Links 11/2/14

Specular Spectacular NASA. The seas of Titan.

Always Gamble on an Empty Stomach: Hunger Is Associated with Advantageous Decision Making PLOS One

Has privatization failed Texas utility customers? Electric Light and Power

New York State Allows Water Grab DC Bureau. Sale of municipal water to fracker.

We must still hate our kids: Philadelphia and “education reformers” fight demented war on elementary schools  Salon (JZ)

Cracks in the Stress Tests of European Banks Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

The German view of the Euro crisis Credit Writedowns

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: European Disintegration, Unemployment and Instability [PDF] Global Development and Environment Insitute

QE’s break-up with markets: no regrets? FT

China’s October factory growth unexpectedly hits five-month low: official PMI Reuters

British banker held over double murder in Wan Chai flat South China Morning Post

Virgin Galactic Explosion

Virgin Galactic Spacecraft Crash Investigation Could Take a Year ABC

Branson spaceship explosion: The ‘missed’ warnings Telegraph

Why Suborbital Spaceflight Is So Difficult, and Dangerous Popular Mechanics

Tech execs running the commercial space race New Zealand Herald

No Automation, One Shot at Landing: It’s Really Hard to Fly SpaceShipTwo Wired


Who’s Buying the Midterm Elections? A Bunch of Old White Guys The Nation. Career “progressive” identity politics at its most vacuous. There are a lot of old white guys. Very few of them can buy an election. Why is that?

Battle for the Senate Real Clear Politics

There’s Only One Thing at Stake in the Senate Race New York Magazine

Who’s Giving Late Money to Super-PACs? Wait a Month, and You’ll Find Out Bloomberg

If GOP Takes Senate Next Week, Expect The CIA Torture Report To Disappear TechDirt. Feh. Two words: Parliamentary immunity.

The national environment is terrible for Democrats, say Democrats WaPo

Candidates Struggle To Get Out Message As Local Media Withers David Sirota, IBT

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Here’s one more reason not to use your iPhone’s fingerprint scanner Pando Daily

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond Harpers

The biggest CIA-drug money scandal you never read Pando Daily

Soccer Rat! The inside story of how Chuck Blazer, ex-U.S. soccer executive and FIFA bigwig, became a confidential informant for the FBI  New York Daily News

How the Ebola quarantine became a ‘states’ rights’ issue Reuters

For Man in Ebola Virus Cleanup, a History of Fraud New York Times. In the mortage mess. Naturally. Oh well. We all have to eat….

Drupal SQL injection nasty leaves sites ‘wide open’ to attack The Register.  From the FAQ:

How long did it take to release this patch?

…The Drupal Security Team was informed of this issue in the third week of September of 2014. Given the severity of the issue, we debated about releasing it early. Our main concern was when people would have the time to perform the upgrade. Drupalcon Amsterdam started on September 29th meaning that many of our community members were busy preparing for that event. The week after Drupalcon is typically busy catching up from being at Drupalcon and then October 15th was the first regularly planned security release Wednesday. We felt that it would be better to use the regularly scheduled date which also happened to be the first date when the Drupal community would be likely to have time to focus on the upgrade.

Oh. So the “Drupal community” = “Those who can afford go to a trade show in Amsterdam.” Got it.

William Gibson coaxes the future out of the present LA Times

Food bland? Electric spoon zaps taste into every bite New Scientist

What’s Behind the Great Podcast Renaissance? New York Magazine

Poor Countries Tap Renewables at Twice the Pace of Rich Bloomberg

Controversial French dam halted after protester death News 7

Whose side is Turkey on? LRB

Self-imposed corporate regulations control workers but choke productivity Bill Mitchell. Dilbert was right.

The Zombie System: How Capitalism Has Gone Off the Rails Der Spiegel

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


      1. nobody

        “Never drink coffee that has been anywhere near a fish.”

        — FBI Special Agent Dale Bartholomew Cooper

        1. abynormal


          “Listen, Peaches, trickery is what humans are all about,” said the voice of Maurice.
          “They’re so keen on tricking one another all the time that they elect governments to do it for them.”


  1. diptherio

    Re: Drupal–

    Following the release of this security advisory on October 15, systematic attacks were launched against a wide variety of Drupal websites in an attempt to exploit this vulnerability. If you did not update your site within < 7 hours of the bug being announced we consider it likely your site was already compromised.

    Within seven hours!! And, uh, excuse me, but the normal “Security Update Available” message has yet to show up on my Drupal site. Jeebus…. Guess I know how I’ll be spending my Sunday. Thanks for the heads-up, Lambert.

  2. skippy

    Sorry OT…

    ” Who are you? Prove it

    …….released only about 4 weeks ago.

    It would seem some lawyers are obviously aware there is nowhere in the conveyancing system to get proof of identity …

    2007 the Government announced it would
    amend the AML/CTF Act to specify new
    “designated services” which could trigger
    obligations for:
    • real estate agents in relation to buying and
    selling real estate; and
    • lawyers, notaries and other independent legal professionals and accountants
    when preparing and carrying out certain
    There is no clear indication of when this
    will occur.

    From the Geelong advertiser piece

    ‘PEXA is an unlisted company with key stakeholders in the Victoria, NSW, Queensland and West Australian governments, the big four banks, and Macquarie Bank.’

    ..I would observe that PEXA is an organisation with a considerable smell about it already…..” H/T Gunnamatta

    “This barely reported bureaucratic reform might interest the readership here. A new national system of electronic conveyancing of land transfers is rolling out across the states. This reform includes stringent client VoI (Verification of Identity) obligations. Victoria just passed an amendment (Transfer of Land Amendment Act 2014) to bring this obligation into effect.

