Links 10/22/14

7-week-old baby orca missing, presumed dead Seattle Times (John L) :-(

Gough Whitlam dies at age 98 Guardian (EmilianoZ)

An inconvenient truth: Fred Branfman, exposer of America’s secret war in Laos, died on September 24th, aged 72 Economist and Fred Branfman dies at 72; exposed U.S. bombing of Laos Los Angeles Times. Robert F: “Would you please consider posting one of these links about my friend, Fred? He was a hero and not enough people know the story.”

Whitlam: The Power and the Passion ABC (Glenn Condell)

Machine-Learning Maestro Michael Jordan on the Delusions of Big Data and Other Huge Engineering Efforts Spectrum IEEE (Brant). My sort of article.

Genetic variant helps protect Latinas from breast cancer SFGate. Chuck L: “One more reason clinical research studies need to be ethnically diverse. Big risk reduction associated with the gene in question.”

The Earth’s vertebrate wildlife population has halved in 40 years, says conservation group WWF Independent (David L)

These Two World Leaders Are Laughing While the Planet Burns Up New Republic

Why Solar Is Much More Costly Than Wind or Hydro MIT Technology Review (David L)

Apple Pay’s double trouble CNN (furzy mouse)

Ebola

Ebola serum for Africa patients within weeks, says WHO BBC (furzy mouse)

US to funnel travelers from Ebola-hit region through five airports Reuters‎

Doctors Without Borders Hits Ebola Breaking Point Daily Beast. BTW, this gives reasonl to think the Nigerian success story is real.

Hong Kong

Talks fail to narrow gap between student leaders and government South China Morning Post

Beijing’s Allies in Hong Kong Are Only Adding Fuel to the Protesters’ Fire Foreign Policy

China’s Slowdown Raises Pressure on Beijing Wall Street Journal

China ‘executed 2,400’ last year: rights group New Age

Treaty holds no attraction Bangkok Post (furzy mouse). Against the TPP.

Death By a Thousand Cuts: The Silent Assassination of European Democracy Don Quijones (Chuck L)

European Central Bank Stress Tests Could Shake Bank Ratings, S&P Says WSJ Real Time Economics

Deficit would be just 1.8% without the “support” to banks failed evolution

London #OccupyDemocracy protestors retake Parliament Square despite up to 30 arrests this morning Occupy London (Richard Smith)

Why Russia’s ‘strong state’ political system still remains a better option for the country than western-style democracy EUROPP

Ukraine

Why the Putin Peace Plan Is Working National Interest

Ukraine, Russia end gas talks without breakthrough as Ukraine seeks $2.5 billion loan from EU U.S. News

Syraqistan

Kurds Are The Last Line Of Defense For The West In Kobani OilPrice

Enforcer at Treasury Is First Line of Attack Against ISIS New York Times (furzy mouse)

Islamic State: US probes ‘stray Syria air drop’ in IS video BBC (furzy mouse)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

‘Mission of liberty’: Outgoing GCHQ boss defends mass surveillance RT (Bob V). Straight from the Ministry of Truth.

The NSA’s Moonlighting Problem Atlantic

Stop Hillary! Doug Henwood, Harpers

White House Chief Of Staff Negotiating Redaction Of CIA Torture Report Huffington Post

A Holder Legacy: Shifting Terror Cases to the Civilian Courts, and Winning New York Times (furzy mouse)

Obama Soc Security Chair’s Firm Paid Credit Suisse After Bank Gave It Public Pension Cash David Sirota, International Business Times. More detail on the Erskine Bowles scandal.

Public Says No to Silencing Prisoners’ Speech David Swanson

We’ve Lost Sight of What Makes Democracy Work Brookings. Argues we need growth or groaf to have democracy succeed. This then leads to the belief that economists are the most impotant domestic policy advisors, since economists are presumed to know how to produce groaf. Readers, please have fun with this in comments.

Detecting missile launches unbalanced evolution

Official autopsy shows Michael Brown had close-range wound to his hand, marijuana in system St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Numbers Show Apple Shareholders Have Already Gotten Plenty Harvard Business Review. Appalling responses in comments. If you are having a slow day, please box them about the ears.

US regulator accuses Ocwen of backdating Financial Times. This is a big deal. Ocwen has been hoovering up bank servicing portfolio and looks to be engaging in the same bad tricks they did, if not worse ones. Whistleblowers told us of precisely the same time of conduct, backdated or completely fabricated letters, at Bank of America (scroll down to the header “Document/record fixes and fabrications.”)

New York Fed Caught Sight of London Whale and Let Him Go Matt Levine, Bloomberg. Generally good except Levine simply refuses to acknowledge the severity of the control failures (to him, the not-too-terriblness of the losses is proof the controls weren’t too terrible. Huh?). The CIO was in charge of its own position marks, for instance. That ALONE is a huge sign that JPM didn’t have adequate controls. That means that Dimon and the CFO should have been whacked with Sarbanes Oxley violations, as we’ve argued repeatedly.

Whiter Markets?

Panic Over? Financial Times but…

Europe stocks ease as Wall Street bounces Financial Times. One reason for the rally yesterday was the hope that the ECB would buy corporate bonds in a big way.

Top Regulator Says Bank CEOs Meant Well — This Evidence Says Otherwise Huffington Post (Margarita). As much as the Curry quote was too forgiving, this post goes too far in the other direction. You can say many many bad things about MERS that are 100% accurate, but that does not mean that every accusation made about MERS should be taken at face value. MERS was seen as an operational, as in back office, matter when it was created. Fannie and Freddie (who were not banks!) were on board. That would get it rubber stamped everywhere else. It was a small firm, only 55 or so employees at its peak. It was a nothingburger investment, despite its considerable consequences. I guarantee no CEO or even senior execs were involved.

