Links 6/11/14

This animal can be torn apart, and will come back together again Deep Sea News. Hail, Hydra! Immortal Hydra! We shall never be destroyed! Cut off a limb, and two more shall take its place!

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble: What’s a policymaker to do? Money and Banking

What If the Fed Has Created a Bubble? Mohamed A. El-Erian, Bloomberg

Déjà vu: echoes of pre-crisis world mount FT

World Needs Record Saudi Oil Supply as OPEC Convenes The Center of the Universe

Global private wealth rises to $152tn BBC

Betting on boring brings stock outperformance in 2014 Reuters

Ken Block: Halt 38 Studios payment, bring in feds Providence Journal. Ratings agencies abetting corruption? Are such things possible?

Sun and Shadows: How an Island Paradise Became a Haven for Dirty Money ICIJ (RS)

AP IMPACT: Tax cheats took billions from Ukraine AP

Whether GM or banks, some companies are still too big to jail Reuters

The South Rises Up to Take on Wall Street and High Frequency Trading Wall Street on Parade

Eric Cantor succumbs to tea party challenger Tuesday WaPo

Eric Cantor’s loss is bad news for the NSA Vox (Howard Beale IV)

“shooting.” Remember when the summer doldrums story wasn’t Yet Another Gun Nut Massacre, but Missing White Woman? Happy, innocent times.

US firm hired to save Fukushima from 400k tons of radioactive water RT


Iraq PM asks for state of emergency after insurgents take Mosul Al Jazeera

Al-Qaeda Offshoot Routs US-Trained Forces And Captures Iraq’s Second Largest City Business Insider

A Syrian War Spillover: ISIS Attacks Mosul Moon of Alabama

Why Mosul’s fall is a signature moment in Iraq Christian Science Monitor

Analysis: why Mosul is the ‘forgotten’ insurgent stronghold Telegraph

China Will Need A Series Of Miracles To Sustain Growth John Mauldin, Business Insider

Of Fish, Monsoons and the Future Times

Trafficked into slavery on Thai trawlers to catch food for prawns Guardian

Seven questions for Thailand’s military New Mandala

World Cup

How to Watch the World Cup Like a True Soccer Nerd Grantland. I can’t see the puck.

World Cup: Pitch battle FT

Taking it to the street Reuters. World Cup graffitti.

Airlines In America Are Now As Terrible As Airlines In Russia The Agonist. Nothing more depressing than coming back through US Customs and seeing what the country’s become.

Rite Aid Memory Test Triggers Needless Fear of Alzheimer’s, Doctors Say Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Looking Beyond the Job-Finding Rate: The Difficulty of Finding Full-Time Work Atlanta Fed

The Mental-Health Consequences of Unemployment The Atlantic

33 U.S. Cities Have Restricted Feeding The Homeless In Past Year Alone: Report HuffPo

17 inch-long pigeon spikes – out of sight, out of mind Billy Blog

Should We Count Out Piketty Due to “Sum” Math Errors? Triple Crisis. Must read summary of the Piketty/Giles debate on data.

Geithner’s Upbringing and Left of the Boom Observations on Credit and Surveillance. Stoller aggregates autobiographical snippets from Geithner’s book. I thought it would be fun to pick out the institutions, including countries and regions, from the post, to get a sense of Geithner’s connections. Note the snippets include material from Geithner’s clan/faction/network, not just Geithner himself. Here they are, in post order:

Republican [Party]; New England; Ford Motor Company; Cape Cod National Seashore; Republican; U.S. Departments State, Defense, Justice; Manhattan; USAID; Rhodesia; Zimbabwe; Northern Rhodesia; Zambia; USAID; Washington; Ford Foundation; New Delhi; India; Oxfam; CARE; World Bank; United States; Ford Foundation; Manhattan; Thailand; Ford Foundation; Southeast Asia; New York; India; Thailand; India; Pakistan; New Delhi; Thailand; Associated Press; Khmer Rouge; Vietnamese; Cambodia; India; Beijing; China; Soviet Union; Africa; North Korea; School of Advanced International Studies; Johns Hopkins; Navy; Dartmouth; SAIS; World Bank; Washington; Beijing; Ford Foundation; China; United States; RAND Corporation.

The RAND Corporation! Stoller saved the best for last, didn’t he? And the Cape Cod National Seashore is about as uber-WASPy as it gets. One also notes that Geithner’s mother, like Obama’s, combined an “exuberant spirit of the sixties” with, er, international experience. Perhaps the two shared a bond for that, or those, reasons. Spooky action at a distance, eh?

Al Gore on Valley libertarianism and Uber: “Disruption can be extremely healthy.” Pando Daily

Exclusive: plans local services marketplace this year – sources Reuters

Fair Use Victory in HathiTrust Litigation The Berkeley Blog

Game Changer: FDA Rules No Wooden Boards in Cheese Aging Cheese Underground. Who needs artisanal cheese when you’ve got Velveeta Singles®?

California Teacher Tenure Found to Violate Student Rights Bloomberg

The High Art of Competitive Eating The Alantic and My Environment Fat Land Living

Fake Victory for Artificial Intelligence Bloomberg. Maybe we’re just getting more stupid.

