Links 5/31/13

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Yesterday’s comments on the Links section started with reader FoolTheBastids recommending TrueCrypt to hide encrypted data inside other encrypted data. Richard Smith pointed out that this was steganography and pointed to a TrueCrypt enhancement but even so, it can be cracked. But there are other fail-safe methods.

Richard is on a roll: VEGETARIAN TAXIDERMY Rumpus

Giant, fluorescent pink slugs found on mountain Yahoo (Lambert)

Beavers attack people in Belarus, fisherman dies Reuters (Associated Press)

Rogue Monsanto Wheat Sprouts in Oregon Mother Jones

Leg wraps raise hopes of saved lives after strokes BBC

A Lone Voice Raises Alarms on Lucrative Diabetes Drugs New York Times

50 Secrets Your Surgeon Won’t Tell You Readers’ Digest (DC Medical Malpractice and Patient Safety Blog). Some of this is very useful.

Will Saudi Arabia Allow the U.S. Oil Boom? Interview with Chris Faulkner OilPrice. Readers will choke on his policy views, but the rest is informative.

Report Finds Chinese Elderly in Dire State Wall Street Journal

IMF warns over yen weakness Financial Times

Northern Ireland Town Fakes Prosperity for G8 Summit PRI (Matt Stoller)

Italian Unemployment Soars WAY Beyond Expectations And Hits An All-Time High Clusterstock

Austerity, the Gold Standard and the Eurozone: Today’s Guardian Editorial Yanis Varoufakis

EIB says would consider backing Cyprus LNG terminal Reuters (Lambert)

Brazil faces 1970s stagflation as resource boom wilts Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

‘Occupy Taksim Park’ enters third day as police’s dawn raid triggers outcry Hurriyet Daily

Israel ‘to build’ new outposts in Jerusalem Aljazeera (Lambert)

Syrian Rebels Turn on Their Political Leadership CounterPunch (Carol B)

A Proxy War Is Raging In Syria George Washington

Immigrants Contributed An Estimated $115.2 Billion More To The Medicare Trust Fund Than They Took Out In 2002–09 Health Affairs (Carol B)

Top Democratic spokesman causes Twitter explosion with complaint about news organizations boycotting ‘off the record’ briefing with US attorney general Daily Mail (Chuck L)

I THINK I KNOW WHAT MIGHT SAVE MSNBC No More Mister Nice Blog (Lambert). Remarkable how Good Dems will go through hoops to attribute their loss of credibility and therefore traffic to anything other than their continued fealty to Obama

Cops Taser Then Shoot Man to Death After Family Calls 911 for Help for His Depression Alternet (Lambert). Holy moley.

Regular People Are Only Halfway Recovered From the Recession Gawker

‘Labor Union Decline, Not Computerization, Main Cause of Rising Corporate Profits’ Mark Thoma

Costco’s Profit Soars To $459 Million As Low-Wage Competitors Struggle Huffington Post (Carol B)

Goldman attracts 17,000 intern applicants Financial Times

Why Citi blinked in FHFA MBS cases – and what it means for other banks Alison Frankel, Reuters

What’s Inside the Government’s Deal With Citigroup? Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg

Swoon in Bonds Puts Eye on Fed Wall Street Journal

Rethinking macroeconomic policy: Getting granular Olivier Blanchard, Giovanni Dell’Ariccia, Paolo Mauro, VoxEU. A post by the chief economist of the IMF and colleagues. Neoliberalism still is alive and well despite its rampant failures. What is scary is that it treats reducing government debt as a first order objective, when cutting debt levels when growth is less than robust kills economies, as multiple test cases in Europe demonstrate vividly.

Like a Wasting Disease, Neoliberals, Libertarians & the Right are Eating Away Society’s “Connective Tissue” – Part 1 and Like a Wasting Disease, Neoliberals, Libertarians & the Right are Eating Away Society’s “Connective Tissue” – Part 2 Michael Hoexter, New Economic Perspectives. There’s a lot of good stuff here, but I cringe a bit at his emphasis on empathy. Social species operate that way because collaboration is pro-survival.

Antidote du jour:


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    1. craazyman

      I met that Beaver personally. I was fishing a large pool for stocked trout in the creek just down from the Barcroft dam a few years back and heard a huge splash that made me jump. If the splash had been a fish it would have been the size of a great white shark. Turns out it was the beaver flapping its tail at me. So I threw a big rock in its general direction, purposefully missing it by about 4 feet. Just enough to let it know I didn’t think it was funny. If you see one of those swimming in a creek you might think it’s a submarine. It’s bigger than anything else alive there, except the deer. And they don’t swim. You’ve got to keep an eye on beavers and if they start thumping at you, you have to bombard them with rocks.

        1. Juneau

          “Once hunted nearly to extinction in Europe, beavers have made a comeback as hunting was banned or restricted and new populations were introduced.”

