Links 11/17/13

Man appreciates women’s arses on a feminist level Daily Mash

How Dangerous Are Tough Mudders? Huffington Post (Carol B). Wow, a stupid craze I never heard of. This looks like a stealth Darwin Award to weed out the excessively macho and those who overestimate their physical prowess.

A Scientist Wants To Issue A Bond That Pays Big Once We Find Alien Life Business Insider. Um, that assumes we survive the encounter.

Why children don’t eat their greens: Survival instinct means youngsters are genetically programmed to avoid plants in case they are poisonous Daily Mail (Lambert)

Hacker Receives 10-Year Sentence for ‘Causing Mayhem’ New York Times

More Congo Propaganda: M23 and the High-Tech Genocide Unseen Black Agenda Report (Carol B)

Burying typhoon victims overwhelms Philippine city Los Angeles Times

US offers $1 million for Lao Wildlife Trafficker Daily Kos (Carol B)

Young and Educated in Europe, but Desperate for Jobs New York Times

Naples rally against mafia pollution BBC

No wonder the Mafia are nervous. This pope is not one to indulge the wishes of gangsters Independent (Chuck L)

Philomena star Judi Dench urged to back inquiry into ‘stolen baby’ scandal Guardian

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

4 New Ways to Smuggle Messages Across the Internet IEEE Spectrum (Chuck L)

Surveillance Infrastructure Showing Signs of Decay ThreatPost

Polygraph Probe Leads To Spying On American Public At Large DS Wright, Firedoglake

Proposal for Russian GPS on U.S. Soil Stirs Spying Fears New York Times

Lavabit and The Definition of US Government Hubris bmaz, emptywheel (Chuck L)

Krebs’s 3 Basic Rules for Online Safety Krebs on Security (furzy mouse). From 2011 but still germane.

Obamacare Launch

ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Obama’s presser, the terror and pity Lambert

Health reform’s problems run deeper than a glitchy website Bangor Daily News. OMG, Pelosi endorses single payer! goal is for 80% of users to be able to enroll for insurance Washington Post

Why isn’t the use of my time to decrypt artificially complex systems designed to conceal and enable rent-seeking conidered a tax? Lambert

Warren gains momentum as alternative to Clinton Guardian. She didn’t vote for the ACA plus the Dems can’t let all that female pride messaging go to waste. But at least, unlike Obama as of 2008, she has demonstrated executive skills. The CFPB startup was no trivial task and she hit that out of the park.

Elizabeth Warren won’t save the Democrats in 2016 Zack Exley, Guardian. The R versus Dem comparison is priceless.

Obama woos tribes, says he’ll visit Indian Country in 2014 McClatchy

Duncan: ‘White suburban moms’ upset that tests show kids aren’t ‘as brilliant’ Washington Post

Chase’s Twitter Gambit Devolves into All-Time PR Fiasco Matt Taibbi

Actually, Economists Can Predict Financial Crises Bloomberg

Yellen Will Be Less Dovish in the Chair: Jakobsen Bloomberg (furzy mouse)

Change quantitative easing for the banks to quantitative easing FOR THE PEOPLE in the form of $300 per month per citizen White House (Chuck L). Text mistakenly equates QE with money-printing, but I still like any excuse for annoying TPTB over their “soak the poor to help the rich” policies, so please sign!

How big data is changing insurance BBC. This is of course presented as a boon, but this is really incredibly intrusive surveillance, which Matt Stoller warned was coming; “Getting you to buy into being monitored”

Work and Consumption; Neo-liberal Economics BBC4. Philip Mirowski on why neoliberalism survived the 2008 crash.

Neat Trick riverdaughter. Carol B: “Never mind the article, go to the clip of Sylvie Guillem. Really, how does she do that?!”

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


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  1. Skeptic

    Tuff Mudders

    Love the sections on Emergency Medicine. Hey, how does your health “insurance” work when the wounds are self inflicted? Seems like a Golden Opportunity for the Sickcare Insurers not to pay.

    1. optimader

      What other elective activities should be parsed for coverage reimbursement by insurance companies? motorcycle riding? infections from body piercings/tattoos? riding in urban subways late at night after spending your evening at your favorite gloryhole? Eating Fritos?

      Everyone makes their own risk/reward assessments, To be fair, I have no doubt there are people that would be appalled by someone that enjoys swimming in Lake Michigan undertows or snorkeling/scuba diving volcanic caldera reefs in Honduras after washing a PB&J down w/a Nacionale and a joint.
      Pick your poison, everyone does, even the couch potato by default.

      As far as:
      “The 1.5 million people who are predicted to enter obstacle races like this in the next year should be well aware of the risks they are taking.”

      1.) What activity does this not apply to actually?
      2.) Does anyone think a “warning” will be relevant someone who thinks a shoulder tattoo is also a good idea?

    2. Keenan

      Seems to me that self inflicting wounds is evidence of some sort of mental health problem, no ? Doesn’t ACA require mental health coverage too ?

    3. McMike

      Ironically there is the story also today about the insurers giving “discounts” to people who allow their cars to spy on them. And another story about your book purchases being used against you, reading being used to prove future intent – i.e. thought crimes.

      Insurance micro-rating is a point on the continuum towards insurers that no longer actually insure. They charge for everything and cover nothing. We are of course close to it already in homeoners and health and auto insurance.

      So, please resist the urge to finger point at “other” people who are increasing your insurance rates due to their bad choices. This is exactly what TPTB wants: us at each other’s throats, blaming each other for the TPTB’s crimes.

      PS. I live in an adventure sports region. Consider the possibility that extreme sports are one of the last ways we have left to feel alive in this world. Taking risks on our own terms. Pushing our bodies by our own choice. Using this magnificent body that evnolution/the creator gave us, and refusing to complete the mid versus body/nature alienation that modern life demands of us.

