Links 8/25/14

7.0 magnitude earthquake hits central Peru CBS News

Western drought causes Earth’s surface to rise as water levels drop LA Times. Sea level rise problem solved! OK, not quite. This is groundwater levels we’re talking about, not the ocean.

Robots Able to Pick Peppers, Test Soil, and Prune Plants Aim To Replace Farm Workers Singularity Hub

Young blood to be used in ultimate rejuvenation trial New Scientist

Congo declares Ebola outbreak in northern Equateur province Reuters. Congo is not contiguous to any of the four African nations experiencing the latest outbreak, although Congo has had several ebola outbreaks in the past, and this could be a different strain.


Ferguson Police Officer Justin Cosma Hog-Tied And Injured A Young Child, Lawsuit Alleges Huffington Post

Bullets and Ballots Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker

Ferguson Fights For Justice Beyond Mike Brown’s Death Huffington Post

Michael Brown’s father appeals for calm as Ferguson prepares for funeral The Guardian

Md. college campus police also getting military surplus gear Baltimore Sun. You’re telling me a college campus police force DOESN’T need M16 assault rifles and armored vehicles?

What I’ve Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings Gawker. This is a very worthwhile project. The crowdsourced national database of police killings is at Help if you can.

Private equity’s goose is ‘overcooked’ Financial Times

The US Is One Of The Last Developed Countries Where It Can Still Take Days For Money To Show Up In Your Bank Account Business Insider

Toward a Universal Ability to Repay Requirement Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

US official behind $36bn bank settlements Financial Times. An embarrassing beat-sweetener for the pink pages.

Sacramento federal court jury acquits 4 in local mortgage fraud case The Sacramento Bee. Our friend Bill Black actually testified for the defendants in this one.

Mortgage Foreclosures 2015: Why the Crisis Will Flare Up Again Some idiot named David Dayen, New Republic


IS fighters ‘seize’ Syria airbase BBC

US says American held in Syria has been freed AP

Top Officials Say A Partnership With Assad May Be Necessary To Take Out ISIS Huffington Post. I just got whiplash.

Its Edge Intact, Vice Is Chasing Hard News David Carr, NYT

Sparks Fly on Privatizing Air-Traffic Control WSJ

Adjunct professors fight for crumbs on campus The Washington Post

National union offers Karen Lewis $1M to run for mayor WGN-TV

Cambodia’s growing rat meat trade BBC

Tony Blair gives Kazakhstan’s autocratic president tips on how to defend a massacre Telegraph. I didn’t think it was possible for my opinion of Tony Blair to lower.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

For sale: Systems that can secretly track where cellphone users go around the globe Washington Post

Hilary Mason Turns Big Data Into Plain English Ozy. Nice to meet the types who are profiting off of all of this.

Richard Attenborough, Actor, Director and Giant of British Cinema, Dies at 90 NYT

Zaha Hadid suing New York Review of Books over Qatar criticism The Guardian

Austrian party rues disappearance of 400 garden gnomes BBC News

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About David Dayen

David is a contributing writer to He has been writing about politics since 2004. He spent three years writing for the FireDogLake News Desk; he’s also written for The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Guardian (UK), The Huffington Post, The Washington Monthly, Alternet, Democracy Journal and Pacific Standard, as well as multiple well-trafficked progressive blogs and websites. His has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Aljazeera, Russia Today, NPR, Pacifica Radio and Air America Radio. He has contributed to two anthology books, one about the Wisconsin labor uprising and another on the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act in Congress. Prior to writing about politics he worked for two decades as a television producer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.


  1. windsock

    It’s always possible for your opinion of Tony Blair to sink lower. The man hasn’t even begun to plumb his depths… don’t forget, he’s got four kids and a barrister wife to support.

    1. frosty zoom

      all you bashers of lying, murderous, vile, palpatinesque tony “sauron” blair are now on a list!


  2. El Guapo

    I’ll repeat something I have written here before (perhaps more than once): Tony Blair is the scum of the earth.

    1. Dan B

      Surely there is some mistake because in 2008 Yale Divinity School announced, “Former Prime Minister Tony Blair will teach his first class at Yale on September 19, marking the start of the “Faith and Globalization Initiative,” a three-year collaboration among Yale’s Divinity School, School of Management and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.” With a team like this the possibilities for faith-buliding are limitless.

    1. craazyman

      He must be long S&P puts.

      Even animals fall victim to Doomers & Gloomers. I bet there’s ants who look at a cement porch and say “There’s no way we’ll ever build an ant hill here. No way.”

      Then when a few hundred ants have built the hill, they say, “You guys just got lucky. If it hadn’t been for the sandbox over there, you’d have never found the sand for that hill, or any hill.” Some never learn.

      There’s always somebody like that. But don’t think they’ll make you any money. In this case, the Lynx obviously bought into the theory that there’s no birds or mice or chipmunks anywhere around here and you might as well go for the trashcans down in the town. Sure. Now even he knows, watching his buddies feast on organic fowl and game while he wonders if he can get some moldy pizza tonight 10 miles away.

      Doomers & Gloomers. Now they’re all writing about Ukraine. Why should anybody take them seriously? I don’t know anymore, but tonight hopefully there’s some old pizza in the fridge. That’s how it is when you can’t get rich quick and there’s mountains of busy work that needs doing.

  3. Ditto

    Rather than fighting the science and technology changes that are coming whether the left or right wants them or not, I’m hoping against hope that the left will fight for the advances to benefit as many people as possible.


    Rather they fight robotics, we should fight for the future we want to see with robotics. Work and labor shouldn’t be the goal, A good quality of life for everyone should be.

    Focusing on the sensational headlines related ti the experiment should be secondary to biomedical ethics and determining what factors in blood (they already have found one) are the cause I r whether stem cell produced blood can produce the same results for Alzheimer’s patients or other diseases if the trial proves a success.

    These techs can be good or bad.

    We as a society determine that

    It will require the left to change the conversation bc the right will never do it

    1. digi_owl

      If the left goes that way, they will the curb stomped as communists before the day is over.

      The “left” survived the cold war by distancing themselves from straight up socialism and making due with unions and various sub-group (female, gay) rights.

      1. Ditto

        1. You say that like you have some control over what other people call you. You only control you.

        2. Neither history nor identity politics going to help when we leaving the industrial revolution to face an automated one

        3 even if you don’t think ahead, others will

        4. Whining about the tech isn’t going to change things. Neither is trying to out the genie in the bottle

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We have to take back our government before we can benefit from robots (see wbgone’s comment at 8:28 AM below).

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  There are good ideas and bad ideas.

                  Some new ideas are good and some new ideas are bad.

