Poor, cute bunnies likely to get eaten when the snow melts early Ars Technica
Texas fertilizer plant explosion
The other form of violence Facing South (see image (Bob)).
State regulators focus on emissions — not safety Houston Chronicle
Texas fertilizer company didn’t heed disclosure rules before blast Reuters
Fertilizer sold, stored across Central Texas, but no need for panic Austin Statesman
Boston Marathon Bombing
Czech Republic Issues Statement Clarifying That They Are Not Chechnya, Because America Geekosystem
See separate post for further links and commentary.
Blogs review: The Reinhart and Rogoff debacle Bruegel. Pass the popcorn!
How much of Reinhart/Rogoff has survived? Gavyn Davies, FT
IMF steps up call for Osborne to slow down austerity plans as row escalates Telegraph
Holders of Bankia hybrid instruments take huge hit El Pais
Built (Not) to Last: Hackerspaces Resurrect Broken Appliances Der Spiegel
Napolitano elected for second term as Italy president Reuters
US doubles non-lethal aid for Syria FT
These Bizarre Cartoons Prove That Even China Is Worried About Its Fate Jim Chanos, Business Insider
Thousands of Thumbs Down for Chinese Red Cross WSJ
Rail Traffic Continues To Trend Lower Cullen Roche, Business Insider
Midwestern river cities brace for floodwaters USA Today
What’s Riskier Than Bitcoins? Bitcoin Companies Wired
In Virginia’s Fairfax County, Robbing Banks for the CIA Businessweek
Profits from Poverty: How Food Stamps Benefit Corporations Corporate Crime Reporter (MR)
Financial advisers’ credentials mislead seniors, watchdog says Reuters. CFPB.
Interdealer broker: ‘I’m one of those shouting guys on a trading floor’ Guardian. (See also My time at Lehman Thoughts from Brooklyn).
LA girl scouts can get video game design badge Wired UK
Inside Bloomberg’s Twitter A-List (Well, At Least a Fraction of It) CFA Institute
A brief lesson in letter-writing Tim Harford. Attention, Rust!
The future according to Mr Google Guardian
The future of foreplay? Vibrating ‘Fundawear’ controlled by smartphone will help long-distance lovers keep in touch Daily Mail
A Rake Too Far: Optimal Platform Pricing Strategy Bill Gurley. Must read.
Antidote du jour:
Regarding the Czech Republic link, this is an example of a dynamic that my friends and I refer to as “Real life lapping The Onion”. For those unfamiliar, TheOnion.com is a comic fake news site that is increasingly spot on for how the state of affairs has come.
Yesterday, they had a story titled “Study: Majority Of Americans Not Informed Enough To Stereotype Chechens”
Here is a helpful guide.
Actually, the Onion is the most fact based and objective source of reality out there. CNN is the top parody site…
I agree, but I would also add the ‘Daily Show’, and ‘The Colbert Report’ to the list of most trustworthy news sources today. There is a saying of comedy that “it can only be funny if it is true”. There is no such requirement in what passes as journalism today. Therefore, when in doubt on searching for truth in “interesting times” (as the Chinese would say), always defer to comedy over other sources.
Women have curious ways of hurting someone else. They hurt themselves instead; or else they do it so the guy doesn’t even know he’s been hurt until much later. Then he finds out. Then his dick falls off. margarot atwood
…hence we’ve derived at vibrating underwear controlled via cell phone ? :-/ ?
typo: Margaret Atwood
We’re just extending the range of control.
By 1999, there were devices on the market that were oriface-friendly that would vibrate within a half-block or so of the signal being transmitted. Sort of a “get prepared, I’m almost there” signal.
‘range of control’…made my weekend!
From Spiegel’s ‘hackerspace’ article:
Whether or not obsolescence is designed into their products, appliance manufacturers are adopting the mentality of computer makers by not supporting their products after a few years.
Case in point: last week, the drum in my veteran Maytag dryer wouldn’t start up and turn. Foolishly, I phoned factory service (now owned by Whirlpool) and scheduled a visit.
You should have seen the repair guy’s face as he entered the basement. Seeing the 1979 vintage machine, his jaw dropped as if he were staring at a living dinosaur.
‘Forget it,’ he said. ‘No parts are available for anything over ten years old. You probably paid $300 for this. But the service call would be $109, plus parts and labor. You do the math …’ (In fact, parts ARE available. But they’re third-party knock-offs, not high-margin OEM parts.)
