Links 3/16/14

EXCLUSIVE: Siberian scientists announce they now have a ‘high chance’ to clone the woolly mammoth Siberian Times (FM)

Dog Doesn’t Consider Itself Part Of Family The Onion

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

New York ousts London as top financial centre FT. Race to the bottom.

On the Wrong Side of Globalization Joseph Stiglitz, Times

The “Paid-What-You’re-Worth” Myth Robert Reich

Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science Times

I Was Sooooooo Wrong Cassandra Does Tokyo

Chesapeake Energy’s $5 Billion Shuffle State Impact


Ukraine’s threat from within LA Times

Russia’s Special Ops Invasion of Ukraine Has Begun Daily Beast. “US officials” finger Spetsnaz.

Crimea votes, as Russian troops reported in Ukraine area outside of Crimea CNN

Is Losing Crimea a Loss? Foreign Affairs

Crimea as consolation prize: Russia faces some big costs over Ukrainian region WaPo

Parallels to 1914? What History Teaches Us About the Ukraine Crisis Der Spiegel

The Greek crisis we don’t see Macropolis

Tens of Thousands in Turkey Protest Tyranny of the Majority Informed Comment. Same argument as the PRDC in Thailand.

Flight MH370: What we know – and what’s still speculation Guardian

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 search expands amid focus on criminal act WaPo

Malaysia Airline MH370: 9/11-style terror allegations resurface in case of lost plane Telegraph

Big Brother Is Watching Watch

If GCHQ wants to improve national security it must fix our technology Cory Doctorow, Guardian. Security as an exercise in public health.

Julia Angwin’s Dragnet Nation mathbabe

Compare the NSA’s Facebook Malware Denial to its Own Secret Documents The Intercept

Peak Facebook Boing Boing

The U.S. government will set the DNS root free Internet Governance Project

Internet transition triggers GOP backlash Politico

Public Health students protest faculty dismissals, funding issues Columbia Spectator (Timotheus)


Gallup: The Number of Those Uninsured Is Falling––Why All of the Amazement? Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review

Millions May Avoid Obamacare Penalty as Deadline Looms Bloomberg

California Marketplace Still Lags in Signing Up Latinos and Young Adults Kaiser Health News. Constituencies that the Insurance-Salesman-in-Chief was supposed to convert into market segments.

Democrats seek ways to limit Obamacare fallout after Florida defeat Reuters

The Democratic Party’s Foolish Koch Obsession The Atlantic

Quebec’s fantasy is Canada’s nightmare Globe and Mail (or not).

Employment Along the Canada-U.S. Border Macromania

The Zombification of the West Truthout. The dead walk — as neo-liberals!

Why do we listen to our favourite music over and over again? Because repeated sounds work magic in our brains Aeon

5 Compelling Reasons Never to Retire Daily Finance

John Lennon as writer and artist FT

Why Google Glass Is So Bad and Hated and Will Never Work ValleyWag

Antidote du jour. The elephant on the left is blind, the elephant on the right guides her round the park:


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. diptherio

    Re: 5 Compelling Reasons Never to Retire

    Here’s a few more:

    #6. Homelessness not as cool as it looks.

    #7. You’ve seen all those fresh college grads out looking to enter the workforce and start
    their careers? F— ’em! The longer you stay in your job, the fewer jobs there will be for the whippersnappers, which will mean more unemployed young people who you can complain about being lazy and shiftless.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      #4 – you are going to be bored.

      That’s why we need a ‘Retired People Saving The Republic’ Corps.

      Go ahead, retire, have plenty of free time and save the country at the same time.

      How can one be bored?

    2. craazyman

      And reason #1 Never to Retire . . . drum roll please . . . .

      Think of all the new people you’ll meet as a Walmart Greeter!

      yeah Dip, I’ll be out of town until the 30th but hope I can connect with you. I gotta warn you though. I’m a white man — I know you hate white men (but I’m a progressively leaning white man who think Wall Street is in need of higher taxes). I wear a suit and tie. I part my hair on the side. I work in the investment business. I’m trying to get rich quick by getting lucky. If I do, I plan to lay around and do nothing. I don’t care. The world can die, by itself. it will anyway.

      ho ho ho.

      But I’ll pick up your tab. I will. Money talks and bullshit walks.

      1. diptherio

        Not to worry, I’m not a self-hating whitey. And I try not to judge by attire, although I admit to being a little uncomfortable around men in suits.

        Can’t wait to get to the Big Apple…I hear Manhattan smells like urine!

    3. LizinOregon

      #8. If I can convince you that you will not enjoy retirement then you won’t notice how I stole your retirement!

