Links 5/17/13

Do you like my mane? Cat owners transform their pets into lions in latest internet craze Daily Mail (SW)

Cells as living calculators MIT News

Tony Hayward becomes Glencore Xstrata interim chairman FT

White House scandals

Why Washington scandal-mania may save Medicare and Social Security Greg Sargent, WaPo. Just like Monica.

For All the Deluded and/or Stupid People (which is most people), and a Second Iron Law Power of Narrative

Bulls vs. Bears

Markets Insight: Phony QE peace masks rising risk of instability Gillian Tett, FT

Does Sentiment Still Matter Capital Observer

Remember This Moment The Reformed Broker

David Tepper Is Killing It In This Market Because He’s A Democrat Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider

308 S Bristol Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90049. $5,900,000. “No Showings of The Inside of The Property, Exterior Only”

Wal-Mart Second-Quarter Forecast Trails Estimates Bloomberg

Why U.S. Manufacturing Can’t Get Off the Mat Businessweek

The CBO Is Likely Still Overestimating Future Deficits Modeled Behavior

Central banks saved world economy, now beware the fallout: IMF Reuters

The Cat in the Tree and Further Observations: Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy George Akerlof, iMFdirect (via). Akerlof: “There is only one major criticism of the policies put in place. We should have led the public to understand that we should measure success not by the level of the current unemployment rate, but by a benchmark that takes into account the financial vulnerability that had been set in the previous boom.”

Paul Krugman’s Misguided Moral Crusade Against Austerity Michael Kinsley, New Republic (wowsers).

Libor in a barrel Economist. “Oil markets fall under the suspicion of price-fixing on a global scale.”

Wife of ‘Rain Man’ Trader Starts to Talk Online WSJ

Obama Student Loan Policy Reaping $51 Billion Profit HuffPo

As a Reminder, the Fed Is NOT Printing Money Jesse’s Café Américain

Rethinking the middle-class Macrobusiness

Formula One Car Parts 3D-Printed by Just Thirty Workers Corriere Della Sera

The New Yorker StrongBox Cryptome (rsj)

The three types of specialist

Cooper Occupation Exceeds One-Week Mark Art in America

Drone Pilots Expose Politicians’ Lies David Swanson, FDL

Chaos in Turkey as police use tear gas and water cannons to put down rioters protesting over Syria Daily Mail

Israel to approve four West Bank settlements Al Jazeera

What We Mean When We Say ‘Race Is a Social Construct’ Atlantic

Italy’s Kabobo Beppe Grillo’s Blog

Nigel Farage barricaded in Scottish pub and rescued by police riot van Telegraph

Comparative Xenophobia, Part I Political Violence @ a Glance

Why isn’t New Orleans Mother’s Day parade shooting a ‘national tragedy’? Guardian (JL)

Dzhokhar’s Sharpie Manifesto emptywheel

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. cut

    It’s like they’re testing public credulity: scenery-chewing ham actor Carlos Arredondo; victims stomping around with their clothes blown off like a Sid Ceasar skit; stories changing with laugh-out-loud contradictions. They’re making it cornier and cornier but the media is just too gullible for them. They should reveal that Osama bin Laden is alive, and he did it, and let him escape on a jetpack with his evil laughter enchoing triple-tracked over Faneuil Hall.

    1. Inverness

      This is anecdotal, but — having spent time with French parents and their toddlers, I’ve been amazed at how well-behaved their tots are. They really seem to have mastered self-control, and are far less whiny and impulsive than other children. This isn’t child-blaming: kids learn behaviors from what is modeled. It sounds like American parents (who work extremely long hours, and are probably much more tired than other Western parents) have been conned by the for-profits that certain behaviors can only be medicated.

      1. David Lentini

        The Bebé book also points out how the fantastic French social service system does so much to give French children a common cultural foundation and relieve French parents of much fatigue. I agree that the American cultural obsession with “having and doing it all” destroys families by driving parents into too much debt, holding too many jobs, and running themselves (and their children) ragged.

      2. MLS

        I think a lot of it comes from how French parents interact with their kids from the get-go. Children are meant to be seen, not heard, and adults will have a conversation amongst themselves (at dinner, for example) while the child(ren) are expected to self-entertain. You don’t have parents fawning all over every move and picking up every dropped utensil and basically making the kids the center of attention all the time.

      3. Working Class Nero

        Where French families really shine from my distorted “Anglo Saxon” point of view is at a table in a restaurant or anywhere taking a meal. I live in a situation where quite often there are French families set in pretty stark Chiaroscuro against other types of families (Anglo Saxon, Scandinavian, German, etc,) at the same social setting. The French parents are in their element; like a King and Queen at court they absolutely impose their will at a restaurant table over their subject children. The kids are calm, even small kids in high-chairs enjoy their meal, and sit for hours afterwards at the table conversing with their parents — who are stretched out and relaxed and showing off their superiority over the, for example, the loser English and Swedish families in attendance scrambling after their screaming kids who refuse to eat anything but pommes frites and desert.

