Links 2/26/14

Children naturally awful Daily Mash

FDA panel debates idea of ‘3-parent babies’ Washington Post

Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade New York Times

Crowded U.S. airwaves desperately in search of breathing room Network World

The Network-Based Interpretation of Dreams Physics arXiv Blog. The lede is buried: DARPA is helping fund this research.

Tech bubbles are worth it MacroBusiness

Bitcoin Has a Sad

Japan watchdog tightens scrutiny of Mt Gox Financial Times

Mt. Gox collapse riles bitcoin users, spurs policy talk MarketWatch

Bitcoin virtual currency is on verge of collapse Los Angeles Times

The instability in central bank divergence Mohamed El-Erian, Financial Times

China chokes again MacroBusiness

China dismisses concern on renminbi fall Financial Times

The long decline of the Great British Pound Frances Coppola

Foreign banks could be banned from City Telegraph

A Few Ukraine Coup Links Moon of Alabama

Ukraine elite police ‘disbanded’ BBC

Pentagon to prepare for full Afghanistan withdrawal Guardian

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

“Tweet Roll”: Reactions to Glenn Greenwald’s article on “How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet” Just Security

America’s Secret Police Truthout

NSA Inspector General Speaks on Snowden for First Time, Says He Was ‘Manic in His Thievery’ Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake

Obamacare Launch

Obama: Four million have signed up for ObamaCare The Hill

Kathleen Sebelius Has Changed Her Mind About What Obamacare “Success” Is BuzzFeed

US ambassadors face more backlash Guardian

Man Fatally Shoots Himself in Head During Gun Safety Lesson Gawker. Darwin award honorary mention? Except he already had kids :-(

Republicans take on Wall Street Politico

The bank tax rises from the dead Felix Salmon

This is nuts. When’s the crash? FT Alphaville. Latest installment…

Moody’s warns on specialised mortgage servicers Financial Times

Investors backing off from housing market in Phoenix Angry Bear. Phoenix was allegedly the smart play among the PE crowd; Las Vegas was for dummies (unless you were super early).

Political connections in turbulent times VoxEU

Ya’ make your own luck, n’est-ce pas? Cathy O’Neil

Who Needs World War I? Pieria

Antidote du jour. Furzy mouse writes: “Sobe the iguana and Johann the cat were both rescued by a woman in Brooklyn , NY. Every day when the iguana is let out of her cage, she seeks out Johann for play time, along with a rabbit also kept as a pet.”


And a bonus from Scott! A video, so e-mail subscribers will need to visit the site.

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  1. McMike

    Is anyone surprised that bitcoin is going south?

    A solely electronic token, operated by shady characters who are anonymous and impossible to track, of great interest to money launderers and government spooks, completely unregulated, and entirely without recourse – and experiencing a massive value bubble Geepers, what could go wrong with that?

    1. TarheelDem

      Is anybody surprised that it’s the exchange interface with state currency that is the point of weakness? Doesn’t that prove that it is not the IT architecture of the alternative currency that its afficionados were seeking?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        After some googling, I find this interesting bit, that Bloomberg reported just a few months ago (Nov. 2013) that ‘US agencies to say Bitcoins offer legitimate benefits’, this from Businessinsider, Bernanke: bitcoin may hold long term promise.

        This is why I like old news and paleo-news.

        Put the newspaper in the wine-cellar, let it age a little bit and then consume the news later.

        Avoid fast news like you would fast food.

        I take balsamic vinegar, movies and books the same paleo-way.

        1. Chauncey Gardiner

          Good observation, Prime. Not being involved (fortunately), it is interesting to watch bitcoin losses being accorded such high visibility in the corporate financial media.

          I have read estimates that the cumulative cost of the bailouts following the 2008 financial collapse was roughly $23 trillion, which as far as I can tell excludes losses sustained by many victims at the individual level. in contrast, I read that bitcoin losses are presently estimated to potentially total a relatively modest $409 million, or 0.00002 of that amount.

          Regardless, loss of the Rule of Law is priceless, and I applaud efforts to prosecute fraud and theft and to combat money laundering. As you point out so very well, though, we will see where this road leads. Thanks.

