Links 1/4/15

BBC. Happiness is a bad idea, particularly in its American embodiment of bouncy smiling people selling consumer products on TV. Frankly, that looks more like “giddiness”. The ancients sought contentment. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argues that “happiness” is actually absorption in an activity, meaning being engrossed. If you accept his view, modern technology is making people unhappy on a mass scale to make their brains less capable of that type of focus.

Wall Street Journal. Li: “Drone etiquette”.

Courthouse News (Pando)

Reuters

NPR (David L)

France 24. Nikki: “The big idea (in this interview) seems to be the artificiality of national borders, and the implications of this – ‘a coming back to real history’.”

Wolf Richter

Economist

Grexit?

ekathimerini

Financial Times

Michael Shedlock

DW (Nikki). A colleague who reads the German press, read the underlying article in German, and has good s says this is posturing to influence the Greek elections.

Consortiumnews (Chuck L)

Ukraine/Russia

DefenseNews

International Business Times (furzy mouse)

Syraqistan

Juan Cole

Intercept

Two Minute Hate

AntiWar

BBC

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Medium (Antifa)

Vocativ. A must read. Chuck L highlights this part:

. . we asked Hong to highlight four permissions that he thought were potentially the most alarming. Across the top, we list those four: s, text messages, call log and microphone. All of these are pretty straightforward, but the microphone permission is especially eerie. Imagine all the audio around you being recorded by some app, without your knowledge.

BTW, I was told by an expert that iPads after the first gen record audio and you can’t turn it off. So, for instance, every conference is pretty much guaranteed to be recorded by the surveillance state

New York Times

Bernie Sanders (RR)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Alternet (JTFaraday)

Huffington Post (Li)

New York Times. I’ve cited this resume study often. Please see our article for The Conference Board Review on the depth and extent of bias in hiring and promotion, and how it comes up in ways the perps don’t recognize.

s New York Times.

NYPD Soft Coup

Karl Denninger (RR)

New York Times. The wealthier areas of Birmingham, Alabama are lousy with them. Contrast with: Wall Street Journal

Class Warfare

Truthout

Los Angeles Times

Bloomberg

Antidote du jour. We’ve run one of these pix before…and yes,

Polar bear and dog links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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155 comments

    1. abynormal

      Mental evil is always the stupidest evil because the mind itself is not a weapon but a potential paradise. Robert Anton Wilson

      1. kristiina

        You’re my hero today. To be bothered enough about sarcasm to move your fingers…I like that. And here’s my current piece of paradise:

    2. Patrick Walker

      Depends on where.

      I’ve spoken to elders in Gjoa Haven who’ve spoken of fewer numbers yet if you go to Rankin Inlet they speak of larger numbers of bears. Not to sure if that isn’t about bears getting closer to landfills to find food though.

    3. Polar bears are an endangered species.

      “The best estimates we’ve got indicate that we’ll probably lose somewhere around two-thirds of the world’s bears somewhere around mid-century, just based on the simple fact that we’re losing sea ice,” says Andrew Derocher, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta and past chair of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Polar Bear Specialist Group.

    4. different clue

      Not yet. The ice has to become a lot more gone for that to conclusively and finalistically happen.

  1. dearieme

    I love to hear a Frenchman complaining about “artificial borders”. All France’s, except at the sea shore, are artificial. It’s hard to think of any country whose borders aren’t artificial except, perhaps, Iceland and NZ. Madagascar, perhaps? A few oceanic island groups? Anyway, damn few.

    1. tswkr

      Even with that, the lack of a border within the islands is arbitrary.

      That story had a rather confounding summary: “national borders are becoming increasingly irrelevant” …. “Now people want borders along national, religious or ethnic lines”

      To what degree are borders shaped by what people want? It seems they are mostly a product of how far some institution can exert and legitimize it’s power as a state. War and international finance create large swings in the power of states and institutions, opening the doors for some other group to exercise control.

    2. OIFVet

      Why, because it reminds you of long-gone imperial glory? To a large extent we are now paying the deferred costs of the empire the Brits got for themselves, and he purposefully artificial borders they drew to keep the former colonies mired in conflict and in hate.

    3. afisher

      Mon Dieu – wanna see heads explode: Let’s do this in North America. Immigration problem solved!

  2. Carolinian

    Speaking of Dersh in a towel–for what it’s worth:

    He vehemently denies the allegations.

    1. sleepy

      Maybe age has clouded my memory, but I recall Dershowitz being a living, breathing civil libertarian, a good guy, about 40 or so years ago. I guess his zionism and his islamophobia, were more easily hidden back in the day and not so well developed prior to the GWOT.

      Hopefully this scandal retires him as any sort of public spokesman.

  3. abynormal

    Ga. police chief told dispatcher he shot wife moving gun in bed…mistakes were made

    i chose this link b/c it has most of the 911/411. local dirt is that the chief had to physically pull the trigger on this specific hand gun.

    McCollom said both he and his wife were sleeping prior to the gun going off.

    “In one aspect, yes, I believe in ghosts, but we create them. We haunt ourselves.”
    L.H. Anderson

    1. Antifa

      Umm, regarding the accidental discharge of the Peachtree, Georgia police chief’s Glock pistol — twice — on New Year’s morning . . . nope, nope, nope. Not remotely possible on a Glock.

      Glock pistols come with their “Safe Action” system, which consists of three independent mechanical safeties to prevent the firing pin and the bullet from coming into the slightest unless you manually pull the trigger past all three safeties. You can move a loaded Glock all around your bed while you’re half awake. You can throw a loaded Glock around the room. You can get a gorilla to jump up and down on it all night long and it won’t accidentally fire. It can’t, not with three safeties to prevent discharge.

      1. optimader

        “Umm, regarding the accidental discharge of the Peachtree, Georgia police chief’s Glock pistol — twice”
        Shot once according to the GBI

        “nope, nope, nope. Not remotely possible on a Glock.”
        Yes,Yes, Yes, no manual safety + chambered round + negligent behavior = bang!

        DEA Agent Shoots Himself. With a Glock 40? Commentary and Subtitles!
        Glocks have a terrible reputation for accidental discharge.

        1. Antifa

          Yes, she was shot once. But on the 911 transcript, the Chief himself says he thinks he shot her twice. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation won’t comment now on initial press and police reports that he missed her on one shot.

          Yes, earlier models of Glock pistols did have a well proven ability to go off when you didn’t want them to, which led Glock to introduce the current generation of service pistols like the one the Chief has, which feature the triple-safety system.

          There’s a double trigger safety which prevents firing except by deliberately depresssing both triggers. There’s an internal firing pin safety that blocks discharge unless both triggers are fully, manually depressed. There’s a drop safety to prevent discharge if you drop or throw the gun. Glock tested this system exhaustively, even dropping pistols out of airplanes, and it will not discharge without a full, manual trigger pull because there’s no spring loading on the firing pin unless and until you manually depress both triggers. Firing pin and bullet cannot come into by any means but fully pulling the trigger.

          The best this Chief can hope for is to claim he was still asleep when all this happened — which he sort of says on the 911 transcript. But there will surely be Glock experts at any trial to defend the excellent safety record of the Safe Action system. Most likely the GBI will take their time with this case so the public forgets about it, and then do their best to let this good old boy off with a slap on the wrist.

          If you shoot your spouse in a dream, do they wake up shot?

          1. optimader

            1.) He’s an idiot to have a loaded gun in bed
            2. He’s even more of an idiot to have a chambered round in a glock in bed.
            3.) Bottom line , because it is hammerless there is no way to decock it. If in the dark blankets or whatever other paraphernalia a GA cop also thinks having in bed makes sense gets caught between the trigger guard and trigger it has the potential to go bang. Hell I have a bad enough time w/ loosing an iphone in bed. So yeah, if you throw it across the room or out of an airplane or only accidentally depress the edge of the trigger it mechanically is constrained from discharging, which is fine as far as that goes, but it doesn’t neutralized all the real world possibilities.
            4.We agree the company will surely vigorously defend the efficacy of their Safe Action system
            5. I would also not be surprised in the event the GBI assesses it as an accidental discharge, it will be buried. Don’t know the local code but it sounds like as a minimum it is negligent discharge of a handgun .
            6. On a more philosophical level it might be a sensible military weapon, but IMO I think the public at large would be safer if cops did not have some predisposition that they are in some fast draw contest when it comes to plugging a civilian.

            Quite frankly, I’m more comfortable with the thought that a cop has to as a minimum cock a hammer or better yet rack a gun before shooting someone. That sound I suspect has it’s own deterrence value. Does this make it too egregiously unsafe to be a cop? That is clearly a personal decision which I can respect, life is a series of risk/reward decisions. There are always alternatives.

    2. [email protected]

      “Good gracious! anybody hurt?”

      “No’m. Killed a nigger.”

      “Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.

      — Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    3. TheraP

      Professors of medicine have a saying that medical students would better understand their patients if they were fortunate enough were to contract a dire illness, receive treatment, and recover – as part of their training.

      So too Police officers might benefit from having to contend with a Justice system rigged against them, including immediate protective incarceration for shooting a citizen.

