fibbing for the fiduciary

Noising for the presidency, Mike Huckabee trumpets:

“Kennedy would have been told to go home to take pain pills and die during his last year of life.” [link]

Newsweek, 5 Biggest Republican LiesSharon Begley studies the 5 Biggest Republican Health Care Lies.

When fear and loathing hijack the brain, lies take on a patina of credibility.

flea bots

XXXXXXXXXXThe latest advancements in chip design, fabrication techniques, and surveillance!

Microbots, soon the size of a flea.

I-SWARM, intelligent small-world autonomous robots for micro-manipulation, surveillance, medicine, cleaning and more.

history in circles

Thomas Edison, 1931

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!

“I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

NY Times/Getty: Thomas Edison holding one of the batteries used to power his early electric car, the BakerEdison, godfather of electricity-intensive living, was also an unlikely green pioneer whose ideas about renewable power still resonate today.

At the turn of the 20th century, when Edison was at the height of his career, the notion that buildings, which now account for more than a third of all energy consumed in the United States, would someday require large amounts of power was only just coming into focus.

Where that power would come from — central generating stations or in-home plants; fossil fuels or renewable resources — was still very much up for debate.

not fringe phenomena

Johann Hari:

Republicans, religion and the triumph of unreason.

How do they train themselves to be so impervious to reality?

However strange it seems, the Republican Party really is spinning off into a bizarre cult…

An arising American Taliban?

literacy jump

Stanford’s Andrea Lunsford:

Technology isn’t killing our ability to write. It’s reviving it — and pushing our literacy in bold new directions.

“I think we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization.”

From 2001 to 2006, she collected 14,672 student writing samples — everything from in-class assignments, formal essays, and journal entries to emails, blog posts, and chat sessions.

culminates in a crash

James Kwak:

I think it’s hard to argue against the idea that a huge debt-financed bubble was a bad, bad thing. I still think, as you might predict, that the nature of our particular financial system both made the bubble larger than it might otherwise have been, and made its collapse more spectacular than it had to be.

An important chart to remind us precisely about the whom and when of ‘huge debt’.

Chart: Growth of Federal Debt

empleament

I can’t explain how one man carries air and is paid for water. There is great random. We see one winner and don’t see a dozen. I can say that it takes tremendous will and effort. We ride the river or cross the current. There’s the lesson.

put us on the agenda

Dave Johnson:

So what can we do to change the system itself?

How do we restructure the model – the economic paradigm – in ways that let We, The People enjoy and share the benefits of our economy?

Aren’t We, The People supposed to be making the decisions here?

  1. Corporations have amassed immense power and that power is used to control the country’s decision-making processes, always to the benefit of the wealthy few.

    Getting a grip on this problem requires us to regain understanding of why we have corporations in the first place.

  2. Why do we allow companies to externalize their costs while internalizing the profits?

    In other words, companies are allowed to push costs onto the rest of us, but are not asked to share the resulting profits with the rest of us.

    We even let them treat us as ‘costs’ – a layoff pushes the worker onto the community while the company keeps the wages they were paid.

  3. We need to understand that making things is what drives an economy.

    America became an economic powerhouse because we made things here. China is an economic powerhouse because they make things there.

I dunno. What say you?

dumb beget dead

Hutus and Tutsis had a shared language, religion, and culture and frequently intermarried.

But the colonizers didn’t have many troops, so they needed to divide the population in order to rule over it.

They appointed the Tutsis as their aristocratic class to manage the rest and concocted a racist myth to justify it.

Tyrants mighty in their own time. What a colossal wreck.

Not to worry, ladies and gentlemen, Socialites Without Borders are teaching Rwandans how to mingle and a fine organization they are. 😉

considering error

Are banks worth it?

Felix Salmon wrote back awhile: “If profits and compensation in the financial sector go up and keep going up, that’s a priori evidence of inefficiency, not efficiency.

“Those higher profits mean that customers are paying more for their financial services over time, not less, which means that financial services are imposing a larger and larger tax on the economy.”

Pipes leak below. Pipes leak above.

torture justification fail

Bush and Cheney do not seem to be able to sustain their cover:

The procedures of the CIA program are designed to be safe.

They are in full compliance with the nation’s laws and treaty obligations.

They’ve been carefully reviewed by the Department of Justice, and they are very carefully monitored.

The program is run by highly trained professionals who understand their obligations under the law.

And the program has uncovered a wealth of information that has foiled attacks against the United States; information that has saved countless, innocent lives.”