Computers Are Getting Better Than Humans Are at Facial Recognition Atlantic. “Facial recognition is evolving into emotional recognition,” including lying. Finally, a use case for Google Glass!

You’re probably using the wrong dictionary James Somers. A hitherto unrecognized but culturally lethal mode of crapification.

Antidote du jour:


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. dearieme

    “too big to jail”: an excellent expression – it should be used more widely. After all Ted Kennedy proved to be “too big to jail” when he killed that girl. In fact, too big to investigate.

  2. abynormal

    The sun unleashed two X-class solar flares in the span of one hour and 10 minutes Tuesday morning, and there is a good chance that more may be coming soon.
    The area calmed down after its two violent outbursts this morning, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center says the new active region remains a “potent force” with more chances for strong flares that could cause radio blackouts in the next few days.

    (Dear Mercury in retrograde, please stop f-ing with my travel & electronics today…sincerely, me.)

    1. craazyman

      It’s probably just wormhole radiation from a Zeta Reticuli star ship’s anti-matter acceleration blast as they round the sun to head home. I’ve noticed NOAA sometimes picks these up as solar blasts. I don’t know if you saw the story about the girl out in California who had avocado colored eyes with cat-like slits for irises and boneless arms. People thought she was human until her sunglasses fell off one day when she stumbled going to the bathroom and somebody grabbed her arm to break her fall. Evidently she was an alien-human hybrid from Zeta Reticuli going to a community college near Sacramento. Don’t laugh, these things happen more often than you’d think!

      1. Doug Terpstra

        I suspect most invertebrate-lizard people are in NY and DC. Was the community college near the Bohemian Grove? That would explain it.

      2. abynormal

        i don’t doubt it At All. i cry in private if at all…during my fathers last earthly journey, i cried a few times with my sister. one day she screamed “what the hel happen to your eyes”…confused i asked what she was talking about. btw my eyes are grey…unknown to me they turn Lime Green when i cry.

        so maybe this explains ohmyhecks conundrum

        “Now if you will excuse me I have a beam of light to catch” K-PAX

        1. craazyman

          After you recover from the ontological shock it’s hard not to think of “guacamole”, and then you lose your train of thought almost completely. At least that’s what happened to me and I can only speak for myself.

      3. Optimader

        I remained too much inside my head and ended up losing my mind
        Edgar Allan Poe (via 13neighbors)

    2. zephyrum

      Neptune also has gone retrograde as of Monday. Outer planet transits are a bit slower to activate, but for a five month period we should see increased perceptiveness–seemingly without effort–and corresponding difficulties in concealing the truth. Mirabile dictu as Yves would say. The sting is that towards the end of the year, those issues which become exposed and are not dealt with will become larger problems for having been neglected while visible.

  3. raven

    Thanks for posting the Ken Block piece about the 38 Studio scandal in Rhode Island. It’s just amazing how bad this state has become. It’s now easily be the most corrupt in the union, almost all due to years of one party Democrat rule. No wonder it’s rank at the bottom.

    1. Banger

      As a former resident of RI I know that corruption is intricately involved in that political system and society in general. Block’s suggestion to not pay back the debt is correct his suggestion of bringing in the Feds may not make much sense since the Feds, with a few exceptions is just as corrupt as RI law-enforcement if not more so.

  4. dearieme

    “Airlines In America Are Now As Terrible As Airlines In Russia”: it’s a dozen years since I visited the US, apart from changing planes at LAX – is this assessment accurate?

    By the way, credit where credit is due: a few years ago LAX dealt with a disabled companion pretty well. And discredit where discredit is due: I have never used a US airline when an alternative has been available. Who would?

    1. Jagger

      For some reason, Iraq is starting to remind me of Vietnam. Once we pulled our army out of Vietnam, our Vietnamese government didn’t last long.

      1. Banger

        Military officers claimed they learned something from Vietnam. They didn’t. The repeated the same basic strategies and many of the same tactics. When it was clear the Americans were losing in Vietnam they tried “Vietnamization” which meant training the local forces to fight the enemy. All that money, equipment went for nothing. Same thing in Iraq. Soldiers will not fight for an abstract non-existent state (smashed by the U.S.) run by corrupt leaders but the U.S. can’t learn that lesson. Why? Because U.S. military ventures are fought chiefly to enrich the military industrial complex and are not meant to be “won.”

        Now they are talking of sending more arms which will be taken by the Islamic militants for their own use. But the firms making the weapons will reap high profits so all is well.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Always nice to see a high-ranking Depublicrat ousted (Eric Cantor’s loss). It’s reminiscent of former Speaker Tom Foley getting booted in 1994.

    Ironic that with so many members in partisan-majority ‘designer districts,’ incumbents may face more career risk from primaries than from general elections.

    1. lakewoebegoner

      Just as in the UK/Europe, the Americans on the left and right are dissatisfied with their respective professional ruling class.

      Obama’s going to be an official lame duck come November. Prospects for Hillary 2016 are not too good either as Hillary and Bill represent everything that has been and is wrong with the Democratic Party.

      Most Republicans luck out only because they’re not in power.

    2. Banger

      This is a stunning defeat not just of the RP establishment in Congress but Washington itself. I have said for some time that the left should stop supporting any suggestion of government programs unless the whole system was completely reformed–by that I mean completely reforming Civil Service, eliminate contracting, reform the lobbying system, removing money and therefore bribery direct and indirect (revolving door, jobs for relatives etc.) and many other reforms all doable from a structural POV.

