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Bombs Away

November 19, 2010

It was no cynical creator who forbade us
to water the deserts and feed the hungry mouths.

You stood with a loaf and a bomb in either hand
and kept the loaf and gave the bomb away.

You chose to have more and even drier deserts
and many mouths will not again taste hunger.

-Mustapha Sharif
(As told by John Brunner in “Web of Everywhere”)

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72 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    November 19, 2010 12:40 pm

    Noting that past youtube videos posted in comments are only showing the url and not the actual video although no edits have been made. Any wordpress users have any idea why? Can’t figure out if it’s a glitch or they changed the code you’re supposed to use. Looked at wordpress.com and the directions are the same as they were before as far as I can tell but the videos aren’t showing up. Any help much appreciated.

  2. artemis54 permalink
    November 19, 2010 1:14 pm

    Y2Y droops major report: Moving toward Climate Change Adaptation: The promise of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative for addressing the region’s vulnerability to Climate Disruption

    Among its conclusions: the area is heating faster than expected.

    While it is largely an assessment of current conditions and possibilities – Y2Y was conceived as a project that would take 100 years – I highly recommend reading Appendix I – Solutions on the Ground – first because it is inspiring in its documentation of successes so far: the protection of the pronghorn migration corridor in Wyoming, the huge enlargement of Nahanni National Park, and the world class wildlife overpasses in Banff for example.

    Like everything from Y2Y, the report is gorgeously illustrated.

    (Don’t know about the youtube. Perhaps someone handed over its supervision to the Ben Ber-nank.)

    • cometman permalink*
      November 19, 2010 2:51 pm

      Very nice report. This part from the appendix is particularly important I thought:

      Therefore, a key strategy must be the promotion of federal, state, provincial, aboriginal, and municipal land management policies that reduce fragmentation and enhance connectivity in order to provide an added layer of protection and ensure that development and fragmentation do not encroach up to the boundaries of protected areas.

      I know there have been some efforts in Maine by conservationists to buy up land around already protected areas in order to create buffer zones. Roxanne Quimby of Burt’s Bees fame has been one of the leaders in that effort. The paper companies can make more money by selling of the land to developers and Quimby has been trying to purchase what she can to keep it away from them. Here’s an old article about one of her purchases and some more about her projects from her website. While looking for those links I noticed that Obama appointed her to the board of the National Parks Foundation just last month which seems to have pissed this guy off quite a bit.

  3. cometman permalink*
    November 19, 2010 1:27 pm

    The idea of simply taking your money out of the banks that are fucking you over hasn’t seemed to catch on here. But next month the Europeans are going to try it. Maybe they can manage to get a bit more organized and knock these fuckers down a peg.

    Meanwhile, here are a couple more on the crisis in Ireland.

    Despite their initial protests, the Irish may wind up accepting a bailout – Irish Mourn Loss of Sovereignty as Cowen Scorned Before `German Bailout’.

    Prime Minister Brian Cowen is edging toward accepting a rescue package that may threaten the country’s low-tax policies and put voters on the hook to repay loans the central bank says may be worth “tens of billions” of euros. For critics of Cowen’s Fianna Fail party, which governed Ireland through its decade-long boom, national pride is at stake.

    Cowen has “squandered” independence for a “German bailout with a few shillings of sympathy from the British chancellor,” the Irish Times newspaper said yesterday. The government should be “ashamed that Fianna Fail should be the ones to surrender sovereignty,” said Michael Noonan, finance spokesman for Fine Gael, the largest opposition party.

    In this post, Yves Smith reminds that unlike the Greek crisis which occurred because the government spent far beyond its means (with a lot of help from Goldman Sachs), the irish crisis was caused not by the government but by the private Irish banks.

    What has been remarkable about this whole saga is that these rescues continue to be presented as sovereign bailouts, when in fact the real objective is to keep the European financial system from imploding. A Financial Times editorial described what is really at stake:

    There is something absurd about pressuring Ireland to borrow money from Europe in order to calm markets enough to lower yields for Spain and Portugal, whose refinancing needs are more acute..

    But the most urgent problem is not the solvency of the Irish state; it is the solvency of the Irish banking system….If Irish banks collapse – and if one falls it will not fall alone – it may well trigger bank failures across a continent that remains full of institutions whose earlier stress tests were remarkably stressless…

    Saving the banking system, however, is not the same as bailing out extant institutions; nor should taxpayers give up even more of their blood to the walking dead. Yet this is what Ireland is being asked to do – borrow money from the EFSF to raise the banks’ equity. Doing so would be an insult to the Irish people (whose incomes will be mortgaged to pay the loan back) and a gratuitous one at that: it defies logic to claim that adding to Dublin’s debt will seduce markets back to Irish sovereign bonds.

    • artemis54 permalink
      November 19, 2010 1:48 pm

      Like I said, if there’s anyone that understands the term boycott . . .

      • cometman permalink*
        November 19, 2010 2:07 pm

        Never knew that before! And speaking of ostracism, that would be an excellent solution to a lot of problems. Perhaps once the decent people on the Maldives have been forced to evacuate, we can repopulate the islands with some bankers and economists…

        • artemis54 permalink
          November 19, 2010 3:16 pm

          There’s a pretty good wiki on the subject. Not often emphasized: the boycott of Boycott was also social. The mailman refused to deliver his mail and people refused to say hello to him in the street or acknowledge his existence. Social death as much as economic.

