Links 3/30/15

The Radical Humaneness of Norway’s Halden Prison New York Times (furzy mouse)

How a genre of music affects life expectancy of famous musicians in that genre Tyler Cowen. Cowen raises some methodological issues, and I wonder about others, like how large are the populations in each group (as in are some so small as to be not reliable for statistical purposes)? And the classification of some genres isn’t tidy (like blues v. R&B, and pop v. rock).

Scientist Pretends Monsanto Products Are Totally Safe to Drink Gawker

WATCH: Neil deGrasse Tyson’s best comebacks to your crazy uncle’s anti-science woo Raw Story (furzy mouse)

Finally, we know how many bloggers live in their parents’ basement Washington Post. I have to tell you, this is one of the lamest analyses I’ve seen in a long time. I assume it is meant to be tongue in cheek but the writing is so flat that it comes off as serious. It bizarrely assume very intermittent tweets and the use of Facebook is blogging. Plus a pet Google factoid (from Blogger) is that the average number of readers of a blog is….one. As in the overwhelming majority of blogs that set out to be blogs (and Blogger is such a feature-poor tool that it is unlikely that someone would use it for anything other than blogging) never reach an audience beyond their creator.

Newly discovered arthropod fossil swam in Cambrian seas AOL (Carol B)

Occupy Hong Kong: Six Months Later WSJ China Real Time

Strongest rally in eight years for Chinese stocks Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

An ageing population as an excuse for a Japanese currency war John Dizard, Financial Times (Scott)

Marriage Made in Corporatist Heaven Slams into Resistance Don Quijones. The TTIP is not going over too well in Europe.

French local elections: Exit polls suggest Conservative win BBC

Grexit?

Eurogroup unlikely to be held soon to discuss Greek reforms ekthimerini. Whether by design or due to the combination of Greece submitting a lot of not-fully-fleshed out reforms right before the Easter holiday, it looks like Greece stays in the sweatbox for the next two weeks. That does make for an easier holiday season for non-Greek officials and journalists.

Greece’s Tsipras to Address Lawmakers on Talks With Creditors Bloomberg (Santiago)

Syraqistan

Arab League unveils joint military force amid Yemen crisis Associated Press

Mideast tensions heighten over Yemen Financial Times

The War Nerd: A Brief History Of The Yemen Clusterf*ck Pando (bob)

The Zaidi Houthis are not “Iran’s Puppets” Sic Semper Tyrannis (ex-PFC Chuck)

Saudi airstrikes will continue until Yemeni president may return Christian Science Monitor. That is likely to be a very long time…

New Age Of Water Wars Portends ‘Bleak Future’ For The Middle East CTuttle, Firedoglake

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Personal details of world leaders accidentally revealed by G20 organisers Guardian. Schadenfreude alert.

Tor reportedly hires Verizon’s PR firm to fight back against Pando’s reporting Yasha Levine, Pando

Before leak, NSA mulled ending phone program Associated Press (furzy mouse)

NSA Tried to Roll Out Its Automated Query Program Between Debates about Killing It Marcy Wheeler

Obama’s Intelligence Oversight Board a Corporate Lot PEU Report

Ted Cruz: ‘Part of the problem’ with America is the White House isn’t in Texas Raw Story (furzy mouse)

Ex-HP chief Carly Fiorina sets sights on Clinton as she nears presidential run Guardian. Spare me. This is the woman who destroyed Lucent with product for equity deals with dot-bomb companies, and then did the Compaq deal to delay her sell-by date by two years. She’s failed upwards and thinks she can do it again.

California drought goes from bad to worse as state grapples with heat wave Guardian

Smoked dry: Massive marijuana cultivation has ‘lethal’ impact on California water supply RT (EM)

Iron ore drops to fresh six-year low Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

The Fed Has Not Learnt From The Crisis Steve Keen

Worst Revenue & Earnings Declines Since Crisis Year 2009 Wolf Richter

Fracking Town’s Desperate Laid-off Workers: ‘They Don’t Tell You It’s All a Lie’ Alternet

Foreclosure to Home Free, as 5-Year Clock Expires New York Times

The Glory Days of Private Equity Are Over Wall Street Journal. But with funds having 10-15 year lives, the afterburn is long indeed.

Dismal Scientists

What’s Wrong with the Economy—and with Economics? New York Review of Books (Nikki)

Class Warfare

The GOP has spoken: The wealthy and powerful could use more help NJ.com (Carol B)

Class Struggle In The USA Angry Bear. A clear cut example of how a polling question looks to have been crafted to skew the results.

