Links 11/27/13

The Seahorse’s Odd Shape Makes It a Weapon of Stealth Smithsonian

Salt Lake TPP Talks End with Growing Pressure to Announce “Deal” at December TPP Ministerial, but No Resolution of Major Controversies Eyes on Trade

Here’s why Obama trade negotiators push the interests of Hollywood and drug companies WaPo (!)

Breadlines Return Times. Just in time for the holiday season!

A Fake Slum for Luxury Tourists Who Don’t Want to See Real Poverty Gizmodo

Revealed: Goldman Sachs clients’ £12m Royal Mail coup Independent

S&P says banks may have to spend extra $104bn on mortgage cases FT. Wouldn’t it be cheaper and more fun to throw some executives under the bus of the criminal justice system?

The Importance of Bubbles: Who’s Pocketing the Cash CEPR

A Way With Words: The Economics of the Fed’s Press Conference Liberty Street Economics. I’m just not sure which is the efficient markets part and which is the behavioral economics part and which is the open fraud and manipulation part.

How To Talk To Your Family About The Taper Over Thanksgiving Business Insider. Note: “How to talk to you ____ about ____” is a snowclone

WBG Topical Taxonomy Another Word for It. There seem to be gaps.

A bitter harvest in Marinaleda El Pais

ObamaCare Launch

Court to rule on birth-control mandate (UPDATED) SCOTUSblog

Obamacare Deadline May Not Offer Expected Answers: Q&A Reuters

U.S. says new queuing system will help if gets too much traffic Reuters. Yeah, Expedia redefines success with the exact same technology. Oh, wait… =

Do we really need exchanges? Incidental Economist. Of course you don’t. The Canadian single payer system gets along fine without them, and bent the cost curve in the mid-70s.

The Single-Payer Alternative Times. ObamaCare as a teaching opportunity.

Among American workers, poll finds unprecedented anxiety about jobs, economy WaPo

Ratio of Job Seekers to Job Openings Holds Steady at 2.9-to-1, Equal to the Worst Month of Early 2000s Downturn EPI

Two Amazing Charts Economics One

The Word Is That Fourth-Quarter Real GDP Growth Is Likely to Come in at Something Like 1.0%-1.5%, Measured as an Annual Growth Rate… WCEG

“Businesses Hire When They are Swamped with Demand, Not When They Have High Profits” Angry Bear

Which Side of the Barricade Are You On? Politico

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Penny Lane: Gitmo’s secret CIA facility Miami Herald

Obama’s overhaul of spy programs cloaked in more secrecy McClatchy. Shocker!

Exclusive: Inside America’s Plan to Kill Online Privacy Rights Everywhere The Cable

Snowden spyware revelations: we need to unmask the five-eyed monster Guardian

Middle East: Cracking up FT

Americans back Iran deal by 2-to-1 margin: Reuters/Ipsos poll Reuters

It Is Public Support For Diplomacy That Pushes Obama Moon of Alabama

Solar Dominates New US Generating Capacity Earth Techling

Fracking Bonanza Eludes Wastewater Recycling Investors Bloomberg

US B-52 bombers challenge disputed China air zone BBC (and Japanese airlines)

Thai Tensions Escalate as Protests Gain Momentum The Diplomat

Pope Francis denounces ‘trickle-down’ economic theories in critique of inequality WaPo

Dalai Lama tells his Facebook friends that religion “is no longer adequate” io9 (furzy mouse)

Tips from a prolific public speaker FT. How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Sistema LRB. Must read.

Antidote du jour (Flying Kiss 12 by Marco Redaelli):

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Antifa

      In American politics, what the public thinks is a matter of manufacturing consent, not asking “consumers” raised from childhood on propaganda swill what their opinion as citizens is. Their opinion is what the media tells them is true.

      No, there has been a collective decision at the highest levels of the US government and its various alphabet agencies that we cannot obtain any benefit at all from a military attack on Iran. All the results of that action — likely something Israel would start and draw us into — are bad for our oil-based economy.

      Recognizing that we cannot benefit from crushing Iran comes from the Pentagon and CIA, most likely, and it leads directly to a reappraisal of our relationship with Israel and with Saudi Arabia.

      Which is being explored and approvingly mentioned in the media, thus swinging public opinion to the idea.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Big government ≠ Big Small People

        The government represents the people, like a lawyer can represent you.

        Unlike a lawyer, who is not supposed to work for someone else against you in the future on the same case, a government can make and execute laws that you are for when you are in power but you are against when you’re out of power.

        In any case, representation is not the same as equal to.

        These are all the ‘big’ things that are not you:

        Big Government
        Big Business
        Big Religion

        The only good bigness is Big Small People.

        Notice no one is paying money to have professors research, publish and advocate Big Small People.

        And we believe them.

        We keep pushing for other bignesses, except making ourselves big.

        No Big Small People :<

      2. davidgmills

        Except the CIA and the alphabet soup of federal military agencies knew that about Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, but somehow we ended up in those wars as well.

  1. Skeptic


    Sure sounds a lot like American Life to me. Maybe a few of the techniques and manifestations different but basically the same. Just for my own North American life, I could list similar experiences and observations regarding the police, military, educational institutions, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, etc.

    As a filmmaker, Mr. Pomerantsev would certainly not fare well in Blacklisting Tinseltown. Like the infamous Gestapo: “They have ways of making you silent.”

    1. diptherio

      It sounds like the Russians have reached a more advanced state of this particular social disease than we have, but we’re both traveling down the same road.

      We and the Russians, imho, need not just reform, but out-right revolt (which should not be read as any kind of call for violence). When the PTB have become so obviously corrupted, the legitimate response, in my mind, is to refuse to pay them any heed. We need a citizen’s mutiny, and sooner rather than later.

      1. XO

        But we are soft, comparatively well-fed, and entertained, and our net stupidity has apparently warped the bell curve and thrown the averages lower.

        1. Procopius

          Well, the article on breadlines pointed out that one reason we haven’t seen visible suffering like the 1930s version is the safety net provisions that the New Deal put in place. I think as the 0.1% succeed in destroyimg those programs we will gradually see the old forms of suffering return. Only then will people begin to realize the need for some kind of mutiny. I don’t think it will happen soon — certainly not in my lifetime. It took centuries of hardship and deprivation for working people to get so desperate that the PTB were finally scared. It may also require some outside event. Remember that the plutocrats were terrified that the Bolsheviks would be able to “export” revolution. That was one of Hitler’s selling points, both to the public and to the industrialists/capitalists who supported his rise to power. That was why Woodrow Wilson kept American troops in northern Russia until 1919, fighting the Red Army. Before 1917 they were terrified by Anarchists, who never numbered more than Al Qaeda. After 1917 they feared American workers might see a working example of a workers’ paradise.