        2. hunkerdown

          Are you not familiar enough with history and institutional interests to understand that curb-stomping is not just metaphorical for the left?

      2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        Why is it so easy to “curb stomp” liberals?

        If being physically assaulted is a foregone conclusion, it makes sense to fight back. The worst that can happen is what was going to happen, anyway. The best that can happen is that those who glorify in thuggery will carry their asses home in a shopping bag.

    2. Banger

      I agree with you. Part of the reason the left in the USA is so powerless and inept is rigid thinking. The whole idea that we ought to all have “jobs” doing whatever the bosses want is just sad. We need to create a convivial society where work is something we do out of our need to be of service or to be creative. Robotics offers us a way to radically improve not just human life but all life. Of course, if we leave robots in the hands of cops and martinets or ruthless corporate execs we will have serious problems. Should be an interesting few decades.

      1. neo-realist

        I also somewhat agree with the Robert Parry view that the left failed to achieve significant power because it did not massively invest in media infrastructure like the right did to manufacture consent on a broad national level to its ideology/policies, but choose rather to organize locally, where I believe the result ended up more like the left ended up conversing with the people they already agreed with rather than outreach to those who were on the fence and not tuned in.

        1. Banger

          You are right to see the media as of primary importance but, in my view, media or no media, the narrative has been all wrong. The left, even the radical left bought into the mainstream narrative which is, in the main, fundamentally false. Of course the left is not really to blame–the values of the middle class don’t allow for true radicalism. The middle class is naturally cautious, conservative and conformist which is why here is such great reluctance to move away from the consensus narrative no matter how outrageously wrong it is.

    3. wbgonne

      Indeed. Robotics and like techno-developments have the potential to make humans more free to be human. That potential will only be realized, however, if the zeitgeist shifts dramatically and becoming more human is recognized as the purpose of life. In contrast, Robotics coupled with the existing neoliberal/economic-libertarian paradigm simply means more corporate profiteering and more misery for people in the form of unemployment and poverty.

      1. Ditto

        This exactly what needs to be articulated:

        “How can robotics, regenerative medicine and other tech make us more free as human ?”

        That’s the question that determines what future we are going to enter.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Until wealth inequality goes away

          1. Only the rich can afford the best medical care…until it trickles down
          2. Robots will be used against workers

        2. hunkerdown

          The question that determines the future we are going to enter is, “How can robotics, regenerative medicine and other tech prevent society from oppressing us?” They can’t. Stop praying to Progress already.

    4. cwaltz

      Amen! What the left needs to fight towards is a more equitable work environment where both the labor and the resource market benefit from the introduction of technology. Part of the problem today is the narrative is that workers should shut up or they will be replaced. Meanwhile we have classes of workers who can’t even take a day off when they are sick. Meanwhile all the benefits of technology have gone to the 1%. There is no reason that if we saw technological advances it couldn’t be utilized to give labor a break and improve their lives.

      1. davidgmills

        We need to change the primary business entity of the present model. We need to move away from the for-profit corporation to the not-for-profit corporation.

        1. bob

          Not for profit? You’re too late. Already happening. All of the “new media” start-ups are fronted by non-profits who feed their for profit sister companies.

          Health Insurers are the other, older example. Pure monopoly protected from anti-trust by statute. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield CEO David Klein- “non-profit for who? Hahahahahaha. I profited to the tune of almost 13 million just for leaving!!!”

            1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

              Wholesale repeal of corporate personhood should do the trick.

              ‘People’ are made of flesh and bone.

              Then again, I’ve never F’d a corporation, but a few of them have F’d me.

    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Laws of Robotics:

      1. A robot shall not harm a human or through inaction, allow harm to come to him/her.
      2. A robot shall work to benefit all humans, not just the robot’s owner (biological, corporate or any other kind).

      So, for example, if a robot makes $1 billion shorting the US currency, that profit belongs to everyone, equally, in the world.

  4. MikeNY

    OMFG. The Gray Lady starts thumping the war tambour.

    I love this passive construction: “Creating a regional military force may be required”. Who the f%#k is going to lead this? Not anyone in the Middle East, so long as the US continues to infantilize the Gulf States, and “guarantee” their security in return for their hydrocarbons.

    How long before we are leading a military “coalition”?

    1. Brindle

      From the NYT editorial:

      —ISIS has received financing from donors in Kuwait and Qatar. Saudi Arabia funneled weapons to Syrian rebels and didn’t care if they went to ISIS. Turkey allowed ISIS fighters and weapons to flow across porous borders. All of that has to stop.—

      So put sanctions on Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Of course nothing of the sort is being discussed because this all just a media show, structurally nothing will change.

    2. Banger

      The passive construction of the phrase you quoted reminds me of one of Carlin’s routines about exactly that construction. That one is a real howler.

      In any case, ISIS is the perfect made-to-order vicious enemy constructed for us so that we’ll plop down more dollars to evil f-cks to “protect” us–aren’t you glad NSA is keeping tabs on all of us now, eh chump? And, hey, we better build mor F-35s while were at it. We are now in 100% Orwell time.

      1. Ned Ludd

        Emma Quangel, the nom de plume of a writer who lives in Amman, commented that people there don’t buy the U.S. narrative. The U.S. government even had to release statements in Beirut and Damascus denying that ISIS is a CIA operation.

        “Anyone who isn’t hopped up on Islamophobia can tell ISIS is bullshit. ISIS somehow manages to confirm all the West’s deepest and most closely-guarded prejudices about Muslims and Islam while serving Empire”.

        1. hunkerdown

          And what’s this about ISIS putting out flyers with graven images on them? No, this isn’t Islam, this is Central Casting.

      2. Ulysses

        Time for the obligatory chilling passage from 1984:

        “The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering—a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons—a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting—three hundred million people all with the same face.”

        It takes a real staunch optimist to think that the capacity to churn out a lot of robots– who will do whatever heinous deeds their owners demand- will be the first step to great happiness for those who aren’t in the ownership class.

  5. dearieme

    “The US Is One Of The Last Developed Countries Where It Can Still Take Days For Money To Show Up In Your Bank Account Business Insider.” In the nearly fifty years since I first visited the US, her banks seem always to have been backward from the point of view of retail customers. I can still remember the awed, horrified fascination of a visiting Californian in Edinburgh staring at people using an ATM: you get money out of a wall with a plastic card?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Laugh yoga therapy.

      Babies laugh 300 to 400 times a day.

      Adults? Rarely. That is the bane of adulthood.

      Be more child-like.

      Now, babies cry often enough.

      Adults? Rarely.

      We don’t cry enough…not enough, for example, after reading all the sad links here daily.

      Be more child-like…cry.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          A balanced laugh-cry diet consists of both laughing and crying.

