Links 3/15/14: Ides of March

Lambert mistakenly though he was on today, so most of the links and some of the snark come from him, not me.

Literary Sensation: The Rise of a Danish Immigrant Poet Der Spiegel (FM)

Einstein and Pi Sean Caroll

Mathematical Patterns in Sea Ice Reveal Melt Dynamics Scientific American

How shockingly perfect the Bitcoin bubble was The Infront Blog

Mt. Gox kept exchange open despite knowledge of large-scale theft ComputerWorld

The Science of ‘Paying It Forward’ Times

What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong New York Times

Airpnp: The app that lets you rent out your restroom for $5 per visit Daily Mail. The sharing economy.

Google’s flawed flu tracker and the need to hold algorithms accountable Pando Daily

MH 370

Missing airliner flew on for 7 hours Washington Post

Missing Malaysian Jet Said Tracked to Ocean Off Australia Bloomberg

Like a lingering cloud of tear gas: how do you reconcile the two Brazils? Sports Illustrated

More Than 900 Workers Have Already Died Building Qatar’s World Cup Facilities Smithsonian

Renminbi deposits in Taiwan reach record RMB247bn Want China Times

For Illegal Immigrants Southeast Asian is the Means, Not the End Foreign Policy

Transatlantic trade talks hit German snag FT Financial Times


Merkel warns of massive damage as Russia masses forces Sydney Morning Herald (furzy mouse)

Crimean independence vote and Russian annexation: A primer Washington Post. Far from neutral.

Deadly clashes in east Ukraine ahead of Crimea vote BBC. This is the dangerous part, where violence can start feeding on itself.

Russian companies withdraw billions from west, say Moscow bankers Financial Times

Russia Wields $160 Billion Stick in Crimea Sanctions Standoff Bloomberg

Navy SEALs ‘took turns dumping HUNDREDS of bullets’ into Osama bin Laden’s dead body, a new report reveals Daily Mail. Included: The famous Situation Room photograph. One can only wonder if this is what they were watching.

The White House Has Been Covering Up the Presidency’s Role in Torture for Years The Intercept

The Torture Cover-Up Craig Murray

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Stanford Researchers Spot Medical Conditions, Guns, and More In Phone Metadata Slashdot (furzy mouse). So all men and elderly women should call an abortion clinic and healthy people should call a chronic disease center (hang up while on hold) just to mess them up.

New NSA Slides Reveal Tailored Access Run Amok Electronic Frontier Foundation

Zuckerberg phones Obama to complain about NSA spying Boing Boing

Why millennials have abandoned Obama Dana Milbank, WaPo. And why? Because — get this — Obama betrayed the public option magic sparkle zombie pony crowd. What this really means is that Milbank has some career “progressives” in his Rolodex and they gave him that answer. Yay!

Poor people’s health care Suburban Guerrilla

West Texas Gets 1,000-Foot Wall of Dust With Cold Front Claims Journal

Measles Outbreak Hits New York City I Fucking Love Science (JL)

When hedge funds lobby Felix Salmon, Reuters

FDIC sues banks over Libor manipulation Financial Times. Another cost-of-doing-business fine, no jail time. Yawners.

Housing Air Pocket?

Investors Pulling Back — What Happens to Housing Now? House of Debt (Scott)

Blackstone’s Home Buying Binge Ends as Prices Surge: Mortgages Blooomberg

The Cold, Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U. New York Times. Trailer parks as asset class. Not exactly new; you had subprime manufactured housing deals in the 1990s.

Wall Street Investors Take Aim at Farmland Mother Jones. Um, I heard about this “trend” in 2007 from a hedgie who was loading up.

Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Unexpectedly Falls on Outlook Bloomberg

People Think We’re in a Recession. Don’t Blame Them Josh Barro, New York Times

America’s Long and Productive History of Class Warfare HBR

Wall Street’s 2013 Bonuses Were More Than All Workers Earned Making the Federal Minimum Bill Moyers

Inside The Barista Class The Awl

My Life as a Retail Worker: Nasty, Brutish, and Poor Atlantic. Hey, stop whining. You could have one of those middle-class jobs in an Amazon warehouse.

A Relentless Widening of Disparity in Wealth Eduardo Porter, New York Times

How Finance Gutted Manufacturing Boston Review

Buddhist economics: oxymoron or idea whose time has come? UC Berkeley News Center

Antidote du jour (Richard Smith). A nice backstory here.


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  1. Skeptic

    “The Science of ‘Paying It Forward’” Or possibly to some, “The Science of ‘Promoting It Forward”

    It does seem odd that this story supposedly about spontaneous acts of generosity occurred at major chain restaurants. One involved 67 cars and the other 55 cars. I assume these were in drivethroughs. How is the Generosity Day information transferred from car to car? By bullhorn? Or by a shilling employee gushing generosity throught the order taking mike/speaker?

    The chain in Canada is noted for hyper marketing and its low wage workers. It would be generous to describe the coffee to be as good as dishwater.

    Without absolute evidence to the contrary, I conclude these publicity stunts were generated by corporate headquarters.

    See “shill marketing” at

    The swindle, of course, is getting all that free advertising and good will.

