Links 3/6/14

[Again an excess of links; I blame Ukraine. Yves should be back, full force, in the near future! –lambert]

Scientists discover why people cannot do multiple tasks simultaneously Asahi Shimbun

Bank Oversight: Europe Stressed by Approaching Stress Tests Der Spiegel

A Chilling Forecast for Bank Profits John Carney, WSJ

Americans Shut Out of Home Market Threaten Recovery: Mortgages Bloomberg

Fed chair vows to ‘do all that I can’ to boost weak U.S. economy Reuters

ADP, purchase apps, ISM The Center of the Universe

A Depressingly Simple Explanation For The Weak Recovery Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider

Bernanke’s $250,000 fee for speech puts him near top of food chain MarketWatch, WSJ. It’s an ill wind…

Stockbrokers Fail to Disclose Red Flags WSJ

Did the “Bitcoin CEO” Just Commit Suicide? Not So Fast. Slate

Global Unrest

Live Ukraine BBC

Ukraine crisis: Crimea MPs vote to join Russia BBC

John Kerry Sits In Shadows Of Kiev Café Awaiting Woman Known Only As Dasha The Onion

EU freezes assets of ousted Ukrainian leader and 17 others Reuters. Wowsers.

A long, hard slog Economist. “[A]sset recovery is a long-drawn-out process.” Presumably for the assets Obama wants to threaten, then?

Ukraine crisis: Blows for west in bid to counter Moscow FT

Russia Today Anchor Liz Wahl Quits Live On-Air (Video) Hollywood Reporter

Why Putin Doesn’t Respect Us Thomas Friedman, Times. Lordy!

Ukraine: Ashton Phonecall On Maidan Snipers Moon of Alabama

Putin Isn’t Crazy, He’s KGB Bloomberg

Army bunkers to be adjusted to look more friendly Thai PBS

London is officially the favourite city of the mega-rich for the second year running with 4,200 residents owning assets of more than £18m Daily Mail

Rolls-Royce investigated in US over bribery claims Telegraph

3 Gulf Countries Pull Ambassadors From Qatar Over Its Support of Islamists Times

Development Fairytales: A Foreign Firm’s Story in Senegal Oakland Institute. Corporate theft of Common Pool Resources.

IBM workers strike in China over terms of Lenovo takeover FT

US official questions Asia ‘pivot’, backtracks AP

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

The Inverse of Oversight: CIA Spies On Congress Dan Froomkin, The Intercept

Outgoing NSA chief hints at ‘media leaks legislation’ Politico

Plan to End U.S. Control of ICANN Submitted to Brazil Meeting on Future of Internet Governance Syracuse University News

How the rise of mobile apps will help Apple, Google and Facebook kill the Internet as we know it Pando Daily. “It’s easier to be led and harder to browse on a smaller device.” How con-v-e-e-e-e-n-i-e-n-t.

Just How Doomed Are Congressional Democrats? Pretty Doomed Charlie Cook, The Atlantic. Hey, I’ve got an idea! Democrats! Stop sucking!


Extending the Obamacare Cancelled Policy Moratorium––One More Contortion in the Pretzel Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review

ObamaCare Clusterfuck: CORRECTION: “Keep your plan” fix to be prolonged until just before the 2016 Presidential election (!!) Corrente

“Retirement Security in an Aging Society,” or the Lack Thereof Baseline Scenario

NPR Tells US That Pew Expert Paul Taylor Wants to Promote Generational Conflict CEPR


The Steampunk Future Revisited The Archdruid Report

Politics and the African-American Human Language Ta-Nahesi Coates, The Atlantic

Antidote du jour:


Bonus video (RS):

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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. arby

    Mr. Friedman, a clever neo-liberal, has a premise in his essay that the communist Soviet Empire fell because it could not provide a rising standard of living for its people. Then, with falling standards of living here, what are we to assume about the prospects of the neo-liberal American Empire?

    1. fajensen

      I think the USSR failed because the elite looting eventually outstripped production. Friedman would probably agree – in the sense that it is really only the 1%’ers who count as “people” in his models.

      1. Benedict@Large

        The USSR “failed” because the Chicago Boys convinced them they couldn’t service their debt, a nonsense idea since the USSR had its own sovereign currency. They defaulted FOR NOTHING.

        1. Anon1

          The readers comments seem to indicate many Americans agree with Mr. Friedman, which always makes me wonder.

    2. Invy

      When neoliberalism took over the sattelite countries of the ussr, it took 30 years to see the trend, there have been 4 million more deaths as compared to during the socialist years… There was an article about income inequality and health gap in former ussr satellites explaining this discrepancy.

    3. Emma

      It’s the neoliberal art of sculpture – hacking away through everything until the world is revealed long over. Yet this too, will be profoundly felt by many.

    4. Ben Johannson

      For anyone interested, I highly recommend Robert Allen’s Farm to Factory, a revisionist look at the Soviet economy.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘[Venezuela’s] inflationary trends [are] due to the distortions in economy and wages from the continuous flow of petrol dollars. More simply, it’s a problem mostly related to the capitalist structure of the economy rather than the Leftist reforms promoted last decade.’

      Ludicrous. I’ll bet this poseur has never even visited the website of Banco Central de Venezuela ( They’ve posted Dec. 2012 monetary figures, and there’s good news, comrades. The monthly increase in currency in circulation slowed from 38.9% in November to 10.7% in December. Mind you, these are monthly increases, not annualized ones.

      One is surprised that inflation allegedly is only 56% annually, when currency in circulation has climbed nearly that amount in two months.

      1. Benedict@Large

        The US has added over $8 trillion since 2008, and our inflation meter has hardly wiggled.

        You need to find a better inflation theory than the quantity of money. The Quantity Theory is obviously garbage.

        1. fresno dan

          Inflation is a strange thing. Your employer used to pay 90% of the health insurance premium, but over the years reduces it to 50% – and oh yeah, deductibles go up, up, and away… things are no longer covered, and you have to stay on the phone for 30 minutes to make an appointment. And you get to “talk” to your doctor for less than a minute.
          I wonder where that 8 trillion went? Who benefited from it….and who didn’t?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            You are right to ask those questions.

            Had you left it to the ‘experts,’ they would never have asked them.

        2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          The needle hasn’t moved because our problem is not one of quantity, but of distribution. New dollars are either being used to offset bad debt or hoarded by those up the food chain. Proof positive that “Trickle Down” has never worked, and never will.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I agree.

            It’s one of distribution, not of (more money or less money) quantity.

            It’s possible to have more happiness (with a more just world), even with less growth (see MikeNY below).

            It’s possible to have more growth, even with less money in the system (see FresnoDan’s link below).

            With ‘money creation via the people spending it into existence,’ it’s possible to have more money even as we tax the rich.

            Don’t let them tell you ‘this is not possible and that is not possible.’

        3. Ben Johannson

          Yes it’s fascinating how inflationistas take the equation MV=PQ, omit the troublesome variables and magically arrive at M=P. Their thinking fits perfectly into the mainstream as they craft models which they then demand reality adapt itself to.

