Links 2/20/14

Hieronymus Bosch – The Music Written on This Dude’s Butt [Choral Arrangement] (Garden of Earthly Delights) wellmanicuredman (Richard Smith)

Online trolls are psychopaths and sadists, psychologists claim Independent. I suppose we can look at the bright side: trollery is socially less detrimental than being a CEO or going into banking.

Ex-U.S. General: Jesus Is Returning to Earth With an AR-15. Really. Gawker

Bumblebees hit by honeybee diseases BBC

Signal of neutrino dark matter Résonaances (Richard Smith)

Best Bitcoin tweet ever Pocius Pocius (Richard Smith)

Costly US reactors in danger of shutdown Financial Times

Tepco Says New Leak of Radioactive Water Found at Fukushima Site Bloomberg

China Factory Gauge Falls Amid Risks of Credit Souring Bloomberg

China a Growing Worry Among Fund Managers, BofA Survey Finds WSJ Economics Blog

Record Japan trade deficit highlights risk of economic stumble Reuters

The World Through Vladimir Putin’s Eyes Ian Welsh (Carol B)

3 reasons for the Russian ruble’s decline to record lows Walter Kurtz

Kiev truce frays ahead of EU talks BBC

Ukraine: Obama attacks Putin over Russia’s role Guardian

Turkey spoils emerging market story as politics go haywire Ambrose Evans-Prictchard, Telegraph

New report contradicts U.S. version of deadly drone strike Washington Post

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Online company hawking Snowden action figure McClatchy

Terrorism’s Definition Creep Jon Walker, Firedoglake

David Miranda detention at Heathrow airport was lawful, high court rules Guardian. Note this outcome was expected.

On the UK’s Equating of Journalism With Terrorism Glenn Greenwald

How Dark Money Flows Through the Koch Network ProPublica (Chuck L)

Anti-UAW campaign condemned Guardian

Is there opportunity in art history? Felix Salmon

Start-Up Site Hires Critic of Wall St. New York. Taibbi goes to First Look.

McDonald’s worker fired after paying for food donation WIVB

Cold weather sinks U.S. home building in January Reuters. But “There is more than the weather at play and the underlying dynamics are not as favorable as people thought they were.”

Long-term consequences of the 1970 Clean Air Act VoxEU

Why Is the Job-Finding Rate Still Low? Federal Reserve of New York. The old excuse was “structural unemployment.” The new excuse is a decline in “job matching efficiency.” I’m too distracted to debunk it but I am sure readers will have a field day.

‘Boomer bulge’ hits US workforce data Financial Times. The decline in participation for the over 55 set is not consistent with other analyses. And I know tons of people 50 and older who have retired and would much rather be working. But calling Hugh, I have not looked at the details.

CapitalOne Contract Not Just Creepy But Illegal? Dalié Jiménez, Credit Slips

“Telling a lie does not make you guilty of a federal crime” James Kwak (Chuck L)

New details emerge of Libya’s claim against Goldman Sachs Euromoney (Richard Smith). A short account of how muppets are treated.

Antidote du jour:


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    1. ScottS

      Unfortunately, Jon Walker’s examples of the terrorist misappellation are obvious CIA plants trying to overthrow legitimate left-leaning governments. These far-right rabble-rousing thugs are hardly sympathetic characters, though I agree about the nature of the anti-terrorism scope creep.

      1. Jess

        Except, in the base of Ukraine, the elected government isn’t left-leaning at all. And contrary to media myths, most of the rank-and-file protestors are not tools of CIA operatives who want to force Ukraine into the EU. After centuries of conflict with Russia, what most Ukrainians, esp. in the western 2/3rds of the country, don’t want is to be back under the fist of the Russians. And the existing government has very little legitimacy in the eyes of the average people. (Typical reasons? The poisoning of the first freely-elected president followed by the jailing of the ensuing President Yulia Tymoshenko on trumped up charges.) Having friends in the Ukrainian community, including ones who were UN observers for the historic first free elections, I feel pretty safe in saying that what the vast majority of the protestors want is:
        a) A legitimate government absent the rampant corruption of the current President’s regime. (Particularly members of his family and close associates.)
        b) Tymoshenko out of prison.
        c) Economic alliances and trade with the West, but not necessarily membership in the EU, and definitely not the Euro as national currency.
        d) The Russians in general and Putin in particular to stay the fuck out of Ukraine’s affairs.

        1. James Levy

          There’s a remedy for that–it’s called the 2015 election. Rather than destroying the country, you wait until it’s your turn–or would you like the Tea Partiers and the Republicans to pull this kind of shit on Obama? And the evidence that the US and the CIA are there in force has already been blown wide open. So your special pleading sounds like Ukrainian propaganda.

          1. Jess

            Just because US and CIA operatives are there trying to play the situation doesn’t alter the reality that many Ukrainians feel, and which I just outlined. As for the 2015 elections, that would be great, except that when a country is being looted, sometimes the public has to stand up. How many times have commenters here wished for massive non-violent protests in the U.S. over various policies ranging from prosecution of banksters to preventing catastrophic degradation of the environment (Keystone, for example) or stopping war crimes such as drone assassinations.
            There is a huge difference between what the CIA is trying to foment against freely elected leftist governments in Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia and other Latin American countries compared to the CIA trying to take advantage of a legitimate, naturally-occurring protests against a corrupt and thoroughly right-wing government in Ukrainian.
            But if you insist that the current Ukrainian government is all good and the protestors are all tools of the CIA and neo-liberal elites, go right ahead. I’m sure you are 100% infallibly correct.

            1. Jess

              Forgot to add: interesting that you mention the 2015 elections in a country where if the “wrong” guy (you know, the democracy candidate) wins, the opposition just poisons him. Or where after you win an election you trump up charges and ramrod the leader of the opposition party into prison. (Fortunately, the lady in question is a tough cookie who previously survived a stint in a Russian prison before Ukraine got its independence.) How’d you like if the Tea Party poisoned Obummer?

    2. fresno dan

      Old: parking violation
      New: temporary vehicular space leasing INVASION/Terrorism….

      Boots are out, Hellfire missiles fired from drones are in.

    3. fresno dan
      Göring: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
      Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
      Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists REALIY BASED* for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger…..TERRORISM* It works the same way in any country.
      * addition

      1. James Levy

        The part about only Congress can declare war is startling in its naivete even back then. Today, the questioner sounds like an imbecile and, goodness help us, Goering completely rational and well-informed.

        BTW, as an historical note, when WWI started it was all rather confusing in Britain as to who actually had the power to declare war. If you read the detailed accounts, it kind of just happened. The key moment was when Parliament agreed to pay for it, but George V had to issue the Royal Proclamation first. Constitutionally speaking, does Parliament, the Cabinet, the Prime Minister, or the Crown have the power to declare war? As far as I know this conundrum has never been legally settled in the UK.

    1. fresno dan

      well, I guess….or hope, they don’t climb on the statues….or course, their poop probably won’t stick like pigeons….

  1. Ben Johannson

    Re. the job-finding rate:

    I’ve grown tired of making technical responses to bad arguments. It boils down to finding some explanation for our unemployment problems that doesn’t require a fiscal response by government. Looking at the claims much deeper than that is usually a waste of time.

    1. F. Beard

      Yes, let’s pass out enough new fiat (and ban credit creation temporarily to prevent the banks from inflating the benefit away) and that will increase aggregate demand and employment for what the population desires, not what JG proponents desire. And if unemployment is still higher than some desire then chalk it up to structural changes, make unemployment benefits permanent and increase them to a comfortable income.

      Progress should be measured in how few need to work, not how many. The rich have broken the link between income and the need to work because they have not been robbed of productivity gains as the rest of us have. We should remedy that by redistributing the common stock of all large corporations, for one thing. Unjust debt is another thing to be abolished but without disadvantaging non-debtors.

      Let’s put justice before any JG. Having to work for restitution stinks to high Heaven.

      1. Calgacus

        Beard, the JG is all about justice, because it is based on sound economics and ethics,

        Many, perhaps most have a very mistaken idea about what the JG is. I have only recently understood the scope of this misunderstanding. The JG is NOT “Having to work for restitution”. Have all the unemployment benefits you want. Have all the restitution you want. Without a JG or equivalent, there will be people left out. People who want more than what the powerful think they deserve. Innocent and inevitable victims of brutally immoral and illogical economics that assumes an impossible foresight on the part of public or private planners.

        Anti- JG ism means: No we cannot have people having a say in what their income is, as a matter of right. No, the labor of the ordinary person is worthless. No, we cannot organize national monetary economies the way every other human institution – families, tribes, corporations, whatever are – full employment. Because that would be make-work. How having people do work that they and their society want to do is “make work” and inferior compared to working under the current asshole-ocracy is mysterious. But it is absolutely true.

        employment for what the population desires, not what JG proponents desire But what if, as is the case, the JG proponents are the population? That the JG is what people desire? And the poorer one is, the more one supports a JG.

        1. F. Beard

          Give people land (See Leviticus 25) to work ON and an adequate guaranteed income to work WITH and they can find THEIR OWN meaningful (by definition) work to do.

          If not then you can maybe come to my land and my wife-to-be can put you to work pulling weeds or sech. FOR FREE!

          Besides, you know a JG is just the camel’s nose under the tent to getting EVERYONE but the privileged private sector working lest they reduce the real purchasing power of the usury to the banks. Ironically, make-work is a WASTE of real purchasing power but when were thieves ever that wise?

          Hint: Work does NOT require a job!!!

          1. Calgacus

            Again, I don’t think you understand the JG. It has nothing to do with the existence of banks. It applies to every monetary economy. Including your plan after your complete success and the abolition of banks- which is what I focus on here. Anti-JG-ism = preventing “people finding their own meaningful work to do.” Work =/ Job, but that does not mean that everyone in a monetary economy does not have an absolute moral right to a job from the money-issuer. No JG = money-issuer insanely demanding “restitution” from people – and giving them no way to perform it.

            The JG is not a camel’s nose, and unlike your plan, which is obviously inflationary, obviously wastes real purchasing power, to the extent it has a big BIG component, the JG is highly disinflationary. Obviously – because it is based on giving government money for something valuable – human labor. The current system is based on inflationarily giving money to the rich for nothing. A big BIG is the hyperinflationary fantasy of giving money to everyone for nothing.

            Although you and others think you have a wonderful plan, people would rather not work for you for free – be your slaves. Some of them might not, will not agree with your or anyone else’s idea of “enough land” and “adequate guaranteed income”. And as I have said before, these unemployed people, people violently prevented from working and receiving some of the fruits of their labors by the F Beard plan, F Beard’s victims – have every moral right to just take some of F Beard’s stuff. For whether F Beard realizes it or not, he his plan involves stealing from them, so they have the absolute moral right to “rob” F Beard back proportionately, because he is not doing the accounting completely and correctly. (This correct argument is little known, but hundreds of years old.) MMT, including the JG, is nothing but accounting, and understanding what is being accounted for.

        2. F. Beard

          Btw, where is an MMT proponent’s plan to euthanasize the government-backed banking cartel? So why aren’t you guys concerning yourselves with eliminating known thievery and providing restitution rather than trying to solve what would otherwise be a non-issue?

          Because you implicitly blame the victims of the banks and the so-called “credit worthy” (of stolen purchasing power!?) and have more sympathy for the thieves?

        3. F. Beard

          And the poorer one is, the more one supports a JG.

          Cause the bottom looks like up? Because poverty is designed to be punishing? Because they’ve been brainwashed?