Why the SEC’s $30M Whistleblower Award Should Make Banks Nervous American Banker. Nah, one award won’t do it. But a few more might, provided the SEC is also tough about cracking down on wrongful terminations of whistleblowers (which they have the power to do; the SEC is investigating a whistleblower complaint at CalPERS, and it may have more to do with the possible wrongful termination than the underlying conduct).

Class Warfare

The Moral Economy of Debt Robert Skidelsky, Project Syndicate (David L)

Poverty and class: the latest themes to enter the US banned-books debate Guardian. Holy moley. This is even worse thought policing that I deemed conceivable. Why don’t we just go straight to Newspeak?

Isaac Asimov Mulls “How Do People Get New Ideas?” MIT Technology Review. An essay from 1959, published for the first time. Today’s must read. Note how, if you believe Asimov, our business/cultural preference for narrow specialists and extroverts (extroversion has been rising over time) is anti-creativity.

Antidote du jour (Kurt S):

fawns munching red flowers links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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112 comments

  1. vlade

    “Like other political systems, the strong state is an institutional arrangement to concentrate and distribute human resources in the interests of the common good”
    This sentence discredited the article for me – it rules out a political system that is in place to support an elite against the rest (which I’d argue is a non-trivial number of systems, however they look on paper)

    The reasons the author gives are spurious too. First, he implies that Russia has tons of resources and little manufacturing capacity, so can’t compete. Hello, has he ever heard of Australia or New Zealand? Arguably some of the better Western-style democracies? Both similar in some ways to Russia (but hugely dissimilar in the fact that Aussies or Kiwis rely strongly on their community, and not much on their government)
    Then he equates western democracy with decentralised state with weak social obligations. I thought that Russians were enamored of France, which is most certainly neither of those.

    You know, I’d even say that it’s true that Russians need a strong government now, but for entirely different reasons. Firstly, Russians suffered more social shocks in the 20th century than just about anyone else. The moved from almost-feudal (serfdom was abolished in Russia just before ACW started, but unlike the 100 years of slavery in US it was an institution that was prevalent everywhere for 800 years), didn’t even have time to enter 19th century to be spasmed by a war and then a civil war, followed by “communism”, another war, cold war, another social upheaval, and then another.

    Apart from WW2, out of which Russia got immense national pride (and rightly so), it was not a good century for Russia (and it’s something to say you can be most proud of a period where 20million of your people perished). Moreover, majority of the Russian triumphs (space race comes to mind) came because of immense sacrifices – sometimes voluntary, sometimes not.

    Now Russia feels treated as if they lost a war (and US/West was treating them like that), even though they don’t believe they did. So anyone who looks like restoring Russia’s pride and what they believe to be the rightful place in the world (which is not a second-class country) will get immense amount of support. That’s all there is to it. It’s been around for ages – China went (and goes) through it, so did Germany (three times in fact, pre WW1, pre WW2 and post WW2), Japan etc. etc. So will US when it gets overtaken by someone else (in fact, the periods of US isolationisms I believe are closely related to this).

    So, Russians want/need to re-establish their national pride. West could have helped, they didn’t so Russians will have a go in a different way. Tough luck.

    1. Banger

      One thing people miss about sovereign states is the degree of cultural cohesion. Russia is relatively cohesive as a culture as is Japan and their institutions reflect that fact. Countries like the U.S. have to have very different structures because cohesion, on the basis of culture, is not very strong which is why the U.S. has done rather well with a more decentralized regime–though it is now attempting to impose a centralized state–something increasing numbers of people are rejecting and would reject were it not for fraudulent “threats” that allow the MIC to flourish despite spectacular and obvious corruption in that complex.

    2. EmilianoZ

      a political system that is in place to support an elite against the rest

      That pretty much sums up democracy as it is currently practiced in the West. It seems that the various forms that a government can take do not matter much. What matters is culture and people. Put corrupt people at the helm of a democracy, you get what we now have.

      They moved from almost-feudal (serfdom was abolished in Russia just before ACW started, but unlike the 100 years of slavery in US it was an institution that was prevalent everywhere for 800 years), didn’t even have time to enter 19th century to be spasmed by a war and then a civil war…

      The 19th century was the age of industrialization for the West and was lost on Russia. Yet, by 1940 the Russians had more tanks than the Germans and everybody else. From wikipedia:

      The Soviet Union began and ended the war with more tanks than the rest of the world combined (18,000-22,000).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanks_in_World_War_II

      So, in about 2 decades, they industrialized from nearly scratch and developed a manufacturing base capable of outproducing the rest of the advanced western world. That could be the single most stunning example of industrialization in the 20th century.

      According to the Saker, there has always been a deep current in the Russian soul that wanted to be distinct from the West. I think one of the the examples he gave was Alexander Nevsky who chose to submit to the Mongols rather than to the West (Nevsky is famous for beating the Teutons).

  2. dearieme

    “Genetic variant helps protect Latinas from breast cancer”: impossible; race is just a social construct.

    1. abynormal

      Race and ethnicity have long been incorporated into medical decision-
      making processes. For example, physicians are typically aware that
      sickle-cell disease is much more common in African and
      Mediterranean populations than in northern European populations,
      whereas the reverse is true for cystic fibrosis and hemochromatosis.
      Although such distinctions are often clearest for single-gene diseases,
      perceived population differences influence the diagnosis and treat-
      ment of common diseases as well.
      Broad population categories can be discerned genetically when
      enough polymorphisms are analyzed, as seen inFigure 3, so these cat-
      egories are not devoid of biological meaning. When several thousand
      or more polymorphisms are examined, individual populations, such
      as Japanese and Chinese, can be delineated 34, and members of
      ‘admixed’ American populations, such as Hispanics, African-
      Americans and European-Americans, can be accurately identified
      34,49.
      http://comenius.susqu.edu/biol/201/01/geneticvariationclassificationandrace.pdf

      1. L.M. Dorsey

        The elision of “ethnicity” and “race” is an example of what is technically referred to as trying to have your cake and eat it too:

        Genetic variation is geographically structured, as
        expected from the partial isolation of human populations during
        much of their history. Because traditional concepts of race are in turn
        correlated with geography, it is inaccurate to state that race is “biologi-
        cally meaningless.” On the other hand, because they have been only
        partially isolated, human populations are seldom demarcated by pre-
        cise genetic boundaries. Substantial overlap can therefore occur
        between populations, invalidating the concept that populations (or
        races) are discrete types.

