Links 10/22/13

Why I Will Never, Ever, Go Back to the United States Huffington Post (Richard Smith). You need to read this.

Language-Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K New York Times (furzy mouse)

Scientists discover DNA body clock Guardian

The ocean is broken Herald (Australia)

Australian firefighters race to contain wildfires Telegraph

Shell Claims Global Liquid Fuel Demand will Peak in 2035 OilPrice. Ugh.

Is it time to short China again? MacroBusiness

Bundesbank warns of property bubble Financial Times

Mexico loses one of its national parks McClatchy (Chuck L)

Shutdown Showdown:

Washington needs to prove the political system still works Larry Fink, Financial Times

George Packer: The Republicans Are Still Winning New Yorker (furzy mouse)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The US government’s secrecy problem just got worse Aljazeera. The assumption here is stunning. Non-accountability isn’t just a feature, it’s a highly sought after feature.

France in the NSA’s crosshair : phone network under surveillance Le Monde (Chuck L)

Snowden leaks: France summons US envoy over NSA surveillance claims Guardian

Edward Snowden: public indifference is the real enemy in the NSA affair Guardian

Effects of Mass Surveillance on Journalism Tow Center (furzy mouse)

Obamacare Launch:

Obama admits botched online healthcare launch Financial Times. Lambert color-coding coming!

New, Improved Obamacare Program Released On 35 Floppy Disks Onion (skippy)

Texas Has Found A Way To Deny Women The Vote. Voter Suppression? Daily Kos (furzy mouse)

Michael Bloomberg to buy big for Terry McAuliffe Politico

Secret probe spreads to five Wisconsin counties Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Silicon Valley’s Secessionist Movement Is Growing New York Magazine

Oregon Tea Party founder hasn’t paid his mortgage in three years Daily Kos (furzy mouse)

Should credit scores include rent and cable bills? MarketWatch. I’d like to read the wording of the poll that produced such high renter approval of this lame idea. I guarantee the question was hugely biased (and sample likely biased too).

Cowen Condemns the Corporations he Comes to Praise Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives. Wow, Cowen is more bigoted than I realized.

Fed Wonders “Why Are Housing Inventories Low?”; More Than Meets the Fed’s Eye Michael Shedlock

The Inefficient Markets Hypothesis New York Times (Chuck L)

Bill de Blasio to Burger King: ‘This Is an Unsupportable Situation’ Nation (furzy mouse)

Antidote du jour:


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  1. rich

    Suicide Rate Climbs in Kansas After Cuts in Mental Health Programs

    Nationally, the CDC reported a spike in suicide rates in 2010 among the middle-aged, a 28 percent rise overall, a 40 percent jump among white Americans, and among men in their 50s, suicides increased by more than 48 percent. Guns remained the leading method used in all suicides, followed by poisoning, overdoses, and suffocation.

    Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC told PBS: “We don’t know what specifically is causing [the suicide spike], but the trend has been consistent, and if anything our numbers would underestimate the gravity of the problem.”

    Frieden also commented that more people die from prescription opiates today than from heroin and cocaine combined, and called alcohol a “significant contributor to depression and to mental health problems.”

    But many people consume opiates and alcohol to self-medicate, or to escape their dire economic circumstances. One popular theory floated to explain the suicide epidemic is that the recession has caused emotional trauma in individuals.

    Pat Smith, the violence-prevention program coordinator for the Michigan Department of Community Health, told Huffington Post the recession may have pushed already troubled people over the edge. Being unable to find a job or settling for one with lower pay or prestige could add “that final weight to a whole chain of events,” she said.

    And as Huffington Post notes, this same trend was also seen during the Great Depression, when the suicide rate increased by 21 percent in the early 1930s (about 17 of every 100,000 people).

    Liz McGinness, a member of the Sedgwick County Suicide Prevention Coalition and a retired school psychologist and mental health cries team director for USD 259, says the suicides may be related to social stigmas and the economy.

    1. s spade

      An increase from 3 to 4 is a 33% spike. I’m not sure these ‘rates’ matter without the absolute numbers. Got those?

  2. skippy

    Um… do I smell fear in the air?

    What is the ‘Beyond GDP’ initiative

    The Beyond GDP initiative is about developing indicators that are as clear and appealing as GDP, but more inclusive of environmental and social aspects of progress.

    This website aims to promote sharing of information on recent developments and ongoing work.

    Indicators provides non-technical explanations and examples of ways to measure progress, wealth or well-being including illustrative examples

    Documents presents a collection of policy documents, reports, factsheets and online tools.

    About Beyond GDP explains the background and development of the initiative since the initial conference in 2007 including the EU Roadmap 2009.

    1. Ex-PFC Chuck

      re environmental aspects, after reading “The Oceans Are Broken” all one can say is Holy Shit!

      1. Paul Tioxon


        Broken lines broken strings
        Broken threads broken springs
        Broken idols broken heads
        People sleeping in broken beds
        Ain’t no use jiving
        Ain’t no use joking
        Everything is broken.

        Broken bottles broken plates
        Broken switches broken gates
        Broken dishes broken parts
        Streets are filled with broken hearts
        Broken words never meant to be spoken
        Everything is broken.

