Links 2/4/15

Enormous 3-million-year-old rodent used its teeth like elephant TUSKS: Ancient mammal used incisors as tool to dig and defend itself Daily Mail (Li)

Good news, guys: Economists use math to show that it’s OK to leave the toilet seat UP! Daily Mail. Li: “Economists prove once again that they’re f’ing useless.” Your humble blogger: “The economists ignore that women who live with men wind up doing most of the housework. The toilet seat issue is yet another discourtesy. Too much discourtesy leads to no sex. Did they calculate the cumulative effect on how much the woman is willing to put out, and how that might negate their first order analysis?”

What happens to the losing team’s Super Bowl championship shirts Guardian (Chuck L)

New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers New York Times. A long-standing issue, most of all with herbs (where freshness and where they are grown also counts)

Explanation of the biological activity of the measles virus Science (Nikki)

A company is now modeling suspects’ faces using DNA from crime scenes Business Insider (David L)

Regulators Cite a New Danger in the Skies: Selfies New York Times

The AI Revolution: Road to Superintelligence Wait But Why (David L)

Uber Gave Money To MADD Last Summer, 6 Months Before A Glowing Report Gawker

Technology’s next 25 years belong to the world, not the US Financial Times (David L)

It Took Four Million E-Mails to Get the FCC to Set Net-Neutrality Rules Bloomberg. So democracy works, but the bar is awfully high.

Australia Coming Apart at the Seams Michael Shedlock (furzy mouse)

EU Widens Multinationals Tax-Sweetener Investigation to Belgium Wall Street Journal


Germany Deserved Debt Relief, Greece Doesn’t Bloomberg. This is a remarkable piece, and not at all in a good way.

Cautious hope for Greece debt deal as leaders tour Europe BBC. Renzi in Italy made generally supportive noises about putting growth over austerity but did not comment on Greece’s proposals. Juncker, who is head of the European Commission, also suggested some accommodation would need to be made for Greece.

A deal to bring modernity to Greece Martin Wolf, Financial Times


Legal Options for Ukraine’s Russian Debt Problem Credit Slips

Saudi Oil Is Seen as Lever to Pry Russian Support From Syria’s Assad New York Times


How The US, Its Allies And Syria Unwittingly Corporatized ISIS CTuttle, Firedoglake

Iran’s Militias Are Taking Over Iraq’s Army Bloomberg

Draft of Arrest Request for Argentine President Found at Dead Prosecutor’s Home New York Times. This looks terrible for Kirchner, but raises further questions: Alberto Nisman was found dead in his apartment on January 18. Why was this memo “found” now, two weeks later? His apartment was presumably a crime scene and inspected carefully, more than once. And would professional killers be so dumb as to leave evidence like this around? The memo was 26 pages, supposedly found in a garbage can. One way to square the circle, from a savvy reader: “Here’s a bet: that the killers were not from the President’s side, but Peronist politicians who were caught up in the 10 year investigation.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Surprise! The War on Terror Is Incredibly Expensive AnimalNewYork

There Are Far Fewer Terror Attacks Now Than In the 1970s George Washington

A Pointed Letter to Gen. Petraeus Consortium News

US Officials Blow The Whistle On Secret CIA, Mossad Assassination Plot MintPress (Nikki)

Remembrance of Wars Past, Why There Is No Massive Antiwar Movement in America Tom Engelhardt

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The Silk Road Trial Isn’t Just About Drugs Slate

The Newest Reforms on SIGINT Collection Still Leave Loopholes Just Security. Quelle surprise!

EFF Joins Coalition to Launch Electronic Frontier Foundation

Former Maryland banker reveals he used to work for CIA Wall Street Journal (Chris M)


House G.O.P. Again Votes to Repeal Health Care Law New York Times

Is the GOP Finally Ready to Offer an Obamacare Alternative? Slate

Chris Christie’s London trip was a disaster Business Insider

California man convicted in ‘revenge porn’ case Reuters (EM)

understanding the 4th quarter GDP report Daily Kos

The illusion of monetary policy independence under flexible exchange rates VoxEu. The Fed, in all seriousness, has taken the position that its monetary policies have no impact on other countries. In other word, QE induced risk-on trade money flooding into emerging economies was an act of God. This paper argues otherwise.

This is nuts. Who wants some eBonds? FTAlphaville

Most Brokerages and Advisory Firms Targeted by Cybercriminals Wall Street Journal. Li: “Another reason not to trust your broker.”

Class Warfare

The One Percent’s Great Escape Consortiumnews (Chuck L)

What happened when I confronted my cruellest troll Guardian (furzy mouse)

Antidote du jour. More pictures of tiger triplet at the Port Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, courtesy Melody:

tiger triplets 2 links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. diptherio

    It Took Four Million E-Mails to Get the FCC to Set Net-Neutrality Rules Bloomberg. So democracy works, but the bar is awfully high.

    Let’s not go jumping to conclusions there, Yves. One spring does not a robin make…or however that goes.

    More likely than this being a sign that democracy works, to my mind anyway, I’d say it’s an indication of the mixed interests of our elite overlords. Some wanted NN, some didn’t. If they had been more of one mind on the issue, what we thought wouldn’t have made any difference at all. As per Gilens & Page, I kinda doubt that popular sentiment was the deciding factor in this decision. Just sayin’…

    1. PWC, Raleigh

      Agree with diptherio’s comment very much. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

    2. Antifa

      I do not know Mr. Tom Wheeler, and have no desire to insult his character or motivations. It’s just that he is a longtime employee of the telecom giants he now regulates. Most everyone expected him to come down on their side regarding Net Neutrality, which is what most “revolving door” appointments in DC produce for the big corporations. Most people expect Tom Wheeler to return to working for one of the telecom giants when he leaves office in 2016.

      But I do not trust that this coming year of actually putting Title II regulations in place is not just a lot of political theater. First, it will take up to a year for new regulations to actually be put in place. Meanwhile Verizon is going to sue to stop Title II from being implemented at all. Their lawsuit will certainly reach the Supreme Court rather quickly, and those guys are prone to rule for corporate people over human people because Free Markets. Or at least five of ’em are prone to do so, and that’s enough.

      And the GOP has taken note of Obama’s support of Title II reclassification and done their usual — “if that black man in our White House is for any particular thing, then it must be evil, and we’re for sure a’gin it no matter what!” They plan to introduce a bill either forbidding the FCC from imposing Title II or else weakening its ability to do so by taking the teeth out the agency or stripping its funding. Whatever works. The telecom giants are all set to donate handsomely to get ‘whatever works’ done.

      Money decides everything in DC now. Don’t expect democracy to break out and you won’t be disappointed.

    3. Vatch

      Yes, money is far more decisive than public opinion in D.C., or just about anywhere else. Still, in the case of net neutrality, I think we can be pretty sure that if there hadn’t been millions of public comments, the FCC would have gone their merry way, and eviscerated neutrality. Any oligarchs who supported net neutrality would have been ignored. Because of the public outcry, and as you point out, because some big shots probably also support net neutrality, the FCC might actually create net neutral regulations. There’s a lesson there. People should submit public comments to regulators, and they should also contact their senators and representatives. Because there might be a few people with lots of money who agree with us.

      I sent a public comment to the FCC about net neutrality last year, and I hope many other NC readers did too. I also contacted my representative and senators about HR 37. Again, I hope many NC readers did so, too. If not, there’s still time. Here’s an NC article about HR 37:

    1. trinity river

      Let’s agree to focus on a person’s behavior and opinions, rather than their biology. jmo.

