Links 11/6/13

This bird sings Bach Science aGoGo (Chuck L). In the vien of painting cats and elephants.

Dying life of the tribe. Photographer decided to travel the world for 3 years, visiting 35 tribes in all 5 continents 9gag (Deontos). You have to look at this. The photos are amazing, and sad. I recall visiting Alaska and having a woman from the tribe explain how one of the traditional lodges was used. She was embarrassed that she could not tell us what some of the carvings meant (they all had ceremonial importance). Her parents had been forced to learn English, and with that, they lost not only their language but a lot of cultural knowledge.

Speeding Ticket Cites Google Glass Use IEEE Spectrum. Why hasn’t Bloomberg gotten an ordinance passed against them? All local police hate being taped and regularly seize cell phones. Where are the cops to be found when their authoritarian instincts might help the rest of us?

BNZ Technology Reads People’s Faces for Honest Feedback American Banker

Firearm Injuries Cost More Than $16 Billion in Hospital Care Over 9 Years Science Daily (furzy mouse)

Billion litres of coal-mine muck leaks into Athabasca River Edmonton Journal (furzy mouse)

Texas-Sized Island of Japanese Debris to Hit the West Coast of North America George Washington

China Is Choking on Its Success Bloomberg (furzy mouse)

The Bank Guarantee That Bankrupted Ireland Ellen Brown, Huffington Post

Euro zone Sept retail sales fall more than expected Reuters

Why Germany is a weight on the world Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Power crisis risk ‘worse than feared’ this winter Telegraph

Libya Is So Chaotic That It’s Struggling To Import Bread Business Insider

Obamacare Launch

The hidden marriage penalty in Obamacare Atlantic (anon y’mouse)

Obama Defends ‘Keep Your Plan’ Claim (VIDEO) TPM. Chuck L: “Paging Joseph Goebbels; please come to a white courtesy phone.”

Strategic Move Exempts Health Law From Broader U.S. Statute New York Times (Lambert). Anodyne headline mask the fact that kickbacks (aka fraud) that is impermissible under Medicare is kosher under Obamacare. As if there weren’t enough opportunities for looting already….

Obama stumbles over lack of health care candor AFP

Obama is trapped in his bubble Dana Milbank, Washington Post

Obama Broke Super PAC Pledge During Campaign Huffington Post. Another “dog bites man” story.

Gallup Daily: Obama Job Approval Gallup. Wow, a 3% fall in approval ratings since the last reading. This is an impressive rate of decay.

Tea party favorite loses in Ala. House primary Washington Post

TSA And Pigs NSFW. I get patdowns because I don’t like the idea of enriching Michael Chertoff’s buddies. The TSA folks are unfailingly polite and pleasant about it. I’d rather deal with them all day than the staff of US Airways.

Man Seeks Millions After N.M. Police Force Colonoscopy in Drug Search UN News (Lambert). OMG….

Under Criminal Investigations Itself, JPMorgan Fights Crime Alongside the NYPD Pam Martens

Statement of Commissioner Bart Chilton, Dodd-Frank Meeting on Position Limits CFTC (Deontos). He’s leaving too. So that agency will now be owned by banksters.

HAS STEVEN A. COHEN BOUGHT OFF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT? John Cassidy, New Yorker. I really should write about this (and I need to get in the habit of issuing approving tweets regardless). But I’ve been so disgusted with this whole SAC affair that I hate to bring more attention to it even in negative form. I mean, we had a global financial crisis, and where does the SEC throw its enforcement resources? At one blooming big insider trader. And it neither prosecutes the big kahuna nor impoverishes him nor even gets him suspended from the securities industry for a year or two. So Cohen keeps the overwhelming majority of his dough and can start a new hedge fund tomorrow. Lovely. Nor does this settlement do anything to staunch the industry of privileged information peddlers like Gerson Lehrman either (see here for longer-form discussion). Now there is another case outstanding, which could lead to criminal charges against Cohen, but as things stand, I’m not impressed.

Disappointing start to NY auction season Financial Times. Rich starting to get nervous about asset inflation….but not yet confirmed in high-end real estate.

QE “heroin” flows on MacroBusiness

Chase Isn’t the Only Bank in Trouble Matt Taibbi

Modern Violence, Resistance and the Calculus of Revolution Ian Welsh. All of you who fantasize that all those Americans with guns constitute some of check on government power need to read this.

A Pacific Trade Deal New York Times. Official editorial. Please write the editor and leave disapproving comments on the editorial proper. Even if they don’t appear, someone will read them. This is appalling. If you ever had any doubt that the Times was a neoliberal rag that panders to women and gays, this should settle it. What a bunch of proto-fascists. Dean Baker is fast out of the box to ridicule this piece, but it needs as much opprobrium heaped on it as possible.

Antidote du jour:


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  1. gonzomarx

    for some reason this morning the BBC wasn’t reporting on this, and with at least 3 firework launched at Buck House!

    Anonymous demonstrators clash with police outside Buckingham Palace

    Anonymous’s Million Mask March around the world – in pictures

    1. bob

      What was Warner Brothers take on the sponsorship? A cut of the mask sales? They even worked the bat mobile into the mix.

      Million Mask March®

  2. dearieme

    “in September 2008 the Irish government gave a blanket guarantee to all Irish banks, covering all their loans, deposits, bonds and other liabilities”: it was astonishingly reckless of them. Was it spontaneous stupidity, or somehow corrupt? Did the Germans twist their arms?

