Links 12/3/13

Apologies for the lack of my own posts, but you’ll see we have other original posts! I’m a bit under the weather.

Koalas bellow with unique voice organ BBC

MRSA in UK Turkeys Raises Questions of Communication, Transparency and Risk Wired (Robert M). Aieee!

Male and female brains wired differently, scans reveal Guardian. I’m not sure how they reach these conclusions. I can name two couples in which the woman assumed the usual social role but was also famously more “one track minded” than her husband.

Researcher shows microplastic transfers chemicals, impacting health PhysOrg (Robert M)

Amazon’s delivery drones: An idea that may not fly Associated Press

PC shipments to see ‘severe fall’ BBC

Factories Worldwide Are Showing Momentum New York Times

Tokyo Suburb To Be Decontaminated, 70% Of Town Marked For Clean Up Simply Info (Deontos)

Japan Salaries Extend Slide as Inflation Begins to Take Root Bloomberg

US calls on China to rescind air defence zone Guardian

Former CCTV Journalist Slams Censorship in Open Letter WSJ China Real Time. Quelle surprise!

LIVE: Tensions ease in Bangkok Asian Correspondent (Lambert)

Europe and Its Slippery Energy Slope OilPrice

Iceland police regret first killing BBC

Biggest drop in savings for 40 years, Bank of England figures reveal Telegraph

How Putin miscalculated in the struggle for Ukraine Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

Rich Kazakhs Revive Polygamy as Young Women Seek Poverty Escape Bloomberg

Obamacare Launch

Obamacare reboot survives heavy traffic Politico

Video: CNN employee`s own mistake crashed Obamacare Web page Americablog

Bugs plague enrollment Washington Post

Companies, academics say budget cuts threaten U.S. competitiveness Reuters

10 Guns, Bombs, and Weapons You Can Build at the Airport Wired (Robert M)

Rising Slag Heaps of Petcoke in Midwest Arouse Environmental Concerns OilPrice

A healthy natural real interest rate… Say “No” to secular stagnation Angry Bear

Black Friday Weekend Spending Drop Pressures U.S. Stores Bloomberg

MORGAN STANLEY: Retailers That Opened Early On Thanksgiving Had Crappy Black Friday Sales Business Insider

Dr Doom: The global housing bubble is back MacroBusiness

Is Wall Street Too Giddy? New York Times. Yours truly contributed.

Student-Loan Servicers Face Scrutiny Wall Street Journal

CFPB What Have You Done for Me Lately? The Cash America Case, For One Thing Nathalie Martin, Credit Slips

Wells Fargo: U.S. targeting executive as defendant may be retaliation Reuters. Sanctimonious Wells at it again.

Antidote du jour (Jeff N):


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  1. gonzomarx

    Watched this last night, full of pop psychology goodness!

    The Choir – Sing While You Work
    “As the contest to be crowned ‘best workplace choir’ continues, choirmaster Gareth Malone enters the embattled world of high finance, high flyers and rock bottom reputation at one of the biggest investment and trading banks in the world, Citi, in London’s Canary Wharf.”

    in previous weeks there has been a ferry company, a supermarket, a council and a fire service

    in the UK Monbiot seems to be the only one writing about the trade deals

    The lies behind this transatlantic trade deal

    The real cost of the economic downturn to Britain’s ‘squeezed middle’ revealed
    “The average income of a household has fallen from £37,900 to £32,600 ONS figures show”

  2. DakotabornKansan

    Move over SpongeBob…

    There are no approved vaccines that protect humans against the toxins associated with staph infections, including those caused by MRSA strains.

    Behold the nanosponge vaccine aimed at MRSA!!!

    Scientists have developed microscopic “nanosponges” that soak up a dangerous chemical released by the bacteria and prime the immune system.

    As the problem of antibiotic resistance worsens, nanosponge vaccines offer a promising approach for fighting infections without reliance on antibiotics.

    1. AbyNormal

      i have a few friends & family members in the nursing fields…be interesting to see who will be lined up for the trials. of course there’s always Haiti…

      “Incurable diseases will eventually
      force mankind to justify
      disruptive nanotech and genetic engineering.”
      Toba Beta, Betelgeuse Incident

      1. McMike

        Absolute insanity.

        What will nanotech’s unintended consequences be? I mean, aside collateral declines in general wellness, and uptick in autoimmune defense responses and breakdowns.

        Once nanotech becomes pervasive, what will emerge as its version of the antibiotic resitant super-bug?

        Perhaps nanotech particles will combine with GMO DNA to create a new life form that colonizes our circulatory systems.

        This is all so predictable…

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          “We cannot solve our problems with the same (science) thinking we used when we created them.”

          We have enough of the ‘today’s solution is tomorrow’s problem to solved’ permanent employment scheme for our educated hamsters and their education teachers.

            1. McMike

              Going backwards is what I am afraid of: back to raging epidemics with no recourse.

              In truth though, I suspect we are replacing old-school periodic epidemics with an ongoing decrepit decline. Faustian bargain of sorts.

              A handfull of the least fortunate will disappear into the maw of the medical industrial complex, quarantined in bomb shelter labs with highly contagious, unidentifiable mutant flesh-eating brain-eating diseases, where they die horrible deaths while under heavy chemical assault and experimentation, and their bodies are then burnt in space-borne incinerators.

