Links 2/3/14

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman Found Dead Wall Street Journal. I first saw him in Magnolia and always enjoyed his performances. Sad. Lurid details here, accolades from fellow actors here, and film clips here.

Stephen Hawking Thinks Black Holes Don’t Exist Smithsonian

A Mystery Illness Is Causing Starfish to Rip Themselves Into Pieces Gawker. Is there anything in Revelations about this? Or a horror movie I missed?

Get your opiates for free: Capitalism meets the zombie apocalypse John Hempton. You must read this.

Improved ultrasound imaging provides alternate way to visualize tumors UNC Health Care

NZ School Abandons Playground Rules, Fewer Injuries And Bullying Incidents Result Jonathan Turley

Pettis: Chinese banks are signaling more slowing MacroBusiness

Crazy Abenomics Orgy In Japan Is Ending Already – Pounding Hangover Next Wolf Richter. Japan wanted inflation, but is inflation on imported goods the kind of inflation it wanted?

Protesters Disrupt Thai Voting, Forcing Additional Elections New York Times

How Putin’s cronies seized control of Russia’s Facebook The Verge (Chuck L)

Ukraine: “West” Playing With Fire – Intentions? Moon of Alabama

Corruption across EU ‘breathtaking’ BBC

Germany preparing third financial rescue for Greece Guardian

Inside the derelict mansions of London’s ‘Billionaires Row’ – video Guardian

New Presbyterian Study Guide: Zionism Is a “false theology” Firedoglake

Hillary Clinton calls on Senate not to impose more sanctions on Iran Guardian

Press Used to Print Millions of Counterfeit US Banknotes Seized Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Reader bob asks if anyone in Canada has more detail to add. I want to know if the Mounties still ride horses (save at parades).

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Fraudster paid government to help promote fake bomb detectors Guardian (Richard Smith)

Self-powered cyborg cockroaches are coming engadget (Richard Smith)

Obamacare Launch can’t handle appeals of enrollment errors Washington Post

Method of Study Is Criticized in Group’s Health Policy Tests New York Times

Real Life Obamacare Small Business, Benefit-Shifting Example Michael Shedlock

Millions Are Now Realizing They’re Too Poor For Obamacare Huffington Post (Carol B)

Senate Democrats break from Obama

US trade deals remain on track, says Froman Financial Times

Obama’s trade agenda hangs on a thin Reid Edward Luce, Financial Times. Wellie, it looks like Luce has decided to carry water for the Administration. Notice no mention of the House, where there is big opposition among the Dems and rising among the Republicans. The positioning is that Reid is the only problem. Really misleading reporting.

Private-Equity Firms’ Fees Get a Closer Look Wall Street Journal. Anodyne headline when the subject is a probable industry-wide tax abuse.

Seventh Circuit Rules Prosecutor Can Be Sued For Abusive Investigation and Misconduct Jonathan Turley (Chuck L)

Christie fights back as ‘Bridgegate’ net widens Guardian

Chris Christie should resign if bombshell proves true: Editorial Star-Ledger

Drought monitoring Angry Bear. Wow, Western Oregon is in “severe drought”? West of the Cascades usually gets lots of rain. Lordie.

California drought: 17 communities could run out of water within 60 to 120 days, state says San Jose Mercury News

Now It’s Time to Talk About Chicago’s Tale of Two Cities American Prospect

Gender Diversity On Broadcast Sunday Shows Unchanged Over Last 5 Years Media Matters (Carol B)

Jim Armitage: Goldman Sachs, the cleverest of banks, was always going to find a way around Brussels’ efforts to put a limit on its lavish bonuses Independent. Bonuses are now “role based allowances”. My guess is they are being treated as expense accounts.

The Rise of ‘Insourcing’ Gives Internet Companies a New Way to Exploit Workers Next New Deal (Carol B). Not news but curiously underreported by the MSM.

The Middle Class Is Eroding. Just Ask the Business World. New York Times. Implies they are innocent bystanders.

Antidote du jour. Another animal friendship tale from furzy mouse: A five week old boar plays with Candy, the jack Russell terrier in Ehringhausen Germany.


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  1. Savanorola

    Holy moly, is that Jack Russell playing with a javelina (collared peccary)? It sure looks like a striped juvenile. . . .that’s kind of amazing.

    1. EmilianoZ

      Why are many young animals striped or spotted (like fawns)? Why do they lose their stripes or spots as they grow? Fawns lose their cuteness contemporaneously with their spots.

      1. J.

        The spots and stripes are disruptive coloration that break up the animal’s shape to make it harder for a predator to spot. It’s a type of camouflage.

        When a fawn is young, it hides and waits for its mother to return. When it has grown larger it can follow the mother and run away from threats, so it no longer needs as much camouflage.

        The link below has some nice pictures.

  2. owenfinn

    And it looks as though necessities won’t be excluded from PM Abe’s upcoming consumption tax hikes. Evil.

  3. rich

    talk about misrepresenting payments?

    P.E. Manager Hit With Fraud Lawsuit

    A private-equity manager has been charged with bilking his investors out of more than $9 million.

    According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Lawrence Penn paid out bogus fees from his New York-based Camelot Acquisitions Secondary Opportunity Management to a company controlled by a friend. That friend, Altura Ewers, would then move the money into companies and accounts controlled by Penn.

