Links 3/7/15

PBS

Reuters (furzy mouse) :-(

Bloomberg (alex)

BBC (David L)

Economist

Medium (bob)

(furzy mouse). Studies like this are a pet peeve of mine. Even as a child I could not run much due to having very unstable feet and ankles. So I would be deemed to be a failure due to my joints, and not to what they are trying to measure, cardiovascular and pulmonary responses.

MIT Technology Review (David L). Eugenics, here we come. After on-campus riots, Harvard decided to admit the smartest class possible. They got the highest suicide rate they’d ever seen as result. That led the school to implement what they called “the happy bottom”: 25% of the class that wasn’t as impressive intellectually but showed strong evidence of leadership skills or just plain having done super interesting stuff.

Alert Conservation

Wall Street Journal

Financial Times

Asian Correspondent

Foreign Policy. Lambert: “Subhead: Berlin doesn’t seem to think so.'”

Grexit?

ekatherimini

Telegraph

Reuters

Associated Press

Financial Times

Real News Network

John Dizard, Financial Times

BBC

Ukraine/Russia

Bloomberg

Andrew Cockburn, Counterpunch

Stratfor

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Slate

Politico. Lambert: “Hmm. Media time is like financial time.”

Washington Post (fury mouse). Quelle surprise!

Reuters (EM)

New York Times

Governing (MS). Chicago is the poster child.

Huffington Post

KMOV

Reuters (EM)

Oil

Business Insider

Economist

Fed

New York Times

WSJ Economics

FT Alphaville

Class Warfare

Mother Jones

New York Times

Daily Mail Online (Chuck L)

Charles Hugh Smith (Chuck L). Important.

Antidote du jour (Tim F):

gymanstic owl links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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84 comments

  1. Rww

    Re: oftwominds

    Smith’s chart seems to show the opposite of his thesis: After 2009, the ratio of debt to wages falls, suggesting that wages are rising relative to debt

    Do I have this wrong?

    1. participant-observer-observed

      I find this chart deceptive:

      It sets up a debt/wage binary dialectic, and then ignores how much oxygen may or may not be getting recirculated environmentally to the binary context.

      So, if owners keep creaming off of the top all of the liquidity and replace with stock buy-back pseudo-liquidity, and then someone reports each new cycle as a closed system, laws of entropy will show a death spiral, much like a kidney patient can only get so much recycled dialysis and blood transfusions of the same old or in this case even more toxic blood before even palliative care sends the patient to hospice.

      This is not new, it is the old Carnot work-energy cycle, which in physics will draw a boundary around the system to create the closed loops. As a hermeneutic, as Smith is peddling it, without disclosure of where the boundaries are drawn and why, that include and exclude the countless contextual factors, it is cute and could be susceptible to distorted perceptions. Drawing it up so narrowly conveniently sterilizes the description from pragmatic or normative (or ethical) value, accountability, etc.

      Likewise, I allow my estimation of this is just my own particular judgement.

  2. New Deal democrat

    Sorry, but far from being important, that Charles Hughes Smith article is simply wrong.

    He claims:

    “Financialization–the securitization of previously stable assets, the expansion of leverage and speculative financial instruments–began in the early 1980s. We see the effect of rapidly expanding debt on the economy: the line leaps higher and only flattens out in the tech-boom 1990s.
    “…..

    “But something changed around 2009. Expanding debt and leverage no longer boosted wages. For the first time in 30 years, juicing debt and leverage did not push wages higher–rather, wages declined or stagnated, despite trillions of dollars of Fed stimulus, near-zero interest rates and all the other tricks of financialization.”

    In other words, we had expansion of debt and leverage took place in the 1980s. In 2009, “for the first time in 30 years [i.e., since 1979], juicing debt and leverage did not push wages higher.” So he is saying that in the 1980s, wages were pushed higher.

    Ummmm, we’ve all seen a graph of average real wages in the 1980s, right? Hint: they fell faster than at any other point in the last half century.

    We’ve also seen a graph of average real wages since 2008, hopefully? In December and January real average wages were at the highest they have been since 1980.

    I agree that there are lots of problems with debt and leverage. I also agree that we are undergoing a secular change, because the middle/working class is running out of room to refinance debt at lower interest rates. From here on, improved conditions are going to have to come organically.

    But I’m sorry, Smith’s argument is easily shown to be wrong.

    1. zapster

      They shifted from building things with the debt to buying back stock, creating rent-extraction derivatives, and other financial scams. It’s a black hole of debt, sucking what little real money is left in ever-tightening spirals to annihilation.

      1. AllanW

        Yep. Financialization has, up to 2008/9 increasingly allowed corporate managements to hide the fact that they are failing to reinvest in their business, failing to take risks in the marketplaces they occupy and failing to compete. Riskless rent extraction has been the name of the game. If that period is coming to an end …. ‘Good’.

        1. craazyboy

          A big thing to wonder about is how more capacity(or productivity) could be the solution to excess capacity from a supply side view.

