Links 3/22/14

Reader lk was kind enough to track down the video of the panel I was on at the Atlantic Economy Summit (last year they didn’t post all videos, so it’s great to see them getting them on the Web so quickly). As you’ll see, due to the size of the panel, none of us got all that much airtime (and a couple of speakers used a lot of words to make comparatively simple points). The microphone hassle threw me off my rhythm a bit. I had wanted to get my digs in on the deficit scaremongering and didn’t. Grr.

Meet Jeffrey, North Yorkshire’s beer-drinking camel Telegraph

AFP reporter Sardar Ahmad’s final story Agence France-Presse (Richard Smith). :-(

Scientists identify protein that protects aging brains from Alzheimer’s and dementia Daily Kos

Discovery of body clock reset mechanism could help shift workers and jetsetters Gizmag

Students See Many Slights as Racial ‘Microaggressions’ New York Times. Before you think this is over the top, bone up on expectancy theory. What may seem like mere slights have more of an effect on performance than you’t think.

Israel no longer worried about its water supply, thanks to desalination plants McClatchy (furzy mouse). But desalination takes energy….

Creationists demand equal airtime on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘Cosmos’ to provide ‘balance’ Raw Story. Only in America.

Caribbean States Call for Slavery Reparations Der Spiegel (furzy mouse)

Guess who’s the major stakeholder in Canada’s oil sands? Of course, it’s the Kochs Daily Kos

Few Know – or Care – On Eve of Southeast Asian Common Market WSJ Economics Blog

Euro too strong for exporters: EU’s Van Rompuy Reuters

Neoliberalism as Social Necrophilia: The Case of Greece TruthOut

Consumer credit and falling savings are indeed driving Britain’s unhealthy boomlet Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. Telegraph

Court documents reveal the online speech Turkey was trying to block Washington Post (furzy mouse)

Once an Arab model, Baghdad now world’s worst city Daily Star Lebanon (Tim F)


Russia’s Shifting of Border Force Stirs U.S. Worry New York Times

Security monitors to go to Ukraine BBC

In Ukraine, few think Crimea marks the end of Putin’s expansion McClatchy

Putin formally gets Crimea; Ukraine, EU sign deal Associated Press

Corporate Interests Behind Ukraine Putsch Consortium News (bob)

Ukraine’s dirty money: the Cambridge University connection Tax Justice Network (Richard Smith)

No Oil Premium For Ukraine Situation Hale Stewart

Furman Says Crimean Crisis Could Affect U.S. Economy Bloomberg

How the Russia Sanctions Could Backfire Politico

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Revelations of N.S.A. Spying Cost U.S. Tech Companies New York Times. Foretold here right after the Snowden disclosures began.

Google Enhances Encryption Technology for Email NBC. As if we can trust them?

Social Security already hit by the austerity squeeze Daily Kox (Carol B)

More Frustration in Medical Cost-Shopping Patient Safety Blog

Video: Camper turning from officers when shot Albuquerque Journal. Ken G: “This is the most outrageous video of our police state I’ve seen. APD is under investigation already by DOJ for cop killings.”

US biotech stocks suffer sharp slide Financial Times

Bernie Madoff: ‘JPMorgan knew’ Politico

Janet Yellen didn’t gaffe Felix Salmon

How Would Buddha Organize Our Cutthroat Modern Economy? Bill Moyers

OF HIPPOS AND KINGS New Yorker. A tale of collapse.

Antidote du jour. Steve L. says the chimps are drinking pedialyte.


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  1. Expat

    Re: Creationists and “Cosmos”:
    If this were an isolated nutcase or a few escaped lunatics, it would be humorous. But since these people represent a large chunk of America and have managed to move the debate from faith to “alternative science”, it is depressing and scary.
    I think we could get all these idiots to shut up once and for all if we agreed to their demands. Then we tell them that in fairness to belief, they and their children must attend two hours of alternative worship or religious study every week. So if they want to go to church (these are all Christians of some ilk), then they must attend Catholic mass, go to the synagogue, pray at a mosque, burn joss sticks at a Buddhhist temple or ritually kill black cockerels at a Satanic mass.
    How long do you think they would insist of equal access to their brand of insanity?

    1. abynormal

      returning to ‘E Pluribus Unum’ would be a hoot of a start

      I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed.
      George Carlin

      1. psychohistorian

        E Pluribus Unum, the original motto of the US….YES!!!!!

        Thanks for that and the George Carlin memory.

    2. huxley

      Creationists don’t deserve ‘equal time’. They have nothing, never had anything, and never will have anything.

      Modern evolutionary theory is the work of tens of thousands of highly educated scientists, refined and expanded over more than a century, backed up with overwhelming evidence, demonstrated and documented by every living thing on the planet.

      What do creationists have? A childish fairy tale invented by Bronze Age primitives barely out of the hunter-gatherer stage, a ‘theory’ based on nothing, a non-explanation backed up by nothing and accounting for nothing, little more than a demonstration of determined ignorance.

      A debate? Creationists don’t have a debate. All they have is a lame flim-flam of spite and lies and they know it. They’re just annoyed because actual science so easily exposes all their frauds as utter BS from top to bottom. They’re contradicted not just by evolutionary biology but by chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, and every evidentiary collection of scientific facts we have a name for.

      All that’s left is to humiliate them and their own ‘theory’ as a pack of lying cons until they’ve decided to shut up for themselves. Reality is entirely against them and that puts them at a complete disadvantage, regardless of cleverness of their pious prevarications. No, if we are to debate anything we should discuss their absence of any morals, their criminality, and the steps needed to clean up their social psychosis.

      1. Screech

        All they need is a bible and belief.
        Praise be Jayzuss. And don’t forget to look for the devil under your bed.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          I went and looked under my bed. Apparently, the Devil is made up of missing socks and dust bunnies.

          1. JTFaraday

            At least you found the socks.

            I’m also pleased to report that I skipped the rest of this thread!

      2. Another Gordon

        The basic error creationists make is bad theology rather than bad science. They seem to imagine that Genesis etc. is meant to be read as science when it clearly isn’t. (The word ‘science’ in its modern usage wasn’t coined until the nineteenth century). For example, Genesis records how God placed a “tree of Life” and a “tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil” in the Garden of Eden. You will not find either in any plant catalogue and a moment’s reflection shows that this is about the relationship between Adam (representative man) and Eve (representative woman).

        As an insight into human nature this is exactly right; if anything goes wrong blame the wife first and then kick the snake cat. So my reading of Genesis is nothing to do with science.

        It follows that trying to win the ‘science’ argument misses the point. Try theology instead. Of course, even that’s not easy since, for creationists, it involves openness to a paradigm change of major proportions.

        1. Propertius

          The other message in the Genesis story is that the powerful always punish those who tell the truth. The serpent, after all, is the only character in the story who tells the absolute truth all the time.