      As soon as I read that story about the cop who shot his wife “by accident” red flags went up in my head. He should have been arrested immediately. No one should get away with something like this. Except that two-year-old who shot his mother.

      Maybe all police cadets should spend time in the penitentiary as part of their training – in such a way that their true identities were not known during their incarceration. I guarantee you we would soon have prison reform! And better cops!

      1. sleepy

        It might be simpler if the academies recruited directly out of the penitentiaries. Gangbangers and cartel enforcers already possess the skill sets.

        Used to be said that few counties in south Georgia would recruit anyone to the local sheriff”s department unless they’d done at least 6 months jail time.

  4. Dino Reno

    The Sony Hack Fraud.

    One important point goes missing. Hacking into corporate America is now a national security issue. Besides relieving them of massive liability problems, this will allow big companies to save face despite their poor security efforts. Cyberwarfare plays nicely into the notion that America is under attack every minute of every day. Every hack is now an opportunity to pick an enemy and retaliate according to the what’s on today’s menu: Chinese, Russians, ISIS, N.Korea, just to name a few. They are all guilty of something so proving the guilty party in any specific incident is just a formality to launch our own reprisals. Maybe it will stop being fun and games when one of these enemies decides to crash our power grid for a month or two.

      1. abynormal

        “The Asian Development Bank said in a report on Tuesday that emerging East Asia’s sales of bonds denominated in US dollars, euros or yen totalled US$143.48 billion (S$186.8 billion) between January and September this year – surpassing the issuance for the whole of 2013.”
        get my drift :-/

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      ” They are all guilty of something so proving the guilty party in any specific incident is just a formality to launch our own reprisals.”

      “Proof” is highly overrated and unnecessary. Just “assigning” blame and proceeding to retaliation is enough for this dying empire, which seems to be becoming more desperate by the day to demonstrate how everybody is picking on them. Justifying, of course, the furious flailing that seems to be the only reaction the US is capable of mounting.

      This Sony hack thing is getting really embarrassing. Exposing gossipy Hollywood e-mails is, all of a sudden, elevated to the level of Pearl Harbor. Gossip. Seth Rogen. James Franco. Act of war. Only in America.

      It would be funny if it wasn’t so obviously weak and pathetic.

      1. Antifa

        It also shows how very fragile the official story is. In spite of the Mighty Wurlitzer of the national media dutifully reporting that Kim’s Korean Krackers did it, that story is only hanging together by a thread at this point. The FBI may be constrained by the powers that be to NOT arrest and prosecute the former Sony employees who actually did the dirty deed, since those folks can’t very well have done it when everyone “knows” North Korea did. They can’t both be responsible.

        In which case, any former Sony employee thus let off the hook can make a quick million or two by writing a tell-all book about how they actually did the crime. A dying empire presents some unexpected ways to earn a fortune if you’re quick and clever.

        1. James Levy

          I think a similar thing happened in what was the greatest disappeared story of our times–the post 9/11 anthrax letters. They never got around to punishing anyone because they knew all too well where the anthrax came from (an unreported US bioweapons lab) and did not want to open that can of worms. It was the way the press allowed that story to play out, then dropped all mention of it (while fetishizing everything else related to 9/11) that opened my eyes to the extent of government control of the media here in the USA.

          1. different clue

            I suspect it was CheneyBushites within or near government who carried out the rolling anthrax attacks.

      2. DJG

        But we all know that Obama, now freed of majorities in both houses of the Congress, is liberated and can produce the liberal-ish paradise that he has (secretly) been suppressed from effecting. Or something. I can’t imagine how we are to think of him as a serious person after the North-Korea / movie / document dump scandalette.

      3. fresno dan

        Katniss Everdeen
        January 4, 2015 at 9:45 am

        =======================================================
        Nick Fury: Well, he had a few suggestions once he got an up close look at our old turbines. These new long range precision guns can eliminate a thousand hostiles a minute. The satellites can read a terrorist’s DNA before he steps outside his spider hole. We gonna neutralize a lot of threats before they even happen.
        Steve Rogers: I thought the punishment usually came after the crime.
        Nick Fury: We can’t afford to wait that long.
        Steve Rogers: Who’s “we”?

        =========================================================

        I usually don’t see blockbusters, especially when their characterized as a “franchise” but I read some reviews that pointed out the rather profound change in the mythos of the movie line. And as I’m always curious about the mass entertainment zeitgeist on an issue, I thought I’d give it a view. And for a movie based on a comic book, I thought it brought up the downsides of an all pervasive opticon and the issue of “who watches the watchmen” rather well.

    2. Jagger

      Hacking into corporate America is now a national security issue.

      So what was Stuxnet? How does hacking nuclear plants compare to hacking Sony? What sort of response would be appropriate to an attack on our nuclear plants? The hypocrisy and lack of historical context amonst our media and politicians is just mind-blowing.

      1. fresno dan


        ==================================================
        Regardless of how well it worked, there is no question that Stuxnet is something new under the sun. At the very least, it is a blueprint for a new way of attacking industrial-control systems. In the end, the most important thing now publicly known about Stuxnet is that Stuxnet is now publicly known. That knowledge is, on the simplest level, a warning: America’s own critical infrastructure is a sitting target for attacks like this. That aside, if Stuxnet really did attack Iran’s nuclear program, it could be called the first unattributable act of war. The implications of that concept are confounding. Because cyber-weapons pose an almost unsolvable problem of sourcing—who pulled the trigger?—war could evolve into something more and more like terror. Cyber-conflict makes military action more like a never-ending game of uncle, where the fingers of weaker nations are perpetually bent back. The wars would often be secret, waged by members of anonymous, elite brain trusts, none of whom would ever have to look an enemy in the eye. For people whose lives are connected to the targets, the results could be as catastrophic as a bombing raid, but would be even more disorienting. People would suffer, but would never be certain whom to blame.
        =====================================================
        The Vanity Fair article says the stuxnet was self sterilizing. I don’t know enough about computer malware to determine which article (thw Wire article and several Atlantic articles asset stuxnet escaped and caused real harm) is correct about the potential “escape” of stuxnet and its potential danger.
        ======================================================

        For cyber security experts, the coming-out party of Stuxnet in 2010, after it malfunctioned and spread across the world, was a worrying event. The code itself is 50 times bigger than your ordinary computer worm and, unlike most viruses, is capable of hijacking industrial facilities like nuclear reactors or chemical plants. With its release, anyone could download and manipulate the Stuxnet code for their own purposes. But now, with America’s role confirmed, the fear is that a red target hangs on its back. What if Stuxnet was used against the U.S.?
        ============================================================

        1. bob

          The stuxnet vs Iran thing could have been a giant, extremely toxic disaster.

          That is what was moving thought the “centrifuges” that were targeted.

          One wonders if a giant toxic disaster was what “they” were looking for to happen when they released it. By some miracle, it didn’t.

    3. flora

      from the article (emphasis mine):
      “Like the neocons who were desperate for a pretext to invade Iraq, the Obamaites have an agenda of their own: targeting North Korea and citing the alleged threat of a “cybernetic Pearl Harbor” in order to gin up public support for “cyber-security” legislation that would give the government greater power to regulate the Internet as a “public utility.” They’ve been agitating for this for quite a while and clearly see the Sony hack as their doorway to success.”

      I agree with that assessment. see:

      ““This is only the latest example of the need for serious legislation to improve the sharing of information between the private sector and the government,” said Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “We must pass an information sharing bill as quickly as possible next year.”

      Feinstein sponsored the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act earlier this year, but the bill ultimately stalled. The senator’s office said Feinstein will take up similar legislation next year, building on a series of cybersecurity bills signed into law this week by the president.”

      1. LifelongLib

        Regulating the internet as a public utility would be better than the current efforts to turn it into a private moneymaker.

        1. flora

          I agree with your statement. However, note that the first article put public utility in quotes, indicating that the political/military/corporate definition of public utility may be very elastic in the case of the internet.

    4. jrs

      I tend to see corporations like Sony as basically being part of the enemy. Whether the enemy of my enemy is my friend is dubious, but they are at least the enemy of my enemy. Large media corporations with their support of anti-democratic trade deals (and unlike the people or the people’s alleged representatives (the U.S. congress!) they have a seat at the table for the secret trade deals), large media corporations with their propaganda for the empire and it’s wars etc.. Why should the average U.S. citizen care what happens to Sony or regard their interest as having anything much in common with one’s own and one’s community?

  5. MikeNY

    Bill Gates doesn’t want to pay more tax. Quelle surprise.

    Because you can’t have too much, doncha know.

    1. wbgonne

      The prevailing ideolology declares it just that this money go to Bill Gates and his ilk so we can praise them for their noblesse oblige if they deign to sprinkle crumbs on the ground for us (assuming favorable tax treatment, of course).

    2. fresno dan

      Microsoft’s greatest strength has always been its monopoly position in the PC chain. Its exclusionary licensing agreement with PC manufacturers mandated a payment for an MS-DOS license whether or not a Microsoft operating system was used. Because it made no sense to pay for two operating systems, it created a huge barrier to entry for any other software firm. No other operating-system maker could get a toehold in the PC market. By the time the company settled with the Justice Department in 1994 over this illegal arrangement, Microsoft had garnered a dominant market share of all operating systems sold. It held a lock grip on the market until 2008, when it fell below 90 percent desktop OS share for the first time.