  4. cometman permalink*
    November 19, 2010 1:48 pm

    Saw a bit of self congratulating and back slapping from the pom pom girls yesterday because the new IPO of GM somehow proves the Barry did something right, all based on one day’s IPO price. In a highly manipulated market.

    Zerohedge reminds today that what goes up….. – GM Drops To Day Low $33.11, Threatens To Break Below IPO Price. They mention that large volume from high frequency traders seem to be keeping the price up today.

    Of course those who would trumpet this as a victory for Barry forget that much (I believe the figure is above 50%) of GM’s business these days is in China. And that Barry’s clean up crew forced concessions on US autoworkers, reducing their standards of living. And that Barry’s car czar, Steve Rattner, the guy getting a lot of the credit for the turnaround is currently being sued in NY state for a kickback scheme involving the state’s pension fund.

    The civil fraud claims, which Mr. Rattner fiercely contested, came within moments of news that the financier had settled a related dispute with the S.E.C. In that case, Mr. Rattner accepted a two-year ban from certain Wall Street businesses and, without admitting or denying wrongdoing, agreed to pay a $6.2 million fine.

    Mr. Cuomo, New York’s Democratic governor-elect, is seeking stiffer penalties, including $26 million. While other major figures in the pension investigation had already resolved their cases and Mr. Rattner had been expected to reach a settlement with the S.E.C., the charges from the attorney general’s office amounted to a public showdown between Mr. Cuomo and a man who is not only a prominent figure on Wall Street but also a powerful Democratic fund-raiser.

    Sure there will be plenty of people who “never could have foreseen the problem” if any financial shenanigans the Ratt pulled with GM come to light.

  5. cometman permalink*
    November 19, 2010 1:53 pm

    What is going on with David Stockman!?!?!?! He’s been railing against the corrupt economic system of late and now he’s taking aim at Warren Buffett, justifiably excoriating him for a fairly mendacious op-ed he had placed in the NYT.

    If Warren Buffett wants to tarnish his golden years emitting the gushing drivel that appears in today’s New York Times, he has undoubtedly earned the privilege. But even ex cathedra pronouncements by the Oracle of Omaha are not exempt from the test of factual accuracy. Specifically, his claim that “many of our largest industrial companies, dependent upon commercial paper financing that had disappeared, were weeks away from exhausting their cash resources” is unadulterated urban legend. Nothing remotely close to this ever happened.

    Good for him, as this bullshit line has been going around for well over two years now. Just have to wonder exactly what the motivations are for the father of trickle down.

  6. cometman permalink*
    November 19, 2010 2:19 pm

    This should have some pretty big implications on a lot of things although I can’t claim to understand exactly what – Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle sets limits on Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance”.

    Researchers have uncovered a fundamental link between the two defining properties of quantum physics. Stephanie Wehner of Singapore’s Centre for Quantum Technologies and the National University of Singapore and Jonathan Oppenheim of the United Kingdom’s University of Cambridge published their work today (19 November 2010) in the latest edition of the journal Science. The result is being heralded as a dramatic breakthrough in our basic understanding of quantum mechanics and provides new clues to researchers seeking to understand the foundations of quantum theory.

    Interesting that one of those making the discovery comes from a computer hacking background.

  7. artemis54 permalink
    November 19, 2010 2:46 pm

    New Mexico’s outgoint governor Richardson calls on Obama to create Otero Mesa National Monument. National Monuments can be created either by congress or by the president alone. This would be Obama’s first nm, and given the recent shittification of congress it ain’t gonna happen any other way.

    I wouldn’t bet much Obama acting unless the GOP begs him to.

    Otero Mesa

    • cometman permalink*
      November 22, 2010 8:49 am

      Given the damage caused in the Gulf and the failure to do anything regarding climate change, you’d think Barry would jump on this. However you’re probably right that he won’t.

  8. artemis54 permalink
    November 19, 2010 2:48 pm

    Sigh . . . . .

    Children of the Mines

    What would I know? There must be a reason this is a good thing.

  9. artemis54 permalink
    November 19, 2010 3:52 pm

    Another from the surprisingly entertaining FP: a little fun with ten ridiculous entries on UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage Lists.

    I had never heard of these lists. They are full of fascinating entries as well as the ridiculous. One I’d never heard of is the whistle language of La Gomera. The universally accepted story is that the Canary Islands are named for dogs – Insula Canaria. If so this is just one of those happy coincidences.

    The article notes the human towers of Barcelona. Haven’t found yet Catalonia’s Christmas caganers, but it would be a shame for them to disappear.

    The Obama caganer is said to be a top seller again this year.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 22, 2010 8:57 am

      Funny, I did not see the North American Wife Carrying Championships on that list.

      Had not heard of the caganers before. Kind of like little plastic pooping Hummels! And here I was not knowing what to get some of my bible thumping nativity figure collecting relatives for Xmas…..

      • artemis54 permalink
        November 22, 2010 10:56 am

        I like the Carla Bruni and Queen Liz ones too.

  10. artemis54 permalink
    November 21, 2010 1:57 pm

    Two blocks away: police investigating apparent gunshot death

    Between my front door and there: some empty fields, two churches, and the middle school.

  11. cometman permalink*
    November 22, 2010 9:13 am

    The Irish government caves to the oligarchs.

    Sinn Fein not happy. Pic from their website today –

    This could get interesting.

  12. cometman permalink*
    November 22, 2010 10:02 am

    Seeing lots of uproar from the public, Congresspeople of both parties, and some state governments regarding the new TSA full body scans and yet both Biden and Barry have come out to tell us it’s all for our own good to keep us “safe”.

