Links 2/21/15

You are getting thin links today because you got two long posts on a Friday when I normally try to take it easy. So please add more links in comments and talk among yourselves.

Without Technology, You’d Be Dead Within Days How to Fly a Horse (Selva)

Why one photographer decided to fight a patent on online contests ars technica (Chuck L)

Levels of toxic mercury in tuna just keep rising Business Insider (David L)

New Killer Virus Found in Kansas NBC (Stephen M)

The Daily Telegraph’s promise to its readers, sponsored by Canesten Daily Mash. Richard Smith points out that great minds think alike.

Hong Kong’s ‘Occupy’ leaders now face quiet but persistent harassment Christian Science Monitor (furzy mouse)

Short on machine guns, German army armed turrets with broomsticks ars technica (Chuck L)


Varoufakis memo side by side with final Eurogroup memo Dropbox

Greece bends to Eurozone will to find short-term agreement OpenEurope

Greece and eurozone agree bailout extension Financial Times

Greek Debt Vastly Overstated, Investor Tells the World New York Times (Stephen M). FWIW, Kazarian was in my class at Goldman in corporate finance. He made a point of trying to demonstrate he worked longer hours than anyone (a difficult and dubious accomplishment) and could tell you which of the partners’ couches were the most comfortable for an early AM nap. There is no way his analysis allows for the fact that Greece is currently in deflation. Other analysts who’ve done NPV analyses of Greek debt do come up with much lower economic values than the gross debt to GDP ratios widely bandied about, but none within hailing distance of this.

Greece gets its deal.. But if the detail’s wrong ‘we’re finished’ Paul Mason

Greece averts bankruptcy and softens austerity in last-ditch deal Ambrose Evans-Prichard, Telegraph

Greece has turned a page, says gov’t official ekathimerini

The Peculiar Socialism of Syriza WSWS (Paul S)

Eurozone Agrees on Four-Month Extension of Greece Bailout Wall Street Journal


General tells Nato ‘expect a Russian attack’ Financial Times



Big Brother is Watching You Watch

OHRA test realtime-tracking van rijgedrag om hoogte premie te bepalen Tweakers. Colin: “A large Dutch insurer, OHRA, is looking for volunteers for a test period of three months to install a device that tracks your driving in return for a 35% discount in insurance rates — if you have demonstrated “good driving behaviour” during that period. In the beginning such systems would be voluntary, but the likelihood of them eventually becoming mandatory is not insignificant.”

Rights groups call for action over reported US-UK phone hack Associated Press

Worst Spying In World History – Worse Than Any Dystopian Novel – Is Occurring RIGHT NOW George Washington


Tax Error in Health Act Has Impact on 800,000 New York Times

For Obamacare challengers, a Supreme Court case built for speed Reuters (EM)

The Chicago police used appalling military interrogation tactics for decades Guardian (Nikki)

The True History of the Origins of Police — Protecting and Serving the Masters of Society Alternet (Margarita)

New York’s Forecast: Rising Seas, Continual Heat Waves — and a Little Hope New York Times (Lawrence R)

Bondholders key to bank break-up debate Financial Times

Class Warfare

Labour deal avoids US ports shutdown Financial Times

Why Public Investment Project Syndicate (David L)

Antidote du jour. Heresy: “Rocky banged on the patio door to get in. When Sue let him in she realized he had something in his mouth. He ran into the living room and dropped the bird and tried to get it to play with him. We took the bird outside and after it got over being terrified, it flew away.”

Play with Me links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s bad news for all of us, and in particular, for the Wood Frog, who survives the winter north of the Arctic Circle by coating their cells with some sort of glucose as its body freeze solid, until it thaws again in spring.

  1. scott

    IIRC, the first police force in London was organized to protect the assets and property of the city, something the Sheriff was ill-equipped to do. It later evolved into the enforcement arm of corporations (Chicago), the political class (NY) and now the banking system (Occupy, anyone?). Heck, JPM’s ticker symbol should be changed to “NYPD”.

    1. Keenan

      RE: Alternet – origins of police:
      The history of the PA State Police certainly squares with the thesis:

      Pennsylvania’s coal fields, iron mills and timber forests played a vital role in the Industrial Revolution. Pennsylvania changed in the late 1800s from a largely agricultural state into a complex industrial center.

      By 1900 it found itself torn by bitter disputes between managers and the laborers they employed. Violence became common in the new communities that sprang up around the coal fields, iron mills, textile factories and railroad yards. By the turn of the century it was evident that the town constables, sheriffs and similar local officials who had been adequate to keep the peace in more stable times were unable to cope with the new populations and the violent labor troubles of the times.

      To provide themselves protection that the Commonwealth did not provide, the coal and steel operators persuaded the State Legislature to authorize the creation of what became the infamous Coal and Iron Police. For one dollar each, the state sold commissions to the mine and steel mill owners that conferred police power upon whomever the owners selected. Through these commissions, armies of guards were raised, ostensibly to protect private property. In practice, they were used to enforce the will of the owners. In many cases common gunmen, hoodlums and adventurers were hired to fill these commissions and they served their own interests by causing the violence and terror that gave them office.


  2. Swedish Lex

    On the poor state of Germany’s military.
    Not only their tanks are armed with broom sticks, their jets, helicopters, transport aircraft, subs, surface vessels are in an appalling state and probably 50% not operational.
    Germany spends 1,4% of GDP on defense which is far from the NATO target of 2%. France spends 2.2% and the UK 2,3%, I believe.
    Germany has also under invested on infrastructure over the past couple of décades, making the state of the German infrastructure pretty poor.
    This, among other things like having a dirt cheap currency, allows Germany to run a balanced Federal budget while making fun and patronising other countries that have déficits.
    Look at France. You do not have to agree with what France does militarily abroad (Iike Mali), but it has a (limited) capability that works with people trained to get the job done. France has the capacity to invervene outside France (although U.S. airlift help often needed). The German forces could probably not defend their barracks (assuming they want to since the barracks are in such bad shape):

    The German hypocrisy as regards budgets, déficits, debt, Greece etc. is thus even greater if one includes the countries de facto abdication with regard to its commitments to its European and NATO partners to maintain défenses that are of sufficient quantity and quality.

    Should EU states intervene in Libya against ISIS on a fresh UN mandate? Trust the Germans to rest safely at home. The could not participate, even if they wanted to.

    1. Carolinian

      Interesting stuff. I’ve been reading here and elsewhere that the explanation for Europe’s subservience to US foreign policy is just this: their own military capabilities are a joke. Of course it’s a dependence that we were happy to cultivate with our seemingly perpetual presence in Germany even after the Cold War had ended. It’s hard to see how the long suffering US taxpayers get much out of all this power projection but for the elites it is apparently considered essential.

      1. sleepy

        I think sometimes too much is made of subservience to US interests. While no doubt there is subservience, I think both the elites of the US and the elites of Europe have mutual and common interests.

        1. Carolinian

          It wasn’t always that way. Just sayin’: the US military “big stick” may have been a very effective persuader in helping move their societies, and elites, in our direction

            1. jrs

              Although we could probably afford that too (afford it and the empire, although empire is evil), and without even trillion dollar coins or anything.

