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Crown of Thorn

May 10, 2010

Saw this in my front yard the other day on one of my rose bushes.

The only thing I can think of is that a gust of wind came up which the fly was not prepared for and blew it into the thorn.

Either that, or the little bugger couldn’t figure out what season it is anymore because of the screwed up climate and just said “Fuck it all” as it went headfirst into oblivion.

Anybody ever seen anything like it before?

64 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    May 11, 2010 6:58 am

    I vote for kamikaze fly. Never have seen that before. Either that, or you have a seriously evil rose bush! Nice photography.

    This morning the Energy Committee is meeting to have a little chit chat with the Oil heads

    Executives from BP, Halliburton and Transocean will appear at two Senate hearings today on the effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil leak to the local economies, tourism, as well as wildlife and natural resources. The Senate Energy Cmte. is set to review offshore oil and gas development and then the Senate Environment Cmte. will investigate the environmental impact.

    Available on line at cspan and ready to begin in a few minutes. Code Pink is in attendance.

    Cspan Link

    • cometman permalink*
      May 11, 2010 7:53 am

      I can’t take credit for the photo or at least not that one. I couldn’t figure out how to get my camera to focus but I got someone with a fancier lens to snap those for me.

      Just tuned in to that hearing. Caught the republican from WY saying that if there is a way to make this process safer it needs to be implemented immediately. I’d think the senator would be well aware that there is definitely a way to make the process safer but the oil companies continue to be given exemptions from the safety guidelines. Funny, I don’t remember this republican senator from Wyoming raising a fuss as these exemptions were granted. But I’m sure that has nothing to do with the other republican from Wyoming who was heavily involved with creating secret energy policies for all his cronies in the oil business when he was VP not all that long ago. Fuckers.

    • artemis54 permalink
      May 11, 2010 8:22 am

      Interesting to hear Jefferson Beauregard Foghorn Leghorn Sessions bitching and moaning about how more regulations are needed. Why isn’t there this and why isn’t there that? Probably because you filibustered it, you dubfuck cracker.

      What a collection of turkeys on that committee, Barrasso, Bunning, But ya are Blanche, Murkowski, Sessions, Brownback, McCain. Wonder if McCain will show up to bluster and snort.

  2. Stemella permalink*
    May 11, 2010 7:12 am

    Another bad sign of things to come. Big Brother is getting more popular.

    US university introduces electronic monitoring of student attendance

    • cometman permalink*
      May 11, 2010 8:00 am

      Sigh. I have to agree with the professor who wrote this part:

      Why should the university care whether students attend a lecture or not? By the time a student reaches the university, they should be responsible for their own schedule and actions. Seems to me to be a technological solution to a non-problem.

      Just more surveillance for the sake of it to let people know Big Brother is always watching. had to chuckle a bit at the end when it asks “Could it happen in the UK?”. I was under the impression that the UK already had more surveillance cameras than just about anywhere in the world.

  3. Stemella permalink*
    May 11, 2010 7:28 am

    As usual, McClatchy is providing some of the best coverage of the Oil spill story

    Gee, where have we seen this trend before??
    U.S. agency let oil industry write offshore drilling rules

    and Team <O's tardy response to this obvious problem

    Agency that oversees offshore drilling to be split by Obama administration

    Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to announce this afternoon that the Minerals Management Service will divide its regulatory and revenue collection functions.

    The split addresses one of the main criticisms of the agency in the days following an oil explosion that killed 11 and continues to spew oil from the sea floor into the Gulf of Mexico: that the agency is too cozy with the industry it regulates. Splitting its functions will address that conflict — currently MMS is responsible for regulating offshore drilling, but also for leasing tracts on the outer continental shelf and collecting royalties on the oil and gas they produce.

    One would think it might be a good idea to fire a whole lot of those MMS people.

    Meanwhile, a douchebag from the MMS, Elmer Danenberger, is whining that his people have been getting too much guff. Senator Landreau looked on with deeply furrowed jowls, feeling his pain. I’d throw a shoe at both of them but it might hurt my puter.

    • cometman permalink*
      May 11, 2010 8:07 am

      McClathy provides a lot of the best coverage on just about every story these days.

      So splitting the MMS in two is going to fix the problem? Somehow a hydra metaphor is coming to mind – I don’t think having two corrupt agencies instead of one is the answer. Like you said, how about firing the jackasses currently in charge and making sure the agency is staffed by people who care about the environment rather than industry lobbyists. But the Titanic/deckchair thing is so much easier for the beltway buffoons.

    • artemis54 permalink
      May 11, 2010 8:25 am

      Landrieu is a two dollar whore. She doesn’t even have enough brains to get the big payoff that she deserves for all her labors.

      • cometman permalink*
        May 11, 2010 10:11 am

        She reminds me more and more of Susan Collins. What was that term you used a while back ? – dumber than a bag of George Bushes or something like that :)

  4. artemis54 permalink
    May 11, 2010 8:18 am

    I’ve seen some bug impalements before, but never quite like that, never through the head.