    Penn allegedly used the money to lure pension funds to invest with him.

    “Penn held himself out as an ultra-sophisticated and well-connected investor in the private equity world,” Andrew Calamari, head of the SEC’s New York office, said. “Behind the scenes, Penn disregarded his obligations to the fund’s investors and treated their assets as his own personal and professional slush fund.”

    The SEC has frozen Penn’s and Ewers’ assets, as well as those of Camelot and three related entities.

  4. Hugh

    I thought the black hole information problem was asked and answered years ago. I seem to remember that Hawking initially thought that the information was lost and later admitted he was wrong and that those who had held the information wasn’t irretrievably lost were right.

    My understanding is this. The event horizon is a sphere defined by the Schwarzschild radius. On one side of this sphere, we have the known universe where space-time is being folded at less than the speed of light. On the other side of it, it is being folded faster than the speed of light, hence the name black hole because light itself can not escape from it. This idea has been around a long time because Karl Schwarzschild the guy who came up with it was killed in the First World War. So you would think that the “information”, that is the information on the particles that have crossed the Schwarzhild limit is lost. But this isn’t quite right, because of quantum mechanics. In the quantum foam of space-time you constantly have virtual particles being formed. This doesn’t have any real effect on our corner of the universe. The particles are formed in pairs and annihilate each other shortly after they pop into creation. But if this happens at the event horizon of a black hole, the particles can come into existence on opposite sides of the boundary. The one within the Schwarzschild radius remains in the black hole while the one outside it can be ejected into the observable universe where we live. That is the black hole leaks particles and if it is leaking particles, then it is leaking information. Over incredibly long periods, this leakage results in the Schwarzschild radius going to zero and whatever residual material in the black hole should flood back into the universe as the black hole ceases to exist.

    1. craazyman

      Inside the hole is a spider, and the spider weaves space and time, and its thread is the light from stars, and the planets are caught in the webs it leaves behind. QED! haha

      Those physicists are sooo funny. A few years ago I predicted black holes are nothing but mathematical mythology. I see now Dr. Hawking agrees! sort of anyway.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When Time reverses itself, but before the universe starts to contract, what was inside will be outside and what was outside will be inside.

        The spider will find itself outside at that time, I believe.

        Moreover, the universe at that time will be what is inside its body and everything outside the body is the spider.

        And this goes for all other beings.

        That means, at that time, we will all be one, with pockets of the universe here and there.

        1. craazyman

          It’s amazing Einstein couldn’t figure this stuff out. :)

          And he didn’t even have to work for a living! What a loafer.

    2. MikeNY

      Great explication, Hugh. It seems to imply that net information leakage is possible when a black hole inhabits a relatively “empty neighborhood”, which provides less matter for absorption into the hole than is able to “bump up” against the Schwarzchild Radius from inside. Otherwise, it seems that the mass of the black hole would continue to grow, and there would be net information loss. Also, isn’t the quantum foam explanation an instance of the kind of illocality which is prohibited by relativistic physics i.e., instantaneous causality? I’d think a Planck wavelength would be as good as a mile.

      I’m way out of my depth here, I confess. But I find this stuff fascinating and I do try to grasp it as best I can with the misty fingers of my poetic mind….

  5. Juneau

    Opiates…..a blessing for acute severe pain (like post operative pain). How do we treat severe chronic pain? Most people can’t handle a stubbed toe…..let alone feeling like they have a hot poker in their back all day…..
    The rates of addiction in Australia for people over 12 (prescription drug abuse ) is in the neighborhood of 3-4 percent of the population ( . In the US overall there are 7 million people addiction to prescription meds according to the CDC website. Making the rates similar but still a somewhat apples and oranges comparison.

    The heroin fentanyl overdose risk is very well known, many people have died from it over the past several years. How sad for HSF that he decided to go that route. People like the pharmaceuticals (especially kids sadly) because they are regulated, therefore “safe”….easy to transport, no HIV risk, diversions from insurance covered refills means the cost to the dealers is quite low, etc…

    Heroin is making a big comeback because it is cheap (10 bucks for a shot vs 1 dollar per milligram cost of oxycontin meaning a 60mg oxy is 60 bucks or so on the street). It is making a comeback with kids. Here in Westchester County there have been 3 heroin overdose deaths in the past week alone (young adult).

    Not sure what my final point is here. No doubt the pharmaceutical industry profits from addictive meds and doctors have few FDA approved alternatives (look it up if you don’t believe me) other than anti-inflammatories like motrin. A public health disaster this….

    1. F. Beard

      I’m addicted to air, water, sleep and food in that order. So what?

      Until 1914 or so 10% of the American population was addicted to heroin or cocaine but still held down jobs and raised families. Addiction is thus a non-issue unless “do-gooder” busybodies make the cost of drugs so expensive that addicts must steal to get their fix.

      I know people think they are helping God by being “moral” prigs but they are really just giving Him a bad name and I doubt He appreciates that.

      Hint: Think you know what God wants? You really don’t unless you read His Book.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        One can spent more than 5 years reading something and still have barely scratched the surface in understanding it.

        That’s reason enough to give room to others who might disagree.

        Let’s hear what other traditions have to say.