          It will make one emotionally liberated.

          Right now, there is a stigma about grown men/women crying too much.

        2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          Okay. Lets go back a decade or so, to revisit the story of John and Lorena Bobbitt.

          For those unaware, Lorena, suspecting John of infidelity, cut off his penis, left the house with it, and threw it out of her car window while driving down the highway.

          As Paul Harvey used to say, “and now, for the rest of the story . . ”

          What the newspapers didn’t disclose at the time was that when Lorena threw the severed member out of her car window, it bounced off of the windshield of a car driven by an old couple, traveling in the opposite direction, causing the old man to make an emergency stop on the side of the road.

          “What kind of bug was that?” asked the old man.
          “I don’t know,” said his wife, “but it sure had a big . . .”

          1. abynormal

            OK that one got me!
            Why You Shouldn’t Date An Economist.. 1. Economists may be dangerous. Watch out for the invisible hands! 2. It won’t matter what you supply, they will always demand more. 3. They consider selfish behavior the most natural thing in the world. 4. They prefer doing it with models and dummies. 5. Economists habitually deflate everything. 6. They like their love lives like they like their markets: free and open. 7. On average they are pretty mean. 8. And definitely too trendy. 9. They will never be happy with you as you are, they will always want you to grow. 10. They require a lot of stimulus in order to expand. 11. They will spend their lives trying to predict your behavior. 12. They consider you perfectly substitutable. 13. They’ll only like you if you have plenty of elasticity. 14. They will always think that there is an acceptable level of unemployment. 15. As soon as you are happy in the relationship they’ll burst your bubble. 16. They’ll only be into you if you have plenty of boom and bust. 17. They’ll never say ‘I Love you’ only that ‘You optimise my utility’. 18. They will rate your kids? advancement into a Human Development Index. 19. They will establish very clear household property rights to avoid the tragedy of the commons. 20. If you ever get depressed, they’ll lower their interest rate to zero. 21. They might collect a stratified household survey of family and friends, run regression and cluster analyses and check for heteroskedasticity before deciding to commit to you. (On the plus side you might get to see what your love looks like as a formula).

            1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

              They also insist that cubic zirconia (fiat diamonds), are better than the real thing.

              Cheap bastards.

  6. Skeptic

    Robots Able to Pick Peppers, Test Soil, and Prune Plants Aim To Replace Farm Workers Singularity Hub

    Soon we will also have robots who get paid, buy peppers and other stuff, watch sportz and vote. Mission Accomplished!

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      They’d better get to work on robots that will replace bees. No pollinators, no fruit.

    2. Eeyores enigma

      We need to give robots a monopoly on money creation, regulating markets, and provide financial services to the US government.

  7. dearieme

    “You’re telling me a college campus police force DOESN’T need M16 assault rifles and armored vehicles?” There are countries where the vey concept of a campus police force is unfamiliar.

  8. dearieme

    “Adjunct professors fight for crumbs on campus”: poor sods, but I’m afraid it’s God’s way of telling them to find something else to do for a living. As for the universities themselves: Dissolution of the Monasteries.

    1. James Levy

      Even if dissolution were in some way a good idea (which I don’t think it is), universities are essential today because corporations no longer spend much of anything on research and development in-house. It’s the national governments and the universities that churn out the new technology, not the capitalist firms.

    2. nycTerrierist

      I don’t know if you intended to sound glib here, but have you considered unions?
      over 70% of university teaching these days is done by adjunct, part-time faculty.
      I agree, adjuncts should refuse to comply with structural exploitation.
      But don’t forget Ph.Ds have a ‘sunk cost’ of many years of apprenticeship (degree work and training).
      Hard for people to shrug that off.
      Academia eats its young!

      1. trish

        unions, yes. and re dearieme comment “”find something else to do for a living. As for the universities themselves: Dissolution of the Monasteries.” sometimes feel like in a minority in commentsphere here, but aside from the myriad problems involving colleges & universities today (like so much else in our society) and should be addressed but probably won’t for the foreseeable future, the answer isn’t their dissolution.
        Sometimes wonder if I’m the only one who truly enjoyed and benefited from (certainly not in an employment, financial way) my limited (access, cost) academic experience in college. The teaching for the most part, the readings, the discussions…

  9. Steve H.

    “Because the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act expired in 2013, and may not ever get renewed, all mortgage relief given to borrowers will get treated as earned income for tax purposes, leaving the borrower with a huge tax bill they are unlikely to be able to afford.”

    Reinforces my comment on the Minotaur thread. Every time I see this it kicks me in the gut.

  10. Ned Ludd

    Foley murder video ‘may have been staged’

    But a study of the four-minute 40-second clip, carried out by an international forensic science company which has worked for police forces across Britain, suggested camera trickery and slick post-production techniques appear to have been used. […]

    “After enhancements, the knife can be seen to be drawn across the upper neck at least six times, with no blood evidence to the point the picture fades to black,” the analysis said.

    There was a post from Moon of Alabama in yesterday’s Links page, about “The Fishy James Foley Video”. The last link in Bernhard’s post takes you to an article by someone who watched the video and wrote about what it does and does not show.

    I don’t really know what has happened to James Foley, but the question of why we should pretend this video shows something that it does not deserves to be answered. Why the swift media blackout of the footage? Why the possible play-acting? Why the fake knife?

    1. Banger

      It’s all theater and propaganda–this one made by MI-6 probably. ISIL itself is clearly yet another scam of “street theater” created by the West to scare the bejesus out of all of us.

      1. Ned Ludd

        The government and the establishment press are willing to make things up, and few people in the mainstream will question them. I thought that the web would give people access to more information to be more skeptical, but instead it seems to just proliferate propaganda. Before, it was only the news entertainers telling you to see five lights; now, all of your social media friends insist that there are five lights, too.

        1. MtnLife

          I had sort of been ignoring this whole thing due to the “outcry” around it so I had just figured it was BS. I finally saw photos/video of the guys they are holding and what they looked like before leaving. It raises the question: does ISIS imprison people at Gold’s Gym? Foley, who is about 40-50 lbs heavier than before he left, and the other guy, who lost all of his “softness”, now look like chiseled stone golems. Haha… “journalists”…

        2. Banger

          I spent some time in the PR world and it is a world of big money and major league influence peddling mainly aimed at the mainstream media, particularly the cable channels. Almost everyone you see on those channels as guests has an agent and a handler financed by corporate money. Teams of bloggers troll the web to make comments supporting some particular corporate POV. This includes, in my view, left leaning and even fairly far left bloggers. Secret police have learned to infiltrate the left which, in the USA in particularly is very naive about Machiavellian politics. The Stasi, for example, spent a lot of time and effort sponsoring an official opposition–I believe the CIA and FBI and other assorted official and unofficial agencies have done much the same thing in the USA since at least the 50s.

