Links 3/1/15

No one could see the color blue until modern times Business Insider. I was inclined to think this was overstated until the green square test. And I did pick out the correct square, but it was hard.

World’s oldest barmaid dies aged 100: Dolly Saville pulled pints for 74 years Independent (Chuck L). She outlived her children.

Life ‘not as we know it’ possible on Saturn’s moon Titan PhysOrg

Food preservatives linked to obesity and gut disease Nature (Nikki). Per the heated discussion on GMOs yesterday, here are chemicals considered to be safe that nevertheless appear to have side effects.

Promoting Amphetamines for Over-Eating – What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Roy Poses, Health Care Renewal

More than 100 tigers seized in ‘Tiger Temple’ raid Coconuts Bangkok (furzy mouse)

Mass anti-immigration rally in Rome BBC

British Airways ‘spying’ scandal: How the world’s most famous airline spied on its own staff Independent (Chuck L)


The Dark Side of Syriza Project Syndicate. Honestly, this piece is pretty bizarre in the angle it takes on Greece “nationalism.” But it has the useful side effect of exposing the tension, or one might say inconsistency, between the “pro European” negotiating strategy and the domestic rhetoric, which is not going unnoticed in the rest of Europe.

Humiliated Greece eyes Byzantine pivot as crisis deepens Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph. I’ll hopefully have more to say about this tomorrow, but this is all much more desperate than AEP suggests. Just some short points now: you don’t telegraph your negotiating strategy loudly, and particularly not a plan to play parties off against each other. Second, even if Varoufakis hadn’t told everyone what he was up to, it is hard to see how he can achieve it. He has no meaningful personal relationships with the principals and does not understand the histories or even the processes in this complex game. For instance, he had no idea that the EC’s Moscovici was not authorized to negotiate with him, that only the Eurogroup’s Dijsselbloem was able to put forward proposals. And read Der Spiegel (below) on the negotiating process. Varoufakis was isolated, the negotiations were done without him, and he was presented with what amounted to a diktat. Note that AEP thinks that the Germans and the Northern bloc are afraid of recognizing losses on Greece, but that is not their position. They believe if they let Greece get away with concessions, all the periphery countries will ask for concessions if they relent. So they believe they will take losses regardless, and see making Greece a demonstration of the cost of defying the Troika will discourage the others and will be less costly. The reason for backing away from the brink last week was concern over a disorderly Grexit and US/NATO pressure. The fact that Greece is starting to make contingency plans (which is necessary given the risks) increases the odds that the IMF, ECB, and northern bloc in the Eurogroup will take a hard line.

Family Feud: The Tortured Relationship between Schäuble and Varoufakis Der Spiegel. You need to read past the Schauble puffery. There are important details in this piece.

PM Tsipras outlines 5 legislation drafts, announces state bankruptcy investigation Keep Talking Greece (martha r)

Spain, Portugal sought to trip up gov’t, Tsipras says ekathimerini

Greece seeks negotiations on ECB bond repayment Reuters


Clapper Calls for Arming Ukrainian Forces: Who Would That Actually Empower? Glenn Greenwald, Intercept

Nemtsov mourners to march in Moscow BBC

CNN gaffe mistakes Vladimir Putin for Jihadi John Telegraph


Human Rights Watch Accuses Syria Of “Barrel Bomb” Damage Created By U.S. Attacks Moon of Alabama

MI-5’s Jihadi John: How British Intelligence Primed Both Sides Of The Terror War CTuttle, Firedoglake (Chuck L)

Aleppo truce nowhere in sight DW

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Under U.S. Pressure, PayPal Nukes Mega For Encrypting Files TorrentFreak (EM)

How to Sabotage Encryption Software (And Not Get Caught) Wired (Chuck L)

Is FCC Approval of Net Neutrality a Real Win for Consumers? Real News Network

Abandoned Walmart is Now America’s Largest 1-Floor Library Urbanist (furzy mouse). We featured another report on this library, but worth seeing if you missed it.

Bailouts Forever

I’ve been too busy with Greece to keep up on the latest on TBTF, and the latest news is a train wreck. See these three posts on the newest scam masquerading as a solution, “Single Point of Entry.” We’ve already written at length why Title II resolutions won’t work (they treat the banks as domestic-only and ignore all the optionality in how derivatives trades get wound down; even the BIS has said Title II resolutions are a non-starter, but we are acting as if they will work. That only guarantees future bailouts). Credit Slips adds to the list of fatal flaws:

Busted Banks: TBTF and the Single Point of Entry

TBTF and The Single Point of Entry (SPOE): Part Two

SPOE: Backdoor Bailouts and Funding Fantasies?

Irish-Style Banking Inquiry into the 2008 Financial Crisis Bill Black on the Real News Network. This is surreal.

Smothered by a Boom in Banking Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

What Is Money And How Is It Created? Steve Keen, Forbes. Important. Why you must have banks to have money.


As Oil Prices Fall, Houston Shudders New York Times

Class Warfare

Out of Trouble, but Criminal Records Keep Men Out of Work New York Times

Guest post: How wages in services vs. goods-producing jobs explain relative GDP growth during Recoveries (Hint: producing goods is better) Angry Bear

Antidote du jour:

Cute lizard links

And a bonus video, courtesy Lambert. This is really cool:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Clive

    In Japanese (maybe Chinese too, Chinese speakers please do enlighten us as it is an interesting subject) the same ideographic character 青 [あお (ao)] is used for both expressing “blue” and “green”. You can hopefully see the character in these two sentences:

    The traffic light turned green.

    How blue the sky is!

    The entomology of the character is supposedly derived from a pond — when viewed, the pond water looked either (or both) blue and/or green to the onlooker. Therefore the “word” (character) can be used to express a meaning of blue or green. Readers rely on the context as to what the English translation should be. More recently, “loans words” (Latin based words written in Japanese script) are used where a specific meaning which is definitely either “blue” or “green” is required. But the traditional Chinese character is still widely used and is interchangeable for when you want to say either green or blue. You don’t need to pick a different “word”, you can use the same one. So differentiating green and blue is certainly not a worldwide phenomena.

    1. Clive

      Ah, just re-read it properly and the linked to article does say that Chinese as well as Japanese also doesn’t have a distict concept of separating blue from green. The reasons for why that is presumably not being worth advising readers about…

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      We should also have one word for Capitalism and Communism. As John Kenneth Galbraith said when asked about the difference between the two, “In capitalism, man exploits man whereas in communism it’s the other way around.”

      Either system makes me blue until I’m green…

      1. Clive

        Yes, the article touches, if only briefly (and in fairness, it does try to cover a lot of fascinating ground within the limits of a typical “give us 500 words on…” editorial policy — be grateful everyone for NC which doesn’t flinch from inflicting PhD thesis level stuff on readers when this is warranted, it is a rare thing indeed these days!) on somthing incredibly profound: just what a blunt tool language — especially the written word — really is. It is all we’ve got so we have to make the best of it. But it is vulnerable to both unintended and intentional subversion. And Latin-based languages are even under ideal situations only good approximations for what the thinkers/speakers/writers using their native non Latin-based languages intend.

        No wonder the Arab world and the Far East are so misunderstood.

        And don’t even get me started on how words such as “liberal”, “radical”, “reform” and so on have ended up so cleaved from their original meanings so as to become almost unusable…

          1. Synoia

            To which nation do you refer?

            If the UK and ISA, the USA speaks not English, but a dialect thereof, with very difference nuances and meanings to words, and even different grammar.

            I give you “Rubber”.

            1. Jack

              That’s like arguing which came first, Ukrainian or Russian. It’s a meaningless debate, since neither is the original, both stem from an earlier source and had parallel but differing developments. It’s an especially idiotic argument to have with English, since the entire language is fundamentally a branch of medieval trade German infused with a massive amount of French and Scandiwegian words and all illogically based on Latin grammar. The language is an inconsistent monstrosity in desperate need of an equivalent of the Academie francaise to give it coherent grammar rules and hammer out universally accepted, much more phonetic, spellings. Brits and Americans arguing over which is the ‘proper’ form of the language is an exercise in futility, since both versions are filled with nonsensical gibberish. So the British can rightly claim they pronounce it ‘HERbal’ because ‘there’s a f**cking H in it’ but Americans can counter-claim that they don’t pronounce center/centre ‘sen-truh’ or ‘sen-tree’ because they’ve ditched the vestigial French-ified spelling.

        1. Jack

          “And Latin-based languages are even under ideal situations only good approximations for what the thinkers/speakers/writers using their native non Latin-based languages intend.”

          I’m going to call nonsense on this, especially regarding Japanese, which is in many ways a very simplistic language. Claiming Eastern languages have some degree of nuance and complexity that the ‘brutish’ Western tongues can’t replicate is just wrong. I’ll also add that hanzi/kanji are the oldest of Chinese torture techniques and should be studied as a model of exactly how NOT to go about creating a writing system. They add a layer of mystery to a language and make it seem more complex than it actually is. The Koreans ditched Chinese characters altogether in favor of a purely phonetic alphabet and are doing just fine.

