Links 10/21/14

Paul McCarthy ‘butt plug’ sculpture in Paris provokes rightwing backlash Guardian (Chuck L). Not a good sign when sex prudes in France of all places are able to throw their weight around.

Man walks again after transplant BBC

Big Data’s Disparate Impact Cathy O’Neil

Obama’s moonshot probes the space inside our skulls Financial Times (David L). Great. The government wants to fund brain research, no doubt to aid in the development of even better PR and mind control techniques (for instance, bringing memory removal techniques that seem to work in mice to humans).

Robots recognizes humans in disaster environments ScienceDaily (David L)

A Software Glitch Disconnected the Entire State of Washington From 911 Gawker

Europe ‘will fail to protect climate’ BBC (David L)


The Ebola Wars New Yorker (furzy mouse, Vlad)

On Ebola, Like Terrorism, We Don’t Actually Have to Be Right 100 Percent of the Time American Prospect

Everything You Need to Know About Ebola in America, in One Fantastic Quote Mother Jones

CDC Issues Stricter Guidelines for Treating Ebola Patients Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Protesters See ‘No Hope’ In Negotiations Huffington Post

Economics underpins HK political divide Financial Times

China Growth Seen Slowing Sharply WSJ Economy

Eurozone Rotting to the Core; Four Possibilities; Beyond the Math Michael Shedlock

How And When Will Saudi Arabia Respond To Low Oil Prices? OilPrice


Deadly Ukraine Crash: German Intelligence Claims Pro-Russian Separatists Downed MH17 Spiegel

Ukraine Used Cluster Bombs, Evidence Indicates New York Times

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Surveillance Reform Theater Counterpunch

US Government Moves to Dismiss Lawsuit Against ‘Suspicious Activity’ Program Which Keeps Files on Innocent People Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake


Inadequate Obamacare plans continue to force patients to delay care; endure crippling debt Daily Kos

ObamaCare Shunts My Patients Into Medicaid Wall Street Journal

”State ‘Income Migration’ Claims Are Deeply Flawed” Mark Thoma

It Looked Like a Stabbing, but Takata Air Bag Was the Killer New York Times

IBM’s Ginni Rometty Just Confessed To A Huge Failure — And It Might Be The Best Thing For Her Business Insider (David L). IBM has been playing extreme accounting games forever to meet earnings targets. Guess they hit the end of that road.

What NCR just Said about the American Retail Quagmire Wolf Richter

The return of market volatility Bruegel

New York Fed taking cues from Occupy on banker pay FT Alphaville (Vlad). This is astonishing. The New York Fed looks to be serious about trying to reform banking culture.

Sovereign-debt relief and its aftermath: The 1930s, the 1990s, the future? Carmen Reinhart, Christoph Trebesch, VoxEU. Aieee, throws gold standard regimes together with fiat regimes.

Class Warfare

Chart: Values of Homes Owned by African Americans Take Outsized Hit Compared to Those Owned by Whites American Prospect

Skills and Tech Gap Can’t Explain Inequality, Economist Says WSJ Economics

Is a 36% Cap Radical? Nathalie Martin, Credit Slips

How Lincoln Played the Press New York Review of Books

Antidote du jour. Kevin H points out: “Yes, those are pine needles.”

Western Pine Elfin I

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. dearieme

    “CDC Issues Stricter Guidelines for Treating Ebola Patients”: I hope someone is going to keep a record of all the inanities, the inactivity, and the bull-shitting about Ebola over the last 9 months or so. I particularly look forward to juxtapositions of announcements that we couldn’t possibly prohibit direct flights from xyz, with the announcements to precisely that effect. Or the “quarantine is useless” claims with the dates of the introduction of quarantine.

    This may be en route to making the response to Hurricane Katrina look like a masterly display of competence.

    1. craazyboy

      Thought I’d try and save some notes which may be useful in getting a head start at discerning what level of “contagiousness” we may see outside the hospital environment. Some data points here. Woefully inadequate by clinical trail standards, but news reports is all we get. 21 days is the accepted number for the max incubation period. 2 days is the low number. Time the carrier person is contagious is still a fuzzy grey area, IMO. No definition of what contact means specifically, which will get my clinical trial laughed right out of medical circles.

      In another development, US health officials said 43 people being closely monitored after coming into contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan had been given the all-clear.
      They were subject to twice-daily monitoring during the 21-day incubation period.
      However, others who cared for Mr Duncan remain at risk including two nurses he infected and their close contacts. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said 120 people were still being monitored, with their waiting period due to end on 7 November.

      Results so far pretty upbeat, bigger sample on track for Nov. 7.

      But I still don’t recommend lowering our guard and we can resume eating monkey-meat tarter and fruit bat sushi.

  2. gonzomarx

    women in computing has been in some of the links over the last few days so I thought people might be interested in this
    The Life Scientific: Margaret Boden
    “Maggie Boden is a world authority in the field of artificial intelligence – she even has a robot named in her honour… the long career of Maggie Boden is the very epitome of cross-disciplinary working. From medicine, to psychology, to cognitive and computer science, to technology and philosophy”

    Afghan opium poppy yield hits all-time high
    Farmers grew ‘unprecedented’ 209,000 hectares of opium poppy despite US spending $7.6bn on counter-narcotics efforts

    how much funding do Black Opps need!!

    1. TedWa

      “Farmers grew ‘unprecedented’ 209,000 hectares of opium poppy despite US spending $7.6bn on counter-narcotics efforts
      What a joke – more PR bs. The Taliban had poppy production in Afghanistan down to 10% of the worlds supply before we invaded. Soon after we invaded the production shot up to where the Afghans were supplying over 90% of the worlds opium. The banks make a killing laundering drug money – is that why we invaded? To increase poppy production, destroy the growing agricultural economy in that country to now where the only way farmers can make any money is to grow opium? No wonder they don’t want us there.

