Links 10/9/14

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Should all journalists be on Twitter? Columbia Journalism Review. The question is raised just when Twitter is getting sufficiently cluttered with junk ads as to be of diminishing utility.

The Amish Farmers Reinventing Organic Agriculture Atlantic. Lambert: “Must read for gardeners and farmers.”

Opposition to drilling elevated to an art form Canada (Lambert). This is brilliant. Can any intellectual property experts opine as to whether this might work in the US?

Fracking Chemicals, Brought to You By Susan G. Komen Mother Jones (frosty zoom)

Fossil Fuels Get Huge Master Limited Partnership Tax Breaks – “Green” Energy Shut Out DC Bureau


Ominous math of the Ebola epidemic worries experts Washington Post

New York Airport Workers Go On Strike Over Ebola Gawker

Hong Kong

Hong Kong protests about economics as much as democracy East Asia Forum

‘A New Era for Hong Kong’ Foreign Policy

Hong Kong protests: Talks shelved CNN

Is Japan Back In Recession? Edward Hugh

Eurozone on cusp of triple-dip recession as German exports crumble Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. Telegraph


US and Turkey in diplomatic stand-off Financial Times

Much of ISIS’ Ammunition From US Government DSWright, Firedoglake

Destroying a $30,000 Islamic State pickup truck can cost US $500,000 Stars & Stripes (1 SK)

Guantanamo Bay: Force feedings that test US secrecy BBC

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Court Spotlights the FBI’s Super-Secret National Security Letters Intercept

USA Gag Freedom Act Marcy Wheeler

Democratic Base Is Not At All Enthusiastic About This Election Jon Walker, Firedoglake. Is lesserevilism finally losing out to “Fool me once, shame on thee, fool me twice, shame on me”?

FCC fines Marriott $600,000 for blocking guests’ Wi-Fi CNN (EM)

Protesters Clash With St. Louis Police After Teen Killed Bloomberg

Former Fed chief Ben Bernanke defends AIG bailout in court Associated Press

Bernanke says he didn’t know basis for AIG bailout loan rate Globe and Mail. This is a key point for the Greenberg side. Notice it is highlighted only in Canadian coverage.

Yes We Can Pay for Increasing Social Security Benefits New Economic Perspectives

Whither Markets?

Tapering is tightening? FT Alphaville

Fed Aim Off Target as Inflation Descends Near Danger Zone Bloomberg

Here’s How Much Business S&P 500 Companies Generate Outside Of The US Business Insider. We pointed out repeatedly during the acute phases of Eurozone wobblies that Europe accounted for about 25% of S&P 50 revenues.

Asia Markets: Asian shares drop on oil price decline, growth concerns MarketWatch

New Home Prices: Are they Really Up this Year? Homebuilder Freebies: Reduced Closing Costs, Free Pools; Housing Has Peaked This Cycle Michael Shedlock

Container Store CEO Mulls Ending Guidance After Rocky Week Bloomberg. This would be major if other companies followed. But this move looks like an admission of weakness.

Fed’s ‘Reverse Repo’ Tool Catches Republican Criticism WSJ Economics. Your humble blogger has been predicting that the Republicans will try to rein in Fed interventions if they win control of the Senate. Mind you, I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. The central bank has brought this on itself with its lack of transparency and accountability/

Class Warfare

Germany Just Made College Tuition Free? Why Won’t Our Black Political Class Fight For Free Tuition Here? Bruce Dixon, Black Agenda Report

Sky-high Davos fee rise deflates partners Financial Times. Is Davos trying to become more exclusive?

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

lion licking paw links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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      1. abynormal

        Comments from patients made while undergoing colonoscopies…
        1. “Take it easy, Doc, you’re boldly going where no man has gone before.”
        2. “Find Amelia Earhart yet?”
        3. “Can you hear me NOW?”
        4. “Oh boy, that was sphincterrific!”
        5. “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
        6. “You know, in Arkansas, we’re now legally married.”
        7. “Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?”
        8. “You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out. You do the Hokey Pokey…”
        9. “Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!”
        10.”If your hand doesn’t fit, you must acquit!”
        11. “Hey, Doc, let me know if you find my dignity.”
        12. “You used to be an executive at Enron, didn’t you?”
        13. “Could you write me a note for my wife, saying that my head is not, in fact, up there?”

