Links 7/3/14

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Altitude gene ‘from extinct species’ BBC

After the Trees Disappear – Ash Forests After Emerald Ash Borers Destroy Them New York Times (Philip P)

The Price of Prevention: Vaccine Costs Are Soaring New York Times

The Most Ambitious Artificial Intelligence Project In The World Has Been Operating In Near-Secrecy For 30 Years Business Insider (David L)

This Robot Is Going To Hitchhike Across Canada By Itself i09 (furzy mouse)

Sexism in Silicon Valley Guardian (Nikki)

How Finland Keeps Kids Focused Through Free Play Atlantic

Chinese local governments wish for stimulus MacroBusiness

Bankers on the march: Hong Kong financiers join democracy fight France24

Beijing unmoved by massive rally turnout, say advisers South China Morning Post

Location, location, location Inside Story. On Myanmar

US outrage at Palestinian teen death BBC


Armenians fleeing Syria France24 (Nikki)

As violence spreads in Iraq, a new challenge to Maliki emerges from the Shiite south Washington Post

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Remaining Snowden docs will be released to avert ‘unspecified US war’ – ‪Cryptome‬ Register (MAD)

U.S. privacy board says NSA Internet spying program is effective but worrying Reuters. EM: “‘NSA’s data collection program has been an effective tool to enhance the country’s security’ — and that sweeping conclusion is based on what, exactly? Faith in NSA’s noble intentions?”

We are the product that Facebook has been testing John Gapper, Financial Times

Silicon Valley’s Spy Problem Project Syndicate (David L)

Invasion Of Privacy Is A Big Concern Among Google Users Business Insider

Why has Google cast me into oblivion? Robert Peston, BBC (Richard Smith)

10 Blistering Highlights from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Hobby Lobby Dissent Alternet (furzy mouse)

FDA May Be Seeking to Use Untested Technology in Livestock Feed Common Dreams (furzy mouse)

U.S. offshore tax evaders facing new scrutiny starting July 1 Agence France-Presse

For Oil-By-Rail, a Battle Between “Right to Know” and “Need to Know” DeSmogBlog

On new gun law’s first day, a draw-down in Valdosta Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Activist Cecily McMillan Released from Prison, Reads Statement From Women of Rikers Island
Kevin Gosztola Firedoglake

New Orders for Manufactured Goods Down More than Expected, Inventories Up 18 of 19 Months, Highest Since 1992 Michael Shedlock

Dimon’s Cancer Has 90% Cure Rate With Demanding Therapy Bloomberg

Chase’s fraudulent foreclosure: Court finds for plaintiffs HousingWire (Deontos)

Yet another faulty banker pay scheme to avoid Fortune

Goodbye, Malls of America Bloomberg

AFL-CIO finds hope in inequality debate Financial Times. Translation: as always, unions are following Democratic party messaging.

The Broken Thread of Culture Archdruid (Chuck L)

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. diptherio

    “Dimon’s Cancer Has 90% Cure Rate With Demanding Therapy”

    Well, let’s just hope ol’ Jamie is one of them 10%ers….

      1. diptherio

        The enemy of my enemy is my friend, no? It’s not that I don’t love Mr. Dimon and wish him the best–it’s that I love him so much I think he deserves to be “promoted to glory” forthwith. All those bankers doing “God’s Work” on Wall Street deserve to leave this veil of tears for that celestial abode, if you ask me–God knows they’ve all earned it. Perhaps this is God’s way of calling them home.

        [note: the above is intended in jest. I honestly wish Mr. Dimon a speedy recovery and a long life–in a nice cozy federal penitentiary.]

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Wishing someone would die is much better, morally, than wishing hard chemo on them.

      One side effect of some cheomtherapies is that they make dying look good, by comparison.

      Anyone wishing this on another, or feeling joy at knowing another is going through it, might as well admit to either complete ignorance or moral perversion of the type most usually exhibited by torturers and their proponents.

      1. hunkerdown

        Schädenfreude (or its more polite cousin, karmic justice) and learned helplessness are two sides of the same coin, aren’t they?

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          I don’t know. I’m not sure what “learned helplessness” is, or how it relates to finding joy in the suffering of another.

            1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

              I suppose “suffering” is a relative term. May your benchmark never change.

          1. hunkerdown

            Learned helplessness: you can’t do anything about it.
            Schädenfreude: but find satisfaction in their occasional poor fortune as just deserts.

            Weak sauce, that.

  2. annie

    the facebook ‘research’ reminds me of when a friend, a well-known actress, joined equinox several years ago. she opted for one of their personal trainers. one ‘quirk,’ he confided, is that mirrors on the floor dont reflect true image but make you appear slightly more overweight. one ‘true’ mirror existed per floor, which he showed her.
    the point of the false images, apparently, was to subliminally convince people to not show up often while at the same time making them think twice about allowing memberships to lapse.
    of course, that ‘one true mirror’ may have reflected an idealized body image designed to make the actress show up more often. the same mirror i always expected existed in department store fitting rooms.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Blue skies ahead, comrades:

    ‘Janet Yellen just delivered the most significant speech yet in her still-young Federal Reserve chairmanship.

    ‘Ms. Yellen stakes out her position in about as clear a language as you’ll see from a central banker: She believes that it would most likely be a bad idea to raise interest rates to fight financial excesses.

    ‘Her focus, crucially, is not on preventing Wall Street from having ups and downs, but on making sure that those ups and downs don’t bring economic disaster.’


    Chairsatan J-Yelzebub is proceeding with her Final Solution for the U.S. middle class. When Bubble III (which she is underwriting with ZIRP and QE) blows, dozens of defined-benefit pension funds will be obliged to do Detroit-style ‘hybrid pension’ workouts, after going over the waterfall with their stocks, PE funds, and so-called alternative assets.

    Yellen’s blind eye turned to Wall Street’s reckless bubble is as clear-cut a declaration of war on the middle class as one will ever see.

    1. Banger

      The thinking of many policy-makers is that the only way to keep growth at the level of stagnation we are experiencing at the moment is to underwrite froth and bubbles. The policy offers a chance for the Confidence-Fairy to work her miracles (I believe in her) despite obvious problems. This policy has worked pretty well for about six years so we should give it some props. Of course, this policy is ultimately unsustainable but my guess is that Yelle et. al. believe that given enough time we’ll think of something. And, besides, what is the alternative? The corporate elite has rejected a policy of public investments and since they are, pretty much, all poweful nothing can change.

    2. MikeNY

      “Her focus, crucially, is not on preventing Wall Street from having its ups and downs.”

      Oh, my sides! In what universe can this thought be voiced without incredulous howls of laughter?

      The ENTIRE PURPOSE Fed policy is to foment Wall Street’s ups: asset reflation, wealth effect. It’s the only thing they know.

      1. Jim Haygood

        And the ugly reality is that Wall Street suffers from unmanaged bipolar disorder. This is its manic phase, as Dr. Yellen prescribes more Adderall. As ol’ Jim Morrison ranted, ‘This is the trip, the best part … I really like!’

    3. craazyman

      No doubt Aztec priests thought they were doing god’s work on top of the pyramid. Delusion delusion delusion delusion.