        But let’s do by all means keep the door open for those “traditional concepts of race” (which, despite the assertion, are “correlated with geography” if at all, only accidentally).

  3. not_me

    The position of debtors was further strengthened by the prohibition of usury – charging unreasonably high interest on money. from The Moral Economy of Debt [bold added]

    Uh, no. The Bible forbids the charging of ANY interest, except from foreigners. See Deuteronomy 23:19-20. Then how was lending for profit accomplished without charging interest from non-foreigners? One way would be to require slightly more collateral than the value of the loan. This neatly solves the “missing interest problem” because the collateral would necessarily exist, unlike interest which might not even exist (or be recycled) in sufficient quantities to prevent some loans from NECESSARILY defaulting.

    So profitable lending without interest is certainly possible.

    The moral of the tale is not, as Polonius instructed his son Laertes, “neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Without both, humanity might still be living in caves. from The Moral Economy of Debt [bold added]

    The use of common stock as private money requires no borrowing or lending at all, much less at interest. Consider a simple example where one person has some centrally located land, another has grinding wheels, another has some construction materials while others merely have their own skilled labor. All of these assets can be consolidated in the form of a common stock company to build and operate a grain mill with each contributor receiving a proportional amount of common stock. So here’s human progress WITHOUT borrowing or lending by the principle parties and in the case where the new mill accepts its own common stock back as payment for flour, neither can it be said that any 3rd party debt is required except for the mill to pay its taxes with, as in the case of fiat.

    1. Banger

      Loretta Napoleoni made similar points some time ago. Excellent comment. Interest and money-lending in much of European history allowed sovereigns to conduct wars they could not afford which contributed for the European propensity for war. I don’t believe, in the least, that interest was a positive force in European history–I think the wheels of knowledge would have kept turning in the West without all the wars and we might, at this point in history, have avoided the carnage that was feature of the Age of Exploration and the 20th century and begun, by now, to have more rapidly lost the habits of War and begun to address common issues like the climate change rather than spending fortunes on weapons and almost nothing on cleaning up and creating a rational and well-run world.

      1. Vatch

        Warfare doesn’t require borrowing and lending at interest. Islam explicitly prohibits interest, yet this has not prevented numerous wars of conquest waged by Islamic armies.

      1. not_me

        Non-Hebrews except converts, I suppose, so usury (lending for interest) was/is an economic weapon, it seems.

    2. Vatch

      Suppose one of the holders of mill stock wants to buy some vegetables, meat, or clothing. What if the vendor of vegetables, meat, or clothing has celiac disease, and has no interest in acquiring stock from the mill? How will the mill stockholders pay for vegetables, meat, or clothing? Will they have to become stockholders in another venture? And if they want to buy something from someone who isn’t interested in the stock of either of the two companies in which they own stock, then what happens?

      Eventually, people will need to own stock in a large number of enterprises, some of which will flourish, and some of which will do poorly. There will be a need for a way to keep track of the relative successes and failures among the different companies. What would be used for that? Some generalized form of money is the answer. Even when common stock is widely used, something separate is needed to assign values to the different forms of stock.

      1. not_me

        Even when common stock is widely used, something separate is needed to assign values to the different forms of stock.

        Inexpensive fiat would be, as it is now, the common measuring stick. I’m only talking about private money here ; fiat would remain, as it must be for ethical reasons, the ONLY means with which to extinguish debts to government though it could, just as now, be used for private debts too if both parties agree.

      2. not_me

        What if the vendor of vegetables, meat, or clothing has celiac disease, and has no interest in acquiring stock from the mill?

        Haven’t you read or heard that cigarettes were a form of currency in POW camps and even non-smokers accepted cigarettes since they could easily resell them? Just so, someone with an allergy to wheat might easily accept the common stock of a wheat mill.

        1. Vatch

          Cigarettes are fungible. Shares of stock are not, because they have widely differing values, and the value of one type of stock can rise at the same time as the value of another type of stock falls. Shares of stock are not suitable for the general payment of debts, since they must pass through an exchange, and/or must be registered by the relevant company. Shares of stock are not money.

          1. not_me

            Shares of stock are not money.

            So you say; I disagree since both Liabilities and Equity are on the same side of a balance sheet and are backed by the Assets. So if debt can be money then shares in Equity can be too.

            But use whatever you want for private debts. But what isn’t acceptable, morally speaking, are government privileges for any private money form including the current system of government privileges for the banks.

  4. ambrit

    Meant as a reply to dearieme.
    I will beg to differ. Race may be described as a social construct, but there is an underlying physical variation within the Human species that can be treated as such. A more widely accepted version of race is the livestock idea of ‘breed.’ Since the term ‘breed’ now carries pejorative meanings when applied to humans, the term race substitutes. Most of what Americans mean by Latins refer to Amerind blood lines. Specifically those populations roughly based on the two genetic pools that migrated to the New World in two waves from East Asia in prehistoric times. Yes, we are all part of the Human species, but no, we are not all identical. Thank the heavens we’re not.

    1. abynormal

      “There is no point in using the word ‘impossible’ to describe something that has clearly happened.” Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

      Top O the Day to You Sir Ambrit ‘)

    2. annoyedbyracism

      And you know this because you understand human genetics and the social distrubution of all genes that might play some minor role in cancer risk on deep and professional level or because you watched a show about dog breeding on some cable network. Your comment precludes rhe first possibility, so I assume it must be the second.

      There is no such thing as a “blood line”, try and join the 21st century before wading into a discussion of “race” won’t you.