    More info about the reform can be read here:

    If interested in e-conveyancing, google “pexa”. This is a COAG reform which seems targetted at money laundering. It is to be hoped that this national reform enables the identity and residency status of land holders (at least for transfers from now on) to be discoverable. FIRB will have nowhere to hide, surely?

    And what is it with our pathetic media that really important (but boring I guess) reforms like this go virtually unreported? I found small pieces in the AFR, the Geelong Advertiser (Pexa launch event), and one of the Brissie papers.” H/T pru

    Skippy…. Please… Please… say this has zero similarity with MERs…

    Crap I looked – GET READY

    “For a variety of reasons, not all legal practitioners will embrace electronic con-veyancing. For the most part, now financial institutions dictate the way in which set-tlements occur and land registries how lodgment is effected. As these are the organ-isations behind the push towards electronic conveyancing it is conceivable that soon there will be little option but to transact electronically.”

    PS. cloudy with a chance of meatballs… it seems…. to bad everyone here knows the ending to the flick… sigh… retch… barf….

    1. DIno Reno

      Ninety-nine percent of everything is crap including my comment and everything Apple has produced since Steve Jobs.

  3. abynormal

    The British banker arrested in Hong Kong on Saturday in connection with the murder of two women had resigned from his job at Bank of America Merrill Lynch shortly before the two deaths came to light, a source said. George Caton Jutting – was arrested early on Saturday after he called police.

    (cough) he resigned before calling police…his 1st call was to BoA.

    There is a defined gulf
    Between credit and character
    If you doubt this, ask any banker;
    He will advise that character is nice
    But it is not collateral.
    Evan Rhys

  4. scott

    People actually believe that Oncor (the people that read the meters and maintain the electric lines in North TX) can direct electrons from Cirro or Reliant directly to your house. I actually had a sales person tell me that I would only get wind-generated electrons if I bought their plan.

    What the free-market did was destroy the ultimate widows-and-orphans stock, TXU, triple electricity rates, and send TX towards third-world electricity reliability. A thousand people are moving to TX a week, (some say every day) yet generating capacity is being shut down. At least solar panels are usable year-round here.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More people moving to Texas (or anywhere) means a bigger population and more electoral power.

      To politicians, that is always a good thing.

    2. jrs

      Actually I doubt anyone believes that. The point of buying wind generated electricity is in hopes that it encourages the construction of more wind farms (and that does seem to happening). As long as the percentage of renewables bought buy those who don’t buy wind energy isn’t allowed to drop in return, it seems it likely would. Of course around here this option exists in city owned power companies.

  5. Irrational

    Thanks for links this morning – picture of Titan beautiful, PLoS paper interesting, electricity deregulation piece scary, billy blog thought provoking… lots of food for thought!

  6. ex-PFC Chuck

    Has anyone else experienced weird behavior of the Firefox browser’s rendering of the NC home page this morning? All that comes up is the right-hand column: Tip Jar, recent comments, etc. I’m entering this comment via Chrome, which rendered the page properly and allowed me to open the Links page on a separate tab. I have been experiencing some strange behaviors the last few days so perhaps my browser has been corrupted. However, other sites have rendered normally this morning.

    1. sufferin succotash

      It took five minutes for NC to come up in my Firefox browser this morning. Plus Firefox has also been acting weird over the past few days. Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.

    2. grayslady

      No problems with Firefox, although I couldn’t get NC up at all for about half an hour this morning.

    3. BobW

      Firefox was working fine on every other site tried, but NC did not load, so I gave up after several minutes. Retried just a few minutes ago & it was fine. That Drupal thingy??

  7. Banger

    The must read story of the day is the U.N. panel’s report on climate change. It is yet another study but this one more pessimistic than most and that urges us to act. While it is theoretically possible to act on the information scientists are presenting us we don’t live in a rational culture. There is one chief attribute of our culture: denial! Not just denial of climate change but denial of everything that is inconvenient to believe and, thus, the embrace of irrationality.

    The argument against these panels of scientists is that they are engaged in either deliberate fraud or are just stupid. People who write comments here and elsewhere believe they have a better insight into how the climate and the ecology of the earth works than those who spend their lives studying it. As a skeptic, I accept the fact that scientists can be very wrong and have been in the past but they are also, more often, very right particularly in areas where data plays a role. But the deniers are 100% sure that there is simply no problem with carbon in the atmosphere because, in fact, it’s cyclical and has nothing to do with the radical changes not just in technology but population that have taken place in the past couple of centuries.

    Even when I say that, for the sake of argument, that there is a 50% chance that the world’s scientists are correct wouldn’t it behoove us to do something about the problem particularly, as I argue, that those changes would actually help us create a far more convivial society than this highly stressed and radically selfish society? But no—they stick to their story that scientists are creating a fraud so they can make money ignoring the fact that if a scientist choose to work for Exxon and bark on cue he or she will many multiples of what he or she can earn in a university or government agency.

    Why human beings are willing to risk the future of their progeny can be understood by studying addiction—the substances, like heroin, that enthrall addicts make life bearable and pleasurable to these people—why would they give it up for their spouses, parents, children? When we have abandoned (let’s be frank) any notion of ethics other than the cult of selfishness why not simply inject heroin if we can afford it or anything else that gives us pleasure? Or why not just keep using carbon and forget about the consequences? After all no one really seems concerned about it other than hippies and scientists? Right?

    The other issues, in the face of the issues I am presenting here (denial, irrationality, selfishness) that are discussed here everyday–are, sorry folks, trivial. If we are rational beings–and I’m beginning to wonder–then we have to create some kind of framework with a hierarchy of what is important and not so important. Football scores might be less important than the midterm elections–or at least we can discuss the issue? I could be wrong.