        Our kids are pretty good at a restaurant table for not being French but I am constantly stressed out and wasting tons of energy trying to avert disaster. And glancing over at the French people’s tables only reinforces how pathetic we are in this arena.

        Where perhaps French kids shine slightly less brightly is at allowing non-conformist attitudes to form in their children. Our kids go to catechism that is run almost exclusively by upper class French women. For the most part it is a social thing for them; they are not fervent believers. My wife on the other hand is pretty damn croyante, she is a Catholic convert and so is constantly relating Biblical stories to the kids. I try to balance this with Nietzsche and Machiavelli readings but at their age it is still a hard sell. Once we were at a party the evening after my son had attended a catechism class and a woman there started complaining about parents who were using the catechism classes as a babysitting racket since it was clear these kids were getting no religious instruction at all at home. She used as an example one boy who had questioned the very existence of God at the catechism class. I immediately knew who she was talking about (she at the time didn’t realize who it was) and was quite proud.

        And sure enough we discreetly asked the maman catéchiste of our son and it turns out that indeed he politely asked a series of insightful questions about the existence of God and certain inconsistencies he found in the catechism curriculum. He did it in total innocence and in a non-aggressive way; some shit just didn’t add up for him and he wanted to know why. The catéchiste was thrown off by his questions and was unable to respond. The other children may very well have sensed the same incoherencies but were too polite or bien éduqués to ask the questions.

        Now I can’t say that through some amazing stratagem of child rearing I somehow convinced my kids to question authority. More likely through my inability to totally impose my authority on them they saw enough light through the gaps to try fill the void with their own ideas and inquiries.
        Obviously this is debate by anecdote in the extreme and there is no doubt that French parents in general rock the casbah when it comes to raising children, but from what I see they do need to leave a little more space for developing a spirit of rebellion or critical thinking against the dominant paradigm. This isn’t easy of course because the ruling elite that kids need to rebel against are eventually their parents and most princes are fairly reluctant to fuel the fires of revolution that could ultimately one day consume themselves.

    2. JohnL

      Looked for hard data & didn’t find much.

      Germany requires parent education before a prescription will be written. Try that in US!

      Paradox – French adults are widely seen as argumentative and confrontational. Coincidence?

  2. Goin' South

    Re: Rethinking the Middle Class–

    Distilled down:

    The more humans progress technologically, the worse life gets for a growing segment of humanity.

    Ain’t Capitalism great?

    1. Susan the other

      Two separate articles on it. MacroBz and Michael Kinsley. Both with the same message. The middle class is an anachronism. We don’t need no stinkin’ middle class. We got all the robots we can use already. And the world will be better off without all those moronic consumers. Capitalism? There’s no such thing. The party’s over… but wait Michael, before you have a complete mental breakdown, what will happen to all that money we are giving the banksters so they can gradually unwind their lunatic trades? You want to force them into extreme austerity?

      1. Susan the other

        Also Jesse with his take on the article yesterday about how the Fed is NOT printing money.. just retiring bonds and issuing reserves. Or more clearly put, the Fed is doing the accounting for Treasury to print the bills and hand it all directly to private banksters. No need to share it with the broader economy at all. No need for anything that might resemble actual functional finance.

        That cat in the tree? That is the spectre of ignorance because “with derivatives we have no way of knowing how to measure credit.” But we firmly believe that in a financial recession, as opposed to a regular recession (?) credit ratios to GDP indicate historically that the higher the credit levels the slower the recovery. But unemployment is not our concern. Our concern is to create macro-stability. That is to get rid of financial vulnerabilities.

        1. Synopticist

          Oh C’mon Susan, you mean you want the cuddly fat cat stuck up a tree to perish? After all, it’s such a lovely cutesy creature, and TARP will probably only cost a billion or two. The only mistake they made, as he said, was not explaining clearly enough that the IMF couldn’t give a fuck about anything else apart from bankers bonuses.

          If they’d made that more explicit at the start of the crisis, perhaps through the medium of funny cat videos on You Tube, people wouldn’t be so upset about their dreams of a comfortable lifestyle disappearing.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The textbook method calls for sending out sappers to undermine the walls before scaling the castle/fortress.

    2. wunsacon

      If you look at GDP per capita, the denominator keeps growing. More supply = less resources per capita, less labor bargaining power, and less voting power.

