2:00PM Water Cooler 10/3/14

Lambert here: Readers, that thermometer over there? It’s still rising, but sl-o-o-w-ly. Join 526 others, and support the guest writers (disclosure: includes moi) who write this page, and backstop Yves on Links, and posts, and do much else behind the scenes developing stories: David Dayen, Richard Smith, Philip Pilkington, among many others.

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Federation of Students calls off talks after pro-Beijing crowds assault camps in Mongkok and Causeway Bay [Sidney Morning Herald]. The two biggest occupations remain in place [Times].

Some strongly oppose the protests, as one would expect (pictures) [HuffPo]. Protesters in Mongkok shopping district urged to retreat to Admiralty [The Standard]. Pro-Beijing anti-protesters: “I am a Hong Kong person too,” “We’re losing money” [International Business Times]. And if you owe money to the Triads, that could be bad.

“Any concessions to Hong Kong would embolden the self-rule movements there and spark democracy movements elsewhere in China. That’s why Beijing will never bow to our demands” [SCMP].

Hong Kong may represent “the true, rebellious” nature of China better than the Mainland [Spectator].

On Occupy Central and the NED, from [Common Dreams]:

[Some have claimed that] the protests “masquerade as a “pro-democracy” movement seeking “universal suffrage” and “full democracy,” but are really backed by “a deep and insidious network of foreign financial, political, and media support”. This assessment doesn’t do Hong Kong justice for two reasons: firstly, it portrays Hong Kongers’ grievances at the status quo as fictional and illegitimate, when they are in fact real, and it treats the protesters as pawns, when many in fact are taking to the streets of their own accord. Secondly, by treating the US as the sole independent actor in the movement and focusing entirely on analyzing and criticizing its actions in other countries, it only strengthens a United States-centered worldview that the mainstream media likewise seeks to disseminate.



Houston drilling company Baker Hughes to disclose frack fluid components [CBS]. Sounds like another “self regulation” plan to me. Here’s the PR:

“Introducing greater transparency about the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process and protecting the ability to innovate are not conflicting goals,” said Derek Mathieson, Baker Hughes chief strategy officer, in a statement.

Ugh. “Innovation” is always a tell. And “transparency” is another kind of tell: It always conceals power relations. Here the assumption is that voluntary disclosure will be truthful. Pas si bête. The deeper assumption is that policies to just leave to stuff in the ground are off the table.

And here’s another story about “transparency”: Our favorite state AG, Eric Schneiderman, has cut a deal with Anadarko and EOG Resources Inc. to disclose to investors the financial and environmental risks of fracking “as the state contemplates lifting a moratorium on gas drilling” [Bloomberg]. Translation: Cuomo will open New York state to fracking after the election.

2014 and 2016

Leon Panetta throws Obama under the bus on Iraq [Daily Mail].

Biden in 2012: Vote for Romney and he’ll take us to war in Syria [RARE]. Attaboy.

Hillary plans mid-term blitz [Politico] despite or perhaps because of “grandmother glow” [CBS]. My Facebook feed says that glow works for people I wouldn’t expect to be vulnerable.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, August 2014: [U]nemployment rate declined to 5.9 percent from 6.1 percent. Expectations were for 6.1 percent. Nonfarm payroll jobs gained 248,000 [Bloomberg]. “Better” [Eschaton]. Work force participation rate remains unchanged. The biggest gains in employment were in job sectors typically paying median income or less. Retail was up by 35,000, but much of that was DeMoula’s workers ending their job action. Health care up 23,000 (typical). Construction up 16,000 [Phoenix Business Journal].

Average weekly earnings stood at $848.74, which is up $2.11 from last month, and up $18.67 from last year. The numbers are rising with management included in the mix. U.S. Department of Labor says incomes of production and non-supervisory employees have dropped to a weekly average of $696.58. down $2.07 from last month, but up $17.52 from last year.

In other words, averages conceal, so still see this chart. And pundits wonder why “we’re not feeling the recovery.” Meanwhile, Fed still trying to figure out how much “slack” there is in the labor market [Bloomberg]. Sheesh, who’s running the Fed? J.R. “Bob” Dobbs?

Greed and Fear Index: Fear still extreme, down 3 [CNN (hat tip, Jim Haygood)].

Rapture Index: Unchanged [Rapture Ready].