              I think perhaps the denizens of empire are deliberately kept desperate – by design. AS in too preoccupied with economic survival to question the empire. Although maybe that’s become the design everywhere and not just in the empire.

              I don’t find the question of whether the empire could afford a decent life for it’s citizens all that interesting, because I’m fairly sure it could. An interesting question is if that could be afforded WITHOUT empire bending the world to it’s will (ie without empire with the distribution of the world’s resources between say global north and global south be a little different? etc.).

            2. OIFVet

              Surely it is a bit more complicated than that, isn’t it? To accept your narrative one has to disregard the reactionary elements that rallied against the New Deal, whose idols were Hayek, Friedman, and Ayn Rand, and the neocons who shaped UD foreign policy and military spending. Than there was the “peace dividend” we were supposed to enjoy following the end of the Cold War, except that it never materialized because MIC profits, neocon delusions, and Brzezinski Russkie hating never went away. So we went on a NATO expansion spree and a regime-change spree that is still ongoing. Surely that must be a part of a larger equation, non?

              Much as I enjoy a good Euro lemming bashing, and German bashing in particular, let’s not settle for simplistic narratives that dismiss domestic factors that you as a lifelong liberal, are supposed to be aware of. The Germans did not need to spend militarily, their defense consisted of investments and trade with Russia that benefited both. If you think that US policy does not try to sow division and discontent in Europe in order to prevent the deepening of Euro-Russia ties (Lisbon to Vladivostok as a single trade zone) and make Europe a US dependent then I suggest that you pay closer attention to what is going on. A “helpless” Europe is what the US wants. And it helps to have its Polish, Baltic, and Balkan lemmings (aka New Europe) adding to the shrillness and hysteria and otherwise being loyal vassals and Trojan horses for US destabilization policies in Europe. Empire of Chaos can only export chaos, not prosperity and crtainly not peace.

              1. Carolinian

                If the German policy is “make trade not war” then why are they playing along–so far–with the crazy neocon assault on Russia? When I talk about “subservience” I’m referring to that. As far as banks and economic policy go, as Sleepy says above they are surely just as guilty as we are.

                I’m not pretending to have an answer to this question, just asking it. I have seen commentary on the web that suggests the weaker members of NATO–and sounds like Germany may be one of them–play along because they derive great benefit by having Uncle Sam defend them. And even if one believes, probably correctly, that they need so such defense it’s not a trivial thing to stand up to the superpower.

                1. OIFVet

                  Perhaps it is precisely because, as you said, it is not a trivial thing to stand up to a superpower. But I wouldn’t count on that fact if I were US FP elites. There are cracks: the sanctions decidedly hurt German economy, and the unending US drive to escalate the situation definitely is not sitting well with some of Germany’s industrial elites. Which is why Merkel rushed to Moscow and then Minsk, and cut the US out of the dialogue. Merkel is after all Germany’s Obama: an Ostie outsider selling herself to the elites, and her position is becoming somewhat shaky. If you will recall, there was the media campaign in late-November/early December to burnish her image domestically and internationally. Then there was German media hailing her as a “peacemaker” over the past week, while leaking the conversations of the US delegation in Munich as a way to increase the contrast between the US warmongers and “peacenik” Angie. Nothing like throwing some red meat to the German public, in the form of McCain and Nuland bashing German government officials in order to at least temporarily arrest a downward slide in popular support. So it is not a wholesale break but cracks are forming between the US and Germany. The question is whether they will widen (with a bit of help from Russia), or whether the US will pull back some and allow Merkel some breathing room. It is actually kind of fascinating to watch Merkel try to dientangle herself from the McCain-Nuland web of derangement.

                2. OIFVet

                  This is an article that you may want to read: Merkel, the Peacemaker. It is rather interesting that German elites themselves are hardly on the same page, being divided in the Mittelstand (Merkel’s primary base of elite support) and multinational corporate elites who are most hurt by her Russia policies.

                  1. Carolinian

                    This is amusing…..and probably true. Europe may need a restraining order.


                    That pretty much sums up the relationship between the United States and Europe. Macho Washington is always reassuring the Europeans of his undying love and chivalrous defence from all sorts of supposed enemies. But it’s a pathetic relationship, fundamentally, of unequals. Europe is expected to link arms and parade for the master on occasion. But if she so much as attempts to assert her rights, she is slapped down with boorish contempt. “Hey, babe, shut your mouth and fix me another drink.”

                    1. OIFVet

                      Thank you for the link. Here’s the bottom line as I see it: yes, Germany may be getting a free ride, assuming Russia is indeed a danger. That’s highly debatable, pretty much everyone outside of the US sees the US as the greatest danger to world peace, and the events of the past year prove it. My point, which I think I failed to get across when replying to LL, is that domestic factors in the US are far more responsible for the lack of European-type welfare (even in its greatly reduced state) in the US then Germany “free-loading” on US-provided “security”. German welfare is not even close to that in France, and France spends higher percentage of its GDP on its military than Germany does. I felt that LL was trying to blame Germany for the the pitiful safety net in the US and I object to that. That sort of attitude excuses our domestic malefactors who are the true perpetrators of the continued roll back of whatever little safety net was created beginning with FDR.

                    2. LifelongLib

                      I don’t blame the Germans (or Europeans generally) for taking full advantage of a situation that we in the U.S. created. I blame ourselves for not giving our own nation the same advantages that we (perhaps inadvertently) helped Western Europe obtain.

        2. randy

          i don’t get it. i thought Germany did a lot of “arms exports”? so if they have a lot to export, why does their military suck?

          1. bob

            What do you mean allowed to sell them? They sell TONS of them, every year.

            As far as hegemony is concerned, what’s more important- having arms, or being able to manufacture arms?

            They may not ‘buy’ many, but they make tons of them for everyone else to buy, with generous financing available due to Germany’s current account surplus.

            I remember one of the earliest rounds of germany vs greece was that Greece HAD to cut public sector spending, but were they were not allowed to cancel tank deliveries from Germany.

            1. OIFVet

              He meant the Mistral ships that Russia paid for and France refuses to deliver due to pressure form the US. The first one is fully built and was supposed to be delivered last fall.

    2. lolcar

      1.4% of GDP is probably as sane a reckoning of the genuine defensive needs of Germany as any while it remains a military protectorate of the United States. If it comes to a UN intervention – let them contribute financially – NATO already outspends the rest of the world combined. There seems little need to spend even more just so Germany can show the flag in the Middle East. But agree totally on Germany’s essential hypocrisy as regards deficits and debt.

      1. MartyH

        @Gareth, I understand the conundrum. On the other hand, why does the US pay so much more per US$ of GDP to protect the world from *fill-in-the-blanks* than our allies? Aren’t we subsidizing their economy (even if they won’t help the Greeks)? Doesn’t feel right, somehow.

        1. hunkerdown

          Brzezinski’s flavor of chess is a game of position, not score. I expect that the calculus weights the network effects of the Greco-Roman order of society more heavily than dollars.