      I also read about JEB Stuart famous Confederate Cavalry commander, famous around where I am now, for valor and chivalry and gallantry without compare. A leader of men, commander and soldier. God fearing and devout, pious and proud. Exemplary specimen of what a Man should be! Carried to his grave believing in his immiment ascension. They even named a High School after him down here! He probly would have been a good dude to have a beer with — under other circumstances. Really. Virginia is a nice place, I’ll agree with that. What would you have done in 1860? The “universal you’ of course. “Johnny git cher gun and fire”. Most will.

      Well, what can you do when the Pilot Wave makes so much noise you can’t hear your own thoughts? It’s a rhetorical question for philosophers. I won’t attempt an answer

  4. joeshump

    I normally have a high regard for the commentators here, so does anyone have thoughts on the postponement of GG’s ‘mother of all NSA stories’? I’m not sure what to think about it — I mean, how is this the one story of his the USG vets before publishing? I’m not entirely sure how journalism works but I can’t imagine him handing a copy over to the feds saying ‘here please check this for accuracy.’

    There’s a piece on opednews about it, but I really don’t want to believe that the story has been ‘squashed’ and we’ll never get to read it now…

    1. Anon

      I’d say that given his candidness over “saving the best for last” (which IMHO, should never be associated with reporting/press releases), I’d argue as a few folks throughout the blogosphere have done already that with the way the leaks have been handled, whatever comes out is little more than “state-sanctioned leaking”, which aside from people finding out (and confirmation for others), nothing has changed. It’s all kabuki theater as lambert would say. Do note that neither Greenwald or Snowden call for the elimination of mass surveillance, just that it’s monitored by those in authority.

      For citations, I’d direct you to Chris Floyd’s or Arthur Silber’s blog who have gone over the ramifications of what Greenwald is doing at greater length than I can afford to at the moment.

      1. Banger

        While I agree with some of the criticism of Greenwald and Snowden I think the reaction by Floyd and Silber is way too drastic. I’ve said this before–but I don’t think people understand how the intel people function. There is this idea that they are just mean-spirited bureaucrats who would fall like a house of cards once the light of day were to shine on their activities–no that description doesn’t begin to show the reality of the situation. These people are and have been throughout their history, killers and torturers of the most brutal sort as is always the case in any enforcement arm; true, they are usually more subtle and use violence very rarely against American citizens. The only way Greenwald could have handled this is by agreeing with operatives that there are certain things he would not reveal just as Sy Hersh has done for decades. He, for example, is trusted by a certain clique of “liberal” senior officers in the Pentagon, CIA and other agencies to be a tool for their policy needs. For example, opposition was high in the CIA and Pentagon to bombing Iran during two periods once in the Bush administration and the other during the Obama administration–he wrote crucial articles on this that helped stem the pressure from outside the system as the officers did within the system.

        I believe that: first, Snowden did not act alone but was helped by some senior people at NSA who were disturbed (who wouldn’t be?) at what the NSA was becoming–Snowden to insure his own safety took more than these people might have wanted him to take and entrusted this to Greenwald and others to disseminate; second, Greenwald himself must have negotiated with the NSA and others that he would not reveal any truly sensitive stuff and he and agents may have gone through the info and reached an agreement as to how this would play out. I want to emphasize here the fact that these guys could have been killed at any time particularly Greenwald who may not have the protection of Russian bodyguards who were said by a friend of mine (well not so much a friend these days but that’s a long story) to to be the best in the world–they certainly have the best training videos which this friend provided to me. But Snowden has family in the U.S. and clearly he is not going to risk their lives.

        In other words, the criticism of these guys is, in my view, unwarranted and generally comes out of the mouths of people who have little understanding how power actually works in the worle, i.e., out of a barell of a gun. No one wants to hear that on the left, of course, but I have seen no evidence to the contrary.

        1. McMike

          Oh, there’s no doubt that the conspiracy runs deeper. Everyone needs access to someone to get anything done. The whole overnight emergence of the billionaire muckraking business is weird and smells fishy too.

          And yes, it’s a fine line that separates Greenwald from a poison pill delivered by umbrella or a ghastly radiation death, or the death by house fire of his loved ones and their children….

          I give credit to these people for however far they go before they blink. Some of them are surely dupe/tools or agent provocateurs, but some of them are genuinely extraordinary people, or ordinary people pushed to extraordinary actions at great personal cost and risk. And my hat’s off to them, regardless of how it ends once they succumb to the pressure.

        2. neo-realist

          Re the lack of reveal of any truly sensitive stuff—this is why we’ll never see any exposes re JFK, RFK, MLK, or Malcolm X from the likes of Greenwald, Scahill, etc. Not surprised at the implications of doing so considering what’s happened to other journalists that attempted to expose the dirty work of the deep state.

          1. Banger

            As for the assassinations of the sixties there are so many smoking guns already. If you are reasonably in touch with even a vague sense of reason you cannot possibly believe the official stories of these assassinations unless you are in deep, denial after which it follows that the cover-up makes the gov’t and media partners in crime which, as we can see pretty graphically in other areas is blatantly obvious. Thus a revelation by official documents doesn’t really mean that much.

            1. hunkerdown

              Not by a legal standard, no, but official documents are interesting to inform a theory of mind about the actions of an agency or state..

              1. Banger

                Yes, by any legal standard the cases presented by the government are impossible. Perhaps most obvious is Noguchi’s Coroner’s report that proves Sirhan could not have killed RFK, as I always cite. RFK was shot in the back of the head at point blank range from below and there are many more bits of evidence pointing to something other than the conventional view.

            2. ex-PFC Chuck

              JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (
              The best compilation of the smoke I’ve run across, plus a coherent theory of the crime, although not fully comprehensive and definitive.

              1. Banger

                One of the top people in the JFK field is Jim DiEugenio–very solid stuff from an evidentiary POV.

            3. neo-realist

              I suspect that there are more people in deep denial than you than you think there are (with assistance from media infrastructure propaganda), plus a lot of other people, primarily younger ones, who believe the assassinations were ancient history and don’t tie in to the arrangements and dynamics re the centers that hold the real power.

              1. Banger

                Without understanding those assassinations you cannot have a realistic understanding of history since 1963 nor have much of a clue on the nature of the power-elite.

                1. McMike

                  Careful, next thing you know, you’ll be wondering about journalist suicides, car wrecked environmental activists, and above all, what turned microbiology into such a dangerous career?

                  1. Vatch

                    To a certain extent, it’s already happening. Around 20 years ago, The War Against the Greens, by David Helvarg, was published. This book describes many actions, including violence, that were being taken against environmentalists. I don’t think it’s in print any more, but I’m sure it’s available at various used book stores.

                2. hunkerdown

                  Heh, a bit like the social engineers who “assume a can opener” and completely refuse to accept the status quo as an input. (These are not the same social engineers as the incrementalists who completely refuse to accept the need for systemic change because it’s not fabulous enough, but they are both quite problematic.) I mean, everything comes from the store, right? Factories make the dirt and representative government works and snozzberries taste like snozzberries…

              2. McMike

                Denial is a default position.

                At the end of the day – upon realization that everything is crooked and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it; you live at the whim of the matrix like a cat cornering a mouse – who REALLY wants to take the red pill given a second chance?


      1. Carolinian

        According to the story in links this cryptome site doesn’t have any documents but now say they are just inviting anyone who does have the documents to give to them and they will release to avert unspecified war. Oh and also please send them money,

        My bs detector is blinking bright red, but Washington Blog seems to believe so perhaps there’s something to it (but then Wash blog is also a 9/11 truther). Nobody has the documents other than Greenwald and Poitras–at least according to them–and Snowden says he no longer has.