        2. psychohistorian

          I like that paleo-news description and term, thanks.

          I just read another today along that line from Tucker Carlson of Fox….gawd I am glad I don’t own a TV…

          The quote from him:
          CARLSON: Well it’s pretty simple. I mean, if you want to have a gay wedding, fine, go ahead. If I don’t want to bake you a cake for your gay wedding, that’s okay too. Or should be. That’s called tolerance. But when you try and force me to bake a cake for your gay wedding and threaten me with prison if I don’t, that’s called fascism.

          So if there is a term that aptly describes our current social organization and you want to brainwash the public about it, use it to describe something totally different but with prejudicial hooks for the believers.

          What does Tucker get paid to spew this language devolution crap?

  2. kimyo

    yves/lambert – a number of climate scientists/writers have endorsed nuclear power – for example james hansen, george monbiot. michael mann dances a bit with the issue in a recent nyt editorial (“For example, should we go full-bore on nuclear power?”).

    is this position one you support as well?

    1. taunger

      just put “nuclear” in the site search engine and the answer becomes pretty clear. What’s your point?

  3. dcb

    the biggest laugh of the day. take a look at the snowden article:”Tweet Roll”: Reactions to Glenn Greenwald’s article on “How Covert Agents Infiltrate the

    see if you can figure out which are the governmet agents this:
    GCHQ’s guide to discrediting people & companies is probably the nastiest thing yet to emerge from Snowden’s leaks:

    or this:
    Is it just me, or is the latest snowden article actually a yawn: GCHQ either so much money or so ineffective they need a troll army?

    LOL; ya think that troll army makes posts to confuse how bad this is. :-)

    1. McMike

      I am watching this new journalism venture with great interest.

      I am sure Greenwald sees it as liberating, or maybe lucrative.

      But it involves a certain degree of risk; the new venture is already under heavy skepticism and attacks on its credibility, from insiders as well as outside. There’s a lot of people who want to see it fail.

      There is a risk that the story becomes about the upstart itself, overshadowing the actual news. They could waste a lot of energy trying to get people to focus on the story, and also lose the few allies they have in the mainstream media.

      This would play right into the PTB’s hands.

      I presume they have considered this risk.

    1. diptherio

      Indeed. I shot an elk in the Lamar Basin, just outside the Park’s boundries in ’94 or ’95. One didn’t need to be a range ecologist to see that the landscape in that area was severely over grazed. I normally get a twinge of guilt when I kill an animal, but not that time.

      I visited the Park again for the first time in years two summers ago and was amazed by the changes. The vegetation recovery was immediately obvious, but I didn’t realize how profound the changes were. It’s fun to read about complexity theory concepts in books, but it’s way cooler to see them in real life!

    2. heresy101

      While the story of the wolves may be true, the author lost all credibility when elk were called deer! At least, the bison weren’t called deer.

  4. Hugh

    Good post by Gosztola. The NSA’s Inspector General Ellard makes it clear why Snowden had to go outside “official channels.” Ellard is essentially a lapdog of the agency. This brings up the whole raison d’être of these offices. There are two or three kinds of inspector general offices. Some have their own staffs. Some are totally dependent on the agencies and departments they are tasked with overseeing. Their staffs, budgets, and heads all come from their agencies. In general, they identify strongly with their parent agencies. Also the scope of action a IG can take can be quite limited. The usual scenario is that at most a report is eventually written. The report pulls all its punches and even if it finds wrongdoing, it almost never finds anything actionable. On the rare occasions that a recommendation is passed along to the Justice Department for a criminal prosecution, it is almost always some mid to mid-low schlub. In this kind of environment, part Kafka, part Alice in Wonderland, and part Catch-22, Snowden would have been a damn fool to trust in the powers that be and their sockpuppets.

    1. cwaltz

      Jane’s comment on Drake is also on the mark.