  5. cometman permalink*
    May 11, 2010 8:27 am

    Since we’ve been talking about Elena Kagan and coddling oil producers, here’s one that puts the two together – Kagan helped shield Saudis from 9/11 lawsuits.

    The 9/11 families wanted to sue the Saudis to find out who had financed Al Qaeda.

    But Kagan, acting as President Obama’s Solicitor General, argued that the case should not be heard even if evidence proved that the Saudis helped underwrite al Qaeda, because it would interfere with US foreign policy with the oil-rich nation. She posited “that the princes are immune from petitioners’ claims” because of “the potentially significant foreign relations consequences of subjecting another sovereign state to suit.”

    Somehow I doubt she would have given the same deference to say, Venezuela.

  6. artemis54 permalink
    May 11, 2010 8:38 am

    Brother lives on Choctawhatchee Bay in the FL panhandle. He notes a sudden conversion of nearly all his neighbors from oil boosters to environmentalists.

  7. artemis54 permalink
    May 11, 2010 9:46 am

    What is supposed to be my damn cspan3 channel has preempted as usual to show some committee meeting of the Yakima city council, which seems to hold eight or ten meetings a day.

    This Transocean guy is slimeball and a half. Keeps trying to eat up all the time with a big show of his concern for everyone’s welfare. Lying sack.

    • cometman permalink*
      May 11, 2010 10:17 am

      Keep tuning in and then getting disgusted as nobody is saying much of anything. Just another bunch of rich white guys trying to cover their asses again.

      As this BP debacle continues I keep thinking of the Unreasonable Woman Diane Wilson. Got to see her give a talk a few years ago and she was very good and not the type to take shit from anybody (maybe Alex Morton should team up with her!).

      Anyway I’d been wondering if she’s been heard from since the oil spill and I found this interview. Might be worth a listen.

      • artemis54 permalink
        May 11, 2010 10:45 am

        btw, meant to refer you to this short video of Morton. Comes at it in a much more personal way, including the death of her husband.

  8. cometman permalink*
    May 11, 2010 9:48 am

    Excellent article worth reading in its entirety by Michael Hudson – The People v. the Bankers .

    He discusses how the budget shortfalls and debt crises Greece and so many other countries are facing are a result of not taxing wealth and explains that the oligarchs are demanding payback by forcing austerity on labor. The bankers want their pound of flesh and they are using every means at their disposal to get it. Some snippets:

    Bank lobbyists know that the financial game is over. They are playing for the short run. The financial sector’s aim is to take as much bailout money as it can and run, with large enough annual bonuses to lord it over the rest of society after the Clean Slate finally arrives.


    The Greek crisis shows how far the “European idea” has shifted from 1957 when the six-member European Economic Community (EEC) was formed. At U.S. prodding, Britain and Scandinavia created the rival seven-member European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Even so, the promise of Euroland – at least before Maastricht and Lisbon – was to elevate labor to middle-class prosperity, not to impose IMF-type austerity programs of the sort that devastated Third World countries. The message to indebted economies is stark: “Drop dead.” And they are obediently committing economic suicide (emulating Japan in the 1985 Plaza Accords) to endorse the Washington Consensus – the class war of finance against labor and industry.


    Creditors are to be paid by letting them appropriate the economic surplus, in the form of debt service at the expense of new capital investment, infrastructure spending, public social spending and rising living standards. Economically, the Greek uprising is a revolt against the policy of sacrificing prosperity to pay foreign creditors in this way.

    At the political level the fight is to save Greece from being turned into an anti-state. The classical definition of a “state” or government is the ability to levy taxes and issue money. But Greece has relinquished its fiscal authority to the EU and IMF, which are telling it to violate what political theorists list as the Prime Directive of any government: to act in the long-term national interest. The Greek government is being directed to act on behalf of bank capital, and indeed, that of foreign countries to engage in asset stripping, not to promote long-term growth.

    At issue is whether nations will be run by creditors or by popular aims to reap the benefits of economic growth. An oligarchic push for IMF-EU loans to bail out foreign banks and bond speculators at the expense of Greek labor (the intended taxpayers of the future) aims at making labor rather than finance capital take the loss of government arrears resulting from un-taxing wealth. The aim is to enable foreign banks to avoid having to pay the price for acting as enablers in draining the domestic market. Government policy is to be taken out of the hands of voters and subordinated to the IMF and EU acting as instruments of international finance.

    • artemis54 permalink
      May 11, 2010 10:04 am


      You think it’s easy to transform Europe to third world status? Turns out it is. Of course the US public is thoroughly convinced it’s all a matter of wages being too generous. Houses, labor, forests are all worth what the financial interests decide they are worth today. No other opinion is worth considering. Tomorrow, when they own them,the value may be assessed slightly differently.

