Links 2/6/15

Owl attacks joggers and steals their hats Guardian (YY)

Michigan man abandons truck, clothes, walks up highway wearing only a cowboy hat Yahoo (Chuck L)

Company To Experiment With Valuing Employees Onion

Coca-Cola pulls Twitter campaign after it was tricked into quoting Mein Kampf Guardian (Kurt Sperry, furzy mouse, Dr. Kevin). Personally, I think this is terrific. The relentless promotion of the idea that we should be happy all the time (and American-form happy, which is giddy) and that consumption is an easy way to find happiness is a cultural disease. Go Gawker!

Emoticons in texts can rack up huge bills BBC (furzy mouse)

Robots Learning to Cook by Watching YouTube Videos IEEE (Chuck L)

How RadioShack Helped Build Silicon Valley Wired (Chuck L)

Why Google Glass Broke New York Times (David L)

What If You Could Prevent Alzheimer’s? Daily Beast (David L). It is very clear Alzheimers is environmental, yet there has been a bizarre reluctance to look at this notion (although this article sort of gets at that). Throughout history, some people lived into their 80s and 90s. Yet nowhere in biographies, other histories or fiction do you see descriptions of the sort of personality loss and eventual extreme loss of memory that you see with Alzheimers. It’s not at all the same as plain old senility.

Devaluation by China is the next great risk for a deflationary world Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Early Look: Deflation Clouds Loom Over China’s Economy WSJ China Real Time

Is the $1tn China carry trade imploding? Financial Times


ECB cancels soft treatment of Greek debt in warning to Athens Paul Mason, BBC (pietro gori)

ECB collateral damages on Greece

Greece should bail-in the eurozone Frances Coppola, Financial Times

Linked in Free Exchange

Here’s what happens next in Greece’s debt drama Business Insider

Draghi: Let’s Turn this Bank Run into a Stampede Peter Dorman

Greece didn’t fail, but the EU’s debt moralising did Bangkok Post (furzy mouse) Bruegel

Banking inquiry told guarantee decision was ‘insane Irish Times (martha r). Not news per se. The enormous self-inflicted wound of the taxpayer bailout of Irish banks was completely unnecessary since there was no state guarantee. This was forced upon Ireland by the Troika to fob off the insolvency of Depfa, which has been purchased by German Hypo Bank in October 2007, on the Irish public. My recollection is that this act depended critically on the cooperation of the head of the Irish central bank, who was currying favor in the hope of getting a EU-level position.


New Ukraine peace push launched BBC

Chomsky and Kissinger: Don’t Increase US Military Involvement in Ukraine Alternet (YY)

War-torn Ukraine’s currency collapses Financial Times (furzy mouse)

Ukraine Report Creates Conflict Within Brookings Institution DWright (Firedoglake)

Columnist in ‘Russia’s FT’ tells readers to pull their money out of banks and convert it to dollars now
Business Insider

Putin has ‘some form of autism’ Pentagon experts conclude, after watching videos of him Independent (YY). This would be funny if it weren’t also so pathetic. Will we next be told that Putin thinks fava beans and chianti are the perfect accompaniment for human liver?


Jordan’s IS raids ‘just the start’ BBC

In Iran, Nuclear Deal Is Hotly Debated Wall Street Journal

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Afghanistan War Is Still Raging—but This Time It’s Being Waged by Contractors Nation (furzy mouse)

US Military Lost $400 Million Worth Of Weapons In Yemen John Vibes, AntiMedia

CIA Mission: Destroy the Whistleblower, Perfume the Stench of ‘Operation Merlin’ Norman Solomon, Firedoglake

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Why the US Government Is Terrified of Hobbyist Drones Wired (Chuck L)

Federal Government Set To Crack Down On Drug Courts That Fail Addicts Huffington Post

Senators Introduce Bill Mandating Formation Of For-Profit College Oversight Committee Consumerist

S&P and the Puffery Defense Cathy O’Neil

Just How Dead Is the Private-Label MBS Market? Adam Levitin, Credit Slips


Oil companies put Arctic projects into deep freeze Financial Times Another environmental bonus from cheap oil.

Class Warfare

The Billionaires at Burning Man Bloomberg

“Progressive” Gentrification: One Community’s Struggle Against Affordable Housing Truthout

Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Teach for America New York Times. So it’s getting harder to find scabs?

A Man You’ve Never Heard of Saved Your Life George Washington

Antidote du jour. KDMPF: “Look, she ran of toner”:

russian blue momcat links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Ned Ludd

      Did you read Malamud’s article to the end?

      As an English professor, I find it exciting to consider the possibilities for a new voice, a new style, a new writerly consciousness that may accompany and chronicle the winding down of our sound and fury. […]

      Cervantes achieved this in Don Quixote toward the end of Spain’s Golden Age, as did T. S. Eliot in “The Waste Land,” his report from the front lines of the cultural disintegration that accompanied the collapse of European imperialism and the War to End All Wars: “These fragments I have shored against my ruins.”

      On a personal level, we have lately begun to do a better job of dying, and of accepting death — writing “death plans,” forsaking heroic measures of resuscitation. So too as a species we may learn to accept the inescapability of our impending ecological fate.

      Randy Malamud is excited about entering a period that he hopes will compare to the barbarism of World War I – because it will produce better reading material. He preaches about doing “a better job of dying, and of accepting death”, knowing (or hoping) that the Regents’ Professor of English at Georgia State University and chair of the department will have the luxury of dieing well, while others fight over meager scraps to survive.

      The author is depraved.

      1. Jef

        The author is excited about writers writing about what is really going on instead of mindless optimism, wishy washy hopeeness, and outright denial. He is also excited that people might even read it.

        1. Ned Ludd

          On a personal level, we have lately begun to do a better job of dying, and of accepting death — writing “death plans,” forsaking heroic measures of resuscitation. So too as a species we may learn to accept the inescapability of our impending ecological fate.

