Links 2/27/15

Big Data Is The New Phrenology Cathy O’Neil

Next Stop Atlantic: How Old New York Subway Cars Became Artificial Reefs CityLab (furzy mouse)

How Mice Turned Their Private Paradise Into A Terrifying Dystopia io9 (furzy mouse)

How Much Crude Oil Do You Consume On A Daily Basis? OilPrice

The big melt: Antarctica’s retreating ice may re-shape Earth Associated Press

Alaska Farmer Turns Icy Patch Of Tundra Into A Breadbasket NPR (David L)

Truly amazing: Frozen life comes to life as ice melts Gizmodo (Nikki)

KFC Plans to Roll Out Edible Coffee Cups in the U.K. Time (furzy mouse)

When Drones Aren’t Enough, Amazon Envisions Trucks with 3D Printers Wall Street Journal

Incredibly, YouTube isn’t making any money Wall Street Journal (furzy mouse)

India Spending $956 Million on Waste Plants Along Ganges Bloomberg

Euro-area governance: what to reform and how to do it Bruegel (Swedish Lex)

HMRC investigates second list of HSBC offshore accounts Channel 4


Bundestag’s approval of Greek bailout extension passed by largest margin of any eurozone crisis related vote to date @OpenEurope

The fact that Germans approved this deal 542 votes v 32 and syriza cant even agree on whether there shd be a vote in Gr tells you who “won” @lyerC

Varoufakis says that “the VAT tax will increase in an unimportant good” in order to show good will to our partners. (Woot!) @GreekAnalyst. Note change from promise of no increase in VAT.

Should other Eurozone programme countries worry about a reduced Greek primary surplus target? Bruegel. Notice how post assumes the primary surplus target will be in the 2%-4% range, above what is it now and therefore even more austere than current conditions.

V for Varoufakis YouTube. Swedish Lex points out that this got over 400,000 views in the first 24 hours.

News Analysis: Time for Greek gov’t to face reality Xinhua

In Greece, Bailout May Hinge on Pursuing Tycoons New York Times

Merkel’s Truths Lead Greece to Unavoidable Deal on Euro Bailout Bloomberg. “In office for a month, Tsipras and his finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, have largely shelved the promises that got them elected, irritated key euro-area collaborators and stoked doubt about their intentions.”

Greek FinMin sees problems in repaying IMF and ECB Reuters

What Greeks Want Most Is `Dignity,’ Varoufakis Says Bloomberg. Note that Varoufakis says Greece will never return to primary deficits. That assures that austerity will continue unless Varoufakis can get what is tantamount to spending in Greece at the Eurozone level, which seems unlikely.

Greek debt crisis: Violence in Athens ahead of Germany vote BBC

A Greek primary issue Bruegel. Greece not likely to meet its 1.5% primary surplus target due to the fall in tax collections. Not a surprise per se, but this post goes through the data and the prospects.

Don’t mention the war! er the Troika … Bill Mitchell. Key scary factoid: deflation is Greece is now running at 1.2% per month


Chinese diplomat tells West to consider Russia’s security concerns over Ukraine Reuters

No, Obama, Russia’s Economy Isn’t ‘in Tatters’ Bloomberg

Russia: Left out in the cold Financial Times

In Midst of War, Ukraine Becomes Gateway for Jihad Intercept


Islamic Scholars Convene an Anti-ISIS Summit in Mecca Atlantic (furzy mouse)

ISIS Onslaught Engulfs Assyrian Christians as Militants Destroy Ancient Art New York Times

Obscure Group Says It Set Off Blasts in Egypt, Raising Alarm New York Times

Investigation ordered into spending of public funds at Binyamin Netanyahu’s homes Guardian

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Road from Westphalia New York Review of Books

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Everyone Wants You To Have Security, But Not from Them Bruce Schneier. I have trouble with his core assumption that “We want strong security, but we also want companies to have access to our computers, smart devices, and data.” I don’t have a smart device in part because I don’t want them to have more access than they already have (too much). And what about paying for software and running it locally?

Do Not Use TurboTax This Tax Season Gawker

Border agency threat exposes US migration rift New York Times

Net Neutrality

How Google’s Silence Helped Net Neutrality Win Wired (furzy mouse)

Net Neutrality Is Here — Thanks To an Unprecedented Guerrilla Activism Campaign Lee Fang, Intercept

The FCC has set a new, faster definition for broadband Washington Post

Should Californians Resurrect a Plan to Pipe in Water From Alaska? Wired (furzy mouse)

Embattled Standard Chartered CEO to Exit Wall Street Journal. Benjamin Lawsky takes a scalp.


OPEC’s Strategy Is Working Claims Saudi Oil Minister OilPrice. A bit one sided (as in ignores that most shale gas players are increasing production with fewer rigs), but has some useful data.

US shale town ‘hurting bad’ in oil slump Financial Times. As predicted.

KKR’s Struggling Energy Firm Weighs Debt Options Wall Street Journal

Shoppers Return to Chain Stores Wall Street Journal. Does not consider that some of the pickup might be due to trading down.

How a Teenager Who Didn’t Kill Anyone Landed in Jail for 55 Years Guardian

Tweet: “Most empirical research in finance is false, as are half of all financial products being sold” Economist

Reforming the Fed: Who’s Right; Who’s Wrong? Pam Martens and Russ Martens (Jesse)

Class Warfare

What Happened to Unions in the Midwest? Wall Street Journal

New York Couple Accused of Torturing Housekeeper Over Missing Jewelry Gawker

Making Do With More Brad DeLong, Project Syndicate (David L). Important.