        Seem like every time you stop and turn around
        Something else just hit the ground
        Broken cutters broken saws
        Broken buckles broken laws
        Broken bodies broken bones
        Broken voices on broken phones
        Take a deep breath feel like you’re chokin’
        Everything is broken.

        Everytime you leave and go off someplace
        Things fall to pieces in my face
        Broken hands on broken ploughs
        Broken treaties broken vows
        Broken pipes broken tools
        People bending broken rules
        Hound dog howling bullfrog croaking
        Everything is broken.

        BY BOB DYLAN

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Fragile things get broken.

          The rubber band that holds the society together does not…it just gradually loses its hold. It wears away. Maybe the universe is like that – it doesn’t break into pieces.

      2. Ron

        Most states have a environmental website that will describe the type and amount of toxic chemicals that are allowed to be dumped into state river or rivers that feed into the ocean. Its quite eye opening to see the vast volume of toxic chemical dumping allowed by firms manufacturing along or near American rivers. It doesn’t take much to imagine this is going on not only in the U.S. but world wide.

  3. 123

    “Think you can keep a medical condition secret from life insurers by paying cash for prescription meds? Think again.

    A for-profit service called ScriptCheck exists to rat you out regardless of how diligent you are in trying to keep a sensitive matter under wraps.

    ScriptCheck, offered by ExamOne, a subsidiary of Quest Diagnostics, is yet another example of data mining — using sophisticated programs to scour databases in search of people’s personal information and then selling that info to interested parties.”,0,1491023.column

  4. kimyo

    Salt intake physiologically set in humans, new study finds

    “Our data clearly demonstrate that humans’ sodium (salt) intake is regulated within a relatively narrow ‘normal’ range that is defined by the body’s physiology and biological need rather than by the food supply,” said the study’s lead author David McCarron, a physician and adjunct professor in the UC Davis Department of Nutrition.

    He noted that the institute’s report was explicit in stating that the current U.S. sodium guidelines for healthy individuals (no more than 2,300 mg per day) and for those at risk of heart disease (no more than 1,500 mg per day) were unsupported by data in the medical literature.

    ““Our data demonstrate that past U.S. guidelines for sodium (salt) intake are well below human needs.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Yesterday, too much salt is bad.

      Today, not enough salt is a problem.


      We are in a cave the size of our universe and try to find our way with a flashlight.

      Probably reasonable to not try anything too fancy. Stay on short, straight segments and maybe we will go around the obstacle.

    2. dearieme

      There’s a good discussion at

      It’s my cheerful assumption that The War on Salt is like The War on Fat, it’s based on bogus or non-existent science, and is designed to give power and career advancement to a cadre of medical scientists and doctors. In the case of fat, it’s even quite clear whose lies started the hare running: a crook called Ancel Keys.

      Global Warming is the same sort of scam.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        One can transcend that with a third way – everything in moderation.

        A little salt here and a little fat there, but don’t drive too much, try walking instead (avoid violent sports like football, unless you’re refereeing and can stay away from being hit accidentally).

        1. tawal

          The worst hits I saw were players running over security guards, the guards had their backs turned away from the field and were watching the fans.

      2. Erik

        I was with you until the bit about global warming.

        It is true that the public health movement to eliminate “bad fats”, saturated fats and cholesterol, has little support in the scientific evidence. The population studies are extrapolated foolishly to make the argument and are bolstered by poorly designed clinical studies. The data to support the “fat is bad” hypothesis wasn’t there in the 70s, still isn’t here today, and yet the to this day, the AHA will recommend that people with “bad cholesterol” numbers should eat a low fat diet.

        As for global warming, the science is most certainly clear to all who study it! There is no credible alternative to the theory that the warming (that is happening) is largely driven by industrial production, primarily Carbon Dioxide. Our media likes to present the “controversy” so as to appear “balanced” but the truth is the two sides are entirely unbalanced.

        On one side you have hundreds of thousands of researchers, the world over, dedicating their lives to formal education in first principals (physics and chemistry), studying the interactions of the air, sea, and land, building instruments and traveling the furthest reaches of the earth and space to collect data, building and evaluating models, and on and on.

        On the other side you have a collection of political hacks, professional PR flacks, and psuedo-scientific quacks all funded by the most profitable industry in the history of the world. Seriously, how many trillions (hundreds of trillions or more?) of dollars are dependent on burning the earth’s remaining supply of oil, gas, and coal?

        That is a lot of reasons to try to undermine the public discourse!

        1. davidgmills

          All it takes is one Henrik Svensmark to disprove the CO2 global warming theory. Science is not consensus: never was.

          1. Erik

            Actually it takes quite a bit more than that.

            Just because you have one guy, or even a handful of people with adequate credentials making a case, doesn’t mean it is truth.

            It is beyond the scope of this discussion to point out the flaws in his theory but here is a great explanation (actually 3 explanations at different levels depending on your level of scientific reasoning):

      3. kimyo

        thanks for that junkfood science link, lots of good info there.

        calorie counts are another bit of religion masquerading as science (even if the basic ‘logic’ were correct, the numbers on the box are not, nor is it possible to accurately gauge your caloric intake unless you weigh every single thing you eat.)

        also sunscreen, containing carcinogens while failing to block the more harmful UVA radiation, most likely leading to MORE skin cancer.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I didn’t know about that ‘sunscreen with iatrogenic-like effect’ information. Appreciate it.

