Links 2/1/15

Rare Sierra Nevada Red Fox Spotted in Yosemite National Park National Park Service (max) A very handsome specimen!

The man who studies evil BBC. The BBC has also gone to an eye-candy over text design, but it’s less awful than Bloomberg. But I gather the assumption is that no one wants to read and everyone wants to see pretty pictures.

In Corn Country We Have Two Choices. Let’s Pick the More Logical, Beautiful One Big Picture Agriculture (km)

Police Stations Increasingly Offer Safe Haven for Craigslist Transactions Slate

Can Students Have Too Much Tech? New York Times

Plastic surgery is a ‘burqa made of flesh’, says Vatican document Independent. Good phrase-making.

It’s Not The Oil Price That Is Causing Deflation In The Eurozone Forbes


After Syriza’s Victory, Confrontation or Capitulation Jacobin (Nikki)

Greece hires Lazard to advise on debt Financial Times

Greece Sets Up Cash Crunch for March Telling EU Financial Bailout Is Over Bloomberg

Angela Merkel rejects debt relief for Greece Telegraph

Greece economy: PM Tsipras seeks to placate creditors BBC

It’s Greece vs Wall Street Ilargi (Chuck L)

European democracy enters dangerous times Financial Times

New Finance Minister Says Greece Is Insolvent Frances Coppola, Forbes

Europe’s creditors play with ‘political fire’ in pushing Greece to the brink Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Over 80 Cartoonists and Comics Workers Boycott Israeli Occupation Firms Juan Cole (Nikki)


Battle rages as Ukraine peace talks stall Financial Times

Russia lowers economic growth projection for this year amid falling oil prices Xinhua

Imperial Collapse Watch

Delusional America Paul Craig Roberts (RR)

Texas Governor to declare ‘Chris Kyle Day’ in honor of sniper Reuters (EM)


White House Seeks to Limit Health Law’s Tax Troubles New York Times. The huge policy blind spot continues. There is absolutely no thought given in this article as to how the law impacts self employed people (as in horribly). The people assumed to have erratic income are assumed to be low income laborers (note the self employed can have low incomes too, but there are also those who do moderately to very well in general but still have considerably variability in their incomes).

Gold standard sullied? USA Today (martha r). From earlier this month, still informative.

Obama Said to Seek 19% Global Minimum Tax to Aid Road Fund Bloomberg

Medical Costs Rise as Retirees Winter in Florida New York Times. Notice the rash of stories on Medicare fraud? While I am sure this is a real problem, this is also an early sign that Medicare is next for “reform”. But Bill Moyers is on the case: Protect and Strengthen Medicare and Medicaid Programs for Another 50 Years

Mississippi – yes, Mississippi – has the nation’s best child vaccination rate. Here’s why. Washington Post (Jeff)

Police State Watch

Barrett Brown’s sentence is unjust, but it may become the norm for journalists BoingBoing (Nikki)

Recall of recalled vehicles adds complexity Financial Times. Crapification reaches a new level.

Driest January in history: Bay Area swings from boom to bust after wettest December San Jose Mercury News (EM). So when are locusts and plagues due to arrive?

Congress Revives Gingrich-Era Law To Thwart Obama Huffington Post (Michael C)

Big banks want to merge into bigger bank, run astroturf to pressure Fed Daily Kos (Carol B)

Two Judges Who Get It About Banks Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

Class Warfare

End Poverty? Reduce Inequality? What Republicans Must Do First Truthdig

Dying Shouldn’t Be So Brutal New York Times. Key statement: “I wonder when we became inured to bad care.” I don’t see myself as part of that “we,” BTW.

What is the Definition of a Market? Ed Walker, emptywheel

Antidote du jour (Kevin H):

Northern Cardinal IX

And a bonus video from Lambert:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. cwaltz

    As usual, the Vatican makes a medical issue one size fits all. I guess their viewpoint is that we should leave children who are born with cleft palates as is rather than provide the surgery to fix the deformity? Quite often plastic surgeries are used to fix problems- not every plastic surgery is someone unhappy on the inside working on their outside.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      If you had bothered reading the article, the Vatican was decrying the objectification of women via plastic surgery. Adult women wear burquas. Children do not.