      • cometman permalink*
        May 11, 2010 10:39 am

        I thought this little post gave a good insight into the mindset of many of these financial types. It’s just some guy discussing one of his trader acquaintances. The part I put in bold sounds very familiar ;)

        I would like to say he is an outlier, a one of a kind. But he is not. He is typical. He is driven purely and almost solely by personal greed, and he makes no bones about it. Life is a war, and he wants to conquer you.

        But he is not a monster. If you met him you might like him. He’s affable, conservative, a decent conversationalist, and personally well kept and engaging. But he is missing something, like the derivative of a human being. If you talk about the ‘bad guys’ he doesn’t identify with them. He thinks he is ‘us.’ It’s never occurred to him that he is the problem. Because his value system is utterly one dimensional and egocentric. In some ways he is the most intelligent twelve year old I have ever met. But I am sure he considers me a fool and an idealist. And I might agree. But it is not so much who you are, but why. Who or what do you serve?

  9. cometman permalink*
    May 11, 2010 10:02 am

    Good post from Yves Smith on what may have caused the huge stock market downturn last week – An Analysis of the Thursday Meltdown.

    • Stemella permalink*
      May 11, 2010 10:36 am

      Structural weakness and failure and no one minding the craps table. Sounds about right.

      Here are the sum total of words of wisdom on the same subject from Mary dumbshit Schapiro of the SEC

      Schapiro says the markets failed many investors on May 6th.

      I think she may be a second cousin removed from the other airhead of the day, Mary Landrieu.

  10. artemis54 permalink
    May 11, 2010 10:25 am

    Got cyanide?

    Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 looks at how we’ve done with the ballyhooed biodiversity targets launched with the usual fanfare from European bureaucrats and others.

    Eleven goals with twenty-one sub-targets. The assessment for each starts out the same.

    Not achieved

    From Achim Steiner’s introductory remarks:

    The arrogance of humanity is that somehow we imagine we can get by without biodiversity or that it is somehow peripheral: the truth is we need it more than ever on a planet of six billion heading to over nine billion people by 2050.

    Fail, fail, and more fail. I’m sure the CBD meeting in November will fix it all, especially with Japan at the helm.

    • cometman permalink*
      May 11, 2010 10:55 am

      Sigh. Don’t have too much hope for the near future of life on this planet as the latest great die-off continues. The only bright side I see is that life is persistent and human beings won’t be able to kill it all. While it doesn’t concentrate on destruction by humans, this post put things nicely.

      Twenty or thirty years ago we barely understood that such life [microbes living in extreme conditions – cman] existed on this planet. Now we are beginning to see that the longevity of our biosphere owes itself to precisely this crowd of ‘shadowy’ organisms. A truly wonderful paper was published a couple of years ago in which Falkowski, Fenchel and Delong laid out the big picture for life on Earth. In essence, they argue that single-celled microbial life is the manifestation of an even deeper truth; the core planetary gene set. This is the set of recipes for metabolism, or how to harvest a planet for energy, and we all rely on them. The result of billions of years of natural selection, these genes are widely dispersed across the microbial biosphere. This is true to such an extent that should 99% of life be wiped out by an asteroid collision, supervolcano, or dirty telephone receiver, the information for the molecular machinery that drives all organisms will be safely preserved in the surviving 1%. The living world does not end, it just reboots.

      • artemis54 permalink
        May 11, 2010 1:01 pm

        Somehow, that doesn’t exactly make one break into song. In the realm of cold comfort, just a few degrees above absolute Debbie Downer.

  11. Stemella permalink*
    May 11, 2010 10:39 am

    Vitter Fed audit amendment reject by Senate today

    Skating away, skating away on the thin ice of the same old day (apologies to Jethro Tull)

    • cometman permalink*
      May 11, 2010 10:44 am

      So it’ll just be a one-time audit. Great. That should give the Fed ample time to re-cook their books for the time period in question and then they can start the whole process over again in secrecy once the audit is over.

      Maybe this is better than nothing, but not by much.

      • Stemella permalink*
        May 11, 2010 10:58 am

        Ok, that is really weird. When I linked to that story the title said what I’d typed up there, that the amendment had been rejected. Now it says this for the title, the complete opposite.

        Senate OKs Fed audit as part of bank overhaul

        It was a switcheroo. I wish I’d blockquoted the former article, because it was completely different.

        • cometman permalink*
          May 11, 2010 11:54 am

          I was wondering about that when I read it. When I checked it only mentioned the Vitter amendment being killed near the end. I’ve noticed that this happens a lot with breaking stories on larger content providers like Yahoo, Reuters, the AP, etc. Sometimes it seems like a legitimate update (although it would be nice if they at least noted the content has been changed) and other times it looks like a scrub job because the original report got a little to close to the actual truth.

  12. cometman permalink*
    May 11, 2010 12:46 pm

    Chris Floyd has another excellent article up, this time concerning an LA Times story discussing how the CIA’s drone program is targeting unknown people using something called “pattern of life” analysis.

    Here’s Floyd’s piece – The Poetry of Death: Patterns of State Terror.