    3. OIFVet

      I had become friends with a staffer at the German consulate in Chicago and would attend social functions at the German Cultural Center as his guest before his tour was up. One thing that struck me in conversations with staffers was the near universal disdain most of them had for the German military. I found it quite strange. Most of the staffers were Bavarian, FWIW.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Sometimes, it’s a case of ‘love them, hate them, with extreme passion.’

        Probably more comforting to know there are diverse feelings. It would be disconcerting for a country to have universal positions on various subjects. Is it common culture, cohesive population or effective propaganda, check that, effective mainstream media? Not saying this about any particular nation, but generally speaking.

      2. horostam

        I’ve been to that consulate… not sure, but it could be that they percieve the military as a “north german” (historically prussian) thing… bavaria is like the texas of germany, except they might actually not be crazy… could be wrong

    4. Jagger

      In my time in Germany, people impressed me as incredibly pacifistic. But then, large numbers of people still remembered WW2, so very understandable. I doubt it has changed much since.

      And in todays’ world, who is going to invade Germany-even without nuclear weapons? it seems in some ways, war, today, is too expensive to fight between first world nations. And I imagine our MIC wouldn’t want war so much if war risked the literal, physical destruction of the MIC.

  3. lolcar

    Another bunch of freaks who apparently have never heard of debt deflation.,a1069

    The website’s pretty good in a don’t know whether to laugh or cry kind of way – my personal favourite is the following :

    Dutch King Willem Alexander Ends The Welfare State
    John Galt in The Netherlands?
    “A nation with a small but strong government which gives people the space they need”: this what Dutch King Wilhem-Alexander wants for his people. And it has become a domestic policy on September 17th, 2013. The King has a life-time in front of him to consider the social, economic and political evolutions of society. Unlike an elected President, he does not have only a handful of years poisoned by the lurking idea of reelection for another handful of years to propose or back policies. That is why, in this view, the King can speak freely and without pressure of any kind. Thus the Dutch King declared in front of the Parliament that the welfare state was gone, over, finished. This 20th century concept is no longer relevant in our mordern society. John Galt on the throne of the Netherlands? Not yet, but that is a good step forward.”

    Love me a libertarian paean to the the inadequacy of democracy and the virtue of monarchs.

    1. hunkerdown

      I’d call that neoreactionarism, not libertarianism. The difference being that, in libertarianism, the authority structure isn’t explicitly identified, but takes essentially the same shape after several rounds.

  4. jgordon

    “Without Technology, You’d Be Dead Within Days”

    This may come as a shock to those people—nearly always wealthy, well-educated, and comfortable—who see themselves as “all natural” or “anti-technology.” Typically, their first objection to the thought experiment is that, if any of this was true, then we would not be here, because our ancestors would have died. If they could survive without tools, why can’t we?

    This was the stupidest link I’ve seen so far on NC. I’m really quite offended by the stupidity of it actually. For an intelligent exposition on the nature of technology, This.

    “Technology” is heavily loaded with all sorts of assumptions and cultural baggage. The least the author could have down was acknowledged that there is a difference between appropriate technology and the useless electronic/plastic trash flooding retail outlets “technology”. Although I suspect that the author’s intent was to paint anyone who doesn’t think much of Ipads or nuclear power plants as anti-technology Luddites who’d prefer starving in caves, so that was probably impossible for him.

    1. Carolinian

      Funny I was just going to praise NC for offering this very insightful link. The article is exactly right that tool use is the essence of being human–something we were all taught in school but that many here, tapping away at their computers, seem to have forgotten. Technology is not the enemy but rather our primitive notions of what to do with it. Indeed technology is so much the essence of being human that we have overrun the earth without evolving better instincts about what to do next. Instead of attacking technology– that thing without which we wouldn’t survive–we should be reforming the so-called social sciences. Naturally the champions of these disciplines prefer not to be called out.

      And while I enjoy reading Archdruid–your link–I am more than a bit dubious when it comes to his pronouncements about thermodynamic inevitablity. If history tells us anything it is that futurists have a very poor track record. What is to come will undoubtedly be different and that’s about all we can say.

      1. EnonZ

        That’s very funny. “It’s different this time” is exactly the thought cliche that people respond with when this society’s ruling mythos of inevitable “progress” is challenged; the Archdruid has been pointing this out for years.

        Some futurists have a poor track record; certainly the techno-utopia of flying cars and colonies on the Moon doesn’t seem to be unfolding as envisioned. OTOH, Admiral Rickover’s and M. King Hubbert’s warnings from the 1950s about fossil fuel depletion early in the 21st century have been spot on. It particularly helps if a futurist’s ideas are thermodynamically sensible, i.e. in compliance with physical reality.

        1. Carolinian

          Actually Hubbert’s predictions were off because he assumed oil extraction would always feature the technology in place when he made his peak oil prediction. And the same failure to account for unknown variables could apply to Grier’s predictions in Archdruid which make far too little allowance for our ability to get by on less energy than in the past. For example I’m typing on a desktop computer that uses 8 watts of power whereas a few years ago it would have used well over 100 watts. Computers themselves can reduce energy use by substituting electronic storage for energy intensive paper manufacturing and allowing people to work more productively and at home. There was a rather amazing story in Links the other day about a man who makes a healthy living going around Austin, TX collecting and reselling all the things that businesses throw away in their dumpsters. If Americans in particular were to truly practice conservation there would be a huge reduction in energy use because we are very much part of the problem.

          So that’s a variable, an unknown. The problem with being a futurist is that you are making assertions that can’t be tested by reality because they haven’t happened yet. I’m not saying that my crystal ball is any better than Archdruid’s but lets not assume there is any such thing as thermodynamic “inevitability.”

          1. EnonZ

            Actually Hubbert’s predictions were very good as first approximations – U.S. peak around 1965 to 1970 (actually 1970) and global peak around 1996 (global peak of conventional oil was 2005). Models don’t have to incorporate everything in order to be useful (“All models are false, some are useful.”) The production of all nonrenewable resources approximate a Hubbert curve as they deplete, some more closely than others.

            Besides, in his 1957 speech, rather than constructing a detailed mathematical model, Admiral Rickover reasoned more generally and concluded that we would have trouble due to fossil fuel depletion within fifty to a hundred years and that we should plan for that eventuality. Other than a brief flurry of activities during the 1970s ‘energy crisis’, we didn’t. Copy of speech here:


            Your point is well taken that there’s a lot of slack in our systems that could be taken up. We’ve been spoiled by a couple of centuries of cheap energy. You should, however, read a lot more at the Archdruid’s blog before you conclude that he hasn’t discussed, in detail and at length, the possibilities and challenges of getting by on less energy.

            I would not count on increasing efficiency to give us “huge” reductions in energy use. At best it will buy us some time.

            There are hard and fast thermodynamically determined limits to efficiency. The early steps are hard, the later steps become increasingly difficult as we approach the limits. In Joseph Tainter’s incisive phrase, it’s the problem of decreasing marginal returns on increasing complexity.