    1. anon y'mouse

      he’s doing the bird version of juggling.

      he’s a Masta Bird Juggler.

      at the end, he spears the thing on his tiny little beak.

  2. D. Mathews

    So buying books now leads to an investigation and your information being stored by multiple intelligence agencies. But this isn’t a police state because you voted for this. Well, not you but your representatives. Well, maybe they didn’t read the bill exactly but the intelligence agencies assured them it was the right move. So there.“…FDL

    So how long before reading NC becomes suspicious?

    1. CB

      I assume it is–and has been for at least several yrs. Good, let’s test the limits of modern storage technology, shall we?

    2. PWC, Raleigh

      Yes, I also assume that Naked Capitalism already is considered suspicious and that my routine visits and usage data are mixed together with my web data in an algorithm. God forbid critical thought should go unsurveilled.

  3. Skeptic

    A Scientist Wants To Issue A Bond That Pays Big Once We Find Alien Life Business Insider. Um, that assumes we survive the encounter.

    Excellent point about surviving the encounter.

    We might also consider bonds for more pressing matters here at home on Earth.

    Dr. Ray Diate
    President, Fukushima Is Blowing Up Right Now Society

    1. ambrit

      Dear Skeptic;
      You’re right on the money about surviving the encounter Earthling!
      The Star Trek show, in all its’ iterations, had the Prime Directive: No Star Fleet crew may interfere in the cultural development of any pre Warp native population.
      The Wiki on the subject states that shows producer Roddenberry advocated for the idea after observing that local cultures tended to be destroyed by contact with missionaries.
      Sociologists and ethnographers generally try to live according to the local customs and mores of those “primitive” groups they are studying, lest they contaminate them. Pictures of Amazonian “wild” tribes wearing Grateful Dead t-shirts should say it all.

      1. optimader

        “..You’re right on the money about surviving the encounter Earthling!..”

        How about the assumption money will survive the encounter?

        Does that not assume the human will be the “strong partner” in that new “relationship” paradigm?

  4. DakotabornKansan

    “Culture, when it comes to food, is of course a fancy word for your mom.” – Michael Pollan

    The frustrations many parents face when trying to get their toddlers to eat fruits and vegetables…

    Why children don’t eat their greens and a story about “vegetable glue” …

    The little girl in this story does not eat her vegetables and only eats cake.

    This means she has no “vegetable glue” goodness inside her. This is quite unfortunate as she has a very unusual body that keeps falling apart. Whenever she coughs or sneezes, suddenly things start falling off her body – her arms, her nose, and even her head rolls away! While all the other girls and boys run and play, she can’t even sneeze or burp for fear of losing her body parts.

    Happily, the little girl’s super fit veggie-loving 104-year-old granny comes to her rescue with two large shopping bags of vegetables – “vegetable glue” by the buckets – for the little girl.

    Next time (luckily) …

    “When my right arm fell off, I knew what to do. I stuck it back on with “vegetable glue.”

    She now keeps an enormous pot of “vegetable glue” handy for sticking herself back together. The girl explains that “vegetable glue” is found in your tummy and is made when you eat up your greens.

    “She ate all her greens/And I hope you do too, Then…you’ll never need any vegetable glue.”

    – What I Do with Vegetable Glue, Susan Chandler, Elena Odriozola (Illustrator)

    When this little girl grows up…

    “He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: “celebration.” – Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

  5. timotheus

    Re: big data and insurance. Exactly why I NEVER buy groceries with a credit card. Just anticipating the insurers’ desire to know exactly what I eat.

    1. Ulysses

      Now I have a mental image: of corporate surveillance subcontractors being paid to study surveillance video at grocery checkout counters of dangerous subversives like you, who have been flagged for special scrutiny because you never buy food with credit/debit cards. “Hey Johnny! Get the UnitedHealth claims denial department on the line. We just saw Timotheus purchase a can of double-fudge frosting!!”

    2. optimader

      Interesting perspective..
      I ALWAYS buy groceries with credit cards to capture the cashback award.
      I have ZERO concern what insurance companies think of my culinary feedstock, but I don’t buy and eat junk anyway, nor would I ever intentionally buy “groceries” that put me on an intersecting vector w/ my insurance provider/ healthcare provider.

  6. grayslady

    Cedar waxwings are my favorites. Thanks for the photo.

    On Obamacare press conference: Maybe a Sarbanes-Oxley for the “Executive Branch”, as the President is now referring to everybody in the White House but himself.

  7. from Mexico

    @ “Man appreciates women’s arses on a feminist level”

    Somewhere along the way I remember reading an essay about how it was Tennessee Williams who turned men into sex objects, a role heretofore fulfilled only by women. I wish I could lay my hands on that essay.

    You can’t tell me that women don’t like to be told they’re hot.

    I suppose many factors go into what is considered to be harassment and what is considered to be laudatory. Some of it is cultural. Here in Mexico, the men are way, way more aggressive in showing their appreciaiton for women’s physical comeliness.

    1. ambrit

      Dear from Mexico;
      As an aging old man who definitely appreciates derrieres, primarily womens, but also on occasion the other gender, I’ll kick in my observation that these displays of sexual characteristics are first and foremost mating cues. That pesky old hind brain has been hard wired to search for mating opportunities for, oh, how long? Millions of years? Thus, my appeal to that lonely young “laptop frotteur”; Get on out there and meet real ‘cheeky young things!’
      Finally, an observation made by Jacob Bronowski about the human animals sexual behaviours came to mind: “Humans, compared to other animals, put far more thought into choosing who they have children with.” He includes this couplet in the citation:
      “Loves mysteries in souls do grow
      But yet the body is his book.”
      John Donne

    2. JTFaraday

      Is that really George Clooney’s ass in Solaris? Inquiring minds want to know.