News of the Wired

  • Coding is the new writing, and should be part of the three R’s [HuffPo]. Any writer who puts forward a thesis like this in apparent ignorance of Donald Knuth’s Literate Programming pins my bogometer.
  • GRACE satellite sees a drying California from 2002 to today [NASA].
  • Majorana fermion discovered, using a two stories-tall microscope (!) [Business Insider].
  • The “Great Global Polishing” proceeds, as everything becomes optimized for the overclass [George Monbiot, Guardian]. Deru kugi wa utareru. Except all nails, everywhere.
  • “Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program” [Aging]. Small trials using “complex, 36-point therapeutic program” [Science Daily]. Good, but at this point I’m pretty leery of complexity if it has any hint of being inorganic.
  • “Iconic” symbols of modern protest from Hong Kong, Ferguson, Bangkok, Istanbul, San Francisco, New York, etc [WaPo]. Quite a mixed bag.
  • Hedge fund squillionaire Kenneth Griffin’s ex-wife, Anne Dias-Griffin, a former hedgie, seeks more lots more real estate in divorce settlement [Daily Mail]. They were married in Versailles. Donna Summer sang.
  • Lessons from 15 year of blogging [Anil Dash].

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (wendy davis):


Talk amongst yourselves!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Should have said “labor force participation,” not “work force participation” and given a separate link; a bit rushed this morning, due to administrativia. So thanks!

      1. wendy davis

        It’s a nasturtium, and their inside artwork is unimaginably varied flower to flower, color to color; reds, yellows, and oranges. Wish I’d had time to label them all, but most will likely to be familiar to you.

  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Hong Kong.

    Please don’t make the situation worse by calling for an ‘independence referendum.’

    Taiwan is not calling for one…too risky for the rich here who are getting richer in China. Besides, there is no need to make excuses for more military exercises, with missiles flying…maybe in North Korea, now that the sister of the Dear Leader is in charge and needs to look like everything is under control.

  2. afisher

    Bloomberg has quite a few article ( starting yesterday) regarding Oil / Gas. I’m not an econ person…so someone needs to unravel for non-econs.

    1. Saudi is starting a gas price war: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-02/opec-price-war-signaled-by-saudi-move-risks-deeper-drop.html

    2. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-03/goldman-losing-faith-in-100-brent-while-wti-discount-seen-wider.html – Goldman doesn’t see Brent Crude reaching 100 / barrel

    3. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-03/gasoline-heading-toward-3-in-u-s-as-oil-prices-slide.html – Consumer Prices down heading into fall/ winter.

    Will we see job losses in North Dakota? TX? From a lay POV – this sounds like good news – HELP!

    1. abynormal

      Thanks for the links aFisher. im not that econish either so looking forward to replies here.

      oh and there is more fracking news lately…is there a correlation ??

    2. grizziz

      Here’s a 2-1/2 year old explainer on gas from Kevin Drum,

      Economically, the Saudis are trying to maximize three variables; the price of oil, current income and long term asset protection. On Saudi Arabia and Aramco, we will never see the financial statements, so it is always informed guesswork on what they are doing. It is assumed that they have the lowest production costs and can therefore lower prices further than other producers and still be profitable. The Saudis take the role of maintaining the price of oil because they have excess supply in the form of oil reserves and excess capacity to pump those reserves. The Saudi’s are like (loosely) the central bank of oil. If the market price is too low, they can cut back on pumping, vice versa if the price is too high they can pump more oil.
      Meanwhile, the Saudi government has a budget that is based on receiving a certain amount income from the sale of oil for its current expenditures. The government is also dependent in the longer term for a continuing stream of oil revenue and does not want to deplete these reserves. As they say, ‘go figure.

      If oil prices drop for a about 6 months to around $80 bbl, I would expect there would be layoffs in the North Dakota oil patch. I do not have good numbers to back that up, but suggest that you peruse http://oilprice.com/ and look at what some paid analysts have to say.

      Lower oil prices will be good for consumers, bad for producers, bad for bankers and will not help in trying to reduce carbon emissions or move consumers to renewables.

    3. Scylla

      I wonder if the Saudis are reducing prices at someone else’s request? Possibly to damage the revenues of another large oil producing/ exporting nation? *coughs* (Russia!)

      Saudi Arabia also has a huge unemployment problem with its younger citizens and they are basically throwing money at them to prevent unrest. They have a pretty expensive welfare program and its entirely possible that they hope that they can increase demand and generate greater income that way, even though they are selling the oil at a lower price.

      I do not see the Saudis as being threatened by shale oil because I am sure they understand the geologic reality. Shale oil deposits are huge, but they require a huge number of top holes and individual wells deplete incredibly rapidly (think along the lines of a power law decline curve). If you are interested in this you can read about what they called the red queen effect over on theoildrum.com.

      1. hunkerdown

        I wonder the very same thing. Indeed, wasn’t that just what they did in the Eighties, along with the arms race, to break the USSR?