      As in Europe, the paralysis of the left means that the only hope of reform and change has to come from the right and we can moan and groan over LePen or the Tea Party but the fact is the left has, as an opposition force, largely ceased to exist so we have no one to blame but ourselves here. As such, there should be more sympathy to the far-right–they give us some breathing room to act and join the anti-government side. It seems the issue is, in Cantor’s district, mainly immigration–we had discussed immigration here in reference to Europe and the same sort of issue exists in the U.S. in more traditional areas of the country like the South.

      Here is how David Brat describes his focus: “Free Markets, Constitution, Liberty. No more Crony Capitalism!”

      All leftists can align with three of those things. The Constitution, no matter what your point of view, is no longer in force the Patriot Act and the NDAA has deleted civil liberties in this country–end of story–we no longer operate under rule-of-law, habeas corpus, and the Bill of Rights. Liberty, depends on how you define it–but, again, we no longer have a Bill of Rights. Crony capitalism–well what have we been talking about here over quite some time. As for free-markets, well there is no such thing but certainly we don’t even come close to having free-markets so whether we are for or against capitalism the question is moot.

      1. Ned Ludd

        “we have no one to blame but ourselves here.”

        There is no real left in the U.S., but I don’t think that is the fault of “ourselves”. The leaders of the purported left are ineffective apologists for Democrats because ineffective apologists for Democrats are the people who accumulate social capital in our corrupt system. Gloria Steinem, who admitted taking CIA funding, became the face of feminism. Redstockings – the group Steinem credits with her introduction to feminism – was set to publish information that pointed to her continued CIA ties and CIA funding of Ms. magazine. Steinem got Random House to threaten to cancel publication of Redstockings’ anthology unless this information – from public records and statements – was purged from the book.

        The left we have is the one that was selected for us.

        1. Banger

          CIA ha always been very involved with the left just as the Stasi was involved with the E. German opposition. I believe the infiltration here has been mainly in the media.

    3. Jagger

      Funny how when you game the system such that only one person can possibly win an election, then no one shows up to vote! Except for those who actually think voting still makes a difference. And they won!! Shows that just believing can still work.

      Next best thing to the guillotine for teaching our political leadership a lesson. Of course listening to Tom Ashbrook on NPR talking to a motley crew of expert media pundits, they have no clue what happened but they can’t resist pushing their own particular spins on to the results.

    4. hunkerdown

      Let’s flesh this out a little:

      VA-7’s PVI is R+10 (strongly red).

      Since the last election, Cantor’s district has lost three counties in the northwest and grown a finger to the east, ending across from West Point. I don’t know enough about the demographics of the counties involved in the redistricting to speak on that. Between 1/2 and 2/3 of his district remained unchanged. Before and after maps.

      Cooter had a plan to fix Roscoe’s wagon by getting Democrats voting offsides for Brat. Yes, really.

      Turnout was reportedly light.

      Cantor was flagrantly misinformed about his performance.

      There’s a fair bit of noise on Twitter just after the result was announced, with lots of Tea Party taking credit for punishing “his” pro-immigration (i.e. pro-management, anti-labor) platform (that he was carrying for the GOP, let us remember). Interesting how a pro-capital, anti-labor policy stance can be labeled left-wing, but that’s what happens when one grows up in a Fuddrucker’s, and anyway that’s another digression or twelve…

      Cantor has been a fairly reliable handmaiden to power as far as I know, and will likely be plenty employable as a lobbyist once his plausible-deniability period expires, unless I missed something.

      From the oblique to the on-axis, here are a few theories that follow from the above:

      1. +20-30?! was there even a GOTV? any ground game at all? That’s a hit job. Some Boss Hogg must have had “private orders” for Cantor’s campaign team.
      2. the Democratic Party is actively propping up the Tea Party as an effigy — or as a bad cop, now that the mainstream Rs are too close for comfort.
      3. having Russia and Israel establish a diplomatic hotline (i.e. the end of the New American Century) was a bit too much for neocon-sympathetic voters to get out of bed for.

      Or, indeed, people are getting fed up and, as the far (and not-so-far left) left reliably winds up scandalized or run over by an SUV before the general, the far right’s is the only tick box that hasn’t been tried and found horribly corrupt and wanting in recent, albeit addled and distorted, living memory.

      1. Rostale

        After seeing tea-party commenters refer to Obama as a “Big-corporation socialist” (and not in the context of socializing costs) I have to wonder how much of the electorate even knows what the word socialist means anymore. The term has been used as a boogeyman word for so long it has effectively lost its meaning.

        1. cwaltz

          The Tea Party has some big brass cajones, however, I have yet to see anything from them that suggests they have brains.

          Most of them bray “redistribution” like they somehow believe Wally World has a vault where it keeps each individual dollar ever spent so it can return it to its rightful owner when they go shopping again. It’s fairly clear that they just parrot talking points instead of actually ponder what terms like redistribution and socialism actually mean and how they might compare to the system we have in place.

          1. Kim Kaufman

            re Geither and “Spooky action at a distance, eh?”
            It’s good to recruit when they’re young.