      Maybe “capitalism” (or whatever ism we have now) wouldn’t “victimize” so many people if there weren’t, well, so many people.

      So, I, for one, believe the world would benefit from a one-child policy.

  3. Inverness

    Race is a Social Construct: The Russian aristocracy used to claim the serfs had black bones, and in France, their nobles discussed how well peasants danced, and their sense of rhythm. This was obviously before the French and Russian Revolutions; today, of course, we generally just think of the French and the Russians as a cultural entity in and of themselves, without these mythical distinctions. It’s interesting to ponder that during feudalism, those racial differences were constructed, and frankly necessary for the elite. Not at all like today, ha!

    Wish I could remember the source — I took a graduate course on comparative slavery, and was finally introduced to the concept of race as a social construct, which was liberating. We did read some Barbara J. Fields:

    1. from Mexico

      The most successful present-day empire (the US) doesn’t stress racism so much any more, although Muslims and those of Middle Eastern origins who live in the US have undoubtedly seen its ugly head popping up of late. In the stead of racism we now have national tribalism. It claims its people to be unique, individual, incompatible with all others, and denies theoretically the very possibility of a common mankind with those who live outside the nation.

      Permanent war needs a permanent enemy, even though the permanent enemy is interchangebale, such as the succession we’ve seen from communist to narco-lord and then finally to Islamo-fascist. As Eric Hoffer aptly noted: “Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents.”

      Historically speaking, racists (and I would put Nazi Germany in this category, but not so much post-1940s USA) have a worse record of patriotism than the representatives of all other international ideologies together, and they were the only ones who consistently denied the great principle upon which national organizations of peoples are built, the principle of equality and solidarity of all peoples inside the nation.

      The trick is to let enough crumbs fall off the imperialist table to keep the proles content. Beginning with Carter our overlords seem to have forgotten this age-old lesson, and we’ve wound up with something that looks like this:

      The wild beasts in Italy had at least their lairs, dens and caves whereto they might retreat; whereas the men who fought and died for that land had nothing in it save air and light, but were forced to wander to and fro with their wives and children, without resting place or house wherein they might lodge…. The poor folk go to war, to fight and die for the delights, riches and superfluities of others.”
      –PLUTARCH, The Parallel Lives

      1. Inverness

        There is still that Mayflower mythology to which non-“blue bloods” are subjected. While I reported on real estate in the late 90’s in New York City, I was calmly informed by a high-end building manager that Jews don’t pass the co-op boards on Park Avenue (or was it Central Park East)? Sounds like something Tom Wolfe decided to leave out of his Bonfire of the Vanities, but there you go.

        And let’s not forget the importance of class markers. Remember, the USA has less class mobility than other Western industrialized nations, and if you have don’t have the markers of middle-class privilege — decent teeth, standard English, etc — good luck getting into certain fields. And since Americans lack access to health care, not to mention affordable higher-education, class mobility remains elusive.

        1. Yves Smith

          It’s well known that the exclusive buildings have quotas for Jews (and God only knows about Hispanics and blacks). One has to be selling an apartment for a buyer to be considered. The brokers won’t even show the out groups those buildings.

          Single men are also not welcome in the better buildings (presumed to be gay and therefore a financial risk, they might get/have HIV) as well as single women.

      2. wunsacon

        >> The trick is to let enough crumbs fall off the imperialist table to keep the proles content.

        Yes, those wearing golden handcuffs attach silver and bronze handcuffs to the next tiers (including, very critically, the military-police). Anyone who rocks the boat and doesn’t accept handcuffs gets lead.

    2. Jean

      Race as a social construct,

      I agree with Mr. Coates. Blacks are constantly blaming “whites” for their problems past and present as thought there were a monolithic White race. Affirmative action is meant to rectify past injustices; by whom?

      Examining the historical record, we see that it was not Whites that sold Africans into slavery but other Africans that sold members of other tribes to African or Arab slave traders who took them to the coast and then sold them to Jewish slave merchants who used English and French sea captains to take them to the Caribbean and other parts of the new world.

      Focusing on America, the biggest Jewish slave merchants of New Orleans and Rhode Island, such as Aaron Lopez, resold the slaves to Jewish and English cotton and tobacco growers.

      The “poor white trash” that is often associated with slavery in the media today were too poor to own slaves and many were themselves the children of indentured servants. They were in direct competition with slavery to try and earn a living, and were against slavery for religious and economic reasons, much as the white working class is in direct competition with illegals today.

      It seems ridiculous that whites who had nothing to do with the slave trade then have to pay the price now of not being hired in public jobs or passed over for promotion in favor of Blacks.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I see party membership as a social construct.

        Perhaps the solution is for Republicans and Democrats start practicing matrimonial moiety.