      2. Ulysses

        Yep. Once again Orwell’s 1984 sheds light on why TPTB want us all afraid:

        “Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress toward more pain.”

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          The only thing Orwell got wrong was the year. If he’d have titled his book, 2014, I would swear he had actually seen the future.

    2. Jackrabbit

      What’s most curious – and outrageous – is the apparent effort to remove the original tape from the web. There are plenty of MSM clips from the tape – but (naturally) they don’t show the ‘beheading’ part where no blood is actually drawn. Only a government agency could do that.

      Its also noteworthy that the FBI (and presumeably other agencies) ‘verified’ the tape and Obama then spoke about the killing.

      I also don’t understand this part of the Telegraph story:

      It concluded: “No one is disputing that at some point an execution occurred.”

      If he wasn’t killed on tape (like so many others have been in the past) then why should someone assume that he was actually executed? And who made the tape? Was it ISIS or CIA? If Foley was my friend or family member, I’d want answers, and evidence to back it up, to a LOT of questions. But some seem to believe that the Foley family was/is playing along:

      James Foley ISIS Beheading Hoax – Siblings Kate and Michael Duping Delight – Fake Tears Obama Style!

      This one shows a picture falling from behind the siblings as the interview starts – as though they are on a set

      Are the Parents actors?

      Video of Parent’s News conference with (irreverent or insightful?) commentary

      Leading one to wonder: was there every really a Foley or is he and his family just completely made up? Is “Foley” a moniker for foolery?

      H O P

    3. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      We should videotape all of our executions. At about 2.5 hours into the process, people will get bored.

    4. vidimi

      if this is indeed true, and it looks possible indeed, then foley must have been already dead for such a video to work. i therefore propose the following explanation: foley was killed in the “flawless” rescue operation in which it was alleged the hostages weren’t there. we’ll never know whether he was killed by his kidnappers or “rescuers”, but we can be sure of one thing: the good folks in the situation room would never let a good propaganda opportunity go to waste.

      1. Jackrabbit

        This is what I would’ve thought too, vidimi – until I saw the youtube videos of Foley family media appearances (see links in my comment above). Now I am skeptical.

        Once you accept that the beheading video is a hoax (and now we have MSM reporting about expert opinion), everything else involved with Foley and ‘selling the horror’ is open to question.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      I think that’s a bobcat (not much different than a Maine Coon — other than meowing vs. roaring/growling, and a propensity to rip your face off, or not).

  11. abynormal

    yeah i just bet the Congo has a different ebola strain: Congo wants to become Africa’s largest producer of mineral fertilizers by 2018
    “Congo is expected to soon become one of the world’s top 10 producers of phosphate and potash over the next five years. Phosphate mines in the department of Hinda Kouilou province located 37 km northeast of Pointe-Noire combines two adjacent permits (Hinda and Kolatchikanou), covering an area of ​​2 300 square km. A paved road and a dirt road link the site to the port of Pointe-Noire. The total resources amounted to 531 million tons. Congo also has tremendous potential as a potash producer, offering the advantage of very low cost mining in the Pointe Noire area, where a potash export terminal is being built able to support 150,000 tons.”

    1. Paul Niemi

      I read elsewhere that 240 doctors, nurses, and health care workers in the region had developed ebola, and 120 had died. That is very significant, if true. If that trend continues, there will be no one left to treat the sick and dying in the areas affected. As a reminder, smallpox killed over 500 million in the 20th century.

      1. abynormal

        the Congo breakout would be something major, that our vampires would cash in on. my fear is India…global banks have outsourced their IT infrastructure to India. (remember it was over 15 days before RBS could reopen, due to a batch causing the ‘glitch’ after handing over their IT dept to India…if thats still to be believed)

        i backed into this earlier: “But unlike Rajni, thousands of others are still forced to clean the human waste across India despite parliament passing a stringent law against manual scavenging last year.

        In its report on manual scavenging released on Monday, Human Rights Watch, said that despite the ban on the handling of human excrement, members of the lowest rungs of the Dalit caste are being coerced into doing this work in rural and urban India.

        Consequences of trying to quit range from physical violence to expulsion from public life, the global rights watchdog said.

        1. Paul Niemi

          That represents a tragic, potential disease vector. I think the only path forward is developing an effective vaccine and inoculating everybody. Money should not be an issue for this, but we should advocate for whatever needs to be spent to do the job quickly.

          1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

            A vaccine would have to be public domain, otherwise those who need it most will not be able to afford it.

            1. Paul Niemi

              Smoking jacket and ascot, Schminson? You are a worthy fellow. Now, the guns will only get you in so far, with the rednecks. The latest thing they are after is tailfin Mopars from the 1950s. They are digging the carcasses out of barns and back woodlots and hauling them home. The code words are, “Got a Hemi?” If you really do have a car with a hemi, you may be assured of hero status with your relations.

              1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

                When I was diagnosed, my stepson actually asked if I would leave him my old Dodge Ram. Told him I planned to be buried in it. Now, he’s gonna’ want the guns. I think I’ll leave him my mother’s ashes (her request was that they be scattered in the most forlorn, destitute place I could find, so that they might nourish something. I think I’ve finally found the place).

                1. Paul Niemi

                  I believe it is essential to act as if you are going to live indefinitely. Make plans for future adventures. Take steps to implement your plans. Doing this helps convince that part of you which is beneath consciousness, the unconscious. Since our bodily processes are controlled unconsciously, by the unconscious part of our intelligence, this may work to encourage our immune system response against the illness. To be sure, I am touched by your passion here.

                  1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

                    Thanks, PN.

                    I get out every day (well, most days — today being one of the exceptions, as you might notice by the sheer volume of my comments), and shoot photos.

                    I’ve been known to go to extreme lengths to get a good photo. Lately, it’s all macros of insects (butterflies, while the bush is in bloom). I’ve also been working, slowly on completing my studio (it is freekin’ awesome!).

                    I’ve got another 20 years left in me. I’m absolutely certain of it.

                    I’ve got to stop commenting before I wear out my welcome.

                    1. Paul Niemi

                      Perhaps make a public file of your best photos on a website like Photobucket. I would love to see them

                    2. abynormal

                      not only would i like to see them…i’d probably paint them. Do It.

                      “Talent is always conscious of its own abundance, and does not object to sharing.”
                      Alexander Solzhenitsyn

                    3. Johann Sebastian Schminson

                      I’m a Creative Director by vocation, having been educated in fine arts (started out as a draftsman for The Ralph M. Parsons Co., who gave me a chance as a semi-educated high school dropout in the ’70s). Engineering was not my bag, so I gravitated towards the arts.