          When you can unironically talk about ‘only’ needing to memorize 2,000 characters to read 99% of newspapers you’ve gone so far down the rabbit-hole of linguistic absurdity you’ll never find your way out.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Agreed. And in Japanese, vagueness is prized. They consider Westerner’s tendency to be much more specific a form of ego indulgence, as in talking to hear yourself heard and try to impose your will on your listener.

          2. Clive

            Clive said: “And Latin-based languages are even under ideal situations only good approximations for what the thinkers/speakers/writers using their native non Latin-based languages intend.”

            On which…

            Jack commented: I’m going to call nonsense on this, especially regarding Japanese, which is in many ways a very simplistic language.

            To which I can only retort — not without irony — “reading comprehension failure”. You missed that I included a chain of events — someone thought something in their native language then tried to capture that in words (either written or spoken). Then someone else tries to take the words and re-construct the original thoughts behind them — an essential step in producing an effective translation. The “round tripping” is a big impediment in capturing the original thinking which is behind what being expressed in the first instance. Often you have to fall back on subject and cultural knowledge to fill in the gaps — and this of course is not a function of language.

            One of the best examples is at the A-bomb memorial in Hiroshima, where the commemorative inscription is translated into English as “Rest In Peace, For The Error Shall Not Be Repeated”. Which for 50-odd years has been the subject of controversy — just exactly who’s error are we talking about ? I’ve read the original Japanese many times and pondered on exactly what was intended. My inescapable conclusion is now that it isJapan’s error being referred to. But that isn’t from what is written in the original Japanese text. It’s down to who is writing in what context. That, though, is nothing to do with the actual words chiselled into the stone. But the words don’t just float around in a vacuum. They are on that stone in that place written by those people. Which makes all the difference (in that example).

            The inability to respond to cultural norms, semantic usage, changes in how users use their language, humour, sarcasm — and many other factors besides — help to explain why automated translation software is still such an, erm, work-in-progress. Try Google translate on a Japanese newspaper if you don’t believe me.

            Now, I am definitely not saying that people who use non-Latin language don’t on occasions play up this “oh, it’s all so difficult and different, you’ll never hope to understand us” angle. The Japanese are often a bit too quick to do that and I’ve a hunch the Chinese aren’t far behind them. I am also not saying that any language is not conquerable. But I am definitely saying that a translation is never, ever perfect once you get beyond the Janet-and-John level of simplicity. Yes, it can capture the basic meaning. And it can too capture some nuance, the more so when handled by really skilled translators. But an exact facsimile it is not.

      2. Ned Ludd

        I will take worker-owned coöperatives over capital-controlled corporations.

        Also, some linguistic changes reduce the expressiveness of a language; such as re-defining democracy to refer to elections, which were referred to as a feature of oligarchy in Politics. Other linguistic changes increase the expressiveness of a language, such as the introduction of the word “blue”.

        1. vidimi

          words evolve precisely because of this. when the american founding fathers were thinking of a title to bestow upon george washington, they settled on ‘president’, as it didn’t carry pomp or gravitas, like, for example, king, and was instead someone who presided over a meeting of similarly empowered individuals. over time, the word president took on precisely the kind of important meaning they sought to avoid.

          everything eventually catches up to propaganda campaigns, changing our language as a result.

    3. Uahsenaa

      There is a green word, though, midori 緑, which comes from the color of foliage. Clive is correct, however, that ao covers a much broader range than “blue” would in English.

      1. Cat

        That’s the same character for green in Mandarin, 緑 lü (I forget the tone right now). The character fir blue, 蓝 lán, is quite different from both 緑 and 青. 青 does mean both blue and green in Chinese, however. I wonder if perhaps it is used for colors like turquoise who some would say it’s green, while others say it’s blue (the camp I’m in!).

    4. DJG

      The article overstates the modernity of blue. There’s an interesting book around, published in English some time ago, called The History of Color, by Manlio Brusatin. He also goes through the order in which languages acquire color names. Black, white, and red are almost always the first. Blue is late in separating from green (green alway comes before blue). Orange can be even later. Brusatin, though, points out that blue in European culture is tied to the rise of Christianity. Take a look at some old mosaics in Christian churches–blue is there, all the way back to Romanesque churches. Latin had several words that described a bluish color and that then fell out of favor in French, Italian, and Catalan. They use bleu (French) and blu (Italian). It’s blau in Catalan. But a common word for blue in Italian is azzurro–from Arabic. Anyone know why blue would have come by means of speakers of a Germanic language?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Interesting link to Christianity.

        The rapid rise of the Chinese Blue and White Porcelain has always been a mystery. We now know it was made in Tang and Song, but during the short rule of Yuan Dynasty, it rose in popularity along with quality (access to imported cobalt was helpful).

        One theory is that for the Mongols those two colors were sacred – white for the bones of their ancestors and blue for the sky of the Great Steppe.

        Another theory is that they were made for export to the Islamic world and blue was important there. And indeed, the two largest collections of Yuan Blue and White are to be found in Iran (then, the Ilkhanate) and Istanbul (the Ottoman empire at that time), though some have claimed that for Muslims, green was the original sacred color.

        1. Jack

          The first theory is almost certainly nonsense, since the Mongols worshiped Father Sky (Tengri) and Mother Earth (Eje) equally, and before any ancestors. It would make no sense for them to have art featuring only one principle deity and a lesser cult while ignoring the other key deity.

          The second theory is much more likely to be true, since there was already a rich tradition of Islamic-Chinese artistic interaction. The Mongols provided continent spanning stability for the Silk Road, which would explain a flourishing of trade and Chinese exports to the Islamic world entering a new stage.

        1. Jack

          Exactly the same, I would imagine. We’re talking about linguistic relativity, the idea that the language we use affects how we see the world. It’s a concept that has been discredited in many areas, including color recognition. Just because cultures often take a long time to concretely divide blue and green into separate categories with their own words doesn’t mean they didn’t always see the difference. It’s like claiming that because we don’t have words for all the tiny variations between black and white that we can’t distinguish a thousand different shades of grey. But we obviously can.

    5. Larry Y

      Maybe in older Chinese usage (Classical Chinese?). Mandarin, a modern dialect, has clear separate words for the color.

      Google translate gets the common usage correct here:
      blue -> 藍 lan
      green -> 綠 lu

      The word you’re referring to is青 (qing). I’ve mostly used in the context of plants – a common usage is 青菜 (qing cai), which means fresh leafy vegetables. Otherwise, it seems context sensitive. I don’t get the same issue like I would with the word 羊 (yang) which could mean goat, sheep, ram, lamb or several other ruminants.

      1. JoeK

        Ha I just wrote that 青 isn’t used much in Chinese….but of course, 青菜 (so common I missed it right under my nose, I eat veggie so am always asking about the availability of various such in restaurants), showing it is also used for green in Chinese, except that brocolli has that bluish hue….consulting my go-to dictionary for composing emails etc in Chinese (, which is an excellent resource, would there were a similar website for Japanese), I see there’s also a word for “pinkish blue,” whatever that is.
        This lack of one-to-one correspondence between languages on color is a fascinating angle on the relativity of cognition in general.

    6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The color of an ancient celadon (青磁, i.e. blue/green porcelain), can range from brown, yellow, blue to green. Here is the source of confusion is not literal in origin, but kiln firing or glaze preparation deficiencies.

      As to the exact color of the legendary 秘色 青磁, no one knew what it was until some were discovered at the basement Fa-Men Temple, north of Xian in the 1970s.

      The Chinese have been very creative with describing colors.

      The treasured color and texture of Hetian jade is said to the color of ‘mutton fat.’ The beautiful blue of the middle period Kangxi blue and white is said to be ‘Kingfisher Blue.’ Most people have heard of the glaze Oxblood Red developed in the early Qing dynasty.

      The color of ‘Purple Ding’ ware (Ding Kiln was one of the five imperial kilns in Northern Song) is controversial, as purple glaze in pottery was not known to appear until the 16th century, and came from manganese, and some believe Purple Ding was closer to dark brown than grape-purple.

      In addition to the character 青 being interchangeable between blue and green, there is another character for blue/green, 蓝. I am still trying to figure out if it is darker than 青, or lighter. I believe 蓝 is darker. In Song dynasty Jun ware, (and I have gotten this wrong) the glaze 天蓝 (Sky Blue/Green) is darker than the glaze 天青 (Sky Blue/Green). There is a third Jun blue, Moon White (月白)…and that is easy to tell; it’s pale blue, almost white.

      1. susan the other

        This is so interesting, Beef, because it establishes both the energy to create it, whether wavelength or kiln fire which locks it down, and the underlying chemical signature. Which is usually a distinctive signature because color is never pure. I was thinking cobalt. So color is a factor of many variables. Pure sunlight separated by a prism is only the most simple explanation. I’m not surprised that they found a woman who could see a bit more color in the sky than the guys could because women have slightly more complex color vision. And I kept thinking things about energy the whole time like the famous “red shift” for approaching and receding soundwaves where blue turns red; synergy and synesthesia (a good topic to study); sky blue (oxygen’s signature); and of course how words must be refined by consensus in order to say something is actually accepted as “blue.” Color is almost politix, like everything else.