    “At the time, no one was aware of the huge scale of the banks’ liabilities,”: hang on – there financial bloggers in Britain who immediately realised that the scale of the problem was far beyond the Irish government’s capacity to cope. I’ll bet there were financial bloggers in Ireland who recognised that too. And no doubt the bloggers were just the public face of the many people who realised that catastrophe was likely.

    P.S. Bogus Irish history seems to exert a fascination for many people.

    “the forced conversion to Christianity in the Dark Ages”: eh? Did rampaging armies of French and Italian monks force them into Christianity?

    “to slave trading of the natives in the 15th and 16th centuries”: like all other ancient European peoples, they were a slave-owning society. It’s hard to tell when it stopped: the imposition of English Law to replace Brehon Law may have played a large part. On the other hand, if the remark was intended as an allusion to a few slave raids by Muslims from North Africa, the Irish (and Cornish) suffered a good deal less than the people of the Mediterranean coasts.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      One of my pet topics, how a strategical placed stooge can do a tremendous amount of damage.

      Basically, the head of the Irish central bank sold out his country to curry favor in the EU in the hope of trading up career-wise. That was the reason the government guaranteed the stupid bank debt. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote at the time of how the timing of when Ireland needed funding meant they could (as in could have) started down the Troika. Other states needed bailouts before they did.

      And the bailout was in reality a German bailout. Hypo Bank had bought an Irish bank at a ridiculous price right before the meltdown, so the failure of Irish banks would have blown back to Germany.

      An extreme case of inefficient looting plus making the periphery countries eat the stupidity of French and German banks.

      In a later phase, Geithner also interfered with a restructuring:

      1. aletheia33

        strategically placed stooge–great expression. just think of the damage that could occur if one such was the president of the u.s.a.

        of course, that could never happen. a u.s. president, even if you get a bad one, simply cannot sell 99 percent of the u.s. citizenry down the river. that is too far-fetched to contemplate . . .


        1. Emma

          Well said Yves.

          In Germany, it’s well known that the best and brightest become engineers, NOT bankers.

          Though given most French bankers have a Diplôme d’Ingénieur from the same Grandes Écoles of Engineering, I’m not sure being an engineer makes you a great banker either.

          You’ll find less dick-licking with the pups in the antidote du jour photo.

          Aside from which, dogs can be trained to sit, lie down, and heel on command because they think they’re dogs.

          Bankers simply cock-up because they think they’re the dog’s bollocks….

            1. Emma

              This novel is by a writer (and ex-banker) who compared Fox News’ president Roger Ailes to Joseph Goebbels!

        2. craazyboy

          presidents selling u.s. citizenry down the river. that is too far-fetched to contemplate . . .

          Or to think it went on for 40-50 years, with a whole string of presidents. You’d hafta believe there are mind control waves permeating the Oval Office to believe sumthin like that.


          1. susan the other

            When a debt can never be repaid on the agreed-on terms of its contract, then it is arguable that it is odious. If not odious because of fraud and theft, then because circumstances, indeed the world, have changed. Here’s the question: if the debt is odious and cannot reasonable ever be paid back, and if it is not paid back the lending banks will fail, but if it is paid back the encumbered population will be financially decimated for 2 or 3 generations due to financial slavery, then what is the solution? Let the banks go down, or let the country go down? Let’s say both parties are innocent. Who do you let go down? It is such a no brainer I can’t believe it is even deliberated. And this argument doesn’t even go into the fact that “money” doesn’t really exist. Yuk. Public banks would be a vast improvement, ala Ellen Brown – especially if they had a built in mechanism for this kind of resolution. This shit is beyond medieval.

  3. JTFaraday

    re: The hidden marriage penalty in Obamacare Atlantic (anon y’mouse)

    “The first time I heard Nona Willis Aronowitz talk about getting divorced to save money on health insurance I thought she couldn’t really be serious.”

    Okay, I can’t even read the rest of this– this is too funny. I’m positive I read a blog post by NWA Jr. a year or two ago where she elaborates** how she got married so she could get health insurance from her boyfriend-cum husband’s employer.

    Now she’s reversing the calculation?

    **Much the way her mother, feminist writer Ellen Willis, once wrote that she finally overcame her principled opposition to marriage and got hitched to sociology professor and leftist public intellectual Stanley Aronowitz for the social security benefits.

    He, for his part, was on like his 4th or 5th wife or something, which really makes you wonder how this New Deal era state pay for f*cking racket– but for not raising children or caring for the elderly, mind you– is supposed to work in the post-hippie age.

    “I earned it!”

      1. JTFaraday

        Hm. Well, if he’s been on her employer plan and she’s been on his employer plan, then the Obamacare marriage penalty would seem to make it all come out in the wash in the end.

        In any case, public policy that doesn’t rush people into marriage for pecuniary reasons, that doesn’t (to put it bluntly) leave them dependent on f*cking for their lives, is probably a better public policy.

        This is not to say Obamacare is good public policy. And our legacy of employer provided health insurance is definitely not good public policy.

        Rent is also too high, but that’s a whole other topic.

    1. anon y'mouse

      how funny! I always wondered how they found ‘those’ people for interviews, who always had interestingly complicated lives that just suited the headline. you knew they didn’t walk in off the streets offering up such things from nowhere.

      COBRA insurance always seemed to me a giant ripoff. a way to immediately drain your savings when you weren’t employed out of fear you’d be hit by a car or something. when it was offered to us, it seemed like it was at least 3x the ‘normal’ price of insurance.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        You are utterly out of your mind.

