Thursday, February 26, 2009

A “track record” predicting the future...?

My predictive “hits” keep adding up... but before touting some recent successes, a quick announcement: "Life After People" returns to the History Channel Saturday 2/28 5pm! The most popular show ever on History... featuring yours truly (among others.) And here’s hoping it’s not prophetic!  (Though my next novel will edge daringly close to the same theme.)

Note, the job of a Futurist is actually not prediction per se, but to lay out a range of plausibilities.  Still, some fans do keep track of how often I am right. (And sometimes dead wrong!)   Making it worthwhile, I suppose, to use up one of my twice monthly blogs by updating some recent close calls.

----
Edging toward worker ownership?

The Ford Motor Company can substitute its stock for as much as half of its payments into a retiree health care trust under a deal announced Monday by the automaker and the United Automobile Workers union. The agreement could form the basis for similar deals with GM and Chrysler, which need to cut costs and demonstrate they can survive under terms of federal loans. “The modifications will protect jobs for U.A.W. members by ensuring the long-term viability of the company,” the union’s president said in a statement.

See my list of “100 unusual suggestions for a time of crisis.”  This kind of stock-for-concessions deal was near the top of my list. Still, it is only a half measure that stops far short of both Unions and Company recognizing a fundamental fact -- that the workers in-effect already own the car companies... and ought to start acting accordingly. Only they can buckle down, re-arrange the obligations, and trim the companies down for 21st century creative competitiveness.  If they wake up in time.

We need to get beyond “left-right” cliches.  This is not a matter of socialism, or betrayal of market principles.  There is nothing fundamentally wrong with workers and their organizations and pensioners accepting part of their labor value in equity.  And once they have the guts to admit that things really have changed, maybe they will also find the courage to accept their responsibility to do whatever it takes to make their own companies work.

----
Transparency’s double-whammy in the news...

One topic area that straddles my careers in both nonfiction and fiction is “transparency” and the value of open information flows, in a society whose most fundamental institutions -- democracy, markets, science and law courts -- turn rancid and die, whenever the players cannot know what’s going on.  My book The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? forecast many of today’s quandaries, including economic ructions caused by secretive or opaque business practices. Sound creepily familiar? (It is one of the only public policy books of the 20th Century not only still in print, but quoted more, every year.)

Hence, it was with some pleasure that I read a piece by WIRED Magazine senior writer Daniel Roth last week: Road Map for Financial Recovery: Radical Transparency Now! in which he lays down the importance of business reporting standards that are not only thorough and honest, but also clear and easily parsed by any citizen armed with a good computer.  So-called market defenders who call transparency “oppressive meddling” can only be hypocrites, who do not really believe in the most fundamental of all capitalist principle -- that of people making their own best judgements, based upon genuine and useful information.


Along similar lines... Pat Matthews wrote in with the following, about a forecast that I made 20 years ago in a novel -- that Swiss banking secrecy would become a major issue: ”I remember reading EARTH and taking the Helvetian War for granted as the major early-21st Century Crisis, without bothering to wonder what triggered the public mood of anger at their secrecy and covering up for dictators etc.- a worldwide economic crash in which the Swiss Bankers appeared to be the primary culprits, and the witch hunt is on until Helvetia glows in the dark. Yes. This makes SUCH good sense. Different timeline, of course, since it's the American financiers who are now in danger of being tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. But - google for UBS in trouble. Now, several months into the current recession, it becomes painfully clear that you knew what you were prophesying!”

Alas, though, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

--- Heavenly Messengers ---

And in the realm of science... see my doctoral dissertation at work --  ”Dark comets may be prowling the Solar system, posing a deadly threat to Earth. They are formed when reflective water ice has evaporated away, leaving behind an organic crust - similar to tar and related to the richest parts of carbonaceous chondrites - creating a surface that only reflects a small fraction of the light of normal asteroids.”

My predictive hit on this?  Well, it is in two parts.  First, my PhD thesis predicted that such layers would form -- now the standard model of comets.  Second, my novel (with Gregory Benford) HEART OF THE COMET was the work that predicted the surface layer would be extremely dark.  All right, that’s more obscure than forecasting technologies and secrecy campaigns against Swiss banks.  Still....


--- Speaking/Consulting in Phoenix?  And/or Washington D.C.---

It appears that I’ll be spending the last 3 weeks of July in beautiful, warm Phoenix Arizona, helping the US government in a project brainstorming certain aspects of the future.  I’ll have some time on the side - especially evenings - so I’m open to suggestions (and introductions) re: Phoenix-area companies or groups that might want a consultation or speech, laying open some vistas and perspectives on an era of rapid change.  Stunning insights guaranteed!

Likewise I will be in Washington DC, for government consultations, April 27-29.  I might be able tack on some events either before (4/26-27) or after (4/29-30) if companies or groups make arrangements soon.