I dismissed the ‘can’t do’ Maytag man and tore into the crippled machine myself, spouting the credo learned from teenaged years working in a lawn mower shop: ‘I’ll either FIX this sucker, or fix it where it can’t BE fixed!’
Shortly the problem was clear: the motor rotor was locked up, probably by corrosion in the damp basement. I clamped the pulley with Vise-Grips and cranked hard — SNAP! The rust-welded blockage broken, its shaft now spun freely. We were back in the laundry business!
Manufacturers try to make it economically infeasible to repair machines, but the Internet makes it easier than ever to find parts. If one lacks repair skills, seek out immigrants from LatAm, eastern Europe or Russia who know how to fix old stuff. They’ll do well as the U.S. Consumer Paradise ungracefully degrades.
Mad Max, here we come.
Same thing with me. My mother’s Maytag must have lasted thirty years. The replacement lasted three. The new one I just got had to have a pump replaced after a few months of service. And the metal looks a little thicker than those metalallic-looking boxes they put Chinese food in.
It’s appalling. Orlov makes that point somewhere that when the Soviet Union collapsed, at least they had rugged and overbuilt appliances so they could keep going with things like, oh, washing and cooking in the manner to which they had become accustomed. We don’t have that advantage here.
The old Soviet fridge “ZIL” works very well, my grandparents had it since 1964.
Hey, wait. The ZIL is a car! What did they do? Keep their food in the jump seat?
I just looked at it for your (American) sake: it says “ZIL MOCKBA” on it, with Russian letters. Of course, Mockba reads Moskva. I don’t know what ZIL means.
I assure you it’s a Soviet fridge, but of course, for you it might sound like Space Station technology, since it still works after 49 years. :)
Horribly sad ! Germany is the last bastion of proudly well made quality objects that last for decades.
I think the link to “Built (not) to last” is important. For example, if the toaster you bought dies after a year and a half, the work you do to earn the money to buy a new one and the work the manufacturer does to make a new one is a deadweight loss to the economy. It’s no different than digging a hole and filling it in, a waste of time and money, better spent moving on to different goals and tasks. Chances are, if you investigate, you will find the element in the toaster that quit was a few pennies less expensive to the manufacturer than one which could be expected to last 25 to 50 years. So what? The problem scales up to streets, water and sewer systems, bridges, buildings, stuff that is supposed to last. Your street is repaved and five years later it is potholed again. Taxes are increased to pay the bonds for the repairs. An investigation may show that 10 percent more spent originally on a thicker layer of gravel under the pavement would have increased the life of the original repair to 25 years. I think this is the kind of stuff that happens when there is insufficient competition for the work, when monopolies and cartels have formed as providers in these areas, and it costs us dearly.
a lot of our housing stock is built the same exact way.
there is no mentality of “the ancients have done all the really hard work for us. let’s just maintain whatever we have already standing.” even that option is constantly portrayed as “too expensive–it was built in a different time with different (more exacting, sounds like) standards that we can’t afford to replicate.”
sounds like techno progress has led to a downward spiral in the quality of everything, and reinventing the wheel ever 5-10-20 years just because someone has figured out a way to charge everyone for it, again (with debt on top like whipped cream on your latte’).
and i don’t buy the argument that buildings have so much obsolescence built into them because they are designed for the way people USED TO LIVE. people live. their gadgets may change a bit, but they still eat, sleep & sh*t just the same as ever, still need light and heat and have the same comfort needs as they have since we came out of the trees.
and, the washing machine doesn’t need to be new, red and have stainless steel (colored plastic, really) parts on it every five years. i may need a new dress, but as long as the bloody thing works and is not atrociously ugly, rusted and curse-worthy, harvest gold suits me just fine. reminds me of being a little kid at home, actually.
On buildings, check out Chris Alexander on System A.
Here in Los Angeles, our Building and Safety Dept., makes if very difficult to restore old buildings, especially anything 3 units or over because we get the commerical inspectors who are used to modern steel truss construction, or steel studs interiors in slap up modern construction.