      3. psychohistorian

        What the religious have is a Devils pact with the folks that set up our class based system of social organization after the kings were mostly deprecated. You know the one that is never discussed in polite company, based on the rules of unfettered inheritance and ongoing accumulation of private ownership of property. These folks give credence to each other under the auspice of faith.

        I don’t think we will ever get rid of one without the other and I am in favor of neutering both…..yesterday would be soon enough.

    3. diptherio

      I think the press over-plays the homogeneity of Christians in the US. Consider, Pat Robertson even thinks young-earth creationism is “a joke.” A third of white Evangelicals and fully half of black protestants accept evolution…and those are the more conservative groups within Christianity. Meanwhile, the United Methodist church that I grew up in has no problem with evolution, or gays, or dancing. Pretty progressive folks, actually. Even among the not-at-all-progressive Christians, “theistic evolution” is catching on as an acceptable intellectual mid-point between creationism and evolution. Well, not really “mid”–it’s evolution with God mentioned in passing.

      Some nutty person complains about not being invited on the teevee and Raw Story apparently thinks that’s news. It’s not. It’s another divisive, us vs. them, “aren’t they crazy,” preaching to the choir piece of nothing. Gets clicks though, ’cause everyone like to feel superior (why else spend time commenting?) and it’s fun to laugh at dumb people.

      1. roadrider

        A third of white Evangelicals and fully half of black protestants accept evolution

        What most of these people accept is theistic evolution, i.e., intelligent design not actual naturalistic evolution. The acceptance rate for naturalistic evolution in the US is depressingly low. IIIRC the rate in the US is one of the lowest among all countries.

        1. diptherio

          I’m not trying to defend irrationality, but I will ask: In what ways would a wider acceptance of naturalist selection improve the lived experience of our worst-off members of society? See, that’s my major concern. I could care less how someone thinks we got opposable thumbs, I’m more concerned with how they treat their fellow humans. Just sayin’….

        2. BondsOfSteel

          Actually, a lot of Christian believe in natural selection and evolution. Take the United Methodist Church as @diptherio mentioned:

          Intelligent design itself is a last gasp at trying to keep some “creationism” while accepting the science. There is a whole range of believes here. Even among people who say they believe in intelligent design, there is a strong acceptance of natural selection.

  2. Swedish Lex

    Concerning the creationists.
    This shows why “extremists” like Richard Dawkins are necessary. As soon as the rational lot slows down, as Dawkins has done recently after patiently having spent energy and time fighting the bogus claims of the creationists over the past years, the propaganda of the religious comes back, trying to push back reason.
    People like Degrasse Tyson are really the last and only line of defense against the ayatollahs of obscurantism.

    1. financial matters

      Now if they were talking religious mystics I might pay attention..

      ‘Intellectual research may be exciting, but it will not lead us to the secret of life. our roots are artistic, and therefore non-rational, or rather supra-rational’

      ‘The Roots of Christian Mysticism’ Olivier Clement

      1. diptherio

        Mysticism must-read list (ecumenical):

        Jewish: Tales of the Hasidim–Martin Buber (esp. vol 1, “Early Masters”)
        Islam: The Sufis–Idries Shah
        Christian: Mystics and Zen Masters–Thomas Merton
        Hindu: What Religion Is–Swami Vivekananda
        Philosophical: An Interpretation of Religion–John Hick; The Perennial Philosophy–Aldous Huxley

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There is a big world outside of religion and science.

        ‘How do you get there?’

        ‘Hear the wind?’


        ‘There then. Through that sound you hear.’

    2. huxley

      If anything, Dawkins has been far too kind to them. Religious nutjobs can’t discredit evolution no matter how they try. The sciences and even common sense discredit religious nutjobs in a non-contest, and really ought to do it directly as a service to humanity. Let’s just come out and say it, shall we: science discredits religion, and discredits it completely.

      1. diptherio

        While you may be of the opinion that science discredits religion completely, I know a number of practicing scientists (chemists mostly) who are also quite religious (as in literalist-Christian). I never quizzed them on the whole evolution thing, but they definitely believed in all the heaven-and-hell stuff. Also Noah’s Ark. It seems weird, I know, but it’s true. There are entire cutting-edge hydrogen fuel-cell laboratories in this country staffed almost exclusively by fervent Christians…(annoyed the hell outta my ex-, I gotta say)

        1. huxley

          Shame, sir, shame. Even the most logical scientist can be brainwashed with religious indoctrination as a vulnerable child, in such a way as to prevent any escape from it. It’s a heinous practice and simply because such brainwashing succeeds neither validates it nor justifies it.

          1. diptherio

            Look, I don’t think that a fundamentalist Christian belief system is compatible with a scientific understanding of the material world, but some people apparently do. My point is that science and/or scientific training doesn’t disprove religion in the eyes of at least some scientists, so it can’t be quite so cut and dried as you’re making it out to be. I’m not validating anything, just sayin’

            Atheists who claim that all religious/spiritual people are “brainwashed” or just being foolish, are exactly the same, so far as I can tell, as Christians who claim that everyone who doesn’t believe just like they do is “damned to hell” or just being foolish. Either way it’s “I’m right! Think like me or be condemned!”

            I have this exact same conversation with my best friend about every two months, fwiw.

            On a side note, here’s one “church” that you and I might both enjoy attending: The Assembly–Atheist Church

            1. huxley

              Religious superstitions and mythologies are properly studied as literature, anthropology, and abnormal psychology. Such mythologies have shown themselves to be deliberately contrary to the establishment of a rational and just social order, throughout all of human history.

              Religionists cannot answer their detractors, which is why they resorted to repression, prison, and murder until they were stopped by more rational people. Unlike religion, science never started wars or burned witches. Unlike science, religion never saved a life or made it to the moon. So much for religious “truth”. Such an ugly, destructive scam.

              1. diptherio

                And what have you to say about the Atheist Empire, i.e. the Soviet Union. Religion is not required to carry out atrocities. QED.

                If someone wants to be a dickhead, they will, and they will use whatever tool they have available. Science and rationalism work just as well as religion.

                Religion and religious stories are myths and bad philosophy and profound wisdom and crappy history and a tool for evil and a tool for good…is all I’m saying. MLK Jr., Gandhi, Malcolm X…need I go on?

                1. huxley

                  “Religion is not required to carry out atrocities.”

                  No, but it sure helps, doesn’t it? All you really need is a virulent ideology, which isn’t a feature of atheism but is a feature of both religion and the former Soviet social order. Isn’t it?

                2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

                  MLK Jr., Gandhi, and Malcolm X were all fervent believers in disparate versions of theology. There is no “correct” religion. They are all wrong (not so much in what they seek to teach, but in insisting that the basis of those ideologies is divine wisdom).

                  All religions are equally false.

                  1. Jagger

                    Johan, I don’t mean to pick on you but this statement is conclusive when we just don’t know whether it is true or not.
                    You are reaching a conclusion based on an unproven and unproveable assumption.