    1. William C

      It is a while back I concluded we are rationalising beings more than rational ones.

      I enjoyed your comment on the Middle East/Saudi the other day, for which I thank you.

    2. davidgmills

      Banger, it is long past time that progressives get skeptical about the IIPC and CO2 theory. Nobody, CO2 advocates and skeptics alike, disputes the fact that the earth has not warmed one iota in the last 14-18 years depending upon which data is used to make the calculation. It is officially known as the “pause.” If the CO2 models were right we should have warmed considerably during this time.

      The Antarctic this year reached its highest ice extent in the satellite ear and global ice has returned to 1979 levels. These are undisputed facts.

      I bought the CO2 theory for about 10 years before I ever began to question it. But ten years of no global warming was enough for me. The question I have for you, is how many more years of zero global warming will it take you you to begin to question the theory? Five, ten or never?

      1. craazyman

        God may be dead. But global warming is alive and well.

        Nature abhors a vacuum.

        Having opined thusly, nevertheless I’m 100% on the green energy bandwagon — mountain top removal, stream and river pollution, tailing runoff, particulate emissions, mercury emissions, fracking pollution and the curse of extractive industry economies — that’s enough for me. I don’t need the religion of global warming to be pro-green power.

        I channeled global warming at least 5 years ago and I kept getting the same signal back. It’s a phantom. And what I also realized from channeling was that it’s a phantom produced by the overflow of id-energy from cultural collisions inherent in globalization. The idea of being overwhelmed by water and heat is a metaphor produced by the collective unconscious in its attempt to grapple with the confusion of multi-cultural collisions. Scientists aren’t immune from these forces. Also grant money went to global warming advocates. When oil money went to critics the advocates cried foul. hahahah. Both are just experiencing an overflow of id energy.

        In fact, we’re probably heading for a mini ice age. Especially if we hit a global recession and multi-cultural economic cooperation collapses into a devastating insolvency. Then the temperature will get downright frigid.

      2. Banger

        So my question is are you 100% sure of that? The other people who study this have missed the boat completely–it is possible you are right but, considering what I’ve researched it is unlikely from my POV. The solution is a series of public hearings and a massive study of ALL climate and other scientists with clear easily understood arguments and presentation of clear data. The issue is to big to be left to speculations. Open discussion and debate is the answer–not notions.

        1. Brian

          The two examples are exclusive. Regardless of what changes in climate we have, we are pumping heat and gases that are causing warming and an imbalance in the composition of our atmosphere.
          Why are both considered the same thing? Because each are as large as the planet? Because people aren’t good at understanding macro events when the explanation is likely to make them irritable and feel challenged intellectually? Because they prefer the dumb excuse offered by someone they think is right, or worse, the belief that a newsreader or politician knows?
          All questions are new and subject to the temporal reality going forward.

        2. DJG

          davidgmills is cherry-picking, always a sign of bad science. The extent of sea ice has reached a new maximum in the Antarctic. Not so the Arctic. And the growth of Antarctic sea ice may have to do with the collapse of the ice sheet on the continent, as in major slices falling into the sea, possibly reducing salinity, which makes for easier freezing:

          {And then there are all of those unmentioned recent problems with Greenland’s ice shield. But what are a few cherry-picked facts among the privileged? It’s the Bangladeshis who get to suffer.]

          1. davidgmills

            You accuse me of cherrypicking and do the same thing. The Arctic is not news. The Antarctic is. And it is not cherrypicking to say that the global temperature has not increased in 14-18 years depending on the data chosen. The pause is real.

            Again I put the question to all progressives. How long of no global warming does it take for you to question CO2 theory? Why do I care?

            In 1968, when I started college as a Chemistry major (later changed to liberal arts) no matter what the science was that was studied, the concern was overpopulation. Whether it was a chemistry class, a biology class, a physics class or an engineering class or a math class, the concern was overpopulation. We heard about the J curve. There has never been a pause in the population explosion since then and due to its continuance, half the world’s wild animals have disappeared in that time. An extra 100 ppm of CO2 was not cause the decline of these wild animal populations. Human decimation due to human overpopulation of their habitat was.

            So I am tired of hearing about CO2 might do 80 years from now when it is clear what overpopulation has caused in the last 40. It is time to get back to that clear concern not the questionable concern of CO2.

            Rant off.

            1. Vatch

              You are, of course, correct that overpopulation is a terrible problem. Even without global warming, human overpopulation is causing severe damage to the biosphere. But the reality of overpopulation does not eliminate the reality of global warming.

              1. davidgmills

                How can you say there is a reality of global warming when the data says it hasn’t warmed in 14-18 years, and it is admitted by everyone? What kind of reality is that? How long does it not have to warm before you change your sense of reality?

                In contrast, the world population went from 3.5 billion in 1968 to 7.2 billion this year. Since 1980 we have been adding at least 80 million people a year.

                1. Vatch

                  At 6:58 PM, I provided evidence that that the Earth’s surface temperature continues to warm; perhaps you did not see my message. I also asked you to provide evidence that is has not warmed during the past 14-18 years. I repeat my request that you provide your source for your claim.


                  As for human overpopulation, I agree: it’s a terrible problem. I’ve commented on this several times here at NC.

            2. Ed

              Has it ever occurred to you that “global warming” is caused by overpopulation?

              And that without buring fossil fuels, there is no way to grow and transport enough food to support more than two billion people.

              That is really what is causing the denial. Doing something essentially means condeming billions of people to death, that is how dependent the world currently is on fossil fuel consumption. Not doing anything means allowing changes to the biosphere to continue that could render it incompatible with any human life. Humans are trapped.