        1. Peppsi

          The “arms race to break the USSR” thing is a militarist reaganite myth. Military spending was one factor in the decline of the USSR, but the main problem was low oil prices and half measures on a transition to capitalist economy that broke the economy completely.

  3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I don’t see anything about labor-force participation rate, but over at marketwatch, it says we hit 36 year low.

    Maybe that’s why they are celebrating.

  4. Ned Ludd

    Then again:

    This assessment doesn’t do the Tea Party justice for two reasons: firstly, it portrays Tea Partiers’ grievances at the status quo as fictional and illegitimate, when they are in fact real, and it treats the protesters as pawns, when many in fact are taking to the streets of their own accord. Secondly, by treating the Koch family as the sole independent actor in the movement and focusing entirely on analyzing and criticizing its actions, it only strengthens an elite-centered worldview that the mainstream media likewise seeks to disseminate.

    1. Propertius

      The single most important thing is to prevent people from realizing that Occupy and the Tea Party are really angry about many of the same things. Divide et impera has worked for millennia.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      There’s no “then again” about it. There’s no way in Maine that we could have stopped the Argyle Dump or stopped the East-West Highway without people who are at least sympathetic to some of those views: And yes, they do have real grievances, and yes, they are not pawns. Not to say that I don’t vehemently disagree with a lot of their worldview, but there are times when its easier to have a conversation with them than with a Democratic loyalist.

      1. Victoria Else

        We’re all pawns, Tea Party and whatever-us-on-the-other-side-are. It’s true, I do have more coherent conversations with my Tea Party neighbors than I do with my Democratic Party friends and relations. Once you step outside the bubble, you tend to see the same problems. But we are all pawns of ideologies created to benefit one wealthy group or another. While the Tea Party believes that some mythic rugged individualism is inherently better, whatever-us-on-the-other-side-are draw on the FDR-Kennedy era myths of a benign, caring America for our inspiration. Historically we’re both dupes. And if we and the world survive all of this, what emerges will replace both mythologies with something new–I can only hope something better.

        1. ambrit

          If the neo-feudal ‘playbook’ works out as events indicate, what will replace those jaded ideologies will be a very old one, Lords and Peasants. (That would make a very good role playing game. Then people could see what it really entails. Farmville meets Mafia Family Values.)

    3. Peppsi

      Just because they don’t think they’re pawns doesn’t mean that they aren’t pawns. Pro deregulation, pro tax cuts for corporations, anti regulation. Looks like a duck, talks like a duck, and so on.

  5. Ned Ludd

    U.S. imperialism is effective because it exploits legitimate grievances in other countries.

    People are used as pawns all the time. Consider a poor or working class volunteer for the Obama or Clinton campaign. They are there “of their own accord”, but their efforts help elites, not them. Or consider the elites that Obama recruited for his campaign, only to dump them for former Clinton officials once he got into office. The easiest mark is the person who thinks they cannot be conned.

    The U.S. manipulates events all around the world. Imperialists support U.S. intervention, anti-imperialists oppose it. Ignoring U.S. manipulation of foreign affairs because “it only strengthens a United States-centered worldview” is just willful disregard of reality.


    Last week, we learned from the Associated Press that USAID (United States Agency for International Development) — the government agency which manages billions in overseas “humanitarian” aid programs — plotted to overthrow Cuba’s communist regime via a covertly-funded fake Twitter platform. […]

    Earlier this year, we broke the story about USAID co-investing with Omidyar Network in Ukraine NGOs that organized and led the Maidan revolution in Kiev, resulting in the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych. […]

    USAID’s huge “Democracy Enhancement” project was “specifically designed to fund those sectors of the Haitian political spectrum where opposition to the Aristide government could be encouraged.” […]

    In 2006, the Washington Post revealed a covert $2 million USAID propaganda effort to help the “moderate” Palestinian Authority’s election bid against Hamas…

    As Mark Ames writes, “This selective amnesia doesn’t do anyone else any good”.

    1. reslez

      Wonder what would happen if some other country exploited worker grievances here. Wonder why they don’t.

      1. Mark P.

        ‘Wonder what would happen if some other country exploited worker grievances here. Wonder why they don’t.’

        Do you seriously imagine they don’t?

        A few years ago I used to chat occasionally with a Pentagon consultant about the future of interstate conflict and one time he pointed to THE COOL WAR, an old Fred Pohl SF novel from 1981, as a good summation of how things were generally going to work.


        ‘…in a world reduced by a crisis, in this case the loss of fossil fuels. Solar power is a major, albeit insufficient, source of power… each country tries to sabotage the economies of its rivals, even if politically they are allies.’