      I do find it interesting that no one from the left is suggesting what Drake did in 2011, that any government entity that could misuse a billion dollars(and I wouldn’t be surprised if the NSA went with the more expensive and buggy system due to the good ol’ boy network) be dismantled. It isn’t like the right isn’t suggesting we need to save money. I bet taking apart the NSA would more than pay for unemployment extension, reinstating food stamps to previous levels and many other good things. They want cuts. This is what we give them. Heck, we’d probably even be able to peel off some libertarian leaning Republicans or expose them as hypocrites(win-win).

  5. bob

    “Foreign banks could be banned from City Telegraph”

    You’ve gotta be kidding me. As soon as america gives up its guns.

    The ultimate end to the LIBOR scandal was the city kicking out one american banker.

    It’s a great headline though. All those greedy non-anglos screwing up the perfectly honest work of money laundering. The few details in the piece suggest another, long practiced city tact-

    ” The rules come as the Government attempts to attract more foreign financial institutions, particularly those from China, to set up branches in London in an effort to cement the City’s position as Europe and the world’s trading hub.

    In October, while on a trade mission to China, Chancellor George Osborne signalled a softening in the rules for Chinese banks wanting to open branches in the UK as part of a plan to turn London into a trading centre for the renminbi. ”

    “Non-UK bank branches based in Britain now manage assets worth about £2.4 trillion, equivalent to 160pc of this country’s GDP”

    1. psychohistorian

      Nice exposure of the UK hypocrisy….follow the money.

      What happens when the asset management merry-go-round stops?

      Ring around the debts
      A pocket full of bets
      Derivatives, derivatives
      We all fall down

  6. Klassy

    Ahem. I’m sure the bloggers at MacroBusiness know more about economics and finance than me, but I will say instead of tech bubbles driving innovation and growth of productive sectors of the economy perhaps we could have an industrial policy? Is this option simply off the table?
    Also, yesterday the blogger there suggested more transparency on executive compensation as one necessary step to bringing down CEO pay. Didn’t we see a ramping up of executive pay after disclosure rules were effected? I am not saying that is the cause of outsize pay packages (although it might have played some role) but I do think it points to the shortcomings of the “transparency” fix. Transparency doesn’t change the power structure.

    1. McMike

      We are all about a lot of wasted effort, miss-allocated capital, and general sloshing around.

      I mean, we diverted $20 trillion or so of value to the banks, simply in order to get the benefit of them still not loaning money to small businesses.

      And we spent another $3 trillion making war on Iraq, for the marginal benefit of having it still be a failed state.

      So why wouldn’t we let massive speculative bubbles be our R&D strategy? Think of all the spin off benefits of the housing bubble: learned techniques for high speed high volume shoddy construction, and are now developing new methods for economies of scale in suburban slum-lording. That is net economic progress my friend.

      That’s how we roll.

      1. cwaltz

        Telling the banks what to do with the trillions we gave them would have been interfering with the almighty “free market.” (tongue firmly in cheek)

        You need a scorecard to keep track of when the markets should be allowed to be free and when its perfectly okay to interfere(intellectual property laws-good ,wage laws-bad bailouts for banks- good telling banks that they need to use that money to loan out to consumers-bad contracts for union workers- golden parachutes that guarantee the upper 1% money even when they destroy the value of a brand or devalue a company- sancrosanct, subsidization of start up of business- good requiring companies to pay for services they utilize via taxes- bad, etc, etc)

  7. Ulysses

    From the “Political connections” VoxEU piece in the links: “To be clear, our event study does not suggest that anything inappropriate or illegal took place. Powerful government officials are no different from the rest of us – they know and trust a limited number of people. It is therefore natural to tap private sector friends, associates, and acquaintances with relevant expertise when needed – including asking them for advice and hiring them into government positions.”

    OMFG!! If this isn’t the perfect crystallization of the required toadying attitude towards kleptocrats, that dominates academia today, I don’t know what is!!

    1. psychohistorian

      So its the canard of legal = appropriate

      Where have we heard that before? How about Pres Obama back when We started bailing out the banks in 2008……its all legal folks, nothing to see here, move along now….