          1. Calgacus

            Support for basic income guarantees – small or big is not clear – also goes up as income goes down. But more people support JGs than BIGs at any income level. (From Yougov poll on Rolling Stone plan)

            Cause the bottom looks like up? Because poverty is designed to be punishing? Because they’ve been brainwashed?
            No, because poor people, having little of it, tend to think carefully and logically about money. Poor people have some respect for themselves and the work they do when they can, and know their “unskilled” labor is far from worthless.
            It seems to me that better off, middle class people, unfortunately many at sites like this and MMT blogs are the ones who are brainwashed by transparent delusions like the big BIG. I’m horrified by the magical thinking among MMT fans illogically rejecting the JG principle. Some with arrogance and contempt for those they think they want to help.

            Anything but allowing people to do work helping everyone, that they have a moral right to do and be paid for. Anything but allowing poor people to have as much say as possible in what their money income is, rather than having it determined by those who think they are better.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      The “job finding rate” is low because most Americans are not looking for them in China, Bangladesh, Viet Nam or Malaysia.

      Or, to put it another way:

      “We conclude that while matching efficiency has declined and remained low in virtually all industries, the most important factor in the low job-finding rate is the persistently low level of vacancies per unemployed.

      Brilliant. These must be the same people who invented outsourcing and then forgot that they had done it.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Brilliant indeed, and nicely put. The FDNY senior researchers are like drunks searching for their lost keys under a street lamp because the light is better there, despite having dropped them in in the dark slums of Bangalore. It required thousands of words and numerous charts to conclude that “the job-finding rate” is low because there are too few jobs. Must be recent Harvard or Princeton grads, trained in issuing the trademark cryptic utterances (Kunstler) for which the “Fed” is infamous. It’s worthy of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

        I noticed there are no comments yet at the site, at least none able to pass moderation.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Calling the Department of Emigration.

        This is a policy proposal that might just decide the next president.

        ‘As more people move in, as more domestic jobs keep evaporating in this melting pot, we need to help ladle out those in excess who desire to move on, so it stays a nice pot.

        Or this could be a painting by Bosch, though it doesn’t have to be. Anyone can aspire to it.

  2. Doug Terpstra

    Pot attacks kettle over its role in Ukraine:

    Obama: “I think this is an expression of the
    hopes and aspirations of people inside
    of Syria and people inside of the
    Ukraine who recognise that basic
    freedoms – freedom of speech,
    freedom of assembly, fair and free
    elections – are fundamental rights that
    everybody wants to enjoy.”

    “Mr Putin has a different view on many
    of those issues [of basic freedom] and I
    don’t think that there’s any secret on

    This statement will henceforth be printed under hypocrisy, breathtaking example, in the English dictionary.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Cue the “no-knock warrants,” the war on whistleblowers, NSA surveillance, SWAT teams as student loan collectors, mass OWS arrests and abuse, repeal of Habaes Corpus and Posse Comitatus, rampant institutionalized financial fraud, kill lists…..

      Obama is dangerously beyond delusional.

      I don’t care WHO it is that has a different view. We need one. Badly.

      1. psychohistorian

        We have become victims of the Big Lie technique for so long now it has become second nature to its users.

        In comments to the Consumers Union posting I refer folks to a 42 year old book put out by what was an intelligent organization (CU) about Licit and Illicit Drugs. It is way sad if not angering to think about the wasted lives and money since then with the War on Drugs, etc.

        Can you say Devolution……I thought so. We are all witness to the effects of the centuries old class system and the inheritance based global plutocrats that have eviscerated a once forward moving country.

      2. ex-PFC Chuck

        I don’t think he’s delusional at all. He’s doing just what he and his paymasters intended all along. The audacity he hoped for and realized in 2008 was the success of the bait-and-switch campaign he was conducting.

    2. just_kate

      His statements are so embarrassing by their glaring hypocrisy – – but this is from the guy who came to my state to talk about our drought situation and announce federal aid followed by an excursion to the desert to go golfing. Ugh.

      1. Strangely Enough

        The “war is peace” acceptance speech in Oslo, and the “we must detain people indefinitely” speech, standing in front of the Constitution, at the National Archives, being prime examples, as well.

        1. JerseyJeffersonian

          Oh, God, yes. If there weren’t some attendees in the audience for Hopey Changey’s finger-wagging speech in Oslo who suddenly had a very bad feeling about whom they had – with no evidence possible to advance to support the decision – just awarded the Nobel Peace prize to, I would be surprised, indeed. But then the very fact that, with no track record to argue for such a vote, these people had blithely offered up the award, suggests that they were suffering from Hopium poisoning, something more deadly than Polonium poisoning because it doesn’t kill you outright, but rather zombifies the one poisoned, and renders them forever servants of their supremely cynical master, and incapable of self-critique.

    3. jrs

      Ah yes Obama I’m sure the people the U.S. arms in Syria, Al Queda and the like are all about freedom of speech, assembly, and free and fair elections. As are those neo-nazies is the Ukraine. By the way if U.S. elections are so free and fair why is there no independent monitoring of them? Why won’t we let in international monitoring? Heck why isn’t there even a paper trail?

      But Obama – an empty man in an empty suit (the Zero of your projections), mouthing empty words really isn’t that interesting. What’s intereseting is when actual people still make arguments that assume the U.S. is a free country. Ok I hear it from the right (not all because I don’t generalize that way, but some). They make arguments based on “freedom” and “individual rights” etc. to argue for right economics with the assumption that otherwise we’ll get tyranny. What “freedom”? what “individual rights?” And by the way *THIS* *IS* tyranny (not, it’s true, the hardest most totalitarian form, but state brutality and violation of basic political rights maintains the system – so what else to call it?).

      The Bill of Rights is tiolet paper. But like Rumplestilskin they apparently haven’t checked the year on the calendar. Like ok maybe those arguments would have worked 20 years ago But it’s long past that, and it’s long long past 1984.

      1. James Levy

        Speaking of 1984, it’s the fact that the media, I mean educated people in newspaper and magazine publishing, print this shit without any comment or context, that continues, despite a lifetime of examples, to amaze me. The revelations about the role of the US Embassy and their lining up who is going to get what ministerial jobs after the oust the pro-Russian government never happened. Right now in the New York Review of Books is an article on Ukraine by a Yale dufus which could have been written by the CIA–it’s all Moscow’s fault and no mention of the revelations about US involvement despite being written this week. It’s incredible. Do they really get paid off, or are they vetted so well by places like Yale that there is no chance of them thinking independently or going off the reservation?

  3. Skeptic

    “Bitcoin is the monetary version of a gnostic heresy…”

    “The contradiction of an immaterial currency built on pricey matériel (custom chips and hardware, massive air conditioners, elaborate security gear) is only one of Bitcoin’s paradoxes. It’s an exquisitely logical concept and an exuberantly irrational bubble; a futuristic system that hearkens back to the gold standard; a currency where units of money have identities and humans are anonymous; a competitive model with a cooperative core. ”

    Finn Brunton in the current ArtForum magazine:

  4. Brindle

    Re: “Startup Hires…” ( Taibbi)
    NYT describes Wall St criminality as “misbehavior”.
    Credit due for including “vampire squid” quote.
    —Mr. Taibbi is noted for capturing the spirit of the aftermath of the financial crisis with a series of articles in Rolling Stone that examined the misbehavior of Wall Street executives and the risky lending practices that led to a near collapse of the global economy. He used vivid writing and colorful language to describe the root causes of the crisis, including the now-famous metaphor he used to describe Goldman Sachs, calling the bank “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”—

    1. arby

      The Time’s own financial reporter, Sorkin, on the other hand, found much to praise in these very same corporate citizens and their regulatory enablers and protectors. Ain’t misbehavin’ if your friends do it.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Do you think NYT, Washington Post, Comcast, Fox and the rest of the propaganda monopolies that peddle “news” are hearing hoofbeats?

      Maybe they should be.

  5. Hugh

    Re Boomer bulge, after failed attempts to explain away permanently high unemployment with jobs-skills mismatches and automation, the big new mantra is demographics. Yes, Boomers are retiring. But the participation rate began to nosedive in 2001, with the post-dot com recession. The first Boomers hit 65 ten years later in 2011. The early departure argument runs up against the participation rate plateauing at a lower level between 2004 and 2008. It then resumes its steady decline in late 2008 to the present with no noticeable flexion in from 2011 onwards when Boomers started turning 65.

    I have been meaning to write on this for a while but the data are not readily available and I am not sure I can access what I would need. Basically, this is a question (the participation rate and the Boomers) that the government never really considered tracking outside of its usual measures. At the same time, we see pretty tortured attempts to make the the participation rate declines accord with the demographic/Boomer argument. What we do not see is any mention of other likely components like the millions of jobs lost due to outsourcing jobs abroad or a contrary movement of Boomers retiring but staying in the labor force to fill out meager retirements. Not enough attention is paid to the decline in participation rates at the younger end of the labor force. And some of the proposed explanations there are really lame, like young people are staying in school longer. Hello, they are staying in school longer because there are no decent jobs out there for them.

    We also need to remember that Boomers may be retiring into poverty and uncertainty. Just because they retire at 65 does not mean their well being ceases to be an issue for the health of the economy and our society. This is bigger than the participation rate. As for the participation rate, Boomer retirement will have an effect on it. The question yet to be authoritatively answered is how much.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Boomers are not retiring en masse, contrary to official narrative. See Coppola’s link below. I’ve seen similar documentation at ZH and elsewhere.

      1. rjs

        Doug Short does an excellent job on that, including a great chart: Demographic Trends in the 50-and-Older Work Force

        “It might seem intuitive that the participation rate for the older workers would have declined the fastest. But exactly the opposite has been the case. The chart below illustrates the growth of the LFPR for six age 50-plus cohorts since the turn of the century. I’ve divided them into five-year cohorts from ages 50 through 74 and an open-ended age 75 and older. The pattern is clear: The older the cohort, the greater the growth.”

        1. Hugh

          Interesting. Short looks at many of the parameters I have been looking at over the last several months. The birth rate data is important mostly because it shows that there is no real mean for population growth to regress to. Also you may note that preceding the Baby Boom beginning in 1946 there was a Baby Bust during the Great Depression. Still there are two problems with using these numbers. They don’t take into account immigration, and even if they did, they still won’t equate to the potential labor force represented by the Noninstitutional Population over 16 which serves as the basis of many Household survey calculations, including the participation rate. At a minimum, we would have to subtract out from this Census information those in the armed forces, the incarcerated, and those in nursing homes.

          The labor report data ultimately originates at the Census, but some of it is more accessible through FRED, than either the Census or the BLS. At the same time, we can look at data from the Social Security Administration, both retirees and disabled, but again we don’t have info on how many who go on Social Security choose or are forced to remain in the labor force, under the misleading heading of voluntary part timers.

          What is needed to suss this out, at a minimum, is a yearly break down of the Noninstitutional Population and the labor force by year of age of workers. Breaking this down further into average weekly hours worked in say 5 hour increments say would also be useful (more than 34, 34-30, 29-25, 24-20, less than 20, for example). Some of these data are probably at the Census somewhere, but I haven’t a clue as to how to access them.

  6. jjmacjohnson

    Stay away from covering art even if it is about some one covered by art. The humor is childish and gives the appearance or appreciation of any knowledge of art. Leave that to children,

  7. D12345

    Always interesting and informative at NC. I know you have various issues with your website, and this is relatively minor, but:
    This is the only website where hitting command + on the mac does not simply increase the size of the material you are reading, but instead sends you to the top of the website.

    Not major, but being able to enlarge type without then scrolling down would be
    an improvement.

    Keep up the great work!

    1. Reader

      That’s odd. What version of OS X and what browser? On my Macs, command + functions the same way it always has on this (and other) sites, ie enlarges the text without moving the page. (Snow Leopard and Safari 5.1.10.)