    These remote-control killings were originally aimed at specific, known, named individuals suspected of being top “militant” leaders. But now, people are being targeted not because of any action they are known or alleged to have taken, but simply because they seem to fit an arbitrarily designated “pattern of life” — even if the remote-control killers don’t know the victim’s name.

    This “pattern” is put together from clumps of data gathered by surveillance robots hovering high in the sky above Pakistani towns and villages, watching people as they go about their ordinary business, and from whatever bits of local gossip the CIA can glean from paid operatives raking through their neighbor’s private lives. Naturally, the CIA refuses to describe “the standards of evidence” by which it decides to kill unknown, defenseless people with missile strikes on houses, compounds and neighborhoods.


    Let’s be clear. A program like this, conducted on such a broad and relentless scale, is in no way aimed solely at eliminating individual “militant leaders” or even “insurgent networks.” It is, quite demonstrably and unarguably, a terrorist campaign, designed to terrorize the target populations into acquiescence with the attacker’s agenda. Again, despite its use of advanced technology and sophisticated Orwellian techniques — Big Brother in the sky, with a bomb — it is no less primitive, morally and politically, than a carload of fireworks and fertilizer left to explode on a city street.

    Here’s the original LA Times story.

    • artemis54 permalink
      May 11, 2010 12:54 pm

      Gossip and experimental computer programs driving policy. Sounds a lot like a certain street in Manhattan, and I ain’t talking 110th St.

      This is the appeal of certain sf. The Terminator series, say. Only a metaphor for what has already happened. Only in real life we didn’t even put up any resistance.

  13. cometman permalink*
    May 11, 2010 12:54 pm

    Astronomers discover a giant hole in space.


    • Stemella permalink*
      May 12, 2010 6:38 am

      Can we please send the wingnuts into that keyhole on a shiny new rocketship? I know it isn’t nice or right to pollute the atmosphere, but it might really help this planet. ;-p

  14. Stemella permalink*
    May 12, 2010 6:34 am

    Oil industry spent big on Senate panel members

    Be sure to check out how much Miss Mary Landrieu the petrolslut has sucked into her coffers.

    Thirty-two of the 40 Democrats and Republicans who sit on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee have collected millions of dollars from BP or other oil and gas interests during election campaigns dating to 1990, public records show.

    BP interests alone — including the oil giant’s political action committee and associated individuals — contributed nearly $320,000 to lawmakers who are now scrutinizing the company’s actions. That works out to $10,000 per senator.

    Lawmakers who count oil and gas interests as major donors collected $5.9 million from the industry as a whole in just the past five years, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. The sum includes $2.4 million in industry donations to Republican John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid.

    The futility of the current government is overwhelming

  15. Stemella permalink*
    May 12, 2010 7:50 am

    Planet Earth the light show. Oil on water with food coloring projected on a screen was the backdrop to the psychedelic 60’s. Now we have the blood of dead Jurassic inhabitants swirling around in the Gulf, much to the same visual effect if you are Major Tom in space

    photos here

    I think there are fractals in there. Nauseating.

    • cometman permalink*
      May 12, 2010 8:07 am

      If I were the headline writer for that website I would definitely not be calling those photos “beautiful”. What the fuck?

  16. cometman permalink*
    May 12, 2010 8:26 am

    Interesting development into how new species form – New Insights Into Genomics of Speciation.

    In the new paper, Feder and his colleagues report experimental and genomic evidence that contrary to the prevailing assumption, speciation in the classic apple maggot fly system Rhagoletis pomonella involves genome-wide differentiation driven by natural selection.

    “Our result in Rhagoletis conflicts with the current thinking about how the genomes of newly forming species could differ during the earliest stages of divergence-with-gene-flow speciation,” Feder said. “Rather than finding just isolated ‘genomic islands’ of genetic divergence, we instead discovered ‘continents’ of divergence encompassing large swaths of the genome.”

  17. Stemella permalink*
    May 12, 2010 8:27 am

    Big Bank Takeover: How Too-Big-To-Fail’s Army of Lobbyists Has Captured Washington

    Throughout the financial reform debate, the finance industry has waged an unprecedented assault on the democratic process, spending an estimated $1.4 million per day to influence Congress and hiring 70 members of Congress and 940 former federal employees to lobby on their behalf.

    The six biggest banks – Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo – account for a disproportionate share of this activity. In the two years since the first federal bailout of a big bank (Bear Stearns), these banks and their principal trade associations have hired over 240 former government insiders as lobbyists and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on an influence game designed to thwart reform, shape bailout programs and maintain their status as “too-big-to-fail” institutions.
    The big banks have employed an unrivaled network of in-house lobbying teams, hired guns, industry associations, front groups and behind-the-scenes influence peddlers with deep connections to Congress and the Obama administration, including the leadership of the House Financial Services Committee, the Senate Banking Committee, the Treasury Department, and key regulatory agencies.