Antidote du jour. Twitter claim @AnnoyedWasp: “put a wig on the dog and frightened the crap out of the postman.”

lion dog links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Swedish Lex

    Regarding Westphalia 1648:

    Sweden was one of the winners of the 30 years war and expanded its territories significantly at Westphalia. Sweden was run through a big part of the war by Axel Oxenstierna, the Chancellor, while the peace negotiations were conducted by his son.

    Axel Oxenstierna became famous through this quote: “Dost thou not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?”

    Clearly, some things do not change.

    1. Jagger

      I have been slowly reading Peter Wilson’s Thirty Years War book over the last month or so. I was surprised to discover that populations of the Germany states, Bavaria and Austria were majority Protestant at the start of the TYW. However the ruling families of Bavaria, Austria and some German states were Catholic. Ferdinand’s decision to recatholicize the Empire, in contrast with Rudolf’s lenient stance on protestants, was pretty drastic and used the boiling frog strategy. Following an intentional strategy, various segments of society were sequentially targeted with the choice of converting to Catholicism or of being expelled from their state. And the final target was the general population. I assume those major population migrations and forced conversions in the 1600s resulted in today’s Catholic dominated Bavaria and Austria.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s an interesting subject – people migration.

        I imagine the South had to be repopulated post bellum, with millions pouring in.

        Not too long ago, I came across the story that when the Mongols were driven north, out of China, the Central Plain area of the Middle Kingdom, mostly Honan and Shantung, was so depopulated by war and famine, that the new emperor of Ming ordered millions of people from the relatively unscathed Shanxi province (not Shaanxi) to fill the vacuum.

        And almost three hundred years later, after the Qing dynasty replaced the Ming, it was said that 90% of the Sichuan population were exterminated by a rebel leader, Zhang Xianzhong, (the exact extent is disputed), during the dynastic change over, that the new Son of Heaven of Qing ordered millions from Hunan and Guangdong to re-populate that Holocaust area.

        1. Larry Y

          The Manchurians had kept their traditional territories off limits to Han Chinese, until the Qing figured out that the relatively unpopulated land was a tempting target for colonial powers.

          I’m sure modern day Russia is well aware of this phenomena in Far Eastern territories..

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thanks for the link.

            I have read a one-sentence reference in a book about it being the largest people movement in the history or the world. Always wanted to look that up.

            It was contemporary with the peopling of the American West, of the Yamato race into Hokkaido, and Russians to Siberia, I guess…an interesting period.

    1. vidimi

      too bad that all the focus is on the NHS. True, it needs special protection, but by framing the discussion as the NHS is not for sale, that implicitly concedes that everything else is.

    1. wbgonne

      And reading my comment, I am chastened because it should not be up to Elizabeth Warren to protect us and our sovereignty from these betrayals to transnational corporations. Should anyone have suggestions how I and other regular citizens can help defeat these vile policies being foisted on us by the plutocrats, I am all ears.

    2. craazyman

      Lizzie Warren had an ax
      She gave the TPPer 40 whacks
      When voters saw what she had done
      She gave the banksters 41


    3. Jagger

      She is taking on Big Money and the soulless center of the Democratic Party. Good luck, Elizabeth.

      I just can not bring myself to call her Elizabeth. I don’t really see someone that cheered on the recent Israeli slaughter in Gaza as just a plain old Elizabeth or a Lizzie with a good natured soul just like your neighbors. In fact, I question how anyone with a conscience or good natured soul could possibly support what happened in Gaza. So I see her as a typical, cold blooded, political player working a power angle and moving up the political ladder just like so many other examples we have seen over the years. Which means no Lizzie for me until I see she has enough of a soul and conscience to stand up against the slaughter of innocents.

        1. DanB

          Previously I posted this anecdote about what happened when one of my students spoke to her when she visited our college here in Mass last fall. Warren did a photo op with him, my student, and he then asked her, “Senator, how about getting the rich to pay their fair share of taxes?'” whereupon she became cross with him and said, “I did not come here to talk about that,” and an aid then grabbed her arm and said she had to be on her way. My view as her constituent is that if she really is or is becoming “progressive” she will have to leave the party or lead a genuine uprising to take the party back for the people. I doubt she’s ever going to get to that stage. And, yes her views on foreign policy seem downright atavasitc and chauvinistic, and, as well, the emails she sends us constituents are full of focus-grouped tropes like “fight” and grade school good-guy vs bad-guy images without ever spelling out a concrete agenda.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        You are expecting her to be perfect. Not a reasonable expectation. She is a technocrat who defers to others she perceives to be expert (meaning the Dept. of State) on topics where she does not have expertise (foreign policy).

        And taking on the White House when your party is in charge and banks is not a career advancing move in politics.

  2. diptherio

    Re: The Road from Westphalia

    Almost from the beginning of its history, America has struggled to find a balance in its foreign policy between narrowly promoting its own security and idealistically serving the interests of others;

    “Idealistically serving the interests of others”? Did I miss a day in my American history class, ’cause I can’t think of a single instance in which TPTB in this country were ever idealistic or served anyone’s interests but their own and those of American businessman.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If I can be positive and make a contribution, I would suggest this:

      1 The world needs infrastructure projects, like waste water treatment plants along the Ganges or preserving rain forests.
      2. We have the global reserve currency
      3. We can print as much as we want. We are not a tiny monetary sovereign. We have global monetary sovereignty.
      4. Print and fund those global projects to benefit not just us, geography-challenged Americans, but the whole world.
      5. And be sure to employ local workers, not just Americans.