          As a general rule, and not to be extrapolated to infinite like a doctrine, one should avoid conveniences that might look shiny…but go with the lengthy, arduous choices that look dull.

          Do zen meditation whenever there is leisure time. Just sit and do nothing – which is a phobia for a lot of humans.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Actually, they have finally started allowing sunscreens in the US that block UVA and UVB. My lawyer, who did a lot of IP work in the medical arena (she was a biomedical engineer too) was appalled that it took the US so long to approve it, the key compound had been approved in Europe for years and they had lots of clinical data on it too.

          But they are still priced at a hefty premium to the old ineffective ones. I use them only when I go out on boats, and I get the European ones, which are really cheap over there.

      4. Ken

        Denying global warming (really, global climate change) is akin to saying that humans are incapable of affecting our environment, which clearly is not the case.

        1. kimyo

          hauling out the strawman, i see.

          when your movement sounds like a religion (ie: it’s got high priests, sinners, hellfire and a choir, but most importantly, a tithe) i think your arguments have to be stronger. relying on the strawman is a sign of weakness.

          how will you know when you’ve won ‘the war on carbon’? what is the metric?

          1. Ken

            Interesting you call foul on one fallacy, but then engage in your own.

            At any rate, it’s really just basic logic. We (humans) are polluting the biosphere, that is irrefutable. What is left at this point is to argue that such effects are a) beneficial, b) neutral, or c) harmful.

            You bring up a “tithe”, which to me indicates your objection to accepting antrhopogenic climate change as real rests on governmental policy reactions (carbox tax, increased regulations, etc), and not an actual denial on scientific grounds.

            1. davidgmills

              My denial is based on solar magnetism — the one thing about the sun the climatologists totally ignored. Henrik Svensmark’s hypothesis is that solar magnetism influences cosmic radiation which influences clouds. We shall see whether it is man or the sun.

              1. skippy

                Bias data seeking, the total amount of separate fields converging on this event in massive.

                skippy… Solar data goes back how far? How granular is the data going backwards?

  5. Jim Haygood

    Problems with Obamacare? Call in a telco! (no, really):

    WASHINGTON — The international telecommunications company Verizon has been tasked with helping the government fix the federal health exchange, USA TODAY has learned.

    An informed source in the telecommunications industry said Verizon’s Enterprise Solutions division has been asked by HHS to improve the performance of the site.

    “They are people who already know the government process,” said Aneesh Chopra, adding that he did not know the identities of the companies recruited for help.

    Makes eminent sense: Verizon’s corporate DNA still reflects the AT&T monopoly culture, when you either paid your bill or got the plug pulled.

    What better contractor to enforce Obamacare, where you either sign up for coverage you can’t afford, or get fined for hooliganism?

    As S&G used to sing, ‘Any way you look at it, you lose.’

    1. Jim S

      Or cut him til he cried out; In his anger and his shame; “I am leaving, I am leaving”; but the fighter still remains

    2. jrs

      As part of improving the Obamacare site, thanks to Verizon all login attempts will now go directly to the NSA. Bada boom.

  6. Leviathan

    No pity for the Dutch novelist without a good explanation for why he went to Yemen (beyond “flora and fauna”). Plus, his writing is terrible. And yes, I know English isn’t his first language, but I never met a Dutch speaker whose English was not near-native flawless.

    Re credit scores factoring in rent and utilities, I say absolutely, but only if there is a substantial acceleration in credit repair as a result. For two and a half years I paid ridiculously high rent on a dump completely on time, ever after our relationship with the landlord was severely damaged by pathetic DIY attempts at repairs. And, crazy me, I always pay my utilities on time and in full. These are the basics, people, but I guess many consider them optional. At any rate, all I ever got for this diligence was a roof over my head and heat/hot water. My credit score inched ever so slowly upwards and we were repeatedly denied house and business loans. Maybe jobs/promotions too, who knows. It was galling that none of our positive behavior counted towards our credit repair. None of it. If we could’ve cut 2-3 years off of the pain, it would definitely have been worth the loss of “privacy”, which, newsflash!, does not exist anyway.

    1. yan

      reasons to go to Yemen:

      – Great Desert
      – Nabatean Archaeology
      – Yemenite Jew kingdom (oldest jewish kingdom after they got kicked out of jerusalem for good)
      – Kat
      – Great beaches

      I might add that Yemen was a fairly civilized place (I visited in 1998) before Bush Jr. and his team started to meddle in their affairs.

      You saying you have no pity for the dutch guy just shows how shortsighted you are.

        1. Glenn Condell

          Dunno about their food but their coffee is the best. In the last month I’ve had Peruvian, Ethiopian, Sumatran and Indian, but Yemeni Mukha beats them all into a cocked hat.

          1. skippy

            Mate wait till you get into one valley on one side of a mountain ridge Coffee….

            Skippy… stay safe and indoors if that smoke comes down.

