Links 2/1/14

Brain Surgeon Walks 6 Miles Through Storm To Save Patient NPR (Chuck L)

Divorce rate cut in half for newlyweds who discussed five relationship movies MedicalXpress (Chuck L)

Fatal Prescription: America’s Pain-Pill Epidemic EveryDay Health (Carol B). I don’t get this at all. Australia is much more casual about letting people have access to opiates as painkillers. You can even get muscle relaxants OTC that have opiates in them for muscle spasms. And they aren’t laissez faire about drugs generally (sniffer dogs all over the airports, tougher restrictions on dietary supplements, including all have to be manufactured to pharmaceutical grade standards). My impression is they don’t have the abuse problems you see written about here pretty much all the time. What gives?

Is Google Cornering the Market on Deep Learning? MIT Technology Review (Chuck L). Google wants to create SkyNet.

State Department Assessment of Keystone XL Pipeline Sees Little Climate-Change Impact Wall Street Journal

1,400 Sue General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi for Fukushima Disaster George Washington

Banks say why they reject rice loan auction ThaiPBS (furzy mouse)

Thai opposition under fire for election boycott ThaiVisa (furzy mouse)

The Eurozone’s “Nascent” Recovery Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives


Stand-off over ‘tortured’ Ukrainian BBC

What is the Real Price of Starting Another Cold War? Frank Spinney, Counterpunch (Chuck L, Carol B).

Syria talks end in recriminations BBC

Gifts, perks and Moroccan luxury: How Goldman Sachs ‘won over’ Gaddafi’s men Independent

Mexico’s Vigilante Groups Are a Force to Reckon with for Drug Cartels and Army Real News (Chuck L)

The Future of War in the Developed World Ian Welsh (Carol B)

Emerging Market Meltdown Meets Taper Tantrum

Investors pull $12bn from EM stocks Financial Times

Dollar Rises Most Since May as Taper Fuels Emerging-Markets Rout Bloomberg. Heretofore in the recent market tsuris, the dollar hadn’t gotten much of a safe haven boost.

Emerging markets Economist

China’s January official PMI slips to six-month low Reuters

A Leader Shows Vulnerability in Turkey’s Cash Crisis New York Times

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Snowden leaks: Lavabit secure email chief battles on BBC (Deontos)

Guardian Releases Video From That Time Its Editors Were Forced To Destroy A Laptop That Had Snowden Documents Techdirt (Chuck L)

David Cameron Says Snooper’s Charter Is Necessary Because Fictional Crime Dramas He Watches Prove It Techdirt (Chuck L)

Big Business Joins Obama Effort to Aid Long-Term Unemployed New York Times. More crumbs.

Obama Presidential Library Search Kicks Off Associated Press

Obama Lies to Jake Tapper About His Ability to Reschedule Marijuana Jon Walker, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Christie Knew of Bridge Lane Closures, Former Official’s Attorney Says Wall Street Journal

State Rape Counterpunch (Carol B)

The Torture That Flourishes From Gitmo to an American Supermax Nation

Horrifying Callousness: Firefighters Refuse to Help Dying Man Because He Did Not Call 9-1-1 Alternet (Carol B)

Consumer Spending in U.S. Increases More Than Forecast Bloomberg

CHART OF THE DAY: The Personal Savings Rate Plunges To 2008 Levels Business Insider

Retailers Ask: Where Did Teenagers Go? New York Times

Walmart warns of lower holiday profits Financial Times

America’s Shopping Malls Are Dying A Slow, Ugly Death Business Insider. Shedlock has also taken note.

GAO: Student loan rates elusive Politico

The Greedy Leading the Greedy – Multimillionaire Former Johnson and Johnson CEO Approved Huge Compensation for JP Morgan Chase CEO After Company Paid $20 Billion in Legal Settlements Health Care Renewal

Fraud-Ridden Banks Are Not L.A.’s Only Option Counterpunch (Chuck L)

Postal Banking: Maybe Not So Crazy After All Adam Levitin, American Banker

NY Judge Approves $8.5 Billion Bank of America Mortgage Settlement MoneyNews (Deontos)

On Death and Derivatives – UPDATED Golem XIV (Michael M. Thomas)

Ghosts of the Tsunami London Review of Books (Chuck L). Today’s must read.

We are trying to reach Nate Heckmann at Et Vita. Anyone who has his or the site’s e-mail address, please ping me or leave info in comments. Thanks!

Antidote du jour (Lambert):


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  1. Charles LeSeau

    Man, look at the dilapidated state of those defunct malls. It’s like looking at pictures of Pripyat after Chernobyl.

    1. sufferin' succotash

      Interesting specimens of MIC (Mid-Internal Combustion) Period architecture. One can only wonder at what sort of catastrophe caused these magnificent structures to be so hastily abandoned.

  2. kimyo

    on one hand, we’ve got this:

    A recent study by USC predicts that a Monterey Shale boom could add $4.5 billion in tax revenue to state coffers and 2.8 million California jobs by 2020, and would turn the state into the nation’s leading oil producer.(la times)

    on the other: Amid drought, California says it won’t allot water to local agencies

    Amid severe drought conditions, California officials announced Friday they won’t send any water from the state’s vast reservoir system to local agencies beginning this spring, an unprecedented move that affects drinking water supplies for 25 million people and irrigation for 1 million acres of farmland.

    The announcement marks the first time in the 54-year history of the State Water Project — a water storage and delivery system of reservoirs, aqueducts, powerplants and pumping plants — that such an action has been taken.

    Hydraulic fracturing in the United States – Water Use

    The Colorado Division of Water Resources reported that hydraulic fracturing in that state used 4.53 billion gallons in 2010.
    In Pennsylvania, the water used in hydraulic fracturing in 2011 was 690 million gallons.
    Hydraulic fracturing in Texas used 11.7 billion gallons in 2008.