                    —– but in insisting that the basis of those ideologies is divine wisdom).—

                3. huxley

                  By the way. Your attempt at the “tu quoque” logical fallacy invalidates your argument by default. Sorry.

              1. diptherio

                I believe that all equivalences are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense true and false in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense…hope that clears it up…

        2. optimader

          “..I know a number of practicing scientists (chemists mostly) who are also quite religious (as in literalist-Christian)….”

          I have dealt with MANY scientists who’s competency and rational grasp “in discipline” has no, shall we say systemic elaboration. Scientific training is not necessarily an inoculation from “out of discipline” irrational beliefs.

          The Case Study for great scientific minds in discipline but otherwise breathtakingly out to lunch:

          1. nobody


            Your picture of “great scientific mind in discipline but otherwise breathtakingly out to lunch” is decades out of date.

            [Many] thinkers in the early modern period clearly belonged in both the esoteric and the scientific camp, a point made repeatedly by many historians in recent years. If it were indeed so easy to distinguish between science and esotericism, how does one explain Bacon’s New Atlantis or other aspects of his hardly straightforward philosophy, and how does one account for the mixture of scientists and esotericists (alchemists, astrologers, Paracelsians, Hermeticists, and Kabbalists) who made up the membership of the Royal Society? Walter Pagel devoted a lifetime to illustrating the intricate connections between science, magin, and religion in the work of such figures as Paracelsus, van Helmont, and William Harvey. Richard Popkin also demonstrated the impossibility of isolating science from theology in the early modern period. Richard Westfall and Betty Jo Dobbs have shown that Newton’s alchemical studies influenced his physics–and one should note that Westfall was a convert to this conclusions fairly late in his academic career.

            (p. 158)

            Yates’s hunches about the importance of esotericism in fostering science proved to have far more substance than her detractors imagined. Mounting evidence confirms that major thinkers in the scientific pantheon were influenced by esoteric theories… Consequently, it has become less and less tenable to separate good science from bad occultism. This was the basic conclusion reached by the panelists who assembled at the Folger Library in 1982 to examine the Yates thesis. The majority of contributors concluded that although Yates’s claim for Hermeticism as the decisive force in paving the way for the Scientific Revolution was exaggerated, her basic insight into the manifold connections between esotericism and science in the early modern period is beyond dispute… [T]he participants in the Folger seminar agreed that esoteric currents of thought fostered the more optismistic view of human nature that was an essential prerequisite to the Scientific Revolution.

            (p. 161)

            Allison Coudert, Religion, Magic, and Science in Early Modern Europe and America


            1. optimader

              “…Newton’s alchemical studies influenced his physics–”
              It may well have, but I really don’t think that a legitimate point of debate.
              Alchemical studies are not equivalent to theological studies.

              Alchemy in fact has some legitimacy in the context of transmutation of elements and creation of elements that do not occur in nature. Newton’s work in transmutation was of course doomed by limited knowledge base and technical state of art.
              On the other hand theological thinking 1,000 years ago has not advanced it’s legitimacy because it is purely a faith based, no rational grounding.
              What I do find interesting is who knows what biblical tea leaves have inspired Nobel laureates (as well as Newton)?

              All you need to do is read a few of Beard’s posts to get a flavor how deep in the woods on a deerpath the average person can go interpreting things through the lens of their “faith” in something, no matter how improbable.

              I tossed out Newton because he is a most remarkable case IMO of an incredible duality of rationality and irrationality existing in one person.
              If you think era is a relevant metric on humans (scientist or not) inclination to structure their sensibilities according to “faith” irrespective of their notable work in scientific fields:
              2001–today (21st century)

              I certainly don’t endorse structuring anything having to do with (my) personal or public policy according to notions as notoriously misguided as “faith”.
              (file under: Emilia Earhart tuning left on intuition rather of following her navigators instruction to turn right)
              My point is, I don’t have “faith” in the notion that scientist are somehow inoculated from having irrational believes outside of there discipline. This much is proveable.

      2. Jagger

        Actually religion and science are two completely separate realms, thus science cannot discredit religion within the realm of religion. Science is the realm of the physical laws and the reproduceable while religion is the realm of the spiritual- the subjective experiences and desires of the human spirit. Of course, science can discredit religion when religion wanders into the realm of science while science is simply incapable of wandering into the realm of religion. So it is simply impossible for science to discredit religion completely.

        What is interesting is that limitations of science. It is constrained to only a small fraction of the human experience. The vast majority of the human experience is the subjective experience of existence which is outside of the boundaries of science.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          Science can explain what we refer to as the “spiritual,” as well as the whys of experience and perception. They might not have the answers, yet, but they will gradually tease out a workable theory based on the measurable aspects of these phenomena.

          Religions are static, inconsistent, contradictory, AND full of blatant untruths.

          That said, science and religion have both been used to further sociopathic political agendas.

          1. Jagger

            I think you may have a far looser definition of science than I have. Do you feel there is any aspect of this universe and existence that is impossible to successfully apply the scientific method? If not, I would be curious how the scientific method would be applicable to validating past, solitary subjective experiences.

            —–Religions are static, inconsistent, contradictory, AND full of blatant untruths.—-

            What do you expect from mankinds search for meaning and purpose within our limited and very brief existence. Should we stop wondering or continue searching?

            Religion promises a God and an afterlife while Science promises it will answer ever possible question and Congress promises everyone everything. Promises, promises. I wasn’t born yesterday.

            1. Jagger

              If you find even one aspect of existence which is beyond the capabilities of science, then you have found a boundary to science. Which then means that science will never answer all questions of existence. I suspect if you think about it long enough, you will find many boundaries to science.

            2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

              I believe that there things beyond our ability to understand, test, or measure — things that exist beyond our dimensional bounding box, so to speak (see Edwin Abbott’s ‘Flatland’, for the best illustration of this extra-dimensional limitation).

              I absolutely do not believe in a deity.

              1. Jagger

                —–I absolutely do not believe in a deity.—

                And I just don’t know. I wonder and I suspect but I don’t know. :)

            1. allcoppedout

              Good Lord! How easy it is to sucker people into religious-anti-religious religious bickering.

              1. psychohistorian

                I don’t see it necessarily as bickering. I see it as a Gordian knot we must unravel if we are to advance as a species.

                I see the same faith that some have in religions as the same faith that keeps unfettered inheritance in place and not questioned seriously.

                Where is the bickering about inheritance? Think about inheritance as the centuries old basis for our class system and why no bickering about it but tons about the other faith based crap we “take for granted”?

                1. Swedish Lex

                  re. religion and science in different realms….
                  Sure, science is real while the substance of religion is anybody’s guess. I sure would like to go to Valhalla post mortem like all good Vikings, but I will most likely simply die. No mystery there.
                  Someone wrote about Stalin as an atheist regime. That was funny. Never saw any historic record explaining that Lenin/Stalin declared themselves atheists and therefore killed millions. They rather elevated themselves to gods and behaved like your average religious leader gone crazy. The same mindless follow your leader stuff with “comrade” instead of “father”.

