Rank Error

“Why can’t media and political figures form genuine sentiment or thought?”

My suspicion is this: Those who grow up in the childrens’ wading pools of America, entranced by their toys and watched over by nanny capitalism in suburbia or Gotham, never glimpse the deep waters, and therefore live out their lives as children, capable only of childish perception. And in dispensing their perceptions as reality from their positions of power, they further infantilize our entire nation. – Joe Bageant

New Findings on Dogs

[ link one – University of Cordoba ] … and her colleagues analyzed 1040 cases of canine aggression brought to a nearby veterinary teaching hospital from 1998 to 2006. Of those cases, the majority were attributed to English cocker spaniels, Rottweilers, Boxers, Yorkshire terriers and German shepherds.

Probing the data further, Amat and her team discovered that English cocker spaniels were more likely than other dogs to act aggressively toward their owners as well as unfamiliar people.


[ link two – University of Bristol ] … the behavior of dogs has been misunderstood for generations: in fact using misplaced ideas about dog behavior and training is likely to cause rather than cure unwanted behavior.

The findings challenge many of the dominance related interpretations of behavior and training techniques suggested by some TV dog trainers. Contrary to popular belief, aggressive dogs are NOT trying to assert their dominance over their canine or human “pack”…

…training approaches aimed at “dominance reduction” vary from being worthless in treatment to being actually dangerous and likely to make behaviors worse.

Light detection

A different world as our quantum quarterbacks mature.

LIDAR – measure multiple objects with nanometer precision over distances up to 100 kilometers…

To watch us snore? Or are there better uses?

Money not in concrete things

America HAS NOT invested in concrete things.Capital expenditures by U.S. non-financial companies.

Decades of slipping, slipping, slipping. You see, America HAS NOT invested in concrete things.

I’ve hated this because I’ve always seen it as a tremendous error, a cultural error from Kissinger onward that set us up in an arrogant gamble to control the table – the first thing opponents will challenge and the last thing they’ll let you keep.

In a world clamoring for calories and basics, what dumb ass proposed we could merely dispense the funding?

To make matters worse:

Wall Street simply is not doing what most people think it’s doing. Nor what most people think it should be doing. Wall Street is not even doing what it says it is doing. Wall Street is pushing a big myth that its services are essential to the functioning of the rest of the economy.

Stubborn Pride and Foolishness?

There’s something rabid on the right wing. Their snarling is more important than sense.

Guantanamo “quite simply a mess”.

Most of the prisoners convicted of terrorism crimes in the Guantanamo tribunals are free men while most of the captives cleared for release are still imprisoned.

Did you say dignity?

The only way to live in the world of ordinary human poverty is to live there in a world where your pocket isn’t picked constantly, where you aren’t the victim of endless resource conflicts, where your government doesn’t sell your future out. And the only way to be a nation of reasonably self-sufficient, ordinarily poor people living decently is this – to remember that the reason we use the word “ordinary” here is that there are a lot more of us peasants than there are of the powerful. The truth is that repressive governments, or even well intentioned but stupid and misguided governments are scary – but they never have enough troops, enough power to stand up against the unified dignity of those who are simply ordinary, and simply want enough. But that requires that we trust each other, that we work together, that we create the institutions of ordinary poverty…

Fair Reason Contest

Who is the bigger intellectual property asshole?

Intellectual Property
Asshole Competition
Who is the bigger
intellectual property asshole?

Is it the artist who has amassed a small fortune based on “appropriation” yet still sends cease and desist letters to other artists for appropriating his work?

Or is it the largest (and only) US based nationally-oriented news service which fails to recognize “fair use” even when it literally stares them in the face?

Evan Roth created hand painted canvases of Shepard Fairy’s Obama Hope poster, and Mannie Garcia’s Associated Press photograph.

Who will send the first cease and desist letter?

Be a part of social and legal history! Evan’s works are for sale on his website here and here.

For those unfamiliar with the Shepard Fairy / Associated Press intellectual property battle over the Obama Hope poster, here is a good place to start. Techdirt ran a post as well; always good for comments.)