          Accept death, just as Homo sapiens must accept “our impending ecological fate” and forsake heroic measures. Not the words of someone concerned about stopping the coming horrors. These are words of apathy, acquiescence, and acceptance.

          1. Jef

            Those comments he made are directed to the very real fact that we all DIE! Where as most commentary boils down to “I haven’t died yet therefore I probably never will” type of logic.

            Not sure why this grates on you so much?

          2. tim s

            Accepting that death is a part of life and facing it with honor and dignity is something that we have culturally lost and I agree that it is good to regain that. There is a huge difference between a cowardly acceptance and a courageous stand. In the face of what many of us face, an awareness and acceptance of (the possibly imminent) death may be the source of the needed courage

  1. Ben Johannson

    As a very young man I spent five years teaching children with autism, so I feel compelled to say the “story” of Putin being remotely diagnosed with autism is nothing less than a fabrication. The story provides no diganostic criteria whatsoever, the body of the text simply assuming the conclusion. Having watched Putin myself, I judge he responds to verbal interactions fluidly, makes eye contact easily and appears quite at ease in social situations. If this man had a case of autism significant enough to diagnose via television, he wouldn’t be able to fake it.

    1. ambrit

      True. Phyllis taught, or performed, if you will, art therapy for ‘damaged’ children at a facility for such. The autistic kids were noticeable in their behaviours. Most of them were expected to have to live with relatives or in quasi institutional settings for life. None of those kids I saw could have managed to succeed in Kremlin politics.
      The take away from this, and the other “news” items being planted in our wretched excuse for a MSM now, is that Mr. Putin is, if anything, handling the no longer subtle “death threats” from the West with admirable skill and aplomb. The Western neo-liberal power structure is like the taunting bully in the school yard who, when the chosen ‘victim’ refuses to rise to the bait, doubles down on the provocation. This would all be an item of some interest, but not crucial in any way except for the fact that Russia has the second largest strategic nuclear arsenal in the world. I’m convinced that Putin could handle even something as stupid as the introduction of Theatre Nuclear weapons into Eastern Europe. It’s his subordinates, and the mid level commanders in the field I worry about. All atomic forces have very strict protocols concerning the warheads in their control. Unfortunately, as the mares nest of post Glasnost Soviet atomic materials handling has shown, no system is perfect. The Pentagon is playing with literal fire.

    2. LucyLulu

      Most of the stories are saying the Pentagon claims he has ‘Asperger’s’ vs. Autism. I realize Asperger’s has been removed from DSM V in favor of Autism Spectrum Disorder but the point remains that the claim is he has a mild case. I agree with you still though. He doesn’t look Asperger’s either.

      1. diptherio

        It’s slander, pure and simple. They want to pick a fight with Putin and so they start talking trash. “He’s got Autism…and he wants to take over the world!” It’s a tale as old as time. Anyone who gives this story any credence at all is…well…being a tad naive, but put it nicely.

        1. TedWa

          Agree. Obomba has been after Putin for about a year, ever since he stood in the way of his plans on launching a new war in Syria by not voting for intervention with NATO. Yes, the US will stoop to any despicable plan to get their will – like a brat that didn’t get it’s way and holds grudges. World class temper tantrum.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        People with Aspergers can’t even make eye contact and they have trouble with conversations. The ones I have met are not linear, at least in their interactions. There is no way anyone with Aspergers could function in any high level administrative position, much the less survive in the KGB.

        1. Hacker

          I have Asperger’s and I can make eye contact, but it is not easy and sometimes I lose everything else that is going on in my head as I struggle to read the person’s face and eyes. I’m better off not making contact and listening words and observing action in order to make judgments. I rarely can make eye contact and actually speak coherently at the same time.

          I was involved in school government in college, but had to give it up when I couldn’t handle the manipulative side of politics. Great ideas, drive and enthusiasm cannot sustain a modern political career where mass media is constantly trying to dumb the voters down and the real action happens in back rooms. I don’t think Russia is any different in that regard.

        2. Michael Hudson

          In America, I think that to say someone has asperger’s syndrome means that they’re very smart but you don’t like them.
          Yves is right: aspergers people are abstract, not “people persons.” They have little judgment of people, and hence could not possibly be a successful politician.

          1. Propertius

            So what they’re really saying is “Putin is smarter than Obama”? I should think that would be obvious. ;-)

          2. Optimader

            ” They have little judgment of people, and hence could not possibly be a successful politician.”
            Well, I have to say Michael Burry pretty well judged the collective judgement of the best Goldman Sachs had to offer when he punked them on CDS

        3. Andrea1

          Putin is the very opposite of an autistic person.

          He is highly emphatic, even graced with sympathy and understanding of others to a considerable degree, and extremely socially adept. He is also insecure in some ways. This insecurity he himself understands. Insecurity in the anglo-schema is something to be overcome (upping self-esteem, therapy, force of will, etc.) but it isn’t so, although Putin himself applied a self-defense strategy by going into martial arts as a boy. It is a positive quality – it means one understands oneself, others and the world and that all are imperfect and that we must struggle along. It dampens hate and anger and promotes caution, while leaving the core will free to act. Many ppl who are highly successful in complicated, challenging or even dangerous fields have this quality.

          But I’m perhaps prejudiced, as I have known ppl like him.

          Some photos:

        4. Propertius

          It’s also hard to imagine someone with an ASD successfully competing in a contact sport like Judo, as Putin did for many years (since his early teens, I believe). I know that my autistic nephew would find that level of physical contact intolerable.

          1. Hacker

            Autism and ASD include sensory integration issues, but not all the same ones for each person. My son with Asperger’s prefers sweat pants and won’t wear jeans, whereas I hate loose pants like slacks and sweats and prefer tight jeans. So the contact issue alone isn’t reason to rule it out.

            The main issue to overcome is normally functioning mirror neurons, without which the wheeling and dealing of politics is too much.

