Links 12/18/14

The largest vessel the world has ever seen BBC (furzy mouse)

“Organic” Factory Farm Investigation – Cornucopia (furzy mouse)

Geneticists Begin Tests of an Internet for DNA MIT Technology Review (David L)

What Happened When Marissa Mayer Tried to Be Steve Jobs New York Times (David L)

Sony Breach Result of Self Abuse Patrick Durusau

Amazon Not as Unstoppable as It Might Appear New York Times

The history of Australian property values (redux) MacroBusiness. EM: “I especially enjoyed this taking-to-the-woodshed of the economics profession and its astonishing inability to identify even the wildest asset-price bubbles.”

Japanese animation: The Tale of Studio Ghibli Economist. I’m a big fan of Miyazaki, particularly Princess Mononoke. Sad.

Yes, there is an Asian space race Interpreter

The history of the new Chinese empire Business Spectator. Consistent with Pepe Escobar post yesterday.

US-Europe trade deal stuck on launch pad Financial Times (Li). As foretold here. Dead in 2015 probably means dead for real, but keep sending nastygrams to your Congress critters from time to time to be sure.

EU caps debit and credit card transaction fees Financial Times

Swiss Central Bank to Introduce Negative Interest Rates Wall Street Journal

EU’s Greek Drama Needs a Final Act Bloomberg

Syriza reiterates its commitment to the eurozone EurActiv. There goes their bargaining leverage.


What Could Explain the Recent Collapse of the Ruble? EconoMonitor

Russia not fit to be part of international financial system – Cameron RT (Scott). After Libor, FX, money laundering, tax avoidance, and plenty of other scandals, the bar is so low I don’t see how any bank can be deemed not to qualify.

Economic Fears May Push Russia Into Ukraine Deal New York Times

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Billion Dollar Surveillance Blimp to Launch over Maryland Intercept (Chuck L)

Navy Develops ‘GhostSwimmer’ Drone That Looks Like a Shark Yahoo (Chuck L)

CIA Torture Report

Napoleon vs. Cheney: “Interrogation That Actually Works”; Icing on the “Hate-Cake” Michael Shedlock

U.S. torture report puts Romania’s role under scrutiny Reuters. EM: “Note the self-serving, head-spinningly self-contradictory comments by Ioan Talpes.”

Obama Imports and Immunizes Banksters Who Donate to the Democratic Party Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives

Political theater: Community groups giving HUD “Grinch of the Year” award Housing Wire

New Jersey Paid Fees To Mary Pat Christie’s Firm After State Investment Was Terminated David Sirota, International Business Times

New Jersey Paying Fees to a Financial Firm That Employs Christie’s Wife New York Times. The Grey Lady takes notice of Sirota’s work and recaps it faithfully. This adds not-trivial pressure to the Christie camp.

Man can’t challenge $280K tax bill he probably doesn’t really owe, Pa. court says PennLive

Whither Markets?

A Brave New World Credit Writedowns

Fed signals tightening by mid-2015 Financial Times. Lead story. That’s how I read the FOMC too. So it looks like the big rally today was Mr. Market using any excuse to goose the indexes prior to the critical-for-investment-manager-beauty-contests year end date.

Can Janet Yellen Be Serious? Bloomberg. Editorial. I didn’t watch the Q&A but investors that did report that this was the first time Yellen really seemed not to be on top of her material, despite particularly softball questions

The regulators’ dilemma: when to intervene amid rapid technological change? Financial Times (David L)

Class Warfare

Wealth Gap between America’s Rich and Middle-Class Families Widest on Record WSJ Real Time Economics

Inequality In U.S. Today Is Worse than in Apartheid South Africa or 1774 Slaveholding Colonial America … and TWICE As Bad As In Ancient Slaveholding Rome George Washington

The Medical School as Hereditary Plutocracy – Retiring Board Chair Sanford Weill of Cornell Weill Medical School Names His Own Daugher as New Chair Health Care Renewal

Antidote du jour. Li wants some for Christmas, but I doubt these Yakut horses are happy in anything other than Northern Minnesota winter temps.

Yakut horses links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Marianne Jones

      I’ve been having this exact problem but only when reading from Digg Reader on mobile. Thank you! Yves said that NC has no ads, nevertheless, I’ve been seeing these highjacking ads despite changing NC’s RSS subscription feeds. I wonder who is injecting the ads and getting revenue? Digg? This is only happening on the NC feed and not others, which leads me away from Digg as the culprit.

  1. dearieme

    New Chinese Empire – bugger a “string of pearls”, what they’ll really want to do is control the Strait of Malacca; the Sunda Strait too, if they could get complete control and dredge it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And they are thinking about moving away from the Dollar, to answer Petitt’s question, or they must be.

      Thus the move to build that bullet train in Xinjiang – they have to secure the supply of their next currenty: the Jade Yuan…money backed by Hotian jade. There are only a few places in the world to get nephrite, so the Chinese should have a monopoly on that. It’s really much better than gold, which has not been really that popular historically in China anyway. It has always been jade or silver, though jade has never been used to back a currency there before.

  2. dearieme

    “two existing prototypes that the Army plans to keep flying continuously above the Aberdeen Proving Ground for three years, except for maintenance and foul weather.” Well, yes; heavens forfend that your enemy should ever attack during foul weather.

  3. dearieme

    “Inequality In U.S. Today Is Worse than in …. 1774 Slaveholding Colonial America”: it takes a particularly brass neck to advance that argument. Turn it round: American blacks would be better off as slaves. I don’t suppose they think so. Is there something in American materialism that leads to the notion that the really bad aspect of slavery was that the slaves were poor? That it’s only wealth, or perhaps income, that matters when you look at inequality? Bonkers/wicked/stupid: take your pick.

    1. George Hier

      I don’t think they thought their headline through very well. I read that and thought “well gee, I’m glad I’m not living in those more-equal times, because they sucked ass compared to today’s abundant food and cheap energy”. If you’re going to argue against massive inequality, you should probably be comparing between contemporary countries/cultures, not comparing to historical ones. Bullet meets foot.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sometimes, when you are learning a new skill, doing it with the right technique will initially make you worse off than when you were before.