      (I don’t know on what planet is George Clooney’s ass a PG-13, but that’s the planet Solaris is on).

  8. XO

    Elizabeth Warren won’t save the Democrats in 2016

    Political terms of opposition, such as Democrat/Republican, Liberal/Conservative, Neo-Liberal/Neo-Conservative, Capitalist/Socialist, right wing/ left wing, etc., are semantic red herrings that supplant real principles and practices regarding politics.

    “Rally ’round the flag, boys!”

    Show me a plan. Show me a platform. Your flag tells me nothing.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      I can tell everything I need to know about Confederate flags in front of the WH, I can tell plenty when they show up at Gettysburg National Park for a parade and every other gun nut rally with the tea party. I can tell alot when ACORN is shut down by the republican dirty tricks operations, leaving local advocacy and political organizing across the country mortally wounded. Semantics may play big on blogs, but out in the community organized effort, your denigration by tribalization is a smudged ideal causing you discomfort. We don’t get to far by ourselves, but in groups, where we compromise precious ideals in order to preserve real relationships with real people and not notions that may leave your head on a whim some day soon.

    2. Code Name D

      This piece has one thing wrong. Democrats are not all about government run solutions. The ACA is a free market approach originally authored by the heritage foundation. The real truth is that both parties are pushing the same idea. But it seems that free market reforms fail under Democratic administrations just as readily as it fails under Republicans administrations.

      The best way to win the support of the people is by showing that you can actually govern.

      1. Antifa

        I’m sorry, but when was the last attempt to govern this nation seen? Was it Kennedy, Eisenhower? I forgets. Once the Powell memo came out, the middle class has more and more effectively been handed over to the corporate crooks to harvest any way they please.

        Our Federal government is devoted to its owners, the transnational corporations that form the backbone of the Empire. No one gives a damn about managing or governing this nation, just looting it.

  9. Massinissa

    Was there a point to “Man appreciates women’s arses on a feminist level”?

    Because I don’t get it. Was it satire of some sort?

    1. ambrit

      Dear Massinissa;
      It most definitely is satire. The piece, though, alas, short, is loaded with double entendres and word plays of other sorts.
      (I particularly liked “lonely perv frotting over a computer monitor.” A better image of alienation I couldn’t have thought up.) Like most satire, it has a very serious point to put across.

  10. BDBlue

    I see Hillary Clinton is being set up to be used in 2016 the same way she was used in 2008 – to help elect someone who is more or less a blank slate but is actually at least as conservative, if not more so (Obama ran to her right on domestic issues), than she is and let progressives brand the non-Clinton neo-liberal as the great liberal savior of the Democratic Party. I mean, Warren voted for Reagan and was a Republican into her 40s. Really, she’s the next great hope of the left? Maybe the Republican left.

    This is not an endorsement of Clinton, but the fact she is no liberal does not actually make those running against her…liberal. And it will be depressing to once again watch people who claim to be “of the left” in some way campaign against her to elect someone who is either no different than she is on issues or, as with Obama, governs to the right of her all in the name of progressive-ism. This kind of talk proves progressives either learned nothing from 2008 or that they learned how to get what they want (which is looking more and more to be neo-liberalism).

    1. Jagger

      The last time I checked, Warren was a 100 percent pro-Israeli hawk. I just can’t believe a moral person today can be Israeli uber alles any longer. So Warren…more change we can believe in.

    2. ohmyheck

      True. Does no one see the similarities? A Nobody…makes some waves with the populist masses…suddenly get voted in as a junior Senator…makes more populist speeches…is set up to run against…wait for it…Hilary Clinton…beats her in the primary…gets elected…F###ks over We The People …

      Hello? Anybody? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice…sorry, no second time around for me, anyway.

      1. Antifa

        One gets the impression that, having landed in the big leather chair in the Oval Office, the Occupant is soon surrounded by well dressed representatives from all the major alphabet agencies, and presented with a Chinese menu:

        “You may select one from column A, and one from Column B.”

        “Hang on a minute. What about single payer? What about a living wage? And banking reform?”

        “I’m sorry, Madame President. If it isn’t on the menu, it isn’t on the menu.”

    3. jrs

      You make a good case for Hillary as a lesser evil. Yes she’s corporatist, for trade deals, not likely to do anything for civil liberties, and iffy otherwise, so yes in a way she’s more of the same posion, but at least she’s kind of a known quantity, we know what she is. And we know nearly nothing about Elizabeth pick in a poke Warren and these unknown quantities unleash horrors undreamed of before (some might say like the ACA but really I mean targetted assasinations and the like).

      1. Synopticist

        Oh come on.
        It was pretty obvious to anyone watching and listening closely that Obama was economically to the right of Clinton.
        Likewise, it should be clear to well informed readers of this blog that Warren is considerably to the left of Clinton and most of the democratic party.

        That she used to be a republican in the eighties shows how f*cked up America is, not that she’s on the right.

        1. Ned Ludd

          Elizabeth Warren was once for single-payer health care; now she pretends that she has always been against it (full video).

          Jim Braude: But you do support single-payer, do you not?

          Warren: No, what I’ve got right now…

          Braude: You’ve written repeatedly that you have, have you not?

          Warren: Oooooh. I think you need to go back and take a look…

          Braude: I have a paragraph: “The most obvious solution would be universal single-payer health care. Single-payer care would also free families from dependence on an employers’ plan and make certain everyone is covered whether or not…” You wrote that with a co-author.

          Both an opportunist and a liar – she should go far.

  11. ScottW

    Everyone should read the McClatchy story (summarized on FDL) about the list compiled by the feds of those who purchased the book about how to beat a lie dectector test. I can’t believe this has not received much more coverage in the press, as it is the tip of the iceberg concerning how information can be used against current, or prospective, government employees, or for that matter, in a myriad of other circumstances (no fly lists, gov. contracting, etc.). We are one small step away from creating a total information dossier on every person available for purchase (maybe it already exists), much like credit information. Every transaction, contact, internet search etc., chronicled in one spot for an employer, or interested party, to review.