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse). “A keeper holds a 12 week old Sumatran tiger cub during a routine health check in its enclosure at Chester Zoo in Chester northern England March 27 , 2015. The cub, one of 3 born at the zoo, was sexed, vaccinated and micro-chipped.” No wonder he looks a little alarmed. But so handsome!

baby tiger links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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91 comments

  1. Steve H.

    re: ‘What’s Wrong with the Economy—and with Economics?’

    Self-Correcting Market Economists!

    see: books.google.com/books?id=cvOgFdgRuVEC&pg=PT220&lpg=PT220&dq=ECONned+%27self-correcting%27&source=bl&ots=eNgnAdhB9s&sig=3LkhakXR9eT-6lmLLDRvsvrAwvM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=UDMZVfLUIIudgwTh7oDACA&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=ECONned%20’self-correcting’&f=false

  2. Demeter

    “The Fed Has Not Learnt From The Crisis” now THERE’S an understatement worthy of a Pulitzer, or at least an Ignoble!

      1. Oakchair

        How was the article excellent? The whole article was, “the FED didn’t learn, our evidence is the FED only mentioning crisis 6 times!”
        The article was just mindless ranting.

        1. susan the other

          The Fed thinks equilibrium exists in an economy and that an economy will always go back to its own equilibrium… the problem being that until there is an economy the Fed can only guess what’s happening. The fed can only react to the economy… Whereas Steve Keen thinks like Minsky that there is no such thing as equilibrium – the ecomomy is either racing forward or crashing into non-existence, so why bother to talk about equilibrium? And Steve Keen is saying look Fed, all you have to do is track private debt and you’ll know exactly what is happening and you, all you Federales, can actually take steps to prevent the ups and downs in a timely manner.

          But neither side is putting too fine a point on this lack of economic control. The problem is congress and the Fed’s mandate. Congress will not let the Fed impose price controls, so the Fed has to do ZIRP effectively suppressing the free market spirits; Congress will not let the Fed initiate a jobs program (for the same reasoning) so the Fed can only do QE. And congress would rather die than increase social spending so the administration must borrow from the private banks to pay entitlements, insuring that interest rates will not go up before the economy recovers so as to keep the whole system in equilibrium! Ha.

    1. frosty zoom

      i actually think the fed is doing a better job than ever.

      well, at least for their employers.

      1. Jim Haygood

        So does our dear Uncle Ben (Bernanke):

        When I was chairman, more than one legislator accused me and my colleagues on the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee of “throwing seniors under the bus” (to use the words of one senator) by keeping interest rates low. The legislators were concerned about retirees living off their savings and able to obtain only very low rates of return on those savings.

        I was concerned about those seniors as well.

        http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/ben-bernanke/posts/2015/03/30-why-interest-rates-so-low

        To paraphrase an old joke from engineering school, ‘Four years ago, I couldn’t even spell seniur. Now I are one!’

        Ben’s screed sounds oh-so-plausible, until one focuses on what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t disclose that a steeply-sloped yield curve, with its lower end anchored at zero, is a direct, unlegislated subsidy to banks who borrow short and lend long.

        Of course, borrowing short and lending long is risky. But as the events of 2008 proved, banks that blow themselves up with stupid, risky behavior will get bailed out with public funds if necessary, then subsidized for years afterward with ZIRP. Hey, it’s a bank cartel. When foxes guard the hen house, the dinner menu never varies: chicken!

        1. craazyboy

          More desperate Econ 101 verbiage, disconnected from any reality, attempting to validate the notion that Fed short term policy rates ( a bankers “cost” – not selling price) has any benefit to the economy*. Ok, we know Volker was able to break the economy with 15% short rates. So we are to believe that all you need to do is the opposite of Volker, and voila!, vibrant healthy economy. Yeah, binary brains rejoice!

          No mention of securitization and the role it plays in modern banking. You can be interest rate insensitive when you are on the “fee model” and can sell off all your risks – after obfuscating the risks to make a prettier package for yield starved “investors”. “CDS with that”, they will offer for default risk. You might be able to hedge long term inflation/interest rate risk – but your total return probably goes back to zero. Anything to prop up housing prices beyond what the consumer can afford. But maybe the Fed doesn’t know that is going on and Ben is still unaware. hahahahaha. I’m just kidding. Ben isn’t an idiot…oh wait, we’re doing it again???

          He was concerned about “seniors” – THEN he threw them under the bus. ‘Course no mention of that growing pre-senior bracket – when you are permanently out of the job market for whatever reason, but have many years to go prior to being eligible for SS.