      And hopefully there is a future so when they look back to 2014, what was one hundred and fifty years to us was but a brief moment to them, so they and we can say ‘initially.’

      In any case, you have to stay with what is right (the emancipation) even if we have worse inequality than the antebellum South, and work towards more equality.

  4. Ned Ludd

    The evidence that North Korea is responsible for the Sony breach seems to be a narrative bolted on after-the-fact.

    But in their initial public statement, whoever hacked Sony made no mention of North Korea or the film. And in an email sent to Sony by the hackers, found in documents they leaked, there is also no mention of North Korea or the film. The email was sent to Sony executives on Nov. 21, a few days before the hack went public…

    “[M]onetary compensation we want,” the email read. “Pay the damage, or Sony Pictures will be bombarded as a whole. You know us very well. We never wait long. You’d better behave wisely.” […]

    It was only on December 8, after a week of media stories connecting North Korea and the Sony film to the hack, that the attackers made their first reference to the film in one of their public announcements.

    Misdirection combined with media hype, all aligned with U.S. government foreign policy interests.

    Senior administration officials, who would not speak on the record about the intelligence findings, said the White House was debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea of what amounts to a cyberterrorism attack.

    1. dearieme

      Hang on, I remember. Axis of evil! Axis of evil! Axis of evil!

      “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We know it’s not Cuba.

      At least I hope it’s not Cuba, being so close to accessing American telecommunication equipment and boatloads of tourists.

  5. dearieme

    “Pooling information could … help doctors diagnose rare birth defects by matching children with suspected gene mutations to others who are known to have them.” It’s interesting to see eugenics returning without the label, since I assume the purpose will be to abort the foetus/kill the unborn baby (choose the term that’s to your taste). Still, at least it means that the defective will be killed at a much earlier stage than Hitler had them killed. Which is a good thing, but one about which people seem reluctant to be frank.

  6. craazyboy

    I’ve just produced another highly popular “Rover Races” mini-video.

    Rover’s Virtual GPS Racetrack is bigger this time, almost an entire soccer field. Rover is running in complete autonomous control, tho I can override his nav controller anytime with my radio transmitter and take back manual control. He can hit 30mph in the straights, then slows a bit when sensing he is within 30ft of a GPS “corner” in order to make the turn.

    Soundtrack by slide guitar extraordinaire, Sonny Landreth.

  7. John Jones

    The only Greek political party that is what it says is EPAM and its leader Dimtris Kazakis. It is just too small.
    It doesn’t have the money and is pretty much blacked out in the media so it wont win much. Syriza is just another pseudo leftist party.

    1. Ronald Pires

      I could have told him this from the get-go. (And I’d been trying.) Unless you’re an isolated state like Hawaii or Alaska, single-payer cannot not work on the state level. (Yes, Canadian provinces fit the “isolated” criteria; the lower 48 do not.) The lower 48, individually like Vermont was trying, cannot control their risk pools, and except for a few large population states, do not have sufficient price control power. Apparently in the end, this is what Vermont’s numbers were saying.

      But this is a good thing for single payer, which as an idea would have suffered massively had a state tried and failed, and Vermont certainly would have. And now other states that might have been thinking of going it alone will have Vermont’s research to seed their own.

      The bottom line is that single payer has to be done nationally, and that means we’re talking at least five years before the accumulated failures of ObamaCare will be large enough to start developing a single payer consensus. And that’s a lot of people who are going to have to die for capitalism before we start to get this thing right.

      1. bmeisen

        thanks for your helpful comment. by risk pool control do you mean the ability to screen participants, i.e. they can’t cherry pick enough? or do you mean the population – the risk pool i assume – is not sufficiently stable to set meaningful premiums? similarly by insufficient price control power do you mean thar the public insurer would not be able to stabilize and defend the prices it sets for procedures?

      2. NOTaREALmerican

        Re: start developing a single payer consensus.

        Roughly just before the sun burns out then, eh?

      3. aletheia33

        from the the vermont workers center “health care is a human right” campaign in response to shumlin’s announcement/statement that “the numbers don’t add up”:

        …”The Governor’s task at hand was to shift private payments to a more equitable, public financing mechanism. His task was not to find new money. … The HCHR Campaign does not believe that the Governor showed sufficient commitment to identifying alternative public financing mechanisms for a service that is already being paid for by all of us.” full HCHR statement below.

        “The Healthcare Is a Human Right (HCHR) Campaign expresses its deep disappointment in the failure of Governor Shumlin to act on the will of the people of Vermont to ensure universal, publicly financed healthcare in our state. This inaction is a slap in the face of many thousands of Vermont residents who suffer from poor health and financial hardship in the private insurance market that sells healthcare as a commodity to those who can afford it. The HCHR Campaign reminds the Governor that healthcare is a human right, and that our government has an obligation to ensure that right. Our government also has a responsibility to enact state law, and Act 48, passed in 2011, clearly requires Vermont to take actions to provide healthcare as a public good to all residents by 2017.
        We all currently pay for our hodgepodge healthcare system – we just don’t pay in a way that leads to giving people access to care. Moving to a different financing mechanism has nothing to do with raising new money. Vermont’s businesses currently pay 80% of all private insurance premiums. Most of these businesses are large employers; they pay the lion share of health insurance. Individuals who fall sick also pay a big chunk – through roughly $800 million in out-of-pocket costs. The Governor’s task at hand was to shift private payments to a more equitable, public financing mechanism. His task was not to find new money.
        The HCHR Campaign does not believe that the Governor showed sufficient commitment to identifying alternative public financing mechanisms for a service that is already being paid for by all of us. Over the past three years the Administration developed its financing ideas – the same ideas the Governor now claims make public financing impossible – behind closed doors, without public participation or broader input from the many experts in universal healthcare financing, but in close consultation with a select group of businesses. The Governor missed the deadline set by Act 48 to submit a financing plan in early 2013, thus failing to meet its obligations under the law. The proposals the Governor has presented now are not based on the principle of equity. By shielding big businesses from continuing their payments for healthcare at the current level, the governor made his financing plan both inequitable and unviable. An equitable financing plan would have shown a clear path to sufficient and sustainable funding by maintaining big businesses current payments for healthcare costs and thus avoiding a cost-shift to small businesses and individuals.