  2. MikeNY

    NC readers:

    Does anyone know of a website or article or paper I can get my hands on discussing (and attempting to quantify) a living wage? I’ve been asked to make a short presentation on the idea at an Occupy-affiliated group in a few weeks. Of course I will search the interwebs, but if anyone here knows of a good source, I’d be grateful…


    1. Invy

      A couple of points,

      For a minimum wage more conducive to capitalist mode of products, look into the French model before sarkozy butchered it… Basically instead of a business paying the wage increase, the government would do it. This way the business wouldn’t have to respond by raising prices.

      Another is mincome in Canada.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Until tthe Beltway “progressives” got into the act, it was $15.00; that’s what various local efforts were asking for. Then it magically changed to $10.10. Of ciurse, that’s catchier.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There are liberals and there are neoliberals.

        For progressives, they might want to stay away from ‘neo-progressives.’

    3. The Black Swan
      This looks at living wage jobs in WA, OR, ID, and CO. Defines what a living wage is, how much it needs to be per state, and then county by county, and then the availability of living wage jobs.
      I recently wrote a research paper about Basic Income, and have a good amount of information about living wages in the US. I can dig up my bibliography if you are at all interested.

      1. MikeNY

        Swan, that’s a sweet link. Love the quant detail. I think with this and what was supplied above I have what I need. If I need more, I’ll reach out to you.

        Thanks so much again to all for your help. Lots of brain power around this place.

  3. Hugh

    A few years ago, it was Congressional Republicans who were doomed. Now it’s the Democrats. In either case, who cares? Different jersies but they’re still playing the same game against us.

    I can’t help but think that all the various Warsaw Pact members and former soviet republics like the Baltics looking at Ukraine are breathing a sigh of relief that their membership in the EU and/or NATO spares them Ukraine’s fate in Putin’s push to reconstitute the late Soviet Empire. As countries around Russia’s periphery are finding out, empires make lousy neighbors. We have seen something similar in Chinese moves in the East and South China Seas and its internal policies toward Tibet and Xinjiang. Re-emerging empires like China and Russia make the case for what would otherwise be an unjustifiable role for the world’s hegemon, the US, in their peripheries. I’m not saying this is a good thing, for us, but this is the way things play out.

    I would also just note that the Russian version of hasbara that has been showing up on this site seems to invoke Russian “security” interests in the whole of the former Soviet Empire without really specifying what those security concerns are or why Russia has any particular right to invoke them. This is an argument that goes far beyond Ukraine, although Ukraine seems the current primary recipient of it. And of course, it makes no sense. The truth is that a Ukraine that was member of the EU and NATO would provide Russia with a stable western border. However the dictates of Russian empire prefer a country weak, chaotic, in which the empire can meddle, even if or precisely because this creates an unstable border into which the empire can expand.

    That said, a more useful frame for Ukraine is to see events there as conflict and competition between European/American, Russian, and Ukrainian kleptocrats in how the wealth of the Ukrainian people will be looted by them. While the media portray the conflict in the Ukraine as Russian vs Ukrainian or Russian vs Tatar, the real conflict is as always between the 1%s and the 99%s.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      The American/EU/NATO/regime change/democratization “empire” doesn’t exactly have a good track record in the “stability” department.

      Surprising that you would suggest otherwise.

    2. fresno dan

      Just the war department OOPS!!! I meant DoD clique justifying, rationalizing, and aggrandizing itself. Orwell forgot to add that stability is instability.
      And I agree entirely – the only choice we have (99% of the people on earth) nowadays is whether to be raped by Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan

      1. Synopticist

        I wish there was a grown-up like him making decisions on US foreign policy these days. I used to hold real-politique in contempt, until the neo-cons and the R2P crowd got into power.

    3. Synopticist

      The Baltic states are genuinely part of Europe, while the Ukraine basically isn’t, it’s half Russian.
      They’re also “digestible” for the EU, small nation states which can economically grow so they’re no longer a burden. Ukraine is huge, with a population of 45 million, it’s dirt poor, and makes even Greece look like a paragon of tax-paying virtue.
      Russia is never going to let them into NATO either, with their eastern border a few hundred miles from the old battlefields of Stalingrad.

  4. dcb

    the politico article had me on the floor with laughter.
    Outgoing nsa chief (alexander) , who has been caught telling lies to congress, et for some reason has avoided criminal prosecturion, says we need legislation to prevent criminal liars like himself from loosing their job. We have to make it illegal to show I’m a liar under oath

    1. diptherio

      Unintentional self-parody–got love it:

      On Tuesday, [Alexander] reiterated his position that the publication of the leaks “have caused grave, significant and irreversible damage to our nation and to our allies. It will take us years to recover.”

      In other news, an abusive father has reiterated his position that gossiping about his drunken rages and violent outbursts with the neighbors had led to “grave, significant and irreversible damage to our family and our friends. It will take years to recover our reputation as a functional, loving family.”

      1. fresno dan

        If you rape and kill the constitution, but nobody knows about it, is it really a crime?
        If you rape and kill the constitution, but nobody cares about it, is it really a crime?

        In my view, what is happening far exceeds Watergate. At least back than congressional republicans could understand that the president was not above the law. Now we have as a matter of policy government agencies ignoring the law, and no faith whatsoever that the DoJ will do anything, that the white House will compel any action, and that a majority o congress will find the issue noteworthy.
        “alarmed” – well, I have the vapors too….

        1. afisher

          The Supreme Court has just given the government (and the NSA’s defenders) a little more breathing room on the issue of the legality of the agency’s surveillance programs.

          We need to be very clear to remember that there is another set of players who ignore the spotlight and are devastating what we once knew of as the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    1. Brian

      I saw the HB’s new TV show last evening. I thought the characters were intriguing, and the community center being a dump was a good choice. The mood lighting was rather good but the narrator was a trifle nervous having only a shovel as the somewhat less than amicable visitors appeared.
      Still, a wonderful pilot and I look forward to the series. Aren’t we overdue for “smell-o-vision”?

  5. Katniss Everdeen

    I’d imagine that one of the reasons Putin doesn’t respect “us” is because he is aware that fools like Thomas Friedman are given a platform and hold some sway over “our” “opinions.”

  6. rich

    Frank Biden, brother of VP, in Tallahassee to advocate for charter schools

    TALLAHASSEE — Among the notables spotted in the Capitol today: Frank Biden, the Ocean Ridge resident whose brother, Joe Biden, is vice president of the United States.

    Frank Biden is president of the Mavericks High School in West Palm Beach and director of the Florida Charter School Alliance.

    “I’m a charter school advocate and a choice advocate and have a lot of friends up here. It’s always fun to be at opening day. I’m a fan of the political process,” Biden said while standing outside the House chamber before Gov. Rick Scott‘s State of the State speech.

    “We are embarking on another year where we want to make sure that the voices of parents and kids in charter schools, public charter schools, are heard. And there’s a great bipartisan flavor around this issue that we want to continue to encourage.” Biden said.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “…. charter schools, public charter schools……”

      Funny how they always leave out the “FOR PROFIT charter schools” part.