      ==============================================================
      Just because the whole free enterprise narrative, is so disproven by Gates – a man who made his fortune by thwarting competition….he should be taxed at 99.99%

      1. optimader

        “.. the whole free enterprise narrative, is so disproven by Gates ”
        for Gates not by Gates

    3. Vatch

      Oligarchs can and do disagree sharply among each other about a wide variety of issues, but on one topic they are in almost universal agreement: the importance of wealth preservation. A few of them believe in higher taxes on income, but that type of tax doesn’t seriously threaten their existing wealth. Piketty’s desire for a tax on wealth (which is different from an income tax) strikes at the core of what makes an oligarch an oligarch, so of course Bill Gates disagrees with him.

  6. gonzomarx

    carrying on the Adam Curtis vibe, an almost hit piece profile in today’s Observer
    Adam Curtis: cult film-maker with an eye for the unsettling

    the man in his own words
    In Conversation with Adam Curtis, Part I

    Bank of England minutes to lift lid on global financial crisis
    Details of Bank’s inner workings and discussions amid the 2007-2008 crisis to be published this week following calls for greater accountability

    and a Zeitgeist watch, while listening to Cerys on 6 this morning, the host was demanding that young bands have revolutionary epiphany in their songs!
    New Year’s Revolution –

    1. Light a Candle

      That was a snarky piece on Adam Curtis. Although he’s getting a robust, and much more thoughtful, defense in most of the comments.

      The Guardian (which is one of my everyday websites) also has a strong bias against Noam Chomsky. They did a notorious hit piece on Chomsky several years ago and also recently badly slagged Pando’s coverage of TOR.

      1. gonzomarx

        agreed, it’s humourless snark and glad that the comments take it apart, maybe it things like this that has got the Guardian editorial team talking about ending comments.

        1. Light a Candle

          Really? ending comments? that’s half the reason I read a site, to get more than one perspective. So much better than print.

          Plus it’s how sites engage readers.

  7. Carolinian

    Thanks so much for the Consortium/Avnery link. May we all be so sharp and lucid as nonagenarians. If I may pull this snip

    And the result? Incredible as it sounds, four generations of devoted archeologists, with a burning conviction and huge resources, did produce exactly: Nothing.

    From the beginning of the effort to this very day, not a single piece of evidence of the ancient history was found. Not a single indication that the exodus from Egypt, the basis of Jewish history, ever happened. Nor of the 40 years of wandering in the desert. No evidence of the conquest of Canaan, as described at length in the Book of Joshua. The mighty King David, whose kingdom extended – according to the Bible – from the Sinai peninsula to the north of Syria, did not leave a trace. (Lately an inscription with the name David was discovered, but with no indication that this David was a king.)

    Perhaps this explains why Ridley Scott’s Exodus, which I happened to catch over the holidays, is so perfunctory toward the Biblical story (he’s a lot more interested in those cool Egyptian fashion accessories). And bringing it home the nuttiness of U.S. foreign policy–discussed elsewhere in NC today–is also the fruit of many foundational myths in which we are by definition “the good guys.”. As Avnery says, only the truth will set us free from so much tribal conflict. So here’s a suggested New Year’s resolution for our elites: more truth–here, and in the Middle East.

    1. Ed

      I agree that Avnery is great (especially as a writer and speaker, so the linked to article is worth people’s time). I do have some disagreements with him on the history.

      The thing about the history of the ancient world is that we have very few written sources about what happened. We would be pretty much in the dark about everything that happened before Herodotus if the Assyrian archives hadn’t burned down, which ironically preserved many of the books there. But that means that most of what we know about the ancient Near East comes from those archives, or of course the Bible.

      But that means that you can’t just throw out the Bible as a source of information because its a religious book, or it contains fantastic or unbelievable stories (and this applies to the New Testament too). The fact is that religious oriented texts were pretty much what got preserved, especially outside of Greece/ Rome and China, and even the non-religious stuff makes fantastic claims, or you have to rely on just one or two obviously biased sources.

      That said, one constant with the Mediterranean is that just about everyone had a national origins story where they used to live in one place, but then they were forced out, and had to wander around alot, and then were led by the gods or God to some other place, which they then occupied and built a new civilization, after defeating the original inhabitants. The Roman version of this is fairly famous. There are also quite a few big flood stories too. So the Exodus story could have been the Hebrew version of a common foundational myth. But that leaves the question of whether these myths themselves were the distorted memory of an actual event or events.

      Its also not a contradiction of the Old Testament that the people living in the Judean hills were just not considered that important by other people, until the Assyrians started poking around the area. The Hebrew’s own accounts would naturally but the Hebrews at the center of things.

      1. kapala

        Sorry Ed, but this seems like you are stretching – really stretching – to present an “opposing view”. Let me quote from the article:

        Up to now, many tens of thousands of Egyptian documents have been deciphered, and the work is still going on.

        This coupled with the total lack of archeological evidence makes avnery’s conclusion, well, conclusive.

        I’m not saying anyone should close your mind in any way – but I believe that many people would rather keep a debate alive in their heads imply to avoid having to “take a stand” (at least in their own head).
        Why? because taking a stand implies conflict, and that goes directly against our society currently modeled on “don’t worry, be happy”.

      2. davidgmills

        I think Avery’s conclusions are based on sound archaeology. You really can’t give much credence to ancient texts as being historical unless you find some archaeology to collaborate the texts. And in Palestine/Israel there isn’t any. None, zip, nada. No archaeologic evidence of Hebrew patriarchs or kingdoms.

        Modern Jews love to claim there is no evidence for a historical Jesus. It is like the pot calling the kettle black.

        All of the other well known ancient civilizations have some archaeology to back up the texts.

    2. knowbuddhau

      Yes, thanks for the link. The power of myth, especially when weaponized for political motives, is my greatest interest. And the way we treat myths, as peculiar artifacts of an ignorant past that are best busted, is my greatest gripe.

      The very interesting Polanyi piece (tyvm for that, too) points out that Freud’s psychological insights were deliberately reduced to tools of mass oppression. I think the same could be said for the contemporaneous insights into mythology.

      But everybody knows we moderns are immune to myths, right? We’re much too scientific (read: scientistic) to be influenced by them, we know how the world really works, right?

      The power of myth is the power to bring whole worlds into existence in just a few syllables. It happens before just about every movie trailer. The next CIA propaganda flick could begin, “In a world where terrorists are hiding in your laptop, Big Brother is your best friend.” Those first four syllables prepare you to accept anything, much like “once upon a time, ….”

      Politicians have long understood this. Back in the Crusades, “in the year of our Lord” 1098, a lance was dug up, transmogrified into THE lance that pierced the side of THE christ, and next thing you know, an outnumbered army rallies to victory. There’s something about properly constructed myths that releases prodigious energies from the human psyche.

      I happened to read the related piece in Consortiumnews last night, . The criticism of Sands’s work boils down to, how dare you suggest Israel’s founding fathers deliberately used a method well known for its power to create and destroy whole worlds with mere words?

      There was a lot of that going on in the first half of the 20th century. I highly recommend the Channel 4 documentary, Lost Worlds: The Story of Archaeology.’ (Also available as Great Excavations: Lost Worlds: The Story of Archaeology, by John Romer, on Amazon). Part 5: In the Service of the State is especially relevant here. There’s a nice review at

      Though the Lost Worlds series is a solid classroom tool for the teaching of the history of archaeology, this episode deserves special consideration for its presentation of the political uses of archaeology and the way in which archaeology is utilized as a resource for particular readings of history as well as the legitimization of political forces, usually through the establishment of an imagined cultural continuity that is a pretext for an idealized interpretation of the past. Such understandings of the role of the state in the archaeological sciences are an important thing to consider since we are also consumers of archaeology (Holtorf 2007).

      Relics are sought as the proof of myths. And when the relics don’t tell the story TPTB demand, the intelligence is fixed around the policy, as with Piltdown Man.

      IMHO, myths that make exclusive claims of superiority for one groups against all others are the most dangerous. The myth of American Exceptionalism is a prime example.

      It’s important to bust dangerous myths, yes, but we still live by them, examined or not. We’re in desperate need a positive meta-phor, a vehicle for crossing from our benighted world to the yonder shore. Scientism ain’t it. What metaphors are controlling our world?

      I’d love to hear other commenters finish or recast this sentence in a way that advances our narrative: “In a world where….”

      1. Carolinian

        Thanks for the brainy response. Janeane Garofalo has a whole comedy routine about movie trailers and “in a world” (sadly the famous voice who narrated so many of those previews has passed away). The stories that we tell ourselves are of course our way of dealing with reality–and that goes for “high” literature as well as low. The Right has no monopoly on “reality based” issues. The ivory tower exists.

        So I hope the future will give more attention to rationalists like Avnery who don’t divide the world into a simple us versus them, right versus wrong. As you get older (and he’s 90) you come to realize that people are a lot more alike than they are different. Here’s hoping that rationalists once more come to the fore as they did, somewhat, at this country’s beginning. We are the last ones who should be pushing for some new mythology of world hegemony. The founding fathers got this. When will the neocons and our administration do the same?