            1. Glenn Condell

              I am at that hillside level of wankiness with wine, preferring southern to northern Mornington chardonnay for example, but still at the nation level with coffee. Got a good grinder recently, loving the fresh stuff every morning.

              It occurs to me that I would have quite the carbon footprint if all my OS morsels were factored in. I wonder if boutique foreign coffee might become a rarity if/when fuel costs price all but the military and elites out of air travel, making most foods local. It would be hard to get used to Wollongong Pinot and Newcastle arabica.

              Hot here but miles from fires and only a few blocks from the sea, which I might dip into at dusk.

      1. Leviathan

        Of course, you are right. He should just have told the border agents he went for the khat. They’d have surely let him in then.

        Look, they have limited time and information on which to base their judgments, and it is undoubtedly true that would-be terrorists will test the net where it is weakest (a train from Montreal to New Orleans might be such a link). Bottom line: it was a judgment call and I’m not gonna get my panties in a twist on his behalf. But you feel free to do so.

        1. Leviathan

          FWIW, I was once forced to spend about four days in Mumbai (back when it was Bombay) because the authorities in Calcutta had stamped my papers incorrectly. I had already given away almost all my rupees and had to borrow enough to live on from a kind-hearted stranger.

          Would I go back to India? I would love to.

          Bureaucracy happens. All the time. Everywhere. Americans are no better and no worse about this, but we offer lots of opportunities to complain publicly when it happens (and that’s ok, by the way).

          1. dalepues

            “No pity for the Dutch novelist without a good explanation for why he went to Yemen…”

            I googled Tourism in Yemen and the page instantly filled with links to remarkable places to visit in Yemen. Yes, flora and fauna there appeal to tourists from the world over apparently.

            But the no pity business just doesn’t jive very well with your own experience in India: “[I]..had to borrow enough to live on from a kind-hearted stranger.”

            So it’s safe to say that you would have done nothing to help the Dutch novelist, had he needed your help and had you been able to help him. Why? Well, one must assume it is because you don’t know anything about Yemen.

            Oh, and you don’t care for the Dutchman’s lack of fluency in English.

    2. Yonatan

      Socotra is amazing. As the man said, it is the Galapagos of the Middle East. It is so amazing that the US has decided to trash it by building a military base there, as they are not allowed to trash the real Galapagos. (/sarcasm)

      It even has people trees – a plantidote du jour?

  7. Andrea

    Obama care. For those interested in comparisons.

    The Swiss health care system, all private insurance, obligatory. There are no penalties for being uninsured but one can be forcibly insured. In fact, about 30% of health care costs are paid for by the tax payer (and not the holder of insurance), if one shakes everything out. The bulk of this cost is the State paying for those who cannot pay the premiums, thru a social aid mechanism. This is means tested and easy to obtain.

    The LAMAL (for googlers) was established in 1992. One aim was: putting order in a system that was rather diverse and complex. Fine. So in CH there are no parallel or different health care schemes such as Medicare, veteran health, etc. The idea was, a) insurance cos. would compete to offer best deals and attract clients, thus keeping costs down and b) responsible ppl pay for their own ‘health’, know what they pay, are aware, etc. and the whole “Gvmt health” thing (euthanasia for grannies for ex.) is avoided, supposedly.

    As to a), even at the time it was considered by many to be illusory, naive, and adding extra costs (the intermediary). The insurance cos. did indeed compete, but not by offering cheaper/better plans, which they could not do, as they had little or no control over who consulted for what / hospital costs / which ops the docs order / etc. They had a captive clientele, but costs they could not control. The only way to compete was to attract young adults (healthy!) and this they did with a vengeance.

    They offered rebates; they offered ‘young’ gadgets (phone, fash T shirts, cinema tickets, etc.) As soon as websites and inscribing on the internet became possible, their sites were 100% geared to the 18-30 year-olds. They marketed thru all the media they could. Some of these moves were illegal (offering phone), others were on the borderline. To skip the details, the State had to intervene: to stop the ‘free’ offers, to eliminate the big marketing budgets, squash advertising, outlaw ‘fake’ or ‘temporary’ rebates for this age group. There were also some ‘corrupt’ moves that by-passed the ‘choice’ principle, e.g. 18 year-olds coming on that market being told by a Big employer or other, that Z or X was the plan they should adopt, or that all their mates joined. (Illegal commissions and pay-backs.) Meanwhile, many insurers went bust, leaving ppl without insurance, whereupon the State had to step in.

    The end point was that the State had to legislate more and more and competition was muzzled so forcibly there are only vestiges left and the premiums are in fact fixed in a public-private partnership.

    My point here is that this story is simple, anyone can understand it. (And the numbers of what is paid, what health care costs, etc. are available. 8 million ppl and a cohesive culture is a big help.) So it could be handled in some fashion. The system, imho, will change in the coming years.