  6. AbyNormal

    re, Free Opiates…ck out this comment (while i clean up my puke)

    “The advertisement clearly states that the free offer is only valid with a prescription. The prescribing doctor has a duty of care to ensure this is only prescribed to a patient already using another opioid pain medicine around-the-clock for their cancer pain. Net result, this is not an offer available to any druggie off the street. That’s not to say that it can’t be fraudulently obtained, but I think that is a different discussion to this one about the pricing.”

    HELLO…show me a doctor that doesn’t get a pharma kickback and i’ll show you a kid micheal jackson didn’t eye
    btw im just curious enough to see how this penny pis-ant killer zombie reacts

    “I´ll take care of it, Luke said. And because he said it instead of her, I knew it meant kill. That is what you have to do before you kill, I thought. You have to create an it, where none was before. You do that first, in your head, and then you make it real. So that´s how they do it, I thought. I seemed never to have known that before.”
    M. Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

    1. AbyNormal

      GALE opens with a 14% drop.
      “Opium makes you quick-witted – perhaps only because it calms the nerves and stills the emotions. Nothing, not even death, seems so important.”
      G.Greene, The Quiet American

    2. jrs

      Anyone can shop around for a doctor that will prescribe. The comments make me sick too. How naive are people’s views of the world? The thing is it’s not even a theoretical debate, pharma has already done this before with oxycodeine, the carnage is all around us (although even then I don’t know if they gave a free month).

      I have no issues with the cancer patients using it either, but pharma *profits* from trading in highly addictive drugs period, while plain old drug dealers go to jail.

    3. jrs

      They ask if people have seen someone dying in pain of cancer. No I have not. I have known people in their 20s dead from heroine ODs. Have they?

        1. jrs

          It’s pretty easy to rachet up over time. Vicodin addiction morphs to oxy addiction, heroine is a bit of a tangent as you have to be willing to inject, but if you’re already taking massive amounts of oxys experiementing with it is natural. Oxy addicts often find they prefer oxys though. Was there ever a legitimate presciption involved? Sometimes, but it can be start with someone else prescription for something like vicodin.

  7. F. Beard

    re Press Used to Print Millions of Counterfeit US Banknotes Seized:

    Actually, the banks are a worse form of counterfeiter since they lend, not spend, their “money” (bank credit) into existence – thus giving us the bust as well as the boom and charging us interest to boot!

  8. Vatch

    Fun pictures of the dogs and the baby boar! I think there are at least 2 dogs in the pictures; compare the facial markings in the second and fourth pictures, and you’ll see a difference.

  9. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Get your opiates for free…zombie apocalypse

    While I can appreciate Hempton’s sentiment, what’s with all the “new-age style woman,” “blissed out,” “hippy-alternative-lifestyle,” “Tim Leary” crap? I took the woman to be a cancer patient, bald under her hat from chemotherapy and happy to spend some pain-free time with her daughter. Heroin addiction has nothing to do with it.

    This, by the way, is the same kind of ridiculously prejudicial and flat-out WRONG argument made against medical marijuana which, by many accounts, is quite effective in a number of difficult medical situations. All these people want to do is get “high.” And it’s ADDICTIVE, too!!!!!

    Now if he wants to attack direct-to-consumer drug advertising, I’m with him 1000%. DTC drug advertising is legal in only two “developed” countries–The US, of course, and New Zealand. A persuasive case can be made for this advertising being responsible for the “addiction” of many Americans to prescription pharmaceuticals of ALL kinds.

    But he can do this without characterizing patients with a legitimate need for such medications as strung-out-on-drugs “hippies” just looking to get “blissful.” This characterization has the increasingly negative effect of all patients being regarded first as drug criminals, resulting in denial of treatment that they desperately and legitimately need.

    As for the “opiates” themselves, the 92% of the world’s supply produced in Afghanistan and protected by the American military have to generate profit for SOMEBODY.

    1. Klassy

      This has the whiff of a moral panic. I guess the wrong sorts of people are using opiates. Is this the only answer we can provide for any sort of social problem?– a crack down by law enforcement? If Australia’s addiction rate is lower, I assume that it has less to do with the efficacy of law enforcement, and more to do with the way their society is structured.

    2. Jill

      I agree with your nuanced and powerful argument. Patients in pain are often still unable to receive what they need to alleviate that pain.

      The cost strikes me as obscene.

    3. YankeeFrank

      I agree. He seems to be conflating drug company greed and peddling of dangerous drugs with the severely ill people who need relief. Its clear the photo is marketing to cancer patients. Its also clear that there is a puritanical streak in many westerners (especially Americans, Aussies and English) that is really quite nasty, and is only potentially dispelled once they experience a serious illness within their own families. The way he reads the ad says way more about him than it does anyone who may need intense pain relief. A friend of mine died from metastasized breast cancer two years ago. She fought and lived for 8 years after her diagnosis, most of the time using puritan-approved treatments. For the last 3-4 years she needed vicodin, then oxycontin and then, for the last 6 months of her life if she hadn’t had access to fentanyl she would’ve been constantly wracked with pain and agony. Instead she was able to sit at the kitchen table, eat, talk, laugh and spend time with friends and family up to the very end of her life.