              The rest of us just sort of slowly descend into suckling runts, permanently attached to feeding and artificial immune system tubes. Unable to leave the house, or expose ourselves to sunlight, or exert ourselves for long periods of time.

              On the other hand, maybe this all leads to zombification. In which case, I hope Shaun of the Dead was prescient in terms of the outcome.

              1. MyLessThanPrimBeef

                Faustian bargain indeed…not really ‘progress,’ but more like hamster wheel.

                We give you more poisons to choose from…more choices, key to customer satisfaction.

        2. The Black Swan

          ‘Cat’s Cradle’ should be required reading for anyone going into the sciences. Someone is going to unleash Ice-9 into the world, and it isn’t going to be pretty.

          1. Tim Mason

            Ice Nine, in it’s social variant, was released a long time ago. The modern concept of culture is one of its manifestations, as is the concept of intellectual property. The growth of the prison industry, and the increasing criminalization of everyday life are related phenomena. Turning our backs upon Durkheim’s aperçu that deviance is necessary to social health, the Lords of the World want history to stop and to freeze themselves into this best of all possible worlds. Ice Nine indeed.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I think we should give nanotech a chance to rear its ugly head.

            Some people’s future research grants to remedy today’s solution may depend on it.

            That, in turn, will benefit some future, future researchers.

  3. rich

    Can Robert Samuelson Say “Trade Deficit?”

    It seems that he can’t. In his column today on finding a word for the continuing downturn he tells readers:

    “Why? Unlike Hansen, today’s stagnationists haven’t identified causes [of secular stagnation]. The problem might not be a dearth of investments so much as a surplus of risk aversion. For that, candidates abound: the traumatic impact of the Great Recession on confidence;

    a backlash against globalization,

    reduced cross-border investments by multinational firms; uncertain government policies;

    aging societies burdened by diminishing innovation and costly welfare states.

    “Whatever the cause, we are in unfamiliar territory.”

    risk aversion??

  4. dadanada

    re: Male and female brains wired differently, scans reveal
    On which Yves commented: I’m not sure how they reach these conclusions. I can name two couples in which the woman assumed the usual social role but was also famously more “one track minded” than her husband.

    The article is about anatomy, not how it’s applied in each individual. No one would argue that men and women are not different based on a flat chested woman living with a guy with man-boobs.

    1. Tom Allen

      I’m extremely skeptical of any conclusions reached on the basis of “brain scans”. Every time I see an MRI or a CAT scan of the brain used to prove some hypothesis of brain function, I’m reminded of the well-established 19th-century science of phrenology:

      Is your amativeness area larger than your philoprogenitive lobe? Let’s get out our calipers and see!

      1. Lambert Strether

        Especially since the brain is an infinitely plastic organ. All this “science” strikes me as expensively funded bullshit that will be turned into compliance technology when sufficiently miniaturized (in other words, self-fulfillilng prophecies that “harden the plastic” as it were). Not that I’m paranoid.

        1. Osbourne

          You are exaggerating, right? The brain is certainly not infinitely plastic – even its capacity to regenerate lost neurons is severely limited, such as in the peripheral olfactory system.

          It is also unfair to call this expensive bullshit. Studies like this seek to establish baseline or control models to compare with more abnormal conditions, which could potentially help with diagnosis and treatment of conditions with notoriously subjective diagnostic criteria like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Psychiatric disorders such as depression can present differently in males vs. females, so getting this right is especially relevant.

          I imagine the authors wanted to milk their findings with a published paper before getting to this point, and who can blame them, just because the media reports it sensationally? Likely many other people are working on the same topic, so there is pressure to publish from this angle, too.

          Surely if you applied this level of scepticism – and cynicism – generally, you would laugh every time an “economist” opened their mouth.

          1. Lambert Strether


            Surely if you applied this level of scepticism – and cynicism – generally, you would laugh every time an “economist” opened their mouth.

            I would and do. And I’m certainly not alone!

            * * *

            Perhaps I should have written “almost infinitely plastic.”

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Please don’t ridicule 19th century people.

        They believed their science was their only hope, just like we believe our science is our only hope.

        And people in the 21st will laugh at us, just as others in the 22nd century will laugh them.

        There is one constant though.

        And that is this idea: we don’t care if this will be laughable in the future. We are going to it anyway. A typical one: We need nuclear energy (circa 1950). Or ‘Internal combustion engine run on gasoline is the future’ – circa 1910. Or ‘We need DDT to solve world hunger’ – circa 1960, or more the current rage – ‘We need GM foods to solve world hunger.’

    1. Cynthia

      Just think about it, drone hunting could be the next big thing. Why hunt deer or geese when you can shot down Styrofoam coolers with Omaha steaks in them? Could be fun.

      Bezos should rethink his plan
      Reflect on the nature of man
      With drones in the air
      And guns everywhere
      They’ll target his new flying can

      The Limerick King

  5. AbyNormal

    Hope you feel better soon Yves (i hate to think of you not well for another entire season)

    I reckon being ill as one of the great pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work till one is better.
    ~Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh, 1903


        1. AbyNormal

          EmilianoZ, “Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.”
          George Carlin

            1. AbyNormal

              TT & Amen

              “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
              Will Rogers

  6. craazyman

    It’s hard to be a spiritualist in a physical world.