          Or how more debt load could be the solution to excess debt from a demand side view.

          The answer to that one is tough – so lets ignore it :)

      2. participant-observer-observed

        Sucking off the real money and replacing it with naked-emperor-money, but also conveniently distracting with bells and whistles where the sleight-of-hand real money has gone.

        We can all see who does not have the money.
        We can also see who does have the money.

        What is less obvious is where that money has gone and my what routes.

        For that it seems we have to come to NC everyday and watch the political puppetry vectors: death of campaign finance reforms, private supreme court tea parties, TPP, Alec, etc. x by every other country’s similar manipulative goings-on.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I second zapster.

      I didn’t fully understand Smith’s chart, but I didn’t try very hard. I got stuck wondering what debt had to do with wages. I couldn’t envision any direct connection. There once was a vague connection between wages and growth that reflected an old arrangement between employees and employers which started breaking down several decades ago. I can only relate debt and growth if the debt resulted from productive investment [“productive” does beg the question, but I’m not sure how else to put it given the vagueries of what is called an investment] of some sort. Maybe I’m missing something?

      Since I’m looking for employment, I gave Smith’s You-Tube on “The New Nature of Work” promoting his book “Get a Job — Build a Real Career — Defy a Bewildering Economy”, a listen — the video combined a set of fuzzy slides with a voice over which sounded just like a late night tv infomercial. Smith and his interviewer managed to trot out a menagerie of every BS get a job meme from the last twenty years crammed together into a spiel on networking, sweat equity, web business, International sweat equity ventures and a job as self-employment doing creative problem solving work.

      I think the comments and rebuttals to the story in Yahoo: “California Mom Says She Grosses at Least $70K a Month on Etsy”, , tell the true value of Smith’s job advice.

      After dipping into Smith’s “find a job” formulas I have trouble giving much credence or value to his chart although I can infer from his chart that little productive investment resulted from the debt created in the last decades. But I thought we already knew that.

      1. craazyboy

        Short version – consumer debt added to GDP, but didn’t find it’s way back to consumer income.

        We’ll need to put Sherlock Holmes on the case. :)

      2. JTFaraday

        “late night tv infomercial”

        That sounds really horrible.

        I recently picked up this book off the “new” shelf in my local library called “Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work.” I usually avoid that kind of thing, but the premise sounded interesting for changing times. I just started it. I don’t agree with everything she says, but I do kind of like the general spirit of the thing.

        I also picked up “A More Beautiful Question” off the same shelf for similar reasons. I haven’t really looked at it yet.

    3. AllanW

      Yep. The premise of his little story is wrong; wages have been flat during the times he says they have been driven upwards by financialization. Not in fact an important article …

  3. Jim Haygood

    ‘Exercise stress tests measure how well the heart and lungs respond to physical exertion while a person is walking on a treadmill. The test is stopped once a person reaches the point of exhaustion or develops chest pain, dizziness or heart rhythm abnormalities. Those who have … abnormal heart strain during the test are referred for angiography, an invasive procedure to examine the interior of the heart’s main blood vessels.’

    WTF, seriously? Just heard a neighbor’s anecdotal account of a friend, with years of cardiac issues, who got on the treadmill last week. After 17 minutes, the doc yelled, ‘Stop, you’re having a heart attack,’ and sent him straight to ER. Usual story, three stents installed, coronary arteries 95-98% occluded.

    What is the deal with ‘destructive testing’ on people who may have occluded coronary arteries, in place of determining arterial occlusion first?

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Well, it would prove that the patient’s life expectancy was shorter than if he had responded well to such exercise…, no? The doc gets to be dead right without being the dead one.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘Treadmill first — angiography afterward’ seems to be a modern adaptation of the Queen’s ‘Sentence first — verdict afterwards’ from Alice in Wonderland.

        Except sometimes it’s ‘Treadmill first, funeral afterward.’

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Also, just as the French scientists have determined that a frog becomes deaf when you cut off all four of it’s legs and then shout, “Jump froggy, jump!”, so too would these tread mill tests confirm the suspicion that people who have lost both legs have very short life expectancies indeed.

    3. cnchal

      What is the deal with ‘destructive testing’ on people . . .

      Moar money. How much was it to install those three stents? $100K? How much was the doctors commission? A new Porsche!

    4. nealser

      Agree. Treadmill Stress test may accelerate mortality! My grandmother died while taking such a test. She probably had a weak heart. However before that day she was in good health. We wondered if she could have had a few more good years.

    5. Llewelyn Moss

      I told my doctor I had an occasional sharp pain at the base of my sternum bone. He sent me directly to the hospital. I spent the weekend in a hospital bed because they only do that heart stress test on weekdays. They wouldn’t give me hot coffee. As a result I noticed cold liquids gave me a soothing sensation. Turned out to be an irritation of the lower esophageal sphincter. But they made me do the stress test on Monday anyway. GOTTA BILL OUT THOSE LAB MACHINES. The insurance company refused to pay the hospital bill. haha.