    2. Synoia

      Please include the generous loan terms granted to Great Britain in WW I and WWII, in the list of serving the interests of others.

      The definition of “others” is somewhat important.

    3. DanB

      This is an example of what sociologist Pierre Bourdieu calls “mis-regconition,” (similar to Marx’s false consciousness) and it stems from internalizing the myth of American Exceptionalism. I once got into a debate with a newspaper editor about our foreign policy and when I mentioned Reagan-backed death squads he did not deny them but became upset and yelled, “That’s unfair of you! They were a mistake, not a pattern, and you’re throwing them at me as an illustration!”

    4. EmilianoZ

      After reading that sentence I coudnt take the article seriously anymore. The author goes on to mention the ideals of Woodrow Wilson. LOL! That guy was the Obama of his days, campaigning on staying out of the war and then successfully propagandizing for it. And his most celebrated 14 points. The Chinese came to Versailles fooled by that. They naively had the great hope that Chinese territories held by the Germans would revert back to them. Tough luck. They were given to the Japanese. That was actually the real start of the Chinese Communist Party. Chinese intellectuals realized that if they wanted to decolonize their country their only hope was the Soviet Union. It seems that the current Chinese leadership still remembers that.

  3. generic

    Note that Varoufakis says Greece will never return to primary deficits

    I don’t think Varoufakis lacks the basic algebra skills to know that that shouldn’t work. So what gives?
    I think he really wants to go all in with issuing futurecoins. If you look at the details of the Greek proposal there is actually a lot that looks like building infrastructure for such a scheme.

    For example:

    Reform VAT policy, administration and enforcement. Robust efforts will be made to improve collection and fight evasion making full use of electronic means and other technological innovations.

    and this:

    Establish a transparent, electronic, real time institutional framework for public tenders/procurement – re-establishing DIAVGEIA (a side-lined online public registry of activities relating to public procurement)

    and especially this:

    issuance of a Citizen Smart Card that can be used as an ID card, in the Health System, as well as for gaining access to the food stamp program etc

    Hope he gets enough time to try.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Don’t play games with me, Yanis.”

      “I am not playing games with you.”

      “Yes you are.”

      “No, I am not. I already said I would not.”

  4. Jim Haygood

    In the financial crisis sweepstakes between two wayward IMF poster children, Ukraine has pulled significantly ahead of Greece:

    (Bloomberg) — Ukraine’s central bank will boost restrictions on capital operations as it fights to quell panic that has triggered deposit withdrawals and depleted foreign-exchange reserves, Governor Valeriya Gontareva said.

    The central bank will strengthen limits on activities including paying dividends, Gontareva told journalists in Kiev today. It also imposed a regime of examinations on all import operations that exceed $50,000. The hryvnia rebounded from a record low.

    “Panic must be stopped and we are doing that now,” Gontareva said. “For the time being, we are working not on canceling restrictions, but on new ones.”

    Both Ukraine and Greece have IMF programs that are on hold. Meanwhile, their depositors are (appropriately enough) panicking. This is a very chaotic way to conduct rescues, and it can lead to accidents not intended by any of the parties. Call it ‘conditionality at all costs.’

  5. optimader

    Truly amazing: Frozen life comes to life as ice melts Gizmodo (Nikki) —Fun stuff! :)

    The Arctic Methane Monster’s Nasty Little Helpers: Study Finds Ancient, Methane Producing, Archaea Gorge on Tundra Melt —Not so fun stuff :(
    Billions of years ago, methane producing cyanobacteria or archaea were prevalent in the world’s oceans. The methane they produced helped keep the Earth warm at a time when solar output was much less than it is today. Later, as oxygen producing plants emerged, the archaea, to which oxygen was a poison, retreated into the anoxic corners of the more modern world. Today, they live in the dark, in the mud, or in the depths of oceans. There, they continue to eek out an existence by turning hydrogen and carbon dioxide into methane.

    A kind of archaea, the newly discovered organism, named methanoflorens stordalenmirensis, was found to be exploding through sections of rapidly melting Swedish tundra. In fact, it is so at home in regions of melting permafrost that it blooms in the same way algae blooms in the ocean. As a result, it comes to dominate the microbial environment, representing 90% of the methanogens and crowding out many of the other microbes.

    1. craazyboy

      methanoflorens stordalenmirensis in a controlled production environment could solve the peal oil crisis. Unfortunately, in the wild, it’s gonna kill us all.

  6. optimader

    How a Teenager Who Didn’t Kill Anyone Landed in Jail for 55 Years Guardian
    Some 46 states in the union have some form of felony murder rule on their statute books. Of those, 11 states unambiguously allow for individuals who commit a felony that ends in a death to be charged with murder even when they were the victims, rather than the agents, of the killing.

    A winfall opportunity to finally get rid of that annoying spouse?

  7. Jim Haygood

    Blogger PragCap takes up a subject discussed here a couple of days ago:

    I caused a bit of a stir on Twitter this afternoon when I said that there was $816 million left in the bull market. This was a snide reference to John Hussman’s assets in the Strategic Growth Fund. Hussman has been famously bearish for the last 6 years and the assets in the fund have quickly drained. In fact, his fund has negative 10 year returns.