      1. ambrit

        I’ve known quite a few farmers in my day. To them, a blood line is a real thing, often determining how much they’ll pay for breeding rights to a stud animal. Why? Because the idea of heritability of traits is well understood by those who breed “animals” for various reasons.
        Secondly, the concept of ‘racism’ is an old and (dis)honoured one. It’s even enshrined in questionnaires. It is also alive and well wherever people desire scapegoats. So, let’s see if we can separate the two meanings of the word “race.” Then maybe we can come within hailing distance of the glorious new millennium.

    3. DJG

      Yes, the failure of the article in conveying information comes from using the nonsense term “Latina,” which is an artifact of U.S. racial classification. Latins originated in the Latin hills southeast of Rome. But the importance of the article is pointing to genetic resistance passed through Native American bloodlines. I’m not sure that the research broke down the results by country of origin, but the nations in Central and South America dominated by Native American peoples should be broken out for further research, such as Peru, Ecuador, or Guatemala.

      1. ambrit

        I found a good wiki on the subject.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_history_of_indigenous_peoples_of_the_Americas
        The terms generally subsumed under the mantle of Latin regarding American population groupings are loose and unrigourous, but preferable to previous terms, which were outright ‘racist’ in their meaning. Words have power, make no mistake about that. (I was trying to sidestep gender issues by using the neutral term ‘Latin.’ Try doing that in Spanish where the male gender form is the automatic fallback used when gender identifications are ambiguous.)

  5. scott

    Any discussion of wealth inequality and middle class decline that doesn’t mention financialization and de-industrialization is a waste of time.

  6. kathrin

    Gregory Cochran (author of “The 10.000 year explosion) on `Experts´:

    https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/


    In 2003, the ‘experts’ ( politicians, journalists, pundits, spies) knew that Saddam had a nuclear program, but the small number of people that actually knew anything about nuclear weapons development and something about Iraq (at the World Almanac level, say) knew that wasn’t so.

  7. David Lentini

    Thanks for posting the Jordan and Asimov pieces. I think the former illustrates the latter quite well.

    And both should give us a lot of worry over the direction of our economy and society, where our fetish for “meritocracy” requires the very opposite of the behaviors and social arrangements advocated by Asimov as shown by the insistence by the Very Special People that grandiose technolgies like “big data” and artificial intelligence will solve our problems. An important case in point is Common Core, which is taking over public schooling with exactly this sort of Silicon Valley technocracy. The end will be exactly the sort of creatively and intellectually stultifying culture that would bring tears to Asimov.

    1. ambrit

      There is a fairly large homeschooling movement in America. Do not confuse this with the “Private School” movement. When we did this with our three children, it was primarily populated by Fundamentalist Christians, but not exclusively so. We were part of the hippy fringe of the movement. There were other counter culture types, plus disparate religious groups. We knew one early Black Islam family who wanted to keep their children from becoming ‘worldly.’
      The homeschooling movement is a good template for grass roots activism. You make contacts and develop strategies that cover a wide range of world views. Commenters may decry the apparent co-option of Fundamentalist Christianity by the Power Elites, but despair not. No movement is monolithic, something that the DKs and Obots of this world would do well to learn. Neither is the Tea Party a monolith. Take that into consideration and start making contacts.

      1. Banger

        I too spent some of my children’s years homeschooling. The last venture was my youngest daughter who simply refused to go to school after one year of middle-school and, within some loose guidelines and a little tutoring (in French) she managed her own schooling–I had to do very little.

        Learning is natural and occurs rapidly or slowly depending on the child’s development–fortunately I knew that unlike the nation’s educators that seek to mold students into “grades” so they are moved along like little soldiers off to the workhouse of industry shorn of imagination and creativity. The basic ideas of education have not changed for a century. Public schools should be deleted forthwith. My guide to this has always been Ivan Illych who I recommend. We are now at a point that we can create tailor-made educations for all our students but the bureaucracy resists all change all the time. Education is just like all the other public institutions–it exists for its own sake not ours.

        1. ambrit

          Ah yes, the good old days. Creativity is actively suppressed in Formal Schooling. My wife refers to it as the ‘always color within the lines’ idea. That’s why she started our children in on drawing, painting, and music as early as they could control their appendages.
          As for institutional thinking, I well remember arguments at School Board meetings. The suits would really not know how to react at first to a comment or suggestion from the ‘outside the box’ crowd. One reaction was a visit from State Child Welfare to make sure our kids weren’t falling into savagery from lack of “adequate socialization.” Cart before horse thinking. (We found out later that the local School Board had made the complaint. It seems there was serious federal funds at stake.)
          Thanks for the heads up about Illych. He looks interesting.

          1. Banger

            Actually his name is Illich don’t know where the “y” came from. The book is Deschooling Society

      2. David Lentini

        I put two kids through public schools, and planning to homeschool my third. (Second marriages will make for extended age distributions in one’s progeny.) But the homeschool movement has much to fear from Common Core. The architect of Common Core, David Coleman, is now head of the College Board and is reforming the SAT and AP tests to “align” with his Common Core. All of this is hevily funded by the Gates Foundation and supported by the testing industry (like Pearson). Diane Ravitch give a good summary of ths history and issues here.

        The fear is that either you’ll go to an expensive private school that will get you pooped-up for the “aligned” tests while teaching you a more effective curriculum, or that you’ll take prep classes for the tests. But many homeschoolers—who will likely get better educations—fear they’ll be priced out of that market. I also fear that the government may start restricting homeschooling in the name of data gathering.

        1. ambrit

          The government has always tried to restrict homeschooling in the name of ‘money,’ as in Federal Funds per student enrolled. As for the test wars, well, more and more young people I encounter have an almost dismissive attitude towards college. Many now see college, as practiced here in America, as advanced job training.

      3. jrs

        Private schools are a more practical option when both parents have to work.

