There’s a story about Yogi Berra going into a pizza shop, and he orders a pie. As they pull his pie out of the oven, they ask him whether he’d like it cut into six wedges or eight. Six, he decides. He’s not hungry enough to eight pieces of pizza.

found at Canthook

Another Obesity

The Power ProblemThe Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free

Matthew Yglesias says about this book, “…our over-large military establishment isn’t just a waste of money, but actually harmful to our security.

“The reason is that it spawns a self-justifying ideology about the appropriate American role in the world that leads us to repeated foreign policy blunders.

“If we had much less military capacity, we would have a much narrower definition of the strategic purpose of our military—to defend the country against threats—and would find that we were happy with that equilibrium.”

Russia is depopulating

Kremlin's depopulationThe Kremlin outlined the objective of achieving and maintaining an average annual pace of economic growth in the decades ahead on the order of nearly 7 percent a year: on this path, according to Russian officials, GDP will quadruple in the next two decades.

The Russian Federation seeks to emerge as the world’s fifth largest economy by 2020, but history offers no examples of a society that has demonstrated sustained material advance in the face of long-term population decline.

Surmounting Anyone?

Paul Saffo:

We got into this mess because we created a society that sacrificed the long-term good for the many on the altar of short-term profits for the few.

If we can just shake off the illusion of the quick fix, we may discover that more than the current financial crisis can be surmounted for the benefit of ourselves, our children, and our children’s children.

Why a fat nation?

Digest this:

  1. It has been projected that 75% of US adults will be overweight or obese by 2015.
  2. Weight gain and obesity are more linked to sweetened beverages than solid food.

After decades of dragging our feet

Here’s a ‘we haven’t heard this before’ speech at DOE offices:

“Finally, this plan will begin to end the tyranny of oil in our time,” President Obama said.

“Washington may not be ready to get serious about energy independence, but I am. And so are you. And so are the American people.

Inaction is not an option that is acceptable to me and it’s certainly not acceptable to the American people – not on energy, not on the economy, and not at this critical moment.”

No More Throw Away Cars


“I’d rather be President Hu than President Obama,” Jim Owens, chief executive of Caterpillar, told a Council on Foreign Relations gathering in Washington, D.C., today, referring to China’s Hu Jintao.

Hu’s task is to tell the thrifty Chinese people: “Enjoy a little more.” The Chinese, he said, need to save less and spend more so their country imports more. In contrast, Obama “is going to have to encourage Americans to save more” — once the current recession is over, of course.

“We are going to have to have a little less conspicuous consumption,” said Owens, who happens to have a Ph.D. in economics. “I’m not sure we can afford to be buying 17 or 18 million cars a year and then throwing them away every three or four years.”

Golf on the blinc

Learn something new every day!

11th at LahinchNon-golfers sometimes treat the terms ‘golf course’ and ‘links’ as synonymous, but they’re not.

“Linksland is a specific type of sandy, wind-sculpted coastal terrain — the word comes from the Old English word blinc, ‘rising ground’ — and in its authentic form it exists in only a few places on earth, the most famous of which are in Great Britain and Ireland”.

Links are always dry — even in the depths of winter — because of the way water drains through the sandy base. So the ball always bounces on the fairway, and never ‘plugs’ in the way that it will on a sodden inland course. And because links are always, by definition, by the sea, to the challenges of the terrain must be added the complications of wind.

See John Naughton’s Memex for more on Missing Links.

No Evidence to Support Limited Web

Mike Masnick at TechDirt has been following the capped web and he’s finding that ISPs are pulling our leg:

Just as the various broadband providers are ramping up their bogus astroturf attempts to convince the world that broadband caps are necessary and good for customers, Saul Hansell has been digging deep into the numbers and can’t find any justification at all for the caps.

All those stories about overwhelmed networks and exponential traffic growth? Not happening.

If anything, the evidence is that the opposite is true: advances in technology means that it’s become cheaper for broadband providers to meet the needs of their customers.

I live just outside of town and just south of the famous Silicon Valley, but the only Internet connection available is Sprint’s 3G using an extra $400 for an amp and roof antenna. I no longer consider dial-up a valid product. Sprint’s cap means that I must block all video, all Flash, 99% of any advertising, all audio and cannot view movies or television clips. It’s peg leg web at $60 per month.

Global Pension Ponzi Scheme

Again I point to Leo Kolivakis. He’s testifying to Canada’s Parliament:

pension protest in CanadaBy shifting assets out of safe government bonds, first into equities and then alternative investments like hedge funds, private equity, real estate, commodities and other risky investments, pension funds have contributed to systemic risk of the global financial system.

This process is what I have dubbed the global pension Ponzi scheme because pension funds were investing billions into alternative investments, ignoring the securitization bubble and without due consideration of how their collective actions are affecting the soundness of the global financial system.

Pension funds claim that the shift into alternative investments was done for diversification purposes, to “smooth” overall returns and to deliver absolute returns.

However, there was another reason behind the shift to alternative investments: it allowed senior executives at pension funds to game their policy benchmarks so they could collect huge bonuses, claiming they are adding value to overall returns.

Navigating Veil

Fix threat.

It’s not easy. It’s not a matter of courageous power or ingenious wit. It’s a matter of grace.

There is much war in this world, but it comes first from much worry. If a citizen fights there’s a parade, but citizens must also put their life on the line long before battle.

Flocks do fly

Greed has a signature of pathology. We think of its driving force but too little of its weakness. Imagine a flock of flamingo filtering rich algae then rushing to the sky. Imagine terrified bankers.

There was not a run on the banks by depositors in the streets to withdraw their savings. Rather, it was an escalating and terrifying run on the banks in effect by the banks themselves, which would reproduce the events of 1929.