      Puhleez, this recent spate of articles on the horrors of retirement are just dead wrong. Since I retired I am healthier (little stress,more exercise), have more money because I spend so much less, have made lots of new friends and learned new things, traveled, and volunteered – all things I never had time for when I worked those 60hr weeks. I loved my profession but realized you can do anything too long. I feel sorry for these people who don’t know what to do in retirement. They need to get a life.

    4. neo-realist

      Our plutocrat overseers are working very hard to ensure that retirement won’t be available for us (Means mo money for them you know) and are trying to prep us for a desk to grave future—HR badge collection and escort (wheelchair provided if needed) from the building 4:55pm Friday, Casket selection at the funeral home 5:30pm, Cardiac Arrest Saturday evening, Funeral, Monday 1pm.

  2. EconCCX

    Re: 5 Compelling Reasons Never to Retire

    The second President Bush shares this view, telling AARP in 2010 why retirement is best postponed indefinitely:

    ATM: How do you feel about retirement?

    President Bush: First of all, you never retire. At least I don’t retire. I’m playing golf. I ride my mountain bike. A lot. I think it’s very important for me and other people my age to continue to exercise. I’m going to baseball games. I’m also combining my love of outdoors with my desire to help others. I teamed up with the PGA of America to help promote a weekend of golf that raises scholarship money for kids who lost a parent or whose parent was severely wounded in combat.

    My advice to seniors — and I consider myself one — is to first and foremost take care of your body. Secondly, find something where you could say, “I’m helping somebody else.” And it may be just helping raise a grandkid. Or teaching a child to read — one child to read.

    Puttin’ off retirement, in a sense.

    1. abynormal

      in 2010 my 68yr old neighbor was having to choose between meds or food…so much for B’s advice for taking care of your body first.

      “If the world is saved, it will not be saved by old minds with new programs but by new minds with no programs at all.”
      Quinn/the story of B

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Mr. Bush has been on vacation since he was born and will continue as such until he dies which is why he feels retirement pointless if even possible.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Indeed, every point Bush has ever made can be summed up in the argument that if everyone drove Rolls Royces, there would be no breakdowns on the road, since how many Rolls do you see broken down on the side of the road?

        The only other salient point he has ever made is that the French have no word for entrepreneur. That is a gem, though unfortunately, I’m not sure the attribution to him is accurate – but damn it, it should be.

    3. Lord Koos

      “I teamed up with the PGA of America to help promote a weekend of golf that raises scholarship money for kids”

      Wow, the amazing sacrifices this man makes!

    4. EconCCX

      Sorry to have to spell it out, but the basis of the humor is that GWB, without irony, invokes activities such as playing golf, riding his bike, and going to ballgames, as evidence of his determination never to retire.

    1. Bill the Psychologist

      “How can retire, enjoy the time left, and die be a bad thing?”

      Believe me, it’s not. What retirement really means is not having to sell your time on earth to someone else to feed yourself.

      I actually was a psychologist, and enjoyed my work, but have been retired for 10 years next month and have never regretted it.

      I have a modest pension, SS, but very modest savings, so not a luxurious life, but just being able to stay home and have all my time structured the way I want it, is all the luxury I need.

      1. Bill the Psychologist

        “How can retire, enjoy the time left, and die be a bad thing?”

        uh, can’t speak to whether that dying thing is good or bad ………yet.

      2. pwndecaf

        I do appreciate the feedback.

        I have no kids or ex’es or significant others or parents, and a paid-up mortgage and a paid-for new car. No debts, just taxes and utilities and day-in-the-life bills and cats.

        I don’t know which is worse – dying with no money or dying with lots of money, but I’m shooting for the former.

  3. skippy

    Retirement[???]… is that like a cardiac inverse problem, can it be diagnosed with acceptable probability.

    skippy… Off to see the economists! Should I be afraid of what they might hook me up too or that the inverse solution is impossible if measurements cannot be made inside the source and if no additional information about the nature of the source is available…. ummmm~

  4. Doug Terpstra

    Stiglitz on TPP: finally a Nobel economist with intelligence and integrity at the NYT to explain clearly and honestly the devastating impact of rigged-trade cannibalism…a refreshing antidote to Krugman’s veal-pen issue (TPP is no big deal; take it or leave it … which amounts to praising with very faint damnation).

  5. JTFaraday

    re: The Zombification of the West Truthout. “The dead walk — as neo-liberals!”