          I am glad the word is getting out to protect people from animal attacks. However, it is interesting to me that people never consider that these creatures may remember our “hunting them to near extinction” and that the survivors may have good reason for being so nasty. Still, this is a horror and has to be dealt with; But anyone who thinks animals won’t get revenge has never owned a parrot…..speaking as one who is owned by two :)

          1. Fíréan

            An avid beaver hunter was I in my more youthful days and midlife, yet seem not to have suffered any near fatal attacks of revenge … so far (though am presently single which might be a result of aforementioned “sporting” activities, in some way).

      1. HotFlash

        Je suis canadienne! Mais, les castors (beavers, in Anglais) have *abymysal* immigration policies. Why do we go ballistic when *one* beaver offs *one* human, and how many beaves got turned into hats?

      2. craazyman

        well I had a chance to read the link and this is totally crazy. The dude got out of his car and grabbed the beaver. I don’t think it’s surprising he got bit. This isn’t an “animal goes wild” story. This is self-defense. A man can’t just stop his car if he sees a nice beaver standing by the side of the road and grab it with his hands. That’s asking for trouble, unless the beaver is really drunk.

        This is a quote from the link:

        “The fisherman, who has not been named at the request of his family, was driving with friends toward the Shestakovskoye lake, west of the capital, Minsk, when he spotted the beaver along the side of the road and stopped the car. As he tried to grab the animal, it bit him several times. One of the bites hit a major artery in the leg, according to Sulim.”

  1. Ned Ludd

    The ZDNet headline – “Schneier research team cracks TrueCrypt” – is highly misleading. TrueCrypt’s encryption was not cracked; as the article states, TrueCrypt itself works fine. The problem is Microsoft and Google (and likely other) software undermining what TrueCrypt does.

    This was due not to flaws in TrueCrypt itself but rather to the fact that the surrounding software is not designed to keep deniability intact, Schneier said.

    The principle of deniability, also known as steganography, is to go one step further than encryption, hiding evidence that there is any encrypted data to search for in the first place.

    Windows Vista reveals what files you have been working on, and Microsoft Word auto-saves files in potentially unencrypted space. In addition, “Google Desktop’s Enhanced Search feature stores cached versions of recently changed files.”

    If you use TrueCrypt, be aware that any application you use to edit or search your files is probably leaking information into unencrypted space.

    1. diptherio

      Isn’t that a little like saying that neo-classical economic theory works just fine, the problem is with reality?

      ISTM that encryption software that is foiled by basic functions of Windows and Google is not much good, since Windows and Google are major parts of most people’s computing ecology, like it our not.

      Switching to a Linux based OS would be the first step for avoiding snoopers, seems like…

      1. Paul Tioxon

        The problem of using competent software arises by not using it in a clean environment. It is like performing brain surgery in a municipal garbage transfer station. Of course, the internet and the commercial off the the shelf, COTS, products offered for everyday use is designed for the the inherently free flowing information among users. Secretive or secure data is up against the open nature of the internet. It is a communication channel, not a secret channel for secrets.

      2. Ned Ludd

        If you want to work with files stored in a TrueCrypt volume on Windows:

        • Don’t install Google Desktop (which has been discontinued) or any other software used to index/search your files. Turn off the built-in Windows indexing.
        • Don’t use Microsoft Office or any other proprietary application to edit or view your encrypted files. For office documents, LibreOffice (which is cross-platform and free software) lets you set the path for temporary files to point to an encrypted volume.
        • For all of your applications and for Windows, go into the privacy settings and make sure the list of recent files list stays empty.
        • Setup Windows to clear the virtual memory page file on shutdown; this will add quite a bit of time to shut down. If you have enough memory, you can avoid this step by just turning off the page file.

        Privacy is like security. There are always more steps you can take, but the above steps address threats mentioned in the article.

    2. FoolTheBastids

      Good points Ned. If you avoid Vista (I would recommend avoiding any microsoft products), Google garbage software… and better yet, when accessing hidden encrypted volumes, use a virtual space like Tails. That way nothing is left after you shut down the virtual OS other than the hidden volumes. And while security experts like Bruce Schneier may be able to find traces of hidden data on drives, its less likely that law enforcement will think to look past the unhidden, yet encrypted, volume(s). In other words, while it may not be completely foolproof, its better to use a hidden volume to hide truly sensitive data rather than leaving it visible so a court order can force you to give over passwords. Its gives a level of plausible deniability that didn’t exist before, and another layer of protection from an invasive government.