          Then no mention of time frame. Isn’t 6 years and counting long enough to see if you are getting these so called positive effects he claims? Anything weird happening to challenge your theoretical world view? Is a stock bubble a good thing or a bad thing? Is a bubble a store of value? hahahaha Stay tuned if you’re not sure yet.

          * About the only “good” effect you can put your finger on is maybe some people and orgs can re-finance at lower rates. But this usually applies to someone that has good credit and not teetering on bankruptcy already. Then typically, to really get the good lower rate you need to get around going thru a bank. So the biggest beneficiaries would be large financially stable corporations with direct access to the bond market. Then this effect may warrant low rates for perhaps a year or so, at which point they all should have done it and be done. By now we have seen what they’ve done with the money, and it generally wasn’t hiring.

          1. JTMcPhee

            cb, maybe you’ve seen the conglomerate (in the geology sense) behind the “Dismal Science” (sic) link above, http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/gallery/2015/mar/29/whats-wrong-with-the-economy/ How much additional evidence of the bankruptcy of competence (measured by decency and comity and mitigation of pain and such meaningless metrics, or even by the patent failure of economics to meet any of the tests of what constitutes a “scientific discipline”) amongst all the “economists” is needed to nail down an indictment?

            Shoot, it is too much for me, at least, to gird myself to pick out the most horrific, all-too-human, and insufficiently humane (from my own “loser’s” perspective, of course), riffs and bits from that March 14–15, 2015, conference, “What’s Wrong with the Economy—and with Economics?” Which convocation seems a little like asking a bunch of bird colonels and 1-star generals and think-tankers and CEOs of post-national corporate thingies like Lockheed “We never Forget who we are Working For” Martin at a gathering at the War College to discuss “What (If Anything) Is Wrong With The Military-Industrial-Congressional-Petro-Financial Complex?”

            I won’t pretend to know the CVs and bona fides of the participants (though I don’t see Noam Chomsky and those sorts represented at all), but it looks, reads and sounds like every one of the fat, dumb and happy folks in attendance are all ing at the same trough. “Oh, our models just need tweaking!” and keep those political-economists at a very long distance, they might inject the notion that human pain is present and inherent, and so very distastefully so, in all their policies, but don’t let that get in the way of a lot of genteel comradery among those admitted to the club… Besides, the “right people” are doing very well indeed, thank you very much. And we need a little time to wrap some bland and dense formulae and definitional constraints around potentially combustible non-scientific notions like equity and morality and honor and decency.

            “Burn it all down!” is gaining some steam, folks. Economists and their leash-holders can pretend all they want that they have nomenclature and handles and plans and contingencies for all this overlay of pseudo-scientific Ruler-serving complexity they have created in service to the Elite. The Crowd can be chivvied just so far, and then there’s a stampede.

            I can hardly wait, out here in entertainment-space, to see how the fops and courtiers and courtesans and peacekeepers in “The Capital” fare in the last installment of “Hunger Games: Mockingjay II.” The word from the Districts: “President Snow! If we burn, you burn with us!”

            Of course, maybe this conference and other such gatherings are really an arch subversive plot to undermine the minions of the “science” wing of the economist brand, and blow a little lift under the pinions of the “political” wing…

            1. craazyboy

              Who knows what may happen when you get a bunch of proctologists together for a navel gazing convention.

              1. craazyboy

                I’ll throw in my bet.

                They all exclaim, “Yikes! Zero Bound. Let’s all rub our tummies, chant ummm, and increase output that way.”

            2. heresy101

              A recent favorite read:
              Sack the Economists
              … and disband their departments

              http://sacktheeconomists.com/

              This book raises many interesting questions, most importantly, why does anyone take economists seriously when it comes to discussing the economy?
              -Dean Baker, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington D.C.

              Geoff Davies has a very good idea. Economics has locked itself into an intellectual cul-de-sac. Even its failure to anticipate the global economic crisis was not enough to force it out. So let’s sack the economists and let real scientists take over this vital but currently dangerous discipline.
              – Steve Keen, Economist and author of the popular book Debunking Economics

      2. Jim Haygood

        Who you gonna believe — Uncle Ben ‘Perfect Every Time’ Bernanke, or Dr. John ‘Bubble Crusher’ Hussman? Dr. H steps up to the plate and points to the left-field fence:

        Understand that the primary beneficiary of zero interest rate policies is the one industry where interest is the primary cost of doing business: the financial sector.

        As we demonstrated last week, even with its breathtaking policy of quantitative easing, the U.S. economy has grown slower in recent years than one would have predicted simply on the basis of lagged non-monetary variables.