        COBRA continues you in your employer’s plan at your employer’s cost, which is guaranteed to be lower than what you’d pay if you bought a policy as an individual. You are getting a group rate. It’s not a ripoff, it’s a bargain. And in some states, NYS is one, your insurer may offer you the opportunity to be converted (tantamount to continuing in your employer’s plan at your employer’s cost), which if that had happened, and I know people who’ve had this happen, it’s been the best thing that ever happened to them financially.

        Don’t give bad information on this blog.

        1. anon y'mouse

          that was never my intention. it was just something out of my experience, which could be misinformed or misremembered.

          if people are getting and value their COBRA insurance, then surely they should continue to get it.

          in our case, it just did not seem ‘worth it’ to keep paying, especially during a period with no income and great uncertainty about finances going forward.

          1. Bruno Marr

            The greatest “uncertainty” of all is ending up in a hospital without good health insurance. I guarantee that bankruptcy is the next step, without it. (Every pass through a CT Scanner runs a couple thousand bucks, every day in an ICU is over twenty thousand; adds up fast.)

            1. cwaltz

              I disagree with you on the “value” of keeping Cobra insurance in all instances.

              As it is quite a few of those medical bankruptcies on the books HAVE medical insurance(75% of the over 50% of medical bankruptcies.) The idea that keeping that policy will protect you from bankruptcy is a fallacy.

      2. optimader

        You must be very young.
        What if you were hit by a car? Incidentally I was once while waiting to cross a street while sitting on my bike. thankfully I have very good insurance and escaped w/ just a couple gigantamormous hematomas. Of course the ass that turn in front of another car and plowed into me hit me did had liability insurance in name only.

        I know adults that would give their **** *** to have the opportunity to continue COBRA coverage after being layed off. It’s has been a huge consideration, particularly for those w/ preexisting conditions.

        1. anon y'mouse

          all’s I remember from this episode is, we had been paying about $300 monthly for the two of us. when I asked what the cobra cost would be, he said it was close to $1k for the two of us.

          we couldn’t afford that.

          now, I wasn’t seeing or in charge of those bills.

          if you get hit by a car whether you are employed or unemployed, you’re screwed. especially when you don’t have a lot of money to begin with. if you’re injured in any significant way, you will have bills and quite possibly be not working at the same time.

          was not my intention to spread any crazy info around. that’s just my faulty memory at work, I guess.

          1. Wendy

            similar experience here. monthly premiums of under $300 would have been over $1200 on COBRA. perhaps it is cheaper than the same/comparable plan would be privately, but it was still hardly “affordable”. but then, when you’re unemployed, you can’t afford the same/comparable; it’s time for an “emergency only” plan, if one were available at an affordable cost.
            too bad signing on to Medicare wouldn’t be an option.

            1. Bruno Marr

              Don’t know your specific situation, but Yves is correct: COBRA allows an individual to continue there group coverage for 18 months. The same coverage at the same premium.

              Now, some folks don’t understand the law and insurance companies are damn good at “upgrading” their “clients” to their mutual (dis)advantage, but COBRA is a good thing.

              1. anon y'mouse

                could it be that this increase in premium experienced by myself and the poster above was due to suddenly having to pay both our share, and that formerly paid (subsidized) by the employer?

                because then it would be technically correct (same plan, same premium). it’s still sudden sticker shock for the unemployed person.

                perhaps my wording above was too abrasive and incorrect. it’s not the fault of COBRA that I was unaware of how high the insurance premium really was. you just get used to a certain amount of bills due in the month, and most employers perhaps don’t tell you just how much they are paying on your behalf.

                I think all of this probably reinforces the problem with making employers ‘responsible’ for an individual’s health insurance. increases the subtle antagonism that is already there due to the ‘costs’ of employees, and makes propensity to hire lower….?

                sorry, openly speculating now.

                1. optimader

                  “could it be …suddenly having to pay both our share, and that formerly paid (subsidized) by the employer?


        2. anon y'mouse

          also, i’m not ‘very young’.

          just very poor. and have been that way for at least half of my lifespan.

          down at this level, paying food and rent comes over worrying about whether you will have enough to pay for medical bills which may well be astronomical whether you have insurance or not.

          and yes, if either of us had a chronic or pre-existing condition, that calculation would have probably come out very different indeed.

    2. Cynthia

      I have employer-based insurance, and my monthly premiums to cover myself and my child are exactly the same if I were to have the same insurance plan to cover myself, a spouse, and a child. In other words, employees such as myself pay the same in premiums whether we add one or two people to our plan. This is also true for my dental insurance. So in a similar sense, I and anyone else who has only two people on an insurance plan are being penalized for not have three on their plan. Actually, I see this more as me and others like me with only two on a plan as subsidizing all those who have three on a plan.

      The fair thing to do would be to base premiums on headcount alone. But no, fairness is nowhere in the picture.

  4. doug

    Quick question: Will the BNZ/nViso face reading technology help banks see when customers need products/services that don’t begger them for life?