  8. JohnL

    Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights has always been one of my favorite pieces. I wound living for 6 years in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Holland. Known colloquially as Den Bosch, it’s the town where Hieronymus (Jeroen) Bosch was born and did his work and from which he took his last name. The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych was painted for the St Jan cathedral. Alas the work was stolen under Philip II of Spain and is now in the Prado, Madrid. I arranged a day in Madrid during one trip to Spain, but unfortunately the Prado was closed as it was a Monday.
    I always wondered how that music might sound. Thanks for the curiosity of young people and to you for sharing, and for helping bring this art back to us peasants who were its original and intended audience.

    1. direction

      I think it’s important to note that the original transcription was done last week by a young woman double majoring in music and information systems. She describes herself as hard of hearing and is shy about an upcoming phone interview on this Bosch piece.

      Here is the proper link to her work (without this wellmanicured dude’s annoying lyrics and equally annoying anime cursor)

      1. JohnL

        Yes, important indeed. Note that she also links to the choral arrangement which she describes as “fantastic”.

        I enjoyed both.

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      +100 … and feel this song should be perpetually dedicated to those who talk out of that part of the human anatomy. It’s a timeless piece… absolutely timeless.

  9. financial matters

    Correcting the Poor: The Civilizing Impulses of Homo Corporatus and Private Charities
    February 20, 2014
    By Falguni A. Sheth

    “Certainly, it is unreasonable to expect that the state can or will address all levels of public need. But private charities have fewer Congressional or procedural inhibitions upon what they may demand of the constituents that they intend to help, such as the ability to impose certain behavioral features.

    Groceryships imposes many strings for the mere flaw of being poor. According to the rules of applying for a Groceryship, being poor apparently means one chooses to eat unhealthily. Being poor apparently means that one is “addicted” to fast foods and sugar (this isn’t such a far-fetched idea for Polk, who frames his past actions in finance as the result of an “an addiction” to wealth).

    Groceryships’ expectations fit into the neoliberal paradigm that I discussed in another piece, namely that poor people, more so than the non-poor, have an obligation to be moral, aesthetically reasonable, healthy, happy, and eager about it.

    If the poor just worked harder, smoked less, didn’t do drugs, shunned McDonald’s and cooked more, then they too could be as aesthetically pleasing—and perhaps as successful and happy as Sam Polk and his spouse. This is one of the pernicious implications of a neoliberal economic model: the poor are expected to fulfill upper-class aesthetic and moral expectations about what it means to live “a good life”…to flourish. And they are subject to that same upper class, which is in the best position to dictate the life goals for those who are more vulnerable.

    Being poor means that if one wants to have one’s poverty relieved slightly or temporarily (remember, the Groceryship is for 6 months, after which one still remains poor), one is at the mercy of the ex-money addict Sam Polk and his neoliberal buddies, who are cheered for “helping the poor.”.

    But another aspect of this is also troublesome: the self-satisfaction experienced by these “free market successes” who reclaim their moral sensibilities through the act of walking away after making millions in profits and then turning to “help the poor” on their terms. They are cheered for their charity work (in an individualist frame) without being asked about their participation in a financially and morally bankrupt “free market” system that allowed these individuals to “flourish” at the expense of millions of individuals who are unable to succeed. This is because they don’t have the connections or “moral luck” to have been born in the right place at the right time. As economist Dean Baker clarifies in his book, The Conservative Nanny State, there is nothing “free” about the free market: it is rigged to benefit those who already have at the expense of those who don’t.

    As well: this kind of neoliberal framework ensures that the ruling class will discipline the poor, by forcing them to reshape themselves as a condition of receiving boons from seemingly neutral, generous, charities such as Polk’s, which models ill-informed visions of what it means to be a successful citizen.

    “This, then, is an expression of Michel Foucault’s biopolitics: those who are induced to cultivate themselves in the image of the ruling class are those who are the most vulnerable and subject to the whims and dictates of the wealthy and powerful. This is the success of the neoliberal paradigm: it renders to Homo Corporatus (or Homo Wall Streetus) the freedom and flexibility to shape the actions and character of the most vulnerable to those who have the money, the power, and the favor of the state; simultaneously Homo Corporatus’ contributions, the rewards of plunder and the corporate nanny state are interpreted as an individual acts of generosity that supposedly help those who are the most needy, that is to say, those who were rendered needy through perverse governmentally-sanctioned financial practices.”

    1. Klassy

      Oh dear. This is right on the money– and is a prime example of the Adolph Reed quote I used the other day: “liberal Democrats … view behavior modification of a defective population as the fundamental objective of antipoverty policy.”
      When I read that Sam Polk article, I knew there was a nonprofit coming. I had to check it out. Of course it was about correcting the diet of the poor!– complete with “homework” and much hand wringing about obesity rates and “addictions”.
      It is such a nice easy story for liberals– as always, educating the poor is the key. If only they ate better, they would… well, what exactly?
      I don’t personally believe there is a world of difference between lower class and middle class diets. I do think that many liberals who don’t actually know any poor people are seduced by this idea. I do think there is a world of difference in the typical housing choices of a poor family vs. a middle class family. That, however is not something to be solved by “homework” assignments, though– is it?

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Who is this putz Polk, anyway? He must have hired a publicist to keep getting these schlock, Hallmark Movie Channel rhetorical cartoons published, let alone taken even remotely seriously. He’s just waking up to the fact that there are “poor moms” with malnourished kids?

      Must be some kind of cushy rock that he’s been living under.

      And what of his “physician” wife who just recently woke up to the fact that Cheetos and Lipitor do not a healthy lifestyle make?

      I wonder if he knows that nobody says, “Gag me with a spoon!” any more. Except for me. Now. So he gets my drift.

      1. Klassy

        Cheets, schmeetos– as Sheth writes in the first part of this post “True moral uplift means the poor must be cultivated in the image of Southern Californians and other bourgie liberals who focus on the body as the site of virtue. You are what you eat. So fat, dark people (let’s face it, that’s who Polk and friends are targeting—look at the website!) must be cultivated to seek self-improvement. Morality, yet again, is individual.”
        As we can see ol’ Sam didn’t go back to the trading floor to offer “homework assignments ” to his fellow traders to cure them of their “money addictions” (Sheth rightly takes Polk to task for using the language of therapy to describe societal problems) did he now?

  10. Jim Haygood

    From the Guardian article on the UAW election in Tennessee:

    “The narrow loss would have been just an issue of working Americans exercising their rights if it were not for the despicable interference of Senator Corker, Governor Haslam, Republican state legislators and outsiders like Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers,” the Communication Workers Union said in a statement on Monday.

    I am shocked — shocked — to learn that there are politics going on in union elections. It’s even happened before:

    The UAW, international union for the automobile, aerospace and agricultural implement workers of America, has endorsed President Barack Obama ahead of the Nov. 6 General Election.

    However, the letter UAW sent to members contains some very misleading information about Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney.

    The UAW endorsement letter also misleads by criticizing the budget Rep. Paul Ryan introduced in the U.S. House, but Romney isn’t following the Ryan budget because the Romney campaign has its own plan.


    Live by the sword, die by the sword. As it were.

      1. Propertius

        I’m sorry Doug, it’s simply impossible that working people in a Red State might act rationally in their own self-interest. The New York Times says so, so it must be true. To believe otherwise is thoughtcrime in the first degree.

      2. JTFaraday

        “(Caution: Socialist website)”

        Oh okay–thanks for warning us! I’m going to be brave and click on it anyway. :p

  11. McMike

    It is clear that several industries have evolved into existing solely and unapologetically for the purpose of forcibly separating people from their money. Health care comes to mind, as do most insurance rackets – which no longer even pretend to confer benefits in exchange for (often mandatory) premiums. The “justice” system has long been criticized for this, and seems to have worsened as it ventures into privatization and the debt collection business. The 401k fee system, government benefits on debit cards, college loans, and soon education will be privatized to join the show.

    The forcible part is usually through government creation (or forbearance allowing) of de facto mandates, leaving no other place to go and no realistic way to opt out. But increasingly, the mandates are more overt (hello Obamacare). It is reasonable to assume that the mandates will become more overt yet, with the police enforcing compliance (hello auto insurance). Claw-backs of medicaire represent this trend in its full genius.

    Thanks to the aging of my parents, I am coming to see that the senior-fleecing business is the biggest of them all. The system is evolving to become a guarantee that middle and lower class people die penniless – leaving the world literally stripped naked of every cent, of every assets, and amidst a raft of government subsidies payments to predatory companies as well. Seniors are merely a conduit for the last and total theft. But I am becoming awe-struck by its thoroughness.

    It’s a Dr Seuss person-plucking machine. Except it isn’t funny.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      But I am becoming awe-struck by its thoroughness.

      That’s what computers, and more specifically companies like Google are for, and they are very very good at it.

  12. TimR

    Re Fluoride discussion in yesterday’s links
    This is another debate where studies can be cited to support both sides, and it feels like one needs to become a scientist oneself to reach a definitive conclusion.
    I guess given my worldview (in part shaped by NC!) I’m skeptical of entrenched institutional authorities who dismiss critics and essentially say “Just trust us! We know what’s best for you!” So I come down on the anti-fluoride side of the debate.
    Of course for many people that triggers an instinctive dismissive reaction, perhaps 90% traceable to Kubrick’s depiction of the crackpot general in “Dr. Strangelove” as a paranoid anti-fluoride crackpot worried about his “precious bodily fluids.”
    In any event, it’s hard for me to dismiss concerns after reading the book _The Fluoride Deception_ by Christopher Bryson. He’s a very credible, highly credentialed dude (if that counts for anything) and the book is well footnoted. It paints a strong case that a confluence of industry pressure (fluoride is a waste product of making fertilizer) and various fascinating quirks of history conspired to arrange one of those big Eddie Bernays style rollouts to normalize fluoride and paint opponents as kooks.
    I note that much of Europe and IIRC Japan has rejected fluoride. Also, the fluoride found naturally in some water supplies is different from the fluoride obtained as a waste product of industry. So this confusion between the two can be used to make fluoridation seem like something natural and innocuous.

    1. Cynthia

      Fluoridated water is not without its risk. For example, if children under the age of six drink fluoridated water or brush their teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, permanent white spots are likely to form on their permanent teeth. Pediatricians rarely warn parents of this, and I have yet to hear the media do the same. White spots don’t harm the integrity of the teeth, but they are unsightly, which can be damaging to a person’s self-image.

      1. Optimader

        I dont think you have that quite right Cynthia. I am a living example of a lifetime of florinated water/ tooth paste. The white spots are an indication of demineralization. In fact, a phenomena that can be manifested on the area of a tooth where a brace lug was had been cemented. Dental florosis, the condition of too much florine ions absorbed in enamel is manefested by dark staining of the teeth.

        Lastly florine is hardly a watste material, it is an important basic chemical feedstock. An important historical use was for the refining of enriched uranium ( uranium hexafloride). A significant commercial use is the production of anhydrous HF, a basic chemical feedstock at the beginning of many chemical processes.
        The notion of putting it in potable water as a waste disposal strategy is absurd.

    2. McMike

      As a rule, it is generally advisable to reject any mass program of preemptive medical intervention, be it flouride, preemptive infant formula, or dental implants, especially when private companies are guaranteed profits in concert with government agencies that create captive markets and get to oversee huge bureaucracies with the power of compulsory participation and huge coercion budgets.

      Hello vaccines. Judging by the level of official rage and industry lobbying, either it’s days are numbered or we’ll see physically forced compliance in the near future.

      1. McmIke

        I think that antibiotics serves as a good example of why to be careful here. Turns out we are our own worst enemy.

        Then there’s hospital-acquired infections….

        I mean, we’re talking about an industry that just now discovered gut flora. This is something GI and other doctors have actively pooh-poohed for decades. Turns out nuking our systems in a war of preemption against our bodies isn’t such a great idea.