    7. Hmm

      Modern Chinese uses the words 綠 (lü) and 藍 (lan) for green and blue, respectively. While the character 青 (qing) can mean both blue and green, its rarely used alone to describe color. Instead, it will be paired with another character which will denote clearly what the color is, for example 青天 (clear skies or blue sky) or 青綠 (a plant-like green).

    8. tyaresun

      Maybe they were searching the old books for the wrong name?

      India is believed to be the oldest center of indigo dyeing in the Old World. It was a primary supplier of indigo dye, derived from the plant Indigofera tinctoria, to Europe as early as the Greco-Roman era. The association of India with indigo is reflected in the Greek word for the ‘dye’, which was indikon (ινδικόν). The Romans used the term indicum, which passed into Italian dialect and eventually into English as the word indigo. El Salvador has lately been the biggest producer of indigo.[citation needed]

      1. Carlos Fandango

        He would be looking at the colour of wine at the bottom of a pottery cup, in the dark after he’d already had a few. I have no idea what colour that would be.

    9. MobileBoy66

      There is a brief explanation of usage of 青 way back to represent a range of colors in Chinese in ep. 7 of
      日本人の知らない日本語 on youtube. Its about a 1′ in.

    10. JoeK

      Chinese also has the word 綠(色), which is translated as green. For blue, Chinese uses 藍(色), which character actually refers to the indigo plant. 青 isn’t common at all in referring to color, but both cabbage and crows are described as 藍 (dark blue being called “crow blue”), so somewhat similar to the Japanese.
      As per my understanding, the word ミドリ(Midori, like the treacly liquor bearing its name) is used for that very green, like Kelly, green. And yet Japanese swear a traffic light is 青, not ミドリ. I use the katakana because Midori is a neologism, but if you type that word on your Mac (at least) the Chinese character 綠 will come up though I think that was retroactively, so to speak, assigned to the word, could be wrong about that though.
      As to 青, I learned it was, originally, the color of a pine forest seen from afar, like on a distant mountainside, where the forest can have hues of blue, green, and black. I like the pond story as well, it’s a similar phenomenon.
      There is a fascinating, long article on the web about colors; researchers have studied languages with as little as IIRC 2 or 3 color names, and made the discovery that a software program created to make the greatest differentiation between different colors will, given 2-many choices, map out virtually identically to the way actual languages do. So essentially each color name is somewhat arbitrary. After all, when exactly does red become orange, orange yellow, or green blue? It all depends on perception and making a judgement call.

      1. Cugel

        That article is a pretty good summary of the total disconnect between Syriza’s opinion an the Troika’s positions. Of course, Yves is right that in purely economic terms the Troika have concluded that they have to make a terrible example of Greece in order to discourage the rise of the left in Portugal, Spain and Italy, and the far right in France, demanding fundamental changes in the economic order. However this article is also right that:

        “In any normal contest with creditors, Syriza’s position would be hopeless. But nothing about this episode is normal. If EMU were to force Greece out of the euro by withdrawing bank liquidity and deliberately causing the collapse of the Greek financial system – to which the ECB has a duty of care under EU treaty law – they would create a martyr state for the whole European Left.

        They would violate the sanctity of monetary union and risk reducing it to a fixed exchange “ERM3″, inviting an attack on the weakest link to follow. The EU’s extraordinary experiment in solidarity would lie in ruins.

        The Western security system would the face turmoil in the Balkans. It would have to deal with an embittered state – hostile to Nato, and willing to play the Russian card – along an arc of instability stretching from Ukraine, though the Levant, to North Africa. That is why US President Barack Obama has intervened, pleading with Chancellor Merkel to avert the worst. The stakes are too high for finance ministers.”

        All the political lessons would not be to obey the Troika – the biggest lesson would be German bullying and ultimately crushing a small and helpless state. If it was just a clash of bankers, that would be one thing, but the buried dragon in Europe is Nationalism.

        For one thing, the U.S. has zero intent to allow Greece to withdraw from NATO or withdraw basing rights. The US probably cannot allow Greece to withdraw from the EU without seeing a collapse that could jeopardize Greece’s position within NATO, which really means the US ‘s jealously guarded basing rights. What pressure Obama would be willing to put on Germany is uncertain, but it won’t be none. The view in the establishment press has been “Despite Greece, euro zone is turning the corner.” This kind of happy-think reflects market enthusiasm and the assumption that “things will work themselves out.” This reflects market instabilities rather than strengths. The markets ought to be pricing in right now the cost of Grexit, but the opposite is happening.

        That’s an indication that the cost would be too great to face – long term economic instability and contraction in Europe affecting the U.S. as well.

        1. Santi

          Throwing the Greeks “out” will mean that they no longer owe 300b€. I have no doubt that Greece will default, with or without a forced grexit, unless they are given liquidity and a reasonable stimulus. They can nationalize banks (the will be forced to it), keep using the Euro as currency like Ecuador did, use TANs for transient financing and, again like Ecuador, mint internal fractional money for a small further monetary base expansion. If they are careful to keep fiscal stability this could be a clever move. The main problem is that writing down their debt will send a big wave up the European financial system that will also destroy it, and Greece will pay its part in terms of less tourism and shipping… It is always better to renegotiate a default that to be forced into it.

        2. Indian Jones

          As well as attempting to buffalo the Greeks on their willingness to sacrifice security, they are attempting to buffalo them on the opposition of European taxpayers. While no Europeans want to pay for Greek defaults, the Spanish are not likely to mistake the Greeks as the primary source of economic agony. In fact, the international blaming is so convenient a deflection that it should be recognized as a likely charade.

        3. Santi

          …and the counterparts seem to be understanding and willing to abandon the adversary language and talk in more cooperating terms. See Schauble today softening the tone:

          Germany’s finance minister said Sunday that he trusts Greece’s current government to fulfill the conditions for the bailout deal, but also made clear the country would not receive any further money if it didn’t.
          Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that “I trust them to implement the needed measures … and to ultimately fulfill its obligations.”

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            How is this softening his tone? This is the “a deal is a deal” language, and “I trust them to do the right thing” is hardly conciliatory. The bailout, BTW, refers to all the conditionality, including things the Greek government wants to roll back. This is not an accommodating message at all, and I got e-mails privately from people who read it the same way I do.

  2. Brooklin Bridge

    The ocean is (or was) a wonderful place, besides the sky, to muse on the difficulty of seeing where one color stops and another begins.

    1. craazyman

      that’s so true. if anybody’s never thought about it and wants to amaze themselves, all they have to do is cut a little hole in a cardboard square and look through to the blue sky at different elevations from the horizon. It’s a completely different blue every few inches. The ocean under a blue sky is so visibly different all over it’s not as amazing — just due to water depth, angle of view, wave action, sediment, seaweed content, wind variations, etc. — But they can still do it there to and see browns, greens, yellows, reds, and blues. Not quite as bad as a Turner painting — if the sky is blue, but they may see a lot of colors they didn’t think they would.

      1. John Merryman

        Look, physics can’t seem to even differentiate between space and time.
        Our brains like distinction, but nature is still all connected. It’s the whole seeing the forest for the trees thing.
        The problem is there is no objective perspective, no universal frame, no God’s eye view. We all look at the same space from different frames, backed by different narratives. Just ask the Israelis and Palestinians.
        The absolute is the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell. Those who think their particular cultural ideals are absolutes are extremists.

        1. craazyman

          Is this extremism?

          “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’

          I think there are absolutes and absolute judgments, but they can’t be perceived with the senses, but only through the senses, and with what I’d call the “gnostic faculties”..

          1. John Merryman

            We necessarily have ideals as goals, but that doesn’t make them absolutes. Consider for the moment, if every person were equal to every other; What would it even mean? Would we be physically equal? Intellectually equal? Would we have to be identical, in order not to have distinctions that might be graded?
            What we seek to do is create a government which treats its citizens equal under the law.

            Necessarily there has to be some plasticity in this process, or we would have to start conforming to increasingly absolutist standards.
            We like to think of good and bad as moral absolutes, but they are biological binary code, in that we are attracted to the beneficial and repelled by the detrimental. What is good for the fox, is bad for the chicken. Most people don’t like going outside their comfort zones on these issues and tends towards various forms of political correctness, but then you get different hues of what falls in what category and people start fighting over what color the dress is. We need to start understanding our versions of reality really are subjective, then we can begin to create adaptable institutions. There is no happy medium to reality. That’s just a big flatline. What goes up, comes back down and nature deals with this by having individuals live and die, while the species is constantly reseting and moving on.
            Right now we have a large wave building and when it crashes, there will be a monumental reset. Do we want the absolutists defining what arises, or do we want to build flexibility into it?