  8. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    I could be wrong (!) but I think it’s well understood amongst archaeologists that all those stories are allegory that was based on some real occur acne, but not meant as history. The Kalevala contains a lot of connective tissue that’s based on real events, probably, but then the Finns weren’t chosen by YHVH as a master race to dominate us all.

  9. Mark from California

    I’m surprised, in today’s “Ukraine/Russia” links section, to find no link to today’s (1/4/15) NY Times article “Ukraine Leader was defeated..” . The NYT narrative is much at variance with what I’ve previously read on NC and also with the recent John J. Mearsheimer article in Foreign Affairs magazine: . Could Yves, Lambert, and/or the Commentariat comment?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      1. The story was not up on the NYT site when I turned in

      2. The fact that the NYT has run this story means, contra the assertion in the early paragraphs, that the US is worried that a lot of people aren’t buying its narrative. If nothing else, Oliver Stone calling what happened a coup says that there are some high profile US skeptics. It also implies a false dichotomy: that it’s a Russia v. US narrative, versus people trying to discern what is going on and finding many elements of the Russian account more credible than the US.

      3. These accounts conveniently omit the bigger frame, that the US repudiated promises that it would not move NATO in former Warsaw Pact nations, by Victoria Nuland’s own admission, spent $5 billion destabilizing the government, and that it would be logical for Putin to react to the prospect of NATO in Ukraine the same way the US reacted to Soviet plans to put nukes in Cuba, as an existential threat. Oh, and that elections were coming soon, so there was no need to upend the government to get rid of Yanukovich.

      4. Even though I have used the term coup to underscore the fact that the new government got rid of the existing constitution (!!!), Yanukovich is no Hugo Chavez. As Mark Ames said by e-mail: “The problem is that these color revolutions and the like are much more complicated than simple ‘coup vs revolution’ binary, because they involve exploiting real grievances. In the case of Yanuk, the guy was fucking hated all across the spectrum, he went way over the line in terms of corruption. We exploited that. But really no one totally controls the Ukrainians, not us, not the Russians, not even the Ukrainians. You’re seeing that place collapse into warlordism/failed state. “

      1. kapala

        sigh…

        point #4 is superfluous and yet again tried to present some kind of “other side” to this story.

        1. Yanukovich came to power in fair elections.
        2. Yanukovich was removed from power by force.

        These are simple facts. Addiing any “yes, but”, trying desperately to find an opposing view in the vain attempt to “balance” the narrative, has the direct effect of placing the FACT of the coup in doubt. And this gives the revisionists the space they need to write that garbage in the NYT.

        Every leader Ukraine has since 1991 has been corrupt. You quote Ames (god knows why) “In the case of Yanuk, the guy was fucking hated all across the spectrum” – uhhhh explain then how he managed to get elected twice?
        again – EVERY leader ukraine has had in the last 20 years has been corrupt, and “was fucking hated all across the spectrum”.

    2. OIFVet

      “…shows that the president was not so much overthrown as cast adrift by his own allies, and that Western officials were just as surprised by the meltdown as anyone else.” Yes, Western officials were so surprised that Pyatt and Nuland had decided that Yats would be their man in Kiev more than two weeks before the “surprising” coup.

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Economics (and Nostalgia) of Dead Malls New York Times.

    Gotta admit, every time I see one of these “dead mall” stories and look at the slideshow, it makes me sad. I just can’t help thinking about days gone by, when shopping was more of an adventure than just a mindless orgy of instant spending gratification on anything and everything.

    I just can’t get past remembering when the salespeople actually asked if they could “help” you, and then did. When we “shopped” to find the perfect dress or pair of shoes, and then went home to figure out how to earn and save enough money to buy it. I’ll be the first to admit it was fun, exciting and eventually gratifying.

    But enough Memory Lane. I think stories like this are massive economic propaganda. Unable to deny the obvious physical evidence of middle class decline, it must be explained. And the explanation is always the same–the internet.

    Articles like this would have everyone believe that the consumer is not dead, but has merely shifted its rabid, unquenchable consumerism online for “convenience.” No need to know the actual COLOR of what you’re buying. No need to know that something (SHOES????) are comfortable or actually FIT. No need to check the quality of the fabric or the “workmanship,”

    Well, I don’t “buy” it.

    What better way to sell cheap, overpriced garbage on credit to already indebted “shoppers” than to not let them see it, feel it or try it on before they purchase it. And, I’m sure that having paid to ship it, and having to pay to return it figures into the decision to keep it, whether it’s actually acceptable or not.

    So, the malls are closing because no one needs to see what they’re STILL buying, hand over fist, anymore.

    Right. And all those mall Christmas lights and music at the holidays are are SO inconvenient too. All I want to do is “add to cart.”

    1. ambrit

      As one of the people quoted in the article stated, America is seriously overbuilt with retail space. Not just big malls, but everything else having to do with ‘bricks and mortar’ retail. It is a wealth inequality issue.

      1. James Levy

        Perhaps true, but that building and those retail spaces provided people with paying jobs, something the “online revolution” seems to have failed to do. From where I sit, the economic benefits of the internet don’t exist. I see no way in which the internet has created more jobs than it destroyed or leveled any playing field. It has made a few people fantastically rich and put a bunch of people out of a job. It is the most overhyped crap in history.

      2. abynormal

        hey ambrit! we got empty mid-size walmarts everywhere…back a few winters people were pleading to let the homeless use the buildings but walmart stood firm with NO even after communities offering to supply cots and pay water. spin docs said they could not afford the insurance.
        they haven’t had to ‘afford’ Anything for decades! im not ashamed to tell…i cried.

        1. ambrit

          I hear you loud and clear aby. Our local mini paper had an article about some of the homeless where one woman casually mentioned living in the “Hattiesburg Woods” in a tent.
          If local jurisdictions can expropriate land for road projects in the name of the ‘Public Good,’ why not empty strip malls and box stores?
          All politics is local.

    2. Jef

      The fact that we have allowed a handful of mega corps that are heavily subsidized or not even profitable have monopoly over all retail explains all you need to know about the retail experience.

      That and vulture private equity swooping in and accelerating the process of die-off.

    3. tswkr

      I have to imagine the increased prevalence of people with multiple jobs and odd hours in low-paying work has also contributed. There is no longer the time to spend a few hours in a mall during business hours visiting a few stores. Shopping is much more about ‘getting stuff’ quickly during the scarce free time or pouncing on mega-sale. The most successful malls that remain are of the high-end variety where the clientele does not face these restrictions.

    4. DJG

      Ironically, it seems that shopping in the older sense of interacting with salespeople and showing some knowledge of the goods no longer exists. Americans, a fearful people, would rather stay at home clicking on virtual carts. I live in a neighborhood in Chicago that still has a “main street” with many stores (yet few chain stores). We are now a tourist attraction. See stores. See how people talk to store owners who know them. (Yet these days for most people a transaction goes on while they have their earbuds in, wander into some ill-formed scrum of a line, and walk out with an e-receipt (a guarantee of accuracy, I’m sure).) Imagine the olden days, when a tailor in a men’s store might have measured your waist or chest with a tape measure–the modern be-bearded he-man would quail.

      1. neo-realist

        I don’t miss interacting with salespeople that much: I’ve tended to find that for the most part, I get treated like a potential criminal while browsing or an idiot who doesn’t know what’s good for me : Salesperson “May I help you?” Me “No thanks I’m just looking” (I’m quite deliberative in my shopping, a careful browser who in some cases may end up buying nothing); 10-15 seconds later, another one, like a tag team “May I help you?” as if they’re saying “please buy something rather than steal it”, which in some cases ends up driving me out of the store. I don’t like the manipulation of saleshelp: If I go into an eyeglasses store and don’t see the frames I want, a salesperson will pick out a pair and disingenuously say “these would look good on you”. On-line shopping for the most part is a breath of fresh air for evaluating black and white availability of goods and services without pestering and manipulation; also as a guide for immediate purchase within a retail outlet–either you have in stock what is in your catalog or you get it and tell me when you have it.
        Supermarket shopping is about the only enjoyable in person shopping I like, since employees are for the most part too busy or indifferent to bother you and the thief police hide behind glass and don’t get in your face unless you actually steal something.

        1. ambrit

          The other side of the coin is that the hapless ‘salespeople’ are tasked by their managers to be aggressive in their “driving” of sales. (I speak from direct experience as a retail droid in a Bigg Boxx DIY store for several years.) Many of these wage slaves have quotas to fill regarding Crediot Card applications, sign ups on the company website, which captures all your information to better tailor your “shopping experience” later, in house “installation” specials, etc. etc. Retail was always about sales, but the older version gave credence to the idea of professionalism in service. Now, the short term thinking of the managerial class has devalued yet another iteration of the concept of civility. Deferrance of gratification has all but disappeared. Juvenile values underlie our culture now. As anyone who has raised children knows, when the adults leave the room, the outcomes are dire.