        Thus, for instance, the protagonist “is put in charge of a party of schoolchildren touring Europe. The children are, however, carrying a virulent flu-like disease that affects only adults aged between 30 and 50, the “prime of life” individuals who tend to run businesses and government in industrialized countries. As a result, industrial production in Europe falls drastically. The group who created the infection is known only as “The Team” and is composed of former agents of the CIA and other organizations.

        “…the Cool War has produced a group of people who profit by its continuation and can suppress technologies that might solve humanity’s problems.”

        Sound familiar?

        Pohl’s novel is only science-fiction, of course, and not to be confused with a 2013 non-fiction book called THE COOL WAR: THE FUTURE OF GLOBAL COMPETITION by Harvard’s Noah Feldman, who posits that the United States and China are racing to claim allies and resources to weaken each other, even as they are simultaneously cooperating in trade and international affairs.


  6. diptherio

    I feel moved to once again quote Rev. Onan Canobite, since you brought up Dobbs

    The Conspiracy makes sure that if you have enough money to do the things you want to do, then you won’t have the time to do them; and if you enough time, then you won’t have enough money. Since you can’t buy time, you may as well just sit around and wait for the money to show up. [from memory, so maybe not exact, but close]

    Let’s go Janet, where’s my helicopter-drop?

    1. optimader

      “Since you can’t buy time, ”
      Of course you can, thats pretty much the whole point of money beyond daily sustenance.

  7. Banger

    A couple of linked stories here–first is a story in The Intercept, “MANAGING A NIGHTMARE: HOW THE CIA WATCHED OVER THE DESTRUCTION OF GARY WEBB” . I remember the attacks from the mainstream media hacks–same ones that viciously attacked the movie JFK.

    The other link is, once again, a rare story (http://russia-insider.com/en/tv_politics_media_watch/2014/10/03/01-43-21pm/top_german_editor_cia_bribing_journalists) (about about Udo Ulfkotte’s recent book on CIA infiltration of German media that only Russian media seems to want to cover–but he’s a real guy who was the editor of one of Germany’s main newspapers so check it out and try to spread the story around.

  8. Tom Hickey

    Re: “Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program” [Aging]. Small trials using “complex, 36-point therapeutic program” [Science Daily]. Good, but at this point I’m pretty leery of complexity if it has any hint of being inorganic.

    “Complex” here means not a silver bullet. The program essentially involves lifestyle changes — diet, exercise, rest and meditation, similar to Dean Ornish’s approach to heart disease, and the Wahl protocol that Dr. Wahl used to cure herself of MS. The Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet is similar, and the book is well documented.

    While these are slightly different approaches, the principles are the same and they reflect the principles of traditional approaches to wellness such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In fact, these ancient systems contain a lot more than the supposedly “complex” prescription above. They both are based on ann integrated way of life that harmonizes the spiritual, cognitive, volitional, affective, behavioral, interpersonal and environmental/ecological aspects of life.

    It’s basically about doing what people should be doing to be healthy and not doing what leads to undesirable consequences. It’s basic preventative maintenance that protects against a range of physical and mental dysfunction. Western medicine is just beginning to catch up scientifically with what the ancients knew long ago based on intuition and observation.

    1. PhilK

      Western medicine is just beginning to catch up scientifically with what the ancients knew long ago based on intuition and observation.

      That’s true, but only to the extent that individual practitioners are interested in health. Institutionally, Western medicine is about sickness rather than health. There’s no money in health. The money is in sickness.

    2. grizziz

      10 patients.
      Why is this even linked. The researchers themselves say its anecdotal. They are looking for money to do a clinical trial. Collectively, we cant fund Yves and Lambert for $17K, so why is this hat being passed around here?

  9. Propertius

    An awful lot of my younger colleagues seem to have never heard of Donald Knuth, Lambert. They also seem to have either never taken (or slept through) any sort of data structures or algorithmic analysis class (seriously, I recently had to explain to a “senior developer” what O(n^2) meant).

    I blame Python.

    Part of the “general crapification of everything” I suppose. Things would be much improved if everyone would just go back to programming in assembler, as God intended. ;-) If coding were harder, people would be forced to think about it more.

    1. Ned Ludd

      When I studied computer science, there were only a handful of courses where we coded. Most of the classes were proofs and theory, including formal language theory.

      Back before the dot com bubble, people did not become software developers to get rich. Some got lucky, joining Microsoft or Apple early on, but programming was mostly seen as a providing a middle class, stable career path where you did not have to work long hours (people often left early on Fridays).

      Now, people see computers as a lottery ticket. Work 12-hour days, stay on call on weekends, and you might have enough money to buy a house in Silicon Valley or send your child to a private college. Just like the Eternal September of 1993, the entire culture was changed by an influx of people with different values.