            1. craazyman

              you might be interested in the following: The greatest living King of the Woos was on the radio the other night. None other than the Great Jacques Vallee, astrophysicist, venture capitalist, information theorist and author. He is the “discoverer” of Magonia, in modern times. If it weren’t for him, I would have never gotten my NFL, GED from U. Magonia, I would have floundered around in abstract mysticisms just like the economics profession until I mentally disappeared like they did.

              anyway, he told a true story of a 15th century mathemaician Jerome Cardan, who is remembered by history for contributions to math of mechanical processes. At any rate, Jerry’s dad was a swaggering woo-woo dude in his day and he somehow called up out of the ether, in his lab, a few elemental spirits there in France in the 1400s. He got about 7 of them, they were little 3 foot tall dudes in silvery outfits. The dad wasn’t freaked out, since he knew what he was doing, and he asked them “How does the universe work?” They actually disagreed with each other! One of them said it’s like the Bible, God made it and it goes and goes. The other saaid “No, thats not right! God creates the universe from moment to moment.” Whoa! That’s like Newtonian deterministic continuity vs. quantum-observation-collapses-wave-function probability in the 1400s from little silvery cloud people! (OK, the Greeks & others had this stuff already so it’s not that remarkable). But anyway. That’s a lot of creating, if it’s moment to moment. It seem easier to just make it once. Maybe its not really God they’re talking about, maybe its something like “consciousness”. Professor Vallee also said his physicist friends in recent years have come to believe space & time are not absolutes but are “emergent phenomenon” created from acts of conscious observations. Seems like were getting back to a Renaissance-like scheme of man as measure of all things.

              1. ambrit

                Pray tell which particular brand of radio diffusion communication module The Magister (and Hierophant) was emerging from? (An errant shard of ‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast’ perhaps?)
                [I really would like to listen to His Immanence’s commentary.]

                1. ambrit

                  My previous post entered Moderation Space and I am scratching my head in wonder. I cannot find any probable trip wires within it. Professor Vallee is correct; our existence is stranger than we can comprehend.

                  1. craazyboy

                    The Devoureror can and does act randomly and maliciously, at times.

                    Or disgorge things the wrong place. This was a reply to ambrit.

              2. John Merryman

                I originally tried studying philosophy, but it seemed mostly epistemic haystack and not much ontological needle. So then I tried physics and found they had been left stewing in their own bathwater way too long. The basic problem is that since we experience change as a sequence of events, we think of time as this point of the present moving from past to future, which physics codifies by treating it as a measure of duration, from one to the next. The actual situation is those events being created and dissolved, so it is they which go from future to past. No fourth dimension from yesterday to tomorrow, tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth turns. Duration is just the state of the present as these events form and dissolve.
                This makes time more like temperature, than space. Time is to temperature, what frequency is to amplitude. Its just that while we experience amplitude en masse as temperature, since our rational linear minds function as a clock/sequence, multitudes of frequency are noise/static. So we isolate out one action and measure it, from rotations of the planet, to oscillations of an atom. Yet the overall effect is still cumulative. It’s just that faster clocks use their energy quicker and recede into the past faster. The tortoise is still plodding along, long after the hare has died.
                What is related are measures of distance and duration, not all of space. We could use ideal gas laws to formulate relations between temperature or pressure and volume, but no one talks about temperaturevolume because temperature is only foundational to the right side of our brain, not the left. We think narrative, but reality is more thermal feedback loops. For every action…
                Among other things, this rules out absolute determinism, since probability precedes actuality. The event has to occur before anything is determined. The rules might be set, otherwise they would be suggestions, but input only arrives with the occurrence of the event.

                To continue a previous thought, the absolute is the universal state. As such, everything is connected and thus balanced out. Zero. Equilibrium. Total entropy. So in order to have form, we need oscillations from this medium. Which makes waves the most elemental form, as in amplitude and frequency. Now religions start when people sense this state of connectivity, but then the visionaries give way to the managers and the state of oneness necessarily gives way to a set of one, with an inside and an outside. Which gives it form, but also limitations and eventually it’s downhill from there, as the circle gets drawn ever tighter. So the reset button has to be pushed regularly. Up and down.

                1. Jagger

                  If Einstein’s theory of relativity is correct, then time (and distance) disappears at the speed of light. So pure energy, such as photons which exist at the speed of light, should not experience time at all (nor distance). Which suggests that time (and distance) is not fundemental to existence but some sort of apparent emergent quality of our experienced universe.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    Why is there not a second (or third, etc) orthogonal time dimension?

                    Are there fractional dimensions?

                    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      Above mine too.

                      I just ask questions and it’s a good day when I can’t answer them.

                    2. ambrit

                      Above my meager pay scale too.
                      MLTPB, it goes with me that it’s a good day when I realize I can’t answer these esoteric questions. (A lot of the time, I keep banging my head against a brick wall and occasionally wonder why I have a headache!)
                      Now, if each step upon the Eightfold Path was a dimension….. which gives me an idea. The concept of timelessness can be considered as another Time “dimension.”

                    3. craazyboy

                      It makes me thankful I can still walk and chew bubblegum at the same time.

                      Not to say this really isn’t possible, and we are just imagining it.

                    4. Mel

                      There are fractal dimensions.

                      Unlike topological dimensions, the fractal index can take non-integer values, indicating that a set fills its space qualitatively and quantitatively differently from how an ordinary geometrical set does.

                  2. Jagger

                    And if you accept the above, then pure energy creates space and time when converted to matter. Yet the universe of pure energy lacks space and time unlike our universe of matter and energy.

                    (Reposted to where it is suppose to be. Ignore the same father below.)

                  3. John Merryman

                    The reason time(and the ability to measure distance) stop at light speed is that no action can occur in a frame traveling at that rate, or it would add up to faster than light. So any action has to slow relative to that rate, such that the total internal and external actions only add up to C.
                    Measures of duration and distance are similar. Consider measuring the space between two waves, versus the rate they pass a certain mark. Yet one is a measure of space, while the other is a measure of action.
                    Now consider the underlaying premise of C and the corresponding opposite measure; That if you were to place clocks around in space and found which one runs the fastest, then this would be closest to the equilibrium state of space.
                    Now consider that without any physical properties, there would be nothing to limit space, so it would necessarily be infinite. The result is that if we don’t assign any physical aspects to space, then it has the two, non-physical qualities of being absolute and infinite.
                    Obviously this goes against current cosmological theory, but it seems whenever observation doesn’t match predictions of this theory, they add some enormous new physical force, such as inflation and dark energy.
                    There is another patch that gets little attention; When it was discovered that the redshift makes us appear to be at the center of the universe, it was argued that rather than being an expansion in space, this was an expansion of space, premised on the “fabric of spacetime,” allowing space itself to expand and therefore every point would appear as the center.
                    What gets completely overlooked is that in order to be a relativistic expansion of space, the speed of light would have to increase to match. Remember C? That the speed of light is always the same, relative to the space?
                    Yet this would negate explaining redshift, since the doppler effect requires more lightyears, stretching the waves, not expanded lightyears, but more lightyears is just increased distance, as measured in these stable units of lightyears. So we are supposed to believe space expands, based on the redshift of light and we can compare it to a stable unit of space, based on the speed of the same light?!
                    Redshift as an optical effect would easily explain why we appear at the center, since we are the center of our view of the universe. If it compounds on itself, this would explain the parabolic curvature of this redshift that dark energy is supposed to explain.
                    Suffice to say, this is not a popular point to make on physics forums, but then we have multiverses, block time, string theory, big bang, etc. to occupy their minds and no one is going to seriously question these fixtures and get tenure.

                    1. Jagger

                      The reason time(and the ability to measure distance) stop at light speed is that no action can occur in a frame traveling at that rate, or it would add up to faster than light.

                      But assuming Einstein is correct, theoretically particles can travel faster than light. Tachyons would be particles traveling faster than light and would have a reversed time arrow vs our universe. In his equation, the speed of light is the point at which time halts before reversing direction.

                      I found most fascinating looking at that point and the consequences of time/distance disappearing. What does it mean if time and distance disappears? Does everything, everywhere and everytime exist simultaneously at one point? And clearly change must occur even if time disappears. So change must be independent of time or experiencing a different form of time.

                      Again theoretically, those conditions would exist for pure energy such as photons if Einstein is correct. The universe of photons, or maybe just one giant photon, should be without time or distance as we experience it. Yet, photons interact with our universe. It seems as if there are two universes intersecting. Lots to interesting consequences to ponder whether reality or not.

                      —Yet this would negate explaining redshift—

                      I have seen some references to this problem. However I have never really tried to think it out closely. One day.

                    2. John Merryman

                      I don’t really buy into the various mathematical universe hypotheses. To me, math is abstract reductionism and very effectively describes reality, but it doesn’t explain it. For example, epicycles were very mathematically effective at describing the order of the cosmos, but the assumption this effectiveness translated to a mechanical clockwork universe, or giant cosmic gearwheels, levers, etc, was a mistake.
                      Similarly the “fabric of spacetime” as an explanation for the effectiveness of General Relativity is essentially the same presumption; that there is some physical equivalent to the mathematical description.
                      It is all extrapolated from treating measures of distance and duration as interchangeable. That space is fundamentally this three dimensional property and time is another dimension.
                      For one thing, when you get beyond all the metaphysical baggage, three dimensions really are just the xyz coordinate system and are no more foundational to space than longitude, latitude and altitude are foundational to the surface of this planet.
                      First off, you have to specify the specific coordinates, which only defines one frame and as I pointed out originally, there is no universal frame. Lots of frames/coordinate systems can be used to describe the same space. So effectively, space is infinitely dimensional.
                      For another thing, points, lines and planes are presumed to have at least one zero dimension, but, mathematically, anything multiplied by zero is zero and so a dimensionless point, etc, is no more real than a dimensionless apple.
                      If this were a mathematical universe, we could create perpetual motion devices from Escher waterfalls, but what can be modeled in two dimensions, doesn’t necessarily scale to three.
                      Math is reductionistic and you have to be careful what you throw out.