        And truthfully public schools can be every bit as economically elitists as private schools if you have to live in a wealthy neighborhood to attend a good one.

    2. Banger

      BIg Data and AI are critical pieces in solving our collective problems. Because we choose to keep to make our social arrangements more primitive due to our obsession with fear and loathing as well as escapism is not the fault of those who have developed technology. We have perfect tools to get our of our various dilemmas we simply choose not to use them for anything other than childish toys. Why that is should be an ongoing subject of discussion here–but wont’ be.

      1. James Levy

        I have yet to see any examples of what “big data” does, scientifically-speaking. If it showed us how magnetic fields can be arranged to allow nuclear fusion, or predicted the upcoming variations in certain viruses so we could prepare for them, or demonstrated how we could optimize our power production and consumption systems, then I would say it is something. But I’ve seen no evidence that it tells us anything that would win some individual a Nobel Prize. For all the hype, I see no significant results.

        1. Banger

          Of course by itself a hammer does nothing but lie there. AI and so on is a tool and can be used in a variety of ways.

        2. James

          Nor have I. I work at one of the bastions of big data, and it doesn’t seem to be doing us much good. Or maybe our big data just ain’t no good?

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A question that should preoccupy every person who develops technology – How can I reasonably expect this new technology will not be used for harm?

        “If I unlock the secret of atoms, will it threaten the world…after I become rich and famous?”

      3. David Lentini

        I think the history of these technologies show they’ll do little useful, if anything. The problem with technological solutions is that they tend to force everyone to cast their lives in terms of the technology, not the other way around.

        1. James Levy

          I would argue that the telegraph, refrigeration, electric lighting, the railroad, and penicillin all had huge, positive impacts, much greater than the computer for sure. The telephone and air travel are incrementally better than the telegraph and the steamship. The advantages of television are debatable, as are the advantages of the automobile over the trolley car (trollies and railroads linked huge areas in the 1910s-1920s). Overall, I would say the inventions from the 1820s to the 1920s had a much more profound and positive impact than those made since.

    3. Furzy Mouse

      RE Asimov….From my childhood I was very much an introvert, and full of ideas, imaginations, sitting in the corners of bookshops reading…….then when I needed to work, I fortunately or not washed up on Wall St, and had to create an “extrovert” personality to survive…no time for fanciful theories or meandering conversations…all bidness, all day,,,

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This is where Basic Income Guarantee becomes Job Guarantee.

        1. All business all day kills creativity.

        2. One is creative when playing, having fun.

        3. Therefore, to produce creativity, to grow the creativity part of GDP, we need jobs that let people play.

        “Go to the park and play for 8 hours with other kids – no, no, no, you are not there to teach them anything, just play like one of them. This is not a teaching job, for Pete’s sake. – and come back to this office at 5 to pick up your Basic Income Guarantee paycheck for the day.’

        When a job is not a job, then Job Guarantee becomes Basic Income Guarantee.

        1. James

          Although, I would argue that the very act of calling it a job or making pay contingent on doing it in the first place would make it unpalatable for many, if not most. “Play” is inherently string free. Make anything contingent on it and it’s no longer play.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            James, that’s a great point…subtle, but important.

            To get things done, though, sometimes, we have to make compromises.

            “Go play now, I order you!!!!”

            “Or else!!!”

  8. ambrit

    Friends;
    Phyl and I have developed “Ocwen Aversion” in our hunt for a nice home to retire to. Every time we see a foreclosure we hunt for any sign of Ocwen or it’s co-conspirators. If such signs are observed, that trail ends there. Besides being the poster child for mortgage sleaze, they also partner with the Doyen of Auction filth, Hubzu. Hubzu has morphed several times in the recent past. Previously they were known as Altisource. This so called auction site is the perfect example of crapification to show people. Obscure terms and definitions, an offshored ‘customer help line,’ massively company benefitting fees and responsibilities; I could go on at length.
    The fact that Mr. Lawsky is being given prominence for doing his job tells the tale. This kind of action should be a regular, boring detail. That it is being played up shows how dysfunctional American regulation has become. As others have commented, when we see heads of corporations spending extended periods of time in prison will be the time to celebrate.

  9. financial matters

    Ebola serum for Africa patients within weeks, says WHO BBC (furzy mouse)

    When I saw a picture of Kent Brantley he looked like a thin guy so I was surprised to learn he lost 40 pounds while fighting Ebola. Since his recovery he has donated his serum to 4 patients, the two treated in Omaha and the two Texas nurses. According to the New Yorker article from yesterday he himself was given convalescent serum while in Africa from a 14 year old Ebola survivor.

    The Spanish nurse who contracted Ebola also was given convalescent serum.

    1. financial matters

      This serum contains antibodies that these patients have developed to fight the Ebola virus. The drug ZMapp works in a similar manner but is a combination of three Ebola antibodies that are grown in the lab.

  10. steviefinn

    Interesting gallup poll results of the 12 countries that hate their governments the most.

    12. Spain
    11. Portugal
    10. Jamaica
    9. Costa Rica
    8. Romania
    7. Peru
    6. Pakistan
    5. Moldova
    4. Czech Republic
    3. Greece
    2. Bulgaria
    1. Bosnia & Herzgovinia.

    Whatever the polls limitations & I am surprised not to see any African nations listed – the fact that 8 of 12 are European countries – 6 of which are EU members should perhaps cast a shadow over Barosa’s recent happy family BS. Maybe Ukraine might come flying in at number one in the shit parade after this coming winter, or maybe Mr. Barosa will give them their 2.5 billion loan & everything will be just toasty. Would love to have been able to find the full list, in which I suspect the following pack would consist of other EU states – even the Irish are now up in revolt in regard to water charges.

    http://247wallst.com/special-report/2014/10/17/12-countries-that-hate-their-government-most/4/

    1. Massinissa

      According to popular opinion polls, Romania’s old soviet dictator Ceaucescu, who was the only person in the soviet bloc to be overthrown in a violent revolution as opposed to a peaceful one due to his repressive policies, is more popular than the current Romanian government.