  5. D. Mathews

    From the first item on your list: Interestingly, the song of the “Uirapuru” (the Portuguese name for the musician wren) is often featured in Brazilian music, and in 1917 the composer Heitor Villa-Lobos wrote a symphonic poem called “Uirapuru.” The wren is also the subject of several legends and fables, most relating to its pleasing song. I recall reading in Lisa Peppercorn’s noted work about the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-lobos that “All through his life Villa-lobos embellished dates and facts concerning himself, though not, of course, with seriously deceptive motives. He just wanted to be original and unique, and perhaps he simply enjoyed getting involved with extraordinary happenings and adventures, creating a legend that at times became difficult to separate from the real facts of his life. (…) what sounds even more like wishful thinking is the idea of him having penetrated the virgin forests for a solitary, one man encounter with several tribes and indigenous groups and his musical experiments and experiences with the aborigines.” If I recall correctly it was said that he claimed one of his compositions was actually sung to him by a bird in one of these “excursions into virgin forests”. I can’t find the quote, but the claim was undoubtedly received with amused skepticism. So perhaps he was speaking the truth all along?

    1. ChrisPacific

      Serves him right for crying wolf, I guess.

      From the end of the article:

      Brumm says the new findings explain why this bird species plays such a prominent role in mythology and art but it remains mysterious as to how and why musician wrens perceive musical intervals.

      I don’t think it’s all that mysterious – consonant intervals are consonant for reasons having to do with the underlying wave structure and harmonics. Anybody who did high school physics (and can remember it) will be familiar with the idea. If the human ear can perceive it then I wouldn’t be at all surprised if birds can too. After all, they use song to communicate (admittedly very simple messages, usually along the lines of “I’m the best singer, you should pick me as a mate and not that bird on the next tree over”).

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please read the post. It does not say the “island” is solid, it’s just using that notion to give a sense of total mass:

      “If the rubbish were to continue to fuse, the combined area of the floating junkyard would be greater than that of the United States..

      This is written as a conditional, and not in present tense.

      1. AndyB

        Quite frankly it surprises me that the problem of the contiuing and perhaps unstoppable radiation from Fukushima via both wind and ocean currents gets no mention from the MSM. There are very strong indications that the Pacific is slowly dying as well as species that both live in, and depend upon it. There are many articles about dead baby moose, the decimation of the anchovie industry, melting starfish, and sick and dying polar bears and seals, usually prefaced by “scientists are at a loss to explain…..”. Already, Hawaii and the rest of the Pacific Island chains should have been evacuated. Milk in Hawaii is contaminated by many times “acceptible” levels, as are many fish populations, such as tuna and salmon. The cognitive dissonance of critical thinkers is absolutely mind-blowing,

        1. aletheia33

          do you have a link on the hawaii milk and the tuna and salmon contamination?

          are tuna or salmon safe to buy or eat now at all?

          if you can help, thanks!

          1. craazyboy

            I’m pretty sure that the residents of Monterey, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Newport Beach and North Shore San Diego have already deployed personal Geiger counters on their beach front property.

            But I didn’t wait for them to start screaming. (and they may keep quiet until after they sell) Fish has left my diet – even when there was only pcb, dioxin, mercury, and whatever that chemical is that dissolves oil spills in the Gulf to worry about.

            Replaced fish with fish oil capsules for a omega 3 source. Good quality stuff has the bad stuff filtered out.

            But you can’t filter out radiation, so now I’m trying to find a source that is made from Atlantic fish. Except also too howevers such as the like of trade agreements and product labeling.

            Home Geiger counter, maybe? May need it for Central Valley, CA produce someday as well.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I wonder if the iodine in Japanese seaweed will neutralize the radiation coming this way?

              1. craazyboy

                It doesn’t work that way :(

                non-radioactive iodine can block absorption of radioactive elements by the thyroid, lessening the risk of thyroid cancer. But everything else in your body can still get cancer.

                    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      Individualy, yes…maybe

                      But together – nori clothing + tin foil hat – it’s possible to save oneself that way…and make a fashion statement too!

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              Iceland is a huge source of fish oil.

     has Norwegian fish oil (house band) as does Carlson.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            Tuna is Atlantic (unless you live in Europe, you might get Mediterrranean tuna). Big issue is mercury, it’s really high up the food chain. It’s OK as long as you don’t eat it super often. 2x a month is OK.

            In theory, Atlantic salmon is fine but that’s mainly farmed, and my natural health pedants don’t like it. Wild salmon is mainly Alaskan (delish if real but a lot of fakery here. Atlantic salmon sold as Alaskan). Not sure how safe now, but is is a long way from Japan even if Pacific.

        2. neo-realist

          You know by now from reading this blog that economics always trumps the safety and health of the commoners. If the MSM fessed up on the true radiation dangers of consuming fish from the pacific, the economies of Alaska and Hawaii would be ruined. The elites would rather continue milking those industries until the hospital beds in those states started to fill up with cancer patients; At which point the TPTB will say something to the effect of “We didn’t think it would be as bad as this”.

      2. Propertius

        This is written as a conditional, and not in present tense.

        Or, more properly, not in indicative mood.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Thanks, I knew I wasn’t getting the part of speech quite right but I needed to turn in.

    2. mk

      dear superduperdave – consider the source of your link, NOAA. Better to deny because to admit there is a problem means having to use resources to deal with it. They don’t want that.

  6. Doug Terpstra

    Breaking news from the Huffing-Puffing Post: Obama breaks a campaign pledge. Just wow. Real news would be his fulfilling one.

    1. Tim Mason

      Anna Marie Cox in the Guardian today – so what’s the big deal about Obama telling porkies? We all knew it wasn’t true anyway. Some people are just sooo picky

  7. JGordon

    As Nicole Foss of the Automatic Earth says, the Second Amendment was not put in to protect people from their marauding nieghbors, but as a check on government power.