    This article on the 20th century’s inertia ensuring “work to consume” path of political syllabification made me think of this recent “Daily Beast” article on its stalwart ideological companion, “anti-intellectualism”:

    “Anti-intellectualism, according to Hofstadter, is a “resentment of the life of the mind, and those who are considered to represent it; and a disposition to constantly minimize the value of that life.” He was very clear in his insistence that Americans are not dumb. There is great intelligence in Americans, just as there is great professionalism.

    The problem is that professional intelligence is mechanical and functional – utilitarian. It is about the completion of an assignment, and the execution of a formula. Due to it having the operative mode of a machine, the preferred way of exercising the mind, for many Americans, takes on what Hofstadter labeled “mediocre sameness.” There are only so many ways to do a job, and since many Americans learn at a very young age, that their entire lives are about the job they will one day have, they begin to think with the variety of appliance assembly methods in an instructional manual.

    “The mystique of practicality,” to use Hofstadter’s increasingly relevant words, stupefies people into voluntarily enlisting into the “curious cult of practicality.” Since the financial crash of 2008, the cult has grown into Jonestown numbers, and its members are pushing ahead in line to feed their intellects the ideological cyanide of utilitarianism.”

    If the 20th century’s “work to consume” path produced today’s political zombification and passive subjection to authority, the “Daily Beast” suggests we’re determined to stay the course.

    1. JTFaraday

      “the 20th century’s inertia ensuring ‘work to consume’ path of political syllabification”

      Whoa– I don’t know where that came from. I guess our all-pervasive “jobs-ism” is the hidden syllabus or hidden curriculum that produces political zombification and submission to authority, but I didn’t mean to turn it into some sort of Freudian slip.

  6. rjs

    early last week i made a half assed attempt to explain why the bunch of earthquakes that occurred near Youngstown on Monday & Tuesday had to be caused by fracking itself, not injection wells…here are some competent explanations, with major contributions from Dr. Ray Beiersdorfer of the Youngstown State Geology Dept, establishing pretty clearly that these quakes were in fact caused by the fracking a stone’s throw from the epicenter of the first quake..

  7. Inverness

    Re: Quebec–Well, the separatist party will probably gain a majority government, and are all about identity politics: more nationalism and talk of separatism, because who wants to talk about the crumbling infrastructure (bridges and roads are ridiculously crumbly) ,or the fact that Quebec has the nation’s highest rate of unemployment? Better to play the nationalist game, with their Charte de Laicité, which would mean that government employees wouldn’t be able to wear an Islamic veil or Jewish kippa at their workplace. Not surprisingly, acts of racism in the province have been on the rise

    1. different clue

      Might there come a point where Canadians might want a referendum on the expulsion of Quebec from Canada?

      1. ambrit

        Dear different clue;
        Speaking as the husband of a New Orleanian, (who despises the term Yat,) whose grandmother was an authentic French speaking Acadian, I can attest to another method of solving the Quebecois Problem. Said solution, Le Grand Derangement, previously applied way back in 1755 is considered an early modern form of ethnic cleansing. One of many shameful episodes in the history of the New World.

        1. Inverness

          The Acadians dealt with a very different problem during La Grande Derangement than the Quebecois today — they are not comparable situations, and it’s hard to argue that contemporary Quebecois are victims the way Acadians were. The Quebecois’ separatist party is officially recognized, and in power, and they are a majority in their province, with language laws, federal equalization payments, and language police to make sure their culture is protected.

  8. Jim Haygood

    From the ‘Billionaires with Big Ideas Privatizing Science’ article:

    “For better or worse,” said Steven A. Edwards, a policy analyst at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.”

    Science policy has always been shot through with politics. In their own grant-making decisions, federal agencies strive to ensure that their money does not flow just to established stars at elite institutions. They consider gender and race, income and geography.


    Politicized science sounds like a terrible idea. A well-documented clustering effect occurs in both business and research, in which a few centers of excellence tend to dominate. Trying to counter it by spreading research dollars uniformly cuts research productivity.

    To bolster its faux-egalitarian tilt, the NYT crudely plays the race card: ‘The philanthropists’ war on disease risks widening that [racial and economic] gap, as a number of the [privately-funded] campaigns target illnesses that predominantly afflict white people.’

    Down the NYT memory hole goes the notorious Tuskegee syphilis study on untreated black males, conducted by none other than … the U.S. Public Health Service.

    The Renaissance was privately funded. If Big Gov science had existed then, we’d have reams of handwritten research papers (in Latin) detailing the sun’s orbit around the earth.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      The Free Market will determine what the wealthy will allow as scientific research. Right now, what “we” need is a boner pill without the side effect of causing an erection that lasts for more than 4 hours.

      It’s a national health priority.