    Somehow I suspect this has a lot more to do with it than any pretense of “safety” – Body scanner CEO accompanied Obama to India.

    The CEO of one of the two companies licensed to sell full body scanners to the TSA accompanied President Barack Obama to India earlier this month, a clear sign of the deep ties between Washington politicians and the companies pushing to have body scanners installed at all US airports.

    Deepak Chopra, chairman and CEO of OSI Systems and no relation to the New Age spiritualist, was one of a number of CEOs who traveled with the president on his three-day trip to India, which focused primarily on expanding business ties between the US and the emerging Asian power.

    ~snip~

    That a manufacturer of body scanners accompanied the US president on a foreign trip shows the extent of the ties between the industry and the US government. With anger growing at the intrusive news screening procedures, many observers have focused attention on Michael Chertoff, the former Homeland Security secretary whose consultancy, the Chertoff Group, counts OSI as a client.

    The original orders for body scanners were made in 2005, during the Bush administration when Chertoff was still head of Homeland Security. Chertoff stepped up his lobbying for body scanners late last year after the attempted Christmas Day bombing.

    Difficult to follow the money from a look at OSI’s website, but most of their senior executives appear to be of Indian descent. Not sure whether it’s an Indian company or not, but these days who can really tell?

    Looks to me like invading the privacy of hundreds of millions of people has a lot more to do with the politics of dangling carrots and keeping the right contractors (and political contributors) happy than anything to do with safety.

  13. cometman permalink*
    November 22, 2010 10:09 am

    And speaking of carrot dangling, rather than simply telling Israel that aid will be cut off if it continues to flout international law with its illegal settlements, Barry and Shillary have decided to cut a sweet deal on some death machines if Israel will stop its illegal activity for 90 whole days.

    Prediction: Israel will get its planes and continue with the settlements anyway, just like they always have.

    And the US will continue pumping billions to them,because who cares about a little spying among friends?

  14. artemis54 permalink
    November 22, 2010 1:08 pm

    Snow!

    The first of the year. And it hadn’t even frosted until about ten days ago.

    It does something to me. Perhaps because it suppresses the noise? I have the window open so that it can snow in my bedroom.

    Also hides a multitude of sins in the garden.

    “Snow” was the first word I spoke, according to my parents. The second was “Walla Walla” with momma and daddy limping in few months later. Whatever their sins, it’s safe to say they deserved better.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 22, 2010 1:52 pm

      Still waiting for it out here. Just got the first frosts locally in the last few days. Feels like snow but no flakes yet. Looking forward to it this year as the squidlette is old enough to go sledding. Talking about it yesterday with the family and Mrs. Cometman asked my folks where they would take her sledding. They kind of looked at me and said “maybe in the driveway or on a small hill at the farm”.

      They didn’t have the heart to tell her that when I was a kid the driveway was just the end of the trail and the main part went a couple hundred yards through the woods packed with trees which we used to fly down at breakneck speed, going over several jumps we’d constructed along the way, generally without my parents watching. How we never broke our necks, I’ll never know.

      Guess I’ll have to take the kid down that trail when her mom isn’t watching either ;)

      • artemis54 permalink
        November 22, 2010 2:04 pm

        Ours through the sagebrush had only one really bad turn. If you missed it you wound up in the river. Only a couple feet deep at the most that time of year, but still your day was over and your folks would have fits.

  15. cometman permalink*
    November 22, 2010 1:59 pm

    As mentioned before, Paul Krugman has been twisting himself in knots trying to defend Barry’s economic policies in the last couple years, policies which are very similar to the Republican trickle down bullshit Krugman used to tear apart. Michael Hudson tears into Krugman with this one – The Case of the China-Bashing Professor: Why Paul Krugman Waves the Flag for Uncle Sam.

    Looks like Barry’s recent attempt to rewrite the history of FDR’s presidency is finally cluing Krugman in to what’s really going on and allowing him to take his nose out of Barry’s buttcrack. Haven’t agreed with Krugman much lately, but he was right about this

    And here’s this, from Thomas Ferguson: Obama saying

    “We didn’t actually, I think, do what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, which was basically wait for six months until the thing had gotten so bad that it became an easier sell politically because we thought that was irresponsible. We had to act quickly.”

    As Ferguson explains, this is a right-wing smear. What actually happened was that during the interregnum between the 1932 election and the1933 inauguration — which was much longer then, because the inauguration didn’t take place until March — Herbert Hoover tried to rope FDR into maintaining his policies, including rigid adherence to the gold standard and fiscal austerity. FDR declined to be part of this.

    But Obama buys the right-wing smear.

    More and more, it’s becoming clear that progressives who had their hearts set on Obama were engaged in a huge act of self-delusion. Once you got past the soaring rhetoric you noticed, if you actually paid attention to what he said, that he largely accepted the conservative storyline, a view of the world, including a mythological history, that bears little resemblance to the facts.

    And confronted with a situation utterly at odds with that storyline … he stayed with the myth.

  16. artemis54 permalink
    November 22, 2010 3:05 pm

    Global corporatism is set to meet Ireland’s great weapon, its acid tongue.

    A preview, Cowen’s Lament:

    Ireland needs the IMF like Anne Frank needed a drumkit
    Ireland needs the IMF like Gandhi needed a haircut

    Follow the next few weeks at what should be a very busy indymedia Ireland/Saormheain Eireann

    • cometman permalink*
      November 23, 2010 11:57 am

      Encouraging news from your link – a vigil in Cork turns into a spontaneous protest . Doesn’t look like huge numbers of people, but it sounds like a lot of similar protests are in the works.