    1. Gareth

      ‘Paying it forward’ strikes me as a trivialization of compassion and I flinch whenever I hear the cliche, so, while during a radio interview of a candidate for the local school board, the man declared he was running for office so as to ‘pay it forward’ to the next generation, I knew immediately that I must vote for his opponent.

  2. bob

    Troops, Tanks, APC’s, Drones. and now LIONS!

    “LifeNews is showing a package about how 60 lions are forming “self-defense” unit to defend Crimea from Kiev radicals”

    In russian, but the video shows them marching with an APC.

    1. bob

      Attempted machine translation-

      Resident of the Crimea prepared lions fighting for the protection of the referendum
      Order in the Crimea during the preparations for the referendum will provide not only self-defense units, but … real fighting lions!

      60 feral cats [Lions?] live near Simferopol in the safari park “Taigan.” His head is already assured, if necessary, will be allowed to defend the peninsula on a par with people!

      In every joke there is a grain of truth , and the truth is that on March 16 Crimeans make their choice in the referendum – the director of the safari park Oleg Zubkov, who for some reason it all up calls B.

      – The plan is – Zubkov said , hugging while predator named Babe – that we have a fighting lions, we have armored reconnaissance and patrol vehicle , and we will defend the choice of Crimeans all available forces and means to us .

      At this point, the director of the park suitable lion three times larger than the Kid . Choice of name becomes clear.

      – It’s Lord – explains Zubkov . – He ‘s the boss . The main leader of all pride . They do not have the manual , but nothing to fear. To the Russians , they are , as their …

      It would seem , what’s the policy , but according to Zubkov , all lions are easily organized into five combat and accompanied with BRDM represent a formidable force for those who try to resist the entry of the Crimea to Russia

    1. McMike

      Funny thing, When I went to that article, Time stuck a pop-up in the middle of the screen that refused to go away for a solid fifteen seconds or so. I stuck around to read the article (because it mirrors a rant I wrote on the NC SEO article yesterday), but the only thing I left with was a conviction to stay the hell away from Time.

      The online ad business has been a remarkable example of a major con job that enriches the ad firms and impoverishes the rest of us, including the ad buyers. Between adverts and Google, they are in danger of rendering the web unusable, and for what? To enrich firms based on fraudulent click throughs and alienating people they are allegedly trying to influence. Seriously, I see these annoying pop ups and traps and think the LAST thing I am going to do is send money to these creeps.

      I don’t think advertisers are aware that they are alienating their targets. It’s like a fast food joint paying someone obnoxious and with bad breath to wear a sandwich board and chase people down the street smacking them in the face with a flyer. “Eat here jerko!” Then, at the end of the day, the guy dumps the flyers in a trash can and says he delivered them all. It’s like putting ads on the cars of subpena servers and child molesters.

      By the way, I reckon one reason people stay more time below the fold is they scroll down, then leave it up and move on with the page open.

  3. JohnL

    Thanks for “Buddhist Economics”.

    Here’s what may happen if we don’t embrace it:
    Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’? | Nafeez Ahmed

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thanks for the links. I will try to read them later.

        As for Buddhist economics, it’s a good place to start and furthermore, in the same fashion, I believe one can come up with a Christian economics, based on the positive teachings from that religion, and others similarly, like Zoroastrian economics, Hebrew economics, Hindu economics, Taoist economics, etc.

        I believe there is good in every culture/religion/nation and that each of us is capable of greatness, not just the ones people keep repeating.

      2. Vatch

        Thanks, Carla! I signed. One or two signatures don’t have much clout, but at least we’re doing our part to oppose the growth juggernaut.

  4. jo6pac

    Lambert mistakenly thought he was on today, so most of the links and some of the snark come from him, not me.

    I fixed here but can’t fix above and what’s wrong with him any way;)

    1. brian

      Lambert was mistranslated as a lion and is still working on the syntax of writing in another translation altogether. 11D

  5. sufferin' succotash

    From the Boston Review piece:
    Today California teachers need to protect their pensions by dismantling Ohio manufacturers.

    It’s so amusing to watch the swinish multitude fight over the table scraps, especially when you can set one group off against another (“greedy overpaid” teachers against “greedy overpaid” steelworkers) and turn the rest of the voters against both. Tee hee.

    [chuckles, swirls brandy in snifter.]

    1. Susan the other

      I don’t think it is funny at all since there is a middleman puppeteer calling the shots, otherwise known as Wall Street. Pitting retirees against labor and teachers against other local jobs. It is an artificial zero-sum game concocted to make a false point about “economics.” I think it is protiteering and propaganda – this extration is condoned as mere “profit taking” but it should be called profiteering. But the teachers and pension funds are not to blame. They were evolved in a system that was absurd and the architects of that system are to blame. Is Paul Craig Roberts wrong when he says that the unpatriotic demands of Wall Street destroyed supply side economics because they destroyed US manufacturers? Not really. He is basically correct. The thing I find interesting in the Boston Review article by Suzanne Berger is her use of the term “Industrial Ecosystem.” Great metaphor and useful. Because an efficient ecosystem breaks down every nutrient so that the tiniest niches are nourished. If “Industrial Ecosystems” can accomplish this (which they have not even come close to doing) it would be a viable argument. I wish Dean Baker’s response had also been posted.