      1. jrs

        A middle class stable career path where you don’t have to work long hours is the biggest winning lottery ticket of all. I mean what are the odds of that?

    2. ewmayer

      Re. Knuth, I have been fortunate enough to have met the man (but not by way of having been a Stanford CS grad). And yes, he really does have a genuine 2-story-tall pipe organ in his house.

      Indeed, most of my code these days is in assembler – though I’m glad I waited for x86 SIMD to start serious asm coding – more bang for the buck, and things are a lot more RISC-like. Actual register names, not that horrid stack-based floating-point crud of the legacy x86. Preplanning for Intel Skylake and its massive 512-bit-wide vector registers is already underway. :)

  10. jgordon

    Considering the dramatic effects ebola will have on the economy, I’m fairly surprised that there was no ebola section included in the water cooler today. Well anyway then, back to one of the most credible journalists in America, Alex Jones, for my ebola related news tips.

      1. jgordon

        Are you saying Alex Jones is not more credible than MSNBC, Fox, the NYT, et al? Please. Those outfits lost there credibility long ago. At least Jones is accidentally right some of the time.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Actually, some of them accidentally permit real reporting, though of course not all the time. Given that the elites really are stupid and clueless, you would expect real reporting to slip through, every so often. So I suppose I prefer the feckless malevolence of the political class to a crazy pants individual. YMMV!

          1. Ned Ludd

            Back in the 1990’s, the elites published their own daily journal of real reporting, called The Wall Street Journal. Then Dow Jones made some bad Internet investments and started changing the paper (before the sell-off to Murdoch). WSJ slowly transformed into another “news” paper, with more focus on what is new (and cheap to report) instead of what is true.

            Unfortunately, nothing in the mainstream today compares to the Wall Street Journal of two decades ago.

    1. optimader

      Here’s your gratuitous Ebola post :


      October 3, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      Don’t Panic! Fortify yourself for the weekend

      Cocktails > Long drinks > by base-ingredient > mixed-based

      Ebola recipe serve in Pitcher alcohol 28%
      Scale ingredients to servings

      6 oz tequila
      6 oz vodka
      6 oz dark rum
      6 oz gin
      12 ozsweetened pineapple juice
      6 oz whiskey

      Mix all ingredients together in pitcher. To add a cooler edge, throw in some crushed ice and a touch of cinammon.

      Read more: Ebola recipe http://www.drinksmixer.com/drink3318.html#ixzz3F77NrtnE

      1. ambrit

        Looks, and probably tastes like the ‘Sovereign Remedies’ the ancients used to concoct to ward off the ‘Vapours’ and other afflictions. Quinine was originally for Malaria. Bitter stuff, but quite good with some gin added.
        See you at Raffles!

        1. optimader

          If I were making an Ebola I’d add seltzer or tonic — I like my alkaloids

          The RULES

          15ml Tanqueray Gin
          15ml Dubonnet
          1 Sugar Cube
          Angostura Bitters
          Cremant de Bourgogne or sparkling wine of your choice

          1. ambrit

            That last one actually looks good. I’ll get some Bitters tomorrow. The sugar cube sounds like Absinthe territory. (Hope it’s not ‘that’ kind of sugar cube.)

          2. Paul Tioxon

            Gluten Free Ebola anyone?

            South Park strikes again.


            It must be tough to pick what to get hysterical over on cable news. The silly fabrication of one new entity after another of Middle Eastern guys with guns, pandemic apocalypse here and now and not in the movies and bad weather reports threatening ball games across the nation has caused French news channels to note hysteric form and function of US news reporting. Thank God for Netflix, I can binge watch my brain out the rapidly developing tunnel reality of the current news cycle without the use of alcohol or other mood stabilizers, elevators or depressants.

            1. ambrit

              Wow! I just had a ‘cranial exflatulation!’
              I just read a short piece on another site about tests run on humans measuring the effect of magnetic field pulses upon the human brain.
              The ‘therapy’ reduced depression measurably over a relatively short timescale. Now, what we have to do is figure out an app for (ha ha) “Smart Phones” so that your phone is providing electromagnetic therapy for you while you talk on it!
              (In other CT science news, the NSA released the details of a program that beams “harmful magnetic pulses” into the heads of select “potential terrorists” through their cell phones. “Just like those guys in the movie, we short circuit acts of terror before they’re even thought of!” enthused new head of DHS cyber warfare XXXX XXXXXXXX.)

      2. Jim

        Speaking of Ebola, does anyone know about the accuracy of the diagnostic tests used to identify it?

        What were the specific diagnostic tests used on the Dallas patient?

        Have any reporters looked into this issue?