    Let’s bring in the women from Kahazakstan and put them to work! How long would that last? Maybe a month? Then it would hit the fan.

    You’d need the Mosque and community for something like that, then the shopping trips and handbags would sort of dissolve into the firmament of daily life.

    Anybody that thinks male and female brains are the same must have a female brain. Men have too much common sense for a theory like. After 3 seconds of contemplation it’s “Nah”. That ends it.

    Is Wall Street to giddy? No. they need more money thrown at them by the Fed. Maybe Ms. Yellen, since she has a female brain, will confuse herself enough to keep at it. If it’s good enough for the guys, then why shouldn’t it be good enough for the women? That’s how they think.

    More news about “competitiveness”! A splendor of delight for the intellectual conniseur. Each moment of reflection reveals new illuminations from the variegated surface of this shimmering jewel of protean analytical potency. It’s amazing this notion of macroeconomic insight was only discovered in recent years. What a loss for history and what gain for erudition in our time.

    Factories worldwide are showing momentum. Where are the going? They’re already in Asia and if they have momentum they must be on their way someplace else. Maybe they’re going in circles and it’s just centrifugal force. It could feel like momentum if you have anti-nausea pills.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The amazing thing is that different brains can have the same thoughts and same brains can have different thoughts.

      So, male brains and female brains, even if different, can both be one-track minded.

      And the same brains can splinter into dog lovers, cat lovers, dog/cat lovers, dog haters, cat haters, dog/cat haters.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      As for factories showing momentum, if my understanding that momentum is mass x velocity is correct, my bet is that factories are heavier, not faster.

      Instead of cranking out light stuff like T-shirts faster, they are just busy making heavier things like drones.

      1. craazyman

        I wanna short the hell out of this market and make back all the money I lost this year but I’m too scared to do anything. I’ve lost my confidence (not that I ever had any with money on the line. I only have it in theory and when I’m just reflecting). But now I’m too flummoxed to even log on to my brokerage account. Each time I do I lose money. That’s the only trend I see. It’s not easy unless you’ve got the discount window to turn to for free money or if you can hit the lecture circuit and spout some nonsense about economics for $50,0000 a pop. Otherwise, you just have to get lucky.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It sounds like you could use an ‘investment loss’ jubilee, if you put in your own cash.

          If you borrowed heavily to speculate, debt jubilee should take care of it – you will have lost almost nothing. In fact you might come out ahead. If you had borrowed $9,000 to buy $10,000 worth of put options that’s worth $2,000 now, forgiving of that $9,000 debt will gain you $1,000.

          As for my leased hybrid, I am determined to protect my FICO score, with or without a lease jubilee.

  7. k

    Re: Student loan servicers — I’ve just been blown off by the federal student loan agency after reporting some hinky stuff that should set off sirens — it looks like they are overcharging me on interest but I can’t tell because it’s not possible to see my monthly balance for the last year — after asking repeatedly how I can report my concerns. Will be interested to see where this goes. In the meantime, I will have to pay what mathbabe has termed the domestic complexity tax in the form of the time I’ll have to take to sort this out. And I assume there are tens of thousands of others in the same situation.

  8. dearieme

    “I can name two couples in which the woman assumed the usual social role but was also famously more “one track minded” than her husband.”

    Aw, Yves; they probably reached it by the same techniques that reveal that men are taller than women even though we all know couples where the woman is the taller.

    1. Massinissa

      Ive always thought it would be cool to have a girlfriend taller than me, but the number of women 5’11 or taller is incredibly small, so little chance of that, im afraid.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I would try going to more women’s basketball games or maybe move to Russia…they seem to be very tall over there, I think. Sudan for sure.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      No, no, no, you are missing the point.

      This is not about generalizations about men and women breaking down on the individual level. I rant about that all the time.

      This is about the way they claim traits go together. They contend that people who have more social skills are also better at multitasking. I say that’s horseshit. I know socially skilled/emotionally observant people (male and female) who can barely do one thing at once.

      They treat the ability to consider (or integrate) emotional content as well as the substance of communication as meaning you can multitask too.

      In fact, in Japan, EVERYONE, male and female, has to process emotional content in communication. Japanese is famously all about power dynamics, you have to make a decision about the relative status of you v. the people you are speaking to AND how you want to position yourself relative to that (as in abase yourself more if you are subordinate, or use a locution that is respectful but says you are unsure of relative status, which is a backhanded insult if you do know their status). And Japanese also makes non-verbal communication FAR more important than in Western languages.

      So I posit that this BS about “reading emotional cues” and calling it a female attribute is not in fact at all about any inherent attribute of femaleness, but women’s generally subordinate status. Women have reason not to piss off people (which requires more attentiveness in communication) because if a situation were to escalate to blows, the woman is pretty certain to get the shit pounded out of her by a man. There are not many women who would come out of a winner in a slugfest with a guy.

      1. skippy

        Concur – just the concept “multitasking” its self, is an industry driven productivity whip buzz word. Cough… multitasking is a *Big Time* managerial myth.

        he Psychological Perspective

        Multitasking and the Brain

        One of the ways that multitasking with technology affects students is psychologically. Multitasking has recently drawn a great deal of attention due to the prevalence of technology in the classroom, and a variety of studies were conducted that address this specific topic. This is not to say that all of technology’s effects are deleterious; there are obvious benefits to technology and its capabilities, but it has been found to pose a serious obstacle in the learning process.