    2.8 million jobs? i don’t think you can find a better example of jhk’s ‘magical thinking’. (california’s 2013 employment was just over 17 million)

    1. markf

      2.8 million jobs?

      I would have thought fracking in California would produce at least 28 million permanent jobs, all with very high pay, great holiday and other benefits, and very high job satisfaction.

      They need to do that study again.

  3. Skeptic

    Divorce rate cut in half for newlyweds who discussed five relationship movies MedicalXpress (Chuck L)

    “…how watching couples in movies could help spouses pay attention to their own behavior, both constructive and destructive.”

    Sounds a bit like BEING THERE with Peter Sellers where a guy thinks Life of what he watches on the Idiot Box. Except here, it would be Hollywood Drivel and Fantasy. The Central Bureau Of Behaviour Shaping must love this one.

    The quality of this article might be indicated by a teaser headline at the end of it entitled:

    “Heavy drinking is bad for marriage if one spouse drinks, but not both”
    Oh, so Life will be grand if both partners heavily booze it up?

    Gotta go, Saturday, Real World Wife wants Garbage out, snow shoveled, basement cleaned.

    1. LucyLulu

      I believe discussing movies could help if it means talking about values, priorities, and how problems will be handled after the marriage. I think this doesn’t always happen, maybe frequently doesn’t happen. There’s an element of both people being on their best behavior still before the wedding, plus being in a cloud of infatuation, lust, and hormones, and maybe it could get both people talking about more realistic long term realities. For people who don’t like talking about themselves or have little self-awareness, which is a lot of people, discussing in the third party, as in movies, can be informative. So, not a cure-all by any means, people can still be misleading or later want to change the terms of the contract (the latter being essentially the cause of any divorce), but it might be helpful for some people.

    2. Gepay

      I learned something from a movie mainly about couples. It’s not important at all to win arguments with your spouse using logic and facts but what is important is to hear what she’s trying to tell you. It only took me 20 years (and people say most males are emotionally challenged.). . Earth is the planet for slow learners.

    1. LucyLulu

      I was going to say almost the same thing. More stress equals more drug abuse. We have high levels of stress. We also have higher levels of mental illness, suicides, homicides, etc. than other developed countries. We don’t just have inequality, our large proportion of those who are struggling are fed the message that they too could succeed if only……. they had talent……. worked hard……. had ambition……… you fill in the blank. It’s their fault they are poor, they are lacking, less than others.

      1. AllanW

        Your intuition is right and is supported by scientific study. The link above leads to a series of papers on that subject. Inequality produces worse outcomes for all; not just those at the ‘bottom’ of the ladder but everyone.

    2. Andrea

      Yes, more stress, inequality, agree. Related / other dimensions:

      In countries with strict illegal drug control, legal drugs (even if sold illegally or semi-legally) have a big edge.

      Legal drugs are more respectable, less risky (prison for crack, not for 10 sleeping pills), and probably less expensive (?? – no idea.)

      Taking ‘my meds’ for ‘chronic pain’ is acceptable (“poor you”) whereas heroin addiction is associated with every horror under the sun – even having tried it once, or being friends with an addict, confers a stigma. (“Oh My God! Holy Jesus!”)

      From such a vague ‘rational’ perspective, one has to add in the profit motive.

      If profit, even small profit, can be made safely or without too much danger, it sucks ppl in, when a good part of the population is unemployed, or paid so little they have to either obtain State Aid or enter the grey, or black, economy, or both. Creating addicts is a source of revenue, for any drug(s).

      From a more cultural perspective, the US has always situated many of society’s problems, and personal failure and ills, on the individual and his/her characteristics.

      These are often seen as ‘inherent’, if not specifically ‘innate,’ somehow ‘rooted’ – criminal tendencies, poorly-wired brains (see the explosion and acceptance of fanciful psychiatric diagnoses such as bi-polar for ordinary sadism or mood swings) or other body parts (back pain, which leads to SS supplements), mysterious diseases, hormones that make ‘crazy’, ‘brain chemistry imbalance’, ‘irrepressible behavior’, suffering that comes from a special snowflake story, and so on.

      Which encourages ppl to be, act, feel ‘sick’ – or see other individuals as ‘sick, bizarre, not functioning’ as no other explanations are available.

      The fix then is action on the person, and that often takes the form of drugs as other approaches are contradictory with the zeitgeist, and more expensive. Self-reliance and self-determination values play a role – I decide… (The prison industry is another manifestation.)

      So ppl drug. Alcohol is another topic….While attitudes to marijuana are changing, mostly by ‘medical’ not ‘liberty’ considerations.

      (The rich get proper treatment, what is foisted on the poor is not applied to them.)

      Countries like Australia, Norway, Portugal, Morocco ( > a mix) are more pragmatic, less focussed on individual explanations, more fluid also confused, and generally do a better job re. drug addiction.

  4. kimyo

    Guideline Based on Discredited Research May Have Caused 800,000 Deaths In Europe Over The Last 5 Years

    Last summer British researchers provoked concern when they published a paper raising the possibility that by following an established guideline UK doctors may have caused as many as 10,000 deaths each year. Now they have gone a step further and published an estimate that the same guideline may have led to the deaths of as many as 800,000 people in Europe over the last five years.

    In their new article published in the European Heart Journal, Graham Cole and Darrel Francis continue to explore the extent and implications of the damage caused by the Don Poldermans research misconduct case. The earlier paper demonstrated the potentially large and lethal consequences of the current European Society of Cardiology guideline recommending the liberal use of beta-blockers to protect the heart during surgery for people undergoing non cardiac surgery.