      1. allcoppedout

        I was a cop in the 70s shifting to management and later HE teaching because of disability. I suffer intense boredom at times and will read almost anything. Hence I know there were many papers warning on what Berger reviews in 2014 on manufacturing in the 70s – indeed a decent economic or even business historian would have dozens of references pre-dating this. I remember a mid-80s novel called ‘Rascal Money’. We knew about these problems in the 70s and our industrialists were writing reports trying to influence government in the 1930s.

        The economics and ‘life-support’ of competitive diamonds and forces was known long before we sent manufacturing abroad and stiffed the working man and woman. What the “rubber-masked aliens” did from the 60s was destroy any hope of rational production whilst replacing ‘one person one vote’ with ‘one dollar one vote’. We know this story. Academics should be organising the resistance.

  6. diptherio

    Maybe it’s because she’s only been studying Buddhism for six years, but whatever the cause, Prof. Brown’s understanding of the historical Buddha’s (Siddharta Gautama) lifestyle is a little off:

    Brown assured her students that Buddhist economics wouldn’t require a vow of poverty. “Buddha tried to live in poverty for seven years,” but “it didn’t work,” she said.

    Uh…actually he tried extreme asceticism and wrote that off as a blind alley. Asceticism: as in bodily mortification, extended fasting, etc. After Buddha gave up that route (still a popular one on the Indian sub-continent, btw) and adopted the “middle-path,” he and his disciples still spent time every day begging for alms: even in ancient India, that was a sure sign of poverty.

    Here’s the thing: if you consume only that which you actually need, restrain yourself from activities that harm other life, and devote your life to easing the suffering of others, you will necessarily be considered poor. You will have given your excess wealth away to those poorer than you, your dwelling will be simple, your lifestyle spare. Not because you’re an ascetic, but because you have your priorities in line.

    Buddhism is appealing to Americans largely, I think, because it doesn’t seem to demand any material sacrifice on the practitioner’s part. Americans like Buddhism because they’ve (mis)interpreted its message to be it’s ok to have lots of stuff, just so long as you aren’t attached to it.

    I mean, hell, there is a Marriot heiress living not 50 miles from me that has gained the title “Lama Tsomo,” despite being a multi-billionaire (I’m looking at you, Pritzker). Supposedly, she’s trying to become a boddhisattva, whose mission on earth is to end the suffering of all sentient beings. Apparently, however, no one has hipped her to the fact that her 4.1 billion could ease a whole lot of suffering, if only she could find the strength to let it go. But no, she prefers to teach meditation classes since, you know, all suffering is psychological and you just need to be detached and whatnot. Convenient, that.

    Western Buddhism’s focus on personal non-attachment and psychological ‘growth’ all too often turns into a “blame the victim” mindset. What’s that? You’ve just been laid-off from your job and diagnosed with cancer? You don’t know where you’re next meal is coming from and you can’t afford to see a doctor? You should try meditation and detachment: nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so. Your suffering is all in your mind!…..Way easier than actually trying to improve their situation. Also it makes you feel superior, since you’re so much more wiser than those suffering sots.

    The problem, of course, isn’t with Buddhism, but rather with Americans like Brown who try to sugar-coat it for Western consumption. The deal with any religion is this: if you take it seriously as the most important thing in your life, you won’t worry about material possessions and you won’t need to take a vow of poverty. Prioritizing your spiritual development will make it easy to not notice, or care, if you become officially poor. As material wealth is not your goal, so too its absence is no defeat. But Buddhists like Brown think that you can have your cake and eat it too: the material wealth as well as the (mostly BS) non-attachment to it.

    The facts of the matter are that if you are not attached to wealth, wealth will not attach itself to you. If you prioritize your spiritual development, this will not cause you consternation.

  7. TomDority

    Wall Street Investors Take Aim at Farmland Mother Jones.

    This is how neo-classical economics work.

    Raise the cost of land and all the fruits of production on that land will cost more to produce…. prices at the supermarket go up. IE: Land is the passive component of production….something erased from economic text books for one hundred years. Its a squeeze play to extract economic rent from those who produce wealth. the farmers. ( classical economics). This same play is what brought the real-estate sector down and our economy into the the great ressesion.

    Legal Gambling
    The gloom is fading from the real estate situation. More nibbles during the last few weeks than the last three years. If January brings us good rains, this next year will open the door to the sunshine – a case of rain bringing the sun.
    It is to be hoped, however, that there will never be another boom. The crash of the boom of 1923 was due to the same causes that wrecked the wall street stock market. People sold what they did not own. They made a payment down in the hope of getting the property off their hands before it began to burn. Real estate fell into the hands of sharp-shooting gamblers who had no interest in land. To them it was just a pile of blue chips on a roulette wheel. -(Yes, you read that date correctly)

    We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
    They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
    Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred.”
    Election eve speech at Madison Square Garden (October 31, 1936)
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    Believe it or not, commodities markets are tiny; except for soy, oil, and corn they are smaller than tiny. Managed money is huge—tens of trillions of dollars floating around the world looking for high returns. US pension funds alone are three-fourths of US GDP–$10 trillion give or take. If you put even a fraction of managed money into commodities index funds, you blow up the prices.