        1. susan the other

          And the good things in Russia? Well, for one, there is a new wave of garden permaculture going on which produces @50% of Russia’s food supply. Not bad. Especially in that cold climate. I think this was an Ellen Brown post on Max today. Somewhere on Max.

            1. susan the other

              It is posted on today’s Max, Nov 27, “Monsanto, TPP and the Global Food Dominance” by Ellen Brown and she cited this Russian account from Vladimir Negre who is author of “Ringing Cedars” which is a series of stuff on this topic.

  2. AbyNormal

    yep, throw birth control and bring in the kegs…”WCGW”

    “The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What’s that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating

    and you finish off as an orgasm.”
    George Carlin

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Hopefully we heat up the universe while we are alive.

        And that, in fact, is what we do – we generate friction.

  3. DakotabornKansan

    The snowclone silly season opens…

    “How to talk to your family about the taper over Thanksgiving”

    “How to talk to your ____ about ____” is a snowclone.

    A short history of “snowclones…”

    “Phrases for lazy writers in kit form”… “the thing we need a name for is a multi-use, customizable, instantly recognizable, time-worn, quoted or misquoted phrase or sentence that can be used in an entirely open array of different jokey variants by lazy journalists and writers.”

    “Shortly after composing this post, I proposed a word for these formulaic clichés: “snowclones.”… my coinage has become the term of art.”

    “At last a suitable name has been proposed for the some-assembly-required adaptable cliché frames for lazy journalists.” “This term [“snowclones”] was coined at 22:56:57 (that’s 3 seconds before 10:57 p.m.) on Thursday, January 15, 2004, in Northridge, California.”

    Things you hope never to say:

  4. diptherio

    While the new Pope’s economic populism is definitely refreshing, Catholics still have institutional sexism to deal with:

    A New Direction for the Catholic Church!? #2 ~Michael Johnson, GEO blog

    The NYTimes article focuses almost solely on the political economic parts of the encyclical, giving little attention to the Pope’s re-affirmation of a male only priesthood and the Church’s firm opposition to abortion.

    1. savedbyirony

      The abortion teaching, that is not going to change, and as a catholic i don’t think i want it to, which is not to say i want all abortions made illegal (i don’t). It means i don’t want the Catholic church to promote abortions as a form of ending unwanted pregnancies for its own members. (As for their trying to prohibit all abortions, including those performed to save a woman’s life, that is wrong, it should stop and perhaps under Francis a more broadminded approach to such life saving medical procedures will develop.) However, this document does not talk about other presently prohibited forms of contraception (which 96% of practicing catholics in the U.S. use at sometime in their lives anyway) and those prohibitions ARE included in the survey being circulated to all catholics at present. In the 70’s we came close to having a better official teaching towards the use of contraceptions and maybe we will see a positive change occur now.

      Concerning the sexism, oh yes it’s there and considering we are talking about changing the views of a man who has been formed and worked his entire life in one of the longest existing continuous old boys clubs, what can we realistically expect.Women being ordained RC priests, not a step this fellow could or should be expected to take. Their becoming Deacons is a growing possibility and a step to full inclusion in the clergy. Women leave the catholic church in droves in the west and many refuse to raise their children in it because of the sexism. The catholic Sisters (polls show) are held in far more respect by the laity than either the Vatican hierarchy or the clergy. If and when women become officailly ordained to the priesthood in the RC church (there are actually already a few ordained women catholic priests)it will come from pressure from the bottom up. Pressure that is growing due to the sex abuse crimes and cover-ups, lack of priests, sexism, ect. and hopefully it will happen in a way and at a time that will not cause a major schism.

      Sometimes, dealing with catholicism i think it would actually be more dangerous for Francis’ life if he supported the total inclusion and equal (not special!) dignity of women in the church than when he speaks bluntly of unfettered capitalism being an evil.
      And for now, his social justice message is enough, as fighting poverty is both a cause that helps the majority of people at least alittle but perhaps women and girls even more so.

      1. diptherio

        “(there are actually already a few ordained women catholic priests)”

        Really? Where? How? Does the Pope know? Has the Almighty been informed? Got a link for that (I’m too lazy to ddg)?

        The Minister at my mother’s United Methodist church is an ex-nun. She felt called to preach, and that wasn’t allowed to her as a woman in the RC church. She’s a great minister and person in general, very focused on social justice in the community and world at large.

        1. MikeNY

          As the saying goes, “the Church is the cross on which Christ is crucified.” Dorothy Day was fond of repeating that.

          But Francis is right. We need to stop being afraid to say out loud: our economic system is immoral. An economic system in which 0.0001% of the population holds more wealth than 50% of the population is corrupt, immoral, and indefensible.

          (And that is just to speak of the United States.)

        2. savedbyirony

          There are catholic churches that are not Roman catholic, and they have women priests. (I think it is important for catholics to know this especially because R.catholicism is the single largest christian religion in the U.S., and catholics leaving the Roman catholic church comprise the second largest, so to speak. Women denied ordination is not a fundemental teaching or dogma, whether the discussion of it happening is given the official silent treatment or not. Catholics who leave the RC church particularly for reasons of sexism should know there are other catholic churches to join, especially since they share the same social justice message which i think is uniquely valuable in our world and the growth of those churches helps to further the cause of expanding the priesthood in RC. Plus, no one should be denied their faith communities particular religious mythos because of unjust sexism.)

          As for officially ordained women roman catholic priests, there have been a few bishops in the past who ordained woman (who had been trained for the vocation) to intentionally go into prisons to serve women being denied religious support in certain countries. Now, we’re talking about relgious rights here, so like the old anointing of kings, if it’s done it’s done. There have been other women so trained and annointed by “rogue” reforming bishops as well. The RC church knows about, they keep it quiet, they at times ex communicate (sic) for it. And if you are interested, there is a documentary on the subject out there which i think is called “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican”.

  5. TimR

    Paul Jay/ The Real News:

    “Investigating the Saudi Government 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disillusionment – Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt1

    On RAI with Paul Jay, Sen. Bob Graham explains why he persists in making the case that facts directly connect the Saudi government with 9/11 conspirators -”

    That is basically like saying factions of the US govt/ power elite are probably connected to 9/11 conspirators, since our power elite families are tied to Saudi power elites. Is SA really going to do something like that without the consent of some elements of the US govt (shadow govt at least)?