    The extremely complex messy and frankly incomprehensible Obamacare (1) + other systems in the US is not amenable to reasonable adjustment or change. Everything is hidden in endless onion layers of complexity, the health care system involves Fed, State Govs., insurers, med care entities (from the AMA to hospitals to Health Care Corps > endless administration), diverse programs federal or not (veteran care, Indian care, Medicare now different here or there), the IRS in the shape of tax credits / subsidies, the cost of med. materiel, like drugs, in the hand of yet others, e.g. Big Pharma with a powerful lobby, medical machine and material Cos., the FDA, emergency room care and its billing and write-offs, Fed. programs that come close to health (WIC) and on and on.

    What Obamacare hides, if anything, is a matter of speculation.

    But it cannot provide improvement except for a narrow, accidental demographic. ACA is not ‘health care’ or ‘health insurance’, it is competition for gouging from many parties, and a smokescreen over it all.

    1. I read 400 pages of the ACA.

    1. Martin Finnucane

      It’s a beautiful beast. Like most followers of NC, I howl for the blood of the rentiers and all that, but I’ve got a soft spot for dogs. Cats too, but mostly dogs (no offense to my calico.)

  8. diptherio

    Re: Why I Will Never, Ever, Go Back to the United States

    We are the douche-bags of the world, it’s true. I’ve been harassed by customs at LAX (for not having a job after returning from a year of volunteer work overseas) and I’m a citizen! I feel sorry for any non-citizen who has to enter this country.

    I once took a couple of buck knives to Nepal as gifts for friends. They had about 3″ blades, and I could have sworn I stuck them in my checked bag. However, while trying to leave the Bangkok airport, security found the knives in the bottom of my carry-on (Somehow I had made it through LAX with them on my person: go TSA!). They didn’t freak out, just took the knives, put them in an envelope and told me I could pick them up in Kathmandu when I arrived. The security guys thought it was funny and everyone was quite nice, even though I had ‘travelling hippie’ written all over me….not the treatment I would have recieved in my own country.

    1. optimader

      Customs in Reykjavík, Iceland consists of a smiling, polite guy waving you through so you don’t plug up the queen at the turnstyle. I seriously love that country.

      1. Glenn Condell

        ‘Customs in Reykjavík, Iceland consists of a smiling, polite guy waving you through so you don’t plug up the queen at the turnstyle. I seriously love that country.’

        Well, that is a country where the citizens are capable of rocking up to the parliament and forcing a defeat on the banks, and then jail the PM for good measure. A nation that revolted when the US tried to annex it as part o NATO in 1949:

        Perhaps their functionaries are pleasant because they are fairly happy and they are fairly happy because they feel they have some agency, some control over their own lives. Maybe their US counterparts do not, which might account for their boorishnness.

    2. Walter Map

      American have always been provincial boors, even before it was pointed out in The Ugly American. The U.S. has a long and distinguished history of massacring indigneous populations, starting with the pilgrim’s Thanksgiving massacre and expanding around the world: Philippines, Indochina, Central America, central Asia, western Asia, etc.

      Americans have always had the reputation for being the worst kind of soulless money-grubbers:

      At the end of the Eighteenth Century a Frenchman, the Chevalier de Beaujour, wrote on his return from North America, “The American loses no opportunity to acquire wealth. Gain is the subject of all his conversations, and the motive for all his actions. Thus, there is perhaps no civilized nation in the world where there is less generosity in the sentiments, less elevation of soul and of mind, less of those pleasant and glittering illusions that constitute the charm or the consolation of life. Here, everything is weighed, calculated and sacrificed to self-interest.”

      Another Frenchman, the Baron de Montlezun, added, “In this country, more than any other, esteem is based on wealth. Talent is trampled underfoot. How much is this man worth? they ask. Not much? He is despised. One hundred thousand crowns? The knees flex, the incense burns, and the once-bankrupt merchant is revered like a god.”

      The British went even farther than the French. “They are escaped convicts. His Majesty is fortunate to be rid of such rabble. Their true God is power.”

      European tourists do visit the US, but only once, after disbelieving the stories of returned tourists about what a dump it is. And that was before it went fascist.

      Scientists are leaving in droves because STEM turned out to be lying corporatist propaganda.

      Google “leaving the US” and you get over a billion hits.

      Amerikan exceptionalism? Who do they think they’re kidding?

    3. Jmd

      Ugh, the Ugly American Border Guards are protecting your hairy, hippy a**. I love stories like these and I’m thrilled that Niels Gerson Lohman will never attempt to cross our borders again. Send him to wherever Snowden is creeping around.

      1. Jason Ipswitch

        Protecting him from what exactly? Less than perfect English and different ideas? Yeah, that’s worth a trillion a year. (Actually, it probably is woth that much to the Tea Party and their ilk.)

    4. diptherio

      In the interests of balance, I will say that I’ve also had positive interactions with TSA employees. I don’t think it’s necessarily a matter of bad people, more a matter of bad (authoritarian) agency culture.

      1. optimader

        It’s a leviathan agency tasked with fairly hopeless responsibilities that it stumbles through with career employees that aren’t exactly grabbing for the brass ring.

        Some are purely well intentioned bureaucrats, some are ignorant, surly, bureaucrats and the population is naturally distributed between the two.
        The first thing to understand is the employees did not slip through NASA’s recruitment program, If you have a history of eccentric travel in your passport, anticipate being asked some filtering questions. It is what it is.

