despite everything they once knew as children to the contrary; which is why sales & advertising now teach them they need a smartphone to be somebody happy, preferably with preloaded ads for anti-depressants [apologies craazy, hadda slip that one in].

      True down time, now, has a value of its own. Looking at the world around one _with all media turned off dead_ is of inestimable value. (Music too and most especially: music is powerfully cognitively active, not least in that the tonality implies emotional states which fix portions of ones attention, holding that attention off from anything else. Wonderful when sought, but a mental vampire when unsought on doing anything else.) Walking in that world is best, but looking out the window at the sky alone will do when pressed (or incarcerated). Read the weather; it has not only the past and the future in it, it follows scaling laws in its patterns which are present in us and constitute the harmony of the natural universe in which we exist. The brachiation of a tree. An ant’s progress. Birds in motion and their predators. . . . I don’t recommend watching pets for any length of time, human beings have driven them crazy by forcing them to live in human-ized environments isolated from their own kind. Listen to the wind. Read the sun on the water. See how the weather works over the mountains. (I’ve chose to live in a place where I see this every/any time I look out my window.) All that and much more. —Or torment yourself with some non-scaling law, digital interface beeping badly designed, minimially competent screens and web pages within it’s trivially narrow range of intended expression on a radiation-leaking electronic sliver which holds nothing else within the vanishingly small needle of its eye. The choice is ours (and it is a choice) . . . .

      “That’s just true like the sky is blue” is a fabulous epigram which strikes me as considerably more accurate than the statements immediately preceding it. I’m taking that one away with me . . . .

  2. dearieme

    “Human colonization of the Pacific left piles of dead birds in its wake” is really rather dim: they didn’t leave piles of dead birds, they ate the bloody things. If you settled islands with no indigenous land mammals of any size, what would you eat? Birds, dolphins, turtles, seals and fish, I suggest.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Bloomberg’s article on Argentina’s default litigation quotes Joe Kogan of Scotia Bank, saying that he expects the country’s bonds to fall tomorrow “upon news of Argentina’s continued intransigence.” He added: “The proposal itself appears intended for local Argentine consumption.”

    But even this lowball offer (one-sixth of what the plaintiffs already were awarded by the U.S. district court) might not make it through the Argentine Congress. Yesterday Argentina’s vice president prepared for battle with restive deputies:

    “Under all conditions, under all circumstances, Argentina will make payments to debt holders who enter the swap, whatever the result [of the U.S. appeals court decision]. One way or another, Argentina is going to pay,” said Vice President Amado Boudou yesterday in a press conference.

    This was Boudou’s response when asked what would happen if the House did not accept Argentina’s proposal to “vulture funds,” made late on Friday. “It would be a legal blockade preventing Argentina from meeting its obligations. We will not allow a blockade because that would be a legal absurdity,” he added.

    Eugenio Bruno, an attorney specializing in debt, interpreted these remarks as a veiled allusion to the possibility of “re-routing” payments to bondholders, currently made in New York, to other jurisdictions, primarily Europe and Argentina. For this rerouting not to be considered a technical default, the government would need the support of at least 85% of the bondholders, said Bruno.

    Meanwhile, Minister of the Economy Lorenzino hinted that, beyond what is finally decided by the House of Deputies, which now has the next word, it is expected that the case will reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Analysts do not see this as very feasible.

    “One understands that an appeal to the [U.S. Supreme] Court will occur, and that will stretch out the procedural steps [of the case],” said the minister.

    Oh, boy. It’s easy to slip into magical thinking when you’re 5,000 miles from Nueva York. Neither a rerouting of current payments (since Judge Griesa has enjoined Bank of New York from handling further payments if Argentina doesn’t comply with the award to holdouts) nor the Supreme Court accepting an appeal are very likely.

    Tighten seatbelts and prepare for a high-speed collision with a brick wall of judicial rage.

    1. jsn

      Argentina’s behavior looks to me like a form of State to State Civil Disobedience. The courts are trying to enforce the same kind of remote sovereignty through “contract” Napoleonic France used to destroy Haiti.

      Its bad law that gives to money alone absolute rights.

    2. Ms G

      What exactly will Judge Griesa do if Argentina rerouts the payments? This case has already burst the border between US federal jurisdiction versus the political (diplomatic, etc.) jurisdiction of the US Govt. He could issue a contempt order against Argentina … that would be hilarious.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Stockman’s concluding paragraph:

      When the latest bubble pops, there will be nothing to stop the collapse. If this sounds like advice to get out of the markets and hide out in cash, it is.