    2. participant-observer-observed

      Ignoring the exhortation to abandon 7th grade-in school suspension humour time-pass,

      how about Obama and the guy who wore the ski mask in Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids? I don’t mean similarity of personality, but the lanky frame etc

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Extorting bribes from patients in exchange for services? Why does that sound awfully familiar to an American? How is this any more corrupt than the American for-profit health care system?

  2. diptherio

    Re: Germany Deserved Debt Relief, Greece Doesn’t Bloomberg

    This piece is despicable on multiple levels. I’ll just offer a response to this little gem of half-truth though:

    For three decades, Greece ran unsustainable fiscal deficits, borrowed to cover them — and then lied about them to Eurostat so it could join the euro in 2001

    Actually, I’ll let Yanis respond (teleporting in from 2011):

    As he points out: the only thing the Greeks had to offer the EU was their capacity for indebtedness. The plan all along was for Greece to run up both public and private debt. Having little in the way of natural resources, their ability to take on more debt was their major selling point. As for lying about the amount of indebtedness, Greece was hardly breaking new ground on that front. The Italians had more than double the officially sanctioned amount of gov’t debt as well. When Greece wanted in, they simply sent a few guys to Italy, saw what they were doing, and copied it. The whole system was built on lies and looking the other way from the get-go–trying to hold Greece accountable now for doing that they learned from other Euro countries hardly seems like an honest argument to make.

  3. aletheia33

    taking advantage of yves’s brilliant negotiation savvy on two fronts, can we come up with a toilet seat/domestic analogy to the greece/north europe problem?

    probably the domestic abuse analogies discussed in recent threads are more applicable to the level of real autonomy greece has, especially considering that its predicament is most analogous to that of the impoverished woman who not only is pregnant but also has very young children to protect. however i could use a laugh or two to temper the despair of the greece smackdown. NC humorists?

    …and i’m not buying any “hope and change” pie in the sky on the toilet front.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When you realize all Merkel wants is more competition for Turkish Doner Kebab vendors in Berlin with more Greek Souvlaki stalls, everything begins to make sense.

      And you want good food whey you run a 1,000 Year Rich Empire, and no one gets a Big, Fat Divorce unless you get a dispensation from the patriarch or, more progressively, the matriarch.

      Apparently, life is so la Dolce Vita in Roma that they are going along with the ECB, though I have not heard from Spain, who is rumored to be on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

  4. skippy

    Ref – Australia Coming Apart at the Seams Michael Shedlock

    Good grief… Michael needs to put his head in a metaphysical autoclave, e.g. both of Australia’s political party’s over the last 2 decades have moved lock step to the neoliberal corporatist right. Rudd was the last parting remnant of the pink left, where as Gillard represented the corporatist right faction w/ better ID political advertising.

    “Open for Business” Tony Abbott – is a rank ideologue, who gets his instructions from Murdock and assorted national oligarchs [especially sorts like mining magnate Gina Rinehart et al]. That Australians voted in disgust of the Labor Party Fracas, playing out in economic head winds, and pumped to full advantage by shadow minister Abbott, seems more like a case of drowning man syndrome than cogent citizenry at the ballot box. That once in actual prime ministerial power, he and his staff, could no more effect policy than to mimic an old Saturday night subliminal messaging skit [the obviousness is what made it funny]. Now the entire LNP is resembles a Jamestown encampment, whence rumor control has it that the Kool – Aid is not all its cracked up to be, especially in light of global economic head winds. What [???]… ideological wankery does not trump global economic and political factors, Mon Dieu je suis touché!!

    If the LNP can’t pull its self together and sort its policy the entire party might just rip its self apart, hell some are even resistant to Turnbull, as he’s to lefty for them.

    Well that leaves us with a young and largely publicly unknown set of Labor candidates riding the pendulum into power, even tho they have been behind the scenes for some time. Sprinkle in a few Greens and independents, all of whom has some very strong positions, quite anti LNP agenda imo.

    Skippy…. someone needs to clue in Mish… the operative pejorative is Corruption… which translates too… it does not matter what school of economic thought nor economic template you use – IF – the underlining ethos is pathologically [criminal?] self interest and is confused for a rational agent.

    1. Foy

      +1 Agreed Skippy

      Mish blames unions as always “Labor and Unions Wrecked Australia”… no mention of a little dutch disease perhaps Mish?…AUD averages around 80c to the USD for decades then is driven to $1.10 from a combination of a huge uncontrolled resources boom and a currency that gets massively speculated with (the AUD accounted for 2% of world trade but 7% of forex trade). The RBA says and does NOTHING at all on its race up to $1.10 but once the AUD begins to fall Governor Stevens says he believes that the it should be valued around 85c-90c (only about 3 years too late Guv!).

      By then anything not resources based had been seriously hollowed out and destroyed ie whats left of the remaining union based manufacturing and production jobs Mish talks about, and when the hollowing out job is finally done the currency collapses back to 76c…just a lazy 30% depreciation in no time… yep Mish, the few remaining union members in Australia are where the problems lie…methinks they may lie somewhere else…

      1. skippy

        This kid is more sanguine than all of our MSM and a good chunk of the blogsphere…

        Skippy… I guess this is what happens when metaphysical precursors front run observation e.g. the whole edifice of knowlage becomes a PR – Marketing exercise for a small mob of demagogs.

    2. Integer Owl

      I have been a reading Naked Capitalism for a significant time now, and have always refrained from commenting, as I have always felt there were those who understood the issues being presented. Along with the articles, I have found some of the commentary enligtening. This is the first time I have really felt compelled to comment.

      I am dismayed by the ‘Australia Coming Apart at the Seams’ article by Michael Shedlock. I have been closely following Australian politics since the Labour Government came into power in 2007 and my take on it was that there was some shady dealing that removed him from the position of Prime Minister.

      Kevin Rudd had an independently wealthy wife (inherited I believe, may be wrong), and did not seem to play the ‘political’ game of money for favours, along with understanding Chinese culture and speaking fluent Mandarin. He was clearly working to cultivate a trusting relationship with the Chinese political sector.

      I have a feeling these facts upset some people, however his removal from the role of Prime Minister was presented by the media as being due to ‘keeping staff working until late at night’ and ‘having an unmanagable ego’. I always perceived him as very intelligent, btw, although perhaps a bit ‘nerdy’ (not necessarily a bad thing, imo).

      I believe hais removal was due to, for lack of a better explanation, a mild coup, with Julia Gilliard being used as the blinded-by-ambition proxy to reverse the trends detailed above. Personally, it had a feeling of familiarity with the Gough Whitlam removal, and I can’t help but note the CIA’s alleged involvemnt. This is reported on in ‘The British-American coup that ended Australian independence’ by John Pilger (available online).

      Back to the present, politically, I believe the Australian public has more sense than most ‘observers’ give us credit for, although we do seem to take everything at face value that is said by our politicians. This may be a weakness, however if reality contradicts what was said, we notice and take action at the polling booths at the soonest available time. Essentially this embodies the Australian principles of ‘giving everyone a fair go’ and ‘keeping the bastards honest’, applied by the public to our politicians.

      Essentially, in my view, the Labour Party led by Kevin Rudd, serving in the Australian public’s best interests, was corrupted by corporate interests and neoliberal ideology, and since then Australian politics has been so opaque in process and transparent in objective, i.e. to impose a neoliberal agenda, that the Australian public are just slowly canvassing the options. Tony Abbott is only a result of the dissatisfaction with the percieved party instability of Labour and the barrage of lies he made while campaigning, which did not take long to become obvious. I always perceived Tony Abbott as extremely intellectually incapable, an empty servant to higher power, and a bully. I also note that before he entered politics, he was trying to work his way up the religious flagpole.