  6. Thorstein

    In re Fake Victory for Artificial Intelligence. The story says that “All Eugene can do is resort to question-dodging tactics, exactly like the first chatbots that became popular in the late 1990’s.” It’s not just that “we’re just getting more stupid”, as Lambert wryly suggests. We’re also still too forgetful. For the kids in the audience, the first AI wunderkind of this ilk was ELIZA, written in the mid-1960s :-/ .

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s more Artificial Victory of Fake Intelligence, than Fake Victory of Artificial Intelligence.


      If the best a machine can do is to make humans believe it’s a human, and if we, humans, at best, possess fake intelligence (is there any argument here?), then the machine has, at best, achieved an artificial victory of fake intelligence

      What the machine needs to do is to make humans believe it’s an Uebermensch, who is ‘really intelligent’ (sarcasm).

        1. Tim Mason

          Reasonable, given that humans have been talking to rocks, bushes, gusts of wind and just about anything that goes bump in the night, since they developed the first language.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That real test is real in the eventual real world when humans no longer matter…which should come fairly soon, if everything works out right for the 0.01%.

    2. fresno dan

      Really, they need an intelligence test for the judges.
      It never occurs to these judges to ask some “why” questions?
      And the circular responses of “Eugene” should have been very, VERY obvious to anyone the least familiar with the Turning test.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Good point.

        So now, both the test itself and the judges are questionable.

        “You, insignificant little machine, you may fool some of the judges all of the time and all of the judges some of the time, but not all of the judges all of the time. Go back to your assembly line!”

  7. JL Furtif

    One of the reasons I love NC, is that has a tagline that says “Fearless commentary on finance, economics, politics and power”, and from time to time you come across an article or a link, as today’s link to James Somers’ article.
    Thank You

    1. Jim Haygood

      Too bad the authors of the 2nd and 3rd links, about Bubble III, couldn’t even draw a conclusion with a #2 pencil.

      Money and Banking: ‘But what is a policymaker, even one with a very long horizon and very deep pockets, to do if they believe assets are overvalued? Sometimes policymakers are trapped in the box that they built.’

      El-Arian: ‘The key question is whether the recent strengthening in macro-prudential regulation is sufficient … I suspect that few are in a position to answer this question.’

      Milquetoast — it’s what’s for breakfast!

      Neither author even suggests raising the current negative Fed funds rate. Probably because they wouldn’t get invited to J-Yel’s poolside party. Wimps.

        1. susan the other

          That could be soon; right after they fail to stanch the flow of Strontium 90, and all the other nuclides, into the Pacific. Not to mention ring-fencing all that wild plutonium.

  8. Eeyores enigma

    “What If the Fed Has Created a Bubble? ”

    It is truly amazing to me how this whole Global predicament we are in gets arrogantly categorized by humans as purely an economic/financial problem. One that obviously through our fantastical mental capacities we can think through, make a few policy adjustments and BAM! we’re back on track to an ever expanding 70% consumption economy, ripping our resources, manufacturing them into “stuff”, driving somewhere to load up on it all, taking it home for a while then dumping it into the landfill.

    What the Global predicament is, what caused it to stutter, is the fact that we have reached the constraining limit of extracting resources and spewing the waste into the environment. This is not just omi groovy, environmental, liberal, clap trap. This is the real hard core facts of life.

    Sure Finance/capitalism pushed things along but they were only able to because we had the natural resources, and most importantly the cheap almost free energy for fossil fuels to do so. Even if we had put massive regulation on finance, without the understanding of our finite resource base we still would have found ourselves where we are today just maybe a little later than sooner.

    In fact this is what the definition of economics is and this is economics greatest failure. It is fact that we do not reconcile the finite with the possible.

  9. PeonInChief

    What’s interesting in the California tenure decision is that the fundamental finding just isn’t true. The most important component in student success is parental income. In California a third of the kids change schools every year because their parents can’t keep their housing.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Billionaires defined ‘student success’ to further their business goals.

      Number 1, we need universal tenure for all workers, not just teachers.

      Number 2, we need teachers’ help in changing the definition of student success. We need more courses on subjects like Money Creation via the Little People spending it into power, or Life without housing (current D students might just ace these classes). More classes on Life Under Police Surveillance 24/7 or the Militarization of Police, etc.

    2. cwaltz

      If it were true then you’d figure those right to work states would have fan-friggin-tastic education systems(wasn’t I recently reading that La. has NO public schools left) as it is though they DON’T. Most of those places have an even worse system than California. So, no, tenure IMO is not the problem

  10. Stephen V.

    Velveeta Singlea– Schmingles! This idiocy has gone on far too long. I read in the late 80’s an article in Science Mag. that a researcher had *accidentally* discovered bacteria DYING in the cracks on wooden cutting boards. They couldn’t figure out why. Anyone remember woodshop? Wood shrinks after being wet and the bad bugs die–unlike plastic ! Life from a thousand cuts…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s amazing how our ancestors didn’t all die from wooden cutting boards, raw milk cheese or sausages without nitrates.

      1. abynormal

        maybe if the majority of us fetched more water and chopped more wood we’d positively realign issues…surely we’d delude the nonperformance’s of money & voting

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There is something Zen about that…especially the non-performances.