They make it so prohibitively expensive to meet their unrealistic desires (these old wood frame bldgs. were built with Doug Fir that just seems to get stronger with age, the studs are really 2 x 4 incles (not 1 3/8″ by 3 and a half) etc. And don’t even get started on the Historical Presevervation Overly Zones insanity. I replaced 59
aluminum framed windows with the “original” wood framed floor to ceiling French windows. My only request was that I could use double paned windows. Now this was a Spanish building that was gorgeous, but was not “contributing” i.e. was not a “historic” bldg. style (i.e. Victorian or Craftsman) and thus did not qualify for the Mills Act, which is Calif. law that allows lowered tax rates on “historic”- and I think interest rates on historic bldgs., and nothing over 4 units.
The rationale was that the “mittins” – the wood frames between the panes would be 1/8″ wider. Quelle crisis.
So no energy saving double paned windows. More nonsense. I double paned in the back house, alongside the single paned – standing next to the windows, was impossible to tell the difference. City of L.A. crazy and counterproductive.
Bottom line: L.A. loves new crackerjack construction. Higher building fees and taxes. That is ALL they care about. The only “green” ”
they worship is MONEY.
Hey !! or avocado !!
According to the Reuters article about Italy, chaos has engulfed the centre-left in Italy. The Democratic Party (PD) led the centre-left coalition that won the most seats in the last election; the entire executive committee of the PD has now resigned. This happened after rebels in the party sabotaged the party’s official candidates in the presidential vote. “PD leader Bersani announced late on Friday that he would quit after the new president was elected, leaving the largest force in parliament rudderless and making prospects for broader political stability looking even weaker.”
Mildly weird and creepy…but entertaining for its whole 3 minutes…
Post Oil man.
Sure, megacorps are gaming every gov’t system for their own benefit, but perspectives like these won’t help the marginalized populations:
I’ve benefited, that’s for sure. Call me a lazy, welfare queen (which would be strange, because I never queened it up when I was ably employed and had no gov’t assistance), but I don’t think workfare makes sense; you provide a basic set of necessities for your population, and reduce stress, anxiety, and crime, etc.
I’ll stick with my subsidized rent and foodstamps rather than take every temp job for middle class wages, because when one job ends, there’s no guarantee for another, (not like at will employment is much better) but if I loose my housing, there is even less chance it comes back. Then I have to move my family, not for opportunity, but for desperation.
Now I just have to find a doc for a cannabis script, and we could cover all our necessities with 30 hours of low-wage work a week. See? The Keynesian future exists if you’re willing to buck perceptions.
Now all we have to do is take away the rake Jippy Mo gets from the card and no more Jippy Mo. The end.
at this moment im viewing Moyers & Company with Sandra Steingraber…explaining her opposition to the construction of storage facilities for fracked gas in NY Finger Lakes region.
“It’s no accident that the emerging fossil fuel resistance has sent so many people to jail in the last few years. That’s because the overwhelming wealth of the fossil fuel industry means we can’t outspend them; we need other currencies with which to work. Passion, spirit, creativity. And sometimes we have to spend our bodies.
Others of us will have the chance soon to emulate the witness and courage of Tim DeChristopher and Sandra Steingraber. For us, today, it’s enough just to thank them for their gifts to the future.”
Quotes from the Seneca Lake 12:
“I would rather eat bread and water now than have no bread and toxic water later!” —Melissa Chipman, Hector, NY
“This is a sacred place, with sacred stories to be kept preserved. It’s not for Inergy to come and dig up the landscape and store more poisons in old, unsafe salt caverns.” —Margie Rogers, Elmira, NY
“We cannot put our trust, our health or our economy’s future in the hands of a company that is indifferent to its impact on the health and welfare of a region such as the Heart of the Finger Lakes.” —Jim Borra, Hector, NY
“The Seneca Lake 12 are the salt of the earth; a growing community that believes the Inergy Corporation gas storage project is a suicidal course, not the renewable energy future essential to the survival of our children and theirs.” —Jack Ossont, Himrod, NY
“I do not take this step lightly. My wife and I have a small farm in Seneca County. We grow organic grains and maintain a large garden we use to feed our and our daughter’s families. Our garden is irrigated with lake water. I believe the Inergy gas storage complex will, at best, damage the community, and has the potential to do catastrophic damage. Important information has been kept from the public with the DEC’s cooperation. I do this to attempt to protect the community when all other means have failed. I blocked the entrance to the Inergy gas storage facility because I believe that the institutions who, by law and purpose, are required to protect the people and the environment from harm can no longer be relied on to do so.” —Michael Dineen, Ovid, NY
Sandra Steingraber’s prepared statement:
Your Honor, I am not a lawyer. I am a biologist and a human being. I am also a mother of a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old. I bring all these identities to your courtroom tonight.