        In a research study performed by Katherine Austin from the Department of Psychology at Texas Tech University, participants were exposed to several different sources of information that included text, narration, or animations in various combinations (Austin, par. 1). The participants in the study were monitored as they were exposed to these combinations and tested on their retention of the information introduced during the presentations. According to this study, participants were better able to absorb information when presented with the combination of narration and animation rather than the combination of text and animation that they found to be distracting. While viewing the text and animation, it was necessary to glance back and forth to get the whole story, dividing the attention of the viewer (Austin, par. 9). This switching of focus resulted in a cognitive overload, which is defined as the limit of the brain to process different types of information (Austin, par. 2). This can be directly related to the concept of multitasking in that dividing the attention in the classroom between the lecture or notes and your Facebook page (or other distractions) creates a limit in your ability to retain all the information.

        Another study by Foerde, Knowlton, and Poldrack, from the Department of Psychology and Brain Research Institute at the University of California, found slightly different results but agreed with the overall conclusion of the previous study. In their experiment, participants were subjected to single or dual-task conditions while trying to learn new information. These scholars discuss the specific areas of the brain that are involved in the learning process with specific focus on declarative memory and habit-learning memory. Declarative memory is having the ability to know a piece of information off the top of one’s head; it is forever ingrained into one’s memory and can be recited upon command. Habit-learning memory is different; it doesn’t rely on understanding the concept, just the action or process involved (Foerde et al. 11778). This is similar, for example, to students memorizing information for a test and then forgetting it as soon as they have finished taking the exam. This memorization of information for tests is commonly known as “cramming” amongst students. The conclusions of the study were that accuracy of the information retained was not affected in the different conditions, but dual-task conditions were proven to reduce declarative memory (Foerde et al. 11778). In other words, the participants subjected to multiple tasks or stimuli at the same time couldn’t permanently retain the information presented to them. Therefore, it does not matter whether or not the technology can handle multiple tasks at the same time. The more important question is whether the student can.

        – See more at:

        skippy… Retrograde… eh…

      2. Jeff W

        It’s an excellent point which I’m glad you clarified, Yves.

        It reminded me of the extraordinary navigational abilities of the Kuuk Thaayorre:

        Follow me [Prof. Lera Boroditsky] to Pormpuraaw, a small Aboriginal community on the western edge of Cape York, in northern Australia. I came here because of the way the locals, the Kuuk Thaayorre, talk about space. Instead of words like “right,” “left,” “forward,” and “back,” which, as commonly used in English, define space relative to an observer, the Kuuk Thaayorre, like many other Aboriginal groups, use cardinal-direction terms — north, south, east, and west — to define space. This is done at all scales, which means you have to say things like “There’s an ant on your southeast leg” or “Move the cup to the north northwest a little bit.” One obvious consequence of speaking such a language is that you have to stay oriented at all times, or else you cannot speak properly. The normal greeting in Kuuk Thaayorre is “Where are you going?” and the answer should be something like “Southsoutheast, in the middle distance.” If you don’t know which way you’re facing, you can’t even get past “Hello.”

        The result is a profound difference in navigational ability and spatial knowledge between speakers of languages that rely primarily on absolute reference frames (like Kuuk Thaayorre) and languages that rely on relative reference frames (like English). Simply put, speakers of languages like Kuuk Thaayorre are much better than English speakers at staying oriented and keeping track of where they are, even in unfamiliar landscapes or inside unfamiliar buildings. What enables them—in fact, forces them—to do this is their language. Having their attention trained in this way equips them to perform navigational feats once thought beyond human capabilities.

        [emphasis added, footnotes omitted]

        It just goes to show the power of language and culture in shaping behavior that might be thought to be “determined” (or, in the case of navigational abilities of the Kuuk Thaayore, “impossible”) at a neurological level.

  9. Jim Haygood

    ‘Cash for clunkers’ takes on a whole new meaning in Mad Uro’s Venezuela:

    Automobiles purchased in Venezuela generally jump in value as soon as they leave the dealership’s lot, as decade-old currency controls reduce the availability of imported cars and parts, leading to months-long waiting lists.

    Amid the shortage of new cars, demand for even decade-old clunkers has been soaring as Venezuelans buy durable goods as a store of value at a time their salaries and savings are being eroded by 54 percent inflation and a plunging currency.

    Instead of reducing inflationary pressures, however, the price caps are likely to spawn a black market for the buying and selling of used cars.

    Last month,, a popular website for selling used cars, was ordered to stop listing vehicles less than two years old and more recently it stopped publishing prices altogether at the request of the government.

    Soon ‘Crazy Nicky’ will have to don his red-yellow-‘n-blue nylon clown suit and start hawking carros on Venezuelan teevee, much as the internet mogul Barky Obama has revolutionized health insurance marketing in the U.S. with his supersite.

  10. jjmacjohnson

    Amazing, weapon manufactures are crying about funding and having to lay off people. Maybe not a bad thing for the rest of the world.

  11. Claire

    We’re having a good old fashioned subversive Christmas.

    We bought a Christmas tree from a nice family run operation down the street. Paid them in cash. The house smells smells like Christmas tree now.