  8. ohmyheck

    Beautiful video! The narrator talks about “deer”, but the images are all of elk. Just sayin’…

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Elk are of course just a type of deer. Although the ethereal sounds they make in the fall echoing across the hills are probably the last thing one would associate with deer.

    2. diptherio

      Pretty sure the fawn was a deer, but apart from that, correct. Elk and Bison are the major ungulates in Yellowstone. There are deer too, of course, but that’s not what people go to see, nor what were causing the overuse problems.

      Maybe it’s cause the guy’s a Brit (or Aussie or whatever…I can never tell ’em apart)?

      1. dearieme

        What Americans call an elk is a feeble wee creature compared to the mighty European elk. Those US elk look much like our Red Deer.

        1. diptherio

          Like Vatch says, your Elk=our Moose, and we’ve got those too. But let’s be honest, Africa has better mega-fauna than either Europe or the Americas.

            1. Vatch

              Well, unless we want to include plants. The Sequoia and Redwood trees are like something out of fantasy fiction.

  9. dearieme

    Monbiot has learnt that deer are destructive vermin, and spends an inordinate amount of time congratulating himself on the discovery. As one of those who has known this fact for decades, let me shout our slogan. “Eat Bambi.”

    P.S. in many parts of the UK you don’t need wolves: deer-fencing and some brisk culling would do the trick.

    1. Keenan

      Hear, hear!

      Western Pennsylvania is infested with them. Humans must become the predatory control if we are unwilling to re-establish wolves and mountain lions. Or perhaps we outsource the task to robotic predators: Swarms of quadcopter drones programmed to take out bambis in the night when they are prowling about the neighborhoods chewing up the habitat and defecating in the gardens.

      1. Vatch

        When culling overpopulated deer, I hope the hunters concentrate on the females, and not the bucks with impressive trophy-worthy antlers. If there are ten males and ten females in a group, there can be ten pregnancies. And if there’s only one male in a group, due to trophy hunting, plus the ten females, there can still be ten population increasing pregnancies. But if there are ten males and only five females, there can only be five pregnancies, etc.

          1. Vatch

            Only if they shoot all of them. One male and ten females still equals ten pregnancies — as if there were ten males. Deer ain’t monogamous.

  10. Jim Haygood

    Life in the constitution-free zone of NYC:

    The estranged wife of Raymond Felton, the New York Knicks starting point guard, provided the police with an unlicensed loaded gun that Raymondo-Felton said belonged to her husband. She told them it was being kept in their Upper West Side apartment. The couple was in the process of divorcing, a law enforcement official said.

    Felton faces charges of one count of criminal possession of a firearm and one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. The top charge carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

    Felton had purchased the gun legally while living in North Carolina, the police said, but it was unlicensed in New York.


    Breathtaking that what’s perfectly legal in North Carolina will get you seven years in New York, for a victimless status offense.

    Like its notorious stop-and-frisk law, New York’s anti-gun Sullivan law was designed to sweep minorities off the streets and pack them into prisons. As Felton’s case demonstrates, this it continues to do with remorseless efficiency, while the [white] elite get discretionary-issue pistol permits that exempt them from legal predation.

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Four million have signed up for Obamacare

    For those of you who are time challenged, I will summarize:

    Blah, blah, blah..approximately four million…blah, blah, blah…on top of three million who stayed on parents’ insurance (THAT’S 7 MILLION!!!)…blah, blah, blah…kids always wait until the last minute and there are five weeks left…blah, blah, blah….death spiral ridiculous….

    The end.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      PS. Forgot: Biden gets down with the folks by using the word “hell” as in “helluva”…blah, blah, blah.

  12. Benedict@Large

    Sobe the iguana was “rescued”? From what? I’d suggest that woman in Brooklyn study up on iguanas pretty quickly, else she come home one day to find half of Johann the cat missing. Iguanas do not play well. [They also like fingers, and don’t let go.]

    Iguanas are cold-blooded, and in cold weather, they simple go into a state of hibernation. In fact, here in Florida after a cold night, it’s not uncommon of find iguanas (some quite large) lying stiff on the ground, having fallen from the tree branches above as cold set in. They recover fine (and can do so suddenly, so beware!), but are prone to extremely hostile fits in captivity. This woman is lucky her cat is still alive.

