Links 5/12/14

A Magnificent Orangutan Experienced the Best and Worst of Zoos Slate

Plastic material imitates veins to heal itself Nature

Marijuana May Heal Health Problems That Come With Old Age: How Can People Living in Senior Homes Get It? San Diego Free Press

UMaine student who slept in car to save money will graduate same weekend as mother, sister Bangor Daily News. Slept in car. Over the Maine winter. For four years.

Exclusive: The Cameron crony, the private jet company, and a crash landing that cost taxpayers £100m Independent (RS)

London tops super-rich city list, survey shows AFP

‘It was the point where the eurozone could have exploded’  FT. Part I of “How the Euro was saved.” There seems to be a boomlet in pre-election FIRE sector crash retrospectives.

Banking on Shaky Ground: Australia’s big four banks and Land Grabs Oxfam

Lockhart Expects Fed to Use Reverse Repos During Stimulus Exit Bloomberg

UberX Drivers Protest Outside Uber Headquarters Time. Uber should “share” more.

Class Warfare

How Finance Gutted Manufacturing Boston Review (fresno dan). Finance crapifiers are why your washing machine falls apart in two years. 

The problem with Thomas Piketty: “Capital” destroys right-wing lies, but there’s one solution it forgets Thomas Frank, Salon

More on Piketty History Unfolding (Mel)

Hedge fund titans are testing the quality of US democracy Edward Luce, FT

Fallen support frame mistaken for gunshots at mall AP. The way we live now.

Democrats struggle to win over skeptical Americans on Obamacare Reuters. Story on NH (2016). Monopoly insurer and narrow network: Paragraph 23.

US failed to inspect thousands of at-risk oil and gas wells, report finds Guardian

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

‘We Kill People Based on Metadata’ NYRB

Edward Snowden statement at Munk Debate on State Surveillance (transcript) Corrente

Retail Spy Services for Business Relationships Another Word for It. The technology was presaged by Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash (just Google “Y.T.’s mom pulls up the new memo”), although given Stephenson’s libertarian focus, the State deploys it, not corporate HR types.

The CIA’s Bro Culture Is Doing Yemen No Favors Vice. This article shows the strengths and limits of Vice. We’ve got hip (“bros”), sharp contextualization on gendered markers:

During my time covering Yemen’s 2011 youth [Vice demographic] uprising against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, it was more difficult to identify quality qat than to finger American spooks. Their out-of-uniform uniform, ubiquitous and often including 5-11 cargo pants, a pair of Oakley sunglasses and full beards, functioned as a caricature that could be plucked right out of the latest installment of the Call of Duty franchise.

Coupled with policy recommendation like this:

The cavalier bravado of the IC’s bro culture in Yemen crops up regularly amidst the daily lives of the individuals that live there … A more robust counter-terrorism policy in Yemen would include more direct assistance to Yemen military on the ground, engaging AQAP militants face-to-face. …. Dollar for dollar, spotting Yemeni soldiers a few bucks to get their APC gas tanks filled up is a lot more effective than paying the salary of spooks that appear to be more concerned with looking like bad asses than keeping a low profile. … If the super spies are going to emulate a video game, perhaps they should look towards Metal Gear Solid instead of Call of Duty.

So, after the street reporting, the writer (note the Beltway tell, “robust”) shifts gears, or not, into the policy recommendation that we Americans run our empire more like those clever Brits did, back when they had one: With native troops and compradors. Alrighty then. Anybody who wants non-trivial change yet views political economy primarily through a generational lens should include material like this in their account.


Q&A: What now after eastern Ukraine’s referendum? FT

Controversial independence votes add to Ukrainian instability Globe and Mail

Armed men in eastern Ukraine open fire on crowd AP

Has Blackwater been deployed to Ukraine? Notorious U.S. mercenaries ‘seen on the streets of flashpoint city’ as Russia claims 300 hired guns have arrived in country Daily Mail. Donetsk, don’t tell.

Ukraine security forces riven by mistrust, wrangle over prisoners Reuters

Ukraine: Another German “Leak” Against U.S. Policy Moon of Alabama

Late payers squeezing Europe’s businesses FT

Fast Destruction and Slow Reconstruction

Behind the rise of Boko Haram – ecological disaster, oil crisis, spy games Guardian

Saudi Arabia warns of MERS risk from camels as cases rise Reuters

Is This the ‘Gujarat Model’ India Needs? The Diplomat

Masala Dosa to Die For Times

India’s new government set to inherit wobbly economy Reuters

Likhit Dhiravegin Interview – Part 3: On Article 7 and appointing a new PM Asian Correspondent

Government House lost, Thailand’s frustrated red shirts in a waiting game Straits Times

Top brass reject Sect 7 step : Source Bangkok Post. Coup coming off the burner?

Xi Says China Must Adapt to ‘New Normal’ of Slower Growth Bloomberg

Weak Japan exports, not tax hike, could shake BOJ Reuters

The Atlas of Economic Complexity Center for International Development, Harvard

The Toxic Brew in Our Yards Times. The author confuses “yard” with “lawn.”

How your ancestors’ farms shaped your thinking New Scientist. I’ve seen the same argument from the odious Malcolm Gladwell, so readers may wish to critique the study.


