12 Hours

This entry was posted by Bif.

118 thoughts on “12 Hours

  1. Well let’s see, the Hungarians and now the Irish have handed over their pension funds to bail out private bank debt. France is in the on-deck circle. Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting Social Security funds.

    Oh wait. What? It’s full of nothing but I.O.U.’s you say? Then you should probably look after your 401k et al. Is that a red dot I see on your retirement account?

    Some luck, eh?

    http://www.oftwominds.com/blognov10/Ireland-default11-10.html

  2. “It is still unclear how the political forces will coalesce to force changes in government policies. Moody’s, the Chinese monetary authority, the German finance minister, and the Tea Party are not going to rent a hotel ballroom and plan a joint strategy. But there is now a critical mass of opposition to Keynesian monetary stimulus and quantitative easing, sufficient to convince the market that the wind has shifted.”

    http://blog.atimes.net/?p=1621

  3. I am guessing one would not need to travel to Denmark…

    “This last week, in a lawsuit over an AIPAC, (Israel’s lobby) employee reputedly fired for being caught spying against the US, news stories across the United States reported that, as part of that $20 million civil case, evidence will be presented that masses of classified material come to AIPAC and Israel continually. Is AIPAC Wikileaks? The only evidence of any massive leak discovered in the Pentagon is AIPAC. ”

    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/11/gordon-duff-wikileaks-a-touch-of-assange-and-the-stench-of-aipac/

  4. Do you think institutions could shatter to this degree in such a short period as 12 hours? I think its possible, but… thus far I have to say I’m impressed with the general overall resilience of institutions, and the tenacious holding of our fake shit together by sheer will and determination. However it is perhaps this uncanny ability to maintain a thousand bogus memes with a straight face all the way until every last bit of chewing gum and string is gone, that at some point in time results in a massive catastrophic fatigue failure where all systems everywhere break together and all at once, and you can actually hear the sound of it breaking. At that moment the whole world lets out a great groaning wail of both despair and overdue relief, followed maybe by a period of quiet and stillness, then then the yelling and screaming starts, upon which animals look up and tilt their ears, then scamper into the woodlots. And that night there’s an unusually beautiful sunset and faint smell of burning rubber. Err… something like that.

  5. I owe, I owe, so it’s off to work I go, ta ta ta ta, de de de de, I owe, I owe I owe I oooooooowe…..

  6. Bif, when dealing with human and mob behavior, almost anything is possible. Is hyperinflation an economic or political event? Is it because of quantity of QEx or is it simply because QEx is?

    But, Ben has already started purchasing US debt (POMO), and in fact has more US debt now than China does. And China is not without it’s own significant economic worries.

    The US is in horrible financial condition, yet war, vote pandering entitlements, earmarks and corruption continue unabated. Getting out from underneath this debt will be excruciatingly painful.

    The clip pressed a lot of buttons (FUD) J6P is familiar with. If you’re just reacting to what is going on in the world today, you’re too late.

  7. EE, I’ll do the Dam Beaver post in December already. Damn, girl… that’s some memory like an elephant you’re sporting.

    Speaking of things irrefutably elephantine, I have massive yet somehow wikileak-proof plans for a forthcoming series of posts featuring classic articles from print media with accompanying commentary and/or multimedia (or something like that)… so make sure you mail or email those articles and other clippings to me already! I have my own stash too, you know… but let’s be honest, you definitely need to transfer custody of, or at least loan to me, your personal archive.

  8. Bif,

    If you are in Cancun right now (but are too embarrassed to admit it), I swear to bunn I’ll teach GB how to use a credit card. He (GB) of self-professed Salsa dancing and Ludditic proclivities, in turn, will drop all heirloom seed cataloging and such to, per my precisely programmed tutelage, utilize said plastic to commission (that is to say, fund air passage and the purchase of assassins’ tools for) Remus and a hand-picked posse of incorruptibles from the latter’s unspeakable Red State of Present Domicile to personally deliver the message that America contrary to popular fantasy just isn’t going to be able to print money fast enough to pay for clean energy technology for every monkey in the world for free! Sorry.

    ~BB

  9. Wow! That zerohedge place is almost like a real blog (like traveling back in time to 2006 or 2007)… where the regulars all believe (or hopes at least) that they really have some cutting edge revelation to share.

    All this jibberjabbering about moving out of America. Ummm… As the great Morrissey once said, “Things are hard enough when you belong here.”

    p.s. — Bif, sorry to have left you alone with the generally thankless task of putting up new posts now and again, but I’m seriously engaged in an overly extended process of ordinary reality reassessment and effecting a merger of sorts with my personal technology… to emerge reborn and/or better, or at least less enslaved by the antiquated (I can only hope.)

  10. yeah, move out of america? my own policy is closer to: if it’s more than 20 minutes drive time from my house, i don’t go there; something along those lines.

  11. Too bad Joe LIEberman wasn’t working for the republicans back in 1973, he coulda saved Nixon a lot of trouble over those pesky Watergate break-ins.

    “I wish that Amazon had taken this action earlier based on WikiLeaks’ previous publication of classified material,” Lieberman said in a written statement. “The company’s decision to cut off WikiLeaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies WikiLeaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/12/01/wikileaks.amazon/index.html?hpt=T2

  12. Bot-generated personal:

    Dear JR, please come back to your blog. Quit lurking and start writing, dude. You are missed here.

    Sincerely,
    The Zulu Kilo Players

  13. joe lieberman, he’s one of the reasons i turned away from politics. any politic that could elect such an obvious self serving scumbag, is not one that i would want to participate in. not that there’s anyway i would participate no matter what, for lots of reasons, of course.

  14. “Damn, girl… that’s some memory like an elephant you’re sporting.”

    LOL, Bunn… I was just checking to see if you were paying attention.

    Will send you my promised collection shortly!

    XXOO, EE

    Iran Hangs Soccer Star’s Mistress for Murder
    Updated: 1 day 3 hours ago

    AOL News
    (Dec. 1) — Iran executed by hanging the mistress of one of its most famous soccer stars today, after she was convicted of murdering the man’s wife eight years ago.