            Secondly, we face an ‘energy trap’. We have to expend energy in order to become more efficient but we are entering an era utterly different from the first two and a half centuries of industrial civilization. That era was characterized by ever increasing flows of cheap energy, increasing on the order of two or three per cent a year. Now we have entered an era of diminishing net energy due to resource depletion.

            Your example of computers generating efficiencies is interesting because the very existence of computers is dependent on a vast global system of industrial processes which are in turn dependent on a vast flow of cheap energy, a flow which is now decreasing just as Rickover and Hubbert predicted.

          2. Morak

            Well, it’s not clear that new computing technologies or the net are reducing energy use or resource consumption. The idea that mobile computing, “cloud services”, or other types of virtualization are creating structural efficiencies has been called into question. This article from the Times a couple of years ago shows the vast amounts of energy and resources wasted in maintaining the whole virtual edifice. And it’s only getting worse:

            Power, Pollution and the Internet

      2. different clue

        Perhaps the very useful insight this article gives is meant as a cynically-veiled invitation to readers to perform their own mental bait-and-switch. Since we die without our basic adaptational technologies like little sharp rocks on the end of long straight sticks, therefor we die without i-phones and flat-screen TVs.

        But I think we can keep the two things separate.

        Also, many hasn’t stopped evolving and is still evolving gene-bodywise. Sickle-cell anemia and Tay-Sachs disease are two cases in point. In sickle-cell, one recessive version of a certain allele coding for the hemoglobin protein confers a measure of malaria resistance. Two recessive versions (on on both chromosomes in the chromosome pair) impose sickle-cell anemia. Likewise for Tay-Sachs. One copy of a particular recessive allele confers some tuberculosis resistance. Two copies impose Tay-Sachs disease on the recipient. Sickle-cell and Tay-Sachs are a tax that unlucky members of the two populations have to pay to maintain the malaria and tuberculosis resistance in the two respective populations. That is gene-morphology evolution.

        1. OIFVet

          Indeed. G6PD deficiency and beta thalassemia minor are fairly innocuous and provide protection against malaria, but their severe versions will lead to death. Unsurprisingly both are common in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and parts of Africa.

      3. optimader

        “Technology is not the enemy but rather our primitive notions of what to do with it.”
        Even Ted Kaczynski felt he needed his Smith-Corona typewriter (and it was part of his undoing!)

  5. MartyH

    Yves, thin but high quality. I saw a mini-Fund-Raiser for Lambert in my RSS feed but it’s not on the site itself? Huh?

    1. LifelongLib

      City councils and homeowners associations (if they’re acting responsibly) have little choice about enforcement of written regulations. “Book houses” are apparently falling victim to overly-broad rules about what people can have in their yards. They sound like a great idea, but if they’re allowed where current rules prohibit them, somebody else will claim selective enforcement and/or put in something that his neighbors think is an eyesore that is lowering property values.

      If people want book houses, re-write the rules to allow them.

      1. hunkerdown

        “Just re-write the rules”, you say, as if homeowners’ associations’ primary purpose were not to protect the bank’s property values.

        1. Ulysses

          Authoritarians just can’t stand people freely doing things to benefit themselves and others without getting permission from some authority that is “above” them and sets rules for them.

          This comment sort of makes me want to move into LL’s neighborhood– and begin a collection of rusted out junk cars and exotic weeds in my front yard! Might have to take up banjo playing and tobacco chewing as well.

          1. OIFVet

            Word. Mind-numbing sameness, conformity, and the lifeless sterility of grass lawns must be destroyed before it’s too late. Ever seen a grass lawn teeming with life? Me neither.

          2. LifelongLib

            Not authoritarians, not permission/rules from above, but your neighbors. Homeowners associations are probably the most democratic entities you will ever deal with. They are composed of volunteers from your community. Any rules they impose on you they impose on themselves. If they have a defect, it is less about authoritarianism than about the tyranny of the majority.

  6. diptherio

    While it’s a month old, this article from the Daily Mash pretty much nails it:

    Greeks vote to stop having shit kicked out of them

    GREEK voters have defied expectation by choosing not to be beaten like cringing dogs for the next five years.

    Offered the choice between another half-decade of soaring unemployment and plummeting household incomes or a bit of a change, the Greek electorate has stunned Europe by making the wrong decision.

    The ruling New Democracy party is still wondering how its platform of Endless Suffering For Everyone was defeated by Syriza’s competing message of Maybe Not That.

    Athens voter Elena Mitropoulos said: “I was going to do the responsible thing and vote for continuing austerity, because I know how important it is not to damage the German economy, but madness overtook me in the polling booth.

    “Now we face a future of working hospitals, of recovering industry, of my children not begging for food in the streets. I wish I had not been so rash.”

    EU technocrat Denys Finch Hatton said: “There is a very real danger that people across Europe, inspired by the Greeks, will no longer choose to be ruled against their best interests by people they never voted for living in massive wealth hundreds of miles away.

    “Though we hope they will follow the fine example Scotland set and continue to do just that.”

    1. diptherio

      Unfortunately, Syriza’s “Maybe Not That” has morphed into “Well, We Probably Won’t Be Able To Avoid A Good Deal Of That, Despite Our Best Efforts.”

    2. I.G.I.

      Bizarrely a substantial part of the Greek middle class and educated voters suffered from split-personality: they wanted to end the austerity and the looting of their resources, yet at the same time wanted to keep in the EMU and in the EU. That’s why they choose Syriza; and Syriza, courting these voters, quietly altered their program as pro-Euro pro-EU in the months leading to the election. As the recent events proved these two broad aims are in conflict and cannot be accomplished at the same time.

      I pity the Greeks for not had had the boldness to follow the Argentinian example.

      1. diptherio

        So what you’re saying is that the raison d’être for the EMU and the EU is looting. If you want in, prepare to be cleaned out…can’t say I see much reason to dispute that…

        1. I.G.I.

          I can’t give a definitive answer is Looting the raison d’être for the EMU and the EU, or not. One thing, however, is certain: by privatizing government debt (depriving governments of an autonomous central bank, and forcing them to borrow from “the markets”, i.e. from private institutions) the EMU saddle the taxpayers with considerably higher expenditure to service loans. Further on, and this is glaring, all loans that are given by the IMF, and in the Greek case by the EU members, are designed to entrap the borrowers and strip them of assets at fire-sale prices. This same recipe has been employed for decades, and I wonder what bribes the signing politicians get to entrap their countries when the scheme is by now crystal clear.

          1. OIFVet

            “I wonder what bribes the signing politicians get to entrap their countries when the scheme is by now crystal clear.” Surprisingly small: sinecures in the Euro-bureaucracy, think tanks, and corporate boards. Peanuts, really.

      2. Ned Ludd

        Ecuador’s history has some more relevant ideas (of course, not one-size-fits-all). Ecuador conducted an audit, defaulted on certain debt, kept the US dollar as the nation’s official currency (so far), and secretly bought back their own debt through a third party for bargain prices, avoiding some of the mess Argentina is now facing.

        A secret, handshake deal might have been worked out with Russia (or China), with Russia agreeing to buy Greece’s heavily discounted debt after a default, and Greece agreeing to then work out a mutually profitable arrangement with Russia. However, after the Syriza-led government voted to extend and expand the sanctions against Russia, the Russian government would be wise not to trust them.