    Laborers knowing that science and invention have increased enormously the power of labor, cannot understand why they do not receive more of the increased product, and accuse capital of withholding it. The employer, finding it increasingly difficult to make both ends meet, accuses labor of shirking. Thus suspicion is aroused, distrust follows, and soon both are angry and struggling for mastery.
    It is not the man who gives employment to labor that does harm. The mischief comes from the man who does not give employment. Every factory, every store, every building, every bit of wealth in any shape requires labor in its creation. The more wealth created the more labor employed, the higher wages and lower prices.
    But while some men employ labor and produce wealth, others speculate in lands and resources required for production, and without employing labor or producing wealth they secure a large part of the wealth others produce. What they get without producing, labor and capital produce without getting. That is why labor and capital quarrel. But the quarrel should not be between labor and capital, but between the non-producing speculator on the one hand and labor and capital on the other.
    Co-operation between employer and employee will lead to more friendly relations and a better understanding, and will hasten the day when they will see that their interests are mutual. As long as they stand apart and permit the non-producing, non-employing exploiter to make each think the other is his enemy, the speculator will prey upon both.
    Co-operating friends, when they fully realize the source of their troubles will find at hand a simple and effective cure: The removal of taxes from industry, and the taxing of privilege and monopoly. Remove the heavy burdens of government from those who employ labor and produce wealth, and lay them upon those who enrich themselves without employing labor or producing wealth.

  8. diptherio

    From My Life as a Retail Worker:

    “They’re hiring you away from here. I guess [you] don’t care about hard work or loyalty.”

    This is always how it works. You’re expected to be loyal to your employer, but they don’t feel any need to be loyal to you. If they need to sh*t-can your ass for any reason whatsoever, they won’t hesitate to kick you to the curb…it’s just business after all, nothing personal. But if an employee acts on the “just business” principle and pursues his/her own best interests, they will be accused of disloyalty.

    I’ve had a couple of managers, both women, who understood the system well enough that they were happy when their staff found better jobs. I guess it’s because they cared about their workers as human beings, and not as cogs in a machine that must keep running at all times, and at all costs.

    1. montanamaven

      Well put diptherio. I have clients who worry about being “loyal” when the job they had was being cut back and they had a better opportunity or even a more interesting opportunity. It’s really guilt. And Guilt is not the way to make healthy decisions. And people who try to make you feel guilty should be ignored. “Nothing personal” works both ways. And isn’t “bettering yourself” an old American adage?

      1. savedbyirony

        I’ve seen a take on this exploitation of “loyalty” and even simple, humane caring being used against employees in assisted living nursing homes. They can be so chronically understaffed, and the workers so poorly compensated and mistreated, but many of them truly care about the residents and literally work themselves sick trying to do their jobs well. There is something truly socially ill about having a business model where invariably those who do care and work so hard will never rise or be considered for administrative positions while those who look to cut to the bone (and early deaths of residents) will.

  9. Andrew Watts

    RE: New NSA Slides Reveal Tailored Access Run Amok

    You give a bunch of hackers a virtually unlimited budget and bad things are going to happen. That wasn’t the most disturbing aspect of the article. Since when does the NSA have a public relations department and a Twitter account? That’s just plain wrong!

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Measles Outbreak Hits New York City I Fucking Love Science (JL)

    Yikes!!!! Interesting “take” on a somewhat controversial issue. To wit:

    “This reckless anti-vax fear-mongering is absolutely responsible for this measles outbreak.” Whoa. No ambiguity there. Or “evidence.” Or “fucking” science.

    Oh, and the OUTBREAK? Nineteen people. That’s a one in the ten’s place and a 9 in the one’s place. In New York City. Well, to be fair, that’s MATH. not SCIENCE. Maybe she doesn’t “fucking” love math quite as much as she does science.

    But here’s a little science. “Roughly 1 in 3 people who get diagnosed with measles will suffer a complication, according to the CDC.” (Since she “fucking” loves science and all, I’ll take her word for this. I’m assuming she “fucking” looked it up.) Rounding up, (math again, albeit “benefit-of -the-doubt math,) that would be 7 people. That’s a seven in the one’s place and a zero in the ten’s place. Again, in New York City. (I’m thinking that more people are injured walking while texting in NYC, but that’s another blog post.)

    But she certainly blogs for a receptive audience, particularly commenter “Rahil”:

    Rahil • 13 hours ago
    There is no point of convincing these idiots! Force them and their kids to get vaccine. Not getting MMR vaccine is a crime for heaven’s sake! If they do not get vaccinated with MMR, then a punishment should be given by injecting MMR vaccine against their will. People in US should realize that they can enjoy their freedom as long as they don’t harm others. If their practice is harming others then that should be suspended! Simple!

    (I suppose it’s too much to hope that “Rahil” expressed that same sentiment on the NYPD website.)

    I’m looking forward to this brilliant blogger’s next post, which I hope will be about the “science” of fomenting hysteria and panic.

    I’m sure “Rahil” is looking forward to it as well.

    1. allcoppedout

      MMR was done to death in the UK years ago Katniss. The story more or less went from ‘hero scientist exposes dread problems with MMR (autism connection)’ to ‘quack scientist found working for single vaccine company trying to ramp up business’. The guy’s name was Wakefield. There was never a trace of science in any of the reporting and small sample abounded.