    Shahla Jahed, 40, went to the gallows at 5 a.m. at Tehran’s Evin Prison, where she had spent the past eight years behind bars. Her hanging went ahead after the victim’s family refused to agree to any delay to resolve legal challenges, state-run Press TV reported.

    The murdered woman’s son was the one who pulled a chair out from under Jahed’s feet, leaving her gasping for air in her last moments of life, Britain’s Press Association reported. Moments earlier, Jahed mumbled a Muslim prayer and then burst into tears, pleading for her life to be spared.

    At first, Jahed confessed to stabbing soccer star Nasser Mohammad Khani’s wife, Laleh Saharkhizan, in 2002. The couple was separated at the time, and Khani was living with Jahed under a sigheh, or temporary marriage, which is allowed under Iran’s official form of Shiite Islam.
    Iran Hangs Soccer Player’s Mistress
    AFP / Getty Images
    Shahla Jahed, the mistress of Iranian football star Nasser Mohammad Khani, had admitted to killing Khani’s wife in 2002 but later retracted her confession.

    But she later retracted the confession during her public trial, saying it had been extracted in prison and under duress. Khani also fell under initial suspicion as well, that he may have helped to plot his wife’s murder or encouraged Jahed to kill her. He spent several months in prison but was cleared after authorities announced that Jahed had confessed to the murder.

    Khani was Iran’s top soccer star in the 1980s and later became a coach for Tehran’s Persepolis club. He’s one of the country’s most beloved sports icons. Despite initial allegations that Khani may have been partly to blame for his wife’s killing, many Iranians blamed Jahed instead.

    Khani joined Saharkhizan’s relatives inside the prison execution chamber today to witness Jahed’s hanging, The Guardian quoted other state media as saying.

    Today’s execution caps a legal battle by Jahed and her lawyers, who’d lobbied for a delay in her execution and a new trial. Her case, mixing lovers’ jealousy, fame and one of the country’s most revered sports stars, captured the curiosity of millions of Iranians over the years.

    Jahed’s hanging is also a defeat for human rights activists lobbying for Iran to halt the executions of several women on death row. After an international campaign, the death sentence of another woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, was suspended. Ashtiani was originally sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery, and while that punishment has been suspended for now, she could still face hanging.

    Sponsored Links
    Amnesty International had called for a delay in Jahed’s execution, saying she was denied a fair trial. The group’s Middle East and North Africa director, Malcolm Smart, told the BBC there were “strong grounds to believe that Shahla Jahed did not receive a fair trial, and may have been coerced into making a ‘confession’ during months of detention in solitary confinement.”

    “She retracted that confession at her trial, but the court chose to accept it as evidence against her,” he said.

    A 2005 documentary about Jahed’s case and her affair with the soccer star, “Red Card,” was banned inside Iran, according to the Guardian.

    Jahed’s death marks Iran’s 146th execution so far this year, according to an AFP count based on media reports. At least 270 people were executed in 2009. Murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery are all punishable by death in Iran.

  15. Part I of two parts:

    The Rational Optimist

    Bill Gates

    The science writer Matt Ridley made his reputation with books like “The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature” and “Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters.” His latest book, “The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves” is much broader, as its title suggests. Its subject is the history of humanity, focusing on why our species has succeeded and how we should think about the future.

    Although I strongly disagree with what Mr. Ridley says in these pages about some of the critical issues facing the world today, his wider narrative is based on two ideas that are very important and powerful.

    The first is that the key to rising prosperity over the course of human history has been the exchange of goods. This may not seem like a very original point, but Mr. Ridley takes the concept much further than previous writers. He argues that our success as a species, as opposed to earlier hominids, resulted from innate characteristics that allowed us to trade. Not long after Homo sapiens emerged, we were using rare objects, like obsidian blades, far away from the source materials needed to produce them. This suggests that large numbers of commercial links were established even at the hunter-gatherer stage of our development.

    Mr. Ridley gives many examples of how exchange allowed groups to thrive, by enabling them, for example, to acquire fish hooks or sewing needles. He also points out that even the most primitive human groups today are open to exchange. I’ve always thought this openness was surprising, considering the risks involved, but Mr. Ridley convincingly describes its adaptive value.

    Exchange has improved the human condition through the movement not only of goods but also of ideas. Unsurprisingly, given his background in genetics, Mr. Ridley compares this intermingling of ideas with the intermingling of genes in reproduction. In both cases, he sees the process as leading, ultimately, to the selection and development of the best offspring.

    The second key idea in the book is, of course, “rational optimism.” As Mr. Ridley shows, there have been constant predictions of a bleak future throughout human history, but they haven’t come true. Our lives have improved dramatically—in terms of lifespan, nutrition, literacy, wealth and other measures—and he believes that the trend will continue. Too often this overwhelming success has been ignored in favor of dire predictions about threats like overpopulation or cancer, and Mr. Ridley deserves credit for confronting this pessimistic outlook.

    Having shown that many past fears were ultimately unjustified, Mr. Ridley finally turns his “rational optimism” to two current problems whose seriousness, in his view, is greatly overblown: development in Africa and climate change. Here, in discussing complex matters where his expertise is not very deep, he gets into trouble.

    Mr. Ridley spends 14 pages saying that everything will be just fine in Africa without our worrying about negative possibilities. This is unfortunate and misguided. Is his optimism justified because things always just happen to work out? Or do good results depend partly on our caring and taking action to prevent and solve problems? These are important questions, and he doesn’t answer them.

    In discussing Africa, Mr. Ridley relies on critics who say, essentially, “Aid doesn’t work, hasn’t worked and won’t work.” He cites studies, for instance, that show a lack of short-term economic benefit from aid, but he ignores the fact that health improvements, driven by aid, have been a major factor in slowing population growth, which has proven, in turn, to be critical to long-term economic growth. I may be biased toward aid because I spend my money on it and meet with lots of people who are alive because of it, but even if that were not the case, I would not be persuaded by such incomplete analysis.