        1. alex morfesis

          trust the russians ? better to rearm germany…

          its not like the russians didn’t keep their word with the Spanish Republic…

          oh wait…that’s right…they “helped” their comrades by cutting a deal with the little goosestepper with the chaplin mustache and “forgot” to return the gold…and didn’t really deliver any real weapons…that cute little receipt they handed to Spain in 1937 must be very valuable today…

          hmmm….where did I read about something like that before…someone taking the gold from a central bank and not returning it ever…hmmm….

          sidebar…Trotsky is in Mexico where the Spanish Republic was still a government in exile…he gets popped by a rich spaniard (Ramon Mercador) whose mom was a cuban revolutionary official eventually…the same person (Mercador) trains a british communist agent (David Cook) to follow and track orwell while he is in spain…

          why rearm the germans ?? unless you were mesmerized by the Hitler Channel, you might stop to realize the germans have NEVER won a war…none, zero…nada…zip…tipota…

        1. JTFaraday

          Maybe people should start calling themselves something else. After all, from what I can gather, Barack Obama is a socialist.

          Soon only historians will know what any of these words mean(t). Just look at what Americans did with “democrat” and “republican.”


      1. hunkerdown

        Exactly — as people whose bodies are vulnerable to the exact same laws of physics as ours and who, unlike many of us, have read their measure of de Tocqueville, their game plan necessarily includes smashing the morale of dissidents. I seem to remember that they cancelled the WTO meeting in Washington DC rather than let the protesters score a visible win. The solution, unfortunately, is a certain measure of madness as John Boyd more or less defined it, not the smarmy variously-attributed aphorism.

        And, in my opinion, that’s why we must make appearing in public in a business suit an extremely humiliating, mucus-laden enterprise. Hock-ptui!

  7. MartyH

    From the “Why Public Investment”:

    At the same time, this approach means that policymakers must find ways to ensure that public investments provide returns for private investors. Fortunately, there are existing models, such as those applied to ports, roads, and rail systems, as well as the royalties system for intellectual property.

    Oh my. How fast can we stripmine the public sector and get it paying rents to Capital? Don’t you REALLY want your local infrastructure run by some absentee, foreign, or widely distributed landlord (Rentier)? What could go wrong?

    1. diptherio

      …policymakers must find ways to ensure that public investments provide returns for private investors.

      Silly me–I always assumed that the public should be the ones getting returns from public investment….

      1. bob

        “The upstate cities have to be stronger economically. They have to do better,” Cuomo said today during an editorial board with The Post-Standard and

        If the plan is good enough, if it involves private sector investment and promises new jobs, Cuomo would invest $500 million into places like Syracuse and Central New York. In turn, those areas should be able to afford mending their own problems, he said.

        “Show us how you become economically stronger and create jobs,” Cuomo said. “Then you fix your own pipes.”

        3rd world development plan advocated by King Cuomo

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Ugh! You beat me! This article about sums things up.

      I would add a trend I’ve noticed, mentioned in the article, but not taken to its likely conclusion. Just as employees are being rationalized as a form of capital, the jobs themselves are being rationalized as a set of skills and past experiences like specifications for a piece of equipment. The endpoint of this process appears to be matching algorithms built into the HR database programs which I believe are and/or will soon replace most of the people in HR departments. Those who remain will have to work within rigid guidelines effectively de-skilling HR tasks to piece work.

      Many of the people working in HR at the firm I was laid-off were contractors, brought into the firm within the last year. They remind me of the Public Relations guy in Michael Moore’s movie “Roger and Me”. One of the little vignettes at the tail of the movie indicated he’d been laid-off. Also seems a little bit like the joke about the businessman selling rope to a the lynch mob come to hang him. While I admit a certain very limited Schadenfreude about this, a feeling of great sadness follows what I see as the direction of change.

      The other trend described in the article, the rationalization of work execution is also moving toward a point which should have middle managers frightened. Managers are increasingly specified as project management experts, meaning someone who can set up and run one of the many project management tools used to track and micro-control work efforts. Special project management certifications and rigid processes assure the future deprecation of this position from management to yet another programming specialization.

      My best guess for the end-point of this process is a working world of Corporate mechanism which will make even the most rigid and rulebound people long nostaligically for Corporate bureaucracy.

    2. bob

      HR exists solely to document every single minor infraction that you may or may not have committed so that when it’s time to fire you, they can claim cause.

      It really is that simple. If they come knocking, go looking.

      1. Carla

        HR has another critical function: to screen OUT all who are looking for work. The role of HR is to protect individuals with the authority to hire from job-seekers.

    3. norm de plume

      Great article, important.

      I worked in a Personnel department in the mid-late 80s and saw the transformation Weathers describes – from employee-supporting Personnel to management-supporting Human Resources – in its early stages. That this coincided with the decay of union power in the workplace is no coincidence or surprise, nor is the fact that a diminution of service to workers was achieved under the rubric of ‘best practice’. It is hard to know whether that was innocently ironic or knowingly cynical. Likewise the strenuous efforts made to paint the lipstick of employee ’empowerment’ and ‘autonomy’ on the weaponised pig of one-size-fits-all, jargon-stuffed, form-filling ‘performance management’.

      The mention of ‘digital savviness’ being a Trojan horse for removal of older workers is also well-made, but Weathers doesn’t make the corollary point that this is often done to get rid of people who by dint of skill, experience and their long-standing relations with clients and other employees, have a ‘constituency’ of their own, which may give them the confidence to sometimes, heaven forfend, disagree with increasingly neoliberal management prerogatives. Despite a heavy reliance on the word ‘consultation’ HR depts in my experience avoid genuine discussion with those affected by their management-driven projects, preferring written submissions and/or carefully constructed multiple-choice questionnaires, which can then be ignored.

      External consultants are also widely used, at great expense, to lend a veneer of independence to the gutting of employee numbers and the rights of those ‘lucky’ enough to remain after ‘restructure’. These have most often been (again in my limited experience) international accounting firms (some since disgraced) who send besuited operatives in to pretend to listen to workers and then write up the recommendations to management that they have been so well paid for.

      ‘Some believe that human resources workers looked at factors other than performance, including salary, health and activties outside the workplace’

      It is that last that chills me the most. I have a relative who is quite high up in the HR dept of a public institution here which is in the same business as the one I was made redundant from last year. He told me that though it is not written down anywhere (natch) there is a now long-standing practice among his peers to google people applying for jobs of any importance (and often lower-level ones too) in order to weed out those with traits their online activities display that might not fit the ‘culture’ of the place in question. Of course this often picks up racists and misogynists and other undesirables but the potential for it to weed out people who let’s say regularly post here and elsewhere against the mainstream grain is obvious. Which is why I am now among the legions of what I used to call ‘anonymice’. Too late probably.