      Of course, corporate interests were always fully behind Tony Abbott, in as much as they knew with him at the helm they could shape the law and regulations to their own interests. We are now witnessing a massive panic by the neoliberals and a large scale disinformation campaign by the corporate press, essentially aimed at chastising the Australian voting public for being greedy and short-sighted. Of course, the media is extremely consolidated in Australia, with Rupert Murdock controlling a large portion, and I note that Abbott took measures to weaken our publically funded ABC and SBS networks (generally presenting truthful information), and formerly worked for Murdock, so there is (was?) a strong relationship there. Murdock may have jumped ships already.

      For those interested, please see the Guardian article titled ‘The rightwing reaction to Queensland shows they want to rule, not govern’ by Jason Wilson, as well as the comments. While there is definitely a significant amount of schadenfreude at Abbott’s demise, I think these comments are representative of the average Australian’s political values, and feelings on the matter of the new Liberal government.

      I apologise for not linking to suggested articles, however in my NC comments reading I have noticed links sometimes cause trouble with moderation, so I have refrained. Also, while I trust NC and may begin commenting here more regularly, I am not so sure about Mish Shedlock’s site, so if anyone who has alredy signed up would repost this there, I would be greatful.

      Lastly, big thanks to Yves and Lambert for all the good work. Cheers!

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I should have commented on the Shedlock post and I didn’t. I sometimes feature posts that are a mixed bag. Shedlock’s post did flag that Tony Abbott’s government is in trouble (yeah!) and that indeed has not been well covered in the US. But Shedlock is a rabid libertarian, and not really up on Oz politics at all, so beyond flagging that this was an undertold story, there was not much value added in his post. Apologies and thanks for your long and informative note.

  5. rusti

    If the Seahawks had won, a Sports Authority in north Seattle was going to stay open an extra three hours to accommodate the predicted demand, Brad Hanson, the store’s manager said. One of the shirts, reading “Back 2 Back,” was certain to be a top seller.

    I was back in Seattle for the holidays after a multi-year absence from the US and was astonished by the cheesy Seahawks merchandise plastered absolutely everywhere from the Olympic Peninsula to Tacoma to the Canadian border. Flags, banners, jerseys, T-shirts, signs on businesses. In conversation with a group of people of any size it was unavoidable to discuss the team and their success.

    It was especially bizarre for my girlfriend who was making her first trip to the US to see the pro sports bread-and-circuses insanity. How do adults feel that their fortunes rise and fall with the success of a football franchise they don’t have any affiliation with? I’m not sure I buy Chomsky’s “Natural outlet for human curiosity” argument either, given that only a minority of fans pay attention to the minutiae.

        1. MartyH

          It’s gotten hard to root for any American Football team at any level. Between head trauma, “privilege”, and the commercialization, it’s less about sports and more about the “entertainment value” (bread and circuses). The mindless analysis of the “best of the superbowl ads” and the hype about the half-time show performers kind of sets the tone for me.

          1. curlydan

            So true. As I prepared to watch the Super Bowl, I thought, “I don’t really like either of these teams. In fact, I don’t really like any team in the NFL besides my hometown team that I mainly like because I’m inundated with local coverage.” I guess if I hadn’t grown up as a diehard Cowboys fan (believe me, I’ve moved on), maybe I could be a Packer fan since they’re community owned. But watching the NFL and its growing dramas and greed shuts down any affection or even caring I have for the teams or the league.

        2. rusti

          I don’t even understand what is “hometown” about it other than the people who shill out for merchandise. The players aren’t locals, the ownership is rarely local, the local jobs with the team are primarily low-paying temp work and are probably more than offset by whatever guarantees were extracted from the taxpayers with the decision to build a stadium instead of a public works project.

          The Chargers’ stadium sold the naming rights to a local company I guess? One that goes to great lengths to avoid paying taxes and fills the ranks with H1B staff to suppress wages.

          1. Ed

            I don’t get this about mass marketed sports either. In an ideal world, sports teams would be owned by local governments. At the very least, the owners should be required to live in the metropolitan areas where the teams play.

            You basically wind up rooting for default in whichever team plays half its games in the stadium closest to where you grew up, but the connection is really very weak.

      1. neo-realist

        In the belly of the beast here, it’s very much about civic duty—-There are a lot of people here that aren’t into football per se, but want to identify with the local winning team because it attracts positive social attention and it is about social obligation, being a good citizen. Geez, if the Seahawks won, we would have been in 12 man hive mind for another 2 months.

    1. GuyFawkesLives

      I AM SOOOOO GRATEFUL THE SEAHAWKS LOST. I couldn’t take it to go through another “12th man” bullshit.

      1. fresno dan

        What happens to the losing team’s Super Bowl championship shirts Guardian (Chuck L)

        “But those T-shirts are still in their boxes. Stacked behind locked doors, the $28 T-shirts, $35 hats and $45 sweatshirts are never going to go on sale. In the coming days, the boxes of clothing, still sealed, are going to be sent to a to-be-determined warehouse, where they will be sorted and shipped overseas to countries where clothing is most needed and the result of Super Bowl XLIX is irrelevant.”

        Shipped to an undisclosed location? Well, at least we know what all those rendition-ed prisoners are wearing

  6. Jim Haygood

    Re NYT article on supplements. This is a statement from Marc Blumenthal of the American Botanical Council [no link; I received this in an email yesterday]:

    We were contacted by the NY Times for a comment on this yesterday, but they did not publish it. We are releasing a statement very soon.

    Here is what we sent to the NY Times reporter:

    The AG’s study is not based on adequate science and its actions are thus premature. The use of DNA barcoding technology for testing of the identity of botanical dietary supplements is a useful but limited technology. DNA testing seldom is able to properly identify chemically-complex herbal extracts as little or no DNA is extracted in many commercial extraction processes. Basing its actions on the basis of only one testing technology from only one laboratory, the NY AG results are preliminary and require further substantiation. Additional testing using microscopic analysis and validated chemical methods should be conducted to confirm the initial results upon which the AG is acting.

    Somebody — either the supplement makers or the AG’s office — is going to end up with egg on their face. A healthy dose of skepticism is always advised when politicians play doctors on TV.

    Follow-up statement from ABC:

    1. Carolinian

      This was discussed on the Newshour and Schneiderman said he was only demanding that the supplement makers prove their claims. He did not say the dna test was definitive.

  7. Robert Callaghan

    Toilet seat economics is one for the shitter.
    Another fine example of cost externalities. .

  8. GuyFawkesLives

    Why is there no anti-war movement? Same reason 14 million Americans can be unlawfully foreclosed upon and not respond with pitchforks and torches to DC. We are now a nation of lambs.

      1. Jill

        I agree with Swanson. Tom Englehart was a primary mover in quashing dissent against Obama and other Democrats. It’s extremely hypocritical of him to even write the article without acknowledging how he played his role in silencing those of us who question all the wars of Obama. He told people to stick with Obama, no matter what. How is it then, that he suddenly feels concern that there is no antiwar movement? He and other Democratic lefty luminaries wanted the anti-war people to shut up. They were effective. Now it’s our fault? No. He helped destroy this movement.

        We’re still here Tom. You owe us an apology and you owe us your help, money and time. Otherwise, you have no right to say anything. You are part of what went wrong. Try making it right, then I’ll listen to you.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Thanks. I didn’t realize Engelhardt had played that role. Unforgivable; I’ll take his stuff with a larger grain of salt in future.
          The problem really goes clear back to Kerry in 2004. Democratic campaigns have played a major role in suppressing the peace movement all along. That’s their job, and just one of many reasons there’s a Green Party.
          I do wonder when more people will catch on, though.