      PS If your girlfriend likes to cook her chili with lots of hot pepper, tell he to stop it. I don’t miss her cooking. ;-)

      1. craazyboy

        There is the purple pill regimen for hot chili too!
        (complete with annoying website)
        Throw in for the $5K ambulance trip to the weekend hospital stay and you’ve reached the pinnacle of American health care.

      2. LucyLulu

        “But they made me do the stress test on Monday anyway. “

        I’m not picking on you, and you’re far from alone. If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard something like this. You may mean it more as a figure of speech than literally, but many people DO literally believe they don’t have choices. It never occurs to them that they could question or disagree with their doctor. But no doctor, healthcare provider, or facility can make you take any medication or undergo any treatment or procedure without your consent.* You always have the right to refuse. The patient always has the right to make the final decision, even if its a bad one. With the exception of AMA discharges, which can result in denial of payment by your insurer, there won’t be any negative consequences for such refusal. You also would have earned a discharge as soon as they diagnosed you with gastritis, and possibly your insurer would have covered your stay. A physician-patient relationship should be a partnership, two parties negotiating a plan for the best care for YOU. The doctor has the medical expertise, but if you don’t understand or it doesn’t make sense, then you need to ask questions until it does. It may save your life someday. Countless medical errors are prevented by patients who suspect something is amiss and speak up.

        The stress test wasn’t indicated if you had no risk signs for cardiac disease. I had a friend, 63, whose doctor had ordered one every year for previous five years, even though he was asymptomatic. His only risk symptoms were well-controlled hypertension and 10-15% over ideal weight, and the test was always normal. His doctor recommended it and he wouldn’t dare question. Was it coincidental that his doctor owned the testing facility? AFAIK, he still follows his doctor’s advice, and lines his pockets. I don’t think its typically so blatant however.

        A GI problem, being the usual suspect for your symptoms, was my assumption as I was reading your post. As they teach every medical resident, “when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras”. The little purple pill has been a miracle drug and can be bought OTC at any drugstore. If you were in Europe, my guess is you’d have received a prescription for something similar from the doctor who saw you, and told to return if not improved within a week, costing the system a few euros. Let us all know what that hospital bill runs. Steven Brill, author of Bitter Pill, paid $77 per box of 4×4’s when he had heart surgery (financialization of gauze pads???). I’m offering insurers half-off discounts and free delivery on gauze pads for their surgical patients when using my upcoming business.

        This is one of the reasons why American health care costs twice as much or more as other advanced economies. Before blaming the medical profession however, I don’t think there is a conscious effort to bilk patients on their part, nor are they extracting inordinately high compensation (compared to their counterparts in other sectors). They’ve been indoctrinated since day one in a “fee-for-service” system. They aren’t oblivious to their patient’s growing discontent with care, and are frustrated by all the constraints placed upon their practice.. They really DID want to help people when they chose a medical career. They feel there is a disconnect between the image of their profession as earning prestige and almost unquestioning reverence from their patients, and the reality of grunt work…… higher patient loads, endless documentation, navigating compliance and payment from multiple providers and levels of coverage, and time spent on other non-care but required details (e.g. pharmacy calls re: drugs requiring pre-authorization or not in formulary). One finds the younger doctors in academic and research settings, where the same incentives don’t exist, and who have financed their educations with debt, having to moonlight weekends to make ends meet. Current grads are paying a minimum of 7.9% for government-funded loans, with the interest deferred portion capped at $11K/yr., and origination fees as high as 4%.

        Implementing single-payer would remove insurer-associated profits from the system and reduce costs by up to 15-20% (and personally I take philosophical issue with profiting from denying care for sickness and death), but problems here run deeper than the private payer system, which is used by some European countries at far lower expense. Switzerland uses a system that looks very similar to the ACA, yet spends half as much as much per capita. We also need to address all the waste, high drug prices, perverse incentives that reward high use of care, unhealthy lifestyles, American doctors’ unusually vigilant restriction of endorsements to care from MD’s providers, with the tendency of both patients and professionals to see another pill or procedure as the cure to every problem.
        Full disclosure: I am not, nor ever have been, a physician (I wish!).
        *Exceptions may apply if suicidal, homicidal, or somebody else has been granted the legal authority to make your health care decisions, e.g. courts deemed mentally incompetent and appointed legal guardian.

        1. ambrit

          We had a similar experience when our second daughter was born. Since we were self financing the birth, which eventually became a Cesarean section, Phyls’ doctor told the hospital to hold Phyllis for two or three extra days past her normal discharge date. No explanation, no medical reason given. Phyllis knew the head night nurse, who told us about the patients absolute right to refuse anything. We ended up checking Phyl out of the hospital at one the next morning, which was a real test of nerve. We were accused of everything short of intent to infanticide by some of the hospital staff. Other staff could be seen in the background trying very hard not to burst out laughing. The best part of it was that the doctor who put the hold on Phyl was not the physician who performed the C-section, but the senior partner in the physicians group.
          Removing the surgical steel staples from the bikini cut a week later at home is a story for another day.