      Finally, the alternative linked that “works” is about how to destroy a hard drive so it cannot be read, which isn’t really helpful if you actually need to access the data on the drive…

    1. Richard Kline

      I’ve seen the film at a film festial already. It’s not bad, and I happen to like the cast. It’s _quite_ weak on political insight, focusing on generic anti-corporate outrage, not that _that_ is undeserved. And I can’t hear the oxymoron ‘ecoterrorist’ without gnashing my teeth enough to damage the enamel. I had the distinct takeaway that the director wanted a ‘we should empathy-bomb corporations and make their workers better,’ have it both ways kind of ending which would allow him to keep getting industry funding, a rather ridiculous premise only tolerable because it was implied rather than developed. On the plus side, the film gets the sub-cultural aspect of anarcho-crusties fairly straight on, giving the film a most au courant feel. Don’t expect too much and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

      Historical anarchists of a century ago weren’t the least shy about wielding a bomb or a gun, even if many of them were pacifists. So seeing a putative anarchist in this film pop off a gun at some security drones isn’t purely ahistorical. OTOH that action is completely antithetical to the way present anarchist circles conduct themselves, and so rather stuck in my craw. We’ll get better political moview when political people make them, not film school theme seekers. Costa Gravas and Pontecorvo believed in their missions, which is why their films remain superior and intense more than a generation on.

      1. Inverness

        Richard, your argument reminds me of the critic’s. The directors naively push a more moderate agenda. Many artists today are afraid to pose alternatives, aside from wimpy ones. I agree that Costas Gravas’ films remain powerful.

      2. Ned Ludd

        It’s more that the filmmakers close out this oddly inspiring yarn of apocalypse and paranoia with a note of false reassurance. Yes, the world is fundamentally screwed and most people are apathetic or paralyzed. So start ringing doorbells!

        O’Hehir mentions their earlier film, “Sound of My Voice,” and says, “Marling and Batmanglij felt honor-bound to resolve the mystery with a standard science-fiction resolution…” This reminded me of one my favorite films, Picnic at Hanging Rock, which is based on a novel that (thankfully) had the final 12 pages excised prior to publication. They were published posthumously and demonstrate that a story’s mood can be ruined by a forced effort to resolve things.

      3. Richard Kline

        As a Warp Factor Five upgrade of this particular film, I would _love_ to see someone of genuine political committment make a film on the Bonnot Gang. There, one has _real_ terrorism, as well as more than a dash of spree-killing, yet the participants were individually amongst the wretched of the earth and political zealots both, having collected around radical politics of their time (1911 France) by default and presentiment both, one presumes.

        ‘Terrorist’ is often an epithet applied from the outside against factions one despises. ‘Terrorists’ self-chosen are typically self-destructive, politically incompetent crazies vide the Boston Chechens. Occasionally, though, one has genuinely and knowledgably political individuals who take their goals to illogical and fatal ends which their damaged personalites don’t have the solid armature to resist. Uli Edel’s ‘The Baader-Meinhof’ Complex had elements of that. Melville’s ‘Le Circle Rouge’ had elements of that. A film on the Bonnot Gang could accurately depict both qualities without having to go softheaded Hollywood at the end.

        —Although I have to say ‘The Red and the White’ by Miklos Jancso has the last word on revolutionary propaganda of the gun, and is just about the best bang-bang film ever made; beats out ‘The Wild Bunch’ which it preceded. ‘Tears of April’ from a few years ago regarding the White Terror in Finland in 1918 is one of the better films you’ve never seen also.

  2. dearieme

    The “leg wraps” story shows the usefulness of accumulating modest, low-tech improvements to medical treatments. Not everything needs to be a “breakthrough” advocated by a “genius”.

    1. Jagger

      If you know someone that had a bad stroke and survived, you also know sometimes it is better to die than live. A bad stroke can sometimes produce a quality of life worse than complete paralysis, IMO.

  3. Skeptic

    Rogue MONSANTO

    I do not have any graphics ability and do not work in that area. However I have a good idea for a MONSANTO protest logo. Here it is:

    Take their logo, available free here:

    Change MONSANTO to MONDIABLO. The ending O gets devil ears at the top and curly tail at the bottom. Instead of green leaves in the box, put flames.

    Below MONDIABLO, Put:
    Making A Living Hell On Earth.

    Touch up with suitable brilliant colors, some red of course

    Check out those other logos too.

    Please post to any sites which might have interest in this.

    1. AbyNormal

      i see tshirts! thanks: )

      “Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety” – FDA, “Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties” (GMO Policy), Federal Register, Vol. 57, No. 104 (1992), p. 229

      “What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain” – Robert Fraley, co-president of Monsanto’s agricultural sector 1996, in the Farm Journal. Quoted in: Flint J. (1998) Agricultural industry giants moving towards genetic monopolism. Telepolis, Heise.

      “People will have Roundup Ready soya whether they like it or not” – Ann Foster, spokesperson for Monsanto in Britian, as quoted in The Nation magazine from article “The Politics of Food” [49] by Maria Margaronis December 27, 1999 issue.

      “‘It’s important for countries around the world to adopt a uniform standard’ of acceptable levels of contamination” – Biotechnology Industry Association’s Lisa Dry [50]

      “The hope of the industry is that over time the market is so flooded [with GMOs] that there’s nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender” – Don Westfall, biotech industry consultant and vice-president of Promar International, in the Toronto Star, January 9 2001.