    I hate to see this. I certainly don’t root for people to fail and I take no pleasure in pointing out the failure of the fund over the last decade. But the thing is, Hussman has fallen on the extremes over the last 6 years. He’s taken a strong directional bias against the S&P 500 and it’s obviously been a very bad decision. And so his situation actually makes for a good learning experience.

    The tragedy here is that Dr H’s long stock picks have beaten the S&P by over five (5) percentage points annually since July 2000, putting him in Warren Buffett’s league. That this strategy is not offered as a standalone fund is a reflection of the same stubbornness that leads to unyielding directional bias.

    Although, if Dr H finally does bow to the inevitable and offer a non-hedged, always-long stock fund, its launch will mark the exact top of Bubble III.

  8. NV

    Brief etymological note. The Greek word for dignity contains within it the root for what ought to or must be, that is, what is right. If taken separately, you’d use a form in order to say, “One ought too..”

    That said, I welcome more informed comment from someone with academic knowledge of the modern language.

    1. Uahsenaa

      axioprepeia is made up of two roots, axio[s] and prepei , the latter of which does mean “must” or “ought to” in what are generally referred to as impersonal constructions, but it’s actually the former root that carries most of the etymological “weight” (pun intended). It comes from the verb ago in the sense of “to weigh,” so somethings axioma would be it’s weight or heft. This then gets translated into a general idea of “value” as the weight of a commodity would determine its price. From there axioma, at least in the classical sense–in modern Greek it just means “axiom” in the mathematical sense or “office,” from which it derives a number of related words that imply “authority”–it comes to be roughly equivalent with the Latin dignitas and acquires the sense of “honor” or “reputation,” one’s personal “weightiness” as it were. The modern word carries a lot of the baggage of axioma and means something like “that which ought to equate to one’s weight or worth.”

  9. Victor

    re “The Big Melt.”

    This article is out of date. The most recent research has revealed volcanic activity just under the notorious west Antarctic glacier that everyone is so worried about. This is the ONLY region in the Antarctic where glacier melt is a serious concern. And it looks as though the principal culprit is not climate change, but geothermal activity. If any significant amount of melting were due to “global warming” we’d see evidence of it in all regions of the Antarctic, not just this one relatively small area.

    1. wbgonne

      So the article from February 27, 2015 is out-of-date but yours from June 10, 2014 is not. Got it.

      BTW: I glanced at your blog. You are an AGW denier and a waste of time. You people are a scourge. You make others — people who are trying to address the most grave problem humanity has ever faced — play whack-a-mole or else leave your propaganda unchallenged. Please go serve your Big Oil masters elsewhere.

      1. Victor

        Everything on my blog is documented. Not from “denier” sites, but from widely recognized scientific reports and papers. The “big melt” article may be recent, but the research it draws upon is out of date, yes.

        The ad hominem attack gives you away. Your indignation is a bluff. Obviously you have no idea what the science is all about or you wouldn’t have to resort to this sort of language.

        1. wbgonne

          The ad hominem attack gives you away. Your indignation is a bluff. Obviously you have no idea what the science is all about or you wouldn’t have to resort to this sort of language.

          Oh, you poor put-upon servant of Big Oil. I bleed for your hurt feelings. Maybe the Koch Brothers could send you a few extra bucks as compensation.

          As for science, I am not a climate scientist. Therefore, I listen to the climate scientists. You don’t. Why? Because you are a dissembling fraud with an ideological agenda. And I am sick of you and your ilk. You are a disgrace to humanity and when the pitchforks come they will come for you. You are a waste of time — purposely– and you will get no further response from me. Enjoy your blood money.

            1. Victor

              Do I detect some frothing at the mouth? Maybe you should drop to the ground and throw a tantrum. Your response is that of a religious fanatic, not someone interested in learning what real scientists have to say. I suggest you follow the link I provided and read the article. Don’t worry, it wasn’t written by a “denier.”

    2. craazyman

      You could be right. Personally, I admit I don’t have an intelligent opinion on the climate issue. In my view, global warming may certainly be happening precisely as mainstream science says, or it may be they’re all wrong for some reason. All I know is I’m not qualified to look at the models, data and math and decide for myself. That’s all I can be sure of. It’s my version of Descarte’s “Cogito Ergo Sum”.

      However, I have my own theories. About the volanic activity, it could be the devil is preparing roaring fires in hell for an enitre generation of unrestrained banksters. That would make sense to me. It could be that alone would raise the temps globally, depending on how far below the surface hell is. Most holes don’t go down more than a few miles. Since the earth’s about 4000 miles down to the center, that’s a lot of room for fires that we would’t necessarily discover by dropping a camera down a hole. Also, they can’t drill everywhere unless it’s a fracking area. Then they can drill anywhere and everywhere until drinking water lights on fire or earthquakes level the region to rubble.

      You should probly quit while your ahead, cause certain people around here will toss you into hell for thought crimes. It doesn’t matter what you do in real life. You could be laying down enjoying your new solar roof and low-emissions lifestyle, cycling to work and donating to enviro not-for-profits saving coastal ecosystems, and favoring 100% green energy pollicies — just cause you don’t like pollution. But, God Forbid, you have a thought in your head that says “It’s possible the scientists are wrong, since science has been so sure about a lot of things that turned out sort of, well, wrong” then down to hell you go, tortured first, of course. Some people think global warming is the biggest threat facing mankind, and they’re the ones who’ll screw the nails through your palms and whip you with nail-studded leather straps, just to bring a little justice into the world before sinners like you meet their maker. I’m not sure if that makes sense, logically speaking from a ‘humanistic’ standpoint, but it does to them! So be careful what you say or you could be hauled before the Inquisition and their motto is “kill em all and let God sort em out”. (That was the tatoo on the forearm of an ex-marine machine gunner who hauled garbage in my old apartment building. He was 6 4″ and about 230 pounds. He scared everybody who lived there — just looking at him was terrifying).