      I’m no fan of big pharma, but really, can we do away with the notion that a free month’s prescription is some kind of pusher offering to get you hooked for free only to string you out and keep you coming back, causing you to steal and whore yourself for your medication. Its not easy to get a fentanyl prescription. Sure there are some people/doctors that abuse the system. But somehow I don’t think this fellow would demand we cut off unemployment insurance or food stamps because some people abuse the system. Or maybe he would, I don’t know. But somehow when it comes to a medication that can be used to “bliss out” or whatever, critical thinking goes out the window and nasty puritanical sentiment reigns. The first comment discusses the use of fentanyl in doctoring heroin, which apparently creates a poison that may have killed Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I see. So because a drug can be abused that means it has no legit use, or that the company that makes it is responsible for every way it is used.

      Yes, there is apparently a serious pain killer abuse problem, especially in the US. The main culprit in that abuse is oxycontin. However, its important, in any plan to reduce oxy abuse, that the people that really need it don’t get shafted and left in agony. That’s not an easy task, but its vital, and tarring a drug that has very legit and effective uses with the people that abuse it only serves to make it harder for legit users to get it. Black market access will not be affected by throwing prescribing doctors in prison. If we want to do something about the rampant drug abuse problem we need to attack the base problem, which is poverty, lack of jobs and opportunity, and the cruelty inherent in our economic system. What amazes me is that the wealthy don’t think that upwards of 80% of the populace living in poverty or near poverty affects their children. The west is in the throws of a serious spiritual and communitarian crisis. The emptiness and disconnect many are feeling directly translates into things like opiate abuse. This affects the rich as well as the poor. Kids feel everything, even when they don’t know the source or how to deal with it. They know their parents are mostly desperate or thieves and liars: either victims of the system or beneficiaries of a crooked and corrupt status quo. Thus a spiritual crisis is born, with no end in sight because our “leaders” are so blind in their greed and corruption they refuse to even perceive there is a problem.

      1. Klassy

        People that have intense, acute pain (such as late stage cancer patients) are not “blissing out” when using fentanyl (or dilaudid, or oxycontin). They are “functioning”.
        The ability to take it sublingually means that they can use this at home and receive relief almost as fast as if they have taken it intravenously without the need for IV access.
        And I agree that we have to address the cruelty inherent in our economic system– and what we value. I am not saying that this will magically cure all addiction problems. There is no way to do this, but it seems a hell of a lot more effective than what we’ve been doing and would have other happy effects.

    4. F. Beard

      All these people want to do is get “high.”

      And who’s business is that exactly?

      One thing I hate about Progressives (one of several) is they think they are more compassionate than the God they seek to surplant; they’re not:

      Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
      And wine to him whose life is bitter.
      Let him drink and forget his poverty
      And remember his trouble no more.

      Open your mouth for the mute,
      For the rights of all the unfortunate.
      Open your mouth, judge righteously,
      And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
      Proverbs 31:6-9

      Like Satan, they attempt to ape a God they don’t understand and make a mockery in the attempt.

      Hint: Eliminate the injustice in our society and people will have less need to self-medicate. And no, allowing black or female central bankers is not eliminating injustice; it just makes villainy equal opportunity.

      Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

        1. F. Beard

          Indeed. How did they since Progressives often used drugs themselves when younger but now seek to prove their “seriousness” by hypocritically persecuting drug users today? I refer to Bill Clinton and Obama as just two examples.

          1. McMike

            Oh c’mon. The war on drugs and puritan anti-substance moralizing is a distinctly conservative creation.

        2. F. Beard

          Via Klassy below:

          But in true progressive fashion, rather than wonder what it is about the suffocating state capitalist system that drives people to such fates, our betters in the FDA would rather plunge even more innocents into misery in the name of preventing a few of their victims from using chemicals to escape for a little while.

          We can tell it’s pleasure that is the problem, as some of the most dangerous drugs on the market are available freely over the counter even to small children. Tylenol, for instance, sends 80,000 people to the emergency room every year, but it does not make anyone high, so it does not draw the interest of our Puritan masters. from

          The irony is that the Puritans had Heaven to look forward to. Progressives? Nothing.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Progressivism is like religion in one sense – there is a book or an evolving collection of ideas, and while many progressives get it wrong reading it, one or two guys can come along and get it correctly, once in a while and other times, many would get it right while that one or two guys get it wrong.

            It is wrong to, then, just say one hates ‘this’ or ‘that’ (group).

            1. McMike

              Exactly. There is a legit concern behind this, including recreational abuse, addiction, black markets, accidental misuse, and liver damage from all types of uses.

              1. F. Beard

                You know what? No one* gets out of here with a live, much less healthy, liver or any other body part.

                Exception: Those who get Raptured.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  It’s good you believe that.

                  But you have to let others make their own journeys.

                  Some may arrive at the same location but late, but that is not reason to do to them what others DID NOT to you (that is, preaching you nonstop) while you were on your journey of discovery, for consistency sake (avoiding words like hypocrisy, Clinton, weed).

                  Some will come to different places and you have to make room for that as well.

        1. Katniss Everdeen


          It is actually a friend, a 70-year-old Viet Nam veteran, who has been completely and unceremoniously cut off from his supply of pain medication by the drug crusaders at the VA, who inspired my initial post.

          After being maintained on prescription pain medication for 35 YEARS, he has been reduced to grovelling and begging for relief from pain caused by shrapnel. The injury was sustained in 1968 in a truly terrifying incident, and the shrapnel remains in his body to this day.