        2. GuyFawkesLives

          Shame on all of you who don’t want to rock the “Democrat” boat. Hello? The Obama administration has overseen the biggest criminal enterprise (financial crimes) and HIS DOJ has not prosecuted anyone. At the same time, Obama has continued these wars beyond the point of no return. I NO LONGER TOW THE DEMOCRAT PARTY LINE BECAUSE I SEE NO HELP TO THOSE OF US WHO GIVE A SHIT ABOUT OUR COUNTRY.

        3. JerseyJeffersonian

          Oh, my, yes.

          I recall a post that ran at TomDispatch from his friend, Rebecca Solnit. It was an unbelievably patronizing put-down of those on the left who would not line up behind Obama that was just dripping with scorn – this after Obama’s numerous betrayals of anything recognizably left. Basically, it was, “Fall in line, ya fuckin’ retards”, as if Rahm Emmanuel had had a sex change. I sent Mr. Englehardt an email in protest against the tone of that post, and got a wishy-washy response on the lines of, “Well, opinions vary on these matters”. Gee, thanks. I now take pretty much everything that comes out of TomDispatch with a grain of salt, reading between the lines for the hippy punching I saw in that odious post from Solnit. Lots of good stuff, but my guard will ever afterwards be up.

          1. vidimi

            i remember that article. i used to read tomdispatch regularly but after the lesser-evilism in 2012 i only venture in once in a while, usually through the links here, and ignore solnit completely.

    1. neo-realist

      No conscription helps considerably. It makes war some other poor guy’s problem to the masses. There were some anti-Iraq war demonstrations during the Bush regime, but nowhere near what we had with the Vietnam War.

      1. curlydan

        Right! Re-instate the draft for 18 year olds with the probability of being picked directly proportional to your parents’ income. No exceptions. No deferments. “War is Over”

        1. neo-realist

          I can see all the “Griswald” families in those SUV’s and lexus cars lining up at the Canadian border, with their darlings hiding in the trunk or under blankets, or the kids out in the open—-family vacation ya know. Mitt would strap Sonny boy on the roof cause he wants some fresh air.

      2. Propertius

        I agree. A large number of Americans now seem to view war as something that “happens to other people” who “volunteered” – even though that “volunteering” may have been motivated by a desire to escape from crushing poverty. I’m with Charlie Rangel on this – bring back the draft with no deferments and no exemptions, so the scions of the wealthy are just as much on the hook as the kids of the poor. The Bush girls should have been on the front line in Fallujah.

        1. jrs

          Pure utopianism. The elite didn’t’ serve in wars equally decades ago, and yet they’re going to now somehow, even though it’s clear the laws don’t apply to them and they control the government. Since that won’t be achieved, what’s the real purpose of pushing the draft?

          Why not at least get a draft where ONLY the elite serve? And the masses don’t have to. May as well. It’s at least as likely to ever happen, and it at least affects those who actually have any control over policy, unlike the hapless citizens.

    2. gordon

      It has been said that the US learned nothing from Vietnam. That’s quite wrong – the US learned two important lessons: (1) don’t conscript middle-class white boys; (2) control the media.

  9. fresno dan

    An economic analyst, Mike “Mish” Shedlock, wrote a blog post to describe how he beat prostate cancer. When laymen and patients write about cancer, they are likely to get some things wrong. Mish’s story is full of typical misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

    He interpreted his experience in his own way and did his own research into the medical literature, something he was not qualified to do. Prostate cancer is a very complex subject, and understanding the implications of published studies for treating patients can be difficult even for experts. In typical Dunning-Kruger fashion, he rejected the advice of his doctors, thinking he could do better.
    Mish’s surgeon strongly recommended surgery, with an estimated price tag of $20,000. His regular doctor recommended radiation therapy, which can be even more expensive and also has a high risk of complications. Mish says he did his own research and found a third option: wait and see. Most doctors would have explained all three options and let the patient participate in the decision. It doesn’t sound like Mish was given the information he needed to give informed consent.

    He chose the surveillance option, but he wasn’t content to just sit back and wait.
    Now, this is a bizarre analysis. The most important fact is that both the doctor and the surgeon gave very, very bad advice by the AUTHOR’s OWN CRITERIA – yet the author thinks the problem is Mish’s self treatment (I agree all the vitamins and what not is useless – BUT it probably isn’t harmful, while the doctor’s advice was) Yet the doctors bad advice (if correctly reported) – advice in direct opposition to what the author says is the best option, is glossed over by the author and not commented upon at all.

    Now, for me – this is what is really wrong nowadays. If this author was serious, he should have called out the doctor and surgeon, and gotten to the bottom of this – maybe even reported them to local medical boards.
    Either fess up that nobody REALLY knows what to do in individual cases of prostate cancer, or if medicine does, than there are consequences when physicians don’t do it.

    1. MartyH

      Faced with the same diagnosis, my surgeon, in fact, included the “wait, monitor, and see” option. He is an almost perfect doctor and things didn’t work out exactly as we all would have liked but I have always been more comfortable with him because he goes through all of the options and theories.

      Unlike Mish, I had the surgery. There are extenuating medical circumstances that largely dictated our course of action. But it was our (my wife’s an my) choice … as it should be.

    2. Vatch

      Interesting article; thanks. For those who don’t (yet) have prostate cancer, it’s probably a very good idea to include tomatoes (especially tomato sauce), soy products such as tofu, hummus (derived from chick peas), and broccoli (or other cruciferous vegetables) in one’s diet. The tomatoes contain lycopene, and the soy beans and chick peas contain genistein, both of which appear to help prevent prostate cancer, and possibly other cancers as well. The broccoli contains precursors of sulphoraphane, which may have anti-cancer properties. It also contains many other beneficial compounds. But don’t overcook your broccoli, because that will destroy much of the anti-cancer compounds

      But I’m not a doctor, so do your own due diligence, including a talk with your own doctor.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s interesting all those organic vegetables should have been part of a healthy diet in the first place, from when you are born till you are finished with your exit interview.

        Sadly, they have been excluded (involuntarily through price-exclusion or food-desert apartheid, or voluntarily through our clean-brain campaign “A washed brain is a clean brain and a good brain.”).

      2. reslez

        Canned tomatoes and tomato sauces are known for extremely high levels of BPA and similar chemicals because of the linings used in the cans. So if you consume tomato sauce make it fresh yourself or avoid canned varieties.

    3. Oregoncharles

      You’re quoting a classic case of medical obscurantism, defending their intellectual territory at all costs.

      Including costs to the patient.

      I’m all for scientific medicine, if we had it. But it’s also essential that patients have effective control over their treatment. Pretending they can’t interpret the evidence is a way to deny them that control.

      Prostate cancer is a case where official medicine had it wrong, promoting overtreatment. Truth is nobody knows, a nasty predicament for both patients and caring physicians. No wonder they’re touchy about it.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Suspects’ faces from DNA.

    “Plastic surgery is for everyone!!!”

    Not frivolous but to hide from Big Bro.

    1. PhilK

      An old Emo Phillips line: “I loaned a friend $10,000 for plastic surgery, and now I don’t know what he looks like.”

      1. James Levy

        When you get to sit right there with the “football” (the command pack for the release of nuclear weapons) and get the insider tour of the airborne Panopticon, you don’t need coke or hookers to feel giddy. Raw power is a very heady thing.

  11. Jill

    Confronting a troll: People do silence others with their cruelty. “It’s a silencing tactic. The message is: you are outnumbered. The message is: we’ll stop when you’re gone. ”

    This happened to me when I began criticizing Obama. It wasn’t just trolls, it was people whom I thought I knew. They ganged up. They were beyond hateful. I was called one name after another, told to shut up. It was scary on line and it was scary in person.