        2. Llewelyn Moss

          Thanks for that info. I didn’t end up having to pay for the hospital visit. The insurance company just refused to pay it and the hospital ate all the charges.

          My assumption is that the insurance company decided that my primary care doc should have check for gastro problems first. It left me wondering if the doc and the hospital were in cahoots to fill beds. It was years ago and memories are not crisp.

          The sequence of events was this: On Saturday, I told a hospital doctor about the soothing sensation I got from drinking cool liquids. But he did not tell me it was likely a gastro-intestinal cause. He just noted it and walked off. On Monday, I took the stress test and the results came back all clear, so I went home. A few days later, the insurance company called and told me not to pay anything and they would handle it. Then my primary care doc called me and said to try OTC Prevacid.

          If they had told me I had esophogus irritation I may have left the hospital myself. Not sure though. The nitro pills they were ing me to thin my blood was giving me a massive headache. The real problem is its a BIG Bucks adventure entering a hospital. But if I had walked out on my own, would it have made me liable for all costs incurred? Who can really say because the rules behind healthcare procedures and payments authorization is all hidden from the patient.

          And I agree, the US Healthcare Industrial Complex is an absurdity.

    6. Linda Amick

      My dad was having bouts of angina in his left arm. His family doctor referred him to a cardiologist. The first thing they did was a stress test. My dad collapsed on the treadmill and died. They used paddles to bring him back to life.
      Sometimes the cure kills the patient.
      In my experience most of what today’s medicine offers is questionable unless it is setting bones, sewing up wounds or doing other mechanical things. Systemic health issues by their nature involve complex processes and causes. The medical industrial complex offers a one size fits all solution to most systemic issues.

      1. craazyboy

        The cross-trainer machine I use has a warning sign on it – something to the effect “Do not use unless you are healthy enough to exercise…any sign of dizziness, difficulty breathing ….immediately stop use and see your doctor”.

        It’s an Exercise Equipment-Medical Equipment-Health Care-Industrial Complex Conspiracy.

    7. optimader

      He very likely could have thrown clots during the test. (More fortunate than if that happened shoveling snow, or whatever).

      1. micky9finger

        I also just had a stress test. My cardiologist then informed me everything looked good,normal. But that didn’t mean that something couldn’t be wrong. He then proceeded to tell me about his stress test that was followed a little later by a heart attack. This was on the LAD (left ascending something or other) and he used the technical term, a widowmaker.

        1. bruno marr

          …LAD refers to the Left Anterior Descending coronary artery of the heart. Clog this one and you’re usually dead: “widowmaker”. Stress tests are not definitive. They are usually preceded by an EKG to seek out anomalies BEFORE performing a stress test. The treadmill stress test machine monitors ALL of your vital signs cardiogram data.

          The pace of the treadmill test begins low and slow while the cardiologist analyzes the real time data. If the data from a low pace doesn’t look “normal” the test is stopped. The number of heart attacks during a stress test is rare. Best place to have a heart attack is in your cardiologists office. S/He can get you to appropriate emergency care immediately.

        2. optimader

          A friend of mine who is in very good shape was having unusual chest pains while hiking, drove himself to the ER, got hooked up (on a weekend btw), was told his EKG was normal but put under observation awaiting a stress test. During the test his EKG went south, and he had a minimum threshold heart attack occurred. Prepped and had a stent implant. He had 90watever% blockage and was told he probably threw the a clot causing the blockage during the stress test.
          A mutual friend that is an intervention cardiologist reviewed the file and agreed. Turns out that its not so unusual to go from nominal to 90%+ blockage in an event like this.
          Very lucky he:
          1.) was in the hospital and
          2,) didn’t have a stroke instead/as well.
          The stress test is a diagnostic tool, not everyone is so lucky unfortunately.

        3. ambrit

          Yes, I too was found to have an 85% blockage in the LAD and a 75% blockage in another coronary artery. Stents in the next day. (I do remember hearing one of the surgical techs remarking, “When he stops laughing you’ll know he’s under.” To this day, I cannot remember why I was laughing.) What got me was the uphill climb it was to get follow up physical therapy. People really do need a third party ombudsman to help navigate the shoals and reefs of ‘modern’ medical care.

  4. Brooklin Bridge

    Re The cognitive dissonance of the European Union’s Position: Vineyard of the Saker (Chuck L)Syraqistan

    The discussion of imperialist US, and corrupt privitization exploiting EU, particularly Germany, ends with this salient paragraph:

    In general, there is only one thing we can say: if the ideological basis of the European Union, a complex government entity, is built on such a sinister contradiction, as it plainly is, then its days are numbered. And nothing can be done about that.

    I think we are seeing the truth of that statement play out in Greece and Ukraine more vividly than anywhere else and it highlights how this “arresting” sentence introducing another thread is ever so ironically as accurate about the European Union itself as it is about the current Greek government: ” I begin to discern the profile of my death.”