  17. cometman permalink*
    November 22, 2010 3:56 pm

    Couple points of interest to finish up today –

    Taibbi notes that a whole boatload of banks are being investigated for insider trading. Of course they could indict half of Wall Street for insider trading if they wanted to since that’s just business as usual for a lot of them, so like Taibbi I won’t be holding my breath waiting for any perpwalks.

    And, an interesting perspective from the other side of the pond on many topics we’ve discussed extensively here – economics, global climate change, biotech, etc. Philosopher Slavoj Zizek – Are we living in the end times? Title doesn’t do the talk justice as Zizek is not predicting that the world will end tomorrow, just that we are in a slow decline as we fail to address the systemic problems in all these areas.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 23, 2010 12:03 pm

      Whaddya know? The FBI has raided hedge fund offices as part of the crackdown on insider trading.

      Better late than never I suppose, but going after some of the small fryisn’t much more than a PR exercise and isn’t going to fix anything. If they show up at Blankfein’s office I might actually start to think they were serious.

  18. artemis54 permalink
    November 23, 2010 9:19 am

    Complete your caganer set: Pope, SpongeBob Squarepants among bestsellers.

  19. cometman permalink*
    November 23, 2010 12:08 pm

    Still trying to figure out what’s going on with the youtubes. Checked through the wordpress “help” pages and didn’t come up with anything. Didn’t see any other people even mention there was a problem, although I did see that they had done some upgrade a few days ago and there were some glitches to work out. maybe this is one of them. Suppose it’s possible that I accidentally hit the wrong button in the admin section too.

    Anyway, one more try for now. New Symphony of Science video out and this one has footage of one of my all time favorites Bertrand Russell in it –

  20. artemis54 permalink
    November 23, 2010 12:37 pm

    Re Ireland: The Socialist Party – which is currently not represented in the Dáil, but does hold a Dublin seat in Euro Parliament – is calling for a general strike on Saturday. Of course they also call for a socialist federation of Europe, but given that a huge trade union demo is already set for the day, it could get interesting.

    Note the references to the Uprising of 1798 and to Yeats’ poem on the Easter Rising of 1916.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 23, 2010 1:39 pm

      Lots of very good arguments in that piece. Wish I knew what the real point of all these austerity measures was. It’s definitely more than just a temporary belt tightening but none of the oligarchs are about to admit to that just yet.

      Ostensibly governments are going to slash more jobs to keep deficits down to a dull roar. But it’s being done while unemployment is rampant just about everywhere, adding to the misery. Supposedly all these measures will eventually lead to industry ramping up again creating more jobs and new things to buy. But the thing is the world can already produce more than even its already bloated population actually needs. Sure, because of the capitalist system, goods don’t always end up where they’re most needed – millions starve while restaurants in the US throw away tons of food per day. But I believe everyone could be provided for adequately if there were a will to do so.

      So I don’t think the real plan is to get industry rolling again, build more Wal Marts, McMansions, and more disposable everything. I get the feeling that all this is being done because those at the top know that this system is unsustainable and we’ve already gone past pretty much peak everything. The old ways aren’t coming back and the world is being separated the haves and have nots more than ever before, with the current haves trying to grab everything they can to keep themselves comfortable when the whole thing collapses.

      In the past, countries just inflated their way out of debt – got bills to pay then just print more money. But how do you pull that off when the problem isn’t just with one country here and there, but worldwide? It causes inflation, which we are told is very, very bad. And it can be. But it doesn’t have to be. For people holding debt, inflation can be a very good thing providing wages increase as costs do, because it makes old debts a lot easier to pay off.

      I was thinking about this the other day, and with the caveat that I’m no economist (thankfully), it strikes me that in the current financial situation is really bad not for the average working stiff, but for the oligarchs. The reality is that banks and governments all over the world are insolvent and nobody has the money to pay anybody. So how much money would need to be printed to make all the accounts square again?

      It struck me that the answer may very well be way more than the oligarchs can easily grab for themselves. If the world were awash in recently money, it would be a lot easier for the little guy to pay off their debts and maybe grab some cash for themselves. I’ve mentioned before that the US could have handed every single man,woman, and child, about $35K and that still wouldn’t equal the amount that was given to the bankers but it would have allowed people to pay off their debts and put people back to work. The balance sheets are so fucked that if the governments of the world printed enough money to cover all these debts (which would be a lot like a debt jubilee, but paying off the debts rather than writing them off) people might actually become more equal , and we just can’t have that. Fairly simplistic argument just off the top of my head, but I do think there’s something to it.

      So rather than addressing the systemic problems and creating a more equitable and sustainable system, the oligarchs are channeling Marie Antoinette (who,yes, in reality probably wasn’t nearly as bad as history has portrayed her). Hopefully these ratfuckers will have the same fate as she did.

      • artemis54 permalink
        November 23, 2010 1:47 pm

        Of course it is not a bailout of Ireland, but of Ireland’s creditors. European banks.

        Ireland should just walk away.

        • cometman permalink*
          November 23, 2010 2:43 pm

          Yes they should. I didn’t mean to confuse the issue since their situation is different from some other countries’. I was speaking generally about money, in that it’s just a tool that can be used any way we decide to use it. Unfortunately, there isn’t a hell of a lot of “we” involved in the decision making process.

