Links 4/9/13

Frog-Phobic Man Awarded $1.6 Million After Property Floods, Fills With Frogs Gawker

Polynesian DNA mysteriously shows up in a Brazilian tribe ars technica (Carol B)

Monsanto’s Next Target: Democracy Alternet

Red meat chemical ‘damages heart’, say US scientists BBC. I’ve done a lot of better living through chemistry experiments (except the more socially common verboten substances kind) but somehow managed never to do creatine l-carnitine.

Paris Marathon Generates Energy from Runners Footsteps OilPrice. So when do gyms start harvesting energy from stationary bikes and elliptical trainers?

Google target of Microsoft-led antitrust complaint PhysOrg. Godzilla v. Mothra!

Wikileaks publishes 1.7m US diplomatic records BBC

Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too) New York Times

N Korea urges foreigners to leave Seoul Financial Times. I’m at the point where I wish they’d do their rocket test so we don’t have to listen to this any more.

Japan’s currency war has just begun MacroBusiness. I doubt it will be permitted to go too far. Japan was perceived as a basket case the last time around, when the rest of the world (ex the post 1997 recovering Asian Tigers) were doing well.

QE on steroids in Japan Philip Pilkington, FT Alphaville

Pettis: China not headed for disaster MacroBusiness

Margaret Thatcher and misapplied death etiquette Glenn Greenwald

‘Ding Dong!’: Margaret Thatcher’s foes celebrate death of former PM Sydney Morning Herald (YY)

The Queen Mother of Global Austerity and Financialization Michael Hudson and Jeff Sommers, CounterPunch

Farewell Mrs Thatcher: In spite of everything, you are being missed already Yanis Varoufakis

Dancing with the stars Michael Smith (Carol B)

Thatcher Fiscal Policies Are Still a Tough Sell for Europe New York Times

Margaret Thatcher’s death greeted with little sympathy by Orgreave veterans Guardian (ginnie nyc)

Origins of C.I.A.’s Not-So-Secret Drone War in Pakistan New York Times (Carol B)

The future is now: Navy to deploys lasers on ships in 2014 Fox

Obama Budget Splits The Democratic Party DSWright, Firedoglake (Carol B)

3-year-old fatally shoots deputy’s wife with his gun at Tennessee cookout Raw Story

Jobs Report, Market Reaction, Fedhead Response All So Predictable, Who Believes This Crap? Lee Adler, Wall Street Examiner

The Rise of “Debtors’ Prisons” in the US Jonathan Turley

Quantitative Easing & the Housing Market Chris Whalen

BlackRock urges Fed to rein in QE3 Financial Times. Agree in spades with the distortion issue, but read their assumptions about the labor market. These MOTU have NO idea what it’s like out here in the real world.

Dimon Exit Seen Hastened If JPMorgan Names Separate Chairman Bloomberg. These guys need to be reminded of Clemenceau’s saying: “The graveyards are full of indispensable men.” And that assumes you buy the Dimon hagiography.

Measuring potential output: Eye on the financial cycle Claudio Borio, Piti Disyatat, Mikael Juselius, VoxEU. Geeky but very important if you are into this sort of thing

The Slow Death of the American Author New York Times (furzy mouse). This is 100% accurate. I can’t afford to write another book.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. hondje

    I found this link interesting, it certainly seems like linkbait but from from the abstract it seems legit. The title is Women With Both High Math and Verbal Ability Appear Less Likely to Choose Science Careers Because Their Dual Skills Confer More Career Options

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The plural of anecdote is not data, but I can confirm that. I always scored higher for math aptitude than verbal, and won science prizes in high school, and never considered a science-related career.

  2. Mike Teller

    “3-year-old fatally shoots deputy’s wife with his gun at Tennessee cookout”

    I keep logging in each day hoping Naked Capitalism has stopped putting out its 1 or 2 pro gun control hit pieces each day.

    Guess you guys are in this for the long haul – keep up the propaganda. As we all know repetition creates the truth in this day and age, and emotion motivates people, not facts. You have got the Edward Bernays thing down pat. Bravo!

      1. different clue

        This was a deputy’s gun left lying unattended. However stringently gun-for-civilians end up being controlled; if law enforcement persons leave unattended guns lying around, that will be a separate free-standing hazard all on its own. That sort of hazard should be firmly suppressed whatever the broader gun rights/ gun control regime otherwise.

    1. Redneck family planning

      No, that’s a science link. Darwin in action, mounting evidence of natural selection culling the herd of dumbshits. Yay for guns!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am hoping for a link on the latest research into the impact of second-hand marijuana smoking on 3 year olds.

        I imagine an exchange somewhere like this:

        A: Any link on what second-hand smoking will do to 3 year olds?

        B: What are you? Of all the topics, what do you selectively choose this? Are you a hypocritical Republican?

        A: What do you mean hypocritical?

        B: You know like you never smoked before?

        A: I was cited for speeding before.

        B: What? That’s quite a non-sequitur.

        A: No. I got caught speeding before but I urge people not to now. I mean, I used to eat toxic, sorry, non-organic meat, but now, it’s strictly organic, whenever I can afford it, for me now. I mean, I use to drink a little, but I don’t know. You mean to say I can’t gently advise people not to speed, to eat organic, not to drink now?

        1. craazyman

          I’ve seen research studies that say for every 6 adult bong hits, it’s the equivalent of 2 for them due to exhaled smoke in the room — if it’s indoors. Outdoors the effect decreases by the square of the distance from exhalation point, depending on wind speed. They get the munchies too.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      The GEO Group, a private prison company, has announced pre-k offerings due to the predicted rise in murders among babies, infants occurring as a result of the president’s call for universal national day care. Additionally, more accidental man slaughters should contribute to maximizing full occupancy of slots allocated for the little cutie pies. The CEO vows that incarcerated children will not be allowed to play with correction officers guns, tasers, pepper spray, batons or other tactical policing tools of the trade. “What, do you think we’re as stupid as the parents who let this happen?” The CEO later refused to apologize to the NRA for making fun of gun families.

      Toms River, New Jersey Boy, 4, Accidentally Shot 6-Year-Old Neighbor In Head: Police

    3. optimader

      the money quote:
      “He took all the precautions, he’s a trained law enforcement officer, trains with weapons all the time.”

      “…In an unusual move, Deputy Fanning told his story in an e-mail he sent to CNN affiliate WKRN.

      He wrote that he had set down his off-duty weapon “only seconds before the tragedy.”

      “I would like the viewers to know that officers of Wilson County do not make a habit of leaving loaded guns simply lying around,” he wrote…” (ed. just when drinking at a BBQ?)

      Ah… well that fact that it was just his “off duty” piece pretty much essplayns the circumstance! What better way to motivate BBQ guests not to complain about the overcooked burgers? And frankly, you never know when the opportunity to score a Raccoon for the stewpot will happen!

      Now lessee, need to show more guns to guests, hmmm.. beer in one hand, loaded piece (w/ no trigger guard, presumably disengaged safety, and chambered round in the case of a semi auto…) in the other.. Logical choice, we’ll just toss “the piece” on the bed out of view in case someone wants to bogart the beer… that in the Tennessee Sherriff version of firearm safety

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think Teller here would agree that whether Tell shot the apple on his son’s head with a gun or a bow and arrow, it’s all too dangerous to have Big Brother force that upon you.

      Personally, I think unattended marijuana around 6 yr olds is equally dangerous (one is violently dangerous, the other is non-violently dangerous).

        1. optimader

          Acute “lead poisoning” vs acute alcohol poisoning vs acute marijuana poisoning? The third might make for lost opportunities but yet to hear of documented potentialities for inducing fatal reaction.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I would be very careful with them both…and maybe even such innocuous household items as unattended lipsticks, robot cleaners, etc around any 3 year olds.

          The solution is responsible adults.

          I know, I know, keep on dreaming…like a butterfly.

          1. optimader

            exposed fabric insulated electrical wires on porcelain insulators??
            Friction cable operated streetcars?
            Open wells with buckets?
            ahhh.. I yearn for the good old days :o/

    5. Propertius

      It does suggest that LEOs should be subject to the same gun restrictions as everyone else, I suppose. I’d certainly favor disarming Mayor-for-Life Bloomberg’s goon squad, for example.