              1. Vatch

                Very true, global warming is, in part, caused by overpopulation. It is crucial that people start having smaller families now. But millennia old religious doctrines and modern political correctness are very difficult to overcome. We’re in very deep trouble.

      3. Vatch

        David G. Mills, what’s your source for your claim that there has been no global warming for 14-18 years? Here’s a chart, which I have posted before, which shows that there is warming. It’s not a smooth increase in temperature, and there have been spikes in 1998, 2005, and 2010, which were all El Niño years. But the increase in temperature is real. The chart is from the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies.

        1. davidgmills

          Did you look at your own data? Did you see that essentially the earth has not warmed since 1997 or so? It is quite clear on these graphs.

          The “pause” is acknowledged by everyone. Yes we are hot, but not any hotter than we have been for the last 18 years or so. Skeptics, contrary to what most people believe, believe that the earth warmed during the 20th century, just as it did every century since the little ice age ended in the early 1700’s.

          But if models were correct, the huge increase in CO2 for the last 18 years should not have produced this pause.

          Again my question, is how long a pause does it take for any of you to question the CO2 theory? Not a single one of you answered the question.

          1. Vatch

            There was a spike in 1998, which makes it seem as though the temperatures have not been rising. However, that was not the hottest year. 2005 and 2010 were both hotter. We haven’t had an El Niño since 2010, so the temperatures have been a little cooler since then. Your pause in global warming is imaginary, but if you had said that the Earth’s surface temperature has been increasing at a slower rate over the past decade and a half, I would certainly agree with you.

            There’s still a lot that we don’t understand, especially about the way that the oceans absorb heat, so it’s to be expected that some things won’t behave the way that some models predicted.

            1. davidgmills

              This is from Dr. Spencer who was NASA’s chief scientist in charge of satellite weather data and he claims no warming. His bio:

              Roy W. Spencer received his Ph.D. in meteorology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981. Before becoming a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2001, he was a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where he and Dr. John Christy received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for their global temperature monitoring work with satellites. Dr. Spencer’s work with NASA continues as the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He has provided congressional testimony several times on the subject of global warming.


              1. davidgmills

                This is from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report itself:

                Box 1.1: Recent temperature trends and their implications

                The observed reduction in surface warming trend over the period 1998 to 2012 as compared to the period 1951 to 2012, is due in roughly equal measure to a reduced trend in radiative forcing and a cooling contribution from natural internal variability, which
                includes a possible redistribution of heat within the ocean (medium confidence).

                1. Vatch

                  “observed reduction in surface warming trend over the period 1998 to 2012”

                  Yes! Note that he does not say “a reduction in surface temperature”. It’s a reduction in the rate of warming. That matches what I said:

                  “the Earth’s surface temperature has been increasing at a slower rate over the past decade and a half”

              2. Vatch

                Thank you for posting a source with some data. It’s interesting that Dr. Spencer’s data differs from the NASA GISS data. Perhaps they represent temperatures at different altitudes, or different measurement techniques. For what it’s worth, here’s a web site that’s skeptical about Dr. Spencer, although this doesn’t prove anything either way:


      4. Gaianne


        Thank you for making Banger’s point for him. Denial rules.

        If you keep a garden, you already know that the eastern US has shifted one-and-a-half climate zones.

        And while graphs and charts are nice, it has reached the point here in New England that to see global warming all I have to do is look out my window.


    3. fresno dan

      It is very depressing.
      One really disconcerting realization I have had, is that in the past there was perhaps a noblesse oblige upon the elite (or everybody), that restrained their own wants, their own behavior, what they would do to “win”, and constrain themselves to reality and rationality. Whether that was due to a better political system, or the social, religious, and ethical strictures that everyone conformed to, I cannot say.

      Indeed, if one is hyper rational, one could say that one is likely to be dead well before 100 years, so why worry about future generations? Why make any sacrifice when we’re all dead in the long run? When one looks at the lack of concern about present people, is it any wonder that there is such little concern for future humans?

      And as the human population has swelled unimpeded by any natural constraints, the idea that one could get such a gargantuan mass of souls to agree on anything becomes virtually unobtainable. Nature will prevail – it may not be to the liking of humans, but it will prevail.

      1. James

        Indeed, if one is hyper rational, one could say that one is likely to be dead well before 100 years, so why worry about future generations? Why make any sacrifice when we’re all dead in the long run? When one looks at the lack of concern about present people, is it any wonder that there is such little concern for future humans?

        Good points. While the prospective impacts of global warming in the near future might possibly be disastrous, they’re still uncertain to some extent or another, whereas renouncing the benefits of hydrocarbons immediately is certainly disastrous right now, and might still conceivably be too little too late anyway. Further, discounting any prospective future impacts back to present day makes them less “valuable” as well, so it’s really no surprise that it’s an issue that no one wants to address. I think the green marketers would be wise to recognize these facts instead of mindlessly repeating the “green is just as profitable too” mantra, which really hasn’t been proven at all, and is hard to support theoretically, as energy densities are much less across the board. I think the bind we’re in is much more intractable than most will ever acknowledge.

    1. bmeisen

      techy decadence – model nerds pig out with decals. this will hopefully put a nail in the coffin of a doomed business model: jet-based aviation. would be happy if flying boats returned but am not counting on it.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Gamble on an empty stomach.

    That’s explains the free buffet.

    It’s also known that you think better standing up.

    I believe that explains the free chairs at the black jack tables and slot machines. But because there is no thinking involved (I am guessing here, I am not a great gambler), the house can save money (on chairs) by just letting players stand around.