          To encourage less consumption, if one person refrains from spending a dollar, the government gives him/her a hundred dollars (to encourage such virtuous deed), then, he/she can refrains from spending that one hundred dollars, so the government can then give him/her, let me compute this…one hundred times reward back…oh, yes, ten thousand dollars.

          The virtuous karmic cycle will never end.

      2. Optimader

        Wood cutting boards are intinsically antimicrobal, its the plastic ones that are not your friend

  11. Vatch

    Interesting point about the crapification of dictionaries (“You’re probably using the wrong dictionary James Somers. A hitherto unrecognized but culturally lethal mode of crapification.”). As a connection between the crapification concept and Orwell’s Newspeak, this is another example of life imitating art.

    1. Tim Mason

      I was puzzled by that article. How did the writer get through school without knowing that there are dictionaries and dictionaries? Simplified ones for English existed well before Johnson produced his more complex version, and they continued to do so down to the present. The full OED and Webster’s are mainly found in the libraries : I have the two volume Shorter OED (there’s also a one volume version) – I wouldn’t have house room for the full one. The simple dictionaries you find on the web are not examples of modern crapification, but are the most recent examples of a long tradition. The full OED is on the web now, but you have to pay for access. The unabridged Merriam-Webster is here

        1. Tim Mason

          … indeed. But I teach now – or rather, until three weeks ago I taught. And I taught about dictionaries.

          Not in the US, though.

  12. zephyrum

    I’m glad that Bloomberg has the journalistic awareness to explain that the much-hyped Turing test was garbage. Even better they chose to ignore “Worlds First Cyborg” Kevin Warwick who has made a career of hyping dubious technology to the press. The man seeks any press coverage good or bad. He’s probably looking forward to his own obituary.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There is something about the Turing Test itself that is not quite, er, human, I guess that is the word.

      Witness these two quotes about humans:

      “I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.”
      ― S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders

      Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
      ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

      Can a machine do, among other human deeds, these two?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I suppose we can be kind and allow for valor on the part of the not-so-intelligent humans in their attempts to build intelligent machines.

  13. fresno dan

    World Needs Record Saudi Oil Supply as OPEC Convenes The Center of the Universe

    O come on!!! We have so much shale oil there is nothing to worry about.

    “As recently as yesterday, the much-publicized Monterey formation accounted for nearly TWO-THIRDS of all technically-recoverable US shale oil resources.
    But by this morning? The EIA now estimates these reserves to be 96% lower than it previously claimed.
    Yes, you read that right: 96% LOWER. As in only 4% of the original estimate is now thought to be technically-recoverable at today’s prices”

    Oh O!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. susan the other

    RT on the US firm hired to save Fukushima from dumping 400,000 metric tons of radioactive water by filtering the remaining isotope that the Japanese cannot filter: Strontium 90. When did Tepko start filtering all the other isotopes – all I’ve heard is that they store the water and then pretend it leaked out into the ocean. So the American company, Kurion,Inc., will do the Strontium stuff. And this technology will be useful at Hanford, etc. Is Kurion a Bechtel company? And if we can do strontium isotopes, what about all that escaping plutonium? – I’m thinkin’ this could get expensive – beyond our ability to calculate.

  15. susan the other

    About Timmy’s upbringing. “We saved the economy but we lost the country.” How is it that a blue-blood Deep-stater like Timmy can make such a statement? It just goes to illustrate how surreal economics is.
    And to that point the latest on Picketty from Triple Crisis. Newsflash: Inequality Exists. Stunning. Who said recently that Picketty is basically right but he is only frosting on the Marxcake? Why all the fuss?

    1. JTFaraday

      Well, in a nutshell, I think some people are eager to reject him because they don’t like his single policy prescription, centered on taxes.

      Others want to reject him because they don’t even want to talk about wealth inequalities because then we have to talk about the long term effects of public policy, making it more difficult to go for the universal superficial quick fix–which almost always involves some variant of just getting the stupid @ssholes back to work, so you can check the right box.

      It doesn’t help that Piketty basically says that right now just putting the stupid @ssholes back to work so you can check the right box is looking like a losing proposition for the stupid @ssholes. It’s true his own single policy prescription doesn’t directly address this, and his failure to address this directly–and with all the moral force question requires!– no doubt further outrages the dying American religion of “Arbeit macht frei.”

      Others just want an opportunity to reject the whole idea of enduring inequalities. Thus far, it looks like those with the first two (or is that 3?) complaints have aligned with this group in their eagerness to kill this particular messenger, because they don’t like the implications of what he has to say.

      I don’t think Piketty stands to have much of an influence on anything either way, and so what’s important is the cultural conversation. This has been a shitty conversation.

  16. Garrett Pace

    Competitive eating

    Used to be we celebrated martial pursuits, and the best warrior was honored not for fulfilling some abstract notion of “the best”, but for keeping the community safe.

    Today we reserve such honors for the mentally ill – obsessive drudges capable of years of stultifying dieting, doping, and fanatical exercise required to perform a simple task two-tenths of a second faster than a normal athlete.

    And all for what? How is society benefited by a new world record in the 100 meter dash?