                      Lots of ancillary experience in marketing and related fields. Lots of copywriting, photography, illustration, design, etc.

                      Currently, I am still retained by a client, at a really good (obscene) rate, considering how little I actually produce, nowadays (a union, BTW, and the only one I’ve ever worked with — most of my clients being fairly well known corporations). FSM bless those union folks.

                      I have both photography and advertising/marketing web sites, but I’m hesitant to post their URLs, as I have very strong opinions on politics and economics. I really don’t know how valid my caution is, as you can’t know me for more than 5 minutes without the real me coming out. I have pissed off some very good clients (but never fired for my views or my cocky attitude, thankfully).

                      I have often thought of sending Yves and Co., an antidote, but haven’t actually attempted it. Maybe I’ll figure out how to do that, tonight.

                      aby — I still paint. Have a large folio of very large, very political paintings (most 4′ x 4′ diptychs — 4′ x 8′ overall). I don’t show them, much, but people always say, “You painted that?” while I’m showing them the painting.

                      Love to discuss art.

                      Anyway, let me see if I can get something to NC.

  12. Credit Slop

    Levitin’s suggestion is the kind of down-the-rabbit-hole incrementalism that makes things vastly worse. Instead of giving lenders an excuse to demand more and more comprehensive reporting and debtor surveillance, you could just enact a rational policy: liberalize bankruptcy laws and let the lender beware.

    1. John Jones

      Have you read some of the comments saying “boo hoo” and “get over it”.
      What the hell is wrong with those people. How do you get something into a solid brick head like that?

      1. hunkerdown

        Remember when smacking some sense into someone wasn’t just metaphorical? That’s why Internet trolls thrive.

  13. abynormal

    we’ve privatized our Financial system…now we’re in the ground.
    we’re privatizing our Educational system…now our dirt is smarter.
    let’s privatize Air-Traffic Control…so the ground will rise to meet the rest of us, quickly.
    And for those that list successful countries (like Canada) privatizing their air-traffic…might i remind how ‘special’ our privateers are… WE’VE BLOWN UP THE WORLD

    example uno:
    As it happens, Chicago is the nation’s leader in municipal privatization efforts. That’s right: The city that conservatives portray as the citadel of the power-grabbing, government-growing left has been selling itself off in pieces for years. It signed a 99-year lease for the Chicago Skyway, a toll road in the city’s South Side, back in 2005.
    Thomas Frank

    1. Paul Niemi

      It reminds me of the political machine of T. J. Pendergast, in Kansas City in the 1920s and 1930s. And its about getting rich on the taxpayers dime. I think the fact is, without a well-trained, professional civil service, we won’t have much of a country, and corruption will be the rule rather than the exception. This is back to the future for nepotism and cronyism, unreforming the reforms our grandparents put in place.

    2. hunkerdown

      For real. Why don’t all the Randites head there instead of trying to manufacture some island utopia in the middle of the river?

    3. trish

      Chicago, nation’s leader in municipal privatization efforts. Rahm Emanuel got anything to do with that? Manning the citadel of the power-and-public money-grabbing, government-abetted corporations.

      The push for privatization of water seems the most evil of these evils…don’t know if Rahm has tried that yet, but it’s happening here in our country (including my state) and around the world.

  14. Foppe

    Ferguson Feeds Off the Poor: Three Warrants a Year Per Household“.
    Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow), sums it up this way:

    To better understand the relationship between criminal injustice system and the people of Ferguson read this article and consider this fact: three warrants are issued per household each year in Ferguson primarily for extremely minor offenses, fines are charged that people are frequently unable to pay, and all for the financial benefit of the system itself. Residents are trapped in a closed circuit of perpetual marginality, cycling in and out of courtrooms and jail cells and back again. If this were the only thing wrong with the system in Ferguson, it would be reason enough for the outrage and protests we’ve seen.

    Some bits that are of particular interest:

    A report issued just last week by the nonprofit lawyer’s group ArchCity Defenders notes that in the court’s 36 three-hour sessions in 2013, it handled 12,108 cases and 24,532 warrants. That is an average of 1.5 cases and three warrants per Ferguson household. Fines and court fees for the year in this city of just 21,000 people totaled $2,635,400.

    The sum made the municipal court the city’s second-biggest source of revenue. It also almost certainly was a major factor in the antagonism between the police and the citizenry preceding the tragedy that resulted when Wilson had another encounter with a subject six months after he got his commendation.

    And any complete investigation into how Michael Brown came to be sprawled dead in the street with a half-dozen bullet wounds must consider not just the cop but the system he served, a system whose primary components include a minor court that generates major money, much of it from poor and working people.

    The report cites a court employee as saying the docket for a typical three-hour court session has up to 1,500 cases. The report goes on to say that “in addition to such heavy legal prosecution,” the Ferguson court and others like it in nearby towns “engage in a number of operational procedures that make it even more difficult for defendants to navigate the courts.”

    The report goes on, “For example, a Ferguson court employee reported that the bench routinely starts hearing cases 30 minutes before the appointed time and then locks the doors to the building as early as five minutes after the official hour, a practice that could easily lead a defendant arriving even slightly late to receive an additional charge for failure to appear.”

    1. Banger

      Hey, in a society where everything major public institution is a scam then, guess what? Everything is a scam. The argument for some forms of libertarianism and anarchism is that the we are at the tipping point where living with a state may be worse than living without a state–certainly that would be true for communities like Ferguson.

      A new healthy state could grow out of this mess if it were locally-based and staffed.

          1. JTFaraday

            So, you’re a realpolitick person. Suppose the “outside agitators” from anarchists to Eric Holder, as the representative of Fedgov, all sit on their hands the way the libertarian purists and southern racists and white working class cops with a persecution complex all them to, because it is “a local matter.”

            How is Ferguson going to get out from under this occupation in order to assume the more genuine local control you postulate?

            1. Banger

              How? Struggle, patience, law suits, flogging the media. NYC had no problem with Occupy because of the sheer size and power of the local oligarchs but small jurisdictions like Ferguson are more vulnerable to local pressure if the residents come together. I think important segments of the power-elite are going to frown at these blatantly fascist security forces–looks bad for them. The MSM seems ready to report some of the truth there–that’s a very good sign that the oligarchs are unhappy with the local oligarchs so this is a great opportunity for the locals to make some moves. Sometimes good leaders emerge out of a crisis–witness the work of Rev. Pinkneybof Benton Harbor MI a town also under Occupation–interesting situation there.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Ferguson reveals cruel exploitation and brutality to rival 18th century France, only our private Bastille is bursting. Meanwhile, at the Versailles Vineyard Golf Course, there are high-fives and fist bumps.