          Walking away from debts really isn’t that hard. It can make a person feel pretty good actually. I rang up some debts back in my salad days, many of them for household bills that I had put in my name when I had roommates who didn’t bother to pay me their share. Few years ago I got a call from a debt collector which I thought was a wrong number at first. Turns out they were trying to collect on a small unpaid balance on a gas company credit card from 14 years earlier. 14 fucking years. And the gas company, Sunoco or Texaco, had merged years ago and didn’t even exist anymore. Not sure how many times this debt was bought and sold before I got the call. When I realized the situation I had quite a good laugh and told the caller that if they were dumb enough to buy up debt from a company that no longer existed a decade after the fact, sounded like that was their problem now and not mine and they wouldn’t see a dime from me. Told them they were welcome to keep calling and wasting their money and I’d keep laughing if they did. Haven’t heard back from them since.

          Tired of AMEX and the like getting away with usury? Don’t expect Congress to help. Don’t get a credit card or don’t pay back the one you have. AMEX won’t last long. The way I look at it, it’s their problem for giving out unsecured debt in the first place, and it isn’t like they’re lending out their own money. They’re basically just printing it as they go along.

  21. cometman permalink*
    November 23, 2010 2:13 pm

    Some links –

    More brinkmanship on the Korean peninsula –Koreas exchange artillery fire .

    With its most recent purchases, the Fed is now the largest holder of US Treasuries, surpassing both China and Japan.

    Sign of the times – the woman who spoke up to Barry a few months ago, saying she was tired of defending his economic policies, has now lost her job.

    And another sign, this time closer to home. In all the financial mess, one decent sized bank with a national presence I have not heard mentioned is Key Bank. From what I understand they did not get mixed up in all the securitized mortgages and weren’t in bad shape like many of their competitors. But they can still be pricks when it comes to foreclosing.

    Back in September, I was asked to give some unusual advice to a client. This woman, a resident of rural Northwestern Maine, wanted to know if she should buy the two cords of wood that she needed to heat her $48,000 home for the winter. I had previously told her that my bag of legal tricks was empty, and that I could not stop KeyBank from completing a foreclosure of its $28,000 second mortgage on her home. She was having trouble accepting the fact that it would really evict her, since she owed $50,000 on her first mortgage to a local bank, a loan on which she was current in her payments, which meant that KeyBank could recover nothing by foreclosing on its second mortgage. She told me again how, even though she had lost her job in the local paper mill, she had found other, but much lower, employment income and that she was able and willing to make reduced payments on the second mortgage. But KeyBank refused to accept reduced payments.

    So they kicked her out, despite losing a good chunk of change on the deal. Brilliant.

    Side note: yes you can actually buy a house in northern Maine for under $50K. Because there are no jobs left up there now that the paper mills are leaving town, as this woman found out the hard way. Can’t say I’m all that sorry about the paper mills closing in general, but as mentioned before the companies still own the forest land and instead of making paper, they’re selling it off to developers to build luxury resorts. Got to get rid of the peasants to make way for the oligarchs to come vacation.

  22. artemis54 permalink
    November 23, 2010 5:20 pm

    Tigers, non-Celtic

    Maybe a little hope: WWF upfate from the Tiger Summit

    The big players in terms of funding are WWF and the Wildlife Conservation Society, each of whom has committed $50 million over the next ten years. Unlike govt promises, these will actually be kept.

    Leo DiCaprio coughed up a million. Go Leo!

    And prior to the meeting Putin had already banned logging of Korean pine in Russia, long seen as a necessary step by WWF and others.

    International Tiger Conservation Forum

    • cometman permalink*
      November 24, 2010 1:41 pm

      Glanced at another article a few days ago where Putin was mentioning the dwindling tiger population. Any idea whether he’s a big game hunter himself? He does seem like the type. Anyway, good to see that some people are putting there money where their mouth is. As much as these celebrity causes annoy me sometimes, they often seem to get more done than the people and organizations that should be doing more. Sean Penn has probably done more good for Haiti than all the countries combined who pledged aid and brought cholera instead.

      • artemis54 permalink
        November 24, 2010 4:51 pm

        He has gone on research expeditions to shoot tigers with tranquilizer darts. What small success this summit produces is probably ascribable to his promoting it. He certainly did more than most countries. We wound up sending the assistant to the undersecretary of Whatever, and the O admin said nothing about it at all publicly.

  23. cometman permalink*
    November 24, 2010 1:52 pm

    A little backup for my off the cuff ramblings yesterday about the new world order being imposed.

    This article documents how large companies are deliberately creating a new (under)class of workers – Firms See Long-Sought Goal in Sight: Major Pay Cuts Through Two Tiers.

    The recession camouflages a far more insidious and long-lasting corporate strategy: Instead of temporary pay cuts to get through a few tough months, major corporations have something very, very different in mind.

    As NY Times economics reporter and The Disposable American author Louis Uchitelle wrote on Sunday, major firms are on the verge of consolidating a long-sought goal with a two-tier wage system.

    Not exactly news since Barry forced similar concessions on autoworkers as a condition of the bailout, but it’s becoming more widespread. And when you see that large corporations are just sitting on huge amounts of cash as quarterly corporate profits just reached an all-time high, it’s pretty obvious what is going on. We’re going to have an underclass that produces things the oligarchs want and the rest can’t afford. But this working class won’t be as big as in the past as so many jobs become automated and human labor simply isn’t needed. And yet there are no plans I can see for what to do with all the dispossessed, and as we’ve seen many countries are trying to shove more “austerity” down people’s throats.