  5. zephyrum

    The “Deep Learning” article is entertaining. This has been going on for decades. Remember AI, connection machines, neural nets, knowledge systems? Any of that ring a bell? The process is straightforward. Revive some old ideas with new spin, get some academic papers written, invent a new discipline, coin a new term or two, generate a new grad school degree. Start a venture or two; hold some conferences. Need lots of sciencey stuff backed by lots of mathy stuff, preferably making an edifice that’s so much work to understand that even experts defer to the messaging. Most importantly conduct some very serious PR using very serious media outlets that everyone takes very seriously. Next thing you know investors are clamoring to give you money.

    Pro tip: be sure to sell out before reality strikes.

    The curious thing is that these spasms of hype often create useful but unanticipated spinoffs. Smart people, well-funded, will inadvertently do some pure research along the way, while attempting to fulfill promises that will never be achieved. So it’s not all bad even if the BS is distasteful.

  6. F. Beard

    re Fatal Prescription: America’s Pain-Pill Epidemic:

    The US imagines it is a just society when it isn’t*. As a result, many people think they are personal failures when they had no real chance to begin with unless they were willing to be ruthless; perceived failure is painful. And then there are the “successful” but guilty feeling; guilty feelings are painful. And then there are those who are afraid they might fail; fear is painful. In other words, large scale drug use is a symptom of a sick society. I imagine that Australia is less idealistic than the US and thus has less cognitive dissonance to soothe with pain killers.

    One way or another, a solution to injustice is coming. It would be far, far better if we used our own initiative to remedy the situation.

    *Instead, the rich are allowed to steal from the poor by subtle means such as the banking cartel.

    1. fresno dan

      I think your entirely right.
      I would also add that when you create an agency, the DEA, whose sole purpose is finding drug crimes, you have the classic “to a man with only a hammer, every problem is a nail”

      1. F. Beard

        The DEA and other busybody problems like the TSA (Toilet Safety Administration: See South Park) result because people need income to live and we can’t just pay people to do nothing, can we? It’s better that the citizens make each other’s lives a living Hell rather than that, no?

        Job Guarantee? More of the same. Instead, we need a Guaranteed Living Income and Land Reform so that people can do the work that THEY find meaningful, when, how and how much they like to do so.

  7. F. Beard

    re Postal Banking: Maybe Not So Crazy After All Adam Levitin, American Banker:

    Ha, ha! The conceit and condescension is amazing! The question, Mr. Levitin, is not whether a Postal Savings Service should exist (it should) but how best to euthanize the current banking cartel!

      1. F. Beard

        The Jews are ALLOWED to collect usury from Gentiles (but not from each other) in Deuteronomy 23:19-20. The shame is that Christian Gentiles collect it from each other when common stock is a usury-free method of consolidating capital for economies of scale.

          1. F. Beard

            It are no accident in some cases, Jerry:

            It is vain for you to rise up early,
            To retire late,
            To eat the bread of painful labors;
            For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
            Psalm 127:2
            New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            That’s the kind of God I want to love me.

            1. diptherio

              In the interests of scriptural balance, here’s the Church of the Subgenius take:

              The Conspiracy makes sure that if you have time to do what you want, then you won’t have enough money; and if you have enough money, you won’t have enough time. Since you can’t buy time, you might as well just wait around for the money ~Uncle Onan Canobite

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I often make the mistake of waiting in line too long to spend money away.

                “Sir, when can I see the doctor? My appointment was 3 hours ago.”

                1. Swedish Lex

                  He or she whom cite silly old stone age scripture (unless of solid Viking origin) in order to make any point whatsoever may forever burn on the altar of stupidity.

                    1. Swedish Lex

                      Bronze, Iron or Stone. Take your pick. The beliefs of people who did not have a clue should still not be taken at more than face value.

          1. diptherio

            After following your link to see what you were agreeing with, I ended up responding to one of your comments before realizing I was on yesterday’s links page. Since I spent some time copying an extended quote from one of my new favorite books in that comment, and didn’t want it to be wasted, I turned it into a cheap blog post. It’s actually somewhat relevant to this comment thread as well:

            Absentee Bosses: 100 Years of the Same BS

            1. AbyNormal

              i don’t know what cheap blog your talking about…i Love your blog and never miss a post

              of course i have been told i aint got no taste bahahahaaaaaaa
              (btw im going to pickup ‘Absentee Bosses’ on my next round to the candy store/library…thank you for all your inspiration(s) Dip.

  8. Jim Haygood

    From an NYT article titled ‘As Argentine Peso Falters, President Keeps a Low Profile’:

    After the steepest drop in the Argentine peso since the country’s economy collapsed over a decade ago, Mrs. Kirchner steered clear of the turmoil, flying to Cuba for a summit meeting. Once there, she avoided mentioning the simmering crisis almost entirely, opting to send Twitter messages about meeting Fidel Castro’s grandchildren.

    When a student asked her about the rise in her wealth after a televised speech at Harvard University in 2012, Mrs. Kirchner said that judicial investigations had not revealed any irregularities. “We had, and I have, a certain economic position, which is the product of the fact I have worked my whole life and I have been a very successful lawyer,” she said. “Now, I’m also a successful president.”


    A successful lawyer, a successful president … much like our own B. H. Obama! One is surprised only that, like the late Elena Ceausescu, the Widow K. did not also claim to be an academic famed for her scientific achievements in the field of polymer chemistry.

    The envy of the less talented is the polymath’s eternal burden, comrades.