    2. subgenius

      Wow…name checking Maggie Boden? She’s a class act – spent a load of time with her aeons ago back when AI was my bag, different millennium, different continent… Amazing what a bit of philosophy can do for you.

    3. Susan the other

      Carmen Rinehart’s ultra dry little accounting essay of (only 2? why not a millenium?) war time debt overhang and what Karma it then creates should have looked at war more closely. All that money changing hands is such a deal! All that theft is so exciting. And not to worry, taxpayers will bring us back out of it. Until they won’t. And then the entire system changes to actually account in reality for all the mismanagement of government. So she probably won’t do that since she’s not an evolution specialist. That was the dryest little bit of pointlessness I ever.

    1. abynormal

      yes, mo please. the colors are so complex i forgot my breath. Thanks Kevin

      What is art? Nature concentrated. ~Balzac

      1. Kevin Hall

        Great to see the antidote offering some relief, thank you both.

        These treacherous times sap the energy and steal the soul, you’ve got to keep up your situational awareness but the more you learn the more it taxes you. I really like the NC idea of having daily antidotes, I’ve got plenty of them to contribute and I’m always making more.

          1. Kevin Hall

            Western Pine Elfin Callophrys eryphron

            A small gossamer-winged butterfly, this one from Apex Park in Jefferson County, Colorado.

    2. bruno marr

      Yes! Great photo.

      But the notation is wrong. Those are not “pine needles”. Those are Spruce needles. (Pine needles are bundled in fascicles; no fascicles in photo.)

  3. not_me

    re: Eurozone Rotting to the Core; Four Possibilities; Beyond the Math Michael Shedlock

    Shame on Mish! I’m sure he knows Steve Keen and his ideas on debt relief without disadvantaging savers, which in this case would be Germans, so why doesn’t he mention that option? Because like all good Austrian Economists he’s conditioned to believe that the suffering of innocents is unavoidable when a bubble bursts? To “purge the malinvestments?”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My guess is option #2, which he thinks is fatally flawed constitutionally, though sounding nice.

      To get around it, there won’t be an outright ‘bailing out,’ but the rest of Europe will be selling/leasing hard assets to Germany and Northern European states (or other hegemons, great and small, real or imaginary).

      Hard assets like rights to solar energy generation, leasehold on desirable locales, sunny beaches, and others that creative minds can come up with.

    2. reslez

      At an underlying level Mish and his ilk believe suffering is virtuous. They believe we enjoyed ourselves too much during the housing bubble and need to be punished for it, no matter how destructive that punishment turns out to be. They particularly dislike people who borrow money, because they regard saving as virtuous (saving money = suffering). But the key thing to remember is suffering.

      They don’t care if you didn’t borrow money. They don’t care if you didn’t benefit from the bubble. They don’t care if Wall Street got bailed out but you didn’t. Since banks buy up the machinery of government and push the levers to protect themselves, it’s only the citizens who suffer. But Mish doesn’t care. Any attempt to minimize suffering is bad in Mish’s eyes. And laws that protect workers need to be repealed, because freedom = poverty.

      Austrians like Mish pretend to value freedom. They neglect to tell you the freedom they mean is the freedom to starve — the freedom to die of health care you can’t afford — the freedom to rot in poverty of someone else’s design — the freedom to pay for Wall Street’s crimes. As a human philosophy it has some flaws, mainly because when you push people too far they eventually exit or tear down your civilization. But then, many of the same people also have a fantasy that when collapse comes they will be the winners in the new order. So their will to destruction has a certain self-referential integrity.

      1. not_me

        Austrians like Mish pretend to value freedom. reslez

        But are hypocrites when they advocate that their favorite shiny metal(s) be elevated to legal tender. Poor Mish to imagine his views are righteous; he should read the Book where this came from:

        “I desire compassion and not sacrifice.” to get an idea what the Judge desires.

        Of course the Left sins against justice too otherwise the Right would have far less power than it does, eg. government privileged labor unions were a doomed endeavor to counter the government backed banking cartel because automation and outsourcing.

        Mish opposes so-called fractional reserve lending. I should ask him how he would abolish it WITHOUT a universal bailout without causing the worst depression in history?

  4. Kokuanani

    “The Ebola Wars” in the New Yorker is fantastic. Long, but incredible.

    Should be marked “must read.”

  5. Banger

    Since the last major crisis in 2008-9 I’ve often wondered how, given our economic arrangements, a real “recovery” could take place considering high levels of debt for consumers, national governments and corporations. In the U.S. QE seems to have done the trick and moved the economy forward while, at the same time, leaving most people behind. However much people here decry the increasing growth of income inequality this fact doesn’t seem to upset the average American citizen. Why?

    I think our culture is changing in ways that aren’t clear yet. Transitions are always fluid and confusing. In general, people I’ve met are focusing on quality of life more than quantity of life. Yes, there are still the conspicuous consumers who turn every bit of income into spending binges but increasing numbers of people are seeing that the shop till you drop mentality that dominated U.S. culture for the past few decades seems somewhat empty and that joy may not come from material well-being (thus the problems with retail). Still, this is such a radical transition that most people are kind of stuck and scared–wanting to change but not knowing how.

    Another more easily confirmed trend is an increasing distrust of our public institutions. We have seen how government, corporations, “charitable” organizations and NGOs, media, law-enforcement and the Justice system, our educational system, all seem to exist for the benefit of those who make up those communities and not the public in general. This is a very scary thought yet it seems to be fairly common. One might think that this movement would spur interest in reform and major change but, in fact, this fact has tended to increase denial, despair, depression on the one hand or the idea that, in spite of it all, we’ll just soldier on as best as we can and make sure our family and our kids can somehow navigate this confusing system. I see very little interest in politics in young people, for example, even some of the young people I know who were involved in Occupy–they are focused on local projects and getting their own lives together.