      Stockman represents a breed of commentators who believe that their personal command of facts and logic should allow them to issue a ‘just in time’ crash warning. Such dire warnings rarely prove to be timely, though.

      With cash yielding zero and inflation at 2 percent, Stockman’s advice means losing 2 percent of purchasing power every year. Is that the best one can do?

      Over the past five years (March 2008 – March 2013), a 50-50 mix of the S&P 500 stock index and 10-year Treasury notes rose a cumulative 41.2%, or 7.17% annually compounded.

      In March 2008 the 10-year T-note yielded 3.69%, versus only 1.85% today. So it is not going to provide as much return over the next five years as it did in the past five.

      Now for stocks: Robert Shiller’s CAPE (a 10-year average price/earnings ratio of the S&P 500) was 22.60 in March 2008, and it’s an identical 22.57 today. The S&P 500 returned a weak 5.79% over the past five years. At the same (somewhat elevated) starting valuation, that would be a reasonable expectation for the next five years as well.

      Averaging 1.85% return on the 10-year T-note and 5.79% for the S&P, one might expect a 3.8% annual return from a 50-50 mix. That’s pretty crappy, comrades. Bill Gross calls it the ‘New Normal’ of sucky, low-single-digit returns.

      But it beats the hell out of doomster Stockman’s counsel to hunker down in cash and lose 2% of purchasing power each year. When you ask the ‘dire prediction’ guys about their investment track record, they usually don’t have one. Caveat emptor.

      1. David Lentini

        Good points. I found Stockman to be just another VSP decicit scold and austerity shill. His command of history is quite self-serving and incompetent; so not surprisingly his vision and counsel are wrong.

        1. wunsacon

          I read very little from Stockman before: just his mea culpa about some parts of the Reagan legacy and his criticism of the private equity business. From the little I knew, I liked the guy. By comparison, this “Sundown” piece disappoints me.

          David traces our state train wreck to 1933 with FDR taking us off the gold standard. Really!? Yeah, like things were going so swimmingly before then with the boom/bust, known as the “Great Depression”, that started playing out in the 13+ years before 1933 (having turned south 3 years before FDR took office). (And what about the financial crises before that?)

          And whereas Dave specifically blames FDR for us going off (or starting to go off) the gold standard, a few paragraphs later Dave says Glass-Steagall was a wise policy introduced during the Great Depression — without mentioning that FDR (who supported it and even opposed an attempt by Glass to water down one part of his own bill) obviously had a hand in its passage. Is David playing up to an audience of angry old white men who’d get upset if he’d credit FDR for doing anything right?

          Dave also bashes Reaganism, aka “modern Keynesian policy”, while noting that WWII did more for the economy than the New Deal. But, what’s the difference between big government spending on war versus other programs? Isn’t that all Reaganism or Keynesian? Why does Dave spend his article criticizing this policy if even he claims it helped us get out of GD1?

          By the way, how do the food stamp recipients of the 1930’s feel about Dave’s assessment that WWII did more to get them out of a depression? Have you thought about that, Dave?

          1. wunsacon

            >> Isn’t that all Reaganism or Keynesian?

            (…At least that’s what ZH and fellow travelers tell me, because they want to discredit most government spending. But, if you actually asked Keynes or Krugman, I doubt they support massive spending on the War Dept over other choices — or maybe even at all other than for real defense needs.)

      2. David Lentini

        FWIW, Krugman’s take is here, referring to the article as boring and “cranky old man stuff”.

        About right, I’d say.

      3. Ms G

        If by any of this it is intended that working people with some saved money should jump into equities or bonds or whatever other kleptocratic “product”is on offer from the money managers and hedge funds who are desperate for the stupid money to come in at this artificial “high” of the DOW/S&P, then the message is toxic and should be ignored by anyone who falls in the category “wage-earner” or “retail customer.”

        But Stockman is a bit behind too. If the FDIC’s proposal to confiscate customer cash deposits in lieu of a QE Redux when the next (not if) grand crash happens, then putting money in any institution, even if it earns zero interest is essentially lending it with no recourse to a counterparty that is sure to steal most if not all of it.