      “The total acreage devoted to GM crops around the world is expanding. That may be what eventually brings the debate to an end. It’s a hell of a thing to say that the way we win is don’t give the consumer a choice, but that might be it” – Dale Adolphe, biotech booster and President of the Canadian Seed Growers Association and previous president of the Canola Council of Canada (Western Producer, 4/4/02).

      “I recognized my two selves: a crusading idealist and a cold, granitic believer in the law of the jungle” – Edgar Monsanto Queeny, Monsanto chairman, 1943-63, “The Spirit of Enterprise”, 1934.

      1. Ned

        Monsanto’s “official story” begins in 1901. In actuality it goes a lot further back than that.

        The Monsanto or “Mons Santo” or “holy mountain” aka “Sinai” Family were the largest importers of African slaves into the new world. Kicked out of Spain by the Catholic Kings, Ferdinand and Isabella, they bought a papal indulgence and began operating out of Portugal.

        Starting out in West Africa, they transhipped slaves to the Carribean and New Orleans and exchanged them for rum that was sent to their depot in Rhode Island and distribute all over the colonies.

        They then carpetbagged their way across the defeated south post civil war and ended up huge land owners. Thus was born the agricultural and chemical business.

        1. Skeptic

          Thank you for that, Ned.

          It is a perfect example of what I call the 180 degree phenomenon, that is that the word comes to mean the exact opposite of that originally intended, a 180 degree change.

          -Justice is Injustice
          -Democracy is Tyranny

          1. jrs

            And labeling foods so that people know what they are choosing and can make an informed choice is big government interference in their freedom of choice. Monsanto says so, must be true.

        2. AbyNormal

          wow Ned…appreciate you furthering my education.
          now we have it…Monsanto, Satan’s Seed.

    1. optimader

      Pretty bold assumption for a journalist!.. oh yeah.. he’s not a journalist. Thank the lord I disconnected cable a few years ago

  4. sd

    Another article: U.S. discovery of rogue GMO wheat raises concerns over controls
    By Carey Gillam and Julie Ingwersen, May 31, 2013

    Government records show Monsanto conducted at least 279 field tests of herbicide-resistant wheat on over 4,000 acres in at least 16 states from 1994 until the company abandoned its field testing of wheat in 2004.

    In 2002, I could no longer tolerate gluten which lead to removing it from my diet. I was experiencing nerve damage with debilitating pain. I find the timing of the Monsanto wheat tests 1994-2004 and my sudden need in 2002 for a gluten-free diet a bit disturbing.

    Gluten intolerance is up 400% since 1950 (according to a 2009 Minnesota study reference) Clearly something is going on.

    1. Ignacio

      From here:

      Is it our imagination, or are gluten intolerance, and dietary disorders in general, increasingly in the news? Does this mean they’re on the rise?

      The answers are yes and yes, according to experts.

      “It is indeed well documented that all autoimmune (and allergic) disorders are on the rise worldwide, but limited to developed areas,” said Stefano Guandalini, founder and medical director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, in an e-mail interview.

      “In general, it is safe to say the rates about double every 20 years or so.”

      There are various theories as to why, but the most prevalent is the “hygiene theory” – in other words, as a society we’re just too clean. As a result, the immune system, largely controlled by the gut, receives inadequate stimulation, Guandalini said.

      Gluten intolerance is increasing at high rates also in countries where transgenic wheat is not cultured, not commercialized (even derived products). My guess is that your case and MONSANTO’s transgenic wheat trials are just coincident in time.

      1. BondsOfSteel

        Either that, or it’s mass hysteria. Most people with gluten intolerance haven’t been tested, and are diagnosed simply by causality. (i.e., “I cut out gluten, and now I feel better”)

        BTW, I have no problem with what other people eat or don’t eat. I’m just pro-science and like confirmation before attributing things to trends or conjecture.

        1. sd

          Your comment sounds reasonable to the average person who does not know what gluten intolerance actually is. For those who do know, your comment is ill-informed. Which makes me question just how ‘pro-science’ you are.

          In my particular case, the nerve damage was evident on MRI scans.

      2. subgenius

        It’s pretty simple, really…

        All seeds contain chemicals that act to irritate the GI tract and propel them out (with a nice big dung pile for fertilizer) – this was fine when the human diet was wide-ranging, but agriculture has reduced our nutrient base to the most efficient cash-separating strains. Many of these are monocultured grains. Many are (or will soon be) mon$anto’d.

        The original diet was a seasonal mixture of foodstuffs – grains/nuts/seeds where only available for a short period and the variety was wide.

        Now almost EVERYTHING in the market is wheat-based soy-based processed bollocks. With no real NUTRITIONAL value, just a lot of feel-good carbs and a whole gang of low-level poisons.