          1. Jim M

            Ebola seems to pop up in Africa now and then from the animal population. Now that the guy in Texas puked in the parking lot I wonder if any stray dogs or racoon managed to feed on it since their seemed to be some balking on anyone wanting to go over there and clean it up. Once this stuff gets into the animal population it will be an on going problem here in the states for ever.

        1. Roger Bigod

          There’s an ELISA and a PCR. ELISA picks up a tiny amount of viral protein by attaching an antibody and amplifying the signal with an enzyme attached to the antibody. PCR amplifies DNA by duplicating it over and over until there’s enough to directly measure. (The CR is for “chain reaction”.) Ebola is an RNA virus so you have to throw in a conversion to DNA to start the process.

          The tests take a few hours, so it should be possible to follow the contacts with daily testing. I’d guess that the threshold for detection is earlier than the onset of symptoms and AFAIK before the danger of infecting more people.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I didn’t see anything of interest that wasn’t already present in the ,morning with Links.

      And presumably there wasn’t anything, or you would have added it, right?

  11. Jeff W

    [the assessment] portrays Hong Kongers’ grievances at the status quo as fictional and illegitimate, when they are in fact real

    The last part of the piece makes the point about the grievances at the status quo a bit clearer:

    …what is evident is that the status quo leaves no room for Hong Kongers to decide on how their territory is run, and that attaining the vote provides the opportunity, though far from a guarantee, for genuine socioeconomic reform, by deposing the established political and economic elite from their position of power.

    A recent Foreign Policy article “What’s Wrong with Hong Kong?” explaining the first (“A growing sense of alienation from government”) of three underlying causes, says

    Through a series of crises in recent years, Hong Kongers have come to realize that their government is largely inept when it comes to defending the interests of the average person: It is hopelessly subservient to property-development tycoons, and tone-deaf to citizens’ demands and criticisms.

    From the destruction of the beloved Star Ferry pier to the massive reclamation of shrinking Victoria Harbour, from the granting of the would-be innovation center Cyberport’s building contract without a public tender to billionaire Li Ka-shing’s son to the empty promises of affordable housing in a highly unequal city, Hong Kongers have had a growing sense that the government is watching out for its members’ collective interests, not its people’s.

    That President Xi Jinping met with dozens of these tycoons (“ most of my old friends” Xi said) just as Hong Kong students began their class boycott in September probably did little to assuage these underlying concerns.

    1. RBHoughton

      Your complaint is that development is eating-up the harbour and land prices are astronomical. These are problems the administration inherited from the colonial government. We Brits did not know how to solve it either.

      The only possibility, if revenue is not sourced from land sales, is to raise it from business or salaries tax. Would that satisfy you John?

      1. Jeff W

        What would satisfy me is hardly the point. A Hong Kong government that is tilted heavily in favor of the tycoons probably satisfies few of everyone else there.

        The analysis of Foreign Policy that I excerpted points to a Hong Kong government that is responsive to the Hong Kong tycoons, rather than the populace at large. In fact the next sentence from the excerpt, which I omitted above, says “Out of self-interest — and possibly out of a kind of colonial unease — the British colonial government was in fact far more attentive and responsive to the needs of the public.”

        Analyses in The Nation and Counterpunch say pretty much the same thing. The analysis in The Nation says “…underlying these important differences [between the US’s Occupy Wall Street movement and Hong Kong’s Occupy Central] there is a common theme: anger over the inability of anyone except the super-wealthy to have a voice in politics”; the one in Counterpunch says “The main issue with CY Leung’s administration isn’t the fact that it wasn’t democratically elected, but that it serves two main groups: Beijing on one hand, and local elites on the other…”

        That is not the sole issue, of course. Tensions over visitors from the mainland, straining the infrastructure, and actions by Beijing that appear to run counter to Hong Kong’s promised “high degree of autonomy,” such as it seeking to impose a “moral and national education” curriculum, which the Hong Kong student activist group Scholarism, one of the leading groups in the current protests, was created to—and did successfully—oppose, are some of the others.

  12. Jim Haygood

    Electronic health records … our tax dollahs at work:

    A flaw in an electronic health records system is being blamed for the release of a man with Ebola into the Dallas area, because notes from nurses weren’t automatically sent on to doctors.

    “As designed, the travel history would not automatically appear in the physician’s standard work flow” within the electronic records system, the hospital said.

    The documentation of the travel history was located in the nursing work flow portion of hospital notes, “designed to provide a high reliability nursing process to allow for the administration of influenza vaccine under a physician-delegated standing order,” the hospital said.