    2. Vatch

      The Renaissance was funded by Kings, Queens, Dukes, Counts, Popes, and Cardinals. That is, it was funded by government leaders. They were also the people who burned Giordano Bruno, and who put Galileo under house arrest.

  9. afisher

    Koch Brothers / Dem concern. It may be the first shot across the bow. It is who or more importantly how they funnel millions into politics. I didn’t follow GWB advice and retired. Try spending a couple of hours linking a big money donor to the various funding entities that they created via Muckey and 990 tax records. It may be a time consuming process, but learning about how the Dark Money works in US should scare everyone. Anyone who believes it is JUST politics is blowing smoke.

  10. Kurt Sperry

    Re: Is Losing Crimea a Loss? Foreign Affairs
    Interesting analysis of the potential Russian economic downsides of Russian annexations in Ukraine. One suspects Putin et al really haven’t thought this through very well and are driven more by fanatical nationalism (or appealing to such) than cold rational analysis. Russia gets a quick feel good victory, quickly followed by a whole raft of apparently unanticipated disastrous economic consequences. Not to mention the incalculable political costs arising from international opprobrium and isolation likely to result from a nakedly illegal annexation of parts of a sovereign state.

    Isn’t it likely that cooler, more rational heads within Russia will be looking at this and thinking Putin has badly misjudged here? This could very easily be the beginning of the end for Putin’s political career once the reality of the likely political and economic costs of what’s likely to follow settles in.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Before it was clear that Russia was going to go ahead with the Crimean referendum, US/West propaganda focused on Putin’s refusal to enter talks with Ukraine (which would have implicitly meant recognizing the new Ukrainian govt). This essentially ignored Russia’s complaint while unifying the opposition to Russia actions. If there is one thing all diplomats can agree on, its more talks.

      Now US/West propaganda has shifted to demonizing Putin and subtly lionizing US leadership. This is really meant to influence US/West citizens and allies more than Russia.

      Putin is a mad man. ‘The dictator’ is believing his own press and cracking down on those who disagree with him.
      He may be a ruthless thug but mad? I don’t see it.

      Attacking character is a well worn device. You may recall that it was also used with Snowden (or a time), who was described as narcissistic/egotistical.

      And charging him with cracking down on dissent and civil liberties is like the pot calling the kettle black. Obama has essentially trashed our Constitution by signing NDAA, supporting NSA spying, a war on whistle-blowers, access journalism, etc.

      Putin/Russia is stirring up crazy nationalist sentiment.
      This assertion ignores US/West provocations, attempting to lay the blame for the deterioration in relations solely on Putin. But if Russia had engineered an overthrow of Mexico’s or Quebec’s government, American nationalism would also be pronounced.

      The consequences to Russia will be terrible.
      The more important question is this: will those terrible consequences be worse than Russia’s acquiescing to a US/West leaning Ukraine? Which naturally leads back to the question of Putin’s sanity.

      Lastly, any sober analysis of the situation would not be one-sided, and would take into account such things as: the failure of the US/West to ‘win the peace’ after the cold war; the neocon agenda (Nuland claims to have spent $5b in the effort to overthrow the democratically elected President of Ukraine); the costs to the US/West of supporting Ukraine (which is an economic basket case); etc. Articles that fail to consider such issues are likely to be propaganda.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Leaving aside the somewhat hyperbolic bolded paraphrases of the arguments set forth in the article, the economic argument here at least seems pretty well laid out. Additionally, whether through unlikely prescient eleventieth dimensional statecraft on the west’s part or through simple luck it seems likely that Putin’s belligerence will come back to bite him in the ass. Russia will be left holding a bag of nasty consequences probably far worse than if he’d left the tanks in their muddy revetments and instead deployed a diplomatic offensive. Instead of a western leaning but still essentially non-aligned state and one still on good trading terms on its border, it may well end up sharing a militarily fortified border with a less divided, genuinely hostile nation feeling justifiably threatened by Russian bellicosity and one sent running straight into the arms of NATO. The myth of Putin as geopolitical chess master may not survive this encounter with reality.

      2. Synopticist

        I think the neo-libs who were in on it didn’t anticipate Putin doing anything other than rolling over. It was mostly based on giving him a face-slap for Syria anyway, it wasn’t supposed to get SERIOUS.
        Now he’s taken decisive action in the Crimea they’re a bit lost, and are stuck with trying to suggest he’s gone mad or totally miscalculated. The fact is, Europe needs Russian gas, and has no desire whatsoever to inviting in Ukraine, or, even more so, taking on the responsibility for her debts or giving her millions of work visas. That ain’t going top happen.
        In the forthcoming elections, Russian speaking/supporting parties will probably win at least 40% of the vote, and the Ukrainian financial chaos will continue.