      1. craazyboy

        I read somewhere that Antarctica, in it’s entirety, is more difficult to melt because it is solid land, whereas the N.Pole is melting because it’s basically an big ice cube frozen in place.

        But good point about the Hellfire.

        I too have been avoiding the GW debate on the basis that it would probably make my poor old brain hurt too much to really get a grasp on understanding the models completely.

        But I’m taking the middle ground – if the N. Pole is disappearing, it means something is wrong. If that lets loose gigatons(?) of methane at 100X the GW potential of CO2, it gets more worrisome.

        The big argument now seems to be over the predictive power and accuracy of climate models – like forecasting what year the human race says bye-bye. The models did say 2050, at a minimum, which comfortably met my personal accuracy requirement. But if they pull this in a lot with the new methane model, I’m concerned again that I may outlive the human race. :( (which I think is a bad thing – like who’s gonna do all the work, etc…? no strippers?!..I can make beer, but what about French wine?)

        1. craazyman

          It really gets confusing. You have to be a chemist, mathematician, geophysicist, data scientist and all around Geeko who can’t be swayed by Grant Money from anybody — Big Bucks Deniers or Big Bucks Climate Evangelists — to get to the bottom of this. If you lay around watching football and Youtube you really don’t have alot of erudtion to bring to bear on the topic. I’m speaking of me, not you or anyone else in particular. I’m a humble man when it comes to ontological epistemology.

          I have an idea of something I call a Reality Cone. Its like a light cone in relativity but the cone expands from a single point in the future, where it achieves its tip and all phenomenon that exist in the cone as time approaches the limit of t=0 manifest as “reality”, The radius, which is a diameter of a circle that encompasses a variety of possible realities, enlarges as the axis of the cone goes backward in time. So at time t = -n, if n is long enough, all sorts of things are possible. All those things have plausible realities, and they exist as phenomenon in the Reality Cone but not in reality itself, not yet anyway, they have to be there at t=0. The mechanism by which events disappear from the Cone, or stay in the cone and manifest at t=0 is a little complicated, but its hard to know what will and what wont. Natural physical laws are, of course, the easiest to predict, thanks to Newton. The Reality Cone of a falling rock is fairly straightforward. The Reality Cone ot an NFL football team in September is not as straightforward. The Reality Cone of weather forecasting is also not so straightforward, in the short run, although we know it’s more likely to snow in January in New Yawk than in July. The Reality Cone of global climate is not something I’m all that sure about. 50 years from now, I don’t know. It could be hot or it could be cold or it could be in between. The Reality Cone is full of all sorts of wild things that disappear and some things fly in unpredictably. I even think some things may exist as life forms in the Reality Cone itself, liviing as states of belief energy in costumes of arguments that confer a plausible chance of manifestation at t=0, and then disappear when t =0. That’s weird to think like that.

          1. Synapsid


            Leave the models be. Start with this:

            The Sun heats the Earth’s surface and the Earth’s surface emits infrared, which we feel as heat, as a result.
            The infrared will be lost to space unless something absorbs it on its way out.
            Carbon dioxide (CO2) absorbs infrared.
            Earth’s atmosphere contains CO2; as a result, Earth’s surface temperature averages well above freezing. Without that CO2, Earth’s surface temperature would average 15 degrees or more, Celsius, below freezing.
            The more CO2 in the atmosphere, the higher Earth’s average surface temperature.
            During ice ages, CO2 in the atmosphere is about 190 parts per million; during interglacials (we are in an interglacial) the average is 280 parts per million.
            Before the industrial revolution, say up to about 1750, CO2 in the atmosphere was at about 280 parts per million.
            Currently CO2 level in the atmosphere is about 400 parts per million. That number is increasing. You have to go back several million years to before the ice ages began to find a level that high.
            We keep having record high temperatures, for the whole planet, since 1970 or so.

            See the reason for worry? It has nothing to do with models. The models are used to try to estimate how high the average surface temperature will go; they are not fundamental to the idea of increasing CO2 leading to climate change.

            One denialist argument you will encounter is that since CO2 content in the atmosphere is measured in parts per million, well then it can’t possibly have an effect on climate. So tiny! Remind anyone who trots that out (their number is legion) that that tiny amount of CO2 supports all the phtotosynthesis on the planet.

            1. craazyboy

              Yup, that’s was the way I understood it – before all the GW “discussions” started. Maybe I haven’t missed that much after all. Except details of the modeling – which as you imply, seem to have more to do with when we have a big problem, not “if”.

          2. craazyboy

            Ontological epistemology can be a real bummer when you think about it. In engineering school, you’d like to ignore it, if you could, but then they don’t let you graduate. You get kicked out and have to get picked up by the Advanced Physics or Pure Mathematics school, or if they aren’t interested in you, there is always the economics school.

            But then you have to learn about other peoples theories which, I’m sure you’ll agree, takes all the fun out of it. But once you leave the confines of academia, and most careers, then you can become a true free thinker and expand on human knowledge to the utmost of your ability. Reality Cone Theory sounds promising, tho I’ll have to mull this around a while to fully understand the implications. But it does explain why there are no Bigfoots in captivity at the zoo. Possibly also why there are so many versions of history – which until now we thought was purely a social science phenomenon.