        The only beneficiary of the Federal Reserve’s enormous exercise has been Wall Street.

        http://hussmanfunds.com/wmc/wmc150330.htm

        1. frosty zoom

          The only beneficiary of the Federal Reserve’s enormous exercise has been Wall Street.

          like i said, their employers.

        2. Lee

          Home “owners” with 12 month treasure average indexed adjustable rate mortgages have also benefited.

          1. Jim Haygood

            Since 2008, yes.

            But those who took Greenspan’s advice in 2004 to finance houses with ARM mortgages, just before Fed funds were hiked 425 basis points, got badly hosed.

            ‘We disARMed some folks.’

  3. ProNewerDeal

    I randomly heard pundit & self-proclaimed geopolitics expert Fareed Zakaria sell his non-fiction book, praising the benefits of a Liberal Arts college degree. Among the claimed benefits, was critical thinking.

    I find it ironic this critical thinking advocate Zakaria, apparently lacks any critical thinking skills himself, stating nonsense like Russia started the Ukraine Civil War/Crisis (not the US/Nuland funded coup, & before that NATO expansion in the ex-USSR nations breaking GW Bush41’s promise to Gorbachev); offshore outsourcing & unlimited immigration is great because the US lacks enough scientists & engineers (despite the report noting that only 25% of those with at least a BS degree in a STEM major, currently actually work a full-time job in a STEM occupation) (I recall a few years ago David Sirota intellectualy pwned Zakaria on this topic); America is the Greatest Democracy (despite the Princeton Prof’s numeric-based study that the US is not a Democracy in reality, but an oligarchy), etc. Perhaps Zakaria is another venal talented actor propagandist that is skilled at playing the role of the Naive Murican Exceptionalist TM True Believer, who has weak critical thinking skills.

    1. sleepy

      Zakaria media types functioning as propagandists seems to be the norm. Last night I caught a clip of Charlie Rose interviewing Syrian prez Assad. Assad said he would leave office when he felt he no longer had the support of the Syrian people. Rose asked him how he would know if he had that support. Assad said he is familiar with the multiple communities that make up Syria and would know through back.

      Rose then, in a voice dripping with contempt said—So! You make the decision whether or not you have support, not the people of Syria!

      Really sick display of hackery.

    2. Oakchair

      Yea Russia annexing part of Ukraine and aiding rebels didn’t start the Ukraine war…. Oh wait that actual is starting a war.
      Want to tell us what is ant-common sense in the idea that having more workers, consumers, investment and entrepreneurs and a more diverse set of all of them is beneficial to an economy especially given that all the evidence supports this theory?

      1. cwaltz

        You do realize that they annexed Crimea AFTER the US spent billions on “pro democracy” groups to rile up Ukrainians and push for a new government right?

      2. hunkerdown

        Whose economy?

        And just because some IMF empress working to forestall her inevitable “sell-by date” believes that “national borders are inviolable” because elites do better that way, well, I suggest that it will always be easier and more profitable, on net, to dispose of elites than obey them.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          “…’national borders are inviolable,’ because elites do better that way…”

          This is your territory.

          This is mine.

          Collusion, sorry, cooperation at the top.

          Competition (to avoid starvation) below.

          1. hunkerdown

            The Peace of Westphalia, in other words, the establishment of elite bonds and non-elite disposability.

    3. Tom Allen

      Zakaria went to Yale as an undergraduate, where he joined a secret society as well as a conservative political club. So I’m sure the main thing he learned was critical thinking, not how to make influential connections, right?

      1. jrs

        I was wondering who was dumb enough to take career advice (and let’s be honest for those non 1s or those who don’t already have useful job skills (like mechanics!), degree advice IS career advice) from a media pundit. Unfortunate 17 year olds who have no one better to guide them? Sad.

        But yes you’ll get a job with a liberal arts degree from Yale, it’s the Ivy league-ness.

      2. jrs

        Those types of connections imply access to people with wealth and power and I don’t doubt it helps.

        But social connections that are less elite, are how ANYONE makes better decisions in a great big social system (society). Going it alone seldom leads to an optimal decision unless the society is extremely dysfunctional (maybe could be said about the worst ghettos, certainly could be said about U.S. society on some things like politics where the people have no real say anyway. But not practical things).

  4. financial matters

    In his blog today Bill Mitchell talks about OMF (Overt Monetary Financing).

    Recognizing that QE mainly raises asset prices he proposes a more reasonable action by the ECB:

    “There is an alternative. Rather than being injected into the financial markets, the new money created by eurozone central banks could be used to finance government spending (such as investing in much needed infrastructure projects); alternatively each eurozone citizen could be given €175 per month, for 19 months, which they could use to pay down existing debts or spend as they please. By directly boosting spending and employment, either approach would be far more effective than the ECB’s plans for conventional QE.”