        We (well, OK, NOT me…) eat this crap on a multiple times a day basis and it builds up within the body until you accumulate a dose toxic to your specific phenotype. You may be more or less lucky, but the situation IS slowly poisoning everybody eating this way.

        Why now? Because a) fat idiot westerners eat a VAST quantity of this stuff EVERY day, unlike previously…and b) the actual VARIETY of a given species has been reduced to the smallest subset in the chasing of more profitable yields. This reduction in variety means that the specific toxic load is amplified – you constantly ingest MORE of the exact same thing. This is the basis of all late-forming allergies/food intolerances/etc

        To give a clearer picture… Plants for a Future ( have 7000 edible plants available, all of which have at some time been used as food sources and all of which will grow in the UK.

        The modern north American diet consists of only maybe 15-20 varieties in total.

  5. tyler healey

    “There’s a lot of good stuff here, but I cringe a bit at [Hoexter’s] emphasis on empathy. Social species operate that way because collaboration is pro-survival.”

    Respectfully, this is too cynical and Ayn Randian. I don’t doubt it’s true in some cases, but some people are empathetic because they’re good. The right derides them as “liberals.”

    1. looselyhuman

      Agreed. Regardless of the evolutionary roots of empathy it is not another form of self-interest among the individuals who practice it. Similarly with altruism (and Kantian moral “praiseworthiness”).

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I would add that sharing is more pro-active than mutual aid.

        Mutual aid sounds like you are doing nothing but waiting until the other guy needs aid.

        Under sharing, we share as a routine matter.

        By the way, it starts with sharing intellectual credits -a big NO to ‘Hey, that’s my idea!’

        ‘You know, I published that influential paper!’

    2. from Mexico

      I agree with you and Hoexter that reactionaries, neoclassicals and neoliberals write empathy completely out of the human equation. This is completely unrealistic. But I would have been much more comfortable if Hoexter would have opined in terms of morality instead of empathy.

      The connection between empathy and morality is not known, only that there is a connection. Also, tyranny is not the exclusive domain of uncontrolled self-interest, but can also be caused by uncontrolled commitment to some holy cause. I’ve heard it called “dictatorship of virtue.” As Eric Hoffer notes in The True Believer:

      The act of self-denial seems to confer on us the right to be harsh and merciless towards others. The impression somehow prevails that the true believer, particularly the religious individual, is a humble person. The truth is that the surrendering and humbling of the self breed pride and arrogance. The true believer is apt to see himself as one of the chosen, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a prince disguised in meekness, who is destined to inherit this earth and the kingdom of heaven, too. He who is not of his faith is evil; he who will not listen shall perish.

      This impulse became manifest in the French Revolution:

      Here again, the relatedness of the phenomena of goodness and compassion is manifest….

      How was it possible that after ‘the rectification of the Old World’s hereditary wrongs…straightway the Revolution itself became a wrongdoer one more oppressive than the Kings?’ …

      Robespierre’s glorification of the poor [was], we are inclined to suspect, a mere pretext for lust for power.

      Pity, taken as the spring of virtue, has proved to possess a greater capacity for cruelty than cruelty itself.

      –HANNAH ARENDT, On Revolution

      We also know that some level of healthy self-interest is necessary to sustain a cooperative community. Unconditional altruists do not condition their behavior on the actions of others — they behave altruistically towards everyone regardless of how they behave. They therefore play no role in the altruistic punishment of free-riders and the enforcement of social norms.

      Strong reciprocators, on the other hand, are the ones who play the role of society’s enforcers. A strongly reciprocal individual responds kindly towards actions that are perceived to be kind and hostily toward actions that are perceived to be hostile.

      Theory as well as empirical evidence suggest that the interaction between strongly reciprocal and selfish types is of first-order importance for many economic questions. The reason for this is that the presence of reciprocal types often changes the economic incentives for the selfish types, which induces the selfish types to make “nonselfish” choices. For example, a selfish person is deterred from behaving opportunistically if the person expects to be punished by the reciprocators… Since the presence of strongly reciprocal types changes the pecuniary incentives for the selfish types, the strongly reciprocal types often have a significant impact on the aggregate outcome in markets and organizations.

      –ERNST FEHR & URS FISCHBACHER, “The Economics of Strong Reciprocity,” Moral Sentiments and Material Interests

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      I’ll tell you why the empathy argument is a loser.

      1. A lot of people have no empathy for the downtrodden. Saying people should be empathetic or value empathy is a turnoff with the very large and growing proportion of the US public that wants theirs and thinks they deserve what they have and people who don’t have are whiners/losers and not deserving of empathy/help.

      2. By contrast, it is accurate that we cooperate for damned good reasons, and that’s why we’ve succeeded as a species. All of our accomplishments, technologies, the amenities of modern life, medicine, etc. were group efforts, people building on the efforts of others.

      Basically the empathy stuff reads like Lakoff on a bad day. And I’m not that taken with Lakoff to begin with.

      1. Late to the Party

        I haven’t read that article entirely yet.