    Next week we will drive to our local high end shopping mall, park our car, meet up with a group of friends who have driven in from the city. We’ll buy coffee there so that we are customers and are entitled to 3 hours parking. Then we’ll pile into the minivan and drive further along to a town where there’s a lovely Christmas faire.

    That’s the place to buy inexpensive locally hand-made presents. Everyone gets paid in cash.

    Merry Christmas and a hippy new year to you corporate America.

  12. Antifa

    Whoa, that’s some world class lying there by Honest Abe, the current head honcho of Japan, Inc. “No health issues to date, and none expected. Tokyo is fine, okay for Olympics, no problems in the future, come on over.”

    Meanwhile the suburbs need to be vacuumed, every square inch indoors and out, using super HEPA filters that then can’t be touched for a few thousand years. It’s only a matter of time until all of Tokyo needs vacuuming on a regular basis. And that’s the best case scenario.

    Abe has another world class lie waiting in the top drawer of his desk. It’s for the morning after the inevitable fuel rod accident at Fukushima Four requires the immediate evacuation of all of Tokyo. His carefully prepared and edited lie will be simple and complete:

    “We could not have foreseen any of this.”

    1. AndyB

      Hardly mentioned is that long term exposure to any radiation is life threatening. The ocean currents will ensure that the Pacific Islands and Hawaii will have to be evacuated. The recent articles about millions of emaciated birds dying off the coast in Australia “has scientists wondering about the cause”. The same “wonder” about dying and disfigured marine species over the past 2 years, throughout the entire Northern Pacific. Both the mass media and politicians certainly will have a lot to answer for.

      1. neo-realist

        I know some people who want to go to Maui next year and want to drag me along with them. Being aware of the risks of radiation in the ocean, I’d like to get some iron clad facts that I could give to them regarding the dangers of the radiation in the pacific, specifically Hawaii so as to disuade them from any future trips without coming off as some conspiratorial paranoid.

        If push comes to shove, I can stay away from fish eating and swimming in the ocean.

        1. James Levy

          Between the rumor-mongering on the one hand, and the lies that emanate from the Japanese government on the other, it is impossible to get a straight story on this issue. I would see what the Federation of American Scientists have to say, as their stuff on nuclear weapons is very good and they seem to have no dog in this fight. Since the US and the Russians have dedicated satellites that monitor radiation sources 24/7 (to count H-bombs and see who is collected too much Plutonium, as well as the old fashioned monitoring of nuclear tests) it isn’t hard for governments to know what is going on. The trick is getting them to tell us.

          1. LucyLulu

            Andy wrote: “Hardly mentioned is that long term exposure to any radiation is life threatening.”

            Not exactly. We are all exposed to some level of natural background radiation. The level varies depending upon where one lives. The sun is an important source. Radon is one of several terrestrial sources, and the largest natural source. All living beings also contain internal radiation, in the form of potassium-40 and carbon-14.

            The vast majority of people will get the largest part of their exposure to man-made sources of radiation from medical applications.

            I’d be happy to alleviate your anxiety and go to Maiu in your place if you like….. because I’m a thoughtful person.

            Levy wrote: “Between the rumor-mongering on the one hand, and the lies that emanate from the Japanese government on the other, it is impossible to get a straight story on this issue.”

            Ain’t that the truth! Another good site is the one maintained by the Union of Concerned Scientists, reputable longtime advocates for nuclear safety, often called upon for Congressional testimony. We’d be better served worrying about the risks posed by our own domestic nuclear power plants, suffering from similar advanced age and frequently similar to identical design as Fukushima, and which have spent fuel in its pools routinely stored 4 times more densely than found in the pool at Fukushima #4. Here is a link to two recent articles:
            Diablo Canyon and Earthquake Risk

            The NRC isn’t enforcing seismic regulations at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, despite knowing the earthquake risk is larger than the plant was built to withstand.

            NRC 2012 Security Report on 23 Plants

            “In July 2013, the NRC submitted to the U.S. Congress an annual report on nuclear power plant security during 2012.

            On the plus side, no nuclear power plant was stolen last year.

            On the down side, one nuclear power plant was destroyed during a simulated attack last year.

            All mock attacks are conducted by small teams, use ground or land approaches (none involve aerial methods per regulations), and plants are given notice of scheduled date of mock attack. Increased anti-terrorism measures were implemented post 9/11.

  13. Claire

    Forgot to mention that we are going out of our way to avoid buying *anything* until after Christmas, not even a roll of toilet paper, not an oil change, nothing, as a way to reject the frenzy and the commands to borrow, spend and jack the numbers up.

    Remember folks, everything you might actually need is on sale after Christmas…we call it “Black Boxing Day”.
    (The day after Christmas is when the downstairs servants got a box of leftovers and presents from the lords upstairs)

  14. Jackrabbit

    What Summers calls ‘secular stagnation’ is something more like a rape victim’s trepidation to date again. If malinvestment constitutes economic abuse; purposeful malinvestment is akin to rape. And its not easy to disabuse people of the distrust of a system that caused or allowed such abuse.