        1. ambrit

          Number Nine, (number nine, number nine, number nine,) should be; “Hey! Now I know how a Politician feels!”

  1. JohnB

    Is it accurate to say that ‘money’ is “societies debt to you”? In other words, when people work to earn money, society owes a debt to them for their work, which is what money is – a debt – and that when people spend money, they are reclaiming societies debt to them, by making a demand on societies resources?

    I’m sure I read this in some MMT writing before, but I can’t figure out where I read it. Would be good if someone could provide me with some links to back this, and also to hear some criticism of the idea, as – while I think it’s a very powerful narrative – I’m not sure how well it holds up.

    1. not_me

      Is it accurate to say that ‘money’ is “societies debt to you”? JohnB

      No, money in the form of bank credit is society’s (actually many members of it) debt to the banking cartel and, as currently configured, money in the form of fiat is society’s debt to sovereign debt owners.

      It’s naive to think society owes you anything for your money yet government subsidies for credit creation ensures that many DO need money to pay their debts to the banks and taxes to sovereign debt owners.

      1. JohnB

        That’s true – in that case then, is my framing of that (money being societies debt to you), the way that it should work, and thus, is it a good/accurate narrative to use for what we should strive for?

        1. not_me

          Yes, exactly so! The use of common stock as private money allows those with capital to pool it for economies of scale and then to claim the products produced thereby.

          Speaking of double entry accounting, the MMT crowd should realize that if money can be produced as debt (Liabilities) then it can also be created as shares in Equity, common stock.

          1. not_me

            With capital, broadly speaking, including one’s labor, talents, skills, etc. People join together in societies to produce more and better goods and services than they could individually. What need then is there for an external source of money (ie. bank credit) to finance those societies except to loot them?

            1. skippy

              From a sociological and anthropological view your statement is inaccurate at best or worse, a concocted premise to forward a political agenda.

              Skippy…. no roids yet and why the subterfuge…

    2. Benedict@Large

      Your phrasing is consistent with the MMT view, and while I haven’t seen your exact phrasing before, I’d be surprised if some MMTer hadn’t said it before. I’m not sure what sort of links you’re looking for, as what you a saying is simply an English-language phasing of double-entry bookkeeping. If double-entry bookkeeping is true, then MMT is true, as that’s all MMT is. [Note: not_me doesn’t know what he’s talking about.]

      1. JohnB

        Cool, cheers – that’s what I was looking for :) Ya was just wondering if there were links that put it in the same framing as me, money being ‘societies debt to you’ type of framing.

      2. not_me

        How about specifically refuting me, if you can?

        Tell me, how much did society owe German Mark holders during the Wiemar inflation? Extremely little per Mark?

    3. reslez

      I’m far from expert but I don’t think I’ve encountered this in MMT writing. The idea that only “workers” are entitled to resources is problematic for those who are unable to work (children, the elderly, the physically/mentally unable), those whose work is culturally unrecognized (women and other caregivers), and those who engage in socially useless and harmful work (Wall Street, PE vultures).

      1. JohnB

        There are exceptions, such as people being entitled to at least a minimal quality of life (many would go much further though), and this means that societies owes them enough money to provide that, even if they didn’t work for it.

        Society would also be responsible for the children/elderly overall, if no relations could take care of them.

        People gaining money they did not earn though (and when they did not gain that money, by society being obligated to give it to them – as in the case of e.g. welfare recipients), such as people inheriting money (which they did nothing to earn), people using rent-seeking or other similar economic activities to gain money without providing anything to society – society would, in moral principle, not owe these people any debt, yet they could extract resources from society using the money they gained anyway.