  3. Skeptic

    Meet Jeffrey, North Yorkshire’s beer-drinking camel Telegraph

    That “cute” story about the boozing camel certainly helps to explain why:

    UK Deemed ‘Addicted Man’ Of Europe For Drug And Alcohol Crisis

    “With a proud drinking culture, the United Kingdom has become not only a nation of beer drinkers but the cornerstone of addiction in Europe, with a greater predilection for drinking and drugging than others on the Mediterranean and elsewhere.

    A new report from the Centre for Social Justice, a London-based think tank, finds that the UK has become “the addicted man of Europe” as addiction to alcohol and other drugs cost the government $33 billion and $23 billion, respectively, with the continent’s highest rates of dependency on opiates too.”

    Tune in next week, when a beer company buys the camel and puts a logo on his ass. He can hook up with that Tobacco Camel for a Night Out.

    1. optimader

      Video wouldn’t download, so help me, was the camel being forced to drink beer? No, OK then, take your Puritan projection elsewhere.

      I think it’s fantastic that the camel is being given at least one small discretionary pleasure. Is it possible that HE JUST HAPPENS TO LIKE BEER? No fat, no cholesterol and plenty of good old fashioned carbohydrates –a breakfast of champions actually for a camel to brace oneself for dreary days and nights of walking in circles and eating grass.

      Maybe you could refocus your outrage at the Australian Lorikeets, the real degenerate alcoholics setting a bad example in the animal kingdom. They are a disgrace, eating fermented berries until they are not flightworthy.

      Maybe this is a germ of inspiration for you to work on an alternative theory for Dinosaurs extinction?

        1. optimader

          I was going to go the weed route, but I though my moral outrage gravitas would be eroded..
          Plant some weed and inoculate the camel pies w/ shrooms for that poor dear camel’s quality of life prospects.

      1. allcoppedout

        Hear, hear, pass the beer. The camel could get Opti’s good bits drinking Kaliber or other such non-alcoholic slime.

    2. bob

      Every year in the fall the deer come to an apple tree near me. At least one, every year, will get drunk enough to start trouble, usually getting caught on a fence, or just yelling/grunting all night long.

  4. Ulysses

    Terrific conclusion to the Panayota Gounari piece linked above:

    “In the Greek people’s quest to find their lost narrative, to “renarrativise” themselves in a collective way (16), the ability to consciously disobey and to fill the concept of hope with a real, feasible political project are two very important imperatives. To paraphrase Fromm, at this point in Greek history “the capacity to doubt, to criticize and to disobey”(17) may be all that stands between the future for this country and its end. In articulating a political project and a narrative against capitalist necrophilia, there is a need to put at the core critical and radical thought that, when blended with the love of life, may take the struggle to the next level. Instead of getting confined to reforming or amending the current situation, people need to strive to imagine that which is not, desire it and work hard to make it happen.”

    A lot of the NC commentariat are doing great jobs here as critics and doubters. The challenge now is to find creative means of civil disobedience that can force positive change!

    1. nobody

      Perhaps the challenge now is also for other people — e.g. the American people — to “find their lost narrative, to ‘renarrativise’ themselves in a collective way.”

      I don’t think that the great jobs being done here at criticism and doubt are being matched in the domain of renarrativization, although there are some hints of it from time to time — perhaps in some of Banger’s comments, for example.

      It seems to me that creative civil disobedience is more likely to effect change if it’s got a clear narrative that rings true for broad swathes of the 99%.

      1. Jess

        Speaking of a clear narrative and creative civil disobedience, you might want to check out the reviews on Amazon to my novel, PUBLIC ENEMIES. Currently averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars, the book postulates how a Second American Revolution might be ignited by a single man, much as the Arab Spring started in Tunisia. In the “movie cross” jargon of Hollywood, it’s DEATH WISH meets NETWORK.

  5. diptherio

    Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance ~Conversation with author Julia Angwin; BookTV.

    I hadn’t heard, until now, about the practice of private companies using geo-location and other meta-data to determine what price to offer their customers. It’s either a clever way to capture consumer-surplus, or it’s the new version of red-lining…maybe a little of both.

    I haven’t watched it yet, but Angwin was also on Bill Moyers recently:
    No Escaping Dragnet Nation

    1. optimader

      “It’s either a clever way to capture consumer-surplus, or it’s the new version of red-lining”

      As a privacy issue I hope the practice fails, I doubt it will. But isn’t it’s objective the diametric opposite of redlining.?
      Seems to me the former practice is a strategy to maximize sale margin and the later (redlining) is strictly a strategy to deny sales and services?

      Preaching to the choir, but the only effective pushback ultimately is to revel in being a bad consumer. Complain Global but Act Local (as in exercising enlightened personal consumption preferences).

      1. diptherio

        Well, that’s Angwin’s phrasing. She points to Staple on-line sales which gave you a different price depending how far away from a competitor you were and charged you more if there were none in the area. Analysis found that people getting the higher prices were overwhelmingly black and latino. She had two staplers shipped to the same address, ordered from two different locations, and paid two different prices.

        Not exactly denial of service, but kinda messed up, nonetheless

          1. optimader

            They (Staples) is downsizing physical locations and number of locations which is probably a glimpse of the future of their biz model.
            I guess their practice should encourage competitive alternatives?

            On the other hand, in their defense presumably there are legitimate distribution cost variances driven by store location density. For example we should expect a pallet of paper costs should reflect the distance it travels around (consuming hydrocarbons).

            Trader Joes (my virtual winecellar) does very much vary price as a function of time and distance in supply channel. Aldi (the German owner) runs a tight biz model and is quite successful

            1. diptherio

              iirc, Angwin’s two staplers from Staple’s were both mailed to and from the same locations, the only difference in the purchases was where the ip-address the order was made from were located. Her point is that it is tracking data from your ip address that determines the price you’re charged, not any physical difference in delivering the product.

              1. optimader

                Ah ok misunderstood:
                She had two staplers shipped to the same address, ordered from two different locations
                if there is no variance in cost there should be none in sell either. they deserve to swirl into bkrpt-c

  6. financial matters

    More Frustration in Medical Cost-Shopping Patient Safety Blog

    “What seems like a simple question — approximately what will this procedure cost? — is complicated because individual hospitals negotiate different prices with each insurer.

    Sometimes the hospital and physician charges are separate, sometimes not. And different deductibles and coinsurance create variables in what patients pay on top of their premium.”

    This allows for collusion between insurers and hospitals (administration, management). Physician charges can also be highly variable depending partly on the complexity of an individual case. ‘Powerful providers’ such as surgeons, endoscopists, cardiologists who bring in a lot of money to the hospital through the use of facilities are also a factor.

    Insurance companies are too prominent here and have too much conflict of interest. If a person knew they had a social contract with the state (sovereign) for their medical care things could be a lot different.