        They have never really grown beyond bleeding patients, hot-branding them with distractions, and fighting the idea of germ theory. They just have more expensive weapons.

        1. McmIke

          This is a nation that has to be told that breast feeding is good for children.

          Doctors and nurses were long compliant in encouraging new moms to skip breast feeding and go straight to formula – a precursor to the drug industry’s marketing approach. It has taken La Leche decades to push back on this and get breast feeding coaching back into the hospital. And we still have a culture that views the act as repulsive.

          If the formula industry can get parents to voluntarily replace the free, evolutionarily developed perfect feeding mechanism with an expensive synthetic made in china industrial powder – and go so far as to marginalize the act itself, what do you suppose is going on with flouride and vaccines?

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      The fluoride ion substitutes for the calcium ion in the molecular structure of bone.

      Calcium is responsible for the strength and integrity of bone. The skeleton also serves as a reservoir of calcium which, among other things, is necessary for proper heart function. It goes without saying that when fluoride is present in bone instead of calcium, the skeleton is less effective as a calcium source in the event of a deficiency.

      “In October 1944, the Journal of the American Dental Association published this statement about fluoride in water:
      We do know that the use of drinking water containing as little as 1.2 to 3.0 parts per million of fluoride will cause such developmental disturbances as osteosclerosis, spondylosis, and osteropetrosis, as well a goiter; and we cannot afford to run the risk of producing such serious systemic disturbances…
      By 1950, however, the ADA had changed its tune without any further evidence regarding the safety of adding fluoride to our water. Even when the three initial studies were concluded, there was no evidence that fluoridated water posed a benefit to dental health.
      It is interesting to note that, in 1947, the Chief Counsel of the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) became the head of the United States Public Health Service. At the time, ALCOA was the biggest producer of hazardous fluoride waste. The head of ALCOA provided very strong incentives to the American Dental Association to support the fluoridation of water. Today, the ADA is paid well to endorse the fluoridation of water. Grants are awarded to researchers who can show that fluoride is beneficial.”

      (It is interesting that today the FDA is headed by the “former” Chief Counsel of Monsanto, and the FDA position on GMO foods is that they are perfectly “safe.”)

      It is also worth “noting” that the “baby boomers” are the first generation to have been exposed to fluoridated water for their entire lives, and osteoporosis has, “inexplicably” reached “epidemic” proportions is this demographic. Osteoporosis is, of course, a disease in which the bones become severely weakened due to a compromised, “lacelike” structure. Not to mention the serious heart conditions that are emerging such as atrial fibrillation. Luckily we have drugs to “treat” both conditions.

      There is much more here to think about than unsightly white spots on teeth.

      1. JohnL

        “The fluoride ion substitutes for the calcium ion in the molecular structure of bone”. Er, no, sorry, this is completely untrue. Calcium is a divalent positive ion; fluoride a monovalent negative ion. Fluoride’s role in bone and tooth construction is as a component of calcium fluorophosphate (fluorapatite) Ca5(PO4)3F, a key component of tooth enamel. Fluoride ion replaces the hydroxyl ion in hydroxyapatite which is the bulk of tooth enamel. Fluoride is low in many natural diets, hence supplementation or topical application.

        1. diptherio

          Mother worked as a dental assistant for years, with a lot of hoity-toity docs. According to her and the dentists she worked for, the evidence of floride improving tooth enamel is slim to none. They specifically provide fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash and tell their patients that the research doesn’t show enough benefit to justify putting another chemical in your body. Just brush and floss to keep ’em healthy, don’t depend on chemicals in your water. These are very straight-laced folks, and not huge anti-fluoride campaigners either. They just call it like they see it. I’m inclined to trust their take, given that it is far outside my area of expertise.

          1. McMike

            Here’s a fun game:

            Can you think of an intensive technological preemptive intervention that has not either (1) eventually discovered to be ineffective or even directly counterproductive, (2) resulted in consequences that were worse than the original benefit, (3) required subsequent escalations in intervention to maintain effectiveness or to counter adverse effects, (4) was overused, misused, or put to use as a weapon, (5) or forced us to live in the shadow of accidental worst case consequences.

            Can you think of any major technologies that lived up to their hype, with clear unambiguous benefits and no major adverse consequences in some other facet of human life?

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              New technologies to fix problems caused by old technologies – when that happens, maybe it’s time to use some new thinking…new, like not technology related.

              Gotta get out of that vicious loop.

              One example is going back to small organic farming – the way it was a thousand years ago.

              And that’s one area which America would like to be more like some (maybe not all) countries where people are leaving to come here… ironically. They have to come because their way of life has been destroyed by NAFTA or whatnot. And more will come (to this sterile land of stress) if we let that destruction continue.

          2. JohnL

            Agree, jury out on the effectiveness. My concern was more with the accuracy of the description of the chemistry. For, against, or neutral, it helps to keep the facts straight. Helps discern between what’s a fact and what is not.

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            Completely untrue re fluoridated water. See my comment below. And general dentistry has shrunken as a business as people who grew up with fluoridated water have vastly better teeth and therefore need less work.

            1. F. Beard

              Yep. Raised in Amarillo (natural fluoridation?) only my first 6 1/2 years but my teeth lasted about 50 years with NO repairs. Even now they’re pretty tough despite some prescription drug abuse (And don’t chew em either!)

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          Ca5(PO4)3F: Fluoride’s “role” in tooth “construction.”

          Ca5 +10
          PO4 – 3
          3F – 3

          Total +4

          Fluorophosphate (fluorapatite) is a KEY component of tooth enamel only in Drugland, USA.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m sorry, I have pre-flouride era teeth. You do not want to know how many fillings, root canals, and crowns I have. I am a direct and significant casualty of not having fluoridated water. It sucks. My younger brothers, who did grow up with fluoridated water, have completely different teeth and only a few small fillings. Those of you in the other camp have NO idea what you are talking about.

      Now admittedly, the critical part is to have fluoride internally when your permanent teeth are forming. If you could get enough compliance, you could in theory target kids only in that age group and skip the rest of the population.

      1. McMike

        There are three threads to this discussion.

        (1) is it effective at its stated purpose (reducing cavities)?

        (2) What are the side effects and unintended consequences (immune system damage or bone weakness, for example)?

        (3) Based on 1 and 2, does it warrant government mandated taxpayer subsidized involuntary mass compliance (de facto through fluoridation of water systems)?

        As to #1, I would be curious to see the impact of other factors during that time period, like possibly better and earlier dental hygene practices, better awareness of sugar, and better routine care.

        These days, they are simply coating kids teeth with some chemical preemptive coating. Even if it reduces cavities, I think it is madness.

        The industry is in fact starting to hone in on maybe they have been doing overkill, and there is talk of dialing back concentrations and targeting application.

        Nevertheless, a basic principle remains that begs to be asked: why should fluoride be immune to the sort of long term overuse problems that are plaguing antibiotics and GM crops?

      2. TimR

        Yves- Are you familiar with the Weston A. Price foundation, and Price’s work? He believed that Western civilization has many chronic health problems (such as dental caries) due to the white flour and sugar (and industrial food supply generally) in the diet. He found much better teeth and health in “primitive” societies unexposed to modern agriculture (whose health quickly deteriorated when they came into contact with “civilization.”) So that could account for your dental problems, as opposed to fluoride. Admittedly I can’t explain your brothers’ healthy teeth, but surely their exposure to fluoride is only one factor among many (i.e. correlation vs. causation could be in play.)
        I have to admit I don’t understand why you would be so adamant that we have “NO idea what we’re talking about” without addressing the credible-seeming, footnoted book I mentioned, that details the Machiavellian maneuvering of various industry and government agencies to steamroll the American public into accepting fluoride in the water supply. Is Bryson making it all up? I have to hold to my skeptical view of fluoride if you can’t counter his work, or address some of the points McMike makes about the theoretical wisdom of forcibly medicating the public, and tampering with a basic universal human need such as water.

        1. Pete

          WAP is a great source for nutrition and health. Those “primitive” societies also did not use tooth brushes or invasive flosses. A poor diet can destroy your teeth much quicker than anything else. Most people don’t understand that sugar actually destroys the choppers from inside the system much more so than possible residues left unattended. Yve’s anecdotal tale is evidence of nothing. People use umbrellas when it’s raining, that doesn’t mean umbrellas cause precipitation.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Are you unaware of what has happened to general dentistry in the US? I can tell you every dentist I’ve chatted up confirms that there is a staggering difference in the population that got fluouride in the water v. not. It’s unambiguous.

          I happen to be younger than most non-fluoridated water types because I spent my first six years in pokey towns in the panhandle of Maryland and West Virginia.

          I happen to eat a no-grain, hardly any sugar diet, but once your teeth are compromised, more work in inevitable.

          And you think you are going to keep American kids from having bread, cereal, and sugar? They go to school. Most who aren’t poor get allowances. They eat as their friend’s homes. The parents can’t control their diets.

      3. Katniss Everdeen

        Whatever, Yves.

        You can’t sleep because your body doesn’t make enough Ambien.

        You’re depressed because your body doesn’t make enough Paxil.

        Your cholesterol is high because you don’t have enough Lipitor in your diet.

        You need dental work because ALCOA didn’t get its industrial waste into the water supply soon enough.

        I continue to comment because no one has, as yet, identified the drug my body lacks to prevent it.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Irrelevant. Fluoride is not a drug, not patented, and it’s cheap. No one is making big bucks off this, unlike Lipitor, etc. nor is the medical industrial pushing it.

          The evidence is not on your side. This is awfully similar to the alarmism over vaccines (and I think the flu vaccine is way overdone, but the critics have lot all cred with their extreme claims about other vaccines).

          1. kimyo

            gardisil will likely increase the spread of hpv. not because of promiscuity, but because it protects against only 3 of the 6(7?) strains. this serves to strenghten those strains, due to reduced competition.

            fordham university is facing a mumps outbreak this year, even though their policy is to require vaccination.

            no human endeavor is 100% successful. some vaccines are effective. some are not. rigorous, independent testing would be nice.

            1. huxley

              What makes you think different strains of HPV ‘compete’? Or is that just your wayward Libertarianism talking?

              I smell an attempt to undermine public health, motivated by the distrust of sciences that contradict conservative ideologies.

              1. kimyo

                name an organism which doesn’t compete. name one whose population doesn’t increase when a competitor’s population decreases.

                the reason we have hospitals chock full of antibiotic resistant bacteria is that we provided an avenue for them to grow and get stronger because of ineffective/injudicious use of antibiotics.

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  The biggest reason is overuse in agriculture. That’s why e-coli, which used to be not such a big deal, is now a serious ailment. Second is doctors who hand them out for flus.

                  1. James Levy

                    Yves, these people seem to never have read a history book or heard the words “infant mortality.” The idea that people were healthier 200 or 400 or 2000 years ago is impossible to defend. The very growth of global population over the last 150 years is a testament to improvements in public health and sanitation. But we are supposed to ignore all that and assume that modern medicine is just an evil scam. As if polio and tuberculosis and smallpox disappeared by themselves.

                  2. huxley

                    You’re referring to evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, which isn’t universal and is a separate issue in any case. Still, any resistance to any microbial infection could be said to influence the evolution of superior strains. But that evolution cannot be inevitable because that would make it impossible for any effective resistance to microbial diseases to exist, even though it is quite clear that people do recover from infections. And they do so without evolving new infections that kill them. Keep in mind that evolution depends on fortuitous mutational accidents which do not always or necessarily occur.

                2. huxley

                  Now you’re mixing and matching logical fallacies. Let me rephrase: where’s your evidence that HPV strains compete? Not all organisms compete with similar organisms, you know. Some cooperate, and others are symbiotic, and for your argument to hold you would have to eliminate these possibilities, rather than merely ignore them.