    So if you never address how the government power is going to be checked in absense of our Second Ammendment rights, your arguments on the subject are entirely beside the point.

    1. James Levy

      That may have worked when the government had an army of 7000 men armed with smoothbore muskets in the 1790s, but how long are you going to hold out with your Remington against the US Marine Corps backed by helicopter gun ships and armed drones? They will wipe you and your AR-15 owning neighbors out in seconds.

      The two counterarguments, “look at Afghanistan” and “but the military will come on our side” are utter failures. In Afghanistan, the US faced no real threat; the war was, once the Al Qaeda camps were destroyed, a show (and a lucrative one for the MIC and officers wishing to punch their cards); the second argument is even weaker. If the military joins the protest against the government, then you personally don’t need your gun, because the military has the firepower to overthrow any tyranny.

      To go all Clausewitz on you, the level of violence will rise as the survival of the State becomes more at issue. The US government was prepared during the Cold War to wipe out the human race rather than go down to godless international communism. By definition the government may fear the military, but it does not fear the armed citizenry, because it will employ whatever means necessary to shut down a rebellion (remember Abe Lincoln and the 620,000 dead Americans of 1861-65–that’s the equivalent of about 5.8 million dead Americans today).

      This fantasy of armed resistance and “scarring” the government is just that, a fantasy.

      1. JGordon

        Thanks for regurtitating this fallacy so that I didn’t have to put it my OP. And great of you also to bring up Afghanistan, because thanks to you it wasn’t me who made the point that cave-dwellers are bringing the great US empire to its knees with nothing but small arms and IEDs–whatever the real reasons for the US being there in the first place.

        And as you have just pointed out several times, the government is in fact quite psychotic, that same government that is being bled dry by those small-arms weilding cave-dwellers in Afghanistan–who we have no good reason to be fighting in the first place as you so eloquently pointed out. Are you seriously trying to persuade someone that he should disarm with those kinds of bizarre arguments? Frankly listening to you I think just about anyone would suddenly want to sprint for the nearest gun shop.

        1. OIFVet

          Oh please, comparing the hardened Afghans with the plump American populace is laughable. Are you really willing to put yourself on the line? Are all these gun toting rubes tough enough and determined enough to engage in war of attrition with the guvmint forces? I think not.

              1. craazyboy

                Of course. With webcam – ala Fahrenheit 451

                Right to assemble, ya know. As long as there is adult supervision.

              2. OIFVet

                You betcha, we will need to occasionally refer to the insurgency field manual, aka the Rambo flicks. BTW, thank you for the IMBD link from the other day.

        2. Maude

          Oh please, the US isn’t being brought to its knees by cave dwellers with rifles in Afghanistan. We are there simply because we want to be there, it’s a profit center for the defense industry. Your 2nd Amendment fantasies are boring. See Somalia and Pakistan if you want to know how the US would deal with 2nd amendment ‘militias’ in the US.

      2. Propertius

        And if you’re right, there is no hope at all. The PTB may not be worried about lightly-armed civilians, but they’re even less worried about wholly impotent, incensed bloggers and disorganized, unarmed Occupiers.

        Remember, the full quote is:

        Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
        The pen is mightier than the sword.

        1. jrs

          They weren’t worried about occupy they only had as potential assasination program against their leaders (probably, who exactly was behind that is blacked out) and a nationwide crack down on the movement. But yea, not worried at all, not at all. Uh huh. Now it may or may not have been rational to be worried but if there is one thing that scares them it’s economic protest.

  8. DakotabornKansan

    Yesterday, in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists at the University of California Berkeley and University of Hawaii, using Kepler data, have found “22% of Sun-like stars harbor Earth-size planets orbiting in their habitable zones.”

    William Borucki, the principal investigator for Kepler, calculates there should be about 25 billion Earth-size planets in habitable zones in our galaxy.

    “Kepler News Sparks Media Headline Mayhem,” Physics Central Physics Buzz Blog on the media’s “numbers flinging game to see who can produce the most earth-shattering headline,” such as “Kepler Space Telescope data suggests up to 40 billion “Goldilocks” Earth-size planets in galaxy.”

    All those potentially habitable planets in our galaxy!

    And that’s just one galaxy.

    There are infinite galaxies.

    How many of those stars in the universe have a planet like the Earth?

    And the dying lives of those tribes…

    “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

    The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

    Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

    The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

    It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

    ― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

    1. James Levy

      Beautiful. Thank you. I grew up with a salvo of such messages. In “Civilization” Sir Kenneth Clarke titled his first espisode “The Skin of our Teeth” and talked about the Celtic outposts on the islands between Scotland and Ireland as oasis in a sea of lost knowledge. Jacob Bronowski in “The Ascent of Man” went to Auschwitz were so many members of his family were murdered to plea for us to give up our quest of absolutes and adopt an ethic of tolerance.

      And we had Sagan warning us repeated that this was the only world we had, and we’d better treat it as such.

      We still aren’t listening, and time is running out.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The only world we have.

        Imagine if we find another one nearby…it will make us even less appreciative of what we have (a known human trait).

        But that’s what is being said – we humans deserve another planet, another chance (really, it’s over – no need to save it?). We gotta explore space.

        This from ‘Surviving Progress’ quoting Stephen Hawking:

        If we are the only intelligent beings in the galaxy, we should make sure we survive and continue.
        If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe.
        We have made remarkable progress in the last hundred years.
        Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward looking on planet Earth, but to spread out
        into space.