                    3. optimader


                      This picture, the earliest known photograph to include a recognizable human form, was taken in Paris, France, in 1838 by Louis Daguerre. ….The exposure time for the image was around seven minutes, and although the street would have been busy with traffic and pedestrians, it appears deserted. Everything moving was too fast to register on the plate.

                      The exception is the man at the lower-left who sat still long enough to appear in the photograph. The person cleaning his boots is also visible, although not as distinctly

                      The human equivalents of tachyons, moving faster than light (in the medium –silver halide) could percieve

                  4. craazyman

                    but they’ll be there waiting for ya the second you slow down! just like cleaning the bathroom

                    this thread needs a few beers and bong hits if it wants to get to the next level

                    it would be pretty funny to mail it to a Nobel Prize winning physicist and ask “Hey what do you think of this? Is this, like, something you guys are working on? Or is this just too far out there?” hahahahah ahahaaaa

                    I wonder if they’d write back? Maybe!

                    1. John Merryman

                      There are various blogs and sites out there, but the great wall of authority goes up, if you are not a fanboy.
                      Foundational Questions Institute ( to be one of my regulars haunts, but mostly just argumentative old-timers there. Many have significant issues with current theory as well. Some in the crank category, but various simply spent their lives working in related fields and also think there are serious problems.
                      Lately its been Scientia Salon;
                      Aeon and Nautilus have good comment sections at times.
                      I’ve been banned from some as well.
                      I’m not an academic, but in my line of work, knowledge of basic physics keeps me from getting hurt, so it’s personal.

                    2. craazyboy

                      They will probably send you a book about it!

                      I like Jagger’s idea that our known universe is really the inside of a giant energy photon. That almost sounds like String Theory except going in the opposite really, really bigger direction.

                      ‘Course then it’s still just a really big photon – and there could be more photons! Then there are probably some super big scientist dudes having too many beers and bong hits speculating on the existence of micro-universes!

                      With sh*t like that to think about, who cares about Redshift?

              3. ambrit

                Please, (my non moderated query,) what show and when?
                Under the ‘click to edit function: Now, my original “You are in moderation” comment reappears. 11 dimensional chess has nothing on this.

            2. Jagger

              Consider for the moment, if every person were equal to every other; What would it even mean?

              I assume the intent is equally valued. Each individual is equally valued as a distinctly unique human being by all or by a God. It is not a question of an individuals traits or achievements but their simple existence makes them a treasure to be valued equally as with all members of humanity.

              Whether old or young, rich or poor, crippled or sound, all are equally valued.

              1. Jagger

                And if you accept the above, then pure energy creates space and time when converted to matter. Yet the universe of pure energy lacks space and time unlike our universe of matter and energy.

              2. John Merryman

                This is a civic ideal, but nature is a process of creation and dissolution.
                Basically energy goes from prior to succeeding events, as these events go from being in the future to past.
                Consider this in terms of a factory, where the product goes from start to finish, while the production line moves the other way, consuming raw material and expelling finished product. Life does the same. Individuals go from birth to death, i.e. from being in the future, to being in the past. Meanwhile the species goes from past generations to future ones, i.e. from past to future. Similarly our state of consciousness goes from prior thoughts to succeeding ones, as these thoughts go from being in the future to being in the past.
                It’s a dichotomy of energy and form/information. Energy manifests form, while form defines energy. As energy is conserved and dynamic and form is static and transient, the arrow for energy is past to future, while the arrow for form is future to past.
                Getting carried away here.

              3. John Merryman

                As for theology, I think consciousness and biology are the same big question, not two. So that a spiritual absolute would be the essence of being from which we rise, not an ideal form from which we fell.
                It’s just politically convenient for those at the apex of society to claim spiritual legitimacy, as a top down, judgmental role.
                Meanwhile we are the lens through which this sense shines and as such, our form is what gives it character.
                A spirit without form would simply be nebulous, not superhuman.

                1. Joe Renter

                  Great to have a esoteric/exoteric string of comments and theories here. Nothing in creation is not part of creation. Creation being from the source of God. God being of the most high intelligence/consciousness. Which is experienced to the degree of one’s own consciousness. There are wheels inside wheels, as in “as above so below” so on and so on.
                  When I was a young in my teens I spent a lot of time and energy asking myself what happens after death. This lead down many paths (rabbit holes). The process should never end in this self reflection as to the nature of existence and self. What seems to happen is that we get stuck in the identity of our personally where we see less than the completeness that we are. If we take the premises that one can not take life away from life, we may be able to see that our part in creation is the slow turning of the wheel of consciousness. The physical body is just one of several we process ( think of mental body, etheric, emotional, and so on). As we travel through time in the cycles of reincarnation we slowly throw off the shackles of ignorance and become more soul infused. This takes thousand of life times. We are all equal but evolving at different rates in the path to perfection. Which is in it’s self just one point in the endless line of consciousness.
                  I might suggest to readers that they look into the work of Alice Bailey, H.P Blavatsky, and others in the modern teachings of the ageless wisdom. One other thing to keep in mind as we go into this difficult time of transition to the Aquarian age is that there is/will be an answer to our most pressing problems. This blog is exposes the worst of the last age in the greed and selfishness that energy manifest in ourselves and institutions.
                  Our lack of (mine) action to raise to the necessary effort to change holds us back in making these changes, where the resources of our planet is shared and the environment is respected (saved from the brink) Lastly I would like to put forth that there is a group of evolved beings (Human, but no longer needing to reincarnate) that are actively trying to help solve these problems humanity faces. Their presence is know to many and work with groups around the world. They will be working more exoterically going forward. They are not going to be doing the heavy lifting as this would infringe on the law of free will. We (humanity) have to do this. They are guides if you like. If I were to have one hope for all who read this, it would be to strive to be objective and work to make manifest changes that are so desperately needed. There is no separation. It is an illusion.
                  I know this is rant from the sidelines. Carry on.

                  1. Clive

                    And a jolly worthy rant it is too! A huge subject and you’re covering a lot of the bases there but — as you touch upon — right action such as this blog and the people who contribute to it are a very good example of how people can elevate the body of humanity above its base impulses and dispel the sometimes seemingly inescapable “glamours” which blind us.

                    For the uninitiated, A A Bailey is a rather controversial figure (I sort of think of her as the Ayn Rand of Theosophy, which might be a tad harsh) and the mumbo jumbo to common sense ratio isn’t the highest so wading through it all is a bit tedious. But a reasonable enough starting point if taken with huge dollops of salt. I can’t say I’ve ever found a single work or a single catch-all author on these “alternate” ways of thinking and worldviews but I too would encourage anyone to dive into the subject and see what they find.

              4. optimader

                Consider for the moment, if every person were equal to every other; What would it even mean?
                It would mean we exist in an incredibly boring place.

  3. paulmeli

    Why you must have banks to have money

    Banks are at their root accounting systems, and in the US at least banks get their power to create (state) money from Congress (the Federal Reserve Act) which gets its power from the Constitution.

    Banks can therefore never be at the top of the hierarchy of money creation…they are agents of the government and are to the government as the accounting department is to a business.

    Keen doesn’t actually say only banks can create money, he includes the government, but then goes on to say that banks create the bulk of it.

    I disagree with that assertion. It requires the assumption that only income generated by government spending is taxed (income taxes accrue only against govt. spending, which is how govt. accounting reports it) while income derived from people spending the proceeds of loans is not. If we remove that artificial construction federal spending accounts for 58% of the dollars in existence.

    1. John Merryman

      I think we have to learn to treat money as the contract it is, not the commodity we think of it as. Then there would be much greater understanding of both sides of the ledger and that it functions as a public medium and is only private property to the extent it is used, much as we are in possession the section of road we are on.

      1. Jim

        John Merryman stated the following above: “The problem is there is no universal frame…” and later “We need to start understanding our versions of reality really are subjective…”

        This perspective is certainly more consistent with the multiplicity of viewpoints on money and its creation (for example MMT, MMR and Keen’s Circuits viewpoint) yet as paulmeli’s comment above indicates the battle for ideological hegemony goes on.

        1. susan the other

          adenosinetriphophate one step abstracted – in an attempt to make human life more secure… i’m all for that

          1. Jim

            Me too.
            As long as its made clear that a large portion of the struggle for ideological hegemony is based on an attempt at descriptive imposition or the attempt to acquire influence and power by pretending its particular description is identical with the object of knowledge,in this case–money, how it is created and how the monetary machinery operates,

            MMT, MMR and Circuit theory all, to some degree, engage in this type of pretending–each with a different emphasis largely based on unspoken value preferences (for a powerful State, for a powerful market, etc.)