    This 28 page pdf report outlines all the details behind the revolving door. See the rest of the intro section for a summary of the findings. Will this change the practice? Probably not.

    • cometman permalink*
      May 12, 2010 9:14 am

      Probably won’t change anything but it is nice to have all the names of the lobbyists listed. I wish somebody would bring up Chris Dodd’s and his former staffers’ ties to the banking industry the next time the corporate media tries to make it look like Dodd is a champion for reform.

      I got a kick out of this bit:

      Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin became the poster boy for this revolving-door activity, earning $126 million over 10 years at Citigroup without having “operational responsibilities.

      Seems to back up what that woman said in the article about Rubin just wanting to be “cuddled”.

      On a somewhat related note, reading that reminded me about a radio ad I heard recently touting the consumer protection benefits provided by……wait for it……fucking FINRA! That’s right, the same FINRA which was created at the insistence of Bernie Madoff among others, the same FINRA which is staffed by industry insiders and which handed out non-binding “guidelines” and “suggestions” to the financial industry rather than actually regulating it and then looked the other way as the banksters robbed us all blind. Evidently their PR people are working overtime (probably with indirect taxpayer dollars provided by bailed out banks) to polish up their image and fool the rubes. IIRC the ad was aired during a Red Sox game and I doubt the average Sox fan knows who the fuck FINRA is much less if the ad is actually telling the truth or not, which is probably exactly why FINRA chose a baseball game to air their spots.

  18. cometman permalink*
    May 12, 2010 8:51 am

    What the hell is going on in Arizona? Now the governor has signed a bill banning ethnic studies.

    State schools chief Tom Horne, who has pushed the bill for years, said he believes the Tucson school district’s Mexican-American studies program teaches Latino students that they are oppressed by white people.

    Um, Latinos have been oppressed by white people for centuries now dumbass and trying to brush the facts under the rug isn’t going to make it all better.

    My thinking on this has changed a lot since I was in college. At the time I didn’t think much of all the mostly white students protesting for more diversity. The percentage of minority students in the college I went to was much higher than the percentage of minorities in the state the college was in – IIRC there were about 11% minority students in a state with much less than 1% minority population at the time. I couldn’t figure out why the city kids didn’t just go to college where they came from if they wanted more minorities around because from my standpoint I was being introduced to all kinds of people I’d never been around before having grown up in a small rural town with no minorities at all. I couldn’t see why the college should be required to teach so many ethnic studies or women’s studies classes – I thought black history or Asian history should just be taught as part of any world history class.

    But in the ensuing couple of decades it’s become abundantly clear why this is necessary. Taught as part of more eurocentric courses, the study of white guys overwhelms the rest and the history of other ethnic groups gets short shrift and taken out of context. With the resurgence of crazy crackers in the country it’s clear to me now that there are many who would rather the uncomfortable truth never be taught at all.

    • artemis54 permalink
      May 12, 2010 8:55 am

      Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown GlenBeckistan. These are the people who think the first amendment is there to protect the right to praise mom, the flag, and apple pie, nothing else.

  19. artemis54 permalink
    May 12, 2010 9:01 am

    Freelance writer Mark Schrope is cruising the Gulf of Mexico on board the Pelican, trying to understand this oil slick. He’s blogging it at The Great Beyond: Oil spill science: Where’s the oil?. See also “the jellyfish graveyard,” linked at the above.

  20. cometman permalink*
    May 12, 2010 9:37 am

    Humans deliberately fucking with the environment has us all on the brink of catastrophe. So what’s the solution? Deliberately fuck with it some more.

    Billionaire Bill Gates is funding experiments to explore using “artificial” clouds to cool the planet.

    Scientists say the experiments are in the early stages and confined to the lab, but critics say they are laying the groundwork for a trial to whiten clouds in a 10,000-square-kilometre patch of the Pacific.


    The Silver Lining Project would use “cloud” ships to blast tiny droplets of sea water about a kilometre into the atmosphere in a bid to create bright white clouds to reflect sunlight back into space and cool the atmosphere.

    No no no no wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong!!!!!!

    The complexity of the global weather systems and how they interact is far from being understood, definitely not to the point where you could throw up some clouds and expect just the right parts of the world to start cooling down. Maybe if human beings had colonized a few other planets and wanted to experiment on a lifeless uninhabited one to see if it could be made habitable this would be OK. But seeing as this is the only planet we’ve got and we already know that human activity is making it warmer, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to just stop the activities we know to be damaging?

    • artemis54 permalink
      May 12, 2010 9:50 am

      The answer to Fermi’s question about advanced extraterrestrials

      <Where is everybody?

      is maybe becoming clearer. They don’t make it.

      • cometman permalink*
        May 12, 2010 9:58 am

        That has always been one of the possible solutions to the paradox. The way things are going it would at least explain why aliens, if they exist, will never hear of us.

