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Open Thread

April 6, 2009

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  1. Stemella permalink*
    April 6, 2009 6:27 am

    In a minor bit of Mamz Meta here: Bigmouth Tweets Again : Kos Says Conservatives Like To Shoot Cops there are some comments worth noting. As I shake my head, somewhere in space a Quixote is smiling.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 6, 2009 7:04 am

      Funny! I’m glad that Stranahan is still sticking it to him.

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 6, 2009 7:29 am

        That first comment has to be your “favorite” Greek, no? That’s why I’m shaking my head.

        • cometman permalink*
          April 6, 2009 7:38 am

          Holy shit. I hadn’t checked the comments the first time but yeah, that sure sounds like him. Wonder why Huffpo let that comment in. That guy, whether he believes what he’s writing about or not, is fucking nuts. I mean really, UGOG proves the whole internet is “rigged” and that operatives control the blogs?!?!?!?!? And here i was thinking it was just a handful of jackasses with no friends and nothing better to do.

          • Stemella permalink*
            April 6, 2009 7:51 am

            Yep! Holy shit is right.

            • cometman permalink*
              April 6, 2009 9:13 am

              For more wonderful entertainment, take a look a quixote’s old website. Looks like somebody is wearing out their welcome there fast! The only participants are about to get banned if they can’t stop talking shit. Ha!

              • Stemella permalink*
                April 6, 2009 9:46 am

                That is too riotous! It was like a Laurel and Hardy skit in one of Dante’s rings of hell on some kind of psychotropic substance.

                I think even Quixote would be laughing his ass off on that one.

  2. Stemella permalink*
    April 6, 2009 7:32 am

    That squid with cat picture is awesome!! Glad to see you figured it out. I must say, it is not wise to search octopus pictures with safe search off. There is some seriously twisted shit out there on behalf of the Japanese. I really could have lived my whole life and died without knowing that some people like to have sex with octopi! GAAAAAAAH!

    • cometman permalink*
      April 6, 2009 8:26 am

      While I was searching for that pic of Vampyroteuthis infernalis I ran across The Cephalopod Page. Doesn’t look like it gets updated much but there is lots of interesting stuff there and some good pics too.

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 6, 2009 8:36 am

        Coolio! I added the site to the blogroll. If you want to add any links, go to the “Links” section on the Dashboard page under Site Admin.

  3. cometman permalink*
    April 6, 2009 8:48 am

    Today is quite possibly the best day of the entire year as the Boys of Summer take to the field again. Two hours to the first pitch of the Red Sox game (if it doesn’t get rained out). Go Red Sox! And please nobody tell my wife about the deals I made :)

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 6, 2009 9:08 am

      I will wish the Sox luck on behalf of your deals, but I do not care for Sox, red or white. gasp! We need to recruit some former picklers to talk baseball here.

      • cometman permalink*
        April 6, 2009 9:18 am

        I did notice that we got a lot of visits when I posted a link to the site a second time. Hopefully throwing a few different subjects out there will get a few new people to post.

        • Stemella permalink*
          April 6, 2009 9:26 am

          I found a bigger “kraken” pic and pasted it in for you, so now they are all the same size and of good resolution.

          Agreed about variety being the best spice for blahging. Thanks for posting those links.

    • triv33 permalink
      April 6, 2009 9:53 am

      The Phils lost the home opener and I am bummed! Nice place you have here.

      • cometman permalink*
        April 6, 2009 10:02 am

        Hi triv. Good to see you here. I fell asleep watching that game last night. So they lost huh? No World Series for you this year! More for the Red Sox!

        I fell asleep while waiting to watch my new favorite TV show “Breaking Bad”. Anybody seen that one yet? I highly recommend it. It’s about a high school chem teacher who has a terminal illness. Even with insurance, getting treatment would wipe his family out and he’d probably still die, so he decides to cook meth to raise money for his family so they can be provided for after he’s gone. Really interesting premise with bits of chemistry thrown in too. I taped it so I’m going to watch it tonite right after the Sox opener I’m recording this afternoon.

        • triv33 permalink
          April 6, 2009 10:10 am

          Oh, it was painful! 4-1 Braves. And I HATE the Braves. But, that’s just one game, meaningless in the long run, my friend.
          I didn’t watch the first season of Breaking Bad and now I’m thinking that was a mistake. I will probably catch it up on disc and watch this season. There is so little on worth watching anymore. On the bright side Rescue Me is back Tuesday night and after an uneven season last year it’s supposed to be back with a vengeance. I’m looking forward to Micheal J. Fox’s guest arc, anyway.

          • cometman permalink*
            April 6, 2009 10:22 am

            It’s worth renting Season 1. There’s one part that is just priceless when they find out the hard way not to try and chemically dissolve dead bodies on the top floor of a house without following the directions on the use of the chemicals involved.

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 6, 2009 10:07 am

        Hi Triv! Welcome! Sorry to hear the Phils didn’t do well. I was very impressed by them in the last season and was hoping they’d do well this year. Still plenty of time to work out the kinks.

        As I did with Udg, I’ll make your status contributor and if you ever want to post fp stories let us know and we’ll make you an author.