  9. Michael Fiorillo

    Regarding everyone’s fave fat bully from the Garden State: if Christie goes down in flames because of his apparatchik’s mischief-making on the GW Bridge, it will be to avoid far bigger threats regarding his manipulations of the court system, and his vindictiveness toward state prosecutors who indicted one of his pals.

    Michael Powell of the NY Times did some excellent reporting on this story in October, and this gross facsimile of a human being is going to receive some sweet payback. (

    1. LucyLulu

      The media has turned a blind eye to Christie’s misdeeds for years now. I recall hearing an interview when he was first elected governor where a couple firefighters alleged shady dealmaking in the union negotiations. The story didn’t receive any traction, nor did this story about corruption in the attorney general’s office when first reported over two years ago. I also recall reading about Christie refusing to nominate judges in Essex county suffering major backlogs due to several unfilled judge openings, because two senators from Essex county had failed to approve Christie’s nomination for education commissioner. One senator was the prior acting governor, Codey, and Christie also took away his security detail. Christie finally nominated Dow, the AG from the story linked above, and arranged for a very well-paying position at the Port Authority (apparently where good friends are sent to be rewarded) for Dow in the interim. The only problem was the person at the Port Authority Dow was supposed to replace wasn’t ready to leave his job.

      Christie’s cronyism and bullying and vindictive nature is no surprise to anybody who has paid attention. Besides, politicians don’t need to be ethical. Wasn’t that established when a Speaker of the House who’d been forced to resign in disgrace over ethical violations became a serious presidential contender?

  10. Yonatan

    “Horrifying Callousness: Firefighters Refuse to Help Dying Man Because He Did Not Call 9-1-1”
    Welcome to checklist society. Independent thought and action is to be avoided in case something goes wrong. Just follow the rules in the checklist.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The key is to make sure one doesn’t live in a self-service fire-fighting town.

      The rich, of course, will have their own personal, on-site, fire-resistant fire-fighting robots that the rest of us can only envy.

  11. craazyman

    Umm. I think the “Must Read’ should instead be a “Must Not Read”. Holy Smokes that is scary. OMG. If anybody hasn’t read it yet, you’re lucky. Don’t even think about it. Believe me. You’ll be in bed with the blankets pulled over your head peeping out with one eye. I’m typing this with one hand, the other hand is holding the blankets down tight.

      1. susan the other

        Kaneda even exorcised away a dog. I gotta say, since the Fall of 2008 I have been feeling tension far beyond my own. Lots of insomnia. Does anyone else dream of people you do not know? I can only imagine what I would feel in a catastrophic earthquake. But could I ever put it into words? Probably not. The Japanese can because they have a very complex language of grief. I’m envious.

        1. susan the other

          First they put their visions into a strange story; then the elements of the story become words; everyone accepts the meaning behind the words; far fewer people need to pop pain pills; etc.

      2. craazyman

        the scariest thing is: the truth may be that they’re not spirits, they may be demons.

        first, they convey no identifying personal information in their stories, that’s a little odd.
        second, it truly is an act of extreme violence to possess somebody to the point of trauma. most people would not do that.
        third, the descriptions by the living victims of being pressed around the edges of their being, like being invaded then possessed.
        fourth, it reminds me of in the Gospels when the demons took over the heard of pigs and Jesus cast them out. it may be that Mr. Kaneda is actually an exorcist.

        People wouldn’t act that way in life, the way those so-called dead people act in that story, hardly ever.

        This is a situation where, if you sent in Scooby-Doo and the gang, they’d run like hell.

        Contrast this with a story I read this morning in the New York Post or Daily News. Some youthful Puerto Rican boxer died and his family stood his embalmed corpse dressed in boxer attire in the corner of a boxing ring and had their pictures taken with him. Love is stranger than death. I can’t figure any of it out, either of them.

    1. D. Mathews

      It takes a lot of guts to read that article. I couldn’t finish it. It brought to mind what we don’t know about the aftermath of the previous and more widespread devastation the multiple tsunamis caused in Indonesia.

    2. Swedish Lex

      The phantoms of 9/11 caused the Yankees to panic and invade a non-hostile country without any good reason and at the expense of a few hundred thousand victims (real ones, not phantoms), thereby perpetuating the trauma.
      Probably millions of Iraquis and US vétérans walk around, seeing the ghosts from Fallujah everywere.
      Meanwhile, the innocent rot at Guantanamo while the world wonders what will happen to Amanda Knox.

      1. AbyNormal

        strong & scary point…cam you imagine when the spirits come a vistin U.S?
        Poe will look like sponge bob!

        Thy soul shall find itself alone
        ‘Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;
        Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
        Into thine hour of secrecy.

        Be silent in that solitude,
        Which is not loneliness- for then
        The spirits of the dead, who stood
        In life before thee, are again
        In death around thee, and their will
        Shall overshadow thee; be still.

        The night, though clear, shall frown,
        And the stars shall not look down
        From their high thrones in the Heaven
        With light like hope to mortals given,
        But their red orbs, without beam,
        To thy weariness shall seem
        As a burning and a fever
        Which would cling to thee for ever.

        Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
        Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
        From thy spirit shall they pass
        No more, like dew-drop from the grass.

        The breeze, the breath of God, is still,
        And the mist upon the hill
        Shadowy, shadowy, yet unbroken,
        Is a symbol and a token.
        How it hangs upon the trees,
        A mystery of mysteries!
        Poe/Spirits of the Dead

      2. Chauncey Gardiner

        Swedish Lex,
        Thank you for this. Have felt this way too, but didn’t know how to express it.

  12. Kurt Sperry

    Apologies if this scintillating 40 minute talk by physicist Geoffrey West from 2011 has been previously posted.