    If only our federal-led effort to centralize health records weren’t so woefully underfunded, surely it would be functioning as flawlessly by now as the Obamacare back end. /sarc

    1. optimader

      So what other historical data should medical bureaucracy structurally include in a patients electronic record? Where does clinically relevant cross lines with invasion of privacy? Maybe they should be asking religious affiliation and sexual preferences? Could be relevant in some future unanticipated scenario, right?

      Albeit it seems relevant right now whether a patient was traveling from Africa recently, was it relevant 6 months or a year ago? Should your personal travel be structural database items in your permanent med history? Should it be limited to international travel or include domestic itineraries as well?

      Granted, its a great question to ask now and it’s easy to criticize a hospital that is slogging along. He was treated for nonspecific symptoms, given antibiotic and sent home. What should they have done –as a policy? Should hospitals admit everyone that has flu symptoms and park them in level whatever isolation wards?

      Sure it’s too bad that they didn’t catch walkin patient #1 in an Ebola dragnet, but on the other hand it’s the first walk in case as far as I know, I’m guess’in the hospital community vigilance antenna is up now.

    2. optimader

      “If only our federal-led effort to centralize health records weren’t so woefully underfunded,”
      Yes, well I really don’t want my medical record “centralized”, I’m glad it’s “woefully underfunded”. As a matter of fact how do I opt out and keep the record myself and or with my own healthcare practitioner?…ooohh that’s not an option is it.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s nothing to do with tax dollars, except insofar as tax dollars are force fitting medical data into billing categories, a recipe for disaster, and physicians are staring at their tablets instead of examining patients.

      ERMs would be just as bad if they were done solely by private industry, and quite possibly worse.

      1. hunkerdown

        They are, and they are.

        Though, to be fair, this sounds more like a site configuration problem (not exposing travel info to the doctor) and a policy problem (every single field in an encounter subject to need-to-know classification) rather than a problem with the software.

        Now, to be even fairer, if that $631 million had been put into writing a national standard EHR system like Ontario has, we’d have a) money left over b) a better system. But the purpose of the EHR push was “stimulus”, not service, and service defeats the purpose.

  13. grizziz

    Lambert, on your quote,
    The deeper assumption is that policies to just leave to stuff in the ground are off the table.
    Is your position to leave the hydrocarbons in the ground forever or until it can be extracted with some level of acceptable risk?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      1) I think we ought to be incentivizing renewable/sustainable sources of energy and not trying to turn ourselves into a petro-state (see under “resource curse”). That would imply leaving oil in the ground, yes.

      2) I also think we should try to turn petroleum into a ritually unclean, taboo substance that should be only be handled with some sort of ritual involved. Sometimes in the winter I cut the heating oil delivery too fine and have to go to the truck stop and fill up a five-gallon jug and then pour it into my tank. Smelling that oil makes it obvious that petroleum is unclean; that stuff is nasty. So as opposed to merely raising the price, we should hedge transactions involving petroleum around with ritual, as if it were, say sh*t. Perhaps tithing, or hymns. Certainly requiring that filling your car be accompanied by a priest waving a censor would be far more effective in decreasing gas consumption than merely raising the price, although that would help. So, yes, leave it in the ground because taking it out is evil….

        1. optimader

          I’ll be candid here, do you really want to expose yourself to my dodgy judgment?’

  14. ambrit

    The thought entered my mind whilst Phyl and I were perambulating this afternoon that the PRC could call on the NYC Department of Homeland Security for expert advice on quashing Occupy type demonstrations. Has anyone seen mention of American security types seen in concert with PRC security types recently? It would be a big tell for Oligarchic Solidarity. “Transnationals Unite! You have only your regulations and taxes to lose!”

      1. ambrit

        Given the long history of “White Russian” populations in North China, the sponsorship of PRC training links to Israel by the ADL is a natural.

  15. abynormal

    Cobb Co. Jail inmate tests negative for Ebola
    COBB COUNTY, Ga. —

    The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office says inital Ebola tests have come back negative for a Cobb County Jail inmate. One test is still outstanding, but officials say they expect that test to come back negative as well.

    Earlier today, jail officials told Channel 2 Action News they were no longer accepting inmates after an inmate developed a fever. The man told jail officials that he recently traveled to Africa.

    The man was arrested overnight for DUI.

    I can tell you from the very beginning, from the first moment, this case was handled in absolutely perfect manner. This man was isolated immediately. He was never exposed to other people,” said Georgia Department of Health Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald.