          1. OIFVet

            I rather like the old True Value and Ace stores — one can find hard to find hardware in them, and the employees have generally been there a long time and can answer a question and point you in the right direction. This is not always the case in the big box DIYs, providing you can even find an employee in the particular department in the first place. A while ago I tried for a full 30 minutes to find an employee to crosscut a 12′ pine board for me. I couldn’t find one so I left the board at the big box. Understaffing seems to be an increasing problem at big boxes of all types.

            1. ambrit

              The culprit is the compensation system in place for the managerial class. Their ‘bonus’ structure, which can be equal to or greater than their salary, is based on beating a continuously ratcheted up store profit figure. Once the ‘low hanging fruit’ of maintenance and inventory are harvested, (store losses due to “shrink” are pretty much steady over time, no matter what you do to combat it,) the only resource left to cannibalize is worker ‘hours’ and benefits. Due to Federal rules covering company health plans and bonus schemes, which allow the cut out to be based on full time versus part time work, most big Boxx stores are going to either straight salary managers or part time, (under 25 hours a week usually,) floor workers. As I experienced myself, a middle manager at one of the regional headquarters can increase “efficiency” by decreeing new, usually higher, production ‘goals.’ Soon, everyone is running around like the proverbial headless chickens trying to even come close to meeting their ‘production goals.’ Where I worked instituted a quarterly ‘goal’ setting meeting between floor workers and their department heads. It was made quite clear that continuous improvement, measured by the dreaded “metrics” was a condition of continued employment. (I eventually just said “Sod it,” and handed in my two weeks notice. The HR didn’t even find out about my disloyalty until my next to last day.)

      2. OIFVet

        I am guessing that you don’t have an institution of higher miseducation in your neighborhood. In mine we have UChicago, which happens to have a long experience in “Urban Renewal” and also owns most of the commercial real estate in Hyde Park. Now that it has launched Urban Renewal Part Infinity, 53rd street has been transformed into a faux main street, complete with Chipotle and Five Guys (not that those are not my occasional guilty pleasure), Starbucks, and big name chef restaurants. All of this complemented with boutique chains. A bit further north a Whole Paycheck is going up, a bit further south we have Office Depot. Then there are the new tall residential buildings that dwarf their neighbors, with glass and steel that create an ugly class with the predominant 1910s-1920s buildings. The zoning change to allow this was helpfully secured by aldercreature Burns, an Obama protege. All this was done without any additional public transportation planning and improvements, resulting in a traffic and parking hell in what was sold to the community as a walkable redevelopment which would attract shoppers from other neighborhoods by way of public transit. Hasn’t happened this way, but UChicago and its developers sure did pocket a ton of property tax dollars by way of TIF funds.

        UChicago gets to decide who comes, who stays, who goes, because its belief in the “free” market only goes so far, and because it owns the commercial real estate. Sure, it pretends to listen to the community by having the occasional meeting where it solicits “opinions” and “back”, but it is all window dressing. Locally owned businesses have been forced to close due to chains competition or due to UChicago refusing to renew their leases. The wonders of gentrification masked as return to older models of community never cease.

        Next up: 55th street.

        1. optimader

          “complete with Chipotle and Five Guys ”
          Chipotle is pretty much the only national fast food joint I’ll patronize. Occasionally Portillos & Jimmy Johns which might not be national..


          Everything has consequences. UIC took this path due to crime back in the late 1970’s putting their Brand in jeopardy.. Presumably UofC decided to buy up its perimeter since then?
          I recall both UofC and IIT students/faculty carried “mugger money”. UIC, walking south at night was not the most salubrious decision. I do know people at the time that chose not to attend UofC due to the potential for violent crime, as well adjunct faculty at IIT that declined to continue teaching night classes. Mugged once to often walking to the parking lot.

          1. OIFVet

            UChicago has been buying up the surrounding property since the 1950s. It’s nothing new, and one would think that they would have learned from the upheaval of 1960s Urban Renewal. They haven’t, except in respect to having a very muscular private police force to harass people of color. Yes, the neighborhood has become much safer than when I first moved in in the early ’90s, but it’s done so by erecting fences visible and invisible. As an UChicago alum I am rather ambivalent about its role in Hyde Park, which IMO has become increasingly malevolent (the malevolence hidden behind a smile and patronizing lakefront liberalism) as it has sought to keep up with the Harvards. And I don’t care one bit for the proliferation of ugly buildings, like the dorms on 56th & University (dropping pastel colors next to the ivy-covered old Gothic buildings?!), though the new Mansueto library is a notable exception. Suffice it to say, all these “improvements” to the neighborhood have resulted in some deep splits within the community. The message to long-time Hyde Parkers seems to be that they are inferior to the young “creatives” that UChicago wants to attract, what with the old guard’s stubborn belief in patronizing locally-owned businesses and in preservation. The “creatives” want their standardized fare from national fast-casual chains and that’s that. Perhaps there is room for both local and national businesses as many of the local institutions that don’t have UChicago as a landlord continue to thrive, but I simply fail to see the need to subsidize the encroachment of national chains by diverting my property tax dollars from the public schools and into the pockets of UChicago and its developers.

            BTW, thank you for reminding me about Sibiriada, I hadn’t seen the film in ages. Beautiful cinematography.

          2. bob

            I love it when the uni’s try to combat “crime”.

            “why are our students getting mugged”

            Because they are carrying around more than most people can earn honestly in a week.

            Crime follows the money. Who are you going to stick up? A giant black guy in the hood, or a fat, slow preppy student who has probably been drinking?

            Our local uni has been using an interstate as a wall for years. They get all bent out of shape when “crime” comes up the hill.

            Who’s smarter here? The uni, or the crook? “why is it happening?”….because money, jackass.

            They’re also trying to get into the retail business. The city gave the uni a giant tax break subsidy to build a ‘bookstore’. The developer is now suing both the city and the uni because they couldn’t build it. Wait, developer? Non-profit!

            The whole neighborhood is ripe with graft, just not the “bad” kind. Giant cess pool of revolving door politics, business, and “education”

            I’ve taken to calling the whole mess “newhouse llc”, namesake of the “public communications” school at Syracuse University. Newhouse/advance is one of the largest private companies in the US. But, they’re smart! They have a uni!

            1. bob

              This was the cherry on top-

              It was supposed to be “privately built” and owned. No word on how sales tax might be collected from the 50k fans. Let alone that “the dome” is perfectly fine, some might say legendary. Nothing wrong with it, it just needs a new roof every 20 years.

              No plans were ever floated for what was going to be done with the dome after the new stadium (complete with sunroof, in the least sunny spot in the US, don’t ask, local selling point) was built.

              The new stadium was proposed to be built on land currently owned by SUNY-upstate, a teaching hospital very near by. Same cess pool. The upstate prez had just been fired for outsourcing hospital type shit, like nurses, and janitors, to his own company, and taking salaries from at least 2 other outsourcing companies.

              But, some how, SUNY had signed a deal with a developer that gave the developer exclusive rights to develop the land. Tax free land, because it is “owned” by SUNY.

              But crime! Prez never saw any consequences other than being fired. He still works for the outsourcing companies, who are still working for SUNY upstate. Winning!

              1. bob

                Framing- “New” SU chancellor, not to be confused with SUNY-upstate, sets the frame-

                “Syverud said he was in Minneapolis when the Humphrey Dome collapsed under a heavy snowfall and became unusable for a substantial period of time.

                “That would have a devastating impact on this region if it were to happen here,” he said.

                Syverud was measured about the rumored prospect of locating a new sports arena off campus, at the former site of the Kennedy Square public housing complex, and said it depended on the details of the alternatives.

                “You can locate a stadium in the wrong place and instead of being a catalyst for growth it can be a beached whale,” he said. “You can locate a stadium in the right place and suddenly a neighborhood that was struggling attracts all kinds of things, development business entertainment, revenue and jobs.””

                The roof collapsed in Minneapolis! Syracuse gets over 160″ of snow a year, and the dome has been fine since 1980, when it was built.

                Follow that logic? Cuomo was ready to kick in 500 million.

                But, revenue! (for who, never answered) Kent, whom I am sure was planning on having this new project be his “mark”, quickly backs away, in order to seem “reasonable”, and tell the people who have been living in syracuse how snow works.

        2. Gaianne

          I live in a college town that used to be famous for its local and often charming businesses associated through tradition with our rather old and famous university. But over a decade ago the university decided to change all that, raised rents by a factor of two or better to drive out the locals, and replaced them with over priced-but-shoddy hyper-homogenized–or rather I should say bland, anonymous, and faceless–internationals.

          What do the students think? I don’t know, and I don’t know if it matters. Pure branding for branding’s sake (Thank you Naomi Klein!). Perhaps the university thinks that it forms the proper environment for students expected to graduate into the corporate world of 21st century nihilism.

          –Gaianne

    5. Ed

      This is an excellent point.

      I’m a nerd who hate shopping, so I should be doing all my shopping online. Except shopping online sucks, for the reason you mentioned. You can’t check for the quality of what you are buying as well as when you buy it in person. Its not that much cheaper or not cheaper at all when shipping costs are factored in. Plus post offices always seem to have problem delivering to the apartments I’ve lived in. The internet is for when I know exactly what I want, and would not be able to find it in person due to time constraints or some other constraints. For example, my Christmas present for my wife was a book bought off Amazon because I know I would not be able to go to a bookstore and order it in her language.

      But I’m able bodied and I’ve usually lived in central cities. I realize that for many people, being able to physically get to a physical store is a problem. I think the point is that internet shopping is great at supplementing physical shopping, but terrible as a replacement for physical shopping.

      1. jrs

        The post office is the only one that could deliver to the apartments I’ve lived in. UPS and Fed Ex forget it. But privatized mail is supposed to be the new mail these days in the age of crapification so I better not complain.

    6. jrs

      Well some of us go online for some things for QUALITY. Because you can get better quality things through Amazon marketplace or through a store website itself if you shop carefully than most of the stores have in an age of crapification, but the risk of something not being what one hoped because one never saw it in person is there of course. And I don’t think everything lends itself to online shopping either.

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Shut Up Officer Karl Denninger (RR)

    “So either 94% of the stops and summonses were never justified in the first place, in which case the entire NYPD is nothing more than a band of felons committing armed robbery by the tens of thousands a week or this “action” constitutes acting as an accessory to crime after the fact.”

    Glad to see more and more people highlighting this. Matt Taibbi did it in a link here the other day. I think “surreal” was the word he used.

    Time to get big mouth Lynch to explain what a work stoppage defined as making arrests and writing summonses “only when they HAVE to” actually means.

    Maybe it’s just me and the websites I read, but I’m not exactly hearing a lot of full-throated support of the NYPD and its heroic “soft-policing.” Apparently a lot of people are having a hard time forgetting what happened when Eric Garner got “softly” policed. And it doesn’t seem that Times Square on New Year’s Eve suffered terribly from the lack of that same “soft-policing.”

    1. PQS

      +1
      nye seemed not to require loads of cops….

      I watched CNN s Times Square coverage for several hours and was struck by the complete lack of black faces in the crowd. It was all whites and Asians. Seriously. Did the nypd just turn everyone away who didnt fit their image of a nye reveler?

    2. fresno dan

      Katniss Everdeen
      January 4, 2015 at 11:13 am

      It strikes me the whole “herofication” of the police and the military is of one and the same cloth. Propaganda to empower the state more and more. The whole effort to make any criticism of police policy or government policy criticism of police and solder heros…

      Of course, the police arbitrarily and capriciously enforcing laws only exposes what Eric Holder and state attorneys generals do – we enforce laws when we wanna and when it benefits us (i.e., our friends who bribe…er, I mean contribute, to our causes…). As well as exposing that most of these “laws” are a surreptitious tax on the poor.

      1. optimader

        It seems very little Hollowood film can get financed that does not have the “herofication” of the police and the military” meme and gratuitous gun use, the latter being almost ubiquitous like cigarettes were used as a prop in previous decades.

        1. davidgmills

          Maybe the hand help prop exchange is one of the reasons I detest movies more than ever. And I hate cigarettes. Will the new prop be an iphone or a droid? I guess that would be an improvement of sorts. But how would you be able to tell who has the beady eyes?

    3. different clue

      I notice that Vice President Biden attended the memorial for the two slain officers in New York. This is only fair and proper.

      It would be equally fair and proper for Vice President Biden to have attended the funeral of Eric Garner. Perhaps the Black Lives Matter movement could arrange to have a vast and super-publicised 1-year-anniversary Memorial Service for Eric Garner when the time comes, and make a politely loud point of inviting Vice President Biden to attend that Memorial Service, and make sure that invitation hits every possible TV camera and Big Full-Page Ad in the New York Times and elsewhere. Let the Vice President accept or decline that invitation before God AND C-SPAN.

  12. Buddy Springman

    > Cyberwarfare plays nicely into the notion that America is under attack every minute of every day.

    I can assure you, as an employee of a very large U.S. electricity utility, the attacks do happen almost every minute of every day. Our single nuclear site will get >100k per month.

    Buddy

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t know what your threshold for an attack is. I suspect you are setting the bar very low to come up with those numbers.

      Our site is also under constant attack by Chinese spambots, as are innocuous sites (like a prominent tax journal).

  13. Jef

    Happiness, like sexuality is something to be co-opted and profited from not just some silly human right.

    1. jrs

      Happiness as a human right gets dicey anyway you slice it. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that’s the best chance of making happiness more possible.

    2. +100

      Nothing has value until a billionaire (or at the very least, multi-millionaire) can make some easy profit from it.

      From the economic point of view, the real problem with happiness, and sex, is that both are free and thus, technically, valueless. So by replacing old-school happiness–that people were getting for free by simply engaging in meaningful or interesting tasks–with our new, improved version (Happiness v2.0) based on entertainment and consumption, a whole new form of value has been created. Back in the bad old days, happiness didn’t add a thing to GDP, but today Happiness v2.0 adds billions to our national bottom line. What’s not to love?

      All these people complaining that every single aspect of human life is being turned into a profit center for rentier parasites simply don’t understand that money is the only true measure of value. It’s like they haven’t taken enough econ classes or something…I actually heard somebody the other day say that “Love is the most precious thing of all,” despite the fact that there is, as yet, no market for Love–which means it can’t be bought, which means it is valueless, not precious. Now, if someone could figure out how to insert a monetary transaction into this Love business and get it adequately monetized…

      1. not_me

        Now, if someone could figure out how to insert a monetary transaction into this Love business and get it adequately monetized…

        What? You’ve never heard of Valen(s)tein’s Day?

        1. different clue

          Dear Mr. F Beard,

          Don’t you mean Valentine’s Day not Valen(s)tein’s Day? Or is there a joke here which I am not getting?

          1. OIFVet

            It’s a Jewish conspiracy, much like free love, the pill, and free access to abortion. The jews conspired to make money on a day traditionally reserved for burning jews by compassionate christians. Ah, the good old days!

            1. skippy

              Great googly moogly how did I miss this gem…

              Skippy… yep pretty much… ME blood feud to end them all…

      2. jrs

        Wait commodizing sex is new? And all this time I thought it was “the world’s oldest profession”

      3. inode_buddha

        Air is free, too. It isn’t worth anything until you suddenly don’t have any of it. The problem, IMHO, is that the asylum is run by those who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

  14. OIFVet

    Re tech etiquette: what a depressing read. It’s hard to be a neo-Luddite these days, what with the unceasing march of the IoT and the ever shrinking ability to go unplugged and unsurveiled. Better hope my dumb Civic and my dumb appliances last 40 years or so, or that a hack is available to make “smart” things dumb. Doubtful, what with crapification and engineered obsolescence.

    1. different clue

      There may arise a lucrative field for “counter-mechanics” who can strip out some of the digital hardware from machines and appliances and retro-analog them, at least as much as possible. And it will also open markets for makers of analog appliances and machines, if enough people come to resent the pre-installed digital lampreys,
      bracelets, and Rfids badly enough to pay for their pre-designed absence.

  15. ohmyheck

    The William Polk article of Uri Avnery’s speech, has a link included in it, referencing Schlomo Sand’s book “The Invention of the Jewish People”.
    An overview of the book in that link states, “Sand argues, many of today’s Israelis who emigrated from Europe after World War II have little or no genealogical connection to the land. According to Sand’s historical analysis, they are descendents of European converts, principally from the Kingdom of the Khazars in eastern Russia (including Ukraine), who embraced (again, converted, for political reasons, to) Judaism in the Eighth Century, A.D. (They are considered the Ashkenazi Jews)

    The descendants of the Khazars then were driven from their native lands by invasion and conquest and – through this migration – created the Jewish populations of Eastern Europe, Sands writes. Similarly, he argues that the Jews of Spain (now called the Sephardic Jews) came from the conversion of Berber tribes from northern Africa that later migrated into Europe.”

    That’s a heckuva link within a link, imho.

    1. ambrit

      That’s not even taking into account the Jews of Ethiopia (Beta Israel,) and the Lemba of Southern Africa. And not even close to the Sasquatch peoples of the Pacific Northwest, (who are considered to be one of the ‘Lost Tribes.’) As the Sasquatch say, “When the Lord curses you, he curses you!”

    2. Synapsid

      Ohmyheck,

      Genomic work on Ashkenazi gives about 81% Eastern European input and about 8% Middle Eastern.

      ambrit,

      All Sasquatch genomes have been barred from publication, no doubt by Them.

      1. Bridget

        More like 50/50

        And then there’s all this from Wiki:

        Gibbons, Ann (October 30, 2000). “Jews and Arabs Share Recent Ancestry”. ScienceNOW. American Academy for the Advancement of Science.. Studies cited are: M. F. Hammer et al. (2000). “Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 97 (12): 6769–6774. doi:10.1073/pnas.100115997. PMC 18733. PMID 10801975. and Almut Nebel et al. (2000). “High-resolution Y chromosome haplotypes of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs reveal geographic substructure and substantial overlap with haplotypes of Jews”. Human Genetics 107 (6): 630–641. doi:10.1007/s004390000426. PMID 11153918. Another study says; “Our recent study of high-resolution microsatellite haplotypes demonstrated that a substantial portion of Y chromosomes of Jews (70%) and of Palestinian Muslim Arabs (82%) belonged to the same chromosome pool.”[1]

    3. Propertius

      Genetic studies of Azhkenazi Jews have pretty much clobbered the notion that they’re descended from the Khazars:






      Azhkenazi Jews, as a population, are more genetically similar to Palestinian Arabs than they are to most Europeans – and Palestinian Arabs are more similar to Azhkenazi Jews than they are to (for example) Saudi Arabians (and they are still more similar to Sephardim). This would also seem to discredit the notion, promulgated by the Israeli right-wing, that the Palestinians are recent migrants who have no historical claim to the territory in which they currently live.