      ‘Just as employees are being rationalized as a form of capital, the jobs themselves are being rationalized as a set of skills and past experiences like specifications for a piece of equipment’

      Yes. What I am seeing is a trend toward insanely detailed and narrow specs for job advertisements, the better to weed out a majority out of the reckoning immediately (though always of course with the fredom to ignore one or more of these hoops for anyone who ticks other management-desired boxes, i.e. a talent for obedience or bullying, or especially both) but to have as the responsibilities listed in the actual position description a range of woolly, non-specific platitudes. Why? So that once they have the people they want they have the freedom to make them do whatever the hell suits them, whether it is what the person thought they signed up for or not. The free-est of hands. My wife, who has worked at her place for nearly 25 years and built up a great rep and much respect among peers and clients, recently had just these experiences in having to apply for her own job, a gruelling and insulting process. Narrow job specs, harrowing hour long ‘interview’, new PD with the scope to allow management to tell her to sweep the floors in the morning and give expert media interviews in the afternoon, which they now do. She, and most of her colleagues are, almost literally, worn out. Meanwhile, just as I saw at my old workplace, she sees a new level of management installed directly above her, paid twice her wage, who seem to divide their time between pointless meetings and faux-jolly exercises in ‘rallying the troops’.

      ‘The endpoint of this process appears to be matching algorithms built into the HR database programs which I believe are and/or will soon replace most of the people in HR departments.’

      Yes again. Weathers says ‘The Wall Street Journal reports that some fed-up executives are fighting back, even firing their human resources departments. And they’re using tools such as outsourcing and automation to compensate for eliminating HR positions’

      Well, I’m not so sure. To paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies, the Journal would say that, wouldn’t it? Freedom-lovin’ CEOs and top executives, ridding us of the Orwellian scourge of modern HR? More likely, this is cover for ridding themselves of the labour costs of HR depts by virtue of a relatively inexpensive technological solution, which as a bonus can be programmed to be even more Orwellian, with the further bonus that the root and branch culling of free-thinkers (ie, troublemakers) can be acheived at arms length by algorithms, so that even if the execs are accused of such conniving they can plausibly claim ‘it wasn’t us, it was just the system we bought, sorry!’

      In my so far fruitless search for work, I have sometimes come face to face with these wonderful ‘tools’ with which executives are freeing us from HR’s tyranny. The latest was when I tried to apply for a position at a government department in the state where I live. First, it proved so unwieldy and counter-intuitive I couldn’t get past the front gate (‘gate’ being the operative word here) So I googled the company, a US firm called Taleo. It wasn’t pretty:

      It’s hard to imagine a group of independent verdicts so damning for any product, let alone one so apparently ‘successful’.

      But there was also a disclaimer on the government jobs website that gave me pause:

      ‘As our service provider operates internationally, and stores personal information outside of Australia, it is also subject to different privacy laws’

      So I did some more googling to find out a bit more about Taleo, which it turns out is ultimately owned by Larry Ellison. It was even uglier:

      ‘(Reuters) – Oracle Corp CEO Larry Ellison played down concerns on Wednesday about possible government snooping in his business customers’ private data. At an industry conference in San Francisco, an audience member asked the Oracle co-founder what to tell potential Oracle cloud-computing clients who worry that the National Security Agency could access their information. “To the best of our knowledge, an Oracledatabase hasn’t been broken into for a couple of decades by anybody,” Ellison replied. “It’s so secure, there are people that complain,” he added. Oracle, and other major Silicon Valley companies are increasingly offering Internet-based business services for things like human resources, accounting and sales management, in a trend known as cloud computing.

      Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. government surveillance have increased companies’ concerns about privacy and may cost U.S. technology vendors billions of dollars in lost sales, analysts say. David Litchfield, an established security expert and frequent speaker at top hacking conferences, disagreed with Ellison’s comments and said he regularly sees Oracle systems being compromised. “Of all of the commercial databases, Oracle is the least secure,” he told Reuters by email.
      The roots of Ellison’s software company go back to 1977, when the Central Intelligence Agency contracted him and two co-workers to design a database, codenamed Oracle. The same year, Ellison and his colleagues founded the database company that would eventually be renamed Oracle.In an interview with CBS News’ Charlie Rose in August, Ellison said he believed the NSA’s widespread surveillance was essential to preventing terrorism.’

      Great, so the software sucks, and your data ends up at the NSA. To prevent terrorism? Or perhaps to be integrated with the NSA’s own data on citizens’ political leanings and activities and hived back to Oracle and other spy-friendly cloud computing companies, enabling they and their corporate and government clients to reject large and complex applications from certain people within half an hour, as described by some of the disgruntled American users at the first link above. There is, in the US, clear evidence of such data-sharing: How convenient that many top execs are so apparently disgruntled by their over-mighty HR depts that they simply must instal systems such as these.

      I was exercised enough about this to email the contact on the job ad with the above info. Inter alia, I said:

      ‘If gatekeeping HR software like this, with owners like that, are now the norm in government departments as well as corporations, not just in Australia but in the US and the other members of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing alliance, the installation by stealth of an obedient, like-minded bureaucracy and the marginalisation of anyone not coloured an approriate shade of grey can be silently achieved, under the apparently impartial and indeed impersonal auspices of a ‘system’. No wonder the actions of government in our democracies nowadays seems more totalitarian with every passing year. Of course I’m aware that any such machinations, should they exist, are engineered at a level way above where you could have even a remote responsibility for them. Still, it is disturbing that when I began this email I was under the impression that I was contacting a staff member at (the Dept with the vacancy I applied for), but it appears you are at Premier and Cabinet (equivalent of Governor in the US)

      Have we reached the stage that individual goverment departments are no longer permitted to select their preferred shortlists for vacancies? As a voter and citizen of this state I find that rather frighteningly Orwellian. I was going to cc someone from (the Dept I thought I was applying to), for their information, but naturally although the MInister is all over it, not one staff members’ name appears on the website. There is not even an email address, just a web-form for contact. There is this statement, under ‘Accessibility’: ‘This site is working towards ensuring content is available to the widest possible audience, including readers using assistive technology or accessibility features’ but good luck finding evidence of a human being. Such thoroughness is almost admirable. Cui bono? Who really benefits from all this? Of course there is a strenuous effort to make it seem as if this move toward authoritarian centralisation is an economic imperative, a ‘ treamlining’ of services, but it seems to me ultimately about control. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I? Being I’m sure one of the Taleo rejects if I had managed to make it past the front gate.

      I guess I have blown my chances at that Dept, and every other one in the State. How long before such a breach of the new etiquette, given the quiet but steady growth of the Borg, earns me a black mark even further afield?

    4. Foy

      Great article. After reading it I couldn’t help thinking about something that Yanis Vourafakis said in the “Erratic Marxist” article the other day…

      “…it occurred to me that Marx had made a discovery that must remain at the heart of any useful analysis of capitalism. It was the discovery of another binary opposition deep within human labour. Between labour’s two quite different natures: i) labour as a value-creating activity that can never be quantified in advance (and is therefore impossible to commodify), and ii) labour as a quantity (eg, numbers of hours worked) that is for sale and comes at a price. That is what distinguishes labour from other productive inputs such as electricity: its twin, contradictory, nature. A differentiation-cum-contradiction that political economics neglected to make before Marx came along and that mainstream economics is steadfastly refusing to acknowledge today.”