By reader request, bonus alligators! Is that you, Tim? [waves]


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. craazyman

    Has anyone read the doorjjam yet? Can;t 2000 words summarize it? There are so many doorjams out there you need a mansion to use them all productivvely. But that takes Capital. Almost anything can be boiled down to 2000 words, or even 1000. Sometimes only four. Like “Dude, pass the bong”. What more is there than that? If you’ve got too much C, you gotta pass the bong to L. The JOR is declining and heading to zero where JOR = F(UCK)U, where u = uncertainty, C = capital, K = the capital/cooperating constant and U = uncertainty. It’s also JOR = F(CK) U^2. After zero, you need to work for free. It’s happening now, as we speak. All those animals in the antidotes, do you think they’d pass the bong? faaaak. You’re dreamin. They”d smoke until they passed out. How do you convince people to pass the bong? Ask Master Po, cause I don’t know

    1. financial matters

      I always liked that show but Master Po always seemed to have more questions than answers. :)

      Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
      Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
      Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
      Caine: No.
      Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
      Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
      Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?

      1. craazyman

        The writing was astonishing in some of those episodes. Even as a young kid watching I felt it. How unbelievably tight, precise, rhythmical in that way English is, and fused into a unity with the action. It was like watching a leopard run in slow motion, an assemblage of moving perfection. Not all of them. Some wandered clumsily. There were lots of writers, I guess. I used to look at the credits and wonder why the same person didn’t write them all.

        It takes stories to make people pass the bong. I remember reading once, and I think this is true, that Abraham Lincoln referred to Harriet Beecher Stowe as “the little lady who started this great war.” It’s not as if the cause was new in 1861 or even 1761, but the story was new in 1852.

  2. Kevin Smith

    I LOVE that little “wave” of the left forepaw!
    Thanks Yves for pointing that out.

  3. Brindle

    re: CIA’s Bro Culture….

    Yes, the policy recommendations are about style and delivery rather than deeper questions about the nature of intervention. In beltway foreign policy lingo, “robust” usually means blowing things up and killing people.

  4. Banger

    Re: Ukraine: Another German “Leak” Against U.S. Policy

    Germans, if the U.S. persists, will stop cooperating with the U.S. in security matters if the U.S. insists on reckless behavior–this is why these leaks occurred. German operatives are more sensitive to the disadvantages of war with Russia–they once tried to invade Russia and it lost them the war.

    I suspect the German government also understands that there is a split within policy making circles of the Deep State as to the desirability of creating more chaos and violence in Ukraine. U.S. covert operators in Ukraine may want to create facts on the ground that would force those in Washington who seek moderation to act. I see Ukraine as a reflection of power-struggles within the Deep State.

    1. Jackrabbit

      I see the leaks as due to frustration over the neocon’s complete control of policy and unwillingness to alter the course they have set.

      What evidence do you have that “. . . there is a split within policy making circles of the Deep State as to the desirability of creating more chaos and violence in Ukraine”?

      As far as I can tell, neocon/neolibs have tight control over policy. Dissenters in the lower ranks might be listened to respectfully (or not) but policy will not change. What part of “f@#k the EU” don’t you understand? (and make no mistake: we are all EU to them) Again, I ask you Banger, where is the debate? Realists have been weeded out of policy circles and universities. Are the few that are left being given a voice at all?

      You’ve been too optimistic throughout this crisis. You seize on any hopeful sign. But the neocons have rejected compromise and negotiation several times now. Any reasonable observer can see that they have made a play for Ukraine and they will see it through. They are ideologues and Ukraine is very important to them.

      1. Banger

        I go on instinct. I have been right on many issues. When people were all in tizzy over an imminent invasion or bombing of Iran both in the Bush days and the Obama admin I said that there was no way it would happen because military planners mainly didn’t want to start that war and the whole thing would be bad for business. The USG is split and I suppose I’m not entirely accurate in saying it is realist vs. neocons (more or less)–the real key to all this is the massive corruption within the State due to the world of security contractors.

        The whole Iraq War, if you look closely was about the massive corruption of the contracting community and political appointees within the Bush administration and had little to do with “winning” anything. The idea was merely to keep the war going as long as possible. The Ukraine situation is about reviving tensions to increase national security budgets and the useful idiots like S. Power and V. Nuland are useful until they become harmful to Wall Street/City of London who support a strategy of tension-lite (the realists).

        There will be no really serious sanctions against Russia right now a good portion of the Russina oligarch money is invested in London real estate and if that bubble bursts there will be many unhappy Tories. War over silly borders isn’t going to happen because the ruling elites in the Empire and in Russia are doing just fine and are using the crisis to keep in power as they did during the latter part of Cold War.

        1. Synopticist

          I agree with Bangar, especially this..”.German government also understands that there is a split within policy making circles of the Deep State as to the desirability of creating more chaos and violence in Ukraine. U.S. covert operators in Ukraine may want to create facts on the ground that would force those in Washington who seek moderation to act. ”

          But there are a lot of extremists on the ground on both sides. The locals are NOT reliable, pliant, disciplined proxies. They’re drunken nationalists, neo-nazis who hate the west nearly as much as they hate Russians, scheming oligarchs beholden to no-one, and a rampant propaganda apparatus.
          There’s already been a textbook agent provocateur massacre in Odessa, and it still isnt clear who was behind it.