      Nodding donkey reasoning included women saying the risk was small but they weren’t risking their child and were going to let them get measles, to rich twits paying thousands so the kids could have 3 or 4 different injections in place of one – both ‘strategies’ actually putting their own kids at greater risk. The best of all were those refusing to do anything because of the scare. Years later there were adult outbreaks with numbers like 80 hospitalised and one dead in several places.

      I am a biologist and read some of the critical papers. There was nothing in them to have stopped me letting my kids have MMR or justify the press campaign. Interestingly, the press is generally pathetic with real whistle-blowers and the stories that need to be broken.

  11. JGordon

    Regarding living in a trailer park, a relatively wealthy friend of mine came by to visit my place the other day and he made the comment that he couldn’t believe so many people were playing basketball with each other out in the street. Also, one of my neighbors complemented him on his car while we were talking outside, and several others stopped by to ask me about the various plants I was growing, all of which he found to be somewhat disconcerting–enough so to comment on it. Then I thought about it, and realized that in his neighborhood probably none of his neighbors talk to each other like mine do. A couple of other data points: his neighbors often snitch to the city about the condition of their respective lawns, and I’ve only ever seen them outside (well aside from exercising–they like to exercise a lot–alone of course) for the moment it takes to travel from their vehicle to their house.

    I have to wonder how well equipped our respective communities will be at handling the impending societal and economic dysfunctions that inevitably occur when populations exceed the capacity of their environment to support them. Those of us who have learned to navigate being poor will undoubtedly be a valuable resource for others new to the whole thing–if the number of BMWs and Mercedes cropping up of late in my trailer park is anything to go by.

    1. evil is evil

      Keep in mind that the poor live near the railroad tracks. When the droughts and floods destroy the world food supply, the neatest front lawn in the world will not stop the poor from looting the food trains. They won’t starve because the rich say they must, An amazing number of peasants found food and survived during the black plagues in the 1300s when there were extreme food shortages. But ignore history. Keep that patch of lawn neat.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Consumer sentiment falls.

    The consumer comes in and out of coma and when he/she is conscious and can see the world for what it is today, that’s when the sentiment falls.

    Then the good doctor orders more sedatives, good-vibes sedatives to sooth the patient and the sentiment-scope shows improvement..

    1. optimader

      Agreed, good OpEd deserving some comment beyond the obvious that foreign policy has devolved to very primitive. Making a tortured sports analogy, if Shultz/papa Bush. were handball players, Kerry BHO are the grammar school girl’s kickball team

      So, who can read the baseball cap logo reflected in Putin’s sunglasses?

    2. Murky

      Lots to like about Matlock. He was a career foreign service officer, an expert on Soviet affairs, and quite competent in the Russian language. He EARNED his position as Russian ambassador 1987-1991. He has also published important historical works, such as Autopsy on an Empire (1995).

      American diplomacy used to be pretty good just a few years ago. George Shultz was broadly experienced in American goverment (served 4 Presidents!) and quite competent in his role as Secretary of State. Our current Secretary of State, John Kerry, lacks any equivalent depth of education or career preparation. Wealth and political connections got Kerry the job, not qualifications. Anybody think Kerry is competent to manage Russian-American relations?

      But American diplomacy is not all bad. Our most recent Ambassador to Russia (2011-2014), Michael McFaul, was pretty good. A professor of political science at Stanford University, McFaul has published extensively on Russian and Ukrainian politics. He supported opposition forces in Russia and tried as he could to promote democratic institutions. Even the Russian establishment liked him. Question is, why’d McFaul resign his ambassadorship this last February? Well, the Obama administration has been pushing the concept of a ‘reset’ in Russian-Amercian relations, and McFaul did all he could to make that a reality. But the fabric has now begun to tear, the reset is a failure, and Russian-American relations are going bad very quickly. McFaul knows when it’s time to get out, and he still has a good job at Stanford U.

      There’s another good article in today’s Washington Post worth reading by Masha Gessen. She’s written a book about Putin: The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. Her article provides a good narrative from which to track the current conflict in Ukraine.

  13. neo-realist

    Re Dana Milbank’s take on millenial disinchantment, he forgot to factor in anger and resentment against the Stasi monitoring of their communications by the NSA and the lousy economy–they love their iphones, androids and social networks and having it all intruded upon by a President who acts like he’s down with them had to leave them with a sense of being stabbed in the back. Also, the lack of out of the box thinking on the part of the administration with respect to the economy and settling for neocon trickle down republican policies, leaving many millenials underemployed and wallowing in college loan debt would make them think “meet the new boss”, different color, but the same boss underneath.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Also, too, the price of belonging to Obama’s internet “army” was, if you believe the hype, a $5 campaign contribution.

      The $200 monthly obligation to show your “patriotism” by “signing up” for Obamacare is something else again.