      1. Synapsid

        Hi Propertius.

        I can’t tell from the abstracts in the first two of your links but the rest of the papers are work with the Y chromosome. The figures I quoted are from mDNA work (I should have said that); Jewishness descends through the maternal line. The two approaches should be united; I haven’t looked for such publications, though.

        1. Bridget

          “Jewishness descends through the maternal line. ”

          That is a religious tradition and has nothing whatsoever to do with the genetic relationships between Jews and Arabs. Besides which, the whole conversation about who has the superior claim to Israel based on who is and who is not more closely related to peoples who may or may not have dwelled there thousands of years ago is nuts.

  16. kapala

    re: ‘Russian Spies’ Detained Outside NATO Air Base In Lithuania

    180 word article – this must be some kinda record:

    Alleged, purported, suspected, unidentified, media speculation, believed to be, apparent, not ruled out, believed to be, thought to have, apparently

    1. OIFVet

      The question is, will Elizabeth and Philip finally be captured by the good guys in Season 3 of ‘The Americans’, premiering on January 28th. I am sick and tired of them Russkies stealing our secrets and thumbing their noses at our myriad intel and counterintel agencies.

      1. Propertius

        Elizabeth will find Jesus and join the Eagle Forum, and Philip will be elected Republican Senator from Virginia. The FBI agent/neighbor (whose name eludes me at the moment) will defect and become a colonel in the KGB – moving to the FSB after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He is now one of Putin’s most trusted advisers and was in fact the mastermind behind the Crimea takeover.

  17. BE

    That news about the iPad is upsetting. Do you have more details?

    i.e., it records audio, but how/where does it save it?

    Does it pull that audio into some cloud only when one is online?

    Does it save it up when one is offline and then relay it somewhere when one is online?

    Does it eventually run out of space in the cache and purge records if one stays offline for days or weeks at a time?

    What is its range? Does it record when it’s off? If there’s one in the room, is there any such thing as a private conversation? How can one go about muffling the recording?

    On the side, is there a way to access the audio to prove official misconduct, medical or legal malpractice, police abuse, and the like? If the police interrogate you while you have your iPad, can they then charge you with a wiretapping violation?

    Should I just stick my iPad in the freezer and forget I have it?

    1. ambrit

      It’s a cultural thing. A lot of us are sticking to ‘dumb phones.’ (Getting a Faraday pouch to carry it around in also helps give you a small measure of anonymity.)
      There is a massive difference between being alone and being lonely. Cultivate occasional solitude and “listen” to yourself. You’ll be amazed at that interesting person you’ll encounter.

  18. ambrit

    As a hapless yahoo mail user, am I the only one to notice that Yahoo is now demanding $49.95 a year to make my e-mail stream ‘ad free?’ Now there is an inverted totalitarianism for you!

    1. fresno dan

      I would tell them I buy hundreds, nay, thousands of dollars worth of products per annum, and therefore the time my ocular orbs of visualization spend on their site is extremely valuable to their advertisers, and they should be giving me 49.95$, nay, hundreds of dollars for the privilege of having my purchasing power….

    2. Get an email client like Mozilla Thunderbird and you won’t ever have to look at email ads again. As an added bonus, Thunderbird has a pretty decent RSS reader built into it.

  19. Light a Candle

    The Wei-Wei long form article was a really good read on how human culture is being rapidly affected by aggressive data-monitoring and surveillance.

    Sometimes I think the tech elite wants to turn us into machines. For example, Wired magazine has virtually no connection, no articles, no advertisements which are related to the marvelous natural world, the real world.

    1. not_me

      Sometimes I think the tech elite wants to turn us into machines.

      Lambert, for example, thinks you are just a machine – a biological one – since he rejects the supernatural.

      You’re just reaping what atheists have sowed.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        You have no idea what Lambert’s beliefs are. The fact that he and I are not keen about you inserting your Biblical readings into a finance and economics blog, where they are off topic, says squat out his and our views.

        Take your bigotry and egotistical belief that you are the arbiter of how the universe ought to run elsewhere.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          He jailbroke having been banned. We normally don’t let people get away with it. We put him in moderation and 2/3 of his comments of late have not been published because they been religious attacks against his idea of what “progressive” stands for, as well as attacks on Jews for practicing usury (I am not making that up).

          I decided to pick a fight over this rather than his even less acceptable comments, since I’m not about to let him thread-jack and degrade the site.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Rejecting the supernatural makes for an even deeper commitment to the NATURAL, as Lambert, for one, makes extremely clear – and Yves, too, with the Antidotes.

    2. Antifa

      The Weiwei article is about the emerging world of total, universal surveillance, and its devastating effect on human behavior and identity. But such surveillance is useless without the incredible power of algorithmic machine learning, which is the only tool that can make immediate, usable sense of all that raw data.

      Machine learning is NOT Artificial Intelligence. That implies consciousness of some kind. Machine learning is just algorithms, and an algorithm can no more become sentient than a wheel can. All it can do is go around again, like the wheel. But because the wheel exists, civilization is transformed. Same for algorithms.

      The huge promises of machine learning are 1) that it will take over all drudgery and repetitive thinking and labor from the humans, freeing them to write haikus all day or whatever, and 2) that it will examine and perfect every system we use — from traffic to agriculture to international finance to national government — eliminating the corrupting myths and half-lies we all live with under our current 200 or so governments.

      The promise of perfected systems of computer-managing our planet for its long term survival rather than gleefully raping it in every creative way we can come up with is tantalizing. Imagine having a HAL 9000 computer sitting in the halls of Congress instead of 535 greedy millionaire pols who spend most of each day raising an average of $3,000 in campaign money from people and corporations who already have plenty to spare, but still want the table tilted further in their favor. That’s no way to govern a nation or a planet. There’s no systems thinking, no engineering to it, just a lot of mutual back-scratching.

      Once elected, our infallible HAL 9000 could examine our many systems and simply inform us that mountaintop removal is too shortsighted to pursue, just like fracking and nuclear war is, and melting Greenland for no good reason, and acidifying the oceans after fishing them empty and filling them with plastic instead. And when David Koch tries to get into the halls of Congress to bribe our duly elected HAL 9000 he’ll be told, “I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t do that.”

      These Sunday afternoon naps are quite entertaining . . .

      1. OIFVet

        “The huge promises of machine learning are 1) that it will take over all drudgery and repetitive thinking and labor from the humans, freeing them to write haikus all day or whatever” Well, we’ve been promised that technology will result in an incredible amount of freedom and leisure time ever since “The Jetson’s”. Instead, we have gotten the polar opposite, technology having become a means of control that eats away freedom and leisure time. Promise and outcome will never match as long as technology is harnessed in the name of profit and control, that’s for sure.

        1. Antifa

          You’re right about that. For a few centuries now, technology has been used relentlessly as a means of getting more productivity out of the labor force, without sharing the profits of that increase. People became cogs in the technology.

          So what’s different about machine learning?

          Simply this — unlike the steam engine, the gasoline engine, or even the personal computer, machine learning will take over every conceivable human labor task to very close to 100%. Everything. No human cogs needed at all.

          Brain surgery, shining shoes, planting crops, basic research, politics, law enforcement, web content, manufacturing, even design and art and the whittling of authentic Chippendale furniture replicas. Nothing left for humans to do but a bit of supervision on some of the more complex tasks like rocket surgery, haikus, and interpreting the intrinsic meaning of stuff we happen to think or talk about.

          The algorithms will even take over the writing of better algorithms to do an even larger portion of the workload. This total takeover of labor is the real panopticon facing us all in the coming decade or less. This is the real tech revolution, and it’s starting to pop up here and there all over the globe.

          Most of the human race will have no need to work, as things progress. Do the 1% think being rich will mean anything when everyone is provided everything they need? When money no longer has any purpose or meaning? When a computer writes the budget for our one planetary government, and makes the health and wellbeing of every human on it the only consideration?

          Or do the 1% plan to simply eliminate about 90% of us?

          We have some profound choices coming up.

          1. James

            Or do the 1% plan to simply eliminate about 90% of us?

            In a word, yes. And the process is already well underway. Industrial capitalism has largely fulfilled its promise as a wealth pump, so now it’s time for the final act, which will be largely inevitable anyway if the hype about AGW and peak oil turns out to be true.

    3. RWood

      I’ll say! It’s the must-read for anyone who is concerned or even curious about the panopticon we’re batting about in.