    2. STEPHEN V

      Borrowers are primary. Show me a lender with no one to lend to and I’ll show you a financial crisis. What is needed is non-collatteralized lending…especially to young entrepreneurs. Ain’t going to get that from a bank…

      1. Jef

        Borrowers are ubiquitous. Nearly all money is loaned into existence. After interest, mandatory insurance, and taxation on spending that borrowed money, all borrowers end up spending at least twice the price/cost for everything. This means there is the economy where things are produced, bought, and sold (the real price/cost of things), and then there is the economy where a percentage of the population lives off the other half of what is loaned into existence without producing a thing. In truth we can add the extraction process of the financialization of everything and that percentage of money extracted doubles again, but at least we do add a few percent to the population benefiting from the non-productive economy.

        All of which rides on the back of the REAL economy of production. Most believe that money making money is productive but it is only extractive.

    3. Benedict@Large

      Banks create credit; not money.

      If banks created money, they would never go broke. If banks created money, there would be no need for deposit insurance. If banks created money, they would have no incentive to take deposits. If banks created money, they would always have 100% reserves.

      Creating credit is not the same thing as creating money. The federal government (or the Fed, if that is your preference) creates money. Banks do not.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is credit money?

        It depends on your credit score, I guess.

        If a bank is backstopped by the government, is its credit as good as the government’s?

        Since it is not convenient to acknowledge the obvious fact that the government has been captured by banks, the ‘official’ private sector rating companies have banks riskier than the government.

        But for most people, when granted credit, they know they get money automatically.

      2. Calgacus

        That is misleading and confusing terminology. All money is credit. Banks create/issue & destroy/accept bank credit, which is widely used as money. Governments create etc government credit, which is even more widely used as money.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Credit is money; money is credit.

          Capitalism is communism; communism is capitalism.

          Blue is green; green is blue.

      3. MartyH


        Grind through either Graeber’s “Debt: the first 5,000 years” or Ellen Brown’s “Web of Debt.” Thy convinced me that a unit of fiat currency (say, $1) is a debt somebody owes me and the government guarantees someone will make good on it. Money is debt (credit) at the root. I think the Bank of England recentl confirmed that (those crazy Brits). Yves or Lambert posted the link a few days ago.

    4. financial matters

      I think this is an important point.

      Keen states that “The two main third parties whose promises we accept are the government and the banks.”, but doesn’t get into this all important hierarchy.

      Governments regulate and can shut down banks. They are supposed to keep them from making bad loans so as to protect the currency. They shouldn’t make give-away loans to themselves for instance. Or predatory loans where they end up taking the houses.

      He gets the fact that banks are important and can’t be left out of economic modeling. This is one of Hudson’s main points on how financialization is burying us.

      Keen also doesn’t get into the important distinction of private vs public banking. Public banking doesn’t have to worry about share price, exorbitant executive compensation, derivative trading desks, and can stick to making societal productive loans.

  4. craazyman

    I guess if somebody back then said the sky was blue people would have called them insane. It’s that way most of the time, isn’t it? We won’t bring up all the ways it is now.

    I got the green square right in 3 seconds — of course I’ve had the benefit of color lessons and attentive observation of the natural world. Anybody can do it if they know how to see. That’s really a metaphor. hahahah

  5. charles 2

    Emphasising the comment from paulmeli above, Steve Keen explicitly says in that article that “The two main third parties whose promises we accept are the government and the banks.” (emphasis mine). So no, the statement “one must have banks to have money” is not true. Having every US (or even world) citizen have an account with the Treasury would do just as well, and would probably work better .

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Having every US (or even world) citizen have an account with the Treasury would do just as well, and would probably work better.”

      Maybe not possible two hundred years ago. But we can do that today.

  6. Dino Reno

    The questions now becomes how long can the U.S. keep Greece in the EU. The Germans are done. They guarantee 30% of Greek debt and in their minds it’s lost. There is no point in dragging this out. The Greeks have gone mad.

    America is terrified of the Mr. Market’s reaction to the Grexit, and rightfully so. It’s the only recovery success story.
    Without market overvaluation of U.S. public companies and private equity there is nothing to report, except leverage and debt.

    A massive default will trigger price discovery throughout the system so goes the worst case scenario.

  7. charles 2

    The Greeks are right to count on the support from France. The French know all too well that continuation of austerity policies within the Euro will lead the Far Right to power, and be the end game for the EU. Elections are in 2017, it is better to have the crisis now.

  8. Lambert Strether

    “CNN gaffe mistakes Vladimir Putin for Jihadi John”

    I love this. I mean, c’mon guys. How are you going to retain your credibility if you can’t keep your demon figures straight?

    1. ambrit

      Well now, let us wait a while and see if there are any more ‘gaffes’ in regard to Mr. Putin. This could be a trial balloon for a “Putin as Devil” media blitz. Then, of course, will come the real Blitzkrieg. (“We will be dining in the Kremlin by Fall my President!”)
      I have learned to my dismay that my cynical ideations fall far short of the true state of affairs.

      1. bruno marr

        …repeat after me: Russia is not Iraq, or Syria, or Libya, or Granada, or Panama, Guatemala or the Phillipines. The next fool who attempts the plains of Ukraine moving toward Russia will be crushed.

    2. timbers

      Same story line the MSM has used in the past, just replace SADDAM with PUTIN.

      Paul Craig Roberts claims Ronald Reagan (times a bit more civil back then?) handed the Russians a hand written note promising they will be treated with respect and never be asked to do something not in their own interests. Compare/contrast with today’s norm of Hillary calling then “Hitler” and Obama & Co. saying Putin beats his wife and has clinical mental illnesses.

      Meanwhile Obama has armed Islamic Jihads in Syria and now Nazis in Ukraine. What could possibly go wrong?

    3. barrisj

      RT News had a wonderful quick segment the other night regarding a recent CNN (US) story in which one of their “aviation experts” claimed to have “evidence” that Vlad Putin had “ordered” the disappearance of MH 370 over the Indian Ocean…which of course dovetails nicely with the downing of MH 17 over the Ukraine several months later…assertion proven. The point of the RT piece was how ludicrously off-piste much of CNN “reporting” has become, in a desperate attempt at remaining “relevant”. How has CNN International largely escaped the fate of the US cable outlet in this regard?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My reaction; Can we use it to feed the overpopulated Earth?

      We assume it is mostly organic and free ranging. Do we have the necessary enzymes to digest food from Titan?

      “The starving children!!! How dare you oppose me?”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “I was at a billionaire hedgie’s soiree yester evening, they had giant vampire squid-looking delicacy from Titan that tasted like rat meat, and a lingering Durian-like flavor, with hints of fracking fluid and rocket fuel. It was delicious!”


        “Yes, why else do you think the billionaire put it on the menu?”

        1. Optimader

          This was the penultimate icelandic delicacy in the go-go Ponzi days
          (Ive been in that drying shed actually i have some nice pictures of the master of processing greenland sharks dog hanging on the bottom of a slab trying to chew it off–it’s an aquired taste.)

      2. ambrit

        Or we can do as Clifford Simak postulated in “City” and engineer new bodies for the humans to live in other planetary ecologies. Why take the resources of other places and bring them here if we can go and live there?

      3. craazyboy

        “My reaction; Can we use it to feed the overpopulated Earth?”

        From pics I’ve seen of Titan, I would assume they are silvery cloud people, and are not edible.

    2. guest

      Something in that article puzzled me:

      capable of functioning in liquid methane temperatures of 292 degrees below zero

      I thought that the absolute zero was at about -272 degrees. Are -292 degrees even physically possible?

  9. I.G.I.

    RE- Nemtsov mourning. It is astonishing how swift are the English-language media at giving the Nemtsov murder an anti-Putin spin… The BBC coverage in particular is in stark contrast with what has been reported in the Russian media – if it wasn’t for the name one would assume that the talk is about two completely different events!

    1. tgs

      The Guardian front paged a piece entitled ‘Russians’ faith in Putin may not be shaken by Nemtsov’s barbaric death’

      Obviously the title itself begs the question since it implies that Putin had the guy assassinated and Russians have good reason to fear Putin. The author then goes on to say this act of barbarism is possibly a precursor to Stalinist-style purges.

      And all this about a neo-liberal oligarch/politician who was polling in single digits. Two years ago, if someone had said that this was a false flag operation, I would have smiled and shaken my head. After the events of the last year, I think that this was quite possibly a false flag.

  10. zephyrum

    Xrite has a much more comprehensive color test at ColorIQ. With some care I got a perfect score on the first try, but years of working in color science may have helped train my perception.

  11. timbers

    “Food preservatives linked to obesity and gut disease Nature (Nikki). Per the heated discussion on GMOs yesterday, here are chemicals considered to be safe that nevertheless appear to have side effects.”

    Just wanted to draw a parallel to yesterday’s discussion of “scientific consensus” regarding GMO, and recent NC post on the medical consensus that taking statins for blood cholesterol is good. If you watched the NC post linking to the Australian program which delved into that “scientific consensus” you have similar issues.

    After watching that Australian program linked here at NC, I would say as a non-expert that there does exist a scientific consensus that you should be taking statins for high cholesterol, but that the consensus is wrong.