        The Governor’s misguided decision was a completely unnecessary result of a failed policy calculation that he pursued without democratic input. Without formally repealing Act 48 and without a democratic process of deliberation, the Governor’s unilateral decision is completely inexcusable and unacceptable. A decision of this magnitude requires the voices of the people of Vermont to be heard.
        The many thousands of people that are active in the HCHR Campaign will not acquiesce to this undemocratic decision. The people of Vermont do not have the time to wait on a Governor who has consistently broken his promises. The HCHR Campaign will keep on fighting for our right to healthcare, and we call on our legislators to join us in this fight and move forward with an equitable, public financing plan for universal healthcare in our state.”

      4. different clue

        The whole political side of the point of Obamacare was to destroy any hope of consensus for Single Payer ever emerging for decades to come. The purpose of Obamacare is to serve as a stub for further refinement into pure Heritage Care . . . . faster than Single Payerism could ever hope to catch up. This is part of what Obama will be very well paid for after he leaves office.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Russia on its own (in the fevered imagination of America’s MSM):

    Analysts differ on whether Russia, in its current state, would even qualify for IMF aid.

    “The IMF would provide aid only to countries that have a balance of payments issue, and Russia doesn’t,” said Lubomir Mitov, chief economist for emerging Europe at the Institute of International Finance in Washington. “Russia has enough reserves not to qualify for the IMF. So there’s nothing — there’s no sovereign problem.”

    Russia asking for IMF help is “off the table,” said Mitov, who previously worked at the World Bank. “Russia’s not the same country that it used to be in ’98, ’99,” when foreign-exchange reserves were as low as $11 billion, compared with about $374 billion now, based on data compiled by Bloomberg.

    “The West has a majority in the IMF, the U.S. alone has a veto, so Russia cannot get any money from the IMF,” said Anders Aslund at the Peterson Institute. “No more debt enslavement” has been a fundamental tenet of Putin’s rule and foreign policy, Gaddy said.


    Is this an existential crisis for Russia … or for the IMF? Signs point to the latter.

    With its 188 members, the IMF includes nearly every country on earth. Traditionally when balance of payments problems arise, the IMF team puts on its accountants’ green eyeshades and goes to work on the finances, turning a blind eye toward external ‘pariah’ status.

    No more. Russia is being told provocatively by the Peterson Institute that its paid-up subscription to the IMF no longer entitles it to borrow, owing a probable US veto. Meanwhile the US, throwing its weight around in another hot spot, wants the IMF to waive its performance targets for Ukraine, even as the US failed to meet a deadline to increase its own IMF quota. So the IMF is foot-dragging on Ukraine’s next tranche until January.

    Injecting superpower politics into the IMF could lead to the proverbial ‘unintended consequences,’ including the US getting its wings clipped within the IMF. Once again, the world sees that the US doesn’t play nicely with others.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not only that, but with Google worth more than the entire Russian market (I got that from Marketwatch), perhaps due to the 400 + point upward explosion, or perhaps not, the question of the moment is, should Google replace Russia on the UN permanent council?

      When the Russian president comes to visit, his counterpart is appropriately some junior vice president of
      the search engine giant.

      1. ambrit

        When Amazon starts selling DIY fissile material “excavation tools” you can declare the World Oligarchy. Until then, I’d rather be running a nation state.

  9. Sam Kanu

    re: this link:
    “….Sony Breach Result of Self Abuse Patrick Durusau..”

    I just want to say that vven more astonishing than the Sony event is the government’s response to it, quoted below:
    “..Meanwhile, the White House National Security Council, which has a special section on its website dedicated to “the administration’s priorities on cybersecurity,” said in a statement yesterday that “the U.S. government is working tirelessly to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice,” NBC reports. “We take very seriously any attempt to threaten or limit artists’ freedom of speech or of expression.”….”

    I mean think about that for a second. We are looking at masses of American civil protesters everyday the past few months getting harassed, guns pointed at them, some thrown in jail on flimsy pretences. Yes at NO POINT WHATSOEVER did the Obama administration come out and declare concern over the police attempting to threaten or limit the protesters’ freedom of expression.

    But suddenly on a flimy “security” excuse, the white house comes out swinging for “poor little Sony” and ITS “freedom of expression”.

    Wow! Just in case people dont understand: demoncracy is totally dead and people do not matter anymore in this country. The govt cares only about big companies and the rest of the people (yes – apparently companies are not just people but super-people, according to our Supreme Kangaroo Court) can rot in jail if they dont like it.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Good point!

      But, I’ve also heard that the US government has an OBLIGATION to address cyber security concerns of American corporations as part of its overall and overarching commitment to “keeping us safe” from the evils of North Korea and their murderous, terrorist ilk.

      At taxpayer expense, of course.

      Funny, I was under the impression that Sony was a JAPANESE corporation. Haven’t heard too much bluster from the land of Fukushima. Are they as outraged at this unconscionable bullying of the US as Joe Scarborough seems to be?

    2. Carolinian

      The Dems were tight with Hollywood–a major source of contributions–long before they had Jamie Dimon on the speed dial. So yes Amy Pascal gets a lot more love than Joe Sixpack. As Warren Beatty says in Bullworth, “But have you contributed any money to my campaign?”

      Plus if the hackers can go after Sony then Oprah could be next–a tragedy.

  10. roadrider

    Re: Amazon not as unstoppable as it appears

    LOL. What kind of dickhead orders paper towels from an on-line retailer?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “Dickhead” is a good word for it.

      We have some ungodly number of square feet of retail space for every man, woman and child in this country.

      How long will it take the start-up geniuses in San Francisco to realize that when you’re out of paper towels or diapers, the quickest (and CHEAPEST) way to resolve the problem is to stop by one of the billions of 24-hour Walgreens, remove the item from the shelf yourself, pay for it and take it home?

      Diapers. Lordie, these people are apparently breeding!