------ INTERESTING MISC ITEMS --------

Twisting radio beams into a helical shape as they are transmitted could help ease the congestion in spectrum available for wireless communication, encoding huge amounts of digital data into the pitch. 

-------
According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (very liberal): The "envipolcon/project," study identified that environmental laws in Europe, Japan, Mexico, and the United States had converged toward stricter and more similar regulation in the last 30 years.  Simply put, instead of a race to the bottom due to regulatory competition -- the lowering of national environmental standards as a consequence of participation in international competitive markets -- the exact opposite has taken place. Environmental regulation has grown stricter over time in countries that have participated in globalization.

------
In four studies carried out across different cultural, religious, and political contexts, we investigated the association between religion and popular support for suicide attacks. In two surveys of Palestinians and one cognitive priming experiment with Israeli settlers, prayer to God, an index of religious devotion, was unrelated to support for suicide attacks. Instead, attendance at religious services, thought to enhance coalitional commitment, positively predicted support for suicide attacks. In a survey of six religions in six nations, regular attendance at religious services positively predicted a combination of willing martyrdom and out-group hostility, but regular prayer did not. Implications for understanding the role of religion in suicide attacks are discussed.

-----
Message from Stefan Jones: Philip Jose Farmer dead at 91   Ninety one! May he end up at a good spot along the river(world).

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From Frederic Bastiat's 1845 Petition from the Manufacturers of Candles, Tapers, Lanterns, Sticks, Street Lamps, Snuffers and Extinguishers, and from Producers of Tallow, Oil, Resin, Alcohol, and Generally of Everything Connected With Lighting:“Dear Deputies [of Parliament]: We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price. This rival is none other than the sun ... We ask you to be so good as to pass a law requiring the closing of all windows, dormers, skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains, casements, bull's-eyes, deadlights, and blinds -- in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light of the sun is wont to enter houses, to the detriment of the fair industries with which, we are proud to say, we have endowed the country."

---
Germany Generates Half the World's Solar-Cell Electricity (from the Progressive Policy Institute...)  Germans installed 1131 megawatts of solar cells in 2007 -- up from 81 megawatts in 2001 and 5.3 in 1995 -- and now have 3862 megawatts of solar cell capacity. This is nearly half the world's solar-cell megawattage. The panels produced 4.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity last year, or 0.7 percent of Germany's total 621 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. By comparison, America's solar cell capacity is now 830.5 megawatts, and combined with concentrated solar power contributes about 0.2 percent of America's electricity.

-----
From anthropologist David Buss:  “Wilson and Daly (2004) provided evidence that men possess a specialized adaptation for discounting the future, valuing immediate goods over future goods. When given a choice between a smaller sum of money tomorrow versus a larger sum of money at a later date, men more than women tend to choose the immediate resource. The discounting function became especially steep after men viewed images of physically attractive women. This shift in the steepness of future discounting did not occur after men viewed images of unattractive women, nor did it occur for women viewing either attractive or unattractive male faces. The male-specific shift in future discounting, rather than reflecting maladaptive impulsivity, reflects an adaptation designed to obtain immediate reproductive benefits when future opportunities are uncertain.”  Yeesh.  Buss does take some of the impulsive mystery out of it all.

---- Just a wee bit of politics? ----

It’s not about how high executive pay has gone.   If you want to see definitive proof which side has is right -- whether the catechism is true that cutting taxes stimulates the economy and raising them quashes the economy -- look at Russ Daggatt’s devastating examination of 1992 to the present.    Seriously, go look at this entry.  Only monomaniacal loonies would continue to maintain a mantra that has proved so overwhelmingly false.  Adults are supposed to admit it, when their every single prediction proved diametrically wrong, across twenty years. The only similar example I can think of is the 70 year delusion known as the Soviet Communist Party. 

Also: See a rather clever and painful description of some underlying American (actually, human) reflexes in terms of a deeply immature “cargo cult mentality.”  Important caveat.  Don’t just think about your opponents, while reading it.  Ponder your own side.  Even yourself.

Also: Ward Three Morality, by David Brooks, that appeared February 2, 2009 in the New York Times.

--- Finally.... Last chance to Hugo Nominate ---

Alert!  If you are a member of the World Science Fiction Convention - (held this year in Montreal in August) -- you have till Saturday night to nominate works for the Hugo Award.  I have something available in the novella and “related-book” categories.  But don’t let that sway you! At this point, there’s only time to do it online. 

(Or whip out your credit cards and join for that purpose! ;-)

Oh, if any of you know a schoolteacher or librarian or educator who works in Montreal, let me know...

Thrive & endure.
db

99 comments:

Rob said...

"Twisting radio beams into a helical shape"

Are you talking there about a variant kind of circular polarization?

It works wonders in the optical part of the spectrum, permitting two channels of visual data to appear to be simultaneous. Go see Coraline for an example. No headaches.

Don't expect it to repudiate Shannon's Theorem, though.

Doug S. said...

Your link to your suggestions is broken.