    By the way, I make comments here sitting down…that’s my excuse.

    1. OIFVet

      There is a great opportunity there though: one could drop a couple of bucks on the penny slots and get the free buffet and the free booze. It could be a bargain, if one ignores the low quality of the free food and the watered-down rum and cokes.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Poor countries renewable energy twice rich countries.

    I wonder if that has anything to do with their lack of imperial currency for oil.

  10. trish

    re We must still hate our kids: Philadelphia and “education reformers” fight demented war on elementary schools

    “people leading education policy” Leading…a twisted word, here…leaders, indeed.
    These are pushers of policy meant to redistribute upward into the coffers of corporations. At the expense of children. These are criminal abusers of black and brown children.

    These “reformers” – and it should be (but too often isn’t) in quotes or qualified by the MSM- have been given virtually free rein (free reign?) by the MSM to shill for the profiteers via their news pieces, to trumpet over and over their propaganda message, their con, ie that it’s all about efficiency, the necessity of good business management to fix the failures by government and educators. That this is well-meaning “reform.”
    All without sufficient question, adequate examination, and consistent exposure of the facts.

    So this is a huge failure of the media to black and brown children, as well. To all children who attend public schools.
    but then so many in our corporate government, in the corporations profiting off poor kids, in the media elite, don’t send their kids to public schools. and especially not the ones filled with brown and black kids.

    “We must hate our Kids.” These people don’t even see these kids. They are nothing but fodder to them, useful for profits, for stories. And the rest of the we, the public…too many have fallen for the big con.

    1. Fíréan

      “Torturing Children at School” is the title of an article posted at NYTimes back in august of this year, covers only a couple of reported incidents of violence towards school children yet one of many articles and incidents on this subject.
      Having read too many of these articles and journalistic reports of the school to prison system too, and viewed video reports on the internet of voilence towards school children many of whom were/are handicapped, the article linked here today is of little surprise. What is becoming of the USA ?

      This is not made up, nor is this a third-world country.

      How the people of your country are now being treated was how those in some third world countries have been treated for decades by extreme regimes supported or installed by the powers that be in the USA. There is shown little or no respect for humanity.
      How much is related to Pennsylvsania is surprising, is the State completely out of control ?
      Earlier this week was linked the report of the man almost beaten to death by police and then imprisoned.

  11. James

    Another note in the ongoing annals of the crapification of everything:

    Upon returning from the grocery store this morning, I was putting away items as usual, including my periodic purchases of Scott Extra Soft “bum wipe,” (whose packaging confidently assured me that “4 double rolls = 8”), when I noticed that said packages, rolls stacked 2 X 2 high, were a good half inch shorter than my remaining unused rolls just purchased a few weeks ago. After a double take and closer inspection to be sure my aging eyes weren’t betraying me, I confirmed the shorter, narrower rolls were in fact a reality.

    Stifling my initial outrage and after pausing a minute to think it over, I thought maybe this is a good thing afterall. Who’s going to miss a silly 1/4 inch width per roll of paper that’s literally “just going down the shitter anyway?” So then I thought that surely Scott, corporate marketers extraordinaire that they are, would want to take credit for their genius in “green innovation” right up front on their packaging in the typically bold “New! Improved!” fashion we’ve all come to know and love so well. Nope, nary a word. Just another tiny little sleight of hand in the corporate crapification of everything, this time a little more literally than most.

    1. fresno dan

      Its hedonics.
      In this case, the thinner tissue allows for your ….fingers to do some of the removal asspects of the process. This in no way diminishes the process (hey, your washing your hands after each use, right) , and represents merely the SUBSTITUTION of flesh for paper change.

      1. James

        What I thought was particularly ingenious about Scott’s little ploy here was their approach. Realizing that most people would spot a roll size change (circumference) in a second (the usual method, which they play games with all the time in their regular paper towels), they went for width, which almost no one would be looking for and was much easier to disguise. Well played Scott Paper!

    2. craazyman

      Evaluating the Probability Density Function with Utmost Concentration

      Are you sure you’re TP dispenser spool didn’t get longer? It seems improbable but it’s not completely out of the question. Did you have any bathroom construction going on lately you might have forgotten about? Maybe your wife has something to tell you. hahahahah How did that shower curtain turn pink and the soap tray into a little mermaid with heavy mascara? Holy Reefer smoke what’s going on here.

      This morning for example I thought it was 11:30 but it was only 10:30. WTF? Then I remembered about the clocks. It must have been last night. One more hour to lay around today wasting time. That’s like a bonus for the utility maximization function with no work involved. That’s not supposed to happen in theoretical econommcs. Sometimes weird thigs hhappen

      Ambrit you’d understand this. They had Travis Walton on Foo Foo radio a few nights ago. He’s very intelligent and well spoken and credible. If that can happen, anything can happen. Who knows what’s what if they really think about it. Maybe Scott Tissue is up to some sort of mass psychology experiment and global civilization will benefit from the understading unleashed. Probably not, it’s just something that jumped iin my head, as if it were a B Movie. But that’s where the eternal truths come from, if one is judicious about sifting through the mind pops to the jewels. ok, this wasn’t a jewel, I admit. But anyway, check the bathroom and ask the wife if she has anything to admit to.

    3. Ed

      In twenty years everyone will be using one designated hand to wipe, without paper, while making sure to use the other hand for everything else.

      Older people like us will miss the paper but younger generations won’t believe the stories of the old days and won’t notice the difference.