        The only solution, really, is for offshore tax sheltering of income and savings to be made accessible to the 99.9%. If Mike Bloomberg and Google can do it, why can’t the rest of us?

        1. Ms G

          Actually, I’m wrong even on the last point. The lesson of Cyprus is that even putting cash in a tax-haven jurisdiction may not be safe from confiscation. On the other hand, maybe Cyprus was “unique” in terms of the subset “tax havens,” meaning that Cayman, Panama, Isle of Man, Jersey, Delaware (USA) etc. might still be a safe bet for the 99.9%. Ha ha.

  4. Brindle

    Re: “Feminism’s Tipping Point”

    Entertaining and well done piece.
    Sandberg uses language as an instrument to disassociate the analog rhythms of life “forward” to some totalitarian efficiency model.

    —“Life, in Sandberg’s vision of work, has gone entirely missing, at the linguistic as well as the polemical level. Except, of course, when one is at work. “I fully believe in bringing our whole selves to work,” Sandberg writes. Since her vision of work involves working all the time, it follows that work must be the place where one can be one’s full self.”—

    1. PQS


      I’m not listening to any corporate executive that tells me I need to spend all night on emails after my kid is in bed. Or that I need to “lean in” more. No. The structure needs to lean in toward ME and all the other workers.

      These people are inherently anti-imagination fascists. They can’t see past their pampered, well-fed lives.

    2. Ms G

      Is that another way of saying that she might be exhibiting symptoms of some dissociative disorder?


  5. mk

    “Devastated dolphin mourns for her dead baby by carrying it on her back while swimming”
    I have friends who are caretakers for chimpanzees. A few years ago, one of the chimps had a baby that died when a few weeks old. Mother chimp wouldn’t allow anyone near the dead body, she carried it around for a couple of weeks before my friends were able to sneak the body away from her. We all understood the mother was deeply depressed and in anguish over the loss.

  6. JGordon

    Oh that NRA material article was a nice touch. Since you’re interested in these kinds of articles though, I usually glance over your links section and read interesting articles whenever you post them, but I must have missed when you linked the one about Christopher Dorner being rapidly pro-gun control back when that stuff was going on. Can you repost the link where you put that up?

  7. Herman

    RE: Antidote
    Where are those safety goggles and gloves? Here at the Mammal Safety and Health Administration (MaSHA) we strongly recommend their use when performing cute stunts such as this one.

    1. JGordon

      Pointing out something that I noticed that you all may not be familiar with here, just so you can put that podcast in the proper frame of reference: permaculture only marginally has to do with growing plants. It’s been my experience with the permaculturists I know that they are far more interested in the future of civilization and in the fundamental rearchitecting of of society required for the survival of humanity. The topics and audio clips you’ll hear in that podcast are similar to the kinds of things you’d hear if you showed to your local permaculture meeting. I originally became curious in permaculture myself because of its focus on money and finance and economics–not because of plants. Other permaculturists out there reading this–feel free to disagree with me here. Though I don’t think many/any will.

      1. lambert strether

        I encountered permaculture as a gardener, though it’s clear that if one would wish to create a civilization of gardens, permaculture is indeed about a lot more than plants. Got any links on money and finance? I’d be interested to see them.

        1. from Mexico

          I don’t know anything about the money and finance doctrine advocated by permaculture.

          But if one wants to understand what’s happening with global labor, it is absolutely necessary to undestand what’s happening with world agriculture and food production. It is impossible to understand what’s happening with the world’s labor population without understanding what’s happening with the world’s peasant population. That’s why, in order to understand what’s going on with labor in the United States, one must understand what’s going on with peasants in Mexico and China.

          The best synopsis I’ve run across is this by Samir Amin:

          “The conditions for an alternative global system based on social and international justice”
          (available on internet)

          Here’s a graph that illustrates the demographic changes that are occurring, this one for Mexico:

          And this for Brazil, China and India:

          Much has been written concerning the brutality with which peasants have been forced from the land over the past 50 or 60 years.

  8. GeTee

    Re:Investigators Discover NRA Materials in Newtown Killer’s House

    Dear NC – I am very progressive, but I see no reason to confiscate guns, Im sorry – neither do a lot of other progressives.

    To people who are aware when they are being manipulated, its fairly obvious there is a concerted effort among media outlets to keep a steady flow of news articles about Newton going to the tune of at least two new articles a day.