  4. DakotabornKansan

    Cat owners transform their pets into lions in latest internet craze…

    Henri, Le Chat Noir‏@HenriLeChatNoir 25 Apr:

    “In cats, you see the graceful elements of lions, tigers and our shared ancestry. In humans, you see the impression of a confused chimp.”

    1. AbyNormal

      Confused Chimps…Too Funnee, if only it wasn’t Too True!

      You’re captives of a civilizational system that more or less compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live. … You are captives—and you have made a captive of the world itself. That’s what’s at stake, isn’t it?—your captivity and the captivity of the world. Ishmael

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I see confused aquatic apes who, refusing to ask directions underwater when lost, finally ended up on land.

        The same story, I believe, with hippos and dugongs.

  5. rjs

    re: “Oil markets fall under the suspicion of price-fixing on a global scale”

    that could put an end to a lot of the high risk unconventional drilling in the US; the marginal cost of a barrel of oil is approaching $100…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When they burst today’s resurrected housing bubble, hopefully that will put an end to all the distasteful teardown/renovating projects (that are so high-risky to our mental world, as fracking is to our physical world) that would not have been feasible otherwise.

  6. Jim Haygood

    Judging from Joe Weisenthal’s article about David Tepper (claiming that Tepper’s investment gains derive from his political affiliation), the dying MSM is going to keep feeding its hoary D vs. R pabulum to its toothless Boomer audience till they can no longer lift the spoon to their mouth.

    Both D’s and R’s are true believers in the magic of counterfeited fiat currency, so the song remains the same regardless of which faction is in charge. In the fifth year of a stock market boom that’s approaching a 150% gain, the Fed’s policy rate not only is still stuck on zero, but also it is buying $85 billion a month of securities to drive up asset prices.

    In March 2000, the S&P peaked at 1527; at the next crest in October 2007, it reached 1,565. This month, the index decisively blew through those old high-water marks, ending at 1,650 yesterday. As Larry Hite used to say, ‘A market that’s hitting new highs is telling you something.’

    But of course, that’s in nominal terms, without accounting for the Federal Reserve termites eating away at the currency’s value. CPI-adjusted, the S&P’s March 2000 high of 1,527 would equal 2,075 today. Headroom, comrades!

    With D.C. mired in scandal, Ben Bernanke effectively is running the economy, with the most radical monetary policy in history. And he’s soon to be replaced with someone who might be even more radical. Since there’s plenty of slack in the economy, there’s nothing to keep asset prices from drifting higher on the billowing fiat tide. Believe it because it’s absurd.

    Nice crack-up boom, Ben!

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘a stock market boom that’s approaching a 150% gain’


      Today’s S&P close of 1,667.47 marks a gain of 1,000.68 points from its intraday low of 666.79 on 6 March 2009.

      That’s a 150.07% gain.

      Ben Dandy to the res-CUE!

  7. Bev


    The IRS was looking at the Tea Party as a front group for the Kochs’ Citizens’ United.

    IRS was going after Charles and David Koch—and Obama shut it down.

    It Wasn’t Conservatives That Were Being Investigated by the IRS; It Was the Koch Brothers’ Front Groups

    By Pam Martens: May 16, 2013

    Attorney General Eric Holder Testifying Before the House Judiciary Committee on May 15, 2013

    The President Obama of 2013 who is feigning outrage over the IRS adding extra scrutiny to nonprofit applications being filed with the words Tea Party in their title is not the same man who singled out Americans for Prosperity in a speech in 2010. Americans for Prosperity was founded and funded by billionaires Charles and David Koch, who have funneled money into politics through front groups for over four decades to advance their corporate deregulatory agenda that powers their profits and personal wealth. The Kochs are majority owners of Koch Industries, one of the largest private corporations in the world. (According to Forbes, the brothers’ wealth has almost doubled in just three years to $34 billion each – while 46 million Americans without lobbyists and clever tax attorneys live below the poverty level, including one in five children.)

    Read more.

    It Wasn’t Conservatives That Were Being Investigated by the IRS; It Was the Koch Brothers’ Front Groups

    By Pam Martens: May 16, 2013

    1. AbyNormal

      i can’t imagine ‘they’ desire more sunshine
      a taste of a tealeader
      During Murdock’s second term as state treasurer, it was discovered that $526 million in tax revenues were placed in the wrong bank accounts. Local governments throughout the state, that should have received these funds, were forced to cut back on services, including laying off personnel. The balance has been located, but auditors are still looking into the state finances to see if additional monies were mishandled.[20][21]

      as the crow flies baby

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We delude ourselves into believing that a big government will benefit the 99.99%, even as the 0.01% work ferociously to tighten their grip on the prize, that is updated with the latest version apps, by the naïve 99.99% (and voluntarily too) to manufacture ever more toys for the 0.01%.