  5. fresno dan

    “But the Inmarsat data strongly suggested MH370 wouldn’t be anywhere close to there, either. On March 15, a week after the plane disappeared, Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak announced that the search was being moved to the southern Indian Ocean based on what he called, many times, new satellite data—the Inmarsat data. One could argue, as Razak did and not completely unreasonably, that revealing that information immediately would have been cruelly premature. The existence of the handshakes did not appreciably reduce the odds that MH370 had crashed. Announcing it had flown for hours without being able to say where would at best offer unwarranted hope and, at worst, horrific imaginings of a terrifying seven-hour death cruise.

    On the other hand, one could also argue—much more convincingly—that revealing the Inmarsat data would have established a standard of transparency, and thus credibility, as the search continued. Yet the Malaysian government—which is basically the same government that’s run the country since independence in 1957—has never been a model of transparency, and to become one in the glare of global media would have been absurdly embarrassing. A plane crash is a tragedy. Losing track of a plane that made a rogue pass unmolested over sovereign airspace and then kept flying for seven hours is tragedy compounded by farce.”

    ==========================================================================
    Not to discount the fact that there are some truly evil people in government, but my experience is that most are not all that competent or hard working, and the path most followed is the one that keeps your boss in a somnolent state.

    1. VietnamVet

      The most apt description from the GQ article is that the disappearance of MH-370 is a black hole. This applies MH-17 also. Most likely, both are a series of gigantic screw-ups; not sending fighters to intercept MH-17 on the flight back over Malaysia, not detecting the flight later by Indonesian, Australian or Indian early warning radars, or allowing commercial flights over a battle zone in Eastern Ukraine where a transport plane was shot down two days earlier at 20,000 feet.

      What is clear is that both are also gigantic cover ups. The MH-17 debris is now in a hanger with the portions with the impact holes hidden away from viewers. If there are any remains of the shrapnel or bullets in the wreckage or at the crash site, analysis would pinpoint exactly who and where it was manufactured. Clearly, there are other agendas that have priority over telling the love ones and the flying public the truth about both flights.

      1. low integer

        There is no doubt in my mind that MH17 was shot down by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, or one of their proxies. Too many anomalities surrounding this case, all pointing to a cover-up by western interests. It was amazing to to see how effective the ‘official’ narrative was in rallying public condemnation of Russia, at least amongst those who I talked to.

  6. Jim Haygood

    Quoted from a CornerstoneMacro report for clients only:

    Do you remember that from 2007 to late 2008, U.S. fed funds dropped 500 bp, and then the Fed still needed to do QE?

    The backdrop for China looks a bit similar. We had a credit bubble, they have a credit bubble. We had a housing bubble, they have a housing/investment bubble. Will China eventually have to go down the same path as the U.S., and the Eurozone?

    [Former Federal Reserve staffer] Roberto Perli believes the PBoC will first cut rates to 0%, before contemplating QE.

    Pegged to the mighty US dollar, China’s plight echoes that of the US in 1931, when one trading partner after another adopted competitive devaluation. Left stranded as the sole strong-currency bagholder, the US sank into 10% deflation and 25% unemployment (after having blown its own feet off with the Smoot-Hawley Act).

    ‘QE with Chinese characteristics’ seems unimaginable now. But with financial time running in dog years, it could be upon us by summer or fall, if the bottom falls out of the Chinese housing market.

    To paraphrase Warren Buffett, if we don’t know who the bagholder is … it’s us!

  7. Christian Bonanno

    I find the article “Autism appears ‘largely genetic'” laughably simplistic. The environment of both the mother and father will change the genetics of the child.

    1. andyb

      Not only simplistic, but the article is a stab at disinformation propaganda, in so far as an Italian court has ruled, after significant scientific inquiry, that vaccines contain ingredients that led to the autism of the defendant. The US FDA is a criminal enterprise beholden to Big Pharma, and will not release studies that slow any links, and has purposely omitted the findings of researchers who have established such links. BTW, there is no way that the incidence of autism (in its various forms) can be attributable to DNA; just look at the exponential increase of 1/10,000 50 years ago to 1/50 births today. In this period of time, the majority of vaccines were developed, and forced on infants, toddlers and children. Just a coincidence? Doubtful.

  8. direction

    Bad news for Skippy!
    I was in an american bar the other day waiting for a friend and listening to this guy mansplaining the world to a couple of women when I overheard him saying “There are no mammals native to Australia.” He knew all about it. I felt like walking over and smacking him on the head with a kangaroo.

    1. craazyman

      what about those dudes who play Australian rules football without padding or helmets. Aren’t they mammals?

      they sure are crazy fuhkkkers.

      what about ostriches? they run around on two legs and they don’t fly. that’s a mammal in my book.

      1. Optimader

        You layed an egg on the ostrich call CM… But kuala bears! They have not one but two opposable thumbs per hand AND fingerprints! Imo that buys those little fkrs a seat at the head table!