    1. diptherio

      According to neurologist Helen Fisher, the centers of our brain that are activated when we are having feelings of tenderness and attachment are far down towards the back, right above the brain stem. Meaning that animals, even reptiles, have the same neural systems that we do for feeling attachment. Turns out, our most “human” emotions are ones that are likely widely shared in the animal kingdom. It’s not actually anthropomorphism to think that your dog or your iguana “loves” you: the “loving” part of the brain is one of the oldest and most fundamental parts of all animal brains.

      1. cwaltz

        The instinct to be predatory is pretty primal too. I really hope she closely supervises kitty/iguana bonding time. It’d be a pretty devastating lesson to find that Benedict is indeed right(and it wouldn’t surprise me because many reptiles can be aggressive.) The reality is that just like human behavior isn’t always predictable, neither is the behavior of the rest of the animal kingdom.

        1. diptherio

          I’m sure the owner keeps them both well fed. And it’s not like dogs never bite anyone and/or kill the occasional cat, so I still think your being speciesist…haven’t the iguanas been oppressed long enough??? ;)

          1. cwaltz

            Your assuming that I can’t appreciate an animal just because it’s aggressive. I can, and do. It’s been said before that *I *trend towards the aggressive myself.

            Although I haven’t bitten anyone in a long, long time. ;)

    2. JTFaraday

      Some creatures like to play with their food before they eat it.

      If that cat keeps up his very clever performance, he’ll have a long and happy life. :p

  13. Paxil for Status Anxiety

    On Mathbabe’s guest post: Can’t quite see this as indoctrination. The marketeers are trying to solve a very specific problem. The market segment Cadillac competes in has many choices, and compared to them the GM alternative is crap. USA USA USA doesn’t sell cars, now that people can increasingly distinguish their diffuse nation from their parasitic state.

    Cadillac’s niche is other-directed consumers of modest but adequate means. Bourdieu tells us that these consumers rely on cultural capital to level the field against superior economic capital. Buying a Cadillac would neutralize their prized cultural capital by making them look like a typical flag-flying patriotic moron. So the whole commercial was a setup to undermine commercial jingoism with a little cosmopolitan in-joke.

  14. Paul Niemi

    And the missing link is: “Edison lightbulbs replaced by . . . Halogen!” I went to the grocery store to get some bulbs. I knew the 100w bulbs were off the market as a matter of public policy, but I expected the replacements to be LED or compact florescent, made in a way to fit fixtures needing round bulbs and down in price. They were there, and much more expensive of course than the 40w and 60w Edison bulbs remaining. What I didn’t expect to see was round bulbs with a halogen light inside as the main replacements on the shelves for the missing 100w and 75w bulbs. I don’t think that was expected to happen, when the decision was made to phase out Edison bulbs to save energy. With the halogens, 93w gets you 100w light equivalent. And I really dislike halogen bulbs. They produce a narrow band of light, because of the mercury vapor perhaps, and burn actually hotter than the conventional bulbs they replace, at least in my experience. Also, the halogen bulbs I have used have been extremely fragile and burned out quickly in their applications. I doubt that has changed. So, we have an apparent, unintended consequence of a governmental action to regulate a consumer product. I was never going to save much energy by switching bulbs in the first place, because I mainly burn lights in the winter when the furnace is on and the extra heat from the standard bulbs is conserved in the house.

      1. bob

        From a health and safety perspective, that’s insane. There was a reason gas lights were replaced a LONG time ago inside houses and electric lights were a huge step up.

        Every one of them has a chimney, right? No? Well, then where does the exhaust go?

    1. diptherio

      What are you saying??? Don’t you know that in our Glorious Country all those who work hard are rewarded with swimming pools and caddies? To say otherwise is Blasphemy, and Darkest Sin. Why do you hate our Glorious County?!? Why do you hate our Freedom?!?

      Arbeit macht Frei!!! Arbeit macht Frei!!! Arbeit macht Frei!!!