        Nevertheless!… what is this about adopting a term or a stance merely because it is a “good argument” — (an effective argument?). Isn’t this a bit of a case of letting the ends justify the means in the sphere of social change, etc.? So, a notion doesn’t meet the PR-litmus test, and perhaps we can get the same things done, say, but more quickly while using some other sort of language. Yes, it may feed more people to speak of “utility” rather than “empathy” (I don’t care much for either of the notions, myself — nor am I certain that you would make this particular substitution, but it doesn’t matter), but people certainly don’t live by bread alone: We also are avid consumers of ideas and words. Perhaps these should also be considered for their wholesomeness. To put it another way, at the end of the day — nay, at the evening of all of history! — by what yardstick will we estimate our ultimate progress? We might use a physical one. Around dusk on my block, the yardsticks in our yards come out to compare the quality and equality of the cut and height of our freshly mown crops, and, in general, uniformity is highly regarded. However, what puts me to rest more easily I find is difficult to reckon with the eye. The aroma of the mown grass mingles with my satisfaction with my work and with the satiety of tired muscles. The lightning bugs begin rising up, and, since it is evident that I live in the South, I enjoy the calm and measured sincerity of my neighbor who is reveling in his glorious completion of the same weekly Sysiphean task, as we engage in conversation in our idle moment (which is not to say, idle conversation) — did I say “measured”? How is that accomplished? Well, we take the measure of one-another, of course. But the “sizing-up” here is done in a moment of pause and calm and so lacks the competition and anxiety usually associated with the latter phrase. (Perhaps I have just described a moment of empathy.)

        Also pertinent: What about “sympathy”? I vote for this one.

  6. Juneau

    God, I didn’t realize I was now under moderation. I think I will refrain from posting any more my apologies, please delete my prior remark.
    didn’t know I had caused a problem

  7. Anon

    50 Secrets Your Surgeon Won’t Tell You Readers’ Digest (DC Medical Malpractice and Patient Safety Blog). Some of this is very useful.

    Is this a broken link? IT points to the NYT.

        1. Klassy!

          Thanks for the fix. This one mystified me though:
          “About 25 percent of operations are unnecessary, but administrators e-mail doctors telling them to do more.”

          “This is not an insurance company putting pressure on doctors; this is not a government regulation. This is private hospitals pushing doctors to generate more money by doing more procedures. It goes on at America’s top hospitals. The Cleveland Clinic has said this system of paying doctors is so ethically immoral that it started paying its doctors a flat salary no matter how many operations they do.”—Marty Makary, MD

          Not sure how removing financial incentives for the physician removes financial incentives for the hospital.

          Read more:

  8. baby talk

    Oooh, Steve M. trying to talk like a big boy! It’s so cute that the Dems learned to parrot human-rights terms. Now it’s Overreach! Watch them try to figure it out:

    – Indefinite detention without charge: Not overreach
    – Extrajudicial killing: Not overreach
    – Use and threat of force in breach of UN Charter: Not overreach
    – Ubiquitous surveillance: Not overreach
    – Recruitment of informants by kompromat: Not overreach
    – Counterinsurgency rules of enggement in US cities: Not overreach

    – A nominally-independent prosecutor: Overreach

    To party pukes like Steve M., states can’t overreach, only parties can. Only the other party. Party apparatchiks don’t realize that they are the state’s precariat, scrambling and kissing state ass for degrading shit jobs.

  9. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the link to the WSJ article on poverty among China’s elderly, and how fear of poverty is also adversely affecting the efforts of China’s political leaders to transition to an economic model that is based less on exports.

    Related interesting article on increasing numbers of Americans who face food and nutrition issues from Barry Ritholtz this morning, who in turn linked to a source article from Pew Research:

    According to Pew Research, the percentage of the U.S. population who are unable to afford food is now higher than that of China.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Like job quality in addition to jobs, food quality is as important as having enough food to eat.

      We want to avoid the mistake of thinking growing more wheat and rice by spraying DDT was a good idea.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        I agree, Prime. Thanks for pointing that out, both with respect to food and jobs.

  10. Jim Haygood

    Would Kovered Kalifornia lie to us? Say it ain’t so!

    Last week, Covered California — the name for the state’s Obamacare-compatible insurance exchange — released the rates that Californians will have to pay to enroll in the exchange.

    “The rates submitted to Covered California for the 2014 individual market,” the state said in a press release, “ranged from two percent above to 29 percent below the 2013 average premium for small employer plans in California’s most populous regions.”

    [Executive director] Peter Lee was making a misleading comparison. He was comparing apples—the plans that Californians buy today for themselves in a robust individual market—and oranges—the highly regulated plans that small employers purchase for their workers as a group. The difference is critical.

    Under Obamacare, only people under the age of 30 can participate in the slightly cheaper catastrophic plan. So if you’re 40, your cheapest option is the bronze plan. In California, the median price of a bronze plan for a 40-year-old male non-smoker will be $261.