    Personally I don’t care if its a hundred articles a day. Conservative keep fear alive through external threats fromthe “scary” muslim terrorists, and it seems progressives do it with the “terrifying” Adam Lanza. Every read Shock Doctrine? To those of us who have, we can see right through this. I’m not any more afraid now that I was before Newton – so there.

    Fellow progressives – you can still keep your other progressive values and keep your guns too. You don’t have to agree with EVERYTHING the democratic party leadership tells you to agree with.

    1. JEHR

      Sometimes when people actually think for themselves they come to the conclusion that having heavy-duty guns everywhere is not something to aim for. If no one had guns, then the world would be the safest place to be instead of the scary place it is now.

      1. Dan Leeno

        Okay, you figure out a way to get the guns that are used in daily robberies out of the hands of the group most likely to possess and misuse them: Black urban youth.

        When you have done that, you’ll find many law abiding people willing to give up the guns they keep for self defense.

        Otherwise you are just a tool for the dictatorial tendencies of politicans who know that they cannot make debt serfs and peons out of the American population who might one day realize that Al Queda is not the real enemy, it’s Wall Street and all their allies in the media and local finance.

        The nightly reports of shootings in the ghetto are not an encouragement for this nearby urban dweller to give up his Second Amendment rights for some hullucinatory greater good.

        1. blah blah blah blah

          >> Otherwise you are just a tool for the dictatorial tendencies of politicans who know that they cannot make debt serfs and peons out of the American population who might one day realize that Al Queda is not the real enemy, it’s Wall Street and all their allies in the media and local finance.

          In this country, the real “tools” are the people with the most guns. This demographic woke up, protested TARP for one day, and went back to sleep. They use their guns to shoot their estranged wives, lost girlfriends, a loud neighbor, and maybe the occasional liberal. And they vote for the *most* plutocrat-friendly candidates. Tools, indeed.

          We are debt serfs. And so long as the plutocrats punish weaker nations first and pay lavishly for “law enforcement” here at home and donate to “think tanks” to produce a steady stream of studies justifying their plutocratic economic policies, we’ll go along with it. (It’s all good-paying work, if you can get it.)

        2. Zachary Smith

          *** Okay, you figure out a way to get the guns that are used in daily robberies out of the hands of the group most likely to possess and misuse them: Black urban youth. ***

          Because of the “Ni….” problem, good decent law-abiding White Folk need guns. Many guns! Dozens or hundreds if they can afford them.

          *** Otherwise you are just a tool for the dictatorial tendencies of politicans who know that they cannot make debt serfs and peons out of the American population who might one day realize that Al Queda is not the real enemy, it’s Wall Street and all their allies in the media and local finance. ***

          Because of the evil gobmint and greedy bankers good decent law-abiding White Folk need more and more guns.

          And not just any guns. Rapid-firing rifles using high-velocity military ammunition packed into huge magazines. As every decent law-abiding White Person knows, a double-barrel shotgun just won’t cut it with those lawless Ni.. types for home defense. Anyhow, the White Folk need to stay ahead in the arms race with the jack-booted police thugs who front for the evil gobmint and greedy bankers. It’s my understanding that here in Indiana the little bald headed ***** (aka Our Man Mitch) signed a law which allows me to gun down those police thugs if I feel threatened when they show up at my door without a warrant to search the place for any reason (or no reason!) per the Indiana Supreme Court Decision.

          Anyhow, I’m not an NRA member, so when does the hunting season open on those bankers?

      2. Eureka Springs

        Nobody (including, perhaps most notably, “progressives”) is talking about limiting guns (and even bigger weaponry) anywhere except among the little people.

        The military, the police state, the weapons dealing, and of course wealthy people with security will continue to have, use, deal in big weapons.

        It’s (gun controls as framed/discussed so narrowly now) a trap, the kind nanny liberals fall for over and over again on so many levels.

  9. diptherio

    I’ve been mulling over Yves’ comment yesterday about volunteer work being depressing and the supposed personal benefits of ‘selfless’ volunteer work. Here’s my take:

    To engage in any activity in order to get a good feeling for oneself is to act selfishly, even if the activity happens to be charitable in nature. There is nothing wrong with selfish action per se, but one should have the good grace to be forthright about what is going on.