                  Also explain why it is inevitable that some strains must increase when other strains are suppressed: doesn’t that falsely assume that all strains must be present if only one has been identified?

                  You should also justify why you deprecate one treatment for one disease because it doesn’t also treat another disease. Given your logic, we’d have to avoid all pharmaceuticals because none are effective against all diseases.

                  Conservative ideology could be well-served with more critical thinking. Just kidding.

                  1. kimyo

                    this conversation might go someplace if you argue with the words i say rather than those you imagine me saying. (ex: i said ‘all organisms compete’. i didn’t say ‘all organisms always compete’.)

                    the thing is, i don’t really trust merck when they tell us they’ve saved 80 kabillion people from cervical cancer. nor do i trust entergy when they tell us nuclear power has reduced carbon emissions by 80 kabillion parts per million. or hamp, now 80 kabillion underwater mortgages saved.

                    if the body responsible for the policy/product is also responsible for telling us how well it works, one can be forgiven for displaying some skepticism, yes?

                    i advocate independent, transparent testing (ie: both successes and fails get published). i don’t see how this is ‘seeking to undermine public health’.

                    1. huxley

                      i said ‘all organisms compete’. i didn’t say ‘all organisms always compete

                      False exclusion. If all organisms do not always compete, then some organisms do not complete, contradicting your claim.

                      You’re really not very good at this, are you?

    5. Propertius

      Credentialed? He’s a television producer, fercryinoutloud. What kind of “credential” is that?

      1. TimR

        My recollection (read it several years ago) was that he had worked for some major publications (NYT, that sort of thing.) So my impression was he was not the sort of author that could be easily dismissed by people who dismiss non-affiliated, non-institutionally connected people. If my memory failed on that point, or if I’m using “credentialed” too loosely, I stand corrected.

        1. Propertius

          So basically you’re saying he’s as “credentialed” as Ezra Klein or Geraldo Rivera.

          For that matter, Jenny McCarthy has been featured in at least one major publication ( ;-) ), but she knows bupkis about vaccine safety.

          1. Pete

            “Featured Publications”… you mean like the kind of ‘Scientism’ cultist corporate rags that promote poisonous GMOs, pharmaceuticals, vaccines, etc…which are actually about as anti-science as you can get? No thanks, I’ll pass on those ‘credentials’.

            “Other Health Hazards of Fluoride

            Dr. Osmunson touches on an array of health problems caused by fluoride ingestion and exposure through the skin in this interview. To get all of it, I highly recommend listening to it in its entirety.

            For example, fluoride easily accumulates in your pineal gland. In fact, your pineal gland has the highest concentration of fluoride of any organ in your body, even more than your teeth and bones. This can wreak havoc with your melatonin production, which in turn can disrupt your biological clock and even influence your cancer risk.

            Another area of great concern is your thyroid gland. As your fluoride load increases, your thyroid hormone production tends to decrease. Not only can this contribute to hypothyroidism, but it also increases your risk of developing goiter. If you’re iodine deficient, the negative effects can be magnified, as fluoride (as well as bromine) has a similar molecular structure as iodine and can take the place of iodine in your thyroid.

            Studies have also implicated fluoride exposure to other health problems such as:

            Increases lead absorption Disrupts synthesis of collagen
            Hyperactivity and/or lethargy Muscle disorders
            Brain damage, and lowered IQ Arthritis
            Dementia Bone fractures
            Lowers thyroid function
            Bone cancer (osteosarcoma)
            Inactivates 62 enzymes
            Inhibits formation of antibodies
            Genetic damage and cell death
            Increases tumor and cancer rate
            Disrupts immune system

            Folks, Dr. Osmunsen is a wealth of information on this topic, and I’ve only summarized a portion of it here. So please, take the time to listen to the interview, or read through the transcript for more information.”

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Mercola’s site is not credible. At least 2/3 of what is on it is nonsense. He runs any anti-mainstream alarmist theory. He fails to discriminate between bona fide studies (big enough sample to be valid, good controls, etc) and the crap “studies” run by the dietary supplements types hawking products or treatments. He has no regard for what constitutes evidence.

              All sort of things you consume routinely are toxic in sufficiently high does, including water, salt, and caffeine. I’m sure fluoride is bad for you at a sufficiently high dosaage. But what dose is that?

              And I agree that many uses of fluoride are of little to no value. But having kids whose permanent teeth are forming get enough is a big deal. The more extreme alternative types will also go on about how bad root canals are. So pick your poison.

              And speaking of poison, if you want to get upset about something in the dental arena, a vastly more legitimate target are the silver (mercury composite) fillings, and the US is the only advanced economy where they were widely used. The ADA gets some sort of royalties, apparently.

              I’m actually very sympathetic to alternative medicine and use quite a few dietary supplements, but you need to do your homework. For instance, glucosamime, which everyone was pushing as a good anti-inflammatory, lowers your insulin sensitivity (as in makes you vulnerable to getting diabetes). But people have been taking it like candy for years.

                1. Optimader

                  Dont get me started on oxygen. Do you realise it is amongst the most toxic/ corrosive elements on the periodic table

                  Mercola is an asshat

                  1. Pete

                    Hmmm, industrial fertilizer run off or Oxygen (something we need to stay alive)?

                    The fluoride chemicals used to fluoridate drinking water are: hydrofluorosilicic acid, sodium fluorosilicate, and sodium fluoride. Unlike the fluoride compounds found in toothpaste or supplements, fluoridation chemicals are not pharmaceutical grade quality. They are, instead, unpurified industrial by-products that are collected in the air pollution control systems of certain industries.

                    Due to the lack of processing, these chemicals are known to contain elevated levels of certain contaminants, particularly arsenic. In addition, recent research — including both epidemiological and laboratory investigations — have detected associations between the fluoridation of water with hydrofluorosilicic acid and elevated lead exposure, particularly those living in houses with old pipes.

                    1. Optimader

                      Hmmm your issue with florination is the florine or contaminants “like arsenic??? Your arguement is drifting.
                      Assiming a florine addition concentration of ~1ppm in water, what is the concentration of these coexisting contaminants?

                      Phamecuetical grade??? WTF are you talking about?
                      Do you drink coffee/ tea? Are you concerned they are not “pharmaceutical grade?

                      Have you ever seen the calcium mineral occlusion inside of old lead waterpipe? What is on the inside of old lead waterpipe?
                      Are you seriously suggesting trace florine compounds are realeasing elemental lead????


                    2. Pete

                      I’m not going to keep taking a defensive position on this… since fluoridated water, like poisonous GMOs and vaccines- so loaded with neurotoxins that they must be discarded as ‘hazardous waste’- were never products of any kind of natural demand. They are 100% forced on the public via planned/command economies.

                      “Fluoride advocates often claim that the reduction in tooth decay that has occurred since the 1950s is the result of the widespread introduction of fluoridated water. In 1999, for example, the Centers for Disease Control stated that ”as a result [of water fluoridation], dental caries declined precipitously during the second half of the 20th century.” As support for this assertion, the CDC published the following figure:

                      ….What the CDC failed to mention is that tooth decay rates have “precipitously declined” in all western countries, irrespective of whether the country ever fluoridated its water. Indeed, most western countries do not fluoridate their water and yet their tooth decay rates have declined at the same rate as the U.S. and other fluoridated countries. This fact, which is widely acknowledged in the dental literature, can be quickly demonstrated by examining the World Health Organization’s (WHO) data on tooth decay trends in each country. The following two figures and table, for example, compare the tooth decay trends in western countries with, and without, water (or salt) fluoridation.”

              1. Pete

                “Mercola’s site is not credible. At least 2/3 of what is on it is nonsense. He runs any anti-mainstream alarmist theory.” Well, at least you, the FDA, and Big Pharma can all agree on this. Suffice it to say I do not agree with every single thing Mercola puts forth, but the cited information was sourced from Dr. Osmuson, so I reckon take up your discredit beef with him. Ever heard the story of, or seen the documentary about Dr. Burzinski? Were it not for Mercola, many others would never have… and you can cite another 100 examples of ‘conventional medical wisdom’ that he has exposed as fraudulent. Read through his readership commentariat. These are informed, educated, healthy-conscious people, not whack job religious followers. So far as we can surmise from the evidence pile up, it is the western medical establishment that has lost all credibility.

              2. Pete

                Getting my 4 mercury amalgams safely removed last year was one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me.

                “I happen to eat a no-grain, hardly any sugar diet, but once your teeth are compromised, more work in inevitable.

                And you think you are going to keep American kids from having bread, cereal, and sugar? They go to school.” – Yves

                This is the battle. Admittedly, your teeth were already screwed because you did not discover the lies about the SAD (“low fat” diet) until later in you life. Real/whole foods loaded with healthy (demonized) fats were replaced with cheap refined industrial cereal grains (“whole grains”) and sugary substitutes. I don’t get your logic. Since we ‘have to’ accept eating corporate junk food we may as well concede to forced fluoridation as well?

                You’re making a strong case for surrendering to Corporatism all together. Yes, I think we can teach our kids about nutrition and how not to believe that food magically appears on ‘super’market shelves. My cousin raised his child in Mexico and avoided refined grains and sugars during the early years. If you give her an apple juice now (which has more sugar than a can of cola) she will make a face and tell you it’s “too sweet”. Sugar is proven to be as addictive as cocaine. Parents can have a great influence on what the yungens consider edible & tasty, and not only that, educate them on how vital nutrition is for a healthy future free of chronic inflammation. Nobody said it would be easy but we do not have to settle for false choices.

            2. Optimader

              Are you removing naturally occuring “poisonous” florine from your personal enviornment? Do you understand that there is a relationship between concentration of any element or compound and benefit/toxicity?
              Yikes, there are some rubes here

  13. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for links to articles from Bloomberg and others on economic developments in China and Japan in today’s Links, it was Interesting to me to watch Markets employed as a policy tool this morning in response to the drop in China’s reported PMI to 48 and change. Just my perceptions, but looked to me like all monetary and market policy guns were blazing to pump stocks in the futures market before trading opened in NYC. Tells to me were rising prices of Oil and falling prices of long-term U.S. Treasury bonds. Copper prices were also being pushed up to punish and forewarn any bears who might be thinking Icarus in response to the news out of China. Won’t know about sources of funds until later and then only at a very summary level with huge gaps in information. Interesting divergence between copper prices and commodity currencies (Aussie dollar and Canadian dollar).

    As it has on so many other occasions over the past several years, this morning’s market action exemplified to me the current nature of our “Free Markets” and “capitalism”. Must be nice to be Goldman et al, or even just a believer in aligning one’s own interests with power.

    Just my view as an ordinary citizen and market nonparticipant. Of course, I could be wrong in my observations about any part or all of this.

  14. financial matters

    New details emerge of Libya’s claim against Goldman Sachs Euromoney (Richard Smith). A short account of how muppets are treated.

    “It makes savage reading for Goldman; it says that equity derivatives trades implemented by the bank lost the fund more than $1 billion while earning Goldman $350 million in profits.

    McDougall, who is now a senior lawyer at DLA Piper in Abu Dhabi and who did have experience of complex documentation, almost immediately found something amiss. She “was struck by how complex and one-sided the terms of the trade confirmations were,” the claim says.

    The LIA (Libyan Investment Authority) today is chaired by Abdul Magid Breish, whose background is with the Arab Banking Corporation, which has long-standing links with the Libyan fund.”


    Libya: All About Oil, or All About Banking?

    Wednesday 13 April 2011
    by: Ellen Brown, Truthout

    “[Libyans] are entitled to free treatment and their hospitals provide the best in the world of medical equipment. Education in Libya is free, capable young people have the opportunity to study abroad at government expense.