      On second thought, it’s not funny at all.

    2. Invy

      What bothers me about charter schools is that the curriculum is either controlled by the state or it is encouraged through funding dependent on standardized tests. Not to mention the documented problems with the charter model itself.

      If they wanted charter schools to be the experiments in education similar to the “idea” of states being the experiments for federal laws… They are fundamentally failing. The closest I can get to a modern school/freeschool is a Montessori charter school which unfortunately comes with a helping or two of religion. It is the closest thing allowed by the state that encourages creativity rather than destroys it.

    3. Benedict@Large

      The “great bipartisan flavor” you hear is rich people from both parties agreeing. Of course, these are the people whose kids don’t attend the schools being savaged by this failed idea.

    4. Synopticist

      I’ve said this before, but privatised education would be the single greatest economic boon for the oligarchy, better than the MIC and the prison service put together. Expect them to try every trick in the book.

    5. JerseyJeffersonian

      Hmm, charter schools…

      Yes, bond sales to support the business plan. What could possibly go wrong?

      And then…

      Of course, here there is a simple solution; namely, destroy the pension system, and all will be well. Keeps the employees on their toes, and provides the opportunity for management to reward themselves for their cleverness in conceiving and implementing the idea through some well-deserved bonuses!

  7. Paging MSF

    Report from Mass:

    BASED ON discussions with the access organization:

    -All public information on programs or policies is drafted by the lawyers in anticipation of a litigation free-for-all in which everybody sues everybody to stick someone else with the unlimited liability of ACA. In black and white no options are foreclosed, no potentially dispositive statements are made. As a result, the answer to every significant question is, Dunno.

    – The Patrick administration has decided that the best way to handle the unlimited liability is to foist it on all the poor saps that they can herd into Obamacare. Accordingly, asset recovery applies not only to Medicaid but to any subsidized plan.

    The advocate’s advice: lawyer up. [Needless to say, we left without signing up.]

    BASED ON discussion with a pro bono medical services NGO:

    – Much of their recent activity is people who procured coverage on the exchange and were subsequently told by service providers that they have no insurance. [The access organization confirms that this limbo typically lasts two to three months but can last much longer.]

    Conclusion: The risk of ACA predation exceeds the risk of untreated pain or disease. The bait is medical care. The hook is asset recovery: undisclosed and unlimited liability, deceptively and arbitrarily imposed in corrupt industry-government collusion. State and federal Democrats have found a way to force a whole new population into debt. Meanwhile, the health care sector itself is seizing up with its revenues choked off. ACA has precipitated sectoral collapse.

  8. fresno dan
    “Looking at past experience, we find scant evidence that typical efforts to redistribute have on average had an adverse effect on growth. Moreover, faster and more durable growth seems to have followed the associated reduction in inequality.”

    “Thus, it would still be a mistake to focus on growth and let inequality take care of itself, if only because the resulting growth may be low and unsustainable. Inequality and unsustainable growth may be two sides of the same coin.”

    1. MikeNY

      Yes. As I commented yesterday, this can be ascribed to the much lower marginal propensity to spend of the rich — especially if there is excess production capacity (as we are supposed to have now, in neo-liberal thinking). Hence, greater equality should mean faster growth. All those championing faster growth as the panacea should be championing wealth redistribution. Don’t hold your breath for Koch or Kudlow, though.

      But, IMO, that’s not the reason to desire greater equality. The reason to desire it is because it is just. The distribution of wealth in society today is simply immoral. And even by our own democratic principles: there can be no equality of opportunity where there is gross inequality of wealth.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “…it would still be a mistake to focus on growth and let inequality take care of itself,…”

      No mistake.

      The Little people of the last few decades can attest to this factoid: Inequality thrives, becomes bigger (takes care of itself), when fed GDP growth.

      And so, of course, we want more of the ‘same growth,’ so Inequality can continue to swell (to take care of itself).

  9. Doug Terpstra

    What? Only 11 links on Ukraine? Do you consider it such a trifle? (Channeling Banger);-)

    Okay, here’s another from conspiracy theorist Brandon Smith (next he’ll be pushing hare-brained notions about plate techtonics, gigantic platters floating on a molten core; some people believe the strangest things, even a push toward one-world bankster government. Sheesh!)

    1. JTFaraday

      “In the Ukraine, the chance of intervention has been countered with VERY specific threats from Russia, including a freeze on natural gas imports to the European Union through Gazprom, which supplies approximately 30% of the EU’s fuel.”

      Well, I’m in way over my head on this, but the NYTimes today features an article on how the US hopes to cut Russia off at the knees by selling it all that natural gas they’ve been fracking all over the country:

      “The administration’s strategy is to move aggressively to deploy the advantages of its new resources to undercut Russian natural gas sales to Ukraine and Europe, weakening such moves by Mr. Putin in future years. Although Russia is still the world’s biggest exporter of natural gas, the United States recently surpassed it to become the world’s largest natural gas producer, largely because of breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing technology, known as fracking.”

      That said, I also think the neo-cons have figured out that to fulfill their middle east project they may have to contend with Russia, and they’re trying to get everyone accustomed to that thought. Thus, the “feckless Obama” line:

      1. JTFaraday

        “the US hopes to cut Russia off at the knees by selling it”

        Sorry, I don’t mean by selling it to Russia, I mean by selling it to Europe.

        1. JerseyJeffersonian

          Well, ultimately, when the NeoLiberals/NeoConservatives have beaten down the Russkies and forced them to turn over ownership of Russia to them, then they can really cut them off at the knees by selling off the country. And it’d be a new lease on life for MERS! Fuck up some other country’s chain of title, and who better for that treatment than the accursed Russkies, you betcha.

    2. kareninca

      Um, I thought that the Fed wanted a small war in Ukraine, because the Fed sees the U.S. stock market as a bit bubbly and a little war would conveniently tank it without the Fed being blamed domestically (so far this is not working). And that the Fed wanted ten year Treasury rates to come down, and a little war would cause a run to safety into U.S. Treasuries, stoking the housing market, which is the Fed’s favorite bubble. And that a little war would cause the U.S. to take on more debt, so that the Fed could buy more (thus QEing more without controversy).

      Well, my version is kind of simplistic, I admit.

  10. Roquentin

    That Thomas Friedman editorial is terrible, but then again they always are. If Tom Friedman takes a position on an issue, it’s a good sign that you should have the opposite opinion. You can practically set your watch to it. He comes down on the wrong side of very nearly any issue, and the fact he still has a column at the Grey Lady just shows how far that paper has fallen.

    Worse still, he’s not even original. It’s just the standard issue Russophobia for people who run in circles like his.

    1. psychohistorian

      At least Friedman is not going to be the next US president.

      Given her comment the other day I now feel quite justified in calling the next president to be anointed Hitlery Clinton.

        1. Synopticist

          I saw “Shillary Cunton” on a thread somewhere the other day. It made me chuckle.