  12. fresno dan
    Graeber: Getting back to the original question, the possible collapse of the system, I think that historical forecasts of this kind are a trap. What is certain is that all systems must end, but it is very hard to predict when the end might come. Signs of a slowing down of the capitalist system are visible. So far as technology is concerned, we no longer have the sense, as we did in the 1960s and 1970s, that we are about to see great innovations. In terms of political visions, we seem to be very far from the grand projects of the postwar period, such as the United Nations or the initiation of a space program. U.S. elites can’t act on climate change, even though it puts our ecosystem and human life itself in jeopardy. Our feelings of helplessness stem from the fact that for thirty years the tools of persuasion and coercion have been mobilized to wage an ideological war for capitalism, rather than to create conditions for capitalism to remain viable. Neoliberalism places political and ideological considerations above economic ones. The result has been a campaign of fantasy manipulation, a campaign so effective that people with dead-end jobs now believe that there is no alternative.

    It is quite clear that this ideological hegemony has now reached its limit. Does this mean that the system is on the point of collapse? It’s hard to say. But capitalism is not old. It hasn’t been around forever, and it seems just as reasonable to imagine it can be transformed into something completely different as to imagine it will necessarily continue existing until the sun blows up, or until it annihilates us through some ecological catastrophe.

    Moderators: Is capitalism itself the cause of the problem, or can it be reformed?

    Piketty: One of the points that I most appreciate in David Graeber’s book is the link he shows between slavery and public debt. The most extreme form of debt, he says, is slavery: slaves belong forever to somebody else, and so, potentially, do their children. In principle, one of the great advances of civilization has been the abolition of slavery.

    As Graeber explains, the intergenerational transmission of debt that slavery embodied has found a modern form in the growing public debt, which allows for the transfer of one generation’s indebtedness to the next. It is possible to picture an extreme instance of this, with an infinite quantity of public debt amounting to not just one, but ten or twenty years of GNP, and in effect creating what is, for all intents and purposes, a slave society, in which all production and all wealth creation is dedicated to the repayment of debt. In that way, the great majority would be slaves to a minority, implying a reversion to the beginnings of our history.

    In actuality, we are not yet at that point. There is still plenty of capital to counteract debt. But this way of looking at things helps us understand our strange situation, in which debtors are held culpable and we are continually assailed by the claim that each of us “owns” between thirty and forty thousand euros of the nation’s public debt.

    This is particularly crazy because, as I say, our resources surpass our debt. A large portion of the population owns very little capital individually, since capital is so highly concentrated. Until the nineteenth century, 90 percent of accumulated capital belonged to 10 percent of the population. Today things are a little different. In the United States, 73 percent of capital belongs to the richest 10 percent. This degree of concentration still means that half the population owns nothing but debt. For this half, the per capita public debt thus exceeds what they possess. But the other half of the population owns more capital than debt, so it is an absurdity to lay the blame on populations in order to justify austerity measures.

    But for all that, is the elimination of debt the solution, as Graeber writes? I have nothing against this, but I am more favorable to a progressive tax on inherited wealth along with high tax rates for the upper brackets. Why? The question is: What about the day after? What do we do once debt has been eliminated? What is the plan? Eliminating debt implies treating the last creditor, the ultimate holder of debt, as the responsible party. But the system of financial transactions as it actually operates allows the most important players to dispose of letters of credit well before debt is forgiven. The ultimate creditor, thanks to the system of intermediaries, may not be especially rich. Thus canceling debt does not necessarily mean that the richest will lose money in the process.”

  13. OIFVet

    From the annals of class warfare: University gala disturbed by trauma center protests.. For over three years, community groups and student organizations have been protesting the lack of trauma center on the South Side of Chicago and the wealthy University of Chicago’s refusal to reopen the trauma center it shuttered in the late 1980’s. This while the University spent billions in the past decade expanding its medical center, building Jeanne Gang designed dorms, building a shrine to gnome extraordinaire Milton Friedman, and using property tax money diverted from the public school system to finance gentrification of the surrounding neighborhoods. And the University owns the fourth-largest police force in Illinois, a force that was embroiled in a scandal for using undercover officers to infiltrate the trauma center protests and identify and arrest leaders of the protests. And of course, racially profile both on campus and off campus: University of Chicago Police Accused of Racial Profiling. and Students recount racial bias of UCPD From the latter link:

    “UChicago police is essentially a private military, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “I’ve been over in Afghanistan where you see mercenaries contracted by the government to do things that the United States will not and cannot do. Essentially the university did the same thing—on a smaller scale, but it’s still wrong.”

    I guess the University took the Chiraq meme seriously.

  14. fresno dan

    sorry for way too many posts, but I couldn’t resist this one

    Because it’s so easy to judge the idiocy of others, it may be sorely tempting to think this doesn’t apply to you. But the problem of unrecognized ignorance is one that visits us all. And over the years, I’ve become convinced of one key, overarching fact about the ignorant mind. One should not think of it as uninformed. Rather, one should think of it as misinformed.

    An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that’s filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, theories, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the look and feel of useful and accurate knowledge. This clutter is an unfortunate by-product of one of our greatest strengths as a species. We are unbridled pattern recognizers and profligate theorizers. Often, our theories are good enough to get us through the day, or at least to an age when we can procreate. But our genius for creative storytelling, combined with our inability to detect our own ignorance, can sometimes lead to situations that are embarrassing, unfortunate, or downright dangerous—especially in a technologically advanced, complex democratic society that occasionally invests mistaken popular beliefs with immense destructive power (See: crisis, financial; war, Iraq). As the humorist Josh Billings once put it, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” (Ironically, one thing many people “know” about this quote is that it was first uttered by Mark Twain or Will Rogers—which just ain’t so.)