      1. cwaltz

        I read the article. I found it insulting. Vanity and self esteem are far from female only issues. As a matter of fact the number of males using cosmetic surgery has been increasing yearly. In 2010 around 8% of the male population had plastic surgery. Were they wearing burquas too?

        You missed my point. As per usual the Vatican is simplifying a medical issue and making it one size fits all. It isn’t. Yes, some people spend time working on their outside when really what they need to fix is the inside(and so they schedule procedure after procedure.) However, there are many who have benefited and become happier after getting their ears tucked or the bump in their nose fixed. It’s not the Vatican’s place to tell anyone, and they certainly shouldn’t be singling this out as a “female issue”, that they should refrain from something medical.

        Disclosure: I say this as a female who doesn’t even bother dying her hair. My outside is not the sum of who I am. I don’t need a bunch of males in robes telling me what I should and shouldn’t do with MY body though. And yes the Vatican has a HABIT of telling women what they should and should not do with their bodies.

        1. sd

          In 2013, breast augmentation, liposuction, and tummy tucks were the 3 most common procedures for women.

          So I’d say that yes, way too many women have an issue with how they view their bodies to the point where they willingly insert silicone into their breasts and vacuum fat deposits out of their bodies. Must a woman really be that perfect?

          And now of course, tattoos and piercings are common place.

          1. Jack

            First we should start by disgarding the notion of the hourglass figure as perfect. Hell, let’s just get rid of the idea of perfection altogether. Different people like different things, the quality of averageness has an attraction all its own. I myself have a preference for smaller chested women. I also don’t much care for makeup. I find the whole idea of half the human race feeling under some kind of social obligation to spend significant amounts of time every day slathering layers of crap on their faces rather perverse.

          2. cwaltz

            I linked some stats to male plastic surgery but apparently it’s being moderated.

            You might want to look at the stats for male plastic surgery though if you think this is a girl issue.

        2. savedbyirony

          Per example of your “vanity and self-esteem are far from female only issues” – Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke would do very well. Benedict is no slouch, either.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think we are seeing here is power in another form.

          In this particular form, in general across different spiritual traditions, you can have an institution establishing itself as a spiritual sovereign, capable of issuing as much spiritual currency as it desires.

          It sees itself as infallible.

          It will have thousands of years of tradition of working on the same problem of helping those in need. And yes, everyday, the needy grow and grow.

      1. cwaltz

        If it weren’t so tragic it would be hysterical. The nuns (LCWR) try and talk to them about issues and they do the equivalent of a 5 year olds and stick their fingers in their ears(and let’s not forget the name calling.) I guess if the nuns tell you things you don’t want to hear the next step is to try and find a NEW group of women that will tell you what you want to hear and what’s important to Catholic women.

        I can’t wait to hear what the appropriate skirt length I should be wearing is.

        For the record, if they were really interested in the “objectification of women” then they’d have a discussion with the male half of the species.

        Instead of pretending this is a girl issue, they ought to treat it like it’s a human issue. However, that might just come a little to close to admitting that women and men are a lot more similar than the Bible depicts and that we deserve parity on issues.

        1. savedbyirony

          I don’t think people can really understand the extent of the misogyny at present in the institutional Roman catholic church without good knowledge of the hierarchy’s attacks against American Women Religious (the sisters) both in the “investigation” into women religious life, which was really an attempted financial and asset grap by the US Bishops as well as a ham-handed try at blaming the fall in vocations to “liberal/feminist” forces within the sisters’ organizations; and the ongoing hostile takeover attempt of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), arguably the most powerful and greatest lay respected organized group within the institutional church willing to take on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In culture, practice and doctrine the institutional RCC is misogynistic. Francis has shown little to no interest in seriously taking these issues on, especially as it come to dealing with antiquated “Natural Law” doctrines from which much of the misogyny stems. As for the Catholic church, meaning all its members in general, though -i do not think the institional misogyny is nearly as present there and in fact in the USA the treatment of women and girls within the institutional church is a leading factor in why both women and men leave.

          1. cwaltz

            It definitely was a factor in my choice. I was baptized, celebrated my communion and was confirmed(one of the gifts I got was my patron Saint Monica- the patron saint of alcoholics, mothers, married women and abuse victims. It’s funny actually because when I picked her it was because I liked her name. God picked perfectly though because ALL of the things she is patrons of have affected my life greatly.) The other gift I received was a hero- Mother Teresa.