            Most of the challenges with autism and control has to do with the sensory integration issues and is usually misunderstood by clinicians who themselves have issues around control since their ASD patients don’t blindly follow their orders. The world is our senses, and ASD folks live in a different world than neurotypicals. I believe that any literature that suggests that ASD folks are in general or often authoritarian is deeply flawed.

            Therefore the assessment on Putin having ASD is wrong from an understanding of ASD.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      It reminds me of a VERY old Saturday Night Live skit with Buck Henry as a call-in talk show host. When no one called in, he kept escalating the outrageousness of his topics, eventually getting to something about dead puppies and Russian soldiers.

      I have no doubt that there are fava beans and chianti in our “news” futures. And I suspect it will be Brian Williams who “remembers” getting the dinner invitation.

      1. Antifa

        Dr. Lecter was just making a little joke when he said that fava beans line. All in good fun.

        Unless a census taker’s gone missing . . . ?

        It was Lecter’s way of saying that he wasn’t taking the standard MAOI meds of that era for his, umm, condition. Not like meds would have helped. Remember, they gave him a huge dose of truth serum once and he simply recited back a recipe to mock them.

        No, the real fun of the fava beans scene lies is speculating whether Clarice got his meaning instantly and simply ignored it as more verbal flak — or did his jest fly right over her head? Dr. Lecter knew instantly which it was, whether she passed or failed his subtle test of her wit, and her true talents for the profiling career she was so avidly pursuing.

    4. ChuckO

      Count me among those who think that this is pure propaganda. I’m just surprised that the Pentagon hasn’t accused Putin of something really heinous, like being a pedophile.

      1. Andrea1

        What is noteworthy is that the attacks on Putin are all on his persona: authoritarian dictator, irrational, now autistic, and so on.

        The usual ammunition the tabloids love is held back. There have been no (or few, none extraordinary, “stunning”, not taken up widely) MSM articles about his divorce and his new GF, mind you the Telegraph maybe, I don’t read it, her job (what she actually does), nor about some of his close ties, nor, btw, his daughters. This signals to me an extreme degree of caution. It also leaves only one avenue open, his character, therefore the extremes about autism, etc.

        Some years ago he was accused of pedophilia. (Google will provide.)

      2. JerseyJeffersonian

        Or maybe even being gay!

        Oh, wait, that would cause conflict with past propaganda. Unless they could get us to believe that he’s a self-loathing gay.

        There, that would remove the conflict with all of the previous propaganda from around the time of the Olympics. Whew. That was close.

        On second thought, maybe they should stick with accusations that he abuses dogs, and cats, in fact all the animals Americans keep as pets. You can just see it in his eyes… Two-Minute Hate? Bucko, they’re shooting for Unquenchable Hate.

      3. I.G.I.

        CIA considered making a video of Saddam sodomizing boys so I wouldn’t be surprised if something in these lines is in the wings regarding Putin.

    5. cwaltz

      I wonder if they called in Frist to diagnose him. We all know that guy is an expert at video diagnosis. ;)

  2. Dino Reno

    Yesterday the German press dismisses Russian alliance with Greece to bolster the their economies? That didn’t take long to be wrong.

    Gee, why would the corporate EU press be so negative on this development? It’s only their worst nightmare.
    The Greeks still need to figure out a way to crash Mr. Stock Market 10% plus to get their deal done. Think! Think!

    On the Alternate article on Kissinger and Chomsky being separated at birth over Ukraine. The whole premise of this article is ridiculous. Not one mention of Regime Change in Russia which is the whole point of this Cold War exercise! Add that simple objective to the discussion and what happens on the ground in Ukraine becomes collateral damage of the most desired kind. This is much, much more than an accidental in-your-face expansion of NATO kind of deal.
    Ukraine is Russia’s “Precious.” We targeted Ukraine to forment revolution in Russia. If Kissinger still wonders what the end game is in Ukraine, he needs to take a pill or he’s being very cute and coy. Chomsky obviously knows better, but won’t say or it was edited out to fit the forbidden love angle of the piece.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I dismissed that in my post on Greece today, or more accurately, the assumption that this means much re Greece’s relationship with Russia beyond a nice hand wave. Please read the post, which in fairness went up after Links. That story means just about bupkis on a practical level.

      1. Dino Reno

        I agree it means bupkis on a practical level, in the here and now, but the Greeks need to create the perception that they are ready to leave the reservation and align with the West’s common enemy on many levels including the sacred strategic subject of natural gas. The bear sticking its nose under the tent where it doesn’t belong won’t be taken lightly. This is one of the two red hot buttons that the Greeks need to push to get their deal done. They know what they’re doing. Now they need to tank the market. They will need to keep pounding on these two buttons until they get a favorable response from the EU. Reasonable negotiations over the debt is a dead letter.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Um, they joined the EU in the sanctions. Greece is NOT leaving the EU even if it does wind up leaving the Eurozone. This is just not happening and everyone knows that Greece is just posturing.

      2. JerseyJeffersonian

        Considering that Russia just inked a deal with Turkey – another NATO member – that screws with US/EU schemes, I don’t think that they can afford to be too sanguine about what is possible for Russia to do. If Greece became the entry point for a new pipeline as a consequence of the Russo-Turkish deal, after South Stream came to grief over EU intransigence about their “energy plan”, some EU members may begin rethinking their loyalties to the Brussels Boyz too-clever-by-half schemes. If further Bankster-contrived foolishness forced the Greeks to exit the Euro, perhaps also the EU and NATO memberships might come into question.