  3. Random Lurker

    The article “The Slow Death of the American Author” says that american authors don’t get royalties on their books published out of the USA and then reimported.
    This is a bit incorret because the authors get the royalties at the time of the pubblication in the foreign country, though maybe they get lower royalties there (because of the lower prices).

    1. MacCruiskeen

      Yes, the article is less than 100 percent correct. Presumably, as a lawyer, Turow understands the difference between first-sale doctrine (the principle allowing resale of purchased goods) and territorial rights (the assigning of rights to sell books in different parts of the world to different publishers). In the recent Supreme Court case, the first-sale doctrine was at issue and territorial rights were not (one publisher controlled both territories). So the court was right and Turow is wrong. For this same reason he is also wrong about technologies to allow legal resale of ebooks. He doesn’t seem to get that allowing people to excercise their legal rights with legitimately purchased actually encourages legal purchases. In this reasoning he clearly sides with copyright maximimalists who want to do away with first-sale, fair use, and other rights. He also fails to get that in academic publishing, it is still frequently the case that authors give up their copyrights (unfair, but true). Commercial journal publishing can be quite profitable, though university press publishing usually is not. He complains that ebook royalties are less than hardcover royalties, but so are paperback royalties, and I bet he doesn’t turn his away. If the ebook sells for a lower price, then the royalty will be less. And publishers aren’t happy about that either; it means less money for them too.

      1. Matthew G. Saroff

        Scott Turow is wrong on a number of levels.

        First, Kirtsaeng had NOTHING to do with the internet. It had to do with the PHYSICAL IMPORTATION OF PAPER BOOKS. (And, BTW, except for text books, which are ruinously overpriced, does not make economic sense.)

        Note also that he is opposed to the principle of first sale, and objects to people selling old books, and libraries lending out books.

        Also, with the expansion of e-books, if you don’t like the deal a traditional publisher gives you, YOU CAN GO ELSEWHERE. (Or self publish for a pittance)

        Also his note on Ebooks is disengenuous. Yes, Ebooks have a lower royalty rate than hard cover, but so do paperbacks.

        People are unwilling to spend as much on an Ebook as they do on a hard cover. That’s life, get over it.

        What’s more, more books are being published now than at any time in history, because the barriers to entry are lower.

        Further, he opposes basic fair use, and those “snippets” he talks about DIRECT PEOPLE TO A BOOK SELLER, so he’s also cutting the throat of other authors with other positions.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You are diverting attention from the most important part of Turow’s discussion on ebook economics, which is they lowered the top line of publishers but by cutting out tons of costs, improved their bottom line per book. And how have publishers used THAT? Rather than share the improved profit margins with authors, they are doing the reverse and squeezing them, by giving them the same % off the now reduced top line.

          And your other arguments are completely disingenuous. Go to an ebook only publisher? You lose the more lucrative hard cover sales, plus they set their prices with reference to traditional publishers. And for paperbacks, you think you can pull that argument off? Paperbacks are produced ONLY 1. Original to paperback when something is expected to sell really well to a non-hardcover audience (think pulp novels by established pulp novelist author) OR after a book has been a success in hardcover, to harvest more sales. It’s basically a discounting strategy.

          His critical point is key, and you’ve blown past that. The publishers have gotten to be such pigs that for the overwhelming majority of writers, it makes no sense to publish. So the ones that will (ex the ones with established franchises) will be academics, people who get think tank grants (ie, propagandists who don’t need to care advances/royalties) and people who publish to enhance their professional image (ie, consultants, celebrity doctors, self help charlatans who use a book to justify a premium prices for their services).

          1. MacCruiskeen

            “which is they lowered the top line of publishers but by cutting out tons of costs, improved their bottom line per book. ”

            Yves, I’ve been in publishing for 25 years. I’ve been a designer, typesetter, editor, copyeditor, proofreader, production editor, I’ve worked in big New York houses, and smaller places. The main costs you save are printing and some of your distribution and warehousing costs–that amounts to maybe 10-15% of the cover price of book. Not trivial, but if market forces (i.e., Amazon) are forcing down the cover price at the same time, it’s a wash. You still have all of your overhead and up-front production costs. Now, it’s true that for a bestseller like Turow, those costs are recouped fairly quickly, but for, say, a semi-academic econ book, they take a pretty good chunk of the revenue. Where I work, ebooks are only about 5 percent of total revenue. This will likely increase over time, but right now I can tell you it is far from clear how the bottom line is going to be so greatly improved by it.

          2. abprosper

            The publishing industry and authors in general would be in better shape if more people were interested in reading.

            Most Americans can read well enough to do very basic things but few of them read anything for pleasure.

            It also doesn’t help that the majority of immigrants and nearly 1/3 of the population come from a country with essentially no interest in reading. Culture counts.



            note, New York Times, a Mexican Author BTW

            Its bad enough now that Laredo Texas (population 250,000!) had no bookstores and a person would have to drive 150 miles! to go to one. Not that many people actually care of course.


            Source HuffPo here

            Again culture counts and if the publishing industry is going to thrive, they will have to find ways to change deep rooted cultural values. This can be done but its not easy.

            Otherwise they are best simply figuring out who is buying books, how they want them, how to best pay authors (so they can write) and dealing with a much less literate America.

          3. Yves Smith Post author


            That is not what my agent, who works at a one of the really big agencies, says. She says advances have collapsed, and it’s due to ebooks.

            And your blowing off 10-15% expenses is disingenuous. If your revenues don’t fall by the same degree, it’s pure profit.

            And your 5% figure is totally wrong. Net revenues for adult books were higher for ebooks as of June last year than hardcover. So since you are wildly out of touch for ebooks, I’m not sure you can be trusted on any of your other observations.


        2. ScottS

          That piece was riddled with holes. And his “b-b-but piracy!” argument against ebooks is flatly contradicted by Apple’s iTunes and Amazon’s Prime service. People will buy something legally that they could pirate when the legal distribution method is equitable. This was even after about a decade of a marketplace that had grown comfortable with piracy. The music industry is growing again now that they extracted their heads from their asses.

      2. Richard Kline

        What I find fascinating in this thread, and very telling, is that not a single person describing themselves as an _author_ disputes Turow’s basic arguments. (One can find authors on the web who do dispute some of his points, but none here.) Instead, those on the publishing side and maximilaists of the ‘all free, all now’ side pipe up.

        What the public is prepared to pay for an ebook is manifestly far, far smaller than the cover price of a physical book. Of course royalties offered by publishers would be smaller in real terms since the cover price is smaller. It is Turow’s point, and a very real problem, that publishers are insisting on a _larger_ percentage of net for ebook sales than for physical book sales, in short not even passing on savings in the main but gouging even more out of a smaller pie. The going retail on an ebook amounts to about what an author cleared on a _good_ royalty rate before—and publishers want to keep most of THAT now!

        I can’t, myself argue against the resale of ebooks, having for most of my life bought my books used as the only way I could afford them. A used market is essential. That does nothing to lessen the impact of authors having to compete with used editions of their own books, for which used editions they properly receive no further royalty now under first sale doctrine, when the income from that first sale has already plunged catastrophically in the first place. ‘What the market will pay’ for ebooks isn’t enough to profitably pay both author and publisher as things stand; it probably isn’t enough to profitably pay publishers.

        Which is why, MacCruiskeen, we authors are going to abandon the you publishers for anything but specialty hardbacks. We can’t afford you anymore. Turow doesn’t speak to this but very tangentially because he already makes a very good sum shaking hands with publishers. But most of us are going to abandon you folks for a model which doesn’t really exist. Yes, we can self-epublish now—and everyone should. Of course, with no advance, all the costs of the time and research involved are borne upfront by the author. Agents now need to become ‘promoters’ for the ebooks which seem to warrant that. Sans publishers, authors will be able to get by on the existing revenue stream, going directly to libraries, the public, and scale-it-up packagers who sign on for a stated share of net to the projects they deem worthwile. Some texts warrant marketing campaigns; some don’t. Some texts merit hardback production; some don’t. Packagers only get paid for and only perform the contracted portions, and hence aren’t ‘publishers’ who take a cut for all of those things whether or not they provide them. And Packagers won’t necessarily develop the strategy for promoting a book, and control that book, and entail that copyright: author’s need to change the contract terms around and ONLY let go of revenue shares for stated services to be performed rather than surrender all control of their work for the hope of getting a mysteriously massaged and shrunken portion of the revenue back. There is no reason why authors need to vend their ebooks (or books at all) on Amazon, and a non-profit, author established vending web-and-physical production enterprise is long overdue, again a real issue which Turow didn’t raise since he’s beholden _to the publishers_.