    4. Ulysses

      Yes, that was quite an impressive article. I liked this cri de coeur near the end:

      “We need failure to be able to learn, we need inefficiency to be able to recover from mistakes, we have to take risks to make progress and so it is imperative to find a way to celebrate imperfection.

      We can only keep some form of true freedom if we manage to do that. If we don’t, we will become cogs in the machines.”

      We not only need to make mistakes, we also need to willfully “waste time,” and act like silly kids. I remember one evening when my daughter was very young and she started making goofy faces and singing silly tunes. I was “distracted” from grading papers, and she stayed up way past her “proper” bedtime. We “accomplished” nothing, yet we gained the pure joy of really living for a precious couple of hours.

      Twirl your kids, dance with your dog, practice random acts of kindness. The machine doesn’t need more cogs. We need more dreamers and fools in love.

    5. flora

      My take away from the article is that the watchers hate to be watched.
      Wei-Wei is an internationally famed artist so the world watches his Chinese govt watchers watch him.
      When he set up his own broadcast of his household life the Chinese govt took it down.
      Watching is only supposed to be one-way, commanded by only one entity. Seems to rattle the authorities when citizens watch them back.

  20. different clue

    Every single person who is involved with Uber in any way . . . as driver or passenger or manager or founder or shareowner . . . . deserves to get what they deserve. Pray that they get it.

    God damn them each. God damn them all. God damn them, every one.

  21. Oregoncharles

    “Shut Up Cop” (Karl Denninger):
    Wow. I’ve said some harsh things about the NYPD and their leadership, but this goes above and beyond.

    And it’s in an INVESTMENT newsletter? Double wow.

  22. gordon

    Jay Gillen (“Flipping the Script…” from Truthout) seems to have rediscovered Paulo Friere’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, first published in the late 60s. I guess I’m giving away my age, but I would really have liked to see an acknowledgement that others have explored that territory before.

  23. flora

    re: A Republican Ruse to Make Tax Cuts Look Good
    from the article:
    “When revenues do in fact decline and deficits rise, those same proponents will push for steep cuts in government insurance or investment programs, because they will claim that the models demand it. That is what lies inside the Trojan horse of dynamic scoring.”

    Exhibit A: Kansas

    see:

  24. JohnB

    Slightly unusual request:
    Can anyone help me find a graphical representation, of how the current monetary/economic system, depends upon neverending growth?

    This is a complicated topic, but my view of the monetary system as it currently is (one that relies upon bank loans to introduce new money into the economy), is that it relies upon neverending economic growth in order to operate, and I view the monetary system as perpetuating this neverending growth.

    Copy-pasting from elsewhere, this is my (possibly wrong) impression of how it works:

    Around 97% of the money supply for most countries, is created by banks when they make loans (banks do not lend out deposits/savings – that is actually a very prevalent myth – money is created from nothing, when they give out loans, and the Bank of England – the UK central bank – confirms this).

    This means that Money and Debt are both created at the same time, at a 1:1 ratio – but Debt carries interest, so very soon, the amount of money that has to be paid back, exceeds the amount that was loaned out in the first place.

    In the current system, there is practically no other source of money other than debt/loans though – this means, that if you add up all outstanding loans in the economy, the total amount of Debt owed, greatly exceeds the amount of Money available in the economy – and the amount of Debt vs Money, will keep on growing and growing, until an economic crisis slows economic growth down enough, to make a lot of the Debt unsustainable and impossible to pay back – and then a lot of it will be written off (we’re still waiting for that to happen in the current crisis).

    That’s the reason this pushes perpetual economic growth: In this system, if you slow down the growth of the economy, debts become unsustainable and economic crisis sets in permanently until you restore growth.

    Can anyone help me to back this, in more simplified terms – possibly using a graphic representation?
    I’m aware that I may be mistaken in this impression of how the current monetary system relies upon neverending growth, and am open to constructive criticism – and to alternative explanations of how the current economic system depends upon neverending growth.

    It might be good to see NC do an article on this, as it seems to be an important/fruiful topic for highlighting faults within neoclassical economics and the current monetary system – and for providing a narrative framework that can be beneficial for MMT (I’ve been trying for years, to figure out good ways of framing economic arguments, for convincing people of MMT – but it’s pretty hard; this is one of the few fruitful methods I’ve tried).

    1. JohnB

      Just to add something to this: A very useful link, that I originally saw posted on NC years ago, which first gave me the impression that the current economic system, depends upon neverending growth, is this excellent article from an ex-NASA physicist:

      I’m interested in all arguments in general, for backing the view that the current economic system depends upon neverending growth – the simpler/easier-to-communicate the argument, the better.

      1. fresno dan

        JohnB
        January 4, 2015 at 7:06 pm
        Thanks for that link – I had read that a while back but didn’t keep the link. Great article
        This article is similar but also adds some dollars and sense (pun) to the whole discussion

        1. JohnB

          Nice link, thanks – it provides a lot of interesting/useful additions to my argument. Still be interested in finding a more succinct (and perhaps graphical) summary of my above argument, but this article is very useful – cheers,

          Would also, again, be very interested in NC exploring this topic in more detail – it seems to be one of the best ways of framing the problems of current economic theory, as conflicting with reality and basic laws of physics.

  25. In_deeds

    Absolutely loved the Ai Wei piece …only to be utterly bewildered and despondent at the fact that its author’s main site requests donations via PayPal, …kind of like how many persons/entities who speak, as if outraged!, of privacy violations, …YET, only offer a – by now acknowledged as scanned by Google therefore not confidential whatsoever – gmail address , versus a land line, or something at least a bit more private, in order to them. If I had one thousand dollars for every time I thought about sharing, what I still believe to be helpful, information with some person/entity who can only be ed via UTTERLY SNOOPED GMAIL, ….., yeah.

  26. frosty zoom

    good evening naked caps. i respectfully ask your patience as the following post does not really (hahaha) deal with finance, but this is the only place i’ll say what i feel on the tubes. unless you like music.

    i grew up watching teevee, with a lot of that viewing devoted to sports. so, alas, it’s kinda just stuck. until now.

    i have seen many officiating decisions that have left me thinking that “mysterious forces” (i.e. the money man) somehow intervened. but i forgave and continued my observance.

    here’s the deal: detroit lions play

    THE DALLAS COWBOYS

    in the jerryjones’o’dome in dallas. detroit hasn’t done this well in 17,353,498 years. lions out strong. second half dallas gets closer. detroit gets ball. goes to work. works well.

    “uh, oh.”

    lions gets defensive pass interference. first down!

    yay!

    line up. ready.

    huh, what’s this? oh, you pick up the penalty flag call, like superduper, like troy “homer” aikeman of dallas fame says “that’s weird”, like fauxsports joe buck guy agrees, like mike the exref pundit, “huh”, LATE.

    late..

    like these guys late (source pardon):

    i’m done. sorry raptors. sorry fifa (hah!).

    when fair play becomes “fare play” so blatantly and cruelly (detroit) (yeah, there was went) it’s time to move on. that basically negates the need for the teevee.

    good.

    respectfully,

    frosty

    1. fresno dan

      The NFL is all finance, all the time – maybe just not the way you believe…
      The NFL is an entertainment company that designs its product to meet its consumers desires that would put any Hollywood studio to shame.
      The whole “parity” thing is done to assure that there is “competitiveness” (all contrived) that along with sharing of proceeds from TeeVee to how draft picks are distributed, salary caps are in place, are done to make sure no team has a substantial financial advantage.
      Ironic that the NFL is so socialistic….OR is it cartelistic like Saudi Arabia??? The Saudis used to maintain OPEC for its own advantage but also benefited other cartel members, while needing the cooperation of the other members.
      Anyway, the parity of the NFL is done to assure the maximum viewership of fans (AKA consumers of advertising). The ever expanding playoff schedule and number of participants is done to assure maximum viewership.

      Also, every year the rules are tweaked to assure the right equilibrium of defense and scoring to assure that the games are not boring and generally do not become one sided. I remember in the 80’s a Chicago bears against ? game that ended 3 to 2 (a field goal and a safety were the two scores). Why don’t you see overwhelming defenses like that anymore??? BECAUSE ITS BORING, and money is lost when people don’t watch…
      There’s a reason blockbuster movies follow a very rigorous sameness…its the same for football.

      So I don’t think any of the refs throw the game. But just remember that the rules are designed to assure the most viewers…

    2. James

      I thought the same exact thing! As I posted on another blog, I doubt seriously that NFL games are “fixed” per se, but I have no doubt that some key games are “weighted” to some extent or another, as in the refs are made to know that certain outcomes would be preferable to others, and that if there’s any doubt about certain controversial plays, they are highly encouraged to “see things” a certain way. I don’t think that falls into CT territory, just “good business” as they say.

      1. They don’t play pro football in CT territory! They do, however, play it in MA territory to the north…

    3. bob

      “the line”

      It’s amazing how many people don’t know about how much betting figures into games. Chicken or egg problem, but the bookie always gets paid. No CT there.

      The bookie doesn’t give a shit who “wins”, they care about the score. Point shaving, on the part of the A) player B) coaches C) refs is the most common way it’s done.

      The lines says you’re supposed to win by 8, you only win by 6- get a cash bonus and maintain your record.

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