    And Bill Mitchell is very pro employment.

    OMF

    ———–

    Interestingly the CFR came to a similar conclusion:

    “Distinctions between monetary and fiscal policies are a function of what governments ask their central banks to do. In other words, cash transfers would become a tool of monetary policy as soon as the banks began using them.”

    “In the past three decades, the wages of the bottom 40 percent of earners in developed countries have stagnated, while the very top earners have seen their incomes soar.”

    CFR

    1. Oakchair

      Thanks for sharing I do not read those sources and am pleased to find them interesting and intelligent to add to my list.
      Though I’m not used to hyperlinks so at first I had to use google to find them and then noticed the hyperlinks… Oh well…

  5. Ned Ludd

    Scratch Tor, find a program for regime change.

    The articles traced the history of Tor “onion routing” technology and the US military-intelligence apparatus that built it, and explored the role that Tor plays as a soft-power weapon of US empire. […]

    As we’ve previously reported, the Tor Project received at least $3 million from the State Department from 2007 through 2013 — most of it coming through State Department’s “Democracy, Human Rights and Labor” regime change arm. Tor also took in $3.5 million from the [CIA spinoff] Broadcasting Board of Governors in those same years. Overall, funds from State Department and BBG accounted for over two-thirds of Tor’s budget — that’s not small change.

    And if you are trying to be safe from the U.S. government, is it wise to use software that allows U.S. military and intelligence contractors to control how your traffic is routed?

    One thing I take away from this Tor scare: the centralized power Tor admins have to shut down nodes & route traffic. scrible.com/s/ixgwS – Yasha Levine

  6. rjs

    i have fracking and the Trans-Pacific Partnership up at Kos…probably a lot of stuff you already know, that exports of natural gas to Japan will cause prices to rise here, and that gas investors can sue New York for the fracking ban

    1. craazyboy

      I don’t know why we are always on the defensive with this stuff. Seems there must be some “legal theory” somewhere that the states or feds can sue on behalf of the public for frackers causing our drinking water to become flammable. Shouldn’t at least the Fire Dept. sue?

  7. Chris Dorn

    RE: New Age Of Water Wars Portends ‘Bleak Future’ For The Middle East

    What is the possibility of more water desalination plants such as Israel has built recently? Seems we may be getting worried about something that is not a worry.

    1. hunkerdown

      Same deal as fracking: those plants aren’t cheap to run. Only if you’ve got a free supply of gas, such as one has stolen from one’s indigenous neighbors on the say-so of the UK, the US and third-hand endorsed by a sadistic war god, would desal be worth pursuing.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Most babies are cute; that’s how they make their living. (yeah, I know, cynical.)

        But the adults – not so much. However, us living with a tiger is quite a lot like a dog or cat living with us. How domesticated ARE those superpredators?

  8. dSquib

    Interesting historical counter factual that, if the White House had been in Texas or relocated there at some point, particularly regarding the Civil War.

      1. dSquib

        It does, though if Texas had been part of the US long before the 1830s I’m not sure what Mexico would have been fighting.

        Maybe they could have joined around the same time Mississippi did. Maybe a promise the US could have used to get a reluctant Texas to join the union would have been promising them the administrative capital and moving the White House there stone by stone, while keeping the real centre of power elsewhere and leaving the Texan White House and Texas in general poorly protected. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

  9. PhilK

    The article on pot-growing as the cause of CA’s drought is totally ridiculous – almost as if it were an early April Fool’s Day joke. The comments are much more educative than the article itself.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Growing less thirsty, but mescaline rich cactuses is not really an alternative. The market is smaller and there are not enough good guides. People are more casual these day. Who wants to be serious? I doubt water usage is the deciding issue.

      1. Jay M

        They forgot to mention that it is the dry mouth that is leading to all the water shortages in Cali.

    2. Lee

      For comparison’s sake consider the following (http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jan/10/how-much-water-food-production-waste)

      Data summary
      Typical values for the volume of water required to produce common foodstuffs

      Chocolate 1 kg 17,196

      Beef 1 kg 15,415

      Sheep Meat 1 kg 10,412

      Pork 1 kg 5,988

      Butter 1 kg 5,553

      Chicken meat 1 kg 4,325

      Cheese 1 kg 3,178

      Olives 1 kg 3,025

      Rice 1 kg 2,497

      Cotton 1 @ 250g 2,495

      Pasta (dry) 1 kg 1,849

      Bread 1 kg 1,608

      Pizza 1 unit 1,239

      Apple 1 kg 822

      Banana 1 kg 790

      Potatoes 1 kg 287

      Milk 1 x 250ml glass 255

      Cabbage 1 kg 237

      Tomato 1 kg 214

      Egg 1 196

      Wine 1 x 250ml glass 109

      Beer 1 x 250ml glass 74

      Tea 1 x 250 ml cup 27

        1. vidimi

          i’m not sure this is useful. if water is drunk by an animal or evaporated, it gets recycled. you can use 3000 L of water to make a kilo of cheese and export that cheese, but that water stays in your ecosystem.