          1. lambert strether

            How encouraging to see that truly vile misogyny is still normal, as in 2008. Stay classy! Would you get a “chuckle” if you heard Obama called a “nigger”? Yes? No? Appalling.

            1. psychohistorian

              I, for one, do not hate women.

              And I believe your are stretching my/other commenters disdain for the person into your claim of misogyny….and don’t appreciate it.

              I voted for Jill Stein in the last election and would vote for her again.

              We don’t need the continuation of the Clinton clan in the Oval office any more than we needed the Bush clan in the same office. We need to stop electing puppets of the global plutocrats into the presidency. I am sickened that because Ms. Clinton is a woman puppet of the elite, the public will be sold her as the same hopey/changey dream that Obama was.

              She was stupid or shill enough to refer to Putin as Hitler. I believe that gives anyone trying to undermine her cred the right to hang that millstone around her neck by making it a play on her first name. And it has nothing to do with misogyny.

              1. JTFaraday

                Well, here’s the problem. When something bad happens– let’s say the neoliberals and investors and their disproportionately white male managerial class offshore the white working class’s industrial jobs– somehow that act gets hung around the necks of the wimmins and the n-ers, and their justifiable concerns belittled as “identity politics” against which the white working class males, posing (fraudulently, in my considered estimation) as “the left” and “labor” have declared war.

                You don’t think that Obama’s appalling presidency is going to get hung around the necks of black people?

                I do think it is interesting, and deeply problematic, that following the worst presidency on record and that most violently destructive of the US’s governing institutions– that of Bush II– that the elites have chosen to advance a black man and a white woman to mis-handle the fall out.

                Not a coincidence.

            2. Emma

              Thankfully Lambert shows the US isn’t entirely misogynistic. It would probably be easier for Hilary if she had flex appeal because of hot yoga, wouldn’t it, boys?
              But surely it depends on the context? If it’s benign, then hey, let’s have Hilary, Malala Yousafzai, the Delhi bus rape survivors etc. all out in their hot pants, yeah?
              And you know what?
              It makes sense because those hot pants are short and leave little to the imagination. So it’ll simply be easier for you guys to remember just like most sexist jokes.
              Guess this is why the rest of the world had their first female leaders long ago, primetime female show representation (without token-tit accessories), higher percentages of women in national legislature, and haven’t increased the gender gap in other areas unlike the US…..see World Econonmic Forum Global Gender rankings for starters….

              1. abynormal

                Exclamation Point Emma and Touche Lambert

                “People who think with their epidermis or their genitalia or their clan are the problem to begin with. One does not banish this specter by invoking it. If I would not vote against someone on the grounds of ‘race’ or ‘gender’ alone, then by the exact same token I would not cast a vote in his or her favor for the identical reason. Yet see how this obvious question makes fairly intelligent people say the most alarmingly stupid things.”

                1. JTFaraday

                  I wouldn’t cite Christopher Hitchens on this one.

                  This is a guy who wrote a book on the politics of the Catholic Church and grotesquely entitled it “The Missionary Position” just because he happened to have the opportunity to have it feature Mother Theresa.

  11. rich

    A vast hidden surveillance network runs across America, powered by the repo industry

    Few notice the “spotter car” from Manny Sousa’s repo company as it scours Massachusetts parking lots, looking for vehicles whose owners have defaulted on their loans. Sousa’s unmarked car is part of a technological revolution that goes well beyond the repossession business, transforming any ­industry that wants to check on the whereabouts of ordinary people.

    An automated reader attached to the spotter car takes a picture of every ­license plate it passes and sends it to a company in Texas that already has more than 1.8 billion plate scans from vehicles across the country.

    These scans mean big money for Sousa — typically $200 to $400 every time the spotter finds a vehicle that’s stolen or in default — so he runs his spotter around the clock, typically adding 8,000 plate scans to the database in Texas each day.

    “Honestly, we’ve found random apartment complexes and shopping ­plazas that are sweet spots” where the company can impound multiple vehicles, explains Sousa, the president of New England Associates Inc. in Bridgewater.

    But the most significant impact of Sousa’s business is far bigger than locating cars whose owners have defaulted on loans: It is the growing database of snapshots showing where Americans were at specific times, information that everyone from private detectives to ­insurers are willing to pay for.

    candid camera without alan funt….but jokes still on us.

  12. fresno dan

    Bernanke’s $250,000 fee for speech puts him near top of food chain MarketWatch, WSJ. It’s an ill wind…
    “Bernanke’s predecessor Alan Greenspan received a reported $250,000 for his first speech in February 2006 that moved markets. Bernanke was forced to defend him.”

    I never get why “progressives/liberals” so defend the FED – other than the cabal of so called left economists who are enthralled by monetarism. An institution that uses all of its power to keep the incompetent, criminal, and evil rich, and indeed, makes them richer while everybody else gets poorer. Incredible.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Not having read the article you are referring to, I still must question your premise that, “. . . “progressives/liberals” so defend the FED . . .”

      Straw man much?

      The Power Structure defends the Fed. No “liberal” or “conservative” about it.

      It’s amazing that Fed and Treasury posts are apparently, without exception, filled by banking insiders. Banks are demonstrably not liberal/progressive institutions.

      I never cease to be amazed that conservatives label everything they disagree with as “liberal,” even when the evidence says different. Real science is a good example: If the research doesn’t fit the conservative world view, it was fudged by the scientists in order to support a liberal agenda.

      Conservative definition of liberalism: Anything I disagree with.

      1. hunkerdown

        That may be fair, but why did you think liberalism wasn’t just the other side of capitalism? And what does it matter what the kids do in their pissing matches when they’re doing it over the lake out of which we drink? Both of ’em need their ears boxed and sent to bed with no supper.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          I view liberalism and conservatism as political philosophies and Capitalism/Socialism/Communism/Fascism as economic systems. Over the past 35 years or so (since Reagan’s “L” word stupidity), the economic and political terms have been rebranded. I consider myself a liberal Republican, in the traditional sense of those words. However, the “Republicans” and “Democrats” bear no resemblances to their traditional, or root, meanings of their names.

  13. Pete

    The IOM is getting a new corporate PR spokesman….As IOM puts it: “The IOM asks and answers the nation’s most pressing questions about health and health care.” Cough… ‘talk to your doctor’….