    Another provocative bit of data circulating on the net is a 2007 Democracy Now! interview of US Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.). In it he says that about ten days after September 11, 2001, he was told by a general that the decision had been made to go to war with Iraq. Clark was surprised and asked why. “I don’t know!” was the response. “I guess they don’t know what else to do!” Later, the same general said they planned to take out seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.

    What do these seven countries have in common? In the context of banking, one that sticks out is that none of them is listed among the 56 member banks of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). That evidently puts them outside the long regulatory arm of the central bankers’ central bank in Switzerland.

    The BIS does to national banking systems what the IMF has done to national monetary regimes. National economies under financial globalization no longer serve national interests.

    … FDI [foreign direct investment] denominated in foreign currencies, mostly dollars, has condemned many national economies into unbalanced development toward export, merely to make dollar-denominated interest payments to FDI, with little net benefit to the domestic economies.

    Libya’s wholly state-owned bank can and does issue the national currency and lend it for state purposes.

    That would explain where Libya gets the money to provide free education and medical care and to issue each young couple $50,000 in interest-free state loans. It would also explain where the country found the $33 billion to build the GMMR (Great Man-Made River) project.”

    1. diptherio

      Very illuminating Frances, thanks for the link.

      I don’t know about your conclusion, however:

      A better–educated workforce should improve the quality of labour, even though it diminishes its quantity, particularly among younger cohorts. And that would be a good thing both for business and for labour.

      Young people seem to be dropping out of the labor force (or delaying entry) in order to obtain more education. This will contribute to the devaluing of said education as it becomes more common. Increasing student debt is the other natural result, given our system of higher-ed finance. On the other end of the spectrum, many people of retirement age are finding that they can’t afford to retire at all, or are being forced to return to the work force for one reason or another (ZIRP killing people’s bond returns being one). So when these young adults finally exit the Education system for the real world labor market, they will find (and are finding) fewer jobs overall and the competition for those jobs will be more intense since average qualification levels will have increased (due to all the extra schooling). And, of course, the punishment for failing to find a job will be all the worse, as everyone is loaded down with non-dischargeable education debt. It’s got all the makings of a nasty downward spiral.

      The charts showing the increase in LFPR by the 60-64 yr old cohort were eye-opening, although they support anecdotal accounts from friends and family. The inability to retire at a decent age is a constant topic of conversation at family gatherings. But I wonder, what does the line for 64+ look like? My guess is that that line is trending up as well. I know more than one person pushing 70 and still working just to make ends meet.

      1. MikeNY

        Good comment, dip.

        Buying into the “education is the answer” flatulence is buying into the plutocrat paradigm. So everyone is going to work for Goldman Sachs or Google? That’s delusional. Our economy needs to provide a living wage for the jobs our economy creates; that is a matter of economic justice. If the jobs it creates are barista, waiter, bus driver and private security officer, we need to pay a living wage for those jobs. The solution is not to fantasize our way into another economic universe where everyone lives in Manhattan or Mountanview.

        And you’re right: the growing mass of recent college and high-school graduates without decent jobs prospects is a social avalanche in the making.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Education for education’s sake…that is, education is for enlightening oneself.

          Nowadays, though, we confuse that with ‘economic warfare training’ (or ‘how to get a job, if not a career’), which we sometimes get if we are lucky.

          So, an interesting koan arises – when everyone is college educated, who will flip burgers?

          1. fresno dan

            That’s easy….the ones that are least nepotismistic (uh, don’t know how to wordify that word….need more edumacation)…
            or more articulately in Davos speak – the least networked….

      2. Frances Coppola


        Yes, I am concerned that education is degraded – hence the caveat in the final line (and the link to a post on Pieria which looks at the crisis in education).

        If I can find figures for 65+ working I will write about them. I agree that they are almost certainly trending up too.

  15. optimader

    RE: art History
    …Virginia Postrel is the queen of this beat, and points out that even though art history graduates account for only 0.2% of adults with college degrees, a very impressive 5.9% of them are in the top 1% of incomes. In other words, someone with an art history degree is more likely to be in the top 1% than someone with a finance degree….

    Not into class warfare but what percentage of the 5.9% would be in the top 1% of incomes if their parents were not?
    “We’re so proud of Ashley, she’ll be doing her summer internship with Bonhams in London. I wonder if she’ll be able to use her SNAP coupons in the local grocery store?”

    1. Synopticist

      Traditionally, art history in the UK is the subject of choice for not particularly bright but rich public school kids. Prince William did art history.

      I’m fairly confident that art history grads in the UK have extremely high average incomes in comparison to just about any other subject. But that doesn’t mean it makes it a good subject to study for anyone who isn’t born rich.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Funny, I know two top IT people, one in NYC who runs an extremely successful firm (gets multi million dollar contract from Wall Street firms and Fortune 500 companies, and another on the West Coast who has a smaller IT shop, but similar profile, just not as large. Both art history major. Neither from monied families. Both art history majors. I know another (PhD track, quit in disgust when his advisor stole and published substantial portions of his dissertation in progress) who became an extremely successful estate jewelry dealer. Again not monied, his father was a tinkerer who made a good living making custom equipment for large corps. I know a fourth who managed to get himself into the good graces of a major NYC real estate developer and made a comfortable nine figure net worth by the mid 1990s. Again, only a middle class background.

        I could go for a while in this vein.

      2. optimader

        I’m just guess’in here, but I speculate this to be the general case.
        And not even the point of not being particularly bright, more like not necessarily needing to be.

        The example that comes to my mind is a woman I went to HS with, Leslie Hindman. Nice girl, wasn’t necessarily going to set the world on fire intellectually, but not stupid either.
        Leslie soldiered on in college as best she could manage– Leslie attended Pine Manor College, the University of Paris (also known as the Sorbonne), and Indiana University. Wether or not she actually completed a degree may not be too relevant if you really don’t need that sort of common entry pass to earn your daily husk of bread.

        Leslie did manage to startup a successful auction house and later sold it off to Sotheby’s.
        …Oh wait.. Her Uncle’s family owned MOLEX ( which was just sold to Koch industries for US$7.3BB)

        No denigration of Leslie, as she’s hard worker in her pursuits and I presume she remains a nice person, but it’s just no surprise that she landed in a comfortable slice of the fourth quintile.
        Introductions and a startup war chest transcend a lot of other challenges with or without your art history degree

    2. JTFaraday

      I took an Intro Art History course and I agree with Felix Salmon:

      “The subject is almost ideal for teaching the kind of abstract-thinking skills that the next generation of graduates are going to need, in a world where a lot of number-crunching jobs are becoming rapidly automated. Studying art history means moving back and forth between words and ideas and images all the time, putting them together in novel ways while building on the work of countless smart people who came before you. I can hardly imagine a better qualification for much of the high-level knowledge work and ideation which will power the 21st Century economy.”

      It struck me, even at the time, that this was a great medium through which develop one’s analytic and writing skills. I would recommend at least one class to anyone, but I also really wouldn’t expect everyone to do well in it. In the Intro class I took, the way they tested you was they threw a slide up on the screen, basically asked you “what is it?” and gave you fifteen minutes to compose a couple paragraphs on it. Then on to the next one. I don’t know what other intro courses are like, but I bet that Art History department knocked a lot of people out the discipline right there just because their productive literacy skills aren’t up to par. Having taught Intro Composition, I’ve discovered how difficult this is for a lot of people.

      So, whether it’s good training or a good screening mechanism, I’d definitely believe it has something going for it. Meanwhile, Obama once again reveals how pedestrian his thinking is. It’s a good thing he didn’t try to teach.

      Personally, I mostly look the course because a friend of mine, who was by no means enrolled in what you might call an “elite school,” took one and absolutely loved it. A year or two later she was killed in a head-on collision by a drunk driver who was going the wrong way on I-95 outside of Philly, near the Arch Street exit.

      I do believe in allowing other people to structure your life for you and make your life miserable in the process because they will and it can’t be avoided. But there’s a limit to that sh*t, and that’s what things like art history are for.

  16. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for Ian Welsh’s post. I concur with his last sentence. There has been little discussion of which I am aware about who sponsored the Shock Doctrine policies, who sponsored the Oligarchs and privatization which were so disastrous for the Russian people, or why this was done. In my view these policies were detrimental to long-term Western interests and strike me as being at least partly psychologically and ideologically driven, vindictive and perhaps even pathological in nature, as well as evidencing a limited appreciation or disregard of long-term U.S. strategic interests, including military, over a time horizon beyond a 5-7 year period. I contrast these policies with those of the Marshall Plan.

    My observations are not to condone the corruption and totalitarian aspects of the current regime there.

    1. Synopticist

      They went for those policies with the direct intention of weakening Russia and preventing any sort of leftist revival. They knew full well that looting was happening on a titanic scale, but carries on regardless. The communists were still seen as a viable electoral alternative. The Chicago boys saw a window of opportunity and seized it with both hands.

      Remember, it was all going on at a time when Yeltsin was incapable of doing more than 3 hours work a day, as he had a dodgy heart, and his daughter was actually making a lot of the decisions.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Thank you for your response, Synopticist. I view it as a gigantic missed opportunity and monumental strategic error, but would love to hear the views today of both those who were directly involved and those who may have held countervailing views at the time regarding the approach taken. Just my opinion. Goodwill can be misconstrued as a sign of weakness or naivete. As I said, I contrast what occurred there with the Marshall Plan, and many years have passed.

  17. diptherio

    Re: Jesus is Returning with an AR-15

    Sounds like this guy might be a secret Sub-genius in deep cover, infiltrating the “normals’ ” institutions in order to engage in some guerrilla ontology…well, maybe….

    Seriously though, he’s basically just repeating the Sub-genius teaching of “The Fightin’ Jesus”.

    It’s too easy to make fun of these guys…it almost makes me feel bad.

      1. craazyman

        He doesn’t even need a sword.
        One hard stare and anybody in the way is a piece of flaming toast.

        If He raises his hand, just a half inch off horizontal, that’s 100,000 boneheads freefalling into the fiery pit. Why does He need a rifle? That’s just too funny. This general or whoever he is must really be a nutjob.

        1. craazyman

          by the way, this web site must be running the DELETE-IT algorithm today (Drivel Entirely Lacking Edifyingly Thoughtful Expression — It’s Toast!). It ate 3 comments of mine! I tried to post 1 of them 3 times too! All of them were pretty stupid, so I don’t mind. I’m probably better off actually. Maybe somebody is looking out for my reputational welfare.

          1. F. Beard

            Because He gives a society every opportunity to repent before He discards it along with its by then almost entirely corrupt population. Read the Book of Jeremiah to see just how long-suffering and willing to relent concerning judgment the Lord is. But corrupt people typically confuse kindness with weakness:

            Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? Romans 2:4

            Ya got a brain, Opti. Can you not spare some time to at least thoroughly know the God of the Bible before you dismiss Him? He’s AT LEAST very interesting!

      1. F. Beard

        Maybe or maybe not.

        The Bible nowhere says that God is infinite; that is an unwarranted extrapolation of Him being All-Mighty.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I read this in a book somewhere that, to want to be a billionaire is to desire sickness.

      Being a billionaire is to be sick.

      The symptoms are: inability to digest all his/her money fully, an unnatural desire to have other humans bow down to him/her and his/her money, obsession with accelerating the sickness itself as making more money becomes the goal for no other purpose than for its own sake.

      The only cure is to help the billionaire rid of his/her billions.

      1. McMike

        That’s why we had estate taxes and deductible charitable contributions.

        I take comfort in knowing that the odds are high that their children or grand children will be miserable cretins, and will piss away the empire though infighting, substance abuse, and sloth. In the end, they are no better than the rest of us, and all that hoarding was ultimately impermanent.

        I don’t wish ill on their kids. But you reap what you sow. Maybe we need a social services agency that intervenes in rich families that are unable to provide a safe and healthy environment for their kids.