    The other thing I notice is the level of violence that people fantasize about and threaten doing to women. Given the high level of violence against women in this culture those threats are terrifying. Why does disagreeing with a woman cause another person to want to maim, rape or kill her? That is a strange, bizarre response to a difference of thought. Really, you want to cut someone into parts because you don’t like her opinion?

    To me, this shows the depth of hatred towards women in this culture. It’s something taken for granted. We are barely aware of how deep this hatred is, how common it is. Yet it is pervasive, profound and dangerous. Until we will take on this hatred and the willingness to do violence to women, we will remain a horribly ignorant, violent and cruel society.

    1. Vatch

      A less severe version of this phenomenon occurs right here at Naked Capitalism. People who disagree with this site’s conventional views on Ukraine and Russia are shouted down rather harshly. It becomes personal. As I said, it’s less severe than the threats of violence against women, but it’s still bullying. Several people who used to post their opinions a few months ago on the convoluted subjects of Ukraine and Russia no longer do so, and it’s pretty obvious why.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Commentors come and go. It is the nature of blogging that some moderately regular ones disappear. Sometimes they come back, sometimes not.

          1. Vatch

            Yes, people come and go, but I think it’s very likely that some, such as “Murky” and “Abe in NYC”, got tired of being shouted at.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        No, the people in opposition provide evidence and arguments and it is up to those on the other side to engage in an intellectually honest rebuttal or fold. Straw manning, ground-shifting, misrepresting evidence, and other other dishonest argumentation will be shellacked here, and correctly so.

        I don’t know how many times people who are losing an argument because they can’t muster facts and reasoning try to make themselves out to be victims.

        1. Vatch

          Some of the people who attacked Jill about Obama probably thought that she was engaging in straw manning or was failing to provide evidence. So they resorted to bullying, and they probably thought, “rightly so”.

          The issues associated with Ukraine and Russia are very complex, but some people here want everything to be black and white. The world is full of shades of gray, and colors, too. I don’t know how many times people who are losing an argument resort to insults, but it happens a lot. Just one example: Putin’s seizure of Crimea: It was an obvious military venture, and then it was followed up by an election with a percentage almost worthy of North Korea, including a very high turnout, so the result can’t reasonably be blamed on one side boycotting the election. In other words, fraud. Yet people here frequently refer to this as the legitimate choice of the people of Crimea. It was an act of imperial aggression by Putin, just as there have been many acts of imperial aggression by the U.S. When I point out this simple logic, the opposition erupts with rage. The irony, of course, is that if there had been a fair election, the majority very likely would have voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. But the vote would not have been anything close to 96+%.

          1. Vatch

            One other point: it is possible for reasonable people to disagree about some issues. There’s a lot of complexity in the world. Complex events usually have multiple causes and complex explanations.

          2. Vatch

            Another clarification: I’m not complaining about Yves or Lambert, even though they disagree with me about some of these issues. It’s a small number of other people who let their rage get out of control. I’m sorry if I gave the wrong impression.

    2. vidimi

      i think the article, as does just about every other on this subject, conflates trolling with harassing. i used to enjoy trolling on fora when i was younger but trolling meant taking up a contrarian, sometimes controversial, position to expose hypocrisy, fallacy, or just to get an emotional response out of people. the threats the author talks about are just abuse, harassment. using the word ‘troll’ makes one sound hip to teh internets, though.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        No, trolls attack the integrity of writers and internet conversation. Trolling is a deliberately destructive activity, a form of sabotage.

  12. Antifa

    The two-part post on AI and its coming consequences is either new information for you, or a good review of info you’ve already been following. If it’s new, welcome to an unsolvable puzzle. If it’s information you’ve already been keeping up with, welcome to an unsolvable puzzle.

    There being no one who can possibly know — or even think adequately — about how super intelligence will come about, or how it will affect life on this planet, the only possible conclusion any of us can come to at the moment is that we will likely create it in this century, and it will be both amoral and all powerful. Beyond our control, in the same way that we are beyond the control of primates, even though we are close cousins, biologically.

    It doesn’t actually matter a tinker’s damn what any of, or all of, these experts think at the moment about what is coming. They can’t grasp or explicate something that’s beyond human ken, and super intelligence operating at an effective IQ of 13,000 is exactly that.

    I really feel I’d prefer to watch the coming experiment from a safe distance.

    But define safe . . .

    1. neo-realist

      I really feel I’d prefer to watch the coming experiment from a safe distance.

      But define safe . . .


    2. Jagger

      I just can’t call programming a super intelligence. Are mathematical formula’s super intelligence?

      1. Antifa

        Well, of course no one calls programming super intelligence. Programming is what your TV remote does.

        Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) begins — however humbly — when a computer is built with no more programming than it needs to learn by doing, by gathering information and making sense of it, just as the human brain does. This leads directly to self-improving, self-replicating, and self-reinventing by the computer. The thing is, the computer starts out with thousands to millions of times the raw thinking power of the limited human brain, so it goes way, way beyond what we are even capable of thinking about.

        Whether fully matured AGI amounts to consciousness or self awareness is something we all get to find out along the way.

        Oh, yeah. The author of the two-part article didn’t bring it up, but AGI computers will have full access to the full electromagnetic spectrum both for investigating the universe and working with it. From infrared all the way through radio waves to gamma rays, it’s all visible and usable in real time to an AGI computer. Our human senses see only a tiny window on this real universe.

    3. subgenius

      Given that there is no actual functional understanding of intelligence, plus HUMAN intelligence is a result of evolution and embodiment in a living (also lacking a solid definition) biological entity functioning on a rock spinning through space….how do these people think they are going to develop code to mimic it???

      (I speak as somebody who spent a LOT of time in the field in the 90s…the classic AI statement is that it is 10 years away, and has been since the Dartmouth conference back in the mid 50s…)

    4. fresno dan

      One of my favorite blogs is

      Cohen writes:
      “Statement (4) captures the observation that people always believe and act as if their subjective sense of self, aka. the conscious Ego, is running the show. What (4) shares in common with (3) is the de facto assumption that the unconscious mind does not exist. Indeed, is so far as “unconscious” means what it says, it is hard to see how humans could act any other way. But the unconscious mind does exist, a conclusion which can be confirmed by indirect inferences (described in more detail below) and many direct observations made in psychology and the neurosciences.

      In human decision-making, a number of experiments have demonstrated that unconscious brain activation invariably precedes the moment when the conscious self (Ego) thinks it has “made” a decision. Neurologist V.S. Ramachandran (his book “Phantoms in the Brain is great) explains what’s going on:

      You think you are willing the brain to do something, but it’s your brain which is willing you to will. It’s thinking ahead of you, and your so-called thinking is a post-hoc rationalization.

      So you don’t have any free will — that was the implication the philosophers came up with.

      If free will is largely an illusion, if much of human cognition consists of post-hoc rationalizations, we bump up against the idea of hard limits on human behavior, an idea which makes humans very, very uncomfortable, so uncomfortable, in fact, that nearly all such suggestions are immediately rejected, when they are considered at all.”

      We (humans) think of ourselves as having “free will” – that we are not programmed, constrained in HOW we think, and are capable of anything (well, except prosecuting bankers – cause that would just be CRAZY….). I side with the debunkers of free will, and take it even further, perhaps to where only the super cynical can go. Humans make a distinction between living (i.e., wet ware) and non living (silicon) intelligence. It wasn’t that long ago that animal intelligence or emotion was completely discounted (as if human emotions or intelligence just popped out of nowhere). I submit that the difference (either human or animal OR silicon) is not as much as we fancy. It isn’t that our computers will be locked in a certain manner of thinking that is the problem…as much as we are locked into certain manner of thinking…

      Humans are made of matter and machines are made of matter. Our “program” (living evolutionary past) – things like how our neurons translate light signals so that we can INTERPRET the world in 3 dimensions (it is why there are optical illusions), or why humans as social animals and are so agreeable (within their tribe or clan, call it what you will) – runs our brains.