            That being said, I could not quietly sit by and claim it as my faith when grown men were sentencing young rape victims to death by denying them medical intervention or condemning young children to disease and poverty by denying contraception. In my mind those victims are on their souls. That a innocent 12 year old die trying to give birth to a rapist’s child is their will, not God’s. Don’t get me started at how mean spirited it feels to me to deny someone the right to travel life with companionship simply because their preference is the same sex. (I find it completely probable that God might not want every human being to procreate but might not want them to travel a harsh world alone. Why would He in these cases not maybe pair a girl with a girl or a boy with a boy?)

            These days I’m not as big a fan of formal religion. I find it odd and suspect that not a single word of the Bible is written from a female perspective. Is there some good stuff in there? Certainly. Am I convinced that all of it is the word of God? Nope. Some of it just doesn’t translate to what God has placed in my heart over the years. *shrugs* I’ve learned to pick what speaks to me and ignore the rest which, from what I can tell, is not uncommon.

            1. skippy

              “I find it odd and suspect that not a single word of the Bible is written from a female perspective.”

              Skippy… See the 7 Councils of Nicaea… sort of like derivatives… if you don’t understand how the sausage was made… it hard to extrapolate later events…

  2. Andrew Watts

    RE: Delusional America

    The visceral reaction to Putin by a majority of people in the West and Robert Parry’s disgust for Reagan is intertwined by the same mechanisms that are deeply ingrained in the human psyche.

    Propaganda tries first of all to create conditioned reflexes in the individual by training him so that certain words, signs, or symbols, even certain persons or facts, provoke unfailing reactions. Despite many protests from psychologists, creating such conditioned refines, collectively as well individually, is definitely possible. But of course in order for such a procedure to succeed, a certain amount of time must elapse, a period of training and repetition.” -Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes

    The response that is triggered by propaganda is usually driven by emotion. Most people seem entirely unaware of their emotional state at any given time hence the effectiveness of propaganda. As for the conditioning that precedes this reaction I can think of a few ways that individuals voluntarily submit themselves to it. Why do you think they call radio/television shows programming?

    Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

    1. diptherio

      One of my major life discoveries was realizing that it is not possible to act if one is constantly reacting. Reaction (emotional or otherwise) is like being a marionette: pull a string and evoke a response, with no thought or intention necessary on the part of the puppet. But if one wishes to act; that is, to act thoughtfully and intentionally; one must first come to a state of non-reaction. When once you have become unflappable, when nothing succeeds in evoking a reaction, only then can you reflect, think, and truly act. So long as a person is ruled by reaction they have no free-will, regardless of what they might think.

      Our media encourages reaction and snap judgment. No sooner has information been presented than one is expected to have an opinion about it. And once decided (if a decision can even said to have been made), a person is expected to stick to their decision, their stated opinion, regardless of additional information. All of our MSM, with but few notable exceptions, seeks to evoke response and reaction–which is the same thing as saying they seek to keep their audience from the reflection that is necessary for free will to exist. Or, more succinctly, they seek to enslave.

      1. zephyrum

        But if one wishes to act; that is, to act thoughtfully and intentionally; one must first come to a state of non-reaction.

        A very good point!

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “No sooner has information been presented than one is expected to have an opinion about it.”

        I make a habit (or try to) to talk about inequality when the news du jour is, for example, school shooting.

        The MSM controls timing and thus us.

        I will keep the school shooting in mind for a period of time, meditating over, and talk about it later.

        So, maybe, I can have something useful to contribute to the discussion of, say, American Sniper, 9 months from now.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “one must first come to a state of non-reaction…”

        It is important to note that stimuli to reaction come from many directions.

        The novitiate must have no fear of solitude. And I see many brave souls.

        It’s also important we have no fear of silence, alone or amidst people. Here we still have more work to do – many shut themselves in their rooms only to blast loud music or they will be jogging alone the beach with earphones on. And thus remain vulnerable to more stimuli to reaction.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “As for the conditioning that precedes this reaction I can think of a few ways that individuals voluntarily submit themselves to it. Why do you think they call radio/television shows programming?”

      The greatest invention, really, of all time – a self-sustaining brain washing machine, powered by its subjects.