        1. LucyLulu

          More importantly, they’re just so incredibly cute!

          How could anybody forget the koalas?

    2. low integer

      Well, in light of the article titled ‘Australia’s ‘Ecological Axis of Evil’ triggers native mammal collapse’ in today’s links, he may have just been ahead of his time.

      Highly doubtful, of course, and I would be much more inclined to accept your hypothesis that he was just a know-it-all know-nothing spouting off after a few beers.

  9. craazyboy

    “The New Jobs Report Shows Janet Yellen’s Quandary in a Nutshell”

    So… the Fed now does “wage growth” with Monetary Policy?????

    This is powerful voodoo! All we need to do is believe!

  10. craazyboy

    “Cats don’t like human music”

    I hear BS – the scientist put birds tweets in the soundtracks cats like.

    I’d suggest this for discerning cats.

    “Rockin Robin”

    1. craazyman

      they could have recorded an electric can opener in action. That would be Wagner for cats.

      1. optimader

        mine loved the sound of cracking pistachio nut shells. Uncanny good hearing tuned to that sound. Literally could hear it on a different floor in the house and would come piling in for a piece of the action.

      2. Gaianne

        It has been over two decades now, but my cat at the time liked Zen Buddhist chants.

        Actively hated blues harmonica.

        And was mostly indifferent to everything else.

        –Gaianne

  11. Mel

    Re Charles Hugh Smith

    Help. I don’t understand the Y axis. Is that new debt issued in $bn/year divided by aggregate wages in $bn/year? Or is it accumulated debt divided by wages (giving a number of years)? A strange number to interpret, either way, since we’re tempted to see growth or shrinkage in what’s really a relationship between two quantities which change in ways not shown.
    Seems related to Joe Firestone of the perils of comparing stocks with flows without being careful.

    1. craazyman

      I like the dude. he seems pretty cool but it’s all vectors without magnitudes with these storyteller doomers & gloomers. I used to get sucked in until I lost so much money I was traumatized for life. at first I laughed at a guy like Irving Fisher. What an idiot, I used to think. Mr. Big Shot Economist Losiing all his money cause he didn’t see the ’29 crash coming. Who could not have seen it, it was so obvious. Now i’ve lost all my money caused I believed all these people who said a crash was coming and then the market went up 300% (note that I consider it “losing” when I don’t get a 100% straight up rocket shot of a capital gain. I’ve “lost” all the money I could have made just being long and strong when all the Doomers were spouting their nonsense). I can’t afford to leave the apartment anymore. Except to stand in the hallwy when the delivery guy shows up with the Chinese food. I used to think I’d be a multi millionaire by now, back when I was reading all this economic commentary that said a crash was coming. Man. Why is it so hard? It’s not like being a millionaire and not workinig is all that ambitious. it’s small time stuff these days. Laying around with just $5 or $10 miliion in assets doing nothing with yourself but sleeping it off in bed between bouts of debauchery, you’re barely upper middle class. At least you’re not bothering anybody or invading countries. That’s something to take pride in.. That and the nearly athletic capacity for inactivity

      1. craazyboy

        I hear ya. Lack of debauchery is just one small step from Austerity. It’s just not fair.

      2. optimader

        Hey, when all the neighbors houses are ablaze, if yours just had the water from all the fire-hoses pouring in the front door, flooding basement and trashing the drywall and carpeting.. well, you’re winner!.. relatively speaking.

  12. fresno dan

    Unrealistic expectations are having knock-on effects, the authors continue, driving our desire for more care instead of less, even when it confers no help and it may in fact hurt us. They suggest that this is “undoubtedly contributing to the growing problem of overdiagnosis and overtreatment.”

    =====================================================================
    When you work in a business where the alternative can be death or illness and suffering, its no wonder its so profitable. But if we’re gonna fund it, we’re gonna have to ask if these treatments in fact work, by real studies, conducted enough times and rigorously enough that there can be some assurance of REAL benefit. (instead of the nonsense that researches know with enough exactitude when you will die so that they can figure out that a course of treatment will extend your life by a month)

    1. Pepsi

      Medical and pharmaceutical research need to be reformed from the bottom up. You’re absolutely right.

  13. From my Facebook this morning, re student loan debt forgiveness programs and “election risk”:

    so, apparently i can get some $28k of student loan debt forgiven because i’ve been working in nonprofits forever. the catch is that in order to make it worth it (since it’s still another two and a half years of payments) i need to renegotiate my loans to lower payments each month so there’s more left to forgive. what are the odds that the republicans will win the next presidential election and change the laws before my debt is forgiven and then i’ll be stuck with an even larger balance?! and no, they won’t let me stay in my current repayment plan AND take advantage of the public service loan forgiveness program…which is just i dunno fml. any other nonprofit folks with large student loan debts looking at this program? penny for your thoughts, ‘cuz that’s all i can afford. **sigh**

    Prediction: anyone who promises some type of student loan forgiveness will win in a landslide. I know a lot of people…a lot…who are hoping for loan forgiveness through a program that allows you to apply after 10 years of good-faith payments. There is a large constituency that would be highly supportive of student loan debt forgiveness, I would think. And it would be good for the housing market and for every other sort of retail market as well. Hell, if all my 30 something friends weren’t staring down mountains of debt, they might even be able to afford the Silver or, dare I say it, even the Gold level ACA insurance premiums.