    There is no possible scenario for real “growth” or policies that would promote it. Actual policies to promote and stimulate the economy are well-known and could work but the vast majority have no faith in the ability of public officials to implement such a policy so they hang back and want to cut spending which means the GOP should dominate this election cycle. The only thing the Democrats have going for them are cultural issues particularly the “war on women” that reflects the absurdly regressive nature of the GOP. In North Carolina that cold well win for Democrats in Colorado the opposite is true.

    To further prove my case here I note that there are seldom, if ever, any stories at NC about the upcoming elections. It’s also the case that most of the mainstream seem to be ignoring it as well. I have never in my long life known the media to be as disinterested in mid-terms as they are now.

    1. ambrit

      Yes, I’ve ‘noticed’ something similar here in the Deep South. It is very like Conan Doyles’ “dog that didn’t bark in the night.” Yet another ‘inside job.’
      I like the way the Powers That Be have separated Class Warfare issues out from Cultural Issues in general. Masterful propaganda that.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      They might be upset but not know what to do. On the other hand, most really big social changes require generational change – it is hard to get individuals to change their minds; easier for the next generation to think differently than the previous. If substantial numbers of individuals are really changing how they approach life, that would be significant.

      Political activism requires both critique and game plan. I attribute political apathy to the lack of ideas about what to do (as a society) going forward. Yes, we should be throwing a lot of financial thieves into jail and taking fewer pounds of flesh from those with debt problems. But, with big socialist ideas like a guaranteed income or guaranteed jobs program off the table, not to mention a serious climate-change mitigation program, there aren’t obviously compelling future narratives for people to rally around.

      And the destruction of public trust in government is a big problem. Changing the future requires getting hold of the levers of government and using them to do good, which becomes much more difficult when people lose faith in government. Trust in any institution takes a long time to build but not to destroy.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Banger made a good point – quality of life (or government) vs. quantity of life (or government).

        He also mentioned the capturing of our public institutions.

        The first step should be about taking them back, and improving quality, rather than giving them more quantity of money the way they are now,

        1. Vatch

          There are many ways that one can emphasize the quality of life over the quantity of life. One of the most important on our overpopulated planet is to gradually reduce the population by reducing the birth rate. That is, by far, one of the most important things that we can do to improve the quality of life for all people.

        2. NOTaREALmerican

          Re: The first step should be about taking them back
          “Taking them back” and “giving them to whom”? Da people?
          When have “our public institutions” ever been run PRIMARILY for the benefit of “da people”?
          “Our public institutions” can’t actually be run by “da people” so “da people” have to “turn them over” to somebody to run (after all “da people” know they aren’t the sharpest-tools-in-the-shed because the sharpest-tools-in-the-shed make sure to remind “da people”, constantly, how important it is to have really sharp-tools running things: it requires lots of math – trust me).

      2. NOTaREALmerican

        Re: using them to do good

        Hard to get “goodness” from any organization run by sociopaths.

        Re: And the destruction of public trust in government is a big problem.

        Eventually, “da people” notice – over time and repetitions – how hard it is to get ‘goodness’ from an organization run by sociopaths.

        1. hunkerdown

          The Eskimos had the remedy of pushing them off the ice. We have not nearly enough ice to follow suit.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I look at a chart at Wiki about voter participation in presidential elections.

      From about 1840 to 1900, the average was about 75%. After 1900, we have averaged about 55%. I don’t know what happened in 1900. Looking at the last 100 years, we were not particularly ‘apathetic’ in 2012.

      Why aren’t we upset or more upset about wealth inequality? I don’t know. If I have to guess, I think we are less healthy, sicker, more doped (or ‘prescription medicined’) out. Junk food doesn’t just make you obese, but make you tired quickly exerting any kind of energy…even walking down the street corner to protest. The best defense is offense and we are on the defensive…we stress out over credit scores, because we have to borrow. We have our aged parents to take care of. We have children who are unnecessarily prescribed anti-depression drugs…busy with that and do you have any time left to get upset? On top of that, you can’t rely on your local grocery chain store and have to grow your own organic vegetables and compose. Instead of buying shoes and shirts once a year or two years, you are forced to replace them every 6 months…adding them all up, all those little things, and there isn’t time left for anything else.

      1. Ed

        Reforms such as the secret ballot were implemented in the 1890s, that made it harder for political machines to control elections by inflating the numbers of ballots. They could control elections better after that through voter suppression. That is the reason for the drop in turnout after 1900.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks Ed.

          I should add that while the bread is nothing to brag about (commercial yeast and refined grains), modern-day circuses have never been more fascinating and addictive. “We want more!!!…from where we can get it – our couches.”

          “We don’t do art anymore. Artists do! That’s their job, not ours.”

        2. Doug Terpstra

          Election outcomes are all but meaningless under the corporate/AIPAC duopoly, so all the breathless horse-race forecasts and polls, stories about voter-fraud, voter suppression tactics, and electronic electioneering are really just kill-me-now-boring distractions. It’s all about input not output. Results are rigged before the vote, not during. Only those candidates who have submitted a duly notarizesd bill of sale for their souls ever buys a slot on a national ballot. Period. The Israeli oligarchy cares very little which of their candidates, Tweedledum or Tweedledee, actually takes office in the end. The final count is moot. (Obama may have been the final exception; his was a critical dark horse checkmate move in the anti-Constitutional coup, a brilliantly deceptive race-card strategy)

    4. DJG

      “Another more easily confirmed trend is an increasing distrust of our public institutions. We have seen how government, corporations, “charitable” organizations and NGOs, media, law-enforcement and the Justice system, our educational system, all seem to exist for the benefit of those who make up those communities and not the public in general. ” We live in a new baroque era. Endless war. Religious fanaticism. Bizarre received ideas bloodily reenacted. The postmodernist experiment that insisted on reacting against the generalities of modernism is now engaged in repealing the Enlightenment.