    Bill Black has urged prosecutions to restore trust. Summers urges more abuse (bubbles). The choice could not be more stark, or more easy. So it is sad that so many allow Summers and Company to set the terms of the debate. ‘Secular stagnation’ is neutral sounding jargon for a blame-the-victim point of view. And Krugman-Summers’ embrace of Fed-induced bubbles is self-serving TINA bullsh!t.

    The real danger is not ‘secular stagnation’ but abusive narcissists that hide behind jargon, PhDs, and complexity. Until people who know better speak up (I’m lookin’ at YOU, NC reader), the abuse will continue.

    = = =

    The TINA that Summers, Krugman and others like them promote is that recovery requires bubbles or government deficits. And increased government deficits are out of the question (“Washington is broken!”). What is left unsaid is how lucrative bubbles are for Wall Street.

    Instead of accepting more abuse, there should be a strong advocacy for sensible market reforms such as cutting subsidies to Wall Street (like ‘carried interest’ tax treatment and HFT front running) and recoup bogus investment gains from bubble-afflicted markets. Such reforms would greatly reduce the occurrence of bubbles, and provide a built-in mechanism for economic recovery when they do.

    This is a seminal moment for economists: support Summers-Krugman ruinous bubbles or advocate for market integrity.

    There are some who try to wiggle out of their responsibility as economists by saying “its all politics.” That cop-out is logically and morally unsound. People look to economists for leadership on economic issues. Those who are silent on this issue discredit themselves by effectively supporting Summers-Krugman.

    = = =

    I would really like to join with hundreds of economists to sign a petition or op-ed that argues for market integrity instead of Fed-induced bubbles. Then maybe people would start to respect the profession once again.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Yes, Lambert I realize that many have a negative view of capitalism. But many of the problems that we complain about here are really due to cronys, revolving doors, corporate welfare, and such.

        To varying degrees, the vast majority of economists believe that markets are useful. If economists are going to object to _anything_, one would think it would be the deliberate, undeniable debasement of markets.

        Note: What angers me about the ‘Angry Bear’ link is that, while he objects to Summers prescription, he doesn’t object to the underlying concepts and the subtext of the language that Summers uses. His objection is merely an unoffensive, technical one.

        If you are going to make light of something, I think it should not be a call for ‘market integrity’ but the lack of push back from economists who would rather have their profession tarnished (more!) than take a stand against crony capitalism or the cronys that make it possible.

        Here’s my attempt:
        Success has many fathers . . . true disaster requires an economist or two.

        The entire profession is truly corrupt and morally bankrupt if, after enabling the near collapse of the financial system in 2008, economists allow a potentially worse disaster to proceed without objection.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Here’s another:
          A recession is when your neighbor is out of work, a depression is when you’re out of work . . . but a true disaster is when economists promote corrupt markets.

  15. Ulysses

    Henry Giroux does a good job of putting the fight against privatization of public education into a wider context:

    “Conformity and political dysfunction is also the outgrowth of a market-driven world view in which everything is individualized and privatized, cleansed of any sense of either ethical responsibility or an analytic framework that understands the power of systemic oppression. Right-wing ideology, which reinforces either a dead-end consumerism as a way of life or a religious fundamentalism that robs young people of any sense of agency, further erodes the production of those modes of identity, values and ideals necessary to be a critical and engaged citizen. The structures and ideologies of these anti-democratic forces are part of the new neoliberal machinery of social and civil death that have become powerful forces for depoliticizing both the young and old. The structures, ideologies, power relations and cultural apparatuses that commodify, punish and remove young people from the discourse of democracy must be interrogated, challenged and transformed. For example, public schools must be reclaimed as democratic public spheres dedicated to the practice of freedom. Schools need to be defended as a public good, not a private right or limited entitlement for the rich. Not only must they be redefined through democratic forms of participation, access and self-management, they must also be financed equitably and dedicated to educating all young people as compassionate, critical, thoughtful and knowledgeable citizens. Moreover, after 40 years of being deskilled and positioned as mind-numbing technicians, public-school teachers need to regain control of their classrooms, to be allowed autonomy over the conditions of their labor and to be given the opportunity to shape their classrooms and participate in school governance. In addition, students need to be exposed not only to the archives of different cultures, intellectual traditions and disciplines, they also need to be encouraged to think for themselves, to be provided with the capacities to be self-educated and to learn to connect what they know to what it means to learn how to govern rather than be governed.”

    1. optimader

      Radioactive dust bunnies, nothing to see here..

      Good time to start a knock-off HEPA filter element manufacturing company in Japan.
      Good time to start NihongoAcme HEPA Filter Incineration Service, that includes a certified HEPA filter off-gas particulate collection system. You can employ TEPCO’s walking dead who’s radiation badges have collected a couple lifetime doses.

      Watch real state values as a radioactive contamination canary in the coalmine.

      1. participant-observer-observed

        Hedge fund for time differentials between t0 and onset of oncology care.

        Now you see why ACA is needed over single-payer?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In old Edo, I believe, there were all these districts gates that locked down at night.

        They will be useful again.

    1. McMike

      Damn secular liberals will stop at nothing in their jihad against the holidays, er Xmas, er Christmas.

  16. fresno dan

    “Hospitals seem able to provide prices when they want to; yet for even basic medical services, prices remain opaque,” Bernstein and Bernstein write. “Accordingly, medical insurance payment schemes that promote concern about prices without a commensurate increase in price transparency are apt to be ineffective.”