      Human “intelligence” is a by product of evolution. It has evolved with all sorts of intellectual shortcomings. It is of course human vanity that we are the apex of evolution (a profound misunderstanding of the term) and that we are “deserving” of continued existence.

      Cohen again:
      If humans are typically whistling in the dark, only a strong theory of human nature can explain what’s going on. Nurture alone can not possibly explain it. Researcher Tali Sharot has discovered that the brain is “hardwired for hope” (her phrase). Here is the abstract of Sharot’s finding (Nature Neuroscience, 14, 1475–1479, 2011).
      How unrealistic optimism is maintained in the face of reality
      Unrealistic optimism is a pervasive human trait that influences domains ranging from personal relationships to politics and finance.
      How people maintain unrealistic optimism, despite frequently encountering information that challenges those biased beliefs, is unknown. We examined this question and found a marked asymmetry in belief updating. Participants updated their beliefs more in response to information that was better than expected than to information that was worse. This selectivity was mediated by a relative failure to code for errors that should reduce optimism.
      Distinct regions of the prefrontal cortex tracked estimation errors when those called for positive update, both in individuals who scored high and low on trait optimism. However, highly optimistic individuals exhibited reduced tracking of estimation errors that called for negative update in right inferior prefrontal gyrus. These findings indicate that optimism is tied to a selective update failure and diminished neural coding of undesirable information regarding the future.

      Whether most of the mammalian mega fauna on the planet is extinct because of man (I would say it certainly is) or not, the fact remains that species end with a great deal of regularity. If humans end due to AI, (or global warming or nuclear war) I would no more be concerned than when the earth is engulfed by the sun when it turns into a red giant. Or the universe expanding forever until it becomes cold and dark. Or contracts into a hot point. Or neither. That is the future. What would impress me, but reaffirms my view of human behavior, is that humans choose not to do anything about inequality NOW.

      Cohen’s point:
      Of course, humans solution to inequality is this:
      Human reasoning about growth and inequality is circular. Let’s lay out the “argument” because the circularity is not immediately apparent.

      Let X = substantial inequality of wealth and income
      Let Y = economic growth

      (1) X exists at all times (an empirically true premise).

      (2) We need X to achieve Y (to create incentives)

      (3) We need Y to reduce X

      Presented in this stripped down way, I hope the circularity is obvious.

      The confused nature of human thinking on inequality and growth reinforces the conjecture that we are dealing with post-hoc rationalizations of unconscious processes. Human thinking about growth and inequality only appears to be rational within the human frame of reference. Viewed from “outside” this frame of reference, human thinking on these matters is incoherent.

    5. reslez

      Advanced AI would be a great problem to have!

      1) If you look at the timeline these futurists propose, you can see they map almost exactly to climate change predictions. Now which do you think is more likely to impact us — millions of tons of CO2 already in our atmosphere and already impacting life on our world, or a hand-wavy technology that will take multiple, OOM-level leaps of discovery to achieve.

      2) In nature “smart” isn’t free. Which follows directly from thermodynamics. Intelligence requires energy and creates heat. It’s directly dependent on energy inputs and heat management. Runaway intelligence cannot exist. Anything approaching that would be profoundly fragile. 13,000 IQ? Whatever. Under the definition of “narrow” AI in the article a pocket calculator is terrifyingly superior to humans. Google Translate is directly dependent on scraping the results of thousands of human manual translations. It has no self-correction mechanism (this would require a OOM-level leap) and therefore pollutes its own pool of results. I think we have the risk management right on pocket calculators and Google Translate.

      3) Advanced technology requires stability in addition to ever-increasing energy inputs. Neither are likely to be found in our future.

      It would be great if AI were something worth worrying about. Sadly we have bigger and way more immediate problems. That, and a computer’s attention span is only as long as its power cord.

    6. Jeremy Grimm

      Consciousness seems a difficult problem in and of itself, quite apart from the problem of intelligence. I suppose I’ll be accused of anthropomorphizing when I perceive consciousness in other creatures far less gifted of what we consider intelligence. Consciousness seems independent from intelligence. I believe it’s a special module built into the brain of living creatures. I suppose it must drive their actions to assure their survival and reproduction in a world of tooth and claw. I don’t believe consciousness is necessary for building intelligence, nor is it an implicit component of intelligence. I find the notion of consciousness spontaneously arising with intelligence dubious at best. The aspects of survival which drove nature to evolve consciousness simply are not part of efforts to build machine intelligence as such. While I find it credible a computer might someday duplicate aspects of consciousness, I dismiss scenarios combining a super intelligent machine with self-actualization and awareness as highly improbable short of a very deliberate effort to accomplish that end.

      My impression of current AI research is of highly directed efforts to build something along the lines of the Oracle or Genie as described in the post. I doubt efforts to build consciousness receive much if any funding. So to me, the most frightening aspect of the singularity is represented in the marriage of a super-intelligent Oracle or Genie with very human persons using those Oracles or Genies for their very human purposes. I seriously doubt those funding the AI projects are driven by any particularly noble humanitarian intent.

      I also have to agree with subgenius — AI has been going to happen as soon as and for as long as fusion power and the cure for cancer.

    7. Furzy Mouse

      I well know that religion is commendably out of bounds for NC, nonetheless, I just came across this great essay, and offer it as a rebuttal to the link “The AI Revolution” which I found over the top with wide-eyed speculation and hockey-stick graphs…a bit of Narcissus looking in the mirror IMNSHO!!

      Also, as the Dalai Lama states at the conclusion of his talk,”Some modern scholars describe Buddhism not as a religion but as a science of mind, and there seem to be some grounds for this claim.”

      I further suggest that science and technology have become a “religion” for many hard-core materialists, the “AI Revolution” being a choice example!

      What is the Mind?

      By His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Cambridge, MA USA (Last Updated Nov 25, 2014)
      There is little agreement among Western scientists about the nature and function of mind, consciousness—or even about whether such a thing exists. Buddhism’s extensive explanations, however, stand firm after twenty-five centuries of philosophical debate and experiential validation. Here His Holiness the Dalai Lama explains the Buddhist concept of mind to the participants of a Mind Science symposium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, USA.

      From MindScience, edited by Daniel Goleman and Robert F. Thurman, first in 1991 by Wisdom Publications, Boston, USA. Reprinted with permission in the November/December 1995 issue of Mandala, the newsmagazine of FPMT.

      One of the fundamental views in Buddhism is the principle of “dependent origination.” This states that all phenomena, both subjective experiences and external objects, come into existence in dependence upon causes and conditions; nothing comes into existence uncaused. Given this principle, it becomes crucial to understand what causality is and what types of cause there are. In Buddhist literature, two main categories of causation are mentioned: (i) external causes in the form of physical objects and events, and (ii) internal causes such as cognitive and mental events.

      The reason for an understanding of causality being so important in Buddhist thought and practice is that it relates directly to sentient beings’ feelings of pain and pleasure and the other experiences that dominate their lives, which arise not only from internal mechanisms but also from external causes and conditions. Therefore it is crucial to understand not only the internal workings of mental and cognitive causation but also their relationship to the external material world.

      The fact that our inner experiences of pleasure and pain are in the nature of subjective mental and cognitive states is very obvious to us. But how those inner subjective events relate to external circumstances and the material world poses a critical problem. The question of whether there is an external physical reality independent of sentient beings’ consciousness and mind has been extensively discussed by Buddhist thinkers. Naturally, there are divergent views on this issue among the various philosophical schools of thought. One such school [Cittamatra] asserts that there is no external reality, not even external objects, and that the material world we perceive is in essence merely a projection of our minds. From many points of view, this conclusion is rather extreme. Philosophically, and for that matter conceptually, it seems more coherent to maintain a position that accepts the reality not only of the subjective world of the mind, but also of the external objects of the physical world.