    2. optimader

      my reaction is that the article is mostly BS.
      Putin’s cold rational analysis is the desire to reabsorb the Crimean coast.
      (File under: Rewind History to the the Crimean War)
      Empires covet unfettered access for Blue Water Navies and Ocean Commerce.

      Russia’s historically unfavorable fate of geography has been a lack of warm water coastline. Compare Russia/SU to any other successful Empire. The US is hands down the most favored in terms of warm water coastline/ports.

      The noise about an unprofitable coal industry, or underemployed population, crashing tourism, ectect is all BS. The Crimea has a population of 2MM, any fraction of which can be absorbed into Russia with out too much of a burp. Shut down the unprofitable coal industry, lower the ethnic population density, invest in tourism. These are much less challenging engineering projects than creating warm water coastline.

      Putin I suspect fancies himself a later day Pete the great. A case can be made for a perspective that he wants to reconstitute the basics of an Empire that was tossed to the wind by a drunk and the assets of which were largely given to a small criminal oligarchy in vodka soaked 99.9 % off garage sales..

      A fatal flaw of the SU that has haunted Russia and the frmr SU states was the centralized economy –geographically centralized assets and infrastructure. The dissolution of the SU was more of an explosion than an organized unwinding.
      I am sure many in Russia have a perspective that geographically located assets ( like the Port of Sevastopol) are property of Russia, certainly a case can be made for the infrastructure.
      the Crimea Peninsula –irreplaceable strategic asset to Russia.
      The Ukraine mainland –not so much, more like an unemployed in-law w/ a drinking problem.

  11. John

    Five compelling reasons never to retire and the deep pathology of neoliberal culture…
    6. When social security and medicare are finally gutted, you will need money to buy your daily ration of catfood.
    7. You are already in the slave ship harness, why change things?
    8. Your dream of pursuing music art and culture are not for losers and takers like you, remain in indentured servitude to the oligarchy
    9. Why would you want to spend time with your hellspawn offspring…they will end up in concentration camps anyway and isn’t Comcastainment enough?
    10.You should want to keep working for the good of the homeland! Doubters will be sent for reeducation or elimination. One people, one nation, unter Gott fur zehn tausend Jahre…Arbeit macht frei.

    1. Skeptic

      Good post, John. “the deep pathology of neoliberal culture” is that people can only define themselves through Work.

      “Arbeit macht frei.” or Work makes you free. The motto of the Nazi Death and Slave Camps. The human mind has a great capacity to entertain Paradox so that now this motto is adopted and revered as the Anthem of Neoliberalism. (One might want to read IBM and the Holocaust in this regard.) Even so-called Progressives I know are always busy, occupied and damn proud of it.

      My motto instead is “The Rat Race is over, the Rats won.” I checked out of the Race at the age of forty-five and never looked back with any regret. One can only eat so much cheese. I don’t consider myself “retired” since I was never committed to the idea of Work in the first place. The only thing I was interested in was Freedom. De-Ratting has added years and increased satisfaction to my life. Life is good in the Slow Lane.

      1. JTFaraday

        ““Arbeit macht frei.” or Work makes you free. The motto of the Nazi Death and Slave Camps. The human mind has a great capacity to entertain Paradox so that now this motto is adopted and revered as the Anthem of Neoliberalism.”

        Now, nothing. “Work makes you free” is now and always was the motto of liberal capitalism and thoroughly American dreamy.

        I don’t know how people are supposed to go about defining themselves under the neo-liberal corporatist crime wave, but I do hope the answer isn’t going to be “work under it.”

  12. direction

    Paid What You’re Worth piece was not that interesting Except for this juicy little part where someone calculated the actual advantages of “too big to fail:”

    “Two researchers, Kenichi Ueda of the International Monetary Fund and Beatrice Weder di Mauro of the University of Mainz, have calculated it’s about eight tenths of a percentage point. This may not sound like much but multiply it by the total amount of money parked in the ten biggest Wall Street banks and you get a huge amount — roughly $83 billion a year….In other words, take away the subsidy and not only does the bonus pool disappear, but so do all the profits.”

    Reich posts the link to the original IMF paper. very nice ammunition for your next cocktail party argument.