  12. DJG

    Savini and the Northern League are the Sarah Palin and Tea Party of Italy. So I’m skeptical of “large demonstrations” in Roma. The Northern League’s politics are quite fantastical, filled with Palinesque resentments and Tolkienesque myths of Northern Italian Celticness. What they want is to turn Northern Italy into a kind of Austria–a rump republic that went into retirement years ago.

  13. JCC

    It seems like the two articles on SPOE are hinting, without actually saying, that depositors are going to be on the hook for the next big failure. True?

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      As I understand it one of the two toxic riders that the FIRE sector lobbyists strong-armed into the Omnibus funding bill just before the adjournment of the last Congress struck the Dodd-Frank requirement that bank derivative exposures be housed in a separate corporate subsidiary from the bank holding company. This enables the bank to move them back into the bank itself where, according to a statute enacted in the ’90s, they stand in line ahead of FDIC insured depositors if the bank goes tits up. IIRC the FDIC has assets of about $46B in its reserve fund, whereas no one knows what the total bank derivative exposure is except that it’s almost certainly above $100 trillion. Thus if in the next crash even 0.1% of the derivatives go bad good luck on getting an FDIC reimbursement.

  14. optimader

    When Chocolate was Medicine: Colmenero, Wadsworth and Dufour

    Chocolate has not always been the common confectionary we experience today. When it first arrived from the Americas into Europe in the 17th century it was a rare and mysterious substance, thought more of as a drug than as a food. Christine Jones traces the history and literature of its reception.

    In the seventeenth century, Europeans who had not traveled overseas tasted coffee, hot chocolate, and tea for the very first time. For this brand new clientele, the brews of foreign beans and leaves carried within them the wonder and danger of far-away lands. They were classified at first not as food, but as drugs — pleasant-tasting, with recommended dosages prescribed by pharmacists and physicians, and dangerous when self-administered. As they warmed to the use and abuse of hot beverages, Europeans frequently experienced moral and physical confusion brought on by frothy pungency, unpredictable effects, and even (rumor had it) fatality. Madame de Sévigné, marquise and diarist of court life, famously cautioned her daughter about chocolate in a letter when its effects still inspired awe tinged with fear: “And what do we make of chocolate? Are you not afraid that it will burn your blood? Could it be that these miraculous effects mask some kind of inferno [in the body]?”…
    – See more at:

  15. Saddam Smith

    What money is:

    Keen begins by citing Augusto Graziani’s question: “how does a monetary economy differ from one in which trade occurs by barter?” Surely that’s the wrong question:

    The definitive anthropological work on barter, by Caroline Humphrey, of Cambridge, could not be more definitive in its conclusions: “No example of a barter economy, pure and simple, has ever been described, let alone the emergence from it of money; all available ethnology suggests that there never has been such a thing.”
    (Graeber, 2011:29)

    At root, [findings from ethnology and history] tell us that profit-seeking exchange does not exist [in pre-money societies], that such cannot therefore be a property of the human species.
    (Heinsohn and Steiger, 1996:40, my translation)

    The idea that money solved the problem of double of coincidence of wants is just that, an idea, as is a homo economicus driven by its biology to truck and barter come what may.

    Graziani more reasonably asserts that money is not money while it is a commodity, hence a “true monetary economy must therefore be using a token money”. Money may also not be credit: “If in a credit economy at the end of the period some agents still owe money to other ones, a final payment is needed, which means that no money has been used.” However, after some further light analysis we come to Keen’s correct observation that banks create money as debt: “Banks create money by issuing a loan to a borrower”. Modern bank money surely cannot meet Graziani’s criteria.

    I cannot tie together the two components of Keen’s (admittedly short) article, especially considering Graziani’s third condition “money must not grant privileges of seignorage to any agent making a payment.” While banks create money as interest-bearing debt, it can’t be a means of final payment, and it cannot be a neutral affair from which no one profits. I also see a contradiction in Grazian’s position, in particular that paper (token money) is not a commodity. It need not be, but it can be:

    If we can store it at interest and thus profit from it directly, it is a commodity.
    If we exchange our labour for it, it is a commodity between us and what we need and want to live.
    If we can exchange money of one currency with money of another currency and make profits and losses in so doing, it is a commodity.
    If it has a value relative to a basket of commodities, it is a commodity.

    Merely having banks create (‘worthless’) money as debt does not meet Graziani’s requirements, as far as I can tell. Other more radical changes must be brought about.

    I agree that money should be a token (or voucher), that it should not be created as debt, and that no profit should be made directly from it, either in its creation or by lending it at interest. There is a proposal to establish this type of money system (called Infomoney), and there was a similar system in the past in China: Fei lun (or the flying wheel). If memory serves it was basically a circle (the account) on a chalkboard in which a vendor recorded a number that represented the ‘price’ agreed on with the buyer. At some later date the buyer would return to the vendor with a commodity, the two would haggle over price, agree some figure, and the number in the circle would be amended accordingly. Pretty nifty imo.

    1. Mel

      Questions about commodities get tricky.
      Karl Polanyi says that money (along with labour and land) is a fake commodity because it isn’t produced for sale. Looked at that way, lots of things are not real commodities. Fish, for example, isn’t a commodity, as we found when we tried to increase fish production by investing in plant and equipment and pumping up the industry. It turned out that fish was produced by other fish for reasons all their own. Our attempt at increasing production has wound up depopulating the seas.
      You might observe, too, that the rounds of Quantitative Easing have made money into a commodity that is produced for sale — and look what that’s got us.

      1. Saddam Smith

        But we could say that sell our labour for money. If neither were a commodity, what would be the nature of the transaction? For me, anything that can be used in commercial exchange is at the moment of commercial exchange a commodity. Even friendship can be sold as a commodity, even though it need not be. Ditto gold, oil, wheat, and all other commodities.

        That said, I agree. But I think it’s tricky because language is imperfect and terms are always changing. There’s no fixed meaning to individual words, just more or less appropriate or helpful definitions.

        1. Mel

          Yeah. Regarding fictitious commodities, Polanyi does finally write “Nevertheless, it is with the help of this fiction that the actual markets for labour, land, and money are organized”. We don’t get it for nothing, though. It makes a mess of familiar laws of economics. Justifying his description of labour as a fictitious (not fake, like I said) commodity, he writes:

          Labour is only another name for a human activity which goes with life itself, which in its turn is not produced for sale, but for entirely different reasons, nor can that activity be detached from the rest of life, be stored or mobilized;

          (Gives us a whole nother reading of The Matrix, in which all the action would take place in and around a warehouse for commodity labour.)
          Making labour a commodity messes up the Law of Supply and Demand. You can’t work forty hours a day no matter what you’re offered. I don’t know you, but if we talk about somebody else, Economic Norm say, research shows that the more he earns, regardless of the hourly price, beyond $75,000 a year, the more he’s apt to get bored and wander off. Economic Norm won’t reliably bring increasing amounts of labour to the market in exchange for higher prices.
          But maybe Polanyi is getting slightly quaint. Industry was different before the 1930s. The scale of industry ballooned just before 1944 (when The Great Transformation was published) when WWII was fought on the assembly lines as well as on battlefields.
          We see in the example I gave before, as the fishing industry grew to a modern industrial scale, the fish stopped accommondating us.
          The same messed-up demand curve that Economic Norm showed us in selling his labour also shows up, right-to-left as it were, in the current market for fracked oil and gas, where lower prices attract more “commodity” onto the market.
          I was going to complain that dividing by zero in arithmetic cause problems similar to what we get by counting fictitious commodities as real — a situation where we have to keep breaking our train of thought to check whether we’re doing something disallowed — but I seem to have proved that modern industry will make that mess without any theoretical help.

          1. Saddam Smith

            Supply and demand is not a law: price can be manipulated, and a commodity like labour can mess with it. Further, no matter how much money I might be able to offer, I can’t buy more gold/oil/land/Mona Lisas than exists, as you point out with the fish example. That’s one of the problem’s with money as a so-called measure of value that’s also a commodity; numbers are infinite, nothing else is. Unless of course the whole economic system is radically redesigned to cope with a sustainable, self-replenishing steady-state system. Then I guess we’d have pseudo-infinite commodities, kinda-sorta.

        2. JTFaraday

          There is perhaps nothing wrong with positing labor as “a commodity” in the moment of exchange. The problem is with the economistic framework that Polanyi accused “economic liberalism” of superimposing on all of society, such that it effected a totalizing displacement of the concept of society and of the social, much as we more recently have Margaret Thatcher insisting “there is no such thing” as that. This superimposition and displacement was a mechanism by which the human being could be emptied of all value excepting that value which he or she has in the moment of exchange.

          In Polanyi’s view, those whom political philosophy have traditionally seen as having touted the idea of a society composed of “individuals,” instead effectively trashed the human and turned people into waste material with no value of their own outside of the momentary value of their discrete activity within the industrial capitalist regime of accumulation.