    A cross-disciplinarian glimpse into some of the profound places where economic thinking might lead if it were run by actual bright people instead of dimbulb toadies tasked with composing ad hoc “theories” to support whatever policies the ultrarich prefer. The “science” of economics is perhaps dismal not because of the maths or anything inherent to the discipline, but because it is as practiced intellectually stunted and dishonest. Because it is indeed as practiced nothing like a science at all.

    1. Robert Frances

      It’s hard for economics to be a predictable science when people keep changing their behavior patterns! This week my consumption pattern favors products A, B and C, but next month it might be X, Y and Z. Or this year my preference for work vs. leisure might be quite different than my preference last year. Same with my savings vs. consumption preferences. Scientific conclusions become tenuous when we’re looking at large scatter graphs with millions of data points and try to fit bell curves on the data to standardize it.

      It’s true that we can often generalize economic data. For example, we could probably show that if we replaced regressive payroll taxes with an equal amount of tax on rent income that a country’s overall economic output will increase. But when we try to understand, for example, why so many people are leaving the workforce, it’s likely that a number of complicated factors are involved that are less easy to quantify.

      Economics is a social science of human behaviors interacting with complex social systems. Humans, even those living in the same general vicinity, have very different levels of experiences, intelligence and motivations. Humans often change and occasionally behave non-rationally to an outside observer. These factors require economics research to encompass more unpredictibility and much fuzzier bell curves. “Hard science” doesn’t have to deal with so much variation with the elements they work with.

      As a social science, the study of economics also has to contend with the individual value judgements of its researchers. This may create situations where “unbiased” researchers can look at the same data sets and come to very different conclusions about what the results show.

      We need better economic research. If we could get all economists to always incorporate the very important economic factors of land ownership, land rents distribution and land price increases or decreases into their analyses, we’d likely get much more informative research.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Has the field of economics though ever prioritized truth seeking or telling over the mundane exigencies of applying a gloss of putative academic respectability to whatever policies their so-called elites require? Social sciences, unlike econ, aren’t designed and built from the ground up as rationalization and support systems for the fulfillment of sociopathic greed. “Better” economic research that in any manner impeded that sociopathy would surely be deemed “worse” and summarily marginalized, ignored or dismissed. The objective errors in economics aren’t bugs but features.

  13. jfleni

    RE: “America’s Pain-Pill Epidemic”

    “These are very difficult trade-offs that our society has to make,”
    Nonsense! The whole article reads like a screed by a deranged DEA NARC with a permanent hate for his version of “addict”. The truth is that most severe pain is “undertreated” not the opposite, usually because the NARC badgers, harasses and threatens medical people who try to treat pain intelligently!

    1. F. Beard

      Yep. Who but demons would seek to prevent the alleviation of pain?

      And then there’s the Bible:

      Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
      And wine to him whose life is bitter.
      Let him drink and forget his poverty
      And remember his trouble no more.
      Open your mouth for the mute,
      For the rights of all the unfortunate.
      Open your mouth, judge righteously,
      And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
      Proverbs 31:6-9
      New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    2. Ronald Pires

      Didn’t you know? God wants us to feel that pain. That’s why I can’t get a pill from my primary to address problems stemming from stage 4 cancer. So I’m not an addict when I apply at the Pearly Gates.

      1. LucyLulu

        You need a new doctor. Withholding pain medication from somebody who has terminal (I presume if you are stage 4, and I’m very sorry) cancer is inhumane. If he/she refuses to prescribe Schedule II drugs (some docs have blanket policy, don’t want to deal with the hassle of triplicate forms), he/she should refer you to somebody who will. As far as I know, addiction has never been a concern for terminal patients. Meanwhile, do you have an oncologist you can ask? There are pain specialists also but one needs to be careful. Little money can be charged for writing a prescription, so many want to do expensive procedures of questionable efficacy. Finally, if you choose to use hospice when the time comes (different hospices use different criteria for acceptance of patients), they believe in the liberal use of pain medication.

        Peoples, peoples……. if you have a doctor you don’t get along with or who isn’t meeting your needs, and you can’t work out the problem, find a new one. It doesn’t matter why it isn’t working out or whose fault it is. There are lots of doctors. Lots of very good doctors who are nice people. Every profession has its jerks, but there’s no reason they have to be YOUR doctor.

        BTW, the surgeon trudging through 6 miles of snow for his patient………. doesn’t surprise me at all. Surgeons especially are intense people, and many doctors are very dedicated. When I had my serious accident, my neurosurgeon would first check on me each day at 6 am, check a couple more times during the day before a final check at midnight. He must not have slept much that first week. I don’t think I was a particularly special case. Immediately following the Boston Marathon bombs medical personnel, including doctors, swarmed to their hospitals to offer to help, while doctors on the sidelines also risked their lives to help. Doctors are people, too (just don’t tell them).

        I just got referred to a new specialist. I remember from when I was working that his practice is the one that accepts Medicaid (also the largest, about 8-10 docs). Super nice guy and seemed very professional and competent……. and takes Medicaid. That’s hitting the trifecta.

      2. participant-observer-observed

        As an intern (spiritual care) on the UCLA-SM oncology ward, I agree with Lulu. UCLA has pumps. If that isn’t enough, try the medical marijuana.

        Managing the pain can free up precious energy for making the rest of life most meaningful and transformative.

        With many prayer-wishes for your success in pain management and quality of life!

  14. diptherio

    Re: Consumer Spending in U.S. Increases More Than Forecast –Bloomberg
    CHART OF THE DAY: The Personal Savings Rate Plunges To 2008 Levels –Business Insider

    Hold on, I sense a connection here…

    1. diptherio

      From the BI piece: “The chart shows that the saving rate is now below the low seen in the 2002-04 period, before the housing boom allowed it to fall even further. With a repeat of the housing boom unlikely, the saving rate likely will struggle to stay at this low level.