    3. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      The real lesson of Ferguson will be learned when those techniques are employed against the less pigmented, useful fools of the lower and middle classes. The only color that matters to those at the top of the power structure is green.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        “The next time I hear a Republican strategist or Republican politician say that there are jobs that Americans won’t do, that person should be shot, he should be hanged, he should be wrapped in a carpet and thrown in the Potomac River. That’s what they did to Rasputin, I think it was a different river.
        But let me tell you, it worked.”

        — Rich Lowry, a FOX News contributor and editor of the National Review, in a speech at a forum sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.

        And away we go . . .

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I couldn’t get any advance for my book idea ‘Whites Like Me’ the other day.

            Perhaps, a better idea is ‘Poor Whites Like Me’ as our rich (white, black or brown) reporter goes undercover to let the world know what’s like to live as a poor white in America.

    4. PeonInChief

      Hmm, I wonder if the have a CashCall or equivalent next door to the courthouse, so that people can get a payday or car title loan to pay off the fine.

  15. Watt4Bob

    The marketing of ‘Big Data’ has yet to convince me that it is anything other than an empty promise of the sort that was prevalent in the run-up to the dot-com bust.
    Businessmen as always are hungry for anything that will give them an edge, and those who market ‘Big Data’ are pedaling an edge that is often actually a double-edged sword.
    Big Data peddlers almost always require businesses to share their own data as part of the contract. Customer data that used to be one of the most valuable and closely guarded assets a business owned, is routinely ‘given’ to the Big-Data peddlers simply because of the promise of reaching ‘all’ of the potential customers for their products and services instead of the obviously ‘limited’ set of existing customers.
    The problem with this logic should be obvious, if you hand the Big-Data peddler your customer list, it becomes part of the data set that is also sold to your competition.
    Executives regularly point out that in return for agreeing to give away their own customer database, they, in return, are able to ‘bring-in’ customers they’ve never reached before.
    They completely ignore the fact that their competition has purchased the same advantage, and that the possibility exists of loosing as many customers as you gain via this poaching that can obviously work both ways.
    I’ve spent many years cleaning and analyzing business data, and helping answer Sales Manager’s questions.
    From my perspective, the enthusiasm with which businesses are spending money on so-called Big Data is evidence of a pathetic desperation to goose the otherwise sluggish market for their goods and services rooted in lack of demand.
    In their desperation to inflate next quarter’s bonus check managers are giving away a precious asset, a transaction which can’t be un-done by the way, and which indecently probably violates their own data-privacy policies.
    I’m not saying that big-data doesn’t have a proper, and useful function, it’s just that so far, ‘Big-Data’ as a meme is misunderstood, and that misunderstanding is being milked for all it’s not worth.

    1. James Levy

      I’m still waiting for “big data” to reveal something of real value or produce a scientific breakthrough, but like Artificial Intelligence it seems to be a chimera. The Japanese spent billions in the 1990s on a “5th Generation” computer and seem to have gotten nothing significant in return. It doesn’t appear that we have had a breakthrough in any field of profound significance since the November Revolution in Physics in 1974. I’ve been hearing about “quantum computers” and how they can solve just about any problem instantaneously since the 1980s, but they too always seem right over the horizon (like fusion power). The physicist Lee Smolin thinks the problem is that we no longer train people to ponder and imagine insightfully about the physical world–instead, we value mathematical models over any attempt to intuit physical processes. The whole educational system stresses problem-solving over pondering, and performing complex math over higher thinking skills (questioning, evaluating, intuiting). The incredible series of developments from the perfected steam engine to the transistor (1786-1949) seems to have slowed to a crawl since the developments in biology in the 1950s into the 1960s. We seem to be suffering an imagination deficit.

    2. Watt4Bob

      “In their desperation to inflate next quarter’s bonus check managers are giving away a precious asset, a transaction which can’t be un-done by the way, and which indecently probably violates their own data-privacy policies.”

      Of course I meant to say ‘incidently, not ‘indecently’

  16. abynormal

    France thrown into political turmoil after government dissolved
    PM Manuel Valls told to form new government after minister’s call to end austerity policies imposed by Germany triggers crisis:
    a giggle from commenter: “France, Germany and Switzerland should apply to join BRICS to introduce a bit of good old-fashioned Common Sense international stability to the global economy”

  17. abynormal

    Aboriginal rock art which may date back 20,000 years is being rediscovered in Australia.
    An expedition, including Indigenous Australians, is under way in a remote part of the Outback and it is hoped the journey will help them reconnect with their ancestors. w i c k e d

    1. craazyman

      I don’t know about this one. They both need to check their momentum. I admit Mathbabe is smarter than me and knows more math than I ever will, but I have more common sense than almost anybody. I’d leave out the “almost” if not for my modesty. If somebody does the math they’ll realize I have more common sense than she does or Ms. Tett, added together. First of all, most murder victims are of the same skin color as the assailants, that should means something. Second, women voting isn’t a good example since they couldn’t vote, but anybody can commit murder. Third, Chicago has always been a gun-nut place, look, that’s where Al Capone was. Fourth, she changes topics when it comes to marijuana. Most white dudes smoke on the couch with doritoes in front of a television. Most black dudes smoke blunts on the street stylin in baggy pants halfway down their legs. If they smoked like white dudes, they wouldn’t get arrested. OK, they mostly live in the city and don’t have basements with home theaters and parents who let them live there. That’s something they should put in the model, light up a joint, take a few puffs and see what comes out.

        1. craazyman

          dude, you got me. :-)

          I never got arrested blowing dope like a pot head. But I never did it on the street. Usually on a couch or in a car. That should be part of the model.

          You could do a multiple regression and try to isolate the impact of couch bong hit vs. street blunts with baggy pants. I bet the model would show the arrest ratio for white/black approaches 1 to 1 if you neutralize the bong to blunt ratio and smoking location — street corner vs. couch in basement..

          The lesson is this: black dudes need basements and bongs. That obviously means better incomes for black families. There’s no doubt. I arrive at the place as the Liberal Mind but from a differet direction.

          1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

            Hmmm . . . I don’t think you know what “most” black dudes do. Two of my very white friends, as adults, got busted, sitting in a car, in a park, doing bongs. They both had homes, and probably Doritos. They didn’t even have the smarts to disguise their weed as a blunt.

            As for the baggy pants with their drawers hanging out, plenty of white kids wear the same style.

            The police need to do a few mandatory bong hits before they go on patrol. It’s very difficult to get someone with a pot buzz to get angry enough to kill someone in cold blood. That’s why true “conservatives” prefer liquor — introspection or challenging their own beliefs is the last thing they want to do. Drunken outrage suits them better.