          Having acknowledged his condition and treated him for three and a half decades, they have now officially accused him of “doctor shopping” and refused to prescribe the Oxycontin he has been taking for a decade.

          I do not overstate when I say that this is a witch hunt and the consequences will be tragic.

          1. Klassy

            That sucks. I’ve never had the need for strong painkillers. The closest I’ve come to needing them is when I had a bad toothache. Even the OTC ones were a godsend in that case so I am very thankful we have such things. If we need them we should have them.

          2. Fíréan

            Reminds me of the John Prine song
            Great Society Conflict Veteran’s Blues”
            (early named “Sam Stone”)

            Sam Stone came home,
            To his wife and family
            After serving in the conflict overseas.
            And the time that he served,
            Had shattered all his nerves,
            And left a little shrapnel in his knee.
            But the morphine eased the pain,
            And the grass grew round his brain,
            And gave him all the confidence he lacked,
            With a Purple Heart and a monkey on his back.

            There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes,
            ( abbreviate lyrics quoted to avoid copyright violation).

    5. Katniss Everdeen

      I can’t help but think that this relatively recent pharmaceutical zealotry is connected to the increasing recognition that “The War on Drugs” is a hypocritical fraud and a spectacular failure, and to the fast-growing movement to legalize marijuana.

      “The War on Drugs” is a tremendous economic and political engine–from the prison industry to militarized “law” enforcement. Public support must not be allowed to wane and the “moral clarity” with which the war was begun must be rejuvenated. America simply cannot be allowed to forget how socially “devastating” drugs, wherever they come from and whoever uses them, are.

      And so patients are now forced to grovel, beg and be judged for requesting treatment that only a few years ago was considered not only GOOD medicine but SUCCESSFUL medicine. Treatment for symptoms that, only a few years ago, were acknowledged as legitimately requiring medical intervention in the form of a prescription.

      There most certainly WILL NOT be fewer drugs prescribed. That would be economically unacceptable. The public shaming and vilification of those patients requesting prescriptions should be enough to revive the “moral imperative” of a “drug free” America and the endless war by which, one day far in the future, that elusive goal can be achieved.

      For the children.

      1. F. Beard

        For the children. Katniss Everdeen

        Only insofar that they too can be future healthy, well disciplined, pain-enduring slaves for the banking cartel.

        Actually, if there is no God (which is generally the Progressive position*) then “Eat, drink and be merry” is the logical response, not some pseudo-pious moralizing wrt what adults choose to ingest.

        *Actually, Progressives do believe that God exists – and that they are Him – despite the hell they have created by, say, enabling the banks to more aggressively counterfeit.

        1. AbyNormal

          “God kills (aggressive little devil’), and so shall we; indiscriminately … for no creatures under God are as we are, none so like Him as ourselves.”
          Rice, Interview with the vampire

          1. F. Beard

            Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Matthew 10:29 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            Y’all best get to understanding and thus loving your Creator and Judge while you can; the Bible is not a quick, easy read to be mastered at the last moment, if ever. I’ve been reading it for over 5 years and have barely scratched the surface in understanding it.

            I’ve never understood the fascination with vampires and zombies; I like health and beauty myself.

            1. Vatch

              Vampires and zombies are definitely creepy. I think a big part of the fascination is that they are revenants, that is, they return from the dead. I’ve even heard of religions based on that concept!

              1. F. Beard

                Except the truly resurrected will be more alive than ever!

                Ah, to be a smug, superior Progressive – until one dies without hope and perhaps little real prospect either – while the “butt” of the joke live endlessly in bliss with the joke long forgotten as well as the joker*.

                *Or perhaps not. One way to keep the Elect saved yet with true free will might be the object lesson of the damned suffering eternal death. But hey, Progressives need to be needed, no?

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Progressives have faults, just like everyone else.

                  Why do they deserve your special attention – it can’t be about fractal banking, because then many others should be on the wrath list?

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Is the problem specifically those ‘non believer’ progressives or all progressives?

      2. skorn

        Although I agree with holding big Pharma accountable for corrupting medicine in numerous, and often felonious ways. Targeting a drug approved for use ONLY in late stage cancer patients is misguided and borders on despicable. MDs will not be allowed to prescribe Abstral to a broad patient population, and insurance companies will simply not pay for off-label use, and state boards of medicine will intervene in the majority of states for prescribers writing questionable scripts. Better to focus the attack on Pharma against “me too” brands, and the sky high cost of newly branded medications offering little or no clinical benefit.

        The label indication below states the purpose of this drug clear as day…

        ABSTRAL (fentanyl) sublingual tablets are indicated for the management of breakthrough pain in cancer patients 18 years of age and older who are already receiving and who are tolerant to opioid therapy for their underlying persistent cancer pain.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You don’t understand Big Pharma basics.

          Doctors are free to prescribe a med for whatever use they see fit. It’s called “off label” use. But the drug manufacturer can’t market it for any of those other uses. For instance, some MDs prescribe anti-anxieity drugs like Valium as sleeping pills, or worse, as we read regularly, give antibiotics to people who have the flu. No biggie.