    Development in Africa is difficult to achieve, but I am optimistic that it will accelerate. Science will come up with vaccines for AIDS and malaria, and the “top-down” approach to aid criticized by Mr. Ridley (and by the economist William Easterly) will fund the delivery of these life-saving drugs. What Mr. Ridley fails to see is that worrying about the worst case—being pessimistic, to a degree—can actually help to drive a solution.

    Mr. Ridley dismisses concern about climate change as another instance of unfounded pessimism. His discussion in this chapter is provocative, but he fails to prove that we shouldn’t invest in reducing greenhouse gases. I asked Ken Caldeira, a scientist who studies global ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science, to look over this part of the book. He pointed out that Mr. Ridley celebrates declining air-pollution emissions in the U.S. but does not acknowledge that this has come about because of government regulations based on publicly funded science, which Mr. Ridley opposes. As Mr. Caldeira rightly observes, “It is a wonder of development that our economy can grow as air pollution diminishes.” What is true of the U.S. case, I’d suggest, can be true of the world as a whole as we deal with the challenges posed by climate change.

    “The Rational Optimist” would be a great book if Mr. Ridley had wrapped things up before these hokey policy discussions and his venting against those he considers to be pessimists. I agree with him that some people are overly concerned with potential problems, and I hadn’t realized that this pessimism was so common in rich countries over the last several centuries. As John Stuart Mill said in 1828, in a quote from the book that I especially enjoyed: “I have observed that not the man who hopes when others despair, but the man who despairs when others hope, is admired by a large class of persons as a sage.”

    The most obvious instance of excessive pessimism in Mill’s era was the “Communist Manifesto.” In one of history’s great ironies, Karl Marx used the profits from the German textile mills of Friedrich Engels’s father to support the writing and distribution of a political philosophy based on pessimism about capitalism.

    Pessimism is often wrong because people assume a world where there is no change or innovation. They simply extrapolate from what is going on today, failing to recognize the new developments and insights that might alter current trends. For too long, for instance, population forecasts have ignored the possibility that population growth would ease as the world became better off, because people who are wealthier and healthier do not feel the need to have so many children. (For more on this issue, see the excellent presentations on the “Gapminder” website of the development expert Hans Rosling.)

    A lot of the rhetoric about sustainability implicitly assumes that we will exhaust our natural resources, as though there will never be any substitution of one commodity for another in the future. But there has always been such substitution. The late economist Julian Simon made a famous wager with the biologist Paul Ehrlich, author of “The Population Bomb.” In response to Mr. Ehrlich’s prediction that population growth would lead to resource scarcity and mass starvation, Simon bet him that the cost of a basket of commodities, including copper, chromium and nickel, would actually decrease between 1980 and 1990. Mr. Simon won the bet because he believed that, despite increased demand, increased supply would win out. And in fact, to take one example, fiber optics soon took the place of copper wire in many communications technologies.

    There are other potential problems in the future that Mr. Ridley could have addressed but did not. Some would put super-intelligent computers on that list. My own list would include large-scale bioterrorism or a pandemic. (Mr. Ridley briefly dismisses the pandemic threat, citing last year’s false alarm over the H1N1 virus.) But bioterrorism and pandemics are the only threats I can foresee that could kill over a billion people. (Natural catastrophes might seem like good candidates for concern, but I’ve been persuaded by Vaclav Smil, in “Global Catastrophes and Trends,” that the odds are very low of a large meteor strike or a massive volcanic eruption at Yellowstone.)

    Even though we can’t compute the odds for threats like bioterrorism or a pandemic, it’s important to have the right people worrying about them and taking steps to minimize their likelihood and potential impact. On these issues, I am not impressed right now with the work being done by the U.S. and other governments.

    The key question that Mr. Ridley fails to address is: What’s wrong with worrying about and guarding against threats that might become real, large problems? Parents worry a great deal about their children’s safety. Some of that worry leads to constructive steps to keep children safe, and some is just negative emotion that doesn’t help anyone. If we all agree to join Mr. Ridley as rational optimists, does that mean that we should stop worrying about trends that might cause problems and not take action to anticipate them?

    Mr. Ridley devotes his attention to just two present-day problems, development in Africa and climate change, and seems to conclude, “Don’t worry, be happy.” My prescription would be, “Worry about fewer things while understanding the lessons of the past, including lessons about the importance of innovation.” This might qualify me as a rational optimist, depending on how stringent the criteria are. But there can be no doubt that excessive pessimism may cause problems with how society plans for the future. Mr. Ridley’s book should trigger in-depth discussions on this important subject.

    Like many other authors who write about innovation, Mr. Ridley suggests that all innovation comes from new companies, with no contribution from established companies. As you might expect, I disagree with this view. He also seems to think that innovation involves simply coming up with a new idea, when in fact the execution of the idea is critical. He quotes the early venture capitalist Georges Doriot as saying that as soon as a company succeeds, it stops innovating. A great counterexample is Intel, which developed over 99% of its breakthroughs after its first success.

    Mr. Ridley describes the economy of the future as “post-corporatist and post-capitalist,” a silly throwaway phrase. He never explains what will replace all the companies that figure out how to make microchips or fertilizer or engines or drugs. Of course, many companies will come and go—that is a key element of capitalism—but corporations will continue to drive most innovation. It is a dangerous and widespread problem to underestimate the ongoing innovation that takes place within mature corporations.

    In his quest to highlight exchange as the key mechanism in the success of our species, Mr. Ridley underplays the role of other institutions, including education, government, patents and science, all of which, especially since the 19th century, have played a central role in the improvements that humanity has experienced. Too often, when Mr. Ridley finds an example that minimizes the contributions of these institutions, he seems to think that he has validated the idea that exchange deserves all of the credit.

    I am always amazed by scientific possibilities. Electricity, steel, microprocessors, vaccines and other products are possible only because of our efforts to understand the world and how it works. The scientists and tinkerers who investigate these mechanisms are engaged in a profound process of discovery. Without their curiosity and creativity, no amount of exchange would have produced the world in which we now live.

    —Bill Gates is co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and serves as chairman of Microsoft.