This is the correct link.

David said...

Over on Kos, someone added this:

Stone Construction Equipment in upstate New York. Worker owned, democratically managed, and majority market share in its leading product lines.

Manufacturer (in their own factory) of equipment including concrete mixers, trench compactors, materials handling equipment, and so on.

If you want a serious story on how to do worker ownership successfully, this is the place to start. This company is a major success story. And their management are accessible & willing to talk.
http://www.stone-equip.com/

Cliff said...

It appears that I’ll be spending the last 3 weeks of July in beautiful, warm Phoenix Arizona

Ha! Ha!

It's warm and beautiful here now, but have you been in Phoenix in late July?
I recommend two simple steps:

(1) Sacrifice a goat to Ra the Sun God that He might not scorch the flesh from your bones

and

(2) Stay inside with the air conditioning cranked up.

Tony Fisk said...

Watching George R.R. Martin suffering the overruns on 'Dance With Dragons' suggests it is pointless and cruel to ask when your next novel is due.

So let's rephrase: when is it definitely *not* going to be out by?

the workers in-effect already own the car companies... and ought to start acting accordingly.

Is this the same factor that caused Exxon to stop funding a variety of climate-denial shill tanks? (ie the superannuation fund shareholdings saying 'enough!'?)

At the time, I thought the Helvetian War was one of the dafter parts of 'Earth' (you even referred to it as an outrider in the afterword)
Things change!

Shannon's Theorem doesn't actually take polarisation into account (although the spillover from neighbouring phases would constitute 'noise')

(Trivial aside: the technique known as 'frequency hopping' improves bandwidth efficiency by reducing power at a certain frequency, thereby reducing the noise spillover into neighbouring frequencies. I suspect a similar technique would work for helical transmissions)

The Bastiat petition reminds me that one of the first industries oil companies were prominent in was lamp lighting. I recall reading an article that singled out how oil companies evolved over time. It truly is amazing how they seemed to avoid disaster by lurching, zombie-like, from one industry to another.
(OK. Maybe things don't change.)

equitc: when conservationists have majority holdings in coal and oil industries. (Dang! This is like the counter-gerrymander tactic)

Stefan Jones said...

The report on the effect of beautiful women on the economic decision making of men seems kind of "Duh, no kidding!" I suspect that advertisers have known this for decades.

* * *

'exalan': Prescription drug, introduced 2122, used to suppress estrus in various species of sapient carnivores uplifted for military use.

Ed said...

Regarding tighter environmental standards, I'm not surprised. It's pretty well established that there's a huge correlation between wealth and caring for the environment.

This is one of the reasons it is overly simplistic to treat economic growth and environmental responsibility as conflicting aims. Choosing long-term benefits over short-term benefits is much easier to do when you've moved beyond subsistence.

Jester said...

Concerning worker ownership, Dr. Brin -

Watch "The Take"

Hundreds of factories have been siezed by workers in Argentina - many of them once "semi-public" factories built under Peron and then privatized for pennies on the dollar during the rule of Junta - after they went into bankruptcy.

A lot of the rhetoric will be too unthinkingly Leftist for your taste, but the principal is one that will appeal to you.

If you've got Netflix, you can "watch it now".

We're tribal animals. We know how to understand organizing a community of 10 to 500 people, choose leaders, hold them accountable (to varying degrees), produce wealth, and distribute it. It's what our brains have evolved to do.

"lingons" unpleasant words you just can't wipe away, no mater how hard you try.

Robert said...

Concerning "dark cometary bodies" and the threat they pose... cometary bodies are considered to be a "dirty snowball" in essence. However, there's two things to consider with cometary bodies. First, depending on how much water and other frozen gases comprise the mixture of the comet, you may end up with a very porous object that would break apart in the upper atmosphere.

The big threat of asteroid impact lies with the vaporization of a large amount of water and/or rock, which would quickly put the planet into a "nuclear winter" type scenario. In addition, the damage to the crust would cause further instabilities. If a cometary body explodes in the upper atmosphere, then the effects we have to worry about is the effect caused by the explosion (and it may be minimal, depending on how high up it explodes; we may very well see another situation like in Russia in the early 1900s which acted very much like an air-burst nuclear blast) and the dust that the blast puts in the atmosphere.

Indeed, considering how much of the planet is water, the majority of dark cometary body explosions would take place over water, and cause significantly less damage to the planet as a whole.

Another factor to consider is this: we have what is in essence a structure of rock, dust, and frozen gases mixed together. As the comet goes around the planet, it will start to break apart. How many dark cometary bodies actually remain viable, and how many just fragment and turn into spectacular meteor showers, which we often see above our planet during the night, should we but look (and be lucky)?

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sociotard said...

Listen to Social Collapse Best Practices
http://fora.tv/media/rss/Long_Now_Podcasts/podcast-2009-02-13-orlov.mp3


Dmitri Orlov, a Russian-American describes how he believes that the United States will collapse in 10-15 years. He also gives his advice on how to do well under said circumstances. I don't put [b]too[/b] much stock in his predictions, but the black humor is pretty good.