    2. Jess

      Good points. As for the “public option sparkle pony” argument, here’s how I saw the HCR issue:

      Most Dems saw it as an issue, something they could finesse in their usual “we suck less”/”we’re the adults in the room” manner. But for many people HCR was a DEFINING issue, something were compromise beyond a certain point — the public option — was just not acceptable. The PO may have been a diversion and a distant second to true single payer, but it also held out the promise of some form of national healthcare not completely controlled by the insurance companies. Although I knew that I would be Medicare eligible before Obamacare went into effect, I considered the PO vote as a line in the sand. As a lifelong but disenchanted Dem, I viewed the vote on that issue as my breaking point. So when loudmouth phonies like Alan Grayson betrayed their pledge not to vote for any bill that lacked a PO, I left all Dems forever. (The fact that the Senate ended up using reconciliation with only 51 votes required — and still failed to enact a PO or approve drug reimportation — was just more proof of what complete scumbags the ENTIRE Dem party is.)

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        1) The PO may have been a diversion and a distant second to true single payer

        2) but it [the Public Option] also held out the promise of some form of national healthcare not completely controlled by the insurance companies.

        3) Line in the sand.

        4) Every last Democrat jumped over it like their ass was afire

        5) Breaking point

        Very nice summary! When Obama gave the P.O. away as if nothing had happened, I started to realize how right Rahm was; what a head-in-the-sand fu*king retard I had been.

        Note, Dana Milbank is such a sorry, lowly establishment talking point mouthpiece that I’m surprised an article with his particular brand of slime is even included for derision. It takes an especially strong stomach to read or watch anything in which he is involved.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Milbank’s snarky shallow sycophantic last sentence paints an almost perfect self portrait: Asking them [the millennials] to pay money to join a health-care exchange, it seems, is too tall an order — even though the presidency they created depends on it.

        And the first comment or response to his sorry article is also absolutely perfect:

        Or maybe they thought Obama would close Guantanamo and not boast of being “good at killing people” on the secret drone list.

        Maybe they thought he would run the most transparent administration in history, not zealously protect agencies spying on the general public.

        Maybe they thought the hundreds of billions shipped to big donors as stimulus would actually reduce their generation’s level of unemployment.

        Maybe they thought Obamacare would not require people who live from paycheck to paycheck to cough up 5-10,000 buck deductibles before they see a dime of benefit from a policy.

        Maybe they thought the revolving door for lobbyists would be shut down and the cabinet would be picked from some pool other than Goldman Sachs.

        Maybe they thought the IRS, FEC, FCC, and DOJ should not become adjuncts of the Democratic National Committee.

        Maybe they thought mistakes would be admitted to rather than lied about, whether Obamacare or Benghazi.

        Maybe they’re better at learning from experience than Dana Milbank.

  14. savedbyirony

    These links didn’t exactly mesh with today’s NC post dealing with the site’s moderation of comments. (And i think this site is extremely well moderated and the high quality of comments which make it onto the board are a huge plus. Also, no other site do i know of where the authors are so open to communicating regularly with their readers, or seek out their input so much.) But as far as organized and/or wide-spred harmful commenting practices to be found on the internet, often used to shutdown discussions, these two articles came to mind:
    From sites that deal with general news topics, to religion, to sports, to women’s issues in particular, to sites run specifically by individually owned women’s businesses (especially if they are of a feminist bent) i repeatedly see internet harassing and trolling taking place.

    1. JTFaraday

      I can see the headlines already: Abuse of Presidential candidate HRC incites feminist “fourth wave.”

      Nothing works like abuse because, you know, abuse is where it’s at. If the anti-identity politics crowd are holding their heads in their hands now, just wait.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      We did link to the Pacific Standard article when it was released and featured it prominently, and I am just about sure we also linked to the Atlantic article.

      To the extent this site is targeted, it’s strictly for our content. But thanks for your concern.

  15. JGordon

    Ohhh just saw this while I was checking /.:

    Here NASA funded research ties economics to the real world of resource depletion and societal dysfunction, a point that most (pseudoscientist) economists are genetically incapable of grasping. Because by and large economists are ideologues who pretend to use math, not scientists.

    Time and again throughout history human societies reach a point of severe resource depletion, undergo intense income (resource) stratification (guess where we are in the process now), and then subsequently collapse. Usually horribly and in a very messy fashion. We’re no different.

    1. Hugh

      It is good to see some of the topics that we have been discussing here beginning to appear in the wider media. While some historical parallels are useful, the present case is qualitatively different in that it is a worldwide phenomenon with both permanent and long term effects on the planet itself.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      These warnings are beginning to feel a little dream like; like being on a sinking ship watching a play about a ship that is sinking because everyone including the captain was watching a play rather than taking any action to save the ship (in the play). After the play, the director of ship entertainment comes on stage and tells the audience that not only is the ship sinking for real, but by the time they reach the exit, it will be too late to launch the life rafts, never mind save the ship, oh-yes and he hopes they found the play edifying.

      The elite right now are criminally insane. They have taken forty plus years to build up an ideology of pointed self destructive ignorance in the US (principal offender) whose degree of almost religious zeal makes it totally impervious to fact or even to any common sense awareness of danger. The elite are dancing with snakes and breaking through that -in time- is probably already past us.

    1. ambrit

      I think you are thinking of Sid and Marty Kroft. “H.R. Puffenstuff, la la la.” “Hey Jimmy! Over here! It’s Witchiepoo!”
      It’s a real shame to think that Witchiepoos’ kids are now running the world. [Gets kind of depressed. Reaches for the rolling papers.]