        Publishers are worse than useless for most authors at this point. There is very little constructive editing done for most authors. There is little or no marketing effort. And for that, publishers still want the vast majority of net. Amazon is a huge problem. Piracy is a huge problem. An audience which decreasingly reads is a huge problem. But the main problem is that the very last person to make any money off the sole product involved is its creator. Yes, the bar for entry is lower than ever, and the vast majority earn back pennies on their effort if that.

        Time for authorial free agency, where authors _collectively_ set bargain the broad terms and shape of text creation sales. What’s in it for publishers does NOT equal what is in it for authors; never has, but now absolutely not.

    2. Howard Beale IV

      Louis C.K.’s web experiment where he was the gatekeeper for his act’s publication shreds Turow’s arguments to shreds. Nothing stops Yves from publishing her latest epub for a nominal fee and retian rights and securing the content.

      1. Richard Kline

        Which was not Yves’ point at all, but you are, of course, free to erect a straw man of your choosing and beat it about the head and shoulders.

  4. MolonLabe

    Seems to be some division on this site between propriety of copyright and that of patent. Ideas will always get out, whether profitable to the author or not.

  5. David Lentini

    It is highly questionable whether someone of Mrs Thatcher’s strong convictions and bravado could rise again to a position of genuine power. And this is, surely, a sad reflection on the world after Thatcher.

    But the irony is that Thatcher help cement the very world that Varoufakis hates. The rise of the view of mankind as homo economicus meant by implication that every thing–incluidng politics–is a market; hence all marketed items, such as policies and politicians, have to be “marketed”.

    Just another unintended consequence of the libertarian program.

    1. jrs

      That makes almots no sense. Hate Thatcher, I don’t care, hate her for her policies. But so long as the ability to use propaganda and advertising on people exists, it will be used.

    2. jrs

      Unless your target wasnt’ something ubiquitous long before Thatcher like “advertising” and “marketing” but was money in politics. That actually is a clear cut problem.

  6. rich

    Big Pharma Pockets $711 Billion in Profits by Robbing Seniors, Taxpayers

    There is nothing wrong with a company making profits — that’s what they’re supposed to do. But the drug industry’s profits are excessive as a result of overcharging American consumers and taxpayers. We pay significantly more than any other country for the exact same drugs. Per capita drug spending in the U.S. is about 40 percent higher than in Canada, 75 percent greater than in Japan and nearly triple the amount spent in Denmark.

    HCAN reviewed the last decade’s financial filings from the 11 prescription drug giants: Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Merck, Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Even as millions of Americans struggle to afford their medicines and as Republicans in Congress threaten to cut seniors’ benefits, these corporate behemoths have extracted $711.4 billion in profits for Wall Street investors. The drug companies’ annual profits reached $83.9 billion in 2012, a 62 percent jump from 2003.

    The drug companies, of course, say they have no choice and need to charge outrageous prices to pay for research that enables them to innovate and develop new drugs that save our lives. But that’s not true. Half of the scientifically innovative drugs approved in the U.S. from 1998 to 2007 resulted from research at universities and biotech firms, not big drug companies. And despite their rhetoric, drug companies spend 19 times more on marketing than on research and development.

  7. toxymoron

    “Paris Marathon Generates Energy from Runners Footsteps”
    This is only propaganda (aka marketing).
    In a journal/blog dedicated to energy issues, the author mixes up energy and power (energy per unit time). Bad beginning. And the tile ‘manufacturer’ doesn’t have any technology documentation on its website. It doesn’t collaborate with DoE or similar, but with WWF, Johnny Walker etc..
    As for Yves’ requets, most treadmills cannot generate the power required to power the TV set in front of it. And that is before we talk about heating the water in the shower, A.C, lighting…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I guess a loving couple pounding their conjugal bed, instead of Parisian street pavement, wont’ generate enough energy/power either, unless they are real passionate about each other?

      That was my supposed contribution here a few years back.

  8. Jim Haygood

    From Slow Death of the American Author:

    Google is at odds with many writers because in 2004 it partnered with five major libraries to scan and digitize millions of in-copyright books, without permission from authors. The Authors Guild (of which I am president) sued; years later, with a proposed settlement scuttled by the judge, the litigation goes on.

    One hopes that in our lifetimes, Google’s electronic library finally goes online.

    Books are enormously heavy and voluminous. A personal library of any extent is not compatible with compact living quarters and geographic mobility. If everything one wanted to read was one click away in the cloud, it wouldn’t matter.

    Not only is it tough to give books away, but also paper recyclers don’t want them unless the hard covers are ripped off. Luckily, one company has installed drop boxes in most eastern U.S. states. There are none in NYC, but pretty good coverage in the suburbs:

    What a godsend for disposing of my brother-in-law’s vast collection of academic texts on comparative literature. We clapped and cheered as Jacques Derrida slid down the slot!

    1. Valissa

      I have bought books from Better World Books at Amazon, where I often buy used books from 3rd party vendors. It’s a pretty smart business model getting people to donate their books for free.

      If you live in New England in many areas you can bring your used books in to Annie’s Book Swap and get store credit which can be used to purchase other books in the store.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        Try the American Book Exchange (, which is a network of independent new and used book sellers. I’ve had good luck with them. They appear to be de-emphasizing the “American” part of their name now that they have affiliated stores in Great Britain.

    2. craazyman

      Holy Cow. If anything will fry your brain worse than economics it’s academic texts on comparative literature.

      I think I once read two or three of them one afternoon and, after I recovered, said to myself “never, ever, ever again.”

      The academics study literature and then, when they write about it, they ignore every element of the craft that makes literature itself. And they don’t even realize what they’re doing.

      they should just leave it alone, like a bouquet of flowers on a table, and do something more useful like plumbing or reading literature. the more they write about it, the less of it they have time to read. See, even the math doesn’t work, but most of them can’t do math either so how would they know?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You must understand, craazyman, and I am speaking from my own ongoing personal experience, the only way to overcome bad writing is to continue writing.

        In the meanwhile, your readers just get a lot of bad writing.

        But hey, that’s the price you have to pay to be good at something.

  9. AbyNormal

    re Dancing with the Stars (thanks Carol B…my stomach is soured for the day)
    Obama: Here in America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history—we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will. Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Thatcher family and all the British people as we carry on the work to which she dedicated her life—free peoples standing together, determined to write our own destiny.

    *Treason is very much a matter of habit.* le Carre

    1. CB

      I thought it was funny as hell–in both senses. The second to last paragraph really cracked me up. Michael Smith’s turn of phrase is deadly, the light touch as heart shot. No conscience, no care.

    2. Ned Ludd

      At this point, Obama is open in his adoration for Republicans and Tories from the 1980’s.

      Here in America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history—we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will. Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Thatcher family and all the British people as we carry on the work to which she dedicated her life—free peoples standing together, determined to write our own destiny. (emphasis added)

      To celebrate Ronald Reagan’s centennial birthday, Obama wrote an op-ed in USA Today that was effusive with praise.

      But perhaps even more important than any single accomplishment was the sense of confidence and optimism President Reagan never failed to communicate to the American people… At a time when our nation was going through an extremely difficult period, with economic hardship at home and very real threats beyond our borders, it was this positive outlook, this sense of pride, that the American people needed more than anything.

      When the future looked darkest and the way ahead seemed uncertain, President Reagan understood both the hardships we faced and the hopes we held for the future. He understood that it is always “Morning in America.” That was his gift, and we remain forever grateful.

      After Obama’s interview with Univision, why do 82% of liberals still support him?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          All I know is intellectually abused students become intellectually abusive teachers one day.

      1. Brindle

        Reagan was an actor, skilled at projecting image.

        In this clip of one of the debates with Carter in October, 1980, look at Carter’s slumped shoulders, nearly at 45 degrees, compare to when Reagan comes on screen, his shoulders are relatively horizontal, square as it were.

        Optics like this made a huge difference to voters at an unconscious level.

        1. neo-realist

          Carter probably knew that his re-election was being sabatoged by TPTB and knew Reagan probably had it in the bag regardless of how hard he tried to win.