  15. scraping_by

    RE: Self-imposed regulations

    In management speak, you’ve got Theory X and Theory Y. Theory Y says that workers are voluntary agents, willing to give a fair amount of work for wages, take pride in their jobs and therefore can be generally trusted. Theory X says that workers act only under compulsion so are lazy, disloyal, out to screw their employer at every opportunity and therefore need to be watched constantly, regulated in everything they do.

    It sounds like a Theory X with no productive results to justify. Or, alternately, using Theory X to justify a lot of make work. In any case, Theory X by nature requires a lot more managers, supervisors, checkers, minders, and all their assistants. Which may be the point.

  16. DJG

    Just leak the torture report already. The fecklessness here is typical of what passes for “liberalism.” These days. By the way, if Udall has gone through channels, there should be no repercussions, right? (At least, according to Hillary Clinton.)

  17. susan the other

    Der Spiegel on zombie capitalism. This piece had all the earmarks of a CIA piece. Folksy descriptions of the elites, many of whom participated in the buildup to the crash, who now think capitalism has failed. Gee. What a convenient opinion. Clearly the system no longer works. But I doubt the theory of money, capital, is going to find a solution in a world of real-life disasters. Where are the real-life plans for fixing what is wrong? There aren’t any.

  18. flora

    Re: “The Zombie System: How Capitalism Has Gone Off The Rails”.
    Thanks for the link. It’s a good bookend to yesterday’s story from Businessweek on Keynes –“the Economist the World Needs Now”.
    The Keynes article briefly mentions his 1919 book “The Economic Consequences of Peace” in which he foresaw that international economic mismanagement of the peace – loading down Germany with crushing debt – would have dire consequences.
    Mismanaged capitalism and international economics contributed greatly to losing the peace of 1919.
    Fast forward to the end of the Cold War, to the West winning the Cold War.
    Again, mismanaged capitalism and international economics are on the threshold of losing the peace. When Putin – no humanitarian in my book but a shrewd and globally farsighted politician trying to woo Europe away from the US – finds Western and world audiences nodding in agreement with his speeches then you know the West is ‘losing the peace’.

    If Western democratic governments lose the trust and consent of the governed it could lead to substantial turbulence in the financial markets.

    1. Fíréan

      “. . . the West is ‘losing the peace’. “

      What peace ?
      The West has been promoting wars for decades.

  19. Propertius

    Don’t the fingerprint sensor-equipped iPhones require entry of the passcode to unlock after a reboot or after a timeout period?

  20. Kim Kaufman

    Note: Stephanie Kelton was on Harry Shearer this morning. Check for other times or podcast. I missed the beginning – it might have been a re-run.

  21. Luke The Debtor

    NY Water Land Grab
    New York and the rest of the NE region appear to be at least half a century behind the rest of the United States in energy reform. California is a leader in car emission standards and Texas has efficient gas-fired power plants and is the largest producer of wind energy. Meanwhile, NY and the NE are run on aging coal and nuclear power plants. Maybe the people of Simple Post, NY ought to settle down and welcome the opportunity to be apart of the 21st century and heat their homes during the winter with something other than an oil powered basement furnace.

    1. Synapsid


      Texas is indeed the largest producer of wind power in the country (produces more than the second and third largest combined) and does have efficient gas-powered power plants.

      It is also the largest consumer of coal in the country. The wind power is much appreciated as an addition to the total; it doesn’t offset the use of older sources. This raises the depressing thought that we may see this same picture in other regions as use of renewables increases.

    1. just me

      From the TTIP abstract:

      According to its proponents, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will stimulate growth in Europe and in the US. Projections endorsed by the European Commission point to positive, although negligible, gains in terms of GDP and personal incomes. In a paradox, these projections also show that any gains in Trans-Atlantic trade would happen at the expense of intra-EU trade reversing the process of European economic integration.

      Furthermore, recent literature has pointed out several problems in the most influential assessment of the TTIP’s effects. Projections by different institutions have been shown to rely on the same Computable General Equilibrium model that has proven inadequate as a tool for trade policy analysis.

      In this paper we assess the effects of TTIP using the United Nations Global Policy Model, which incorporates more sensible assumptions on macroeconomic adjustment, employment dynamics, and global trade. We project that TTIP will lead to a contraction of GDP, personal incomes and employment. We also project an increase in financial instability and a continuing downward trend in the labor share of GDP.

      Evaluated with the United Nations model, TTIP appears to favor economic disintegration, rather than integration, in Europe. At a minimum, this shows that official studies do not offer a solid basis for an informed decision on TTIP.

      “TTIP appears to favor economic disintegration”…

      Meanwhile, did NC cover the TPP story of a couple of days ago? (Searching here doesn’t give dated results) New Zealand’s Trade Minister Admits They Keep TPP Documents Secret To Avoid ‘Public Debate’

      Hon TIM GROSER : We are trying to make this negotiation a success, and the member is well aware that there is some quite heavy politics here and that full disclosure to certain parties is likely to lead this to go immediately into the public debate on an ill-informed basis before the deal has been done.

      (Which sounds like what lawyer Bob Amsterdam was saying at the Moment of Truth panel in New Zealand in September with Greenwald, Snowden and Assange that I did a long quote of here.)

  22. just me

    Around 11:30 — Harry says “revisit”

    Transcript of previous conversation (10-28-2012) here: — yep, it’s a revisit of that, at least it starts out that way (haven’t listened to whole).