        1. Banger

          I would guess that the documents are locked in various places around the world and that should the main actors die under suspicious circumstances it would set off a series of virtual events…..

          1. hunkerdown

            Not if they’re all known and defused first. If they have any ruleset which would capture all releases initiated by such dead-man switches, QUANTUMINSERT would be a perfect tool to disrupt an SMTP connection and fake a delivery success to the sender while ensuring the receiving relay never sees the end-of-data marker.

            One of the earlier Snowden releases contained a couple of slides about “document tracking”; I’d be very interested to see that slide unredacted and to know what (if anything special) was done to circumvent that.

    2. McMike

      Agreed. I found the hints about “something big coming” to be odd and amateurish, and I find the silence here about Greenwald’s reversal to be deafening.

    3. hunkerdown

      I have two theories. One of them depends on him still being in the US, which would explain a certain level of circumspection lest he find himself behind the wheel of a remotely-controlled Mercedes — it’s worth noting Michael Hastings’ semi-autobio novel about the news/propaganda industry has only just hit bookstores. The other is a new piece of information that lays prior analyses into a larger or more coherent context, perhaps something out of recent events in Iraq or Ukraine.

    4. Jake Mudrosti

      There’s lots of documentation of Laura Poitras’s independence and courage:
      “Detained in the U.S.: Filmmaker Laura Poitras Held, Questioned Some 40 Times at U.S. Airports”

      Any speculation should naturally account for her track record.

      Anyone who’s personally experienced the frustration of months-long stonewalling from key people will see how even the most dedicated/resourceful journalists could spend a year on a single story. So any delay that’s measured in months is still not itself suspicious.

      Separately, there’s been a rush to pin demonstrably nonexistent harms on Snowden, Manning, & others. Any reporting that isn’t carefully checked for potential-harm vs. benefit could risk a massive coordinated PR push (consider govt. response to Wikileaks) — aimed at discrediting/punishing current and future whistleblowers. Dumping (as opposed to journalism) could prove very counterproductive in that sense — the opposite of a principled or heroic choice.

      1. Vatch

        Yes, thank you. The Christian version of Boko Haram appears to be on the move (although as the article points out, some of these people may not have any religious scruples, but just want to avoid an expense that is required by the government).

  5. Banger

    From The Broken Thread of Culture:

    The most important factor that makes a rising civilization work, he [Toynbee] suggested, is mimesis—the universal human habit by which people imitate the behavior and attitudes of those they admire. As long as the political class of a civilization can inspire admiration and affection from those below it, the civilization thrives, because the shared sense of values and purpose generated by mimesis keeps the pressures of competing class interests from tearing it apart.

    Civilizations fail, in turn, because their political classes lose the ability to inspire mimesis, and this happens in turn because members of the elite become so fixated on maintaining their own power and privilege that they stop doing an adequate job of addressing the problems facing their society. As those problems spin further and further out of control, the political class loses the ability to inspire and settles instead for the ability to dominate. Outside the political class and its hangers-on, in turn, more and more of the population becomes what Toynbee calls an internal proletariat, an increasingly sullen underclass that still provides the political class with its cannon fodder and labor force but no longer sees anything to admire or emulate in those who order it around.

    This, of course, goes back to the general view of leadership in, at least, U.S. society as single-digit confidence in Congress and so on. There seem to be two directions people have been going in as confidence in societies leaders has diminished (in my view that started with the death of JFK). One is back to tribalism and the other is identification or admiration for “outsider” culture which can mean anything from the movement towards narco-culture by many young Mexican-Americans, or hoodie culture, heavy-metal/biker culture, gun-culture, hippie culture. Modern heroes, while often loyal to some over-arching cause (usually the State since mainstream movies have to have some propaganda in them) are people who break the rules to enforce the rules–who kill indiscriminantly “bad guys” by being “badder” than them–you might try contrast modern action-heroes with those of the fifties like Marshall Dillon who went out of their way to follow the law despite their personal preferences.

    Ultimately, we can do nothing but witness the gradual collapse of society to be replaced by chaos, neofeudalims, the totalitarian corporate state or whatever because there is no center, no conceptual framework that draws us together other than a kind of radical narcissism and neo-autism that grows more stressful everyday whether “the economy” does a little better or a little worse.

    1. wbgonne

      Good points. In my opinion, one of the goals of neoliberalism/corporatism is to eliminate all competing power centers, especially those based upon collective action of the citizenry. Unions. Government. Everything with the potential to challenge corporate power must be diminished, co-opted or otherwise neutralized because, in a capitalist world, the capitalists will naturally assume greater and greater power and control unless checked by competing power centers. That’s what passes for “freedom” in America today. And neoliberalism provides the added bonus of making government subservient to corporate power. Once the corporatists harness the power of government — as they have — we get the inverted totalitarianism we now endure.

      1. Banger

        So, in a way, alienation may not undermine the system at all but actually strengthen it.

        1. wbgonne

          I suspect the people in power see citizenry alienation as a useful devise for the time being because people have lost faith in the power of collective action, especially though government, and that leaves corporatism effectively uncontested. The danger for the corporatists is that alienation can lead to upheaval and revolution. Clearly, the American plutocrats don’t fear that very much right now.

        2. McMike

          Alienation is of course a critical feature.

          I am remembering some speech by Nader twenty or so years ago about kids and TV. He was (correctly) decrying the tactics that advertisers used to insinuate themselves as the psychological caregiver.

          Great book of equal vintage: False Dawn by John Gray, a British conservative. He woke up from his Thatcher hangover to realize that all their proto-neoliberal policies had the ironic effect of actually breaking apart the traditional family, cultural, community institutions they allegedly valued, and in fact increased social and economic rootlessness of the people.

          Like, duh.

          1. Banger

            Absolutely–that issue is what has always puzzled me about the conservative movement–commodification violates every idea of maintaining a conservative social structure. Under the loose umbrella of paleo-conservativism and communitarianism many good thinkers have emerged to offer very strong critiques of the current version of capitalism.

            1. hunkerdown

              The conservative social structure is one of hierarchical authority; family (as fashionably defined) just happens to be the fundamental unit. It’s up to people to fulfill the (patriarchal, abusive) family castle mandate, at their own expense. Better than having them fight corporatism, as far as corporatism is concerned.

          2. Glenn Condell

            From Russell Brand’s Thatcher obit:

            ‘The blunt, pathetic reality today is that a little old lady has died, who in the winter of her life had to water roses alone under police supervision. If you behave like there’s no such thing as society, in the end there isn’t. ‘

        3. Jim

          Boy, would it be wonderful to have an in-depth discussion of alienation in American, its definition, its potential causes and consequences and how it could work both for and against the elites.

          Some possible starter questions:

          For Marxists and neo-Marxists of various sorts alienation seems to originate in the work place/private property/division of labor. Does this perspective still capture the full extent of alienation in our modern culture?

          Personally I’m fascinated with the idea that alienation may be primarily caused by the absence of cultural guidance. Many of us look with alarm at the apparent charge into a neo-feudal future, with apparently little resistance–but if our modern culture makes it more and more difficult to form a coherent identity–could part of the psychological pull of neo-feudalism be a psychological yearning for well-defined roles and a place–even if under someone’s heel?