  6. AbyNormal

    China’s Latest Cyberweapon Unveiled, Tianhe-2 Is Huge, Fast And Dangerous
    “With the capacity to perform over 38 quadrillion calculations per second, and China’s propensity for cyberattacks, the Tianhe-2 has surely caught the attention of defense officials in Washington,” FloatingPath said.

    “…But one fact might put U.S. cyberdefenders a bit more at ease. “According to reports, Chinese computer scientists are still working on porting applications to the Tianhe-2. In contrast, on the first day of operation, Oak Ridge’s Titan had 5 applications ready to crunch simulation data for experiments ranging from combustion simulations to atmospheric modeling,” noted”
    THANK THE BUDDHAS …i still have time to send’m a xmas basket of BTCs.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ‘You have nuclear bombs. Well, I have too.’

      ‘You erect a big government*. Why, thank you. Now I can use it for imperial adventures when I move in to the palace.’

      ‘You have Titan? I have Tianhe-2.’

      What do we deduce here?

      It’s not shining toys; it’s people stupid. Or rather, it’s stupid people, which we all are.

      Unless we do something about ourselves, these toys just make the world a much more dangerous place.

      In fact, it would a good idea for a universal ban on all hese toys.

      * In case some people confuse big government with big people, they are not. In fact, the only bigness I can think of is Big Small-People. We need to empower little people. One way is to put GDP sharing in the Constitution. BIG SMALL PEOPLE POWER!

      1. AbyNormal

        BSPP! i don’t care who ya are…“You wanna fly, you got to give up the sh!t that weighs you down.”
        Toni Morrison/Song of Solomon

      2. XO

        “You erect a big government”

        Is “erect” the stereotypical Chinese pronunciation of “elect,” or did you mean to say that “erections” are a viable alternative to “elections?”


        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Sometimes I felt like cracking a joke or two about people asking why we American would get all excited about an election, because it’s not like it’s an, er, what you wrote, you know.

          ‘Honey, can you quit watching football on TV. We have an important e*ection coming. Everyone is excited.’

    2. Benedict@Large

      A little misleading. FLOPS is FLOating Point instructions per Second. That means it’s a machine especially built for scientific math. Which doesn’t make it any better for cyber attacks than a regular machine at that speed. I’d be more worried about them rendering complex engineering design with that machine (which it will do very nicely), than I would be about its attack capability. Which is to say that the machine may well out-compete us, but not by stealing from us.

      1. AbyNormal

        thanks Benedict, maybe it’ll go off an play games with itself…let us continue to manually fu*k up everything within reach ‘)

        Frank: But Dave, I can’t put my finger on it, but I sense something strange about him.

      2. optimader

        As you point out, more boring wonky than sensationally rascally, as you point out, it’s suited for simulations like nuclear bomb triggers and weather study.

        Aaand, it’s Intel Inside!

        Visit to the National University for Defense Technology Changsha, China

        …At the IHPCF workshop Xiangke Liao from NUDT presented details on the new Tianhe-
        2 (TH-2) also called the Milkyway-2 supercomputer. The project is sponsored by the 863
        High Technology Program of the Chinese Government, the Government of Guangdong
        province, and the Government of Guangzhou city. The system will be in the National
        Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou (NSCC-GZ) by the end of the year. It will provide
        an open platform for research and education and provide high performance computing
        service for southern China. At the end of the first day of IHPCF there was a tour of the
        TH-2 computer room. The IHPCF participants had an opportunity to see the system and receive addition information on various components of the computer and its operation….

        …The complete system has a theoretical peak performance of 54.9 Pflop/s. It is based on Intel’s Ivy Bridge and Xeon Phi
        components and a custom interconnect network. There are 32,000 Intel Ivy Bridge Xeon
        sockets and 48,000 Xeon Phi boards for a total of 3,120,000 cores. This represents the
        world’s largest (public) installation of Intel Ivy Bridge and Xeon Phi’s processors

        BUT….Here’s the game for home that you can play w/ the kids this Holiday!

        1. AbyNormal

          laaaawd i was hopin you’d chime in…ThanX Opti
          (now if only i understood an 8th of wtf you posted’)

          1. optimader


            My takeaway is it’s a Chinese homebrew knockoff using intel architectural bits. Media would like to frame it in the context of “cyberattack voodoo”but really as pointed out above its for crunching simulations.

      3. hunkerdown

        What you call a supercomputer, Rambo calls one shift’s output from the Foxconn plant. (Speaking of snowclones…)

        Seriously, though, the thing appears to be made from much the same Intel CPUs as in high-end PCs. It certainly could make a nice number crunching farm with all that hardware float support, but it could also make a very capable password cracker, probably delivering guess-and-check brute force well over the trillion guesses per second Edward Snowden suggested was representative of the global intelligence adversary.

    1. anon y'mouse

      you americans, with your violent neural pathways on constant priming mode.

      (thought the same thing, myself)

  7. down2long

    Just the prove how ineffectual all of us trying to get the banks and their evil cohorts to change, I offer this example of how isolated they are from the rest of us:

    A Student Called Wells Fargo Bankers ‘Boners’ In An Email — And It Got Back To Wells Fargo

    Read more:

    I have called the banks much, much worse in various venues, (“bags of steaming pus filled human excrement” is to my mind much stronger than “Boner,”)and the intelligentsia here has offered well reasoned solutions to destroy the banking cartels—and the only thing that gets their attention is being called “boners” or “dufuses.”

    It really is so unfair. Nanksters are different than you and me. Clearly they don’t have to pay attention to us. They are well protected in their grsnite towers.

    1. diptherio

      Here’s my idea, that I might get around to actually carrying out one day, in hopes someone else might get motivated to do it:

      All of the Wells Fargo branches in my town have a “Wells Fargo Advisors” sign on the front of ’em. My idea was to put my suit and tie on, print myself up a Wells Fargo Advisor name-tag, stand outside their main branch and give customers and passersby advice about Wells Fargo…namely, that they are criminals and should be avoided at all costs. Literature to hand out would include choice quotes from In re: Jones and the other, similar ruling against Wells that came out recently.

      Of course, I’d want to send out press releases as well to try and scare up some media coverage…

      1. AbyNormal

        please set up the media first…maybe one of us’ll spot your mug on the tube an know where to forward the bail money for our very own NC Fearless

    1. craazyman

      I got out of a money losing GLD position today so it’ll probably happen tomorrow or Friday.

      How can anyone take another year of Doom & Gloom? It’s already cost me my future. No get rich quick & it’s the day job for as long as the eye can see.

      It’s been 4 years of Doom & Gloom. Every day. Here and elsewhere.