      Oh, I don’t know about that. Figuring out how to maintain that low level is what all those Wall Street “innovators” get paid the big bucks for. I’m pretty sure they’ll think of something…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Also Walmart warms of lower holiday profits.

        So, they sold more, but made less, even when consumers spent so much that they struggled to save.

        It seems like a lose-lose situation when the strategy is to consume our way out of this mess.

        Fortunately, another manufactured spending occasion is coming up (hello Valentine). Let’s give it one more go, shall we?

  15. fresno dan
    “The second lesson is harder. We are not in this together. We need to get back to what made America great, when the many and not the few were winning.

    To do so we must stop conflating moral arguments with economic ones. Instead of operating under the fiction that we will all benefit from a proposed change in economic direction, let’s be honest. If a few of us are better off, then many are not. If many are better off, then the few will be constrained. Which world would you rather live in?”

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Best get used to the idea that “morality” is highly overrated as a persuasive device. Look no further than the firefighters in the link above.

      These days you’re better off with an argument that goes something like, “We need to raise the minimum wage and get more people employed so that they can pay more taxes and we can afford all the drones and nukes we’ll need to pulverize the Chinese when they come for our Super Bowl in a couple of years.”

      Just sayin’.

      1. fresno dan

        I understand the argument…and I used to be sympathetic to it. But we’ve had going on 40 years of lower taxes, pro growth, deregulation, hard headed economic “analysis” of our problems….and it seems to me the 90 or even 95% are worse off or at best treading water. I just don’t buy the “Pareto” justification, I just don’t buy that it reflects reality (the rich are just getting richer and it doesn’t make anybody else worse off….). And I think it was an amazing feat of hogwash that I ever bought the premise that only “economics” be considered (and I am ASHAMED that I did) and that morality should not enter into our considerations of how we run our country.
        When 54% of republicans think inequality is too great, things are changing

        1. Synopticist

          “And I think it was an amazing feat of hogwash that I ever bought the premise that only “economics” be considered (and I am ASHAMED that I did) and that morality should not enter into our considerations of how we run our country.”

          Indeed. We really fuc*ed up when we bought the argument that the rich getting massively richer was fine as long as they paid their taxes. (Which they never did. Who’d guessed that?)
          I plead guilty.

  16. jfleni

    RE: “Google Cornering the Market on Deep Learning”.

    Obviously fast buck Hubris springs eternal at “Giggle”. That’s their business, but skeptics should expect a continuation of the results from “Expert Systems”, “Machine Learning” “Artificial Intelligence” derived from playing twenty questions with data etc, etc: Valuable and worthwhile results on occasion, but no overwhelming breakthroughs and solutions.

  17. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Walmart Warns of Lower Holiday Profits

    “Analysts at Cowen & Co said 20 per cent of Walmart shoppers used food stamps”

    It always surprised me that Walmart didn’t throw its considerable weight around in an attempt to prevent the cuts to SNAP benefits.

    In addition to helping reduce Walmart’s overhead by providing a direct taxpayer subsidy to its employees, SNAP benefits comprise a significant portion of the money spent in their stores. Throw in a couple of rudimentary tax evasion schemes, and you have established a bullet-proof, virtually cost-free conduit from the taxpayer directly into the pockets of the Walton family.

    This would seem like a no-brainer. Come to think of it, I’m not sure why they’re not advocating for an INCREASE in SNAP benefits. It would just be money in the bank.

    1. AbyNormal

      “Walmart doesn’t seem worried about the cut in food stamp benefits, claiming that their sales may actually go up. Bill Simon, the CEO of Walmart’s U.S. stores, explained: “I would say we’re cautious but modestly optimistic… When the [food stamp] benefits expanded, our market share actually went down.” Simon claims this phenomenon is explained by the fact that the reduction in food stamp benefits would cause people to seek lower prices, which Walmart claims to offer.

      Walmart can benefit from both sides of the coin in the current setup. The company can come out on top by increasing profits as food stamp benefits decrease, while at the same time keeping wages low due to the existence of federal programs like food stamps and Medicaid that help meet employees’ basic needs.”

      …the robber baron isn’t concerned because he knows Walmart is an illuminating Blue Shadow Bank (backstopped by US)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Sounds like economic waterboarding…make it hurt, but not too much you kill the prisoner goose.

        1. AbyNormal

          i don’t buy Walmart hurting for ANYTHING.
          thats why i added the 2nd link…the welfare queens will spin this in the comfort of their profits, always.
          (btw imho i see market charts pulling a double top…drawing back just enough for another takeoff. beware of a triple top…their sandbox is getting smaller, promise)

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            So, less is more and more is less. And more is more and less is less.

            I fear I’ve shifted into Pinot Grigio mode where all of this is starting to make sense.

        2. diptherio

          I think the point is that Walmart can benefit from SNAP reductions, even if it cuts into overall sales, because the SNAP reductions will hurt their competitors even more. In other words, the size of the pie that retailers are dividing amongst themselves has shrunk, but if Wally World gets a bigger share of the smaller pie, then everything is copacetic (at least for the Waltons).

        3. LucyLulu

          I would never claim to speak for Aby, however Simon did make the comments she posted. They were quoted from Walmart’s annual investment analyst meeting last October (followed links to HuffPost, then to minutes from the meeting, from article Aby posted). His general preference expressed however seemed to favor having more money in the economy and Walmart, like Kroger, Coke, Pepsi, and Kraft has lobbied for food stamp benefits. Like all good corporation persons however, Walmart will hedge all bets.