          Would a possible first step in dealing with this type of alienation revolve around a political/cultural movement sensitive to the crisis of identity formation in modern Western society?

          1. James Levy

            Marx said a lion is what a lion does. A lion acts out its part in what is probably, by our standards, an unconscious way. A farmer acts out his part in a conscious way, as does a potter or a carpenter or anyone who does a job of work and sees what they are accomplishing and has some sense that it is worth doing. But our society long ago did away with most meaningful labor. As a professor I got a great deal of satisfaction out of applying my skill and effort to a definable, concrete set of tasks and carrying them out day after day. But such work is a rarity, and becoming more rare over time. American consumer capitalism was able to buy some time by selling the roles of “provider” to men and “homemaker” to women, but that pretty rapidly lost its appeal, and most men can no longer be providers of a middleclass lifestyle and most women can’t be happy homemakers even if they wanted to.

            So where are we? Without meaningful work or meaningful roles. The latest trick since the 1970s has been pushing arrested development, creating a generation of Peter Pans and Princesses who never want to grow up, because if they did grow up they’d understand just what kind of mess they are in. So they are provided with toys (computers, smart phones) and play dates (Facebook, Twitter) and encouraged to remain forever adolescents. Where we go from here is anyone’s guess.

            1. Banger

              The latest trick since the 1970s has been pushing arrested development, creating a generation of Peter Pans and Princesses who never want to grow up, because if they did grow up they’d understand just what kind of mess they are in. So they are provided with toys (computers, smart phones) and play dates (Facebook, Twitter) and encouraged to remain forever adolescents. Where we go from here is anyone’s guess.

              In some ways, that situation may be necessary. The other side of it is that being “unformed” people may be open to something very different. The immaturity of most of us may mean that the changes that must happen will be more dramatic and powerful and need people to be relatively unformed. On the other hand, this could be a permanent condition and we are headed for a Matrix kind of future.

          2. Glenn Condell

            ‘Personally I’m fascinated with the idea that alienation may be primarily caused by the absence of cultural guidance’

            Our civilisation’s pole position in terms of ‘progress’ features a huge and growing industry which houses our aged in reservations, there to be generally ignored by everyone as they go more or less quietly ga-ga into their 90s and beyond, with every passing year providing more fees to the resort owners and Big Pharma.

            In more benighted societies children have to put up with these oldies, often under the same roof, putting their 2c worth in, sharing their accumulated wisdom and remaining useful and engaged unto death.

            1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

              Many of our elderly are not only warehoused, they suffer various forms of dementia. They would have precious little to add in the way of wisdom to their progeny, but the lesson of growing too old would never be lost.

              IMO, we owe Dr. Kevorkian a posthumous pardon and a sincere apology.

          3. Janie

            Jim, you mention the absence of cultural guidance. Did you read yesterday’s Archdruid Report (links)? His posts are relevant.

      2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        Divide and conquer and the low-brow are easily emotionally manipulated to action. Nothing new under the sun.

      3. neo-realist

        Consumerism as an alienating feature, or co-opting feature. If you’ve got your Huge HD TV, your IPhone, your IPad, all the toys that empower the individual, and enable them to natter away on facebook, twitter and text message hookups. When you’ve got all the toys you need, who cares about risking jail to fight the system.

      4. Nathanael

        “Good points. In my opinion, one of the goals of neoliberalism/corporatism is to eliminate all competing power centers, especially those based upon collective action of the citizenry. ”


        This is unbelievably stupid on the part of the corporatists. Mind-bogglingly stupid. So stupid that I have trouble understanding how they’re intelligent enough to tie their shoes.

        There was a king once who did his level best to eliminate all competing power centers, and was quite successful. His name was Louis XIV of France. What happened a few decades after his death? You all know.

        Organizations and power centers will appear to fill a vacuum. The corporatist power centers are self-destructive, incompetent, and unable to deal with major crises. So there is a vacuum.

        By eliminating existing power centers, the elite causes the appearance of new power centers which they can neither identify or control.

        The *correct* tactic is to *partially co-opt* existing power centers, as the NLRB system co-opted unions. By preventing the NLRB system from doing its job, the elite are causing the rise of wildcat unions. This is just plain *stupid*, strategically speaking.

        But then, incredibly stupid is what I’ve come to expect from our elites these days. My theory is that these elites are in the age brackets which suffered from severe lead poisoning due to the extensive use of leaded paint and leaded gasoline.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          Sounds like the Tea Party got sucked into existence by a vacuum of ideology.

        2. hunkerdown

          It’s only stupid if you think the ruling class wants to have anything in common, least of all fortune, with the commoners.

          Elimination doesn’t have to mean leaving a vacuum; it could and often does mean defaulting to existing power, usually of a market kind. For example, eliminating unions leaves the underlying market dynamics and pressures in place and unfettered. Eliminating local currency replaces economic self-determination with the power of the national legal tender and its bearers. Even something so laudable as eliminating the right to refuse service to protected classes can be viewed as an effort to create a more superficially inclusive oligarchy and thus legitimize wealth as a principle of discrimination.

          These things are subtle…

    2. Ulysses

      I’m intrigued by this ” internal proletariat, an increasingly sullen underclass that still provides the political class with its cannon fodder and labor force but no longer sees anything to admire or emulate in those who order it around.”

      Even the white collar workforce has begun to see through the lame propaganda that they are fed every day. The outrageous cruelty of this system is partly due to its constant attempts to convince workers that their morale will improve if they just learn to love the beatings. For an example of this see the recent advice given in this neoliberal gem:

      Here’s one suggestion from this article:

      “Don’t be afraid to approach your boss with a request to take on a project or broaden your scope at work, says Kerry Schofield, co-founder of self-discovery and career platform Just make sure you do your research before you start the conversation.

      “Go in knowing as much as you can about where your company is headed and what your boss is like,” Schofield says. “Whatever you want, you have to make it appealing to others — it has to sound like it’s going to benefit the company and make your boss look good.”

      Basically, make sure that whatever you pitch is in line with the priorities at your company, but don’t push too hard.

      “Don’t sell it so hard that you put them off,” Schofield says. “They know that a more engaged employee will be more productive. Make it clear what you want and let it be known you’re willing to give up evenings and weekends to make it work.”

      How would I rewrite this? “Don’t be afraid to approach your co-workers and organize them into a union which can negotiate a legally binding contract that gives you better wages, benefits, and working conditions.”

      Notice how my pitch doesn’t ask for working off the clock and neglecting your family as a means to “finding your passion at a job you hate!!”

    3. trish

      ” mimesis—the universal human habit by which people imitate the behavior and attitudes of those they admire. As long as the political class of a civilization can inspire admiration and affection from those below it, the civilization thrives, because the shared sense of values and purpose…”

      What if those in power manage to manipulate the people so that they generally admire that which ultimately harms them yet benefits those in power. Values get warped intentionally by the political class.
      And there have been many many instances of affection for political leaders who are thugs, tyrants, kleptocrats, the kind of guy you’d want to have a beer with, slick, glib corrupt politicians..

      Not a failure to inspire mimesis.

      And Klein’s Shock Doctrine illustrates, too, how affection can be increased when necessary via crisis to allow the “strong” leader (father figure) to further their own agenda.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Good point, Trish.

        That’s how they keep our brains clean…I mean, wash our brains…hopefully with organic shampoos.