          This is not ALL about Washington by any means.

          1. Jackrabbit

            I agree with Banger

            So, then please answer this simple question: What evidence do you have that “there is a split within policy making circles of the Deep State”?

            We all agree that the Germans are sending a message. The question is are they:

            a) supporting a group in the US that has some chance of changing policy, or

            b) signaling their displeasure because policymakers in the US are not listening.

            I believe that what we have seen publicly firmly supports (b) – including what occured in the years leading up to Maidan. If you support (a), then tell us WHY you believe as you do!!!!!!!

            Two months ago Banger said that he thought Ukraine would resolve itself. Then he said that there was a “struggle” between neocons and realists. Then he said that the Deep-State was divided. When challenged to provide an evidentiary basis, he tells us its a “hunch”!?!

            Banger has not challenged my _many_ rebuttals to his ‘hunch’ where I have said that neocons are united and firmly in control – realists and other ‘dissenters’ may get heard but are not really influencing policy (except, maybe to make minor adjustments – like a better PR message – when necessary to avoid damaging criticism). And I have backed up this view with observations – like Obama’s recent decision to essentially seek regime change in Russia (exactly how does Obama’s up-ing the ante reflect disunity or conflict within the Administration?)

            1. Jackrabbit

              I’ll repeat an analogy that I’ve previously given in relation to Banger’s oft-repeated struggle/disunity assertion.

              Saying that there is a struggle or disunity is like saying that CEOs of TBTF Banks disagree on govt regulation or ethics. Yeah, there might be some ‘do gooders’ among middle management that complain that Wall Street has a bad reputation but that doesn’t mean that they will have much influence on ‘policy.’

              I’m sure that is no surprise that WAll Street CEOs (‘policy makers’) are NOT chosen from the ranks of ethics officers, compliance officers, or consumer advocates. In much the same way, neocons rise to the top, not realists.

        2. VietnamVet

          The Iraq War was crazy. Ask a Vietnam Vet and they will tell you cannot win a war on the cheap. Before the invasion I told this to anyone who would listen, no one did. Joe Biden’s visit to Kiev to support neo-nazis Putsch leaders is more insane. His visit makes all Americans complicit for the murders in Odessa and the chaotic pacification of the Russian speaking majority provinces by Right Sector thugs.

          If you accept that corporations are people, one can only conclude that we are observing the War between the Eastern and Western Plutocrats. If you are reading this we haven’t been converted from civilians to road kill, yet. This is why the propaganda is so vicious, personal and divorced from reality. These are rich kids, with all their needs and anger, duking it out, armed with hydrogen bombs, dragging us along for a hell of a ride.

      2. gordon

        “Ukraine is very important to them…” If the Kiev regime forces’ attempt to crush the separatists stalls, there may be people in Washington and Brussels who would want to put NATO forces into Ukraine to finish the job. At that point, military commanders in both the US and Europe might jack up, on the ground that the situation is too fluid and the stakes are too high for that kind of military gamble. Or possibly only military commanders in the EU but not the US could dig in their heels. In such a case, the US might still think twice before sending the Marines. It just might occur to them that Ukraine isn’t in Latin America.

        You might think that’s a pretty slim hope, but I think it’s possible.

        1. Jackrabbit

          It just might occur to them that Ukraine isn’t in Latin America . . . a pretty slim hope, but I think it’s possible.

          Banger apparently wants us to trust in that hope (that reasonable heads will prevail). However slim it may be.

          I really don’t see any basis for such hope. Our government has changed dramatically. From NDAA, to Corporations as people and Supreme Court approved unlimited political donations, to a war on whistle-blowers, to access journalism, to pervasive collection of data on everyone, and so on.

  5. Jagger

    Is it time for Snowden to play hardball? Clearly the US government absolutely intends to bring the hammer down on Snowden if they can ever get their hands on him. Remember all those redacted items, agents, etc which were redacted, hidden, tucked away in respect to ongoing ops, etc? Is it time for Snowden to publically demand complete general amnesty or much more damaging information is coming out? The US leadership has had time to be reasonable but instead they continue to play hardball. Is it time for Snowden to go on the attack?

    Personally I don’t think it would work and I suspect it would negatively change the public’s perception of Snowden. However I am not in hiding in Russia for the rest of my life constantly looking over my shoulder-and it might work if he had the right information.

    1. hunkerdown

      Can he, even? At least officially, he didn’t bring materials to Russia with him. Greenwald presumably does, but somehow I don’t think he’s in a position where he’d want to pull that trigger.

      Even then, it would be silly of him to negotiate with an entity that claims the divine right to kill anyone, anytime, anywhere. It takes a very special kind of simple to believe that the Establishment would act in any way it could avoid or didn’t want.

  6. Christopher Fay

    A rational actor who rationally expects first that the other actor is reasonable would write, “The US leadership has had time to be reasonable.” But our US leadership is delusional much as I wish they could be rational or reasonable. So, that is an unforced error at this late point in the game.