    1. participant-observer-observed

      If you read the fine print on those progams on the FAFSA sites, you will see that those foregiveness programs are all capped at some tiny number like $10k, and then also want 10 years commitment for it!

  14. NotSoSure

    The WSJ article on China is quite one sided. It does not mention how corruption has grown like crazy during the so called more “open” rule of Hu and Jiang.

  15. Brian

    Cat music. What a concept. Only one kind of music titilates my cats imagination. One with creatures it can dream of waylaying. The music sounds like a track with an overlay of weird sound that doesn’t resemble a beastie at all. My cat didn’t even blink at it. Nor did it appear to be in stereo, which is one way to entertain a cat with the appearance of motion that they are able to track by moving their ears. If there is a demand for cat music, my cat will tell me. Not a people.

  16. seal

    More scumbaggery from OUR friendly CIA – I had and seemingly miraculously recovered from a bad case of polio many years ago.

    from the article Why is Polio Still a Thing – “In September, as a result of a CIA sham vaccination campaign used to hunt for Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, Save the Children was forced by the Government of Pakistan (GoP) to withdraw all foreign national staff… This past month, seven or more United Nations health workers who were vaccinating Pakistani children against polio were gunned down in unforgivable acts of terrorism. While political and security agendas may by necessity induce collateral damage, we as a society set boundaries on these damages, and we believe this sham vaccination campaign exceeded those boundaries.” — excerpt from a letter to President Obama, January 6th, 2013, from 12 deans of public health at major U.S. institutions

    1. James Levy

      The weakness is conceding the point: killing civilians is always wrong. When you surrender to the magic word “necessity” you depart from morals and ethics and adopt expediency, and expediency knows no bounds. Everyone in this country makes the idiotic mistake of thinking that any solid ethical stance is “not realistic” or “alienating” or naïve and therefore it’s best to concede that when you make an omelette you must break a few eggs, but please, Mr. President, try not to break these eggs. Instead of taking a stand, they indulge in special pleading, and forget that without pushing the general principle, there is no reason for power to concede their proposed exception.

  17. Oregoncharles

    “Autism appears ‘largely genetic’” – questionable, since the CDC recently concluded that the real rate, independent of diagnosis rates, is increasing markedly.
    Unfortunately, some years back the psychiatrists complicated (obscured?) the question by greatly expanding – you could say messing with – the definition. That’s when it became a “spectrum,” on the questionable theory that a great many conditions are just degrees of the same thing. Since they don’t know what it is, that’s nonsensical.
    Classic, full-blown autism isn’t ambiguous. People who have it are highly dysfunctional, largely cut off from social . (My wife worked in special ed for years, and came home with stories.) The “spectrum” disorders are highly ambiguous, in many ways just quirks of personality – albeit sometimes dysfunctional ones.

    This study is not gold-standard twins research, since they grew up together and were exposed to the same environmental influences.

    The likeliest reality is that both full-blown and “spectrum” autism have genetic predispositions but depend on environmental factors for expression. Purely genetic diseases do not increase rapidly, especially when they reduce reproduction (most autistic people, of any degree, have a hard time even dating, let alone having children.)

    It wasn’t the mercury in vaccines, but we still need to know what does cause it.

    1. LucyLulu

      Years ago there was a study showing that autism was occurring in clusters around several locations in California, beyond Silicon Valley. The incidence of attention deficit disorders, often seen in conjunction with autism spectrum disorders, is also on the upswing. There are quite a few disorders that are occurring more frequently for reasons not fully understood, if at all. My (hardly original) theory is that they are being influenced by dietary and environmental factors.

      1. sd

        Dietary factors can definitely play a role…personal anecdote.

        Gluten caused permanent nerve damage. The scars/plaques are visible on MRIs. At first, the neurologist thought it might be MS so I underwent a steady bout of MRIs over a number of years. New signs of damage stopped once I went gluten free. Fwiw…The decision to go gluten free was my own, made as a result of an elimination diet – at the time, very few people outside of celiacs were aware of gluten. I was experiencing arthritis in my hips that vanished at the day 3 mark. At 2 weeks, skin problems disappeared. Debilitating headaches went away. At the one year mark, I was taken off of seizure medications.

        My neurologist’s exact words: “I don’t care why, just keep doing what you are doing because its working.”

        Just because food is available for sale in the market doesn’t mean someone’s body is equipped to digest it.