      I think thats probably at least partially a ‘grass is greener on other side’ type thing, but that still reflects VERY poorly on modern romanian governance/neoliberalism.

    2. Massinissa

      I want to mention that half of these ‘european’ countries are old soviet bloc states that have been hit hardest by neoliberalism.

      1. Vatch

        Have they really been hit harder than other countries? I suspect that Greece, Spain, and Ireland have been hit just as hard, but the ex-Soviet bloc nations have less cushioning to protect them after half a century of misrule. Of course, Greece and Spain were also abused by their own dictatorships back in the day.

        1. OIFVet

          Other countries have the mafia, in Bulgaria the mafia has the country. Many current and former politicians had their start in the mafia. Former and PM-to-be Boyko Borissov is the typical example, having gotten his start in methamphetamine distribution and the protection racket. After that he became the general secretary of the police and rose from there. So it is not surprising that no one trusts the police and the government, all institutions are utterly corrupt. Which of course complements neoliberalism quite nicely, but it is beside the point. The fact is that Bulgaria having been admitted into the EU exposes the EU’s utter contempt for democracy and its hypocrisy. It is just as corrupt and undemocratic as the Balkans, albeit in a more sophisticated way.

    3. Banger

      I would take these sorts of polls with several grains of salt. Some societies tend to value pessimism and cynicism about the authorities others don’t. Still it is interesting.

      1. ambrit

        I believe we are supposed to take these polls with several grains of morphia in solution, intravenous.

  11. craazyboy

    “US to funnel travelers from Ebola-hit region through five airports”

    Article says the solution to air travel returning from infected areas is to channel it thru 5 airports and they will screen by taking your temperature.

    Call me paranoid but, anyone that looks at the virus characteristic incubation time, which ranges anywhere from 2 – 21 days, and then concludes you can screen potential carriers by taking their temperature, is, well, crazy.

    1. ambrit

      Am I the only one around here who reads this piece and thinks, “Population Control?” Someone recently remarked that stopping travel from epidemic areas works best if instituted at the source. Come on now, these are relatively weak nations. A little jawboning behind the scenes would do wonders; that plus some real help on the ground.

      1. craazyboy

        Ya, usually a little bribe from the CIA in the right places does it. What’s different this time?

        We always have risk when we have congress vote on things – I mean, we know they’re morons – so how could we get a majority doing anything but stoooped.

        Usually it’s not always bad because the issues are more complex, so whatever they do is like flipping a coin – just the particular mix of good vs bad outcomes varies a bit.

        But if you are betting a thermometer you can detect infection, when the range of incubation time data screams in your face that it depends very much on the initial population size of virus that infected a particular individual, and vote the wrong way, then somebody is doomed. Probably not all of us. We’ll have to see.

    2. VietnamVet

      Since Ukraine and the start of Cold War 2.0, I can’t take corporate media at face value. Their job # 1 is kissing their owners’ asses and spreading propaganda. There have been no details published that I know of to determine if the Ebola Screening at the 5 airports will be effective or not. What is for sure is that Dallas was a big screw up.

      If the blood test for Ebola is readily available with results in a day, and the screened person can be contacted daily for temperature readings and required to take blood tests if elevated, and forced into isolation, if positive, the screening probably will work. I sure hope there is planning how to find those who go off the grid once here. The three Ebola infected travelers per month to the West could be right. All it takes is one to start a hot spot. The goal of the screening should be to detect and isolate every Ebola infected person that enters the USA. Since anything that can go wrong will go wrong; those infected but not detected by the airport screen will end up in the American for profit medical system or as dead bodies, as long as the West African epidemic exists.

      1. craazyboy

        This article didn’t say anything about blood tests. Just taking you temperature. Plus these are all hub airports. Presumably if your temperature is OK, you go can catch your connecting flight.

  12. MikeNY

    Re Michael Jordan and Big Data.

    There’s currently an ad campaign in SF that reads Big Data Changes Everything.

    OMG, what a fatuous assertion. Can it change the time the sun comes up? Can it end the drought? Can it resuscitate my goldfish? Can it write a couple of good poems?

    ‘Horribly reductionist’, indeed. Computers don’t have emotions or consciences. They can produce randomness, but not freedom. They can’t be creative. They aren’t human.

    {end Underground Man rant}

  13. Alfreda, may I lick your toes?

    Wow, Bezos is really giving CIA their money’s worth for the measly contract they gave him. All this contrived melodrama about the CIA report is a sideshow.

    At the Committee Against Torture’s review of the US government next month in Geneva, nobody is stupid enough to rely on fake CIA secrets. The action will revolve around the blindingly obvious public information on US government crimes.

    While credulous rubes like Ryan Grim fixate on the minutia of a computer peep show for Congressional figureheads, the world will cut to the chase: Who are you going to prosecute for this crime against humanity?

    1. hunkerdown

      “It’s like selling your neighbor’s car for twenty bucks.”

      Are all major-party voters guilty of misprision of high crimes? It’s something to ponder.

  14. craazyboy

    “Doctors Without Borders Hits Ebola Breaking Point Daily Beast. BTW, this gives reasonl to think the Nigerian success story is real.”

    Yes! Yes! I’m all twitterpated in anticipation! Contact Tracing! We need an App for it !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    A Web based game program like Pac-Man, except better graphics and linked to GPS data from our cell phones. We make our daily traces, but if we bump into the carrier icon – it’s off to quarantine for 3 weeks. :(

    No points for you and the other players just keep adding points to their score. Cool!

  15. craazyboy

    “Europe stocks ease as Wall Street bounces Financial Times”

    Investors discover Central Banking’s true role is to be the World’s Dumbest Pawn Shops.

    In the US, Pink Sheet pricing soars, Goldman rolls out plans to take Cayman Island P.O. Boxes public.