    The scariest part is the attorney who concludes prosecuting privacy cases is very difficult in light of a 1974 law–obviously passed before the creation of the total information spy networks. And for those who advocate cash purchases, there will be algorithms developed to alert someone to that type of allusive behavior. Just like using encrypted software raises a suspicion of suspicious behavior by the government. Very scary stuff.

    1. Jagger

      Exactly, can you imagine a potential employer going beyond your demanded credit report to also demanding a list of your personal internet website visits and purchased books? We need to clearly define the privacy rights of all citizens. And I am going to hold my breath until it happens.

  12. Jim Haygood

    ‘If you look at any squillion-dollar project over the last decade or so, Democrat or Republican, it’s gone horribly out of control. Iraq. The bailouts. Name it. The ruling class has lost the basic ability to govern. They can’t even fake it.’ — Lambert Strether

    Which points to the U.S. being a DINO (‘Developed In Name Only’) country.

    Historical momentum lets it retain its ‘superpower’ label, but internally it’s corroding rapidly with corrupt value-subtraction schemes run by a Depublicrat nomenklatura that’s exploited 150 years of uninterrupted power.

    Since our heavily-armed, paranoid political duopoly isn’t relinquishing power voluntarily, economic collapse likely will prove to be nature’s only way of punishing its particular brand of inbred purblindness.

  13. sleepy

    Spending useless time on the ACA exchanges is of course a hidden tax. Even more, I would describe it as free labor donated to the health insurance industry.

    Spend 30 minutes on the phone with Experian, wasting cellphone minutes and time? Yeah, right.

    The nearest analogy I can find are the self-service checkout lines at stores–why should I scan my stuff and bag it and make change? I’m not on the store’s payroll, and it takes a job away from someone who could be.

    1. ambrit

      Dear sleepy;
      I don’t know about your part of the country, but here Down South, those self check out lanes are increasingly being left closed, by the store. One explanation advanced by a person I know who works at one of the big Boxxstores is that open self check out lanes increase roll outs of unpaid merchandise. People, being people, are increasingly skipping some of their goods in the basket when scanning their purchases, and walking out with them mixed in with the legitimate purchases. Being, by design, short staffed, the store management can not divert the droid power to police those lanes adequately. So, to maintain the stores budget and margin; close the self check out lanes and make everyone wait in long lines at those few lanes they do keep open. (I was once twenty seventh, I counted, in a line at the local Wal Mart one late night.)

        1. ambrit

          Dear optimader;
          Sorry to be so late to the return stroke, (late work days ahead of Black Friday here in Boxxstore Land,) but I’m often sent to work with a List, which I am exhorted by my wife to return with the goods after work or die trying.
          A typical list:
          Distilled water 2 gallons
          Rice Dream 2 quarts
          Organic Cauliflower 1 head
          Organic Broccoli 1 bunch
          Pads 2 boxes (Which has led to several humourous exchanges with cashiers and fellow line denizens.)
          Yoghurt 1 pint
          Brown Eggs 1 dozen

          Read it and weep.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Got time to kill, why not hunt moose instead:

      So far [in New Hampshire], only 269 people have signed up for a plan [on], a total dwarfed by the number of residents whose policies have been canceled.

      Ryan Williams noted that this year, 281 residents were issued permits to hunt moose. “You’ve got a better chance of winning the moose lottery than getting health care coverage through Barack Obama’s broken website,” he said.

      What is worse, the federally run exchange for the state has attracted only one insurance provider, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which touched off a furor when it excluded 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals from the health plans it offers through the exchange. Residents in the north of New Hampshire may have to drive an hour to find a hospital or doctor in their network.

      Yeah … the preznit does bear an uncanny resemblance to Bullwinkle, with his ‘full Pinocchio’ nose.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Given the complexity built-in to the Obamacare law and mirrored in the software built to implement part of that law, I wonder how anyone will be able to maintain it. I’m still employed (knock on wood — things got dicey a month ago) and receive insurance through my employer. Every year for a long as I can remember each of the few choices for providers and policies have changed significantly adding and removing options, changing coverage and costs.

        I’ve always hated trying to make a choice from what is offered, and never quite sure how that choice will really work out. Doing income taxes is one of my very least favorite things to do. Obamacare seems to combine the worst qualities of two of the most unpleasants tasks I face each year, and as a bonus — it apparently increases the level of complexity inherent in yet another government mandated unpleasant task. Even if I ended up with great health care coverage at the end of the ordeal — which seems far from the case — the last thing I need is another unpleasant and stressful waste of my time. When it looked like I might be laid off, dealing with Obamacare added one more significant worry.

        I suspect the complexity of the software combined with the rich source of personal data will make the server site a very tempting target for hacker attacks. A DoS attack is a fairly minor concern compared with a variety of more malicious attacks that might be crafted for a zero-day exploit against the server and/or the numerous clients feeding the server with personal data.

  14. Creak crackle creak

    Also, Wet Woman.

    Sylvie Guillem paid for it, though. She’s like the tin man now. As a relation of a dancer who took it easy before it crippled her, I’m ambivalent about the undeniable greatness of Guillem’s art. It’s somewhere on the slippery slope leading to football, boxing, dogfighting, and pankration.

    Why do we overdo everything? Maybe it has to do with the technocratic emphasis on greedy objectives over standards (sometimes condescendingly termed ‘satisficing,’) or constraints. In the world culture that has quietly supplanted Western culture, there are just two (2) greedy objectives: development and peace.

  15. docg

    “They believe this behaviour is progammed into children from birth to avoid them being harmed or poisoned by flowers or plants.”