      1. optimader

        “H.R. Puffenstuff, la la la….”
        I’d to see some cognitive brain imaging of where the cerebral archive storage is located that you dredged that up from !

  16. Kurt Sperry

    If there isn’t some sort of autonomous satellite pinging device unknown even to the pilots, mechanics and crew there ought to be. I’m not thinking a powered, wired in or even hard mounted device but something closer to this: Low power, totally self-contained, tiny, safely placeable in many possible locations on or in the plane. Hardware cost: <800USD. If the bad guys don't know it's there they not only can't turn it off, they can't know to jam the GPS frequencies so you'll even get near real time 3-D GPS positional data from which one can calculate heading, velocity etc. qualitatively obviously depending on how frequently you set it to ping.

    Even something really miniaturized like this wristwatch beacon with a slightly larger battery would be better than nothing:

  17. Propertius

    I have a little first-hand experience with the farmland bubble, as part-owner of a family corn-and-soybean operation in the Midwest. In the last few years, the paper value of that land has quadrupled (something that, again on paper, has supposedly made me “wealthy”).

    All that’s moot, of course – that land includes the houses where my grandfather, grandmother, and mother were all born. It’s adjacent to the cemetery where more than a few of my family members are buried.

    UBS doesn’t have enough money to buy that from me, and they never will.

    1. Jess

      Good for you. I feel the same way about the family farm in KY which has been in my family continuously since 1794.

  18. dearieme

    “Included: The famous Situation Room photograph. ” I’d guess that the photo is a fake. (i) Partly because the composition looks posed, not spontaneous, and (ii) Because Obama has been photoshopped in. Others too?

  19. Puppet show

    Re The famous Situation Room photograph.

    They weren’t watching the SEALS go berserk on a corpse. That stuff’s above their pay grade. Maybe they were watching cartoons.

    “President Obama did not know exactly what was going on. He did not decide that bin Laden should be shot. And he did not decide to dump his body in the ocean. The CIA and its Special Ops allies made all the decisions… What we’re looking at, folks, is the reality of democracy in America: A permanent entrenched covert establishment that marches to its own drummer or to drummers unknown. It’s exactly the kind of thing that never gets reported.”

    1. Lambert Strether

      Well, I’m not so sure. Personally, I’ve always felt there was a live feed directly from the Abu Ghraib torture rooms to the West Wing so Dick Cheney could watch. You know how he always liked his intelligence unfiltered. And so with the rest of ’em.

  20. Bruno Marr

    Jared Diamond covered much of this stuff in his book “Collapse: How Societies choose to succeed or fail” (2005). Professor Diamond is a jewel!

  21. Bruno Marr

    Two Brazils;

    This writer could better use his time by looking at the Two America’s.
    Soon enough the homeless encampments will rival the favelas.

  22. ScottA

    Re: “How shockingly perfect the Bitcoin bubble was”…

    Actually (in these first five years of its existence), there have been not just one, but actually two or three occasions when Bitcoin has experienced a “bubble” (or a “rally” followed by a “correction”).

    And, it is also worth noting that on each such occasion, the value of Bitcoin (expressed in USD, EUR etc.) was about 10x the value during the previous occasion.

    So, a more-accurate title for this article would be:

    “How shockingly perfect each (of the 2 or 3) Bitcoin coin bubbles seen thus far has been (with each one being about 10x higher than the previous one)”



    April Vs. December bubble chart #3

    Made a graph proportionally comparing the three great bubbles.
    It’s amazing how similar they look

    Bitcoin Charts, all data (5 years) – Log scale

    Bitcoin Charts, all data (5 years) – Absolute scale
    (Of course, the first of these three bubbles is kindof hard to see on this “absolute scale” graph, since Bitcoin’s “market cap” was like that of a “penny stock” at the time.)

    To reiterate:
    Bitcoin has, in its first five years, gone through not one but three episodes of a rally followed by a correction. And at each episode, the value of Bitcoin (in USD, EUR, etc.) has been about 10x the value during the previous episode.

    So a title like “the Bitcoin bubble was” is certainly misleading – as it sounds like an epitath.

    Rather, Bitcoin has been following the normal (highly volatile) process similar to any new asset class which has a small market cap, namely: a series of periodic spurts (rallies) followed by crashes (corrections) – with the long-term trend being decidedly bullish (running at a brisk average clip of about 4.9% compound growth per week, or an average of about 1200% growth per annum, if you run the raw numbers from bitcoincharts in Excel) – making Bitcoin’s annual growth far superior to that of any other major asset class, hands-down.


    It is of course perhaps understandable that the proprietors of this blog may have reasons for believing that bitcoin may fail. But, with all due respect, when this blog links to new articles which are inaccurate or incomplete, this probably hurts the credibility of this econ-blog more than it hurts the prospects for bitcoin.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Sounds like if the headline were revised to “latest bubble” from “bubble” everything would be fine. So let’s consider that done. I’m more interested that you regard bitcoin is an asset class (like baseball cards) thereby conceding bitcoin is not money.

      1. ScottA

        Thank you Lambert.

        I should probably clarify that I’m actually rather ambiguous on whether bitcoin is an “asset class” or “money” – thus my use of the term “asset class” above may have been rather “loose” or ill-defined.