        While Bulgaria might be so well fixed that they can lightly turn down all of those lovely transit fees, under this scenario, maybe Greece could take them. Let’s dream a little…Greece makes a grand exit, and tells the EU that they can build whatever new connector pipeline they wish to their border, where the terminus of the Turkish/Russian pipeline would now be located. Turkey expands their influence westward, Russia is back as a player in the Balkans, Greece gets a piece of the action. Hmm. Maybe China might like a piece of the action, too. A Pivot to the West. Oops, I misspoke: another part of the New Silk Road. And Germany’s MittelEuropa project begins to look a bit less attractive. Of course, they’d still have debt peonage, grasping mercantilism, and Gastarbeiter slots to offer as a consolation prize to the ravaged peons, so maybe they’d still be a playah. But, should they wish to hook up to the border terminus point, gas would be coming to the southern tier nations and eastern Europe through the NovoSouthStream pipeline, so that leverage would be reduced. Maybe some of those Mediterranean nations wouldn’t mind being an entrepot on the New Silk Road either, kinda like the good ol’ days in Venice, Genoa, etc. Maybe even France might want to get involved; they were always fond of chinoiserie.

        MacKinder’s World Island coming into being. Seems a little dated, until you reflect on the efficiency of intercontinental rail transport in a world of energy constrictions on fossil fuel availabilities.
        (Pay particular attention to the section “Strategic Importance of Eastern Europe”. Click on the map and think geostrategically. How does fomenting chaos in the Ukraine play into this?)

        A guy can dream, can’t he?

    2. Jack

      “We targeted Ukraine to forment revolution in Russia.”

      That’s working out great, what with Putin having his highest approval ratings ever.

  3. Swedish Lex

    Wondering if it would make sense for Greece to introduce capital controls over the weekend.
    Greeks would not be happy, but would not hurt the man in the street.
    Would presumably slow down a lot of outflows and the hemorrhaging of Greek banks (and the central bank). Why wait until the Greek Central Bank has a huge credit/debt to the ECB for the Emergency financing that the Greek Central Bank is now drawing on?

    1. Jim Haygood

      You tryin’ to start a bank run? Just kidding … we’ve got the ECB to do that!

      Traditionally, devaluations were always done on weekends. Bruce Krasting took the SNB severely to task for unpegging the franc on a Thursday morning, vaporizing legions of day traders and some of their brokers too.

      In balance sheet terms, capital flight means deposit liabilities of Greek banks (which earn positive carry) get replaced with ELA debt (probably with near-zero or even negative carry, at 1.55% cost). This in turn cripples the banks’ income, meaning they can’t earn their way of the hole they’re in.

      All Greeks need do is to review the history of the Cyprus banking crisis, which may serve as a template for this round of the Greek banking crisis.

      1. Swedish Lex

        So, better than to watch a fast bank jog turn into a full run while the Greek government in parallel is negotiating with Zyborg Schäuble is to introduce capital controls now?

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Agreed, in fact if I can find time, I want to review my posts on Cyprus, since we did cover it in pretty gory detail.

        FWIW, I never thought in my wildest dreams it would be relevant for Greece. Cyprus looked to be a special case, between the massive size of its banking sector relative to GDP, and the deliberate misrepresentation of the role it played relative to Russia. It had the smell of less reputationally controversial banking centers like Luxembourg somehow having gotten someone to take advantage of Cyprus going a bit wobbly for commercial advantage. Sure, there was some Russian money laundering, but the big transactions, and thus the bulk of the activity, was non-Russian companies using Cyprus as the place where they did direct investments into Russia so they would have access to English law courts in the case of disputes. It seemed like a very specific fact set that would not be repeated. Naive me.

        1. Swedish Lex

          Capital controls would probably at first be interpreted as extremely drastic, given the political dramaturgy, but the ECB’s escalation plus the hostile signals of other euro member states (not all, but some) could make the case for capital controls making sense at this point.

          With controls in place, Greece would not have to do it later (obviously), meaning that if the Drachma eventually has to be reintroduced, capital controls would already have been in place for quite some time (months?).

          A way for Greece to show it means business while keeping options open.

        2. Jim Haygood

          The Economist picks up the Cyprus theme, accompanied by a highly provocative photo of depositors lined up at a Bank of Cyprus branch a couple of years ago. The caption reads, ‘The last time someone messed with Draghi.’ An excerpt from the text:

          The ECB has form. In 2013 it announced that it would stop authorising the extension of ELA to Cypriot banks within days unless Cyprus entered a rescue programme to ensure their solvency. That forced the Cypriot government to accept a controversial bail-out programme.

          A threat to cut off ELA also forced Ireland into a rescue programme in 2010. Even a decision to cap ELA could have a dramatic effect, since it would be likely to trigger capital controls and limits on withdrawals from banks.

          The first rule of ELA [Euthanasia and Liquidation Assistance] club is, you don’t talk about ELA club. Then you’re dead, and you can’t talk about it.

              1. Swedish Lex

                This is where Syriza has a clear mandate from the Greek electorate to simply say “no” to the ECB, unlike Cyprus and unlike Ireland. Plus the support, pretty much, of the people in Europe and, other individuals like, the President of the United States.

                Obama is clearly not happy with how his European/NATO allies in Europe are (not) handling the situations over here; Greece, growth, Ukraine, Syria, etc. I suppose that the Americans will not permit Schäuble to blow up Greece and Europe and the global economy simply because a bunch of economically illiterate Germans believe it is “right” to do so accoring to their weird set of beliefs.

                But I have been wrong before.

  4. Jim Haygood

    SSDD, comrades:

    A drone strike, on Jan. 31, destroyed a car in Shabwah Province, in southern Yemen, killing four [Al Qaeda] members who were inside. One of them, the statement said, was Harith al-Nadhari, an ideologue who had publicly praised the attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The group attributed the drone strike to the United States military.

    The Houthis, though bitter enemies of Al Qaeda, have publicly opposed American drone strikes in Yemen. But they have apparently done nothing to interfere with the strikes since they took de facto control last month, and the American military has said the strikes will continue.

    Free speech — don’t attempt it away from home!

    Leaders of foreign tyrannies allies change, but the Peace Laureate’s superb marksmanship never varies.

    The drone strikes will continue until stability improves.