    2. Synopticist

      We Brits don’t really understand US racial politics. We assume it’s basically the same as it is over here, only the ratios are a bit different. The depth of it has passed us by.

  18. abynormal

    the WHO is updating this a.m.
    “It depletes one of the most vital assets during the control of any outbreak. WHO estimates that, in the three hardest-hit countries, only one to two doctors are available to treat 100,000 people, and these doctors are heavily concentrated in urban areas.”
    “The loss of so many doctors and nurses has made it difficult for WHO to secure support from sufficient numbers of foreign medical staff.”…we need mo shovels Lambert, oh wait ‘show me the money’

  19. TarheelDem

    “I just got whiplash.” re necessity to support Assad.

    Re-read Lord Palmerston and the designation of friends and enemies.

    The reality is that the US now must seek rapprochement with Iran and help Russia support Assad if the US is serious about eliminating the threat of ISIS. There are also some uncomfortable things the US will have to do relative to the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, and especially Israel if there is to be stability, not to mention peace, in the region.

    There is a lot of speculation that it is chaos that is in the US deep state’s interests at the moment however. And that the US will do none of what’s needed for peace but instead with double down on ill-considered military options involving US intelligence community and military assets.

    1. vidimi

      the clue is in your post: the united states is not serious about destroying ISIS – ISIS is very useful. the US will want to use ISIS to further their fp goals.

    2. Banger

      Chaos is definitely the most advantageous practical goal. My question is whether other interests may have a voice in all this. The balance of power is always shifting which is what makes Washington a very strange place. Sometimes there are personal rivalries and sudden opportunities arise for a different clique may maneuver itself into power. For those that oppose the current neocon push towards conflict escalation here’s the chance.

  20. Jim Haygood

    S&P 2KDONE!

    J-Yelzebub’s ‘S&P 2K by springtime’ target is achieved, two months late (but still pretty punctual for gov’t work).

    And still, no bubbles are to be seen anywhere. It’s like, economic nirvana or something. ‘I feel good …’

  21. Jim Haygood

    From the FT:

    ‘The [Argentine] government’s unorthodox economic management came under further scrutiny on Thursday when beef exports were suspended to combat inflation, despite dollar shortages.’


    ‘Unorthodox’ — cute euphemism! Export taxes, export quotas, and special exchange rates for exporters are important reasons why Argentina’s foreign exchange reserves have been almost cut in half since 2011.

    Halting beef exports will reduce foreign exchange receipts even more, while grain exporters already are hoarding crops in temporary plastic quonset huts dotting the pampas, to protest the ludicrous 5.47 pesos per dollar they receive for soy exports, when the black market rate is 13.88 pesos per dollar.

    It’s an almost Ayn Randian scene of producers downing tools and going on strike against the radicalized peronist flakery of the widow K. Let it bleed!

    1. Ben Johannson

      Well yes, Jim: it turns out that when the entire economic order of the planet is aligned against your country, things can get a bit tough. Do you also chastise sufferers of domestic abuse for not being quiet and cooking the eggs properly?

      1. Alejandro

        Gloating seems to be a fetish with some people. For others, it’s gold. For mammonists, it’s both.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ‘Dollar shortage”

      Ah, the need for the global reserve currency.

      Poor Argentina, I cry for you…no one wants to sell to you and take your sovereign money in order to buy your government bonds, because, well, where else can they park that money?

      1. Alejandro

        Being castigated for having the temerity of believing they could be autonomous in “our” heteronomous “backyard”. Apparently, neoliberalism is not optional and somebody mistranslated the memo. When John Perkins updates his book, he’ll probably add a chapter on vultures.

    3. craazyman

      perfect case study in advanced economic thinking. what if they were the only country in the world and had nobody to export to or import from? How would they feed, house, clothe and entertain themselves?

      It’s like being at the beach when its cold and rainy and you realize you have to figure out something to do with yourself. Some people would start drinking and turn on the TV. Some people would take a pill and fall asleep. Some people would pace the house and make themselves miserable.

      But some people would figure out how to do something different, new, fun, liberating and majestic without getting into a shouting match. Imagine that.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        “How would they feed, house, clothe and entertain themselves?”

        Argentina is a big place, with plenty o’ resources.

        This ain’t about how would they feed, house, clothe and entertain themselves.

        It’s about wealth extraction.

      2. Alejandro

        Is that what somebody meant by “comparative advantage”, i.e., after you’ve done what you can with what you have do you think about trade? Does this mean you make sure your population has enough to eat before exporting your food?

  22. Magyar Narancs

    The media is fascinated with the “hands up” gesture. You want to ask them, Doesn’t it remind you of anything? But you know they would just draw a blank, they’re too parochial and insular to see it.

    “Nicht schießen!” with hands up was a ubiquitous taunt for the Warsaw Pact regimes as they expired. With it the public in expiring states jeered at hardline security staff who were tiring of their role as past-it goons. The fundamental fissures in the Warsaw Pact were differing degrees of repression. Repression is economic in Europe, but national divergence persists despite the EC. In the US, despite violent civic repression and coercive immiseration, the US still has loose and tight states. If repression can be turned into centripetal force, you’ve got a crowbar.

    The Soviet dissolution playbook is rolling out again. Connected persons worldwide are considering that the US government has reached the end of its useful life. It’s turned malignant and it needs to be excised. As my old beltway vor said decades ago, when the iron curtain started to come down in the US, “Something is happening.” Now again, something is happening, this time in reverse.

  23. EmilianoZ

    Robert Lustig about sugar:

    What they [food industry] knew was, when they took the fat out they had to put the sugar in, and when they did that, people bought more. And when they added more, people bought more, and so they kept on doing it. And that’s how we got up to current levels of consumption

    I think they dont put sugar in bread or ham in France (or so little its not noticeable, I’m not sure).

    1. Robert Dudek

      Another benefit to switching to an organic food regimen – your sugar consumption will automatically decrease!

      1. craazyman

        what about organic triple chocolate fudge cake? Will the food police arrest you if you eat that?

        talk about police brutality

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          Refined sugar is the result of an industrial process. I don’t know if that’s organic, or not.

          The remaining sugar is then dissolved to make a syrup (about 70 percent by weight solids), which is clarified by the addition of phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide that combine to precipitate calcium phosphate. The calcium phosphate particles entrap some impurities and absorb others, and then float to the top of the tank, where they are skimmed off.

          After any remaining solids are filtered out, the clarified syrup is decolorized by filtration through a bed of activated carbon or, in more modern plants, ion-exchange resin.”

          Then, there’s corn syrup.