            P.S. This was a reply to craazyman. I’m reading Synapid’s teachings next…

        2. Victor

          “if the N. Pole is disappearing, it means something is wrong.”

          “The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consulate, at Bergen, Norway. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. . Within a few years it is predicted that due to the ice melt the sea will rise and make most coastal cities uninhabitable.”
          From an AP article published in the Washington Post, November 2, 1922.

          For more on this dire situation, see

          1. legendarybigfoot

            So magical volcanoes did everything and journalists lied in 1922. That’s a comprehensive theoretical counterpoint to the mass of empirical evidence gathered by climate researchers in a wide array of disciplines around the world with a variety of data gathering techniques, unprecedented transparency and redundant data to cross check against.
            How could burning trillions of tons of carbon in our thin and fragile atmosphere possibly do any harm?

          2. Lambert Strether

            Because — hold onto your hats, here, folks — I’m not the most trusting guy in the world, I thought I’d check Snopes, just to make sure this isn’t one of those emails that circulates in the right wing fever swamp. Turns out, the AP quote is correct, but here’s the conclusion from Snopes:

            As interesting as this nearly century-old article might be from a modern perspective, however, it isn’t substantive evidence either for or against the concept of anthropogenic global warming. As documented elsewhere, the warming phenomena observed in 1922 proved to be indicative only of a local event in Spitzbergen, not a trend applicable to the Arctic as a whole.

            Care to address this, Victor? Because as of now, I’m filing your comment under climate change denialism, but a little less cheap than usual.

            1. Victor

              The point of my quoting this article is to remind us of how easy it is to misinterpret natural cycles as unique breakdowns in “the balance of nature” and over-react with dire predictions of imminent disaster. While it may be true that current ice melt in the arctic is more widespread than what was noted in the 1922 article, both phenomena are eerily similar, as are the interpretations that disaster must be around the corner.

              And by the way this whole “denialism” bugaboo is deeply offensive. There is now a campaign going on to label anyone who refuses to go along with the “consensus” view as a “denier” rather than a skeptic. I suppose the same could have been said for those who argued that the Earth wasn’t flat, because after all “that’s just as plain as the nose on your face” that it’s flat. What else could it possibly be?

        3. optimader

          “I read somewhere that Antarctica, in it’s entirety, is more difficult to melt because it is solid land, whereas the N. Pole is melting because it’s basically an big ice cube frozen in place”

          The dirt equivalent of Pykrete.

          As you know from a heat sink standpoint compared to frozen earth. ice has that extra ~50% on the sensible heat and +1,000 Btu/lb, to cover the phase change, so an order of magnitude more energy storage. But alas ice is brittle and fails in tension. maximizing surface area for heat transfer..
          Now a frozen earth and ice matrix is an ideal heat sink, compared to ice alone because it is tough w/ a relatively high U (decent insulator) and conduction limited (minimum surface area).

    3. different clue

      I read this article and the article itself (deep within its written text) notes that much of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melting is due to the regional expression of global warming. It notes that some of the melting is also due to under-ice volcanic activity too. But not only, or even preponderantly. A slow close read of this article reveals it to offer Victor less comfort than what Victor was perhaps hoping for.

      1. Victor

        from the NASA report: “The “Unstable” West Antarctic Ice Sheet: A Primer” – source:

        “The new finding that the eventual loss of a major section of West Antarctica’s ice sheet “appears unstoppable” was not completely unexpected by scientists who study this area. The study, led by glaciologist Eric Rignot at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and the University of California, Irvine, follows decades of research and theory suggesting the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is inherently vulnerable to change.
        Antarctica is so harsh and remote that scientists only began true investigation of its ice sheet in the 1950s. It didn’t take long for the verdict on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to come in. “Unstable,” wrote Ohio State University glaciologist John Mercer in 1968. It was identified then and remains today the single largest threat of rapid sea level rise.
        Why is West Antarctica’s ice sheet considered “unstable”?
        The defining characteristic of West Antarctica is that the majority of the ice sheet is “grounded” on a bed that lies below sea level.
        In his 1968 paper, Mercer called the West Antarctic Ice Sheet a “uniquely vulnerable and unstable body of ice.” Mercer based his statement on geologic evidence that West Antarctica’s ice had changed considerably many, many millennia ago at times when the ice sheets of East Antarctica and Greenland had not.”

        In other words, the instability of this ice sheet was first noted in the 60’s and is apparently due to factors originating thousands of years ago.

        NB: This was written prior to the paper suggesting geothermal heating as a major cause of the melt. I urge you to read the entire NASA report, which never once names climate change or global warming as a possible factor.

  10. MikeNY

    Re Big Data and Phrenology.

    It think we’ve jumped the shark on data. I thought we had jumped it with those little bracelets people wear that tell them how many steps they’ve taken, but don’t actually burn any calories. Now we have Sense, a ridiculous, over-engineered device that tells people things they already know: turn the lights off if you want to sleep; don’t keep the room too hot; turn off the music. It does everything but make you sleep better. A product looking for a market.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Agreed – the collection of all this data seems to be happening for the same reason as some people climb mountains; because they can and because it’s there. Collecting some data is certainly useful to a point, but I think we’ve gone way past the point of diminishing returns in this endeavor. When you collect it all and a lot of that all is garbage, what are you really proving? Wasn’t ‘garbage in, garbage out’ one of the first adages of the information age? Common sense still serves pretty well but since no one has figured out how to monetize that yet, we have big data instead for those who just don’t trust their own lying eyes.