  16. Part II:

    Africa Needs Aid, Not Flawed Theories

    By Matt Ridley

    Bill Gates likes my book “The Rational Optimist.” Really, he does. Even though he dislikes my points about Africa and climate change, these take up, as he notes, just one chapter. The rest he summarizes fairly and intelligently, and I appreciate that. It’s great for an author when anybody reviews a book “well” in both senses of the word.

    It is worth explaining why I chose Africa and climate change as the “two great pessimisms of today.” The answer is simple: Whenever I speak about optimism and someone in the audience protests, “But surely you cannot think that we can ever solve…” the subjects that most frequently cross their lips next are African poverty and global warming. Mr. Gates also mentions potential threats from super-intelligent computers and pandemics. Maybe he is right to worry about them, but I have yet to be persuaded that either is more than a small risk.

    Mr. Gates dislikes my comments on climate change, which I think will be less damaging than official forecasts predict, while the policies designed to combat climate change will be more damaging than their supporters recognize. I argue that if we rush into low-carbon technologies too soon, because we think the problem is more urgent than it is, we risk doing real harm to ecosystems as well as human living standards—as the biofuel fiasco all too graphically illustrates. The rush to turn American corn into ethanol instead of food has contributed to spikes in world food prices and real hunger, while the rush to grow biodiesel for Europe has encouraged the destruction of orangutan habitat in Borneo.

    I also argue, however, that it is highly unlikely, given the rate at which human technology changes, that we will fail to solve the problem of man-made climate change even if it does prove more severe than I expect. For example, the world is on a surprisingly steady trajectory toward decarbonization. The number of carbon atoms we burn per unit of energy we generate is falling as we gradually switch from carbon-rich fuels like wood and coal to hydrogen-rich fuels like oil and especially gas. At current rates, we would be burning almost no carbon by about 2070, though I suspect that point will never actually be reached.

    The question that I pose in the book is whether optimism is likely to be right. In essence, neither Mr. Gates nor I think that the problem of man-made climate change is going to prove insoluble or fatal to civilization. We disagree only on how urgent it is to devote massive expenditures to dealing with it, which would put poverty reduction at risk. I think that direct spending to alleviate malaria, which now kills a million people a year and whose incidence is likely to increase as a result of global warming by less than 0.03% per year, is a far higher priority. So does Mr. Gates, judging by his foundation’s spending.

    It is on Africa that Mr. Gates throws his sharpest barbs. Yet, once again, I think that we agree on the most important point, namely, that Africa can have a good future. “Development in Africa is difficult to achieve,” he writes, “but I am optimistic that it will accelerate.”

    Yes! I don’t believe that “everything will be just fine in Africa,” but I do think that Africa’s real and profound problems can be overcome. My targets are the ubiquitous pessimists who say that, whatever we do, Africa is doomed to remain stuck “in deepest, darkest poverty,” in the words of one environmentalist.

    Yet, with exceptions such as Somalia and the Congo, economic growth is gaining momentum all over the continent, birth rates are dropping and poverty is falling, as the Spanish economist Xavier Sala-i-Martin has documented. Lots of people deserve credit for this, among them Bill Gates. His foundation, as far as I can tell, does exactly what I suggest in the book by concentrating on solving real medical and humanitarian problems.

    *************************************************************

    AID TO AFRICA

    $44 billion
    Official development aid given to Africa in 2008

    $3.3 billion
    Official development aid given to Ethiopia, Africa’s top recipient of aid, in 2008

    41% Aid to Africa that went to social services, including education and health care, in 2008

    19% Aid to Africa that went to economic development in 2008

    $7.2 billion
    Amount of development aid given by the U.S. to Africa in 2008

    58% Africans living on less than $1.25 a day in 1996

    50% Africans living on less than $1.25 a day in 2009

    $510 Gross domestic product per capita in sub-Saharan Africa in 2000 (in 2000 dollars)

    $623 Gross domestic product per capita in sub-Saharan Africa in 2008 (in 2000 dollars)

    Sources: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, World Bank

    *************************************************************

    Far from saying that aid “doesn’t work, hasn’t worked and won’t work,” I actually say this in my book: “Some of the most urgent needs of Africa can surely be met by increased aid from the rich world. Aid can save lives, reduce hunger, deliver a medicine, a mosquito net, a meal or a metalled road.”

    I go on to say that “statistics, anecdotes and case histories all demonstrate that the one thing aid cannot reliably do is to start or accelerate economic growth.” Now here I admit that Mr. Gates does have a point. Unintentionally, I have given him and perhaps other readers the impression that, in my view, combating malaria or AIDS does not pay economic dividends. It does.

    What I do take issue with is economic aid designed to stimulate economic growth. For example, a 2006 study by Simeon Djankov of the World Bank (now deputy prime minister of Bulgaria) and his colleagues concluded that “foreign aid has a negative impact on the democratic stance of developing countries and on economic growth by reducing investment and increasing government consumption.” Economic aid diverts resources into projects that fail, puts money into the pockets of corrupt government officials and crowds out the efforts of entrepreneurs. In one example, only 13% of educational aid to Uganda reached schools; the rest was siphoned off by rent-seeking officials.

    I am disappointed that Mr. Gates is so defensive about “top-down” aid. Just as everything from software design to education can benefit from bottom-up crowd sourcing in which elites no longer determine what happens, so surely humanitarian aid can benefit too, however much vested interests in governments and in big agencies dislike this trend.

    Likewise, Mr. Gates takes issue with my assertion that the economy of the future will be post-corporatist and post-capitalist. I know that these radical ideas are not to everybody’s taste, and he is right that most innovation takes place within existing companies. But it is very striking that some of the most far-reaching innovations over the past several decades have come from driven, visionary outsiders like Mr. Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin rather than from corporate research and development departments. What is more, these innovations have been achieved with much less capital investment up front than in the days of Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford.

    It is true that there is still a vast amount of work needed to bring ideas to market, and this requires cash and corporate organization. But increasingly, corporations are turning themselves into virtual entities, arranged around flexible networks of suppliers, retailers and researchers, rather than monolithic bodies sitting in fixed plants. That seems to me to make the word “capitalist” somewhat misleading.