    Sure looks like “let them eat cake” to me. Either that, or the poor and unemployed can try to make a go by cutting each others hair full time. Not sure what they expect billions of people to do once they get their way. As one of the bundt munchers myself, this is really pissing me off and yet I don’t see nearly enough others angry enough to make any civil disobedience effective.

    If these trends continue, things are going to get really, really ugly.

    On a related note, check out the headline from the Irish Daily Star here.

  24. cometman permalink*
    November 24, 2010 2:20 pm

    Couple of unrelated notes –

    Excellent rundown of the missteps taken by Barry, Salazar, et al during the BP debacle and what should have been done instead – BP’s Inside Game . This part pretty much sums it up –

    Within hours of the explosion, the federal government should have seized control of both the well and the cleanup operations. The only responsibility that should have been left to BP was to sign checks for billions of dollars.

    And some figures from Open Secrets documenting which lawmakers have investments in airport body scanning companies. Doubt will see too much help from John Kerry on this issue as he tops the list with somewhere between $500k and a cool million invested.

  25. cometman permalink*
    November 24, 2010 2:38 pm

    More theories on the early universe.

    Roger Penrose thinks that the Big Bang was just one of many bangs and claims to have evidence to back up his theory from the WMAP data.

    …[Penrose]believes he has a solution – that the universe is just one of many in a cyclical chain, with each Big Bang starting up a new universe in place of the one before.

    ~snip~

    He says he’s found evidence for his ideas in the cosmic microwave background, the microwave radiation that permeates the universe and was thought to have formed 300,000 years after the Big Bang, providing a record of the universe at that far distant time. Penrose and his colleague Vahe Gurzadyan have discovered clear concentric circles within the data, which suggests regions of the radiation have much smaller temperature ranges than elsewhere.

    So what does that mean? Penrose believes these circles are windows into the previous universe, spherical ripples left behind by the gravitational effects of colliding black holes in the previous universe. He also says these circles don’t work well at all in the current inflationary model, which holds all temperature variations in the CMB should be truly random.

    Penrose is pretty well respected, but he does have some ideas off the beaten path, especially regarding human consciousness. One of these days I’m going to have to read The Emperor’s New Mind.

    To me this new theory sounds pretty intuitive. If you think of a black hole visually as sort of a giant sock with matter falling in and stretching the sock downward, at some point the space-time fabric at the bottom of the sock will be stretched to the limit. Since we don’t see the matter spewing back out into this universe, I’ve often wondered whether a black hole “breaking” wouldn’t create a new universe from the “bang” that occurs when it releases all its pent up matter/energy. But we’ve also seen many examples (like quantum mechanics) which show that the universe does not behave intuitively at all.

    Also, experiments at the LHC show that the universe right after the Big bang may have behaved like a superheated liquid, or more accurately a liquid quark-gluon plasma.

    • artemis54 permalink
      November 24, 2010 4:47 pm

      All we need is for anything at all on one side of the bang to influence anything on the other – to break on through to the other side – and voila my beloved Steady State is restored, after a fashion.

  26. sisdevore permalink
    November 24, 2010 5:12 pm

    Delay convicted!

    • cometman permalink*
      November 25, 2010 9:43 am

      Thanks for the notice Miss D! Probably wouldn’t have seen it otherwise with the holiday and all. Didn’t see it yesterday and after seeing your comment I looked at a few different news sites and had to go looking a bit for the story. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t exactly front page news.

  27. artemis54 permalink
    November 25, 2010 3:10 am

    Hey c-man

    Don’t remember if it came up when we were talking about sci-fi classics, but there was a recent reissue of Robert Silverberg’s Dying Inside, so lots of copies floating around. It blew me away at the time. I see at least a few critics feel that it has held up.

    Mary Poppins it ain’t, as you might surmise from the title. I’d wait and read it on a nice spring day, with no nooses handy.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 25, 2010 9:40 am

      Thanks. I’ve got a short story collection of Silverberg’s but I’ve never read any of his novels. Added to the list!

  28. cometman permalink*
    November 25, 2010 9:55 am

    If you have to travel through an airport over the weekend, I suggest bringing along a boombox, turning on some specially selected music while waiting, and going through the scanner line in Slapshot style.

    Make love not war!

    Have a nice turkey day everybody!

  29. artemis54 permalink
    November 25, 2010 2:35 pm

    Putin praises DiCaprio, declares him “a real man.”

    Hadn’t realized that Leo had a hell of a time even getting there, including an engine fire on his original flight.

  30. artemis54 permalink
    November 25, 2010 7:07 pm

    I often try out new recipes on the holidays. Sometimes the result are disastrous, as relative are a little too quick to testify. But today I hit it out of the park.

    Cranberries – cooked for ten minutes or so

    Orange marmalade

    mascarpone

    tiny pinch of salt

    stir it up. Oh man I want to wallow in it.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 26, 2010 8:57 am

      Sounds tasty! My aunt who is a retired home ec teacher has given us some similar recipes that go nice on crackers. One was some jellied jalapeno spread to pour over cream cheese. Unfortunately I don’t have the recipe but it was delicious.

  31. cometman permalink*
    November 26, 2010 1:22 pm

    Saw Greenwald tear into The Nation a couple days ago, and rightly so IMO, for publishing a piece trying to claim that the “don’t touch my junk” guy was some kind of Koch Bros. plant regardless of whether or not he had an actual point – Anatomy of a journalistic smear job.