  16. petal

    Thank you for posting the articles about Gough Whitlam. Definitely someone I hope people will read about.

  17. Vatch

    “China ‘executed 2,400’ last year: rights group”. Hmm, people in Texas often talk about seceding from the United States; maybe they should consider joining the People’s Republic of China after they secede. Culturally, it would be a close match.

  18. Paul Niemi

    “Driverless cars will make up half the vehicles on the road in twenty years,” said a young lady being interviewed on a radio station I was listening to yesterday. No need to find a parking place, your car will just go home after dropping you off downtown, then return to pick you up when you are ready. (It was listen to that or a frenzied harpsichord.) But I think there is a bigger issue. Are we teaching optimism to young people? “All’s for the best in this best of all possible worlds?” If so, it would make sense that they can swallow the most grandiose or impractical of ideas, in whole cloth, without being troubled by any doubts. I don’t think it even occurred to this person that an empty car driving itself on the roadways could be a hazard, or that it would be wasting fuel because the effective fuel economy of a car that is absent any person is zero.

    1. craazyboy

      It’s all part of growing up, I think. They made us watch the “Jetsons”.

      That said, sometime in the next few days I’ll have some pics of my 1/10 scale radio controlled Monster Truck that I’m converting to an Arduino microcontroller based self driving truck. His name is Rover. But I plan to only take his leash off in the park.

      1. optimader

        “I’m converting to an Arduino microcontroller based self driving truck”
        You’ll be able to send on an autonomous beer run to the liquor store? Get it going then add this: http://projectsentrygun.rudolphlabs.com/
        You’ll be the scourge of the squirrels on route to the store ’til the FBI picks you up

        1. craazyboy

          haha. yes, of course you use a paintball gun!

          Just like old times when I used to design servo motors for defense&aerospace pointing, tracking and stabilization systems.

          1. ambrit

            OMG My dad did something similar with hydraulics for tanks back in the early ’60s. (This was between sugar mill projects. He had to leave when he refused to join the John Birch Society.)
            Servomotors? Won’t EMP mess with them? How do you “harden” a servo motor?

            1. craazyboy

              Motors are inherently hard, but the electronics guys sometimes do something about EMP, rad hardening, etc…

              Hydraulic servos are for moving heavy things like tank guns & turrets. On tanks, we did things like make the gimbal servos for weapons sights and viewers. They would swivel around and also remove all the “bouncing” from motion and bumps.

      2. Paul Niemi

        So when the Saudis crashed the price of oil, I went out to the garage and started up my 1962 Imperial LeBaron. It’s been a few years, but once again I’m driving down the capitalist road. Self-driving cars can pull over. As I pass by, women smile and wave. Men rubberneck with stunned expressions. Now to find a drive-in with trays. We gots us a recovery going on. We’re outbound and down.

        1. ambrit

          Aaah! You just reminded me of our ’63 Continental with the Mercury style rear window that went up and down. Perfect for sitting on the trunk, feet dangling inside the back seat, while watching “The Horror of Dracula” on the drive in screen.
          “The Horror of Fracula” starring the Invisible Regulator! Where have I seen that before?

          1. Paul Niemi

            Yesterday, I saw a neighbor going down the street in a baby blue ’73 Lincoln Townhouse. Now that’s a car for a capitalist roader, not a downsized, financialised, hand-to-mouth debt-serf. We’ll get the psychology going: if we act like there is a recovery, there will be one.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If they could genetically breed horses like that, it would be great.

      You ride your self-driving horse to work. It then goes off to the park to play with other self-driving horses and then, around 5PM, comes and picks you up, to ride off into the sunset together.

      Liberated from minding traffic on the road, you have time to be creative…

      “What should I have for dinner – bazushi (raw horse sushi) or cooked horse meat?”

      1. optimader

        Beef
        A good autonomous horse family story..
        My mom’s (irish) grandfather had a horsedrawn ice wagon in Chicago in the way back when it was the refrigerant of choice. When he came down w/a particularly debilitating case of the flue her (teetotaler) grandmother setout to do the route. The horse knew the route by habitual repetition and would pull over at the stops by rote and she’d get out, check if they needed ice, and accordingly she’d schlep the ice as rqd, get back on the wagon, and the horse would plod along to the next stop.

        At the end of the route as usual the horse turned to deadhead back home. G.Grandma was feeling pretty proud of herself, but a bit puzzled as she apparently knocked out the route in record time by her reckoning, relative to when her husband would come rolling back home.
        So on the way home to her horror the horse would pull over and stop at what were all her husbands favorite taverns and she’d have to get out and get back in to cajole the horse to get moving again.
        A shtstorm went down when she got home.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Watch Anthony Bourdain and you will get used to it.

          “So many animals and animal body parts that people all over the world eat but we simply throw away in America!!!”

    3. craazyman

      Jesus one late night in the 1990s I was driving with my girlfriend at the time — about 1 a.m. — on a country road in coastal Massachussetts. There was a car ahead, no headliights, driving along at about 50 mph. We got up to it and THERE WAS NOBODY IN THE CAR! It was the freakiest thing I’ve ever seen, or at least it ranked up there. I think we Scooby-Doo’d it out of there at about 80 mph. It must have been a ghost or a form of automotive possession. (But not “repossession”. Then you’d have had a repo man behind the wheel).

      This may have had something to do with King Phillip’s War.

      Nowdays you’d just assume it was remote controlled. This is gonna clog the highways with traffic jams. But all the cars will be patiently idling. No hornblowing! Unless some dude is wired from his iPhone to a dashboard cam and he remotely honks. haha. Can you imagine a forest of driverless cars clogging an intersection all blaring horns in every direction? And a drone overhead broadcasting it back in live video feed. With you on your couch doing bonghits watching it all on the TV and too stoned to change the channel.