      Now, if we examine the origins of our inner experiences and of external matter, we find that there is a fundamental uniformity in the nature of their existence in that both are governed by the principle of causality. Just as in the inner world of mental and cognitive events, every moment of experience comes from its preceding continuum and so on ad infinitum. Similarly, in the physical world every object and event must have a preceding continuum that serves as its cause, from which the present moment of external matter comes into existence.

      In some Buddhist literature, we find that in terms of the origin of its continuum, the macroscopic world of our physical reality can be traced back finally to an original state in which all material particles are condensed into what are known as “space particles.” If all the physical matter of our macroscopic universe can be traced to such an original state, the question then arises as to how these particles later interact with each other and evolve into a macroscopic world that can have direct bearing on sentient beings’ inner experiences of pleasure and pain. To answer this, Buddhists turn to the doctrine of karma, the invisible workings of actions and their effects, which provides an explanation as to how these inanimate space particles evolve into various manifestations.

      The invisible workings of actions, or karmic force (karma means action), are intimately linked to the motivation in the human mind that gives rise to these actions. Therefore an understanding of the nature of mind and its role is crucial to an understanding of human experience and the relationship between mind and matter. We can see from our own experience that our state of mind plays a major role in our day-to-day experience and physical and mental well-being. If a person has a calm and stable mind, this influences his or her attitude and behavior in relation to others. In other words, if someone remains in a state of mind that is calm, tranquil and peaceful, external surroundings or conditions can cause them only a limited disturbance. But it is extremely difficult for someone whose mental state is restless to be calm or joyful even when they are surrounded by the best facilities and the best of friends. This indicates that our mental attitude is a critical factor in determining our experience of joy and happiness, and thus also our good health.

      To sum up, there are two reasons why it is important to understand the nature of mind. One is because there is an intimate connection between mind and karma. The other is that our state of mind plays a crucial role in our experience of happiness and suffering. If understanding the mind is very important, what then is mind, and what is its nature?

      Buddhist literature, both sutra and tantra, contains extensive discussions on mind and its nature. Tantra, in particular, discusses the various levels of subtlety of mind and consciousness. The sutras do not talk much about the relationship between the various states of mind and their corresponding physiological states. Tantric literature, on the other hand, is replete with references to the various subtleties of the levels of consciousness and their relationship to such physiological states as the vital energy centers within the body, the energy channels, the energies that flow within these and so on. The tantras also explain how, by manipulating the various physiological factors through specific meditative yogic practices, one can effect various states of consciousness.

      According to tantra, the ultimate nature of mind is essentially pure. This pristine nature is technically called “clear light.” The various afflictive emotions such as desire, hatred and jealousy are products of conditioning. They are not intrinsic qualities of the mind because the mind can be cleansed of them. When this clear light nature of mind is veiled or inhibited from expressing its true essence by the conditioning of the afflictive emotions and thoughts, the person is said to be caught in the cycle of existence, samsara. But when, by applying appropriate meditative techniques and practices, the individual is able to fully experience this clear light nature of mind free from the influence and conditioning of the afflictive states, he or she is on the way to true liberation and full enlightenment.

      Hence, from the Buddhist point of view, both bondage and true freedom depend on the varying states of this clear light mind, and the resultant state that meditators try to attain through the application of various meditative techniques is one in which this ultimate nature of mind fully manifests all its positive potential, enlightenment, or Buddhahood. An understanding of the clear light mind therefore becomes crucial in the context of spiritual endeavor.

      In general, the mind can be defined as an entity that has the nature of mere experience, that is, “clarity and knowing.” It is the knowing nature, or agency, that is called mind, and this is non-material. But within the category of mind there are also gross levels, such as our sensory perceptions, which cannot function or even come into being without depending on physical organs like our senses. And within the category of the sixth consciousness, the mental consciousness, there are various divisions, or types of mental consciousness that are heavily dependent upon the physiological basis, our brain, for their arising. These types of mind cannot be understood in isolation from their physiological bases.

      Now a crucial question arises: How is it that these various types of cognitive events—the sensory perceptions, mental states and so forth—can exist and possess this nature of knowing, luminosity and clarity? According to the Buddhist science of mind, these cognitive events possess the nature of knowing because of the fundamental nature of clarity that underlies all cognitive events. This is what I described earlier as the mind’s fundamental nature, the clear light nature of mind. Therefore, when various mental states are described in Buddhist literature, you will find discussions of the different types of conditions that give rise to cognitive events. For example, in the case of sensory perceptions, external objects serve as the objective, or causal condition; the immediately preceding moment of consciousness is the immediate condition; and the sense organ is the physiological or dominant condition. It is on the basis of the aggregation of these three conditions—causal, immediate and physiological—that experiences such as sensory perceptions occur.

      Another distinctive feature of mind is that it has the capacity to observe itself. The issue of mind’s ability to observe and examine itself has long been an important philosophical question. In general, there are different ways in which mind can observe itself. For instance, in the case of examining a past experience, such as things that happened yesterday you recall that experience and examine your memory of it, so the problem does not arise. But we also have experiences during which the observing mind becomes aware of itself while still engaged in its observed experience. Here, because both observing mind and observed mental states are present at the same time, we cannot explain the phenomenon of the mind becoming self-aware, being subject and object simultaneously, through appealing to the factor of time lapse.

      Thus it is important to understand that when we talk about mind, we are talking about a highly intricate network of different mental events and state. Through the introspective properties of mind we can observe, for example, what specific thoughts are in our mind at a given moment, what objects our minds are holding, what kinds of intentions we have and so on. In a meditative state, for example, when you are meditating and cultivating a single- pointedness of mind, you constantly apply the introspective faculty to analyze whether or nor your mental attention is single-pointedly focused on the object, whether there is any laxity involved, whether you are distracted and so forth. In this situation you are applying various mental factors and it is not as if a single mind were examining itself. Rather, you are applying various different types of mental factor to examine your mind.

      As to the question of whether or not a single mental state can observe and examine itself, this has been a very important and difficult question in the Buddhist science of mind. Some Buddhist thinkers have maintained that there s a faculty of mind called “self- consciousness,” or “self-awareness.” It could be said that this is an apperceptive faculty of mind, one that can observe itself. But this contention has been disputed. Those who maintain that such an apperceptive faculty exists distinguish two aspects within the mental, or cognitive, event. One of these is external and object-oriented in the sense that there is a duality of subject and object, while the other is introspective in nature and it is this that enables the mind to observe itself. The existence of this apperceptive self-cognizing faculty of mind has been disputed, especially by the later Buddhist philosophical school of thought the Prasangika.

      In our own day-to-day experiences we can observe that, especially on the gross level, our mind is interrelated with and dependent upon the physiological states off the body. Just as our state of mind, be it depressed or joyful, affects our physical health, so too does our physical state affect our mind.

      As I mentioned earlier, Buddhist tantric literature mentions specific energy centers within the body that may, I think, have some connection with what some neurobiologists call the second brain, the immune system. These energy centers play a crucial role in increasing or decreasing the various emotional states within our mind. It is because of the intimate relationship between mind and body and the existence of these special physiological centers within our body that physical yoga exercises and the application of special meditative techniques aimed at training the mind can have positive effects on health. It has been shown, for example, that by applying appropriate meditative techniques, we can control our respiration and increase or decrease our body temperature.