    I read an article a while back that cars actually have price stickers on them due to a Federal law enacted back in the fifties. (Why didn’t the market make car prices clear???)
    Oh yeah, where would we be without Wikipedia (I donate to Wikipedia)

    There is nothing that annoys me more than not getting prices from doctors or hospitals. I am always told that “the insurance is paying for it – don’t worry your pretty little head” (well, not the last part). Well, I’m sure as hell am paying the deductible, which is getting higher and higher and oh! it seems after the fact the procedure can be redefined and broken down into more subroutines that can be charged for.

    Now it seems to me a law that compels doctors and hospitals to provide their prices isn’t too onerous. How many doctors would allow a plumber free run of their houses and only afterwards have the plumber provide the charges with no up front estimate???
    “But we don’t know what we will find”
    Neither does a plumber – its no excuse for having no idea what a procedure will cost. You expect a competent plumber to have some inkling of what the problem might be, be able to assess the circumstances, and provide a realistic estimate.

    1. ohn Yard

      Your plumber has far less clout than your physician. I should amend this to say, your plumber has less clout than your physician group, insurance company….

  17. diptherio

    The Cooperative Loan Fund of New England ~Micha Josephy

    “Now in its 38th year, CFNE has made over 630 loans worth $31 million to various types of co-ops, including worker-owned, producer-owned, grocery, and housing co-ops, as well as non-profits across New England and eastern upstate New York. By providing this financing, CFNE created or retained over 8,400 jobs and 4,400 affordable housing units, largely in the cooperative sector. Throughout its history, no investor in CFNE has lost any investment funds, and CFNE’s borrowers have repaid over 99% of its loan funds — remarkable figures in the larger financial sector context.”

    1. Lambert Strether

      To a certain sort of CEO*, “no investor in CFNE has lost any investment funds” is a bug, not a feature.

      * * *

      Cash Extraction Officer?

      Corruption Enhancement Officer?

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Is that former CCTV journalist a bit provincial?
    I would suggest broadening the protest to include Japan, France and many other countries fast catching up, if not already better at it. It’s a globe…and a village.

    1. participant-observer-observed

      ““Our foreign counterparts lose their jobs for not telling the truth. Chinese reporters lose their jobs for telling too much truth,” Mr. Liu wrote. “Those who lose their jobs for telling the truth are heroes in this trivial little world.””

      Alas, Snowden is in Moscow, not Hong Kong.

  19. kevinearick

    Object Oriented Abstraction

    …the pass the buck, vote each other off the shrinking island game.

    Objective-based management / software development DOESN’T F-ING WORK, because somebody, ultimately, must feed its ponzi of diminishing returns on labor. As you can see, all legacy capital can do is print into the resulting disposable middle class workforce, which is paid in debt to hunt down labor as the assigned debtor, with sunk cost technology blowing up in its face.

    Gold, dc technology and central banking have all failed, because they can’t “fix” anything but cost. Without labor, all Bank can do is capitalize the middle class implosion, keep patching the process, and hope for a different outcome.

    Corporations – GM, Boeing, the lot, produce nothing. They are consumers. They produce no net increase in the standard of living, unless you measure it by toys, TV and manufactured food. Rolling out best-business-practice from parasite union cartels can only have one outcome. Corporations are, and always have been, welfare recipients, which works great so long as they morons walking in front of guns to buy their toilet paper.

    Expecting Boeing machinists or management to be reasonable is unreasonable. The airlines exist to feed Boeing, the war machine, not to increase your standard of living, to blow up the middle class at your expense. Planes, trains and automobiles exist to drive urban density, artificial scarcity. You are farther ahead by walking across the country, which is quickly being outlawed.

    Bank prints into the stock market to support the bond market, which extracts in both directions, by selling TBTF bonds. In supreme idiocy, the central banks buy each other’s, their own, bonds, while the middle class watches its standard of living fall precipitously.

    Funny, how in a world awash in excess oil, America is suddenly exploiting the fracking process, which is ancient. The middle class is simply willing to poison itself to kick the can down the road another day. Does any of this sound familiar? Do you remember DDT?

    JFK told American consumers that they were going to have to produce, and they shot him, just as surely as if they had each pulled the trigger themselves. They love their congressman, who brings home the pork, but hate every other congressman, who brings home the pork, always voting for whoever offers more something-for-nothing confidence. Politics is a supply-side consumer confidence game, which is why Congress cannot stop MAD.

    Like everything else in a police state, it’s a conspiracy of stupid. Do you remember Teddy selling out his brothers, and anyone else that could make him a buck? Do you remember the cast of morons that entered the scene with LBJ? Did you ever study the history of objective based management in school? Who do you suppose built Silicon Valley?

    Google, et al, fighting NSA, Germany upset over IBM…and I’ve got a bullet train capitalizing first responder slumlords from Madera to Fresno to sell you…

    When the reward for work is more work at less pay relative to rent, divert into private investment and the system blows itself up. You make the gain at the end of expansion and contraction, the point of origin, which depends upon perspective, the localization of your development.

    “Loving your beloved is the way you love God.” (Deepak Chopra MD)

    You must make your own way, and neither capital nor the middle class is your friend. The enemy of the enemy is not your friend. Income and property are stepping stones. Never build your home on a stepping stone. Talent is your foundation. It really doesn’t matter what anyone else does, when you can turn a threat into an opportunity, a weakness into a strength, when you can adapt in real time.