    Didn’t think too much of it until I saw William Rivers Pitt join the Nation writers in his latest article where he also seems to be claiming that the whole controversy is just more right wing whining.

    What I do know is that the leading voices of outrage over this issue are the likes of Charles Krauthammer of the Post, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, incoming House Transportation Committee chairman John Mica (R-FL), a bunch of rabid right-wing websites which are also leading the “Obama is not a citizen” birther charge, and a “mainstream” media that continues to push messages that auger inexorably toward the claim that the “Tea Party” is right about everything even remotely related to government.

    That is not the kind of company I like to keep, and it gives me great pause about jumping on the TSA-outrage bandwagon.

    He does say he thinks the TSA measures go too far but finishes with this –

    One thing is certain: there are tens of millions of Americans who don’t give a single damn about the issue of TSA screening, because they are broke and unemployed and getting foreclosed on, which means they can’t afford to fly. They have bigger things to worry about. So, I suspect, do we all.

    Actually I don’t have that many more important things to do than attempting to hold on to what few remaining civil liberties we have left. And Pitt should be smart enough to know that if he sees right wingers complaining about this on the TV, it may be because right wingers are always the ones who get to start the arguments on the TV with liberals allowed on only so they can be shouted down and deemed “not serious people”.

    I’m more than a little appalled to see liberals claiming this just isn’t a big deal.

    And for anyone who thinks these new procedures are somehow worth it to protect the safety of people who fly, here’s a reminder that even if your flight has no terrorists on it whatsoever you still take the risk of dying by plummeting miles out of the sky and crashing into a lump of mangled metal and body parts. Don’t want to die in a plane crash, then don’t fly. But stop trying to convince the rest of us that any of this is “for our own good”.

    It isn’t.

    • artemis54 permalink
      November 26, 2010 6:36 pm

      The TSA thing is a complete fustercluck. Shism amongst what passes for loberals these days, fallacious arguments and shortcuts around actual thought on all sides. One of my favorites involves “well, you don’t have to fly.”

      Really? Nor do you “have” to use any particular highway, or drive at all, or travel by train, boat, bicycle, or horse, so what bars those modes from being subject to the same scrutiny?

      If I wanted to bring things to a halt, there are a number of ways to do it. One would be to blow up five or five hundred feet shy of the security check. What would the TSA do then?

      • cometman permalink*
        November 26, 2010 8:13 pm

        Exactly. If somebody really wants to do something, they’re likely going to and just about anywhere in a city of any size there are going to be significant numbers of people gathered in the same place. So do we start patting down people every time they leave the house?

        Picking and choosing various spots to make us “safe” is just ridiculous.

  32. cometman permalink*
    November 26, 2010 1:28 pm

    Couple links –

    Johann Hari on the upcoming Cancun (must be nice to travel to a posh resort town to have a bunch of meetings which will accomplish nothing whatsoever) climate change talks – There won’t be a bailout for the earth.

    Noted because of this new theory/framing attempt which I hadn’t heard before –

    Now there is a radically different theory that is gaining adherents, ominously named the Medea hypothesis. The paleontologist Professor Peter Ward is an expert in the great extinctions that have happened in the earth’s past, and he believes there is a common thread between them. With the exception of the meteor strike that happened 65 million years ago, every extinction was caused by living creatures becoming incredibly successful – and then destroying their own habitats. So, for example, 2.3 billion years ago, plant life spread incredibly rapidly, and as it went it inhaled huge amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This then caused a rapid plunge in temperature that froze the planet and triggered a mass extinction.

    Ward believes nature isn’t a nurturing mother like Gaia. No: it is Medea, the figure from Greek mythology who murdered her own children. In this theory, life doesn’t preserve itself. It serially destroys itself. It is a looping doomsday machine. This theory adds a postscript to Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest. There is survival of the fittest, until the fittest trash their own habitat, and do not survive at all.

    Mike Whitney with more on the Irish sellout to the IMF –Memo to Ireland: Tell the EU and IMF to Shove It!

    • artemis54 permalink
      November 26, 2010 6:30 pm

      Just what we needed about now, a dystopic, malevolent creation myth.

  33. cometman permalink*
    November 27, 2010 8:25 am

    Tony the poodle and Hitchens debte the merits of religion.

    Afterward, they made nice by deciding which brown people to bomb next.

  34. artemis54 permalink
    November 28, 2010 4:10 pm

    Well fuck.

    I returned to writingintheraw – after my last diary was deleted, by the way – and managed to set fire to the place in less than a day.

    • triv33 permalink
      November 28, 2010 4:21 pm

      Fuck is right, well if they want a blog where Mr. Crates and Mr. Tale sit around and talk to each other…

      • artemis54 permalink
        November 28, 2010 6:49 pm

        It will give them another grievance to whine about for a few years.

        http://www.pffugeecamp.com/showComment.do?commentId=16368

        Writing in the Raw Dead on Arrival

        Another DKOS offshoot has shown its true blogmaid colours.

        The weasel Melvin who helped ruin FSZ has wrecked yet another blog.

        I wrote a diary and one post. Those and my account have been deleted. Donkeytale also had a diary deleted but wasn’t banned. Melvin denies deleting donkeytale’s diary but he was the admin on duty when I got zapped. Melvin would have made a “Good German.” . . . . .

        Mr. Tale is still whining about a pic I posted two years ago. Looking around over there I see that several of us are regular subjects of discussion, despite having nothing to do with any of them.