        My narrative here is a little odd I admit ;) I’ve been testing it out in a debate elsewhere, on inheritance taxes (and perhaps, for example, putting a cap on how much can be inherited), and this is an extremely useful line of argument/narrative.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Doesn’t that mean, then, the society owes a lot of debt to our billionaires, looking at all the money they have?

      Mathematically, if money is debt owed by the society to members of society, if you add up them all up, the total debt should be (net) zero, since the society does not owe debt to itself (can one owe debt to oneself?).

      Total amount of money in the society = 0.

      But it’s not.

      So, why? Where does it go wrong in this narrative?

      1. JohnB

        Well, money doesn’t have to be spent in the present, and if everyone tries to reclaim ‘societies debt to them’ at once, that either creates inflation or triggers government action (taxation) to diminish the claim on resources those people make; people can reclaim societies debt to them, at any time in the future.

        With billionaires, yes, they have typically found one way or another to exploit the economic system, so that society happens to owe a larger debt to them than is proportional or fair, relative to what they provided to society – arguably, you could say that due to the methods used to make society incur that ‘debt’ towards them, a lot of it could be considered immoral/void/unearned (particularly with inherited wealth, where the person has not expended any effort to earn that debt from society).

        I’m starting to really stretch this narrative a hell of a lot here though ;) I don’t know if this is still how the author meant it, when I originally read it in an MMT article of some sort.

        Be interesting to see what other ways there are to take advantage of this narrative though (or to find ways to poke holes in it).

  2. Yonatan

    “Destroying a $30,000 Islamic State pickup truck can cost US $500,000”
    But the new business model is efficient. In the past, wars relied on an enemy existing in the first place and a second, or even worse, third party supplying weapons to them. Now the whole mechanism lies under the USMIC brand. The costs may be higher, but all the profit goes to USMIC. The higher costs are no problem either as they are paid by others outside the USMIC brand.

    1. MikeNY

      Ain’t that the truth. Talk about vertical integration! The USMIC now even fabricates its own enemies. It’s recession-resistant, too!

      Sounds like the perfect target for PE firm Carlyle.

    2. James

      You’re getting the hang of this thing now! Play your cards right and you just might have a future in the biz!

  3. trish

    re Opposition to drilling elevated to an art form Canada. “This is brilliant.”

    Indeed. My anecdote for this morning.

    “Lawsuits have been threatened,,,but no oil and gas companies have risked a winner-take-all court case that would attract public attention and start other landowners thinking.”
    And Yes, please, would it work in the US??? Though one fears that the oligarchs might quick shove through some sort of legislation to preemptively cover this before it happens…

    1. David Lentini

      Not knowing Canadian copyright law, and only having a passing familiarity with US copyright law, my first response was skepticism. But as I reviewed the copyright statute, I have come to see how this may work in the US. Like the story suggests, you’d have to cover your property with all sorts of copyrightable works to a density that makes drilling inherently destructive of at least a porition of the value of the copyrighted works.

      But I’m not sure that US eminient domian laws wouldn’t apply ultimately anayway. The Supreme Court has continually expanded the scope of eminent domain in ways that have benefitted private businesses (see here).

      In the end, the question will still be economic: Does the value of the artistic property outweigh the expected profits from drilling?

      1. wbgonne

        While it may ultimately still be an economic analysis, a viable strategy is to make the extraction become not cost-effective. This particular bit of trickery may not be the whole answer but it suggests others. The proper adjustment, of course, should be effected through serious regulation that forces Big Oil to absorb tbe costs of its activities instead of foisting them onto the public. But that ain’t happening under President Frackenstein. In the meantime, guerilla legal attacks like this are probably what we must work with.

      2. trish

        Yes, I remember several years ago the court had some odious rulings in this regard. It was back when I was more ignorant about what was going on, just learning. And I remember being surprised and appalled about how it was reported in the MSM, ie the NYT, since to me it was all about private profit in the guise of public interest, ie community revitalization.