    2. craazyboy

      Except that in Alastair Reynolds sci-fi novel series, “Revelation Space” and the rest, there are intelligent nanobots roaming space, left by an ancient extinct race, programmed to blast to extinction any race that attempts space travel outside the limits of it’s own solar system.

      So there’s that, plus speed of light travel problems.

      1. craazyman

        Two words: Dimensional Gateways

        Once these are “officially” discovered, all the problems go away.

        How do you think the Reptilians and the Greys get here? They don’t take the slow boat from Orion’s belt.

        1. craazyboy

          Or the special case where the Dune Navigators took “spice” so they could see the folds of space and sub light speed spacecraft could just take the short route.

          Or the TV series “Stargate” portals are handy. (Which they blatantly ripped off from Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos – hope he got some royalties for that!)

    3. Lambert Strether

      ‘Did you hear the Bob Hope show the other night?’ she called. ‘He told this really funny joke, the one where this German major is interviewing some Martians. The Martians can’t provide racial documentation about their grandparents being Aryan, you know. So the German major reports back to Berlin that Mars is populated by Jews.’ Coming into the living room where Joe lay in the bed, she said, ‘And they’re about one foot tall, and have two heads . . . you know how Bob Hope goes on.’ — Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle.

      (Adding, for those who haven’t read the book, that this is an alternative history where the Axis powers won World War II.)

  9. mk

    Was considering a move to NM, even looking at real estate in Deming, NM until I read the article on the cavity search done by local PD and doctors…. thanks for the link

    Also, that photo looks fake, how can the adult dog hold those leashes with mouth open?…

  10. tyler


    I’m starting to feel hopeless. In order to get anything done in Congress, the Democrats need to have at least 60 seats in the Senate and control of the House. Sabato’s Crystal Ball gives Democrats a 50 to 48 edge in the Senate, with two toss-ups in Alaska and Arkansas.

    I can’t take much more of our country being governed by fools.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      You’d have the same frustration if Congress were 100% democrats. Both parties work for the same 1%.

    1. AbyNormal

      TPTB are JOHNS

      “…crime[s] against human rights and that these criminals must be exposed and treated like War Criminals or Death Squads or Torturers anywhere in the world.”
      Larsson/The Girl Who Played With Fire

  11. rich

    The Wall Street Code

    You have to ask, what is the purpose of this system? And if the answer is fairness and soundness of price discovery, and not making the most money for powerful insiders, the answers start to clarify from first principles. These used to be called moral values.

    Some fairly simple changes would fix all this, based on fundamental concepts like transparency and equal protection. The problem is that politicians and private firms make enormous sums by taking some ‘vig’ or vigorish from each and every trade by the ‘dumb’ or outsider money. Most frauds have a lot of flash and dazzle, but deep down they are always shockingly simple, and most often based on time honored cheats.

    Eliot Spitzer and Bill Black certainly ‘get this.’ Lots of good people do. But the Banks use their friendly politicians and the power of money to isolate them. Just denying access to key careers or events is often enough to obtain most people’s silence. This is how the status quo perpetuates itself, with money and the credibility trap. It is not dissimilar to organized crime.

    The regulators should be ashamed, but they can point to the politicians, and the politicians can take the ‘CEO defense’ of not understanding what is going on. And the band plays on.

  12. duffolonious

    From The Post (FTP):

    “Recently +Brandon Downey, a colleague of mine on the Google security team, said (after the usual disclaimers about being personal opinions and not speaking for the firm which I repeat here) – “fuck these guys””

    Even if the Google CEO doesn’t care, certainly people in Google do.

  13. Walter Map

    It’s actually unsurprising that the ACA web site crashed and burned.

    If you read the research offered by people who do such things, like Capers Jones and the Gartner Group, you get the picture that such projects tend to fail for exactly one simple reason: government-run software and systems projects are run by people who are interested in milking a fiefdom, to the exclusion of any real interest or ability to get the project done correctly.

    The choice of technologies or development methodologies isn’t particularly relevent, because for most things just about anything can be made to work. What is relevant is the goal orientation of the management, and in government these people are political favorites and not people who can get the job done. That’s why government IT projects are often notorious for functioning poorly, if at all, years late and grossly overbudget. There are many examples.

    Conversely, projects that do succeed do so for another simple reason: the heroics of a small number of technicians who happen to know what they’re doing. No doubt half a dozen such persons at most worked on ACA, and they should get credit that the system works at all.

    1. squasha

      interesting. I would have chocked up the failure more to the fact that compulsory privatized health care is a bad idea on its face. But if, as you say, government IT projects tend to fail, why are analogous projects basically successful in, for example, northern European countries? The question of motivation is an interesting one, are the tech workers in your scheme heroic because unsung or because unsung within a hypothetically superior system?

      1. Walter Map

        Bad ideas can succeed, and good ideas can fail. NC regulars are painfully aware of this.

        Crude oil extraction from sea beds and the development of nuclear weapons were also bad ideas, and those succeeded. As you say, privatized compulsory health insurance is a bad idea on its face, but that is separate from the success or failure of a project to implement it.

        Engineers perform heroics because they are motivated to continue their careers, and, more important, have a much greater tendency than managers to develop a personal attachment to their work. For managers, one fiefdom is as good as another. Moreover, a manager can move to another organization much more easily than an engineer can because managers can blame engineers for any failures. Engineers know they can be scapegoated by management, and that can be highly motivating. Conversely, an engineer who blames a manager is merely a disgruntled employee. Corporate types listen to other managers, not engineers. It’s an in-group/out-group dynamic.