    Whenever I read this sort of language, often stemming from some sort of newly reported evolutionary hypothesis, I cringe. Metaphors such as “programmed” behavior, or, worse still, “behavioral strategy” are highly misleading. And probably contribute to the widely spread notion that evolution must be based on “intelligent design” after all.

    Assuming their hypothesis is correct (I’ll get to that momentarily), all it would mean is that at some point in the distant past there were two types of pre-human young, those who simply ate whatever came to hand and those who happened, for no particular reason, to be repelled by the taste of flowers or plants. Due to the fact that many such plant products were poisonous, the ones who tended to avoid eating any type of plant were, over time, more likely to survive. Nothing was “programmed” — there was no “behavioral strategy.” Darwinian evolution doesn’t work like that. It’s very thoroughly random, based essentially on contingencies.

    Now as to the hypothesis itself, it’s certainly interesting and does make some sense. But unless it’s based on cross cultural research including children from a great many different societies all over the world, it doesn’t mean very much. I think it perfectly possible that many children in societies other than our own have no problem with the taste of greens. But a study carried out at Yale University isn’t likely to tell us anything about that.

    1. Bridget

      In a society where chocolate cake is as accessible as greens, any self respecting infant is going to hold out for the sweet stuff.

    2. JTFaraday

      My 2 and a half year old neice loves broccoli. She once ate all of hers and then physically fought me for mine.

      She’s really very nice otherwise.

    3. evodevo

      Your comment is somewhat muddled – I agree with parts of it, but with caveats. Yes, the current state of evolutionary psych is a patchwork of addled hypotheses (which this article illustrates), poor data, stretched correlations and, imbedded like kernels of corn in horse manure, a few actual realistic findings/conclusions. There ARE facts about primate dietary choices that do exist – primates prefer sweet (ripe fruit) and of course most mammals prefer fats, because fat is a calorie-dense resource in a normally calorie-short world. Other than that, it would be hard to draw any other conclusions. This study went far afield in finding any.

      No, evolution isn’t “random”. Variation is random; selection acts on random variation in each generation to eliminate the worst fits and elevate the better ones, in many cases allowing the neutral ones to accumulate. That’s evolution.
      Your last paragraph hits the nail. Unless this study includes data from cultures all over the real non-Western world, say the KoiSan in the Namib, or some hill tribe in SE Asia or the Philippines or the Amazon, their sample is too selective, and bunk.

  16. Jess

    Pelosi endorses single payer? Oh, come on. Now, when she’s the minority leader and can’t get a bill to the floor? Who knows that even if she got one passed, the Senate would kill it? THAT Nancy Pelosi?

    Fuck Nancy Pelosi.

    Also, a few questions for Lambert (or whoever):

    Would Medicare for All actually be single payer, or would it leave private insurance in the form of Medicare Advantage? If the latter, would that still permit in-network and out-of-network cost and access/location issues?

    Would Medicare for All only pay 80% of costs and leave the ill or injured to pony up the rest?

    1. hunkerdown

      It’s helpful to draw a distinction between “supporting” and the feint of “being seen supporting”. Democratic officials are eager to “be seen supporting” any left-wing policy that shifts power away from elites, if and only if the fix is already in for the short to medium term. Besides the clear example of the public option vs. the PPACA, I seem to remember Bill Clinton said some supportive words about marijuana legalization several years ago in an interview during the W Presidency. I suppose the fix for that case didn’t consider two states passing recpot initiatives in the same election…

  17. Eureka Springs

    “OMG, Pelosi endorses single payer!”

    Except, of course, she is lying!

    Watched her on Meet The Press this morning defending the indefensible ACA and never mentioning single payer even in some off hand manner. Makes me embarrassed for my friends who are Democrats.

    But hey, I endorse mowing my lawn on occasion… so I DO it.

    1. scraping_by

      The Obamian headfake, once a career-ending transgression, is now expected.

      Some time in the future, Ms. Nancy will point back to a single statement as proof she was on the side of the angels all along.

      Or, her supporters will use it as evidence we shouldn’t oppose her. Heart’s in the right place and all.

  18. RanDomino

    That BAR editorial about M23 is flat wrong about the nature of that group, and I’m a little shocked that they apparently chose to side with the Hutu nationalists, about whom they say nothing negative (while everyone else mentioned is torn down). In 2008, a CNDP (earlier incarnation of M23) spokesman said, “The state has sold out its underground resources to China, it’s scandalous … They must be renegotiated so that the Democratic Republic of Congo’s mineral resources are not hypothecated and so that we can have a bright future.” Laurent Nkunda (who was born in the Nord Kivu region of DRC, so calling him an invader is a creative interpretation) was arrested by Rwanda almost five years ago (still apparently on house arrest, with no charges filed), and his army has been on a crashing decline ever since, now leading to its apparently final defeat.

    1. anon y'mouse

      linksurfing, if you haven’t seen this one yet.

      he denotes “too much time spent learning the material, and not enough spent thinking about the material (relational learning, learning about the meaning/impact which is deeper brain learning than memorization)” as a problem.

      I think the problem is that we have massively expanded the list of things ‘to be learned’ and have not increased the time to learn them in.

      perhaps pharma-corps can design an Instant Learning Pill.

      1. jrs

        sounds like those kids would be better off reading web comments on decent places on the web :). At least they’d hear good arguments made well (along with bad ones made poorly, but the good is there).