      1. OIFVet

        Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger:

        I’m not sick, but I’m not well And I’m so hot ’cause I’m in hell

        Been around the world and found That only stupid people are breeding The cretins, cloning and feeding And I don’t even own a TV

        Put me in the hospital for nerves And then they had to commit me You told them all I was crazy They cut off my legs now I’m an amputee, goddamn you

        This about captures it.

          1. OIFVet

            O, Fortuna. The last part is timeless. Too bad this piece has been cheapened by all kinds of inappropriate placements in movies and commercials. As Harper’s puts it,

            Of all the works, one rose almost immediately to prominence, helped along the way by Carl Orff’s career-making setting: O fortuna! We are reminded of the conditions of life that the authors faced—for their life was indeed nasty, brutish and short. Men and women lived in a society that handed them a meager role, and few felt any control over their destiny. The song O fortuna! reminds us of all of this, even as it rings with a passion for life, a demand to seize and treasure the sweet moments that pitiful human existence affords.


  11. Garrett Pace

    Studio Ghibli

    There’s two anthologies of Miyazaki’s articles, interviews, speeches, etc., and I recommend them highly, particularly for the thoughts and ideas behind his two most environmental works, Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind, and Princess Mononoke.

    It’s not a surprise that he is a storyteller of considerable skill and subtlety, but to see how he planned and structured his stories opened up new depths for me.

    Also, any Ghibli fans should also read his manga of Princess Mononoke. All three literary efforts can probably be had from the local library system.

    The anthologies are called

    Starting Point
    Turning Point

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s puzzling why China doesn’t get more involved in Anime.

      It’s easier to access Western consumers – you can have more western looking cartoon characters to sell your eastern ideas.

      Perhaps that’s a short cut as well. In a cultural war, you want to prevail with your own indigenous aesthetics and establish your frame of reference, your ground rule to judge what is beauty.

      1. hunkerdown

        Perhaps they haven’t been browbeaten by the sorts of religion or scripture (ahem, St. Augustine) that promote culture war and scoff at satiety. Or, as some of the examples here might suggest, they just don’t care enough.

      2. Jack

        Not to be overly harsh, but I think it’s simply that they don’t have the talent for it, and no desire to develop that talent.

        @Garrett Pace, not quite sure what you mean. Miyazaki and Ghibli are unique, but so was Satoshi Kon, and so are Mamoru Oshii, Makoto Shinkai, Katsuhiro Otomo, Leiji Matsumoto and any number of other anime and manga creators. Both mediums contain many examples of genuine creativity and depth (often staggeringly so) and many more examples of consumerism’s tendency towards laziness and easy to sell crap (especially in recent years).

        Of particular interest to readers of this blog would be Patlabor 2, which is effectively a condemnation of Japans claims to being peaceful while serving as a US springboard for Far East deployments:

        and Eden of the East, which was a call for Japans Youth to become active and save the nation from political stagnation:

      3. different clue

        Clive might be able to tell us whether Japanese and Chinese cultures are so different that what works in one will not even compute in the other. Is Anime one of the ethniculture-specific art-forms?

  12. fresno dan

    “That’s real money, even to Summers, an ex-Treasury Secretary, who padded his bank account by collecting large speaking fees from Wall Street banks and consulting for hedge fund D.E. Shaw before joining the Obama administration in 2009. At the time, he reported his net worth to be between $7 million and $31 million in the broad range denoted on federal financial disclosure forms.”

    They say if you know how much your worth, your not worth much….
    I have the same problem (figuring net worth) – the jar that holds my quarters is …. (this is SHEER coincidence) about a quarter full. So my net liquid capital is somewhere between 6 and 17 dollars – I would estimate.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s so true – the really rich, their worth jumps every minute, so fast, and from so many unexpected victims, sorry, sources, their phalanx of accountants, with the latest American made, world class, telecommunication equipment, fail to keep up.

  13. Tyler

    Since the middle class has a much higher marginal propensity to consume than wealthier households, why isn’t the Obama administration advocating a full payroll tax holiday for employees which would not expire until the national unemployment rate falls to three percent?

        1. Bene

          Should we take one considerably vulnerable segment of the population and jam its face into the dirt to make things a little easier for another segment?

          Look, forget holiday. The FICA tax is both stupid and unnecessary. But as long as the GOP is standing there waiting to blow the crap out of any voting group that goes left, the options are kind of limited. Unless you think our seniors will get off their walkers and burn Congress down if they get screwed. Frankly, I’d love to see it.

    1. James

      Cause corporate Murica could give a shit less whether anyone pays taxes or not and they’re not going to hire labor at any price either way.

      1. James

        Plus when the proles who would ostensibly benefit from said tax cut heard about it, they’d claim Communist conspiracy and there’d be blood in the streets. Murica’s a funny place these days. It’s best for all involved if you just try not to think about it. A healthy supply of the little green and white pills ain’t a bad option either. Hard alcohol optional, but highly encouraged as well, of course.

  14. Uahsenaa

    Since it’s rare that something on NC is firmly in my academic wheelhouse, I feel the need to make a few points about Ghibli.

    I should note first that I’m a huge fan of both Takahata and Miyazaki. That said, Miyazaki is a tyrant, has been for some time, and it is well known among other animation directors in Japan that working with him is hell. There are net positives, of course: his attention to detail and tyrannical demeanor mean everything in his films contributes to a clear, concise artistic vision. Yet, “production costs” in this article sounds suspiciously euphemistic for the lag that results from Miyazaki’s obsession with micromanaging everything and the huge turn over they have in staff. And his attitude has basically destroyed his family, which has had the negative effect of making his son Goro’s situation in the company quite complicated. If the studio is to persist, it needs to be more than just a cult of personality, yet that will never fly so long as Miyazaki is around. He is the source of both much of what kept the studio going as well as much of what threatens to impede it. You shouldn’t believe the papa bear image so often peddled in the US and Japanese media. It’s a lie.

    1. Garrett Pace

      “Tortured genius” or “stormy martinet” or whatever else people want to call him, you’re absolutely right that he’s had an outsized effect on his studio for several decades.