    But on eHealthInsurance, the average cost of the five cheapest plans was $121. That is, Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums by an average of 116 percent.

    For both 25-year-olds and 40-year-olds, Californians under Obamacare who buy insurance for themselves will see their insurance premiums double.

    My name is Nancy Pelosi, and I disapprove of this post.

    1. subgenius

      My name is Post and I disapprove of Nancy Pelosi, and ALL the other twats in DC…

  11. from Mexico

    @ “Will Saudi Arabia Allow the U.S. Oil Boom? Interview with Chris Faulkner”

    Faulkner is one of these fast-talking Wall Street salesmen, and because of this, what he dishes out is a lot of pie-in-the-sky hyperbole.

    To begin with, I think what this graph shows has a lot more to do with what’s driving the oil drilling boom than technology:

    Oil prices have gone from about $15/barrel in 1999 to about $95 now. Most of the increases in US oil production have come from infield drilling in old conventional fields, not from all the new hotshot technology as Faulkner would have us believe. In Texas RRC Districts 7C and 8 alone oil production has soared by about 250,000 BOPD between 2004 and 2012. All this is due to new drilling in old fields. In these types of plays technology plays a far less important role than it does in extracting extreme oil, like in the shale plays or Alberta mining operations. But even in the latter, I would say they have a lot more to do with flexing financial muscle than the use of some new magic bullet.

    And a more realistic appraisal of the effect of the Bakken looks like this:

    So instead of being America’s great last energy hope, it’s more like a fly on an elephant’s rump. Like all good salespersons, Faulkner is trying to make lead look like gold.

    Instead of the drill baby drill theology being proselytized by Faulkner, it seems to me the most efficient, and by a large margin, way to lessen our energy dependence is by conservation. This would also do something to help the biosphere.

    Faulkner argues substituting natural gas for coal has greatly lessened CO2 emissions. But he fails to mention methane emissions. Any net gain (or loss) in damage to the biosphere must take both into account.

  12. MrColdWaterOfRealityMan

    Faulkner’s interview on is a typical these days. There seems to be some unwritten rule that meaningful numbers must never be spoken. So, there’s 30 billion barrels of oil in Bakken. Big whoop. That’s one year’s supply for the world at our current rate of consumption, and a little over three years for the USA alone. And FYI, 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas is equal to about 166 million barrels of oil in energetic terms.

    So, yes, the numbers look big, if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Moreover, neither production rice nor net energy return is ever mentioned, depriving the whole discussion of meaning beyond a statement of absolute oil quantity.

    So this article barely rises above the level of noise. It’s intent is to soothe, not inform.

  13. rich

    Ethics and the Limits of the Randomized Controlled Trial: Time to Enhance Access to Novel Therapies in Lethal Diseases?
    Les Halpin, founder of Access to Medicine, and himself a motor neuron disease sufferer has argued that for those with life threatening and rare illnesses, current drug approval procedures do not work. He argues in our forthcoming paper that “for such individuals, the “risk-return ratio” is different compared to patients with more benign conditions and drug regulations should be adapted to allow such people the opportunity to try out new combinations of drugs”. He has argued for greater use of new media to track patient progress, and cites the use of the website ‘Patients Like Me’ by MND patients to track their progress on lithium treatment.
    In fact, unrestricted access to medicines may be technically no different to the current relaxed attitude to complementary therapies already used by a high percentage of patients. Nevertheless, there are of course significant challenges to creating a new research method that would be scientifically valid and avoid returning to unregulated , risky innovations that ultimately harm patients. Three physicians in this area suggest in our forthcoming paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics that one answer to the scientific challenges may be to create “data linkages which harness the power of the patient’s own observations to population based disease registries and hospital outcome data”. Given that for this group of patients, receiving a placebo and receiving the new drug may be a matter of life or death, there is a strong imperative to face these challenges head on.

  14. Valissa

    One man and his tiger! Buddhist cuddles up to deadly big cat… one of a HUNDRED raised by the monks from cubs

    Iron in Egyptian relics came from space

    Man builds pirate ship, sells for $80,000 on Craigslist

  15. Brian

    The Monsanto stories tell of a large state, but not one of them tells where in the state that this poison is being found. The farmers in the nearby area don’t seem to have a right to know who the idiot was that grew the first crap to begin with. Where in Oregon is the non food being grown?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I would not know what to do…I would probably panic, if some Monsanto GMO seeds got blown into my backyard.

  16. ep3

    yves, my local sports talk radio host this morning had a small rant about how wealthy ppl in sports act like they are above the law. This host grew up to a family that owned a small restaurant in town. He said as a kid there were ppl who came to eat there who acted the same way. These folks thought they were supposed to be given the royal treatment just because they ate at this restaurant. Now, a person could argue this is correct. That’s free market capitalism at it’s best. From the standpoint of the business, shouldn’t every customer be treated like royalty? And knowing this specific restaurant, they probably did treat some individuals different than others.
    But back to the sports part of the rant, the host mentioned Joe Paterno at Penn State, and Tiger Woods, who has said on record that he thought the rules did not apply to him.
    But I doubt this is a cultural shift.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The current system needs replacing.