    Mr. Gates thinks I underplay the role of education, government, patents and science in the innovation that drives economic improvement. Maybe, but I make a carefully argued case that most of the existing commentary overplays the role of these institutions and that innovation is sometimes hindered by these institutions, too, especially by patents and government monopolies.

    Am I saying that we should cease worrying about trends that might cause problems? Of course not. I am arguing that we should worry about real problems, including Africa’s plight, but that we should do so in the knowledge that we have solved many such problems before and can do so again. I am certainly not saying, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Rather, I’m saying, “Don’t despair, be ambitious”—though I admit it’s not nearly as snappy a song lyric.

    —Matt Ridley’s many books include, most recently, “The Rational Optimist” and “Francis Crick.” His website is rationaloptimist.com.

  17. “Wait, is Iran “Texas” in Farsi?”

    Thanks for the memory, UR. I’d forgotten just how popular blood lust is among certain segments of the population:

    Last Appeals Rejected; Tucker Executed
    By Michael Graczyk

    The AP

    HUNTSVILLE, Texas – As the world agonized about redemption and justice-by-execution, Karla Faye Tucker went to her death with a quiet apology and talk of heaven.

    Her journey from drug-addicted prostitute to born-again Christian drew support from death-penalty opponents across the globe. But it couldn’t keep the 38-year-old pickax killer from becoming the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War, and the first in the nation since 1984.

    Before her death, Tucker declared her love for her family and husband. She then apologized to her victims’ families.

    “I hope God will give you peace with this,” she said.

    As the lethal chemicals were injected, Tucker gasped twice and let out a long wheeze before lapsing into unconsciousness. She was declared dead at 6:45 p.m. CST.

    Richard Thornton, whose wife was one of those killed by Tucker in 1983, witnessed the execution and said later that he couldn’t accept Tucker’s apology. “I don’t believe her conversion. I don’t believe her Christianity,” he said.

    The Board of Pardons and Parole had refused to commute Tucker’s sentence to life in prison and Gov. George W. Bush refused to grant a 30-day reprieve. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected her final appeal yesterday.

    Tucker and a companion, Daniel Garrett, were convicted of killing Jerry Lynn Dean, 27, and Deborah Thornton, 32, on June 13, 1983. Garrett was sentenced to death, but died in prison in 1993.

    The nation’s last execution of a woman was in 1984, when North Carolina executed Velma Barfield.

    Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

  18. Speaking of FIFA, every now and again still, they slip in a little gem like this, typically toward the end of an article… but it’s still not worth the price of a subscription.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704594804575648872489438114.html

    [excerpt]
    Former President Bill Clinton, assigned to speak about the “social legacy” the tournament would leave, spoke for several minutes about himself and his foundation’s efforts to improve health care in the developing world. Then he argued that a U.S. World Cup would serve as a giant fund-raiser, allowing FIFA to gain enough money to achieve its own social goals, such as providing clean drinking water to five million people.

    “The U.S. is in the best position to help you in fulfilling that mission,” Mr. Clinton said.

  19. The Chinese could give a shit and they are in Africa big time. Hey, Bill, how about promoting rule of law in your own back yard instead trying to find ways to keep the last great pool of cheap labor cum lab experiment left on the planet from dying before they and the accompanying natural resources can be fully exploited.

    How about a couple of teams to clean up the disease-ridden gangrenous Shithole-on-the-Potomac?

    My sphincter always clamps shut when guys that will never have to worry about where their next anything comes from feign altruism.

  20. yeah, i don’t know who this guy is, but he seems awfull fucking stupid. somewhere around 4 billion, out of the 7 or so billion fucking monkeys on the planet today, live a monetized life of about $2/day. they live hand to mouth day in day out, at best. so, to say that “humanity”, as some sort of “whole”, has progressed in any decernable fashion, is just fucking silly. i think this guy is thinking about him and his buddies while they’re eating cucumber sandwichs and drinking 18 yo scotch. i guess.

  21. Believe and prosper! Good things are waiting for you! Send a love gift of a measly 25 dollars to the greenbeans ministry and my assistant thal and I will pray to the heavens and intercede mightily for you. The power of positive thinking will change your miserable life forever. Don’t hesitate, send your small token of support to me, reverend greenbeans, today.

  22. Sorry. My 85 yr. old mother has the televangelist stuff on at 95 decibels again and I’m starting to lose it.

  23. Interesting take, UR.

    My only quibble is, having lived down the street from source of the “gate” suffix for 30+ years, I wish folks would find some other nomenclature more appropriate for scandals.

    While the Watergate Office building (part of a 5-building mixed-use complex) was the locale of the DNC break-in perpetrated by Nixon’s “plumbers,” they actually stayed right across the street in what was a HoJo’s (and now a GWU dorm) at the time. Both properties are located adjacent to the “water gate” where Rock Creek and the C&O Canal flow into the Potomac.

    It’s time for Gen X and Y to get over the tired Baby Boomer terminology and come up with their own. [How about “cablescam” or “scandaleaks” or something new and creative–isn’t everything about branding these days?]

    water gate  –noun
    1. a gate for halting or controlling the flow of water in a watercourse; floodgate.
    2. a gateway leading to the edge of a body of water, as at a landing.
    ——————————————————————————–
    Origin:
    1350–1400; ME

  24. Dear Reverend GB,

    I believe, I believe in your righteous work and where exactly do I send a check?

    I believe I’ll have another Guiness, also.

  25. My dear lost sheep, yes, pay no heed to dave and other naysayers. Abundance is yours! Send your 62 dollar love gift, today! The costs of our ministry have risen as we reach out to the downtrodden all over the globe. Also I have to make payments on my new rolls royce and personal jet, and buy some more of these tacky orange track suits and some pomade. Glory! Send the love money to JR, so we can afford to keep this outreach alive on the web.

  26. “The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. He recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government,” the management added.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/88751/20101204/wikileaks-united-states-internet-servers-amazon-paypal-university-social-security-web-whistle-blower.htm

  27. yeah, wikkileaks. it reminds me of back in high school when jonny would go tell petey what joey was saying about his girfriend behind his back. then petey would go kick jonny’ ass, so jonny would spread rumors about petey’s girlfriend, or something like that.

    mean really, get real. people don’t dis other people behind thier respective backs and such, all the time? this is news to people?

    if assange got ahold of some nuclear attack codes, or some such thing, and used 1 or 2 of them, just to fuck with the monkeys, that would be something worth talking about.