      1. optimader

        rephrase “We delude ourselves” to “many are deluded”

        Openloop scale-up of “Government” bureaucracy (codification w/no sunset) serves those that have the resources to manipulate it.

        The “Toys” that are served up to the masses are their opium. For you’re average person, the psy-ops marketing impressions to consume is irrational, relentless and irresistible.
        On an optimistic note, this geometric progression is unsustainable on oh so many levels.
        Man by: Steve Cutts

  8. Walter Map

    Everything is rigged, continued.

    The commission said the alleged price collusion, which may have been going on since 2002, could have had a “huge impact” on the price of petrol at the pumps “potentially harming final consumers”.

    Lord Oakeshott, former Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said the alleged rigging of oil prices was “as serious as rigging Libor” – which led to banks being fined hundreds of millions of pounds.

    The rapacious never sleep. Between the banksters, the oil companies, and warmongering it seems clear that the robbery industry is by far the world’s biggest.

    “Hundreds of millions” in fines is just a cost of business to these guys.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When they have succeeded in putting more holes in our brains, plus other things that can manipulate how we think, thanks to science and research into how the brain works, they might not have to bother with rigging the system anymore.

      We will be manipulated into serving them willingly.

  9. diptherio

    Thanks for linking to the Atlantic article. Coates’ clarity in destroying the race-myth is admirable.

    One problem though, as I see it, is that the very concept of race has become so ingrained in our individual and collective psyches, that just knowing “race is a social construct,” isn’t enough. Race has no biological reality, but we still think in terms of “blacks” and “whites,” and we fumble around when trying to move outside of those categories. This is an especial problem as a marginally sensitive “white”-boy.

    On the one hand, I feel like we should just stop making these distinctions at all, as a simple matter of scientific accuracy in language. On the other hand, I can’t deny (and wouldn’t want to) the vast cultural differences and differences in life experience that exist between all of us humans. So how, linguistically, do we acknowledge cultural differences (between, say, a pale Montanan like myself and someone with a darker skin tone from Detroit), while also acknowledging our basic unity? If we continue to talk about “black” people and “white” people, is there any way to keep ourselves from thinking, if only subconsciously, that we are not, in fact, one people?

    1. diptherio

      Oh yeah, and here’s my “half-white” joke about Obama, delivered at the Peace and Justice Poetry slam in 2010 (it got a pretty good laugh)

      Everybody was all excited for Obama. “He’s black,” they said, “isn’t that great?” “He was a community organizer,” they said, “about time a community organizer was President.” But what nobody mentioned is that, while he is black, his mother is white: so really, he’s half-white. And while he did work as a community organizer, he’s also a lawyer. So everybody voted for the black community-organizer, but we ended up getting stuck with another f#@king white lawyer!

    2. craazyman

      the actual color isn’t that different between skins. artist have the word “hue” to refer to color and the word “value” to refer to the amount of light a surface reflects.

      in fact, the hue is often the same but the value differs, so the skin appears darker from race to race.

      long ago I had a Jewish girlfriend who turned into a piece of brown toast after a few days in the summer sun. during winter she was like Snow White. she had nice tits so the tan lines were pretty awesome. I’ve seen white people who are darker than black people. Many Chinese people have lighter skin than many white people.

      Physiognomy is differnt thought, in many cases. Like Chinese people’s eyes are different than eyes from India. I had an INdian girlfriend whose eyes were right out of a classical Hindu drawing. Nobody from Montana has eyes that look like that.

      Race is clearly a mental category, but there are physical differences that are visually real. Whether they indicate any potential for unique forms of consciousness is a question largely answered in the negative by 20th century anthropology and analytical psychology. nevertheless there are real differences in group consciousness structures that are sometimes associated with “race”, largely inaccurately, but the notion of associating these structures with states of communal mind and finding the formative reasons for them is not an irrational pursuit

      1. from Mexico


        I agree. A radical nominalist ontology is no more workable than a radical realist ontology. Both extremes, radical individualism and polarizing a continuum, result in intellectual, social and political chaos.

        We construct a realist ontology because logic and rationality do not apply to continua. But the “races” of mankind, however defined, are an imperfect continuum. We should not accept our categories as real instead of being imaginary and arbitrary.

        This practice of slicing continua into parts or even into dual poles and giving names to these artificial categories is necessary if we are to think about the world or to talk about it. But we must always remain alert to the danger of believing that our terms are real or refer to reality except by rough approximation. Only by making such divisions can we deal in a rational way with the many nonrational aspects of the world.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          “logic and rationality do not apply to continua.” Hmm. I can see exactly the same issues with class (as an analytical tool) that others have raised here for race, in terms of treating bundles of properties as proxies for subjects.