        • triv33 permalink
          April 6, 2009 10:17 am

          Thank you very much. I appreciate it. I am mostly just a mouthy commenter, but you never know.

  4. Stemella permalink*
    April 6, 2009 11:37 am

    Here’s a disturbing piece:
    FDIC’s Insurance Commitments 34% Higher Than Reported

    With few good borrowers available and with the price of credit being capped by government, naturally creditors have little inclination to lend. Washington’s solution is to “guarantee” all manner of risky investments, to use the public’s balance sheet to absorb trillions of dollars worth of private sector losses. We’re told this will “restore confidence” in borrower balance sheets, leading to increased lending. But this policy is dangerously misguided and may very well lead to economic Armageddon.

    In point of fact, our fractional reserve financial system is just a gigantic Ponzi scheme. It can only survive as long as it expands, which is to say, as long as new debt is flushed through the system to finance old debt. But like all Ponzi schemes, the larger it grows the more unstable it becomes. Eventually, it collapses of its own weight.

    With this in mind, government should be concerned with paying down debt, not expanding it. Deficit-financed bailouts and stimulus only increase the size of the Ponzi. The bigger it grows, the harder it will crash.

    Look at the article to see the graph showing FDIC estimate for insured deposits. Here’s the conclusion – Ponzi all the way.

    Ponzi schemes aren’t “solved” through continued expansion. This delays the day of reckoning, sure. But only at the cost of magnifying losses fantastically. No one would have suggested extending Madoff investors a government guarantee. Why then are we offering guarantees for customers of Chase, Citi, BofA and Wells Fargo, far larger Ponzi financiers all of them?

    The answer, of course, is they are “too big to fail.” Had Madoff been sporting a trillion-dollar balance sheet, you can bet the government would have offered bailout funding to prevent a disorderly collapse.

    But there’s a fine line between too-big-to-fail and too-big-to-rescue. Ask the folks in Iceland, Ireland, and most of Eastern Europe. The Ponzis at work in their financial systems grew so large there is simply no orderly way to unwind them. We risk the same fate here in the U.S. by offering open-ended guarantees to bank customers.

    The fact is, a bank run can be a healthy thing as it discourages investors and depositors from allocating too much cash to unstable institutions. Unfortunately, by removing all discipline that the possibility of failure provides, we have permitted our financial institutions to grow totally unchecked. The just desserts of moral hazard you might say.

    A counter-argument here is that government guarantees have actually prevented capital flight. Without all these new guarantees, the system would have crashed back in October as investors and depositors raced to cash out simultaneously. But the guarantees we’ve extended haven’t prevented that, they’ve merely delayed it.

    The longer the government leaves its various guarantees in place, the more capital will flow to guaranteed investments, much as it did to Fannie and Freddie. The Ponzi will continue to expand until confidence in Uncle Sam’s balance sheet is itself destroyed. At that point, the unwind will be far uglier that if we had paid down the national debt while executing a proper bank recapitalization, i.e. wiping out shareholders and forcing losses onto creditors.

    What was true for Madoff is true for the U.S. financial system: In order to contain collateral damage, it’s best to unwind Ponzis as soon as possible.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 6, 2009 11:57 am

      That can’t be good. Like Black said on the Moyers show, Madoff is a piker compared to the enormity of the systemic scam that’s being run. Here’s some more not surprising but equally bad news – The taxpayer is on the hook for about double the original estimate for the TARP portion of the bailout:

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. congressional budget analysts have raised their estimate of the net cost to taxpayers for the government’s financial rescue program to $356 billion, an increase of $167 billion from earlier estimates.

      The Congressional Budget Office had originally projected the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program would cost taxpayers $189 billion.

      The additional cost, which applies to TARP spending for fiscal years 2009 and 2010, was included in the CBO’s March projection of a $1.8 trillion deficit for fiscal 2009, which ends September 30.

      The TARP cost projection was raised due to changes in financial market conditions, new transactions and a shift in expected timing of payments, the CBO said.

      The Treasury Department announced plans to use some of the money to help avoid home foreclosures and made new deals with Bank of America and American International Group. Those programs involved higher subsidy rates than previously estimated, the report said.

      The Feds are acting just like the CEOs who pay for them – put out some fake stats and ‘revise’ them later. Seems like it’s been quite a while since we’ve had any unemployment stats or corporate quarterly reports from the big financial companies that weren’t rewritten to be worse than original estimates.

  5. cometman permalink*
    April 6, 2009 11:42 am

    New frog found! From ScienceDaily:

    It fits on a fingertip: Noblella pygmaea is a midget frog, the smallest ever found in the Andes and among the smallest amphibians in the world. Only its croaking was to be heard from the leaves on the mossier ground of the “elfin forests” in the highlands of Manu National Park, before German and Peruvian herpetologists discovered the tiny little thing in south-eastern Peru.

    The popular name of the new species is fitting: Noble’s Pygmy Frog has an average length of 11.4 millimeters.

    Nice pic at the link.