CSM said...

Regarding bad Republican predictions: the Clinton years were a dramatic disproof of Keynesian economics. He raised taxes and controlled spending -- and got economic growth.

Meanwhile, Obama is building on W. Bush's Keynesian policies with the stimulus package. So far, Obama is no Clinton...

Ilithi Dragon said...

I would hesitate to argue that the Clinton years prove that Keynesian methods are ineffective/negative. They show that raising taxes and reducing spending and/or reducing wasteful spending will reduce government debt, and can help the economy, etc. They do not prove that Keynesian methods do not work, however. Proving that one method will work does not prove that another method will fail.

Besides, the Clinton years were a decidedly different situation than the one Obama faces now. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution, and different methods are better (or worse) under different circumstances. What worked 15 years ago under different economic and political circumstances is not guaranteed to work today.

The past situation that most closely resembles our current mess is the Great Depression, and the solution that brought us out of that mess WAS keynesian methods, through the CCC, WPA, and large government spending that put people back to work and got money flowing again. And after that, Eisenhowers massive government projects that gave us the Interstate Highway system, among other things, helped keep our economy strong after the war boom and with the war deficit, and helped to continue building the economy and the middle class through the 50s and 60s.

Keynesian methods may or may not be the right approach here. Personally, based on past situations that resemble this one, I think it is. However, the success of other methods, especially under drastically different circumstances, is in absolutely no way proof that keynesian methods don't work.

Jester said...

Keynes never argued that just shoveling money out of windows was a solution.

Clinton didn't just raise taxes, he cut them too. The bottom three quintiles saw their taxes go *down* and most working people in the bottom quintile actually recieved a give-away in the form of the EIC.

You can't say Clinton was some kind of anti-Keynesian in broad terms, when he set out to do exactly what Keynes said was essential: intervene in order to get money circulating.

ThoughtCriminal said...

My advice for your July visit to Arizona - try to find a speaking engagement in Flagstaff. Nice break from the heat.

Anonymous said...

Describing the last 8 years of economic malfeasance as "Keynesian" certainly breaches whole new frontiers of Newspeak. Double plus good, Winston!

Salon article "We're on the brink of disaster: Violent protests and riots are breaking out everywhere as economies and governments fail. War is bound to follow."
http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/02/26/klare/

Oldest English words identified. Computer analysis determines English words that go back tens of thousands of years:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7911645.stm

"Right, and left out" - Young conservatives feel abandoned by society:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/25/AR2009022503849.html?hpid=topnews

The anti-web manifesto. Some good points. As web pages take longer and longer to load and wind up containing ever less actual content -- in particular, as YouTube videos have now started to take the place of simple compact easily-readable articles -- I find myself drifting increasingly away from the web and back toward good old-fashioned print. I can read 10 newspaper articles in the time it takes to watch one Ted Talk on Youtube!
http://port70.net/webless/antiweb.html

"Conservatives don't know the difference between socialism and fascism"
http://grantlawrence.blogspot.com/2009/02/conservatives-dont-know-difference.html

Pentagon has lifted its ban on photos of coffins coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan yesterday. Now if only we'd pull the U.S. military out of those 2 countries...
http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/26/pentagon.media.war.dead/index.html

Senate panel to investigate CIA abuse (code word for "torture") of detainees. About time.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/26/AR2009022603282.html?hpid=topnews

U.S. attorney general announced yesterday that the DEA will no longer raid medical marijuana dispensaries. Change you can believe in!
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/26/holder-vows-to-end-raids_n_170119.html

"Las Vegas running out of water"
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=a_b86mnWn9.w&refer=home

That's just the start. Wait till it happens to Phoenix AZ and Los Angeles CA.

Engineers use nano-origami to build tiny electronic devices:
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/nano-origami-0224.html

New documents show the FBI discovered massive subprime mortgage fraud in 2004 but did nothing about it. What was that someone was saying about the so-called "Keynesian" policies of the last 8 years...?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-k-black/the-two-documents-everyon_b_169813.html

Biologists have now created functional neurons from adult stem cells:
http://www.examiner.com/x-1242-Science-News-Examiner~y2009m2d25-UCLA-team-creates-functional-neurons-from-adult-somatic-cells

Wait -- it gets better. Stem cells show real promise of relieving shortages in the blood supply by creating blood substitutes:
http://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/87/8708sci1a.html

Obama's nominee to head the National Intelligence Council is a former Saudi lobbyist who wrote that the Chinese Tiananmen crackdown "didn't go nearly far enough." Ugh.
http://reason.com/blog/show/131843.html

Excellent Georgie Anne Geyer op-ed "Moderation we can believe in": let's hear it for fanatical wild-eyed advocates of moderation!
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ucgg/20090213/cm_ucgg/moderationwecanbelievein;_ylt=AoG9vsXQFqGexvbPl4i4WXsAgMIF