  13. zephyrum

    Economics explains everything department: Paul Oyer explains why Economics explains why you resemble your mate.
    Content highlights:
    • Talking his book (literally)
    • A dancer cannot be happily married to a non-dancer. (My wife is an excellent dancer; I am not.)
    • Top law firms are the best because they hire top law graduates who are the best because they attend the top law schools which are the best because…well because they’re the best dontcha know.
    • Very beautiful men and woman will be more happily married within the beautiful group, while homely men and woman should marry within the homely group because they “would be able to enjoy one another’s company with less insecurity, for example.”
    • Introduces “positive assortative mating”, which is from biologists who are genuine scientists and scientific studies show that it’s true and everything. (Actually my experience in human relationships is that opposites attract best, except across economic strata. To be fair, he does say that mixing across social classes is unusual.)
    • “It is incontrovertible that there is a strong and nearly universal relationship between firm size and wages, but why?” He can’t see the reason for this, that people within a firm who control compensation drive it up as high as possible for themselves and their subordinates. Easier to reach higher comp levels at larger firms. Which is why this is strongly true for executives and higher-level financial types, but not at all true–in my experience–for highly-skilled professionals or, especially these days, for non-exempt wage grunts.
    • “…the fact that “better” workers work at larger firms” Only for workers whose expertise is large firms, who are better by definition. Most large tech firms are mostly incompetent, sustained by one or a few enormous cash cows maintained by 10-20% of the employees. The rest of the bulk is a vain attempt to replicate the original success which was created by people who have largely moved on.
    One could go on. Critiquing this article is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    1. allcoppedout

      I did try a witty reply here Zeph but it ‘yoasted’ into thin air. Couldn’t agree more.

      Some great comments about today, almost as good as watching the British comic Stewart Lee. How do we move from satire to action?

      1. zephyrum

        Ouch; that has happened to me here. Now I copy my text before submitting it.

        As for satire to action, the first step is awareness and satire is a great tool. Action happens by itself when everything else is in place.

        Yours in the hope for a better world,

    1. Murky

      Thanks much JEHR for the link. There are 2 programs. Part 1 is about the Irish famine. Part 2 is about Ukrainian famine. I listened to all of part 2, which was 54 minutes in duration. An English speaking narrator travels to Ukraine and interviews survivors of the Ukrainian famine, which occurred in 1932 and 1933. The survivors are very old now, into their 80s and 90s. They speak of how they had been prosperous independent farmers in the 1920s. Then in 1929 Stalin put the agricultural sector of Ukraine under state control. Collective farms were established, run by state officials. Private farmers were to told to join. Nobody volunteered. So high quotas of grain delivery were placed upon private farmers. Failing to meet the quotas meant seizure of land, which then became state property. This is how private farming was extinguished in Ukraine within 4 years. Agriculture in Ukraine was collectivized at breakneck speed, put under state control, and millions lost their lives. Survivors describe dispossession, burying family members, and their own desperate struggles for survival. Some can hardly speak about it 80 years later; they choke emotionally on traumatic memory. The collective farms were themselves little more than agricultural slave labor camps. Several Ukrainian historians are interviewed in this audio clip. They are adamant that the famine was a planned campaign of starvation, established to break the resistance of ‘kulaks’, these private farmers of Ukraine. ‘Holodomor’ is the word Ukrainians use to described the famine. Literally, it means murder by starvation. The most reliable estimates of death run to 4.5 million.

      JEHR, did you actually listen to the audio? You characterized it as, “good background material for udnerstanding why Russia wants the Ukraine back in its orbit and why some Ukrainian people agree.” Well, to be bluntly honest here, I do not believe you actually listened to the interviews. If you did, you would understand the Ukrainians interviewed only talked about their hardships and brutal oppression by Stalin’s commisars. Not in any single minute of the tape did I hear a single Ukrainian speak of any desire to live under Russian rule. You misunderstood the entire point of this audio documentary. Hoping a 3rd or 4th person will listen to the audio, as there is no way this is pro-Russian in any way, shape, or form.

        1. Murky

          Excellent documentary, thank you. And narrated by Burt Lancaster! The Eastern Front of WW2 is generally back-pages kind of history. They chose the perfect title for this 20 part series – The Unknown War.

          Just found a short but powerful video about the Ukrainian famine. 6 minutes. Interviews with survivors.

      1. sid_finster

        I lived in Ukraine for many years. I speak clean Russian and understand Ukrainian just fine. I have spoken to lots of old people, like, for instance, my Godfather’s grandparents.

        What they say will chill mild-mannered American progressives and Ukrainian nationalists to the bone.

      2. JEHR

        Yes, I listened to the broadcast as I don’t recommend something I haven’t heard myself. You see how easy it is to take away different things from a program. One can take away the horrors of the famine, and I did, but one can also see that the people of Ukraine have changed; their culture has changed; their psychology has changed. The destruction of the society destroys the character of a people. There are Ukrainians, the young people for example, who have been taught the Russian version of events and who now want peace more than anything else. But the old people are fearful for very good reasons. Plus, the Russians that now occupy the Crimea, on the other hand, did not take part in producing the famine so they have no sorrow or shame in wanting to be with Russia and wanting the whole country to do the same.