        I’ve have so far found I can manage the interaction favorably by not being a dick and answering questions directly. Assume you are not dealing with the smartest folk in the world, be polite and look them in the eye.

        1. anon y'mouse

          because all smart people the u.s. over are automatically screened through the nasa/STEM/smart people filter, right?

          class and race and gender and life’s little tragedies and such have no bearing on how people end up in jobs like the TSA, or other government/bureaucratic functions.

          yes, everyone you meet outside of the vaunted halls of Boeing is a mouthbreathing fool. it’s best to approach life like that. as though bootstrap mentality is only active as an economic function.

          1. optimader

            Facts of life A’mous.

            Same w/ the Air Marshall Program. The people that gravitate to these jobs, GENERALLY, are comfortable performing, structured, incredibly boring, repetitive tasks. And the population that fall into Customs/Air Marshall jobs don’t fall into them as a last resort, they seek these positions out. BTW, TSA agents are professionally several echelons below Customs/FAM agents.

            “..class and race and gender..”
            I don’t view it in class warfare terms as you might? Actually HLS is I am confident, scrupulously nonprejudiced and equal opportunity in it’s hiring.

            “yes, everyone you meet outside of the vaunted halls of Boeing is a mouthbreathing fool. blah blah blah”

            Your Hyperbole not mine, actually best to approach everyone w/ respect but understand the mentality of where their coming from. Particularly if they have some law enforcement position.

    5. take off your enuresis pantaloons and be a man

      Running into guys like Niels may be the most beneficial part of getting out of the US and into the wider world. It would do Jmd a world of good. Imagine him knowing a guy who is comfortable in the world. He can go to a nice place and enjoy it and not obsess about boogiemen out to get him, lurking behind every tree. Niels is not afraid like Jmd. Niels doesn’t have to hide at home. It’s stunning, the contrast between foreigners and provincial Americans, chicken-shit scared of their shadows, jumping out of their goose-bump wussy skin at all kinds of made-up enemies. Americans are brainwashed to be cowards, trusting only in gangs of armed goons they can suck up to. That’s the totalitarian way.

      So naturally it’s highly adaptive for DHS to keep his sort out of the country. Under Neils’ influence, people might stop taking their security parasites seriously. And then they would have to stop sucking the federal tit and get real jobs – no more white man’s welfare phony cop jobs.

    6. JTFaraday

      “I’ve been harassed by customs at LAX (for not having a job after returning from a year of volunteer work overseas) and I’m a citizen!”

      Amazing. And why is this any of their business?

  9. MikeW_CA

    “Oregon Tea Party founder hasn’t paid his mortgage in three years” I thought Tea Partiers didn’t have mortgages, only live in houses owned outright.

    1. Ron

      Expect to see a rise in negative media stories about or directed at the Tea Party in this case one of its so called leaders. The issue is will this attention actually help the Tea Party with its rank and file or trim off a few House seats in non Southern/border states.

  10. Kurt Sperry

    “No pity for the Dutch novelist without a good explanation for why he went to Yemen (beyond “flora and fauna”). Plus, his writing is terrible. And yes, I know English isn’t his first language, but I never met a Dutch speaker whose English was not near-native flawless.”

    Socotra Island, Yemen is a well known ecotourism destination long noted for its unique and fascinating flora and fauna. And the expectation that all Dutch are fully fluent in English based on a stereotype is ridiculous. Why make unkind assumptions with no actual factual basis supporting them? It’s simply not a nice thing to do.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One can not be near-native flawless in a new language without seeing the world as the natives.

      To learn the imperial tongue, you have to think like an imperialist.

      And the brain is not a computer.

      When you think like an imperialist, your brain physically changes to accompany that new way of seeing and thinking.

      That’s why when one see foreign revolutionaries who speak in near-native flawless imperial tongue, one wonders if they are agents of the imperial security bureau or its propaganda movie-making industry.

      It’s more assuring to see indigenous liberators who don’t verbal-speak/body-speak, don’t entertain themselves and don’t dress like they are part of the empire.

  11. joeshump

    “Lambert color-coding coming!”

    Those are always some of my favorite pieces to read on NC — thank you Lambert!

    1. Jmd

      And if he had been stuck in Yemen, or kidnapped by local Somalis, do you think it would have been the Dutch rescuing you, Niels Gerson Lohman? Doubtful!

      1. chris

        The Dutch are too smart to attempt a rescue of those who would be targeted by Obama’s drones… I imagine they’d attempt to address the situation through diplomacy and an enlightened understanding of the rights of man.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Boy, are you narrowminded.

            I had an Australian friend go (a woman) and she said it was terrific.

            1. optimader

              Many terrific places in the world, Yemen is very old, no doubt it has it’s share. Is the risk/reward to travel there favorable now? Absolutely not.
              If this defines narrowminded, I’m good with that.

  12. fresno dan

    Why I Will Never, Ever, Go Back to the United States Huffington Post (Richard Smith). You need to read this.

    The best explanation for my libertarian streak. Its not just the jackbooted thuggery of the officials – its the sheer incompetence and ignorance. These people just aren’t very smart…and their dumbness drives the competent, honest, and resourceful from government service.