    Can’t remember if I already posted this octopus news so here you go:

    Palaeontologists have just identified three new species of fossil octopus discovered in Cretaceous rocks in Lebanon. The five specimens, described in the latest issue of the journal Palaeontology, are 95 million years old but, astonishingly, preserve the octopuses’ eight arms with traces of muscles and those characteristic rows of suckers. Even traces of the ink and internal gills are present in some specimens. ‘

    “These are sensational fossils, extraordinarily well preserved,” says Dirk Fuchs of the Freie University Berlin, lead author of the report. But what surprised the scientists most was how similar the specimens are to modern octopus: “these things are 95 million years old, yet one of the fossils is almost indistinguishable from living species.” This provides important evolutionary information. “The more primitive relatives of octopuses had fleshy fins along their bodies. The new fossils are so well preserved that they show, like living octopus, that they didn’t have these structures.” This pushes back the origins of modern octopus by tens of millions of years, and while this is scientifically significant, perhaps the most remarkable thing about these fossils is that they exist at all.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 6, 2009 11:57 am

      Proof that the octopi are really the progeny of Cthulhu, the ancient one. ;)

      That’s pretty amazing that those fossils of boneless creatures could be so well preserved.

  6. cometman permalink*
    April 6, 2009 11:49 am

    New boss same as the old boss. Obama’s Justice Dept continues to brush Bush misdeeds under the rug of course in a late Friday annoucement hoping nobody will notice:

    President Barack Obama invoked “state secrets” to prevent a court from reviewing the legality of the National Security Agency’s warantless wiretapping program, moving late Friday to have a lawsuit that challenged the program dismissed.

    The move — which holds that information surrounding the massive eavesdropping program should be kept from the public because of its sensitivity — follows an earlier decision in March to block handover of documents relating to the Bush Administration’s decision to spy on a charity. The arguments also mirror the Bush Administration’s efforts to dismiss an earlier suit against AT&T.

    The Friday brief involves a lawsuit filed by the civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is suing the NSA for the wiretapping program. The agency monitored the telephone calls and emails of thousands of people within the United States without a court’s approval in an effort to thwart terrorist attacks.

    The EFF is not happy:

    “President Obama promised the American people a new era of transparency, accountability, and respect for civil liberties,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston in the release. “But with the Obama Justice Department continuing the Bush administration’s cover-up of the National Security Agency’s dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans, and insisting that the much-publicized warrantless wiretapping program is still a ‘secret’ that cannot be reviewed by the courts, it feels like deja vu all over again.”

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 6, 2009 12:01 pm

      the Obama Administration is also protecting other individuals named as defendants in the suit: Vice President Dick Cheney, former Cheney chief of staff David Addington and former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The Friday brief responded to the government agencies being sued; the individual defendants have asked for more time to prepare their response.

      It also stands firmly behind the telecommunications giant AT&T. AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein revealed that the company allowed the agency to install network monitoring hardware to spy on American citizens.

      This stuff makes my blood boil. It also makes me incredibly sad.

      hopey changey brings neither – such a drag

      • cometman permalink*
        April 6, 2009 12:21 pm

        Here’s something encouraging. It looks like the judge who presided over the ted Stevens case is telling Holder “not so fast” regarding the dismissal of the indictment:

        The judge who presided over former Sen. Ted Stevens’ trial last fall issued two orders Sunday indicating he may not be ready to give up jurisdiction of the case even as the government is asking for all charges to be dismissed.

        In the first of the unusual weekend orders, filed at 5:22 p.m. Eastern time in Washington, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan directed federal prosecutors to provide him copies of everything they had gathered in the post-trial reviews and investigations and which they had provided to Stevens’ defense attorneys. He also directed them to provide everything they had uncovered and produced related to the complaint by Anchorage FBI agent Chad Joy into the conduct of the Alaska corruption investigation and the prosecution of Stevens’ case.

        Sullivan also demanded the notes of prosecutors from an April 15, 2008, interview of former Veco Corp. chief executive Bill Allen.

        It was the discovery of those notes two weeks ago by a new prosecution team that led Attorney General Eric Holder to seek dismissal of all charges against Stevens “in the interest of justice.” The notes directly contradicted a key piece of Allen’s testimony six months later at Stevens’ trial and should have been turned over to the defense, Holder said.

        Sullivan directed prosecutors to produce the information no later than 10 a.m. Eastern time today.

        Have to wait and see if anything comes of it I guess.

        • cometman permalink*
          April 7, 2009 12:25 pm

          Well it looks like nothing is going to come of this, at least as far as prosecuting Stevens goes. Now the judge is appointing a special prosecutor to go after the Justice Dept lawyers who botched the case.

          Still not sure exactly what is going on here. Were these prosecutors ones who got their jobs after Rove and the Bushies purged the Justice Dept? That would make some sense – they botched the prosecution so Stevens would get off. If that’s the case then the judge is correct to investigate them. But then Stevens should be retried since it does appear there was some evidence against him. It would be really nice if the corporate media would fill in some details, because as it stands now it sure looks like Stevens is exonerated and comes off looking like a victim here.

          Just more Beltway business as usual I guess.

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