      Furthermore, just as we can apply various meditative techniques during the waking state so too, on the basis of understanding the subtle relationship between mind and body, can we practice various meditations while we are in dream states. The implication of the potential of such practices is that at a certain level it is possible to separate the gross levels of consciousness from gross physical states and arrive at a subtler level of mind and body. In other words, you can separate your mind from your coarse physical body. You could, for example, separate your mind from your body during sleep and do some extra work that you cannot do in your ordinary body. However, you might not get paid for it!

      So you can see here the clear indication of a close link between body and mind: they can be complementary. In light of this, I am very glad to see that some scientists are undertaking significant research in the mind/body relationship and its implications for our understanding of the nature of mental and physical well-being. My old friend Dr. Benson [Herbert Benson, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School], for example, has been carrying out experiments on Tibetan Buddhist meditators for some years now. Similar research work is also being undertaken in Czechoslovakia. Judging by our findings so far, I feel confident that there is still a great deal to be done in the future.

      As the insights we gain from such research grow, there is no doubt that our understanding of mind and body, and also of physical and mental health, will be greatly enriched. Some modern scholars describe Buddhism not as a religion but as a science of mind, and there seem to be some grounds for this claim.

  13. Squirrels of War

    I don’t put the seat down because I’m a gentleman. I put the lid down because I know how many aerosolized particles a toilet creates with every flush.

    It’s also why I keep my toothbrush in the medicine cabinet.

  14. fresno dan

    Remembrance of Wars Past, Why There Is No Massive Antiwar Movement in America Tom Engelhardt
    With last June’s collapse of the American-trained and -armed Iraqi army and recent revelations about its 50,000 “ghost soldiers” in mind, here’s Stone on the Laotian army in January 1961: “It is the highest paid army in Asia and variously estimated (the canny Laotians have never let us know the exact numbers, perhaps lest we check on how much the military payroll is diverted into the pockets of a few leaders) at from 23,000 to 30,000. Yet it has never been able to stand up against handfuls of guerrillas and even a few determined battalions like those mustered by Captain Kong Le.”

    * On ISIS’s offensive in Iraq last year, or the 9/11 attacks, or just about any other development you want to mention in our wars since then, our gargantuan bureaucracy of 17 expanding intelligence outfits has repeatedly been caught short, so consider Stone’s comments on the Tet Offensive of February 1968. At a time when America’s top commander in Vietnam had repeatedly assured Americans that the Vietnamese enemy was losing, the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front (the “Vietcong”) launched attacks on just about every major town and city in South Vietnam, including the U.S. Embassy in Saigon: “We still don’t know what hit us. The debris is not all in Saigon and Hue. The world’s biggest intelligence apparatus was caught by surprise.”

    * On our drone assassination and other air campaigns as a global war not on, but for — i.e., to recruit — terrorists, including our present bombing campaigns in Iraq and Syria, here’s Stone in February 1968: “When the bodies are really counted, it will be seen that one of the major casualties was our delusion about victory by air power: all that boom-boom did not keep the enemy from showing up at Langvei with tanks… The whole country is slowly being burnt down to ‘save it.’ To apply scorched-earth tactics to one’s own country is heroic; to apply it to a country one claims to be saving is brutal and cowardly… It is we who rally the people to the other side.” And here he is again in May 1970: “Nowhere has air power, however overwhelming and unchallenged, been able to win a war.”

    After we had the good sense to surrender … Whoops, uh, I mean after we ensured peace with honor, and left Southeast Asia to its own devices, the world did not succumb to COMMUNISM….I wonder if we left the mideast if the world won’t succumb to terrorism or Islamism or whatever…

    1. James Levy

      Because these conflicts take place far away and Americans like to believe whatever flatters them, the reality of just how mediocre we’ve fought since the Chinese entered the Korean War and kicked our asses is completely invisible, unthinkable, to the American people. Firepower and a limitless flow of ammo has bailed the American military out time and time again, but with few exceptions (mostly, ironically, in Vietnam) the troops has been cautious and unimaginative–hell, they had to call in emergency reinforcements because our “elite” airborne paratroopers couldn’t keep to the timetable against a handful of Cuban construction workers armed with AK-47s in Grenada! The bluff of “world’s greatest soldiers” (how would you know that, editors at The Atlantic magazine?) can only be maintained by picking patsies, bombing the crap out of them, then storming in with overwhelming force. And thankfully the fear that the bluff will be called goes some way in keep the US from taking on a serious opponent.

      1. fresno dan

        I agree….but I would one up you. There are Americans who think we won WWII, and not the Russians…

        1. vidimi

          i think any way you slice it, america won ww2. russia may have dealt the killing blow to germany, but not only did the war continue until japan capitulated, but america found itself in a position of unprecedented wealth and influence after the war, the real measure of ‘winning’.

          what is more curious is that most americans seem to think america won ww1. that one is a little more difficult to parse, even though by the second measure above, it’s also true.

  15. Bill Frank

    Saudi Oil Is Seen as Lever to Pry Russian Support From Syria’s Assad New York Times.
    In effect, isn’t this a validation of what many believed from the outset? Economic warfare directed at Russia. Together with other “sanctions,” this constitutes the second front in that war. Direct involvement in the Ukraine is front number one. Shortly, approval for “defensive” weaponry will be provided to the neo-nazi Ukrainian regime that we shuffled into power. This is going to get very nasty.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Far fewer terror attacks now than in the 1970’s.

    We are doing a pretty good job.

    You will not likely see another kidnapping of OPEC ministers again.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    You should be ecstatic.

    Today Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Love, tomorrow Superintelligence and Superlove.

    “I want my Superlove.”

    Beef: Man does not live by intelligence alone. Man is not defined by intelligence alone either.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A Deal to Bring Modernity to Greece.

    At first, that menacing title seems a little scary, a little threatening, but actually the article is not bad. From it:

    But, in the end, they need to convince their partners they are serious about reforms.


    If Greece wants to be something quite different, that is its right. But it should leave. Yes, the damage would be considerable and the result undesirable. But an open sore would be worse

    But which nation does not need serious reforms, even the empire? If imperial adventures are wasteful public spending and if surveillance is corrupting, are we not all Greek?

    And rather than some day in the future having outsiders dictate necessary reforms, should we not reform ourselves in the first place?

    But that’s for the future. Right now, we have to ask why the damage from Grexit is considerable. Is it because Greece will leave while Germany stands by watching, doing nothing? Or is it still quite damaging even if Germany helps with organizing the exit? Can the US help with an organized exit, with some sort of assistance, seeing that one of our own (ashamed to admit it) helped Greece get into this trap in the first place. Remember, we do have the global reserve currency and we can print as much as we want.

  19. carping demon

    US Officials Blow The Whistle On Secret CIA, Mossad Assassination Plot

    “tactic[s] considered by many to be a ‘terrorist act’, are probably not uncommon.”

    Not uncommon. Got it.

  20. EmilianoZ

    Not only should men leave the toilet seat down, they should also pee seated so as not to risk soiling the seat with their errant streams.

    1. hunkerdown

      I had my first experience of a Jimmy John’s men’s room today. Their mock-quirky sign that comes to mind is “Bitte im Sitzen Pinkle” or something like that… with man in chair on right side of sign micturiting into a commode on the left side of the sign.

      *Picard facepalm*

  21. JTFaraday

    re: “Good news, guys: Economists use math to show that it’s OK to leave the toilet seat UP!” Daily Mail

    Don’t leave the toilet seat up.

  22. GuyFawkesLives

    ****BREAKING NEWS****

    A NY Appellate court today held in a foreclosure case that
    “…the Hermans established, prima facie, that MERS was never the holder of the note and was without authority to assign the note…”

    The walls are crumbling down……..

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