    • artemis54 permalink
      May 12, 2010 9:55 am

      This is what we do. Take the problem of obesity. I’m sorry, but there are a couple simple answers and they involve stopping doing what you’re doing. Eat a little bit of everything, mostly plants, and then stop eating. Go out in the yard and pull some weeds. Walk those few blocks to the store instead of driving.

      But oh no. That wouldn’t support two hundred feet of diet books in every bookstore, quack plans and operations and magic potions, a whole billion dollar industry built on the fact that people just won’t take the proven, effective door number one.

  21. cometman permalink*
    May 12, 2010 9:53 am

    Been thinking a lot about different economic systems over the last few years, particularly about alternative forms of currency to replace the ones we have that are based on faith alone or on shiny metals, which again is just a faith that these are worth something. The one thing that makes everything tick is energy in one form or another – you can’t eat paper money or silver or gold – so my idea was an economic system based on how much energy is required for human beings to live and the currency would be based on the calorie.

    So I was particularly intrigued by this new scifi book which may be of interest to fans of scifi with an environmental twist – The Windup Girl.

    It posits a not too distant future where the economy is based on calories. Saw it at the bookstore yesterday and couldn’t resist picking it up. However the future it presents is a very dystopian one where the big corporations continue to exploit whatever economic system is in place. Only read the first few pages so far but I’m thinking I may need to rework some of my ideas about the calorie based economy.

  22. cometman permalink*
    May 12, 2010 10:14 am

    Pam Martens with more on the stock crash from last week. She smells a rat – The May 6 Stock Crash Revisited .

    Procter & Gamble is in a lot of hands. Because of its historic strong performance and stability, it’s owned by a lot of conservative mutual funds. It would be beneficial to someone wanting to conduct a bear raid on the market on May 6 to knock out all those trailing stop loss orders on Procter & Gamble and pick up a tidy quick profit. (A stop loss order is when one wishes to place a limit on how far down one wants a stock price to go before it is automatically sold. That order stays in place for weeks or months or even years until the stock reaches that price and then is executed on the next tick. Unfortunately, on May 6, the next tick could have been many points below the last tick.) Stop loss orders also serve to slow down plunging stock prices because they cause trades to be printed at each of these various price levels, offering a chance for new buyers to come in at these prices. Once these are knocked off, there’s a big air pocket in a plunging market.


    When a bear raid knocks out these stop loss speed bumps on Dow components like Procter & Gamble and 3M (it lost 21 percent at its worst point), the New York Stock Exchange pauses trading momentarily and trades are left to the feckless electronic exchanges, proprietary trading desks of the bailout boys (big Wall Street firms) and high frequency traders.

    That part in bold seems to contradict this part from the Yves Smith article on the same subject linked to above:

    While the market was well offered, it was not well bid. Liquidity disappeared. For example, in P&G, 200 shares traded at $44.10 at 2:51:04 in the afternoon and one second later, at 2:51:05, three hundred shares traded at $47.08. That’s a three dollar jump in one second. Bids disappeared, spreads blew out, and no one was trading except a handful of orphaned algo orders, stop sell orders, and maybe a few opportunists who had loaded up the order book with low ball bids (“just in case”). High frequency accounts and electronic market makers were, by all accounts, nowhere to be found.

    Martens is saying the huge drop allowed the HFT guys free reign but the Smith piece says the HFT guys disappeared after the drop – the vast majority of the huge trading volume that day came before the drop. Of course it’s highly possible that I’m missing something here. Looks like martens is going to continue her thoughts on this in another article. Stay tuned…

  23. cometman permalink*
    May 12, 2010 11:45 am

    More of your taxpayer dollars at work.

    Battlefield executions in Afghanistan and Obama’s black detention sites.

  24. cometman permalink*
    May 12, 2010 1:15 pm

    Ha! Michael Lewis has some advice for God’s Work.

    No. 5: Be careful not to say or do anything now that will constrain our ability, after this crisis has passed, to do whatever we want.

    The other day, on your emergency conference call with our customers, you said that you wanted Goldman to be seen as a “leader in things like ethics.”

    I couldn’t have put it better myself. If in the future we fail to be a leader in ethics we can point to your statement as evidence that we never intended to be a leader in ethics, merely in “things like ethics.”

    To that end, I intend to compile a list of things like ethics, in which we might strive to be a leader, without risk to our profitability.

    Haha! Plus, he really cuts Warren Buffett and the hagiography surrounding him down to size. Buffett may not be as bad as the rest of them but he’s no saint either. Even with him it’s still all about the money.

    And on a related note, Yves Smith takes apart a Goldman apologist.

    • Stemella permalink*
      May 13, 2010 8:24 am

      More on Buffett. I’ve come to believe he is no different. A squid is a squid is a squid.

      Regarding his $5 billion Goldie Sux investment

      Earlier this week, my colleague James Altucher presented 10 questions that he’d like Buffett to answer, including whether Buffett would make the same decision now on Goldman if he was aware of the headline risk associated with their derivatives structuring. So I decided to put Buffett to the test.