      I have a sense he’s been trying to play the elder statesman and let other people tell their stories for several years now (he is an old man; a project he could do in two years “all by himself” thirty years ago would take a decade now). But he hasn’t been able to do it.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Fed signals tightening mid-2015…

    So it looks like the big rally today was Mr. Market using any excuse to goose the indexes prior to the critical-for-investment-manager-beauty-contests year end date.

    The sheeple have to trained to rush to catch a falling knife.

    It’s an acquired skill – being educated by the mainstream media is a prerequisite.

    ‘More education* is the key.’

    And thus, we are always just a little late, squeezing each other to get in as our ‘teachers’ are getting out.

    * Learning is a life long endeavor.

  16. Jim Haygood

    Moderates need wheels, comrades:

    TEXAS CITY — A local plumber is being flooded with phone calls after a picture of one of his old company vehicles being used by Islamist militants in Syria was posted on Twitter.

    The picture was posted online by the Islamic extremist brigade Ansar al-Deen Front, according to a CBS News report. It shows a black pick-up truck with a Mark-1 Plumbing decal on the door and an anti-aircraft gun in the bed.

    Mark Oberholtzer, who has owned and operated Mark-1 Plumbing in Texas City for the past 32 years, confirmed it was his pickup truck in the picture. He said he no longer owned the vehicle and had no idea how it ended up in Syria. Oberholtzer said he traded in the truck to an AutoNation dealership three years ago.


    So how exactly does a used pickup from outside of Houston end up with Ansar al-Deen Front in Syria? That would be a smoking gun, if not for the export records likely having been laundered through a CIA front company.

    Remember when Congress used to do investigations? LOL, you must be an ‘active senior’!


  17. EmilianoZ

    I must formally protest the mention of Miyazaki on this blog. It makes no doubt to me that Miyazaki is a crypto-commie. The proof is in Porco Rosso. What is that French song Gina is singing?

    It’s nothing less than “Le Temps des Cerises”. That’s right, the song most associated with the Paris Commune of 1871. Just a few days ago, Lambert linked to an article detailing the horrors perpetrated by that mob during their 2-month terror rule over Paris.

    Including that song in an animation movie for small children amounts to nothing less than the brainwashing of young impressionable minds. This is outrageous! NC should ban the mention of Miyazaki or Ghibly entirely.

  18. ambrit

    Another sign of the times.
    Today is garbage pickup day for my neigbhourhood. A middle aged black couple pushing a decently sized plastic container on wheels just came down the street rummaging through each rubbish can as they came to it, removing aluminum cans and other unrecognizable objects. I do wish them well, but this is too close to those pictures of third and second world peoples living in city dumps for my comfort. (Remember the story about the trash picker in Manilla who found the diamond ring? That story didn’t mention the hundreds of children and old people who died from preventable disease in that city because they did not find that diamond ring.)
    America is unraveling before our eyes.

    1. James

      See now? We can learn a lot from those opportunistic Filipinos! Rather than keep the garbage and the poor apart, scattered throughout the city and benefiting neither, you bring the two together to capture synergies and efficiencies for all involved! Win-Win! And when the poor inevitably go on to meet their maker, you simply cover them over with the next load of garbage and press on with business. Now there’s some MBA thinking for ya!

    2. craazyman

      sounds like they need a 10 bagger.

      I can empathize. What’s the difference between a desk job pushing paper and work outdoors pushing a shopping cart? I see those folks in New Yawk but they’re usually hispanics from central America, short and squat with jet black hair tied back and they go about their business with a rapid choreographed purposefullness. the wife, husband, sometimes a few of them. I see them at 5 am. The cans in neatly tied bags and the shopping cart shiny in the streetlight against the dark asphalt. They smile hello and they actually seem happy. They make me think of squirrels and I don’t mean that in a disparagnig way. Squirrels have their own reality. I know because I watch them and have made friends with a few and they told me just they way they look at you.

      They, the can pickers, have their own universe even though they look up and see th same stars. they see Orion rising now through the bare trees but they don’t know it the way I do, with a whole life of dreams and ideations of thee way things are, the inner power of things that elevate or crush, the memory of a life in America as an American privilidged, educated, proud, well dressed and vain, on those stars. One look at Orion and it;s all there at once simultaneous in all levels of past and present, all the memories and emotions. What universe are they in? I don’t know, but I do know this — if you did multiply theirs by a transformation matrix you’d get a dimesional reality vector that would be parallel with mine. That’ weird. Two parallel vectors in life space. What that matrix is, is weird. It’s probably a 10-bagger. That’s what the matrix transform is. I bet it they got their 10-bagger they’d also drink red wine and watch youtube and lay around and waste time utterly until it was all gone. Would’t almost anybody?

        1. optimader

          But I’ve seen things craazyman wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die.
          hat tip to Ridley Scott

          1. ambrit

            Ridley Scott was lucky. The Hollywood strike came along just in time to give the designers of the Bladerunner movie some extra time to revise and perfect their vision of what Phillip K Dicks’ book “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” would look like.
            Want irony? Phil Dick died of a heart attack near the end of the production of Bladerunner. He never saw it released.

  19. OIFVet

    Re: “organic” factory farms. Factory farms are an abomination. They destroy the environment and debase animals. A few days ago there was a Huffpo Live segment on cows sexual abuse in factory farms. PETA has documented many instances of sexual abuse of pigs and turkeys, among others. And this only scratches the surface given the miriad other forms of abuse going on in factory farms. Little wonder then that Ag Gag laws are all the rage in the industrial food industry. TPTB don’t want us to know the high costs of low priced “food”. We are what we eat, and what we feed on is suffering. Literally. “Organic” thus becomes a useful, feel good ruse to deflect attention from the structural issues at the very foundation of our “food” production and distribution systems. Yet most of what is labled “organic”, “free range”, etc. is so only symbolically and is just as cruel and environmentally damaging as “traditional” industrial farming, as Pollan showed in ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’. It is all so sickening.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I saw the same recently in a documentary as well.

      We live in a complex world and we take short cuts. We are taught the fallacy of argument by authority, and yet, you are asked to provide links….links to what? What another commenter say? No, he/she has no credibility. We mean, reporters of some news organization, or some published authors. Newspapers and publishing houses – they represent the authority of credibility.