    1. huxley

      We shouldn’t be playing consumer market games with people’s lives and the medical industry shouldn’t be allowed to operate as the ultimate extortion racket, but that’s national policy and national policy is an abomination.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      2000+ pages of legislation called the ACA, and many of the problems with “healthcare” in this country could have been solved with one simple sentence:

      “You must tell the patient what the service will cost UPFRONT, or it will be free.”

      1. optimader

        ““You must tell the patient what the service will cost UPFRONT, or it will be free.””
        might work in a free market with available, equal efficacy alternatives. We’re a long,long way from that unfortunately.

  7. Banger

    I’m not sure how sensible economics got confused with Buddhist economics but, whatever. My question is: why do we not have an economy that has as its goal human happiness? The answer lies in the fact that cultural myths trump everything. People will die for a cause, will suffer to live out a cultural/religious myth. In the United States “hard work” is, from a cultural perspective, more important than happiness–happiness is something you sneak into your life after you fulfill your cultural duty to shop, to buy status markers, spend time in traffic taking your children to their special activities and pursue all the silly obsessions that make up middle-class cultural life.

    Sometimes I feel that America is where the modernist/rationalist project went to die but where it will have to be reborn in a new form.

  8. D. Mathews

    Micro-aggressions… Reminds me of when I was a child listening to a “friend” tell me that I “turned out cool” because my father was white and my mother was black. If it had been the other way around, I would be screwed up. Shheeesh!

    They married, by the way, back in the day when the anti-miscegenation laws were still in the books. If I bring that up to people nowadays, many look at me in stark astonishment. My how the times have changed! …Or so it appears.

  9. Banger

    I urge readers to read “Neoliberalism as Social Necrophilia: The Case of Greece” at Truthout. The Greek situation is our future and an illustration of Naomi Klein’s “shock doctrine.” The ruling elites know that they can do anything they want. They can destroy societies and know that there will be no opposition. In the U.S. the open theft and fraud that went on in starting in the late 90s and early 00s met with only tepid opposition and there was no opposition or serious call for prosecution of this unprecedented crime wave.

    Something about contemporary life has frozen not just the human mind but the heart as well. Our modern culture is deeply flawed because it cannot react to crisis. Climate-change, massive criminal activity on the part of elites, the degradation of democratic institutions (at least in the USA), the deepening corruption of all cultural institutions particularly the corporate sector but spreading through education, religion, charities and so on is met with muteness–perhaps because the door is wide open for escapism, petty cultural issues, and the culture of narcissism which degrades the commons.

    We write and talk about this but we do nothing and there is much that could be done.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We do nothing, perhaps (this is my theory), because there seem to be a lot to be done.

      But it’s simple, really (to me, anyway).

      If we believe each of us is capable of greatness, that each of us can be a thinker, writer, painter, potter, singer, hunter, gatherer, philosopher, etc, then we empower ourselves.

      Then, we start to ask questions like,

      Why or why not?
      Why not us?
      Why not us what?
      What not us sharing?
      Sharing? Yes, sharing because we are all good, or all precious, or all sacred.
      Are we (the little people) together a monetary sovereign?
      A monetary sovereign of what?
      A monetary sovereign of the people, for the people and by the people.
      What does a monetary sovereign do?
      A monetary sovereign issues money and regulates its value.
      Does a monetary issue or create money by the little people spending it into existence?
      Why not?
      It would be a very normal act of a monetary sovereign ‘by the little people.’
      Can it be now the time has arrived that we can stop debasing ourselves and start realizing the we are the ones to do it – to create money?
      Yes, we can do it.
      We are meant to do it.
      We are destine to do it.
      We can create money by the little people spending it into existence.
      We stop saying, we are not artists. Those beautiful people over there are.
      We stop saying, we are not thinkers. Those smart people over there are.
      We stop saying, we are not enlightened. Those masters over there are.
      We stop saying, we are not good enough to create money by spending it into existence. The all-knowing, all-wise, all-benevolent government mandarins and politicians over there do.

      In this small and simple understanding, we restore the wholeness to ourselves, recognizing ourselves for what we already are.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Unfortunately, the pervasive and relentless brainwashing is the escapism that there are heroes who will do the work for us, so we can go back to our petty distractions.

        Heroes like virtuous politicians, a benevolent government or some other great men.

        First, they take your money.

        Then, they take your Constitution.

    2. psychohistorian

      Agreed about Greece. I have said in comments here multiple times, As goes Greece, so goes the 99%.

      I think the solution is simple like MLTPB but is differently focused. I believe that if the 99% pushed to neuter inheritance, “everything” would change by that one act. If one no longer has faith in the class system built upon unfettered inheritance, one looks at fellow humans, community and social organization totally different…..and in a good way, I think.

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Alzheimers/dementia at Daily Kos

    Apparently there is no issue serious or ubiquitous enough to escape political pimping:

    1:03 PM PT: Oh, and one more lesson this case illustrates that we can clobber and educate the Republicans with — a relatively small increase in funding now in identifying this REST protein and how to strengthen, or supplement it in the regions of the brains where it is missing might be able save us 1,000 times that much in accumulated Alzheimer’s cost over the next three decades. Some of you folks with greater talents for brevity should boil this down and make sure we keep the Senate, and take back the House in 2014. We should be able to do it on the issues.

    So here’s a tip.

    Throw away your rapeseed (canola) oil, “vegetable” oil and margarine and replace with ORGANIC COCONUT OIL, quality olive oil and BUTTER (preferably grass-fed.) Eat raw almonds and walnuts.Your brain, and the the rest of your body for that matter, needs high-quality, natural fat to remain healthy.

    Regardless of the issue, there is no political truce in our future. And even if a “drug” were to be found, it’s unlikely many of us would live to see the day we figured out how to pay for it.

    1. diptherio

      Even better than butter is Ghee (clarified butter). It’s big in Indian cooking and is easier to digest than butter, since the clarification process removes most of the lactose and casein (making it edible for the lactose-intolerant, iirc). My “guru” in Nepal cooks with a LOT of ghee and swears by it’s health benefits. Despite the fact that he smokes like a chimney (gotta love them Nepali holy men) and he’s in his mid-to-late seventies, his skin is as smooth as a teenagers. I sh*t you not, it’s incredible.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        I’ve seen ghee in many recipes. So do you make it or buy it?

        Oh, and GRAIN–DUMP THE GRAINS. (You can pretty much figure that the major ones are GMO anyway.)

        Try coconut or almond flour.

        And, FWIW, much of the research into Alzheimers drugs involves coconut/coconut oil.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          You can buy ghee — by the gallon, where I live — at any store that has Indian foodstuffs. The last time I checked, the cost of ghee was less than the cost of butter. Of course, it’s from India, so you never know what “market” forces are causing the price disparity.

        2. diptherio

          Interesting about the grains. Kali Baba, besides being a vegetarian, also doesn’t eat any kind of grain, which is his own personal thing, so far as I know, not part of traditional auyervedic dietary practice.