      When will they admit they were wrong? I won’t name names, but they know who they are. It’s long enough now that it has to be said: They Were Wrong. Now maybe they can naval gaze and come up with something, like they’ll eventually be right, in 2064 for example. Why should anybody read it? That’s not a question I can answer for others.

      1. XO

        Your future is what you make of it — especially in the face of adversity (sometimes, and in many situations, mere survival is an upset victory).

        As contemporary US citizens, we’ve barely scraped the surface of “Doom and Gloom.” We have, however, planted and fertilized a bumper crop of it. Some of those seeds are just breaking the surface, and they have three waxy, toxic leaves.

        You’re gona’ need an ocean of Calamine lotion.

        1. craazyman

          Holy smokes that sounds bad! YOu may be right. I tend to think Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD is what it might be like. But there’ll be a few years beforehand where you can still have some fun — like laying around doing nothing. And you need money for that, usually. That’s where getting rich quick comes in. Also, if you get rich quick you don’t have to work. What’s not to like? It won’t last forever but it’s better than the day job. How wrong have these folks been? They’ve been so wrong, so consistently wrong, so amazingly wrong, that’s it’s almost hard to put into words. If their wrong was an animal it would be a hump-backed whale. If their wrong was a planet, it would be Jupiter. If their wrong was a a tree, it would be a Sequoia. If their wrong was a shoe size, it would be soemthing a circus clown wears that sticks out 3 feet from their toe. If their wrong was a clock, it would be Big Ben. If their wrong was a word in the dictionary, it would be “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”. If their wrong was a waterfall of some kind, it would be Niagra Falls. Just like your money after you take their advice.

      2. craazyboy

        I hear ya, craazyman. It’s hard to stay pessimistic with all the good news out there.

        I’ve been waiting for Fuki to blow and the fallout to come raining down on California’s Central Valley, which is the food supply for almost everyone west of the Rockies. Then it would be time to “buy the dip”, I’d say.

        But even with that investment strategy I feel unlucky still. Not that it won’t happen – but that we find out everyone gets superhuman powers, or even telepathy, then they all quit their jobs and do fun superhuman stuff all day.

        Then I’d be long stock and all the companies close ’cause no one shows up for work. That’s a scary thought.

        1. neo-realist

          My concern about Fuki is that Tepco screws up, radiation floats to the west coast shores and the Japanese and US Governments declare a media blackout on the disaster and we’ll never get the true extent of the radiation contamination of our food supply until the hospitals are overwhelmed with cancer patients. At which point TPTB will react in a fashion similar to that of the financial crisis, “We didn’t know it would be that bad”, “It just grew and overcame us”, “If only we could have known”.

          1. craazyboy

            That it gets here by sea is already guaranteed. The currents will bring it. But in that case, it’s just seafood to worry about. Plus surfing.

            The wildcard is if we get airborne fallout. CA is a huge ag and livestock producer. I haven’t seen anywhere yet that tries to quantify the impact on the food supply, but it sounds bad to me.

            I have been looking into independent sites w/ Geiger counters. UC Berkley has been testing some food products so far. Amazon sells home Geiger counters too – about $400 for a good one – maybe obamacare covers it?

            Here’s a couple sites tracking the news.


            1. neo-realist

              I hope they start labeling meat with origin of produce–I’ll have to start buying from the midwest producers and the southern ones instead of the California ones. The radiation may overcome them as well eventually, but I’ve got more time and consumption ahead.

              1. craazyboy

                We import a lot of Argentina beef. Could become a luxury item. Maybe should buy a ranch down there. Move there too while your at it.

                Yo craazyman! I think I just found a ten bagger!

                1. craazyman

                  that sounds like a lot of work! You want a 10-bagger where your not the one running the bases — let alone going all the way down to Argentina. That’s a long way! It all has to happen with just a few mouse clicks at Charles Schwab while you lay in bed.

            2. anon y'mouse

              try collecting some rainwater and Geigercounter it.

              do the tap water for comparison, I guess?

              love to see the results.

                1. anon y'mouse

                  well, naturally. but it’s interesting that they haven’t updated that page in a while.

                  plus, confirming things yourself would be good. and, if you already have a hammer (Geiger), might as well pound some nails with it.

                  ya never know!

      3. susan the other

        Here’s hoping you sold all your Bitcoins too. Since that’s the craziest bubble I ever. And I ever alot. I was thinkin about this from a different angle – this long misery. Reading the Link on the economics of the Fed’s press conference (Liberty Street) which quoted the FRBNY apparently, I see a small confession: The FOMC conference statements are meant to move markets. So shouldn’t they should admit it openly, as in open markets? This makes Fed policy the most highly transitory sausage afloat. And also my confusion from another post on Max about the petrodollar saturation: I was just wondering if the whole purpose, the real goal of QE might be to get a head start on soaking up all those petro dollars without a sudden, belated jolt of inflation. This way the QE can be offset by zirp and inflation ruthlessly controlled by funneling all the gains to assets and equities… but nevermind.

        1. XO

          The Bitcoin looks very sane and useful next to purely fiat currency.

          I once had a devout and overbearing Catholic friend who decided to comment about how silly a Muslim leader looked in his turban. The dude said, “would you look at his crazy hat!”

          I asked him if he had ever looked at the Pope’s hat.

          Friends, no longer.

          At least Bitcoins aren’t pulled, willy nilly and on demand, out of some Central Banker’s ass.

          1. skippy

            Did someone say money cough… Chartal

            “Chartalism begins when the State designates
            the objective standard which shall correspond to the
            money-of-account. Representative Money begins when
            money is no longer composed of its objective standard.
            Fiat money only appears when the State goes a step
            further and abandons the objective standard.”

            ~John Maynard Keynes.
            A Treatise on Money

            In fact, depending on how you define a few terms, if we simply regard fiat or chartal money as money which is nominally valued greater than the intrinsic value of the materials which comprise it, then ALL MONEY that has ever existed was chartal.

            (Chartal money is what most people mean when they say ‘fiat money’; chartal money has nominal value because the government says so, while fiat money is chartal money THAT ALSO has floating x-rates.)


            Skippy… Store of value – confusion insues.

    2. optimader

      It was an antique aircraft display for the Chinese, but don’t worry your Prime Beef, we have a Kennedy on station in Japan in case a crisis develops.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The B-52 airframe is good ’til 2044, and the avionics and weapons systems are constantly updated. Like a lot of technology, the stuff that was built back in the day is more solid than the newer.

        1. optimader

          Yes I’m casually aware of the B-52 life extension program. Probably just about every part but the nameplates have been replaced/rerated over the service life on the airworthy examples.
          Not withstanding since the last one was built over fifty years ago, they are indeed antique aircraft.