I am guilty of an act of trespass. On March 18, I willfully stood on private property owned by the Inergy company and blocked access to a compressor station site that is being constructed in order to prepare explosive hydrocarbon gases, propane and butane, for storage in abandoned salt caverns that are located beside and beneath Seneca Lake.
Nate Hagens, a former Lehman’s Brother vice-president.
The End of Growth.
This is no way to grow revenues:
Sounds like the post office, don’t it?
Likely the impact will be disproportionate to the five missing work days, owing to disruption of operations and the effect on employee morale.
The NTEU is not bloody amused, and has ways of acting out its frustration.
a close family member recently retired from irs criminal investigations unit…might be interesting to call and see if the furlough hits permanent positions or temp to perms.
couple times i temped the tax season at irs…the dates they are furloughing happen to be when the temp positions end.
btw the rumors are true…the irs outsources some auditing to India (supposedly only small business).
Forced obsolescence becomes more prevalent. One thing that folks shouldn’t forget is that you can do something, sometimes. If you have used something a thousand times, did you clean it up? Did you take it apart (as you are able without breaking a plastic thingamagig that tries to stop you) and clean it? Or do anything to help it continue working? Sometimes we forget that basic maintenence will help a lot.
But then you have things like Ford (to name only one) where your suspension system is made to fail after your warranty expires. Ever heard the term “lube”? Ford makes their parts “lube free” meaning, you can’t even help them last longer. Your only solution is to replace the junk. Junk.
A better overview of the damage, very detailed-
The apparement building got the majority of the blast.
The blast appears to have originated on the railroad spur.
The mainline rail tracks were “pushed” together. The rail people are trying to figure out how to fix it in the top link.
The trees. The trees outside of the area of the blast have leaves already. The trees in the “field” don’t. Was the fireball that big?
Best guess at the location of the center of the blast-
Also note that the plant is right on the edge of a politcal boundry. Some of the business is in “west” proper, some if it is just outside.
Re: Red Cross
Red Cross corruption with Chinese characteristics. I was disturbed to read that more half of my donation in the wake of the Haitian earthquake probably disappeared into thin air, and what relief it did provide seems to be on the order of tarps, bottled water, and peanut butter sandwiches. And it seems the response to Katrina was similarly bungled.
Red Cross, I’m not giving you any more money until you clean your act up.
The upshot is that I anyone has a favourite charitable relief organization, I’d love to hear about it.
these sites help navigate monetary flows etc
• American Institute for Philanthropy (www.charitywatch.org): The group grades about 500 charities on a variety of factors, including their fundraising costs, percentage of funds that go to programs, and assets.
• Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org): The group analyzes the financial data of more than 5,000 charities and compiles a rating based on performance in several categories, including fundraising and administrative expenses.
• Great Nonprofits (www.greatnonprofits.org): This group doesn’t rely on financial data for its ratings. Instead it encourages donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries to comment and rate their experiences. The website lists about 6,500 nonprofits.
• Guidestar (www.guidestar.org): The group maintains financial data from IRS records on virtually all nonprofits and presents information on their mission, executives, expenses, and programs.
Jeffrey Sachs rats out his former colleagues:
“Imagine a situation in which public expenditure is running out of control, so that households fear a collapse of market confidence, or a rise in tax rates, at some uncertain point in the future. They might then cut their spending today, in which case GDP growth will decline before debt rises; but the true cause of the problem will be too much public spending, not too little.”
Hot yoga stretch. Saltwater Taffy. Plastic Man.
Households base spending on what they want, what they feel they can afford, how much credit they have access to, how hard their children nag about a particular purchase. Bond rates, projected GDP and hypothetical tax futures mean dick. Liquidity is demand.
I’m grateful to see a few links about West, Texas. I’ve had to hunt for the news and it seems like Boston has sucked all the air out of reporting this equally tragic event.
Re: The Other Form of Violence.
I’m surprised West Fertilizer Co. is not being investigated as an eco-terrorist communist front group.
From the article: