Links 7/11/15

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A typhoon shelter… for homeless dogs Hong Kong Free Press

Lazy lifestyle key to pandas’ bamboo-only diet BBC

What kind of happiness should we strive for? Cathy O’Neil. From last week. I suspect Buddhists would have trouble with these ideas, since they still involve striving or pleasure-seeking (the “striving” sounds discordant). Would be curious to get reactions.

NYT: Turns Out Atticus Is a Racist in New Harper Lee Novel Gawker

Uber driver who threatened to slit customer’s throat suspended RT UK

‘Awful,’ ‘Evil’ New Airline Seat Design Unveiled Newser Mobile

Thousands stranded as Indonesia’s Bali airport shut after volcanic eruption Reuters (furzy mouse). What a nightmare. I am one of the very few people who had a happy volcano refugee experience in London in 2010, when Richard Smith and his wife let me stay on in their flat until I could depart. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be stranded.

Gaudí’s Great Temple New York Review of Books. I was lucky enough to visit the Sagrada Família on a Sunday morning, when it was not very busy, on a sunny day. What a glorious building.

Rousseff battles impeachment calls Financial Times


Crippled Greece yields to overwhelming power as deal looms Ambrose Evans-Prtichard, Telegraph. If no deal, “We’re going to see severe shortages of basic food in Greece in less than a month.”

Greek debt crisis: MPs approve bailout plan but some Syriza MPs rebel – as it happened Guardian (furzy mouse). A recap of the debate and votes.

#Greece govt suffers wider losses than expected – Tough days ahead for Tsipras – Almost impossible to pass bailout laws under this coalition @YanniKouts

Greece Faces Showdown With Creditors as Lawmakers Back Bailout Bloomberg

Yanis Varoufakis, who is the MP for the district with the largest number of voters in all of Greece, did not show up to the vote. Here’s his excuse. You can run it through Google Translate

What was the point of Tsipras referendum? Paul Mason. Wow, this is strained. Start with the “flush out that clear threat” part. Where has Mason been all these years? That threat was used successfully against Ireland. That’s why its government absorbed the ginormous liabilities of its banks even though Ireland had no deposit guarantee. It was also used against Cyprus, which was forced into a bank holiday and a depositor haircut (it had the alternative of Euroexit too but never considered that seriously since its banking system was not anywhere near as troubled as Greece’s is).

Opinion: Why a Grexit Must Be Avoided Der Spiegel. Important. The first line tells you why we may still have a Grexit despite Greece having prostrated itself: “Anyone who opposes the prospect of a Grexit can feel a little lonely in Germany these days.”

Angela Merkel faces ‘lose-lose’ choice on Greece Financial Times

Different line-up on Grexit from Handelsblatt. Belgians shift camp. Austria neutral @AmbroseEP. Important. An ever clearer reason why Grexit is likely. It requires all 19 Eurozone states to approve a deal. Look at the number of holdouts. Unless Merkel and the US spend a shitload of political capital, it’s hard to see how this changes, particularly in a couple of days.

Putin: Where was EU when Greek crisis was evolving? RT


The Club Med Marshall Plan Gillian Tett, Financial Times

‘We underestimated their power’: Greek government insider lifts the lid on five months of ‘humiliation’ and ‘blackmail’ Mediapart. Sad and revealing. When you are negotiating and engaged in diplomacy, you don’t have the luxury of having emotional reactions like experiencing humiliation. This is also why Juncker’s recent public wallowing in self pity is similarly really shocking.

Greece: Humanitarian Crisis on the Islands ReliefWeb

‘We’re living the Thug Life’: refugees stuck on Greek border have nothing left to lose Guradian


The Shadow of Brest-Litovsk (with image, tweets) · billmon1 Storify


Turkey arrests 21 suspected ISIS members CNN

Negotiators extend teetering talks on Iran Financial Times

Major blast rocks Italian consulate in Cairo reports RT News

Imperial Collapse Watch

Five Key Takeaways from the New U.S. National Military Strategy Council on Foreign Relations

​International violation? US Army considering hollow point bullets for pistols RT

Judge Orders Pentagon to Get Guantanamo Force-Feeding Videos Ready for Release Intercept

Leading psychologists secretly aided U.S. torture program Newsweek

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The Risks of Mandating Backdoors in Encryption Products Bruce Schnier

Anonymous: How To Fool Facial Recognition YouTube (furzy mouse). Wish they gave an instruction manual. Won’t just wearing a fake nose and enormous sunglasses do?

When the FBI Went After ‘Mad’ Magazine Mental Floss

Big changes proposed for Medicare surgery payments MSN

Immigration Agents Find Common Cause with Hate Groups Texas Observer

Hillary Clinton’s push on gun control marks a shift in presidential politics Washington Post. Translation: Hillary’s election mavens have figured out gun lovers will never vote for her, and this stance will shore up her “progressive” claims

Good Cop: Watch Policeman Uphold Constitution, Prevent Citizens from Being Searched & Accosted Free Thought Project

Here’s the Most Interesting Thing in GSElevator’s New Book Bloomberg. Read about price fixing!

Oil price could fall further, warns IEA Financial Times

Join Occupy the SEC in Urging the President and the Senate to Appoint a Progressive as SEC Commissioner! Petition2Congress. Please sign!

Who Runs the Fed? Dissent. There is one part I quibble with. The boards of the regional Feds are not at all like private company boards. They could never force out a Fed president, for starters, and they play almost no oversight role. So the result is actually worse: the regional Feds are not properly governed at all, but get some pathetic oversight from both the Board of Governors and some intervention from the private boards (the private boards do nominate the candidate for the next regional Fed president, which the BoG usually accepts. While that is appallingly obvious, the BoG would almost certainly come up with an equally cronyistic selection process). In practice, the regional Fed boards are almost entirely advisory in nature. So the regional Feds operate in a banking bubble with virtually no accountability.

Modern Money Theory – Part 1 New Economic Perspectives

U.S. Primary Bond Market Seized Up, Junk Bond Issuance Frozen, Chaos in China, Greece, Puerto Rico, Commodities Cited Wolf Richter

Class Warfare

Sorry, but the jobless future isn’t a Luddite fallacy. We need to be ready. Vivek Wadhwa (David L)

Two Cheers for the Middle Ages! New York Review of Books

Antidote du jour. @World: “A mother bear and her cub taking a dip in Kurile Lake in Russia.”

Bathing bears links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. German native speaker

      From the article by Mr. Varoufakis:
      “Keen to avoid confessing to parliaments that taxpayers would have to pay again for the banks by means of unsustainable new loans, EU officials presented the Greek state’s insolvency as a problem of illiquidity.”

      During the interview in March in the German talk show where Mr.Varoufakis presented himself to the German public. he said exactly the same thing, that Greece has “a small liquidity problem”. He also said that Greece will pay back every cent. He did not bring up that for him/his government/Greece as such, debt relief is desired, or any arguments for debt relief. Mr. Varoufakis has at the time, due to his words, alienated a lot of Germans who already knew that Greece does not just ‘have a liquidity problem.”

      I would have been really interested in him talking about the results of his talks with the Swiss authorities regarding the bank accounts of Greek citizens in Switzerland. Have not heard one comment from him about that. Have not heard why the Greek shipping magnates are still not being taxed. Am not finding the source right now, but Greek shipping had a great boom the last years, with IIRC 15 percent growth rates yearly.

      1. dla

        Maybe it’s me, but I don’t find what he did or did not say in a particular German talkshow very interesting. Of course Varoufakis made all kinds of mistakes, and you can keep referencing that one speech ad infinitum, but it looks like an elaborate ad hominem, distracting from what the man actually has to say in this piece. The talkshow sort of pales in importance to the fact (if Varoufakis is correct, which I’m willing to hear arguments against) that Schauble might be willing to force a Grexit for political reasons.

        1. David

          “…Varoufakis made all kinds of mistakes…”

          Yet he still fails to address his mistakes. For someone who proclaims to be pro-Europe, he spends a lot of time blaming Germans for Greece’s problems.

          Yanis in April (Guardian)

          “Greece’s tax system needs to be revamped, and the revenue authorities must be freed from political and corporate influence. The pension system is ailing. The economy’s credit circuits are broken. The labor market has been devastated by the crisis and is deeply segmented, with productivity growth stalled. Public administration is in urgent need of modernization, and public resources must be used more efficiently. Overwhelming obstacles block the formation of new companies. Competition in product markets is far too circumscribed. And inequality has reached outrageous levels, preventing society from uniting behind essential reforms.”

          Yanis, why hasn’t your government implemented reforms? You don’t need the Troika’s approval to change your own laws.

          “..Schauble might be willing to force a Grexit for political reasons.”

          The Troika have had plenty of opportunities to push Greece over the edge. I don’t think anybody wants a Grexit. IMO, Varoufakis knows this and has been successfully using this to prolong his governments shenanigans.

          1. dla

            Yanis, why hasn’t your government implemented reforms? You don’t need the Troika’s approval to change your own laws.

            1) even if you can hold YV personally responsible for not implementing your favorite reform, that doesnt mean his analysis of current events is without merit. Arguing along those lines is called an ad hominem. 2) It is actually an interesting question whether the troika allowed, or would have allowed, the Greek government to reform the tax system, go after the oligarchs, etc. From my point of view, they have been opposed to any measures not putting the bill in the hands of the 99% (see corporation tax). 3) In any case, I think it’s not realistic to expect such reforms in the short time frame Syriza has been in power, given the complicated background and the state of the economy. 4) Given the harshness of the creditors’ demands, I can even understand if YV had held off tax reforms in order to keep this as a bargaining chip in the negotations.

            On grexit: we’ll see, I guess. Word is just out that Germany’s fin ministery developed plans for a ‘temporary’ Grexit.

            1. David

              In the Guardian article you referenced, Mr Varoufakis states the following (bold is my emphasis):

              In 2010, the Greek state became insolvent. Two options consistent with continuing membership of the eurozone presented themselves: the sensible one, that any decent banker would recommend – restructuring the debt and reforming the economy; and the toxic option – extending new loans to a bankrupt entity while pretending that it remains solvent.

              Official Europe chose the second option, putting the bailing out of French and German banks exposed to Greek public debt above Greece’s socioeconomic viability. A debt restructure would have implied losses for the bankers on their Greek debt holdings.

              Yet Wiki sees it differently (bold is my emphasis)

              On 2 May 2010…the Troika, responded by launching a €110 billion bailout loan to rescue Greece from sovereign default and cover its financial needs throughout May 2010 until June 2013, conditional on implementation of austerity measures, structural reforms, and privatization of government assets.

              What were the conditions back in 2010? From the IMF (bold is mine)

              • Fiscal policies. Fiscal consolidation—on top of adjustment already under way—will total 11 percent of GDP over three years, with the adjustment designed to get the general government deficit under the 3 percent level by 2014 (compared with 13.6 percent in 2009).
              • Government spending. Spending measures will yield savings of 5 ¼ percent of GDP through 2013. Pensions and wages will be reduced and frozen for three years, with payment of Christmas, Easter, and summer bonuses workers abolished, but with protection for the lowest-paid.
              • Government revenues. Revenues measures will yield 4 percent of GDP through 2013 by raising value-added tax, and taxes on luxury items, and tobacco and alcohol, among other items.
              • Revenue administration and expenditure control. The Greek government will strengthen its tax collection and raise contributions from those who have not carried a fair share of the tax burden. It will safeguard revenue from the largest tax payers. It will also strengthen budget controls. The total revenue gains and expenditure savings from these structural reforms are expected to gradually total 1.8 percent of GDP during the program period.
              • Financial stability. A Financial Stability Fund, funded from the external financing package, is being set up to ensure a sound level of bank equity.
              • Entitlement programs. Government entitlement programs will be curtailed; selected social security benefits will be cut while maintaining benefits for the most vulnerable.
              • Pension reform. Comprehensive pension reform is proposed, including by curtailing provisions for early retirement.
              • Structural policies. Government to modernize public administration, strengthen labor markets and income policies, improve the business environment, and divest state enterprises.
              • Military spending. The plan envisages a significant reduction in military expenditure during the period.

              You may notice that some of these items are the same ones that Mr Varoufakis identified in April 2015 (5 years later) as needing to be implemented.

              As far as the debt restructure, in 2012, this happened(bold is mine)

              Greece has won sufficient support from its private-sector creditors to clinch a new bailout package, as it announced on Friday morning that 85.8% of bondholders had agreed to take heavy losses on their investments…

              For the bondholders the deal means taking losses of as much as 74% on their holdings but European policymakers have insisted that is a relatively small price to pay for containing the eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Greece is now expected to enforce so-called “collective action clauses” on any holders who have not accepted the bond swap deal.

              The deal will mean embattled Greece slashes its debt burden and qualifies for fresh bailout money as part of the €130bn (£109bn) package from the IMF…

              So, yes, my comment was directed at Mr Varoufakis and not his argument. I find it difficult to objectively look at his arguments when the bases for those arguments are false. Sorry about the length of the response.

              1. dla

                It is not clear to me what you’re trying to argue, apart from voicing your dislike of YV. For an admission of committing an ad hominem it is indeed rather long.

                Of course the troika has insisted on tax reforms, but the interesting question is whether they practice what they preach. At least for the case of multinationals, the troika has demanded that Greece reverse anti-tax evasion laws: (from the Belgian labour party, admittedly). Anyway, it is clear that the failure to implement the “reforms” you cite cannot be pinned fully on Syriza or YV.

                At the last point you seem to be implying Greece has already had (enough?) debt relief — so perhaps you disagree with the IMF there?

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Was that willingness there from the start or something evolved over the course of negotiations?

      2. Disturbed Voter

        Can we just admit that capitalism in Europe has failed? And that in Greece in particular, they need full on Marxism, with clawbacks of all Greek plutocratic pillaging from Switzerland et al. Unfortunately that will require the invasion and destruction of Switzerland et al … since they are the primary enablers of elite criminality. Will Germany step forward as the White Knight … and eliminate the tax haven cancer that is Switzerland? Will the Queen step forward as the Red Queen … and eliminate the tax havens that are Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Bahamas and Caymans? Otherwise all talk of reform is simply smoke and mirrors. Real reform would require the ending of the Catholic church and the monarchies. The republican plutocrats of Greece, that Prince Phillip probably knows well … are a drop of water in a European ocean of plutocracy.

        1. andyb

          Speaking of the Caymans (and other Caribbean tax havens), isn’t it strange that the DOJ went after Switzerland full bore but left the Caymans alone? And I often wonder why the largest DC law firms have established 1000s of accounts there. Hmmm. I wonder who their clients are?

          1. JTMcPhee

            John Grisham knows… Tom Wolfe offered other insights into our System,… Not that some little frisson-inducing dispersion of that knowledge has seemed to make for any possible positive change in “the system,” just more despondence…

            And it’s all really just a dune, a sand pile, with knowable or observable if not predictable behaviors:

            But over time, in fits and starts, Bak’s radical argument has grown into a legitimate scientific discipline. Now, about 150 scientists worldwide investigate so-called “critical” phenomena in the brain, the topic of at least three focused workshops in 2013 alone. Add the ongoing efforts to found a journal devoted to such studies, and you have all the hallmarks of a field moving from the fringes of disciplinary boundaries to the mainstream.

            In the 1980s, Bak first wondered how the exquisite order seen in nature arises out of the disordered mix of particles that constitute the building blocks of matter. He found an answer in phase transition, the process by which a material transforms from one phase of matter to another. The change can be sudden, like water evaporating into steam, or gradual, like a material becoming superconductive. The precise moment of transition — when the system is halfway between one phase and the other — is called the critical point, or, more colloquially, the “tipping point.”

            Classical phase transitions require what is known as precise tuning: in the case of water evaporating into vapor, the critical point can only be reached if the temperature and pressure are just right. But Bak proposed a means by which simple, local interactions between the elements of a system could spontaneously reach that critical point — hence the term self-organized criticality.

            Think of sand running from the top of an hourglass to the bottom. Grain by grain, the sand accumulates. Eventually, the growing pile reaches a point where it is so unstable that the next grain to fall may cause it to collapse in an avalanche. When a collapse occurs, the base widens, and the sand starts to pile up again — until the mound once again hits the critical point and founders. It is through this series of avalanches of various sizes that the sand pile — a complex system of millions of tiny elements — maintains overall stability.

            While these small instabilities paradoxically keep the sand pile stable, once the pile reaches the critical point, there is no way to tell whether the next grain to drop will cause an avalanche — or just how big any given avalanche will be. All one can say for sure is that smaller avalanches will occur more frequently than larger ones, following what is known as a power law. “Sand Pile Model of the Mind Grows in Popularity”

        2. Jim Haygood

          ‘Real reform would require the ending of the Catholic church and the monarchies.’

          The Bolshevik revolution did exactly that, comrade. How did it work out for y’all?

          1. Disturbed Voter

            Stalin asked … “how many divisions does the Pope have?”. His Jewish doctors, and the Pope from Poland, had the last laugh. And America and its hired jihadis had nothing to do with it. And lets not forget, given recent Chinese market developments … Communism is still and alive and well in China, being supported by Lenin’s dictum “the capitalists will sell us the rope to hand them with”.

            Really, what comic book do you read your history out of … or are you sarcastic? If I were a Marxist … I would say that the real revolution hasn’t come yet, because it is unavoidable and irreversible (as history itself is). Personally I like monarchies, I think they make colorful spectacles for tourists … but they aren’t an efficient way to allocate resources.

            My original point being … if economic reform is the object, then most of the regimes in W Europe need to be swept away. All republics, no monarchies, free church, no establishment … and rule of law that applies to everyone, not just the poor. Of course I realize this will never happen … that the American revolution was a failure, just like all the rest. The only surprise history gives me, is we aren’t still building pyramids for Pharaoh.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Pyramids for Pharaoh… Seen the Goldman Sachs corporate phallus? Trump Tower? The Pentagon? Abu Dhabi Dubai, that Fred Flintstone evocation? Obama’s Presidential Library?

            1. Ben Johannson

              For some people the choices are Hayek or Stalin. They can’t conceive of other possibilities, other interpretations.

    2. juliania

      The Guardian had interesting tangential stories that seem to reinforce the Varoufakis assessment, with one helpful chart of the alignment on Grexit of participants in the EU Parliament debates. (Here I will insert, if I may, a remark I extracted from Bill Black’s article about LIBOR):

      “. . .the title of the BBC article shows why the NYT and WSJ’s failure to report on the trial revealing details of the largest financial crime in world history is particularly bizarre because the trial is revealing facts that real journalists would be thrilled to report. . .”

      The statement applies to the debates in the EU Parliament, which ought to have had more prominence in the mainstream as those fragments I picked up online have been the stuff of real journalism and they’re not available to the general public. (The old McNeil-Lehrer Report – how I miss it!)

  1. liberal

    Let’s assume that Yves and Lambert are correct that reintroducing the drachma would be hard to do quickly. Then why haven’t the Greeks been working on it for the past couple years as an insurance plan?

    1. Sally

      In my view, for what its worth, the Greek politicians never thought they would have to leave the Euro. It never entered their minds. The danger of losing control of your currency has not been fully thought through in many parts of Europe. In the UK the debate has raged for decades about the dangers.

      In places in Europe where they have discussed this, the general feeling seems to be “its a price well worth paying for stability.” Quite often these are countries that have had turmoil in their govts and currency’s.

      Hopefully the full dangers are now coming home to roost. I’m not sure though if the U.S. will alow Greece to leave the Euro because of fears off European and NATO break up. If so, and if austerity continues and poverty increases the US could face a back lash of people in Europe.

      1. Grizziz

        While the common currency reduces frictions economically, the integration also reduces Greeks autonomy, i.e., sovereignty. By joining the Euro, the Greeks moved along the liberty-security dimension towards security by giving up sovereignty. The Greeks would have liked to keep the benefits of security and efficiencies without paying for the past costs of this integration. This has failed.
        We now await to see if their European partners will keep them in the club.

        1. German native speaker

          You are leaving out the fact that Greece’s interest payments went from sky high to about one percent due to the Euro. Strangely left out of the argument also again and again by Varoufakis.

          1. alex morfesis

            well said comrade castro,..

            you are quite correct, if it wasn’t for your brother fidel, edison would not have
            invented the light bulb…

            maybe you didn’t notice, but interest rates in asia, africa and south america also went
            down at the same time as the introduction of “the euro”…

            should the folks in vietnam thank your finance minister for that too…???

            actually, I don’t have any interest in turning this into some back and forth…

            you want to accept, from what I have caught of your comments, that Greece has no hope of paying…Germany is quite special…

            Berlin can go bankrupt in 2005 and no one talks about it, nor do the rating agencies blink…Austria has financial guarantees at the State Level which will bankrupt the country…Finland, has just lost the last of Nokia with Microscam writing off the investment…

            I remember getting a call from my former muse/attorney from athens in 2008 the week after FNMAwatch was able to crash Fannie by having its counter parties on derivatives mislabel collateral and claim “an event”…and then Lehmann and AIG went with it…I tried to explain to her that Greece was the one with the problem…she scoffed…and burped up one of her usual “stupid americans” argument…

            (now I remember why we are not together)…

            my friend, if you are really german, I would plan on moving…you have a demographic time bomb that is about to go off…not enough german woman want to have children with german men…so…unless the german population will have robots and start sitting at greek kafenios with those “lazy greeks”…well…how will germany survive ?

            she has no oil or natural gas and her coal is now considered dangerous for the environment….france has her former colonies in africa to strip mine throught the African Franc…what does germany have….russia has oil, gold and diamonds…germany has only one (1) percent of the global population and less than 5% of the global GDP…

            your cheerleaders are tiny little countries surrounding yours…

            you have 125 functioning tanks which are hardly enough for a parade…maybe Poland will invade you this time, since they have a thousand tanks…

            your industry is ten years away from being swept by Chinese industry going up market…what will you do…???

            this week will be remembered in the history books the way the Othman reaction to falling apart with World War one led to the events with the Armenian People…Germany will be laughed at 30 years from now…a tired and used up country that played its hand by doubling down…it won, but nobody was left to play with…

            the mamelouks of europe…

            germany will be left to the dust bins of history…

            an obscure topic some PhD candidate in Brazil will write about in 250 years…

            let them eat gold…

            1. Kay

              How about grappling onto the Rubble as a form of currency as they’ve already inked a deal (last I read) to do a pipeline. Heck, just come out of the closet and align w/Russia already. That would wake up Merkel and NATO.

              I’m sick of Grexit this or EU that. I can only imagine what its like for the Greek people living it every day queuing at midnight for 60 euros. Last images I saw were the produce farmers bringing down their fruits and vegetables and selling them for pennies on the dollar just so they wouldn’t rot. At least this week the people will eat. What happens next week? I don’t know but someone needs to make a decision already. Even my 10 year old knows Greece doesn’t have the money to pay anyone back. He also knows that taking away the pensions from those that are already on social security, if that’s the only means the family has of support is nuts. The EU has to know it cannot get money out of the Greek people. I say sue Goldman Sachs and see if that gets them a drachma worth of anything.

              If I had one wish it would be this fake global intervention would stop and actual economic principles would take hold again.

              And btw – who keeps buying China so they don’t crash and then have to sell US Treasuries? Not that they have very many anymore as we’re writing the stuff to ourselves but honestly – anyone watch Friday’s open in China? All green and then it went into the red for about 3 minutes before the Puppet Fed went in and boosted Asia. Will they thank us for it? Maybe they’ll tell Tsipras to use the Yuan. That’s the ticket.

      2. RabidGandhi

        1. Because they have tied themselves to the mast of the European programme. Just as say the US Republican Party was founded on anti-slavery, so Syriza was founded on pro-Euro membership. So preparing for Grexit would have been like Lincoln preparing to have the North legalise slavery. If that’s the programme you want, you have to pick another party. Or to stay with the marine metaphor, Varoufakis burned the ships behind him: “We smashed the printing presses — we have no printing presses”.

        2. Because most Greeks still want to stay in the Euro (partially because Syriza sold them the Sparkle Pony of being able to both stay in EZ and reject austerity).

        3.Because Varoufakis already decided that Grexit was the apocalypse, so they would do anything to avoid it, even creating a slow-mo apocalypse of their own.

        1. Panagiotis Atmatzidis

          Or to stay with the marine metaphor, Varoufakis burned the ships behind him: “We smashed the printing presses — we have no printing presses”.

          That’s what I don’t understand. Both Tsipras and Varoufakis appeared to be 100% sure that the Troika will at some point embrace their point of view. Well, it didn’t even at the cost of breaking the EU (because IMHO Varoufakis is right, if a Grexit occurs there’s nothing that will save Italy and Spain, the ECB is unfit to handle any sort of real crisis/attack).

          But they totally displaced the event of going back to the Drachma. They officially did not ALLOW the conversation, which a posteriori, shows nothing short of stupidity. Tsipras – as all Prime Ministers – is not all that bright, but Varoufakis can be easily mistaken for the smartest men in the room. Apparently he is not.

          I’m very disappointed. Tsipras should resign ASAP, instead he opted becoming ‘Alex Papademos’. I’m terribly sorry to say that Yve’s recent assessment was spot-on. She didn’t comment the latest scandal that broke… There was a special legislation passed the same day capital controls were imposed. You could using a three very specific ways move any amount of money outside a Greek bank for 4 days. Apparently some people, had to use that legislation to do it.

          Anyway, Greece was never a free country after all.

          1. RabidGandhi

            I once heard Chomsky say that he does not agree with the idea of “speaking truth to power” because those in power either already know or don’t care. Rather those who need to be convinced are the masses, because once they understand the truth the powerful will no longer be able to continue with their charade.

            In this case, it was either naïve or malicious of Tsipras/Varouphakis to attempt to convert Schauble &co. to Keynesianism, when what they should have been doing was gathering external and internal allies. The pressure to change the architecture of the EU will have to come from people in Germany and elsewhere putting pressure on their politicians to change. Yet since Syriza’s election Europeans seem less informed and the European left is more divided. Depressing indeed.

            1. German native speaker

              I commented above that Varoufakis had the opportunity of presenting the situation of the state of which he was Finance Minister before the German public in March. Instead, he said Greece only has a small liquidity problem, and that Greece will pay back every cent of the debt, and many people knew what he said was not true, and could not be done (paying back the debt). And yet, you claim Europeans are not informed?

          2. Jeff W

            Both Tsipras and Varoufakis appeared to be 100% sure that the Troika will at some point embrace their point of view.

            My own impression is that both Tsipras and Varoufakis had underlying assumptions that (1) rationality would prevail over irrationality—that austerity was so obviously at odds with a Greek recovery that the Troika would have to see it that way and (2) if confronted, the other parties would be compelled into some optimal win-win-win (for the creditors, Greece and Europe) because the alternatives (a Grexit or an economically prostrate Greece) would, again, be so obviously at odds with the espoused underlying values of the EU/eurozone, i.e., union and shared prosperity. They did not account for, either unintentionally or as a matter of their principles or both, the extent to which other things (e.g., obeisance to neoliberalism, paying back the creditors no matter what the social cost) were really at play in the negotiations. They were, in a sense, trying to offer a “solution” in a situation where, from the other parties’ point of view, there was simply no problem.

          3. Doug Terpstra

            “They officially did not ALLOW the conversation, which a posteriori, shows nothing short of stupidity. … Varoufakis can be easily mistaken for the smartest men in the room. Apparently he is not.”

            That’s what people used to say and still do about Obama. This is so reminiscent of Obamneycare “negotiations”, entirely implausible stupidity as a disguise for treachery and deceit. As Yanis relaxes in the Isles, the fact that Syriza never prepared at all for a worst case scenario is just too mind-boggling. I wonder if they’re still paying Lazard as consultant. Or is it the other way around?

            1. Cynthia

              Yes indeed, it looks and feels like the corrupt, slimy sausage-making process of ObamaCare all over again.

    2. Ignim Brites

      An interesting point was made in the comments sometime back that the Greek people regard the drachma as the currency of the Greek oligarchy. Never seen any confirming comments but seems plausible. We can certainly see here in the US that the Federal Reserve Note is the currency of the US plutocracy; i.e. it is an instrument of plurocratic plunder.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Interesting question.

        Can a currency creation mechanism be set up to favor the rich/the powerful?

        Can it be reformed to favor the non-rich/the not powerful?

    3. Jerry Denim

      Or at least the last six months, Syriza attempted a bank heist without even the pretext of having a gun in their pocket. They needed a credible alternative currency plan for negotiating leverage more than insurance, but if a majority of the actors in the Troika really wanted to force an ugly Grexit as to make a disciplinarian example out of them then they needed the Drachma or something as an insurance policy too.

      1. different clue

        Ian Welsh offered the Greek governating authorities such a plan several times in several comments. He has offered a “what now” plan once again just a couple of days ago. People can go read Ian Welsh’s blog if they want to see what the plan is. In briefest, it involves such things as inviting into Greece as many African and Asian immigrants as possible and sending them right over the border and into the rest of Europe, granting naval basing rights to Russia and China, and doing other things to inflict genuine pain and devastation on the rest of Europe and keep inflicting that pain every day, over and over again, until Europe forgives the entirety of Greece’s debt. There is more to the Ian Welsh plan for things Greece CAN do to at least have a credible hope of torturing Europe into compliance with Greek wishes on the debt and austerity policy. And I suspect I may be oversimplifying it some. Go read Ian Welsh for the real plan and the ruthless war-fighting attitude behind it.

  2. Ben Johannson

    Striving to better one’s self is central to Western philosophical thought. If buddhists don’t like it they’re free to go be Eastern. Too many in the West latch on to eastern thought because (thanks to our appalling educational system) they are ignorant of their own ancestor’s work in seeking proper enlightenment. The misinterpretation of Buddhism has been a significant problem in American culture where many attempt to use its techniques for things which they are not intended. In this case people are seeking Western-minded goals using Eastern techniques; so of course it doesn’t work. Hence renewed interest in the use of Stoic tradition in psychotherapy. For anyone with an interest I recommend starting here:

    Value – the only thing that is truly good is an excellent mental state, identified with virtue and reason. This is the only thing that can guarantee our happiness. External things such as money, success, fame and the like can never bring us happiness. Although there is nothing wrong with these things and they do hold value and may well form part of a good life, often the pursuit of these things actually damages the only thing that can bring us happiness: an excellent, rational mental state.

    Emotions – our emotions are the project of our judgements, of thinking that something good or bad is happening or is about to happen. Many of our negative emotions are based on mistaken judgements, but because they are due to our judgements it means they are within our control. Change the judgements and you change the emotions. Despite the popular image, the Stoic does not repress or deny his emotions; instead he simply doesn’t have them in the first place. This isn’t as cold as it might at first sound: we ought to overcome harmful, negative emotions that are based on mistaken judgments while embracing correct positive emotions, replacing anger with joy.

    Nature – the Stoics suggest we ought to live in harmony with Nature. Part of what they mean by this is that we ought to acknowledge that we are but small parts of a larger, organic whole, shaped by larger processes that are ultimately out of our control. There is nothing to be gained from trying to resist these larger processes except anger, frustration, and disappointment. While there are many things in the world that we can change, there are many others we cannot and we need to understand this and accept it.

    Control – in the light of what we have seen, there are some things we have control over (our judgements, our own mental state) and some things that we do not (external processes and objects). Much of our unhappiness is caused by confusing these two categories: thinking we have control over something that ultimately we do not. Happily the one thing we do have control over is the only thing that can guarantee a good, happy life.

    1. craazyman

      you need the 10 bagger so you can kick back and think clearly about all these things

      you don’t need it for the sake of riches in themselves (except for the big house and garden — that helps clear thinking, to look out over the garden with a sherry in your hand, weariing an ascot and Edward Green shoes, waiting for the dinner to be prepared by kitchens staff (or at least a competent cook) while you meditate on the cosmos.

      But you don’t need money for its own sake, that’s for sure. It’s only an illusion. But the Edward Green shoes and the garden and the dinner (and the wine), those are real. Let’s not be sentimental about philosophy or men’s style.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Absent the ten-bagger, you’ll just have to settle for ‘Free Golf for Life,’ the sales pitch for America’s fastest growing town, The Villages (Florida).

        On a long fairway, you can see forever. (Damn, I’d better service-mark this slogan before they do.)

        1. ambrit

          Oh bloody H—! The Villages (Florida.) An evil genius blending of Disneyland and U Store It.
          “Let’s find some place to park Mom and or Dad just good enough to keep us from feeling guilty about not wanting them around anymore.”
          There is something very strange about a “community” that bans anyone below a certain age from living there.
          For the villages itself, this from their proprietary website:


          By law, only 80% of homes can be restricted to 55+ in a senior living community (this is national, not just Florida). So, at least 20% of people under 55 can buy here. However, a development can let more than 20% of purchasers be under 55. Also, if a couple is purchasing, only one of them needs to be over 55 to be in the 80% category.

          Another factor is that parents will frequently purchase here and, for whatever reasons, end up with their children or grandchildren over 19 living with them on a year-round basis. Under 19 can only stay for 30 days regardless of circumstances. So, no child brides allowed.

          Army/embassy brat – traveled too much to mention
          Moved here from SF Bay Area (East Bay)

          “There are only two ways to live your life: One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

        1. craazyman

          talk about naked capitalism! a strip club is so-named because whatever money you walk in with gets stripped from you in minutes. I stopped going. the massage parlor was always cheaper and you’d get the real thing. off to shop for some Edward Green shoes . . . .

          1. craazyboy

            I does work different if you go to a Mexican border town.

            You’re not really gonna spend $1000 on shoes, are you?

    2. jgordon

      That is really an excellent quote, and an good introduction to an intriguing subject. It looks like Stoicism is not far off from Buddhism as far as advice goes. I had no idea.

      As far as misinterpretation goes, It never ceases to annoy me when I run into New Agers who try to conflate something as shallow and moronic as “the Law of Attraction” with Buddhism. Buddhism, and apparently stoicism, teaches that happiness is how you deal with the environment, not changing the environment to suit your needs. Trying to use “Buddhism” to get consumer products, status, attractive mates, or whatever, is about the dumbest and most oxymoronic thing I’ve ever heard of (and I do encounter it every so often). I have to feel pity for such people, because they are really sad and trapped.

      1. HotFlash

        Agree, and I feel the same way about the Prosperity Gospel and the lady who believes that praying to Jesus got her that new dining room set. Seems there is absolutely nothing that (some/many) humans can’t abuse and debase.

      2. ambrit

        I must agree about equating religious faith with material prosperity. (Shades of Calvin!) One of my in between jobs, (in-between commercial projects,) was as an apartment complex maintenance man. Sixty four two story townhouses, owned by a couple who made their money doing the “Revival Circuit” in the Mid West and Great Lakes region. They were so cheap they squeaked when they walked.

      3. lord koos

        That environment thing works great unless your environment happens to be a starving village, a war-torn province, a prison with sadistic guards, etc. Then you can be damn sure you’ll try to change it.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s one of the mysteries of life.

          People ask, if there is no right or wrong, if we are not to discriminate, how do we know how to act?

          And so it is that there will be occasions we look within to reach our destination and there will be occasions we look without and improve the village.

    3. Uahsenaa

      Stoicism had its own problems, and where the Epicureans always had a leg up on them was the recognition that 1) the nature of existence itself, be it in biological or social terms, causes a number of the problems (pain, sadness, war, etc.) that striving/progress pretend to ameliorate and 2) that you cannot just condition yourself, what in the ancient tradition was referred to as “care of the self,” but you must recognize that there are larger forces at play which must also change if people are to be less miserable. And that’s really what most of the post-Platonic schools of thought were focused on, not the cultivation of happiness so much as the amelioration of suffering.

      Oddly, this is where the post-Socratics, to phrase it differently, are in fairly clear agreement with the earliest Buddhist traditions. For, in addition to the practices of meditations and conditioning of consciousness that are meant to erase the defects of the active mind, there was also the institution of the sangha , which nowadays mostly refers to monastics, but was originally the close knit community of practitioners who supported each other not only spiritually but materially as well, to reorder society so as to avoid the pitfalls that civilization seems to consistently incur.

      Or, if you prefer to be more scientific about it, the most recent research into ADD, ADHD, and various anxiety disorders takes the tack that much of what we observe as pathological behavior can be traced to the nature of the social order itself. As it turns out, modern psychotherapy has gone back a great deal to its psychoanalytic roots, where making people less miserable is the primary focus as well as an understanding of psychological repression as, in Freud’s words, “the subtle work of culture.”

      tl;dr: happiness is the wrong question

      1. Disturbed Voter

        You have everything you need … because you are clearly enlightened. For the Western-self … no amount of money or possessions will do … not even if the whole planet is reduced to rubble in the search for false meaning. Happiness (even amelioration of suffering) is most frequently found in alcohol or drugs … and we know how that story ends up. And the Stoicism of an emperor, who can with stiff upper lip while drinking a fine wine, who learns to tolerate the groans of all the slaves around him … isn’t much of an accomplishment.

    4. Furzy Mouse

      “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
      ― Dalai Lama XIV

      “Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
      ― Dalai Lama XIV

      “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
      ― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

      “Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.”
      ― Dalai Lama XIV

      “This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for complicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart is the temple. Your philosophy is simple kindness.”
      ― Dalai Lama XIV

      “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
      ― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

      “All suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction”
      ― Dalai Lama XIV

      “If we think only of ourselves, forget about other people, then our minds occupy very small area. Inside that small area, even tiny problem appears very big. But the moment you develop a sense of concern for others, you realize that, just like ourselves, they also want happiness; they also want satisfaction. When you have this sense of concern, your mind automatically widens. At this point, your own problems, even big problems, will not be so significant. The result? Big increase in peace of mind. So, if you think only of yourself, only your own happiness, the result is actually less happiness. You get more anxiety, more fear.”
      ― Dalai Lama XIV, The Wisdom of Forgiveness

      “To be kind, honest and have positive thoughts; to forgive those who harm us and treat everyone as a friend; to help those who are suffering and never to consider ourselves superior to anyone else: even if this advice seems rather simplistic, make the effort of seeing whether by following it you can find greater happiness.”
      ― Dalai Lama XIV

      “We are visitors on this planet. We are here for one hundred years at the very most. During that period we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives. if you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true meaning of life.”
      ― Dalai Lama XIV

      “Dangerous consequences will follow when politicians and rulers forget moral principles. Whether we believe in God or karma, ethics is the foundation of every religion.”
      ― Dalai Lama XIV

      “Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.”
      ― Dalai Lama XIV

      1. susan the other

        That coot. First he says, Treat everyone you meet as if they were your mother. Then he says he just doesn’t understand women and implies women are a subspecies. OK mom.

      2. Paul Tioxon

        The Dalai Lama came to Philadelphia one year. He was given a guided tour of Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell and the first White House. After a long afternoon of historic lectures, he saw a street vendor and quickly moved into line for some badly needed food.

        “I’ll have a hot dog” Said the Dalai Lamai.
        “No problem your Holiness” replied the vendor.
        “Make me one with everything” Said the Dalai Lame
        ” I don’t know your Holiness, isn’t that your job?” Said the vendor.

        The Dalai Lama just chuckled and passed a $100 bill to pay the vendor.
        The vendor held the crisp, new bill up to the sunlight, stared at it, then put it away in his wallet and said, “Next!”
        The Dalai Lama looking a little awkward said, “Can you make me change, please?”
        The vendor said. “NO, change comes from within.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Constituent to the candidate: I hope to get change this time.

          Candidate: Where is your $100?

    5. hunkerdown

      If self-improvement necessarily comes at the expense of community improvement, isn’t Westernism pathological to any collective action problem? (People and their religions….)

    6. nothing but the truth

      your gratuitous snide at the buddhists is weird.

      from experience, the psychic state of man cannot be dealt as an intellectual project. its roots lie in the unconscious (“sanskaras” in sanskrit), and they have to be dealt with using traditional techniques like prayer, chanting, mindfulness, meditation to name some.

      some traditions built more knowhow than others, because they had some trailblazing individuals, and also a supportive culture.

      whether A is better than B does not ease one’s psychic pain. That pain is a totally separate and visceral issue.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s not certain the intellect can come close enough to comprehend the human mind for us to assert much about it, and it’s most reasonable to be open minded about it, lest we create another omnipotent entity as we have a habit of doing – the Mao revolutionaries overthrowing the corrupt KMT to only become corrupt themselves.

        It turned out they objected to corruption because they weren’t in charge of it.

        And there are those who would overthrow an omnipotent God’s religion and its priests, only to embrace or create another omnipotent being, wrapped in a modern, scientific and secular robe. But this time, we will be in charge of our divine creation, not someone else.

      2. alex morfesis

        butterflies don’t pray

        the way humans prey.

        no one comes to this human host without a gene pool that did not do
        horrid things in some part of the past

        by chance, circumstance or conspiracy we are here today…

        einstein was not right

        the only way to live your life
        is to live it

        in theory, i have annoyed so many of the clowns that be, i should live every moment like clouseau waiting for kato to jump out of a dresser drawer…

        but i am much more likely to die from some granny cutting across three lanes of traffic to get to her “lucky” chair at the bingo parlor

        junkies are all about hitting that morphin jelly in our ether we call a mind and will do many sad things to keep hitting that “high”, but most people conducting “studies” on drug habits always forget to notice…

        junkies don’t cry…

        everyones antics and hedonism (why is it the idea of carnal pleasure has to be given a dark tone as “hedonism”) is defined differently.

        no two woman are the same…(can’t speak on men on the hedonism thing)…so how can one imagine…(other than some grant requires an actual report in the end, so yagottaslap something on a page) that this can even begin to be quantified

  3. vlade

    Re FT & Angela: I believe that this is why the Grexit is very likely.
    If she forces Grexit w/o anything, she’d almost guaranteed to go down in the history as someone who did bad things to EU, possibly even started EU’s destruction.
    If she doesn’t, she’ll be out in Germany shortly.

    So, the best strategy for her is to “suspend” Greece (Schauble has already hinted at that), get it off EUR, send it about the same amount of money (which, if hidden as humanitarian help etc. would be easier to get through than the 3rd bailout), and a promise that sometime in the future (IBGYBG) they will be un-suspended.

    Paradoxically, the referendum likely helped her in that, as she can easily say “you wanted democratic decision, You got “No”, but then you offer as if your electorate voted “yes”? Sorry, you don’t have the mandate, we want new elections. And since you can’t survive to new elections, you’re suspended until at least the new elections”.

  4. Barry Fay

    Wondering why no comment section for the article ” Tsipras has just destroyed Greece”?

  5. Tom

    I am right now in a country that is in some ways quite like Greece. A sort of Central Asian Greece as a local businessman just told me. The country is Mongolia and is just as lovable as Greece. (An impression that was greatly strenghened by just having read a novel by Greek crime writer Petros Markaris) A place where all those restrictions and rules we know in the industrialised world count for little. Instead it is who you know and then a long time nothing else. It is hard to explain to some one who has never lived in such a place but in a way it is freer and definately a lot less boring than life in the West. People are also a lot more healthy. At least mentally. But there is extreme inefficiency of all governmental institutions. There is no civil service as such and appointments aren´t made according to abilty or at least education but according to party allegiance or family. The state is not for the people but for the taking and even the cleaners in one of the ministries have to know somebody to get a job. The only people paying their taxes are the minority with steady employment. Everybody else more or less gets a pass as all the taxmen are either incompetent or for the take. Greece is not quite as bad but if you consider that there is a land registry for only 20% of the country and that attempts to get a grip on all land holdings were only introduced under Samaras and under duress you understand that any kind of national economic policy in the European sense is not really possible. If you lend to such a country it will not result in any investments that will earn the interest but will be frittered away. Syriza is no exception. I still marvel at leftists around the world who simply ignore that one of the first things the new government demanded was the hiking of the non eviction treshold from an income of 35,000 € and a property value of no more than 200,000 euros to 50,000 euros and 300,000. At these sums we are definately not talking about desparately poor people but about members of the upper middle class.

    Greece was able to borrow such huge sums because it was first allowed into the EU and then into the Euro. And that in turn had purely geopolitical reasons. Now an inefficient state apparatus will go for the low hanging fruit to pay back the creditors.That means cut pensions and go again after people who can´t hide their income.
    It is a huge and terrible tragedy as after all these years of largesse people have lost the ability to live in the traditional way. There was an exchange with Lambert a few days ago which made that very point.
    Here in Mongolia I likewise see a huge tragedy on the horizon. To make a long story short the country four years ago sold its soul to Rio Tinto (a copper mine in the Gobi) which promised untold riches. And of course Rio Tinto pulled a fast one in the negotiations (not to difficult considering Mongolian civil servants and politicians) and then the copper price has been falling on top.At the moment of the greatest euphoria however Mongolia borrowed a lot of money abroad, Which has all been frittered away one way or another. Just like in Greece. And just like in Greece there will be a terrible price to be paid.
    Europe should just help Greece to exit as gently as possible. But of course that will never happen. It will either be change your life and your institutions (your whole culture) or suffer the mindless consequences. Syriza are salon bourgeois of the worst kind who for all their marxist rethoric don´t seem to have had the least grasp of the real situation. Instead of knowing the limitations of their own society and therefore getting ready for war they foolishly thought they could have their cake and eat it.

    1. susan the other

      Question: When a country gets in trouble like Greece why doesn’t it lease its ports and airports and trains and electric utilities? If the assumption is that they are mismanaged, then leasing them to new managers is the answer. Selling them – at fire sale prices – is unconscionable in the first place and then the new owners, the equivalent of corporate raiders – just use their insider positions to loot these assets right into the ground.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If the leasing operators would want freedom to operate, meaning being able to execute workforce reduction in order to achieve ‘operational efficiency.’

        Leasing will also probably opposed for that reason.

    2. Ed

      This is an excellent comment.

      One of the tragedies of Greece is that it sits on top of the archeology and history as The Place Where Western Civilization Got Started (though that was more on what is now the Turkish side of the Aegean). The best thing for a culture that you describe for a culture like Greece would be for everyone to leave it alone. But historically western countries can’t leave Greece alone for prestige reasons. They keep invading it or trying to incorporate it into western institutions.

      One thing the rest of Europe could do with Greece would be to make it essentially the Florida of Europe. It would be a sunny place that people in other European countries go to to vacation and to retire to. Florida itself has run a very profitable economy on that and some agriculture, military spending, and money laundering. And you don’t have to deal with the mafias like in Sicily and southern Italy. But I don’t think this would necessarily be a good thing for Greece and would take more patience than the people in power seem to have.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It arguably is Europe’s Florida which is the source of the problem. Unlike Florida, Athens pays the pensions, military, and miscellaneous instead of DC. Retirees from other parts or even just vacationers with vacant homes drive up prices for the working. Even with vacationing, there is under the table transactions, seasonal disruptions, and strain on infrastructure.

        Retirees don’t help the VAT having acquired a lifetime of stuff and then demand services.

  6. jgordon

    Re: happiness

    After I took psychedelic mushrooms the first time I gained a lot of insights into the nature of reality and consciousness. One of those insights is that our entire society is complete bullcrap. Another insight is that happiness is an internal state of reality that is mostly independent of objective reality. The hamster wheel of life that our society has us on is a scam. Society, through corporations, the government, the media, and most people we know, promises happiness if we work our asses off according to the whims of the corporate state and then consume as many industrial products as possible–even by taking on massive debt if necessary. But after one has reached a consumption goal that was supposed to produce happiness, she discovers to her dismay that she is not all that happy after all, and that in fact she needs to achieve a new goal that will surely, surely make her happy after she reaches it.

    This is a never-ending process. Enduring happiness and satisfaction is never achieved, and, more perfidiously, this is by design. A happy and contented person is a bad consumer, and not a consumer who easily manipulated by corporations or government. Therefore, all psychological research is bent towards keeping everyone in a constant, low-grade state of stress–with the carrot of fulfillment dangling always a few feet in front of the eyes, but never quite getting to it. It’s a shame that I did not grow up with this knowledge of how our society works–that it took a mushroom to reveal it to me. But now that I understand these things I have a lot less stress and I take all this crap a lot less seriously. That is happiness.

    1. Beans

      One can reach these same conclusions without the assistance of shrooms – simply spending some time on NC and turning off the TV would produce the same realization.

      1. ambrit

        I beg to differ. Online experiences partake of the logical faculties, even the emotionally manipulated ones. The psychedelic experience is quite non-linear in scope. This is difficult to express, but consider this; we are communicating via a flat screen. Words and pictures are transmitted between us. World views are consulted as to the interpretation of those flat screen patterns. Understanding each others world views in this way is limited. As we approach congruence of patterns, we ‘understand’ each other better. Arete is central to this; we constantly approach the point of unity, but can never arrive there. The psychedelic experience is similar to standing out in a field in real time. The senses experience the environment in all four dimensions. (We must include time.) The senses are usually overloaded, and thus screen the signals. The ‘world view’ controls this screening. The psychedelic experience edits the ‘world view’ itself, not just the sensory inputs. How does the ‘experience’ manage this? I’ve read too many conflicting theories about how the ‘experience’ works to claim certain knowledge. Some sort of internal rearranging occurs, hence the need for competent ‘shamans’ to help the acolyte navigate the ‘experience.’ (There are Demons lurking in our psyches.) [I suspect that Jung was on to something when he studied the workings of shamans in relation to the Western cult of psychoanalysis.]
        Anyway, I agree with jgordon about the effectiveness of the psychoactives, if the ‘experience’ is managed properly.
        (I’ve often wondered if Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland,) did Psylocybin or Amantia mushrooms. The books certainly suggest the possibility.0

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Many roads lead to that realization.

          Meditation is one.

          Dogen found his washing rice.

          One can also use internet commenting as an exercise at self-discovery, to complement other experiences.

          “How do you enter the Way?”

          “Do you hear the murmuring sound of the mountain stream?”


          “You enter it there.”

          Another Zen saying:

          “Everywhere is practice hall.”

      2. tegnost

        Psychotropics have a long standing place in our species. Shamans provide “the other” and open alternative viewpoints, but it’s not for everyone. The structure of the psyche can be seen as a room with the curtains pulled and the door closed, psychotropics can get you to peek out the curtains, see there is more there there, but to interact you need to open the door, hopefully you won’t be tripping all the time… personally i can’t deal with shrooms acid etc.. because i’m already on the edge of sanity, the door is rattling on the hinges and theres no curtains as it were…those i know who like them are very stable and thus either benefit from the journey or just like the change of pace and are not worried that they will come back to be themselves at the end of it, for others its a disruption layered on a disruption and is decidedly unpleasant

    2. Brindle

      Psilocybin mushrooms are an antidote to anthropocentrism. Well said—“that it took a mushroom to reveal it to me”.

      1. samhill

        Wonder what shrooms do for a sociopath?

        Get’s you a job on Wall Street, most of those guys were/are heavy Dead Heads.

        1. Patricia

          hmmm, thought it was more cocaine, ritalin, provigil (modafinil)… Perhaps after hours? Apparently there are some people that nothing can move, not even a mushroom.

          1. Jim Haygood

            I second that. Thick-necked equity traders aren’t into reflection, drug-aided or not.

            They just want simple action — up or down, or the old in-out, in-out.

            1. ChrisA

              Lambert recently mentioned “mycelial mats”, which sent me reading. Paul Stamets has some fascinating insights into the evolution and connection of humans and mushrooms. Mycelial mats are “the neurological network of nature”, according to Stamets. I would think that anyone fortunate enough to have experienced a healthy dose of psilocybin would agree that there is some kind of ancient connection going on in our brains. It’s indescribable. The most corporate-minded of my friends has a tough time with psychedelics. He won’t go near them anymore.

              1. Lambert Strether

                Paul Stamets is amazing! However, on psychedelics… Michael Pollan from Botany of Desire would argue that plants adapt or even shape our desires such that we create conditions for their reproduction; no doubt that happens with lots of “mind altering” substances. On the other hand, the “dose” is just chemicals. I have, er, heard it said that after awhile the experience becomes the same each time for that reason; therefore dull.

                Perhaps now I am of an age to appreciate biophilia and so psychedelia no longer thrills.

                1. Optimader

                  s. On the other hand, “the “dose” is just chemicals. I have, er, heard it said that after awhile the experience becomes the same each time for that reason; therefore dull.”

                  Disclaimer: It surely is not for everyone,
                  Perhaps repeating the same experince is dull, but say, floating in a boat through an orca pod’s fish buffet section of the Inside Passage will certainly ellicit a profoundly differnt ecperience than repeatedly sitting inthe garden… So I am told

        2. lord koos

          That surprises me… I think of those guys as loving cocaine, hookers, strippers and hard rock.

    3. Skippy

      “Therefore, all psychological research is bent towards keeping everyone in a constant, low-grade state of stress–with the carrot of fulfillment dangling always a few feet in front of the eyes, but never quite getting to it.”

      Incorrect. “Al”l you engage in are gross generalizations without any evidence besides your own grand proclamations.

      Skippy… As far as I can discern all that is on display is a hyper sense of individualism and an extremely reductive methodology used to arrive at simplistic conclusions. Something akin to what mythologists utilize.

      1. ambrit

        And what’s wrong with mythologists chum?
        In defense of jgordon, his point about the psychologists should be more about the perversion of academic research than the research itself. The absent minded professor has become a cultural meme. A truism in “pure” research is that the inventor of something new and useful gets little reward for his or her discovery. The big money goes to the capitalists who exploit it.
        There is such a thing as over complication.
        As for individualism; when was the last time you did the Vulcan mind meld?
        Sorry for the snark, but I do disagree.

        1. Skippy

          Gordan has a propensity for rambling non sequitur’s which are quasi religious gross generalizations. Mythologists are just as bad in his opinion, against the pop psychology, the market favors, he decry s what he himself engages in, especially when its akin to pontification.

          The book “Science Mart” unpacks the market influence in crapifining academia, which is gordens preferred mythology imo, he laments his own ideology, but can’t seem to find the connection to his beliefs and what they have wrought.

          Skippy…. so its endless strawmanning….

          1. ambrit

            I’ve not heard of the book. I’ll check it out.
            (I wonder if we’re using two different definitions of ‘mythologist?’)

            1. Skippy

              A Neoliberal Economics of Science

              Sheldon Krimsky

              SCIENCE-MART: Privatizing American Science. Philip Mirowski. viii + 454 pp. Harvard University Press, 2011. $39.95.

              Is academic science a public good that should be rationally planned and robustly supported by social resources? How one answers this question depends on several things: the connection one makes between science and economic development; whether one believes that scientific discovery, both pure and applied, is best accomplished through private markets or federal grants; and how effective one believes the government is at planning scientific research and translating discoveries into consumer products and industrial technology. These are the issues, not always explicitly stated, that underlie current science-policy debates about stem-cell research, gene patents, the value of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 and the future of the National Science Foundation. For many scientists, including me, the issues have personal meaning: My career began during the Sputnik era with a federal scholarship in high-energy physics and continued with a National Defense Education Act fellowship to study philosophy of science.

              Philip Mirowski, professor of economics and of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Notre Dame, has written an important and intensely provocative book that explores fundamental questions about the political economy of science. Science-Mart challenges us to think more critically, more synthetically and more deeply about the growing commercialization of academic science by exploring the historical and ideological roots of that trend. His main argument is that “much of the modern commercialization of science and the commoditization of the university has followed a script promulgated by neoliberal thinkers.” To argue his case, Mirowski employs bibliometric studies of science as well as methods and scholarship from a variety of disciplines, including economic history, sociology, intellectual-property law and political economy.

              The book begins by introducing the reader to a fictitious academic researcher named Viridiana Jones, who “feels strung out between the Scylla of Disneyfication of higher education and the Charybdis of Free EnronPrise in securing a patron, any patron, to support her inquiries in an era of impending financial doom.” Jones is trying to navigate her way through the miasma of commercial influence in academia (where the phrase “marketplace of ideas” is taken literally) while protecting the integrity of her science. The main theses of the book are that the commercialization of science is the result of a planned, coordinated effort on the part of those associated with a neoliberal agenda and that this commercialization has weakened America’s scientific hegemony.

              The term neoliberal, which arises from the work of post–World War II economists such as Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and others belonging to the “Chicago school” of economics and law, has little in common with what is usually thought of as liberalism. The important tenets of neoliberalism, Mirowski says, include such propositions as the following: “The Market” is a better processor of information than the state; “politics operates as if it were a market”; “corporations can do no wrong”; “competition always prevails”; the state should be “degovernmentalized” through “privatization of education, health, science and even portions of the military”; a good way to initiate privatization is to redefine property rights; “the nation-state should be subject to discipline and limitation through international initiatives”; “the Market . . . can always provide solutions to problems seemingly caused by markets in the first place”; “there is no such thing as a ‘public good’”; “freedom” means economic freedom within the Market. The book examines studies of the economics of science and discusses such topics as the U.S. government’s effort to manage scientific research, the emergence of intellectual property as a raison d’être of university life, the outsourcing of science on the global stage, and the harms that have accrued to academic science from its commercial transmogrification.

              Mirowski debunks the popular view that there is a linear, lockstep path leading from science and technology to economic growth, a claim that served as the mantra of those urging passage of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. The Act gave universities, businesses and nonprofits intellectual-property control of discoveries that resulted from federally funded research. In passing the legislation, Congress accepted the idea that American industrial progress was being hampered by the failure of discoveries to enter the marketplace. To allow wealth from discoveries to be realized, the Act turned the principle of capitalism on its head: “private risk yields private loss or gain” became “public risk yields public loss or private gain”—a form of “heads I win, tails you lose.”

              Although many historians view the Bayh-Dole Act as a watershed in American science policy, one that closely linked universities with commercial interests, Mirowski maintains that the roots of academic commerce run deeper. “Bayh-Dole was neither the sole nor even the primary reason why science was becoming increasingly commercialized,” he maintains. “It was just one component in a whole range of roughly simultaneous ‘reforms’ being engineered into corporations, the government, and the universities—all calculated to instigate the marketplace of ideas throughout the entire culture.” The arguments Mirowski makes in support of this statement are by themselves sufficient to make this book stand out. But there is much more.

              In his chapter on the intellectual-property explosion in academia, Mirowski uses the case of the transgenic Harvard Oncomouse to illustrate some of the consequences of commercialization. In the early 1980s, scientists at Harvard, funded in part by a National Institutes of Health grant and in part by DuPont, successfully implanted mammary tumor virus DNA into the genome of a mouse, which then showed a susceptibility to develop breast cancer. Transgenic mice engineered in this way were a useful tool for studying mammary oncogenesis. In the 1980s, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office expanded its criteria for awarding patents to include genetically modified organisms sui generis, as well as genes, plants, animals and all sorts of cell cultures. In the case of the Oncomouse, the Office awarded a patent that covered not just the Oncomouse but any tumorigenic, nonhuman mammal whose germ cells and somatic cells contained any oncogene sequence. The scope of the patent award sent shock waves through the academic community and the growing industry of lab-mouse production. The case was, Mirowski says, “one of the first attempts by a university to make serious money off of a research tool.” He could have also cited the patent on recombinant DNA techniques awarded to Stanford and the University of California in 1980.


              Skippy… There is walling off the commons [first act of force imo] then there is walling off the Universe… a tax on future minds?

              1. ambrit

                A modern ‘Enclosure Movement.’ I know “L” doesn’t like the term, but ‘sheeple’ perfectly embodies this development.
                John Varley wrote a story about thirty years ago about a woman who was paralyzed and then had to ‘lease’ an exoskeleton from the medical device company. A missed payment meant going back to total helplessness.
                The financialization of existence.

                  1. ambrit

                    Interesting you should use “final victory” as a descriptor for a goal. It implies other, ‘pre-final’ or incremental ‘victories’ as being available.
                    (Could you be referring to the horrific scene from “O Lucky Man?”)

                    1. ambrit

                      Lindsay Anderson (the director) is an acquired taste.
                      The protagonist is played by Malcolm McDowell. The movie is essentially a picaresque tale of the “heroes” adventures in modern capitalism.
                      The ‘infamous’ scene happens when McDowell, lost in an experimental facility, encounters one of his former mates shivering in a hospital bed. When his friend doesn’t respond, McDowell whisks back the bedclothes to reveal a human head grafted onto a sheep’s body. Hence, my association of the scene with ‘sheeple’, enclosure movements, and sinister plots in general.
                      A very ‘strong’ film in terms of theme and exposition. Anderson also directed McDowell earlier in the boarding school drama, “if.”

      2. jgordon

        Then Skippy, let’s look at the result of our current approach to things here in modern industrial societies: massive advertising and propaganda budgets everywhere in sight, and most people addled on expensive psychotropic medications designed to alleviate depression and psychosis.

        That someone would accept this state of affairs as normal and worth thinking about or commenting on is proof of the existential sickness at the heart of our western industrial way of life. I feel bad for you.

        1. Skippy

          All the things you highlight have been part of human society right from the start, so psychotropics did not give you any keen insight whilst under the influence, tho is special that you think you have some special powers now. Through reductive analysis you have sorted out the Universe, we have AET et al for that type of action.

          For every person that thinks this stuff is harmless there are others that have permanent damage, half my wife’s work is dealing with it, as well a professorial associates and friends.

          Please don’t try that emotive rhetoric with me “I feel bad for you”, pejorative protections that attempt to attack my charterer by association. I can go to church for that action gordan.

          Seems all that “internal seeking” w/ the help of psychotropics never sorted out the goldbug thingy. FYI their is such a thing called social psychology tho in a market place reality it does not afford the individual the same kind of remuneration the individual sort does.

          Skippy… maybe you can find so druid cult or something….

          1. spooz

            Kinda late responding to this, but just have to set this straight.

            Who, “Skippy”, are YOU to say what kind of insight others may achieve from using psychedelics? (FYI, “psychoTROPICS” also include antidepressants and tranquilizers, which are not at all the same thing). Although you seem to think that everything you need to know can be read in one of your many books, some people here have actually experienced something that can’t be found there.
            And I don’t know who your WIFE is, but it sounds like she has experience with a very biased sample. Good enough for YOU, though. Once YOU make your mind up, no need to listen to anybody else!
            As far as my personal experience, I have found psychedelics put me in a deeply introspective state that brought about profound growth and helped me to overcome depression and reevaluate my life many years back. Out of the dozens of people I know who have also used them, I am aware of only one that had a “bad trip”, and this happened because the person didn’t plan the setting for their trip very well and ended up having to deal with the police.

            So, Skippy,hard to believe, I know, but there are a FEW things that you really don’t have a CLUE about.


    4. tegnost

      Bertrand Russell philosophized that the key to happiness was to occupy ones self with unreachable goals that have regularly rewarding outcomes. If your job makes you happy and you retire, it’s a disruption that causes distress rather than happiness. Follow your passion where it leads you. This contradicts our western habits, because markets (if i may be so bold). Money is our key to happiness and fails to make us happy, I’ll reference the notion that the rich are motivated to work harder (supposedly, the earth goes around the sun once every 24 hrs for each and every one of us) in order to keep their pile as high as possible, which is of course a hamster wheel, and leads to envy of less wealthy people who have time to do whatever…Drive through cali beach towns you will see construction sites and restaurants filled with laughing joking around latinos, and angry, cynically motivated “rich”. Faced with the choice I decided I would much rather be with the workers. This relates to buddhism because it’s in the end really about what you put in your head, how you think, and especially how you release your mind from patterns of thought, breathing in your mind as it were. This is a critical point for creative people, and I’ll try to bring this to a relevant point…In the case of our host, recently she has been inundated by chaotic influences which were clearly disrupting her rest…she has the b russell part figured out, her brain is positively engaged in a topic of great interest cultivated over a great span of time and with out the chaos could happily ponder all the intracacies involved. As to the buddhist part, she with great courage (the rabble around here,we’re kind of mouthy) has claimed space for her brain. This is certain to benefit those of us who, as clive aptly described, attend her parlor. The reason for this is without clear space in your mind, a creative thought has no place to appear from, buried by commonplace. If you don’t exhale, you can’t inhale (no reference to b clinton here), the reverse image being inhale einstein/exhale hitler h/t acoustanauts. In my experience creative thoughts appear as a gift, commonly I will tell customers I need to sleep on it, and I wake up with an answer or option that without the clear space would not be revealed. The complex issues so well understood by our host will benefit from a bit of clear space, and since she is a giving person we will benefit and enjoy the fruits that are born therein. Finally, I don’t know any happy rich people, although I do know many people who have money who are happy because of family or intellectual endeavor, work etc…there is nothing wrong with gold, it’s pleasing and provides things, but is not the end in itself and in my opinion can create envy which harms not those envied, but is a symptom of a personal problem in the envier

      1. tegnost

        Imagine my dismay when i realized i misdescribed simple planetary relationships but had no internet access so could not correct it…the funny part is what i wrote first was the sun goes around the earth then “corrected” it to say a year takes a day… no not tripping

    5. jrs

      The anti-psychiatry around here gets a bit strong at times, yes but no. Political problems become psychologized in an individualist society, but people also make their mostly personal problems political at times, which isn’t necessarily better.

      Although of course crazy things like an employer measuring one’s moods minute by minute is no end of creepy (so if this was actually practiced at more than say one firm run by weirdos, do we need some vast new philosophy about happiness, or rather laws to protect employee rights there? Duh).

      Although really for many of us, this is hardly something we have to worry about: “In the workplace, happy workers are viewed as a “win-win.” Work becomes more pleasant, and employees, more productive.”. I mean come now, we work in workplaces that let us know we are just [human] resources for profit and with the emphasis on the resources not the human part of that term, and stuff that makes employees openly unhappy is embraced if it saves one bean in the bean counting, our happiness is the least of their concern.

    6. Carl

      This is a seriously insightful post, thank you. Dovetails with research in psychedelic consumption. Synopsis: people who consume psychedelics are happier and see themselves more as a part of the universe.

  7. NV

    From July 7th, Blyth in Foreign Affairs on why Greece isn’t to blame…”The roots of the crisis lie far away from Greece; they lie in the architecture of European banking.” (Perhaps some of the hostile commentators to the site thought you’d lost sight of this?) More vehemently, Michael Hudson on the RNN, refers to those architects as gangsters, or was it thugs or criminals? He points to the lack of a legal framework for writing off government debt, a most important point. See

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      Assigning blame is not a productive approach. That puts the discussion in a moralistic frame and battles over morality take at least a generation to win. Germany and other Northern countries look at the Greek situation through a radically different moral frame. Making this about morality even as correct as that seems, rather than looking at the power and political dynamics, is why Syriza and Greece are being crushed and why the left has been losing ground for over 30 years.

      I hate to tell you, but Greek citizen actually benefitted as least as much from the earlier bailouts as French and German citizens did. French banks held 93 billion euros of Greek government debt. Greek banks (and remember how small the Greek economy is compared to the French economy) held 59 billion euros. German banks held 40 billion euros.

      Yes, the Greek banks were bailed out only incidentally, since some of the French and German banks that would have taken hits were systemically important. And a Greek insolvency would have spread to other periphery countries….and a systemic event would have hit US banks, since they have big counterparty exposures to SocGen, Paribas, and Deutsche Bank. So Americans benefitted from the rescue too.

      But the people first in line in the event of a Greek government insolvency would be Greek banks. They would have collapsed, producing outcomes worse than we’ve seen in the two-week bank holiday. Greek banks are almost entirely deposit-funded and Greece has a mere three billion euro deposit guarantee fund. Making conservative assumptions, the deposits losses would have been over $3600 per person in Greece (per person, NOT per depositor).

      Moreover all the people how are talking about French and German banks are not saying word one about the need to turn banks into utilities and are ignoring that the European citizens who are being asked to fund Greece are not bankers. Moreover, the structure of the Eurostate loans to Greece is that they provided guarantees. They recognize losses only as incurred. That means very very attenuated, and starting only in 2020 Thus a total wipeout isn’t that painful and any earlier loss recognition is (which s what a reduction of principal, as opposed to more reduction in the economic value of the debt, via more extension of maturities and interest rate reduction and deferrals would achieve).

      In other words, even the mortality tale is not as tidy as the media would have you believe. Even though the Greeks are taking vastly more abuse than they ever deserved, the “fault” is not as clearly apportioned as many suggest. What is clearly disastrous is what has happened in the last two months, as positions on both sides hardened. Greece was never going to win a fight with the creditors.

      1. dla

        Making conservative assumptions, the deposits losses would have been over $3600 per person in Greece (per person, NOT per depositor).

        And how much has five years of troika-imposed “conditionality” cost per person in Greece? (Genuine question. Claiming that the bailout served the Greek people as much as it did the northern banks suggests that the net gains for the Greeks outweigh the losses).

  8. financial matters

    I think it’s important to understand the abstract nature of money as a social contract. It deals with social relations that are inherently relations of inequality and power. (Ingham)

    Money is only a claim upon society. (Simmel)

    One of the main points being that Euros aren’t produced by taxation.

    Money is peculiarly a creation of the State. (Keynes)

    Whether States do this directly by crediting personal accounts or allowing central banks to print money or other banks to loan they are the origin of money.


    Q: So Germany is lending money to Greece through the central banks?

    A: Not exactly. Let’s get philosophical. We need to understand the nature of a euro.

    Q: Where do euros come from?

    Banks make them. Loans create deposits.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Is there a reason why humans deny and repel a set of agreeable understandings and definitions of “money” and “wealth?”

      Why we can’t have nice things, ALL 8 billion of us, or even the necessities of life “to a modest competence,” to where we can “eat to our hunger and drink to our thirst, and no more,” written out in places-in-the-mind like this:

      “The Economy as a Complex Adaptive System: A Review of Eric D. Beinhocker, The Origins of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics” — Herbert Gintis, October 31, 2006

  9. NV

    “The roots of the crisis lie far away from Greece; they lie in the architecture of European banking. ” See:

    “There is a deliberate anarchy that’s been imposed, especially since World War II, to prevent any discussion of governments writing down debt. And the idea is that if the world’s bondholders, and basically we’re talking about the 1 percent, if the 1 percent can stop any court form writing down this then there’s only anarchy if any government says we can’t pay. And it’s obvious that a lot of governments can’t pay, above all right now Greece.” See:

  10. Jim Haygood

    Whisper numbers on the size of Bailout III for Greece range from €60 to 80 billion. Usually these headline numbers are grossly inflated by counting rolled-over old loans, valuing non-cash concessions, and ignoring conditionality to arrive at an impressive-sounding figure whose cash component would barely pay the catering bill at a euro summit.

    In the inconceivable event that Greece actually received €75 billion in new funds, its debt-to-GDP ratio would balloon from 175 percent to 210 percent. Hopeless, in other words. Just like last time, and the time before that.

    What the macabre political events of this week go to show is that when forecasting what eurocrats will do, the safest bet is always ‘another squalid fudge.’

    Let me state for the record the same thing I said in the last go-round: with this ill-conceived bailout, Greece will be back in crisis within three years. And perhaps as soon as next year, depending on how little new money is actually in the package, and how severe the conditionality is.

    Can’t pay, won’t pay.

    1. Jim Haygood

      From Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

      In a position paper the German Finance Ministry presents two ways to proceed.

      One way: Greece improves its proposals quickly and comprehensively, with the full support of Parliament. The Ministry suggests among other things that Greece transfer assets amounting to 50 billion euros to a trust fund, which it sells and thus cancels debt.

      Second way: Athens negotiates a ‘time out’ from the euro. It leaves the monetary union for at least five years and restructures its debt. However, it remains an EU member and receives further “growth-enhancing, humanitarian and technical assistance”.

      On my way to better things
      (No time left for you)
      I’ll find myself some wings
      (No time left for you)
      Distant roads are calling me
      (No time left for you)
      Mm-da, mm-da, mm-da, mm-da, mm-da

      — The Guess Who

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        From your post, It’s not about Greek exiting the Old World Union.

        It looks like Germany is ‘negotiating’ her way out of the enhanced, global version of the New World Union.

        Didn’t the proconsul responsible for that area explain to Berlin the strategic importance of a deal with Greece?

      2. Ed

        Course # 2 is really quite sensible.

        One thing that baffles me about the crisis is the continued insistence, in Greece and at the top of European institutions, that Greece no longer using the euro is some sort of unthinkable course of action that should be off the table. The inclusion of Greece in the EU itself in 1981 was a mistake that really should be rectified. It seems obvious to me that the situation calls for Greece to leave the euro and default, followed by no new lending to Greece for awhile. I’m not even sure if some other course of action is practical.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Two infinite series here:

      QE1, QE2, QE3, QE4,…

      Bailout 1, Bailout2, Bailout3, Bailout4…

      And people say math is too abstract.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Hollywood blockbusters work like that too.

        Terminator I, Terminator 2, etc.

        Naked Gun 2-1/2, Naked Gun 3, etc

        1. jeremy

          Lest we not forget:

          Kick the Can 1, Kick the Can 2, Kick the Can 3…..

          And the final episode of the series: The Revenge of the Can.

      2. craazyman

        both go to zero long before they go to infinity

        In fact: summing over QE minus Summing over bailouts = 1. {e.g. (N) – (N-1) = 1]

        That’s mathematically provable since the last QE before zero isn’t followed by a bailout cause, after the last QE destroys everything like a neutron bomb, there’s nothing left to either bailout or bailout with. QED from Magonia

        They would never teach you this at MIT. They’d get stuck on the math itself and would never realize it ended.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Another amazing math axiom:

          Without concentrated-wealth relief, QE(i), as i goes from 1 to infinity, is not sustainable.

          We definitely need to write off wealth concentration.


          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Speaking of concentrated-wealth relief, here is something from Wiki, regarding the mythical winged-lion-like creature from Han dynasty China:

            The myth of Pixiu tells that the creature violated a law of heaven, so the Jade Emperor punished it by restricting the Pixiu’s diet to gold. Thus, pixiu can only absorb gold, but cannot expel it. This is the origin of Pixiu’s status as a symbol of the acquisition and preservation of wealth.

            No relief for the gold-eating (QE-stuffing) beast.

  11. Dirk77

    On my iPhone, a number of article posts on NC are shown with “Comments Off.” Am I the only one or is there a reason for that? Thx.

    1. Sally

      Check down the page. There is an explanation thread.

      They have closed comments on most posts because of the time it was taking up of their lives to moderate them. (Perfectly understandable)

      One of the ironies of freedom it seems, is the more we are given the more we abuse it, and screw it up.

  12. RanDomino

    The “Luddite” article claims that fears that machines would take away jobs were “unfounded” because new and better jobs were created. When was this? Does anyone even know the actual history of the Luddites? “Better jobs” weren’t created; I shouldn’t have to explain the conditions of the 19th century English proletariat. People were driven off their land in the Enclosure movement and then left with no other option to survive but going to the hellish factories, the military, etc; all quite consciously and intentionally engineered by the British ruling class. So people fought back. At one point there were more troops deployed in Britain quelling Luddite revolts than there were concurrently deployed against Napoleon. And we throw around the word as if it just means fear of technology. When someone uses the word “Luddite” like that, it tells me everything about their worldview (namely, that they’re a TINA-ist).

    1. Louis

      Under the current economic paradigm, you need income to eat and have a roof over your head, which creates a problem if automation leads to a substantially higher unemployment rate. If all the gains go to the haves—they aren’t going to give up their gains voluntarily, for obvious reasons—how are the unemployed (or underemployed) have nots supposed to eat?

    2. John Smith

      When someone uses the word “Luddite” like that, it tells me everything about their worldview (namely, that they’re a TINA-ist). RanDomino

      You remind me that new technology needs financing for it to spread widely. I suspect strongly that therein lies the problem, not the automation itself.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The link is appropriately listed under class warfare.

      If everyone is given a green, sustainable worker-robot, there will be no Luddites.

    4. cnchal

      What you say about the enclosure laws and conditions is true, and there were laws put in place making the act of damaging machines an offense punishable by death. Those laws are probably still there.

      The author of the article claims:

      The first large wave of unemployment will be caused by self-driving cars. These will provide tremendous benefit by eliminating traffic accidents and congestion, making commuting time more productive, and reducing energy usage. But they will eliminate the jobs of millions of taxi and truck drivers and delivery people.

      I might add, body shop and auto repair workers and the auto parts industry, doctors and nurses, and a whole chain of people involved in work going right back to the bucket at the mine.

      The dude in the driver’s seat will go away.

      Disagree there. That is unlikely to become law anytime soon, and some people love to drive.

      That technology eliminates jobs has been a fear for centuries, and in particular when physical production processes can be set in motion that run without human intervention. Robots are just an extension of that. Having all these robotic factories smells like a robot bubble, where all this stuff nobody wants gets made, and ends up as a dead loss.

      Here is Keynes circa 1930

      For the moment the very rapidity of these changes is hurting and bringing difficult problems to solve. Those countries are suffering relatively which are not in the vanguard of progress. We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not yet have heard the name, but of which they will hear great deal in the years to come – namely, technological unemployment. This means unemployment due to our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour.

      But this is only a temporary phase of maladjustment. All this means in the long run that mankind is solving its economic problem,. I would predict that the standard of life in progressive countries one hundred years hence will be between four and eight times as high as it is today. There would be nothing surprising in this even in the light of our present knowledge. It would not be foolish to contemplate the possibility of a far greater progress still.

      We need to solve the distribution problem, and the economic problem will take care of itself.

      1. Louis

        We need to solve the distribution problem, and the economic problem will take care of itself.

        While that may be true, solving the former requires some major structural changes that I don’t think there is the political support for, at least here in the United States. We’re decades behind every other developed country in implementing a universal healthcare (or insurance) system.

        If it took us this long to get the Affordable Care Act, which admittedly has some shortcomings, but is better than nothing, how long is it going to take for us to realize that the “if you don’t work, you don’t eat’ model isn’t sustainable in a world of high structural employment?

        1. RanDomino

          If we want change, we have to organize. I beat the drum for Anarcho-Syndicalism, personally. Maybe check out your local IWW chapter?

          1. ambrit

            Down here in the Deep South, the Woblies are more of a Secret Society, of necessity. Then again, I see we here, Dixies’ Dregs, as harbingers of the future of the entire nation. I think we all severely underestimated Dick Nixon and his crew. His Southern Strategy was not a purely political program. It was actually a sociological exercise in culture change.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I agree — the problem is distribution.

        On reading the “Jobless Future” link I could not help recalling the old Joe Hill song about “pie in the sky” (“The Preacher & The Slave”). Other than magical faith, either explicit or more often implicit, in the mysterious ability of the “free market” to balance things out I have yet find a clear description of what causal mechanism assures us that new and better jobs are created to replace all the jobs lost through automation. So far I agree with the link. But as for the author’s contention a world of machines “… may be an opportunity for humanity to uplift itself” that seems equally magical in its hopefulness.

        I believe we have had the opportunity to “uplift” ourselves for quite a while now. We have enough food to feed everyone in the world — at least for the moment — enough productive capability to house and cloth the world — at least for the moment — and … to address the complaint of later day Malthusians … we have had the ability to control the world population without resorting to the kinds of coercion the Chinese used. [Bearing children as chattel for retirement could be handled by society providing for the retirement and care of our old.] We have many “opportunities” right now. We also face a world-wide disaster soon coming in nearing decades … yet we do nothing. [Some argue it is too late … but that hardly excuses us from making efforts to mitigate the depth of the disaster and the great harm it brings.]

        The only thing changing with increasing automation is the extent of the “social problems” the author brushes over to arrive at a beautiful future of human leisure. I do not believe Luddites smashed machines and tossed their wooden shoes into drive gears because they hated machines. They did it because of the “social problems” those machines created. I seriously doubt the Luddites would reject machines added so they could all eat three square meals a day, live in decent housing, wear clean clothes, obtain medical care, educate themselves and their children while enjoying a gentle 10-hour workweek with plenty of time for leisure. Those things were not on offer then, and they are not on offer now.

    5. Jeremy Grimm

      I am ignorant of the history of the Luddites. Am I correct to believe that Luddites were not opposed to machines per se? Based on the scale of the Luddite revolts and the nature of the English response deploying troops … what kind of hope does that lend to accomplishing social change through public protests today and what does it suggest about the militarization of our police?

      1. Foy

        Yep that’s exactly why the police are being militarised, the Elites know what’s coming if we stay the current sad economic course of neoliberalism, it is a never ending squeeze of Joe Public that makes its way up from the bottom level. But the Elites will not/cannot afford to change and so they are just covering their bases for when the pitchforks are inevitably taken up. They don’t fear terrorists. They fear internal revolt. That’s the reason for the militarisation of police and massive expansion of the surveillance state – if they know you’re thoughts, your skeletons in the closet and where you are and who you associate with, it’s very easy to shut you down if you become a problem. Joe Public has no clue how the world is being changed to his detriment atm…

        1. Foy

          And as an example Australia have a brand new Border Force to ‘guard our borders’. The guy who heads it up dresses up in a military uniform and has a apparently been awarded a whole lot of chunky medallions and awards already to go with his dark blue, ominous uniform. At the introductory TV press conference it looked like it had come from a fancy dress shop.

          10 bucks says this morphs into some sort of homeland security quasi military outfit with internal security responsibilites.

          You can’t tell me the powers that be don’t know what’s coming. They are getting fully mobilised…

          1. ambrit

            There’s a wonderful quote somewhere about the two sorts of soldiers. One kind loves to dress up and parade around. He’s not good for much. The other sort wears his fatigues or camo all the time and trains incessantly. He’s the one to have at your back when things go wrong.
            Moral of the story? Find the human being in the ‘real’ soldier and show him he’s one of “us.” Short circuit the “Us versus Them” training most soldiers endure. Not easy, but can be done.

            1. JTMcPhee

              …and that is why our Overlords are hastening the deployment of autonomous battle killing destruction Terminator-class eventually self-replicating “systems.”

              Troops, so far, take an oath to support and defend “the Constitution,” and some of us mopes took and take it seriously.

              1. ambrit

                I once watched a documentary about the Eastern Front in WW2.
                One officer lamented that his unit, Soviet Army, had very high losses because the troops had been conditioned not to act on their own decisions. Hopefully, battlefield robot troops will suffer a similar fate when up against self controlling human troops. Then it will be a battle of attrition.
                Did you notice, in the 5 Takeaways from the Pentagon study the mention of the vulnerability of automated systems and electronic command and control systems? Someone is arguing very forcefully for shifting more resources to the foot soldiers. Wise move. Once a “potential combatant” masters non nuclear EMP weapons, it’s all up for ‘fight by wire.’ Reminds me of Frank Herberts’ story, “Cease Fire” where something similar happens.

    6. Ed

      One of the most stubborn modern logical fallacies is that the demand for labor and services is infinite. Its something you only have to think about for four minutes to see that this isn’t true. People only have so many hours in the day to consume stuff. Also environmental factors will put a stop to just expanding population and production forever.

      Logically, there is going to be a time when automation catches up to demand, and then some.

      We also took a major hit with the original industrial revolution in terms of how people work. It got rid of most of the single family farms! In the pre-industrial world, people did not need to sell their labor to eat or to have a place to sleep. They could support themselves via their farms. This was done away with not only by mechanizing agriculture, but using the mechanized agriculture to support an expansion of the world’s population so that its impossible that non-mechanized, non-industrialized agriculture could feed the world.

      Its some comfort that Keynes is right in that this is essentially a distribution and control problem, which means its technically fixable, but the elites have to be willing to give up the control they have over the population by being able to threaten to render people homeless if they don’t “work” in their organizations.

  13. Chris B


    The only happiness that most people can relate to is a happiness based on conditions. Buddhists and Daosists only explain that chasing after conditional happiness is the cause of our suffering. They do no teach us what happiness is and how we can get it, they show us how suffering begins and how we can get rid of it. This does not mean we do not struggle to make our lives better, but that we do it in that joy of enlightenment and without greed, anger or delusion. When we live in that way we save orselves from repeating our mistakes over again in the next generation.

    But all the time writing and talking about happiness will not bring anyone this joy, it is born out of the deconditioning of our mistaken idea of separation of “self” from the rest of the world and a deep understanding on the nature of duality. That takes spirtual work. And there is no amount of tellig you that will let you understand how this feels. Every year I practice I understand more and the more I understand the less I practice and the more I live.

    Here is a good talk by Ajahn Brahm on the subject:

    And the Daosits agree, we see that “happiness” is a conditional and conceptual idea that has no basis outside of our brains. And it is that we create happiness that forces suffering to be created:

    When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
    When it knows good as good, evil arises
    Thus being and non-being produce each other
    Difficult and easy bring about each other
    Long and short reveal each other
    High and low support each other
    Music and voice harmonize each other
    Front and back follow each other

    -Dao De Ching

    Our deepest issue is not that we do not have happiness, it is that we think happiness is a real, separate, static thing and we keep chasing after it. HA!

    Mathbabe is just starting and it is her investigation I admire, not yet her understanding. But what fascinates me even more is that we have this 5000 year history of people who have studied these ideas and have the solution, but this group of people think they are figuring it our and working through it for the first time! HA AGAIN!

    On a humorus side note, I TRIED to tell a woman I was dating that I could not love “her”, since she changes eveyday I would have to to fall in love with someone new everyday. :) But before I could tell her that falling in love with her again and again everyday is what I wanted to do she ran away crying! So much for nondualistic romance….

    1. knowbuddhau

      Thanks much. Well said. Wanted to get in on this but haven’t the time. I bow in your virtual direction.

    2. jrs

      do anyone but clinically depressed people spend so much time philosophizing about happiness. sometimes I wonder – not in response to this post or anything, but sometimes.

      fwiw of course some unhappiness is not depression but real grief, and of course depression may not be strictly or even mostly biological, but it is still not the depressed person’s fault.

      you ex-gf, is probably: what are you saying I’m too bipolar to love? I change everyday, do I? Are you saying I’m nuts, and therefore you don’t love me?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The hazard of philosophizing* (from Wiki, The Centipede Dilemma):

        A centipede was happy – quite!
        Until a toad in fun
        Said, “Pray, which leg comes after which?”
        Which threw her mind in such a pitch,
        She laid bewildered in the ditch
        Considering how to run

        *beside being slandered by Aristophane

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Here is Shakespeare echoing the same:

      There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

      And it is said

      It’s not this

      It’s not that

      It’s not both

      It’s not neither

    4. Chris

      Isn’t the bigger issue that not only is she a moving target, but you are too? Can you really commit all your future selves? But then again, does it matter?

      I sometimes have doubts about the continuity of the self. Am I the same person as the ‘Chris’ of 20 years ago? As a week ago? When I die, will it the same me as now, or is the process of living just continuous death and rebirth? I remember arguing with a Christian friend once that living after death in heaven is meaningless because being frozen in amber isn’t living, but if you’re free to keep changing then eventually there’s be nothing left of the you who walked through the pearly gates. And if you can change, shouldn’t there be some kind of continuous review about whether you get to keep your membership card?

      I don’t know how any useful answer to these questions can be proven, but ultimately I have to believe and crush any doubts, because if I didn’t then life would lose all meaning. I might give up saving for retirement. I might give up going to work (why if “I” won’t be the one getting paid?). I might give up cooking meals (By the time the food is done, will it still be “me”?). Are my parents the same people who raised me? Am I the same person they worked so hard to raise? There’d be no real motive to do anything without almost instant gratification. I wonder if this constant living in the past and the future is what truly separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

      1. Furzy Mouse

        Grasping at the ignorant conception of self, “I”, is one of the prime causes of misery in this world…we are different every day….even the cells in our body…if we did not or could not change, then we would not be alive! We would be some kind of permanent thing…which does not exist, as all compounded entities will cease to exist…

  14. blowncue

    I never thought I would say this, but a securitized bail out is needed with first losses impacting the US, China and Great Britain. Greece needs co-signers.

  15. allan

    Tony Abbott continues his war on nature:

    Tony Abbott has been warned he is putting international investment at risk after ordering the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation not to finance new wind power projects.

    and Nature fires back:

    The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds and blizzard conditions developing later on Saturday and into Sunday as New South Wales braces for what has been dubbed the “Antarctic vortex”.

  16. JohnB

    I can’t seem to use Lambert’s link suggestion page, the ‘are you a human’ game doesn’t show:

    Will need to put through Google Translate:

    Germany offers a negotiated-exit from the Euro for Greece, where Greece would keep its debts denominated in Euro’s – creating the economic conditions that caused Weimar Germany’s hyperinflation (foreign denominated debt).

    Seriously insane suggestion – which you’d expect least of all from Germany – and the other suggestion, is putting 50 billion worth of Greek assets in a trust fund, that gradually gets sold off to pay for the bailout.

    Really makes me incredibly cynical about the motives of Germany, and of the future course Europe might take – when a country does eventually exit (as is still very possible with Greece) and default, I’m a bit worried about what kind of sanctions they will be faced with, as Germany may push for very severe sanctions.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      See our latest post on Greece. This looks to be Schauble (who is not aligned with Merkel) but he’s more representative of “Germany” now than she is.

      1. John Merryman

        It seems like the Iran deal could come apart as well and along with China being currently humbled, it seems Russia could become the Mother Hen to a Eurasian flock of anti-capitalists.

      2. JohnB

        Thanks, excellent post – it’s good to see that the ‘temporary’ exit proposal is being widely ridiculed and talked down at least, by other EU politicians – though things are still on course for an exit it seems.

  17. ambrit

    In regards to the “Imperial Collapse Watch”:
    Hollow point bullets are specifically designed to inflict maximum damage on a “target.” Several of the comments after the article mentioned the military using these munitions against the domestic population. True or not, the very consideration in public of that question speaks volumes about how the trust of the public in our institutions has collapsed. (The military can easily transfer these bullets to local police forces. Indeed, many local police now have hollow points as standard loads.)
    The other question as raised by a comment on the link site was, how many bullets fired by anyone actually hit the target? Collateral damage with hollow points will be horrific.
    That the American military leadership is even considering this shows a coarsening of the standards to which troops will be measured.
    File this under “I Heart Entropy.”

    1. Jess

      The offsetting “good” — if you can call it that — is that hollow-points are much less likely to keep on going right through the target and hit someone in the background. Also, AR-15 rounds are designed to “tumble” after entering the target, thus inflicting the most possible damage. Can’t imagine how a hollow point could be much worse.

      1. ambrit

        All true, but this assumes that local police forces are all soon upgraded to National Guard levels of force. In effect, when the local cops on the beat become SWAT teams all the time, policing will have evolved from ‘Local Keepers of the Peace’ to ‘State Security Services.’ One has the inherent responsibility to be accountable to the people they serve, the other does not. A vast difference that will play out in increasing violence, basically of a non physical nature, being inflicted from the top down.
        Years ago I read an article about “Barroom Distance.” The information has since disappeared, or been disappeared, but the idea was that, at the average distance between two people in a barroom, about eight feet, both parties can fire six shots at each other and completely miss. Where do these bullets go? What about bystanders? It takes a good bit of training for a person to learn to shoot slowly and aim, especially when someone else is shooting back. Ultimately, the police are ordinary people, and will react in ordinary and predictable ways; panic, fear, and over reaction.

  18. Tom Hickey

    Here a comment I posted at math babe on happiness:

    In the transcendentalist traditions there are two levels that can distinguished conceptually — 1) the absolute unchanging undifferentiated, eternal, infinite and 2) the relative changing differentiated temporal finite.

    The latter is the manifestation of the former, which is ever unmanifest. The former can be realized but not perceived, imagined, or described. It is ineffable. It can only be reported and pointed toward. The latter is the stuff of ordinary experience. The gap between the two levels is incommensurable.

    The “happiness” of the former is complete and abiding fulfillment. It is called “ananda” in Sanskrit. The “happiness” of the latter is characterized by the alternation of happiness and suffering (sukha- dukha). This is divided into various levels, such as “hedonistic” happiness, regarding which there are many views and aspects, and eudaemonic happiness, which is the byproduct of actualization of potential. Eudaemonic happiness can include transcendental fulfillment as its apex, since it is realization of full human potential

    But in comparison with the complete fulfillment of the transcendent, it’s all suffering in the realm of the phenomenal. However, this lack of abiding fulfillment drives the process that leads to eventual realization.

    For a contemporary conceptual model explaining the process, see Meher Baba’s God Speaks, for example.

    The entire purpose of the relative changing differentiated temporal finite is the eventual realization of absolute unchanging undifferentiated, eternal, infinite. This is the path that all beings tread according to perennial wisdom, which holds that every being eventually realizes that which is ever-present, gradually on the ladder of ascent and suddenly at the apex.

    1. craazyman

      Jesus. that sounds like calculus. Does that work for everybody or just math majors?

      Can you get to the absolute happiness by integrating the changing temporal happiness over infinity — maybe even an indefinite intregral? (it doesn’t have to be an exact number, we’re looking or formula for happiness not some specific handout like a Ferrari in the drivveway).

      it might be easier that in looks if you get your Utility Maximization Function right.

      Give Utili-Max a call today. We can help you find happiness for 3 easy payment of $149.95. Our “Happiness Today” program wlll show you how to find eternal bliss. Gauanteed!

      Call Now:
      1-98770988-88844-0a0asd0=asjdflksa aksdjf 0–sdff-823834743738

      (just keep pressing buttons on your touch tone phone or smart-phone touch pad and somebody will eventually answer. You can use letters too)

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Jobless future isn’t a Luddite fallacy.

    I just want to say once upon a time, one could have work without having a job.

    And it’s still possible.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Work is not the problem — getting paid for the work is. Jobs pay for work.

      Running your own business pays for work. Is that what you have in mind? — or something else?

  20. Jeremy

    On Greece – I keep remembering that line from The Godfather, Part 111 – “Finance is a gun. Politics is knowing when to pull the trigger.”

  21. Jess

    Re: The big changes for Medicare payments —

    Another neoliberal plan to further gut Medicare. Look for more doctors and hospitals to refuse to take Medicare patients.

    And if you need any further proof that this is a horrid idea…

    Zeke Emmanuel is quoted in the article lauding the proposed change.

    1. mn

      This really isn’t new, they have been experimenting with “bundled payments” for a while. Most of new healthcare law really pinches patients pockets and seriously reduces reimbursement for any care provided, this is just one of CMSs tricks. Quality care rather than quantity, but be sure they will get less of everything.

  22. ewmayer

    Re: happiness: One doesn’t need to cloak this stuff in some long-winded “philosophical school X teaches us…” hifalutin exposition. The simple fact is that we are discontent when our perceived reality does not meet our expectations.

    Now, except for genuinely ‘by any reasonable measure’ abject circumstances – I’m looking at you, drowning-in-material-excess-developed-world – there is a lot in that equation (inequality, really) which is under our control, mainly related to subjectivity of perceptions and unrealistic expectations.

  23. DJG

    Yves: Your comments on Cathy O’Neil’s post have elicited many comments. I’d add:

    –What I like about the MathBabe post is that she is highly skeptical, as she should be. The four interlocuters are much too brainy.
    –When you mention “striving,” I’d say that there is plenty of striving in Buddhism, but Buddhist striving is on the Eightfold Noble Path. People from the USA should probably think about right livelihood.
    –Buddhism isn’t as concerned with striving as much as with “thirsts,” false goals, vain striving.
    –I will direct you back to Epicurus and Lucretius, who had much to say about pleasure and happiness. Epicurus has a hedonic scale of pleasures. He was quite moderate in his desires. He called his school the garden (which ought to appeal to Lambert). You can see why Christians would have had to suppress a philosophy based on moderate pleasure, friendship, empiricism, skepticism, and resistance to “fear of the Lord.”
    –So you should take a look at Lucretius and his poem On the Nature of the Universe, which, undoubtedly, you have read. Lucretius was thoroughly agnostic, although willing to admit Venus (the ancestral goddess of the Romans). He anticipates much modern thought, including evolution. And he says not to have fear.
    –Fear defeats us. (FDR knew that.) We want to strive for reasonable pleasure, living without fear, and a dignified existence that means not being forced to deal with angry or vengeful gods. And there is good old Lucretius, pointing us toward a kind of flawed happiness.

  24. flora

    Re: Happiness
    (with apologies to C.S.Lewis)

    My dear Wormwrath,

    I am very pleased by what you tell me about your man’s growing focus on his own happiness. Keep his mind focused on his atomized self. That self-centered outlook will draw him away from his interest in and connection to the larger community. After all, why should he put up with irritating relatives at holiday? It certainly does not make him happy. Be careful not to let him ask himself why he might willingly accept unhappiness at some points, and not others, and what the difference is. We both know that once he realizes that he is willing to accept unhappiness for some things he is in danger of realizing that happiness is not the highest goal of human beings. You must at all costs prevent his train of thought from going in that direction. Instead, let him indulge in what he sees as heroic self-mastery by focusing on Stoicism. Now the Stoics were our enemy when we could snare people with worldly pleasure, and Stoicism is still our enemy when a man is in an untenable mental or physical pain and about to break. (Once they break it is so easy to snare them.) But your man is simply irritated and worn down by life’s cares, as all humans must be by midlife. Do not let him realize this. The irony here is that your man’s current condition in life means Stoicism will further isolate him from his larger community, making our work easier. In his case, his belief in his unhappiness (or insufficient happiness according to advertising agencies) can, if handled correctly, lead him to a complete demoralization. Keep up the good work.

    Your affectionate uncle,

  25. Jeremy Grimm

    I just read the 5 takeaways from the national strategy. Not sure what to make of it. The takeaways don’t seem terribly deep. The takeaway on the nuclear arsenal seems especially facile. How many nuclear weapons does it take to create a deterrent? We have gone so far past any point that might be called a deterrent and the idea that we need more and better nuclear submarines to threaten and deliver this deterrent seems beyond ludicrous. I really did not see what point there was to the other takeaways for national strategy.

    My takeaway — one point only — we are in serious trouble given our lack of leadership, our lack of understanding of our enemy, and our lack of knowledge about our own advantages and disadvantages. Our strategy stands on shit.

  26. PeterD

    So … it appears that Eurozone member Finland to push for Grexit

    Finnish parliament against new bailout deal for Greece, reports say

    Finland’s parliament has decided it will not accept any new bailout deal for Greece, media reports said Saturday, piling on pressure as eurozone finance ministers were locked in tortuous talks to stop the debt-laden country from crashing out of the euro.

  27. Jeremy Grimm

    Read “2 Cheers” — not sure how wonderful things were during the fall of Rome and rise of the Black Plague. I am very glad someone thought they were wonderful. If it were in my power, I would gladly give the author of this link an opportunity to enjoy the great pleasures of life in the Medeaval Ages. I have seen other books and articles suggesting that the decline of our present times is not such a bad thing. We can look forward to golden ages of change … s.

    Some things I have read suggest we are entering a dark age. I am so glad it is such a good thing.

    1. jrs

      I’m not sure why people seem to prefer “feudalism” analogies for the present (neo-fuedalism), over plenty of other bad that could be analogized. What 19th century capitalism not bad enough? And probably closer as an analogy, although of course no the modern world is not *equivalent*.

      Yea the middle ages have long had their fans though I don’t know if they are right, they make an appealing case. To blame the middle ages for the Black Plague is to blame them for what? Lack of modern medical knowledge, sanitation, perhaps spreading disease by trade? Yea, they didn’t know some of those things then. Shrug.

  28. notabanker

    Seeing La Sagrada Familia in person is a truly glorious experience. It was impossible to fathom the contrast of the interior after trying to wrap your mind around the exterior. Highly recommended .

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