    2. wbgonne

      Lambert asks: “Can any intellectual property experts opine as to whether this might work in the US?” Unfortunately, I am not an IP expert so I can’t answer this off the top of my head. I will say this, however: the Left deperately needs think tanks and similar vehicles to prosecute lawsuits of this nature. This is one of the key mechanisms the Right has used to take over and the Left must fight back or, better yet, take the offensive. The Right has taken “liberal” conceptions like free speech and twisted them into corporatization schemes. The Left can do the same using the Right’s glorification of private property. But litigation like that requires careful planning and painstaking execution. It requires organizational support.

      1. pgrommit

        Feeding off your “The left can do the same” idea, how about taking the flag that TPTB wave whenever pushing for their agenda, (always implicitly or otherwise saying how good xyz is for “the middle class”, or “creating jobs”), and shoving that flag back in their faces.

        For example, since almost 3/4 (70%) of the economy is consumer spending, getting ways for people to spend more should be the priority. But that hasn’t happened. Look at who has benefited from the policies that have been implemented. Business profits (both on an absolute basis and as a % of GDP) are at all-time record highs. But most of the workers who helped create those profits are NOT being rewarded, unlike before the 1980’s. Start pointing THAT out, then ask “tell us again, why is the economy so sluggish?”

        There are many more examples that fit the bill. It just takes getting past the “filtering process” of corporate-owned MSM by true progressives that aren’t bought-and-paid-for experts at lip service.

        My point is that while these facts and many others along the same lines are well-known in this area of the blogosphere, they never get much traction beyond that.

      1. lambert strether

        Thanks, that’s helpful. This is Canadaian intellectual property law. Can anyone comment on the US?

        1. alex Morfesis

          not every state in the US of A has government capacity to impose its right to exploit the mineral rights under your property. Even in some States, like Florida, where the accepted argument is the rights to the minerals under your property belong to the state, there is much argument that can be made of the limited case law supporting that.

          As to copyright vs being able to extract a higher cost due to someone being a famous artist and their property being a living breathing gallery, one might…just might, if one actually worked on it, make a living with photos of your property and argue it is aesthetically marketable, but it would be determined by the actual district and appeals court rulings both locally in respect to the property and the appeals district in the area.

          the question at hand is what can be done to control the drilling in ones area and specifically on ones own property…

          The simple response if for people to acquire the rights to exploit the minerals under their property themselves. Most would be shocked at how little is paid to the States, if anything at all, when one includes depletion tax type recoveries…

          So one should just negotiate with oneself and figure out what the local custom is. Set up a company to do the drilling and then don’t drill.

          It is a much easier and cleaner way to protect your property and local community

  4. trish

    re Fracking Chemicals, Brought to You By Susan G. Komen

    I used to harp about all the estrogenic environmental toxins released from the production of all the pink stuff churned out for breast cancer awareness. The very same toxins that might be – must be- contributing to breast cancer (as well as other illnesses).

    Small stuff, relatively, I guess. This is way more blatant and egregious.
    What’s next? Pink Raptors, drones, guided missiles for the oil wars (gotta keep those drill bits busy)? Pink gas nozzles so we’re doing our bit every time we fill up our SUVs? Pink bottled water when our drinking water goes toxic? Can they figure out how to make toxic financial instruments pink?

  5. Steve H.

    re: Amish farmer

    Another Amish farmer, John Kempf, has also been doing very good work on high-performance agriculture. I’ll put the link below.

    Having culled the list, I’ve found the two most important websites I look at are Naked Capitalism and (I’m shilling here, mea yup) and the Mercola site. The other does for health what this site does for economics. Both are run by individuals willing to both push the edge and alter their opinions based on evidence. Both have presented what seemed to me at first to be woowoo perspectives, that further investigation, and reading the studies, proved astonishingly right, and that altered my behaviors because of the knowledge. Both go deeper into their subjects than I am capable of absorbing, having put the extra tens of thousands of hours in that only comes from passionate commitment to their subjects. Both have earned my trust.

    Friday is payday, I’ll be sending some of it to you today. That NC has over a thousand donors is a restorative fact for me. You have made my life better. Not only by helping me avoid getting crushed by ignorance, but by punching back successfully (CalPERS). With a fine wit. Keep doing what you’re doing, then do some more, thank you very much.