      Buffett was unwavering in his response: “Oh, I’d absolutely do it again. It’s a great investment and a great institution, and we’re collecting $500 million a year on a $5 billion investment…. That’s not a bad deal.”

      Berkshire’s CEO said there has been “misreporting” on the nature of the Abacus deal at the center of the SEC fraud investigation into the bank, according to The Wall Street Journal. Buffett noted the Abacus deal is no different from a standard bond-insurance transaction and shouldn’t reflect poorly on Goldman.

      Buffett seemed unfazed by how the SEC investigation would affect his Goldman investment: “I have no worries about collecting that dividend. I have no worries about our warrants being worth money. So I would do it all over again. No question about it!”

      • cometman permalink*
        May 13, 2010 9:12 am

        Those derivatives may be “financial weapons of mass destruction” to use Buffett’s own words but he isn’t averse to making a profit off them either, even if it’s only indirectly. Buying up beat up stocks when they are low has always been his modus operandi and he took advantage and got Goldman by the short hairs when they were down. But he’s shown that he’s still a predator just like the rest of them and as Lewis mentioned, I’m sure Buffett would have no qualms about fucking Goldman eight ways to Sunday if they don’t cough up his cash.

        When there’s nothing left to steal from the rest of us, the squid start eating each other and right now that’s about all they’ve got left. That’s how this crisis started and it continues unabated. The banksters will collude with each other when necessary but will still swallow each other as soon as they get the chance.

  25. cometman permalink*
    May 12, 2010 1:51 pm

    Morgan Stanley under investigation for shady CDO deals.

    Check out the hubris of these assholes:

    Among the deals that have been scrutinized are two named after U.S. Presidents James Buchanan and Andrew Jackson, a person familiar with the matter said. Morgan Stanley helped design the deals and bet against them but didn’t market them to clients. Traders called them the “Dead Presidents” deals.

    Perhaps Blankfein didn’t get the sarcasm and took Michael Lewis’ advice from the link in the last comment above about blaming everybody else, since later in the article there’s this:

    Mr. Lane said the news is likely good for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. “to see some other companies in the headlines as well so that people understand they’re not the only firm that is being scrutinized in this.”

    Meanwhile, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Company each turned a profit in every single day of trading during the first quarter of this year. And we aren’t talking about nickels and dimes.

    …the quarterly showing was highly unusual. Bank of America said that its trading revenue surpassed $100 million on 26 days, or almost 43 percent of the 61 trading days in the first quarter. It was the first time Bank of America had a perfect quarter since acquiring Merrill Lynch in early 2009.

    JPMorgan said that its trading revenue hit $90 million on 39 days during the first quarter, and exceeded $180 million on nine days, or about 14 percent of the time.


    Goldman Sachs — which is fighting an S.E.C. suit claiming the bank defrauded customers on a complex mortgage investment — posted its first perfect quarter ever. Goldman made at least $100 million on 35 days during the quarter, and at least $25 million on the remaining trading days.

    Citigroup evidently announces the details on an annual basis so no word on exactly how much they raked in per day.

    Ratfuckers, all.

    • Stemella permalink*
      May 13, 2010 8:18 am

      Ratfuckers and vampsquid all, indeed. Last week Zedge reported on JP Morgan’s latest probes,

      Civil And Criminal Probes Launched Against JP Morgan For Silver Market Manipulation

      All of these banksters are in on the take at one level or another, and will “manage” their legal problems the way they manage PR problems, throwing lies and money, other people’s money, at it all until it all goes away, moving right along to the next opportunity to maximize their bonuses.

      The whole fucking country, if not the entire world, is captured and swindled by these thieves.

  26. sisdevore permalink
    May 12, 2010 8:11 pm

    I’m kind of with the “nature is in despair” interpretation. Lemming it.

  27. Stemella permalink*
    May 13, 2010 8:38 am

    Latest from McClatchy on the Big Petrosquid spills

    Criminal charges likely from Gulf oil spill, legal experts say

    BP had wrong diagram to close blowout preventer

    Word of the missing diagram, the failed test and the addition of another experimental option to close the leak came as the Obama administration announced that it had recruited five government and private scientists to add what Energy Secretary Stephen Chu called “intellectual horsepower” to BP’s efforts to contain the oil spill and shut off the well.

    Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar met Wednesday with BP engineers and executives at BP’s Houston headquarters for a round of briefings that began at 6 a.m. At least some of the scientists, who include the director of Energy Department’s Sandia National Labs, were present for the meetings.

    Salazar described the trip as a “manifestation of the president’s focus on dealing with this problem” and said the administration is working toward a “two-pronged goal: to end the current crisis and find ways to prevent future catastrophes.”

    Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics, said he was guardedly optimistic. “I’m feeling more confident than I was a week ago. Things are looking up.” But he also added that “this is a complicated affair” and said he did not want to be seen as offering false hope.

    Today they will see how well the “tophat” works. Guardedly optimistic, eh.