    1. Jagger

      From: Why the US Government Is Terrified of Hobbyist Drones—“officials from the US military, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FAA gathered for a DHS “summit” on a danger that had been consuming them privately for years: the potential use of hobbyist drones as weapons of terror or assassination.”

      So when “they” hypothetically use drones, they are weapons of terror or assassination. So what is it called when we actually, not hypothetically, drone “them” everyday for the last 10 years or so? The cognitive dissonance is just painful.

      1. David Mills

        Bullies can dish it out but can’t take it. There are commercially available drones with a payload capacity adequate for a small pipe bomb or shaped charge munition. Hell, there was a program on how shaped charges are made – so the information is not too hard to assemble. Couple all that with remotes that have a 500m range – TASTY.

  5. Jim Haygood

    If this were a Harvard Business School case study, how would we advise?

    Kansas is considering a corner of the municipal-bond market most states have come to avoid because of its risk—a $1.5 billion sale of so-called pension bonds to boost returns at the state retirement system.

    “Pension-obligation bonds, given near historically low interest rates, are an increasingly good option to manage debt,” said Jeff King, a Republican and vice president of the state Senate.

    Initial plans call for selling 30-year bonds at a rate below 5% and reaping pension-fund returns of 8%, according to state and pension-fund officials.

    Poor Jeff King fails to understand that low borrowing interest rates must imply correspondingly low returns on investments. His 8% assumed returns are an artifact of the late 20th century, when bonds delivered 6%, stocks 10%, and a blend of both about 8%.

    No more. Barclays Aggregate bond index yields 2%, a good forecast of its future return. From their current 95th percentile high valuation, stocks are likely to return about 2% annually over the next 10 years, according to Dr. Hussman. Blend stocks and bonds, you still get about 2%.

    Pay 5% to earn 2%, and what happens? It’s what the late Jane Jacobs (in a different context) used to call ‘transactions of decline.’

    1. craazyman

      Isn’t the Land of Oz in Kansas? It’s good to see dudes thinking creatively about making money.

      If I was a Professer of High-Return Investing at the HBS I’d say sell as many bonds as he can and buy Gold. He can dig a big hole in a wheat field and bury it there. Nobody can fck with it, lend it, lease it or even look at it.

      In 10 years he can dig it up, sell it and be a Wizard!

      Everybody in Kansas can get rich together. That’s the way it should be.

      Waiting will be the hardest part.

      1. craazyboy

        Right, why take investment risk? Some Wall Street crook will just steal it all from ya. Just sell state general obligation bonds and pay out the proceeds to retirees. If Greece can do it, Kansas can do it.

        1. craazyman

          Or they could invest in Greek stocks. At some point, Greece has to be a 10 bagger from here. Russia too. I can’t believe all this madness will go on for much longer.

          People would say that isn’t prudent though. They’d also say buying gold and burying it in a wheatfield is, at best, eccentric, and at worst, flagrantly incongruous with fiduciary duty and possibly against some law.

          That’s why it’s good to not to have any fiduciary duty or anybody who can reign you in with their nanny-like nihilistic nitpicking. You need to have a free hand to do what’s right.

          1. craazyboy

            Yo, craazyman. Sell general obligation Munis and lock in that 2% cash, then lever up on a portfolio of Greek and Russian stock! When the 10 bagger happens no one in Kansas state guvermint will have to work past 30!!!!!

  6. Ned Ludd

    The Putin story is all over the news.

    “Most of the journalists you see in foreign countries, they claim to be journalists and they might be. But many of them, like me in the past, are so-called ‘non-official cover.’ It means you work for an intelligence agency, you help them if they want you to. But they will never say they know you.”

    Udo Ulfkotte used to work as a journalist for the German daily newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

    “One day the BND (German foreign intelligence agency) came to my office at the Frankfurter Allgemeine in Frankfurt. They wanted me to write an article about Libya and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi… They gave me all this secret information and they just wanted me to sign the article with my name,” Ulfkotte told RT.

    “That article was how Gaddafi tried to secretly build a poison gas factory. It was a story that was printed worldwide two days later.”

  7. Kokuanani

    Thank you for the reference to Teach for America folks as “scabs.” This whole program is an attack on teachers and an insult to students. Just ask New Orleans.

  8. Andrew Watts

    RE: Jordan’s IS raids ‘just the start’

    This could be the reaction that IS wanted to provoke when they murdered that pilot through that gruesome execution. I believe that the Islamic State is trying to start a civil war in Jordan. There isn’t anything the Islamic State has done that could ever be considered impulsive.

    There was never a great deal of support for the bombing of fellow Sunni Muslims in Jordan or anywhere else in the region. This lack of willpower is one of the reasons why arming “moderate” Syrian rebels to fight al-Nusra or the Islamic State is a joke. In fact most people were demanding the coalition airstrikes be stopped also included tribal supporters of the monarchy.

  9. Andrew Watts

    RE: CIA Mission: Destroy the Whistleblower, Perfume the Stench of ‘Operation Merlin’

    Barely anybody read Risen’s book or even knew about Operation Merlin before they had to lynch a black man in retaliation for whistle blowing or the labor dispute. It’s going to be known to a wider audience and receive a lot more publicity now because they made such a big deal about it.

    Talk about being your own worst enemy.

  10. FRAWN

    The best part of the Mein Kampf article is how fascist shithead Dick Costolo takes personal responsibility for America’s unsatisfactory attitude – censorship.

    “We’re going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them.”

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Hobbyist drones.

    That would be like hobbyist computer nerds in the 70’s.

    In the future, mosquito-sized drones in the hands of the masses.

    That’s like new money created and directly, the people spend it – people empowering.

    No more feeding fish to the rabble, but showing them they are the fishermen they have been praying for all along.

    1. Antifa

      Ay, there’s the rub — the ongoing miniaturization of drones.