    2. optimader

      “It is good background material for understanding why Russia wants the Ukraine back in its orbit and why some Ukrainian people agree”
      Bizarre conclusion, a serial typo?

  14. JEHR

    As an English-speaking Canadian, I used to worry about Quebec leaving Canada but I have changed my mind (except I will regret that we won’t win many winter olympic medals if they leave!) Why don’t I worry now? Because when and if they separate they will have their own ginormous debt to take care of and a monetary policy set by the Bank of Canada which will make Quebec like one of the countries in the EU. How can that be a good thing!

    I just worry about that very long bridge that will have to be built to span from Atlantic Canada to Ontario without touching Quebec!

    1. Propertius

      As I point out to Dr. Mrs. Propertius, a proud Canadian, under the Articles of Confederation y’all were welcome to join our little Empire of the South any time you wanted. Perhaps you should see if the invitation is still open?

  15. Jess

    Since I’m a real dummy when it comes to tech issues, can any NC readers who are up on the tech side comment on the argument in the Politco piece that moving control of ICANN to an international group could lead to a foreign regime (Russia, China, EU) imposing censorship? I realize that the NSA could undoubtedly do so, and that without net neutrality we may have censorship via discrimination in access based on pricing, but how do these issues compare to the argument raised in the Politico piece?

    Thanks in advance for the enlightenment I’m about to receive. (Gawd, I depend on NC so much.)

  16. wandering mind

    The Zombification of the West vs. 5 Compelling Reasons Never to Retire?
    Or should it be The Zombification of the West leads to 5 Compelling Reasons Never to Retire?

    From these two articles one can derive a life plan for workers in the post world war II economy:
    Borrow more than you can afford to obtain an education which should help you think for yourself but doesn’t, then work you a** off to pay off the debt you took on to get the education, a process which apparently will turn you into a zombie. With luck you will be able to do so and then you can continue to work your a** off to buy sh** you don’t need. Once you have experienced that “lifestyle” for forty or fifty years you won’t know what to do with yourself if you ever stop and you will keel over dead within a week if you try.

    Yay! I can’t wait to share this new info with my grandkids, except I have to get to work. Maybe later. After I retire/die.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Cloning the wooly mammoth.

    When they finanlly get around to cloning the Neanderthal Man, where would we put him – in a zoo?

    1. craazyman

      that would make a good movie. sitting here now it’s streaming in flashes of ideation on my mind screen. A sad face in a painted cave, bewildered and confused. Tourists in shorts and sandals behind a rope looking through a glass. Drinking super-sized diet cokes and eating hot dogs. Their eyes meet. The Neanderthal waves and they wave back. Somebody drops a hot dog and curses. Cut to a night scene. Neanderthal outside where the cage spills into a rocky enclosure. He looks up at the sky. At this point the movie audience is crying. How do we get him out of there? He can’t climb the bars. he can’t check out, like a hotel. Does he die in there? At this point a woman zoologist from the University of Balogna appears on the scene. Here demeanor is crisp and confident, she’s super smart. She want to interview the Neanderthal and think she can speak in a way he understands. That’s when the shit hits the fan for the zoo. The movie ends with the Neanderthal in Florence, doing live drawing from Michealangelo’s David with a gallery show already booked in New Yaaawk somewhere on 57th street. The movie has a happy ending, but he’ll never fit in in her world. Nevah.

      1. ohmyheck

        It is a movie already. “George of the Jungle” with Brendan Frazier. Very tongue-in-cheek.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Repeated sounds work magic in our brains.

    The article left out completely that’s how propaganda works with repeated words.

    I hope it was left out not because the research project was funded to further understand how we can be brainwashed, as many brain research projects seem to be.

    Repeat after me:

    Trickle down
    we must fight (wage) inflation
    Too big to fail
    More growth
    Free trade

    Keep repeating them until they sound so musical they become irresistible and you automatically fill whatever they want to fill in (prosperity, happiness, safety, security, courage, etc.)

    1. optimader

      In fact, repetition is so powerfully linked with musicality that its application can dramatically transform apparently non-musical materials into son……Repetition can actually shift your perceptual circuitry such that the segment of sound is heard as music: not thought about as similar to music, or contemplated in reference to music, but actually experienced as if the words were being sung.

      The sounds as they appear to you are not only different from those that are really present, but they sometimes behave so strangely as to seem quite impossible.
      but they sometimes behave so strangely;
      but they sometimes behave so strangely;
      but they sometimes behave so strangely;
      so strangely; so strangely.