  28. i have admit it though, bho and afganistan are both fucking jokes. except to those who get blowed up as part of the set up, i guess.

  29. “The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. He recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government,” the management added.”

    you see how this incident is turned to the favor of those in control? it’s already being used as a means to further intimadte and control. i bet assange is licking hillary’s pussy as as we speak. all she has to say is: “good job julian. keep doing just that.” or something like that.

  30. In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.
    Guy Debord

    another way to say this: the spectacle comsumes everything it touches. that why i wear a kevlar suit and wash my hands a lot.

  31. Actually, this whole sordid affair calls into question, still, the ability of the government to deal with reality.

    Seriously, it’s all over the web, including MSM outlets, and these fucksticks are threatening that their tawdry bullshit is still classified and not to read or link?WTF?!?

    Those idiots in DC got played, but it wasn’t Assange that did it. Now, every J6P on the planet knows about Wikileaks and every schmuck with a wind-up computer on the Serengeti knows what a pack of chumpsicles the political class really is.

  32. Hahaha. No Bunn I was not in Cancun. Even though 2010 was/is the hottest year on record, climate conferences are now passe. That scene is now strictly for chumps. Instead, the hot ticket this week was Cleveland. I was however in Wash DC this week.

  33. “I was however in Wash DC this week.”

    You shoulda let me know, Bif. I coulda introduced ya to Nathan Farb.

  34. e.m. cioran: patron of the uninspired.

    Idolaters by instinct, we convert the objects of our dreams and our interests into the Unconditional… Even when he turns from religion, man remains subject to it; depleting himself to create fake gods, he then feverishly adopts them: his need for fiction, for mythology triumphs over evidence and absurdity alike.

    What is the Fall but the pursuit of a truth and the assurance you have found it, the passion for a dogma, domicile within a dogma?

    I feel safer with a Pyrrho than with a Saint Paul, for a jesting wisdom is gentler than an unbridled sanctity. In the fervent mind you always find the camouflaged beast of prey; no protection is adequate against the claws of a prophet.

    A human being possessed by a belief and not eager to pass it on to others is a phenomenon alien to the earth, where our mania for salvation makes life unbreathable.

    Every faith practices some form of terror, all the more dreadful when the “pure” are its agents.

    In every man there sleeps a prophet, and when he wakes there is a little more evil in the world.

    The ideally lucid, hence ideally normal, man should have no recourse beyond the nothing that is in him.

    To be fooled, to live and die duped, is certainly what men do. But there exists a dignity which keeps us from disappearing into God and which transforms all our moments into prayers we shall never offer.

    Give life a specific goal and it immediately loses its attraction. The inexactitude of its ends makes life superior to death; one touch of precision would degrade it to the triviality of the tombs.

    Hence the ancient Mysteries, so-called revelations of the ultimate secrets, have bequeathed us nothing by way of knowledge… The fact is that there were no secrets; there were rites, there were shudders. Once the veils had fallen, what could they discover but insignificant consequences? The only intuition is to nothingness — and to the mockery of being alive.

    The idle apprehend more things, are deeper than the industrious: no task limits their horizon; born into an eternal Sunday, they watch — and watch themselves watching… In a world of inaction, the idle would be the only ones not to be murderers.

    The mistake of every doctrine of deliverance is to suppress poetry, climate of the incomplete.

    We are doomed to perdition each time life does not reveal itself as a miracle, each time the moment no longer moans in a supernatural shudder.

    By what peculiarity of fate do certain beings, having reached the point where they might coincide with a faith, retreat to follow a path which leads them only to themselves — and hence nowhere?

    We too seek “salvation,” if only by wanting nothing to do with it.

    It was enough for one Hindu prince to see a cripple, an old man, and a corpse to understand everything; we see them and understand nothing, for nothing changes in our life.

    We begin to live authentically only where philosophy ends, at its wreck, when we have understood its terrible nullity, when we have understood that it was futile to resort to it, that it is no help.

    We are engulfed in a pleonastic universe, in which the questions and answers amount to the same thing.

    At first, we think we advance toward the light; then, wearied by an aimless search, we lose our way: the earth, less and less secure, no longer supports us; it opens under our feet… And we, once in love with the peaks, then disappointed by them, we end by fondling our fall, we hurry to fulfill it, instruments of a strange execution, fascinated by the illusion of reaching the limits of the darkness, the frontiers of our nocturnal fate. Fear of the void transformed into a kind of voluptuous joy, what luck to gainsay the sun!

    I have sought for the geography of Nothingness, of unknown seas and another sun — pure of the scandal of life-bearing rays — I have sought for the rocking of a skeptical ocean in which islands and axioms are drowned, the vast liquid narcotic, tepid and sweet and tired of knowledge.

    Even the skeptic, in love with his doubts, turns out to be a fanatic of skepticism. Man is the dogmatic being par excellence; and his dogmas are all the deeper when he does not formulate them, when he is unaware of them, and when he follows them.

    Each of us is, for himself, the one fixed point in the universe. And if someone dies for an idea, it is because it is his idea, and his idea is his life.

    The thinker who reflects without illusion upon human reality, if he wants to remain within the world, and if he eliminates mysticism as an escape-hatch, ends up with a vision in which are mingled wisdom, bitterness, and farce.

    I have known no “new” life which was not illusory and compromised at its roots.

    When every question seems accidental and peripheral, when the mind seeks ever greater problems, it turns out that in its procedure it no longer comes up against any object but the diffuse obstacle of the Void.

    Is there a pleasure more subtly ambiguous than to watch the ruin of a myth?

    One deception triumphs: there results a religion, a doctrine, or a myth — and a host of adepts; another fails; then it is only a divagation, a theory, or a fiction. Only inert things add nothing to what they are: a stone does not lie; it interests no one — whereas life indefatigably invents: life is the novel of matter.