    In fact, it seems to me rather perverse when people say things like, “I get my greatest joy in life from helping those in need.” I mean, how f#@ked up is that? If everyone had all that they needed, you would be deprived of your life’s greatest joy! People like that really get their greatest joy from feeling self-righteous and sanctified, for which they require the poor, the hungry, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. When they read in the Bible, “Remember the poor, for they shall always be with you,” they think to themselves Oh, thank God!

    I do have a good bit of experience in this area. Here’s one ‘for instance’: on my third trip to Nepal I decided to bring a bunch of second-hand clothes along with me to give away to the poor-as-all-get-out villagers in the area where I was working. Back in those days, a person could check two bags of up to 50 lbs for free on international flights, so I crammed all of my crap into a carry-on and checked two huge duffel bags stuffed with discount items from St. Vincent DePaul.

    I was staying at my mentor’s ashram, so a few days after I arrived we spread the word for people to come up and get a free garment at the temple. I had between 150 and 200 items with me and by the time they were all gone we still had a crowd of ragged kids and old hunched-over men standing around with their hands out. You gotta know that made me hella sad.

    The people who got a free sweater or pair of jeans had been very appreciative, and you could tell it was like Christmas for the kids. Seeing their obvious glee at this unexpected windfall lifted my heart, to be sure, but after all was said and done my feelings were rather ambiguous. I did consider not doing that again, so as not to make anyone feel left-out again, but ultimately decided against that course of action.

    The reason is because I decided that providing whatever little bit of assistance I could to people who needed all the material support they could come by was more important than protecting my feelings. The sadness that I felt at the end of the process was just part of the price of providing that assistance to those people, just like the “price” I paid in inconvenience when I hauled those two large bags half-way around the globe.

    I reason thusly: if I didn’t bring the clothes with me, I wouldn’t have to deal with these ambiguous emotions, but that little girl over there would have one less non-raggedy garment to wear. Isn’t her joy and increased well-being worth a little bit of my sorrow? I decided that yes, it was, and I brought clothes along with me to give away on the next two trips I made to Nepal (before the airlines started charging extra for everything). Every time it was a heart-rending process, because every time there were more people needing clothes than I had clothes to give away, but it was worth it.

    Kali Baba joked with me about it. “Don’t you worry,” he said to me, “one day, we’ll bring a whole truck-load, then all the villagers will be swimming in clothes.” He mimed a swimming motion with his arms and chortled. “Don’t worry,” he said, “good thing you do.”

    But it never got any easier to have to look at those wide-eyed little kids and say “maph garnous…hamro luga sidyo,” I’m sorry, our clothes are finished.

    One last thought, from Annie Dillard (paraphrasing from faulty memory): No one has ever had to bear ‘world hunger’ or ‘global poverty,’ only their own personal hunger and their own personal poverty.
    I find that comforting, for some reason.

    Happy Easter ya’ll!

    1. wunsacon

      >> To engage in any activity in order to get a good feeling for oneself is to act selfishly, even if the activity happens to be charitable in nature.

      Though I entertain the idea myself, I’m not a fan of the explanation of charity as a form of “selfishness”. It lets selfish people off the hook. Regardless of subconscious motivation, some acts are charitable and some are selfish. And aren’t the acts what matter?

    2. PQS

      I’m with you, diptherio. I thought about that comment as well….charity work doesn’t make me sad, either. I just get angry because we have to keep doing it because the People Who Rule Us are such greedy shitheads.

      I volunteer with Heifer International because one of the great things about Heifer is that the goal of a Heifer project is to provide self-sufficiency to a recipient. The projects are also totally directed by the recipients. Nobody shows up and hands anything out – the participants decide what they want, how it will go, and how they will get there. One of the most powerful things I’ve ever heard is from our volunteer coordinator who visited a project in Nepal. She said the women didn’t talk about the projects or the particular details of them…what they talked about was how they felt because someone took an interest in them and told them they could do this. Nobody had ever told them this before and it was completely empowering for these women. That’s what change looks like. Is there still poverty, desperation, and a cruddy situation? Yes to all. But at least someone living in those conditions sees that this isn’t the only way to live.

      1. diptherio

        Helping others has been, for me, sometimes rewarding and inspiring, sometimes depressing and maddening, sometimes boring, sometimes frustrating, sometimes fun. But what it’s like for me isn’t really the point. The question I try to ask myself is did it make someone’s individual life better?, not how it will make me feel. If I wanted to be happy all the time, I’d take up heroin.