          Here is another quote from CEO Simon at the same meeting (which was during the shutdown):
          Bill Simon: “I would add, to be honest with you, that we’re operating in a very, as Mike said, a very uncertain environment. We build a little momentum and then we get 800,000 people furloughed, which is not helpful towards you building your traffic.

          If people aren’t getting paid, you could probably imagine they’re not shopping as much. And so, we’re operating an environment — I would tell you that Gisel and the team have in-stock at historically high rates. They have throughput in the fast metric at historically high rates. So operationally, we’re doing everything we can. Duncan and the team are acting like mass merchant discounters. We’re building big features, have aggressive price points where we see the opportunity to invest.

          But many of these issues are going to take time to cycle through. All this is against the backdrop of a — the 2% that’s been with us the whole year, the uncertainty in healthcare cost as people still figure out how to register and what their costs are going to be, the government shutdown and I don’t know whether they opened while we’ve been talking or not, but maybe they’re still talking about it.

          But there’s a lot of external factors. We’re focused on our business, not being victims. And the things that we’re doing will benefit us in the long run and we’re confident that we’re headed in the right direction.”

          Walmart has plans for expansion, primarily by penetrating rural markets with Walmart Express stores, with small and limited inventories, but can have items delivered to local store from closest supercenter within 24 hours. They’ve been testing them in eastern NC, between Raleigh and the coast. They’ve also struck deals with US manufacturers, allegedly creating 1000 (ya think they pay well?) new jobs. Time to sink our piggy banks into stock in the TBTF retailer?

    2. LucyLulu

      In fact, about 18% of SNAP spending is done at Walmart, according to the HuffPost article. That’s $14B SNAP funds spent at a company whose annual profits are $17B.

      An increase in SNAP benefits may result in higher revenues for Walmart with resulting larger payouts for the Waltons and Walmart C-suite execs, but these same folks also need to balance out concerns over a potential rise in their personal taxes to pay for those same benefits that can eat away at their compensation. It’s quite the quandary to find oneself in.

  18. susan the other

    The Golem 14 link on the derivative/EM taper crisis and how precarious the big banks’ positions are because they are so enmeshed with “asset managers” who are so enmeshed with big insurance companies… Isn’t it a little impossible for this mess to be untangled any time soon? Then the Bill Black lament over how irrational it is to try to create inflation by deflation – but considering how the entire financial edifice will go off the rails if inflation even burps it becomes clearer all the time that this tactic (both in the EU and here) is planned.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Dying shopping malls.

    A nightmare vision, with a well known pent up demand and with this supply coming on line, would see the government attempt a rescue of the owners of these malls by leasing them as drone depots.

    1. Synopticist

      I think many of them could be turned into quite nice villages, with some business space and room for sports and what have you. I dunno about the building regulations and stuff, but that’s my initial reaction.

  20. Jess

    Regarding David Cameron’s using fictional crime dramas to justify surveillance:

    Following in the footsteps of “24”, the CBS crime drama “Blue Bloods” is doing its part to brainwash the public about current and coming mass surveillance here. Just last night one subplot had the NYPD using a newly acquired drone to follow and identify a man stalking a pretty young woman — Detective(!) Baker — who just happened to be the Chief’s personal assistant. Moral of the episode: if we want to keep our wimminfolks safe, we gots to use all possible technologoly, from license plate scanners to dronz. Otherwise even armed trained policewimmin will be at risk.

    (And, oh, yeah, the show has been a regular defender of stop-and-frisk, and even worked another sly endorsement of the policy into last night’s episode.)

  21. jfleni

    RE: Big Business Joins Obama Effort to Aid Long-Term Unemployed

    They (the Wall-mutts, Kangaroo-in-chief, Poison-dwarf-bros, deranged Repubs, etc, etc)are getting nervous and worried, but too little too late, like everything Barry does for his good buddy P-crats, won’t solve anything.

    Occupy, despite foolishness like drum rolls and whatever, was esentially moderate and reasonable, but was mercilessly crushed. Okay Bubba, just make sure you keep all those dum-dums dry!

  22. LucyLulu

    Okay, granted this is an ad, and an for beer, no less. Still, for anybody who has been in deep hibernation and hasn’t seen the Budweiser Superbowl Ad, they’ve outdone themselves this year. It’d make an awesome antidote, if no copyright issues (it’s all over the web, though):

    Will I go out and buy Budweiser? Depends on what’s on sale. Whatever kind of beer I buy or how much I spend, I always hear it’s the wrong kind and tastes like piss. So, might as well buy cheap piss. :D

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      It’s the weirdest thing.

      For the first half of the BIG game, I can’t remember that I’m even SUPPOSED to watch the commercials. When they cut away, I just get up and get another glass of wine or use the bathroom. It’s like a REFLEX.

      I walk the dog at half-time.

      By the second half, I’m too drunk to figure out what they’re even selling. And I have to use the bathroom A LOT more often.

      Good times. But $4 million for 30 seconds?

  23. Brooklin Bridge

    Whenever I think HuffPo might be coming around a little, I see headlines like this one on what everyone know is a foregone conclusion regarding the KeyStone Cops XL pipeline, Obama Running Out Of Ways To Say No.

    HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa. Ha.

  24. jfleni

    RE: Fraud-Ridden Banks Are Not L.A.’s Only Option

    Great article by Ellen Brown (now running for Ca. treasurer).

    Note: Fraud-ridden gouging by cable and phone companies is not the way to get the Internet services needed in L.A. and everywhere else.

    If L.A Dept of Water and Power had invited Huwei to bid and develop the proposed fiber-optic system for all L.A. , it might be starting to appear right now, but DogPatch-DC (Snoops, Smellers & Spies Dept) didn’t want that, and accused them of potential spying(??). Upshot: Huwei bailed out and quit trying to work in the US market. Way to Go telephone/cable-crats!