      “A clean, washed brain is a good brain.”

      “Be spotless.”

    3. Carolinian

      So you are saying Reagan is the victim of irrational demonization? Really?

      IMO former Reaganite PCR is full of beans when it comes to Reagan and Parry sees thing clearly. Of course Reagan wanted capitalism to “win” and wasn’t just trying to neutralize the Soviets. Reagan spent a chunk of his career shilling for GE and others.

      1. Andrew Watts

        So you are saying Reagan is the victim of irrational demonization? Really?

        As the author correctly points out staff positions like the White House’s chief of staff is just as important if not more so than the person who is elected and occupies the Oval Office. That particular staff position is commonly referred to as the “power behind the throne” in Washington,

        A vast majority of Americans are incapable of judging the efficacy of their leaders. Their emotions hold a tyrannical grip over their cognitive ability. The alternative reaction of warm and fuzzy feelings over the presidency is driven by the emotional impulse that propaganda is meant to trigger in the first place.

        IMO former Reaganite PCR is full of beans when it comes to Reagan and Parry sees thing clearly.

        This article is more complicated than the passing of judgment over Reagan’s presidency. The overblown reaction to Cohen is due to the irregular (ie. electronic warfare) and unrestricted warfare (ie; lawfare, social/media propaganda, etc) that countries like Russia/China are successfully waging against the United States.

  3. scott

    I was in the Bay Area last week (Foster City/Redwood City). I still saw sprinkler systems going on every morning on commercial properties; old fashioned sprinkler systems that watered the parking lot and sidewalks, not drip systems. And it was interesting that my hotel had no re-circulator for the hot water. It literally took 5 minutes for the water to get hot, almost as much as I needed for my shower. This for a hotel that was less than 5 years old.

  4. Llewelyn Moss

    So ISIS beheads two more hostages. Barbaric of course.
    But just like Pavlovian Dogs, all the Teevee Mush Heads are immediately calling for Escalation Of Merican Intervention And Boots On The Ground. ISIS sure knows how to pull the puppet strings of dim witted people.

    1. Kevin Hall

      Terrible thing a beheading is, but yes, even more disgusting is how the situation is being used.

      We have so many more beheadings just over our border to the South and not only that. People being turned into pozole (stew) and even flaying has made a return. Yes, one of those 43 students from Ayotzinapa had his eyeballs removed and his face flayed. His name was Julio César Mondragón and I’ll bet you didn’t know this until now.

      But then again, there is no calling for boots on the ground in Mexico is there?

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        No, I didn’t hear about those atrocities in Mexico aside from “the students were killed”. Horrible.

        I guess US OilCos don’t think they could get away with stealing Mexico’s oil. So they haven’t instructed Obama to invade.

        1. Kevin Hall

          Horrible it is.

          In my opinion, cynical or realistic, those in charge wish to make changes in the Middle East but are satisfied with the way things are closer to home.

          1. bruno marr

            Those 43 Mexican students were mutilated AND burned in an attempt to obliterate ALL evidence. Only a few have been identified by DNA forensic testing. This massacre was beyond vicious.

        2. Demeter

          There are claims that Mexico doesn’t have any more oil…which may explain why we haven’t invaded Mexico or sent in rabble rousers to overthrow the government there. OR, it could just be that Mexico is sufficiently corrupt for all US purposes already.

          1. Kevin Hall

            Ding Ding Ding – winner on the last part. It’s broken which fits the purposes.

            Pobre Mexico, tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de Estados Unidos.

      2. Jack

        This is a great point, and a really obvious one I hadn’t thought about until very recently. As bad as ISIS or any other extremist Islamic group is, there is literally nothing, nothing, they are doing or have done that the cartels in Mexico aren’t also doing. 40,000+ dead in the last five years, the last time I checked the numbers. You can go on Liveleak and see multiple beheading videos, and worse (seriously though, don’t do that). And the cartels aren’t Muslim, and generally don’t try and justify what they do in religious terms. They’re doing it for entirely materialistic reasons of power and money. The capacity to be monsters exists within all of us, any cause can bring it out.

  5. Jim Haygood

    ‘No one wants to read and everyone wants to see pretty pictures.’ — Yves Smith

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, why do we need text at all?