      1. Banger

        I think that’s exactly it–repealing the enlightenment project except when it applies to our very narrow concern. For example, there people in technical fields like, say programming that use logic and great techniques that stem from general systems theory but use radically unreasonable ways of thought in other areas of life that go directly contrary to logic.

      2. Jim

        “The postmodernist experiment that insisted on reacting against the generalities of modernism is now engaged in repealing the Enlightenment.”

        But what if in the process of searching for foundational premises (whether in economics, politics or culture) only ends up making us more thoroughly aware of the partiality and incompleteness of our starting points.

        Does this then inevitably mean that all our reasoning in any sphere of human endeavor is largely circular and that as Banger mentioned the other day in great irritation (an irritation with which I agree) that our commentary keeps going in circles—is simply our fate.

        What would such a fate mean politically–say in terms of the appropriate structure of the State?

        1. Banger

          We only go around in circles because we want to. This is it–this is the best we got folks. The reason we don’t want to go forward is because the territory is ABSOLUTELY new and unexplored. The sad part is that we have the tools, the technology and the creativity to handle this strange world we’ve found ourselves in. And that is the deep tragedy of our situation–as many have said, we are suffering from a failure of the imagination and a lack of what has gotten us to this point in history. Just as we have begun to step into “the future” we hesitate and cower in fear and allow the worst elements of our society to rule us. Let me emphasize here–we allow them to rule us because we’ve stopped respecting ourselves and each other.

          1. Jim


            In your comment below, at 4:47 P.M. you state: “Not that I want to create a culture of Mr. Spocks but without a grounding in reason our hearts cannot in my view bloom.”

            But if we can never know for sure (the inevitability of circularity in our reasoning)
            than perhaps the ethics you talk about so often– trumps epistemology.

            If we can never know for sure than we might as well act generously.

    5. Ed

      What Banger is describing is the mentality that peasants and slaves have, in societies where there is a small class of wealthy landowners that make all the decisions, and lots of peasants and slaves. There is also usually a small professional or technical class, that are advantaged compared to the peasants and slaves, but exist essentially at the pleasure of the landowners.

      The U.S. was supposed to be better than this, and for periods of its history actually was better than this.

      1. efschumacher

        The professional and technical class, that includes many of this blogviewship, are precisely those people who would be fomenters and leaders of the revolution if they weren’t simultaneously bought off and enslaved by the aspirational rat race of “having a meaningful career” and “securing their retirement years”. You see it in the mirror every morning.

        Your actual worth to the .1% is as the insurance policy that keeps them where they are.

        1. abynormal

          TT, those with the least to lose but most to gain…lead charges.
          “Almost two hundred years ago, Harriet Tubman led slaves to freedom. And when they told her they didn’t think they could, when they said they were too afraid, she pointed a gun at them and said”—Marjorie mimed a weapon in her grasp—“Go forward or die.” Anna Carey, Eve

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Chou En Lai was a Mandarin, a famed traitor of his class.

            Similarly, it was Talleyrand, from a fabulously ancient French aristocratic family, who as a bishop in the Catholic Church, who formally stood up in the Assembly during the French Revolution and proposed the seizure of the land held by the Church, which was seen as necessary to fund the state.

            When you see breaks in the elites is when large scale change become possible. Better if it happens to forestall a revolution rather than in the course of one.

            1. efschumacher

              Come to think of it, the last time there was significant improvement in the fortunes of the peopleof this country was when Franklin Roosevelt worked against his ‘class interests’.

              1. Glenn Condell

                It’s striking how often that’s true. In Greece alone – Solon, Cleisthenes, Pericles. Washington too in a way, certainly TR who saw the writing on the wall for his class unless they loosened their grip (not bad for one family to produce two exemplars). Gough Whitlam in early 70s Oz. Hated by those they’d dispossessed for a generation or two, legendary thereafter.

            2. Banger

              Well, the French Revolution occurred not from one or two or even twenty people but a deep and (compared to us) fearless intellectual project of the late 17th and 18th century. There was a social and intellectual milieu that allowed for clear thinking and a break with the past. Today’s culture is marred by a radical movement to go backwards or simply keep the status quo in the face of a present and future that is too strange and scary to contemplate for the week-kneed intellectuals of our time. We have everything we need just lack the courage and imagination to proceed–but we can and, I’m hoping, will find both.

        2. jrs

          You can give up your meaningful career and retirement aspirations, but it’s still not clear how to forment revolution, and in fact it requires a willingness to give up a great deal more than that doesn’t it? I don’t know, one’s life maybe? Because I’m still not sure how else they would do it. To stand in front of the bulldozers etc. perhaps.

          1. Ulysses

            If you look at periods of upheaval, you always find people who are inspired to transcend their narrow parochial concerns, and take on huge struggles against tremendous odds. Sometimes they are martyred, sometimes they are thrust into leading a successful revolution.

            Yet, when people are lucky, merely posing a credible threat of revolution can be enough to extract important concessions from TPTB. FDR was only able to push the New Deal because so many others of his class were terrified that something far more radical might happen if people weren’t sufficiently appeased.

    6. afisher

      The “failures” of public trust are a feature not a bug and driven by a particular party that wants to do away with many public programs. When studies are saying just the opposite – OMG a study out of TX defies the “everyone hates public projects” meme – we should take a look at determine who is telling that tale…they may have an ulterior motive….just sayin!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “Another more easily confirmed trend is an increasing distrust of our public institutions. We have seen how government, corporations, “charitable” organizations and NGOs, media, law-enforcement and the Justice system, our educational system, all seem to exist for the benefit of those who make up those communities and not the public in general.”

        I think Banger is not saying about this or that political party.

        He seems to be talking about rotting from inside – ‘seem to exist for the benefit of those who make up those communities and not the public in general.’