    2. Kim Kaufman

      yes and, of course, union busting of teachers unions. Here’s Diane Ravitch’s take on Arne’s article:

      and not just remedial ed – all ed. Look at the $1 billion deal for iPads in LA – equipped with Pearson software. This was done for two reasons: 1) to skirt the issues of buying software (which are considered textbooks) with school construction bond money and 2) to make sure no other software company was considered (asst. Supervisor who negotiated the deal worked for Pearson previously). These iPads are for one reason only: testing. The district doesn’t give a crap about the curriculum – Pearson is not even finished and the district can’t wait to give our money to Apple. They are lining up to sell a variety of commercial products to the LAUSD to “align with Common Core” from professional development to picking out Apps among the 40,000 education apps available and more crap (tests, tests preps and more tests).

      And, of course, there’s the data mining – a gold mine! See InBloom and Amplify (Rupert Murdoch/Joel Klein’s new ed program).

      It’s really all directed at the ultimate: on-line learning, eliminating teachers almost entirely.

      And more police. While the LA district claims it has no money for nurses and counselors at the schools they immediately increased police protection for the iPads.

  19. Cynthia

    “DC insurance commissioner axed day after disagreeing with Obama”

    Read more:

    This goes to show that the Obama Administration values NOTHING so much as loyalty. Look at the moles Obama has surrounded himself with. Clearly incompetent, have botched his most precious projects and achievements, yet they remain gainfully employed.

    Clearly Loyalty over competence, over and over again. it will be the reason no one will remember his tenure favorably, on the Left or the Right.

  20. Paul Niemi

    Sometimes what is absent from the news headlines, the missing news, is notable. The Atlantic hurricane season ends in two weeks and there haven’t been headlines of any major storms this year. All the predictions were for a severe hurricane season, and they were all wrong. Only four named tropical cyclones? And Humberto rose only to 85 mph? Yes, the Philippines had a typhoon, I know, nevertheless no major hurricanes over here. Is this significant? Yes, it is significant. It reinforces the notion that climate events happen randomly within a normal distribution. The prediction of eight or nine major hurricanes by NOAA, typical of a dozen other predictions by other organizations, should in general depreciate the value people place in long-range weather predictions.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Neither weather nor climate prediction claims infallibility. The simple physics of more energy in the weather systems suffices to support an expectation that storms in the future could carry more energy. Rather than raising questions about weather/climate prediction, I feel like we just dodged a bullet. I’m not ready for another storm like Sandy and feel foolish for not getting better prepared. By chance I’ve been given a probable reprieve until next year.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      No, it means that looking at single year periods is meaningless. You need to look at longer periods for patterns.

  21. fresno dan

    The financial sector has grown massively since the 1970s, whether size is measured in terms of the volume of transactions, the number and remuneration of highly skilled professionals, the share of corporate profits, or, most importantly, the political power of the finance capital. As Frase observes, referencing Felix Salmon, the huge returns extracted by this sector distort the distribution of income for the economy as a whole. The market return on any activity must be adjusted for the cut taken by the financial sector. This fact makes the attempt to assign ethical status to marginal productivity academic, in the worst sense of the term.

    After the collapse of the economy, the obvious corruption of public law enforcement, and the obliteration of representative government, it is hard not to see that big finance is the cause of what ails us.

  22. down2long

    The #Ask JPM Twitter feed is like a unbelieveably generous gift from God in my vendetta against Chase so of course I had to set up a Twitter account to take full advanage of the gift.

    My latest Tweet: “When you voluntarily foreclosed on my paid up 5 unit bldg on a former WaMu loan you got free from the FDIC, was it personal or just business?”

    With all humiity I welcome folowers to give my project more cred. @DavidVanChaney


  23. down2long

    I’m on a roll: Here’s my latest.

    “When you open small business accounts, do you disclose it is your intent to utterly destroy the underlying business?” #AskJPM

  24. Everythings Jake

    Yes please skip Riverdaughter’s paean to women who want to be sold out by a deeply corrupt, evil and narcissistic Hillary whose husband wouldn’t show spine if you shoved a radioactive rod up his behind. Riverdaughter’s been singing the same blindly stupid song for five years now. Sorry, this is the administration that put the completely amoral Albright on TV to trumpet the value of killing 500,000 children. This was a Youtube link – we didn’t need to go through Riverdaughter’s site to get there – could have just provided the Youtube link, and then we wouldn’t have encouraged a person who seeks abuse.

  25. JGordon

    Well giving 300 dollars a month to everyone might not be “money printing” but on the other hand the Fed could “lend” this “money” to people at 0.00% interest indefinitely and allow those borrowers to deposit said “money” into a reserve acount at the Fed that pays 1% interest…

    Yeah, that’s not money printing at all.

  26. skippy

    More good news!!!


    Persico, who acknowledges rivals are also working behind the scenes, must hope that he is not the victim of the type of ambush that hit traders when microwave emerged in the United States.

    At the time, when most speed traders were focusing on improving fiber optics networks, privately owned Spread Networks made a massive investment that Forbes estimated at $300 million.

    It built a new fiber optics network between Chicago and New York to improve speed by three milliseconds. After it opened in 2010, customers couldn’t understand why they were being beaten.

    Later they realized the first microwave network for traders had been built in secret by rivals.

    Asked what might come next, Persico mentioned the use of drones and barges to create a transatlantic wireless network.

    “Some people talk about using balloons or satellites, and some of what I have heard is even more crazy,” said Alex Pilosov, chief executive of Windy Apple Technologies, which takes credit for building the first microwave network between New York and Chicago.

    “But I don’t like to talk about what we are doing until we have a product and then we sell it,” he said. “But even then you might not hear about it.”

    skippy… I can feel the pull of the singularity forming… methinks.