    When you visit the new Bloomberg home page and see this ‘article’ with lots of red Xs, green arrows, and orange life jackets, it means ‘buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride’:

    p.s. WTF is a crescent moon doing next to her head in panel no. 8? Is she some kinda goddess, or it’s just that time of the month (as suggested by the rather indecent white arrow)? Designers, oy!

    1. zephyrum

      Jim, I believe the designer is trying to indicate that one can blow into the manual inflation tube while outside the plane. What would be a better way to show outside than a moon?

      Can’t explain the arrow at the bottom though.

  6. MartyH

    Commenting on BBC and Bloomberg Web crapification: “But I gather the assumption is that no one wants to read and everyone wants to see pretty pictures.” I guess it says a lot about their “reader’s” demographics. As opposed to NC where the Antidote is a <snark>stumbling block on the way to the comments</snark>.

  7. afisher

    NYT article on Medicare Fraud is full of holes. The first Medicare Task Force was initiated during the end of the GWB admin and Florida was selected as the first state. During the GWB era there were a few cases ( don’t remember exact number, but less than a dozen). Since then, the number of Task Forces that have been established has been increased – but consider the funding of the DOJ since the “sequester” / balance budget nonsense.

    All cases are listed on the DOJ website – if anyone cares to do any actual fact finding. So while some appear to want to point Fingers at Florida – how about doing so with some intelligence.

    From the last case: Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. (yes, the DOJ keeps a running tab – so you don’t have to).

    Want to end (or greatly reduce Medicare Fraud – fund the agencies that do the hard investigative and trial work….otherwise it is just more whining.

    1. cwaltz

      I sure hope they have a larger task force than the ones who operated the underwater oil rigs. The final investigation determined that part of the reason things were rubber stamped is that they had a task force of around 62 regulators for 4000 wells.

      So much for “big government.”

      1. LucyLulu

        All the regulatory agencies are being gutted,…… because free markets……….. so I wouldn’t count on improved oversight. Shrink government until it fits into a bathtub. Florida not only attracts retirees, it attracts crooks and scammers with its generous bankruptcy exemption laws. Florida residents can exempt their home (value unlimited), up to 160 acres, any life insurance, annuities, pension, disability, and retirement funds, about $40K in wages, child support and alimony owed, public benefits such as SS, and amounts in education and medical savings accounts from the claws of creditors. With a little sound advice and planning, its easy to exit bankruptcy and still be worth millions, having suffered little financially other than the hit to one’s credit score, and is not unusual in high dollar personal bankruptcies. If there’s no criminal prosecution with seizure of ill-gotten assets, crooks are free to move on to their next (Obama, supported by judiciary favoring party with higher priced attorneys: “what they did was unethical but not illegal”) scheme.

        Another budget underfunding that has no reasonable rationale is the gutting of the IRS of investigators. One-third of taxes go uncollected and investigators collect 10 times more than it costs to employ them. What free market entity wouldn’t be thrilled with that kind of return on their investment? Because an increase in revenues works to achieve their primary goal of debt reduction, how can they justify cutting collections staff without supporting an honor-based tax payment system for non-wage earners, one that rewards cheaters?

        The more graft and waste in Medicare and Medicaid, the more ammunition is provided for reform and privatizing the public health sector. The similar problems with corruption in privatized public health programs that resulted in criminal convictions of top execs at Wellpoint, the company that provided Medicaid for almost 95% of Fl recipients in 2013 (but sentences with terms falling far short of guidelines, as judge explained defendants’ shame and embarrassment, and loss of careers was sufficient punishment……….. how many young black male non-violent offenders has he given time off for shame and employment losses?), will get no mention. While providers refuse to accept Medicaid due to low reimbursement rates, Wellpoint had 50% premium payouts in mental healthcare from 2003-7 (contrary to FL law which mandated 80%, similar to PPACA). The excess profits were funneled to the top of the corporate ladder and shareholders.

        The problem is that despite burdensome regulations that exceed any other developed nations, we still have high rates of medically-induced complications. HIPPA is the most burdensome of all, yet anecdotal reports point to healthcare workers snooping on workplace records owned by coworkers and acquaintances, facilitated by the transition from paper to EHR systems, being more widespread than reported. I can’t help but believe that snooping also occurs among HR and corporate managers with access to employee health records. Yet HIPPA prevents researchers from gaining access to digital stores of patient data, even with identifying data redacted.