    7. Jim

      “Another more easily confirmed trend is an increasing distrust of our public institutions”

      This trend is particularly disturbing for the more traditional/orthodox/social democratic left which has historically relied on a powerful centralized State to bring about some semblance of justice.

      But as the great bailouts of our major financial institutions in 2007/2008 revealed (through the negotiations of key public sector institutions such as Treasury, Federal Reserve, Congress and other elements of the Executive branch) what was really afoot all along was their plan for an equity injection into the largely insolvent private sector banks whose very ownership of 2nd and 3rd level tranches of CDOs were a primary cause of their insolvency to begin with.

      The social democratic left has argued that the government/state should have gotten some control or upside for the American taxpayer out of this arrangement–but because of revolving doors/regulatory capture and the corruption/fraud configuration of power in the centralized public/private sector–this was never going to happen.

      It appears that the financial/economic crisis of capitalism in 2007/2008 was also a crisis for the “progressive”
      centralized State– for when push came to shove that State worked hand in glove with the private-sector oligarchy to maintain the status quo structure of private/public power.

      The social-democratic left, as a consequence, is now also in crisis.
      In my opinion, Banger, this is why your call for a careful look at the assumptions of our enlightenment legacy is long overdue–particularly the belief in reason as a way out of our contemporary quagmire.

      1. Banger

        Indeed the social democratic left is in crisis since there Is no realistic or even theoretical path to implement a revivified social democracy in the US. Some time ago I advocated for dropping all policy ideas in favor of forming a party of reason wherein we advocate for reasonable solutions based on science to most of our contemporary problems rather than our current regime of 100% political expediency and the virtual banning of debate and dialogue in favor of a pro-wrestling style discourse. Not that I want to create a culture of Mr. Spocks but without a grounding in reason our hearts cannot, in my view, bloom.

        1. Jim

          The party of reason will first have to battle with some pretty heavy philosophical hitters.

          Hobbes once stated that “thoughts are to the desires as scouts and spies, to range abroad and find away to the things desired.”

          And Hume more famously maintained “We speak not strictly and philosophically when we talk of the absolute combat of passion and of reason. Reason is, and ought to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office then to serve and obey them.”

          The moral psychology implicit in the statements of both Hobbes and Hume on the relationship between reason and the passions is evocative of what we perhaps
          cannot intellectually get beyond—circularity.

          As Stuart Hampshire has highlighted “In moral and political philosophy one is looking for adequate premises from which to infer conclusions already and independently accepted because of one’s feelings and sympathies.

          Is it the bare contingency of personal feeling rather than human reason, then, that has priority in our perspectives and policies?

          1. Banger

            Look, I have looked into the various philosophical critiques of reason and found them wanting. Why? Because the 18th century philosophers did not know what we know today in terms of neuroscience, cognitive science and so on. Also, we still have not digested the world of “spirituality” from Zen, Yoga, Sufism, Shamanism, as well as the strange world of anomalous phenomena investigated by people like Charles Fort. I think we can come up with a new philosophical paradigm that makes sense by marrying all these things but with a grounding in Western empiricism ++ even though, personally, I’m deeply skeptical of empiricism as it has developed for empirical reasons.

  6. Ken Nari

    Yes, huge, dramatic changes seem to be in progress. Changes almost too big to comprehend, which may be why so many have hunkered down and don’t seem to want to leave the house — and not just in the U.S.

    Is there any candidate, any at all, capable of making any real difference? Lack of interest in the coming election is understandable.

    Where did I see a report that 75% of Americans can’t lay their hands on $400? That could well be true. No wonder so many are waiting, listening to the storm building, but until the roof blows off there doesn’t seem to be much they can do.

    1. sleepy


      C’mon, there’s always Mr. Money or other lenders. My Iowa town of 27,000 has 10 listed in the phonebook, plus the online varieities.

      1. wbgonne

        The reports I saw said that more than half of Americans do not have sufficient savings to cover an unexpected $400 expenditure. They live paycheck to paycheck. Some could borrow to cover the expense, others might liquidate an asset of some sort, the rest are out of luck.

        1. Ulysses

          $400 really is an enormous sum for many people I see every day. More than a week’s pay. Lots of people have to contribute at least two weeks pay every month towards rent. They are then hustling to cover food and all other essentials with whatever is left over. Any type of major expense is a disaster!

          Often what happens is that something like a speeding ticket, or losing a monthly MetroCard, is enough to throw someone’s life into turmoil. Working class people are under constant stress– and that stress is magnified by the thinly veiled disdain they are shown every day by those who consider themselves more “successful” because they have more money.

      2. Ken Nari

        And if the loan sharks won’t go for the full $400, borrow what you can and head for a casino.

        Theoretically at least, I guess we can all lay our hands on all the money we’ll ever need. Happy thought.

    2. sleepy

      “Changes almost too big to comprehend, which may be why so many have hunkered down and don’t seem to want to leave the house — and not just in the U.S.”

      The Shock Doctrine, literally shock.

  7. Brindle

    re: Ukraine-MH17

    Robert Parry at Consortium News deconstructs the Der Spiegel and shows how the BND pronouncements are not backed by any released evidence.

    —None of the BND’s evidence to support its conclusions has been made public — and I was subsequently told by a European official that the evidence was not as conclusive as the magazine article depicted.

    With Der Spiegel’s report, it’s now clearer why the delay and the secrecy. If the missile responsible for bringing down MH-17 came from a Ukrainian military base – not from the Russian government – then a very potent anti-Putin propaganda theme would be neutralized. More attention also would focus on whether the missile battery was really under the control of a rebel unit, as the BND suggests – or was in the hands of anti-rebel extremists.—

    1. Bill Smith

      I guess you need to get on the distribution list for the ‘evidence’. And why would they care to do that – assuming they have it?