          1. Ativan4you

            What you are saying is true Yves with regards to off label uses. Usually this should be done judiciously with “well reasoned” pharmacological rationale. Such instances may include: oncologists using Avastin (Bevacizumab) for advanced breast cancer despite lack of data. With regards to the drug you are speaking of, Fentanyl sublingual, no pharmacists in their right mind would fill this prescription without verifying the veracity of the indication, and off label usages usually would be rejected. I certainly wouldn’t fill a fentanyl sublingual for “back pain”

            Unlike Oxycontin, Morphine ER, Percocet, etc, the hard hitting pain medications such as Astral, Fentora, etc. are drugs whose dosages usually far outstrip your usual pain medication dosages, and therefore most pharmacists would be extremely hesitant on filling these prescriptions. Due DEA enforcement and pharmacist fear for prosecution if an overdose happens, some would even outright refuse to fill the drugs even if there is a pain specialist ordering these medications.

            Rhetorically one must call into question why pharmacists fill medications for oxycodone 30mg 3 tabs orally 4 times daily without blinking an eyelash: sometimes you get used to seeing so many prescriptions for oxycontin and oxycodone so much that it numbs your senses. When you have to fill 300 to 400 scripts a day (and they track your daily fill times), it becomes more of a hassle to keep questioning this. This is a recurrent problem since everyone now gets pain meds. Ortho surgeries, neurosurgeries for lumbar fusions, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, sinus pain, headaches, etc somehow all get prescriptions for morphine/percocet/vicodin/oxycodone.Once you throw in Fentanyl though, which is usually attached with “cancer” and usually not familiar, pharmacists become a little hesitant on filling this.

            I believe that the most important thing that we medical professionals have forgotten is: you have to know your patients. I also believe patients have also forgotten something important: pills are not cure-all, and waiting for a prescription shouldn’t be so easy as to go grocery shopping while waiting for your medications to be filled. We medical professionals should be able to have the time to know you, talk to you, talk to you about your meds, your medical conditions, what medications you need/don’t need, and ultimately, then decide if these medications are right for you. This interaction should be 30+ minutes. Our society however has turned this interaction into something called “not value added service”. We now pay lip service to patient counseling, but ultimately we are not being paid for helping you, we are only being paid for shoving you pills

    6. Vatch

      While discussing puritanical approaches to pain management, we shouldn’t ignore Mother Teresa. She was notorious for denying her terminal patients adequate pain medications, since she seemed to believe that there was something sacred about pain. Here’s a review of the book that Christopher Hitchens wrote about Mother Teresa:

      Review of book by Christopher Hitchens

      From the book review:

      “I [Dr. Robin Fox] was disturbed to learn that the formulary includes no strong analgesics. Along with the neglect of diagnosis, the lack of good analgesia marks Mother Theresa’s approach as clearly separate from the hospice movement. I know which I prefer.”

      Another quote from the review:

      I [Carlos Laflauta, the reviewer] have years of experience working in hospice. Cancer pain can be unimaginable, and considerable intravenous morphine infusions are often scarcely enough to contain it. But if you have cancer in Mother Teresa’s home, you’ll get aspirin for your pain or maybe Advil if you’re lucky.

      1. F. Beard

        Sister T was not acting in accord with Scripture since: Give strong drink to him who is perishing, … Proverbs 31:6 Indeed, Jewish women would offer a pain-killing concoction to victims of crucifixion (which Jesus refused, btw) to obey the above.

        As a Bible believing ex-Catholic I warn Progressives not to confuse Catholicism with Christianity. The above is just one example of the difference.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              By not rejecting Advil, both Catholics and Protestants should find something in common, though confusing former’s religion for latter’s, on that shared basis, shouldn’t be a problem for anyone, progressive or not.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I know for sure there are others who read the book as you and I believe it’s reasonable to say that others, when disagreeing with you, do not confuse them with you either…because there is diversity under every label.

    7. Elliot

      He’s got a distinctly creepy moralizing tone out of touch with the reality of those dying in pain. Or maybe he doesn’t give a crap. For those who think fentanyl is just tossed around like gum from doctors, here’s this; my mother, when she was dying, was in so much pain she could barely breathe, let alone sit up or think straight. Fentanyl, in her case, a patch, allowed her enough ease to breath without crying, and to use her walker to get to the table, and to be able to talk and visit with me, and with friends who came to see her.
      BUT. The doctor that prescribed it made her sign a big legal-style contract stating that not only would she not “abuse” it, neither would she sell or give it away, and that he and his clinic would monitor her for such things. Effectively treating her as a criminal, and an idiot, instead of an 80 year old in the last months of her life.
      And he was a relatively nice man; but the medical profession seems to largely see pain as some kind of moral badge, a lesson sent to the weak and unworthy, to rise above (instead of be given relief from). To which I say, may they never have to see someone they love writhing in anguish waiting for the next dose of relief to be given.

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Real Life Small Business, Benefit Shifting Example

    We get it, Mish, and have for a long time now. But these endless anecdotes are getting tiresome.

    Tell me again why the French-style, Medicare for all, nationalized, single-payer “healthcare” system is a bandwagon that you refuse to get on.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    NZ school…playground rules.

    The playground is where serious learning takes place, and the class room (and the workplace, after you become an adult, of course) should be for fun and play.