    “The fifth-century rhetorician Isocrates once observed that if every man in Greece could lift twice as much, run twice as fast, jump twice as far, and so on, the world would be little better off—animals and machinery do the fast and heavy work anyway. But if just one man could think twice as clearly as anyone does now, the whole world could be blessed forever after.” –

    This ugly, zero-sum competition is a time sink for competitors and spectators alike, boiling off human ambition and endeavor in closed systems that affect nothing outside of these stunted and eccentric social systems.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I agree and would add that, even better, if we can get everyone to be 5% more clearly thinking-wise, which, in sum, can be, like parallel computing, more profitable, than just one man thinking twice as clearly.

      I would also try to salvage the whole physical endeavor by favoring plenary fitness, instead of elite athlete performances.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        So . . . a 5% increase on our 5% typical usage is . . .

        . . . my head hurts, now. Let’s just say, not much.

  17. fresno dan

    Geithner’s Upbringing and Left of the Boom Observations on Credit and Surveillance.

    In the above link, there is a link to the Rand endorsement of Geithner:
    “RAND President and CEO James A. Thomson today said the following regarding President-elect Barack Obama’s nomination of Timothy F. Geithner, a member of RAND’s Board of Trustees, as the next Secretary of the Treasury of the United States:

    “President-elect Obama has made an outstanding choice in Tim Geithner. Tim blends a capacity for insightful analysis with a proven ability to act in times of crisis. He has been a valuable member of the Board of Trustees at RAND, which seeks to provide objective analysis and effective solutions to address challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world. With Tim, the American people will gain a talented and dedicated public servant.”

    Geithner, currently president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, previously served with the U.S. Department of Treasury for three administrations, holding the post of under secretary for international affairs from 1999 to 2001. He then joined the International Monetary Fund as director of the policy development and review department before assuming the New York Fed presidency in 2003.
    Geithner was named to RAND’s Board of Trustees in March 2006. ”

    It would be ridiculous not to nominate people with broad experience, and undoubtedly, all the connections that accompany such experiences to do the job of Treasury secretary.
    My problem is this: How is it that anyone could believe he knew what he was doing after the financial crisis???? So why is he still in that nexus of upper finance?
    It seems to be a system where “failure is not an option” :)
    or more accurately, where “failure is not acknowledged” (or even more terrifying, failure is not recognized)
    Apparently, to the FED and Treasury, Financial crisis are like weather events – to think that too much leverage, imprudent lending, fraud, incompetence – why, to think that any of that had ANYTHING to do with the great recession is just CRAZY TALK. Any Davos participant will tell you bankers are just doing God’s work….
    And the idea that the FED should be watching these guys…..preposterous.
    And that any FED official should be fired, or banned from Wall Street for being an idiot? But I do repeat myself in using the terms FED official and idiot…

  18. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the link to Matt Stoller’s piece on former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s book. One of Stoller’s extracts from the book particularly struck me:

    Geithner: … “When I was six, the Ford Foundation asked my father to help run its programs in New Delhi. I still remember that first shock of India, driving in from the airport, overwhelmed by the heat and the smell, the strange and the awful… It was a quasi-colonial existence, with drivers, maids, gardeners, and night watchmen,”…

    Bingo!… formative years in a household with personal servants and of relative privilege, embedded in foreign societies plagued by great swaths of deep poverty for most, environmental issues, corruption, and small wealthy and politically powerful elites with whom one interacted and witnessed the authority figures in one’s life interacting.

    Difficult to envision an upbringing more likely to breed an ideology of class privilege, and little understanding of and a lack of empathy for the American middle class.

    One cannot fault Geithner for his upbringing. He was a child. But IMO Mr. Geithner and his fellow travelers would benefit from volunteering at a food bank or homeless shelter in any decaying American city, of which there are now plenty to select from.

  19. BondsOfSteel

    RE: US firm hired to save Fukushima from 400k tons of radioactive water

    The relevant paragraph:
    “Kurion’s system will filter about 79,000 gallons of water per day, however will not totally clean up the water. “But most of the highly radioactive stuff will be taken out,” KPLU reported. Currently, the tanks at Fukushima store approximately 400,000 metric tons of radioactive water, and that volume is expanding at 400 tons per day, Kurion said. ”

    Hmm. Gallons to ton conversion… 1 t wt. = 264.17 gal. So… 79,000 gal is ~ 300 tons. So the real title should be “US firm hired to save Fukushima from some of the radioactivity in some of the increase of water”. It’s better than nothing… but it’s not a solution to even the daily increase much less the 400k ton backlog.

    1. optimader

      “Kurion’s system will filter about 79,000 gallons of water per day, however will not totally clean up the water. “But most of the highly radioactive stuff will be taken out,”

      Wake me up when they demonstrate their Tritium filter.. Very bad Beta emitter that cannot be filtered as far as I know. It’s the Beta emitters that cannot be removed that have long half-lives that are the unhappy meal for the rest of the Planet.

      “But most of the highly radioactive stuff will be taken out,”
      Interesting choice of words. Most highly radioactive is less interesting than the most persistent and leas filterable or unfilterable
      But what do I know, they are the experts and they ahv eall the information so I’m sure they are doing what’s best! WHAHAHAAAA

  20. Mark P.

    Re ‘Computers Are Getting Better Than Humans Are at Facial Recognition.’