    For the gardeners:

  6. Jim Haygood

    ‘Just mint a single one oz. platinum coin at the beginning of each fiscal year with a face value large enough to cover expected the cost of SS payments.’

    Good thing SS benefits are indexed with a COLA. If the platinum coin flakery ever happened, the victims beneficiaries would sure need it.

    For those who understand that you can’t pay for real stuff with thin-air flimflammery, increasing SocSec’s pathetically low investment returns would finance higher benefits, which do indeed need to be increased.

    By rejecting two generations of advances in portfolio theory, which have won numerous Nobel prizes for US economists, Soc Sec keeps beneficiaries who lack other means barefoot, hungry and poor.

    1. James

      As opposed to putting it into the Fed manipulated hyper-inflated Wall St casino/”market” where they can lose it altogether at the whim of the oligarchy? You lost me there. Me thinks SS “victims” are likely hosed either way. Win/win for the oligarchs/pols, lose/lose for the rest of us.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘As opposed to putting it into the Fed manipulated hyper-inflated Wall St casino/”market” where they can lose it altogether at the whim of the oligarchy? You lost me there.’

        That’s what every pension fund in the country — for both public and private employees — does with about half of their assets.

        If you know of a better way to earn more with less risk, the world is waiting to hear it.

        1. James

          Convert it to hard assets that will provide for you and yours after the next crash(es). The idea that we’re entitled to earn interest on our monetary savings is a first world delusion based on the exponential growth paradigm, which is about to go the way of all the species we’re extinguishing because of it.

        1. James

          Umm… because they’re publicly traded equity based entities themselves, the corporate leaders of which are all indoctrinated with the corporate capitalist paradigm from the time they were still shitting in their wee lil’ breeches. Profits continue on the capitalist merry-go-round until they don’t, which is already if you take away the effects of the Fed’s magic elixir.

          But go right on believing that crap if you like Jim. You’re a true believer of the capitalist faith and no doubt a fine, upstanding man. And who am I to say where you should place your faith? Just color me as no believer in either pension plans or profit-seeking corporations.

      2. jrs

        I especially can’t figure out why anyone defending capitalism would want this and want the government to be one of the largest investors in capital, I don’t think SS would be insignificant in terms of $. The investments will be rigged, they will go to the campaign donors etc.. It will be a completely rigged crony market, more than it already is. Of coures it’s not a form of socialism you could get most socialists to defend either, let’s have greedy rapacious companys that don’t care about employees or the planet, only have the government own significant shares in them!

    2. not_me

      For those who understand that you can’t pay for real stuff with thin-air flimflammery, Jim Haygood

      Sure you can! You do recall that loans create deposits? The corollary of that is that loan repayment DESTROYS deposits. So simply ban or greatly restrict new credit creation and the economy would REQUIRE new fiat just to avoid catastrophic deflation.

    3. jrs

      only you CAN pay for real stuff with flim flammery. Like another war …. How is that being paid for?

  7. abynormal

    KaBoom! We’re Sitting on 10 Billion Barrels of Oil! OK, Two
    Lee Tillman, chief executive officer of Marathon Oil Corp., told investors last month that the company was potentially sitting on the equivalent of 4.3 billion barrels in its U.S. shale acreage.

    That number was 5.5 times higher than the proved reserves Marathon reported to federal regulators.

    Such discrepancies are rife in the U.S. shale industry. Drillers use bigger forecasts to sell the hydraulic fracturing boom to investors and to persuade lawmakers to lift the 39-year-old ban on crude exports. Sixty-two of 73 U.S. shale drillers reported one estimate in mandatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission while citing higher potential figures to the public, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) Co.’s estimate was 13 times higher. Goodrich Petroleum Corp.’s was 19 times. For Rice Energy Inc., it was almost 27-fold.

    1. fresno dan

      I’m still of the mind that potentially I could be in a threesome with Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett Johansson….its not unpossible!!!