As Franklin Wobbles

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva spent a day meeting with Chinese leaders in Beijing, during which analysts said he could broach a plan to ditch the US dollar in his nation’s trade with China.

He said, “In just 35 years of diplomatic relations, Brazil and China have more to celebrate than countries that have had relations for more than 100 years. It’s absurd if two important trading nations such as ours continue to carry out our commerce in the currency of a third nation.”

Beijing replies, “Everybody has realised… that the currency and debt crises in many countries and the global economic crisis are linked to the dollar standard.”

Yes. Worry.

Meters cannot cover costs

Los Angeles parkingEighty-one percent of the Los Angeles Central Business District is a parking space.

Each surface and building space costs a minimum $50,000.

San Francisco parking coverage rate is 31 percent and New York is 18 percent.

We neglect to manage the impact of parking lots. The urban heat island effect raises costs for all of us. Runoff from impermeable surfaces is destroying our waterways and wildlife.

Landscape architect Veenu Jayaram at Land+Living says there are many things we can do.

Hustling Pure

Yes. You can write an entire book about fake orange juice in our supermarkets.

Most juice oranges are from Brazil, the world’s top user of pesticides.

Brazil orange trees account for 6.5 percent of all pesticide use, but they account for the largest pesticide use per hectare of any agricultural crop.

Carbofuran and Methidathion and Fenthion and Diazinon and Dimethoate and Imazalil: carcinogens and gender-benders for breakfast?

Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy tells us that while orange juice “has come to symbolize purity in a glass” it may actually be quite processed and doctored up by the time it greets you at your breakfast table.

Smallish Gain But Ivory

Want a job? Get a license.

Would it surprise you to know that 29 percent of the U.S. workforce has a job requiring a license, up from 5 percent in the 1950s?

Would it further surprise you to know that the economic consensus is that licensing raises prices, restricts job opportunities from the less privileged, and offers little or no quality improvement in service rendered?

And would it surprise you to know, lastly, that the ivory tower has essentially turned a blind eye to this research?

Added Up

Tyler Cowen at MarginalRevolution found the sum of our bankers.

Find it here, with this abstract:

The ‘shadow banking system’ at the heart of the current credit crisis is, in fact, a real banking system – and is vulnerable to a banking panic. Indeed, the events starting in August 2007 are a banking panic. A banking panic is a systemic event because the banking system cannot honor its obligations and is insolvent. Unlike the historical banking panics of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the current banking panic is a wholesale panic, not a retail panic. In the earlier episodes, depositors ran to their banks and demanded cash in exchange for their checking accounts. Unable to meet those demands, the banking system became insolvent. The current panic involved financial firms ‘running’ on other financial firms by not renewing sale and repurchase agreements (repo) or increasing the repo margin (‘haircut’), forcing massive deleveraging, and resulting in the banking system being insolvent. The earlier episodes have many features in common with the current crisis, and examination of history can help understand the current situation and guide thoughts about reform of bank regulation. New regulation can facilitate the functioning of the shadow banking system, making it less vulnerable to panic.

Addendum: Arnold Kling summarizes some of the recommendations:

1. Senior tranches of securitizations of approved asset classes should be insured by the government.

2. The government must supervise and examine “banks,” i.e., securitizations, rather than rely on ratings agencies. That is, the choices of asset class, portfolio, and tranching must be overseen be examiners.

3. Entry into securitization should be limited, and any firm that enters is deemed a “bank” and subject to supervision.

Hospitals Attack

Robbery factors in our health sector:

The group Conservatives for Patients’ Rights is spending more than a million dollars for attack ads this month.

The ads feature the chairman of Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, Rick Scott. Who’s he? “He hopes people don’t Google his name.”

Scott’s not a doctor; he just acts like one on TV.

He’s an entrepreneur who took two hospitals in Texas and built them into the largest health care chain in the world, Columbia/HCA. In 1997, he was fired by the board of directors after Columbia/HCA was caught in a scheme that ripped off the Feds and state governments for hundreds of millions of dollars in bogus Medicare and Medicaid payments, the largest such fraud in history. The company had to cough up $1.7 billion dollars to get out of the mess.