      “If capital ever succeeds in quantifying, and subsequently fully commodifying, labour, as it is constantly trying to, it will also squeeze that indeterminate, recalcitrant human freedom from within labour that allows for the generation of value. Marx’s brilliant insight into the essence of capitalist crises was precisely this: the greater capitalism’s success in turning labour into a commodity the less the value of each unit of output it generates, the lower the profit rate and, ultimately, the nearer the next recession of the economy as a system. The portrayal of human freedom as an economic category is unique in Marx, making possible a distinctively dramatic and analytically astute interpretation of capitalism’s propensity to snatch recession, even depression, from the jaws of growth.”

      Human (Resource) commodification continues apace….

  8. No one in particular

    Beg to differ; yes a complete defeat, but for the creditors. Greece got her brigde financing, in exchange for a “negotiotion on reforms”, to be mutally agreed between the Greek government and the “institutions”. So no firm conditions on new money. The more cruial issue, IMHO, is the romoval of the 4.5 budget surplus requirement. Yep, never resonable, but a necessary window dressing to pretend “Greece will repay her debt in a timely manner”. The removal is akin to further debt relief in everything but name. So who was defeated here – I rather think it was not Varoufakis.
    Secondly, I would like you to consider Ambrose’s view –
    “The interim accord gives Greece breathing room to flesh out its economic agenda and reform plans, and effectively scraps the draconian fiscal targets imposed by the EU-IMF Troika. ” and

    “The rhetoric is intended to assuage German public opinion and smooth the passage of the legislation through the Bundestag. The Eurogroup text is drafted in such a way that both Germany and Greece can spin it differently at home. ”

    Basically, Varoufakis 1 Schaeuble nil. I just wonder why everybody tries to spin it the other way round – so to delay the news for the German populace who is fleeced – time and again?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Most Greeks would be more interested in the score between Greece and the Troika, instead of Varoufakis vs. Scheauble.

      For sure, there are individual medals.

      The bottom line is about team totals. Let’s tally everything up. The numbers are right there already.

  9. No one in particular

    Beg to differ; yes a complete defeat, but for the creditors. Greece got her bridge financing, in exchange for a “negotiation on reforms”, to be mutually agreed between the Greek government and the “institutions”. So no firm conditions on new money. The more crucial issue, IMHO, is the removal of the 4.5 budget surplus requirement. Yep, never reasonable, but a necessary window dressing to pretend “Greece will repay her debt in a timely manner”. The removal is akin to further debt relief in everything but name. So who was defeated here – I rather think it was not Varoufakis.
    Secondly, I would like you to consider Ambrose’s view –
    “The interim accord gives Greece breathing room to flesh out its economic agenda and reform plans, and effectively scraps the draconian fiscal targets imposed by the EU-IMF Troika. ” and

    “The rhetoric is intended to assuage German public opinion and smooth the passage of the legislation through the Bundestag. The eurogroup text is drafted in such a way that both Germany and Greece can spin it differently at home. ”

    Basically, Varoufakis 1 Schaeuble nil. I just wonder why everybody tries to spin it the other way round – so to delay the news for the German populace who is fleeced – time and again?

    1. diptherio

      The German population seems to be doing considerably better than the Greek population, no? So who’s getting fleeced the most in this situation? Granted, we’re all getting fleeced by the banksters, but try to have a little perspective. Is anyone talking about Germany going through a Great Depression?

      1. I.G.I.

        After the US of A Germany is the country with the widest economic inequality and wealth concentration in the developed world. I travel frequently in Western Europe, and I have never seen more stressed, miserably looking and dismally dressed people than the Germans – comparing them to the Belgians, the French, the Swiss, the Dutch, and even to the English. Although my impressions are totally unscientific and unrepresentative they fit quite well with the published economic data about Germany (repressed wages, poverty levels, economic inequality and wealth concentration).

        1. sleepy

          Well, I guess that would partially explain some of the attitude by the German public towards any hint of giving the Greek public a break. And yes, I understand that hostile attitude is misplaced and irrational but, still, I imagine that if they are feeling squeezed themselves, they aren’t in much mood to extend charity southward.

          1. I.G.I.

            You might be spot on, probably it all boils down to petty envy and spite that the other could have some fun along the way. It is not uncommon for disciplined and repressed people to get disproportionately harsh on the weaker as a way to act out their own largely self-induced humiliation.

      2. MartyH

        @Diptherio (no, not picking on you today): See the graph from a Comment link above. I guess it says the German 90% hasn’t fallen as fast as the US 90% … but they ain’t doing all that well either (downward trend). The export mania includes in-country Austerity that translates to a squeeze on worker wage-rates. Sound familiar?

        1. diptherio

          Everybody’s bad off–like I said, we’re all getting fleeced by the banksters–but I object to what I took to be a diminishing of the extreme problems that Greeks now face, which seem to be a good bit more intense than what’s happening in Germany or here in the US. Of course, some people have it real bad everywhere.

          I would add that Germany does actually have a certain amount of currency control in there WIR complimentary currency which helps alleviate cash crunches, if I’m remembering my Bernard Leitaer correctly.

  10. Jim Haygood

    From CBC:

    Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister says he is preparing for “full-scale war” against Russia and wants Canada to help by supplying lethal weapons and the training to use them.

    Vadym Prystaiko, who until last fall was Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, says the world must not be afraid of joining Ukraine in the fight against a nuclear power.

    “We would like Canada to send lethal weapons to Ukraine,” he said. “Weapons to allow us to defend ourselves.”

    Canada has been helping to train Ukrainian soldiers for the last decade, but it isn’t enough, he says. “It wasn’t on the level that would help our army [against an] invasion.” Ukraine wants weapons, and training to use them, he said.

    Splendid idea; splendid!

    Americans will fully support our northern neighbour’s brave efforts by dispatching blankets, tea and chocolates to Canadian lads on the Ukrainian front.

    [G]o Canada!

    1. OIFVet

      It don’t need to be Canadian laddies. There are plenty of Ukie OUN descendants both in Canada and in the US. LEt them mobilize and go on their glorious jihad or whatever it is that they call it amongst themselves. Surely North America, Ukraine, and Europe would all be better off as they goose step into oblivion.

    2. Peter Pan

      Geez, it all sounds very much like an ice hockey match. If only Ukraine had Canadian hockey sticks, equipment and players, Ukraine could defeat the Russian ice hockey team.

      1. McKillop

        In watching both the C.B.C and CT.V., and listening to our politicians lately, in considering The Harper Government’s role in Libya, Yugoslavia, and its shift to a more blatant support of Israel, let alone vituperation of Putin, Canada and its affectless leader, “. . . shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
        Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war. . . .
        To me it is a shame that the ‘reformacons’ are so much the arselickers of the hounds of war. The liberals, led by Pierre Trudeau’s son, apparently acquiesce and the New Democrats have lost support by not slavering to fight them there rather than here.