          He’s got no teeth, so every evening he boils up a couple potatoes, mashes ’em and fries ’em in ghee with a bunch of other veggies and spices until it’s all a delicious paste. As I said, the man’s got skin like a baby’s butt; he also takes a 10-14 day trek to Gosaikunda (a sacred lake in the Himalayas) every year. Must be doing something right.

          1. optimader

            …has all his teeth, makes tasty grub..
            Visiting Chef Series Features Arun Sampanthavivat
            Chef Arun Sampanthavivat, executive chef and owner of the nationally renowned Arun’s Thai Restaurant in Chicago, recently prepared a five-course meal for area college supporters during the inaugural “Visiting Chef Series” at Waterleaf restaurant.

        3. Pete

          Good advice. The modern version of wheat has been mutated and tinkered with so many times over the recent decades of industrial agriculture that it looks nothing like any kind of wheat varieties our ancestors may have had access to. It’s designed to handle heavy processing and loaded with lectins, gluten, and phytates (all things that will wreak havoc on your gut flora)…. “Healthy whole grains” is a wonderful marketing scam.

          Coconut oil is a miracle product- withstands high heat cooking, great for skin, teeth, hair, is an anti-fungal. I’d also recommend lard, duck fat, and (grass-fed) beef or lamb tallow for cooking. You can find ghee at Whole Foods if you are a brave enough sort to enter such a place. Don’t fear the fat!

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I came across a reference, in a Zen book, I think, years ago, referring to the rarified wisdom of the masters as ‘clarified ghee.’

        And a couple of Japanese emperors with posthumous names with ‘clarified butter’ (prounced daigo, 醍醐 is the kanji, which is Chinese, but pronounced tihu by the Chinese, and is translated as Buddhist truth/Buddha nature, per mdbg site.) in them, emperor Daigo and emperor Go-Daigo.

        I had no idea it is still widely used in India cooking today.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thank you, everyone.

      I will try to pick up some almond and walnut flour today. And will definition look for ghee, if I can find something organic.

      A couple of tips from people passionate about a subject is a lot easier than wading through all those volumes of books.

      Of course, that’s intellectually lazy and a fallacy of reasoning by authority, without reading and learning about the whole subject.

      But the modern world is so taxing. Who has the time to work out the equations of, say, Big Bang, but a few lucky people? The rest of us just have to believe that Fermat’s Last Theorem has been proven.

      And so, it’s ironic, that as we become more ‘rational’ and ‘scientific,’ we become more and more logically fallacious, by becoming ever more dependent on ‘reasoning (or argument) by authority.’

      1. montanamaven

        This morning on NPR’s quiz show “Says You”, they were asked the origins of “buttering somebody up” and one source was the act of Indians throwing butterballs of Ghee at their deities’ statues in order to curry favor. I can get Ghee here in Montana at our natural food stores.

  11. Eeyores enigma

    In the Israel desalination piece;

    “By easing its own water crunch, experts say, Israel could free up more of the precious resource in a possible peace agreement with the Palestinians.”
    Yea they might just allow the Palestinians a trickle more water into their prison cells.

    “…emission of highly concentrated saline water and chemicals into the ocean, with unclear environmental consequences.”
    It’s unclear so lets just not think about it.

    “Allowing more water to flow in every Palestinian tap has immediate impact on the quality of life of all Palestinians.”
    Man the hubris in this article is so thick you can cut it with a chainsaw.

    1. heresy101

      Reverse osmosis takes gigawatthours of energy and hasn’t worked in California because there are no secret nuclear reactors and electric prices are high (but not as high as Germany with its huge subsidies).

      Californian ingenuity is addressing the costs of desalination in a field, and not a garage this time. This process is likely to change irrigation around the world:

    2. optimader

      Im sure they will share..

      the saline discharge is higher density so it will tend to (toxically) pool at sea floor unless the discharge is properly engineered (diluted and distributed). That of course is expensive and presumably has little effect on potable water production so it’s safe to anticipate proper discharging wont occur until it has some fundamentally adverse and undeniable consequences.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        High density saline discharge (so far so good, no fundamental adverse consequences) and desalination….

        It’s only the ‘best current’ explanation or knowledge.

        That understanding should give pause to trying it. But with almost anything science, partial knowledge is eagerly applied anywhere money can be made.

        ‘Why do you go to school?

        ‘Just to know.’

        ‘No, really, why do you study?’

        ‘I am curious, really.’

        ‘Come on, why waste time like that. What can you do with that research – a teaching position, a career, fame, some patent?’

        ‘No, come on. I just want to know things.’

        ‘You’re pathetic, wasting your life away. One MUST find a way to apply what one has learned, even if it’s partial, never mind that all scientific knowledge is partial. One must. One just must.’

  12. berit bryn jensen

    Congratulations to Yves for using her limited time on the Atlantic panel discussion to speak plainly about what’s going on in corporatized USA, scoring a lasting impression comparing Washington 2014 to Paris 1780, and “rearranging the desk chairs on the Titanic”.Well done!

    It’s taken me a while to get that Yves Smith is female, since I’ve only known Yves as a French male name. More highly competent, independently thinking females, speaking loudly out about the realities on the ground,shaped by a minority of shortsighted, corrupted officials in government and big business, may eventually be lifesaving.
    I happened to be in Oslo when Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, as I was when Nelson Mandela received his well deserved. When Obama was in town, the city was like under siege, security technology and personell everywhere, worlds apart in contrast to the tranquility and dignity of Mandela’s stay.

  13. Eeyores enigma

    What would Buddha say?
    Sounds a lot like what I was trying to say in Yves request for debate material.
    No policy can be made without first designing where we want the economy to take us. We absolutely must begin to question the default answer to that question that all economist and policy makers trot out which is “back to economic growth”. Oh some do soften the ignorance by saying “sustainable growth” which is just a huge oxymoron.

    With the major constraints looming all around to blindly promote growth as a solution is the definition of insanity.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Eeyores, I agree with you about the presumptive need for more ‘economic growth.’

      You and Thor’s Hammer, plus others out there.

      In that vein, I asked before and ask again, what is the ‘natural GDP?’

      Is the natural GDP much less then the GDP of this immediate past quarter?

      Do we de-grow to get there and how do we get there to find it a better world? Is GDP sharing the way – smaller pot, but more equitably shared, thus more happiness?

      1. Eeyores enigma

        The only need for GDP to increase is to rationalize lending because all money is loaned into existence.

        What if loaning money into existence was not the definition of life on this planet?

        We might have GDH – gross domestic happiness.

        Do not right me off as a dreamer then simply accept the nightmare that is “No money=you die” or you become the problem.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Not going to watch the video, so I’ll take your quote of Fischer as it is written (hopefully, there is no contextual shading that would modify its meaning).

      What Fischer describes is actually blatant kleptocracy — the wholesale looting of our Treasury by members of the oligarchy.

      1. Eeyores enigma

        At the end of all Ponzi schemes aka pyramid schemes when it is understood that the jig is up, only those at the very top walk away with a bundle.