  12. diptherio

    Re: Tale of Two Chicagos

    Here’s my brain baby for the morning: require children to register for school in a different district from the one they live in. Specifically, send middle-class and wealthier kids to schools in poor neighborhoods and bus kids from poor neighborhoods to the lake-front and other wealthier neighborhoods. In this way, the “global” Chicagoans will be forced to take an interest in the conditions of the rest of the city’s residents, since their kids will be affected by conditions they normally avoid, and maybe a little empathy will spring up in their hearts when they realize, through exposure, that their children and these other children are equally endearing and equally worthy of support and protection.

    Would probably never happen, of course; but a boy can dream, can’t he?

    1. McMike

      Desegregation (aka busing) has been tried. Are you being ironic?

      I think kids should go to school near their homes. That’s their community. They’re kids, let them develop friendships and connections in their communities. Spending an hour each morning and afternoon on a bus seems a little draconian.

      The problems with schools are a reflection with the problems with communities, and should be addressed at that level.

      Maybe they should try busing the rich parents, who seem to have empathy problems for the poor and middle class on many levels.

      1. diptherio

        Not ironic, just naive, maybe. They tried bussing rich kids to the “wrong” side of the tracks? I didn’t know. I thought it just worked in the other direction, bussing poor kids to wealthier neighborhoods. I don’t know, I figure all the rich kids go to private schools anyway.

        How do you convince the callous to care about other people? One of life’s eternal questions, no doubt.

        1. F. Beard

          Punish the kids, huh? Just because their parents aren’t poor? And notice that only middle class kids are punished since the rich can escape your scheme. Any wonder why Progressives are hated?

          How about this instead? Let’s have a just, free society including restitution for previous looting including land reform and the equal redistribution of the common stock of all large corporations PLUS a Guaranteed Living Income and let the parents decide what, when, where and how their children are educated since that decision would then be far less important than currently?

          Or not. Justice is coming with or without Progressives (except perhaps as ashes beneath the feet of the non-arrogant non-evil doers. See Malachi 4).

          1. diptherio

            It’s the same basic principle behind making senators enlist their kids in the military.

            Justice is coming…what, like 3,000 years and counting on that one? Not holding my breath…

            1. F. Beard

              Justice is coming for you when you die – unless you’ve opted for mercy instead before then. I suggest you learn how.

              1. OIFVet

                So what did Blankfein et al say/do when you told them that? I am always interested in your biblical quotations, particularly since many of them seem rather socialist to me. Yet how do you explain the alliance of the religious right with the corporate “elite?” Will justice find these supposed Christians?

                1. Synopticist

                  The Christian fundamentalist alliance with the very rich is a US specific phenomenon. It doesn’t exist elsewhere, and it probably stems from the history of US religious movements that preached a version of the “gospel of prosperity” which goes way back into the late 19th century.

                  These encouraged the idea that the rich were the most godly and the poor were poor because of their sins. It’s a disgusting heresy frankly, but the are you are.

        2. McMike

          Wealth should be taxed at 90%.

          However, if a person spends two weeks each year working a minimum wage job, transported only by bus, and then gets by one month per year on a budget of only food stamps and $300, then their tax rate is lowered to 50%.

      2. BondsOfSteel

        Hmm. Busing as you mentioned was for racial desegregation.. not economic reasons. I’m not sure it wasn’t a success. Our society is a lot more desegregated than before busing.

        I was actually one of those kids that was bused a hour into the city… I’m not sure it was time wasted. (I did a lot of reading on the bus.)

        1. McMike

          Desegregation was a radical, draconian, logistical approach to alleviate the symptom of a larger problem. I’d have to see some data to conclude that it “worked”, except in the most basic literal sense.

          I am glad that you made use of that time. I would be one of those parents that would move rather than have my kids in school way across the city.

        2. Kurt Sperry

          I was bused into a hugely African-American school where I had to learn to deal with being a racial minority and in retrospect it was one of the great learning and growing experiences of my life. It was probably helped by the fact that the school was in Berkeley and the teachers were actually very good. Parents who resist sending their children into a situation like that are cheating their children. The ghetto (if they must exist at all) is a near-ideal learning environment for privileged white kids. Some critical learning cannot be accomplished within a zone of comfortable familiarity.

    2. OIFVet

      Big part of the problem is that education are financed primarily through property taxes. Therefore richer neighborhoods will always allocate more resources to education. McMike also makes a good point that large part of the problem is a community problem, especially if he has poverty in mind. Poverty at home and in the community correlates closely with academic achievement or the lack thereof. Its the failure to acknowledge its role that dooms the educational “reformers” with their testing and charterization prescriptions to failure. On a side note, Rahm, like Obama before him, sends his kids to the same private school I was privileged to graduate from. And which happens to be Arne Duncan’s alma mater as well. We were never subjects to incessant standard testing yet we do very well academically, thank you very much. Here is what the director of this fine private school has to say on the subject: “Measuring outcomes through standardized testing and referring to those results as the evidence of learning and the bottom line is, in my opinion, misguided and, unfortunately, continues to be advocated under a new name and supported by the current [Obama] administration.” Interesting. On the value of well rounded education: “Physical education, world languages, libraries and the arts are not frills. They are an essential piece of a well-rounded education”. These are the very subjects and facilities that have faced the largest cuts under Rahm’s “reforms”. I doubt that the object of “reform” is actual reform, to me the object is to divert public money into private pockets, and to make sure the public-private education produces ignorance and compliance (ignorance is strength after all).
      The quotes are from

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Self powered cyborg roaches – can the same technology be applied to drone-flies on my wall? This little brother* of the NSA would like to.