          However, is it really true that “logic and rationality do not apply to continua”? If so, I would like to know why, and further what is to be done about it.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Interesting comment about hue and value.

        It reminds me of the lovely robin’s egg blue glaze of the Song Chinese stoneware from one of the six famous kilns, Jun. Apparently, the glaze is actually color when seen without the clay, but due to optical illusion from liquid-liquid phase separation causing Raleigh scattering of light, it appears as that popular blue hue.

      1. from Mexico

        That’s a great essay, which I heartily agree with.

        Robert Montejano in Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986 makes a similar argument, but in regards to Mexican Americans:

        Social conflict and national crises provided the necessary impulse for the decline of the old race arrangements. World War II, in particular, initiated dramatic changes on the domestic front. The need for soldiers and workers, and for positive international relations with Latin America, meant that the counterproductive and embarrassing customs of Jim Crow had to be shelved, at least for the duration of the emergency. In more lasting terms, the war created a generation of Mexican American veterans prepared to press for their rights and privileges. The cracks in the segregated order proved to be irreparable.

        The cracks did not rupture, however, until blacks in the South and Mexican Americans in the Southwest mobilized to present a sharp challenge from below in the 1960s.

        Since there is very little intergenerational mobility in the United States these days, one is almost assured to die in the same class into which one is born. So I don’t know whether the problem is due more to classism or racism, but anyone who denies there’s a problem has their head burried in the sand.

    3. MacCruiskeen

      100 years ago when my great-grandparents came here, Jews and Sicilians, the local brahmins clearly regarded them as not-white. And yet, today that distinction is lost. Clearly the notion of ‘race’ is quite fluid and changes over time. But you will get odd looks from people if you say something like “Jews became white in the 1950s.” But that’s people for you: making big deals out of delusions.

      1. optimader

        I have an acquaintance — Caucasian from South Africa, a naturalized US citizen. Filling out paperwork for a scholarship in an advanced degree program, he ticked the box “African-American” and forwarded it. Passing through the approval filter, he was told to report in person. Gazing upon him the bureaucratic cipher at the institution vapor locked

        Epilogue: scholarship denied. Such are the limitations of coloring between the lines.

    4. McKillop

      A child with whom I was keeping company as a ‘dad’ asked me, I think during our watching the Cosny family: “What do they mean by black?”
      She was of creamedcoffee hue. I explained only to be answered with the obvious.
      I asked her what words we should use and got the response: “Skin coloured.”
      My nine year old son, olive-coloured so I’m told but have no idea where the reference comes from, uses the terms lightskinned and darkskinned when being polite. When being a brat, he resorts to rappers’ language. He’s enamoured of 50 cent no matter all of my efforts to censor his listening.
      By the way, perhaps because of my own ancestors, my skin colour is reddish-pink -noticeably so- and has shaded into orange at times. Red at other times.(I have photographic proof).
      I’m going to guess that much of the blackwhiteyellowred is just another example of sloppy thinking, observation, and cliche – somewhat like the idea that geese fly in a V, despite what actual flightpatterns are practiced.
      The problem, of course, is that no migration is tampered with because of the V cliche.
      I hear similar stuff when it comes to people commenting on “welfare” and “unions” and “Conservatives are good for the economy”.

  10. David Lentini

    Do We Really Need a Kinsley Study?

    Given Kinsley’s long history as William F. Buckley’s paid Firing Line punching bag, I don’t take him too serious anyway.

    More interesting is Krugman’s ‘blog entry on the kabuki morality play of austerity, which references an excellent 1943 article from Michael Kaleki demonstrating why business interests hate Keynesian economics and the resulting political culture if it took hold in society. As I’ve long argued, the point is simple—Under a “full employment” government mandate, businesses would lose their tremdous grip over the working population and would no longer be feted by politicans.

    In short, the answer is social power. And yet Krugman still can’t bring himself to write those words. He concludes:

    So one way to see the drive for austerity is as an application of a sort of reverse Hippocratic oath: “First, do nothing to mitigate harm”. For the people must suffer if neoliberal reforms are to prosper.

    NO! The Hippocratic Oath for the 1% is simple:

    “First do no harm to the power base of the 1%.”

    Is this really so hard to understand?

  11. Eureka Springs

    I really like this line by Arthur Silber:

    “[T]here is nothing so dangerous as the illusion of opposition, when in fact no such opposition exists. ”

    Occupy 2.0 and a whole lot of dissenters in the US had best take this to heart.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This is more dangerous than that – someone robs you in the name of helping you.

      Pretending friends are more dangerous than pretending enemies, I think.

      You might relax a bit too much with the former.