    The true believer is scarcely to be distinguished from the madman; but his madness is legal, acknowledged; he would end up in an asylum if his aberrations were pure of all faith. But God covers them, legitimizes them.

    And how could modesty be a virtue of temples, when a decrepit old woman who imagines Infinity within reach raises herself by prayer to a level of audacity to which no tyrant has ever laid claim?

    You imagine, in the name of faith, that you are conquering your self; in fact, you seek to perpetuate it in eternity, this earthly duration being insufficient for you… The megalomania of monasteries exceeds all that the sumptuous fevers of palaces ever imagined.

    Me… I want to wallow in my mortality. I want to remain normal.

    If we put in one pan the evil the “pure” have poured out upon the world, and in the other the evil that has come from men without principles and without scruples, the scale would tip toward the first.

    To know is to see; it is neither to hope nor to try.

    Much more than in the school of the philosophers, it is in the academy of poets that we learn the courage of intelligence and the audacity to be ourselves.

    To advance without convictions and alone among the truths is not given to a man, nor even to a saint; sometimes, though, to a poet.

    When we perceive ourselves existing we have the sensation of a stupefied madman who surprises his own lunacy and vainly seeks to give it a name.

    A conformist, I live, I try to live, by imitation, by respect for the rules of the game, by horror of originality… It is because we are all impostors that we endure each other. The man who does not consent to lie will see the earth shrink under his feet: we are biologically obliged to the false.

    Try to be free: you will die of hunger. Society tolerates you only if you are successively servile and despotic; it is a prison without guards — but from which you do not escape without dying.

    Each civilization represents an answer to the questions the universe proposes; but the mystery remains intact.

    The advocates of hell have no fewer claims on the truth than those of heaven — and I should plead the cause of madman and sage with the same fervor.

    Hence there is only one way out: to abolish the soul, its aspirations and abysses; our dreams were poisoned by it; we must extirpate it, along with its craving for “depth,” its “inner” fruitfulness, and its other aberrations.

    It is not doubts which erode God, but faith.

    What perfection of the abyss have I come to, that there is no space left for me to fall in?

    I dream of a universe exempt from celestial intoxications, of a universe with neither Cross nor faith.

    I am in a good mood: God is good; I am sullen: God is wicked; I am indifferent: He is neutral. My states confer upon Him corresponding attributes: when I love knowledge, He is omniscient, and when I worship power, omnipotent. When things seem to me to exist, He exists; when they seem illusory, He evaporates.

    Only aspiration to the Void saves us from that exercise of corruption which is the act of belief.

    The splendor of a prayer addressed to No One!

    I smile: a world is born; I frown: it vanishes, and another appears. No opinion, no system, no belief fails to be correct and at the same time absurd, depending on whether we adhere to it or detach ourselves from it.

    The universe begins and ends with each individual, whether he be Shakespeare or Hodge; for each individual experiences his merit or his nullity in the absolute.

    There is more wisdom in letting yourself be carried by the waves than in struggling against them.

    There is more than one resemblance between begging for a coin in the city and waiting for an answer from the silence of the universe. Avarice presides over men’s hearts and over matter.

    Monstrous dreams inhabit groceries and churches: I have come across no one who did not live in delirium.

    How easy it is to believe yourself a god by the heart, and how hard it is to be one by the mind! And with how many illusions must I have been born in order to be able to lose one every day!

  35. EE, next trip down I’ll give you a shout. Usually I stay downtown but this time I had to stay over in Rosslyn. Kinda sucks over there, but just a few metro stops over to McPherson Square, so blah blah blah, I survived with minimum hassle. I prefer to walk.

    Rosslyn is a place with big office buildings and hotels and converging arterials. Looking out the window and watching rush hour traffic on six lane city streets it felt like being marooned on a big boulder in the rapids. As far as street life its all about not getting run over. No fun.

  36. Interesting Pentti confesses to using insulin but tells her she should not use an outboard motor. I like Pentti though. I’d like to go fishing with Pentti only because (1) he’s probably competent, and (2) he wouldn’t talk much. I hate when people are talking while I’m trying to fish.

  37. Right fellow northerners we are staring at 3 months of solid ice fishing ahead and not much else.

  38. so, anyway, it’s been documented a 1000, at least, different ways, industrialism is abusive to the rank and file. everybody knows it, and basically, the rank and file just don’t give a fuck. in fact they like it and accept it, by and large. but then assange shows thier gods with pants down around thier knees, and that becomes a problem. fucking monkeys, go figure.

    http://metanoia-films.org/hr_watchonline.php

  39. Bif,
    BOHICA is an acronym for Bend Over Here It Comes Again.
    Now that you have pointed it out, I have stopped yelling it.
    Just cuz I’m not yelling it doesn’t mean I’m not angry though.
    Why am I so angry?

    Underneath the bridge
    The tarp has sprung a leak
    And the animals I’ve trapped
    Have all become my pets
    And I’m living off of grass
    And the drippings from the ceiling
    But it’s ok to eat fish
    Cause they haven’t any feelings

  40. Why won’t the Swedes question Assange over videolink as he has offered to do for months now?

    Why can’t some hard hitting big name like 60 minutes, or Oprah get them on the air at the same time and sort this shit out?

    Why isn’t Eric Holder personally involved in making charges against Hilary Clinton for breaching International Law against diplomatic spying that the US signed? Hell, why aren’t the Republicans? Isn’t this a bigger burn than a hummer from an intern?

    Republicans are merely calling Barack a mangina for not having Assange assassinated post-haste. Funny how they pretend to be on different sides, but circle the wagon around the stuff truly important to them.

  41. given the 6 degrees of seperation I’ll bet just about anyone can be connected to someone defined as bad without much trouble.

    tell a lie and it sticks.

    more spectacle or blacklisting 50’s flashback, as it were.

    The biggest spam cannon wins, no one will changes sides til you blackmail them or threaten their family or buy their souls with money-laundered cash.

  42. “6. What steps are you currently taking in preparations for the upcoming “post-peak” years? What do you advise to those simply looking to protect the purchasing power of their current wealth?