    But why get angry with those particular individuals – they are doing what the leaders of both political parties want them to do…security theatre. But the results aren’t make believe.

  13. dearieme

    “Why I Will Never, Ever, Go Back to the United States”: I’m sorry to say that I’ve met a few people who feel like that. Their objection isn’t so much to the US behaving hysterically, with no sense of proportion – though that does grate – but to the stupidity, rudeness and ignorance of the operatives.

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      Did you read what happened?

      Not going back is completely rational.

      They didn’t let him in. Why try if you might fail? He wasted a ton of time and money.

  14. Garrett Pace

    Hey, remember when the word “Syria” was on the lips of righteous chickenhawks everywhere? Yeah, me neither it was like three whole weeks ago.

    I pay less and less attention to the “news” anymore; it’s all just a distracting sideshow.

  15. Garrett Pace

    Broken oceans?

    Not “broken” – the ocean is doing what it does. Mr. Sun keeps pouring down abundant energy for resourceful organisms to exploit. We will have to show a lot of flexibility as a species to continue to benefit from it, however. We’d better learn to like jellyfish, for one…

    1. jrs

      I have had the thought that nuclear meltdown mutated species might be the only ones to survive climate change. Time to go to visit the nuclear plant at Fukushima and procreate.

  16. LibSoc

    I know this is a bit meta but I also think it is kind of important. Why do you occaionally act as a signal boost to someone as horrible as Cowen? Let him an his merry band of monsters have their own section of hell.

      1. liberal

        Heard him on NPR. Guy’s such a piss-poor economist he’s apparently unacquainted with “rent collection”.

  17. JGordon

    In regards to the Ocien is Broken post, I aslo ready this one from Dmitry Orlov this morning:

    It seems to me that we are headed for environmental collapse and extinction as a species. Although when we go we’re also dumb enough to take the rest of the planet with us, so there’ll be no second chances for earth.

    So what will you all do? Do you want to live comfortably right up until the end and then peacefully commit suicide? Or do you want to accept reality and start working to salvage what little we can before society collapses so that your kids might have a future?

      1. Kurt Sperry

        If the death of the biosphere is as inevitable as the fundamentalist doomers believe, there is obviously no point in doing anything to delay that inevitability. Why not go out in a blaze of fossil fueled glory then? It will make not the slightest difference.

        Ignoring doomers is therefore a necessary prerequisite to doing anything positive at all.

    1. Nathanael

      The biosphere as a whole will be fine. Most bacteria will do fine for sure. Many single-celled eukaryotes (amebas, etc.) will do fine. In fact, the majority of plants will do fine!

      It’s just humanity and the ecology which WE depend on who are at risk.

    2. anon y'mouse

      thanks for this. I have been reading this guy for years. he gets it, and is nothing if not relentless in his criticism of our society, even as it includes him. he is also boldly willing to take the hit and say what he believes. I respect him, even if I don’t know whether we’d agree on all things.

  18. diptherio

    File Under: The More Things Change…

    …their “thrust,” the senator said, was that “the principle purpose of the tax cuts was to provide a basis on which to shrink government.”


    …Reagan “hopes to persuade Congress of the necessity of spending reductions by means of an immense deficit…” [said Von Hayek]
    ~Tom Wicker, NYT, July 29, 1985

    Check out the editorial cartoon too…they could have rerun that one a week ago…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The word ‘government’ is like another word, money.

      Everyone means it differently.

      For some, government means armies.

      For others, it means free casino money.

      And a few who cling to the belief that it means the place where public servants serve the people.

      If it’s about shrinking the number of secret-file clerks, we should definitely shrink government.

  19. Dan

    Speaking as a renter with a crappy credit score, I would love to have my rent payments (which I have never missed or paid late) included in my credit report. I know a lot of people who, like me, prioritize rent before other payments (I haven’t tried homelessness and really don’t ever want to), who would only be helped if it were included in the credit score.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For those who borrowed to buy a house or a car or to go on a vacation, some say there should be a debt jubilee.

      For those who signed a 12 month rental lease, and can’t fulfill it, for example, you are on the hook – no lease jubilee. A lease contract is not considered as a loan obligation; it’s a lease obligation. There is no help for you. And if there is one more housing bubble, you don’t get to benefit from it; most likely will see your rent go up when you renew.

      But we must re-inflate the housing market to help the middle class (so we don’t have to address the wage stagnation issue).

  20. Oligarco

    Re the Dutchman getting stopped at the border: it’s too perfect to believe. The whole thing reads like something crafted to stir up liberals with cliches about border agents, namely the ones who read HuffPo regularly. Multiple searches? Check. Cluelessness? Check. Islamophobia? Check (sorta). A sympathetic foreign official? Check. All that was missing was a Texas accent and some offhand racist remark.

    The comments were pretty funny, since a lot of people there were outraged because he didn’t look like a terrorist, i.e. he was white. Instead, they relied on their training to screen the guy: acted suspiciously, had odd items on him, and had traveled to two countries which have had recent terrorist insurgencies (the Tamil Tigers were only defeated in 2009). When Yemen was mentioned he starts reciting facts that sound like he read them after a quick scroll through Wikipedia and brought up al-Qaeda. Being a smartass and suggesting that the levees in New Orleans might break again soon certainly didn’t help his case.