  8. abynormal

    Businesses wrestle with insurance in Ebola’s wake
    Companies must consider their liability should an employee sent to an Ebola-affected area gets sick and exposes others, says Dave Evans, senior vice president of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.

    “Businesses need to consider what will happen if an employee of theirs boards a plane and has Ebola,” Evans says. “What potential liability do they now have to other members of the public?”

    Travelers, too, may find themselves unprotected.
    (while bots short airlines…) The CDC has encouraged U.S. citizens traveling to Ebola-affected countries to purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation for Ebola. If the coverage meets the Affordable Care Act standards, it covers care for illness from Ebola, but it might not cover everything a patient might need, such as experimental drugs or a medical flight back to the U.S. for treatment, says Carrie McLean, director of customer care at eHealthInsurance,

    Some plans limit the insurance payout to a figure that might not be enough to cover the costs of the intensive treatment and quarantine that come with Ebola, McLean says.

    “Those costs are going to add up,” she says.

    Travelers with trip insurance who cancel trips to Ebola-affected areas might not see a payout. Most travel insurance policies pay only if trips are canceled for specific reasons such as death of a traveling companion, weather or an employment layoff, says Megan Singh, spokeswoman for Squaremouth, an online company that evaluates travel insurance products. A “cancel for any reason” clause can increase the cost of a travel insurance policy by 40%, she says.

    “Fear is not covered by travel insurance,” she says.

    “Both terrorism and insurance sell fear — and business is business”
    McCurry, Terminal Policy

  9. Eeyores enigma

    Cheers for the John Kempf farming piece.

    But just to keep things in the realm of the non-magical, building and maintaining healthy soil like that requires significant inputs that virtually no property can sustainably supply on an on going basis. There is significant cost and additional labor involved too.

    Compost tea is as close to magic as I have ever experienced, it is nearly miraculous. You can apply directly to foliage to treat a whole host of issues also. But…compost tea brewing is tricky business, almost like learning how to brew or make wine and some folks say it is even more involved but the payoffs are enormous.

    Healthy soil means healthy plants which means healthy people.

    But be careful as Industrial Ag has successfully lobbied to re-define the term “Organic” so just buying organic at the store doesn’t mean healthy.

  10. Brindle

    Huge methane emission hotspot in SouthWest U.S.
    Actually this emission hotspot is almost all in the San Juan River basin along the Colorado-New Mexico border.

    —-“It’s the largest signal we can see from the satellite,” said study lead author Eric Kort, a University of Michigan atmospheric scientist. “It’s hard to hide from space.” There could be some areas elsewhere in the country where more methane is emitted if it is dispersed by wind, Kort said.

    Kort said the methane likely comes from leaks as workers extract natural gas from coal beds, and not from hydraulic fracturing, called fracking, because the data were collected before fracking really caught on.

    The results were so initially surprising to the scientists that they waited several years and then used ground monitors to verify what they saw from space, Kort said.—-

  11. Ebolawatcher

    The ominous math of the Ebola epidemic-
    You know the scariest part of the Ebola article?
    1.5 to 2.2 people catch it from one person. And if the CURRENT rate of growth of new cases continues to double every 3-4 weeks…(do the math)
    Every man, woman, and child on the planet is infected in 15 months.
    Lets conservatively say 20 months. 30 if we are lucky.
    If they don’t contain the disease.
    If they could contain it…they would by now, no?

  12. fresno dan
    In Washington the story concerns protecting electric market manipulation by seeking to close the Brayton Point electric power plant in Massachusetts — which is anticipated to reduce the supply of electricity in New England so much that prices have already soared.

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asked for more information because “tight capacity conditions may allow suppliers who are aware of their pivotal role in the market to exercise market power. Under such conditions, we are concerned that the market mitigation provisions currently contained in the tariff may not protect customers against unjust and unreasonable prices for capacity.”
    However, the FERC ultimately found no reason to investigate, without explaining the basis for its conclusion.