    (GA…fighting crazy with crazy into lawlessness)

  16. abynormal

    This week saw the first confirmed case of Ebola virus within the United States, the latest development in an outbreak that has already claimed over 3,000 lives. Here are some ways you can protect yourself against this deadly disease:

    *Boil all bodily fluids before consumption.
    *Regularly examine your DNA under an electron microscope for any indication that Ebola has attached itself to your cell membranes.
    *Recognize the symptoms of Ebola, which include fever, chills, and developing symptoms too late to do anything about them.
    *Cover the nose and mouth of Ebola patients when they sneeze to avoid spreading germs.
    *Avoid eating bat soup, which is actually pretty sound advice whether there’s an ongoing Ebola outbreak or not.
    *Ebola can only be spread once patients are symptomatic, so if you believe you’ve been exposed, get all your errands and public trips out of the way before your symptoms start showing.
    *Be sure to stay up to date on developments by signing up for the official CDC phone tree.
    *Try being born one of the 15 percent of rural Gabonese citizens with natural immunity to the virus.
    *Give billions of dollars to pharmaceutical companies.
    *If you see a suspicious-looking filamentous virus particle roughly one micron in length, stay away.
    *Continue following lifelong plan of avoiding Dallas, TX at all costs.

    peel lotsa the Onion

  17. Jim Haygood

    Bill Gross’s resignation letter from Pimco … this sounds rather seriously deranged:

    There is a standard sequence of events for all insurrections, and this one was no different. It included the favored tactics: A public character assassination, the quiet intimations that I had lost it (erratic behavior, dark glasses at a presentation, an elegy to my cat Bob). Add to that a break with a trusted associate, which implied something nefarious about that behavior (How did Mohamed manage to resign from Pimco, yet stay employed at Allianz? I couldn’t pull that one off).

    These hints and allegations were easy to make, especially given my natural eccentricities. But I put this question to you: Was I so different from any other California billionaire? The TM and yoga, the occasional head stand, a well-deserved bark at a wayward underling — these and all manner of behavior that no one ever thought about before suddenly took on all sorts of dark implications once the coup was under way. Never underestimate the impact of a whisper campaign.

    Speaking of assets: Who among you is going to be the firm’s rainmaker? Which of you can raise a trillion dollars? How about a $100 billion?


    That last bit sounds kinda like God lecturing a cringing Job with rhetorical questions: ”Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? Can you raise a trillion dollahs?

    1. MikeNY

      “Was I so different from any other California billionaire?

      The narcissism, the self-absorption, the infinite greed, the servile obedience to and reverence for Mammon, the callous indifference to others less fortunate than myself, the arrogance, the hubris, the obliviousness to my own privilege, the deep sense of being annointed, the sociopathy, the pure, undiluted crassness, and the utter destitution of any quality that makes a man warm and likable and finally, human? Was I so different??”

  18. optimader

    Were There Dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark?

    “Searching for the elusive answer to a persistent question concerning the seeming gullibility of my fellow Americans—namely, why did 42 percent of adults surveyed this spring by Gallup say they believe that God created humans in their present form less than 10,000 years ago?—I recently found myself in the office of Ken Ham, the born-again Barnum behind Kentucky’s $35 million Creation Museum, debating..”

    Is 42% really possible? REALLY? Or is it a case of 40% fkn w/gallup pollsters?

  19. optimader

    So therefore it seems somehow fitting that DC’s next major addition, the Headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will be perched on a hilltop just across the Anacostia River, physically and gesturally overseeing all before it.

    Yet beyond maintaining constant visuals on the terrain, this headquarters represents a change in the city’s views on temporality, functionality and even irony. Because this is a space with a past, one it both embraces and fears.
    In 2007, the announcement came that a long abandoned former mental institution was to be renovated in order to create a headquarters for the DHS (the agency which oversees immigration, customs, border control and the secret service, along with several other federal functions). Aside from sounding like the plot to a bad action/horror movie, … http://failedarchitecture.com/madness-and-method-at-st-elizabeths/

  20. Victoria Else

    Re: Hong Kong: It is possible for Occupy Central to be both an organic student movement with legitimate grievances and also to be infiltrated and manipulated by outside interests. My clues that all is not completely pristine is that the NED has been spotted in Hong Kong universities, and the media coverage is suspiciously much more supportive of Hong Kong’s Occupy than it ever was of the U.S. Occupy groups. Based on my in-depth knowledge of what went on in Venezuela, I will just say that there is no student movement that the NED and other U.S. interests are not prepared to manipulate for their own ends. And (as in Venezuela) the outcome can be protester-led violence that ends up discrediting the movement as well as the prevailing government. Ask yourself: who wins?

  21. redleg

    A complete and accurate argument against fracking can be made based solely on what comes OUT of a fracked well -petroleum, salt water, and assorted gasses. Focus on what goes in during fracking is a red herring and diminishes the more compelling arguments of the stuff that comes out – both from the developed hole and from the wellhead – and (ab)use of fresh water.

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