Rick Scott got off, you should excuse the expression, scot-free. Better than, in fact. According to published reports, he waltzed away with a $10 million severance deal and $300 million worth of stock. So much for voluntarily lowering overhead.

With medical costs rising six percent per year, that’s who’s offering himself as a spokesman for the health care industry.

Too much is outright wrong:


Americans paid $6,719 a person for doctors, medicines and hospital visits in 2006, up from $4,570 in 2000 – more than nine times the global average.

With a life expectancy of 78 for a person born in 2007, the U.S. trails at least 27 other countries among 193 in the report.

Water Bottle. Not.

Boston, MA — A new study from Harvard School of Public Health found that participants who drank for a week from polycarbonate bottles, the popular, hard-plastic drinking bottles and baby bottles, showed a two-thirds increase in their urine of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA).

Exposure to BPA, used in the manufacture of polycarbonate and other plastics, has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals and has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans.

Proper muckraking at Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel discovers the FDA relied on two studies – both paid for by BPA chemical makers – to declare BPA to be safe. At the same time, the FDA improperly discounted dozens of studies that showed the chemical caused harm.

Chemical trade association lobbyists routinely have met with FDA administrators over the past nine years to give their opinion on various independent studies on the effects of BPA.

In fact, the American Chemistry Council wrote entire sections of the ruling for the FDA, showing capture, a pattern of preferential treatment.

What say else?

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. – John Kenneth Galbraith

The People Who Lost their Country

Economic Populist shares a rant:

U.S. Economy 2.0Yes, it is possible to destroy a nation in just eight years. Less, actually.

By 2006 the US economy was finally broken beyond all repair and, for the first time since 1913, the Federal Reserved stopped telling the world how much money they were printing. Then Bush and Greenspan proceeded to rip all wealth out of the hands of the middle class through interest rate manipulation and easy schemes of mortgage equity withdrawal, which fueled consumer spending and hid the robbery of our national treasures.

The most depraved economic position the US took, however, was to allow the real estate asset class to collapse in value, dragging down with it all other US asset classes, which decimated pension funds. This, in turn, bankrupted the banks and brokerage houses, who were trading globally and misrepresenting themselves as regulated, when they were not.

The reality, however, is that there is nothing that Obama can do to change the trajectory of the nation toward economic collapse — beyond what he is doing.

Most importantly, he is keeping all of us afloat during a time when the nation has staggering obligations, a thin trickle of revenue, and no liquid assets or reserves whatsoever. At the same time, he did not see this economic crisis coming, and thus he made promises to the people which are difficult to achieve, even in the best of times.

Part I — The People Who Lost their Country
Part II — Is the Nation’s Fate Your Destiny?
Part III — Putting the Individual Ahead of the Nation

That’s The Deal


I will never hide the truth because it is uncomfortable. I will deal with Congress and the courts as co-equal branches of government. I will tell the American people what I know and don’t know, and when I release something publicly or keep something secret, I will tell you why.

After the Long Years

Dave McCurdy, president and CEO, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, on reducing carbon emissions and increasing fuel economy.

For seven long years, there has been a debate over whether states or the federal government should regulate autos. President Obama’s announcement ends that old debate by starting a federal rulemaking to set a National Program.

What’s significant about the announcement is it launches a new beginning, an era of cooperation.

The President has succeeded in bringing three regulatory bodies, 15 states, a dozen automakers and many environmental groups to the table. We’re all agreeing to work together on a National Program. [USNewswire]

Peel without the fruit

Donald Rumsfeld refused to deploy troops until almost a week after Katrina.

After the president had returned to the White House, he eventually convened a meeting in the Situation Room to discuss the government’s response.

Bush barked, “Rumsfeld, what the hell is going on there? Are you watching what’s on television? Is that the United States of America or some Third World nation I’m watching? What the hell are you doing?”