March 6, 2010 archive

Is there any doubt about whether changing government or corporations is easier?

I recently posted in a diary by ANKOSS, called Bloggers awake! I very much like the general thrust of that diary, which concluded with

The facts are plain. Blogging without direct action is an impotent evolutionary dead-end for Internet politics. We must learn to use the Internet to mobilize EFFECTIVE political action. It is time to awaken from the enfeebling trance of empty emotional blog posting. It is time to take action.

However, the diary specifically suggested an action against a corporation, instead of an “action” targetting government. And even worse, IMO, was that there was no mention of an “action” targetting government, which had the specific electoral goal of getting better Congress critters elected.  

Docudharma Times Saturday March 6

Saturday’s Headlines:

Blackwater Iraq allegations prompt US review

Women on the Verge


Massa resigns; Democrats’ ethical lapses could threaten hold on power

Truck drivers raging on the road


Germany’s new wunderkind: the world’s smallest baby boy

Viktor Yanukovych gives Russia a chance to keep Black Sea Fleet in Crimea

Middle East

Fiercely fought campaign ends with Iraq’s divisions deeper

Azerbaijan president’s son, 12, ‘buys £30m worth of luxury Dubai property’


Japan’s hate-filled top web forum

Wen plugs concerns over stimulus exit


Rebels with a grudge and the anatomy of a damning smear

Latin America

Fear and anger in Chilean town devasted by forces of nature

Beyond Lamestream Media

Perfect paranoia or perfect awareness.  Hey, I just don’t care anymore.…

Executing handcuffed schoolchildren is still a crime?

Quite possibly!

A. It is a war crime to kill captive prisoners  

B. it is a war crime to kill children

C. shooting captive (handcuffed) schoolchildren dead may also be a war crime.

Of course, the media response to such barbarism would be massive and growing in amplitude and outrage, such that after more than two months of government inaction the political tremors would be shaking the ruling elite from their very thrones.

Late Night Karaoke

Open Thread

Reading ECONned By Richard Smith

Reading ECONned By Richard Smith. A Guest Post in Jesse’s Café Américain by the copy editor of blogger Yves Smith’s new book ECONned Yves explains how the spell we are still under was cast upon us.

The Financial Crisis of 2007-2009 (no-one’s settled on a name yet; we are still too close to the action, and that end date might still need some discreet pushes to the right) has naturally set off a book publishing frenzy. With the first wave of instant histories now spent (the startlingly fast-out-of-the-blocks chronicle “Bailout Nation”, the elephantine “Too Big To Fail” etc, etc), we are now getting a second wave of books, whose authors have had time to dig deeper and reflect more on how we got into this mess. Yves Smith’s offering is the first integrated account of the root causes of the financial crisis, and a compelling one.

For Smith, it turns out to be a matter of bad economic theory, self-serving ideology, and, under cover, plain old rapacity. The author gives us a brisk historical sweep through what sounds like deeply unpromising, but, as it turns out, surprisingly engaging terrain: post- war economic theory, the evolution of the financial services industry and its regulation since the 1970s, modern financial instruments, and the Crisis itself. It’s been a long time a-comin’, this Crisis. It all culminates in a whodunit account of the mechanisms that brought the crisis to its acute phase; an account that respects the complexities, yet grips like a vice. But first of all, it’s about the way a single phrase, “free markets”, was turned into a justification for profoundly destructive behaviour.

Yves Smith (got it yet?) points out that there was always more to Adam Smith’s account of the free market than its modern reduction allows:

Smith also pointed out that self-interested actions frequently led to injustice or even ruin. He fiercely criticized both how employers colluded with each other to keep wages low, as well as the “savage injustice” that European mercantilist interests had “commit[ted] with impunity” in colonies in Asia and the Americas.

Yves shows us that little has changed since Adam’s day (last chance!). Running through the book, we will find ever more glaring contrasts between the official slogans: “invisible hand”, “free market” and so on, and what is really going on: scams, rip-offs, increasingly brazen looting. This is sanctioned, in an unwelcome display of bipartisanship, by intellectually bankrupt and venal politicians of all hues.

The entire post is about eight screens of text, including the following:

Next we are into the meat of the economic theory (Chapters 2-4). Smith briskly takes a sledgehammer to any number of plaster saints cluttering up the edifice of modern economics:

“assumptions that are patently ridiculous: that individuals are rational and utility-maximizing (which has become such a slippery notion as to be meaningless), that buyers and sellers have perfect information, that there are no transaction costs, that capital flows freely”

And then…papers with cooked figures, economists oblivious to speculative factors driving oil prices, travesty versions of Keynes’s ideas that airbrush out its most characteristic features in the name of mathematical tractability.

And then…any number of grand-sounding theoretical constructs: the Arrow-Debreu theorem, the Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium model, the Black-Scholes option model, Value at Risk, CAPM, the Gaussian copula, that only work under blatantly unrealistic assumptions that go by high falutin’ names – equilibrium, ergodicity, and so on.