        2. Robert Dudek

          I use the term “organic” as in whole foods produced without chemicals. Refined sugar doesn’t qualify.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      If we keep digging, we might hit bedrock (OTO, we might not). Hope these don’t turn out to be the good ol’ days.

      1. inode_buddha

        I said something like that back in the late 80’s. Turns out, those were in fact the good ol’ days.

      1. OIFVet

        From the same site: ‘Why This Video Of A Beluga Whale ‘Playing’ With Children Is Actually Very Sad’

        I think that most people who have been in the company of other species and have shared a space would have readily recognized the beluga’s behavior as aggression. Instead, apparently millions of people thought it was a ‘cute play’ and the video went viral. Right, because putting a highly intelligent whale in a small and crowded prison pond to be shown to a bunch of screaming brats and their clueless parents means that the whale is there to play with them.

  24. OIFVet

    Russia claims MH17 crash investigation stalled: “No one has told us anything coherent about the reasons why the recordings of the black boxes cannot be released fully,” Lavrov said at a televised briefing in Moscow. He also queried why Ukraine had not yet provided recordings of conversations between air traffic controllers in the nearby airport of Dnepropetrovsk… He said that those who had initially made “accusations verging on hysteria against Russia and the rebels” had now fallen silent and “seemed to have swallowed their tongues.”

    Lavrov is tweaking the West quite hard over this. It is beyond obvious that at minimum both Russia and the US know exactly what happened. It is also evident that some in the West wish to sweep it under the rug. The question is, is that even possible given the amount of outrage that was stoked over the shoot down and the families’ need to know.
    Also, a second humanitarian convoy will be sent to Novorussia soon. Seems to me that this is Russia’s way to lay a “red line”.

    1. YY

      At some point there will be a need to make decisions as to who to throw under the bus for the shoot down operation and the coverup. How to limit the extent of coverup by those covering up is a real test of minds.
      And it’s not going to go away by just ignoring it.

  25. Paul Niemi

    It looks like the monsoon rains that flooded Phoenix have moved on to Colorado. We were concerned about the drought impacting the Colorado forests, so despite the flooding possible this should be good news. The couple inches of rain across the state should help water levels in Lake Mead? Now, California needs rain too.

    1. abynormal

      i like the site and signed up for daily reminders…comes off a mite simplistic but funny how we forget to K I S S
      Thanks Ambrit…check off your good deed for the day’)

  26. optimader

    “They Are A Gruesome Lot”
    Monstrous cats in the Icelandic sagas

    It is now time to tell of the man who was mentioned earlier, and was called Thorolf Sledgehammer. He developed into an extremely unruly individual. […] Though he was without followers, he was the owner of creatures on whom he relied for protection—these were twenty cats; they were absolutely huge, all of them black and much under the influence of witchcraft.

    At this time men went to Thorstein and told him of their difficulties—they said that all governance in the region was in his hands, and that Thorolf had stolen from lots of people and done many other wicked deeds.

    Thorstein said that was true, “but it is not easy to deal with this man of Hel and his cats, and I’ll spare my men that.”…

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      There’s usually at least a smidgen of truth behind old cultural stories.

      I wonder what actually took place in Sleggjustadir.

      Ol’ Thorolf Sledgehammer was probably the inventor of ISDs (Improvised Scratching Devices).

      Then again, maybe the Ingimundur clan murdered Thorolf and planted the cats on him, after the fact.

  27. JohnB

    Laziness is a supposed trait in people, that is at the heart of a lot of moralizing about others in economic discussion, and is used to argue against socially productive changes (e.g. a guaranteed income: “sure who would do work then, if they got money for free?”), but it doesn’t seem to have any actual psychological definition:

    The more I think about it, and read up about it (and consider it from the perspective of e.g. a job guarantee program), the more I think that laziness itself is just a myth, without any empirical/scientific (or even speculative psychological-theory) backing, and that when people are considered ‘lazy’ it often down to other issues entirely, such as certain mental illnesses (e.g. depression), or the structure of society itself (not being given or having available, work that is both personally fulfilling, while also being societally beneficial).

    Seems a fruitful area of research/writing, which – if pushed – could undermine a core part of the entire moral framework, used for controlling economic narrative in politics.

    1. Paul Niemi

      Consider a guaranteed income this way: it is a lot less expensive to support unemployed people who don’t want to work by giving them welfare instead of creating jobs for them. Secondly, people who have jobs don’t want the pressure of competition for their jobs from people who are unsuited for work, and thus they tacitly support paying welfare to the non-working by paying a portion of their taxes to support keeping them out of the labor force.

      1. JohnB

        The point I make though, is that the unemployed person who doesn’t want to work, is kind of itself a myth – that assumes that there is no societally useful/productive work that person would be willing to do.

        There may be a minority of unemployed people out there, who wouldn’t want work out of the existing pool of available jobs, but that doesn’t mean the right work can’t be found/made for them.

    2. bob

      The ability to look ‘busy’ is the most under-rated work skill. More training it how to look busy is needed. Step 1- Yell about the “lazy people”. All day.

  28. trish

    sometimes I don’t get to peruse links, comments till a day or so late, but if I do get to it belatedly, I don’t regret it…nearly always learn something, see some piece I would otherwise miss, or just enjoy the reading the conversations.
    So, thanks to Abynormal, OIFVet for posting the Frank interview in Salon w/ Cornell West. Would have missed it. An occasional dose of Cornell just seems to help in the face of what’s happening.


  29. abynormal

    (hint: avoid reading Salter alone late at night)
    “Recently I interviewed a psychopath. This is always a humbling experience because it teaches over and over how much of human motivation and experience is outside my narrow range. Despite the psychopath’s lack of conscience and lack of empathy for others, he is inevitably better at fooling people than any other type of offender. I suppose conscience just slows you down. A child convicted molester, this particular one made friends with a correctional officer who invited him to live in his home after he was released – despite the fact the officer had a nine-year-old daughter.
    The officer and his wife were so taken with the offender that, after the offender lived with them for a few months, they initiated adoption proceedings- adoption for a man almost their age. Of course, he was a child molester living in the same house as a child. Not surprisingly, he molested the daughter the entire time he lived there. […]
    What these experiences taught have me is that even when people are warned of a previously founded case of even a conviction, they still routinely underestimate the pathology with which they are dealing.”
    Anna Salter, Predators
    (and we wonder why we give them 110% of our labor and even vote them in offices)

  30. Jack Parsons

    “Imagine if you had to be transfused with young blood all the time – it’s hard to imagine as a therapy. Who is going to be donating all this blood?” he asks.

    Student debtors.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      I still wonder where Cheney got his new heart. I’d bet a dime to a dollar it was a young, healthy Chinese prisoner.

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