    2. abynormal

      Leopold kicked around some of our mass graves…good for him but did you catch the first comment to his piece?…

      “How else would you market a Cadillac? This post strikes me as misplaced hatred. I only saw the commercial after reading your post. It’s ok. It is almost self-mocking. People who buy Cadillacs may like this ad. I don’t think we make our own luck, but some people do, so it could work. More Cadillacs are sold, and perhaps the unemployment would then go down.”

      …now that is disgust PeonInChief

    3. Jess

      Guess I’m a little slow this morning but I can’t figure out which link the comments on the Cadillac commercial refer to, Any help?


  15. dearieme

    “I don’t think we make our own luck, but some people do”: that just means that the cretins don’t know what “luck” means.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Man fatally shoots self…gun safety lesson…Darwinian award….


    Even more tragic – soldiers with guns, many fatally shot, even when equipped with the most superior, fit genes.


    Wars and police actions do not discriminate*. Darwin needs not apply for a job here. One doesn’t have to be a Darwinian award winner to be pushing daisies.

    This is way more wastefully appalling.

    *wealth inequality discriminates, as the rich no longer have to earn money by soldiering.

    1. optimader

      “Unfortunately for the man, and his girlfriend, the third gun was loaded. When the man pulled the trigger, it fired. He was pronounced dead at the scene. ”

      Clearly an unfortunate development for the man, I would say the court of public opinion is still out on whether it was unfortunate for the girlfriend Might have been her luckiest day going forward?
      I wonder it was Glock. They don’t have a conventional safety, not that one would necessarily have saved this Cretino.

  17. diptherio

    Re: Republicans Take on Wall Street

    To call this development a sea change would be like calling the Grand Canyon a ditch.

    To say that to call this development a sea change would be like calling the Grand Canyon a ditch, would be like calling a speed-bump a skyscraper. More telling quotes:

    Tax reform is extraordinarily unlikely to pass in 2014, but this provision has sparked a back-room Washington battle between Republicans and Wall Street in the middle of an election year.

    That’s right, it is an election year, isn’t it? Hmmm…I guess maybe it’s not so strange that on-the-ropes Republicans are making noises about populist reforms that are “unlikely to pass.”

    The immediate impact for Wall Street is limited, since this tax plan is certain to go nowhere fast.

    But on K Street, Wall Street and Capitol Hill, there’s a palpable concern that Camp has forever changed the relationship between Washington and big banks. In this new world, slapping new taxes on banks is fair game — even for Republicans, who have shunned tax increases for decades.

    Isn’t getting all worked up about fake problems kind of what Wall Street and Capitol Hill do? And given their respective histories of willfully ignoring actual problems and their well-known disregard for the wellbeing of anyone but themselves, why is it that we should be paying any attention at all to what they’re worried about? Kayfabe people, nothing to see here.

    I won’t believe there’s been a sea-change until I see some actual changes…know what I’m sayin’?

  18. John Mc

    The George Monbiot video is the single best thing I have viewed this year. Well out. It is a case study for how systemic change can occur. The wolves of yellowstone, a great metaphor for reintroducing smart regulation!!!!!

    Packs of regulators? I like it.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    “Last year, the problem for builders was that they were running out of homes to sell. “Their biggest problem now is not having enough people coming through the sales offices with good credit,” says Mr. Orr.”

    For any almost-billionaire, that little biggest-problem should not be difficult to zealously overcome in order to cross that much-lusted-after, glorious threshold.

    1. different clue

      But they skydump CO2 along with the visible smoke and that CO2 will keep right on retaining heat and passing it along to every heatsink the heat comes in contact with. And if an economic slowdown reduces the particulate skydumping, the skydumped CO2 will still be there. And evenly distributed all over the earth.

    1. psychohistorian

      But, BUT….she’s a woman!

      So after we get sold the first person of color pres/puppet and then the first woman pres/puppet, what comes next? Do we “evolve” to animal pres/puppets or maybe just get a puppet where we get to see the strings clearly but not those behind the curtain?