    Presenting Victor Dzau…

    “Dzau Became a Multimillionaire by Virtue of His Corporate Ties

    In 2010, a group of Duke students protested the hefty compensation being given to some Duke officials, Dzau included. He received more than $2.2 million in total compensation from Duke in 2009, an amount some felt was excessive especially when financial difficulties were being reported at the University. However, that figure is nothing compared to the compensation Dzau is receiving from his corporate connections outside of Duke. As reported by Forbes,8 Dzau served on several corporate boards in 2009, including:

    Alnylam Pharmaceuticals: Dzau received more than $234,000 in compensation in 2009, along with owning more than $424,000 worth of company shares
    Genzyme (a biotechnology company now owned by Sanofi): Dzau received nearly $413,000 in compensation plus owned shares worth more than $5.3 million
    Medtronic (a medical devices company): Dzau received nearly $174,000 in compensation plus owned shares worth nearly $494,000
    PepsiCo: Dzau received $260,000 in compensation and owned shares worth more than $1.6 million
    In case you lost count, this amounts to more than $1 million in compensation from serving as a director for these companies, in addition to stock valued at more than $7.8 million… and that’s in addition to the $2.2 million from Duke. And, remember, these are 2009 figures. Today, it’s estimated that Dzau owns:9

    90,000 shares of stock in Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, worth more than $8 million
    More than 25,000 shares of Medtronic stock, worth more than $1.4 million
    More than 36,000 shares of PepsiCo stock, worth more than $2.8 million…”

    1. CrimeaRiver

      well he needs to be compensated for his talent…it takes special skills to be able to sleep at night with those ridic pay packages

  14. TarheelDem

    Young people aren’t complaining about their parents Social Security and Medicare, Mr. Paul Taylor of Pew, because they know that without those “entitlements” (cough) their parents would be living with them and they would be having to pay for their parents’ medical expenses.

    Some people like Paul Taylor live so very sheltered lives.

    1. kareninca

      I thought that young people weren’t complaining about their parents’ Social Security and Medicare, because the young people were living in their parents’ basements. And that once mom and dad were downsized from their corporate jobs, much of the household income supporting those young people came from their parents’ Social Security and Medicare (the very moment mom and dad could sign on). I am seeing plenty of instances of that. Say a 62 year old with a 27 y.o. kid; not unusual. The old person safety net is ending up being indirectly a safety net for their kids, too. Scary.

      Your point re (self-supporting) kids being glad that they don’t have to support their parents, is the perspective of a better-off class, haha.

      1. just_kate

        this is what i see as well, except not only kids in their 20s living with parents but 30s too – having initially moved out a decade ago and subsequently been chewed up by the current state of affairs. not pretty.

      2. ChuckO

        With the way things are going, it will become common for extended families to be living under the same roof.

    2. HotFlash

      Seeing the same as karen and kate here, both for my friends and rellies in the states, MI, mostly, but for me here in Canada, too. We wait for us/them to get the pension, that is some guaranteed $$. If we don’t hang together …

      How did (National) Security become defined as ‘spying on everyone’s everything all the time and keeping all the records forever’? Once upon a time ‘security’ meant *SOCIAL* security. As in a pension to keep you fed and housed in your old age, enough food to eat, and it should also be medical care when you are sick and a guaranteed income whether you work or not (hey, it’s not like we need every able-bodied man woman and child working to get us our basics anymore — hello!) Now security is invasion of every part of your life in ordet to — what? Terrists or something?

  15. fresno dan
    “A 2008 survey of the top six psychology journals dramatically shows how common that assumption was: more than 96 percent of the subjects tested in psychological studies from 2003 to 2007 were Westerners—with nearly 70 percent from the United States alone. Put another way: 96 percent of human subjects in these studies came from countries that represent only 12 percent of the world’s population.”

    “Some of that research went back a generation. It was in the 1960s, for instance, that researchers discovered that aspects of visual perception were different from place to place. One of the classics of the literature, the Müller-Lyer illusion, showed that where you grew up would determine to what degree you would fall prey to the illusion that these two lines are different in length:
    Researchers found that Americans perceive the line with the ends feathered outward (B) as being longer than the line with the arrow tips (A). San foragers of the Kalahari, on the other hand, were more likely to see the lines as they are: equal in length. Subjects from more than a dozen cultures were tested, and Americans were at the far end of the distribution—seeing the illusion more dramatically than all others.”

  16. fresno dan

    “To be sure, Berkowitz and his sharpies blather that Freddie and Fannie have now returned $200 billion to the US Treasury, thereby repaying the original $180 billion drawdown, with some change to spare. But what hay wagon do they think even the clueless officialdom of Washington rides upon? Roughly $50 billion of that was for writing-up a “tax asset” that had earlier been written-down, owing to the fact that absent nationalization the GSEs had no prospect of booking even accounting income in the future. And the remaining $150 billion represents dividends paid to the Treasury since 2009 based on using Uncle Sam’s credit card to issue the bonds and guarantees which fund the assets from which these so-called GSE dividends are scalped.”

    What American “capitalism/free enterprise” amounts to is a mere simulacrum of a market – nothing can be accomplished without guarantees, backstops. bailouts, subsidies, and tax breaks. And the only criteria for getting them is being in the 0.1%, but better if your in the 0.01%.

    1. JTFaraday

      “What American “capitalism/free enterprise” amounts to is a mere simulacrum of a market”

      The wholly simulated fiction of private sector profit is exactly what I thought of reading the chapters on Iraq in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism.”

      “The paucity of experienced civil servants in the Green Zone was not an oversight—it was an expression of the fact that the occupation of Iraq was, from the start, a radical experiment in hollow governance. By the time the think-tank lifers arrived in Baghdad, the crucial roles in the reconstruction had already all been outsourced to Halliburton and KPMG. Their job as the public servants was simply to administer the petty cash, which in Iraq took the form of handing shrink-wrapped bricks of hundred-dollar bills to contractors. It was a graphic glimpse into the acceptable role of government in a corporatist state—to act as conveyor belt for getting public money into private hands, a job for which ideological commitment is far more relevant than elaborate field experience.

      That nonstop conveyor belt was part of what was so enraging to Iraqis about the U.S. insistence that they adapt to a strict free market, without state subsidies or trade protections. In one of his many lectures to Iraqi business-people, Michael Fleischer explained that “protected businesses never, never become competitive.” He appeared to be impervious to the irony that Halliburton, Bechtel, Parsons, KPMG, RTI, Blackwater and all the other U.S. corporations that were in Iraq to take advantage of the reconstruction were part of a vast protectionist racket whereby the U.S. government had created their markets with war, barred their competitors from even entering the race, then paid them to do the work, while guaranteeing them a profit to boot—all at taxpayer expense. The Chicago School crusade, which emerged with the core purpose of dismantling the welfare statism of the New Deal, had finally reached its zenith in this corporate New Deal. It was a simpler, more stripped-down form of privatization—the transfer of bulky assets wasn’t even necessary: just straight-up corporate gorging on state coffers. No investment, no accountability, astronomical profits…

      If within six months of the invasion, Iraqis had found themselves drinking clean water from Bechtel pipes, their homes illuminated by GE lights, their infirm treated in sanitary Parsons-built hospitals, their streets patrolled by competent DynCorp-trained police, many citizens (though not all) would probably have overcome their anger at being excluded from the reconstruction process. But none of this happened, and well before Iraqi resistance forces began systematically targeting reconstruction sites it was clear that applying laissez-faire principles to such a huge government task had been a disaster.