        And don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to dis on people who volunteer in order to feel good about themselves, I just think people (myself included) often delude themselves about their own motivations. I mean, if a person volunteers feeding the homeless because they’ve heard that doing so will increase their own life expectancy, shouldn’t the homeless be demanding payment for this valuable service?

        Personally, I tend to take the Vedantic line: do what you know to be right and don’t attach yourself to particular outcomes, since those are out of your hands anyway.

        Shit, late for Easter dinner. Damn you PQS!!! [kidding]

        1. PQS

          I love the Vedantic sentiment.

          Enjoy the holiday. I think the idea of everything waking up from a long nap (sorry, everybody under the snow still) is tremendously inspiring.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks for your comment, but I think I need to clarify (AGAIN) why I went on yesterday.

      The trigger was yet another survey saying that people who volunteered a lot were happier, longer lived, whatever. It strongly implied that people should volunteer to get health and emotional bennies. I basically said bollocks, that I though the causality went the other way (happier, well adjusted, healthy people more likely to volunteer) and I didn’t see how volunteering was necessarily an emotional pick me up (the article specifically mentioned “helper’s high” again as if the personal bennies were a big part of the reason to volunteer).

      So I don’t mean to sound anti-volunteering! I am anti stupid studies about volunteering.

  10. Dan Leeno

    NRA material in the house? Shocking!

    What about ACLU material? They are partially responsibe for mentally ill people being allowed free movement in our society to and including slaughtering others with guns.

    The ACLU vigorously defends individual rights per the Bill of Rights, but with one exception: Second Amendment rights are only defended as a “collective right” if they are menioned at all by the ACLU.

    That would be like claiming that a crowd has free speech rights but not an individual. This is why I will never give the ACLU one cent in donations. They are politicized hypocracy.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Ten years ago, Arthur was just pounding the living piss out of Bush and Cheney for their egregious war. But he was also broke, his crappy 80286 computer had slowed to a crawl, and physically he was near death’s door with what might euphemistically be called lifestyle complications.

          Some things never change: the permanent war; Arthur’s precarious existence; and his savage bite when he gets the literary bit between his teeth.

        2. ohmyheck

          maybe you could post a link to Arthurs blog in tomorrow’s links? it would be a kindness for those who would want to contribute if they were notified.

  11. just me

    Re: Washington law firm sues bank regulator over foreclosure reviews

    ( 8-o … Bug eyes!

    It is seeking documents explaining how the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency defined “independent” in its requirements for mortgage servicers to hire “independent consultants” to conduct the reviews.

    The law firm declined to identify the client on behalf of which it filed the complaint.

    Is this good news? Revolving door question:

    David Aufhauser, the Williams & Connolly lawyer who filed the action, and who is a former general counsel of the Treasury Department and of investment bank UBS, declined to comment on the case.

    Keep us posted…

  12. Hugh

    Re Sirota’s post on the Supreme Court, the Court has throughout its history, except for about the 20 years in and around the Warren Court, been responsive not to popular opinion but to the wealthy and powerful. Initially, it championed the rights of the propertied over the rights of the unpropertied, then the rights of slaveholders over those of their slaves, then the owners of factories over their workers, and then Jim Crow. It only ever moved to where the country had been for decades when its positions threatened its legitimacy and even existence. That has been its pattern, interrupted briefly by the Warren Court. Since the Warren Court, it has regressed to its reactionary mean. On questions limiting individual rights it has an inbuilt majority of the five radical conservatives: Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy. Against these, there is no coherent liberal opposition. The other justices could best be described as moderate to center-right.

    The one interesting note I found was his bringing up Loving, the case which struck down bans against interracial marriage. It made me wonder how the Court would have reacted if civil unions had been available to interracial couples. Because you see if the Court had decided that, in fact, civil unions were not an acceptable alternative to actual marriage there, then how could they accept civil unions as an adequate substitute now.

    More than this, consider Sotomayor’s observation that the time was perhaps not ripe for a sweeping judgment endorsing gay marriage. Here I have to wonder if Sotomayor would be so complacent if the issue was one concerning discrimination against Hispanics.

    In most ways, expecting justice from the Supreme Court is a long wait for a train that doesn’t come. It is an integral part of the kleptocratic machine. Rather than being some hallowed institution, it is hollow, lacking any legitimacy. For how can it have any legitimacy in the absence of the rule of law, an absence which it did so much to promote and rubberstamp?