The week in Republican dementia: the party falls apart completely into "Animal House on the Potomac":
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-jenkins/worst-week-ever-republica_b_170378.html

Fascinating new trend in China: "shanzai," hardware mash-ups that combine features from different pieces of hardware to create an entirely new product.
http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=284

And here's a startling snapshot of China's tech innovation -- "Akihabara, eat your heart out" describing the electronic marketplace in Shenzen:
http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=147

"Could silicon valley become the next Detroit?"
http://www.newsweek.com/id/181392?from=rss

"The truth about truth commissions: why America doesn't try its own war criminals"
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/2/26/134824/268/573/702192

How the publishing industry is making the same mistake with the AMazon kindle that the music industry made with Apple's iTunes store:
http://www.slate.com/id/2212320/pagenum/all/#p2

Related story here - "Welcome to the kindleverse"
http://www.scholarsandrogues.com/2009/02/27/kindleverse/

Intriguing story here:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29417231/

I honestly, truly have never been able to grasp the attraction of a game in which you pretend to murder other people. I would pay good money to avoid such a "game." Violence and death stalk us in our everyday lives too relentlessly as it is, snatching friends and acquaintances away in the jaws of entropy without warning.

I simply cannot get my mind around a simulation of murdering other human beings as a form of "entertainment." Now, some armchair philosophe might object: "But a novel or a TV show or a movie is just a simulation of other human beings getting murdered, isn't it?" Which misses the salient point -- namely, that in a game, you must personally murder the simulated people with malice aforethought.

I find myself unable to imagine doing that. If forced to play such a game, I imagine I would immediately drop the weapon and run. Presumably I'd get along well with the Quakers because I seem to be just a pacifist at heart. Not very practical. But there it is.

You have to wonder the degree to which these kinds of simulations inure the average person to killing other people, and its relation to American foreign policy.

Robert...far be it from me to chasten you online, but you do realize you are lecturing a man whose doctoral thesis involved comets, don't you? I would find it most unlikely that I had anything to say to David Brin about comets that he didn't already know...but that's just me.

And now for an antidote to the global depression:
http://www.splitreason.com/product/538#

Robert said...

Well, he did mention the fact he did his doctoral thesis on comets in the article. My point however was that the gloom-and-doom danger that the article hinted at was not nearly the Armageddon-style end-of-times that it was hinting at. Rather, it would be destructive, sure, but quite survivable. Indeed, it is the intact comets that pose a greater risk to the planet than a burnt-out boiled-out husk of sand and rock that could very well bounce off the atmosphere or explode far in the upper atmosphere and result in little damage to the planet's surface.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Not usually a fan of Truthout. But this one bears focused reading. Do it.
http://www.truthout.org/022609L

Unfortunately, guys like this always fail to do what the right-wingers do best... encapsulating their case into simple bites. These are (unfortunately) far more effective than lengthy, reasoned op-ed pieces. For example:

"After a billion dollar witch hunt, spanning fourteen years in which the GOP has controlled at least one branch of government, and all branches for six of them, how many Clinton-era officials have ever been convicted, or even indicted, for crimes relating to their duties in office? If the answer were zero (and it is) then what does this say about that yammering morons who spew slander, without ever proving a single thing?"

That's a killer. Yet non one democrat-defender ever distills it down to such a pure, indisputable essence.

There are so many others, e.g.

"When Bill Clinton left office, the Army rated ALL of its brigades as fully combat ready, leaving Bush a powerful force that he used in Afghanistan and Iraq. When Bush left office, the reserves were in tatters and not a single US brigade was rated combat ready. The officers corps had to stage a work action, in 2006, in order to force out a Defense Secretary they despised. Bush drove away all our allies and ruined our military reputation. He could not have done a better job savaging our military, had that been his intent. So... who are these militia guys who actually think that the Army and Navy will back _them?"

David Brin said...

But the biggest opportunity is to drive wedges between groups that are members of the grand republican Frankenstein Coalition.

http://www.davidbrin.com/1947.htm

There are some basic cognitive points that - if ranted loudly and clearly enough, by JUST the right people -- might cause a split that's lethal cleaving off:

1) rural white populist gun-guys... by making them see that they are being used by the exact same aristocratic lords who fooled them into fighting for them in the Civil War... poor white farmers dying to defend the right of a few thousand priggish aristos to own slaves.

2) Libertarians... who might finally be got to realize that freedom has other enemies than just bureaucrats. And that 99% of human cultures, 99% of the time, saw their freedom and free markets crushed by conniving/cheating cronies of the king.

3) Military men and women, who have the facts laid out before them.

4) Sons and daughters of the rich. The dullards will clasp their notions of born-privilege till their dying breath. But the smartest brothers and sisters want to be part of a lively, healthy civilization and prove they can make it on their own. Today, these brighter siblings vanish into science, the arts, etc, leaving the dullard brothers actually holding and managing the family financial interests.