      2. Inverness (@Inverness)

        What I hear, over and over again, from Americans, Canadians, and Europeans is essentially: “he’s a good guy who can’t do much, his powers are limited by Congress.”

        They are fantasizing that if he had a democratic Congress, there would be FDR reforms, a closed Guantanamo and gun control. Well, didn’t he have a democratic Congress at one point? And…

        Throw in his position on whistleblowers, Afghanistan, and immigrants, and they continue to defend Obama. Triumph of image over content?

        1. Chris-Engel

          We saw what a fully-packed Dem Congress + Executive got us in 2009-10.


          ACA blowjob for insurance companies and the healthcare industrial complex.

          Dodd-Frank joke of a regulatory clusterfuck written by banks.

          SO yea, don’t believe the people who say he’s a good guy and congress is stoping him, it’s the problem of the Democratic party being, as Ralph Nader has said now for decades, the second head of the unified bi-corporatist party.

    3. craazyman

      it’s ironic they used to call TV the idiot box way back in the day, like the 70s, but there were great shows on all the time!

      There was Tarzan on Sunday afternoons, that I’d always watch eating spaghetti. There was Bonanza, Alias Smith & Jones (my favorite), Star Trek, Hogans Heroes, Kung Fun (my other favorite), then the silly stuff, which wasn’t bad, like Brady Bunch and Partridge Family. Then cartoons like Scooby Doo. Shows like All in the Family. Reruns of old black & white movies you’d find in the TV schedule, by surprise, there it would be at 8 pm on a Sunday night wow and you’d think what a pleasant turn of fate this is.

      Even the test patterns, waay waaay back, when you could barely work the knobs. The’d be different shades of gray and black in concentric circles with square protrusions here and there like gearing on a machine. Just to stare at the test pattern when the last show was over and you couldn’t sleep, and compare it to test patterns from other channels. You could become a conniseure. It didn’t occur at the time, but there must have been men whose job it was to design test patterns. They probably dropped acid and smoked dope, just to warm up. Then they went to work.

      The TV wasn’t an idiot box actually. It was a rareified device for exploring consciousness, yours and humanity’s. An electronic blue butterfly in the dark of your mind. And it was a device for exploring the use of tin foil, squeezing it onto the antenna and moving it around until the fuzzy picture got clear.

      Now it’s an idiot box, because there’s no surprise to it at all and it’s not a butterfly anymore, it’s relentless but not even alive, especially when there’s a face in front of a microphone talking at itself instead of you. And the high-def digital image shatters the creative amplitude from the gentle abstraction of diffused cathode ray light. What is it now? I don’t know because I don’t have one. I think it’s something that takes a hold of you and keeps going until you’re gone. Except on Sundays when it’s football season and then it’s OK.

        1. craazyman

          whoa, so true, man. that was an awesome show. also Get Smart, how can anyone not count that in the top 10 all time shows.

          If I had to choose between smoking a few joints watching old Batman & Get Smart re-runs or downing some xanax and red wine laying on the floor watching Adele youtube videos over and over, I’m not sure if I could even decide. hahaha. You might just freeze up and stare at the wall.

          1. Bill Smith

            There was Mash and Rowen & Martin’s Laugh-In too.

            I’d go for a joint and a Time Machine, myself.

          2. neo-realist

            Rowan and Martin cracked me up for the crazy affectations (Alan Sues eye rolling) and the one liners from the celebs in the wall with the doors. But watching old highlights and shows now as an adult, I was struck by how courageous it was in throwing up social/political issues—Dan Rowan doing a skit with a general’s uniform saying “War is a Business”. YOU’D NEVER HEAR THAT ON SNL OR ANY OTHER SKIT COMEDY TODAY.

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            You forgot Dark Shadows! OMG that would be total kitsch if you could find it. A Shakespearean actor playing a vampire in Maine in the 1800s.

            And you had the message shows that were period pieces, like The Mod Squad. The black guy had an Afro so big you could nest birds in it.

  10. Working Class Nero

    It looks like black leadership is starting to line up behind Obama’s proposal to cut Social Security

    The author of this piece is Earl Ofari Hutchinson, an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network.

    His concluding paragraph:

    But the clamor for a budget deal, a GOP doggedly unrelenting on tax hikes on the rich, and the 2014 mid-term elections around the corner, has made the budget battle a high stakes game. Obama’s gamble on Medicare and Social Security makes sense given those hike stakes.

    Most comments were in polite disagreement with the article. But there was one Huffpost Super User who has obviously had an Obatomy performed on what used to be her brain:

    It’s a starting point – and one that will expose the unwillingness of the Republicans to compromise (as usual). I always said I wouldn’t want to play poker with the President – he never shows his hand until the end when ultimately, it’s a winning hand…He has, and will continue to do right by those who depend on these ‘entitlement’ programs. I’m not worried.

    1. Massinissa

      Obama: Read My Lips: Im going to cut entitlements.

      Commenter: Hey look, 134th degree SuperPoliticalChess! Hes a good man for (What has he done exactly?), so he must only be bluffing!!!

      Muahaha, good one Obama!

      *Obama precedes to cut entitlements*

      Gee, next thing you know, Obots will be saying hes only torturing them because he secretly loves them. Amazing how they can twist their minds into pretzels to justify his actions.

      1. Brindle

        Look at this piece of gobble-de-gook by the 11th dimension chess master (Audacity Of Hope). It makes no sense whatsoever.
        According to Obama the American people might not understand arguments but they have innate ability to discern wheat from chaff. Absurd. Fantasyland.

        “…I imagine they are waiting for a politics with the maturity to balance idealism and realism, to distinguish between what can and cannot be compromised, to admit the possibility that the other side might sometimes have a point.
        They don’t always understand the arguments between right and left, conservative and liberal, but they recognize the difference between dogma and common sense, responsibility and irresponsibility, between those things that last and those that are fleeting. They are out there, waiting for Republicans and Democrats to catch up with them.”

        1. Massinissa

          “To catch up with them” I assume means compromise. Audacity of Hope was mostly just stupid platitudes. Why even bother writing it when it means absolutely nothing? At least Huey Long actually wrote useful stuff in his books.

  11. Brindle

    Chris Hedges on his decision to resign from PEN:

    —“All systems of power are the problem. And it is the role of the artist, the writer and the intellectual to defy every center of power on behalf of those whom power would silence and crush.
    This means, in biblical terms, embracing the stranger.

    It means being a constant opponent rather than an ally of government.

    It means being the perpetual outcast. Those who truly fight for human rights understand this. 

    “Whether the mask is labeled Fascism, Democracy, or Dictatorship of the Proletariat, our great adversary remains the Apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military … ,” Simone Weil wrote. “No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this Apparatus, and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.”—

  12. peace

    Re: Yves comment: “The Slow Death of the American Author …I can’t afford to write another book.”

    I hope that shifting fortunes make another book feasible. Also, a compilation of republished essays is often a well-received, appreciated, low-cost (in terms of time) option.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks a lot for the thought, but repubished essays is not the same as a book. I learned a lot when I did the research to do ECONNED. Absent a book, I don’t have the time or reason to step back and integrate information over a bigger set of issues and time frames.

  13. p78

    Chemical in food packaging can harm unborn babies, say French officials

    In its report (pdf) released publicly on Tuesday, the French National Agency for Health, Food, Environment and Work Safety (ANSES) declared that BPA has been absorbed by “the whole of western populations”.

    …pregnant supermarket check-out operators who were found to be particularly exposed to BPA through the thermal paper used in till receipts

    the levels of BPA inside homes, dust, food, water, and even supermarket till receipts. It estimates that between 20% and 25% of pregnant women are exposed to levels of BPA above those advised by the health agency. It also says the daily recommended dose of BPA considered safe by the European Food Safety Authority needs to be considerably reduced.

    According to ANSES, the biggest culprit is food, which accounts for 84% of a pregnant woman’s exposure to BPA, half of which comes from epoxy resins used to line food tins. Bottled waters are an added risk.

  14. Paul Walker

    The only way being an American author makes sense today is if one embraces getting WalMartified at less than minimum as ones fun. For others there is abject poverty since ideas ‘no longer matter’in USA as the elite act as if they have cornered that market. Laughable in an age where new or refreshed ideas have now become the largest segment of America’s underground economy.