      1. cwaltz

        She’ll be transformational.(tongue firmly in cheek) Besides *uses best imitation of Democratic party faithful who sound remarkably like whiny ass Democratic Congressman* It’s toooooo hard to create alternatives to the party that mocks and ignores us. We MUST continue to choose between bad and worse over and over and over again until the Apocalypse anything less is unreasonable and unrealistic. Personally, sign me up for unreasonable and unrealistic. It’s better than embracing the suck one more time for old times sake(and I don’t even HATE Hillary like many who won’t vote for her. I just don’t trust that she has the moxie to be anything other than a status quo choice.)

        1. psychohistorian

          Hell with moxie. I would be happy with some serious inclination to be other than status quo.

          I know I am on some bad boy list because I refer to her as Hitlery. The 99% are the new Jews.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Well put, but my interest is in where the country is at, more than in Hillary (who I think is a done deal :-(). I think there is some feeling, occasionally expressed in these threads, that people are waking up. I agree, but only in ones, twos and threes. NC is a wonderful site, but it is too tempting to imagine that everyone visits.

  20. Synopticist

    On Snowden’s leaks, they…“damaged the intelligence community’s ability to keep our country safe,” has “put the lives of Americans at risk” and “helped terrorists whose aim is to kill us.”

    There was a time I would have been somewhat sympathetic to that argument, in fact it was only three years ago.

    But that was before we openly sided with a bunch of hardcore jihadis in Syria. Now it just doesn’t hold water. The western foreign policy elites don’t REALLY give a sh*t about terrorism, like I thought they did. It was just for temporary domestic consumption.

    1. cwaltz

      One man’s terrorist is another man’s Freedom fighter. The reality is that we’ve sided with people with questionable motives for a long, long time. We are full fledged supporters of terrorism when it’s in our own interest to topple governments that don’t kowtow to our interests. Our interference and the hubris that every government must first consider the needs of the American government even over their own interests, and not the ridiculous notion they hate our freedoms, is why we have so many problems on the international front.

  21. ScottA

    “MtGox=Service, Bitcoin=Protocol. If Gmail closed would email be dead? No because Gmail is a service & email is a protocol.” ~ Henry Young – TS-Associates London

    The LATimes article on Bitcoin (in today’s NC Links) is generally regarded to be most embarrassingly ridiculous piece of journalism this week on the subject – at least by people who actually understand how Bitcoin works – eg, the people on the Bitcoin subreddit, where a post mocking the LATimes article (see above link) is currently the number 2 story.

    Also, while the LATimes got it wrong in this case, The Guardian got it right:

    Does anyone involved with this blog really understand the implications of a global, public, write-only, decentralized asset ledger (ie, the Bitcoin blockchain)?

    Does anyone involved with this blog really understand the meaning of the word decentralized? Of the word trustless?

    Note: The word “trustless” means “there is no need to trust anybody” (because you can trust the algorithm/software, which is open-source). It has nothing to do with the (somewhat similar-looking) word “untrustworthy”!

    Don’t feel bad – even plenty of tech people with 10-20 years of experience don’t really understand the meaning of the word decentralized:

    But once you do finally grasp the meaning of the word decentralized, you’ll understand why Bitcoin is such a game-changer in economics.

    Some unknown tech person(s) wrote some software which 5 years ago started gradually releasing 2.1 quadrillion tokens into the wild called “satoshis” (where 100,000,000 satoshis = 1 “bitcoin” – ie, there will eventually be 21 million “bitcoins” = 2.1 quadrillion “satoshis”).

    Unlike precious metals or national currencies, these tokens cannot be counterfeited, naked-short-sold, or arbitrarily devalued.

    These tokens are used on a network implementing a global, public, write-only, decentralized asset ledger (ie, the Bitcoin blockchain) which (pseudonymously) records “who has which token(s)”.

    And here we are: one of the world’s top econ blogs still can’t (or refuses to?) grasp the staggering economic implications of this groundbreaking advance in economics.

    Readers come to NC to get real intelligence – not the mindless propaganda pushed in that embarrassing LATimes article.