        You could see it in Hanks eyes when he, as proxy for the top tiers of the pyramid, held a gun to the worlds head and demanded “one treeeeeelion dollars” well he only said seven hundred billion but it turned out to be way more than that.

        Then because that ploy worked so well the entire FIRE economy has been busy making as many tiers whole as possible but it is exponentially more difficult to achieve as distribution in a pyramid doesn’t work very well in reverse.

        Should a bought in earlier but hey!!! maybe we can crank it back up again?

  14. rich

    Mom Takes On FDA and Saves Her Son’s Life

    CNN reports:

    After just three doses of an experimental drug, Josh Hardy — whose parents had to launch a media campaign to get him the medicine — is sitting up, doing homework and playing board games with his brothers, his mother said.

    Just last week, Josh was so sick he could barely get out even a few words. He was in heart and kidney failure, and vomited blood several times an hour as his family held a vigil in the intensive care unit of a Memphis hospital.

    Josh received doses of the drug brincidofovir Wednesday, Saturday, and Tuesday, and tests showed the level of adenovirus in his blood went down from 250,000 copies per milliliter to 367 copies per milliter…Before receiving brincidofovir, Josh was fighting for his life. The adenovirus was ravaging his immune system, left vulnerable by treatment for cancer, and the only available antiviral drug to treat it wasn’t working.

    In early February, Chimerix, the company that makes brincidofovir, refused to give Josh its experimental drug. But after reports by CNN and intense pressure from social media, Chimerix and the Food and Drug Administration came up with a plan to get the medicine to Josh and other patients who request it.

    1. Jagger

      Amazing what nationwide bad publicity will accomplish. Reminds me of Governor Bobby Jindal and his decision to end hospice funding for the poor in Louisiana. Wouldn’t back down until bad publicity went nationwide. Told me everything I needed to know about Jindal.

  15. Jim Haygood

    From the Daily Kos article on Social Security:

    ‘That annual statement you used to get that provided your earnings to date and estimated your monthly benefits is gone now. It was an important educational tool for Social Security, and a reminder that you are paying into a secure retirement fund.’

    Secure? The most basic measure of security in a retirement plan is funding status. According to Social Security’s 2013 annual report, ‘The open group unfunded obligation for OASDI over the 75-year period is $9.6 trillion in present value, $1 trillion more than a year ago.’ Crap, that don’t sound too good.

    What’s worse, unlike a private pension, Social Security is noncontractual. In reporting an eye-popping $39.7 trillion negative net worth for Social Security and Medicare combined, the Financial Report of the U.S. Government (citizens’ guide, page viii) states that ‘These liabilities are not considered liabilities on the balance sheet.’ That’s because Congress can cut or cancel these programs any time.

    Sending out projections of Social Security payments that are not guaranteed and not securely funded is fraudulent. Real security would consist of subjecting Social Security to ERISA, so that the Soc Sec trustees would owe a fiduciary duty to beneficiaries, instead of acting as handmaids to the politicians who looted it.

    1. financial matters

      Real security would come from a government who saw as its obligation the well being of the 99%. Then it could spend money in that direction (Medicare/single payer, social security, job guarantee) rather than bailing out the 1%.

      1. allcoppedout

        I don’t know how we do it FM, but how could we tell the difference between someone likely to mean this and a politician claiming to?

    2. Paul Tioxon

      “What’s worse, unlike a private pension, Social Security is noncontractual.”

      How many armored divisions and air craft carrier battle groups are protecting your pension contract Mr. Haywood? Mine are protected by the Pentagon, The National Security apparatus, and assorted FBIs, Treasury Agents and so on and so forth. Nothing has been looted from the staggering Social Security Surplus which has done nothing but grow in the past 3 decades. You can watch it grow at this site:

      Currently, the SS is almost $3Trillion. It is and will continue to grow every year for years to come. The money borrowed by the Federal Government from the Trust Fund, is not looted, but is a debt obligation that is as legally binding as any contract you or I will ever be subject to. Please stop misleading the innocent eyes of new comers to this site who can’t tell philosophical points of divergence from just making things up because there is so much corporate and political corruption throughout the land. This program operates better than banks, Wall St, the Fed or almost any other financial institution that exists today. It does not miss a payment and has a multi-$TRILLION surplus.

    3. psychohistorian


      Social Security was/is an INSURANCE program that has had actuaries replaced by politicians via Greenspan and Reagan.

      The last I heard from actuaries I trust, we would have to get employees to contribute between 50 and 80 CENTS a week to put the Social Security Insurance program back on a sustainable path.

      Do you get paid to spew the misleading FUD you post in comments here? I am sorry but your tirades like this SSI one and those about Venezuela and other South American countries fighting America’s ongoing Shock Doctrine antics is getting old.

  16. diptherio

    On the Buddhist Economics article:

    I don’t want to downplay the points Brown is making, but I feel the need to add a caveat every time someone points to Bhutan as exemplar of humane political-economy. I’m sure they are getting plenty right, but they also have some pretty unsavory skeletons in their closet, which no one ever seems to mention.

    Brown: There have been a couple of approaches that have taken off from Sen’s work. Bhutan used one of them — it is a Buddhist country — creating the Bhutan Gross National Happiness Index. So they focused on how happy their people were. [emphasis added]

    Well, not all of the people… Compare this, from Wikipedia:

    The issue was brought to the fore when the government of Bhutan discovered in its first census the magnitude of the Lhotsampa population. Lhotsampa of Nepali descent who had been living in southern Bhutan since the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were induced to leave Bhutan after the country carried out its first census in 1988. The government, however, failed to properly train the census officials and this led to some tension among the public. Placement in the census categories which ranged from “Genuine Bhutanese” to “Non-nationals: Migrants and Illegal Settlers” was often arbitrary, and could be arbitrarily changed.[18] In some cases members of the same family have been, and still are, placed in different categories; some admittedly genuine Bhutanese have been forced to flee with family members the government found to be illegal immigrants. Other Lhotshampa who considered their own citizenship secure were prevented by government officials from obtaining proper documentation, losing their property.

    The government also attempted to enforce the Bhutanese driglam namzha dress and language code at the same time, in order to have the Lhotshampa population assimilate into Ngalop society.


    …these measures combined to alienate even bona fide citizens of Nepali descent. Some ethnic Nepalese began protesting perceived discrimination, demanding exemption from the government decrees aimed at enhancing Bhutanese national identity. The reaction to the royal decrees in Nepalese majority communities surfaced as ethnic strife directed against non-Lhotshampa. Reactions also took form as protest movements in Nepal and India among Nepalese who had left Bhutan. The Druk Gyalpo was accused of “cultural suppression,” and his government was charged by antigovernment leaders with human rights violations, including the torture of prisoners; arbitrary arrest and detention; denial of due process; and restrictions of freedoms of speech and press, peaceful organization and assembly, and workers’ rights. Antigovernment protest marches involved more than 20,000 participants…


    In 1992 interethnic conflict again flared, prompting a peak in Lhotshampa departures, totaling over 100,000 by 1996. Many Lhotshampa claim to have been forcibly evicted by the military, who forced them to sign “Voluntary Migration Form” documents stating they had left willingly.