  15. Valissa

    Today’s episode of Scientist Gone Wild…
    Women Choose Mates by Shoulder Size First, Research Suggests

    Penis size does matter

    Legislators, not so wild, probably because they’re afraid it will happen to them…
    Proposed ‘Revenge Porn’ Bill Will Make It A Felony to Share Naked Photos, Sex Tapes in Florida
    Scorned lovers who post photos and video of their ex’s will soon be facing more than a guilty conscience, after a Florida lawmaker proposed a bill making it a felony to post revenge porn online.

    1. Cynthia


      I’m also getting rather sick and tired of being bombarded with nutritional health claims like this one — coming out of the medical-industrial complex, no doubt: “Cranberry Juice May Help Lower BP a Bit” (see link below). Such claims are either frivolous, biased, or both. I don’t know who’s funding this research, but if the taxpayers are (thanks in part to medical Keynesianism, I’m afraid), then I say stop the funding of it! Let it all get squashed in the sequester , along with all of the outrageous pork and subsidies going to Big HealthCare!

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of funding research that leads to better understanding of diseases and better drugs to treat diseases. But funding research that results in promoting cranberry juice, red wine or black coffee as a ‘wonder drug’ or ‘magic pill ‘is a total waste of time and money.

      Bottom line: all research studies such as these and others should be classified as pseudoscience, and thus banned from scientific research, especially research that’s being funded by the taxpayers. Now if private corporations want to waste their money on research, that’s based on pseudoscience, they should be free to do so, but they shouldn’t get tax breaks for it.

      Where is Richard Feynman when we need him. We need him here to beat the drums that pseudoscience is nothing more than a Cargo Cult.

    2. Charles LeSeau

      I always wonder how much societal fashions determine what people find attractive in the opposite sex, and how much a study of the type in your links is particularly valid biologically in the face of cultural change, and not merely correlation as opposed to causality.

      In the 19th century, Circassian women (“Circassian beauties”) were considered in western society the apex of sexy, so much so that PT Barnum had men lining up to pay just to get sight of one. Here is a picture of one of Barnum’s beauties:

      If you showed that picture to a bunch of men in today’s times as part of a study and had her compared to today’s variety of “hot,” I doubt she would inspire such fervor, and so maybe the study would conclude – wrongly, no? – that she was biologically unattractive.

      Sometimes such markers for what is appealing can be seen to have changed in our times – a change so relatively quick we can see it happening. As an example, I remember in the 1970s a full triangle of pubic hair on a woman was considered highly sexy. The movie Porkys even celebrated it as late as 1982. Today, since the late 1980s to early 1990s when Playboy started trimming more and more of it in their models and eventually edging towards bald, young men who have grown up only in the last few decades typically wince at the stuff.

      I’m sure the broader shoulders/bigger penis thing is probably biologically relevant too, but I do question how much. Certainly the ideal shape of the male physique has not changed much since antiquity (we have merely to look at the sculptures for proof; the Greeks loved their mesomorphs), though the female one definitely has and continues to.

        1. Massinissa

          My god is that picture real?!!

          But anyway, there are fetishists out there who would kill to have a piece of that action, I assure you.

          Its just that has never been and never will be mainstream anywhere.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This may not be military-industrial complex friendly, but I thought the link about lasers on navy ships was another science/technology gone wild story.

  16. joe bongiovanni

    Phil Pilkington’s FT Alpha piece on Japan’s errant QE efforts ends with this, after presenting varied metrics on the Japanese macro-economic picture.

    ” Yet another example, as if we needed one, that the problems faced by most developed economies today have far more to do with deficient demand and resource misallocation than they have to do with anything that takes place on the reserve accounts of commercial bank computers. ”

    Gee, let’s explore because we seem have become more engaging of the nature of all CB efforts in operations of its balance sheet as a national economic development tool.

    It doesn’t work. Because it can’t work. Flat out.
    The bankers have prevented THEIR central bank from emancipating the Restofus. Why are we surprised?

    So, what’s the solution to the problems of deficient demand amid available resources of every kind? I’ve heard of direct fiscal stimulus. But that has the problem of being debt-funded in the era of our modern global debt-saturation.

    While monetary theorists quote Lerner to postulate a solution based upon the government’s ablity to directly fund economic stimulus, they are confounded by the real legal constraints on the exercise of that ability.

    And they remain defiantly in denial of this realirty – that in order to advance our social economy, we need to remove those legal constraints – advancing instead the alibi of non-necssity for reform of the money-issuance system.
    At our continuing peril.
    For the Money System Common.

    1. craazyman

      I have a feeling Phil is brewing up something big. I think he’s got the eye-gleam just thinking about laying a wrecking ball broadside into the wall of contemporary economics, smashing it to shards like a pinata, revealing its lurid bulging blue varicose veins that come from the strain of distorting not only Keynes and Hayek and Hicks and Kaldor and Kalecki and dudes some folks know about, but dudes nobody has ever heard of, like RG Hawtrey and maybe obscure 19th century French economists who wrote in Latin. Maybe even weaving in wackos like Carl Jung and Freud and, God Forbid, even Sir James Frazer and maybe even Terrence McKenna, although that would be a real stretch. This would be an ambitious goal indeed. I couldn’t pull it off myself, but Phil’s not as lazy as I am. For me it’s enough to think it, writing about it is sort of a pain in the ass, but maybe after a few beers it can be done. Or at least attempted without self-conscious worry over accuracy.

      1. Cynthia

        Biggest difference I see between Japan’s QE and stimulus spending efforts and ours is that their stock market crashed and ours zoomed right back up. Maybe this is because of the extremely aggressive efforts of Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke. However, because those efforts have not spilled over into the general economy (yet), isn’t the outcome likely to be the same?

    2. Cynthia

      Japan is radioactive, still wrecked from a tsunami, and having a military problem with China. I don’t think QE is the biggest stick in the room at the moment.

  17. Valissa

    Man suing Larimer sheriff claims medical-marijuana plants killed without checking registry
    Turnabout is fair play, LOL… … his client expects to receive $5,000 per plant, based on what law enforcers have testified a marijuana plant is worth, in addition to attorney fees.

    ‘Riaiyuu Coat’ Mimics Hugs of Girlfriend

    Seems like a rather accurate observation to me… Five day suspension for student after Parliament joke

  18. B

    The fourth article is about CARNITINE, not CREATINE. Vastly different compounds. It almost damaged *my* heart when I read the summary, since creatine is a safe and commonly used strength-training supplement!

  19. MikeNY

    The Fed will flog the mule of the American economy until it becomes a race horse, or, more likely, until its heart explodes. The corporate credit markets are already frothing.

    Love the hummingbird. Anyone know what variety that is?

    1. CB

      I think it’s “species” and, no, I don’t. But you can somnetimes match up online pictures, altho the colors change with the viewing angle and the light. We’ve had some interesting discussions around that topic.

  20. Economystic

    Potentially huge story in WMT-land. These allegations were confirmed also by a colleague who used to manage for them…
    He also alleges—in an interview with The Nation and in a federal discrimination lawsuit—that the company engaged in widespread inventory manipulation.

    “We’re talking about hiding tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in losses here—inflating the profits of a store, a district, a region, a division and ultimately the entire company,” Johnson told The Nation. In theory, such a practice could have artificially inflated the company’s profit margins and stock price, amounting to a form of federal securities fraud.

  21. Quad Bypass

    Re: Red Meat Chemical Damages blah, blah, blah. Wheat contains carnitine…seems like a fairly substantial fact to leave out.

    1. Cynthia

      The health nut community loves to bash redmeat, even when the science behind it is shaky at best.

  22. yojimbo

    Wow! The schadenfreude over Ms. Thatcher’s demise is real creepy.
    The systemic insolvency of the “West” or “Wealthy Nations” is not a failure of capitalism or markets. It is a failure of a corrupt political system based on the welfare system, which was designed to appease German war veterans after the Franco-German war of the late 19th century (necessity is the mother of invention). This was so successful that it was copied after WWI and WWII elsewhere.
    When Thatcher came to power, the UK was not facing the abyss, it was already in it. Sans Ms. Thatcher, the City of London, and North Sea Oil, the UK would be about as relevant and prosperous as Sri Lanka.

    1. Drool Brittania

      Sans kissing US ass, the UK is as relevant and prosperous as Sri Lanka. What would limeys have:

      – the City of London, a patrimonial 3rd-world basket case stranded in the temperate zone;

      – North Sea oil that Scotland’s going to take when it leaves;

      – Margaret Thatcher, incontinent husk of a long-lost petit-bourgeois subculture.