  12. Paul Tioxon



    Born and raised in the Kensington neighborhood of Philly, one of the oldest and most run down early industrial areas, he grew up to acquire over 300 properties. He then proceeded to let them rot, and defrauded local banks for millions and lied to tenants with rent to own scams. He gets 6 years in jail followed by 5 years supervised release. Some of the swindled think there is no justice hoping that he would rot to death in prison. Have faith, he is 68, maybe he still will live out the rest of his life in jail.

    Read All About It!! See, you can send fraudsters to jail. I’m sure the big bad Department of Justice could put the squeeze on the Wall St scumbags if they ever get done with chasing AP Reporters.

  13. Hugh

    My first thought was: Is Akerlof on drugs? But that was immediately followed by: He’s just another charlatan economist propagandizing for the kleptocrats. Looked at this way, he is saying that economists’ propaganda wasn’t selling to a public stubbornly believing their lying eyes. So they need to push their propaganda even harder. Economists “saved” the economy. TARP was a great idea. It all cost only a few billion. As for unemployment, the public should simply be told it doesn’t matter.

    It’s important to realize that Akerlof did not achieve his position in spite of being an intellectual fraud but precisely because of it.

  14. Hugh

    Nice rant from Arthur Silber at Power of Narrative. This week’s multiple Obama scandals were completely unsurprising. Obama is a creature of the kleptocrats. That he would lie and abuse his powers was a given. It is only that this week his targets just happened to be other actors in the Washington kabuki play, and not those of us in the audience.

    I would distinguish from him what principles mean and how they are used. Government can be a manifestation of the will of the people, an instrument to create and maintain the society we want. But we the people need to be vigilant and engaged to see that it does, in fact, fulfill this role. Silber is correct that the American people were sold the idea that the Constitution embodied this purpose in spite of history and experience which show that the Constitution created a democracy, not of the people, but of the rich and elites, and that democracy has now become for the rest of us a dictatorship which not only does not minimally serve our needs but works maximally against our interests.

    1. Yves Smith

      That was extremely sporting of them. They asked me to be on the show this week, but I was out of town.

  15. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the link to Gillian Tett’s article at IMO the Fed’s QE and the supposed “Wealth Effect” of a resultant rising stock market on the performance of the real economy is a fallacy that is reflected in the weak underlying economic data identified by Ms.Tett that she terms “tensions”.

    I am reminded of some historical observations that I feel are germane:

    “Every mania in financial history has been liquidity driven. You can go back to the South Sea Bubble or tulip bulbs in Holland. As long as the money is coming in, everything is fine.” —Raymond DeVoe, Dec. 11, 1995

    “Panics do not destroy capital; they merely reveal the extent to which it has been previously destroyed by its betrayal into hopelessly unproductive works.” —John Stuart Mill

    “I was fortunate anough to see with my own eyes the recent stock market crash where they lost many millions of dollars, a rabble of dead money that went sliding off into the sea. Never as then, amid suicides, hysteria, and groups of fainting people, have I felt the sensation of real death, death without hope, death that is nothing but rottenness, for the spectacle was terrifying but devoid of greatness.” —Federico Garcia Lorca, 1929

    1. diane

      that last quote. reminded me of The Razor’s Edge, by
      Somerset Maugham

      the line I took from it and kept, paraphrasing: ‘how easy it is to be stoic in the face of another’s misery.’

      (I really hope your loved one is okay, dear.)

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Thank you, Diane. I appreciate your kindness. Many folks have been severely damaged. I believe in karma and doing one’s best to be a positive force in the world.

        1. diane

          You are so very welcome, Honey! What you had written, about someone you clearly loved, near broke my heart. And yes, kindness is the only thing worth living for.

          1. diane

            (sorry if a duplicate, I believe a certain name got snagged on my first post, jus’ tryin’ my luck with a second, as I know that sometimes ‘I get lucky’ !)

            <a href= ;0) Period.

          2. diane

            (sorry, about that ‘stunning smiles, despite all’ …. link mess up, here it is:


            and it’s breath taking in its humanity.)

          3. diane

            though those in power, ‘residing’ at those “hallowed mahoghanied hall$” (in that malarial rat infested swamp) – …. which Malcolm and Martin were so astoundingly beautific in, on that day – aided and abetted in a$$a$inating their physical bodies (Martin and Malcolms’), by much cowardice, … ultimately, they’ll (Martin and Malcolm and all else who aspired (and still aspire towards) for a kind world) live on … forevah … , quite unlike tho$e coward$.