Yet some of those “highly trained professionals” had little more than two weeks of training on the job.

At RawStory:

Since Monday, when the CIA released a significant part of those documents — a 2004 CIA inspector general’s report on torture practices — there has been hardly a mention in the mainstream press about the fact that the report largely contradicted what the former vice president has been saying in public.

Torture saved no lives.

banks may not be worth it

Mark Thoma:

Does the total cost of our financial system exceed the total benefits?

Overmighty finance levies a tithe on growth, by Benjamin Friedman: …The crucial role of the financial system in a mostly free-enterprise economy is to allocate capital investment towards the most productive applications.

…it is important to ask what this once-admired mechanism costs to run.

If a new fertilizer offers … a higher crop yield but its price and the cost of transporting and spreading it exceeds what the additional produce will bring at market, it is a bad deal for the farmer. A financial system, which allocates scarce investment capital, is no different.

The discussion of the costs associated with our financial system has mostly focused on the paper value of its recent mistakes and what taxpayers have had to put up to supply first aid.

What has somehow escaped attention is the cost of running the system.

A fast reply in the comment thread, “I did not think it was possible for economists to ask the right questions.”

to seek, to find, and not to yield

Snippets from Ted Kennedy, 1980:

I am asking you to renew our commitment to a fair and lasting prosperity that can put America back to work.

We have learned that it is important to take issues seriously, but never to take ourselves too seriously.

Our cause has been, since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the cause of the common man and the common woman.

The commitment I seek is not to outworn views but to old values that will never wear out. Programs may sometimes become obsolete, but the ideal of fairness always endures.

We must insist that our children and our grandchildren shall inherit a land which they can truly call America the beautiful.

Among you, my golden friends across this land, I have listened and learned.

not to forget

Brian McDermott at FastCompany:

“What we are experiencing is a colossal failure of leadership in the business community.

“CEOs are greedy, shortsighted, unethical, arrogant, and lacking in vision and commitment.

“It’s truly pathetic.”

cracks beneath us

Don’t make yourself silly over a drip from a faucet.

U.S. cities lose 25 to 30 percent of the fresh water in their pipes. [link]

There are many barrels leaked before we use our average of a barrel per day.

Be wary of the drip from your pocket, because nobody has been maintaining America during our frenzy of wealth.

corn syrup can be dangerous

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: [link]

  1. The substance hydroxymethylfurfural forms mainly from heating fructose, the sweetener in beverages and processed foods. Levels jump dramatically at about 120 degrees.
  2. Some commercial beekeepers also feed corn syrup to bees to increase reproduction and honey production. When exposed to warm temperatures, corn syrup derivative compounds can kill honeybees.
  3. Studies have linked hydroxymethylfurfural to DNA damage in humans. In addition, corn syrup derivative compounds break down in the body to other substances potentially more harmful.

Another slap on the hand. Corn is important and corn syrup has its place, but it seems we need to look carefully at our policies.

toward the other two thirds

Paul Livingstone at R&D Magazine:

This summer marks the centenary of a demonstration by Fritz Haber which showed, for the first time in public, the exothermic equilibrium reaction that would break the strong triple bonds of nitrogen and pair it with hydrogen to create ammonia. When oxidized, ammonia can be used to make fertilizer, explosives, and other products.

It was the touchstone process, that, when industrialized with the help of methane by Carl Bosch, led to the Green Revolution. It was the beginning of a transformation of agriculture that today easily supports the lives of more than a third of the world’s population.

In fact, industrial nitrogen is the primary reason why some say the Earth can support up to 10 billion people. But even after decades of improvements in efficiency and chemical process, industrial nitrogen still has unsolved problems. Not least of which is the propensity for farmers to use too much.

Now we must contend with the consequence of poor nitrogen use.

  1. Farms in northern China use six times more nitrogen fertilizer per acre than farms in the midwestern U.S.
  2. Runoff ‘dead zones’ of algal blooms
  3. Nitrous oxide emissions, which are about 298 times more effective at trapping atmospheric heat than carbon dioxide
  4. Easy bombs.

to take all the world

“Our aim is to ensure Germany can continue to fight for as long as possible, in order to exhaust and ruin England and France,” Joseph Stalin ordered in 1939 because “under these circumstances, we, finding ourselves in a beneficial situation, can simply await our turn.”

“What we can do is maneuver around the two sides, push one of the sides to attack the other.”