    They’d turned Paul Ekman’s facial expression recognition system into algorithms by 2010 (via funding from Homeland Security via the TSA) and I’ve been waiting for people to figure out that the potential exists to load (or subscribe to) the technology via wearables like Google Glass.

    Now we’re here, three practical points that the writer of article (a poor one) misses or evades: –

    [1] The system is _at best_ about 92-95 percent effective. It has not been and will not be acceptable in any court of law. (I checked back in 2010.)

    [2] Anybody who’s had botox treatments (as some professional poker players do to avoid giving ‘tells’ to other players) can beat it. So, to the extent this system becomes generally adopted, you’ll also see the usual ‘arms race-style’ development of politicians, lawyers, business folks getting botox treatment to get around it it.

    [3] The writer of this article’s claim is that ‘At the individual level, the freedom to not tell the truth is an essential prerogative of our autonomy as human beings.’ Individual human will _still_ have the freedom to lie if this system sees widespread deployment, however, so the writer is making a nonsensical, stupid — or just dishonest — argument here.

    What widespread deployment of this system would work against is the individual’s right to tell a lie and not get caught.

    Big difference: do individuals have any ‘essential prerogative’ to lie to you and not get caught?

    I don’t think so, personally. So I could see some valid uses of this system in negotiation scenarios between, say, two business potential partners or between an employer asking for a pay raise and their boss. In such scenarios, however the results may influence decision-making, but they will not be legally admissible.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Depends on the lie.

      When you buy a car you can’t afford, for now, you are issuing a lie. You are lying to the world, and your potential mating partner that you have more resources than you actually do. You have a right not to be caught, at least as of today, though that may change in the future.

      When you put on your makeup, making yourself looking younger (and by inference, maybe, healthier), that’s another lie to your potential mating partner.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        Makeup is indeed a form of mask. However, buying a car on credit is as much about expectations of one’s future as it is about honesty. I have heard of people buying cars with cash, but I’ve never known one — not even one who I knew could afford to pay cash.

      2. Optimader

        “When you put on your makeup, making yourself looking younger (and by inference, maybe, healthier), that’s another lie to your potential mating partner…”
        Goth lesbians?

  21. Skeptic

    How to Watch the World Cup Like a True Soccer Nerd Grantland. I can’t see the puck.

    Ah, yes, GRANTLAND:

    Grantland is a popular sports & pop-culture blog started by veteran writer and sports journalist Bill Simmons in 2011; it is indirectly associated with ESPN.

    ESPN (originally an abbreviation for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) is a U.S.-based global cable and satellite television channel, that is owned as a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company (which operates the network, through its 80% ownership interest) and Hearst Corporation (which holds a 20% interest).
    Just love that MSM Infotainment and putting those profits in the pockets of the 1%.

      1. Skeptic

        Sports are in the thrall of the 1% from the bottom up. From Little League to minor soccer these activities are controlled and organized. Organized to manufacture consumers for sports paraphernalia and sports culture. All minor sports around here are logoed and corporate sponsored.

        Think Organized Baseball. What NC should want is Disorganized Sports, similar to people growing their own vegetables, doing things on their own outside the 1% Organizations. So, maybe forget that World Corrupt Cup and rise off of the couch, unglue the remote from your atrophied hand and go outside and kick a ball around, or jog a bit or, if this be too strenuous, sit back and sense the sunshine, unentertained.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From the Telegraph link about Mosul:

    Today it has heavy armour, helicopters and not much short of a million enlisted men, a swelling of the ranks that has brought it back to Saddam’s levels.

    Why so many enlisted men? Are they going to fight Iran, or perhaps Syria, on behalf of the emperor?

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    If income grows at 1 to 2% and wealth grows at 5%, eventually, as wealth inequality gets worse and worse, the wealthy will own 100% of all of the wealth.

    At the moment, how can the wealthy’s wealth grow faster than the GDP (that is, income)?

    1. EmilianoZ

      This has been discussed in the r>g threads.

      r=5% is not a growth rate. It’s the return on wealth rate. It can stay the same (no growth) for ever. I’m too lazy to provide an example. Where are Dan Kervick and Paul Boisvert when you need them?

      1. Yves Smith

        You are STILL missing that Piketty has defined wealth so broadly that the return on wealth in period one becomes wealth in period two. That is what compounded interest is all about.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks for clearing that up. I admit I haven’t read through that whole thread, thus I asked the question.

          Unless he defined otherwise somewhere in his book, most of us would assume the 5% refers to wealth compounding. Unless spent or otherwise destroyed, the wealth owner would naturally put the additional wealth to work.

          1. Optimader

            I eould spend it on Mnt Gay Rum, grapefruits, limes, honey clubsoda and ice. Actually, i make my own block ice so ill have more money for Rum.

            Watching DW news, wow Airbus finally took a pretty good kick in the groin, who fidnt see that coming.