  10. Jill

    Fracking genius!

    http://jonathanturley.org/2015/03/30/farmer-asks-nebraska-oil-gas-commissioners-to-drink-fracking-wastewater-before-approving-plan/

    1. GuyFawkesLives

      To wash down those Monsanto products like Round-Up that the Monsanto lobbyist said were “safe to drink.” (He has yet to drink them by the way…..)

  11. Jake Mudrosti

    Please, no more mentions of deGrasse Tyson in the NC links, unless it happens to be a link to an article by scientists who criticize deGrasse Tyson’s counterproductive approaches to key issues.

    Succinctly: consider the 1980s debates over US nuclear policy & SDI programs, with Hans Bethe on one side of the debate and Gerald Yonas (SDI science adviser, ’84 – ’86) on the other. Yonas and his camp prevailed in setting US policy on its current course — they relied on building enthusiasm, and by deflecting the main criticisms at every turn.

    You’d be too smart to say: (1)Yonas is a scientist, and (2) science is about being logical, so therefore (3)support for SDI programs is brilliant and logical, and (4)Yonas’s critics should be pointedly ignored. And yet, a very similar broken logic has allowed deGrasse Tyson to become the dominant media figure he is today.

    In previous NC comments, I tried to highlight the key difference between science *enthusiasm* and science *literacy*. By way of example, in past NC comments I posted links showing that Google/YouTube had given an undisclosed fraction of $100 million to a different self-promoting ass — for the creation of a “SciShow” science education channel on YouTube. The farcical inaugural video there, promoted by Google/YouTube with great media fanfare, stated that the sun plays no role in affecting the height of ocean tides.

    I and certain other scientists attempted to the Google/YouTube employees responsible for that disaster, and were stonewalled over the course of months. Eventually, the surreal responses from the Google spokespeople just stopped. And now that Google has promoted its new plan to rank internet search results based on “truth” we see articles on Salon.com praising that as a “win” for science (in between all their articles praising deGrasse Tyson). Sit with a cup of coffee and think deeply on this.

    Separately, in earlier NC comments, I mentioned one climate scientist: http://www-ramanathan.ucsd.edu as an example of someone who has (1) materially contributed to our modern understanding of climate dynamics, and (2) engages directly with major religious figures in discussions of climate policy — a direct rejection of deGrasse Tyson’s counterproductive approach. Sit with a cup of coffee and think deeply on this.

    So to sum up, as pleasant as furzy mouse might be, the science links from furzy mouse are often not worth posting.

    1. James Levy

      Wait a minute–are you saying Tyson is wrong, or counterproductive, because you spend a lot of time talking about a youtube video that is inaccurate and seem to be implying that the problem is inaccuracy, but you then seem to lambaste Tyson for being counterproductive–which is it? Because from my perspective, the only issue in science education is are you presenting material that is accurate to the best of our knowledge.

      As for why Bethe and Sagan et al. lost out, the answer has nothing to do with Yonas per se. The SDI people won because they had the Presidency, the DoD, the DoE, and the MIC all lined up against a few professors with no elite backing whatsoever. Intellectual honesty and rigor didn’t count for anything in that debate–money and propaganda did, and the US government had the money and the propaganda organs to push through what it wanted.

      1. Jake Mudrosti

        To be clear: BOTH often wrong, AND often counterproductive.
        No one needs to scour the internet for an obscure “gotcha” moment on an obscure video. Look no further than Tyson’s signature quote propagating over the internet:
        “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
        http://mentalfloss.com/article/13049/11-badass-neil-degrasse-tyson-quotes

        This is simply not said by philosophers of science. As an antidote, consider reading basically any book by the philosopher of science Max Jammer, who concisely and clearly covers the prevailing definition of science theory as a partially interpreted formal system. Look also to current pedagogical controversies in Germany, where certain educators since the ’80s have been advocating a “systems” and “flow” pedagogy (their aim being to prevent widespread entrenched misunderstandings of Quantum Field Theory among future educators)

        Regarding your other comments, please start by considering that my fellow scientists, friends, and I have spent decades discussing the finer points of policy, pedagogy, social movements, etc. Consider that I mentioned Yonas because he was instrumental in adding “scientific credibility” to the far-fetched claims of politicians, etc. He also allowed himself to advocate for SDI funding in popular articles at the time, claiming a certain scientific detachment. In there, you can see added harm caused by Tyson’s messaging — “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

        Honestly, it’s hard to know how much supporting detail one must provide when so many people have invested so much time in believing something unsupportable.