      2. huxley

        The hoarder neurosis. Avarice on the billionaire scale can only be an obsessive-compulsive disorder, as I’ve pointed out a few times:


        “That danger increases as the disease progresses. The failure to recognize and control the greed OCD type of hoarder is virtually certain to prove the undoing of whole peoples and nations time and time again, and must be addressed as the truly dire public health and safety threat it so clearly poses.”

        It would be difficult to overestimate the menace presented by the rentier class or the barbarities for which they are directly responsible over the last 200 years, including world wars and international economic disasters. Ultimately, they are also likely to be directly responsible for global ecological collapse and the destruction of billions of people – all for the purpose of accumulating even more riches for which they do not actually have any use.

        Horrific global catastrophe is inevitable unless the disease can be brought under control – and soon.

      3. huxley

        Avarice is unlike any other sickness, in that it may be the only one that is potentially fatal to everybody except those who actually have the disease. It is a plague that directly and increasingly threatens to blight nearly all of humanity – and the afflicted have the will and the means to perpetuate and maximize their pathology to its logical conclusion.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      Yes, they sure do make our lives miserable by creating jobs for us so we have to work to eat. It keeps us from organizing ourselves because their enterprises keep us busy doing such important knowledge work like inventing the bigger bag of chips, the larger soda bottle and to counter claims of empty calorie teeth rotting kidney stone inducing sugar water, the very small can of soda. More important work includes repeating what big business says and printing it in the papers and on TV and calling it journalism. All these things to make us get up from our otherwise happy lives with people we’d rather be with to co-mingle with strangers and get yelled at by the boss. Thanks a lot billionaires for organizing humanity into the social order we never made but must contend with for a little while longer or unto death, whichever comes first.

      1. huxley

        Yes, they sure do make our lives miserable by creating jobs for us

        And they’re doing a lousy job of it, given the high rates of unemployment and underemployment. You’d think they’d be able to ‘create’ more and better jobs, given their new-found riches, but we see the opposite, fewer jobs and worse. Rather undermines your argument, doesn’t it?

        But really, the explanation is that the rich do not create jobs. Demand creates jobs. Employers hire workers to exploit demand, so the job – the work necessary to exploit the demand – exists whether it is filled by a worker or not.

        Further, it is not necessary for an employer to be rich in order to be able to hire employees. Small business hiring suffers from the lack of demand, and demand is weak because of the suppression of employment, wages, and wealth of workers by the rich. Therefore the proper interpretation is that the greed of the rich suppresses employment, and that the rich falsely claim to facilitate it as an empty and cruel rationalization for their avarice.

        Besides, the rich don’t need to hire anybody to get even richer. All you really need is asset inflation. That will work, for a while.

  18. Working Class Nero

    Re: Trolls

    Perhaps the trolls were trolling the psychological evaluation? They are after all trolls. How are the researchers so certain that people who have “the practice of behaving in a deceptive, destructive, or disruptive manner in a social setting on the Internet” are going to suddenly get all serious and honest when taking an obvious psychological test?

    1. McMike

      Well, while there is no doubt that many trolls are disturbed deeply anti-social people that exploit the anonymity of the web to fly their jerk flags to extent not otherwise usually tenable in face to face society – begging the question of whether what this actually may mean is that there are a lot of repressed sadists out there, who have been “liberated” by the web – your question kind of reminds me of the over-diagnosis in ADHD among kids.

      The study defines a ten year old boys inability to sit still and do what he’s told for eight hours a day as a pathology. So it goes downhill from there. Masking a smaller subset of people with genuine difficulty concentrating and ordering tasks behind a larger group of little shits that eat too much sugar and would rather be playing outside.

  19. Murky

    Quick update on Ukraine. Conflict in Kiev has escalated. Police and special forces are now using live ammunition against protesters. The main opposition news portal, Ukrainska Pravda, reports up to 100 killed by gunshot wounds. Despite the police assault, the protesters have recaptured larger areas in downtown Kiev. Ukrainians across the country are streaming in to Kiev, mostly from Western Ukraine, to support the protest. The Yanukovych regime is blocking incoming traffic both by rail and highway. Metro in downtown Kiev is now closed to the public, and used to move police forces. But authoritarian control over the protests is not going well for Yanukovych. Cities in Western Ukraine are switching wholesale to the opposition, with officials loyal to Yanukovych being forcibly ejected from their offices. East Ukraine, largely Russian speaking, is still largely pro-Yanukovych, but there is protest even there. Buses and train carrying troops loyal to Yanukovych have been blocked by protesters. A significant number of officials within the Yanukovych regime are now resigning, and some are fleeing the country. Ukrainska Pravda reports that Yanukovych’s sons and their families have already fled the country. Meanwhile, European diplomats are coming to Kiev to negotiate some sort of resolution, but that seems doubtful, as the Yanukovych regime is hard-line authoritarian. Russian government and media sources portray the conflict as disorderly protest and terrorism, and it looks like the Putin regime will back Yanukovych regardless of how bloody things get. The country is splitting in half, right now, with real potential for civil war. Good English language news sources are BBC and the Guardian. The most comprehensive news comes from an English language section of Ukrainska Pravda:

      1. Murky

        Sochi is a long way from Kiev, and it’s in the wrong direction. If there is brutal and bloody crackdown on the opposition, any refugees will likely go West towards Europe, not east into the hands of Russian security forces. The opposition in Ukraine is about 1/2 the entire country, a few ten million people, and there is nowhere for them all to go.

        The former Soviet Union cracked down on the Hungarians in ’56, the Czechs in ’68, but for 50 years there have not been similar bloody types of repression. Has the new Russia with Putin at the helm changed its modus operandi? With a gazillion news cameras watching, it’s a more delicate matter to repress an entire population. I hesitate to speculate on what will happen in the next days and weeks, but I’ll tell you this. The opposition, known as ‘EuroMaidan’, will not roll-over in the face of crackdown. They will fight.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You’re right,though, while hard to do, showing up in Sochi at this time, they will be highly visible.

      1. Murky

        What’s worth killing about? For Yanukovych, it’s both wealth and power for which he kills. Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International, rating next to Nigeria in levels of corruption. The country is basically a kleptocracy, run in a mafia-like fashion. Yanukovych is very rich, by the way, possessing a vast estate with a huge lodge, lake, yacht, and a whole forest as his personal hunting grounds. ‘Mezhgor’e’ I think is the name of his estate. His other assets are hidden. And he’ll lose all that and maybe be put on trial if things don’t go his way. Banking, no doubt, helps him launder his money and provide cover for the kleptocracy of his regime.

  20. barrisj

    For those who may have missed this, the initial issue of “The Intercept” is online, with an intro by the irrepressible journo Dan Froomkin. To advertise oneself as a original-content “whistleblower” publishing site is assuredly designed to test the limits of what remains of “free speech” in The Land of the Free.

    The Terrible Toll of Secrecy
    The Intercept’s inaugural exposé, by my colleagues Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, illuminates the deeply flawed interaction between omnipresent electronic surveillance and targeted drone killings –- two of the three new, highly disruptive instruments of national power that President Obama has pursued with unanticipated enthusiasm.

    All three (the third being cyberwar) have a lot in common. Despite their staggering implications, Obama has proceeded to establish the rules for them unilaterally, almost entirely in secret, based on dubious legal arguments, largely unchecked by judicial or congressional oversight, and with a seemingly unshakeable yet remarkably unfounded faith in their value.

    But one of the many major takeaways from the eight-month-and-counting exploration of the trove of secret NSA documents Edward Snowden gave journalists is that what may seem like good ideas within the confines of a like-minded military-intelligence establishment look very different when exposed to overdue public scrutiny.

    Only then do you find out they don’t work so well. Or that they aren’t really legal, or constitutional. Or that they do more harm than good. Or that the government relies on them too much, at the expense of things that might actually work.

    History has shown time and again that secrecy and bad decisions go hand in hand.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Well yes, and Hamlet looks like a book you know. Not to compare GG’s new toy with the bard, but perhaps we could more usefully offer criticisms with more substance.

        1. RalphR

          No, it is a legitimate issue.

          1. What is the value added of Omidyar, exactly? None is evident.

          2. GG has lost time and therefore lost momentum with his document trove dealing with negotiating with Omidyar and getting First Look going. He had the surveillance state not knowing when it was going to be hit. Now the WaPo, which is at an information disadvantage (no full set of Snowden docs) has been breaking much more important stories, and consistently too

  21. fresno dan

    I’m glad democrats are demanding reforms. Maybe one day they will actually enact real reform and their will be real consequences to violating the constitution. I like the Kabuki play of how the NSA doesn’t actually read or listen to anything it intercepts… leaves that to the FBI

    In a letter on Wednesday, the lawmakers demanded answers about the FBI’s National Security Letters, which do not require a court order and require communications companies and financial institutions to turn over details about their customers.

    Agents at the NSA need to get a court order to search those records, but no similar order is necessary for the National Security Letters.

    Nadler and Cicilline asked Holder why the FBI uses the secret letters because federal officials seem to be able to get the same information through the phone records database.

    In a speech last month, Obama said he was wary of requiring that National Security Letters be approved by a judge.

    “I have concerns that we should not set a standard for terrorism investigations that is higher than those involved in investigating an ordinary crime,“ he said.

    Obama did, however, support increased transparency for the letters. Currently, companies have limits on disclosing the government’s requests for information they receive.


  22. susan the other

    Bloomberg. Fukushima. Tepco reports it “doesn’t think the new leak has reached the ocean yet.” Since by now Tepco is aware how angry the rest of the world is about their incessant leaks into the ocean. And, oh dear! Tepco’s shares closed down 7 yen yesterday. Who wants to buy a company that can’t even turn off two stupid water nozzles?

    Ianwelsh on Putin and Russia’s state capitalism. I liked his objective analysis of Putin and felt it was reasonably accurate. One correction is that he said in Russia the population prefers the government to the oligarchs whereas in the US nobody trusts the government. Well… in the US the government IS the oligarchs, Ian. And also in view of Ukraine, I’m thinkin’ Putin could see this destabilization coming already in 2007 and decided to build Sochi at the southern extreme of Russia even tho’ it has always been a summer resort, and all those overages, all those billions, were more a military investment than participation in the capitalist spectacle of brief olympic glory.

    And Felix Salmon on the joys of art history. I like reading art history textbooks because they are so stunningly accurate about political history, especially if you are a political junkie turned skeptic. It is a good background if you want to understand the sweep of history of the American psyche, sort of. I loved Pohl’s “Framing America.”

    1. Kurt Sperry

      ” Well… in the US the government IS the oligarchs,”

      And where *isn’t* this the case to a greater or lesser degree? It sadly seems to be the entropic state of human governance everywhere. Realizing this is to realize that creating equitable and non-corrupt institutions is to push against all of human history. And history always pushes back towards its entropic state. Change will thus always be a struggle against this weight, but it is a noble and worthwhile struggle. And history even budges a little once in a while.

  23. rjs

    a Pussy Putin two-fer..

    Pussy Riot: Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland – music video | Music | Russian agit-punk band Pussy Riot’s music video for their new song, Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland.  
    I’m not happy, but I’m gay, Putin will reveal at Olympics closing ceremony -Sources characterized as “intimates” of Russian President Vladimir Putin have notified Kronstantinople that he will disclose his homosexuality in a “personal but not overly emotional fashion” during closing ceremonies for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games on Sunday.  As a form of penance, the Russian president will officially change his name to “Pussy Putin,” we are told. And he will contract with the three women of Pussy Riot, the controversial punk band, to be his “backup” people, “if they can forgive me and believe in my sincerity.”  