  18. Llewelyn Moss

    Interesting talk on how CIA and other govt agencies plant fake news to drive propoganda and public opinion. As well as influencing Hollywood (ie Zero Dark Thirty). I have to wonder how much taxpayer $$$ went into American Sniper.

    (first 8 mins of this video)
    MEDIA HOAXES EXPOSED! Naomi Wolf Reveals How & Why Fake News Stories Are Created & Pushed

  19. financial matters

    Cities Paying Millions to Get Out of Bad Bank Deals Governing (MS). Chicago is the poster child.

    These sort of problems make a strong case for a simple federal pension system such as a doulbing of social security. Relieve local governments of this (lucrative for them) problem and corporations of this (easily raided) problem.

  20. participant-observer-observed

    FYI to dear NC people, please protect your sensitive electronic banking etc from encryption hack (https man in middle clone hack):

    Summary: if you are on MAC, use Chrome; if you are on Windows, use Firefox , if you are on mobile phone, confirm your security protection from FREAK bug!

  21. participant-observer-observed

    Anyone with influence on friends and family in Chicago wanting to send a message to Rahm might want to use the opportunity to get them to vote in the run-off election (registration deadline in March 10 I think)

    For dates see this one:

      1. alex morfesis

        chuy vs rahmbo…I have been away from chicago way too long to have an opinion…maybe a leopard can change its spots…if achy obejas graces us with her honesty by writing an article on the election or chuy specifically, then I might open up…Danny Davis or Robert Steele vs Rahmbo, that would be an easy pick…but chuy ???…maybe he changed somewhere along the way…AND I should admit he was not the only person in chitown whose recollection of a “washington” was only some guy named george after saint harold “suddenly died” as he tried to take away the toy of Bill Ayers dad (the old CommEd in chicago)…yes I know the official legend of william is that those little things that went boom were to protest the war…that it had the unmitigated collateral advantage of helping to move people to the suburbs along the newly finished federal highway system to fill in the 2 million homes per year built during the nixon administration…I might be an optimistic cynic but I am also a reality accepter… the idea that williams dad had built infrastructure to towns no one had any interest in moving to until the cities became “dangerous”…that was not anything william was thinking about at all…not for a moment…
        what..!!!!.????

  22. Vatch

    A quote from the eccentric Congresscritter Don Young in the link about him, wolves, and homeless people:

    He wrote: ‘Anyone who’s dealt with a healthy, roaming wolf population, as we have in Alaska, understands that these predators have a detrimental impact on wildlife populations.

    Well, yes, the wolves will reduce the population of their prey animals, but that’s often a good thing. If an ecosystem has too many herbivores, such as deer or elk, plant life can be depleted, and that leads to problems. It’s very complex, and ecologists are still debating the nuances of predator / prey relations, but I think that an ecosystem without predators will be in big trouble. The herbivores aren’t known for practicing birth control. Heck, many humans fail to use birth control.

    1. optimader

      How ever did the Earth get along without human intervention when we were just climbing out of the trees?? I guess wolves were vegans back then.

  23. sleepy

    Both Montana and Wyoming have “healthy, roaming wolf populations”, and yet elk populations in both states are near record levels. Study after study has confirmed that the reintroduction of wolves in the Yellowstone area has had a positive impact on the environment at virtually every level–even on riparian vegetation, songbirds, stream water quality, etc.

  24. Boston Stupid

    The Boston Marathon is all sewed up. The defendant’s counsel, good cop Judy Clarke, contradicted his plea to concede his guilt. Domesticated CIA judge George O’Toole excluded evidence of how FBI frogmarched the defendant’s big brother Tamerlan through a minstrel show of cartoon jihad with extortion and frame-ups including murder in Waltham. FBI has been on a rampage of deportation, intimidation, and murder to their precise coercive control of Tamerlan in the runup to the bombing. Now they can relax.

    The state’s control of Tamerlan, that’s the soft underbelly of the prosecution. After dressing up and posing the patsy in corny incriminating ways, the state killed him, per the JFK template. Oswald and Ray got duped into holding the bag with obscure tasking and instructions. Tamerlan had to be dragged kicking and screaming. He didn’t go quietly.

    The defense is appealing to the state for official records of Tamerlan’s control. They’re not going to get any records, and the defense doesn’t have the time or staff to collect the overwhelming volume of open-source corroboration. The free-and-worth-it public defender’s office doesn’t care. They just want to collude with the state to coerce a confession. Tying the defendant’s brother to the crime gives the state a bewildered, defenseless surrogate for public fabrication of the official line. Discovery gets pushed aside for ritual contrition and abasement. Choreographed catharsis dumbs the public down so they don’t notice that again, for like the thirtieth time, G-men were running an agent but, Oops! He got away and blew shit up.

    1. ambrit

      Yeah, and then there’s that poor sod down in Florida who got “shot while attempting to escape” by the FBI.
      This whole thing cries out, “Reichstag Fire!”

  25. Formerly T-Bear

    For Picture Caption Contest:

    “That was a double gainer with a half twist … did I get it right?”

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