      1. skippy

        @Bob – the whole point was the need for speed and not brains, that’s all that matters in 70% of trading volume… more speed~~~

        “Time is money”…”speed is power”: We have moved from the stage of the acceleration of History to that of the acceleration of the Real. This is what ‘the progress’ is: a consensual sacrifice. – Paul Virilio “Paul Virilio On The Crisis” in Radical Perspectives on the Crisis

        The French urbanist and philosopher Paul Virilio is one of the principal theorists of speed. After many years pursuing the relationship between concepts of velocity and the paradox of being in a virtual world – of being somewhere and nowhere at the same time – Virilio explains how real time has supplanted real space such that “A synchronization has taken place of customs, habits, mores, ways to react to things, and also, of emotions,” exemplified in the hysteria that followed the global financial crisis. He maintains: “Since speed earns money, the financial sphere has attempted to enforce the value of time above the value of space” and while this has led to massive profits for the few and increasing inequalities, to truly understand the phenomenon of an economy of speed, the left has to jettison its old framework that insists capitalism is dead, and all we need is more social justice. This is a false deduction that proceeds from adopting the same old materialist analysis.”

        Whether one accepts Virilio’s analysis or his predictions, it is clear that speed and velocity are the main aspects of a new finance capitalism that operates at the speed of light based on sophisticated “buy” and “sell” algorithms. Already researchers have demonstrated that data transfer using a single laser can send 26 terabits per second down an optical fiber and there are comparable reports that lasers will make financial “high-frequency” trading even faster.

        This is how Tyler Falk blogging for Smartplanet describes it: “With high-frequency trading, firms use complex algorithms to exploit price discrepancies in the stock market. All of this trading happens in a flash, microseconds… Dealing in microseconds means companies need to have the fastest technology to complete their transactions. Superfast fiber-optic networks were the hot technology, then microwave networks came along, and now: lasers?”

        He notes that two companies, Anova and AOptix, are pursuing this vision that looks to a new technology that will shave microseconds off financial trades. As a BBC story explains: “High-frequency trading (HFT) is driven by complex algorithms that allow traders to jump ahead of competitors by exploiting minute discrepancies in price on exchanges in different cities.”

        – See more at:

        skippy… bummer man…

  27. rich

    The New World Order – Part 1. The Betrayal of the Nation

    In every country I can think of, the sovereignty and wealth of the Nation, which was once the embodiment of the power and will of the people, is being butchered and sold to the highest bidder. Everywhere, the Nation and the people within it, are under attack. Not from without by terrorists but from within. Because in every country the people who run the State have largely decided they no longer wish to serve the people but prefer instead to serve the interests of a Global Over-Class.

    Of course we are not encouraged to see this clearly or if we do, certainly not to speak of it to others. And many of those we might try to talk to, do not want to hear.

    Many of us prefer instead to find what warmth we can in the false and threadbare beliefs fed to us by the quisling elite of the State and their close friends and allies in a rigged and corrupted ‘free’ market. Together they tell us that whole functions of our nation which we built and treasure, are no longer viable because they are at odds with the ‘realities’ of a global economy. The more ideological of them proclaim that the state, whenever and wherever it tries to do good, will always and by necessity do harm. The more ‘realist’ among them tell us that once inalienable liberties, must now be curtailed or suspended in the name of defending the ‘nation’ from outside enemies. And yet I want to argue it is now, not ever us or the nation that is being defended or empowered. It is always and everywhere a small elite who own and control both the State and the Markets who are being defended.

    In my view, we are, in most industrialized countries, watching the machinery of the State being used to betray the Nation in favour of global finance and the elite who own it. It is a familiar betrayal in the third world. One we have all watched with sordid complacently as the wealth of nation after nation is gutted for the benefit of the few. The disease is now with us.

    1. WorldisMorphing

      Larry Summers at IMF Economic Forum, Nov. 8
      16:19 min.
      Good joke on Chicago School from 8:38 to 9:32.

      1. MikeNY

        More than that: an assertion that the notion of the “output gap” may be seriously overstated, and, by extension, that the Fed’s models are crap….

        … as Jeremy Grantham has already asserted.

        Do you think Yellen is listening?

        1. readerOfTeaLeaves

          More discussion of this at Jared Bernstein’s “On the Economy” blog:

          My take on Summers’ speech: he actually says, early on, that “finance is too important to be left to financiers”. Maybe he’s been reading Yves…?

          But he raises a topic that needs to be addressed, IMVHO: ‘how do we manage an economy (that is already at) 0% interest?’ IOW: we need new economic thinking.

          1. MikeNY

            Grantham posted a piece recently asserting that the days of 3% real GDP growth are past us, for the foreseeable future, as a result of slowing population growth and productivity; hence, the Fed’s measurement of the “output gap” using the 3% rate is overstated, and efforts to stimulate to achieve that level of growth will result in serial bubbles and busts.

            I would argue further that another reason economic growth has faltered is the the excessive concentration of wealth; monetary stimulus cannot work well when the majority of the population is heavily indebted, and the wealth effect is concentrated in a small sliver of the population with a low marginal propensity to spend.

            The only answer would seem to be increased fiscal spending — but even then, it seems (per Grantham) that 3% real GDP growth is unsustainable, and efforts to realize it will fail spectacularly.

            The major macroeconomic issue of our time seems NOT to be “how do we revive the salad days of rapid real growth?”, but “how do we achieve social stability — a greater level of economic justice — in an era of diminished prospects?”

            In other words — how do we learn how to share?

            Once again, it seems Grantham put his finger on the issue — in this case, the sponginess of the “output gap” as a bedrock of policy — well before establishment economists.

  28. Murky

    The second to the last link is Philip Mirowski’s discussion of neoliberalism in an interview with the BBC. Mirowski formulated his ideas about neoliberalism in his recent book:

    “Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown”

    The BBC journalist asks Mirowski to define ‘neoliberalism’, because the word is broadly tossed about nowadays and seems to be losing any meaning. So Mirowski gives a fairly detailed definition of ‘neoliberalism’ The main points are:

    1) Neoliberalism is not conservative and does not advocate laissez faire economics.

    2) Neoliberalism believes in a strong state imposing a certain kind of market economy on society.