        Were people, of the same town, for example (we don’t have to be extreme by talking about people of different continents), more different (act differently, think different etc) two hundred years than say today?

        It seems that with TV, radio and other forms of popular culture permeating our lives, people, more and more, have the same body language, use the same expressions, like the same things, listen to the same songs, joke the same ways, eat the same things, etc.

        So, we admire the same qualities…money huntiing, power gathering, tongue-forking…

        1. hunkerdown

          I’m going to speculate that they were more alike in the past. Outside of cities, how often did one interact with those outside their tribe? Also, how often could one flit between tribes and allegiances then vs. today? I suspect that, in such a community where one’s life depends on the reliability of others, each person got at most one chance to play out the prodigal son drama. Today one can consume whole new social identities and peer groups at the touch of a button, and one can reserve all their reliability for their one and only lord and employer.

      2. Banger

        Trisha, not many people admire the management class and the spreadsheet jockeys in the real world other than other managers and spreadsheet jockeys despite the fact they try to show off by inviting us on their big boats a and so on.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          Once a “pleasure” boat leaves the dock, the passengers become captives.

    4. Jackrabbit

      Insular elites in thrall with a craven, mean-spirited ideology, and the mendacious lackeys they choose to dup ‘lead’ us, results in social turbulence. Wow. Who knew? Reap what you sow / blowback is a bitch.

      I don’t buy your fatalistic outlook (“Ultimately, we can do nothing . . .”). As I said previously, it is anti-intellectualism dressed up as prophecy. It only benefits the status-quo/oligarchs.

      History doesn’t repeat, it rhymes. We are not the Romans. I imagine you would’ve said the same (“Ultimately, we can do nothing . . .”) to Martin Luther King, Ghandi, etc.

      H O P

      1. Banger

        When it was time to act, in my youth, we hit the streets and fought as best we could. Eventually everyone went back to grad school and I was left, so to speak, holding the bag. Now the situation is different the culture is not ready for community action due to the culture of narcissism something that MLK did not have to deal with. Go ahead, give us your scenario for action–I’m trying in my small way to make something happen and have been trying for quite awhile. I’m getting very little traction some of it is me but a lot of it is the culture–even though more and more people know this situation is fucked they distrust themselves and others even the young people I know who struggled in the Occupy movement. If you can do better then do so–make something happen if you can.

        1. Vatch

          I know it sometimes feels futile to do so, but I think there is value in sending messages to one’s Senators and Representatives in Congress. It’s unlikely to provoke any major changes in policy or legislation, but if they get enough correspondence about an issue, they may limit the severity of the harm that they cause.

          Also, letters to periodicals can be useful. People who comment frequently on NC should have no problem sending occasional messages to politicians and periodicals.

          People can also sign petitions. Some of these petitions, such as the ones at the White House, are digital, so they don’t use a physical ink signature. Digital petitions are usually quite easy to “sign”, so anyone with an internet connection can do it. Less useful are the fundraising petitions at sites such as Daily Kos. I wouldn’t bother signing those.

          And vote for third party candidates. Avoid the stale D and R brands like the plague.

        2. Jackrabbit

          You are doing a disservice with your fatalistic and oligarch-friendly comments such as: the way to influence policy is to show ‘love’ to oligarchs. Be realistic!, you plead, and cry TINA!

          People are going to figure it out for themselves. And when they do, should they accept their ‘place’ in a feudalistic society or work toward restoring democracy? Should they see oligarchs who oppressed them as their saviors or push for a something better?

          They will look for clues from people like those on this blog. If we listen to fatalists, that reply would be shrug.

          1. Banger

            I know, I’m a running dog of the imperialists and so on–makes me feel nostalgic for the old CP.

        3. Nathanael

          People are less lead-poisoned than they were in the 1960s; as a result, people are less impulsive.

          So it looks like everyone is staying much quieter and not acting. In reality, people are simply not going off half-cocked. Right now, when people see something which looks like an action plan which will work, they *run* with it in a way which is practically unstoppable. But people are a lot more cautious about what looks like an action plan which will work.

    5. Glenn Condell

      ‘Civilizations fail, in turn, because their political classes lose the ability to inspire mimesis, and this happens in turn because members of the elite become so fixated on maintaining their own power and privilege that they stop doing an adequate job of addressing the problems facing their society. As those problems spin further and further out of control, the political class loses the ability to inspire and settles instead for the ability to dominate.’

      Not sure about this. It seems to me at least as likely that elites still inspire mimesis but given their fall from grace and decency, what is being imitated is less wholesome. I look around me at awful behaviour in the workplace and elsewhere and sense an intimate link to the winner-take-all, greed is good/altruism is naive, community is dangerous type memes propagated esp in film and TV. Trickle-down I guess.

      I wonder if for example the awful billionaire hero of 50 Shades would have been given such a free ride in the 70s and whether armies of intelligent women would have swooned over him so.

      Maybe I’m just jealous… mimesis again.

  6. trish

    In US, teachers are low status. Low pay. Easy major, top-scoring kids go for doctor/lawyer/business/wall street. Unions always under fire.
    Vast and growing inequality in the US.
    Under the pretense of focussing on the kids, focus is really on enriching the corporate elite via testing, privatization/the market in schools, ie Bill Gates-style education.

    In Finland, teachers are high status. Rigorous training & expectations. Powerful unions. The focus is on the child. Child development research is utilized, smaller classrooms, learning a language starts early. Finland has a substantial social safety net, less gross inequality. Etc, etc, etc.

    Educators generally run Finland’s public schools. The US appoints corporate czars.

    In the 60’s the Finns chose to use public education to fuel economic recovery. We use “economic recovery” as an excuse to decimate.

    Many more examples, but boils down to they invest in they’re kids, we in our elite.

    Defenders of American exceptionalism like to point out the vast size difference, Finland’s relative homogeneity, flaws in their system. But the fact remains that many of the Finland’s education methods, its social safety net, could be replicated here with positive results. It’s just that overall policy in Finland is for the kids, here, not.

    1. Banger

      Many people here blame the oligarchs–true, they are the engines of malaise–but it is also our general culture in the U.S. which focuses on private life and considers public life and public space as of little importance. This combined with a militantly anti-rational movement at all levels of society including intellectual culture, makes it impossible to even talk about adopting policies that would actually benefit all of us even the rich.

      1. skippy

        Culture is a drip applied directly to the mind from birth…. bbillions in Bernays cortex injections are spent for a damn good reason…

        skippy…. Culture or Caned mythology…. ummmm~?

        1. Banger

          Ok, I really like the vision of “caned” mythology, seriously because there is some truth to that–I don’t know if you meant it but it may work even better than “canned.”

      2. trish

        ” focuses on private life and considers public life and public space as of little importance.”
        Our general culture, absolutely. Part of the myth of American individualism. Private means enclosed in big houses in big yards with big vehicles and big stuff…amercans’ god-given right.
        But who ultimately cultivates (cultivated) this, stresses private over public (public space even extending to the planet on the whole allowing whole-sale environmental destruction)?
        The .oligarchs – the engines- rub their hands with glee and continue with their message. and if the public schools are mediocre, the public stupid, it works for them.
        I blame the people too…I mean, they have brains (supposedly) and could figure this out…but, circuses…hard to disentangle what’s wrong with the public from the propaganda.