          1. optimader

            And indeed, procurement degeneration has not been kind to the practical capabilities of more recent generations of US military aircraft.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trade negotiation…interests of Hollywood and drug companies.

    And not interests of Wall Street firms?

    In any case, it’s about cultural-cides and wars to push drugs.

    It may not burn fossil fuel and may look ‘clean,’ and many of our cultural mercenary soldiers may think they are saving the world, but make no mistake about it, an imperial culture always kills, maims and terminates with or without prejudice other cultures.

    1. XO

      My son-inlaw — a navy reservist occasionally called back for a tour of duty — never fails to tell his small children, “. . . daddy has been out fighting the bad guys.”

      He also tells them war stories, when he’s never been in a war (stories of attacks on his ship, etc.).

      He doesn’t appreciate it much when I remind him (also in front of the kids), that he is just as likely a bad guy, should his actions injure or kill an innocent person, and that he is a hypocrite for sucking at the taxpayer teat (he is a military contractor when not on duty), while constantly parroting the conservative narrative of self-sustinance, low taxation, and an end to big, wasteful government.

      He could be shitcanned tomorrow, and another would fill his seat without so much as a ripple being generated.

      Self-made man, he is. I wish he would be more contemplative and honest.

      Typical clueless, self-serving, and dishonest “conservative.”

      Nonetheless, he has some great qualities, and I love him as my own.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Sometimes, it’s less messy than that.

        It’s more effectively in killing a culture by whispering ‘look at the big houses, big cars and all the money in that land over there!’

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Housing…get rich scheme…AGAIN!.

    Anything that does not reform the 0.01% is inadequate.

    That inadequate list includes basic income, higher min. wage, government stimuli, more money printing, etc.

    Only wealth tax and GDP sharing can comprehensively reform our 0.01%.

    In fact, a partial solution can be worse than no solution as all.

    1. XO

      One gibbet and a public hanging of a prominent banker (in front of the bull sculpture on Wall St., to make the point perfectly clear), would reform the financial industry, top-to-bottom, and immediately.

      1. Antifa

        Which banker they hang is of little import.

        Who arranges and completes the hanging is of intense interest. They are the new power, be they the Judicial, Executive, Congressional or Military branch of our government, or they are a citizen movement.

        Whodunnit matters a whole lot.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We still need to set up a new ‘world order’ afterwards.

          We still make to make Big Small People permanently.

        2. XO

          Our government is supposed to be a “citizen movement,” so, I guess it would be The People.

          God knows we’re not n charge, now.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The crowning achievement of the 20th-21st century propaganda is the substitution of Big Government for Big Small People.

            People don’t shout for ‘Big Small People Power’ at all…if ever.

            People empower everything but themselves.

  10. diptherio

    Re: Dalai Lama says religion not enough

    Nice to see a world religious leader finally coming to that conclusion.

    I have my doubts, however, about the desirability of placing science as the foundation of our ethics. Take this quote from Sam Harris (from the article):

    The moment we admit that questions of right and wrong, and good and evil, are actually questions about human and animal well-being, we see that science can, in principle, answer such questions…The relevant details of genetics, neurobiology, psychology, sociology, economics etc. are fantastically complicated, but these are domains of facts, and they fall squarely within the purview of science.

    Most everyone reading this blog is well aware that economics has a questionable relationship (at best) to facts and is itself more an ethical than a scientific discipline, i.e. your economic theory is a result of your ethics, not vice versa.

    The same could arguably be said of psychology. Consider that psychological science, until recently, classed homosexuality as a mental illness. Consider the arguments of psychologist Thomas Szaz that the label ‘mental illness’ is really just code for ‘behaviors that make us uncomfortable.’ Contemporary psychological science would surely tell us that medicating children with Ritalin and adults with Zoloft is ethical, as it does now, without considering the environmental factors that lead individuals to have the problems that psychologists seek to medicate away, just as it fails to do now.

    All of which makes this statement of Harris’ highly suspect:

    After all, there are principles of biology, psychology, sociology and economics that will allow us to flourish in this world, and it is clearly possible for us not to flourish due to ignorance of these principles.

    Those principles might exist, but as William James pointed out, even if we knew the truth, we would have no way of knowing that we knew it.

    The Dalai Lama is correct to say that religion is not a sufficient basis for ethics or spirituality. This is obviously true in the modern world, where any number of individual religions, with varying ethical standards, are considered equally legitimate (or illegitimate, depending on your point of view). So, obviously, any one religion will be inadequate to provide a universally acceptable ethical guide.

    However, we might take the many traditions and see where they overlap, where they agree with one another and where they are singular and unique. The latter portions we can toss aside as extraneous agglomerations, but the former, the center of our Venn Diagram, is where we are likely to be able to base a modern ethics.

    Morality has to do with well-being, as Harris states, but a scientifically based morality can have no way of answering “whose well-being?” even if it can answer the questions of how to maximize well-being in particular cases. How should the well-being of a polar bear be weighed against my well-being. How about the well-being of a house fly? Science provides no way of answering these questions, that I can see.

    One final note: Modern, Western, secular Buddhists like Stephen Batchelor, who, “argue that Buddhism should be stripped of all its metaphysical baggage and simplified down to its basic philosophical and existential tenets” are often guilty of a kind of spiritual narcissism; ignoring the outside world and focusing on making themselves feel good through meditation and stretching (yoga)…which navel-gazing they then confuse with spirituality.

    I haven’t looked through a Shambhala Sun or Tricycle magazine for awhile, but the last time I did, I searched in vain for any mention of social justice work, any appeals for charitable projects…just ads for zafus and meditation clocks, and lots of upper-middle class people talking about how they’ve made their lives better through Buddhism. Christian magazines were far more likely to focus on issues of third-world poverty than Buddhist publications. Maybe that’s changed now, idk, but most of the self-proclaimed Buddhist practitioners I do know seem to be at least as selfish as the average individual in society, and just as keen to ignore the problems of others. I think this attitude may be part of what the Dalai Lama is talking about when he says:

    All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.

    Inner values are good and necessary, as is gaining control over inner states of being, but these things are not enough. It is not enough to have compassion for the poor, we must have compassion and act. Secular Buddhists seem to have at least as many problems with that last part as more traditional, religious people.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It sounds like the same debate they had millennia earlier, that might have lead to the idea of bodhisattva – one delays one’s own bliss until others have it too – probably responding to the same reactions you mention here.

      From it, one can see how a religion improvised to meet the needs of the its believers. It was a long, joint human- effort process. Not really that mythical. And this applies to other religions with various denominations, schools and sects as well.