    1. Expat

      Totally agree. Part of the problem is the “education” of lawyers, which is just training. In a sentiment more sweeping than that which underlies the “science” of economics, it was decided more than a century ago that the substance of law was judges’ opinions, even though the ordinary high school graduate could generally write more skillfully and definitely reason more soundly than most of the scoundrels in black robes. This sludge is the basis of training for every lawyer in the country (unless Virginia still allows the unschooled to read for the bar under the guidance of a practitioner) AND is the basis of all legal “scholarship.”

      The US is luckier than most English-speaking nations in that not every appointee to the bench has been a scoundrel. But as Hugh notes, there hasn’t been a decent appointee (or electee, where applicable) in decades. California fell the hardest, but judges, like all of our politicians, are now drawn exclusively from the ranks of knaves and fools. Combined with the perfidy of the prosecutors and the armed and droned police force, we describe it as the aptly named criminal justice system.

  13. AbyNormal

    Update for Exxon Mobil Pipeline Cleanup/Arkansas
    Exxon also had no specific estimate of how much crude oil had spilled, but the company said 12,000 barrels of oil and water had been recovered – up from 4,500 barrels on Saturday. The company did not say how much of the total was oil and how much was water.
    Exxon said it staged the response to handle 10,000 barrels of oil “to ensure adequate resources are in place.”
    Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) also were on site to investigate the spill.
    Fifteen vacuum trucks remained on the scene for cleanup, and 33 storage tanks were deployed to temporarily store the oil.
    The pipeline was carrying Canadian Wabasca Heavy crude at the time of the leak. An oil spill of more than 1,000 barrels into a Wisconsin field from an Enbridge Inc pipeline last summer kept that line shuttered for around 11 days.
    The 848-mile pipeline used to transport crude oil from Texas to Illinois. In 2006 Exxon reversed it to move crude from Illinois to Texas in response to growing Canadian oil production and the ability of U.S. Gulf Coast refineries to process heavy crude.
    A year ago Exxon won a court appeal to charge market rates on the Pegasus line, or rates that are not capped and that can change along with market conditions without prior approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
    That decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. said the Pegasus pipeline is now the “primary avenue” to move Canadian crude oil to the Gulf Coast. The ruling also said Exxon moves about 66,000 barrels per day on the line.
    Last week PHMSA proposed that Exxon pay a $1.7 million fine over pipeline safety violations stemming from a July 2011 oil spill from its Silvertip pipeline in the Yellowstone River. The line, which carries 40,000 barrels per day in Montana, leaked about 1,500 barrels of crude after heavy flooding in the area.(oops)
    Exxon has 30 days from the March 25 order to contest those violations.(job creation(s) on the horizon)

  14. bob

    The “lean in” piece is great. That vein of femisinst writers are the only people who telling the real story behind FB, and any of the other recent “cultral revolutions®” brought to us by marketing.

  15. WorldisMorphing

    I would like to propose another great Jeremy Grantham interview. ‘Another’ because I think it was on this site that I got the link to a really good one on BBC where he’s interviewed by Peter Day. Can’t remember if it really was on this site, in the links or submitted in the comments section…but it really sent me in a tailspin of endless pondering, as it was the last thing I did before going to bed that night,…and the first thing I did back from work the next day was to listen at it again…

    Anyway, thanks to whoever provided the link.
    I really enjoy that kind of sober thoughtfulness from eloquent and influential people.
    My only disagreement with his point is his contention that the Malthusian issue is preventable by technological advancements…but I suspect that it’s the only thing he can’t bring himself to broadcast as a self-conscious, white rich man having himself a progeny perhaps… but deep down inside might think [fear] otherwise…
    Here’s another recent one, with Charlie Rose.

    1. skippy

      Correct… Although I believe he only clarified Malthus in regards to energy advances… signing his book with the advent of coal replacing trees thingy…

    1. Nathanael

      Bomb the High Aswan Dam, and Egypt would be able to produce all its own food. They destroyed their entire agricultural system, the one which exported food for over 5000 years, with that damn dam.

  16. Lune

    Re: the Forbes article about Cyprus and Russia.

    I disagree with the implication that it’s somehow okay to be a facilitator of tax and legal system arbitrage. I will fully accept that the vast majority of Cyprus money headed to Russia is legitimate business. But that still doesn’t address the issue of why it’s fair that Russian citizens are prevented from regulating Russian businesses via a legal system they control. Unless there’s some way for a Russian citizen to elect to be prosecuted under British law and courts as well when the police knock on his door, I really don’t see the fairness of extending that freedom to Russian businesses.