          Or, in your terminology, “the transaction” replaces the person. If the person isn’t in transaction at all times, the person may as well not exist. This isn’t possible, so Polanyi named people/ labor, a fake or “fictitiuos commodity,” a part of the natural world that disproves–renders fictional– the totalizing intentions of (in this case, market) economics as the ordering principle for the entirety of civilization.

          This is an important philosophical point to make about the nature of the human in the economistic liberal framework, one which may be a bit muddied by his Speenhamland discussion, in which he suggests that idle hands do indeed render people into human waste material– or at least, this was Robert Owen’s view, at the time.

          This is not a terrible path to cut through the material as Owen can be interesting, although likely not without his own prejudices– he was himself an industrialist, albeit an enlightened (or perhaps just a paternalistic) one. Interrogating what Owen’s own prejudices (and interests) might have been would be good if you’re going to use him as history’s judge of the effects of the Speenhamland laws.

          I don’t know that Polanyi really does this. Maybe a little. In any case, Owen’s own son was moved leave and to try to run experiments in wholly voluntary communities in the US, which American historians have since called “utopian.”

          1. Saddam Smith

            Excellent points.

            As the saying goes, we know the price of everything and the value of nothing. In my view, we are in a long, very well-hidden battle over value-definitions. Neoliberalism wants as much as possible to be ‘valued’ by price (money/market). Sure (the argument goes), there may be some ‘spiritiual’ or ‘ineffable’ value to other things, but in the real world, it costs hard money to get things done, and working out what actions and decisions are good and to be repeated is best judged by market/profit. That gives money (i.e. the controllers of money) extraordinary power (to conceal this, money is said to be ‘valueless’ — how ironic), and society becomes more and more mechanical, less and less human, as we travel deeper and deeper down this heartless path.

  16. Llewelyn Moss

    Speaking of Sabotaging Encryption Software, if you own a Lenovo computer, you better check into the Superfish fiasco and how to uninstall it. It turns out that this advertising trojan can bork your SSL connection and will accept uncertified security certificates.

    If you are not aware. Lenovo ‘quietly’ started installing this trojan on consumer computers. It intercepts your Internet search terms and redirects you to the sites of their preferred advertisers. Hackers have found a way to use it’s dlls to pwn your machine. Thanks Lenovo.

    Lenovo’s Tone Deaf Public Response
    “SuperFish was previously included on some consumer notebook products … to assist customers with discovering products similar to what they are viewing. However, user feedback was not positive, and we responded quickly and decisively”.

  17. Edna M.

    “The Dark Side of Syriza” is written by a member of the River Party (Potami). This party gives me the chills. The party advocated in favor of the creditors during negotiations. The President of the European Parliament told Tsipras he was hoping that Syriza would form a coalition with them (the River Party). It is rumored that the money behind this party comes from a Greek tycoon who also owns the station where the President of the River Party worked as a tv journalist. The party seems to be made up of people who are well off and try to come across as modern, hip. They keep emphasizing how pro-European they are. They seem to have no clue about the devastating effects on the economy that the austerity has produced. An example of the of their depth of concerns was displayed in a video the party made before the elections about how wrong it is when people put tomato crates near the sidewalk to hold a parking space.

    1. John Jones

      “Syriza’s main innovation has been to capitalize on the urgent need for change in Greece by portraying the parties it has ousted as somehow aligned with the county’s enemies, including the EU. That message suggests that what Syriza also stands for is the worst sort of change of all: nationalist isolation.”

      I don’t know if SYRIZA ultimately stands for this but considering the previous parties,at many times were aligned with Greece’s enemies like the E.U NATO etc who’s interests always undermine Greece. Maybe some nationalist isolation from these countries is what Greece needs. This Potami fool sounds like another working for the enemy like some of the previous leaders of Greece.

  18. Jill

    Blue is a color which has been prized since very ancient times. It has been used in jewelry and art for thousands of years. Perhaps the author means the specific word “blue” doesn’t occur in different languages? This can be true but it is not accurate to say that people did not perceive what we today call “blue” color.

  19. mycroft

    People on NC have wondered why the Europeans are so docile in going along with the Neo-Cons attempts to overthrow the Russian government. I believe this can be traced back to the Fed’s response to the financial crisis that hit in September of 2008. The Fed “gave” a trillion dollars in loans to European banks at zero percent interest with no time limit to pay back the loans. While this may look like a gift, because these loans can be called at any time, America has the Europeans by the short hairs. The Europeans have a choice between going along with America’s agenda or having a banking crisis.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      The following is a Google Translate version of a comment on a thread at The Saker’s place. The original, which was taken from a website with a Croatian TLD (.hr) immediately preceded it.

      Former Czech Minister of Health, John David, a member of the Social Democratic Party, CSSD, commented on the current situation in Europe and tensions over the Ukrainian crisis, pointing out that this situation could lead to major escalation of the conflict in the Old Continent.

      In an interview for an online newspaper noted: “Europe, which want to receive the order by, the US, force, lead the entire continent to the slaughterhouse.”

      He said that the US can do nothing good to offer Europe, and that Washington is pressuring European countries.

      “We have to buy their weapons, to obey their dictates as TTIP, send your soldiers in the wars they start around the world. European elites are promised that they will be allowed to survive if they diligently followed the US interests at the expense of their own people. If Europe wants to survive, can not afford to have this kind of elite in power, “said former Czech minister Ivan David.

      If/when ministers of Eurozone countries begin speaking out like this while they’re still in office rather than retired we’ll be making progress. Below are the links. The Saker thread is a bit confusing because the first few comments pertain to a different post on the site.

  20. EmilianoZ

    What Keen forgets to say is that banks skim money, a lot of it, in the process of being an intermediary between a buyer and a seller. I think it’s called interest on a loan. Is the interest money creation or destruction?

  21. susan the other

    Thanks for der Spiegel on the curmudgeon we know and love as Schaeuble. I didn’t mind the puffery. I kinda liked it. I don’t think Schaeuble is a villain nor that he knows what is going to happen any more than I do. But he goes with what he has known. But that is all changing now. And, as irony would have it, the EU isn’t necessarily at stake if they change the way they do banking. But change is war.

  22. TedWa

    RE: Irish-Style Banking Inquiry into the 2008 Financial Crisis

    Really not any different than our own government inquiry into the financial crisis. They were instructed that they could never use the word “fraud”.

  23. praedor

    “Life not as we know it” on Titan…sort of. It would be organized similarly (cell membranes closing off a separate metabolizing interior) and would be carbon based.

  24. Everythings Jake

    The important point in the Schauble piece is that he’s a pig, operating on a false and self-serving premise that the poor are responsible for the state of the world and should suffer. And that at some deeply disturbing level, he enjoys punishing the poor. Poor people didn’t do this. Immoralist rich did, and Schauble can orgasm all he wants over the sins of the poor, nothing will change that truth. If putting Schauble’s head (besides those of just the corrupt ruling extremely wealthy elite) in a guillotine is necessary, so be it.

  25. bob

    “Abandoned Walmart is Now America’s Largest 1-Floor Library”

    I’d be really careful doing that. Libraries and librarians are infamous for putting too many books into buildings meant for that. They overload the structure, book by book. Not just the above ground “structure”, but the foundation.

    In a walmart that was probably built to the industry standard lowest bidder, 10 year life– Watch those cracks in the floor.

  26. ewmayer

    Posting this Leonard-Nimoy-related item here for lack of a more-apt NC-posting venue which is not already several days old:

    The U.S. MeTV cable network – the ‘Me’ stands for “memorable entertainment”, as the network specializes in classic retro TV shows – always does nice tributes to notable actors on their shows who pass away. Friday night they apparently hadn’t yet put together an in memoriam ad-blurb for Leonard Nimoy, but in the regular weekday 11:30pm Perry Mason slot they showed an episode of that show in which he guested as the-murderer-who-almost-gets-away-with-it. Last night – Saturday nights are SciFi-themed – in the 9pm Star Trek slot they showed what is undoubtedly the most memorable Spock-centered episode of the series, the “Pon Farr” one (official title: Amok Time) in which Spock must return to Vulcan to claim his childhood betrothed (played by Arlene Martel, who passed away last Fall … and note that Vienna-born actress Celia Lovsky who plays the high priestess T’Pau in the same episode was the real-life wife from 1934-1945 of none other than Peter Lorre), only to run into a nasty little surprise.

    This evening they have set aside for an evening-long retrospective of various show episodes featuring Nimoy (including episodes of Columbo and Mission: Impossible) – so if you get the channel as part of your cable package (I have Comcast limited-basic for less than $20/month, so all Comcast customers regardless of fanciness-of-their-cable-package should find themselves in this group), check it out.

    1. frosty zoom

      look for “i, robot” from the old outer limits. 1964, me thinks. spock has emotions!

  27. Praedor

    Bit of a misnomer. Humans could see blue probably for as long as they’ve existed, even before. They have the photoreceptors that respond to the blue wavelengths, thus they can (and could) see blue. They simply didn’t call the color “blue” (or equivalent) and perhaps saw it as a shade of green. In a way it IS a shade in the green spectrum sitting at one extreme end with yellow sitting at the opposite end (blue is green without any yellow tinting mixed with blue, yellow is green without any blue tinting mixed with yellow).

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