The outcome of this pseudo-scientific botching is an imposing corpus of pretentious quackery that somehow elevates unregulated “free markets” into the sole mechanism for distribution of the spoils of economic activity. We are supposed to believe that by some alchemical process, maximum indulgence of human greed results in maximum prosperity for all. That’s unfair to alchemy: compared with the threadbare scientific underpinnings of this economic dogma, alchemy is a model of rigor.

Too bad Yves came two centuries after her Adam! 🙂

“Be the Kidney You Want to Have in Your Lower Back”-or Create Your Own Public Option Instead!

Are you sick and tired of just sitting back as the Democrats intentionally sabotage any possibility that you might be able to afford health care one day?

I’m not just talking about the “blue dog” democrats. I’m referring to the whole putrid lot of them, including that wild-eyed crazy “radical” Nancy Pelosi, who promised a fellow Democrat that she would allow the House to vote on his amendment for a single-payer system… and then weaseled out of it at the last minute. I’m talking about the Dali Obama, who ordered George Miller, chairperson of the House Committee on Education and Labor, to oppose an amendment by Kucinich that would have allowed individual states to easily create state-level single-payer health care systems should they chose to do so. Mr. Miller was a good dog and obeyed our War Criminal-in-Chief’s orders, and the amendment went down in flames. I’m talking about Obama, who likely ordered Pelosi to keep the same amendment from ever getting back into the bill.

Or maybe you are just sick. I mean literally sick. “Sick” as in you need to go to the nephrologist right fucking now for that expensive dialysis treatment you’ve been putting off to pay for luxuries like canned peas and rent. Have you been unable to afford dialysis for so long that people have started calling you Frosty the Yellow Snowman because of that 4 inch layer of Uremic Frost covering your whole body?

I can only imagine how pissed (no pun intended) you must be! After all, you did exactly what you thought was right.  On November 4, 2008 you stumbled half dead into that voting booth, cast your vote for Hope and Change, and promptly collapsed into a yellow heap right there on the floor of your local precinct.

As the paramedics carried you away–ignoring your desperate pleas for them to “get the fuck away from me you motherfucking bastards I can’t afford a goddamn ambulance ride and another ER bill because I’m almost out of canned peas you little bitches, your father sucks cocks in hell“–you slowly started to lose consciousness with visions of affordable dialysis dancing in your head.  “Everything is going to be fine now because Change is coming,” you thought right before you fell into a coma that lasted three months.

After waking up in an alley somewhere in Cleveland to the odd sensation of a rat gnawing on your earlobe–the hospital dumped you there after 2 days once they discovered you had no insurance–you were feeling mighty low. You pulled what you hoped was a hospital needle out of your right hand and began aimlessly wandering the streets, trying to figure out what city they had dumped you in this time, and that’s when you saw it!

Friday Evening Photoblogging: Needle Park Edition

This dairy that is cross-posted at Firefly-Dreaming and Progressive Blue was my 400th diary at Dkos. I was working on an enormous diary about orchid photos to celebrate the Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden but it got too complicated to finish in one afternoon, so I posted photos from my morning.

I do have an very informative diary here that is an update of last years show and here is one from next week’s attempt.

Anyway below the fold is just a little morning walk with my camera. I hope you enjoy them.  

Random Japan


An Akita Prefecture company marked Valentine’s Day with a line of cakes and candies shaped like rhinoceros beetles. Sweets maker Komatsu Honten said the little buggers sell out during their limited run each year.

While there wasn’t any worm-shaped candy inside, apples imprinted with hearts and love messages did big business for the Caloria Japan Company in Aomori Prefecture in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day.

A Miyagi couple injected some spice into their marriage, getting arrested for separate crimes on the same day. The husband was nabbed for stealing a game console from a truck, while his wife was taken into custody for allegedly embezzling funds from her employer.

Versatile winter meal oden still has a prominent place in the hearts of many Japanese, ranked as the nation’s favorite one-pot dish in a survey by Kibun Foods Inc


Friday again.

It seems the interval between them is constantly shorter.

This week I`m going to bother you to take a little trip from our normal world to another one that I have tried to recreate for a number of years.

There is a little bit of underhandedness in these distractions, since, through these images, I hope to make you even more aware than I imagine you already are, to the importance of  preserving the natural beauty of our oceans, the greatest machine that runs this planet.

It`s a free ride to see the specimens of my reefs, so snorkel up.



On the anti-Iran skin over at Big O…

If you haven’t seen it, and if it hasn’t been taken down:

Let the skin load.

Visualization, Framing, and that War of Words

Framing, as a theoretical concept, emerged from agenda setting–the notion that media coverage does not tell the public what to think, but it does have an effect in telling them what subjects to think about. (3)

Framing took agenda setting beyond audience salience and added that media coverage also indicated how that subject was to be approached by the audience, the acceptable range of terms, connections, and interpretations […]

Framing also has roots in cognitive theories about how the human brain works. (6) It ties into schema theory, the idea that the synapses of our brains do not purely save and store facts. Instead, our brains link related ideas in associative patterns; ideas fitting patterns more easily find room than those with no existing “hook” to hold them.

Ideas need the right frame to have a lasting impact.

A frame must find a common “hook” in order to take up its new residence.

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