The very vast majority of us around the world do not choose greed but fail under it, a Ponzi promoted as security, vinegar sold as sugar, fools and Republicans telling us greed is wise.

The sky is ours, but we have nowhere to fly.

All Our Dump Are Us

271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals dumped into our water… warfarin, fluorouracil, pentobarbital, tetracycline… active pharmaceutical ingredients…

A crook in every nook

As buccaneers bilk our finance industry, as the Republican platform continues to pimp Wall Street, the NakedCapitalism blog is running a series on pension risk written by Leo Kolivakis.

When employers began turning 401(k)s into retirement plans, the financial community was not shy about promoting them. The prospect of trillions of dollars in the hands of unsophisticated investors opened the door for all sorts of potential abuses.

It’s disgusting and while America worries about “Al-Qaeda”, the real crime is happening right under their noses.

Public pension fund shakedown? If you ask me, it’s a shakedown of the entire public of unsuspecting investors who are getting fleeced by Wall Street crooks.

Pigweed happily took over in no time

When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

‘Superweed’ explosion threatens Monsanto heartlands

The gospel of high-tech genetically modified (GM) crops is not sounding quite so sweet in the land of the converted.

pigweed happily took over in no timeA new pest, the evil pigweed, is hitting headlines and chomping its way across Sun Belt states, threatening to transform cotton and soybean plots into weed battlefields.

In late 2004, “superweeds” that resisted Monsanto’s “Roundup” herbicide, popped up in GM crops in Georgia.

Monsanto, the US multinational biotech corporation, is the world’s leading producer of Roundup, as well as genetically engineered seeds. Company figures show that nine out of 10 US farmers produce Roundup Ready seeds for their soybean crops.

pigweed defeats RoundupRoundup contains the active ingredient glyphosate, which is the most used herbicide in the USA.

Superweeds have since alarmingly appeared in other parts of Georgia, as well as South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri, according to media reports.

How has this happened?

Farmers over-relied on Monsanto’s revolutionary and controversial combination of a single “round up” herbicide and a high-tech seed…

Today, 100,000 acres in Georgia are severely infested with pigweed and 29 counties have now confirmed resistance to glyphosate, according to weed specialist Stanley Culpepper from the University of Georgia.

One year of pigweed means seven years of weeding.
Little TinyFarm deals with pigweed.
tip to Doug Powell’s Agnet
pigweed wiki

Jail the wrong pirates

Harvard business blog:

The Pirate Bay guys were criminally prosecuted for….violating (largely obsolete) copyright. Almost no one in finance has been held even civilly liable for vastly more economically damaging actions.

On the one hand, we have damages worth maybe (maybe) a few million. On the other, a few trillion.

Lost Money

Jeffrey Goldberg discusses why he fired his broker. “His company couldn’t manage its own money, much less ours.”

If I lose my job, then I’ll complain…

But for now, no whining: just confusion and bemusement and fear, along with an uncharacteristic sense of paralysis….

I called a psychologist to find out what could explain this weird passivity. Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel Prize–winning innovator in the field of behavioral economics. He explained that my feelings of paralysis were to be expected.

“You no longer know the world you live in,” he said. “You played by the rules, the rules benefited you. The world functioned according to some regularities. Right now, it’s unclear what rules apply. There is a new regime. What seemed prudent earlier has disappeared. I’m surprised Americans aren’t more panicked. Americans seem to accept a level of insecurity in their lives that Europeans wouldn’t tolerate.”

I should have seen the signs of dysfunction much earlier.

The Meaning of Human Grace

Susan Boyle meets the mediaLisa Schwarzbaum is a writer for Entertainment Weekly. Her comments on the performance of Susan Boyle are touching.

“In our pop-minded culture so slavishly obsessed with packaging – the right face, the right clothes, the right attitudes, the right Facebook posts – the unpackaged artistic power of the unstyled, un-hip, un-kissed Ms Boyle let me feel, for the duration of one blazing showstopping ballad, the meaning of human grace.

“She pierced my defenses. She reordered the measure of beauty. And I had no idea until tears sprang how desperately I need that corrective.”

From the BBC.

We pay for burden

David Simon:

The same game is played everywhere – nobody’s actually in the business of doing what the institution is supposed to do…

If there’s an institution that is supposed to serve you or that you are supposed to serve, and it’s supposed to care for you and be a societal positive, it will betray you.

Robbers never gift

Other junk from the rich:

Time will tell how it all shakes out, but the reshaping of New York, at least Manhattan, over the past 25 years or so is notable for the sheer scale and amount of demolition, as well as construction. No previous era had that much destroying to do to impose its will, and obviously no previous era built so much so high.

And the corporate ethos that drove all that business was also about getting the most from the least, so the gaudiness of the recent past was matched by its shoddiness—whatever the failings of the late 19th-/early 20th-century robber barons, at least they built to last.

The ’80s/’90s/2000s will leave really lousy ruins.

Saints more likely sin

Folks strutting with an air of morality should be a warning to us that something bad is on the way.

Deric Bownds reports at MindBlog of new experiments evaluating human behavior. Two points emerge.

  1. We suggest that affirming a moral identity leads people to feel licensed to act immorally.
  2. However, when moral identity is threatened, moral behavior is a means to regain some lost self-worth.

So many dead and maimed. Children struck down. All of the noise of economy and politics cannot compare to the wasteland of morality.

A further article here

A team of researchers, funded by the National Science Foundation, USA, has been investigating the role of ethical and religious beliefs, or ‘sacred values’, in motivating human behavior.

“Sacred values must be studied as they form a core part of individual identity and is the root of cultural conflicts. People want to protect what they hold sacred and it leads to irrational behavior,” says Sonya Sachdeva of Northwestern University

Our ‘moral ecology’ may be the most damaged and requiring our greatest effort.