    As for the screw-ups, yes, I remember Afghanistan was the template for the war to make it safe for war profiteering.

  7. financial matters

    This link from yesterday didn’t generate much attention but it has been getting some interesting comments. It especially bothers me when an infectious disease specialist doesn’t like it.

    Here to Stay — Beyond the Rough Launch of the ACA NEJM

    Joel O’Bryan | Other | Disclosure: None
    May 11, 2014
    two tier system is coming

    ACA imposes severe cost controls, indirectly through incentives to the insurance providers to limit networks and procedures (block defensive medicine), and directly via deep reductions in reimbursements to doctors and hospitals for care delivered to Medicaid-Medicare patients. In the short term, we see small private practices and many hospitals entering financial stress (losses or very thin profit margins). This will only continue to worsen. Anecdotally, there are accumulating stories in the press of clinicians, blaming mounting financial losses, making early retirement decisions, abandoning clinical practice altogether, or closing smaller practices to accept salaried positions at large hospitals, We will even more increases in the number of doctors, clinics,and specialist hospitals will offer concierge care and/or not accept patient in Medicare-Medicaid or the ACA marketplaces. Access to the top tier (for ex: Mayo, MD Anderson) will be to the political class, the wealthy, and those who maintain “cadillac”plans. And rationed care for the masses. Thus, ACA guarantees the evolution is to a two tier system. This occur not “inspite of ACA”, but “because of ACA.”

    RICARDO LEMOS, MD | Physician – INFECTIOUS DISEASE | Disclosure: None
    May 11, 2014
    Market based solution

    The “Market based solution” dreamed by Antos is a solution for the elite, not for the average person. The well connected and affluent wil get expensive and overabundant care while the rest wil languish in the arms of for profit chains, and go bankrupt in the process. It is an obsession to satisfy his ideological bias which is to safeguard the patrimonium of the 1%.

    1. Benedict@Large

      The way ObamaCare was written makes it cheaper for employers of the bottom half of wage earners to push them into the exchanges for individual coverage than to provide it themselves via group coverage. Group coverage of course is FAR SUPERIOR to individual coverage, which means that over time, a two-tier system of inferior coverage for the bottom 50% will come into being.

      It’s important to understand that THIS WAS KNOWN at the time the bill was written, both on the left (by people like myself) and on the right (by CATO, who first made public the math involved). It is reasonable therefore to believe that this was intentional.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    London, top super-rich city.

    I am surprised London has sunken under the weight of all that money…perhaps their anorexic model-type mistresses help a little.

  9. allcoppedout

    Just back from the cess-pit. It’s sunk all right. Even the Gherkin has gone bust. We should move Parliament out to somewhere offshore.

    1. Christopher Dale Rogers

      You have a way with words sir, and would appear you share many sentiments that I observe.
      I’m presently having fun on the Guardian’s forum’s, pointing out to posters that we don’t enjoy electoral choice in the UK – we may have three legacy parties, but all have one master, which is mirrored closely across the pond.

      Glad I’m Welsh and can make claims to my own nation-state, which I cannot wait for – so here’s a big “thumbs up” for Scottish Independence in September – we need this vote or else the UK, or what remains of the UK will be well and truly f—ed!!!!!

  10. jgordon

    In a very nice neighborhood in the city I live, I have had a bit of luck at converting lawns into semi-productive spaces with attractive and nutritious ground-cover crops such as purslane and rhizomal perennial peanuts. Expanding mulched areas and introducing ornamental/edible shrubs, trellises, and trees has also had some limited success. Though I don’t think that the fact that my designs are require little to no external resources and are nearly free to maintain (when I’m allowed to do what I want) doesn’t really seem to register to much with people who have money. It’s all about property value, what the neighbors will think, and lastly the artistry and uniqueness of the design–which is kind of disheartening in a way. But work with what you can I suppose.

    Also, lawns are the devil. Everyone who is maintaining grass in her yard is doing major damage to the environment and allowing a significant drain on finances for no good reason. That should probably be considered even before solar panels and other like accoutrements are looked into.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘nutritious ground-cover crops such as … rhizomal perennial peanuts’

      Great idea. Not only can you eat ’em, you might even qualify for a federal bailout:

      [Florida] peanut farmers fear that all could come crashing down due to provisions in the 2014 farm bill passed in early February that provides incentives for cotton farmers to switch to peanuts and could lead to an oversupply that would drive prices below what it costs to grow peanuts.

      U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho — who sits on the House agriculture committee — said he is concerned that American taxpayers would have to bail out peanut farmers if cotton farmers shift even a small percentage of acres to peanuts and drive down prices.

      The Ukrainians, the peanut farmers — where does it stop? No choice but to dig up the yard — ‘goobers to gazillions,’ comrades.

    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Someday, I’m going to have a rock band named The Rhizomal Goobers.

  11. Jim Haygood

    First biz day after the silly article ‘The DJIA is a Hoax,’ it’s at a fresh record high.

    Somewhat like the old ‘secret 100 mpg carburetor suppressed by Big Oil’ (which I heard from an otherwise intelligent business consultant this weekend), the ‘Dow Jones divisor conspiracy’ theory pops up every few years. In its ‘strong’ form, it asserts that since General Electric is the only remaining constituent of the original Dow, the other 29 members should have gone to zero, and the DJIA index should now equal the price of General Electric (26.64, as I type).