  8. Ned Ludd

    January 2015 Ratings: MSNBC Down Double Digits

    In January 2014, “The Rachel Maddow Show” was the fifth most-watched show on cable news in the demo, averaging 305,000 viewers. Last month, Maddow’s show ranked No. 26 in the demo, averaging 153,000, down -50% year-over-year. It remains MSNBC’s most-watched show.

    Quite a change from the salad days of corporate liberal cable news:

    2007 Ratings: MSNBC has “Fastest Growing Primetime Lineup of any Top-50 Cable Channel”
    Q1 2009 Ratings: MSNBC Tops CNN in Prime Time
    MSNBC Beats CNN in 1Q 2010 In Primetime; And In Total Day Among Adults In March, First Time Since 2001

    1. Jack

      While the collapse of cable news is a good thing, I don’t think people are shifting to alternatives. They’re just tuning out of news period. At least that’s what it seems like to me. Movies are making more money now than ever, and the most watched YouTube videos are animals and music videos. Meanwhile Real News Network is averaging maybe 1500 views a video.

      1. Ned Ludd

        That is a good point. Propaganda targeted at liberals also seems to be shifting into movies, with the production of “liberal imperialist war films” like Zero Dark Thirty and American Sniper.

        In a review of Zero Dark Thirty, Noam Sheizaf connected Katheryn Bigelow’s bin Laden-killing opus to the established tradition of the “shoot and cry.” Calling it “the most vile and immoral war film I’ve seen in years,” Sheizaf explains that the “agonized killers” of these films don’t actually transmit any moral nuance, but rewrite evil actions as ambiguous ones. […]

        The fact that liberal imperialist war films affect an air of nuance, complexity, and ambiguity is precisely what makes them morally vile. There is nothing nuanced about US state violence. It takes a whitewash to turn a dark historical crime like America’s destruction of Iraq into a “gray area.”

        These liberal war films (and the associated media campaigns) helped transform many anti-war liberals, from a decade ago, into liberal jingoists and human rights warmongers of today.

    2. zapster

      I used to watch Maddow regularly, until the fiasco in the Ukraine came along–and the coverage was either nonexistent or false. So I located a bunch of alternative news sources, and msnbc dropped to the bottom of the stack. I still check it for snow and weather and the occasional mass shooting in the US, but nothing substantive. If they’re not going to report real news from both sides of whatever it is, I’m just not interested.

  9. Benedict@Large

    Let’s see. MSNBC viewership is down, including the flagship, Rachel Maddow. Meanwhile, Democrats are sparse at the November elections. See a pattern here? The people on the left who are generally inclined to be interested by politics are no shows. Their party, the Democrats, bores them.

    The Democrats have 21 months to change that. Otherwise the entire government will be given over to a group of reactionaries that combined do not have the brains of a rock.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Democrat politicians are not about to return to the days of being the Party for the Commoners. They are corporate whores almost as bad as Repubs. And I think that is MSNBC’s problem. Rather than standing for Left/Progressive principles, MSNBC hosts have become excusers for the Neoliberal Dem party.

  10. DJG

    Chris Kyle Day is just one more signal that America, land of candy asses, is fear-ridden and abject. One more hero sociopath and tough guy. It’s as if we live in some land of topsy-turvy sin, marked by NYPD Patrick Lynch, Rahm Emanuel Destoyer of Unions, Hillary Clinton Veni Vidi Qaddhafi, and all the way back to Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears. When the day of atonement comes, it is not going to be pretty. No wonder there is so much cheesy apocalpytic thinking in this country. {Sorry, it’s snowing in Chicago, and I’m cranky.}

    1. OIFVet

      Why be cranky?! It’s beautiful right now, enjoy it before the soot of the city spoils the winterscape. Just returned from a couple of hours of walking and taking it in, the boughs of pines weighed down by the wet snow. I feel rejuvenated.

      1. DJG

        Yep. I just went out and bought flowers. Good for one’s mindset.
        But the driving on Ashland, Foster, and Clark was, typically, incompetent.