  14. Linden

    Since when does the NYT pander to women? It’s one of the biggest founts of misinformation pieces about women’s lives there’s ever been. Not a week seems to go by without some anecdotal, navel-gazing crap about the Mommy Wars among rich white women, how women can’t cut it in the marketplace due to biology, opting in and opting out, etc.

    1. anon y'mouse

      pandering of a sort, no? reinforcement of social norms, “shoulds” and whatnot. installing “bad mother” fears. installing keeping-up-with-the-jones stuff, or the supposed female equivalent “can you really have it ALL?”

    2. JTFaraday

      Okay, but I think you’re being a little harsh. This piece about Judith Warner’s migraines convinced me kick the OTC headache pain pill habit and get off the “rebound headache” treadmill forever:

      I was so repulsed, I just said “I am not going to be like this woman” and that was it.

      I still drink too much coffee though. If Judith Warner ever writes an article about her caffeine addiction, somebody post it!

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      It promotes the myth that women are getting more and more opportunities to loot, and that helps all women. They were big on the ludicrous “leaning in” stuff, and they promoted that absurd HBS program to make sure women got better grades.

      I generally refuse to read that sort of story, but my impression is they (and the MSM generally) have been pushing this meme hard for the last four months or so. This is decidedly not organic, has the same feel as the “strategic defaulter” topic, that there’s a PR apparatus behind it. You used to see maybe one a week (touting a Female Leader counts) and it seems to be every other day in the Times now.

    4. Lambert Strether

      My picture of the 2016 campaign is one where Clinton (and Warren) pull out the 2008 Obama playbook, scratch out “racism” and write in “sexism,” and away we go. Should be fun.

      And I say this as one who was disgusted by the truly vile misogyny of the Obama 2008 campaign, and false charges of racism, which I called bullshit on at every opportunity.

      It’s like there’s no progressive — yeah, whatever that means — cause these guys can’t corrupt and pollute.

      NOTE Now we’re handicapping 2016. Please kill me immediately.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    BNT technology…read faces…honest feedback

    Did they first test that on lab rats?

    Was it successful in detecting which lab rats were honest and which lab rats were lying?

    1. Lambert Strether

      “Did they first test that on lab rats?” Next best thing, for these guys: Humans. Anyhow, to test rats they would have had to recalibrate the machinery. Why not save a buck?

  16. Jim S

    Dying life of the tribe. I happen to be reading Diamond’s The World Until Yesterday at the moment. Still a fantastic writer.

  17. craazyman

    I guess Germany needs to go on a spending campaign. What would they buy? I have no idea. Since I buy so little myself I can’t criticize. What’s worth buying? Not much. It makes it hard. Maybe they need to buy lessons in spending money. That would kill two birds with one stone. ahhaha.

    Maybe they should make movies like France. Whenever I tried to watch a French film made after 1970 or so I’d fall asleep. All the European films were like that. There’d be a still camera shot of some city building and a voice over musing about life for 5 minutes. After 2 minutes you’d be asleep. Nothing would ever happen in European films. That’s what I realized. If the movie theater seats were comfortable and spacious you could take a nap, but often it was hard to curl up and get comfortable. It was like being on an airplane.

    If Germany made a movie now it could be “Springtime for Merkel and Germany”. If they made it in Greece and Spain and the budge was big enough it would be a success economically, even if the movie was absolutely horrible. That’s kind of funny to think about! Maybe they should just go for it and take the losses on one set of books and the profits on the other. You can do that when you’re the one in charge of all of the books.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I saw one that was just silly and fun, Le Populaire. Americans can’t pull something like that off any more.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They like to quote authors, philosophers and anyone who could make up long sentences, each is at least 5 or 6 times longer than the width of the screen, so that by the time you reach the end, you have forgotten the beginning part. Luckily, as you say, the camera doesn’t move that much and the actors don’t move much either, so you can focus 100% on the written text.

      It’s almost like reading a book…that displays 10 words at a time.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        But French directors are not really the daring type.

        No one has yet to make an entire movie with a still camera shot quoting a whole book.

        Obviously, they don’t believe in not chopping a writer’s work, thus refusing to quote a book in its entirety.

          1. optimader

            Tati was a genius.. have all his films.

            Beefie, Here’s a short list of films off the top of my head you deserve to see if you know who Tati was.

            À Nous la Liberté (1931)
            “À nous la liberté” (original title)

            The Dinner Game (1998)
            “Le dîner de cons” (original title)

            Human Resources (1999)
            “Ressources humaines” (original title)

            The City of Lost Children (1995)
            “La cité des enfants perdus” (original title)

            A fun quickie you’ll find on youtube
            Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory (1895)
            “La sortie des usines Lumière” (original title)


    2. craazyboy

      Yes, Personal Spending Consultant could be a way to create job growth too. Kinda like a personal trainer at the gym, but these guys would have macro-econ training – so they would be adept at all the ways of going broke.

      Germans get a month of vacation, and it’s not hard to imagine they spend it traveling in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy (sorry Ireland). And when they are there they buy a pair of sandals, take in a bull fight, eat pizza and drink red wine. (hopefully not French red wine)

      A Personal Spending Consultant could be assigned to them upon entering the country and assist in broadening their scope of spending.