      Or you say, I am going to reason and verify everything myself. In the same vein, you have to grow, cook -sorry, prepare, for you raw foodies – your own food and make your own tools. That ‘organic’ label doesn’t mean much. An unexamined life is not worth much in the best of times and in the worst of times. This is a tale of less consumption and localism, rather than a tale of transcontinental railway-ism or massive-junk-import-ism.

      1. OIFVet

        “This is a tale of less consumption and localism, rather than a tale of transcontinental railway-ism or massive-junk-import-ism.


    2. Foppe


      “Organic” thus becomes a useful, feel good ruse to deflect attention from the structural issues at the very foundation of our “food” production and distribution systems. Yet most of what is labled “organic”, “free range”, etc. is so only symbolically and is just as cruel and environmentally damaging as “traditional” industrial farming, as Pollan showed in ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’. It is all so sickening.

      Yup. As you say, our demand for animal products necessitates suffering — including the death — of the animals who we use as living egg/dairy/wool/meat/leather/fur factories, whether on factory farms or on organic* farms. I would humbly point out, however, that there is something very odd about the very notion of ‘organic’ farming. Because implicit in the discussion surrounding free range/organic farming is the idea that it is wrong to make animals suffer needlessly. And using the same logic, we think it wrong to harm animals because doing so generates pleasure for us. Yet what Pollan fails to point out is that all harm is avoidable, and that everything that is done to animals in the course of food production happens for frivolous reasons. Because as the American Dietetic Association (among others) notes,

      appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.

      In other words, there is no nutritional need to eat (never mind wear) any animal product. So where is Pollan’s dilemma? Any omnivore who agrees that frivolously harming animals is wrong, can — and therefore should — stop, because of the values s/he her/himself holds. Because without nutritional necessity, our only reasons for (paying people to) exploit[ing] and kill[ing] them are palate pleasure, tradition/habit, and/or convenience. What this, put bluntly, means, is that all harm and death inflicted on so-called livestock animals in the course of food production is just as unjustifiable as is harms inflicted upon animals raised for dog fighting, or what have you: in either case, everything that happens to the animals happens because people desire to have certain pleasurable experiences.** Which is why anyone who thinks harming animals for pleasure is wrong should see that this conviction requires you to stop consuming animal products.

      * And when it comes to “organic”, the question we need to ask ourselves is this one: how much less badly than “factory farmed” animals should we treat animals in order to have the right to use and kill them for frivolous purposes? I have never conceptually understood why people feel “organic” makes sense.

      ** Certainly it is true that most consumers of animal products — hunters (partly?) excluded — don’t derive pleasure from seeing the animals they eat die, whereas in the case of dog fighting the suffering is the whole point. Yet our feelings over the ways the animals we use are treated have no bearing on the question whether our use of them is justifiable.

      1. OIFVet

        Don’t you get Yves started on the science of nutrition… I will have to respectfully disagree with you about the benefits of vegetarian/vegan diets. I will not do so on the basis of nutritional requirements but on the basis of environmental degradation. The fact is, in most climates or localities, purely vegetarian/vegan diets are only possible thanks to the very industrial food manufacturers (not growers, manufacturers) whose practices you deplore. The huge monocultures are energy intensive both in the production and distribution phases, and as such are environmentally unsound. This is true whether the produce is “organic” or not. Environmental degradation harms us and it harms the very animals you think you protect with your vegetarian/vegan diet. And some others too, like pollinators for example. Then there is also the fact that some vegetarians and vegans consume some very highly processed foods (Tofurky!!!), which may help them meet their nutritional requirements but are not any healthier than eating red meat.. In the end, being vegetarian/vegan can be quite the same as the yuppie who pays a premium price for “organic” and “free range” produced by the industrial farms, and pats himself on the back for “making a difference”. The bottom line is, consuming animals and animal products is not unethical in and of itself, the problem arises from how the animals are treated. One ought to respect his food, the same way Native Americans respect the salmon and the bison, for example.

        1. Foppe

          I’m afraid I don’t see how your conclusion follows from the things you say before it. Yes, some vegans eat unhealthy, processed foods. So what? Nobody is forced to do so, and my point wasn’t that a vegan diet is necessarily preferable from a health perspective (although in most cases it is). My point was that a plant-based diet is nutritionally adequate — i.e., containing all the protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fats, fibre, carbohydrates that you need in order to survive. This is entirely uncontroversial, as evidenced by the position paper I linked to. And the consequence of this is that our only ‘justification’ for using and killing animals is that they taste good — in other words, our only reason for using and treating them in the ways we do, is that we derive pleasure from eating them. So yes, plant-based diets can seem like a ‘fad’; especially because of how it’s catching on in Hollywood circles (and SF). But that’s beside the point. The point is this: If you thinking it wrong to frivolously harm and killing any animal — whether livestock, a (beloved) pet, or otherwise — then, given that an [appropriately planned] vegan diet is nutritionally adequate, it follows that, by your own lights, you should stop eating all animal products, as everything that is done to animals happens only because of the fact that we derive pleasure from eating dairy/eggs/meat, and/or wearing products containing or made of fur/wool/leather.

          As for environmental degradation: please see this FAO report. To sum up: animals require anywhere between 6 and 20 times their ‘slaughter weight’ in plant protein; pretty much all of which is farmed. 80% of the grains produced in the US are used as fodder. Nigh all of the Brazilian ‘rainforest soy’ is used as fodder. Corn, same deal. Yes, monocultures are bad. But a large part of the reason why they exist is because the demand for meat/eggs/dairy has exploded. As of right now, some 58 billion land animals are killed each year for food; all of whom need to be fed. (Concerning land mammals, this xkcd nicely shows the enormity of the problem.)
          So I’m afraid that the notion that animal agriculture is preferable from an environmental perspective is extremely misguided. (And the world simply doesn’t enough arable land to keep all of these animals extensively.)
          On top of that, the largest line item on the list of greenhouse gas producers worldwide — I again refer you to the FAO report linked above — is animal agriculture: 18%, versus 14% for all transportation combined. (And the GHG emissions from ‘organic’ cattle are much worse than from factory farmed ones, because of the lower nutrient density of grass.) So on that front, too, we’d be much better off without animal agriculture — not that you’d ever hear the large environmental organizations talking about this.