    FERC Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur declared all is well with the New England electricity market. A former acting CEO of the electricity utility National Grid, she concluded that because no one reported rule violations, the latest auction prices must be “just and reasonable.”

    Critics say the rules themselves are the problem because electric companies can easily manipulate them to drive up prices. In a statement LaFleur said that “to independently assess” whether the auction rules produce unfair results would be “inconsistent with commission precedent.”

    Her words illuminate how institutionalized corruption works in the modern world. She is like a vice cop sent to check out a bordello who sips Champagne in a roomful of women in lingerie and watches them, men in tow, disappear behind closed doors. When someone suggests her job is to open those doors to see just what is going on, LaFleur declines because that would be inconsistent with precedent.
    “A former acting CEO of the electricity utility National Grid” Uh…maybe, just maybe, that is the problem. Who made the appointment, and how in a democracy is such a thing possible? How can any rational thinking person, or person who believes in markets and self interest, cannot see the UNBELIEVABLELY obvious conflict of interest????? It certainly shows that the system at its core is incapable of making logical decisions.

  13. Brooklin Bridge

    The noose keeps tightening little by little on invasion of privacy. I noticed that hot water heaters at home depot now come “wifi enabled” and I’m always seeing some new article about cars that progressively drive themselves. Today the US version of the English rag, the Guardian, has an article about cars that park themselves. Insurance companies want your every move recorded. Appliances that aren’t web enabled are starting to be the exception. Cable must now have IP digital boxes on every TV.

    Stunningly, all of this is being paid for by an eager set of consumers that see no down side to anything and who don’t realize that within a decade, none of this will be optional, the intrusion will be nothing short of revolutionary (in a very bad sense) and, for the most part, will have taken place below the radar of any judicial review or political process. It will be established by virtue of so much non critical acceptance by so many, that is by the market. Issues that actually make it to court will ultimately run smack dab into the warm embrace of corporate whores such as Roberts or Alito. Good luck with that.

    You either accept a car or a refrigerator or a thermostat that has a microphone, a camera, and a dense 54 page user agreement you can look at on the net if you register and that reports back to the mother-ship every time you open the door or raise the temperature or go over the speed limit, or if you don’t accept, you simply manage without a car or a heater or a refrigerator or pretty much any appliance since the old fashioned non connected type will not be available anywhere (except possibly at the very very high end).

    One of the biggest battles to be fought invisibly, is the right of anonymity on the net and then in public and then anywhere, and loss of that right – if not already a fait accompli in practical terms – may be accomplished purely by the precedent of the market (as above) taken collectively after the fact.

  14. hunkerdown

    “Uh, Dude, uh, tomorrow’s already the tenth.”
    “Far out…. Oh, oh, alright, okay.”
    “Just, uh, just slip the rent under my door.”

  15. ewmayer

    BTW, another way to think about the infection “reproduction number” mentioned in the WaPo “Ominous Math” article on the Ebola outbreak: Both the math and the current estimates for the reproduction number are roughly identical to those governing the chain reaction in a nuclear fission bomb.

    In the Plutonium or U235 core of such a bomb, at the point of maximal compression (due to conventional high explosive layer enclosing the fission core), a small initiator at the center designed to shear open under compression (the so-called Munroe effect) releases a few (perhaps a half dozen) neutrons into the compressed fissionable material around it, Each nucleus fissioned by an initiator neutron releases a couple hundred MeV of energy, and roughly two more secondary neutrons, on average. The latter fly out until they are captured by a as-yet unfissioned nucleus or escape the core. In the early stages of the building explosion the number of escapees is relatively small, so one gets roughly a doubling of fissioning nuclei with every generation of neutrons. In a typical such bomb one has roughly 80 generations, thus on the order of 2^80 or roughly a trillion trillion (10^24) fissioned nuclei, and the whole process takes only a few microseconds.

    See here for a marvelous passage from Richard Rhodes about the process (this is from Dark Sun, the H-bomb-themed followup to his famous A-bomb history).

    In epidemiology as in economics, not being on close terms with exponential math can be hazardous to your (and possibly many more people’s) health.

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