    In fact, there’s a simple real-world test of DJIA index math: can you invest in its 30 constituents and obtain the claimed results? This experiment has been underway since 20 Jan 1998, when the Dow Diamonds (symbol: DIA) ETF was launched.

    And the verdict? For 18 years, the DIA has matched (after subtracting its 0.17% expense ratio) the DJIA index within a few hundredths of a percent — constituent replacements, divisor changes, and all. But for the innumerate who still suspect some sort of free-energy, something-for-nothing game under the surface, by all means grab some Diamonds and cut yourself in on those thin-air, math-trickery phantom profits. It’s the next best thing to having a license to print money.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Strange, that. Despite all of the losses that have been swept under the rug.

      Grab some diamonds? How about grab some dollars? I can make any equation meaningless by incorporating a single infinite (undefined) “constant.”

      You define your numerator, and then we’ll talk about the denominator.

  12. Jackrabbit

    We now have a race in Ukraine.

    After the May 25th elections it seems likely that the Ukrainian government calls in NATO. After that point, no further succession will be allowed.

    How much of Ukraine can the Ukrainians manage to hold on to? We shall see.

    1. Jackrabbit

      I’d guess we’ll see intensified activity over the next two weeks as May 25th draws near. The most pro-Russian areas have now made their intention clear but others areas that are still ‘in play’.

      1. Vatch

        I’m not convinced that the most pro-Russian areas have made their intentions clear (with the probable exception of Crimea). According to the map in this Wikipedia page, Crimea was the only part of Ukraine with a majority of ethnic Russians:

        According to the 2001 census, Luhansk is 39% Russian, and Donetsk is 38.2% Russian, yet the vote in both was at least 90% in favor of joining Russia. Perhaps. But I think we have reason to be suspicious. There may have been a lot of hanging chads.

        1. OIFVet

          Or perhaps its something much simpler: Russian-speaking Ukies, products of mixed marriages or simply ones whose cultural affinity and affiliation is Russian. There are plenty of those too. Take a look at the Russian language map for Russian speakers based on the 2001 census. Notice the Zaporozhie province around the shores of the Azov Sea? Odessa? On the far southwest is Bessarabia, home to 200,000 ethnic Bulgarians whose second daily language is Russian and whose attitudes are pro-Russian. And another 100,000 in Tavria on the aforementioned Zaporozhie sea coast whose attitudes match those in Bessarabia. The Saker has a map with percentages by language in different provinces if you care to look there, No, this may not be over yet, and it has nothing to the with election fraud. .

            1. OIFVet

              I had noted Hungary’s turn to the East last month and it’s refusal to vote for sanctions against Russia following the Crimean referendum, but I really thought it was simply relishing the opportunity to stick it to the Euros. Hungary has been “New” Europe’s pariah for the past four years and it seems to relish that role. Apparently it seeks more than that. In retrospect it should have been obvious:

              “But the delegate from Hungary stole the show. Instead of a tie and business suit, he showed up in a tee-shirt that read: “Crimea legally belongs to Russia, Transcarpathia legally belongs to Hungary.” This Hungarian delegate, Tamas Gaudi-Nagi, noted that he must have wandered by mistake into a Soviet Politburo meeting. He continued: PACE is supporting the communist views of Khrushchev who gifted Crimea to another Soviet republic. You don’t want to honor international rights, you simply ignore them. Remember the international decision on Kosovo independence that you voted for. This is why any of your decisions about sanctions against Russia sound so ridiculous.” See more here.

              I can’t say that I like Orban’s right-wing politics but his economic populism has been rather big poke in the Euro’s collective eye. And now he is shaking that nest of neoliberal yes-men US flunkies some more. I am rather enjoying that spectacle.

          1. Vatch

            Hi OIFVet. What you say is a reasonable possibility. Were there international monitors for the elections? As far as I know, there weren’t. An election result in such a volatile area would be a lot more palatable if we could rule out large scale fraud. 96% just seems awfully suspicious.

  13. Jessica

    A grammar question from
    The problem with Thomas Piketty: “Capital” destroys right-wing lies, but there’s one solution it forgets Thomas Frank, Salon

    “However, he also has a serious historical blind spot, and it leads even he to wander into the land of make-believe at times, particularly when he is proposing solutions.”

    Shouldn’ that be “it leads even him to wander”? I think this is one of those cases of an educated writer bending over backwards to avoid one of those mistakes common even among native speakers (“me and him are going to the store”. I can my Mom even now saying “He and I” to correct me).

    Either way, do any of our grammar-fluent readers know the correct explanation for this?

    More on topic, I agree with Frank that Piketty writes a persuasive and wonderfully backed up critique, but when it comes to solutions, the very mainstream economist way of thinking that allows him to demolish neoliberalism in its own terms and in way that is more difficult for them to pretend they didn’t hear and hope none else did, that same way of thinking gets in the way of him finding solutions. Those we will have to come up with ourselves and actually they are plenty of good ones on this site.