      2. different clue

        Maybe someday someone will brag to me about their petro-chemical based fake leather jacket or shoes. I will then get to ask them:
        How many sea otters died for that fake leather?
        How many baby Iraqis died for that fake leather?
        How many barrels of oil died for that fake leather?

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Napolean vs. Cheney.

    Torture vs. Rapport. On a personal level.

    Between nations, the analogy is between War vs. Diplomacy.

    Between parents and kids, it’s Carrot vs. Stick.

    As we know, you need a combination of carrot and stick…good guy/bad guy.

    Unfortunately, if your goal is to extract information, the optimal strategy may be a combination of both…some guys you can intimidate with threat of force/violence, some guys you might physically have to throw in prison to get them to reform, and some guys you can’t do nothing about…the Hannibal Lecters of the world. At the end, everyone is unique and no one single way will always work. You can’t say torture will not work on some. That’s what your intellect should inform you; though wisdom is through your heart and you say no, realizing the brain and its intellect is not always reliable and to engage the issue like Shedlock does (‘it’s mathematically impossible’ he would say on other occasions) is a rather impoverished way of dealing with it. At the end, it’s better to deal with this problem on nation to nation level – nations and peoples have to get along.

  21. barrisj

    Re: “opening to Cuba”: The Alan Gross prisoner exchange business only highlights the ongoing effort by US govt. agencies to cause mischief or worse in Cuba, as Gross was caught up – perhaps incidentally – in a USAID effort to create a “Cuban Twitter” account, as an end-run round Cuba’s communications laws and to foster “unrest” amongst the population, one of dozens of programs attempted by the US since 1959 to unseat Fidel Castro. So, now the island will get the full US treatment: A massive Embassy compound stuffed full of NSA/CIA/Mil-intel types doing the dirty, and a huge amount of arm-twisting or worse to bring “the benefits of a free market” (or else!) to Cuba, as part of the Americans’ “democracy agenda”. Cuba is very susceptible now to blandishments of “economic aid” as Venezuela – its chief patron – is in an economic crunch itself, and clearly Cuba is in need of assistance…but at what price? More prostitution, growth of illicit drug transshipments, bribery and corruption regarding new business contracts, privatisation of socialised programs, the whole capitalism treatment. Be careful what you wish for, Cuba, this is America, after all.

    1. ambrit

      Simple! Put the new American Embassy in Guantanamo! A few rented offices in Havana for liaison purposes, and some consuls in various ports should do the trick.
      Also do not forget Russia. I’ll lay odds on Putin wondering how he can take advantage of this latest development of ‘L’Affaire Cuba.’ America wants to muck around in Ukraine, does it? Well now laddie, we have Cuba to play.

      1. barrisj

        Well, it may be a case of bringing back the bad ol’ days of the Batista era, where American crime bosses ran the “entertainment” businesses, and the government turned a blind eye in exchange for a piece of the action. There is a huge amount of money sitting in Miami just waiting for an opportunity to bring “freedom” to Cuba, and a whole new generation of Cubans about to be exposed to US-style “entrepreneurism”.

      2. James

        Word has it they’ve already got the luxury resort to end all resorts in the works. Multiple hotels, casino and entertainment complex, 18 hole golf course and bombing range, family oriented theme park, the works! Working title: Rendition Resorts and Casino at Gitmo. Rumor has it Cheney and the Shrub are on board to reprise an updated Martin and Lewis routine in the main lounge as an opening act, with negotiations ongoing to add Clinton, Gore, Rumsfeld, and “Turdblossom” Rove to the mix for an updated Rat Pack routine after that. Just like old times! With genuine, gently used and autographed water boards on sale in the gift shops – all staffed by current and former detainees – of course! An experience so grand you’ll BEG to be detained!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Looks like one more member of ‘Will work for imperial currency’ chain-gang.

      Only the truly exceptional can print it at will.

      1. barrisj

        Regrettably, there is currently a certain amount of “sex tourism” in play that is tacitly encourage by the Cuban government in order to obtain hard Western currency. And while not as rampant as exists in Thailand, a thriving sex-with-children market does flourish as well, so an infrastructure for the sex industry is in place, and I can well imagine “entrepreneurs” from the States exploiting, e;g;, an inchoate child pornography market to serve the greater Caribbean and Stateside markets moving forward. Lotta hand-rubbing going on at the moment, as new opportunities present themselves with the Obama initiative in place.
        Ain’t FREEDOM great!

        1. ambrit

          What a legacy for “O.” The facilitator of the Cuban sex trade, all for “hard” currency. Indeed, this looks to have the makings of a sequel to “The Story of “O”.”
          So, barrisj, “Ain’t FREEDOM great!?” Well, not if you serve the Masters.

    3. optimader

      I look forward to visiting Cuba.
      They will have some great ecotourism venues if properly stewarded ( as well medical and music tourism). The embargo was ill conceived from the beginning. better late than never.

      By my metrics our ally Mexico is a far more failed State on most counts. I don’t hear the Miami Cubans anguishing “freedom of expression” in Mexico. Does Cuban have mass graves due to out of control narcotrafficing?
      Narco Music is the Soundtrack to the Mexican War on Drugs (Part 1/3)

      My quick assessment of BHOs move would have nothing to do w/ neighborly altruism, more a case of neutralizing Cuba as a location on our border that we have no influence

  22. CB

    As a long time Yahoo mail user, shortly after Marissa got her aggressively incompetent hands on the company, I opened an account at Outlook, so messed up and screwed over had Yahoo email become. It’s still glitchy. Call me old fashioned but I so prefer things that work.

    And the woman, who went to Yahoo with a blistering reputation for bad behavior, has confirmed what were once only stories from the halls of Google. Socially clueless, as well. Did I miss anything?

    1. Sam Kanu

      It did seem a bit odd the way she trod water at google by the end, but once I heard about the “no more working from home” nonsense, I knew she was patently unqualified to manage any knowledge-based enterprise.