    2. Brian

      If one goes back to the Vineyard of the Saker for a report by a German Luftwaffe Colonel that trains anti aircraft batteries and pilots regarding AA, he put forth a single comment on the visual impression of the cockpit skin of MH17 found on the ground. It has entry and exit wounds from what he describes as 30mm cannon fire.
      The one physical fact that seems to be missing is that one can not have both types of holes with a single missile. The SU-25 apparently has a 30mm cannon as a primary weapon. Was MH17 strafed? Did two missles go off at the same time from each side of the cockpit to cause these hits with 30mm shrapnel rather than hit the engines where a heat seeking missile would be attracted? Was this report by the Colonel true? Will we ever know?

      1. James Levy

        I’m reminded of a conversation I had with Bobby Inman, the navy admiral and Intel/CIA spook, at the Naval Academy when I was a college kid there to deliver a conference paper. He said, completely matter of factly, that there were absolutely no problems in verifying arms limitation treaties with the Soviet Union–none. All the talk in the media and by Reagan appointees about “trust and verify” was nonsense. We knew precisely what the Russians had. I was shocked. But I came to realize that the purpose of keeping our “capabilities” secret had nothing to do with the Soviets. They had good spies and knew damned well what we could do. The purpose of hiding those capabilities was to keep them from the US people so that they could throw a blanket/smoke screen around any topic they felt like and plead ignorance when they miscalculated or screwed up.

        The US government has no intention of letting us know what happened so they can spin any damned nonsense they want to around issues like “what happened to this or that airliner” or “why didn’t they realize sooner that the planes headed towards the Twin Towers were headed towards the Twin Towers.” It also covers the fact that they have more capacity to spy than ability to process what they are collecting, by a huge margin. The answer to that, of course, is to spy less and pay closer attention to things that matter on a sliding scale of national importance. As it is they spy on everything and miss most of the things they could actually use. But they would rather do that than prioritize or lose the blackmailing capacity of stored information on everyone. Pathetic, really.

        1. Banger

          Amen, James, amen. The world of National Security is very complex and multi-faceted with many constituencies and stakeholders few people care to know about. I’m sure everybody is bored by now by me saying over and over again–our Capital city is more deeply Byzantine and Byzantium and getting more so as time goes on. But this understanding has to precede any sane discussion of U.S. politics. Things are NEVER what they appear to be in Washington.

  8. JohnnyGL

    Because the solution to the suddenly shaky housing market is: More DEBT!!!

    Also, something for Yves to key in on: banks committing fraud on the GSEs will now be a smoother process

    “He also said the two firms, which guarantee most new mortgages in the United States, will change rules that will make it harder for them to force banks to repurchase faulty loans from the mortgage agencies.”

    Thankfully, we got rid of that pesky DeMarco character who tried to slow down the process. Besides, the PE firms with giant portfolios need buyers to offload bad assets…..errr….houses onto.

    1. rich

      October 21, 2014 5:08 pm
      US regulator accuses Ocwen of backdating

      Tracy Alloway in New York and Kara Scannell in Washington

      New York’s top banking regulator has accused mortgage servicing giant Ocwen Financial of backdating “potentially hundreds of thousands of letters” in a move

      that may have prevented borrowers from receiving modifications on their home loans or pushed them into foreclosure.

      The alleged lapse in Ocwen’s mailing processes likely caused borrowers “significant harm,” Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services said in a letter sent to the company’s legal counsel on Tuesday.

      The letter is the latest in a series of correspondence sent by the DFS to Ocwen, the biggest non-bank mortgage servicer in the US.

      Mr Lawsky has previously called into question a “troubling transaction” by Ocwen and one of its affiliates as it probes the rapid growth of the company founded by executive chairman Bill Erbey.

  9. Eureka Springs

    To further prove my case here I note that there are seldom, if ever, any stories at NC about the upcoming elections.

    And for that I would like to say thank you very much, N.C.

    Perhaps this is what peaceful delegitimization looks like. If only we the people would could gather our rosebuds and conduct general strikes.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      We try to be a finance and economics blog, so we generally limit our election coverage to presidential elections and races that have a finance angle (for instance, Elizabeth Warren’s Senate run, since her role with the Congressional Oversight Panel and the CFPB were what made her a contender).

  10. Brooklin Bridge

    The plane carrying US is going down fast; Help!!!! Thank goodness, the super-hero moth is on the scene pulling back the joy stick… Yes, he’s going to save us all!

    1. abynormal

      “Sonny: See, it’s… it’s sticking up here around one thousand nine hundred and fifty cycles per second. But it never gets any lower than maybe one thousand nine hundred and thirty or so. But yours is way down here in the normal vocal range, anywhere between a thousand and twelve hundred cycles per second.
      John Klein: So this guy’s vocal range is much higher than mine.
      Sonny: What makes you think it’s a man?
      Indrid Cold: [on recording] Still more proof, John Klein?
      John Klein: What is it?
      Sonny: Near as I can tell, it’s an electrical impulse. But whatever it is, it’s not coming from human vocal chords.”
      The Mothman Prophecy “Whatever brought you there, brought you there to die.”

  11. Danb

    RE: “Obama’s moonshot probes the space inside our skulls.” Medical school deans and their facuitles will respond to this RFP like fillies to you-know-what.

  12. optimader

    Are we still doing Ebola here?
    RE:The Ebola Wars New Yorker (furzy mouse, Vlad)
    “…The most dangerous outbreak of an emerging infectious disease since the appearance of H.I.V., in the early nineteen-eighties, seems to have begun on December 6, 2013…”
    Time to do some leg stretches and let the burned hair grow back and move on to MRSA? Personally I have a lot more actuarial angst about contracting a MRSA infection than I do Ebola.
    Whomever referred to Ebola as the MSMs latest “shiny object” to fixate on a few days ago pretty well nailed it.
    Using MSM to mediate the Big Governments Public Health policy resources is equivalent to shouting fire in a theater. Maybe not so smart. Not that the our “elected” political bureaucracy that sits above of the CDC is either.