    Chu should be insisting Obama turn this into a Manhattan style mega Project, throwing the best minds and technicians from around the world into an emergency think tank to solve this problem. Get BP the fuck out of there, except for their money. The tedious measured, mostly hands off, so very Obama approach is absolutely the wrong way to go at this. Lead you motherfucking President, lead and do it right!

    • cometman permalink*
      May 13, 2010 9:22 am

      Salazar can go fuck himself. He’s the one that granted BP the waivers to bypass the environmental standards and if he’s looking for ways to find ways to prevent future catastrophes the only place he needs to look is in the goddamned mirror.

      I was reading that first one earlier and was wondering how they could charge BP with much since they didn’t flat out violate any standards because they were given the waivers. Looks like they can get them on somewhat lesser charges:

      But Uhlmann and other experts said it’s likely prosecutors are already poring over evidence from the spill because under the Clean Water and Air Acts and other federal laws aimed at protecting migratory birds, an accidental oil spill of this magnitude could at least result in misdemeanor negligence charges.

      And under the migratory bird regulations, prosecutors have very broad discretion.

      “If it happens, then you can charge it,” said William Carter, a former federal prosecutor of 14 years who headed the environmental crimes section for the Los Angeles U.S. attorney’s office. “There’s no intent required.”

      If Barry had any interest in leading he’d show Salazar the door right now and put someone in there who isn’t so cozy with the industry lobbyists and actually gives a shit about the regulations that already exist. Of course if he was interested in leading he would have sacked Timmeh a long time ago too so I won’t hold my breath on this one either.

      • Stemella permalink*
        May 13, 2010 10:08 am

        I remember as we all lamented as <O selected all these people for his advisers and cabinet. There were very few of them for whom we could cheer. Looking at the results of their work a year plus later, I don’t think we were offbase in our lament.

        Summers, Geithner the Elvin, Rahmbo, Holder, Salazar, Sebelius, etc… maybe now even Napolitano and Chu, who both seemed more promising initially.

        You get what you pay for, I guess. The big corporations have taken our money and paid for these people and they are dancing with them that paid them most.

  28. Stemella permalink*
    May 13, 2010 8:52 am

    Roubini has reverted to charging fees for most analysis available on his site, but ZH has a post up based on a recent interview he did with (barf) Cavuto of Faux.

    Roubini says economy unsustainable

    On Greece being the tip of the iceberg:

    “In my view what is happening in Greece is just the tip of an iceberg. With private debt in many parts of the world, we socialize these private losses. Now with large budget deficits in Europe, in Japan, in the United States. The bond market vigilantes have woken up in Greece, in Portugal, in Spain.

    At some point they’re going to wake up in the U.K., in Japan, in the United States. We’re running a 3.5 budget deficit. It is obviously over time not sustainable.”

    On why there has not been any market discipline:

    “The Fed has near zero rates. There is low growth. There is still deflation. So for a number of reasons, interest rates are still low. That is why there is no market discipline. This is unsustainable. There is going to be market pressure and we will be forced to do the tough adjustments.”

    On how the US fiscal problems will cause high inflation:

    “In a country like the U.S. where you can monetize the budget deficit, run the printing presses, monetizing the fiscal deficit eventually leads to inflation. So we’re not going to have a default in the United States, that is not the option on the table. But we could have high inflation if we don’t fix our fiscal problems.”

    On possible riots in the US:

    “Well, we have a social safety net that means that unemployed people and poor people get some income, so you’re not having so far riots in the streets.”

    • cometman permalink*
      May 13, 2010 9:25 am

      On the possible riots – just wait til Barry and friends get through with “reforming” social security.

  29. cometman permalink*
    May 13, 2010 9:30 am

    Yikes. Things have not calmed down in Thailand.

    A dissident general was shot in the head during an interview with a NYT reporter.

    • Stemella permalink*
      May 13, 2010 10:15 am

      Here’s a good link to stories and other media on Thailand from the Guardian: Thailand I keep this bookmarked and check now and then for updates.

      Now that there is a major martyr, it is going to get nasty again.

  30. cometman permalink*
    May 13, 2010 9:41 am

    One you’ve been a politician for a while it’s evidently difficult to stop whoring yourself out. Despite having amassed a sizable personal fortune, Shillary Clinton still has not paid off her campaign debts. But rather than opening up her wallet to pay all the vendors she’s been stiffing over the last two years, she’s going to raffle off Bubba.

    Which brings to mind the words of Nietzsche posted a couple days ago –

    The time of the most contemptible man is coming, the man who can no longer despise himself.

    He was talking about you, Bubba.

    • Stemella permalink*
      May 13, 2010 10:17 am

      Haha, your love for the Clintons is showing, c-man. ;-D

  31. cometman permalink*
    May 13, 2010 10:21 am

    John Nichols has a very good and evenhanded assessment of Bernie’s ‘Audit the Fed’ amendment here.

  32. Stemella permalink*
    May 13, 2010 10:28 am

    I posted a new open thread for us to fill

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