      Just break up already, no one needs you.

      1. yojimbo

        Agree completely that UK is a puppet to the US and pretty much useless except to financial fraudsters, tax cheats and high level corrupt officials. But then again it always was a pirate nation.

    2. YankeeFrank

      Oh please. Thatcher took a hatchet to the British working classes and began the destruction of an entire nation.

      And the idea that the west is drowning due to the welfare state when the true problem is an out of control financial sector that has despoiled and raped first the third world, and now the first world, is the worst kind of wrong. Neoliberal, privatize-everything, “market” mythologizing may work to rile up the stupid sector, but it doesn’t float here on NC.

      The welfare state was doing just fine until Reagan, Thatcher, and the neoliberals took over. An argument can be made that the labor unions in Britain had overreached and the industries under their control needed some reform, as Michael Hudson so clearly demonstrated in yesterday’s piece on Thatcher’s legacy. But reform is not the same as gutting, privatizing and letting the financial sector plunder everything in sight.

      Hudson makes it clear that the financial sector saw Thatcher and her ilk as useful tools for their program, and indeed, she was hoodwinked by them, and then didn’t have the guts to stand up and admit her mistake. She was a terribly flawed, arrogant, spiteful person who was blind to the destruction of most of Britain’s productive capacity. And now, decades after she left power, we are suffering through the legacy of her “success”.

      Schadenfreude? The only ones complacent enough for that now are the sociopathic tools of the finance cartels overseeing the misery and poverty they have wreaked. We who hate Thatcher, Reagan, and their legacies are angry! Fiercely angry at what she did to an entire nation. But again, we must be clear that she was a very useful tool, and that the project she furthered is ongoing and needs to be stopped and reversed.

      Your willful blindness — shooting down the one thing keeping tens of millions of Americans from starving to death — is inhuman and pathetic. The US economy was limping along, and its debt was not a problem, until the 8 years of irresponsible rule by W and his imp, and the financial crash of 2008. Neoliberalism had taken its toll but it hadn’t destroyed everything. The only reason for our massive deficits now is the ongoing destruction wreaked by the financial crisis. The welfare state is easily affordable. Its financial privatization, speculation and plunder that is unaffordable. If you saw beyond pale jingoism and easy lies you would know this. Now we get the great neoliberal tool Obama, who defines liberty and freedom as letting the plutocrats rape and plunder freely, telling us what a great freedom-fighter Thatcher was. Obama will be hated as well.

      1. AbyNormal

        “Obama will be hated as well.”
        …while the next one sucks from the teat of our broken system.

        “It has always seemed strange to me…The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.” cannery row

      2. yojimbo

        Pure supposition, without any facts, based your personal dissatisfaction of current circumstances.
        Fact is that since the 1980’s, the 6 billion people who were not born in the G7 are now on more equal footing.
        Fact is the this sense of entitlement of many G7 people is not only unsustainable but also very disagreeable to the other 6 billion people.

        1. YankeeFrank

          Oh please stop. Yes, the third world is doing just fantastic under the tender ministrations of the neoliberal cabal. Everywhere the multinationals have planted their flag people who were “poor” by western standards, i.e., sustenance farmers, etc., have been kicked off their land and forced to work as slaves for your heroes. They are still poor, but now have to slave 18 hours, 7 days a week and live in shanty-towns and hovels. Poor is relative, but apparently you prefer working as a slave to having your own farm and feeding your family. If the standard of living in the third world has improved so much, why don’t you go live there as a plebe? And that’s not even to mention that the slavery and impoverishment that has occurred in the third world has also been at the expense of the workers in wealthier countries. Its a lose-lose equation, the only winners being the .1% who own everything.

          I love the retarded talking points that pass for argument on the right — from people who don’t really give two sh_ts for third world peoples. But they will use that lame excuse to bash first world workers who are suffering impoverishment as well. I read a similar talking point from some Thatcher-worshiper on the Guardian today to the effect that Thatcher taught us that a hard day’s work should be rewarded and freeloaders should be punished… tell that to the 3 million hard-working Brits that lost their well-paying union jobs in the first half of the 80s. And tell that to the Indonesian sweatshop laborer, the Chinese slave working in Apple’s iphone factories… and the tens of millions of Americans who can’t find a job that pays enough to support their families. Yes, globalization has been a raging success. Indeed.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Joe Stiglitz has ascertained that all the income gains in developing economies have gone to China. Africa is actually worse off.

    3. Synopticist

      What an idiotic comment.
      Thatcher crushed not only organised labour, but British industry in general. British coal mines were the most efficient in Europe before Thatcher closed them in pursuit of an ideological obsession. The British economy grew slower than just about every other major economy during her reign, even italy was bigger for a while.

      Thatcherism was an economic catastrophe, which squandered North sea oil on keeping former industrial workers on the dole, and creating a temporary property boom.

      She did very little good, and a great deal of harm.

      Oh, and you don’t improve the lot of people in the third world by screwing 99% of the population of the west.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      The only reason I find it creepy was she had Alzheimers, so she was long gone in a practical sense before she was dead.

    5. Lidia

      “The systemic insolvency of the ’West’ or ‘Wealthy Nations‘ is not a failure of capitalism or markets.”, says yojimbo.

      yojimbo is incorrect. Debt-money fails the very second it is created, as there shall never be enough money in any interest-bearing monetary system to pay off the debt at any point in time whatsoever. Never. Ever.

      Capitalism is fairly similar in its mathematical nature: it can never be MORE, only LESS, than the sum of its parts. This is, again, mathematically guaranteed. Why this surprises even a minority of people who are open-minded enough to entertain the reality of it is a mystery to me.

      The only time capitalism and debt-money ever *appear* to “work” is when inputs from conquest and extended rape of the living planet beyond the parameters of the money system have been treated via sleight-of-hand as having come from within the money system. Having run out of exterior inputs, the system has utterly broken down, and it is never to be restored. It’s so simple that it astounds me how much jaw-boning and pseudo-science and pseudo-math have been marshalled in order to deny this ultimately very simple nature of things.

      As a society, we’ve enthusiastically embraced abstract mechanisms which teach us that rain = someone pissing on our heads, so really, can we expect anything other than a bad end?

  23. Hugh

    Yanis Varoufakis: “Despite all these contradictions, the world was a better place when it allowed formidable personalities, like that of Mrs Thatcher, to rise to the top.”

    Ah yes, Hitler, Stalin, formidable personalities. Those were the days.

    1. yojimbo

      Very thorough and well reasoned argument. Equivalent of calling someone a
      Please explain the similarities. They were all white….

      1. ohmyheck

        Excuse me, but did you just imply that Hugh is a racist? Let me inform you that Hugh is one of the most informed and erudite commenters here.

        You obviously have no concept of the use of “snark”.

        From your mulitple entries here today, may I advise you that this website will surely not be to your liking, and you may find others places on the internet better to spend your time at? Thank you.

        1. yojimbo

          Please explain the equivalence of Thatcher and Stalin/Thatcher. That is the question.
          That was the crudest from ad hominem attack and your response is along the same lines.
          You are correct in the sense that I will not engage in mindless tit for tat ad hominem attacks.
          If you would like to debate facts….
          Bring it on.

          1. lambert strether

            Why isn’t the comment in question a harmless bit of snark. I mean, c’mon. “Formidable personality”? Does that scream out for snark, or what?

            Adding… The comment answers your question. It is not in fact an ad hominem attack on [genuflects] Thatcher. It is an assault on the writer’s language; as Hugh justly points out, Hitler and Stalin also had “formidable personalities,” which is apparently the writer’s yardstick for being a figure of historical significance.

          1. Lambert Strether

            If I were going to start whinging on the behavior of the NC commentariat or thread administration, I wouldn’t put my stake in the ground where you seem to be placing it. Clever up!

    2. yojimbo

      Hitler and Stalin knowingly and willingly directed the killing of millions of human beings. Please explain the equivalence.
      Too bad people can’t sue for defamation posthumously.

  24. yojimbo

    How many authors have ever made much money? Most commercially successful authors have been primarily commercially oriented, this includes Shakespeare, Steven King and Fitzgerald. Ever heard of the term starving artist. If your objective is to make money, art and literature is equivalent to playing the lottery.
    If your real objective is to express yourself and/or to inform/enlighten people, you would produce regardless of economic incentives.
    Art and money rarely go together for the artist.
    Your stance on this is in line with IP extremists and the TPP.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Art should be in what we all do.