    1. scraping_by

      If you want it in college-speak, it’s the difference between ‘analysis’ and ‘synthesis.’ Analysis is breaking the big problem down into small, solvable problems while synthesis is gathering up those small answers into one big answer. Piketty, academic that he is, has given us analysis.

      And you’re right, the synthesis has been left to us students as an exercise.

    2. Hugh

      Thomas Frank proposes a top-down solution much like the one he criticizes Piketty for: Allow workers to organize. The top-down element is in the word “allow”. Piketty won’t get his wealth tax for the same reason Frank won’t get his right for workers to organize. Both look to the same political structures and classes that are looting us to give us the means to stop their looting. It’s not going to happen. We need to organize a social movement outside these classes and structures on our own in order to take back political and ultimately economic control of our lives and our society.

        1. Jessica

          That is definitely the form it would have taken in an industrial economy. In a post-industrial economy, where so much work is intellectual rather than material and where few of us work together in large numbers for prolonged periods of time, we may need a new form.
          But the basic principle remains the same.

    3. janie

      He to wander versus him to wander: the subject of an infinitive is in the accusative case rather th an nominative. Thus “him” is correct.

      1. Jessica

        Thank you. That is what I thought. But it has been a while and they could have changed it.
        I remember the cases in English being called nominative and objective. (The latter covered what would be dative, accusative, and ablative in Latin grammar (or dative and accusative in German grammar, which might be more relevant)).

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From ‘Masala Dosa to Die For:’

    A coffee man, he explained, should be small and quiet, while a dosa chef needs to be at least 5-foot-6.

    I think I will get my coffee from the Kushari joint down the street.

  15. Paul P

    Unions are the only institution which gives workers a voice in politics and fights for workers on the job. So, Thomas Frank is right to criticize Piketty for leaving them out of the solution to inequality. But unions in spite of ongoing battles, often inspiring and ferocious, bark louder than they bite.
    Take Social Security. After Bush’s privatization plan had been defeated, the AFL-CIO took “Social Security” off of the face page of its website. After Obama had appointed his Deficit Commission and had appointed Simpson and Bowles to chair the commission, I checked the website for Social Security. Social Security was off the face page. I found it under Retirement and the first item was a statement by Obama in support of Social Security. AFL-CIO President Trumka had not updated the webpage, but had given himself a big raise at that time.
    Ever see a union table on the street handing out literature on Social Security? Congress wants to cut the Great Programs, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid because of deficit mania, but leave untaxed offshore profits, Tobin taxes, and the rest of the giveaways off the table. The Congressional districts of the program cutters are not composed of majority of the 1%. They would be vulnerable to a grassroots campaign.
    The unions could use a Grover Norquist. Every time some politician proposes to cut taxes, a demonstration would be held outside her office demanding to know what programs he planned to cut.

    1. nobody

      You’re talking about the unions that presently exist–which seem to be headed up by people who identify more with the 0.01% than the 99.99%–as opposed to unions as such.

      I think we need broad-based mass rebellion within our major institutions against the staggering verticality that seems to pervade nearly all of them.

      And more Wobblies, while fewer Andy Sterns.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Your ancestor’s farms and your thinking…

    Why your ancestors?

    I read the article, and it appears it’s more like your (instead of your ancestors’) farms and your thinking.

    The article gave the example of the Chinese government moving south to become rice farmers in the 11th century and an incipient industrial revolution fizzled out, after thousands of years of wheat farming in the north.

    So, in the 11th century, despite of their ancestors being wheat farmers for thousands of years in central and northern China, moving south and farming rice had an immediate impact.

    So, it was not what their ancestors did nor what your ancestors did. It’s what you do…according to this example.

    Let that be a warming to scientific thinking American rice farmers, unless they mechanize to become less labor intensive, less collectivistic…thereby keeping their individualism.

    1. Hugh

      The Han dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) capital was at Chang’an (present day Xian in Shanxi province) for the first couple hundred years and then further east at Luoyang during the Eastern Han period. Chang’an was also the capital during the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD). So historically the capital of the unified country was in central China. This reflects the fact that Mandarin was spoken in a vast swathe of the hinterland from Beijing south and westward to the borders of Tibet while southern and coastal areas spoke other dialects.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The interesting thing about the Guangdong dialect is that it traces its original speakers to the prisoners and laborers exiled there by the First Emperor of Qin Dynasty and retains the spoken Chinese of that time more than any other dialects, including Mandarin.

        Similarly, the Hokien Min Nan (southern Fujian) dialect traces its original speakers to the refuges who fled nomadic invasions of the 3rd and 4th Century AD, with later influences (two) in the Tang Dynasty, thus retaining much of the spoken Chinese during the Jin dynasty and to a lesser extent Tang dynasty.

        Standard Mandarin is defined as the dialect spoken by the people, I have to look it up later, around the imperial summer retreat of the Qing emperors, not too far north of Beijing, reflecting that power has been located in and around Beijing, more or less, with brief interruptions, for that last 1,000 years or so, starting with the Khitan Liao dynasty, the Jurchen Jin dynasty, the Mongolian Yuan dynasty, the Ming dynasty from Yongle onward, the Manchu Qing dynasty, and the present republic. It reflects the Chinese as adopted by invading tribes, the Khitans, the Jurchens, the Mongols and the Manchus. It’s probably the least familiar of modern Chinese dialects to ancient speakers of Chinese. Confucius would have a hard time understanding Mandarin Chinese.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Which is similar to many, many languages. For example, the English language, first spoken, I guess by the Anglo Saxons.