      Like when we eat too much, the excess is stored as fat, right now, when there is plenty to go around during good times, the surplus gets soaked up by the 0.01%.

      When you starve the body, the first thing it does is to covert that fat back to something useful. As much as we should have done a better job pre-planning (possible with a better system than the one present one that needs replacing), that’s for another; what we need to do today is convert that fat stored with the 0.01% back to something more useful, for otherwise, that dieting will kill you. That is what is meant by austerity for the 0.01%.

  17. charles sereno

    Re Michael Hoexter’s article:
    Before I began reading, I noticed the image of the failed span on Interstate 5. In a way, it’s a tribute to the best features of structural design 60 years ago. Notice how it maintained its integrity as it plunged into the Skagit River. A single, unanticipated weak point caused the failure. Better to learn from this unintended consequence. Austerity is not the cure.
    Let me illustrate with 2 humble examples. Years ago, there was no connection made between trees, telephone poles, lamplights, etc. at the edge of a road and auto fatalities. Even less noticed were headwalls at the ends of culverts which drained water under and across roads. These headwalls were primarily aesthetic facades but unsuspectingly deadly.
    Here’s the lesson: Once we become aware of an unexpected problem, it’s better to solve it to preserve what we’ve already accomplished. Austerity is no more than snake oil peddled by our charlatan rich and their political hires.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Austerity for the 0.01% is good.

      Snake oil is anything that distracts us from wealth equality, with gimmicks like printing more money or infrastructure projects.

      Infrastructure projects? Like, we spend the money now so they can privatize cheaply to the 0.01%? Of course, they want you to spend on infrastructure projects.

      1. charles sereno

        Austerity is fadingly good for the upper 20% even as it constricts its chosen few. “Infrastructure” is a co-opted term, much like MMT’s “public spending.” I like it strictly in the sense that it rationally advances our well being.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Labor Union Decline, Not Computerization, Main Cause of Rising Corporate Profits’

    Costco’s Profit Soars To $459 Million As Low-Wage Competitors Struggle


    Labor union decline PLUS the destruction of small businesses (per second link), two main causes of rising corporate profits.

    People don’t talk about small businesses hurting enough.

  19. charles sereno

    Re: Interview with Chris Faulkner (Oil Price)
    A classic example of a scam. In this case, in the most charitable view, forgive them because they know not what they do. Before you read the article, read each of the interviewer’s questions. Have you ever seen or heard a better toady? Unsurpassed even by the MSM.

    1. Susan the other

      Even tho’ I understand that OilPrice is a PR blog for big oil, I still had trouble with this Faulkner interview. Just this morning I surfed Max Keiser and his interview with Wm. Kunstler who said that N.D. oil extraction was achieving a disappointing 80 barrels of oil a day. Unbelievably bad. And here Faulkner says it is up to 800,000 barrels a day. So there is a 4-digit discrepancy. Too much for me. And we are, according to Faulkner, producing at the highest level since 1972 – when the Saudis clocked our oil-gluttony with ever rising prices. Something’s not making PR sense here. Don’t have the faintest idea where 3-Forks is. Does it exist? California, Pennsylvania and Texas have a long history of being seriously tapped out. And Faulkner’s answer to the question: Can the US compete? was You bet your bunnies – as long as the Saudis “allow it.” Then there was a totally gratuitious attack on solar energy, referencing the ill-fated Solyndra. But not a squeak about the reallly big problem – coal. I’m just not ever sure about OilPrice.

  20. charles sereno

    Attention Lambert:
    Do you see a connection between conviction of Zumba instructor and indictment of Liberty Reserve almost to the day. Big players get out-of-jail cards?

  21. Hugh

    Re Olivier Blanchard, the IMF’s Chief Economist), Giovanni Dell’Ariccia, and Paolo Mauro, it’s important to keep in mind that the IMF is a major tool of the kleptocrats.

    There is no mention of unemployment, wealth inequality, corrupt elites, distortions in trade, rigged financial markets. In fact, there is no mention or really any awareness of anything that has gone on in the last several years.

    Only the corruption of kleptocracy can explain how such mentally challenged propagandists could achieve the positions they enjoy.

    1. subgenius

      It is, however, such a shame that there is a small window for this effect when one considers our food sources – the window of increasing yields is small, then we most likely get collapse of them. I suspect that random genetic expression will win out, and future plants will flourish in a carbon-rich climate, but the chances of these acquiescing to slavery in monocultures in any near term are slim to zilch

      1. charles sereno

        Models can be considered “super- or meta-observations.” As such, they support the notion of global warming, sometimes diplomatically referred to as climate change.

  22. heart disease fish oil

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