There! I have explained the last decade. Really very little of all the convoluted analyses being done by Wall street and the Fed etc are needed. It really does come down to that. The aristocracy itself was betrayed by its smartest scions, who left massive amounts of power in the hands of their dumb-ass siblings, who should not have been trusted with a burnt match.

Moreover, the cure is obvious. Hunt down all the smart siblings who vanished into grownup activities... science, teaching, research, the arts... and chase them BACK into the family businesses! Make them pick up their responsibilities to manage their family capital well. Send the dullard brat-putz-twits off to sniff coke and chase models in Hollywood.

I'd rank that second only to closing all the undergraduate business schools, as a way to save our economy and our civilization.

Ilithi Dragon said...

I see what you did there, Dr. Brin. Posting right at the end of the month, when your monthly limit rolls over, and you can post again right away, without getting yelled at. <.< I'm on to you...

Interesting points, though. Any suggestions on how to chase those rich scientists, etc. back into the family business?

Also, this video was posted in the comments section of the article you linked to: http://www.wimp.com/thegovernment/

I don't entirely agree with it (the concept of 'minimum government' can be taken too far, even when the intent isn't anarchy, and I don't entirely agree with the concept that government absolutely HAS to be the smallest size at which it can function), but it does give an interesting presentation and analysis.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Rob H,
I don't understand why an active comet is so much more dangerous than an inactive hulk of a comet?, surely the key features are the mass and velocity at cometary speeds the make-up is almost irrelevant.
The worrying thing about the old hulk is that it does not outgass and form a visible tail so it could hit with little or no warning.

Robert said...

The reason I consider a cometary corpse to be less dangerous is because a lot of its mass has already been lost, and its structural integrity has been weakened by the outgassing.

The worse-case scenario for a comet-strike would be much like the comet that slammed into Jupiter (that we caught on satellite). Multiple megaton-explosions occurring across the region would be more likely to strike someplace on land and cause a bit more devastation.

However, the reason for the fear of a life-killing asteroid (you honestly can't call them "planet-killers" as the planet survives the impact, even if it ends up in a state of massive upheaval for a while) is that when it strikes (in the scenarios I've seen talked about at least; those scenarios might be out of date) the asteroid punches through the crust, into the mantle, and throws up molten material that turns up the atmospheric temperature to near boiling. The seismic activity resultant from the impact combined with an atmosphere that becomes inhospitable for life on one hemisphere and the resultant massive dust and water vapor cloud makes it impossible for life to survive except on maybe a microscopic level, or at deep sea thermal vents.

I'm not sure if a comet strike can cause that much damage as comets lack the iron core that survives reentry and slams into the crust. I may very well be wrong, mind you. And active comets are more dangerous than dead comets because they will be more massive and will also have more volatile elements in them that would increase their explosive power for when they detonate in the atmosphere.

Rob H., living proof that a little bit of knowledge is more dangerous than no knowledge at all ^^

David Brin said...

Forced out of quasi-retirement to comet on comments or to comment on comets.

Robert, you are positing a model of a cometary nucleus as sort of a rigid sponge that is so porous that volatiles can escape from deep within, while the body itself stays rigid, baked over extended periods so that the heat penetrates deep and gets all the ice out. Until what's left is a toasty, empty, fluffy crust.

On what basis do you assume such a model? Can you name any kind of material in nature that acts that way? Especially since comets visit the sun only briefly, not sitting in an oven for years?

The standard model (mine) is that comets start as agglomerations of ice and dust, With each passage near the sun, some ice near the surface evaporates, entraining the propelling lighter dust particles into the dust tail while leaving the heavier stuff behind. Sometimes, this "mantle" covering seals off ice and a heat wave penetrates, creating high pressure packets that blow everything away.

If the top thermos /dust layer gets thick enough, activity is choked off, or escapes in narrow fountains. The great bulk of the interior is never affected.

They remain just as dangerous, only harder to see.

Ilithi Dragon said...

If I understand what I've learned on the subject correctly, the likely speed of impact between any large asteroid or cometary body would be so great that most of the object would survive atmospheric entry intact. Any impactor of sufficient size to cause a mass-extinction-level event would have too much mass to be significantly slowed by the atmosphere prior to impact, leaving very little time between the moment it entered the upper atmosphere, and the moment of impact. The actual mass, composition and size/density all factor into that, but any object that does have sufficient mass to cause a mass extinction event would not be sufficiently slowed by atmospheric entry to reduce its speed or burn up in any significant way.

Smaller impactors would be affected more by the atmosphere, though again, the extent depends on mass, composition and size/density, as well as speed and angle of entry. A small comet would probably burn up or explode prior to impact (though that alone could have major negative effects, through dust clouds in the upper atmosphere, or a Tunguska-like event that ISN'T over uninhabited wilderness), but if the cometary remnant isn't particularly small, it could still cause quite a lot of damage.