    * We must be nice to each other because we are all brothers. OK, big brother?

    1. Sean

      I have never seen the mounties on a horse except on parade. The RCMP web site said that mounted units are no longer used operationally. Some municipalities like Toronto still maintain mounted units. I don’t know if any of the provincial police still maintain them.

  14. Expat

    Oppose the Keystone pipeline? Tell the State Department:
    “On January 31, 2014, the Department of State released the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline project. It and additional documents are available on the State Department’s website: A 30-day public comment period will begin with the publication of a Federal Register notice on February 5, 2014 and will close on March 7, 2014. During this period, the public and interested parties are encouraged to submit comments on the national interest to Comments are not private and will be made public.”

    1. CRLaRue

      Is the oil/gas to be sold in the USA? I’ve heard other wise!
      If so why should I support the pipe line?

  15. Hugh

    Addiction is the ongoing use of a drug after the medical reason for its use is gone. A terminal cancer patient, for instance, is not an addict no matter how long or high the dosage of pain medication they are on as long as that medication is being used to treat their pain. A more common route to iatrogenic (physician initiated) addiction is for a patient to be treated for an extended period of time with pain killers following an operation. The initial treatment is not addiction because it is to address the medical issue of the patient’s post-operative pain. It becomes addiction when pain no longer is the issue. Any patient who receives psychoactive drugs beyond a few days should get counseling about them and the dangers of getting off them and their removal or taper should be monitored. In our for-profit medical world, this doesn’t happen. It’s much easier to write the prescriptions, dump the responsibility on to the patient, and only deal with addiction issues as they occur. That is treat but do not prevent.

    1. F. Beard

      And just what problem is addiction per se? I’m addicted to air, water, sleep and food but I generally have no problem acquiring those since busybodies have not yet succeeded in rationing those as they have with painkillers.

      Fix the injustice but meanwhile allow adults to cope with the injustice as best they can.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They find it often enough in elite universities.

        You give a class a book to read, and on average, people get about 60% or so right. The good students might get 80% or 90% right. This normal distribution pattern happens year after year, generation after generation. Very rarely do you get a student who gets 100% right.

        And that’ s the risk with an infallible author and a fallible reader. The result could be quite unpleasant, unless the reader keeps it between him/herself and that infallible author.

        Not, Hugh, imperfect like all of us, wrote about addiction to a drug, not water or air.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Hugh, you seem to have forgotten that doctors can prescribe ANY medication for “off label” uses. This drug most assuredly won’t be limited to Stage IV cancer patients.

      1. Hugh

        There are malpractice limits on what and how much physicians can write prescriptions on off label. My point though was that physicians, even when they are prescribing for on label uses, engage in poor follow up, monitoring, and counseling.

  16. MikeNY

    So the market’s down like 5% from all time highs, and the clowns over at CNBC already put up an 8-box (with, of course, official Punchinellos Santelli and Liesman), discussing just how much pain Yellen can take before she puts the taper “on hold”. Liesman was trying desperately to make the case that, to save its credibility, the decision would be “data-driven”. Yeah, as in: at what % down does Janet soil her skirt.

    “Free markets”. Oh, my sides!

    1. JTFaraday

      You know, I could be wrong, but I can’t help thinking preemptively disciplining Janet is part of what’s going on here. Especially when you consider that the beginning of this seems to have roughly correlated with… Davos.

      Not that the Dow at 16,500whatever, and up about a 1,000-1,500 points over just the past few months didn’t seem completely outrageous to me to begin with. For what?

  17. XO

    I’m the survivor of one of the worst cancers you can get. I’m also, and, to me, more importantly, a survivor of chemotherapy.
    So far, I’m a 1-in-4 million case.
    I’ll spare you the details.

    That said, opiates are a godsend. Not only for pain, but for dealing with the psychological demon of death having one foot over the threshold.

    I recently heard from a British Oncologist, who is of the opinion that Americans are barbaric in their refusal to allow the prescription of heroin for lat-stage cancer patients.

    I absolutely agree with him.

    Strong opiates are essential in managing intractable/intense pain, as well as for their palliative psychological effects.

    1. Ativan4you

      Your concern for late stage CA patients are absolutely true. I strongly agree with an emphasis on palliative care medicine. I strongly disagree upon the idea of using extremely addicting substances for this purposes, such as Heroin. I have seen too many patients who have blood stream infections who die because of Heroin, and the damage it has done to families. I would rather have Methadone be used (cheap, extremely long half life, and potent).

  18. XO

    BTW: Withdrawal sucks, big time, but I was helped by Kratom — a non opiate herb (coffee relative, administered as a tea), that binds to opiate receptors.

    1. AbyNormal

      would you settle for a tight Hug and a humble Thank You

      “As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.”

  19. JohnB

    There’s a very good physics blog here, from Prof. Matt Strassler, explaining how Hawking’s statements have been misrepresented, and that he didn’t literally say black holes don’t exist:

    He has an excellent follow up on that post as well, going further into detail, and explaining how what Hawking has put forward does not yet meet the standard of a credible theory – and he plans more in the coming days giving readers an introduction to the general problem Hawking is talking about:

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