        1. James Levy

          So the earth will stop circling the sun if we all chose not to believe it does? Postmodern horseshit.

          1. Jake Mudrosti

            Max Jammer’s historical survey books on quantum mechanics interpretation were reviewed by a Who’s Who of top 20th century scientists, and Jammer’s books even added to the historical record by referencing his personal conversations with countless scientists, including Einstein. But James Levy knows the subject better than they ever did! Hail the brilliant James Levy! Or what, eh?

            In summary: figuratively pissing on a Who’s Who of top 20th century scientists is a very bad way to demonstrate your commitment to science.

            1. Jake Mudrosti

              After sharing the above exchange with a fellow physicist, it was pointed out to me that James Levy might have been reading the phrase “whether or not you believe in it” as though it were a reference to certain Quantum Mechanics interpretations such as London&Bauer’s which lean on concepts such as conscious cognizance.

              Such interpretations have featured heavily in popular accounts of QM to this very day. However, such accounts have already been properly skewered with sarcastic exclamation points (“Wow!”) by John Bell in 1989, and are rendered irrelevant in modern Quantum Field Theory, where the objective word “interaction” is used instead of the historically-abused word “observation”.

              Just to cap off this exchange: “science is… true” has not been believed by the top 20th century scientists. Only a spectacularly uninformed science enthusiast would even think of repackaging their legacy this way.

              1. James Levy

                So we are back to “Aristotle said it so it must be true” appeals to authority and “I’ve got a better degree than you so shut the fuck up because I’m smarter than you are so you can’t know anything”. Well, I have a Ph.D. in History, two books and seven refereed journal articles under my belt, so I am not the rube you want to dismiss so contemptuously because I don’t agree with you. And your taunting really does fall under the rubric of counterproductive, an epithet you seem to throw at Tyson but feel no obligation to honor yourself. And to cap off this exchange, you seem smugly wedded to the “truth” of your position about the inability of science to determine truth–rather a contradiction, don’t you think?

                1. vidimi

                  i’m not quite sure what your beef is. you are taking jake’s takedown of deGrasse Tyson rather personally.

                  i happen to agree with him: Tyson’s “Science” is almost a religion, and not a method of observing the physical world as it should be and so he should be taken with a grain of salt.

          2. horostam

            i always wondered why gallilian relativity didnt apply here. if there is no absolute point of reference, doesnt the sun going around the earth work just as well as its opposite? cant find an explanation anywhere…

    2. hunkerdown

      It’s not in evidence that any of these Clash of Civilizations tools are actually interested in scientific literacy, and plenty that they’re grifters more interested in prosecuting a culture war like the starstruck high school children they are and raking in the “moar STEM” money from the government.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Government money, government funding is not free, even though money is free to the government (does it make the reader cry?).

        And this way, Science is advanced…in the most lethal directions it could possibly be advanced…because that money is not free. You, the recipient, have to do something for that.

  12. Garrett Pace

    “The Salvation Army has offered stranded workers a one­-way ticket back home. But many job seekers seem unwilling to leave—at least not until they can make a success out of their sacrificial move to a place with six months of winter, the worst traffic they’ve ever seen, and a disgruntled, if not miserable, populace.”

    Same thing happened in the California gold rush. For some men it was easier to tough it out than to return in failure and the shame of not being rich.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One feels for those guys.

      We are against logging, but loggers are humans too.

      Similarly, we are against big banks, but bank employers have to eat too.

      On the other hand, we hope for more healing in the world, but we are against those doctors who are greedy.

      And we know people need more enlightenment, we have no sympathy for those teachers who abuse.

      These are just some examples of not lumping people together.

    2. hunkerdown

      That’s not good news for the culture war and the principled unwillingness of strongly-gendered people to give one inch in it. I cringe.

    3. Jim Haygood

      ‘ … their sacrificial move to a place with six months of winter, the worst traffic they’ve ever seen, and a disgruntled, if not miserable, populace.’

      That’s a pretty jaded way to describe New York.