  25. susan the other

    Business Insider. Ken Rogoff reporting from Davos is unriddling the Fed. The taper is not “tightening” it is merely “changing.” Like changing from TINA austerity to zirp in perpetuity? Just so it doesn’t cause inflation and other pain to the masters of the universe. So that is clearly another 180 from Rogoff. And another piece of evidence that the masters of the universe would be jumping ship – if they could swim.

    1. LucyLulu

      I think Bernanke was clear that the taper referred to the Fed cutting back on its asset purchases and that tightening referred to the Fed raising interest rates. Bernanke wanted to taper, but said there were no plans to tighten any time soon. I presume Yellen will follow the same policies, if not more dovish ones.

      Apologies in advance if I misunderstood your post.

    1. Synopticist

      The man’s batsh*t crazy.
      Say what you like about Obama, but if McCain had won in 2008, we’d probably be living in nuclear bunkers eating canned goods and each other.

  26. financial matters

    On Death and Derivatives – UPDATED Golem XIV (Michael M. Thomas)

    aka ‘the death of 5 bankers’

    this theme seemed to be pretty common in ‘Hot Money and the Politics of Debt’ by R. T. Naylor 2004

    from the death and derivatives article..

    “”One place to start is to note that JP Morgan Chase had, at the end of 2012, a mind boggling, but only silver medal, $69.5 Trillion with a ‘T’ gross notional Deriviatives exposure . While the gold medal for exposure to Derivative risk goes to …Deutsche Bank, with $72.8 or €55.6 Trillion Gross Notional Exposure.””

    “”To give you an idea what sort of risk that size of a derivatives book is consider that the entire GDP of Germany is €2.7 Trillion.””

    “” It is also worth noting Zurich also offers insurance against about 50 or so emerging market banks going under. Might not seem quite so safe a market to be in just at the moment.””

  27. Propertius

    Perhaps the Obama library can be located in one of those abandoned shopping malls – or perhaps in the recently closed Sears “flagship store” in Chicago.

  28. Jim S

    For any fellow heretics: Electric Universe 2014 Conference (

    20-24 March, Albuquerque NM. I just noticed that today is the last day for early registration. The leader for the vision statement:

    The recent explosion of space technologies has extended scientific observation in every direction. From microcosm to macrocosm, we now see the universe in spectacular detail and across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The picture is far more complex and dynamic than we had imagined just a few decades ago.

    Speakers both amateur and professional will lecture on astronomy, physics, biology, geology, and comparative mythology from the perspective of plasma cosmology, the investigation into the electrical nature of the universe.

  29. P. M.

    I thought readers would like to know that there was a sizeable protest in SF last night against the TPP. Looked like a few hundred people there, and one poster read “Occupy TPP”–so maybe the Occupy group was formally involved, not sure. I haven’t seen much protesting in the financial district as of late, so this stood out.

    1. Dr. Brian Oblivion

      Second season already green lighted.

      Patient folk around here avoid icky ad contaminated streams, and prefer the original language with subtitles and entirely without bowlderization often from places like this:


      If a series has been dubbed into English, it’s must-not-see-tv. Dubs are almost universally horrible.

      Hulu? Wazzat? I’d assumed it was vaporware whose content was mostly not permitted except in very limited areas. Maybe TPP can help! If not, there’s always TP.

      1. kimyo

        thanks jim, dr. b. i’m 2 episodes in, happy to see little echoes of ‘ghost in the shell’ and perhaps a bit of the feel of totoro. the forest and the mushi also evoke murakami.

  30. Jim S

    Very insiduous placement of Ian’s piece. If the USG were to dispatch, say, 1st Armored out of El Paso to perform stability and support operations in assistance of the Mexican government in order to disarm the Autodefensas… yeah, things would get ugly, ugly, ugly.

    1. JTFaraday

      That’s no kitty. If we still had a proclivity for spying the gods in the animal kingdom, that tiger would be one.

  31. AbyNormal

    Georgia Mental Health Agency OKs Tight 2014 Budget:
    “The proposed $9.4 million cuts to providers serving people with mental illness and developmental disabilities will ultimately mean reductions in services to patients, Minor said.

    “We understand the state is in very difficult financial times,’’ he added.

    Those provider cuts will come in the areas of mental health and developmental disabilities. Services for people with addictions may not get hit because that funding is “already tight,’’ Minor said.

    DBHDD Commissioner Frank Berry said that though the reductions will hurt providers of care, “it’s the clients they serve who I’m worried about.’’

    Board Chairman Larry Fricks said, “If your community services are good, you [keep] people in the community’’ instead of their needing expensive hospital services.

    Minor said the agency will get input from the community service boards and other provider groups on which programs to cut.

    The state will continue to close hospital units for people with developmental disabilities, part of the 2010 settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to improve care in Georgia’s mental hospitals. (Here’s a recent GHN article about Georgia’s progress in the settlement.)”

    (i’ve worked with the elderly and depression is as real as their age. this is going to hit massive amounts of homes because those of us caring for elderly parents… fight our own contact lows.)

    “the pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it kills in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne. The prevention of many suicides will continue to be hindered until there is a general awareness of the nature of this pain.”
    William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness

  32. Lord Koos

    The link about pain-killers is interesting. Personally I prefer opiate-derived pain killers as they are effective and the synthetics like Vicodin, etc just make me feel weird. I believe that Oxycontins and the like are as addictive as opiates, if not more so. I think this is about corporate profits — opium is a natural product while the painkillers that are shoved at doctors now all are conveniently copyrighted by big Pharma.

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