      Freed of all regulations, largely protected from criminal prosecution and on contracts that guaranteed their costs would be covered, plus a profit, many foreign corporations did something entirely predictable: they scammed wildly. Known in Iraq as “the primes,” the big contractors engaged in elaborate subcontracting schemes. They set up offices in the Green Zone, or even Kuwait City and Amman, then subcontracted to Kuwaiti companies, who subcontracted to Saudis, who, when the security situation got too rough, finally subcontracted to Iraqi firms, often from Kurdistan, for a fraction of what the contracts were worth. The Democratic senator Byron Dorgan described this web, using an air-conditioning contract in Baghdad as an example: “The contract goes to a subcontractor, which goes to another subcontractor, and a fourth-level subcontractor. And the payment for air-conditioning turns out to be payments to four contractors, the fourth of which puts a fan in a room. Yes, the American taxpayer paid for an air-conditioner and, after the money goes through four hands like ice cubes travel around the room, there is a fan put in a room in Iraq.” More to the point, all this time Iraqis watched their aid money stolen as their country boiled.”

      And then, of course, there’s the banks.

  17. Hugh

    Re Ukraine, as I wrote above, the central problem there is kleptocracy. What we are seeing play out there is how Ukraine will be looted, even dismembered, and by whom.

    When we say there are no white hats in this crisis, we need to take this to heart and be skeptical of claims by all sides. Most of the attention has been paid to the European and American ones. This has I think given the Russian ones something of a free pass and I have been trying to redress that imbalance.

    When Russia cites security concerns, we have to ask what these are and if they hold any water. We have to ask ourselves, for example, if Russia were a better friend to its neighbors, would they be so fearful of it? Who has reason to feel more threatened, Russia or those neighbors? How can Putin try to rebuild the old Soviet Empire (albeit in a new form) and not threaten his neighbors or have them feel threatened?

    It seems to get forgotten that Yeltsin disbanded the old Soviet Union for a very simple demographic/racist reason. The Great Russians were at the point of losing their majority status in the USSR. Cut away the Central Asian republics especially and that majority status was restored. The policy toward the other republics has been similar to the trajectory of some of the other European post World War II colonial empires. They dropped outright political control, removing their troops, but kept economic control, using them as natural resource producers, much as Russia does with the Central Asian gas producers.

    Speaking of natural gas, the Russian threat to cut off supplies to Western Europe is just thrown out there without further analysis. Spring is coming to Europe and seasonal demand for that gas is going to dip. Russia needs to sell that gas to keep its own economy running. This is even truer when you consider the large added drain on the economy by the looting of the Russian oligarchs. Also a credible threat to turn off the spigot can not be made very often without sending Europe looking for alternatives. Being an unreliable supplier is the kiss of death in the commodities world.

    My advice is question everything.

    1. hunkerdown

      Ukraine is the world’s #2 importer of ammonia (#1 is the USA), but they also export about half of what they import and manufacture roughly twice what they import. Seeing as how natgas is made from ammonia, there’s a good chance that some of that threat might have been meant for Ukraine to siphon off in transit, as it were.

    2. OIFVet

      Do you actually think that expanding NATO to Ukraine is a good idea? Nothing good can come from having NATO at Russia’s front door. In that respect Russia does have legitimate security concerns: the flat Russian steppe in the west has no terrain obstacles to slow down an invading army, so throughout its history Russia has traded space for time when invaded. Placing NATO in Ukraine takes away a huge buffer zone Russia absolutely needs. Add the broken promise not to expand NATO to the east and the never ending anti-Russian propaganda of the west and their distrust of the west becomes highly justifiable. You would be paranoid too if you were in their position.

      “…if Russia were a better friend to its neighbors, would they be so fearful of it?” So what exactly has Russia been doing that makes it so un-neighborly in your view? Have they invaded anyone recently, bombed the hell out of them, attempted to foment civil unrest and overthrow of a legitimately elected government, imposed terms and conditions using proxies such as IMF and the World Bank, or engaged in a media demonization of a geopolitical rival? I am sorry but I think it is crystal clear that the biggest threat to world peace is our own government. All the pretty rhetoric about “democracy and freedom” is just propagandistic justification for rank neocolonialism and is wearing awfully thin. I usually agree with everything you write here and at Corrente but on the subject of Ukraine you appear to have swallowed the neocon cool aid. Ukraine’s problems are many and serious, however the EU, NATO and IMF will not solve them. They will only make sure that Ukraine changes colonial masters.

      As someone who was born in a former Warsaw Pact country and current NATO/EU member, the only difference I see following the 90’s shock therapy is sleeker packaging for the propaganda, increased poverty and inequality, decreased life expectancy, the wholesale elimination of the safety net, and western rent seekers in control of the utilities and banking. Corruption is even more rampant and freedom of the press exists in name only as the local Omidyars and Bezos’ control almost all of the media. In other words, communism was replaced with neoliberalism, the Soviet master with a western master. If history is any guide this is what awaits Ukraine also.

      1. Synopticist

        “I am sorry but I think it is crystal clear that the biggest threat to world peace is our own government. All the pretty rhetoric about “democracy and freedom” is just propagandistic justification for rank neocolonialism and is wearing awfully thin.”

        I have to agree with this, now, despite having spent decades disputing against this very argument. What is more, it is also an increasingly common sentiment. It used to be contained within self-loathing left-liberal circles, now it’s going mainstream.

        1. OIFVet

          The neocons are quite good at turning thinking people against US foreign policy. They managed to do what being born in the Communist Bloc never did: make me side with Russia.

      2. Hugh

        This is an example of fuzzy thinking. Russia invaded Georgia, and it has used its military forces in Crimea to effectively detach this region from Ukraine. The Russian Duma also authorized military force in Ukraine.

        We really need to dispense with the fantasies and illusions. There are no invading armies rampaging across the Russian steppes, and no likelihood of any, least of all from Europe.

        I think you are committing the Chomskyan fallacy that because our own government is corrupt and pursuing its own kleptocratic vision of empire that this would somehow let off the rest of world, that they would spontaneously seek peace and the well-being of their citizens. This is just another form of American exceptionalism, either we are exceptionally good or exceptionally bad. It denies the rest of the world its history, a history replete with animosities and ambitions that pre-date our relatively recent arrival on the scene in the role of hegemon.

        1. OIFVet

          The fuzzy thinking (and history) belongs to you I’m afraid. Yes, Russia invaded Georgia… after Georgia attacked Russian peacekeepers in South Osetia (prompted by Karl Rove’s visit if I recall). I guess Russia should have rolled over and done nothing so that it would not offend our hypocritical self-righteous sensibilities. Just like it should roll over now and accept NATO on ts borders. Your argument about likelihood of invasion is inane. No power wants another power at its doorstep, or sphere of influence if you will. Remember the Cuban missile crisis? I guess the US was quite irrational in enacting a naval blockade and bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war, or at least that would be the conclusion if one is to follow your logic. The fact is that the US quite rationally did not want Russian missile forces 90 miles from Miami, and Russia quite rationally does not want a NATO staging area on its border.