    1. F. Beard

      Yep a lot of people were gay in the past until one realizes the homosexuals corrupted a perfectly innocent word. I like sodomite myself since I don’t mind lesbians since there ain’t enough good men to go around cause, well, you know …

        1. F. Beard

          Nonsense! In my mind (except for homosexuality, bestiality, violence, cruelty and the desire to humiliate) I can be as perverse as many but mostly because I desire circumstances that allow me to justify what I want to do and a certain amount is rebellion against my impossibly unrealistic Roman Catholic upbringing. Still, I know that true love exists because I’ve been there too and still am though I must wait another two years (and it’s been six already) and I’ve no absolute assurance of success either.

          As the Germans say “Hunger is the best cook.” So if one needs excessive spice, one isn’t really hungry. Or has a taste for crap.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        I resent that Mr Beard. I am a perfectly good man for at least a half dozen women or so. And don’t get me started about my father who can’t remember how much man he was for how many women. You know, maybe there are so many gay men because there aren’t enough good women around. So, us good men have to put up with the what’s out there. So sad, but true, but sometimes quantity does make up for lack of quality.

        1. F. Beard

          I think it’s families without a father that cause much male homosexuality. My father was strong (actually a tyrant but he loved us in his way) but otoh while I can love men, I’ve never wanted to stick my wiener in them or vice versa. As for women, I’ve been positively obsessed with many, particularly the strong ones, because I need negative feedback – as long as it is not hypocritical.

          Hint: To see a beautiful woman is to realize that God is supremely COMPETENT.

  24. Andrew Watts

    Note: My personal judgement may be compromised.

    RE: On the UK’s Equating of Journalism With Terrorism

    I would normally defend Greenwald but in this specific case he’s taking things too personally. Miranda was caught carrying top secret NSA/GCHQ documents while crossing international borders. He’s lucky that British intelligence and law enforcement let Miranda go after their legal holding period expired. They couldn’t be sure if he was making a drop to a foreign intelligence agency. Secondly, they didn’t know the full extent of the leak that took place at the NSA after the initial Snowden revelations.

    What were they thinking having somebody that would be well-known to every country’s intelligence services courier a full set of Snowden documents? From the beginning I’ve kinda assumed that everybody with a copy of the files would be ill-prepared to deal with counter…wait a minute, why would they even need another copy of the documents?

    British intelligence is…? Uhh, nevermind.


    1. Synopticist

      There’s a decent chance Greewad sent his partner through heathrow as a deliberate inflamatory tactic. He’s smart enough to understand the ramifications.

      1. bob

        lord justice laws….How isn’t that part of every headline?

        To the UK royalist contingent of NC- Which came first, the lord, the justice or the laws? How does the queen feel about all of this?

      2. Andrew Watts

        Mr. Greenwald reportedly believed that legal threats such as these would diminish over time. This has not proven to be the case. Upon re-reviewing his rant against the British government it really doesn’t look like it was originally a provocation. The flood of GCHQ stories came after the Miranda incident. It seems like he’s genuinely holding a grudge that is only deepening due to the lack of any vindication.

        I cannot blame him if the stress is starting to get to him but if the story about how Edward Snowden originally tried to contact him is true he hasn’t exactly played this smart. He almost lost the story of the decade through his own inaction. I’m even less impressed by his public gloating over the fact that Snowden had the “NSA’s blueprint”. Which could be legal grounds for the US Department of Justice to file accessory charges.

        What I’m trying to say is that Greenwald is in over his head. It isn’t likely he’ll back out now as he’s way too stubborn. Frankly this bodes ill for everybody. From my perspective he’s becoming a obstacle in forging a political settlement. Instead of critiquing any potential settlement on it’s demerit(s), he’ll likely oppose it simply out of spite. Snowden entrusted him with the documents and he has a responsibility for addressing what’s in the public interest.

        Maintaining a grudge is only going to get in the way of that.

    2. Francois T

      Miranda was caught carrying top secret NSA/GCHQ documents while crossing international borders.

      How did they know that? By all accounts, the files were encrypted military grade. For all we know, Glenn could’ve put there Brazilian grilled meat recipes and no one woulda been the wiser.

      1. Andrew Watts

        Miranda reportedly had the encryption password on his person. Nothing is unbreakable. It’s a matter of time and effort.

  25. skippy

    G20 coming to town so it begins –

    Never fear[!!!] – it will be sanitized so as not to distract from the attendees mental well being, might affect their cognitive positioning, spoil the group discussion mood. –

    skippy…. I mean it would be crass, establishing unwanted thoughts which might negatively effect international guests moods, before night time entertainments, ambiance killer~ That could create serious negative economic ramifications, as the boss said, were – WIDE OPEN – for Business!

    1. F. Beard

      WIDE OPEN – for Business! skippy

      Yep. So the usury can be paid. Otoh, the central bankers enable businesses to finance themselves with the stolen purchasing power of the entire population but especially the poor so I guess the usury is merely discounted stolen goods. Sounds like a match made in Hell and/or by Progressives.

      1. skippy

        “stolen purchasing power” is a leftover from your halcyon days at, Usury is scaled w/inflation ratios dependent, so its factitious to broadly generalize the term in an emotive state. A better observation would be wages vs productivity increases since the monetarist’s went the full retard and where that share went and why…

        skippy… BTW why don’t you just say heathens, sinners, satanist’s, foreigners, non gawd fearing subhumans, atheists, et al, instead of the progressive trope.

        1. F. Beard

          A better observation would be wages vs productivity increases since the monetarist’s went the full retard and where that share went and why… skippy

          Because why “share” productivity increases when one can legally steal them?

          Can you not grasp that obvious point by now?

          1. skippy

            No beard I do not grasp what your point is, on almost everything. The reasons for this have been noted and backed up, especially the the slavery bit.

            skippy… I would be careful using words like obvious – in your case.

  26. skippy

    Sign of the times….

    Apparently a young woman posted the following on a forum under the title: What should I do to marry a rich guy?

    I’m going to be honest of what I’m going to say here. I’m 25 this year. I’m very pretty, have style and good taste. I wish to marry a guy with $500k annual salary or above. You might say that I’m greedy, but an annual salary of $1M is considered only as middle class in New York. My requirement is not high. Is there anyone in this forum who has an income of $500k annual salary? Are you all married? I wanted to ask: what should I do to marry a rich person like you? Among those I’ve dated, the richest is $250k annual income, and it seems that this is my upper limit. If someone is going to move into high cost residential area on the west of New York City Garden(?), $250k annual income is not enough. I’m here humbly to ask a few questions: 1) Where do most rich bachelors hang out? (Please list down the names and addresses of bars, restaurant, gym) 2) Which age group should I target? 3) Why most wives of the riches are only average-looking? I’ve met a few girls who don’t have looks and are not interesting, but they are able to marry rich guys. 4) How do you decide who can be your wife, and who can only be your girlfriend? (my target now is to get married)” – Ms. Pretty

    She received this reply.

    “Dear Ms. Pretty, I have read your post with great interest. Guess there are lots of girls out there who have similar questions like yours. Please allow me to analyse your situation as a professional investor. My annual income is more than $500k, which meets your requirement, so I hope everyone believes that I’m not wasting time here. From the standpoint of a business person, it is a bad decision to marry you. The answer is very simple, so let me explain: what you’re trying to do is an exchange of “beauty” and “money”. Person A provides beauty, and Person B pays for it, fair and square. However, there’s a deadly problem here, your beauty will fade, but my money will not be gone without any good reason. The fact is, my income might increase from year to year, but you can’t be prettier year after year. Hence from the viewpoint of economics, I am an appreciation asset, and you are a depreciation asset. It’s not just normal depreciation, but exponential depreciation. If that is your only asset, your value will be much worse 10 years later. By the terms we use in Wall Street, every trading has a position, dating with you is also a “trading position”. If the trade value dropped we will sell it and it is not a good idea to keep it for long term – same goes with the marriage that you wanted. It might be cruel to say this, but in order to make a wiser decision any assets with great depreciation value will be sold or “leased”. Anyone with over $500k annual income is not a fool; we would only date you, but will not marry you. I would advise that you forget looking for any clues to marry a rich guy. And by the way, you could make yourself to become a rich person with $500k annual income.This has better chance than finding a rich fool. Hope this reply helps.” – J.P. Morgan CEO – H/T Dayal

    skippy… Musical accompaniment –

    1. craazyman

      If she’s willing to count monopoly money toward her total, the possibilities open up in a big way.

    2. Emma

      This elevates sexism at the expense of both sexes Skippy.

      There are many people out there who think that investing in getting to know a wallet (or purse…) as opposed to a person is the way to go.

      It’s “Money, Money, Money” for the “Material Girl”, but you know what?

      Some of us actually rate good friendship, good fun and a good f***ing head above all else.

      1. craazyman

        Whoa! Are you hot? I like channeling, staring vacantly at the wall, wasting time on Youtube and long walks on the beach — as long as the surf is up.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        Portrayal, even in anecdotal narrative, isn’t the same as promotion. The sad fact is that a great many women view and judge men as “providers”, just as many men view and judge women as sex objects or domestic chattel, and both are conventional albeit shallow, dehumanizing and disrespectful ways of looking at other people across the gender divide. “Love” too often is just the lipstick on this pig. What can we do about it but to ourselves be better than that? Or at least to try.

      3. skippy

        Wooh… Emma way to put it out there, good on you, tho much to our collective regret it is a predominate meme put out there in MSM land [foxnewbs be the worst offender]. I mean should we start suing for false representation or material disclosure in sexual or romantic human affairs… lmmao~

        @Kurt Sperry – every object having price affixed to it is problematic… eh.

        Mean while in skippy land… @3:11 –


      4. Optimader

        Self evaluation is the most difficult challenge.
        I like to believe im not overly superficial but i have to concede your point, good friendship, good fun and good f***ing head is an alluring combination!

    3. F. Beard

      Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30

      To Mr. 500K:

      It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it. Proverbs 10:22

      Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred. Proverbs 15:17

      And/or saliva?

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Why is it that it every time Obama does something that isn’t unambiguously evil, it seems he has to be dragged kicking and screaming to that point? He always seems to do only whatever is easiest and most politically expedient, never anything that appears informed by actual principles. He epitomizes the Democratic Party I guess.

  27. Jim S

    Hilton Ratcliffe, The Static Universe, p.9:

    So it seems that we owe ourselves a really searching question–if observation indicates a static Universe and theory dictates expansion, how do we reconcile the two? We might argue that expansion occurs only beyond what we have been looking at, and indeed, that is what current theory suggests; or, on the other hand, that what we are seeing is simply too remote for the divergence to be visibly appreciated. In the latter case, we need to be very careful of circularity. The Standard Model of Cosmology assures us that expansion exists despite what we see, and that we are misled inter alia by the fact that these things are very, very far away. But the remoteness of those objects is given by a property of expansion itself–cosmological redshift. The argument collapses by being self-referential. The Standard Model attempts to prove expansion by assuming expansion. Our aim with this work is to expose that as extremely poor science.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I also doubt Taibbi will actually be making staffing decisions, despite the PR otherwise. Greenwald is not playing a managerial role. He’s a writer who may also be doing some editing. Most writers don’t like editing and become editors only because it pays better. And I would be pretty sure that Omidyar wants to vet all the initial hires for each venture.

      1. Hugh

        I would take it as a badge of honor. Of course, badges of honor don’t pay the bills. Even Marx had his Engels.

        I think as we see the names being associated with this enterprise we are also getting an idea of its tone and its limits. These are people who are good at certain kinds of stories but they aren’t Big Picture people or deep thinkers. They are not questioners of the system, just bits and pieces of it. Taibbi is in a sense emblematic. Glitzy, distinctive, but not a numbers cruncher, and lacking a certain institutional knowledge and/or awareness that you certainly have. They are critics of a kind, but not rebels. Their fights are within the Establishment, not against it.

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