        1. Jim


          How exactly where you able to overcome the “myth” of American individualism?

          How would you begin to deal with changing our culture–a question which is usually of no interest to the progressive/left–since they believe the solution to our problems are primarily in the logic of various interpretations of economics.

          Kudos to Druid for, at least, bringing up the issue of imitation and culture.

          Imitation seems to initially imply “looking up”–to parents, prominent others in families etc.

          Is the vertical a necessary part of a new political vision as well as the horizontal?

          1. Glenn Condell

            ‘Kudos to Druid for, at least, bringing up the issue of imitation and culture’

            Yes, though it is curious to me that there is no mention in either this or the Druid’s thread of the mimetic theories of Rene Girard:

            ‘Stories thrive on conflict between characters. By reading the great writers against the grain of conventional wisdom, Girard realized that people don’t fight over their differences. They fight because they are the same, and they want the same things. Not because they need the same things (food, sex, scarce material goods), but because they want what will earn others’ envy. Humans, with a planning intelligence that sets them apart from all other animals, are free to choose. With freedom comes risk and uncertainty: humans don’t know in advance what to choose, so they look to others for cues. People can desire anything, as long as other people seem to desire it, too: that is the meaning of Girard’s concept of “mimetic desire.” Since people tend toward the same objects of desire, jealousy and rivalry are inevitable sources of social tension — and perfect themes for the great novelists.
            After his successful writings on modern literature, curious to find out how well his “mimetic theory” of imitative behavior might explain the human past, Girard studied anthropology and myths from around the world. He was struck by another series of similarities: myth after myth told a story of collective violence. Only one man can be king, the most enviable individual, but everyone can share in the persecution of a victim. Societies unify themselves by focusing their imitative desires on the destruction of a scapegoat. Girard hypothesized that the violent persecution of scapegoats is at the origin of the ubiquitous human institution of ritual sacrifice, the foundation of archaic religions.’


            Who or what is our scapegoat? Mine is finanzkapital and I don’t think I’m the Lone Ranger. Thing is, the scapegoat in Girard’s conception is innocent… perhaps, if the hatred of thieving elites is scapegoating, it is a sign of progress.

        2. hunkerdown

          The merchant class (aka bourgeoisie) has a direct, vested interest in portraying their class as a meritocracy, open to all those who impress the lords by displays of combat and loyalty, and even in pausing the kicking-down from time to time and pantomiming or stage-managing the odd meritocratic outcome to reinforce the narrative.

      3. neo-realist

        You must factor in a certain amount of tribalism—Some white middle and working class people who don’t want people who don’t look like them (black and brown) getting the same quality of educational and career opportunities as their own kids. They would prefer a status quo of a flawed system where some people who live in better neighborhoods–property tax rich and or white skin critical mass get better educational services (even if objectively the education isn’t all that great) than the black and latin neighborhoods.

        1. trish

          And tribalism used to pit the not-so-poor against the poorer, the poorest. ie Those Black Kids in Those Failing Schools – blame them and- voila- effectively distracted from what’s really going on, and allows the slippery slope of policies that ultimately bring harm to themselves.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Bloomberg, 9 Mar 2014:

    ‘Puerto Rico’s record $3.5 billion sale of junk-rated municipal debt buys the struggling U.S. territory at least 15 months of financial breathing room.

    ‘The majority of buyers were hedge funds, David Chafey, chairman of the island’s Government Development Bank, said in an interview. The deal is the largest-ever junk-rated offer for the $3.7 trillion municipal market.’

    Bloomberg, 2 Jul 2014:

    ‘On July 1, Moody’s cut Puerto Rico’s rating to B2, five steps below investment grade. No local government has borrowed at that level, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Prices on its general-obligation debt yesterday plummeted to record lows.

    ‘Moody’s downgrade affected $14.4 billion of general-obligation debt. Moody’s also dropped sales-tax bonds to junk, cutting senior-lien securities to Ba3, three levels below investment grade, from Baa1. It downgraded subordinate bonds to B1, four steps below investment grade, from Baa2. The change affects $15.6 billion of obligations and strips Puerto Rico of any way to borrow at investment-grade prices.’


    Bruce Krasting wrote in March that the record-setting $3.5 billion issue sold to hedge funds is ‘senior to most of PR’s other $70B of bonds.’

    So let’s review. In March, hedge funds make themselves senior on $3.5 billion of bonds, with Moody’s rating at Ba2, two notches below investment grade status. The proceeds are supposed to keep PR afloat for 15 months.

    Four months later, Moody’s slashes its rating by three more notches, cutting the island off from all borrowing and placing $70 billion of its bonds held mostly by retail investors in muni bond funds at risk.

    What just happened here?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What just happened?

      My guess is they shorted (or should have shorted) the non-senior issues, even while they bought the senior, junk-rated debt.

    1. Paul Niemi

      We’ll add it to the Bronze Birch Borer, which destroyed all the beautiful European Birches hereabouts, and of course the heartbreak of Dutch Elm Disease. These are distinct, I think, in killing trees dead, not just damaging them during stress.

      1. McMike

        add: pine beetle.

        The bugs aren’t the problem. The problem is our practices of monocultures, sterile flora/fauna environments, pesticides abuse, etc.

        Not to mention are rejection of the notion that everything has a life cycle, and everything dies. Look at it this way: The decrepit unhealthy aging forests are dying, so that our grandchildren’s grandchildren can enjoy healthy vibrant forests of their own.

        1. Paul Niemi

          There may be 600 species of bark beetles or borers in the U.S. Pine bark beetles are said to attack trees that are stressed by drought, and there are different kinds. These beetles are controlled mainly through predation by woodpeckers and predaceous beetles, flies, and parasitic wasps that are adapted to their hosts. The predators are uniquely adapted to the individual environments. I suppose the point is that as people may be more familiar with noxious weeds, which can be invasive, forming monocultures in ecological settings, so too noxious bugs can be introduced for which native predators are not adapted. Vectors of introduction can be importation of non-native plant species, with the larva hitchhiking. Regretfully it seems the bulk of the damage is done before the resulting infestations get noticed.

          1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

            The Asiatic Chestnut tree imported to the US and planted in the Bronx Zoo wiped out the entire American Chestnut population.

            The value of that species is unknown to most contemporary Americans. I can’t find the link (but will continue looking, for a while), but I read, somewhere, that the original European settlers to the east coast of North America, simply let their pigs loose to forage chestnuts — no purpose in feeding them crop foods (seems acorns have replaced the Chestnut in this regard, but the acorn as primary forage probably results in less appealing flavor — same can probably be said for white-tail deer and other meat critters).

            We don’t have a clue what we are doing.

            1. Carolinian

              It was the “Chestnut blight” that got imported on those trees. Chestnuts still grow in my region but are unable to reach maturity. There have been experments to resurrect through hybrids.

              Chestnuts were highly valued for the rot resistant wood as well as the nuts.

              And out west the borer bugs have been helped by winters that aren’t cold enough to kill the larvae. The west has been undergoing an extended hot/dry spell.

              1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

                There’s an experimental American Chestnut program at a park nearby. Although the nuts may not be picked from the (small) trees, the ranger let us scavenge a few off the ground, a few years back. They were very good.

                Drove across the US last summer (via the über-ugly central route). In Western Colorado (the last pretty place, until you get to WVA, by our route), something had devastated entire mountainsides of conifers — I assume this was damage from the borers (?).