    There are still Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal, fwiw.

  17. jfleni

    RE: In Ukraine, few think Crimea marks the end of Putin’s expansion

    Maybe so, but it’s important to realize that Eastern Ukraine is mostly a bunch of played out coal mines and slag heaps, with very few bright spots! Any whole or partial re-constitution of the USSR could easily be the “cement overcoat” that just kills Putin’s dream! Let him have them, for a very considerable price: gas, favorable treaties, and other things.

    However, if Ukraine concentrates on their shale gas, agricultural resources, closeness to eastern Europe, and short connections to the Bosporus and the rest of the seven seas, they could prosper mightily!

    Absolutely required would be a legitimate, but non-provocative (DogPatch-DC stay far away), defense, and heavy restraint of the right-wing “boyos” and gunslingers who have scanalized the whole country.

    1. psychohistorian

      I don’t know if folks have read that China, in fairly obvious support of Russia, is now calling for repayment of the multi-billion loan it has outstanding to the Ukraine.

      Sides are being further clarified.

  18. jfleni

    RE: In Ukraine, few think Crimea marks the end of Putin’s expansion

    Maybe so, but it’s important to realize that Eastern Ukraine is mostly a bunch of played out coal mines and slag heaps, with very few bright spots! Any whole or partial re-constitution of the USSR could easily be the “cement overcoat” that just kills Putin’s dream! Let him have them, for a very considerable price: gas, favorable treaties, and other things.

    However, if Ukraine concentrates on their shale gas, agricultural resources, closeness to eastern Europe, and short connections to the Bosporus and the rest of the seven seas,they could prosper mightily!

    Absolutely required would be a legitimate, but non-provocative (DogPatch-DC stay far away), defense, and heavy restraint of the right-wing “boyos” and gunslingers who have scanalized the whole country.

  19. Chauncey Gardiner

    Appreciate today’s last link: “Of Hippos and Kings”, and the interrelationship of the collapse of civilizations to complexity. I look forward to reading the book. It will be interesting to see if the author gives credence to the theory that earthquakes on Crete and related volcanic explosions on the island of Thera, also known as the Minoan eruptions, played a significant role in the demise of Minoan civilization. Those were clearly not such minor events.

  20. down2long

    It’s the 50 year anniversary of the Great Alaska earthquake.

    I was six years old and living with my family in Ouzinke, Alaska on a 3 mile square island (Spruce Island, an idyllic place I still dream about, with wild cows) off Kodiak Island when the Good Friday earthquake struck. 9.3 on the Richter for 5 and a half minutes. The sky was a weird color, we were coloring Easter eggs.we had just seen the movie “Last Days of Pompei” as our weekly film that was shown in the big school room, with 100% attendance from the 150 villagers, so we were all sufficiently prepared to be terrified. I thought it might either a)be the end of the world or b) a terrible new normal,as the quake kept going on for minute after minute. I wondered how we could live like that. The rumbling stopped, my dad, who was the head teacher of the two teacher school, said he was going to go under the building to make sure everything was going to be OK. I started crying, begging him not to go. Another powerful quake struck, and he changed his mind.

    Finally, when the rumbling and shaking stopped the second time, someone ran up to tell us the ocean was gone. We all ran down to the beach. (Talk about a bad idea!) A surreal sight, no water as far the eye could see, in what had been the open ocean.

    Someone said to head to higher ground, and we all did (there was a small mountain in the middle of the island.) All night long we could hear the docks, and the galvanized cannery being torn apart. Horrible sound.

    There was no radio from Anchorage for hours – we weren’t sure if it was gone. We could get short wave from Russia, and maybe as night came on, we could get the big 50K stations from Seattle. We had no idea how bad the damage was, but we knew it was bad.
    One village woman was on the radio to her husband, who was out fishing. He was trying to get back to land. His last words to her, as he saw the tsunami, were “Oh my God. It’s so big.”

    The next morning was sunny and beautiful, with homes, cars, boats, everything, floating by from Kodiak.

    The island sank 8 feet in the quake. Following that day, many, many, aftershocks in the 7.5 to 7.8 range. My Mom speaks of waking up in the night as the handles on the dresser drawer pulls (designed with movable half circles you could lift up to pull) would start to rattle – until they just clacked. You’d only get up and head out if it really seemed like a doozy – and I don’t remember us ever actually heading out again. You can get used to anything.

    In another village, not as lucky as ours, the villagers tried to run up a mountain to escape the tsunami. More than 50 of the 150 villagers drowned running for their lives. Of course, in Anchorage, it was worse, the ground opened up, swallowed homes, 4th Avenue dropped forty feet. The 5 story JC Penney store – then Alaska’s tallest building – collapsed.

    The Anchorage Daily News is running a special with personal recollections at

    Definitely worth a read. Has brought back a lot of memories, many of them not so good. I will say this – having been through the Northridge quake, and having an apartment in San Francisco during the Loma Prieta (nothing even fell of the shelf, since it was on bedrock.) l learned to recognize “The Big One” (I knew as the Northridge one was unfolding that it wasn’t the big one, although I had woken up before it hit, proving I guess that my mind is still attuned to that earthquake rumbling.) I also learned you should try your best to get a house on bedrock, if you can.

  21. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It must have been traumatic for you as a six year old for your memories to be so vivid. Was in both Kodiak and Anchorage many years ago and saw photos of the aftermath. Truly terrible.

  22. rayduray


    I’m a bit tardy here. Forgive me.

    The absolute best line anyone got off at the Atlantic slugfest in D.C. was yours regarding “Versailles, 1780”.

    Possibly, just possibly you’ve made the “cake” crowd a wee bit nervous? I enjoyed the conspiracy to silence you, although the sheer number of droids and nincompoops on that Titanic deck was more than enough to make sure the general public never understands that TIAA is replacing TINA. There is an alternative. Yours is very thoughtful and appealing one. Unfortunately for us, the Thatcherite/Chicago School No Alternative crowd are just as mendacious as ever.

    By the way, I’m an old retro yippie. I loved the idea in 1967 that we should levitate the Pentagon. As evil has grown throughout that region, I now feel that we’d be better off just simply scraping the Pentagon, NSA’s Fort Meade Campus, Langley and D.C. and levitating the entire kit and kaboodle out into the Atlantic just off Chesapeake Bay where all that glorious ruin could serve as a fish nursery.

    I believe it is called the “highest and best use” of the resources we got. [wink}

  23. WorldidMorphing

    Same here Yves, you did a terrific job on the panel. You hit hard, and with overwhelming force. By showing how screwed a very fundamental characteristic of capitalism has become(namely the concept of equity-stocks), you will have probably planted the seed of doubt in quite a few minds.

Comments are closed.