      1. ambrit

        You’ve just described traffic patterns in much of the Third World. And, like dude, what’s up with getting up to change the channel? You don’t got a remote? Or maybe you younger cats are reaping the “rewards,” ha ha, of the march of science, like Sinse? Repeat after me: If I can stoke the bong, I can change the channel. Besides, ol’ Scooby’s playing on some channel somewhere. “Rover reere Raggy!”

    4. James

      Are we teaching optimism to young people?

      Yes. That and delusional thinking. Any simple consideration of the infrastructure requirements for such BS returns an error. But I think most are smart enough to know better. The rest will unfortunately be, selected out.

  19. TedWa

    Re: MERS : “I guarantee no CEO or even senior execs were involved.”

    Just do a search of MERS being created by the banks. I’m sure bank CEO’s were involved, especially the CEO’s of Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

    1. TedWa

      It was their brain child. If you knew what unfolded pre-2008 beforehand, how would you maximize profits? Work to get rid of the independent appraisal profession and find a way around recording all the titles they knew they’d get their hands on. Dallas County alone was owed over $100 million in recording fees. The CEO’s of both banks were greedy skinflints and spent their free time thinking of ways to screw everyone over while making it appear what they were doing was logical and called for when they weren’t. I’d bet my bottom dollar they were involved and most likely got the GSE’s on board.

      1. psychohistorian

        I also don’t understand, nor agree, with Yves assertion that MERS creation was not directed and known about by the CEOs. This position seems a bit strange for Yves, IMO.

  20. Left in Wisconsin

    I tried to take Yves’ suggestion to skewer the Galston piece from Brookings seriously, but it is so truly awful I found myself having to stop and take deep breaths every two or three sentences. What is bizarre is that I really think he is trying to say “we need to do more for the little people or else they might eventually get really angry instead of just depressed.” But of course no outside-the-bubble thinking allowed. Readers should know that Galston is what passes for a deep thinker among Democrats in DC. But only worth reading for insight into that worldview – and only with a barf bag on hand.

  21. Mistress Alfreda, please please tinkle on my face

    More play-acting to hide from the Committee Against Torture.

    CIA ass-kisser Alvin Hellerstein got all gussied up in a judge costume to shake his finger and make CIA explain why they’re obstructing justice, photograph by photograph.

    Here’s the good part. The deadline is 12 December. See what they did there? Now, on November 12 and 13, the US government puts on their shit-eating grin and says to the Committee Against Torture, We are undertaking painstaking, rigorous judicial scrutiny of evidence against US torturers. Only you can’t see it yet. Cuz we’re working ever so hard but we’re not finished. Yet.

    That’s the DoJ shuck and jive, make sure you have some bullshit rigged court proceeding to mumble about and get you through the review. Same way Holder got the banks off the hook, run out the clock. It’s all he knows.

    At Geneva, Brennan’s Stepin Fetchit will be surprised to learn there is no clock. In universal jurisdiction there can be no statute of limitations on the grave crime of torture. At any time, any country can void the official immunity of a torturer as a countermeasure to internationally wrongful acts in breach of peremptory norms of international law.

  22. down2long

    Re: Ocwen Backdating docs. Owen refused my payments for three years, ruined my credit so I lost another building which I couldn’t refi (when Chase chose to do a “voluntary foreclosure” on a current loan.) They tried to collect on a second on building I had lost to foreclosure four years prior, and which was resolved in BK court. Ocwen is a criminal organization and should be liquidated. I had to sue the pants off of them to prevail. Unfortunately, in this fked up country, most people do not have the resources to wage war against such scum, and the regulators (ex my hero Ben Lawsky in New York) are unindicted co-conspirators.

    I am started to think foreclosure fraud will never end. It is simply too lucrative for the banks and servicers, and the Fed/OCC/FDIC are all complicit because it shores up those “systemically important” banks.

    As an aside, I have a similar problem with Wells servicing a mess of a loan for B of A, LaSalle, a Morgan Stanley Trust, multiple transfers in MERS, conflicting owners, etc. Elizabeth Warren’s baby, CFTC, appears to have some teeth and has been helpful. I know, I’m shocked too. If the Repugs take over the Senate they will gut the CFTC and Obama will let them, because it causes too much friction for his beloved banksters.

  23. bruno marr

    Solar vs. Wind vs Hydro:

    Hydro energy may seem like a cost/benefit winner in Europe. A power generating system that inserts itself in the hydrologic cycle can be cost efficient, unless you’re a salmon. I’m sure there are other environmental issues that were “unresolved” in the study, as well.

    Hydro power generation may be relatively close to end-users in Europe, but not so in the US. Transmission of electrical power over distance wastes energy. Better to have distributed power sources like wind and solar PV. In any case, the hydrologic cycle is sure to be upended with AGW.

  24. JEHR

    Re: the antidote du jour: those are probably the deer that used to eat all my flowers and vegetables. But this year I put an electric fence around the vegetable garden and movement sensitive water sprays on the flower bed, so that this is the first year in a long time that I have seen all my flowers and eaten all the vegetables myself! The deer are only cute from a long, long distance away!

  25. Ulysses

    From the Guardian piece linked above:

    “A frequent complaint, according to Joan Bertin, executive director of the NCAC, is of books being “anti-capitalist”. She says this is conflated by some sectors of society as somehow undermining American or Christian values.”

    I think these guardians of public morality would be shocked at what that famous, long-haired, sandal-wearing pinko hippy (aka the Son of God) said in a famous Sermon on a hilltop: “You cannot serve both God and Mammon” (Matt. 6:24)

  26. tiebie66

    Re: Genetic variant helps protect Latinas from breast cancer. But there is no such thing as “race”! This must be a purely cultural genetic variant!

    Really, why we would believe that humans are so exceptional as to have no subspecies when most other mammals do… Let me also point out, preemptively, that the difference between humans and donkeys is theoretically smaller than the variation within donkeys because normal distributions have infinite tails…

    TINA: we need to understand the differences and accommodate them fairly. Denial is not the road to fairness.

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