    2. anon y'mouse

      you’ve effectively given a mini-course on ethics here.

      “good” has no clear definition that anyone can really rely upon (too subjective)

      no amount of “is” statements lead to any particular “ought” statement

      I think most religious traditions overlap in many ways as well, but haven’t studied it out in depth. it’s just an intuition at this point.

      ethics can be aided by science like building a bridge can be aided (ha) by engineering, but it can’t tell you where or whether you should be building that bridge at all.

      1. savedbyirony

        The Golden Rule, though phrased differently from religion to religion, is a widely found fundamental teaching both historically and culturally. (A form of it is also very Kantian for anyone who wants to see it argued for from a secular philosophical view.)

  11. wandering mind

    Meta comment

    After being a daily reader of this site for many months I have found it extremely valuable in understanding what has happened over the last five years. It has also been a jumping off place for me to discover more detailed explanations of the economic and political system.

    What I have also noted is that the posts and even links are almost unrelentingly negative, which suggests a cynical rather than a skeptical mindset.

    There does not seem to be much reflection about the effectiveness of various pushbacks by ordinary people. For example, the U.S. did not invade or otherwise attack Syria after the president announced his intention to do so.

    The U.S., despite Israel’s obvious interest in attacking Iran, seems to be going down the path of a negotiated settlement, a move strongly supported by the public

    Vermont is committed to adopting a single payer health care system. A candidate who will be running for governor of Massachusetts is planning the same for that state.

    Same sex marriage is a trend which is gaining, not losing momentum. The reduction of the role of the criminal justice system in the regulation of the use of drugs is gaining momentum, not losing momentum.

    While all of these trends are noted here, there does not seem to be much reflection about their meaning.

    In the discussion about “big brother,” as another example, there does not seem to be much awareness that we are reading about these revelations on a medium with a world-wide reach, something which would not be possible if “they” controlled things.

    None of the above should turn us into blind optimists, but I think greater reflection on the meaning of the positive developments is important because it reinforces our sense of agency. To only focus on the negative evidence leads to paralysis and accepting the inevitability of defeat.

    1. XO

      What isn’t broken doesn’t need fixing.

      What is the point of shouting, “There is no fire!” in a crowded theater?

      1. wandering mind

        None. But saying “here is the way out” in a burning theatre has a lot of utility.

        On the other hand, saying “just stay in your seats and let the fire burn you to death because there is nothing you can do about it anyway” is quite unhelpful.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Now demanding solutions instead of merely asking: why are many people so cynical?

          Well people here DO suggest solutions but they are complex and require that that the establishment is either: a) make deep reforms (seemingly unlikely); b) get replaced (a difficult road); or is circumvented (via coops, etc.). These are not simple answers like you and many others would like.

          And its not just NC, I might add. Poll after poll show that people think we’re on the wrong track, and are disappointed with Congress, the President, and corporate malfeasance.

            1. Yves Smith

              If you don’t like what you read here, please read another blog. Or start your own. Best of luck.

              There is way too much emphasis on touting success in American culture, which leads to exaggeration of accomplishment and complacency. I’m not a fan of cheerleading.

              Your remarks are a polite version of “you’re so negative” I don’t have much sympathy with that point of view. The web is full of sites that make our condition look better than it is to salvage the conscience of the elites and top wealthy. That market is very well served and I see no need to cater to it. You can easily get your fix by going elsewhere.

              See also:


              1. wandering mind

                As I said in the comment, I rely on this site to see reality better.

                My point of view is to not turn away from reality, but not to assume that it is only negative.

                The kind of attitude I identify with is the one which David Graeber brings to these matters. He is hardly one to shill for the elites, yet he sees the influence which ordinary people have had over time, whether it be 1848, 1917, 1968 or 2010.

                Nor is Gar Aperovitz willing to front for the plutocracy, but he has enough faith in ordinary people to invest fully in ideas which require the commitment of those ordinary people to act on their own behalf and seize power for themselves.

                Aperovitz sees his work as laying a foundation the way in which the civil rights advocates laid a foundation in the 30’s and 40’s for the mass movement of the 50’s and 60’s.

                I know that bad shit happens, but good shit happens, too. And I am not talking about gifts from above, but the results of the efforts of ordinary people who decide they are not going to “take it” anymore and act.

                1. Yves Smith

                  I provided a link to another an article which discusses how the overwhelming majority of people have a optimism bias, and American culture celebrates and accentuates that.

                  If you want reality, it does not have a pretty face. And you keep insisting as optimism as a basis for action. That is fact is a trap, because if you act because you hope for results and don’t see them, you will become discouraged and give up.

                  The Japanese, for instance, came to America in the 1960s and saw how utterly pathetic their cars were compared to American automobiles. They didn’t go stoke themselves up with pep talk or hope. They just went home and put one foot in front of the other to do what they could do to make better cars. You don’t need optimism to achieve progress. The Romans had a much longer lasting empire than we will have had, and it was based on Stoicism. The Stocics believe that mental equipoise and virtue lie in performing one’s duty. By contrast, the modern West is basically hedonistic, in that we look to pleasure in greater or lesser forms as our reward. So hope = the belief that effort will result in a better, more pleasant (pleasurable) state.

                  I believe we should act out of a sense of duty to our colleagues and progeny. That way you do not become attached to the immediate success or failure of your actions. Some of our successful social reformers, such as Susan B. Anthony, never saw her efforts reach fruition. The Vietnamese struggled for over 1000 years to expel the Chinese and succeeded in the end. Hope would never have provided the juice for that sort of protracted struggle. You need to find much deeper resources to carry you forward.

                  If you prefer Graeber and Aperovitz you should read them. Not that we are in anything even dimly approaching their league (I’m just using these names because pretty much all readers will recognize them) but your request is logically equivalent to telling Adele, “Gee I like some of your songs, but on the whole, they are too much of a downer. You really should have more positive messages like Lady Gaga.” Your complaints (and no matter how much you soft pedal them, they are complaints) come perilously close to an assignment to do things differently. Assignments are a big violation of the Ritholtz Rules, which I regard as Web standard for blog policies. The Ritholtz response to assignments is GYOFB.

                  See here for details:


                  I assume my readers forage widely and turn to many sites to get information. You are hardly constrained and should spend time on sites more akin to your views than NC.

                2. Lambert Strether Post author

                  Probably the best approach, then, is not to go meta about “negativity” (whatever that might mean) but simply to provide the content you would prefer to see provided in comments; to be the change you wish to see in the world, as it were. Others provide links for exactly this purpose, and their contribution are noted and valued. I think you’ll find this a more effective approach than, in essence, assigning work to others. Sorry to harsh your mellow….