    JHK: Well, at 62 I’ve already outlived Babe Ruth, Mozart, Abe Lincoln, and George Gershwin, so however long I go from here is “gravy.” But I do all I can to maintain good health. I eat mostly plants, as Michael Pollan would say. I get a lot of exercise. I lead a purposeful daily life. I stay current with the dentist. I made the formative decision of where-to-live over thirty years ago when I settled in a “Main Street” small town in upstate New York. My surplus wealth is invested for the moment in hard gold, the Sprott Physical fund, Australian and Canadian short term bond funds (cash equivalent), and potash mining. I am renting my dwelling, sitting out the housing collapse. I acquired the NY State handgun permit (not so easy). I have some tubs of brown rice, lentils, and curry powder, etc., stashed away. Alas, I didn’t have the capital twenty years ago to get hold of forty acres and a mule — but that’s not a bad idea for other people.”

    http://www.chrismartenson.com/blog/straight-talk-jim-kunstler-coming-cluster/47864

  43. So thats what it comes down to I guess. Jim waving a six shooter while clutching a tub of lentils.

  44. From his writing, I’m sure that Jim will only give his gold away with strings attached. I’ll read his blog and books, but I’d never buy a used car from him.

    I think he knows his days are numbered, once the big crunch starts. My guess is the upstate NY winters will get real rough without heating oil or natural gas.

  45. Its about 10*F as I type. Its cold but we haven’t had the severe sub-zero weather, -20 to -30, in recent years. Didn’t even go below zero last 2 years here. Bad for the ice fishing, skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, and snowman building.

  46. Thanks dave. maybe she’ll have to kill and eat her cats after PO strikes the Japanese islands. then maybe she’ll make those outfits for needy folks in her condo. i want a rabbit one for christmas.

  47. yeah, that cat lady is the best. if she’s smart, and if it ever comes down to such a choice, she’ll kill her nieghbors, make pate’ from thier livers, and feed it to her cats.

  48. snip/

    Clinton comfortably outlined how the pending package of tax cuts, business incentives and unemployment benefits would boost the economy — even though it included tax help for the wealthy that Obama had to swallow.

    “There’s never a perfect bipartisan bill in the eyes of a partisan,” Clinton said. “But I really believe this will be a significant net-plus for the country.”

    When he finished his pitch, Clinton played the role of humble guy, saying, “So, for whatever it’s worth, that’s what I think.”

    “It’s worth a lot,” Obama insisted.

    /snip

    http://tinyurl.com/3ydon83

    Yeah, fuck you its “worth a lot”. I remember mid-1990s, Bill and his down home charm talking this chicken soup goodness in selling the benefits of NAFTA, MFN /NTR status for China, and the birth of WTO from GATT. We’ve suffered from that wink wink guaranteed “net plus” bullshit ever since. Bill is the biggest perma-shill around. They’ve brought him in to whore the package. It’s done. We’re more fooked than ever.

  49. “this time I had to stay over in Rosslyn.”

    Bif-

    The only good thing about Rosslyn was the lame joke created during the Carter administration: What do Virginia commuters and Jimmy Carter have in common? They’re both in and out of Rosslyn at least five days a week.

    Badda-bing… badda-bad!

  50. “…even though it included tax help for the wealthy that Obama had to swallow.”

    Maybe that was the deal… Obama would give Bill a BJ and swallow, WJC would smoke a cigar afterward, and then stay to take the after-shit from the press corpse. Otherwise, Obama would sic the FLOTUS on slick Willie, who would get his ass kicked up and down the Ellipse.

  51. “As a general rule, men expect disappointment: they know they must not be impatient, that it will come soon or later, that it will hold off long enough for them to proceed with their undertakings of the moment. The disabused man is different: for him, disappointment occurs at the same time as the deed; he has no need to await it, it is present.”

  52. “Of course, Assange is neither a terrorist nor a criminal: He simply published some leaked documents that embarrassed some people.

    He’s not a terrorist, because he did not commit a single act of violence or intimidation, in order to achieve his political goal.

    He’s not a criminal, at least not in the United States, because he has not broken any law in America, and he is not an American citizen, subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

    But you wouldn’t know it, from the uproar over the Wikileaks’ case.”

    http://gonzalolira.blogspot.com/2010/12/new-mccarthyism-real-terroriststhe-case.html

  53. Context dave, context. Surely you are not disappointed after every rump romp?

    well, those are cioran’s words not mine. maybe disapponted is the wrong word. but before long i’m out looking for that or something else to satisfy some itch or another, usually needs to be scratched with sex or food, but that’s just me.

  54. hmmm, that doesn’t look right. I’ll rephrase…

    Hope you are all doing well. Merry Christmas/kwanzaa/hanukah/festivus!

  55. tipper,

    you’re too late by a few months now. JR is dead, but he left his blog site on as a kind of memorial. nice to hear from you. happy holidays.

    aloha,
    doom

  56. Hi tipping point. Its just like old times, eh? Is it really true about JR? Did he take the “live hard, die young and leave a beautiful corpse” route? Crazy, mixed up dude…never really had a chance. I guess I’ll miss him. Happy Solstice.

  57. the truth will be revealed when Katya provides her own postings, no matter the current correspondence twixt JR’s dick to K-twat. Wanna know…can she type whilst getting jammed? That’s talent!

  58. No more expert World Cup analysis and prediction. No more late night incoherent alcoholic ramblings. Rico was like the son I never had. Gone forever.

  59. Obama is suing BP. Unable and unwilling to put some heat on the big banks (who have done far greater and lasting damage than this oil spill), the BP lawsuit is really important for him I guess. Maybe he’ll sue BP for a guzillion dollars.

  60. Hmmm…

    “From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day — for seven straight months and counting — he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he’s being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs.”

    http://www.salon.com/news/wikileaks/index.html?story=/opinion/greenwald/2010/12/14/manning

  61. I had to go back a few months to make sure that JR didn’t actually kill himself. Yikes!

    So I nominate Bif to start up some witty. cynical, funny blog with Holmes as the co-editor. I look forward to the first edition boys- have at it!

    My best to all of you.

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