      Collecting the data doesn’t answer the question ‘why’ very well and like classical economics, doesn’t or can’t take human nature into account. Amazon uses it’s algorithms to recommend one thing after another to me but what it hasn’t figured out yet is that I find out about books I want to read from friends or other reading and I only use its wishlist feature as a convenient way to keep track of them all so I don’t forget them. Then I go down to my local bookstore and buy or order from them.

      Regarding the article about Amazom using 3d printers to deliver goods, there seems to be a flaw in this business plan too. Rather than me ordering a bunch of stuff from Amazon so they could 3d print it for me, why wouldn’t I just order a 3d printer and be done with it?

      1. hunkerdown

        Finer finish, a larger working volume, and more capacity for multiple copies. In other words, the same reasons people outsource their 2d printing to a service bureau.

    2. Lambert Strether

      McLuhan somewhere compares (this is a rough paraphrase so please correct me) technology to amputation — functions that used to be performed by the human body are now externalized into mechanical devices, whereupon the original capacity withers; memory, for example. And now, apparently, sense.

  11. Jef

    In “Making do with more” he points out;

    “Everything we extract, grow, design, build, make, engineer, and transport – down to brewing a cup of coffee in a restaurant kitchen and carrying it to a customer’s table – is done by roughly 30% of the country’s workforce.”

    The problem is not as he states it however. Obviously there is some content that is not being paid for but this is minor and easily addressed.

    The problem is that the 30% that actually do something are not being adequately rewarded for their efforts and are being constantly preyed upon by everyone else an this situation is getting worse not better.

    The real problem is that the other 70% who do what has been accurately described as make work are 100% reliant on the other 30% in fact the whole economy is reliant on the 30% or the REAL economy. The service industry and technology arose and exist in support of the real economy but now we are deluding ourselves into believing that we can have an economy that is dominated by services and technologies that exist only to support services and technology.

    That and Finance has so completely inserted itself into every operation of the real economy syphoning off “profits” that the Host is withering. Finance knows this but has no choice. They have already tried to cut ties with Earths gravity and skim profits off of buying and selling debt, insurance, bets, and any other “financial products” they can dream up.

  12. winstonsmith

    “New York Couple Accused of Torturing Housekeeper Over Missing Jewelry” versus “How a Teenager Who Didn’t Kill Anyone Landed in Jail for 55 Years”

    By a small stretch of the dubious logic of the Indiana prosecutor (the Indiana teenager was charged with murder because his accomplice was killed by the homeowner whose house they robbed), if the Queens housekeeper is guilty of the theft, she could be charged with kidnapping and torturing herself. Reductio ad absurdum.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Interesting logic.

      I think logic itself is to be blamed here.

      For example, if a greedy, lecherous emperor entices his soldier to go along with him to attack another nation, to capture their queen, perhaps, for example, and the soldier dies, killed by their defenders, the emperor is guilty of murder.

      Same logic.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      “…… if the Queens housekeeper is guilty of the theft, she could be charged with kidnapping and torturing herself.”

      OK. Now that’s funny. In an Onion-esque kinda way.

  13. Vatch

    “How Mice Turned Their Private Paradise Into A Terrifying Dystopia io9 ” is an interesting article. The conclusion that I draw is that there were two serious problems, both a Malthusian problem of overpopulation and a problem of unfair distribution. For another example of Malthusian overpopulation, see David Klein’s article about the collapse of the reindeer population on St. Matthew Island. In this case, there was a second factor, too, but it wasn’t unfair distribution, but harsh weather:

    Overpopulation makes us very vulnerable to any other serious problems that might exist in our environment or society.

    1. Jef

      Unfair distribution only slows down overpopulation a bit. If the mice had equal access to all areas they would have just overpopulated them.

      The real conclusion of the mice study is that when you element nature the worst happens. Same conclusion for humanity. The mouse environment was not utopia, it was some guys idea of what a mouse utopia would be.

      Human utopia would be one that is as close to nature as possible.

      1. Antifa

        Human utopia is the question. In which direction does it lie?

        Right now, we aren’t good for the biosphere of this planet. We used to fit into the biosphere when we were hunter-gathering bands whose population was limited by the natural (non-farmed) food supply of our locale. When we were as subject to extinction by an asteroid as the bears and birds were.

        Now? Now we see asteroids coming years in advance (in most cases). We can calculate trajectories, and build machines to steer them away from us. We can land cameras on passing comets. We can keep billions of our kind alive in urban centers, most of them doing highly specialized jobs that are only productive when combined with billions of other specialized jobs.

        We don’t fit this biosphere any more. We don’t fit this planet any longer. The very idea of our species returning to balance with nature, and letting chance and natural forces govern our population numbers, is only going to happen along with the zombie apocalypse or nuclear winter — or that one asteroid we didn’t see coming.

        Stephen Hawking is right — we need to get our kind off this planet. We’ve outgrown this biosphere, we’ve overused and outgrown this rock. In five hundred years our offspring will laugh at the idea that we once called any particular rock around any particular sun home.

        Home is where you hang your hat, human.

        1. jgordon

          You are almost, but not quite, right there. Appropriate technologies and the serious study of applied ecology (permaculture) will allow humanity to live in balance with nature while maintaining some level of technological sophistication (even if it’s only at the level of rocket stoves and mechanical windmills).