      1. wandering mind

        Right. I happened upon Gar Aperovitz months ago and find the practical approach he has to these issues very useful. David Graeber is also a useful source for a general mindset and insight into the effect of movements

    2. anon y'mouse

      so, um…the economic system is still in shambles, the unemployment rate is still about 12%, the banksters and corps and their ilk are still keeping the little man down and…

      we’re supposed to break out into celebration over foreign affairs?

      the only reason that I can see these developments happening is because the U.S. was finally, like a small child, told “no, you can’t have any more cookies!” by the other countries in the world, and they meant it this time.

      the meat and potatoes of this blog is financial misdeeds, corporate villainy and government mismanagement (at least, I think so). these things are still going on, to the majority of the population’s detriment.

      i’m glad that we didn’t bomb Syria, but you know what…that situation hasn’t yet come to any kind of conclusion and just because we have not yet, doesn’t mean we won’t step in given the ‘right kind’ of justification and an opening.

      i’m glad that we seem to be working things out with Iran, and don’t know where the heck that’s coming from. perhaps we just needed a way to let it get done without making it seem like the Big Dog had no teeth (face-saving). even so, are we hamstringing them with a bunch of requirements that they won’t want to live with long-term, or which they will see as us maintaining the driver’s seat? don’t know. binding them in with the rest of the world might be a defanging maneuver, more than anyone realizes. so, I have no idea what to think about Iran, except that peace is a good goal to strive for.

      if we want that, in truth, then perhaps we should stop meddling in other gov’ts affairs, and yet we’re probably still doing that all over the place.

      so, yeah…what are we supposed to be tripping over ourselves with delight about, again?

      1. wandering mind

        “i’m glad that we didn’t bomb Syria.”

        “i’m glad that we seem to be working things out with Iran, and don’t know where the heck that’s coming from.”

        Part of what I am saying here is that it is worth considering why these things, which go against a narrative of “they can do whatever they want and we can’t do anything about it,” happened. And push for more of the same.

        Like I say below, you never know what’s going to happen.

        1. anon y'mouse

          “we” didn’t do anything about those things. most Americans don’t want to get involved in other countries any more than necessary, and will only usually go along with such crap after being harangued with the full-court-press of the propaganda-presses.

          most of us didn’t want Iraq either, and look what happened.

          they didn’t stop because of us. they stopped because the rest of the world wouldn’t play ball. so they had no game.

          these issues that the blog focuses on are things that ‘we’ might actually be able to impact, and which are definitely impacting us. what this country does vis a vis international affairs has had little to do with most of the actual voters for a long, long time.

          so, I don’t see the clear parallel.

          1. wandering mind

            David Graeber is useful here vis a vis Iraq.

            Before the invasion the Army chief of staff said that the U.S. would need at least 300,000 troops to achieve what it wanted to accomplish in Iraq. Rumsfeld and the civilian political appointees jumped on him and fired him for it.

            Why? Because that kind of effort would have required an expanded military and support of the citizenry. They knew, based upon our experiences in Vietnam and the protests over Vietnam, that that would not happen.

            What Graeber points out and which is true, is that the U.S. establishment consciously chose a losing military strategy rather than risk another Vietnam-like backlash from the public.

            That is what the hippies of the sixties did for us.

            As to your point about what peoples in other countries are doing vs what we are doing, it is all connected. Egyptians protesting in Egypt led to Spaniards protesting in Madrid led to Americans protesting in New York, led to Americans protesting in cities all across the country.

            Change, like repression, does not respect national borders. We are all brothers.

            1. Jackrabbit

              Your ongoing attempts to argue your point using distorted depictions of current and historical events (Interim Agreement with Iran; NSA spying; Healthcare, Iraq War, Protests) is an insulting waste of our time. The truth of these events – that you slyly attempt to hide – argue against the optimism that you promote.

              It is widely recognized that the American public, American allies, and the world (via the UN) were conned into the Iraq War with manipulated intelligence, regurgitated by a compliant media. No amount of troops would’ve make up for the resulting shame, loss of international respect, misery and loss of innocent life, etc.

              The ‘Arab Spring’ protests didn’t start with Egypt. It stared with Tunisia and Wikileaks revelations played an important, if not crucial part. Furthermore, the protests you cited (Egypt, Spain, US) have all been brutally suppressed and have yet failed to achieve any real or lasting reform – and Assange and Manning have suffered greatly.

              ‘Realist’ bloggers, whistle-blowers, activists, and like-minded people do their best to prevent misguided adventures, wasted resources, and needless pain. They need our support for the important work that they do. You would dilute the truth they tell with hopium bulls!t and happytalk.

              Yves has clearly explained the danger of unwarranted optimism. Your persistent and dishonest remarks indicate that her efforts were wasted as you are not really interested in other points of view, no matter how wise or patiently delivered.

    3. savedbyirony

      I agree with what you are saying here. (But in defense of the blog, it started out as commentary on finance and economics, and has expanded over time to also cover other issues. A change i am very greatful for.) There are growing social/economic movements happening that show promise and win victories (even though small) such as some labor movements and student activism. And the relatively recent post here looking at revolution and environmental movements was informative and encouraging. But if the skunk party, for example, is to truly have any opportunity to become more than an inside the blog reference, then people have to take seriously not only facts, reasoning and rhetoric, but also the on ground organizing and the extremely messy/risky business of in our communities physically/economically making life harder for the elites

      1. wandering mind


        Which is much easier if people feel that what they do can make a difference, even if it is not guaranteed.

        1. Yves Smith

          No, I object strenuously to this mentality.

          People should act against injustice recognizing that the odds of success are terrible. I am not about to give false hope.

          Human existence is an exercise in cognitive dissonance. We all die and everything we do will be forgotten in time. Yet we carry on as if what we do as individuals matters.

          I am not about to construct meaning. I am here to chronicle what is happening and to highlight pressure points and better solutions. But false hope is not doing anyone any favors.

          People should act out of a statement of what is true for them, how they want to live, and have the strength to recognize that the system is bigger than they are and is not likely to yield to their efforts. Expecting more is an illusion, an ego trip.

          1. wandering mind

            As they said in the sixties: That’s just a bummer, man.

            The “system” is not likely to yield, but it might. That makes trying easier and at times even fun.

            I do not write off the possibility of success.

            1. Yves Smith

              Your “bummer” talk is tantamount to trying to censor this site by invoking the “negativity” card. Sorry, that doesn’t work here.

              And if you need “trying” to be “easier,” that suggests you are not deeply committed. I’m not here to motivate you. You need to motivate yourself. I am here to describe the terrain so you can decide what path if any to plot.