    Also I went to the New Economics Perspective website; no mention of the appearance but I see Kelton has pinned at top “A Moment of Mourning” for UMKC economist Fred Lee and a link to a podcast of an interview she did with him some months ago, which I remember listening to and thinking I wish I understood what he was saying, something about pricing — he was frustrated people didn’t get this important thing that was so obvious to him, that they were derailed by micro vs macro, something, don’t forget the macro, it’s a whole. Like push THAT wall, pay attention to that curtain, people aren’t looking there, idiots! He was deeply concerned with how to teach econ, admitted he struggled himself. It was definitely an economist-to-economist podcast, but I remember the trashcan:

    Stephanie Kelton: Years ago I remember you gave a talk and we had a conference here at UMKC, and I think we were over in the Lindehall Library and we had a huge room full of people and you got up and you grabbed some microeconomics textbooks and you opened a window and you threw them out the window. I remember that, and it was shocking to people in the room because you were essentially saying everything contained within these, right, within the bounds of these pages should just be thrown out completely. So where do you start?

    Fred Lee: Start throwing out, you pick the book up and throw it in the trashcan.

    RIP Fred Lee, and thanks as well to Harry Shearer for his h/t to Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer, RIP Tim Hauser.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      On throwing the books out the window… Not to ignite the flame war again, but that’s exactly what MMT does. So it’s more than a little ironic when people rush outside to retrieve all the thrown-away books, and then try to nail the window shut.

  23. OIFVet

    How I paid off $158,169 in debt. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the proliferation of such “inspirational” debt repayment stories over the past couple of weeks? This is at least the fifth such story I have ran across recently. What they all have in common is that they leave the impression that debt is always a personal fault rather than, say, the proliferation of crappy, poorly paid part-time jobs brought by Obama’s recovery or the explosion of student loan debt that could never be repaid by graduates given the kind of jobs available to them.

    1. ambrit

      I too have noticed that. Also, an upsurge in what I call “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” (or just “Lifestyles”) envy pieces. “Ted Nugents 50 million dollar survival bunker!”
      I did notice how the ‘articles’ push the idea that all debt is legitimate, and fully payable. I can remember when personal debt outside of housing was a sign of moral turpitude.

  24. ewmayer

    Looks like Black-Friday / Super-Saturday / Shop-til-you-drop-Sunday / Cyber-Monday started on Halloween this year. May I suggest July 4th next year, Easter in 2016, Valentine’s Day in 2017, then in 2018 we’ll be shopping a full year ahead for Xmas, and at least the season will feel right, even if the year is off by 1.

    I rarely watch SNL anymore but cuaght Chris Rock’s introductory monologue last night, in which he pointed out the irony of turning Christmas into an orgy of consumerism, given that Jesus “was just about the least materialistic person who ever lived.”

    1. resno dan

      November 2, 2014 at 4:37 pm
      Sorry old sport, but your way behind the times (literally) – your assuming they’re talking about Christmas 2015. That is centuries behind the Christmas the advertisers are talking about. Christmas 2015 was advertised in 1978.
      The advertising you just saw is for Christmas 2525…
      Christmas advertising doesn’t start months early now – it starts centuries early….

    2. Carla

      “then in 2018 we’ll be shopping a full year ahead for Xmas ”

      Hate to tell you this, but my mother always used to shop the post-Christmas sales for the next Christmas. Not only the half-priced cards, gift wrap and tree ornaments (although certainly those) but also gifts.

      Of course, my mom came of age during the Great Depression.

      As an impoverished young housewife (yes, that IS what we called ourselves–married to our houses, even in the 70s), I used to do the same thing. But by the time the next Christmas rolled around, I forgot what I had purchased for whom, and couldn’t find the stuff anyway. (Too many frantic cleaning-for-company sessions in the meantime.) So I quit the practice.

      It still kills me to buy a kitchen calendar before they’re on half-price Jan. 2. But one year, the only choice I had was between military planes and penguins. Of course, I got the penguins, and penguins are fine. But ALL year? Now I grit my teeth and pay full price in Dec. for a calendar I WANT to look at for the entire next year. Obviously silly…we may not even make it through another whole year…

      THANKS, Yves, Lambert and all of you in the Commentariat, for giving me something worthwhile to look at and think about each morning, however long we last!

  25. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Phenomenal item at about how nations are starting to wake up and get cold feet over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment treaty, because they’ve finally figured out that a clause in that ‘treaty’ enables private interests to sue companies if the governments happen to make a decision that ‘costs the private interest money’.
    Long overdue for the wake up, but here’s hoping a lot of people read this:

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      Should read: “enables private interests to sue NATIONS if the governments happen to make a decision that ‘costs the private interest money’.”

  26. Erick Borling

    YEAH!!! That Manhattan Transfer tune “Soul Food to Go” at the conclusion of The Dr. Stephanie Kelton interview on Harry Shearer’s LeShow was sweet! S’good times! NC; plz add it to tomorrow’s links. Today’s Le Show was not a rerun, despite Harry’s slip of the tongue.

  27. Erick Borling

    OIFVet: “Obama’s recovery?” I’m surprised you didn’t drop the supposedly pejorative “Barack Hussein Obama.” OK, sure the prez tries to claim there has been a recovery, and popular news media tries to polish that turd, but don’t forget the mission-statement of the Republicans; to block Obama at every turn and do everything else to render him ineffective. 4 dozen attempts to repeal the ACA, a government shutdown, and refusal to rebuild America. It’s the “Republican Revolution Part 2: America Contracts.” Now you will “blame” Obama for the republican’s success at getting nothing done except making a few plutocrat donors mega-zillionaires and turning this into a Wal-Mart nation? Keep some perspective.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, if only the Democrats had been granted, at some point in the not too distant past, the Presidency, control of the House, control of the Senate, a mandate in time of national disaster, an utterly discredited opposition, and leadership from a charismatic figure and the greatest orator of our time. Like that could ever have happened. Let’s be realistic.

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