                1. McMike

                  Yup, it was a total wipe-out for vast stands of pines. Entire counties it seems.

                  There was fear of massive wildfire risk, but seems the standing dead timber was not so bad, once it dried.

                  The widow-makers are wreaking havoc on roads, trails, and campgrounds though.

                  Huge lesson in the problems of warm winters, as well as zero tolerance fire suppression, and monoculture inducing logging practices as well..

                  And ugly. Those dead stands are just plain ugly.

                  What’s worse, entire Aspen groves seem to be succumbing to some sort of killer, possibly also associated with warming/drought.

                  1. Paul Niemi

                    My goodness. A Smithsonian article says that Colorado is losing perhaps all of its Lodgepole Pines, and SAD (Sudden Aspen Decline) is all over too. It looks like different kinds of bark beetles or borers are acting as vectors carrying a fungus that infects the trees, or the trees die of nutrient depletion from drought. Whole landscapes are dying, not just individual stands of trees.

                    1. Carolinian

                      Now I am depressed–Colorado without Aspens.

                      In our region one of the most beautiful forest trees is the Carolina Hemlock with its lacy needles.. These are all dying from a fungus I believe. And other species of Hemlock are threatened throughout North America.

            2. Paul Niemi

              I found the following article dated from June about projects aimed at restoration of the American Chestnut. It was in the 1880s that the fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica, which wiped out the trees was introduced with its asiatic host. Whenever I heard “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” I always wondered where you could find these nuts, as I had never seen one. Unfortunately I could use a tutorial on how to paste links into this site, because often they don’t work when I try, but I’ll just copy this url and see how that works. Frankly, reading the article made my eyes tear up, so it is worthwhile I know.

              1. ewmayer

                I expect as long as the raw URL is correct and your accompanying post describes what’s there, most folks are fine with it. But for us interwebs fancy-pantsters (and those aspiring to be such), inline-links use standard HTML link syntax — copy this to a text file on your device, replace the { and } symbols with left and right angle brackets (a.k.a. less than/greater-than), respectively and modify as needed by replacing the []-stuff with the actual URL and inline descriptive text of your choice:

                {a href=”[URL here]”}[inline descriptive text here]{/a}

                (Sorry about the need to edit the above, but when I try to include the angle brackets, even with added . in between each character to try to disable “this is HTML” interpretation, the comment-processing software interprets them as HTML markup and renders them invisible).

                The preview that appears below the comment-entry box can be used to view/test the result before submitting.

                1. hunkerdown

                  Use &lt; and &gt; for < and >. (To inform you of that I had to type &amp;lt; and &amp;gt; — yeah I do this all day)

                2. Paul Niemi

                  So we have all these symbols: >, “, [, ], {, }, and /. Lovely. The lesser-than symbol makes things disappear. Then I copy and paste from a plain text or rich text draft? I know I have tried to link to Bloomberg stories before, but each time I copy the URL, when I click on it the thing has dropped characters off the end and it takes a person somewhere wrong. Well, it looks like just copying the URL works fine as it does. And otherwise I only ever modify the text to make italics.

        2. trish

          Yes, from what I understand our environmental assault weakens the trees, thus making them more prone to damage by borers.

  8. gonzomarx

    from 38 Degrees, a UK campaign group

    Thanks to massive people-powered campaigns across Europe, the TTIP negotiating team opened a consultation on the Investor-To-State Dispute Settlement – ISDS. It’s a complex name that covers up a nasty rule that’ll let corporations sue our government for putting their duty to ordinary people before businesses’ profits.
    – but the consultation closes in just 48 hours time. This is the first time ordinary people like us will have a chance to have a say on any part of TTIP.
    The consultation doesn’t accept identical entries so we each need to write our own. But you don’t need to be an expert. And there are tips to help you on the web page. Just click the link below to write in:

  9. diptherio

    Re: The Broken Thread of Culture

    Only children are honest. If you want to know the truth of anything, ask a child.

    And as for this:

    As those problems spin further and further out of control, the political class loses the ability to inspire and settles instead for the ability to dominate.

    See this Guardian story that DakotabornKansan linked to on today’s Facebook article:

    Pentagon Prepares for Mass Civil Breakdown

  10. fresno dan

    “And Martinez’s mortgage payment will rise by about $240 a month next year, because the HAMP interest rate cut is only temporary. After five years, the rate goes up by one percentage point a year, until it reaches the average interest rate at the time the loan was modified. Now, Martinez is afraid she’ll lose her home.”

    How many people do you know who have had a raise of 240$ a month recently?

  11. fred

    If you’re so worried about page performance, please fix your RSS feed so I don’t have to load your site.
    Or, is this merely another way to monetize your base?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      We announced our change to truncated RSS and explained our reasons why. Most high traffic finance and economics sites either are headline only or headline + short extract. We frankly should have made this change years ago.

      Are you suggesting we should work for nothing? That is what your “monetize your base” comment amounts to. Do you also expect restaurants to serve you for free?

      And page performance is based on actual page views. RSS does not count towards that.

    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Nasty comment there, fred. Somebody piss in your Post Toasties, this morning?

      I don’t think NC has a “base.” It has a readership.

      If you’re so worried about knowing what’s going on in the wider world, why don’t you do your own damned research?

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Along with a higher national minimum wage (for those who are working), we should have a high, minimum savings interest rate (for those retired, up to a limit).

    3% would be nice, when I retire it in the next decade…or the next one after.

  13. hunkerdown

    Big Brother is watching Tor users and Linux Journal readers. The Washington Consensus seeks to destroy every working gift economy, so why not Linux? Another interesting tidbit: “separating sheep from goats” (who can obseve good comsec vs. who can’t) and watching the sheep most closely.

    Anyone care to lay odds on a false-flag cyber offensive over the weekend?

  14. Carolinian

    RE Valdosta, Ga near shootout–Jon Stewart had a funny segment about what happens when “right to carry” meets “stand your ground.” I won’t link, but easy enough to Google. Seems even the NRA in some confusion about this.

    Arizona has a similar law and it can be quite weird sitting in a McDonalds next to some paunchy middle ager with a colt 45 on his belt.

    Fortunately here in SC gun nuttery is on a low flame at the moment. I did spot a bumper sticker the other day: “Take my gun, bullets first”….

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      I have always considered holstered side-arms — worn as fashion accessories — to be no more than prosthetic testicles (or maybe the visual equivalent of a swollen and bright red ass among baboons).

      1. hunkerdown

        Thanks for inspiring a good healthy snickering fit about “truck nuts” to lead into the weekend!

      2. Carolinian

        Phallic implications aside, these are real guns that can shoot you. That’s no joke.

        There’s probably an essay to be written about how gun culture has been used to give working class people a sense of empowerment to substitute for the real empowerment of having their interests represented in Washington or the workplace. Archdruid’s next post, perhaps.

      3. MtnLife

        Those are also the guys looking for trouble so they can be John Wayne (in their minds). Easy to spot by having their weapon in the slowest drawing places possible. Open carry is only for war zones/hostile wilderness (actual real possibility of mountain lion, wolverine, etc attack). In normal society it only serves to make those that aren’t comfortable around guns nervous, not to mention going against everything Sun Tzu teaches if you really are carrying for self-defense.