              1. wandering mind

                Maybe I can illustrate what I am talking about with a concrete example.

                I have gained a detailed undertstanding of how the mortgage securitization/robo-signing scam worked in no small measure because of what I have read on this site.

                I currently have two (probono) cases in which my clients, both victims of exactly the type of predatory loans I have read about here, are still in their homes three and four years, respectively, after they refused to make any further payments on their mortgages.

                Going into each one of these cases I had the attitude that I have been describing in my comments. Had I not had that attitude I am sure that neither one of these clients would still be in their home and one of them would probably be desperately seeking public housing assistance (a rare commodity now).

                I cannot promise my clients that they will wind up victorious. I never promise that. However, “you never know what’s going to happen” and, to date, they are both far better off being (happily) defiant than if they had given in to what seemed like the unstoppable power of the financial industry and false guilt-trips over their debt and had voluntarily left their homes.

                Since the time they have stopped making payments there have been changes in the law which place them in a much stronger position than they were in the beginning and various court decisions in other cases which have done the same. I did not know that these changes would take place five years ago at the beginning of the financial crises, but I did think that “something had to give” given the size and nature of the problem.

                I needed both the information from this and other sources AND the attitude I have been describing to accomplish what I have for those clients. And I can tell you that I have had a lot of fun in the process (so far at least).

                1. Jackrabbit

                  I do not get the sense that NC is promoting a defeatist attitude. I’m not sure why you do.

                  Your comment strikes me as not being able to see the forest for the trees. Millions were thrown out of their homes. SOME were able to fight back. No one here said that they shouldn’t.

                  Your argument has devolved to cherry-picking and distorting history (as I explained above).

              1. wandering mind

                I know you can’t see me through the intertubes, but I am smiling at how difficult it seems to be to accept some constructive criticism.

    4. Jackrabbit

      The fact is that people are complacent and apathetic, and they are fed MSM bullsh!t to keep it that way. And when your skepticism is confirmed time and time again, then you do become cynical. That’s a not a bad thing.

      On NC we discuss what’s really going on – and it’s not a pretty picture. Duplicitous politicians, business scoundrels, looming environmental disaster, to name a few.

      = = =

      Lets have a look at your positive points:
      * The U.S., …seems to be going down the path of a negotiated settlement [with Iran], a move strongly supported by the public.
      The jury is still out. There’s little reason to be optimistic at this point. And what makes you think anyone in power gives a rats ass what the public thinks? The people were against bailouts and throwing people out of their homes too.

      * Vermont committed…and Massachusetts planning single-payer healthcare.
      By this logic we should already have single-payer as we already have a national model: medicare/medicaid. Yet we got Obamacare.

      * Same sex marriage [and legalized recreational drugs] is a trend which is gaining, not losing momentum.
      And we live in a ‘post-racial’ society too. And climate change is a mirage cooked up by disgruntled lefties. Oh happy day!

      * We can still communicate on the internet.
      You seem to have conveniently forgotten that Snowden had to seek refuge in Russia. That secretly collected evidence has been used against people. That it has been reported that analysts tracked people without authorization. That DNI Clapper lied to Congress, and General Alexander misled Congress and the American people by saying that the NSA prevented 54 attacks when the number is more like zero. That even elected representatives can’t get answers despite the claim that ‘every member’ of Congress has access. I could go on.

      Why are they lying? Why are we seeing scandal after scandal? Why are so many upset about this? Do they have to have total control before we should be concerned?

      = = =

      It seems that despite reading NC, you haven’t really been paying attention. Maybe its that ‘wondering mind’ of yours. Until more people are really paying attention, it seems likely that things will continue to worsen.

      1. wandering mind

        The challenge is to conceive of alternatives and act on those conceptions. Focusing solely on the things that have gone wrong and the seeming smallness of the positives gets in the way of that process.

        There are a couple of simple principals I find useful.

        The first is that nothing is as it seems. That principal is evident by the myriad of stories linked to here, which contrast enormously with the view in the “main stream media”

        The second is that you never know what’s going to happen. That the middle east had serious problems which could cause widespread revolt was probably obvious to observers of the region. The idea that the people of Egypt could cause the toppling of the egyptian government? not so much.

        So yeah, things are bad. The few have taken advantage of the many, as they are wont to do. But the many are not helpless and never have been.

        1. MikeNY

          I appreciate your comments. For myself, I recognize the imperative to “stay positive”, and to look for ways to change things — not to lose hope. I’m not always successful in this endeavor, but I know I need to try.

          I also agree with you that we can’t ignore the positive developments — as you mention, gay rights progress, growing environmental awareness, and maybe — hopefully — the beginnings of a reaction against our arrogant, reckless militarism.

          I try to believe that there are peaceful solutions to our problems, and I am looking for ways to realize those solutions, which is a big part of why I come here.

        2. Yves Smith

          You do not need to “be positive” to act. This is your issue. That misperception also happens to be widespread in American culture. And I must point out that the event you cite as hopeful came a cropper. The Arab Spring has not led to lasting change in Egypt. The military is in charge, in case you missed that. Revolts in other countries were suppressed, in some cases brutally (see Bahrain).

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness.

      But it’s even better, and far more satisfying, to curse the darkness vociferously, and then light one candle.

      1. AbyNormal

        HeY NsA (goofie smile an waving)
        a tune for the the porn cadets
        I want a girl with
        A mind like a diamond
        I want a girl who
        Knows what’s best
        I want a girl with
        Shoes that cut
        And eyes that burn
        Like cigarettes
        I want a girl with
        The right allocations
        Who’s fast and thorough
        And sharp as a tack
        She’s playing
        With her jewellery
        She’s putting up her hair
        She’s touring the facilities
        And picking up slack

        I want a girl with a short skirt
        And a long jacket

        I want a girl who
        Gets up early
        I want a girl who
        Stays up late
        I want a girl with
        Uninterrupted prosperity
        Who used a machete
        To cut through red tape

        With fingernails that
        Shine like justice
        And a voice that is dark
        Like tinted glass
        She is fast and thorough
        And sharp as a tack
        She’s touring the facilities
        And picking up slack

        I want a girl with
        A smooth liquidation
        I want a girl with
        The right dividends
        And at the city bank
        We will meet accidentally
        We’ll start to talk when
        She borrows my pen

        She wants a car with
        A cupholder arm rest
        She wants a car
        That will get her there
        She’s changing her name
        From Kitty to Karen
        She’s trading her MG for
        A white Chrystler Laberan

        I want a girl with a short skirt
        And a long jacket

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