Sociotard said...

Gordon Brown wants to make the recovery project a sort of Globalized New Deal.

Link
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article5821821.ece

Sociotard said...

The Department of Justice just released some Bush memos. Read if they interest you.

http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/documents/olc-memos.htm

Titles:
Memorandum Regarding Status of Certain OLC Opinions Issued in the Aftermath of the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 (01-15-2009)
Memorandum Regarding Constitutionality of Amending Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to Change the "Purpose" Standard for Searches (09-25-2001)
Memorandum Regarding Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities within the United States (10-23-2001)
Memorandum Regarding Authority of the President to Suspend Certain Provisions of the ABM Treaty (11-15-2001)
Memorandum Regarding the President's Power as Commander in Chief to Transfer Captured Terrorists to the Control and Custody of Foreign Nations (03-13-2002)
Memorandum Regarding Swift Justice Authorization Act (04-08-2002)
Memorandum Regarding Determination of Enemy Belligerency and Military Detention (06-08-2002)
Memorandum Regarding Applicability of 18 U.S.C. § 4001(a) to Military Detention of United States Citizens (06-27-2002)
Memorandum Regarding October 23, 2001 OLC Opinion Addressing the Domestic Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities (10-06-2008)

David Brin said...

Fans of robotics!

Look up the FIRST Robotics League, through which Dean Kamen has challenged 3000+ high schools to go into manic competition building elaborate machines to vie in marvelous arena events.

The San diego Regional is at the SD Sports Arena this coming Friday and Saturday, free to the public.

The next weekend is the LA meet, followed by one in Phoenix. Or look up the contest near you.

Jester said...

At least as important as the Memos is the admission that the CIA destroyed 92 videotapes in order to conceal the indentities of agents involved in "harsh interogation".

Also, it appears the Federal Attorney doing the Criminal Investigation on that case asked that both the memos and the details of the tape destruction be held untill "The end of Feburary"...so the Administration cut this info loose as soon as was feasible without potentially ruining a criminal case.

This is, BTW, the Prosecutor who blew open the Whitey Bolger FBI/Boston Mob connection. Good man on the job.

Good news, at least for those of us who would like to see the big fish hung and the little fish out of Government.

"Syncesq" Sort of in sync, like current RNC messaging.

Gilmoure said...

I'm not sure if I've asked this here (but have left message at whitehouse.gov site and Paul Krugman blog):

Would it make sense for the government to offer something similar to war bonds? Apparently, savings rates are now hitting 5% in the U.S., which is holding up capital. Some kind of gov't issued bonds would allow regular folks to save while giving the gov't a little more carrot.

Or, set up a national savings bank that would offer some kind of guaranteed CD?

Anyways, would some kind of deal like this help things?

Ilithi Dragon said...

You know, I've often wondered that myself, when pondering the similarities between the current economic crisis and the Great Depression. It makes a lot of sense, in a lot of ways, and we could draw direct comparisons from the last time we enacted such a program, to get an idea of how effective it is. And it would give the government a sort of credit line that doesn't run out of China.

Boot said...

I also liked the idea. However, my stock friend said that would cause people to move cash from the stock market to these bonds. This plan to help the government would add to some of the problems the government is trying to fix.

I found this argument compelling even though I still like the original idea.

Jester said...

The market is still hugely overvalued, and headed down.

A fair sale price for all companies listed on the Dow would support, roughly, Dow 5,000-5,500.

People are scared of bank failures, terrified of the markets, and pooping themselves at the thought of investing in real estate.

They're looking for "safe", and it's better for the economy if they loan Uncle Sam money than if they horde gold bullion.

The Post-WWII recession ended when those War Bonds started maturing...we could expect a hell of a boom in five years.

It also would not be a bad way to replace some tax incentives.

Think about it...issue a five year thousand dollar US bond at 4% instead of a thousand dollar tax credit when someone installs a new air-conditioner.

No foreign borrowing, still provides incentive.

The recipient can still sell the bond if they want, or borrow against it, although many would simply hold them.

Anonymous said...

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-fi-magicwater23-2009feb23,0,4364552.story

Any of the resident science enthusiasts want to check out this article and tell me how legit it seems?

The whole thing sounds really cool to me: tech, green, innovative, just in keeping with the themes of this website and blog.

Jon

David McCabe said...

At first glance, it seems they're making bleach and lye--probably very dilute, for drinkability. Not exactly a breakthrough, is it?

Dawn said...

Just sent an email through the official web site about teachers in Montreal. If I can help let me know.

Anonymous said...