  13. frosty zoom

    How a genre of music affects life expectancy of famous musicians in that genre

    “there’s only two kinds of music, good and not good” – og, caveman
    “there’s only two kinds of music, good and not good” – confuscious, smart dude
    “there’s only two kinds of music, good and not good” – mozart, the tiger woods of music
    “there’s only two kinds of music, good and not good” – duke ellington, american aristocrat
    “there’s only two kinds of music, good and not good” – zlorblot 3000, pilot of close encounter mother ship

  14. shinola

    I have to call BS on the RT article about marijuana cultivation having a “lethal” effect on Ca. water supply. The info. from the Ca. Fish & Wildlife Dept. purportedly claims that a single plant requires up to 22.7 liters of water per day (!). I didn’t look up the exact conversion rate but that’s about 6 gallons(!)
    I suppose you could use that much if your were trying to grow it in sand in the most hot, dry environment imaginable (say Death Valley). Marin County is not Death Valley.
    I do have first hand knowledge of this.

    1. hunkerdown

      Given that Putin is running a conservative country — by whose volition is a question I’m not qualified to address — he seems to be appealing to US Republican types. Nauseating, but whatever VV’s gotta do to make change for Ukraine, I guess.

    2. Kim Kaufman

      They’re not mentioning marijuana cultivation on public lands in CA – the many acres of mountains throughout the state that has been taken over by Mexican drug cartels, who simply siphon off the water needed from public water supplies. For a fictionalized version (and a great read): Point Dume by Katie Arnoldi. I have had this scenario confirmed by someone involved with law enforcement. It’s sort of a big problem that no one’s talking about. However, probably growing rice and almonds is a stupider waste of water in CA. But Big Ag owns the politicians and water here. Taking a shower instead of a bath will not solve the problem and it’s stupid to pretend it’s not the same old, same old: big money using their constitutional rights to talk $$$ to politicians.

      1. optimader

        moments in time.. the squirrel having mucho gusto moment made my day.. That’s what living is all about.

  15. Jessica

    In most cases, desalinization plants are not a real solution because of their energy needs. It just converts a water problem into an energy problem.
    There is a triad of water, food, and energy. There are many ways to alleviate a shortage of one of these but at the cost of exacerbating (or creating) a shortage of one of the others. To find real solutions, we need to look at the effect on all 3 factors of any attempt to solve a shortage of one.

    1. Ian

      The technology is there to handle the energy problem. A massive investment in Thorium reactors could solve much of the issue. Just one of the ways.

    2. Ian

      No disagreement that it has to be done in consideration of the 3 issues you have mentioned though.

    3. heresy101

      It is very likely that desalination will occur before Elon Musk can finish his battery factory in Nevada.

      Increasing solar generation can soon make desalination viable because day ahead electricity prices have flattened the afternoon air conditioning bump long before the “duck curve” is predicted to occur:
      https://www.caiso.com/Documents/FlexibleResourcesHelpRenewables_FastFacts

      Our schedulers are reporting that real time prices are often going negative during the afternoon periods. A negative price will go a long way to making the economics of desalination pencil out, even if it is only for 8-10 hours per day!

  16. Brooklin Bridge

    Ted Cruz: ‘Part of the problem’ with America is the White House isn’t in Texas

    Too damned expensive to move it there from Tel Aviv.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Maybe so. But Ted will at least move our embassy to Jerusalem:

      WASHINGTON — Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) ushered in the new Congressional session by proposing legislation Tuesday to force the Obama administration to change longstanding US policy and move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

      http://www.timesofisrael.com/senate-bill-seeks-to-force-embassy-move-to-jerusalem/#ixzz3Vv8czrAM

      After all, Ted made a solemn promise to Sheldon [Adelson]. And he’s a man of his word.

  17. Ian

    No disagreement that it has to be done in consideration of the 3 issues you have mentioned though.

  18. Jim Haygood

    Saudi military strategy pays homage to Drone Laureate Obama, who’s vaporized several thousand civvies:

    AL MUKALLA, Yemen — Dozens of civilians were killed when, according to aid workers and officials, what appeared to be an airstrike hit a camp for displaced families in northern Yemen on Monday. It was thought to be the deadliest single episode involving civilians since Saudi Arabia began a military campaign to drive back the Houthi movement five days earlier.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/31/world/middleeast/yemen-camp-air-raid.html

    And we helped! ;-)

  19. eic

    @Ned Ludd 8:26, thanks for the heads-up. Yes, regime change is exactly what we need – thank you, CIA, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. It’s your turn. The power of Tor admins is limited by the architecture. For now. In time, privacy protection will decentralize toward the i2p model. Don’t be the first to abandon Tor, and don’t be the last, that’s the ticket.

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