      Shocking how much money is rained on CEO’s for nothing. I bet you there are 20 middle managers already at Yahoo that could have done that job better – and for a fraction of the amount she has collected.

  23. Garrett Pace


    A week later, Smith published an open letter calling for Yahoo to divest itself of its Alibaba assets, return the money to its shareholders and then merge with AOL. Redundancies could be eliminated, thousands of people could be fired and two former Internet superpowers would be downsized into a single and steady (if uninspiring) entity that sold ads against its collective online properties

    Uh, yay? I’m surprised to hear the internet is not a big enough place for all those people to have jobs.

  24. aletheia33

    day of receiving sickening form letters from senators.

    vermont: “i was able to bring home the bacon so stop complaining.”
    massachusetts: “i hope even if i use orwellian marketingspeak here, you’ll still know it’s really me and please i really need your money.”

    Dear XXXXX:

    Thank you for contacting me regarding the Fiscal Year 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill. I appreciate hearing from you about this important issue.

    The recently passed Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) Omnibus Appropriations bill was the final result of months of negotiations and compromise between the Senate and the House of Representatives. This comprehensive spending package includes funding for virtually every agency of the federal government, and its passage was essential to keeping our government open.

    Unfortunately, a number of controversial provisions were added to the legislation at the last minute. I share your frustrations and disappointment that provisions rolling back some of the protections in Dodd-Frank, expanding campaign donations and making changes to pensions were included in the final agreement. I agree that these provisions did not belong in this must-pass legislation. During the final stages of negotiations, efforts were made to include close to 100 unrelated policy provisions –including six additional provisions aimed at Wall Street reforms — that were kept out of the bill. Regrettably, negotiators were unable to eliminate all of the proposed riders and so several contentious policy provisions remained in the final compromise bill.

    I understand the focus on these troubling provisions, but it is important to acknowledge that the comprehensive spending package also included many hard fought victories for domestic priorities. This spending package includes increased funding for Community Health Centers, life-saving medical research at the National Institutes of Health, and housing for seniors and veterans. Additionally, the bill includes increased funding for Lake Champlain, and for new Anti-Heroin Task Forces to help states like Vermont combat the heroin crisis impacting states around the country. This compromise bill also includes funding to support nonprofit student lenders like the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC), and critical funding to support small businesses and rural development programs that Vermonters rely upon.

    Failure to pass this legislation would have resulted in yet another needless and costly government shutdown and would have guaranteed the loss of virtually all of the hard fought victories included in the compromise package. I encourage you to read the statement I recently gave on this bill and my decision to support it on my website at

    While this legislation was far from perfect, its passage has ensured that the government will remain open, and provides the funding Vermont and so many states depend on to support domestic priorities like our local law enforcement, transportation projects, healthcare and our schools.
    Again, thank you for writing. Please keep in touch.
    United States Senate


    XXXX [first name only],

    Washington is rigged for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists. Last week, we got a close look at what really goes on.

    House Republicans slipped a provision into the must-pass, omnibus budget package in a secret, closed-door deal. Citigroup lobbyists literally wrote the provision to weaken the new rules on Wall Street and make it easier for the biggest banks to get bailed out again in the future. JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon personally called up members of Congress to lobby for their votes.

    Nobody likes bailouts. Democrats don’t like bailouts. Republicans don’t like bailouts. But Wall Street proved again that with enough money and enough power, they can tilt the playing field in Washington a little more in their favor.

    I fought my heart out against that provision last week. So did tens of thousands of people who signed petitions, who called their representatives, who tweeted and Facebooked, and who spoke out about it.

    We lost this time. But here’s what I want you to remember: It’s better to fight and lose than not to fight at all.

    It’s better to fight because if you don’t fight, you can’t win. Besides, even when you don’t win, you can change the game. Here’s a snippet from an article in The Hill newspaper earlier this week that shows what I mean:

    “One senior financial industry executive said the dust-up over the funding bill has forced the industry to recalibrate its lobbying priorities for the coming year. Given Warren’s megaphone, the executive said, getting through the next Congress without new restrictions on large banks would constitute a win.”

    Sure, that’s just one person’s opinion. There are a lot of other people who work for big banks on Wall Street and in Washington who are salivating right now, making perfectly clear they view this as the beginning of a larger assault on financial reform. But without our fight, they would be looking at a much easier path to more bank handouts.

    We know that our job is going to get tougher in 2015. Mitch McConnell has been saying for months – both out in the public and in secret meetings with the Koch brothers – what his plan will be when Republicans take control of the Senate: use every trick and political game they can think of to undermine President Obama and grind the government’s work to a halt.

    That’s why it’s more important than ever to fight back for working families. To fight back for people who couldn’t get health insurance for years and don’t want Republicans to take their new insurance away. To fight back for Social Security and Medicare so seniors can retire with dignity. To fight back for the environment so our grandkids will be able to breathe the air and drink the water. To fight back for accountability and a level playing field so nobody steals your purse on Main Street, or your pension on Wall Street.

    That’s why we’re here: To fight the big fights. We won’t always win, but darn it, we’re going to try.

    I wanted to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for your support, for your time, for your voice, and for your fight. We’re a team, you and I. I never forget that.

    Thank you for being a part of this,



    1. ambrit

      “…but darn it, we’re going to try.”
      No revolutionary fervor there. Much as I like her, this sounds like ‘aparatchik’ speak. She’s going to have to put some fire in her speeches. Either way, it looks like there will be blood in the streets before this is all over. (Wait a minute. There already is blood in the streets.)

      1. James

        The only “fight” left in this system is the fight to overcome it. I have NO FAITH left in DC or anything that’s left of the Murican system. It’s time to shoot this rabid dog and put it down for once and for all.

  25. optimader

    “The largest vessel the world has ever seen BBC (furzy mouse)”

    Well, this thing is a barge w/ no propulsion or navigation capability, so calling it a “vessel” is a vernacular stretch, like calling a permanently moored floating riverboat casino a “vessel”.

    The “largest” navigable ship is the (which incidentally is larger dimensionally than the Prelude) is propelled w/eight of the largest M.A.N. marine powerplants (generators) built. The thing is giganormous and has a larger sistership under construction.

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