    C’mon people, put on your econ thinking caps here now:

    – 2.1 quadrillion tokens – which cannot be counterfeited, naked-short-sold, or arbitrarily devalued

    – a global, public, write-only, decentralized asset ledger (the Bitcoin blockchain) which (pseudonymously) records who has which token(s)

    Gee… ya think this could help pull us out of this economic quagmire which is slowly destroying our civilization?

    Is this econ blog about “economics” in the broadest (hopeful) sense of the word – ie, also examining concepts that haven’t been put into practice yet (such as the groundbreaking ideas about Modern Monetary Theory from Michael Hudson et al.)? Or is this blog only about “economics” in the narrow (dismal) sense: examining only what has been put into practice thus far?

    With all due respect, you really can’t call yourselves “economists” in the fullest meaning of the word, if you continue to close your eyes to the implications of the most groundbreaking invention in the history of economics:

    – the release of 2.1 quadrillion tokens which cannot be counterfeited, naked-short-sold, or arbitrarily devalued

    – which are transacted on a global, public, write-only, decentralized asset ledger which (pseudonymously) records who has which token(s).

    I realize the math which implements the above two features can seem a bit daunting – as it involves stuff like the “Byzantine Generals Problem” and “ellliptic curve cryptography”. But it’s certainly a lot less daunting than the Black-Scholes formula and other “quant” arcana which many people here are somewhat versed in. (By analogy, you don’t need to know TCP/IP or HTML or JavaScript to use email or run a blog – so, in similar fashion, you only need to do a limited amount of due diligence to convince yourself that the Bitcoin “tokens” and “ledger” do indeed work as advertised.)

    And the things which Bitcoin implements are at least familiar concepts in economics; in fact, they’re about as basic as you can get: just tokens and a ledger. Far less exotic than the obfuscated “quant” crap which has almost taken down the world economy.

    So… why do so few people on NC “get” Bitcoin?

    I really, really recommend the more open-minded and optimistic types here to study up on these “tokens” and this “ledger”.

    The Bitcoin subreddit would be a great place to start.

  22. gordon

    Moon of Alabama: “No politician in Kiev who wants to be re-elected will dare to sign an IMF agreement that will send a generation of the Ukrainian people into deep poverty”.

    More to the point, any politician in Kiev who wants to be re-elected will move Heaven and Earth to organise visa-free travel and work within the EU for Ukrainians. As I read it, there will be a massive Westwards exodus of young Ukrainians as soon as somebody organises the relevant agreements with Brussels, either as part of a staged Ukrainian accession to the EU or in any other way. Trouble is, any EU politician who wants to be re-elected will think long and hard about being identified with any such thing. The pressure in Kiev will rise and rise in the face of EU reluctance to take unlimited numbers of Ukrainians. The pressure in Brussels will also rise as the geostrategists seek to get Ukrainians admitted (as part of a “weaken Russia” strategy), while nervous politicians drag their feet, knowing well how reluctant their electorates are to accommodate any more Eastern Europeans.

    1. psychohistorian

      I keep trying to figure out how this “can” will be kicked down the road, and can’t.

      2014 is proving to be an interesting one. Maybe its the year the can kicking stops or shifts into outright “war” on various levels and within various theaters….I hope the global leaders love their children….

      1. gordon

        I can’t think of a solution that doesn’t involve partition, leaving Western Ukraine with some kind of Kosovo-like de facto independence. But would Brussels recognise any such thing, especially any passport issued by it? And would a rump Eastern Ukraine continue to claim sovereignty, as Serbia continues to claim sovereignty over Kosovo?

  23. F. Beard

    re Children naturally awful Daily Mash:

    What will they discover next? Original Sin? Usury is bad? One should not oppress the poor?

    1. psychohistorian

      I skimmed the IMF paper and got turned off by some of the assumptions and correlation to growth. It seems another econ puff piece that externalizes the reality of kleptocracy while assuming that growth is the answer to all our problems. Maybe it is the IMF’s way of getting out in front of the coming mob and turning their march into a Growth parade…..lifting all boats….gag!!!!

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