      Not sure about the “Springtime…” movie. Sounds too similar to the Mel Brooks “Producer” movie, and the Germans aren’t really known for having a great sense of humor. (except for laughing at Bavarians doing yokel hillbilly stuff)

      Maybe something more along the lines of The Three Musketeers. Merkel could be a Matadoress and I’m sure they could get a couple high ranking EU dudes to be the rodeo clowns that keep Merkel out of any real danger from the Bull.

      The main problem isn’t really where they book the profit or loss. They just need to get everyone getting a paycheck in the deal to swear they will bury the money in their back yard – because if they put it in a bank anywhere, that’s where all the problems start.

      1. craazyboy

        They have Turkish immigrants for that already.

        Besides, the news came out that Germans don’t have any money either. I think someone figured out Italians had all the money.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      IMHO, this is very badly thought out.

      What is “specialization”? Relative to what?

      In primitive societies, all the people did the same thing. They were interchangable parts (not my construct, thank Emile Durkheim, who called it “mechanical society”). If you had a little surplus, you might see a priestly caste and rulership elite emerge, but that was only if there were enough calories to afford the overhead.

      You don’t have specialized roles like novelists and singers and painters, the sort of careers we regard as creative.

      What this book seems to be lamenting is the lack of creativity in business. Folks, business is not creative. It’s like having football players do ballet. It might make them a much better football player but it does not make them a ballet dancer. Business is about establishing routine and repetitive activities so products can be produced reliably.

      It’s these friggin’ efforts to romanticize business that produce this sort of blather.

      Separately, the modern lifestyle with its lack of exercise is a bad thing, but you see plenty of unhealthy “creative” types too, like writers who drink too much and the stereotypical fat opera singer.

      1. anon y'mouse

        well, I don’t really know. what you say indeed sounds reasonable vis a vis business. but what if he is talking about our entire lives, and overspecialization is damaging our ability to respond to our environment (and situations that may come up in it) fluidly and creatively. if a person spends all of their time during the day doing xyz, and then recuperating on the couch with beer and the remote, they won’t be able to deal with much other than that when it does happen. we notice this in our building all of the time when some plumbing issue comes up (partner is a plumber). some individuals do not even have the sense anymore to shut off the water at the valve before panic sets in.

        here is the original essay that the article above links to. I haven’t yet finished it.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Being creative is work. Why would anyone want to be creative unless it gave them a lot of pleasure? I personally hate all the artistic stuff touted as creative because I’m terrible at it and I find it tedious.

          Most people who have leisure time would rather hang out and shot the shit and maybe play games with their friends. Or if you are less social, maybe garden or hunt or hike or doing crafts or painting. The unhealthy part of your picture isn’t the “not being creative” part, that’s Puritan work ethic “oh you should be bettering yourself” stuff. It’s being a couch potato rather than being with friends or family or outdoors.

          1. anon y'mouse

            whether you know it or not, Yves…you are being creative and displaying your own polymathery on this very website every day.

            i’m not saying I ‘agree with’ everything in his assessment. some of the comments make the point that he is comparing people who would be considered very high functioning prodigies (da Vinci, various scientists) and telling Average Joe/Jane that they, too can be just like them.

            also, he’s discussing intensive training. that by itself is a problem that other people also discuss in the comments to the original essay—it takes 10k hours or more to reach ‘mastery’ in complicated subjects. it takes a scientist 10 years of study to become able to do original (creative?) work.

            I think what he’s trying to say is that learning intensively a variety of subjects, in a variety of formats (not purely intellectual, but also physical, visual, etc.) allows us to use our full capabilities as human beings, and respond fluidly to any situation that may come up. the part where he discusses learning some intensive physical art like dance prepping you for learning anything else in life is probably key here–you may not become a Prima at the Bolshoi or anything, but you’re set up to use those same skills to learn something else throughout your life.

            it just brought up a lot of issues that i’m interested in. the fact that we have increasing knowledge in subjects requires people to spend much of their lives mastering those subjects. and quite frequently, those people also are very skilled in some other areas (jazz playing biophysicists and so on). it’s just a tension in our society/culture that i’m interested in. as we become more and more ‘expertified’ and more estranged from other areas, it increases complexity overall due to necessary mediation between fields.

            the answer is probably not that we’re all going to become da Vinci. I can’t even master ONE subject, much less 2 or 3, and sometimes worry that because i missed out on the critical training period (he outlines as age 1-11 of most intense period of learning for the brain), i can’t really attain mastery. didn’t get the discipline then, so am scattered forevermore into dilettante-ism.

        2. JTFaraday

          “It’s these friggin’ efforts to romanticize business that produce this sort of blather.”

          That’s not what I get out of that article. What I get is that modern work is deskilling. It’s true I happen to agree with this assessment.

          And I think on some level deskilled managertards are dimly on to this. This is why their regularized response to every workplace issue is to throw people out and try to get new ones.

          In my observation, this usually doesn’t work . In my observation, it is the institutional environment that works over the human material and destroys it.

          The environment is what managertards are supposed to “fix” but because they’re deskilled themselves, they work from the wrong primary assumption. ie., that the problem is bad people and not bad institutions.

          Needless to say, the assumption that the problem is bad people not bad institutions insulates upper management.

          Churn and burn, baby.

  18. fresno dan

    ANOTHER year in which wall street bonuses far exceed GDP growth. How is that possible?
    If the CEO of Ford got a 10% bonus for 5 years straight, but top line sales growth had only been 1.5%…well, you can bet there would be a shareholder revolt (well, at least in the old days…)

    If the economy isn’t growing, than the vampire squid is getting the blood from you!

Comments are closed.