      Drones will only get smaller and quieter in years to come. Tiny. Silent. It may even be possible to create nano-drones whose size makes them invisible to the eye, whose only task is to seek out and infect certain DNA profiles, delivering either a genetic payload or a virus. Released by the many billions over an enemy’s territory, they would silently destroy their food crops, or all their first-born children, or simply everyone who is swarthy.

      Or, if they do unto us before we can do unto them, we might be the losers. This is what keeps the Pentagon lights on all night. There ain’t no handle on this whole drone thing. No brakes.

    2. craazyboy

      USG deathly afraid of technology – passes Luddite Bill to outlaw technology for non-government uses.

      A Homeland Security official told the press, “We got really worried when we realized cars can carry hundreds of pounds of explosives – not just the typical half pound hobbyists are wont to do with a drone. This is why we are asking all residents/consumers to turn in your car keys at the Post Office. You can probably take the bus home. Futhermore, guns and sniper rifles seem kinda dangerous too when ya think about it. Same could be said of bombs in general.”

      A reporter pointed out “Drones don’t kill people. People do.”

      The spokesman replied, “That is very true, and exactly why the USG must do it.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The biggest impact, though, is how robots watching Sunday sermons on TV or Youtube may learn to be religious.

        Religious fanatic-robots, maybe?

        I don’t know about you, but that’s a scary thought.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Unless we restrict them to only watching cooking shows.

          That’s why censorship is critical.

          Robots can only be allowed to watch culinary programs…and share kitchen knives (one for every 10 robot families).

          1. cwaltz

            Mwuahahaha first they master the egg- scrambled, omelets, poached, hard boiled, over easy- then they master world dominance.

            Personally our robot overlords probably couldn’t do any worse than the Democratic or Republican party at this point.

            1. Antifa

              It won’t stop with cooking. That will only lead to zombie robots. Once they master Julia Child they’ll perfect quiche lorraine, and where do they go from there?

              They’ll go mad looking for their next challenge. And there’s not a lot of difference between scrambled eggs and B-R-A-I- N-S-S-S! B-R-A-I- N-S-S-S!

  12. Praedor

    Chomsky and Kissenger are right, do NOT increase military (or any other) involvement in Ukraine. Isn’t it enough that the entire conflict in that country was created by the USA and NATO? NONE of this would be happening if the CIA hadn’t sent in snipers to kill people on both sides at Maiden Square. That started the illegitimate coup against an ELECTED government. It matters not one whit whether or not the USA or EU likes a country’s government, if it is popularly elected (it was, by a huge margin) then you are stuck with it. The USA/NATO destabilization of Ukraine was a direct attack on Russia that went directly counter to all assurances before to NOT encroach to Russia’s borders, so OF COURSE Russia responded…just like the USA would respond if Russia pushed a coup in Mexico and installed a Russia-friendly (sycophantic) government there. Time to cut bait and quit screwing around at all in Ukraine. It’s NOT our business or right to do so.

  13. Garrett Pace

    What if vaccines caused alzheimer’s?

    No, really. What if there’s no such thing as an unqualified scientific or technological good, and there’s trade offs in all things, including combating dangerous diseases.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You and I can speculate, because we humans can only apply the Scientific Method to a few discrete aspects of the a continuum spectrum of reality, ignore the butterfly effect.

      We get partial truths via the S. Method (SM).

      The human language is similarly illusory and distorting – there is no one-to-one correspondence between words and reality. We say red, for example, but in the color spectrum, we know there are an infinite number of red frequencies. That’s just a simple example, before we wade into more complicate matters like human emotions, etc.

      And we ‘deduce, reason, observe, think, research’ with words (and numbers).

      Without realizing our own limitations, we are just fooling ourselves.

      1. Garrett Pace

        We compartmentalize – Losses and gains don’t get added up together. Trading one large set of deaths for another, smaller set of deaths is something people aren’t designed to comprehend very well. It comes across as cold and actuarial and our minds rebel.

    2. McMike

      The answer is most likely all of the above: we inundate our body with toxins and intoxicants; we starve it of nutrition while overdosing it with calories and sugar; we torture it with sleep deprivation and metabolic roller coasters; we stimulate it and sedate it; we fool it with nutritional and hormonal mimicking; we assault it with chemicals every time we get sick; we periodically nuke our bodies with antibiotics and daily sanitize them with chlorine and fluorine; we stew it in a long-term gumbo of pharmaceutical drugs to tweak our hormones and hearts rates, and thyroids, and blood sugar, and blood pressure, and erections, and moods, none of it intended to play together; we zap it with x-rays and intense magnetic fields from time to time; and we interfere with our body’s natural development via vaccines literally on day zero from the moment babies are born.

      Gee, maybe that has consequences?

      The challenge of course is ferreting out what is doing what, since they are all doing it together, and there are no control groups, and each body doses itself differently, and responds differently, and all of it compounded by the fact the drug companies, doctors, chemical companies and public health officials (politicians) don’t really want us looking too closely.

      Vaccines are of course not merely little vials of deactivated germ cells, they are a concoction of genetically-modified compounds; intensely toxic chemicals, preservatives, carcinogens, and metals; (hopefully)-deactivated pathogens; animal and allergenic-derived proteins; and nanotech ingredients, among other goodies. These are then bypassed around the bodies’ filters via injection, and inserted directly into the blood of newborns whose immune systems, brains, etc have not finished developing, and are just starting to adapt to life outside the womb. All of this then combined with other vaccines, natural pathogens, and the above list of assaults on our bodies from day zero to the end.

      Perhaps this has consequences.

