February 11, 2009 archive


It is slowly dawning on the American citizenry, after Secretary Geithner’s latest performance, that our government has been captured by the financial industry. We are now so deeply in the territory of WTF phenomena that we need to look around to get our bearings. Here is what has been established so far in this incredible journey:

1. The entire United States financial sector is insolvent, i.e., its liabilities exceed its assets.

2. The US government has decided to place unlimited taxpayer resources at the disposal of the financial industry to restore its solvency.

3. The US government has refused to demand any management changes in the corporations that have become insolvent and dependent on taxpayer subsides.

4. The very same people who created the financial disaster remain firmly in control of insolvent institutions.

5. The highly-paid managers who created the financial disaster continue to award themselves huge salaries and bonuses, using taxpayer funds.

6. The US Government refuses to nationalize insolvent institutions, declaring that it cannot do a better job of managing them than the incompetent executives that caused the disaster.

7. We are rewarding and reinforcing failure on an unprecedented scale.

8. Nothing has been done that will prevent a reprise of this financial disaster.

9. The US financial industry has effectively hijacked the Federal Government, and is now looting the Treasury.

10. The American public is helpless to alter the decisions of its elected representatives, who insist on protecting the wealth of financial industry executives and stockholders at all costs.


Improving brain processing speed helps memory

Washington Healthy, older adults who participated in a training programme to improve the speed and accuracy of brain processing, registered twice the improvement in certain aspects of memory.

“What’s unique in this study is that brain processing activities seemed to help aspects of memory that were not directly exercised by the programme — a new finding in memory research,” said Glenn Smith, Mayo Clinic neuropsychologist co-author of the study.

Human-induced climate change a reality

Kochi (PTI): Human-induced global warming and climate change is a reality, which is occurring at a more alarming pace than was expected, Scientists of National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, said.

In their paper on ‘Is Arabian Sea responding to global warming and undergoing a climate shift’, presented at the International Symposium on Marine Ecosystems here, they said the sea surface temperature (SST) has increased after 1995 “associated with a five-fold increase in the development of cyclones of more than 100 km per hour in the Arabian Sea during the past 12 years.”

“Concurrent with these events, there are warmer winters, decreased monsoon rainfall, both occurring over India and an increase in the phytoplankton biomass in the Arabian Sea,” they said.

Warmer winters cause a reduction in the annual wheat yield while decreased rainfall results in the decline of vegetation, increase in aridity and increased occurrence of heat spells over India, they said.  

Women more expressive in texting

Washington (IANS): Eligible women were found to be more expressive than men in texting messages, thanks to technology.

Indiana University (IU) researchers found that when men and women exchange text message in a public, interactive dating market, it is the women who use more non-standard, expressive language techniques.

Susan Herring and Asta Zelenkauskaite show that while men historically talk more in public settings, when the exchanges occur via text messaging in a public venue — in this case, Italy’s interactive channel Allmusic, it is the women who push their messages closest to the character-count limit, who use more abbreviations and insertions.


Open Thread


I thread therefore I am.

How Our Brains Create God

Apparently our brains have “a natural inclination for religious belief, especially during hard times.” This does not bode well for advancing the interests of reason and science in the continuing economic crisis — especially if you believe, as I do, that what we’re seeing now is just the beginning.

Born Believers: How Your Brain Creates God


WHILE many institutions collapsed during the Great Depression that began in 1929, one kind did rather well. During this leanest of times, the strictest, most authoritarian churches saw a surge in attendance.

This anomaly was documented in the early 1970s, but only now is science beginning to tell us why. It turns out that  human beings have a natural inclination for religious belief, especially during hard times. Our brains effortlessly conjure  up an imaginary world of spirits, gods and monsters, and the more insecure we feel, the harder it is to resist the pull of  this supernatural world. It seems that our minds are finely tuned to believe in gods.

See also:

The Credit Crunch Could Be A Boon For Irrational Belief


Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

For Elena

Love and Happiness

Twenty-one years

out of the closet







in Love

Happiness is

when you really feel

good about somebody

Nothing wrong

with being in love

with somebody

Happiness is

having the choices

and making them

to spread more happiness

Thank you


for your happiness

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–November 14, 2008

Wednesday Morning Science Supplement

Wednesday Science Supplement is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Science

1 On Darwin’s 200th, a theory still in controversy

By GREGORY KATZ, Associated Press Writer

Sun Feb 8, 7:58 am ET

LONDON – It’s well known that Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking theory of evolution made many people furious because it contradicted the Biblical view of creation. But few know that it also created problems for Darwin at home with his deeply religious wife, Emma.

Darwin held back the book to avoid offending his wife, said Ruth Padel, the naturalist’s great-great-granddaughter. “She said he seemed to be putting God further and further off,” Padel said in her north London home. “But they talked it through, and she said, “Don’t change any of your ideas for fear of hurting me.'”

The 1859 publication of “On the Origin of Species” changed scientific thought forever – and generated opposition that continues to this day. It is this elegant explanation of how species evolve through natural selection that makes Darwin’s 200th birthday on Feb. 12 such a major event.

Late Night Karaoke


A Clear and Present Danger

The CEO’s who control the top institutions in our banking and finance system are a clear and present danger to the survival of the United States.  The sooner President Obama figures that out and acts accordingly, the sooner we’ll be able to start formulating rational solutions to the banking crisis and start digging ourselves out of this hellhole they’ve put us all in.

Unfortunately, Obama’s Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is not part of the solution, he’s part of the problem.  

Robert L. Borosage, Co-Director of the Campaign for America’s Future:

Faced with the failure of the Paulson-Bernanke banking bailout, the Obama administration has decided to double down. The new plan, described in broad outline by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Tuesday, antes up another $1.5 trillion or more to keep the banks afloat. But it won’t convince many that they are seaworthy.

The plan isn’t likely to get the administration where it needs to go for two simple reasons. It is wrong about where we are starting from. And it is wrong about where we’re going to. If you don’t know where you are and don’t know where you are going, it is very hard to get there.

The plan won’t admit where we are: the major banks in the US are insolvent.

The plan won’t get us where we need to go: we need to restructure – and downsize – our financial sector.

Pony Party – Hyde!

Yep, it’s open thread time.  Since it is an open thread, please do not rec.

The Face of the Republican Depression?

Just another victim of Republican policies? I am sure we will find out over the next few days. We don’t know her full story yet, but she is just one of the millions of homeless or at risk citizens of our country.

Load more