          As to Crimea, why was it OK for the US to detach Kosovo from Serbia using force but not OK for Russia to detach Crimea? How many Ukrainians were killed by Russia in Crimea and how many Serbs were killed by the US in kosovo and Serbia-proper? Mind you, there were no US nationals in Kosovo, while the majority of Crimea is ethnic Russians. And Russia has bases there per treaties with Ukraine, and thus has vital security interest in maintaining its warm water port. So if Crimea wants to break away why wouldn’t Russia oblige?

          I do not agree with you attaching that “Chomskian Fallacy” to me and to what I was saying. Just because I pointed out the non-solution that would be EU and NATO membership does not mean that I am naive enough to think that the Ukrainian kleptocracy will suddenly discover its inner noblesse oblige. I am sorry Hugh but you simply project your simplistic western thinking onto me. Again I apologize but the thinking that the EU and NATO are a solution, even a marginally better one, is simply a product of internalized western propaganda about the inherent superiority of the west in all respects. In effect you are unwittingly engaging in the very exceptionalism you criticize. Never mind that these are simply different, more refined forms of oppression than what the Soviets practiced.

          I am a Slav, I am quite aware of the mores of the Slavic elites, the history and animosities of the region, and the depth of the chauvinism of the Eastern and Southern Slavs. You are basically inviting the eruption of that chauvinism by forcing these western institutions of control onto them. And I say forcing because there is no majority for EU and NATO accession, and the substantial Russian minority and Russian speaking Ukrainians do not want to be any part of these institutions. We are inviting instability and civil war, and I have the uneasy feeling that this is the point of our foreign policy. It is irrational and quite possibly insane. If you want to know the most fundamental thing about the Russian, know this: no matter how effed up his government is, no matter how much his life sucks, the Russian will not let anyone mess with the Rodina. He will die in great numbers defending the Rodina and will not rest until the Rodina is avenged. Given how casualty averse we have become, are you willing to risk that kind of conflict?

          On the whole, I find the west’s meddling in Ukraine to be ill-advised and consciously provocative. I can’t decide if the neocons are crazy or ill-informed, or both, but to me what we are doing is insanely dangerous and completely unnecessary. Add the added element of overwhelming American hypocrisy and this mess has forced me to do what being born in the Communist Bloc could never do: side with Russia. For while Russia is simply engaging in traditional realpolitik, the US has lost its damned mind. I had to fight in Iraq the last time the neocons started a needless war, I am afraid we are all going to suffer if this adventure is not stopped by whatever rational actors may be left at State and the Pentagon.

          1. psychohistorian

            I agree with your assessment and while I also normally respect what Hugh has to say, he is wrong about this situation, IMO.

            Thanks for your cogent description and arguments because many continue to believe that America retains some semblance of human honor; but being owned by the global plutocrats, my country has become the devil Mammon of the world.

          2. Hugh

            I apply the same criteria to all sides. Somehow when the US infringes on the sovereignty of other nations, this is seen as heinous. When Russia does it, it’s just realpolitik. It’s pragmatic. This is what gives the progressive left a bad name and causes it to lose credibility.

            The progressive left criticizes correctly the foreign policy Establishment for its hypocrisy when it condemns the actions of other countries while ignoring the same or worse in its own or those of its allies. So it behooves us not to erect double standards of our own. If you want to criticize US foreign policy, fine. But if you are unwilling to apply the same critical apparatus to Russia or any other state, all you are doing is trashing both the movement and the message.

        2. optimader

          “There are no invading armies rampaging across the Russian steppes, and no likelihood of any, least of all from Europe. ”

          That’s so 20th century, who could afford the fuel to do that anymore? Germany will equip a fleet of Smart Cars with lugged tires and attack in spring. The French will… oh forget it..

      3. Doug Terpstra

        Well said, OIFVet. Russia, China, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, etc., haven’t been conspicuously aggressive invaders and international scofflaws. The US is truly exceptional in that. As someone else noted, consider how close we came to starting WW3 over Soviet missiles in Cuba and how many decades we have punished Cuba for it’s unpardonable “apostasy”, its crimes against Mammon, the one true god.

        The US-sponsored coup in Ukraine (that’s conspiracy fact not theory) is indeed an existential threat to Russia and, as payback for foiling their war in Syria, it’s a bridge too far for the neocons. Here, as in Syria, the US pot, sitting in smoking ashes, has some gall pointing out the smudges on the Russian kettle. Russia’s hat may not be snow white, but the the US’s is coal black.

    3. optimader

      “…When Russia cites security concerns, we have to ask what these are and if they hold any water…. —-> the main reason behind Russia’s interest in Crimea relies on the fact that the Black Sea fleet presence in Sevastopol blocks Ukraine’s accession to NATO, whose membership cannot be granted to a country housing a non-member’s military base in its territory.”

      the knife cuts both ways, by any definition all must concede this as “strategic security concerns”

  18. Chauncey Gardiner

    Not to distract from a very insightful set of comments on important topics, but I would like to respond with a ‘slice of life’ observation regarding your first link: “Scientists discover why people cannot do multiple tasks simultaneously”, from Asahi Shimbun:

    A woman with whom I’m rather well acquainted took strong exception to the article when I brought it up. She said that women, unlike most men, have a capacity of multi-task. She said that this capacity is hard wired into females’ cognition because they historically have been the gender primarily responsible for raising children. She said that activity requires an ability to perform multiple tasks simultaneously; i.e., keep an eye on a small child while engaged in other tasks.

    I don’t know that I agree with her, particularly when it comes to talking on mobile communication devices while driving, but I have learned not to delve too deeply into such matters.

    1. Synopticist

      I always thought women were better at multi-tasking than men, and the evolutionary explanation makes some sense. However, I can’t see any darwinian advantage in insisting that talking about personal problems at endless length is actually going to make them better, but maybe that’s just me.

      1. hunkerdown

        Kinship. As an aspie, I have learned that it’s that very same detestable small talk crap that builds social fabric. However, as an aspie, I’m not very vested in team sports and team prestige and am more than willing to give the whole construct of gender a long push off a short pier.

    2. skippy

      Multi tasking is a productivity myth – Quick Overview:

      Multitasking can reduce productivity by approximately 40-percent according to some researchers.

      Switching from one task to another makes it difficult to tune out distractions and can cause mental blocks that can slow down your progress.

      Take a moment and think about all of the things you are doing right now – obviously you are reading this article, but chances are good that you are also doing several things at once. Perhaps you’re also listening to music, texting a friend, checking your email in another browser tab or playing a computer game.

      If you are doing several different things at once, then you may be what researchers refer to as a “heavy multitasker.” And you probably think that you are fairly good at this balancing act. According to a number of different studies, however, you are probably not as effective at multitasking as you think you are.

      In the past, many people believed that multitasking was a good way to increase productivity. After all, if you’re working on several different tasks at once, you’re bound to accomplish more, right? Recent research, however, has demonstrated that that switching from one task to the next takes a serious toll on productivity. Multitaskers have more trouble tuning out distractions than people who focus on one task at a time. Also, doing so many different things at once can actually impair cognitive ability.