          1. gordon

            A contemporary English speaker having no specialist training wouldn’t have been able to understand Anglo-Saxon.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          By the way, from the article, again:

          All were Han Chinese, China’s dominant ethnic group, so other differences were hopefully minimal…

          The fact is not all ‘Han Chinese’ today have 100% Han Chinese ancestry, even if they identify themselves as Han Chinese.

          There were a lot of Sogdians in Xian during the Tang dynasty with descendants today. Greco-Roman soldiers from the Han dynasty. Many Persians who came over during the Yuan dynasty. And Kaifeng Jews, however few who may still be there today. These are not in the officially recognized ethnic minority list.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          More interesting tidbits of information.

          What we call tea is called chai (or something similar) in many countries in central Asia and Euro-Asia. The reason is tea was imported to countries in Western Europe from Fujian province and the Chinese character for tea was pronounced ‘te’ there, while the Chinese character for tea was pronounced cha in Northern China where it was sent overland via the Silk Road westward.

          One might conclude that in ancient China, tea was pronounced ‘te’ and not ‘cha.’

          But in Guangdong province and Hong Kong, what we call Dim Sum here is termed ‘Yum Cha,’ (see which in Wiki) meaning literally ‘to drink tea.’ That is to say, the Chinese word for tea is pronounced ‘cha’ in Cantonese (Guangdong dialect).

          Why is that, if Cantonese is older than Hokien Min Nan?

          My guess is that tea did not become popular until after the Qin dynasty (the first united dynasty around 200 – 300 BC). This is from Wiki’s ‘History of Tea in China:’

          While historically the origin of tea as a medicinal herb useful for staying awake is unclear, China is considered to have the earliest records of tea drinking, with recorded tea use in its history dating back to the first millennium BCE. The Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) used tea as medicine. The use of tea as a beverage drunk for pleasure on social occasions dates from the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE) or earlier.

          So, the settlers of Guangdong during the Qin dynasty (the dynasty before the Han Dynasty) probably did not bring the word ‘tea’ with them; whereas the migrants from Jin and Tang China into Fujian did and it was pronounced ‘te.’ Eventually, when it became popular in Guangdong, the sound of the word had become ‘cha.’

          That’s my guess.

          1. Christopher Dale Rogers

            Are you posting from Hong Kong?
            I ask, because I’m stuck here courtesy of the Conservative and LibDem Alliance back in the UK.

            Anyway, your observations are correct, I live on one of the Outer Island’s and Cantonese certainly was not the main dialect where I now live, although, this is the case on HK Island and Kowloon-side.

    2. gordon

      “Your ancestors’ farms…”

      This sort of pop psychology doesn’t help anybody. I suppose it sells well to people who think they want to “understand” others without bothering to read their history and learn about their culture. Instant explanations like this are usually just racist preconceptions dressed up in “sciency”–sounding language. There isn’t a quick and painless way of learning about others. There is only the laborious learning about their history, culture and language. You have to read books with long sentences and not a lot of pictures. There is no comic book version. Tough.

      And by the way, the historical staple food crop of N. China was millet, not wheat.

  17. scraping_by

    A union Grover Norquist would have to accept the real possibility of a nail gun accident or a small plane crash. Get past that, and it would work.

  18. Oregoncharles

    Re: (rice vs. wheat growing).

    In general, I’m inclined to support this type of thinking; in anthropology, it’s called “functionalism;” in politics, “materialism.” it’s actually Marx’s chief contribution to social theory.

    The weak link is the emphasis on psychology, rather than social structures and customs. For instance, the interpretation of their survey questions seems remarkably arbitrary – though, tbf, we didn’t see the overall picture without reading the original study.

    I’ve seen a stronger explanation of the West’s sudden rise to empire: Europe’s extreme Balkanization in the face of persistent threats, mainly from the Islamic powers. The resulting competition among states drove all sorts of innovation, especially military and commercial. In contrast, both China and Japan were highly centralized empires, as was most of India. The invention of the university was a big factor, too. And there is always an element of chance: Europe happened to be rising at the same time that China was in a decline. That has now been reversed.

    Overall, the idea that rice farming promoted a different kind of society from wheat farming (within China, the empires mostly originated in the north) makes sense. It’s basic functionalism. It’s just not the only, nor likely to be the determining, factor.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From Ancient Chinese Grains (wiki):

      The Five Grains traditionally date back to the Shennong Ben Cao Jing, reputed to be a record of an oral tradition first delivered by Shennong himself. The Classic of Rites compiled by Confucius in the 6th and 5th centuries BC lists soybeans (豆), wheat (麦), broomcorn (黍), foxtail millet (稷), and hemp. Another version[clarification needed] replaces hemp with rice (稻). The Hei’anzhuan cited above lists millet, rice, the adzuki bean, the soybean, barley and wheat together, and sesame as the “five” grains.