  16. MacCruiskeen

    Re: New Orleans shootings: pretty much as the article was being written lamenting the shooters still being at large, arrests were being made. Also, I would think it was obvious why this didn’t rate higher on the tragedy scale: no deaths. Injuries don’t count for nearly as much news-wise, even if there are a lot of them. All the other events the article mentions had multiple deaths.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Still, even if nobody was killed, I can’t help but think that a Mother’s Day shooting story would have been treated very differently if the location was different.

  17. barrisj

    Anyone else notice that the Yemen-based “foiled al-Qaeda plot” was actually engineered by a planted MI6 double-agent, and after he got himself all kitted out with explosives, he then went to his “controller” and turned in his gear, thus “foiling” the plot! What is wrong with this picture? Anyone?

  18. AbyNormal

    the techie spk is beyond me…sure would like to understand a bit more of this tail wager :o)
    “Lot of room for improvement”
    Chicago, IL

    Former Employee – worked at IntercontinentalExchange

    Pros – New bright/clean offices. Nice co-workers, some good managers. A potential opportunity to learn about Credit Default Swap Clearing business (just clearing, not trading/pricing) from the leader. Some interesting new technologies mixed in with the ’80s Perl code. Lively office location/neighborhood (albeit slightly inconvenient for suburbanites). Good discounts at some local restaurants. Occasionally Hollywood movie filming in the area.

    Cons – *This review specifically applies to “ICE Trust LLC” which is the OTC Credit Default Swap clearing house for the Interncontinental Exchange.

    This employer exhibited some red flags when several senior people left in 2010 after only working there a few months (< 6 months on average). Notable departures include a Senior Software Engineer, Systems Analyst, QA Lead and one (of two!) DBA. As this is only about a 40 man team, the overall level of attrition was disturbing.

    ICE TRUST sold itself as a growing company with a need for "senior" people which turned out to be rather false as new ideas were rejected or at best shelved "until later" as impossible deadlines kept the focus on things that needed to be done yesterday. ZERO work-life balance. Technologists were routinely working on the weekends to release software to Production. The good engineers were (privately) praised for working round-the-clock Citadel-style. In fact the pace of change proved too rapid and the group ended up making some costly mistakes and was put on "timeout" by Atlanta management. Some serious inter-group dysfunctions, in particular their Quants would rather not work with anyone outside of their Ivory Tower which was quite contradictory to my experience with Quants at other financial institutions. Overall their SDLC and other methodologies were weak and fragile as compared to my previous financial employers. Code was branched ad nauseum, very scary situation. They were forced to bifurcate their system in order to gain first mover advantage in 2009 and a looming high-risk code merge awaits them in 2011 (more off-peak work hours for sure). QA team seems completely marginalized as are their other analysts, I would be surprised if half of them didn't quit in 2011 post-bonuses. The performance of a software team can be partially ascertained by the relative contribution of their non-developer auxiliary teams. As such this place gets a D minus though it's NOT the fault of those individuals, they are smart and work hard. Rather, something completely fundamental is broken and the tail is pretty much wagging the dog here.

    Management quality varied greatly. Overall managers tended to focus on "managing up" rather than growing and coaching their own team. It was hilarious watching people scramble to enter their *2010* career goals in the month of DECEMBER (at the END of the year)!! ICE offers ZERO tuition reimbursement support, quite unlike their cross-town competitor (CME Group) and other major financial institutions in Chicago. At ICE TRUST it seems "Career Development" = "What have you done for me lately?" If you're considering going to ICE Trust, CONSIDER ANOTHER COMPANY!! You've been warned.

    Advice to Senior Management – You have managed to achieve a level of success but need to really reflect on your core values and methodologies if you intend on elevating your organization to the next level. Good luck in 2011 (esp. after bonuses are paid), surely things can only improve. As one of your departing technologists said it best, "this place needs more 'Indians' (i.e., low-level workers), not Chiefs."

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

  19. NY-Paul

    True, and, not just in France. (some other W. European countries, also)

    Having been raised in Western Europe in my early years, I found the two main differences between their society (and child rearing,) and ours:

    1. They socialize to socialize, not to play games, watch tv and/or movies, nor split into male/male, female/female sub factions…..children included. Guests arrive, host brings out the pastries, fruits, and tea; the evening spent talking, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company, which absolutely includes the children.

    2. Parents don’t speak to their infants in “goo-goo, ga, ga” language. They talk to their little children as small adults, using properly enunciated words, and grammatically correct sentences. Learning the proper pronunciation, and meaning, of “bird,” and “tree,” is no harder than learning, and then, unlearning, “goo-goo-ga-ga.”

    Just one caveat: that was “then,” and may have substantially changed since then. I would appeal to others here who may have updated experience(s.)

    1. NY-Paul

      oops, out of place response.

      belongs waay up top in “French kids” discussion.

Comments are closed.