      It should not be left to artists only. We were all born creative, until we got educated.

    2. Inverness (@Inverness)

      Why shouldn’t authors receive a major cut of the profits from their books? Authorship is the most significant labour involved in producing literature, hello.

      I used to write freelance around 14 years ago in NYC, and lived off of it. It wasn’t a great living, but I scraped by. Last year, I was paid $20.00 for an article for the highest profile journal I ever worked for. That’s not remotely the same as writing a whole book, but…

      There seems to be a view that certain work, especially white-collar and arts-related, and vaguely glamourous (ha!) is viewed as privileged labour, and you needn’t get paid much, if at all for it anymore. Ask an assistant editor how much she makes — in NYC, for a major publisher, it’s in the 20’s range.

      So, as a result, I would imagine many people in those barely paid, or unpaid positions can afford to live that way, because they have working spouses or trust funds.

      Now, writing a book — that’s quite an undertaking. Aside from shrinking royalties (around $1,000? Is that correct?! for mid-list authors), their books aren’t getting reviewed in the big papers as much as they used to, since many of the biggest publications have cut down on the criticism sections. Less exposure, less money up-front, and less off a cut from overall profits. Awfully unfair.

      1. Howard Beale IV

        ‘Stripping’ (as Berkeley “Bloom County” Breathed called the trade) is a dog-eat-dog world, especially when you’re dealing with syndicates. Bill “Calin and Hobbes” Watterson routinely took shots at Breathed and others for their merchandising efforts; OTOH only Breathed walked away with a Pulitzer.

  25. JGordon

    “Japan’s Currency War Has Begun”

    Not permitted to go far? Well, who is going to stop it? Abe? Bernanke? China?

    And just out of curiosity, do you think a wholesale collapse of the Japanese currency and economy is a possiblity, or is that impossible? Apparently Japan’s government sees that as impossible, or they might just be of the mind that they’re royally screwed anyway, so they might as well make that one last desperate gamble.

    By the way, the cost of imports to Japan, say for things like food and energy that the poor irradiate people of Japan need to survive on, have been skyrocketing lately. It sure does suck when the issuer of your currency is printing money with abandon and buying up government bonds with it. I’m willing to bet that bitcoins are becoming a lot more popular in Japan right now!

    1. yojimbo

      Almost nobody in Japan knows anything about bitcoin.
      Generally speaking Asians would never trust something so abstract and intangible.
      The initial response for the very few, who are concerned, is to nibble at equities and real estate.
      There is also a near term incentive to purchase real estate prior to the intro of a consumption tax.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Japan was once the world’s top producer in silver.

        You used to have to pay the Chinese in Mexican or Nippon silver to import silk, tea and blue and white porcelains into Europe.

        They like gold a lot in India.

      2. JGordon

        Well bodyguard, I do know something about Japanese culture myself, and what you say makes sense. So, I suppose those who aren’t lie down and quietely accept their fate (and there have been a lot of those who I’ve been talking with lately), they’ll be holding gold instead then?

        I’ll check with the people I know in Japan and ask their opinion on that.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This is how things work:

      1) the Japanese 99.99% – learn to exclude food and energy from your CPI calculation. They are not core inflation. Wagers, on the other hand, can not be tolerated to raise their ugly heads.

      2) With Japanese goods and services cheaper, the US 99.99% are too worried over keeping their jobs to take advantage of that to load up, as we struggle along in this Long (and maybe soon to be Deep as well) recession, making it Long And Deep Recession. The 0.01% here, however, due to EZ money, have more money than ever to spend on ever cheaper goods and services. It’s La Dolce Vita time for them.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That is a round-about way of saying I still can’t afford quality washi calligraphy paper.

  26. LucyLulu

    A third leaky storage tank at Fukushima:

    One of the articles written in Asahi Shimbun mentioned that radioactivity levels around Tank #2 first rose March 20 but wasn’t noticed until April 6. Tepco waited two days, for time to investigate cause, before notifying Japanese regulators.

    This sums up Fukushima’s difficulties in a nutshell, other than the disaster being one of unprecedented proportion. The Japanese had no experience dealing with a nuclear meltdown, from the start their engineers and testing facilities had only the capacity to interpret variations on normal operations, and pride prevented them from asking assistance from those that do……. not that anybody else has much experience either, most current knowledge has come from computer simulations (it seems that nobody wants to volunteer to be the guinea pig for a similar scenario). Worse yet, from day one the Japanese government has delegated responsibility for management of the disaster to Tepco, a private corporation, and has provided minimal oversight or assistance. Japanese mega-corporations are no different than ours, driven by their bottom line. The energy corporations wield the same type of power that our banks do, and own their media as well. A Japanese tv news truthsayer in the first weeks after the disaster was promptly fired in response to pressure from corporate sponsors. Fortunately Japanese news sources seem to be more reliable as time proceeds. Many U.S. sources have taken advantage of the situation at Fukushima, spreading baseless rumors to further anti-nuclear propaganda and fear-mongering.

    Japanese regulators, even more captured than our own, if that is possible, extended approvals of the nuclear power plants beyond initial recommended lifespans without ensuring needed updates and maintenance work was done. Falsified reports were submitted. When the disaster struck, regulators failed to do more than a cursory assessment, and even once they understood the magnitude of the problem, they failed to intervene on the people’s behalf. When ordered to begin using sea water to cool the reactors by the prime minister, Tepco stalled for several hours awaiting the go-ahead from corporate headquarters, as sea water would permanently destroy the reactors. While meltdown was already underway, it was a decision that resulted in the eventual explosion at reactor #1, at least. The government was more concerned about not triggering a panic and mass disorderly evacuation of Tokyo. This disaster was, and still is, of a magnitude that required(s) all of the resources the world can devote to it.

    The current plan requires the ability to pump groundwater into the ocean, to limit groundwater flooding into the reactor buildings and becoming contaminated. If the groundwater becomes contaminated, pumping it into the sea is no longer a valid option. This significantly increases the magnitude of the problem of vast quantities of contaminated water that will require decontamination and then disposal (it has less radioactivity, but is not radioactivity-free), amounts which are already exceeding storage capacity. With the underground storage tanks being defective, above ground storage will be required. Would storage be able to withstand another severe earthquake?

    As I’ve posted before, it is the massive quantities of contaminated water that pose the most significant risk at this point. Spent fuel rods, including those in the reactors themselves, are largely cooled. Heat dissipation follows a logarithmic curve, falling roughly 90% the first 24 hrs. Some fission byproducts decay far more slowly, so shielding from radioactive particles will still be required, but containment of contaminated products becomes exponentially simpler when the material can’t burn through concrete, metals, etc. The amount of contaminated water however could fill Olympic-sized swimming pools several multiples of ten however, and though I haven’t run any numbers lately, I suspect the number would exceed 100. Even assuming that all the water can be successfully filtered to low-level contamination, the disposal of the contaminated filtration byproducts will remain.

    1. JEHR

      I assume that the water contaminated with radiation from Japan is arriving with all the flotsam and jetsam now found on the West Coast of Canada yet no one seems to be concerned. I guess we will have to wait to see how the contamination affects people.

      1. LucyLulu

        The debris arriving in Canada, one would assume, is a result of the earthquake/tsunami and would have preceded the meltdown with its radiation consequences. Subsequently, it is known that there was some contaminated sea water that was leaked and then dumped into the sea. Obviously, this wasn’t the preferred situation however given the size of the Pacific, and the resulting dispersion by the time anything made it to N. America, the resulting radiation would need to be put into perspective. It’s doubtful that levels would significantly exceed those we are exposed to naturally, or levels present in some geographic locations.

        Do you remember the hullabaloo about radon testing in homes about 20 years ago, with high levels killing home sales or requiring measures to lower, that one doesn’t hear about anymore? That is radiation nobody even tests for anymore. OTOH, the Japanese have been exposed to exponentially higher levels. If you are concerned about consequences, you need to monitor what is happening with them. Any problems will first manifest and be far more prominent in the Japanese population. They will likely also not appear for several more years at least, and young children will likely experience the most problems.