      1. abynormal

        cryptic paragraph McMike! (rob zombie call’d jealous’ )
        The answer is most likely all of the above: we inundate our body with toxins and intoxicants; we starve it of nutrition while overdosing it with calories and sugar; we torture it with sleep deprivation and metabolic roller coasters; we stimulate it and sedate it; we fool it with nutritional and hormonal mimicking; we assault it with chemicals every time we get sick; we periodically nuke our bodies with antibiotics and daily sanitize them with chlorine and fluorine; we stew it in a long-term gumbo of pharmaceutical drugs to tweak our hormones and hearts rates, and thyroids, and blood sugar, and blood pressure, and erections, and moods, none of it intended to play together; we zap it with x-rays and intense magnetic fields from time to time; and we interfere with our body’s natural development via vaccines literally on day zero from the moment babies are born.

      2. McMike

        I should add that vaccines are not merely benign. Although some people, the majority of people in many cases, absorb the vaccines without any noticeable effects. Just as we absorb the x-rays and arsenic and pesticides without any immediate outward effects.

        There are; however, a subset who do not absorb the vaccines without immediate or near term outward manifestations of adverse reaction. This is not a disputed scientific fact.

        Some people, many people, develop rashes and high fever. Which passes. Some children enter a period of inconsolable crying, agitation, or shaking. Which usually passes. Other develop more severe reactions, including extreme allergic reactions, encephalitis, brain damage, and even death. These do not just pass.

        Some people send their kids in for vaccines and the kids come back different. Or not at all.

        Coincidence? Perhaps.

        The drug companies and public health officials are keen to tell us that this is unrelated. Never mind that a predictable (albeit small) number of vaccine recipients clearly suffer and die from the vaccines. These other events, these harder to pin down events, this growing vocal minority of parents whose kids got vaccines and came back changed, these have nothing to do with vaccines.

        These are the same people who tell us fracking is safe, pesticides are safe, and on and on.

        These are the same people who will ridicule the notion that vaccines, or any other specific industrial chemical, has anything to do with the increase in dementia, asthma, or anything else.

    3. Jagger

      There is definitely a strong genetic link to Alzhemeirs. There are identified genes which if you have them, you will come down with early onset alzhemeirs. A number of genes have been identified which increase the potential to come down with alzhemeirs. It is rare but whole families have come down with Alzhemeirs. I imagine in the next decade of so, we will learn quite a bit more on the causes. Hopefully, we may go beyond the causes and perhaps find some effective treatments.

      1. McMike

        The genetic link may help explain susceptibility and tendency. Still may not explain what’s the trigger.

        1. Jagger

          If you have the particular identified gene, you are 100% coming down with early onset alzheimers. At least in that particular type of alzheimers, it is 100% genetic. As to what triggers the onset of early onset alzheimer’s, who knows but with the gene, they will 100% have alzheimer’s and at an early age. So genetics can predict early onset alzheimers without reference to any other factors.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Tell me why there are no, and I mean NO, historical descriptions of Alzheimers. The erosion of personality and increasing fearfulness are distinct features. This is a new ailment. It is not the same as what uses to be referred to as “senility” and is described in history and literature in a very consistent manner.

            1. Jagger

              That is a good question. I have never looked into the long term history of Alzheimers. A search shows it was first diagnosed in 1906 after an autopsy showed the characteristic brain shrinkage and lesions. So if we are still considering the impact of environmental factors, then those factors were around in 1906.

              —-Tell me why there are no, and I mean NO, historical descriptions of Alzheimers.—

              My understanding is senility, described as a severe mental decline with age, is also known medically as dementia. Alzheimer’s is one type of dementia or senility. Myself, I always assumed the historical use of the term senility included cases of alzheimers. Now perhaps alzheimer’s is a new form of dementia/senility but it is hard to say for sure.

              Personally I find the case of early onset alzheimer’s very convincing as having an inheritable genetic origin regardless of environmental factors. And my father’s family is another good example. Of seven siblings, raised in the 1920s and 30s, only 3 of which remained in the area of their birth after childhood, all seven came down with alzheimer’s. According to several doctors, including one neurologist, they believe there has to be multiple genetic markers involved to result in 7 for 7 coming down with alzheimers. And it is very difficult to find common environmental factors once they left childhood. Again that seems very convincing to me as to a genetic origin.

              Now perhaps there are environmental triggers which increase the odds of alzheimer’s or other forms of dementa activating. Football concussions strongly suggest that certain activities increase the odds of dementia. Undoubtably there are other factors as well. So seems a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Although early onset alzheimers seems independent of environment.

              Time will tell. I personally think we will know a lot more about alzheimers in the next 10-20 years.

            2. Vatch

              I already pointed out Ralph Waldo Emerson as an example of a person who had Alzheimers in the 19th century. “Senility” is a catch-all for multiple disease and injuries of the brain. Some of these problems can occur at any age, but we don’t call them “senility” unless the victim is old.

              Some cases of historical Alzheimers were probably labeled “madness” rather than “senility”. Maybe even “demonic possession” on occasion.

              There may well be one or more environmental factor(s) causing a higher incidence of Alzheimers nowadays, but I think it is a huge stretch to say that the disease didn’t exist before the 20th century. For one thing, people with dementia are kept alive longer nowadays than in former centuries. There is treatment for people who no longer know how to feed themselves or who get pneumonia or who fall and break a hip, which means that the dementia patient live longer than they used to. So we notice dementia more in the present than people did in the past.

      2. MLS

        I don’t dispute your point but I think the meaning behind the post was to ask the broader question about whether a potentially large negative tradeoff for getting vaccinated still makes it a worthwhile exercise.

        IOW, is the juice worth the squeeze?

        1. McMike

          I don’t dispute your point but I think the meaning behind the post was to ask the broader question about whether a potentially large negative tradeoff for getting vaccinated still makes it a worthwhile exercise.


          In the case of the flu, chickenpox, or HPV (just to name three), at the individual level, the question is even more stark, since the mass inoculation is almost entirely for the benefit of the vulnerable and compromised. You take the risk to protect someone else. Is there a limit to this? Is there a point where the personal cost is to high?

          It’s a conversation that the public health officials and drug companies are desperate to keep us from having.