        It may be that, for some people, the labels “asset class” versus “money” (or “currency”) are not even necessarily mutually exclusive – in a case such as this where certain people may posit that bitcoin is a “currency” (“money”) which, due simply to its sheer newness, is still undergoing price discovery vis-a-vis older currencies – hence its use by people also as an “asset class” currently exhibiting strong growth (and volatility).


        Now, if people are trying to classify bitcoin as “non-money” solely in order to be able to apply the shenanigans made available by certain interpretations of UCC Article 9, well, then I would say that that is a form of defeatist sophistry.

        Some of the arguments (posted at NC yesterday) claiming that UCC Article 9 could “kill” businesses’ use of bitcoin really seemed to amount to arguing that merely because an archaic, “double-jeopardy-style” law happens to be on the books, then we should really support the absurd notion of letting creditors seize both the flour bought by the the bakery, and the supposedly already alienated bitcoins the bakery gave to the supplier to buy the flour.

        One would expect that a progressive econ-blog, which has a tradition of railing against the unfairnesses in our financial systems, would point out the absurdity of applying UCC Article 9 this way – instead of claiming that this archaic, double-jeopardy-style law somehow should be kept on and used as a devious legalistic weapon to try to scare businesses away from using a cheaper and more-efficient payment system (or currency, or money, or asset class) such as bitcoin.

        NC rails against banks unduly foreclosing on homes. Why shouldn’t NC rail against banks unduly applying UCC Article 9?

        It has recently started to seem that you and Yves have been grasping at straws in your recent attempts to argue against bitcoin. That’s all fine and dandy – but it also would mean that we would have to revise our understanding of what this blog supports: it supports the ancien régime and its oppressive, nonsensical laws – not innovation and the organic development of new forms of money or currency.

        When I make use a high-falutin’ phrase such as “organic development of new forms of money or currency” I am referring to the sense expressed in videos such as this (audio only – Andreas Antonopoulos), which culminates in the notion that “currency creates sovereignty” (instead of the current dismal situation, where “sovereignty creates currency”).

        We already have seen how the rise of blogs turned publishing on its head: now “truth defines authority” (instead of the old situation, where “authority defined truth”). NC has been a premier example of this: a voice of reason which has become more authoritative (because more truthful) that many of the things published in NYT, WaPo, FT, etc.

        Many people belive that the same thing will now happen now with currencies – where something like bitcoin can become a currency, without being issued by the Fed, ECB, BofE, etc.

        Frankly it has been rather shocking to see how Yves and Lambert have appeared to be so antagonistic to bitcoin. Bitcoin should be right up your alley! Yes there will be hurdles – there have been hurdles with blogs too. But the parallels between blogs and bitcoin are there, and they are powerful. In the same way that blogs usurped much of the power of mainstream media, many people expect that bitcoin will likewise usurp much of the power of central banks.

        I would seriously be interested to find out if Lambert and Yves would embrace, or dismiss, the ideas contained in that video (audio) clip above – specifically: do you believe that “sovereignty creates currency” or that “currency creates sovereignty”?

        Just so we’re clear.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I have no reason to think a privately-run system will be any better than the current one. We’ve already have lost assets, pilfered assets, and that’s before you get to the large, inherent issue of huge volatility. And as Levitin points out, creating a large scale payment system on Bitcoin is fraught with operational issues and at scale is likely to be no cheaper than the current system. In fact, the ONLY reason our payment system works is that a central bank stands behind daily settlement.

          I view Bitcoin as a fantasy (in terms of solving our banking systems woes) that sucks energy out of leashing and collaring the incumbents.

  23. participant-observer-observed

    Fyi, I tried loading NC with https and couldn’t do it (In FF IceDragon)

    RE link above:

    EFF has the following recommendations for website operators who wish to protect their users from this kind of man-in-the-middle attack:

    1. Deploy HTTPS by default and set the HTTP Strict Transport Security Header to reduce the risk of a man-in-the-middle or man-on-the-side attack. Users can also download HTTPS Everywhere to force HTTPS connections on thousands of sites that don’t yet support it by default.
    2. Set the “secure” flag on all HTTP cookies to prevent them from being sent in plaintext, since we know that unique cookie strings are used as selectors for TURBINE. HTTPS Everywhere can also set this automatically on the user side if a server fails to do so.
    3. If possible, support Certificate Transparency for your SSL certificates so that man-in-the-middle attacks using fake certificates for your domain can be publicly logged. (Google has announced plans to enforce Certificate Transparency for all Extended Validation certificates sometime in the near future.)
    4. Prefer TLS/SSL ciphersuites that support Forward Secrecy so that compromised private keys cannot decrypt past communications.
    5. Deploy StartTLS for encryption on email servers.
    6. Use Public Key Pinning to ensure that users only accept SSL certificate chains that you’ve approved. In the absence of pinning, any Certificate Authority can issue a malicious certificate for your domain that will be trusted by browsers; in fact, we’ve seen circumstantial evidence of governments ordering CAs to do so. Unfortunately, the HTTP Public Key Pinning specification is young and has only been implemented in Chrome 18+ at this time, with Mozilla actively working on it for Firefox as well.

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