    3) Neoliberalism advocates a market economics in which the ‘market’ is given an elevated ontological status beyond the comprehension of ordinary humanity. Nobody can know what the market knows.

    4) Socialism will always fail, because central planning of any state apparatus cannot possibly predict the unknown forces inherent in market economics.
    5) Ordinary citizens are deeply inculcated with neoliberal beliefs, constantly measuring their own success and worth as a commodity in the market.

    And Mirowski gives much detail about the historical evolution of neoliberalism. It traces back to economists in 1930’s and 1940’s, most notably Hayak and Friedman. The formal institutionalization of neoliberalism was at the founding of the Mont Pelerin Society (1947). Neoliberalism then flourished in subsequent decades and has now systematically captured institutions of finance, higher education and the federal government. Mirowski makes a number of good points about how neoliberal ideology is directly responsible for the recent economic meltdown. So a question is raised as to why wasn’t the meltdown sufficient to delegitimize neoliberalism? Economist Robert Skidelsky, who is present at the interview, volunteers his opinion. He says the financial meltdown was just not severe enough to overturn this dominant ideology. But he says, more crises will be forthcoming that might just topple neoliberalism.

    Other reviews of Mirowski’s book have been much more critical. Here is the link to multiple reviews of Mirowski’s book at 5 critics and a moderator each take turns critiquing Mirowski’s book at length, with Mirowski getting the last word.

    Perhaps the most biting criticism concerns Mirowski’s use of the phrase “Neoliberal Thought Collective”. Mirowski believes the Neoliberal Thought Collective is an elite group of neoliberals, who are extremely well organized, and who systematically plan out their rule and exploitation of other humanity. This is openly ridiculed by one Diane Coyle, who starts her review with the sentence: “Am I a member of the Neoliberal Thought Collective?” In reply, an angry Mirowski claims she is indeed in the neoliberal cabal, because, among other things, she has a degree from Harvard and a career in financial journalism! [Gosh, Yves must be a neoliberal too!] Nor do the other reviewers in the symposium buy into this Neoliberal Thought Collective. Contrast ordinary people, who are portrayed by and large by Mirowski as brainwashed drones of neoliberalism. A short view of Mirowski is that his ideas of modern social history are overly conspiratorial and simplistic.

    What Mirowski gets right is his criticism of mainstream economic thinking. Participants in the symposium do not doubt that neoliberal ideology has dramatic influence over educational institutions, the financial industry and institutions of government. It’s just Mirowski’s characterization and formulation that’s overdone. What seems to be absent in Mirowski’s thinking is a more carefully defined discussion of how government, financial, and educational institutions exercise power. Instead he give us a rhetoric of oppressed verses oppressor.

    And though Mirowski isn’t giving us clean social history, his motives are good enough. What he really wants is to upright leftwing politics, so that it’s a real force to oppose neoliberalism. But the Left is in disarray. He regards the Occupy Movement as a failure, and sees labor organizations as not doing much better. In a talk he gave at Warwick University, he actually praises Leninism for organizing the Left, and he laments there is no similar organizing principle now. But Mirowski doesn’t offer any clear solutions for fighting neoliberalism. What he’s good at is tagging the problem, and ranting out the many ways neoliberalism is evil.
    My personal take on Mirowski? Sometimes very good but sometimes overboard in his characterizations of the neoliberal establishment. Gets a grade ‘B’ from me for the quality of his argument. Gets a grade ‘A’ for the quality of his rant. And some of his rant is very good!

    1. participant-observer-observed

      ” “This is one of wealthiest cities in the wealthiest country in the world. For people to struggle for basic needs is absurd.” – Kshama Sawant

      Seattle: the most progressive city in America just got even more progressive as it officially elected its first socialist member to their City Council in 100 years. Kshama Sawant, an college economics professor and prominent figure in Seattle’s Occupy Wall Street movement, has surged past the 16-year Democratic incumbent Richard Conlin to win a seat on the council in a move which surprised even Seattle political commentators.

      The continued growth of her lead in the election over the past several days caused Conlin to concede defeat Friday, making Sawant the first socialist member of Seattle’s city council in the past 100 years (as well as being an immigrant, female, and person of colour; this is definitely a landmark victory).”

      “The Nation reports … that Sawant “pulled no punches” when designing her campaign platform; her signature proposal is the $15 minimum wage, which is also close to becoming the law of the land in Washington State (the measure had 2,837 “yes” votes compared to 2,784 “no” votes after Thursday’s ballot drop). – “…

      “Seattle has become a really unaffordable city and overall, not just in Seattle but everywhere in the country, people are fed up, angry and frustrated with the political system. They’re fed up with the political dysfunction and they’re hungry for change.” – Kshama Sawant on her strong finish [source]

      The rest of her platform outlines an explicitly socialist vision for Seattle, a position that would spell near-certain electoral defeat in other parts of the United States but which is finding a more receptive audience in the state of Washington.

      A former software engineer who now teaches economics at Seattle Central Community College, Sawant ran a Socialist Alternative “Fund Human Needs, Fight Corporate Greed” campaign that argued: “We live in one of the richest cities in the richest nation on earth. There is no shortage of resources. Capitalism has failed the 99%. Another world is both possible and necessary—a socialist world based on the needs of humanity and the environment.”

      Sawant pulled no punches in her platform, which began with her signature proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 and hour and then promised to:

      * Seek “A Millionaire’s Tax to fund mass transit, education, and living-wage union jobs providing vital social services.” She proposes to: “End corporate welfare. Tax freeloading corporations. Reduce the unfair tax burden on small businesses, homeowners & workers.”

      * Support efforts to “Unionize Amazon, Starbucks & low-paid service workers.”

      * Commit to “No layoffs or attacks on public sector unions!”

      – See more at:

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