    The author’s examples ironically prove my point:

    Mikhail Khodorovsky was a communist party official with close ties to Yeltsin who used those ties to benefit handsomely during the firesale of state assets that occurred after communism fell. In other words, Khodorovsky was more than happy to use the Russian legal system, corruption and all, when he could control it and benefit from it. When Putin jailed him and seized his assets, most Russians cheered (indeed, I suspect Putin’s cont’d popularity among regular Russian folk is because he was the first guy to go after the oligarchs). If Putin was somehow prevented from doing that because of some legal structure involving Cyprus and British law, I would be enraged (if I was a Russian citizen :-)

    Similarly, the fact that Greek bonds subject to British law were paid in full while Greek bonds subject to Greek law had to take a haircut is morally apalling (while being perfectly legal, I’m sure).

    Finally, the author’s example of Vodafone in India is similarly egregious. Vodafone purchased Hutchinson’s Indian subsidiary. Under Indian tax law, they were supposed to withhold and remit to the govt, the expected capital gains tax. They did not, arguing that since Vodafone is a Virgin Islands company and Hutchinson’s Indian subsidiary is a Cayman Islands company, there was no taxable transaction within India. Is that legally true? Yes. Even the Supreme Court of India agreed with Vodafone. But is it morally acceptable that a business transaction blatently involving assets located in India could somehow evade the tax laws of the very country they wish to profit from? Absolutely not.

    So is Cyprus and the Russian investment money which flows through it “legitimate”? Yes, in the sense that it’s certainly more legitimate than mobsters and criminals. But is it worth saving? No. (I realize the author views Cyprus more like Delaware than like the Cayman Islands i.e. more of a legal haven than a tax haven. Fair enough. But FWIW, I wish the federal govt would institute federal laws that does away with the legal games of incorporating in Delaware / Nevada / etc. too)

    1. Nathanael

      Regarding the tax evasion in India by Vodafone, this sort of shenanigan was generally avoided, in previous decades, by severe restrictions on foreign ownership of businesses.

      So, a business operating in India would have been required to have been incorporated in India. And if it was owned by foreigners, they would have had to get special licenses and permits to do so. Which could have been revoked *at will* by the Indian government. So if they tried to evade tax, they’d find their business license revoked.

      Now, in the US, we actually still have such laws at the state level. The Secretary of State or Attorney General for a state generally has the power to revoke corporate charters, and generally has the power to revoke the authorization of out-of-state companies to operate in-state. Evidence of antisocial behavior is generally sufficient proof for the revocation of these corporate authorities. But the Attorney Generals and Secretaries of State never *use* their power, and may not even know it exists.

  17. Nathanael

    The Iceland, Italy, and Argentina stories point to the future.

    The lunatics at the US appeals court really think they can blackmail Argentina? Argentina will just tell them to go to hell and repudiate all the bonds. There’s not a damn thing anyone in the US can do about it, any more than they could do anything about the Russian Imperial bonds repudiated in 1918. Argentina doesn’t NEED the US.

  18. Nathanael

    Regarding the Watergate article: that time, the system was able to repair itself.

    This time, it won’t. It will instead collapse utterly. The only question is what comes afterwards.

    Most people are not yet ready to believe this. They have not studied history sufficiently.

  19. JTFaraday

    re: Feminism’s Tipping Point: Who Wins from Leaning in?, Dissent.

    “The leadership must have sensed that to a national audience, being an unabashed boys club could hurt its coveted status as most “innovative” young company.”

    In terms of the workplace, FB sounds pretty much like (almost) every other workplace. Someone, I don’t care what gender they are, needs to write a bestselling book called, not “Lean Back”–heaven forfend!– but “Lean Out.”

    This just means that the most notable thing about Facebook per se– other than the fact that it should clear to everyone that Zuckerberg is an incurable weenie who no amount of speech writing and PR can ever fix– is that it’s a crappy “product,” with an unusable user-interface and a singularly abused user base. Then it “screwed up” its IPO.

    I’ve been waiting for Facebook to turn into AOL ever since I looked in on it– a few high school friends I still see IRL were afflicted with a nostalgia I somehow managed to overcome– and decided to pass.

    But, you know, people keep participating.

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