    2. Jackrabbit

      A toxic cocktail of happytalk and cool-aid is addictive. Add in hero-worship, group-think, normalcy bias, consumerism and careerism, etc. and you have a populace that is predictable and controllable.

      Oh wait, my show’s on…

  19. Diogenes

    The Zombification of the West vs. 5 Compelling Reasons Never to Retire = opposite views on life.

    The “Compelling reasons never to retire” piece accepts uncritically the attitude castigated in ‘Zombification’. You are what you have, and the status that gives you. If the loss of income caused by retirement causes you to ‘have’ less, buy less and so lose status in the consumer world you ‘are’ less – a situation to be avoided quite literally at all costs.

    Underlying the Zombification piece is what I would say is the recognition – others might say argument – that ‘being’ is more important than ‘having’. Contemporary society, like the author of the ‘5 reasons’ piece, is fixated on ‘having’ – all that matters is the shell we live in and present to others. This is Zombification and is avoided by turning inward on a religious quest (in the broadest sense) to maximise our personal experience of life – something very difficult to do when much of our life is ‘owned’ by an employer or the State demanding its pound of flesh.

    I ‘retired’ at 45 because 20-years as a high-powered professional nearly destroyed my health and sanity but enabled me to do so economically. Since then I’ve spent 20 years living carefully to preserve what I have from the greed and stupidity of those in high places, watching from the sidelines and enriching myself in every other way than financially. It’s been fun, and rewarding.

    1. allcoppedout

      Plenty of people manage to retire while at work. I went for a boss free environment 10 years ago to protect my health. I’d go for a system that reversed much of the current boss-worker relations. I’d bring in job/earnings guarantee to change existing motivations and adopt Hugh’s notions on wealth and make finance a utility. A key indicator on just what jobs are is the number of people still working in the same kind of position after a big lottery win.

      This is currently pie-in-the-sky. I’d like to see the issues worked through.

  20. Hugh

    Great wealth places in the hands of the rich and corporations the power to make decisions about the direction of research and science which in theory should be made by the public through government for the common good. If massa is benign, maybe they’ll get a little good science out of it (which they just might own the rights to) or maybe they’ll use it to back more of the kleptocratic enterprise, like charter schools. The point is that their wealth is not theirs by right but by theft. They are making decisions which should be ours and with our money.

    1. allcoppedout

      All ways right Hugh. I crave action but want better theory. I drink-flirt with a woman whose parents “worked hard” for the mill-made money they ran off to Spain (and now Andorra as tax changes come about). They are all decent folks. Never a problem with anything you say here, but …

      She works as a waitress rather than take Daddy support. Dad is a decent guy and would love to run a worthwhile, employing (even Coop) business back home. He will even admit the money isn’t really his. I do a bit of small business incubation. We trust each other. My brother steered him clear of bent Spanish lawyers. “Kelly” could even have done an MBA with me. Dad would really like to get back into a manufacturing business. In our shared cups he would even give the money away. Compared with me he is died in the wool Labour – I’m lapsed. He had some problems letting me take his son for some rugby trials lest some favouritism was involved. The boy has made it. Show and tell.

      We need a very different system. How do we move on? I have more affinity with he thieves I used to nick than the establishment. The bosses weren’t always this crap.

  21. JohnB

    Sometimes I like a good video on economics, an especially interesting interview or documentary, and the Renegade Economist guys do some good ones (their ‘Four Horsemen’ documentary is a bit disappointing though, in what it supports); anyway, while (unsuccessfully) trying to find their backlog of videos, I happened on this minor interesting article in their twitter feed:

    Anyone got some good video/documentary recommendations? (video or audio podcasts are good too – I like some of the ones Yanis Varoufakis/Steve Keen do from time to time – Adam Curtis’ blog is good too, but I’m more looking for bite-size documentaries)
    I found the documentary series ‘The Age of Uncertainty‘ (can find all episodes linked on list to side) by John Kenneth Galbraith some time ago (I believe David Malone – aka Golem XIV – his father helped make it I think), and it is easily one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.

    If there’s anything else of that calibre out there, I’d be very happy.

  22. p78
    “France’s agriculture ministry on Saturday banned the sale, use and cultivation of Monsanto’s MON 810 genetically modified maize, the only variety currently authorised in the European Union.[…] Longstanding differences between EU countries resurfaced in February when they failed to agree on whether or not to approve another GM maize variety, Pioneer 1507, developed by DuPont and Dow Chemical, leaving the way open to the EU Commission to clear it for cultivation. France is trying to win support to overhaul the EU rules.”

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