      2. craazyman

        actually it CAN work, don’t let Yves mislead you and the rest of the peanut gallery on this one. Most people don’t comprehend the subtle mathematical nuances involved. You need to be a savant, or at least an idiot-savant, to grasp the profound logical relationships that govern the operations of these phenomenon. If you’re accustomed to thinking monodimensionally, inside the box, conventionally and using common sense and a calculator or even Excel, you’ll disorient yourself and sail your confusion boat right into the rocks

        you can have 100 at t = 0 and let r = 5%, then you have 105 at t = 1, but let’s say 10 of your 105 declines in value to 5 at t =1 because that’s what it takes for your other 100 to produce 5. It’s called “creative destruction” or some competitor came in and one of your investments went south on you.. You are back to 100. And r still has to be 5% to get you to re-invest because now you’re worried . The next period, to t = 2, everybody gets lucky and you end up with 105 with r at 5%. The next period you end up with 105 X 0.05 and only lose 4 from creative destruction. r has to be more than g for there to be any g at all. but it don’t mean one fat man own everthing at t = 7888. There is risk in risk capital for a reason. Unless the central banks eliminate it. QED

        This is so easy it’s hilarious people are still talking about it, still confusing themselves, still red faced and bellowing at their mind-walls. It’s so easy. Why did it take 700 pages? I don’t know but I hope Professor Piketty is laughing all the way to the bank That’s a lot of typing and he must be tired,

        1. Paul Tioxon

          It’s even easier than that.

          GNP is measured in USD.

          GNP – corporate profits = GNP’

          GNP’ = Actual Goods and Services Produced

          Corporate Profits only exists as USD.

          GNP’ will always be a structural feature denied any income from capital. Capital will always demand a premium for production in excess of the total cost of anything produced. This will always advantage capital as savings, investment to increase profits, or consumption of luxury items or captured politicians. Profits are the rental extraction of the Gross Production of the Economy.

          The alternative is run corporation on a not-for-profit basis. Then the GNP measured in USD would be co-extensive with actual production of goods and services.

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Thai fishing industry built on slavery link…

    It reminds me of this from the Wiki entry for bogeyman:

    In Southeast Asia, the term is commonly accepted to refer to Bugis[5] or Buganese[6] pirates, ruthless seafarers of southern Sulawesi, Indonesia’s third largest island. These pirates often plagued early English or Dutch trading ships, namely those of the British East India Company or Dutch East India Company. It is popularly believed that this resulted in the European sailors’ bringing their fear of the “bugi men” back to their home countries. However, etymologists disagree with this, because words relating to bogeyman were in common use centuries before European colonization of Southeast Asia and it is therefore unlikely that the Bugis would have been commonly known to westerners during that time.

  25. rich

    The Peril of Whistleblowing on Wall St.

    The article, through the personal stories of its protagonists, reveals big banks who muster their considerable power in the cause of self-protection—making the risk of finding and reporting wrongdoing so high.

    It’s a strange dichotomy, Bernstein says, because “these banks all have systems in place where they’re supposed to catch all this.” And “it’s all supposed to be—at least within the bank—transparent, but all that seems to get subverted again and again.”

  26. OIFVet

    British Ministry of Truth dispatch: “Backing for extreme Sunni fighters from the Gulf States has also facilitated the emergence and consolidation of groups like ISIS with a broader regional agenda. And while direct collusion between the Syria’s Assad regime and the jihadists is hard to prove, there have been consistent reports that the Damascus government’s military has paid far less attention to such groups while concentrating its fire on more moderate Western-backed fighters. This has given ISIS room to establish its own administrative structures in the areas it controls.”

    Ok, so the secular Assad colludes with the jihadis, who are funded by Assad’s Gulf enemies explicitly to destroy his regime. The “Regime Change Show” version of frenemies, if you will. If BBC has not hit rock bottom yet, it must be getting close.

  27. Banger

    Some people in the media are saying Baghdad may fall. This is rather sudden but not surprising–not the events but the reporting on these events. This was, obviously, a long-time coming–where were the media reports? We spent a couple of trillion fighting a completely senseless war of aggression and now the people we are pretending to fight around the world are going to take Iraq? Well wake up people! The U.S. has always supported Sunni militants since Nasser was in power in Egypt and the Brits even before WWII as a counter to nationalism and socialism. Al-qaida was an invention of the Saudi, Pakistani and U.S. intel services and the U.S. continues its support and alliance with the countries that fund Al-qaida and ISIS. The arms captured by ISIS which we paid for will be used (or sold) in interesting ways, I’m sure by ISIS.

  28. Roland

    Assad is not collaborating with ISIS.

    1. Look at a map of which factions predominate in which parts of Syria. In order to attack the areas ISIS controls, the Syrian gov’t would have to dangerously overstretch their lines of communication.

    2. Many of the ISIS troops, esp. the leaders, are veterans of the Iraq War. Those men gained invaluable experience and confidence in years of combat against the very formidable Coalition forces. ISIS has many skilled fighters with high morale and good discipline. It is more economical for the Syrian gov’t forces to concentrate on fighting the inferior troops from the FSA and other rebel factions, then deal with ISIS afterwards.

    I think there’s too much hype over Mosul. This ISIS operation is a raid. ISIS is freeing some prisoners, and giving Maliki and the Kurds a slap in the face in retaliation for their part in the Syrian affair.

    ISIS did similar raids a few months ago against Nusra-controlled parts of northern Syria, and a few months before that against Syrian gov’t forces in the coastal region of Latakia.

    The surprise storming of Mosul was a dashing exploit, to be sure, but not much more than that. I suspect the exaggeration of ISIS capabilities is a backdoor attempt to justify involvement of US airstrikes in the Syrian Civil War, to get a toe in the door.

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