  21. RO

    Please read the story of the Wall Street Journal (10/22/2013) “Evangelical Leader Preaches a Pullback From Politics, Culture Wars”.

    Read the entire article because at the end, the Big Rats are signaling that they are ready to jump ship.

  22. optimader

    Re: Shell Claims Global Liquid Fuel Demand will Peak in 2035 OilPrice. Ugh.

    They might have a shred of credibility if they could accurately predict demand in , say, 5 years?

    Does this take into account relocating all those costal residents after the western Antarctic icesheet slides into the ocean?

  23. MKTM

    I came back into the US with my husband Saturday after a week in Mexico. After 30 minutes in line I turned to R and said “I hate coming back into this fucking country”. It was the security video that was getting to me. Five huge monitors playing the same fear-mongering, subliminally intimidating bullshit on a 2-minute loop, unceasing, while speakers all over the immigration area blared the narrative at you.

    When we finally made it within 10 people of an agent, the little girl a few groups ahead of us started to cry and then threw up all over herself, her mother, and a good portion of the floor. Her flustered father proceeded to try and clean up the whole mess with a packet of baby wipes while mom comforted the child. No sign of help from any of the agents or people herders in their uniforms and walkie-talkies. A few kind souls stepped out of their lines to offer help (two mothers, clearly feeling sympathetic and thanking god it wasn’t them).

    When this family made it to the agent, he questioned them for a solid ten minutes while the girl continued to cry and puke slowly dried all over mom’s shoulder. He made them each provide their fingerprints, even though that is only required for foreign visitors, not residents, and we were in the residents-only line.

    I finally stepped out of line to tell one of the line-minders that a little girl had thrown up and it was starting to smell pretty bad in that area. He glared at me, rolled his eyes, and then turned his back on me to speak into his radio. He didn’t say a word to me. I got back in line.

    This whole setup is about power and control. It’s not explicit – people conform to the rolls they are given, especially when they are given a little sliver of power in an otherwise shitty job. The overall effect is chilling.

    1. Nathanael

      Soon it will be easier to come in with the coyotes even if your papers are in order.

      One thing about this national insecurity state bullshit — the petty thugs aren’t competent. They’re easy pickings for the competent.

  24. Jerome Armstrong

    I clicked on “Why I Will Never, Ever, Go Back to the United States” thinking I’d get to read about an escape… a bit dissapointed.

    1. Walter Map

      Tales of heroic escapes are still to come. You will not find them uplifting.

      An Iron Curtain is Descending

      Most Americans are unaware of the new police state procedures of U.S. officials who seek to keep millions of Americans from traveling–including trips across the border to our North, once thought the least difficult international frontier in the world to cross.

      There are now regular stops an “internal” checkpoints for cars traveling toward, away from or near the border in states from Maine to Washington. This includes permanent checkpoints on interstates one hundred or more miles from the border in New York and Vermont, as well as moving patrols who stop motorists in all parts of the border states.

      Some have called these “whiteness checkpoints,” since the border guards often pull over dark-skinned motorists and people perceived as Middle Easterners.

      This is in addition to the “exit interviews” of Americans leaving by train or bus, which are now routine.

      “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air–however slight–lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”

      – William O. Douglas

      1. Nathanael

        The American Iron Curtain has been coming down for a while. It’ll take a while for most people to notice. I think people are going to rebel against this more than you might expect, given that it’s completely illegal *and* represents the worst of the USSR.

  25. liberal

    “Silicon Valley’s Secessionist Movement Is Growing”

    What a bunch of morons. Cf Robert Gordon:

    “A thought experiment helps to illustrate the fundamental importance of the inventions of IR #2 compared to the subset of IR #3 inventions that have occurred since 2002. You are required to make a choice between option A and option B. With option A you are allowed to keep 2002 electronic technology, including your Windows 98 laptop accessing Amazon, and you can keep running water and indoor toilets; but you can’t use anything invented since 2002.

    “Option B is that you get everything invented in the past decade right up to Facebook, Twitter, and the iPad, but you have to give up running water and indoor toilets. You have to haul the water into your dwelling and carry out the waste. Even at 3am on a rainy night, your only toilet option is a wet and perhaps muddy walk to the outhouse. Which option do you choose?”

    These people are idiots.

    It reminds me of something ISTR having read: Bill Gates was at some meeting of tech giants trying to figure out what to do to help Africa or the 3rd World or something. Gates thought of things like “help supply potable water”; the other guys were focused on…bringing them…”tech”. (Not that I endorse every policy orientation of the Gates Foundation.)

    I’d love to see them secede. Nothing better than for them to learn the lesson of what the State is for than for them to tear each other’s throats out.

    1. anon y'mouse

      give me my 8 track tapes back@!

      naw, was too young for those. I do remember records, though. stuff sounded more ‘real’ then.

      betcha we could do without everything post 1984. that was a really great year for pop music. besides, that’s AFTER Synchronicity came out but before all that new age blather that STing did when he tried to become a guru-demigod.

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