    1. Light A Candle

      I think we do need to be very concerned about Ebola as per MSF’s recommendations and extraordinary pleas for help.

      We’ve got temporary breathing room, in the West, not a solution. This Oct 18 article in the Economist outlines why we need to pour medical staff and resources into West Africa.

      1. optimader

        “I think we do need to be very concerned about Ebola” Yes, I think we should be very concerned about Ebola too.
        OK, now w/ that bit of pandering out of the way, I think we should be very concerned about what prove to be higher mortality rate disease processes as well.

        What I don’t hear discussed (and maybe this has received some narrow bandwidth in MSM? I don’t know) is how wisely ~US$3.5BB yony has been spent protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases/ Natural and Bioterrorism Threats .

        I can have my cynical moments but I’m guessing these funds are disproportionately allocated to supporting the bureaucracies Power Point Display Cowboys more than upgrading the US hospital infrastructure to the resource and personnel expertise standards reqd of level III, IV or V Trauma Centers…but I digress…”

        “…why we need to pour medical staff and resources into West Africa”
        Invariably the collective “We” (as in “we need to pour medical staff and resources into West Africa” ) usually means “Someone Else”.

        This Ebola outbreak is the textbook case for why NGO’s exist, and I am very enthusiastic about allocating resources to them to do what they do best. My enthusiasm does not extend to “pouring” US military personnel, this is not the role of the US military (or for that matter anyone else who isn’t a volunteer). This is a mission for NGO coordinated volunteers as well government and private sector researchers working a solution for the disease process.

        Clearly you have a strong and heartfelt conviction, here’s a link for you to volunteer:
        If you review the list of disciplines, you will see between the lines they are recruiting anyone that has a useful skillset, not just “medical staff”.

        If your heartfelt conviction that we must “pour” in resources and personnel doesn’t Cross The Rubicon of actually participating of direct participation, then you can donate here:

        1. craazyboy

          “…why we need to pour medical staff and resources into West Africa”

          Then the first thing they do is build a hospital. I always see pics of white people in med gear building it?!

          Black people can’t even get hired in Africa!

        2. Light A Candle

          MSF is a remarkable organization, and I was very happy to donate to them. And I’ve donated monthly to Oxfam for several decades now.

          Very tellingly both MSF and Oxfam are asking for military resources to resolve the West Africa Ebola crisis. MSF is very careful in hiring and working with local communities and citizens, like Oxfam and not disrupting local societies. MSF has a number of criteria for volunteers which I don’t meet. They are very careful in selecting people, as they should be.

          This crisis really demonstrates why capitalism and current global governance structures are such a huge fail from Dallas’ privatized healthcare to “professionalized management” to political spin-doctoring to Australia trying to buy MSF off with a $2.5 million donation (but no medical personnel). MSF refused the money.

          To get through the next 50 years we will need a lot more of the human strengths like cooperation, caring, community, kindness and empathy. Some good role modeling going on here in the transition towns planning to make it through huge changes that inevitably face us and our ecosystems.

    2. rur42

      Yes, meanwhile xxx number of people died from preventable tobacco-related disease, automobile wrecks, MRSA, prescription medication overdoses, accidental poisonings and so on.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I know. The Ebola freakout in the US is proof of how bad people are at math.

        52,000 people died last year in the US of garden variety flu.

        33,500 died in 2012 in auto accidents.

        Getting into your car is a much greater danger to your health than Ebola but I don’t see anyone in hysterics over getting into a car.

        1. optimader

          The difference w/ MRSA is it is not a consequence of elective behavior like:
          Tobacco which is a form of delayed suicide, not like the facts are in on that;
          Cars in many cases have mitigating safety devices and transportation alternatives;
          The flu has an imperfect but decent vaccine strategy for the non-“blackhelicopter/alien abduction/Bill Gates is trying to kill me” crowd to preemptively engage -and can be obtained for FREE!;

          People victimized by MRSA are basically fckd by the hugely exogenous bad juju to the tune of, as I recall ~20K-40k dead and 2MM wounded each year. It is rapacious to the point of being able to watch it in advancing cases.
          Yes Virginia, the public is largely innumerate and herded by sensationalism.

        2. ewmayer

          The freakout is about the *potential* for really bad outcomes – and the rate of infection in Africa the past few months is illustrating that potential. And sorry, simply invoking the usual exceptionalist “we are not Africa (or Jaoan, if you’re an economist)” mantra is not getting the traction the invokers hope for, perhaps because similar “we are da greatest nation! Don’t nobody mess with us! Not even viruses!” have proved hollow lies a few too many times in the past few decades. Thus what you call “irrational fear” I say is at least in roughly equal part a side effect of loss of trust in “the experts” – which “the experts” fully deserve. Now to your two comparative exemplars:

          1. Flu – sure, the numbers and risk-of-pandemic are higher in general. But do you think the lack of preparedness we’ve seen Ebola would somehow not also apply to a Spanish-flu-style pandemic? Also, perhaps we’ve been lulled by the fact of effective vaccine protocols for garden-variety annual flu strains – in other words the background annual rate, while not low, is seen as not-likely-to-ramp-exponentially. Also, diseases – like Ebola – which kill young healthy folks roughly as easily as they do the old and the sick – are inherently scarier, that’s just human nature, and entirely rational, in the “a young life cut short is worse than an old one” sense. It’s not PC to say such things, but in terms of cost-to-society it makes perfect sense.

          2. Car accidents: You cannot seriously be thinking this is in any way analogous to pandemic disease, can you? “I hear this year’s car accident strain is really contagious…and there’s no effective vaccine!”

  13. rich

    Waiting for Something bad to happen

    I think Friday saw a power-shift from the central banks to the global private banks. I think the global banks served notice that the Central bank plan of 1) reining in the risk-taking of the TBTF banks and 2) stimulating growth in the real economy is now dead in the water. There is a new plan. (Let me apologise now for this video being too long. I really did try half a dozen times to make it shorter. I failed. )

    Couple of things I forgot to mention in the video.