        And I have no idea what he means by “admin on duty”.

        • triv33 permalink
          November 28, 2010 7:01 pm

          That pic! I remember….pffft!

        • cometman permalink*
          November 28, 2010 9:58 pm

          Regarding your last sentence, I doubt he does either.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 28, 2010 9:56 pm

      Heh. Just noticed the latest round. Posted a comment yesterday when I saw the infestation beginning about banning and engagement not working with the implication being that from my experience, mockery and fucking with them seem to do the trick to a better extent, with the added benefit of being much more entertaining.

      You got the mockery going and I see that somebody else just admitted to deleting some of the stupid.

      Well done!

  35. artemis54 permalink
    November 29, 2010 9:35 am

    Your daily dose of crazy: TSA clusterfuck meets homophobe hysteria.

    Should Gay TSA Agents Be Barred from Giving ‘Same-gender Pat-downs’?

    •Perhaps some common-sense, healthy “discrimination” is in order: the TSA should put conditions on employment for self-acknowledged homosexuals – that they not be assigned to pat down travelers so as to avoid being put in sexually compromising situations;

    •It would not be workable to assign, say, gay male TSA agents to pat down female travelers – as the latter – thinking the agents to be normal men – would protest that they are being patted down by males. Chaos would ensue;

    •Does the TSA know which of its employees are homosexual, anyway, and how? If not, is it fair to travelers who may end up getting ‘groped’ by homosexual TSA agents who are secretly getting turned on through the process?

    . . . . . . .

    To allow homosexual agents to conduct same-gender pat-downs is tantamount to a new form of discrimination that must be recognized and prevented.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 29, 2010 10:07 am

      Guess they”ll need to start up another security agency to screen the screeners for the gay. Problem solved!

  36. artemis54 permalink
    November 29, 2010 1:08 pm

    One Iranian nuclear scientist killed, another injured in separate assassination attempts today

    • cometman permalink*
      November 29, 2010 1:22 pm

      Saw that elsewhere today but I’ve been …. distracted ….. :)

      Interesting to read in light of this talk at Bennington College from a couple years ago, specifically this part about what lies ahead in Iran-

      I obviously do not have access to all of the data available to intelligence community, but I have learned in my foreign affairs experience that to understand any other country’s policies one must put himself, as it were, on the other side of the table, in the chair occupied by its leader. So what would I do if I were Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or President Mahmoud Ahmad-i Naiad? I would see that President Bush singled out three countries which he called “the Axis of Evil.” Then he threatened them with “regime change.” The Iranian leader would know that regime change is a euphemism for overthrowing their governments and killing their leaders. So what did America do? Iraq, which did not have nuclear weapons, was destroyed while North Korea, which did have nuclear weapons and so could not be safely attacked, was offered an aid program, money and food supplies. That leaves Iran. What would a rational, patriotic, practical Iranian leader do? No doubt he would try to acquire this ultimate defense tool as quickly and as secretly as he could. Even blowing up all the identified nuclear-related sites and killing all the nuclear-related technicians will simply delay the process and guarantee that Iran will eventually get the bomb.

  37. artemis54 permalink
    November 29, 2010 1:31 pm

    Jesus H. While c-man, triv, masslass all come in for abuse, I am suddenly a very important person over at the lair:

    A guy like Melvin is the typical tough guy hiding behind his computer. I think the FBI should keep an eye on him. He sounds most likely to become the next domestic terrorist grown out of the internet.

    Is melvin female?

    Melvin is an FSZ crone

    a fifth column troll, just like Melvin

    melvin could very well be some form of fifth column astroturfer. If not, he’s still an asswipe, the lowest of the low.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 29, 2010 1:49 pm

      Heh. The wind up monkeys are really jumping today!

  38. cometman permalink*
    November 29, 2010 1:59 pm

    More on the Irish mess. Evidently part of the austerity involves robbing the nation’s pension funds.

    The terms of the EU/IMF’s €85 billion ($113 billion) bailout for Ireland are much worse than analysts had anticipated. Ireland will be required to use its National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) to shore up its insolvent banks and to maintain government operations. At the same time, senior debt-holders will not share any of the losses brought on by the banks reckless lending.

    The solution –

    It’s Ireland that should be making the demands, not the IMF or the EU. After all, the government currently owes the European Central Bank more than €130 billion. If the ECB wants to get its money back, it should be flexible about the conditions. Otherwise, Ireland can simply cut off negotiations and let the ECB hire a collection agency. See what good it does them.

    Fuck ’em up Irish protesters. Because if this shit flies over there, it’s coming over here soon.

  39. artemis54 permalink
    November 29, 2010 4:16 pm

    A new study finds that chiildhood exposure to antibacterial soaps – specifically the triclosan in most of them – makes for sicker adults. Study Shows Over-Cleanliness Negatively Affects Immune System

    Keep your kids away from that crap!

    • triv33 permalink
      November 30, 2010 7:31 am

      I always suspected that George Carlin was right about this…we don’t have any of that crap in the house.

  40. artemis54 permalink
    November 30, 2010 11:37 am

    Okay this is a little too bizarre. Canaries in the coal mine: a cross-species analysis of the plurality of obesity epidemics

    Basically, the authors find an epidemic of obesity in animal populations that are anywhere humans. Not just pets, but lab and zoo animals as well as feral animals living in close proximity to humans (rats, feral cats, etc).

    They speculate on unkown possible causes, including endocirne disruptors we splash all over the place, some unknown disease, etc.

    I don’t know.

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