  11. diptherio

    This article via, iirc, papermac is worthy of a read if you are actually concerned with understanding the Islamic-ness of ISIS from an erudite Muslim perspective. It’s long and detailed, but that’s what we like around here:

    Bombing Without Moonlight: The Origins of Suicidal Terrorism

    Traditional Sunnis intuit that al-Qaida is a Western invention, but one which cannot be defeated in a battleground where the logic is Western. This was one of the messages that emerged from the 2003 summit meeting of eight hundred Muslim scholars at Putrajaya.[21] Al-Qaida is inauthentic: it rejects the classical canons of Islamic law and theology, and issues fatwas that are neither formally nor in their habit of mind deducible from medieval exegesis. But it is not enough for the entire leadership of the religion to denounce al-Qaida, as it did at Putrajaya, and then to hope and pray that the same strange logic of modernity that bred this insurgency can spirit it away again. The West inseminates, but does not so easily abort. Faced with this, the Sunni leadership needs to be more alert to its responsibilities. Even the radical Westernisation of Islamic piety remains the responsibility of Muslim ulema, not, ultimately, of the Western matrix that inspired it. And it has to be said that the Sunni leadership has not done enough. Denunciations alone will not dent the puritan’s armour, and may strengthen it; this the Counter-Reformation learned by experience.

    1. skippy

      I thought ISIS was just the kissing cousin of its esoteric kin fighting for Freedom and Liberty….

      Skippy…. NeoMuslim [????]….

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Without technology, you will be dead in days.

    The same with morphine, to lesser extent (it being less lethal?), though you don’t die, if you happen to be used to it on a daily basis.

    But then it is part of technology, I guess.

    Perhaps, I am thinking of something else…like, without sucking on human blood, a vampire would be dead within a few days. And if you happen to be a vampire, you are justified to be concerned if you can’t or don’t want to continue.

    Or maybe the more apt analogy is that technology is akin to a Ponzi scheme – if you don’t continue the scheme (of bringing more naïve believers), your scheme will be dead, along with you (scheme-wise, not biologically), in a few days.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The other aspect I notice about technology relates to a particular tactic to resolving a moral dilemma – if I don’t kill him, he will kill me.

      This is what happens: If you don’t adopt a particular technology, your adversary will and when successful, he will come to dominate you and survival consequences.

      This is very different from, say, poetry. No one says ‘I must write poems, or otherwise my opponent gains an advantage that I might be deprived of food as a result.’ Another example: You gather flowers because you like it, not because if you don’t, you will die.

  13. knowbuddhau

    News from the peer-to-peer sphere: right now, someone in both Greece and Spain is downloading Chomsky & Herman’s classic, “Manufacturing Consent.” ;)

  14. ambrit

    Next time you run up against an O-bot, or rabid Dem, show them this:
    Ask them why, when the Dems had full power at the beginning, they didn’t do anything meaningful for their base. Then show them how a committed partisan party gets things done. (Even if you don’t agree at all with what’s “getting done.”) Calling a special session just to destroy the Unions. That’s ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ for you!

  15. Jim Haygood

    Generalissimo Obama prepares to retake Mosul:

    WASHINGTON — American intelligence agencies and the Pentagon are struggling to determine how difficult it will be to retake Mosul, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Iraq, as planning intensifies for a battle that is becoming a major test of the Obama administration’s strategy to stop the spread of the terrorist group in the Middle East.

    The assessment will be pivotal in driving important policy and military decisions that President Obama will need to make in the coming weeks, including whether the Pentagon will need to deploy teams of American ground forces to call in allied airstrikes and advise Iraqi troops on the battlefield on the challenges of urban warfare.

    Another challenge will come if the city is retaken. While Mosul is overwhelmingly Sunni, the Iraqi attacking force is likely to be overwhelming Shiite, which may create friction with the local population.

    Can you believe it? Our heroes haven’t even secured the victory yet, and already the quibblers and naysayers are yammering about ‘friction.’

    It’s not every city that gets liberated by a Peace Laureate. They’d better start pouring the plinth for his statue now.

    1. ambrit

      They can use some of the old plinths left over from Saddam’s Monumental Period. (They were designed to showcase ‘fearless leaders’ anyway.)

  16. Ben Johannson

    Yves, you’ve been running the equivalent of a live blog for over two weeks now and I thank you for it. This has provoked some of the most interesting commentary I’ve seen in my time with NC.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thank you! This was the sort of thing we did in the runup to the crisis and during the crisis, but there was also was a vibrant financial blogosphere back then. You’ll notice the bloggers on Greece are often the journos too: Paul Mason and Andrew Lilco, for instance, and economists like Frances Coppola. So this time, we seem to have a comparable amount of commentary, but it feels like less diversity in terms of perspectives.

  17. Howard Beale IV

    If I was a cellphone provider in the US using Gemalto SIM’s, I’d be suing the Feds and finding a new SIM card provider. Problem is that with mini-and micro-SIMs, there’s no easy way to tell who the SIM manufacturer is.

    Funny thing is-I don’t think there is a domestic US manufacturer of SIM cards. If the rest of the world plays their cards right, they could put the screws to the US cellphone market like they did with the prohibition of supplying the first of the three-drug cocktail for lethal injections in the US.

  18. john c. halasz

    Are you kidding me? A Trotskyite “critique” of Syriza, followed by a Michael Spence screed. DO you want to induce cognitive dissonance in your readership? Do you want us all to go schizophrenic?!?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’ve said I sometimes include links that are critical thinking exercises. Spence unlike some Nobel Prize winners, has his good days, so he’s often given a free pass.

  19. Oregoncharles

    “Worst Spying In World History – Worse Than Any Dystopian Novel – Is Occurring RIGHT NOW George Washington”
    Torches and pitchforks.
    At this point, the only real solution – or beginning of one – would be to disband the NSA and most other spy agencies, fire everybody involved, and blow up their computers.
    I was told years ago, by a former phone company IT guy, that any cell phone was a spy device unless the batteries were removed. Apparently he was right.

    1. hunkerdown

      Possible corroboration: the radio firmware in a smartphone is one of its most strongly guarded assets, usually encrypted and signed and occasionally set up with active defenses.

  20. Foy

    Re the Insurer that wants volunteers to track their driving habits….In Australia an insurer called AAMI recently launched the free SafeDriverApp to download to your smartphone. (for anybody, not just those lucky AAMI drivers!) . It’s been heavily advertised on TV, with the slant “whose the better driver?!”, so you can score against your mates (highest score wins with a big green circle!). No need to install a device as usually your phone is with you when you drive anywhere, .

    I’m all for safe driving but I wonder what happens in future when you are 2 kph over the limit shortly before a crash and that info is now happily sitting on their servers…end of any claim you might have been thinking of… More sheeple tracking to within an inch of our lives. Can’t believe people are falling for this stuff.

  21. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    I don’t know what to say, everywhere is Death Worship (American Sniper), War Profiteering (S&P 500), Corporo-Fascism (TPP), Theft from the Poor (Fed policy), Orwell Spy State (every possible technology), Dangerous Crimethink (Media everywhere)…yet nowhere is there any inkling of effective opposition to the above. We get what we deserve it seems.

Comments are closed.