      It appears it’s more than just wheat they grew in Northern China.

      In any case, even if it was predominantly wheat during the Spring and Autumn Period of his life, one can never suggest Confucius taught individualism while he ate his Northern Chinese wheat buns.

  19. Mel

    ”’Timken management argued that making both materials and products enabled them to bring to market higher-quality goods that met customers’ needs: for example, their ultra-large bearings for windmill towers, which measure two meters in diameter, weigh four tons, and have to stand up to extreme wind and temperature conditions. Controlling the entire value chain, they said, allowed them to fine-tune the attributes of the steel in order to make superior products. Nonetheless, the financial calculation about how to maximize quarterly returns won out.”’

    There are actually a couple of financial memes that could have supported Tim Timken in what he was trying to do. Both related to the idea of sloughing off everything except “core competences.”

    “No one thinks they are going to need extra capital or money. If they need it, then they think they can get it at a price. If you wait until you need it, then you can’t get it at any price.” — Extreme Money, Satyajit Das
    an example of what I’ve been calling “Market Delusion”: the idea that, anything you need, just step out into the market and buy some. Works every time, except for the times it doesn’t.

    The meme that often follows after Market Delusion is the familiar short squeeze. When the market wakes up and notices that you don’t have something that you need, then the market will kill you.

    I don’t see how Relational Investors LLC would go mentioning things like that, after their cannon fodder are roused up and yelling for action. So you have the teachers’ pension balancing its portfolios and managing its risk, but not talking about making any money. Just balancing and managing.

    1. optimader

      Timken was (may still be?) one of the finest run technology companies in America. Unique capabilities and they educated many fine engineers/business majors though their coop programs.

  20. OIFVet

    Charter Schools are Cheating Your Kids: Report Reveals Massive Fraud, Mismanagement, Abuse. Hardly surprising yet still very infuriating. The “education reform” perpetrated by both Republicans and self-proclaimed liberals like my mayor Rahm Emanuel and my former neighbors Barack Obama and Arne Duncan turns out to be…a rent extraction scheme. A scheme that is bound to destroy the already crappy educational “achievement” of the American schoolchildren whose schools are underfunded and getting more so as the charter scam diverts ever increasing amounts of money from neighborhood schools.

  21. JTFaraday

    Re: “The CIA’s Bro Culture Is Doing Yemen No Favors,” Vice.

    “This article shows the strengths and limits of Vice. We’ve got hip (“bros”), sharp contextualization on gendered markers… …the writer (note the Beltway tell, “robust”) shifts gears, or not, into the policy recommendation that we Americans run our empire more like those clever Brits did, back when they had one: With native troops and compradors. Alrighty then. Anybody who wants non-trivial change yet views political economy primarily through a generational lens should include material like this in their account.”

    Too true. “Bro culture” is ubiquitous and multi-generational, permeates the entire ideological spectrum in every generation, regards everything outside itself and its limited horizon of experience as alien, destroys it out of spite, and then blames the destruction on everyone but itself.

    That’s why “the Bros” have Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Elizabeth Warren to take the blame in this generation, while always reliable plantation overseers on the labor left try to shut everyone up and stick their noses to the grindstone by convincing them they’re really actually nostalgic for the 1950s:

    “Piketty tells us that, unlike the French, Americans feel “no nostalgia for the postwar period” because our economy didn’t grow rapidly in those years. In fact, American GDP often grew by 5 and 6 percent in the ’50s and ’60s and Americans have felt intense sweet wistfulness for those days ever since “American Graffiti” came out in 1973.”

    We’ll see how well that goes over.

  22. Shwell Thanksh

    I’m always puzzled by writers who lump “fertilizers” in with their target of “toxic chemicals” in residential horticultural use… but then seem to forget them after that as they rightly warn against the environmental consequences of many pesticides and endocrine disrupters.
    Why make such an elementary mistake? Is it that they’re “chemicals” too, and so it’s guilt by association?

  23. tone

    re: intro to Vice/CIA article

    “Anybody who wants non-trivial change yet views political economy primarily through a generational lens should include material like this in their account.”

    This is far too smart for me, can someone please explain this comment by Yves?

  24. allcoppedout

    Piketty accuses his professional colleagues of a “childish passion for mathematics and for purely theoretical and often highly ideological speculation”; he laughs at “their absurd claim to greater scientific legitimacy, despite the fact that they know almost nothing about anything.” In a shocking reversal, he calls on the imperial legions of economic pseudo-science to lay down their arms, to “avail ourselves of the methods of historians, sociologists, and political scientists”

    If you don’t believe that, I guess you don’t meet many economists. Salon goes on to show Capital 21 fails to understand much history, politics or sociology. This was my impression on first skim of the book. Dan Kervick’s shared reading has given me a less jaundiced view on my second attempt. The global wealth tax still seems preposterous.

    In all this is strikes me we have forgotten we need a political revolution and this needs to be global. Salon suggests we ‘need unions back – I think so too, though in a new form of personal and group representation. Anyone in here know of any developed ideas on a future without the burden of inherited wealth and other rents or how we might find ways to vote globally without some megalith global government for policies, law and projects we actually want?

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