    2. Jagger

      —–One more hero sociopath and tough guy.—-

      I really would be curious to see an in-depth study of the impact of TV on social consciousness. My generation was the first to be exposed to regular TV programming from childhood. I suspect we would find significant changes in priorities and values vs previous generations raised without TV programming. And I would not be surprised if many of the changes are for the worse. TV would be a superb tool for controlling and shaping populations if it were directed and controlled. The internet is much more difficult to direct or control.

      1. Ned Ludd

        Fast forward into trouble, June 13, 2003

        Four years ago, Bhutan, the fabled Himalayan Shangri-la, became the last nation on earth to introduce television. Suddenly a culture, barely changed in centuries, was bombarded by 46 cable channels. And all too soon came Bhutan’s first crime wave – murder, fraud, drug offences. […]

        For the first time, he says, children are confiding in their teachers of feeling manic, envious and stressed. Boys have been caught mugging for cash. A girl was discovered prostituting herself for pocket money in a hotel in the southern town of Phuents-holing. “We have had to send teachers to Canada to be trained as professional counsellors,” says [minister for health and education] Sangay Ngedup. […]

        There is something depressing about watching a society casting aside its unique character in favour of a Californian beach. Cable TV has created, with acute speed, a nation of hungry consumers from a kingdom that once acted collectively and spiritually.

        College Freshmen Aiming For High Marks in Income, January 12, 1998

        The annual nationwide poll by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles shows that two suggested goals of education – “to be very well off financially” and “to develop a meaningful philosophy of life” – have switched places in the past three decades.

        In the survey taken at the start of the fall [1997] semester, 74.9 percent of freshmen chose being well off as an essential goal and 40.8 percent chose developing a philosophy. In 1968, the numbers were reversed, with 40.8 percent selecting financial security and 82.5 percent citing the importance of developing a philosophy. […]

        Alexander W. Astin, director of the Higher Education Research Institute and founder of the survey, said he thought the growth in materialism, boredom and disengagement stemmed, at least in part, from television watching.

        “Kids who started college in the late 60’s had much less television,” Mr. Astin said. “Today’s kids never didn’t have it. We tracked freshmen of 1985 for four years to see how much TV they watched during college. The more TV they watched, the more their materialistic tendencies were strengthened.”

        1. Jagger

          Thanks. The second article focuses on the increase in materialism but I suspect the first gives a a more complete picture of total consequences with its description of …”first crime wave – murder, fraud, drug offences”.

          Although it should be obvious just by watching TV for a few days and noting the social standards presented as acceptable or prevalent. So do the kids learn more from their parents or TV?

          1. Ned Ludd

            Society passes down culture through the stories that it tells. Television is the dominant story-telling medium.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Dying shouldn’t be so brutal…

    Another somewhat related idea – conduct an exit interview of every departee, or whenever possible.

    “Was it worthwhile?”

    “I know you didn’t have a choice, but would you do it again?”

    “Any suggestions to make the experience better? You think more wealth would have made it better?”

    You know, your standard questions any HR personnel can do.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Boycott Israelis Occupation Farms.

    In general, we don’t hear about economic boycotts much.

    Can we sustain a month-old boycott against a giant internet search engine for collaborating with Big Government, for example, hypothetically?

    1. MartyH

      Began boycotting Google Search over a year ago. Use it less than 0.1% of the time and then just to prove a point to colleagues. I’m using Duck Duck Go who at least claim to not retain your search terms. If true, they can’t mine them nor can anyone else. Between that and not clicking on ads outside of sites advertising their own stuff, Google’s Search revenues dropped by a squintillionth of a cent a year. GMail is going to be harder as is dramatically reducing the Amazon addiction.

      Never said this was going to be easy ;-)

      1. Carolinian

        If only Duck Duck Go was as good as Google. But it isn’t. Still if you are worried about being spied upon it’s an option.

      2. Ned Ludd

        DDG also has a nice feature to hand the search off to a specific site:

        syriza !w – run Wikipedia’s search
        chicago !wuWeather Underground
        realnews !youtubeYouTube
        nsa !slashdotSlashdot

        And more

  13. BondsOfSteel

    Re: Driest January in history: Bay Area swings from boom to bust after wettest December

    So when are locusts and plagues due to arrive? August.

    Much of the West Coast relies on snowpack for water in the summer. The Cascades are at 25% of normal. It’s February, and most of the ski areas don’t have enough snow to open (or are so brown and spotty to ski):

    0-6″ at base ay Crystal! It’s been too warm to even make snow… and they snow they do get is washed away by occasional rains.