    Lobbying in the US by the financial/Insurance and Real Estate sector in 2014 stands at $249,342,399. Its been above $450 million every year since 2008.

    According to the Sunlight Foundation, Mr Melvin L. Watt, head of the FHFA, had received some 45 percent of his total campaign funds in 2009 from donors in the finance and real estate sector.

    Waiting for Something Bad to Happen

    1. ohmyheck

      Hmmmm… let’s see. Handsome young man, heavenly blue eyes, dreamy English accent….. I think I can handle a whole 20 minute video…. oh, yes, and so very informative! Yes indeed!

  14. tyaresun

    Reproducing my comment on the Cathy O’Neil blog:
    In very simple terms, The Fair Credit Reporting Act authorizes regulators to test whether credit scores are correlated to variables such as race, gender and age regardless of these pieces of information being used in the credit scoring models. If the correlation is significant, the scores cannot be used.

    I don’t think this standard is used in other areas where data mining is applied. I think it would be wise to pass regulations that apply these standards to data mining activity that can adversely impact minorities. For example, these standards have been applied to credit scoring but not marketing activities, they should.

  15. craazyman

    that inflatable butt plug doesn’t look like a “sculpture” to me. It looks like a cartoon tree from Scooby Doo — that fly by in the background when the gang is running from a haunted house with their arms stretched out and fingers waving, screaming “bwaaaaaaaaaa bwaaaaaaaaaa”.

    What is that thing doing in Paris anyway? A sculpture shouldn’t be inflatable. You can have an inflatable butt plug (I wouldn’t know), but not an inflatable sculpture. A sculpture needs to be hard.

    What would Rodin say if he saw that thing? Oh man. I bet they didn’t deflate it cause it’s a butt plug, I bet they deflated it because it’s an offense to the world of sculptury. Now, if the sculpture had made a butt plug out of chisled marble, something like Rodin could have done, everything would have been OK.

    The hard part would be coming up with a proper artistic gesture for a butt plug to model into the sculpture. The live model has advantages that nature morte lacks, when it comes to sculpture. It would be an artistic challenge for sure. You could emphasize the shape and intended motion, but that would be sort of obvious. If somebody pulled it off, it would be worthy. worthy of Paris even. You’d see all sorts of hot art girls sitting around contemplating the butt plug. Writing essays for gallery publications. Speaking in hushed reverential tones about the sculptor’s control over the medium, the evocation, the ironical distancing, the metaphor for cultural issues too taboo to treat in accepted public discourse. They’d be proud. They wouldn’t want to give it back to America, or wherever it came from. Somebody would sit on it, no doubt. It would be a scandal.

    1. MikeNY

      Somebody would sit on it

      Donald Trump certainly has the capacity… I’m sure I can think of a few others…

    2. optimader

      “(I wouldn’t know), ”
      Oh? But you have a friend, right?
      Well anyway enough about you CM, maybe PM is trying to give his new wife a hint about something? In addition to being a persistent guitar player, he is apparently a pretty good seamstress.

    3. voxhumana

      ok ok… i know it’s an internet cliché to mention spewing one’s coffee when reading something funny and i’ve used it too often myself. but indeed, it is prudent to steel oneself against such an accident by avoiding coffee while reading blogs, especially when one is familiar with the brilliant reconteurs encounterd time and time again and are a pleasure to read…. like you craaazyman! but lapses do occur, alas, and as i sipped my coffee, chuckling carefully while admiring the above handiwork, I assured myself that i was safe, in control and could refrain from any liquid explosions. As I approached the end of your comment I was even self-satisfied that you couldn’t get the best of me… my victory was declared to soon. like the best comedians you saved the zinger for last and, damn you, “somebody would sit on it” not only wet my computer but literally put me on the floor. and i still can not stop laughing. but fuck the computer and my bruises, they can’t compete with someone who can make me laugh with such glee at a time in history when there is so much not to laugh at. thanks for that!!!

  16. coboarts

    CDC Issues Stricter Guidelines for Treating Ebola Patients
    Ebola is just an infectious disease. With all the institutions we fund to protect us, how is it that our homeland is not already prepared to handle an infectious disease, whether of natural or malefic origin?

  17. Lois

    Wow, check out the comments on the Kos article about ObamaCare. “How dare you criticize our dear leader, we’ll lose the election!” “People have insurance now, what is your problem??” When the writer just described the extremely high out of pocket costs bankrupting people. It never ceases to amaze me how people can block out unwanted information. Maybe they should look in the mirror as to why they are losing the election!

    1. Splashoil

      The HR system and obot moderators at Kos assures that the comments will always be “correct.” Dissent is not tolerated, and you will be purged if you have a hard time with the Party line expressed from the top down. There is no doubt about who is in charge.

      1. ohmyheck

        Daily Kos-aka- “Leftist Gatekeeping”. A tough job these days, but someone’s got (to get paid) to do it.

  18. Doug Terpstra

    It’s exasperating how people steadfastly confuse insurance with actual healthcare under the astonishing perception management phenomena of the Obama regime. Our overlords appear to have achieved the Holy Grail of cult mind control on a national scale.

    1. nycTerrierist

      very true. what I don’t understand is: how do these people not know what a deductible is and how it works?
      haven’t they encountered them in the past when they have used their insurance?

    2. Benedict@Large

      The problem is that with employer-provided health being the norm for a full half of the country’s residents for several generations now, people have come to conflate insurance with care. I see this also when I try to describe a non-insurance system, which among other things lack deductibles and co-pays. People look at me like I’m crazy. They simply cannot separate deductibles and co-pays from the care itself.

  19. JTFaraday

    re: Antidote du jour. Kevin H points out: “Yes, those are pine needles.”

    More butterflies… Many different ones.

Comments are closed.