          In any case, this idea that vaccines are magical – exempt from the corruption and crapification, and without any appreciable consequences or downside – is a myth that is going to pop eventually.

        2. Mel

          Which is worth more, the sun or the moon?

          The moon. It comes out at night when we need light to see by. The sun only comes out in the daytime when there’s plenty of light already.

          1. McMike

            We’ve been chasing the moon of a chemically mitigated life so long, we have indeed lost sight of the sun.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The sun only comes out when there is plenty of light already….

            If that’s not fair-weather. what is?

            It ain’t over until it’s over.

    4. Wendy

      Kind of surprised not to see any mention that Alzheimer’s is now routinely referred to as Type 3 Diabetes.
      Or, as the UK’s “the global diabetes community” puts it, it is the brain’s resistance to insulin.
      See also.

      If this is true, as is supposed by the community of experts, Alzheimer’s is perhaps highly avoidable, as 90% of Type 2 Diabetes cases are, by dietary choices which minimize blood sugar spikes.

      And, of course it puts Saint Ronny and his legendary love of jelly beans in a whole new light, when he became the first famous Alzheimer’s sufferer.

      1. Optimader

        As for RR he was diagnosed at mayo clinic early in his second term so i was told by someone there. His admin seconds kept is under wrap

  14. Ron

    Burning Man:

    Funny article really as the so called event has been selling the idea of setting up your own camp for years the fact that the encampments are getting bigger and more lush is a long time trend line. Nothing new, move along.

  15. Vatch

    I disagree with the comment on the article “What If You Could Prevent Alzheimer’s? Daily Beast” that says that Alzheimer’s disease didn’t exist in the past, or that it is not the same as “plain old senility”. I doubt that there is such a thing as plain old senility. If a person is senile, then he or she is suffering from a disease or the consequences of an injury. The disease might not be Alzheimer’s Disease; it might be Pick’s Disease, Diffuse Lewy Body Disease, a brain tumor, narrowed arteries, a stroke, or something else.

    An example of a person in the past who had Alzheimer’s or something similar is Ralph Waldo Emerson:

    Starting in 1867, Emerson’s health began declining; he wrote much less in his journals.[126] Beginning as early as the summer of 1871 or in the spring of 1872, Emerson started having memory problems[127] and suffered from aphasia.[128] By the end of the decade, he forgot his own name at times and, when anyone asked how he felt, he responded, “Quite well; I have lost my mental faculties, but am perfectly well”.

    The problems with his memory had become embarrassing to Emerson and he ceased his public appearances by 1879. As Holmes wrote, “Emerson is afraid to trust himself in society much, on account of the failure of his memory and the great difficulty he finds in getting the words he wants. It is painful to witness his embarrassment at times”.

    1. J.

      Agreed. I suspect the reason Alzheimers has become more common is that people live longer. In earlier centuries most people didn’t live long enough to start showing symptoms.

      Wikipedia gives some examples of classical scholars describing the mental decline of old age: History of dementia

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Alzheimer’s has two distinctive features not present in senility. One is the erosion of personality. The other is increased fearfulness. You do not see that in historical accounts of senility and we’ve had senility for thousands of years.

        And there were a lot of people who lived into their 80s historically. Short average lifespans were mainly due to vulnerability to diseases among the young. If you survived to adulthood, and weren’t in a bad accident, you could live a long time, particularly the rich, who generally had better diets. The genealogy of my family shows that all of my ancestors in the 1700s (and I mean all) on my father’s side lived to be over 80.

        1. Jagger

          ———-Alzheimer’s has two distinctive features not present in senility. One is the erosion of personality. The other is increased fearfulness.——

          I don’t believe increased fearfulness is a distinctive feature of alzheimers. It can be part of behavioural changes but I certainly haven’t seen it much in my late mid-stage father or heard many mention it in Alzheimers support groups. As the brain deteriorates, behavior changes dependent on the rate of impact on different parts of the bain. So behavior changes can be very different between individuals. Some people can react with fearfulness while many react with anger. Anger seems reported far more often than fearfulness in the support groups.

          Alzheimers is a form of senility or dementia. So any distinctive symptoms of alzheimers would only define alzheimers from other forms of dementia or senility. To be certain of alzheimers, an autopsy is required which reveals brain shrinkage and specific lesion types. I believe a spinal tap can also diagnose Alzheimers but is rarely done.

          ——And there were a lot of people who lived into their 80s historically.—–

          One study showed that 50% of people over the age of 85 had some form of dementia. Although we have to remember that 50% don’t have dementia although probably some level of cognitive decline. Another study showed that 50% of people over the age of 50 were suffering from some form of cognitive decline. Part of getting old.

    2. Jagger

      ——-I disagree with the comment on the article “What If You Could Prevent Alzheimer’s? Daily Beast” that says that Alzheimer’s disease didn’t exist in the past, or that it is not the same as “plain old senility”. I doubt that there is such a thing as plain old senility. If a person is senile, then he or she is suffering from a disease or the consequences of an injury. The disease might not be Alzheimer’s Disease; it might be Pick’s Disease, Diffuse Lewy Body Disease, a brain tumor, narrowed arteries, a stroke, or something else.—-

      I agree. Also Emerson sounds very much like he was suffering from some form of significant dementia and very possibly alzheimers. Also noticeable symptoms of alzheimers can appear many years before diagnosis.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Speaking of housing needs, the Substitution Effect Man of the Year award for 2014 went to, I believe, someone who substituted his too-expensive rental studio apartment for living under the bridge.

      The judges cited his ‘ingenuity and creativity’ as an inspiration to all serfs.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        Make that ‘substituted living under the bridge for his all too expensive rental studio apartment.’

  16. Marianne Jones

    How’s the WordPress support person search going? Reason I ask is that I just found out that Reddit has a subreddit dedicated to the platform issues. If the search has not been fruitful, the subreddit might be a good place to ask how to go about finding a good WordPress person, or soliciting a possible candidate.

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