    Last year, we had a similar, but milder pattern. We were saved only by record snowfall in late Feb and March.

    1. bruno marr

      Actually, the “locusts” arrived some years ago in the form of “pine beetle” and other needle-leave tree diseases. Half the Sierra forest is sick or infected. Cold weather kills bugs.

  14. susan the other

    Ilargi on Greece taking on Wall Street. Short and sweet and so on target. I thought when I watched the video of Varoufakis and Dijesselbloem that when Dijesselbloem told Varoufakis “You just killed the troika” and Varoufakis answered “wow” they were talking about the IMF. Because only part of the troika was amputated. Greece still wants to talk to its creditor/creditor nations. But it really has to get rid of the Wall Street banksters who are so insolvent they are trying to pretend that derivatives aren’t illegal insurance policies. And still roll out the credit and rake in the returns. The reason you write surreptitious insurance policies is because you know it’s total bullshit.

  15. bob

    “no one wants to read and everyone wants to see pretty pictures. ”

    Pictures that are extremely low quality and small.i keep wondering when the internet might allow very big, high quality pictures. I’ve seen them out there, they exist. Even the news photographers are still using professional cameras capable of very high quality, high resolution photos. They bring that picture back and turn in into a 400×400 blob that is barely recognizable and publish it.

    “But bandwidth is EXPENSIVE!” Yanno what eats even more bandwidth than pictures? Ads. No problem pushing those our way. But a decent picture? Blasphemy!

    1. bob

      The very good picture of the bird above is 848 x 1300, displayed at less than that.

      The full size picture, which you can click through to see, is about half the size of a front page newspaper picture.

      Our local Newhouse LLC content providerer shoves every picture into some stupid “box” that is no bigger than 400×400. No way to click through to see the full size image. The box also rarely works properly.

      Check out those pictures. Most probably started out as very big, high quality pictures. You can barely make out any detail in the computerized version. It’s a shame too, the picture of the canal boats being sucked into the hole that devloped in the bottom of the canal is amazing. HUGE scale. In the box, it is barely recognizable for what it is. A bunch a giant, cargo laden canal boats being treated like rubber duckies when the tub empties.

  16. Jeff W

    The left could not get beyond Reagan’s rhetoric. For the left, Reagan was trickle-down economics, Iran/Contra, and the fired air traffic controllers.

    For the left, the Reagan years were a traumatic time. Robert Parry has never recovered from them.

    As I have written on a number of occasions, facts no longer play a role in American political life. Fact-based analysis is also disappearing from academic life and no longer plays a role in official economic reporting.

    Ronald Reagan was not just “trickle-down economics, Iran/Contra, and the fired air traffic controllers” for the left, either—for the left, Reagan was actually no small player in what they and Paul Craig Roberts both decry: facts disappearing from American political life.

    From his reliance on anecdotes (e.g., the infamous “welfare queen”) and “heroes” (Reagan was the first to invite guests to the State of the Union address) to his conflation of movies with real life to his insistence on his own “facts” (e.g., announcing, on the campaign trail in August, 1981, that “trees cause more pollution than automobiles do”) Reagan did his part to shift the discourse in the US from something fact-based (to the extent that it was) to “truthiness.” Robert Parry hasn’t recovered from the Reagan years—and, in a rhetorical sense, neither have we.

    1. Jeff W

      Oops, I should have identified the block quote as coming from Paul Craig Roberts’s piece “Delusional America.”

    2. Carolinian

      It should also be said that subsequent hagiography has exaggerated how popular Reagan was at the time. It was really the media and their owners who loved the Gipper. The title of one journalist’s book about the era says it all: On Bended Knee.

      Many here have pointed out that Carter, not Reagan, began the current wave of deregulation and neoliberalism, of military expansion and active opposition to the Soviets. However Reagan’s great accomplishment was turning the page on the 60s/70s counterculture left. He was a hippie puncher from way back. So truly nothing has been the same since 1980. Robert’s apologia for the horrible Ronnie is hard to get past.

  17. Propertius

    Of course the Vatican is good at phrase-making. After all, they’re the ones who invented the term “propaganda” in the first place.

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