    The Fed begins its calculations with labor, which it can no more define than it can define life. Labor doesn’t accept the assumption of control. Only the middle class assumes that a monument to stupidity can secure it from the vicissitudes of life, so it can parade its emotions.

    Bank can never predict a bubble, because it never knows when or how much of the foundation labor is going to pull out from beneath it. All those resources are waiting for someone to put them back into production, and the old-timers are watching, the regulatory dam circuit. If you haven’t guessed, we are going to blow that dam wide open.

    Banks come and banks go, all nothing more than a tiny blip on the screen relative to the likes of CS Lewis. Children are the future. Everything else is a derivative. Invest your development in your children if you want to impact anything that matters, or get in line with the herd to chase the empire’s tail and get run over in both directions.

    Let the empire abstract itself into oblivion mapping an irrelevant box. You have much better things to do. Every time the herd penalizes you for integrity, it’s doing you a favor. You want to be distilled out of stupid. If you build your self to withstand the tides of empire, you don’t need money, property or government; they all need you.

    Hospital overhead is $4,000 per day per patient, and most of the boomers are ahead of you in line to increase that figure. How much stupid do you need to consume before you get out of that line? Third cut hay at $25 a bale, because the printers in China want it to fill all those empty container ships; go F yourself. How are those pay cuts to feed the bankers working out for everyone?

    Nothing moves without labor. Individuals outlast irrational markets all the time. All you have to do is look. Assuming that life may be circumscribed by definition, let alone equaled, is the false assumption, observers prism / prisoners dilemma.

  20. bobh

    Not sure where to post this link, but it seems like the tip of the iceburg of insurance industry gaming of Obamacare. These companies are going to do all they can to manipulate the system and pass costs on to the newly “insured.” I am sure this phenomenon is just getting started, that it will get even more fierce in subsequent years and that it will eventually be a key factor in the collapse of the ACA.

  21. Hugh

    Yesterday, the story was factory production was up in China. Today, the NYT is saying this is a worldwide phenomenon. But again, how does this square with falling commodity prices and weaker Christmas sales?

    Re MRSA, it is a normal colonizer of the skin. It is only sometimes involved in opportunistic infections and then as its name implies, it is resistant to penicillins and cephalosporins.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Well, if factories are producing and end demand is not there (your observation, and I gotta say a lot of data supports that) you will see inventory build and the factories will presumably later produce less.

  22. JohnB

    Terrific article from David Sirota, on Glenn Greenwald, and the significance of his type of journalism in eroding the current oligopolistic power, of establishment news media, and how this relates to the whole news media business/political landscape (as well as a contrasting viewpoint, on the exchange between Greenwald and Mark Ames):

    Just a great article – a lot of it stuff you already implicitly sense/know, but all put together in one piece.

    I was listening to the last NSFW Live podcast last night, with Sirota talking in it (is why I was looking out for this article, was mentioned there), and it’s worth searching out a recording of the highlights of that (don’t know if they do that anywhere), as there was some very good discussion with Mark Ames, David Sirota, and others.

    1. JTFaraday

      “what explains the especially noxious vitriol aimed at the latter? No doubt, at least some of it has to do with Greenwald’s pugnacious writing style. Lots of us find that style refreshing, but it violates the political class’s effete rules of etiquette. That has made Greenwald plenty of enemies over the years — and now those enemies are looking for some revenge.

      Additionally, some of the difference probably has to do with Greenwald’s willingness to openly acknowledge his political point of view.”

      “Pugnacious style,” I get. But I’ve never really understood what it is that Greenwald’s “point of view” is supposed to be.

      To me, Glenn Greenwald is well versed in constitutional law and tells the truth about what is happening to our civil rights and civil liberties. That is the work every objective reporter should seek to do.

      Insisting that he is not an objective reporter, that he has a “point of view” is something that was always done to undermine his credibility.

      Of course, now Greenwald has an employer which threatens his independence. Now that Greenwald is attached to a (necessarily interested) employer, denizens of what the pre-blog era called the “alternative press” like Sirota, are rushing to defend the relation of dependency that typically does the most to destroy the work of good prospective journalists.

      This is definitely a field with some really twisted thinking.

  23. subgenius

    Microplastics ‘pose toxic threat to marine biodiversity’

    “We are losing a large volume of plastic and we know it is going into the environment and the assumption being made by policymakers is that this material is non-hazardous, it has got the same ranking as scraps of food,” explained co-author Mark Browne, an ecologist from the US-based National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

    “The research we have done really challenges that,” Dr Browne added, referring to the findings of lab work carried out by colleagues at Plymouth University, UK, led by co-author Prof Richard Thompson.

  24. LucyLulu

    A good piece on Detroit’s bankruptcy problems on Chris Hayes tonight, including some discussion on today’s court ruling (e.g. while there was evidence the bankruptcy was state driven, the evidence wasn’t conclusive, and that caution would be used with cutting pensions):

    Hayes’ guest was Wallace Turbeville from Demos, a former derivatives broker at Goldman and NC guest contributor. In 1990 he maintained Detroit’s investment grade rating, and has written a recent report on the causes and solutions to Detroit’s problems.

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