        1. Carolinian

          They are being dicks, of course. Even the NRA said this and then backed off when members complained.

          1. MtnLife

            Trying to play hero isn’t the best idea either. It was a selfless act but not self-defense (which would have included getting the hell out, not confrontation). Would you feel the same if the guy had been unarmed and tried to confront the guy? Do you think he only acted to help because he had the gun or was he the type of guy who would have tried to help anyways? We don’t know the answer to these questions. Maybe he was a John Wayne yahoo, maybe he just imagined the other customers as his family members and did what he hoped someone else would do for them if he weren’t there.
            I’m not sure if you were trying to make a point besides providing the example of the death of someone (who carried a gun) who apparently thought he could help, pure intentions or long delayed bloodlust aside, since they pulled a murder-suicide, while still having hundreds of rounds, after the initial police confrontation.

            1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

              The point is that his gun didn’t help him. Indeed, it likely led to him being killed.

              The reality: Even if you are armed, when someone gets the drop on you with a gun (even if they have an automatic .22 pistol, and you have an AK-47), it’s over.

              1. James Levy

                I’ve said over and over the problem is handguns. Most people are clueless how to use them. A police officer who trained my daughter to be a black belt in Tae Kwan Do told her that most cops cannot hit a moving target at 20 feet. At 40 feet they just open fire with their Glocks on semi-auto and hope for the best. The Constitution clearly maintains the right to militia weapons, and handguns are not militia weapons. You’d have a vastly better, more honest argument for allowing people to own AR-15s and M-16s than handguns. But this debate is so engrained in fear, hate, prejudice, and victimization that any rational attempt at a well-regulated militia is gone.

              2. MtnLife

                Do you think she wouldn’t have shot him if he had been creeping up on her boyfriend carrying a baseball bat, golf club, knife, or his bare hands? Again, neither of us know his motivation for playing hero. He may have played hero having no weapon at all. Raw Story puts those stories up all the time to make the anti-gun crown go wild.
                Your last sentence is very close to being correct, slight edit needed.
                The reality: Even if you are armed, when someone gets the drop on you with a gun any weapon (even if they have a knife, baseball bat, taser, or an automatic .22 pistol, and you have an AK-47), it’s over.
                Surprise is the greatest weapon in war. Period.

                1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

                  If he had done any of that, he would be an imbecile, and an immediate candidate for the Darwin Awards.

  15. EmilianoZ

    The archdruid report is very interesting indeed. Commenters so far have focused on the mimesis story.

    But there’s another even more interesting thread in the druid’s essay. He seems to claim that Christianity was a response to the decay of the Roman Empire. That it started as some kinda of superstitious stories that the dregs of Roman society whispered to each to other at night to make sense of their brutal miserable lives. (That’s actually not incompatible with what Nietzsche wrote about the origins of Christianity.)

    But it’s still stunning to think that a religion that has become so august and established could have such obscure and wretched origins.

    1. Banger

      Christianity was actually a fairly elitist movement that eventually filtered down to the dregs, sort of like the New Age movement and was relatively inchoate and heterodox. Later, it became political when Roman Law began breaking down.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        The Emperor Constantine could read the writing on the wall. He fixed the Christian canon (to borrow a phrase from The Bard).

  16. Vatch

    Re “Why has Google cast me into oblivion?”: Once again, life imitates art. Orwell’s “memory hole” has appeared in our world.

  17. Skeptic

    This Robot Is Going To Hitchhike Across Canada By Itself i09 (furzy mouse)

    Proof once again that Humanity is the only species engaged in its own extinction. As for me: “Hop in buddy, we are headed to the Dump.”

  18. Leeskyblue

    RE dog and fish –
    I love the antidotes du jour, but frankly,
    I can’t pass a fish pond containing some of those lovely plump gold and white carp
    without licking my chops.
    What on earth is that dog thinking?
    What are the fish thinking? — and two more guys are lined up waiting for their turn?
    Perhaps it is a visual homily? — The lion lying down with the lamb? —
    …and at the end of days, all will be deregulated and a thousand flowers will bloom?
    and Iraq will be westernized and free, just as Mr. Cheney no doubt envisioned?
    and Obamacare will be truly universal and cost effective?
    All in good humor — thanks for the great therapy:)

    1. Carolinian

      You can put practically the entire contents of Project Gutenberg–.txt versions only–on a single DVD-r. We do live in an amazing time.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      Mailing SD cards and flash drives is really the only reasonably private means of easily exchanging multigig sized data. It also is a lot easier than trying to do so using a network painstakingly designed to make such data sharing as difficult and dangerous as it can possibly manage. People don’t realize the absurdity of having a network designed and built from the ground up to make actual networking so difficult that snail mail is more efficient–and often faster as well.

      I wish the mailing of memory devices were normalized so people would consider it option A rather than not considering it at all. For someone on DSL, getting an envelope with cheap 32GB SD cards inside is like discovering a whole new world where almost anything is then possible. Especially once you think of the devices as community rather than personal property, and thus essentially costless on a per use basis. You are no longer sending *your* 20 dollar device, but a generic device–one you’ll easily get another of in your mailbox for no cost when someone shares with you.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    From an anthropocentric perspective, people might ask, what do they think they are doing.

    From other worlds, what is is.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From ‘The Chinese Local Governments…:’

    The world’s biggest ghost mall is owned by PKU Resources (Peking University)?

    I wonder where their economics department or MBA school ranks.

  21. Kurt Sperry

    Linkworthy perhaps for ‘Big Brother is Watching You Watch’-,nsa230.html

    Interestingly, has XKeyscore rules in text here-

    From which I quote,

    These variables define terms and websites relating to the TAILs (The Amnesic
    Incognito Live System) software program, a comsec mechanism advocated by
    extremists on extremist forums.

  22. Roland

    The Mountain Pine Beetle destroyed most of the Lodgepole pine forests in British Columbia during the past decade or so.

    The pest has always been endemic in the boreal and montane forests, but in the past the pine beetle population would be curtailed by the fairly frequent occurrence of a deep winter cold snap (i.e. a couple of weeks of -40 C).

    But starting in the early 90’s British Columbia stopped getting those winter cold snaps. By 2000 the beetle infestation was out of control. Today, most of the pine forests in British Columbia are dead. Around 2007-08 you could drive for hours through central British Columbia and look at panoramas of red-needled pines, beetle-kill as far as the eye could see. Now most of the dead stuff is grey and drying out. It doesn’t look as bad when it’s grey.

    The infestation became so severe that the beetles were attacking young pine trees, which normally have enough resin to resist the beetle. Some of the forests where I worked as a tree planter back in in the 1980’s are all turned red-needled. Near Prince George, I visited a couple of my old worksites to have a look. Even where we did forestry right, the pines got wiped out. All those splendid juvenile trees. All that body-wracking work, the sort of work of which someone can only do a certain amount in a lifetime. Now I know how a farmer feels when the crop is lost.

    At least the blue spruce we planted in the wetter areas are doing okay.

    They’re trying to cut down as much of the beetle-kill as possible, since it would probably all burn anyway. A small percentage can be salvaged as saw-logs, but most of it will simply get chipped for pulp or fed into the new series of thermal electrical generating plants that have been built.

    It’s frightening to see something as seemingly eternal as the brooding boreal forest get destroyed so quickly. But that’s what happens when a degree or two of overall warming crosses a critical threshold in an ecoregion.

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