      Charles J. Abate uses recent neurophysiological experiments to refute the “presumed” efficacy of multitasking. He tackles three beliefs about multitasking that he calls myths.

      Multitasking saves time—A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology documents that people who multitask are less efficient than people who focus on one task at a time. The stop-and-go process means the brain has to remember where we stopped, what we already had done, and what needs to be done next. Brains are less efficient than mircoprocessors when it comes to storing information. And the more complex the task, the more time it takes the brain to reorient.

      Multitasked learning is as good as single-task learning—Again based on research findings, multitasking forces the brain to rely on habitual or procedural learning, the kind of learning that happens almost automatically or with little conscious awareness. Most of what students are learning in college is conceptual. If that learning is to last and the knowledge to be applicable, students need to employ deep-learning strategies. They need to attend and focus on the learning.

      Multitasking is the forte of the young—Not according to one study where 18- to 21-year-olds and 35- to 39-year-olds translated images into numbers, using a simple code. Without any interruption the younger group performed the task about 10 percent faster than the older group. But when both groups were interrupted by a phone call, instant message or cell phone text message, there was no difference in speed or accuracy between the two age cohorts.

      Abate concludes that the consequences of tolerating multitasking behaviors “is an education that is fundamentally superficial, short-term-memory-based, and limited in its adaptability to new circumstances.” (p. 13)

      Abate, C. J. (2008). You say multitasking like it’s a good thing. Thought and Action, Fall, 7-13.

      skippy… now go spend a hour organizing your “day timer” [remember that game lol] for the week, you’ll be more productive, promise, just buy the damn thing and set your self free~~~ snicker~

      1. optimader

        “If you are doing several different things at once, then you may be what researchers refer to as a “heavy multitasker.” ”

        I am reading this while visiting the Head, does that make me a “heavy multitasker”?

          1. optimader

            “..requires more critical thinking”
            Crisssake! Avoid that! Known to be the leading cause of headaches due to cognitive dissonance

            1. skippy

              You had to say Cog Dis now didn’t you –

              “Psychologist Leon Festinger proposed a theory of cognitive dissonance centered how people try to reach internal consistency. He suggested that people have an inner need to ensure that our beliefs and behaviors are consistent. Inconsistent or conflicting beliefs leads to disharmony, which people strive to avoid.

              Cognitive dissonance is a theory of human motivation that asserts that it is psychologically uncomfortable to hold contradictory cognitions. The theory is that dissonance, being unpleasant, motivates a person to change his cognition, attitude, or behavior. This theory was first explored in detail by social psychologist Leon Festinger, who described it this way:

              Dissonance and consonance are relations among cognitions that is, among opinions, beliefs, knowledge of the environment, and knowledge of one’s own actions and feelings. Two opinions, or beliefs, or items of knowledge are dissonant with each other if they do not fit together; that is, if they are inconsistent, or if, considering only the particular two items, one does not follow from the other (Festinger 1956: 25).

              He argued that there are three ways to deal with cognitive dissonance. He did not consider these mutually exclusive.

              One may try to change one or more of the beliefs, opinions, or behaviors involved in the dissonance;
              One may try to acquire new information or beliefs that will increase the existing consonance and thus cause the total dissonance to be reduced; or,
              One may try to forget or reduce the importance of those cognitions that are in a dissonant relationship (Festinger 1956: 25-26).

              For example, people who smoke know smoking is a bad habit. Some rationalize their behavior by looking on the bright side: They tell themselves that smoking helps keep the weight down and that there is a greater threat to health from being overweight than from smoking. Others quit smoking. Most of us are clever enough to come up with ad hoc hypotheses or rationalizations to save cherished notions. Why we can’t apply this cleverness more competently is not explained by noting that we are led to rationalize because we are trying to reduce or eliminate cognitive dissonance. Different people deal with psychological discomfort in different ways. Some ways are clearly more reasonable than others. So, why do some people react to dissonance with cognitive competence, while others respond with cognitive incompetence?

              Cognitive dissonance has been called “the mind controller’s best friend” (Levine 2003: 202). Yet, a cursory examination of cognitive dissonance reveals that it is not the dissonance, but how people deal with it, that would be of interest to someone trying to control others when the evidence seems against them.

              For example, Marian Keech (real name: Dorothy Martin) was the leader of a UFO cult in the 1950s. She claimed to get messages from extraterrestrials, known as The Guardians, through automatic writing. Like the Heaven’s Gate folks forty years later, Keech and her followers, known as The Seekers or The Brotherhood of the Seven Rays, were waiting to be picked up by flying saucers. In Keech’s prophecy, her group of eleven was to be saved just before the earth was to be destroyed by a massive flood on December 21, 1954. When it became evident that there would be no flood and the Guardians weren’t stopping by to pick them up, Keech

              became elated. She said she’d just received a telepathic message from the Guardians saying that her group of believers had spread so much light with their unflagging faith that God had spared the world from the cataclysm (Levine 2003: 206).

              More important, the Seekers didn’t abandon her. Most became more devoted after the failed prophecy. (Only two left the cult when the world didn’t end.) “Most disciples not only stayed but, having made that decision, were now even more convinced than before that Keech had been right all along….Being wrong turned them into true believers (ibid.).” Some people will go to bizarre lengths to avoid inconsistency between their cherished beliefs and the facts. But why do people interpret the same evidence in contrary ways?”

              skippy…. this usually pops little neolibertarian heads, when I catch them abusing the terms application.

              1. optimader

                “Some people will go to bizarre lengths to avoid inconsistency between their cherished beliefs and the facts. But why do people interpret the same evidence in contrary ways?”

                It’s a method for continued manipulation typical of any quasi-religious belief (heck, see comments in yesterdays thread on children for the always popular apocalyptic variety: “it’s too dangerous a world now to have children” ).
                People through history have had the conceit that “The End is Nay!”.. for…pick the reason… when rationally the odds of that being likely in their puny human life span is actually vanishingly small when considered in the context of geological time.

                Why do people believe what they believe when it cannot be or at least hasn’t been analytically confirmed and some ambiguity exists? A question for the ages.

                When the whip DOES go down with the random consequent adversity:
                “Why would god do this!?!”
                “Because he loves you and he is punishing the wicked!”
                “well ok then, I can work with that, he left me… Hey I’m a winner in this fantasy construct, not bad!”

                File under:
                “All news is lies and all propaganda is disguised as news.” ~Will Muzenberg

                Stalin’s chief propagandist had it about right, most people just graze on the bits that provide that endorphine drip that they’ve come to like

                The opportunity for popping heads extend to a larger population.

                1. skippy

                  “endorphine drip’ – Romantics… whats body to do… but get out of the way.

                  skippy… Bernays et al “glazed apathetic leash” approach should have come with a better manual, not that most would have read the damn thing…. to much money to be made in the here and now.

                  PS. I wonder if neolithic wives took their partners pay packets at the end of the week or took checks.

      2. hunkerdown

        The point is not that the job is done well, or even at all. The point is that the other jobs that don’t benefit Them are not done.

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