          With that said, most people are unfortunately really stupid, so we certainly will have a massive die-off in the next few decades. There will be some isolated communities who come out relatively unscathed though, given that any part of the biosphere remains habitable in the future. Which is not a certainty, but I like to be optimistic about the future so why not.

        2. hunkerdown

          Oh, so the solution to human arrogance and greed is to set humanity about spreading the disesae throughout the universe? Just as the solution to overeating is to loosen one’s belt?

          Think very carefully about how that very attitude of entitlement to forever growth at others’ expense is exactly why we are all miserable, unhealthy and spiritually dead. Think very carefully about spreading the disease of humanity everywhere. There Is No Alternative, is there? I think you have some hidden assumptions that you might want to reconsider.

          1. Salamander

            What a fascinating point you raise. Certainly our growth has been exponential, and as a result we have a hard time -at least I do – understanding scale. I can’t get my mind around, for example, how much oil humanity burns every day. And of course it matters because as you point out our biosphere has limits. But so far as we know, space doesn’t.

            Colonizing other planets presumes a few work arounds of the laws of physics that remain to be seen. But what if we were to achieve it? Wouldn’t unlimited growth be possible, our moral qualms aside, and more importantly, being of no concern at all to the universe? At whom’s expense would that be?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One doubts and therefore one is…or something like that.

      Also, when in doubt, doubt. (That is, don’t be shy about doubting. Don’t beat around the bush. Go straight to doubting. Some people take an indirect path; for example, when they are in doubt, they reach for their security blankets, or play their favorite music, or something like that. NO, NO, NO. When in doubt, stay in doubt or just doubt).

      Finally, You doubt (Science), therefore you are (a Scientist).

    2. different clue

      I understand this article to be saying that Corporate Junk Science is what people don’t trust.

      People might trust NonProfit Sound Science rather more.

  14. Grizziz

    Re: Brad Delong
    If Delong merely replaced rents and rentiers for create and creators he’d answer his own question instead of pondering theogony. In by gone days, most value transactions were done by selling ones time or selling a finished commodity. Property could be severed. Today it’s lease, lease, and options on leases. Everyone loves an annuity and expects their past actions should be respected and glorified forever.

    1. craazyboy

      I think in the last 6 years the only fiscal stimulus in the whole world was China building dozens of Ghost Cities. Since 99% of the Chinese can’t afford the rent there, they remain Ghost Cities. They don’t lower the rent because the lower revenue would be the proof that the loans can’t be paid. I hear china is now in the process of doing a stealth bailout of the banks.

      It doesn’t seem like it would be that hard for TPTB to do something right, at least once in a while.

      But it seems like they just aren’t trying that hard?!

  15. craazyboy

    How Mice Turned Their Private Paradise Into A Terrifying Dystopia

    In the beginning, there was Adam mouse and Eve Mouse……..

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Sigh. The structural reforms are in place, the IMF is not terribly inclined to give any ground there, and I am told to the extent Greece gets relief on the primary surplus, it was relief they were going to get anyhow, because the Troika recognized the 4.5% primary surplus target for 2016 is insane and 3.0% for 2015 is unrealistic.

  16. well no

    Response to Yves’ comment (comment 3.2/ comment-2411123), regarding Yves’ above response to jagger:

    well no, jagger is expecting Lizzie to be humane – not at all “perfect,” – just trying as best one can to not harm voiceless others. An expectation of perfection never entered jagger”s despairing comment.

    1. skippy

      You link is authored by this loon pond inhabitant

      ganapathy ponmudi
      chennai, India

      I have discovered through evidence that the indonesian ,haiti and the honshu island earthquake and tsunami was formed by the underground volcano.

      I,am the scientist who discovered that planets are formed inside the dead stars.

      According to my research the under sea hot springs are responsible for the rising of sea level.

      According to my research the elliptical orbit of the planets are caused by the onward movement of the sun.
      January 2003 – Present

      contrary to the popular belief the seafloor and the continents are stationary and the earthquake and tsunamis are formed by the eruption of underground volcanoes

      Bachelor of Science (BS), Zoology/Animal Biology
      1984 – 1987

      Skippy…. the weird have eclipsed even pro status…..

      1. Kyle

        Thanks Skippy. I didn’t do a backgrounder. Now I have to question the veracity of the site that actually posted the article. It does appear the guy has problems perceiving reality.

    2. jgordon

      I’ve found that it’s a good policy of notifying people who post without at least a brief expositions on them–and without understanding anything in the link at all–that they are idiots. And why should we bother to look at a link that an idiot posted? Ignored.

      1. Kyle

        My, my! And how should we view those whose arguments are solely directed at only base emotionality? Beneath contempt.

  17. quixote

    Regarding this: “And what about paying for software and running it locally?” I just wanted to mention another alternative.

    Use open source software and run it locally. Libreoffice (h ttps:// (links all have an extra space because I’m worried about being shunted into moderation, which may happen anyway) has the usual “office” stuff like MSOffice. Firefox (h ttps:// and/or Chrome is what most of you already run, I’ll bet. You can start using them in your current OS, whatever it is. If you decide to run free altogether, Ubuntu or Linux Mint (h ttp:// are push-button easy to install and use. And if you want to give something back, you can always go and help others on the forums where you can find way better support than in commercial products.

    Go for it! You have nothing to lose but endless registration key entry.

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