        One more thing to chew on. One of the means used to confirm the three nuclear test detonations done by N. Korea has been to confirm the presence of radioactive debris reaching the U.S. a few days later, despite the tests being conducted ‘underground’.

        I don’t mean to dismiss your concerns or say they are unfounded. I think that there is some low level risk present personally and can understand why some may be worried. My own feelings are that the world is full of risks and this doesn’t make it very high up the list but I also realize that others may come to a different conclusion. I only object to the false information that I see published designed to play into people’s fears that exaggerates the risks. My hope is that all can have access to accurate information, albeit not always easy when media can’t be trusted to be truthful and people don’t have several hours/day for months to research the accident and make some of the contacts I did.

        Maybe some day I should write it all up. It’s an incredible and fascinating story. Those workers who agreed to stay and work the first few days after the accident should go down in history for their selfless efforts and courage. They were willing to sacrifice their lives at a time when their own families and homes had been devastated, often unknown if they had survived, to successfully prevent the massive loss of other lives and a large portion of Japan being uninhabitable for generations.

  27. LucyLulu

    An article on Chinese stance on N. Korea, from Gregory Kulacki at UCS. Having lived in China for most of the last 25 years, he has promoted US-Chinese dialog on nuclear arms control and space security since 2002.

    *In comments section, author points out tendency of U.S. policy makers to project their “rational thinking” onto the Chinese, and presumably, would apply to N. Korea as well.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I know for sure the Chinese do not like to confront the fact that they can be ruled by foreign rulers.

      Start with Qing and the Manchu rulers, you can add Yuan Mongol great khans, then the houses of Tang and Sui. And before that, East and West Wei, North Zhou and North Wei, and a bunch of other kingdoms in the Sixteen Dynasties period.

      So, it’s possible for our gaijin banksters to become Chinese rulers one day.

      It just takes time to get things lined up. You need to negotiate good deals behind the full faith and might of the world’s lone superpower. They do embrace China and have no phobia what-so-ever…unlike your typical bigoted serfs.

      We 99.99% need to look up to the good examples they set for us.

  28. harry

    Dimon Exit Seen Hastened If JPMorgan Names Separate Chairman

    Tell you who is indispensable. Jamie Dimons PRs. Fantastic job guys. Keep up the good work.

  29. dolleymadison

    Hey – do any of you financial genius-types know if there is a way to determine if an MBS trust is still paying (or ever did) pay out to any “investors.” Much obliged…

    1. Bill Smith

      You can go to Morningstar or this place

      and sign up for a free account and then use the fund screener to get mutual funds and closed end funds that specialize in MBS.

      It will show past fund dividend payments.

      The tricky part is knowing if it will continue. Also what will happen to your principal investment going forward since we have the chase for yield and it’s unlikely in my view that fund managers are buying at a good price. Plus if the Fed ends QE and/or interest rates rise for any reason, you are screwed.

    2. AbyNormal

      interesting? DM …
      Nomura Holdings Inc. (8604), Japan’s largest brokerage, was sued by a trust over an alleged breach of contract involving $1.14 billion of mortgage-backed securities.

      HSBC Bank USA, National Association, acting as trustee, filed the suit in state Supreme Court in Manhattan yesterday, accusing Nomura Credit & Capital Inc. of failing to comply with obligations associated with 5,292 residential mortgages it purchased and sold to the trust.

      Mortgage-backed securities production at the government facility dropped 5.1 percent to $104.1 billion in the first quarter but increased 28.6 percent year-over-year , which was more than enough for an offset. The securities were backed mostly by FHA and VA loans with a combined total of $99.33 billion. Federally guaranteed rural housing loans totaling $4.84 billion were also in the mix. (hit paywall)

      1. LucyLulu

        Interesting about the HSBC suit. First, because trustee filing suits (on behalf of investors) is unusual, and secondly, why now? This is a 2007 MBS and it’s a reps and warranties case. Perhaps they are worried the judge ia being insufficiently bank-friendly in the FHFA suits?

    3. LucyLulu

      It is part of a Fannie/Freddie portfolio, I believe all their’s are listed on their website. At least I seem to recall seeing Fannie’s. Other MBS financial documents should be found using the Edgar search for the SEC website. Usually, after a year or two, they no longer were required to issue financials,so the trail would run cold after that. If it was a private issue MBS, I don’t know the answer.

      If the MBS still exists, hasn’t been dissolved (the remaining loans if an MBS is dissolved, from what I understand, are rebundled into a new MBS, but then you should have the new owner info from your lawsuit), then it should still be paying something to investors, even if far less than promised. Perhaps there is a record for trust filings on the NY state webservers (try “NY secretary of state” for corporate filings). If it isn’t an agency (GSE) MBS, it should be domiciled in NY. In fact, the most recent filings from your servicer should reflect the current owner of your note, i.e. who the servicer is representing and gave the servicer its agency status to file suit in their name, who the servicer is holding the note for and will return it to. Though I saw a case in Florida hit the news that had been filed in the name of a trustee who had sold all their trustee business five years earlier, so ya never know. (I emailed the appreciative attorney, as the lender was appealing the decision.)

      Sorry to not have more concrete answers, but these are the avenues I’d pursue. These documents tend to be the types of documents requested in discovery, that the banks refuse to turn over. Best of luck with your case. Are you moving forward on your appeal pro se?

  30. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Frog-phobic man…$1.6 million…

    And if you are sovereign-fiat-phobic, how much do you get awarded after you have been flooded with cheap, sovereign-fiat money?

    PS: This is not a Zen koan, but a real, sincere question.

    1. Howard Beale IV

      You’re confusing copyright and patent. The changes to copyright extensions over the years have been far more egregious than the corruption of patent laws-what was really ugly was the harmonzation of copyright laws via treaties which futher fossilized the life + 50 years for copyrights; patents suffer from the patenting of software, troll firms and evergreening, but still have a hard cutoff date.

  31. Jessica

    Proper support for intellectual production requires doing two things at once: compensating the folks who do the work and turning the knowledge loose. No society knows how to do both. Authors and the like have always suffered. However, in Dickens’ day this was pretty peripheral for the economy. Nowadays, when intellectual production is the core productive force, this lack is a major social factor.
    I would even claim that the lack of proper social rules for intellectual production and the resulting warping and narrowing have been the key fact driving the leading edge economies to stagnation for the past decades.

  32. skippy

    Senator Carr says he was “astonished” when Thatcher, dubbed the ‘Iron Lady’ during her time in 10 Downing Street, told him that Australia would end up like Fiji if it continued to allow Asian migrants in.

    Senator Carr’s Malaysian-born wife Helena was in the room at the time.

    “I was astonished,” Senator Carr told Lateline last night.

    “Helena, fortunately, was out of ear shot.

    “I remember one thing she said as part of that conversation, she said: ‘You will end up like Fiji.’

    “She said, ‘I like Sydney but you can’t allow the migrants’ – and in context she meant Asian migration – ‘to take over, otherwise you will end up like Fiji where the Indian migrants have taken over.’

    “I was so astonished I don’t think I could think of an appropriate reply. I think we moved on to other subjects pretty quickly.

    “It reminded me that despite, yes, her greatness on those big questions, the role of the state, the evil nature of Communist totalitarianism, there was an old-fashioned quality to her that was entirely out of touch and probably explained why her party removed her in the early 90s.

    “But I don’t say that in any way to diminish the respect I felt for her because of the boldness of her political leadership. She deserves credit for that, and that should be uppermost in our thoughts today.”

    The conversation happened after Thatcher’s retirement from politics. – snip

    More stuff…

    THE government will terminate its support for the $45 billion mortgage-backed securities market, arguing that the market now has sufficient private sector support to operate on its own.

    Skippy… the Ideological – Financial Survival of the Fittest Mob have a bad habit of – not taking – their **own** medical prescriptions… eh. Seriously… whom is holding up (snicker) whom… lets find out… eh.

  33. Howard Beale IV

    Mystery Malady Kills More Bees, Heightening Worry on Farms:

    “A conclusive explanation so far has escaped scientists studying the ailment, colony collapse disorder, since it first surfaced around 2005. But beekeepers and some researchers say there is growing evidence that a powerful new class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, incorporated into the plants themselves, could be an important factor. “

  34. bulfinch

    “So when do gyms start harvesting energy from stationary bikes and elliptical trainers?”

    Sounds like Yves is a Black Mirror fan!

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