Several issues with issuing government WW II-style reconstruction bonds modeled on the War Bonds of the 1940s:

First, bonds can lose value just as stocks can. Buying a bond makes sense if there's no inflation in the foreseeable future. We don't know what's in the foreseeable future. Some economists have argued that the extremely low velocity of circulation augurs low inflation even though the Fed continues to dump colossal amounts of liquidity into the American economy. Other economists demur, citing America's unsustainable balance of trade payments, lack of a manufacturing base, and lack of transparency in TARP as reasons why inflation will come roaring back soon. Since these are the same economists who assured us in 2005 that there was no housing bubble, and in 1998 who told us there was no dot-com bubble, we'd be well advised to regard economists' predictions with skepticism. The predictions of the few economists who called this financial meltdown (Nouriel Roubini, Peter Schiff) are not enouraging.

Second, people have to have money to invest in bonds. The problem right now is an overall lack of liquidity. If people had enough spare cash to invest in bonds instead of in paying down their debt or just paying their mortgage to avoid becoming homeless, we wouldn't have a liquidity problem and the economy would be fine.

Third, we face much different circumstances today than at the tail end of the Great Depression. In 1942 America had huge amounts of unused industrial production and colossal quantities of untapped natural resources -- recall that essentially all the oil America used in WW II came from oil wells in Texas and Oklahoma. Today, America has outsourced all its industrial capacity, and we have very little in the way of untapped natural resources.

A much better suggestion for helping the U.S. economy would involve taking Larry Summers to the edge of a pier and throwing him into the ocean in a sack weighted down with concrete blocks. Larry Summers presided over the total destruction of the Russian economy when it converted from communism to capitalism in 1991, and Summers seems on track to do the same thing for the American economy in 2009.

http://firelarrysummersnow.blogspot.com/2009/02/rich-on-summers.html

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2009/02/geithner-and-summers-consolidating.html

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gilmoure said...

Anon said... Second, people have to have money to invest in bonds. The problem right now is an overall lack of liquidity. If people had enough spare cash to invest in bonds instead of in paying down their debt or just paying their mortgage to avoid becoming homeless, we wouldn't have a liquidity problem and the economy would be fine.

Not everyone is on the skids right now. Currently, wife and I, beyond our regular 401K stuff, and our savings, we put $100-$200 a month towards investments. For the last few months, I'm just holding it back, while we see what's going on. But I wouldn't mind a program for regular folks/small investors. What if it was some kind of CD thing tied in to a national bank or credit union, that supported small businesses?

Sociotard said...

Gah. Scooped. I was going to link to the "Doctors require gag orders" story. Ah well, I'll just make a link anyway. Zorgon's only posted the URL.

http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090304/ap_on_hi_te/med_gagging_patients

David Brin said...

If that was who you say it was, then I must delete his comment. Whenever I suspect that an anonymous person is he, I shall do so.

Barring any such suspicions, I will continue to allow anonymous postings that offer interesting lists of citations, that appear to be neutral or undetermined in origin, without telltale character traits.

Doug S. said...

I simply cannot get my mind around a simulation of murdering other human beings as a form of "entertainment."

Does that apply to fencing and other martial arts competitions?

David McCabe said...

Although the vision algorithms used are pretty old-hat compared to what's been at SIGGRAPH the last few years, it's cool to see a demo like this in the mainstream:

GE uses computer vision in advertisement.

atomicsmith said...

I honestly, truly have never been able to grasp the attraction of a game in which you pretend to murder other people....

I simply cannot get my mind around a simulation of murdering other human beings as a form of "entertainment."



What if you think of it as an elaborate version of 'tag'?

I mean, in many of these games you even have to avoid the "hot-lava" pits...

And "no-tag-backs" is digitally enforced!

Sociotard said...

Sorry Z. I'll keep my mouth shut next time. You're a nut, but you're an amusing nut and some of your lists have interesting things.

Beaverton Army captain accused of stealing $690,000 from Iraq

http://www.kgw.com/news-local/stories/kgw_030509_news_army_captain_iraq_theft.6cf1208.html


Here's where some of the wasted Iraqi money went, and Bush wasn't even involved. Just a greedy man with an embezzelment scheme.

Stefan Jones said...

Resentful free market politician high on Objectivist crankery is calling for an Atlas Shrugged style strike by Achievers to show that damn socialist Obama that they can't be pushed around.

Daily Kos diarist Hunter responds:

"If Only We Could Be So Lucky"

So yes, please, by all means, teach us a lesson, Achiever Class, and do it quick. You take your money, and we'll take the people who know how to fix your goddamn plumbing at three in the morning. You grab your portfolio and hold it high above your heads, a symbol of your lifetime of accomplishments, and we'll take all the firefighters. I can only presume you will not need our doctors, our schoolteachers, our grocers or even our tax accountants. Ayn Rand would have wanted it that way: Ayn Rand, oracle of the prickish class, official trumpet section for anyone and everyone that thinks themselves a king.

Cliff said...

On the murder simulation thing, all I can say is, some people like to play murder simulators, some people like to sit around and find reasons to feel superior to everyone else.

David Brin said...

I've been offering riffs about and to libertarians for ages. The vast majority claim to know a lot of history, while knowing none at all. None of those who proclaim fealty to Adam Smith ever read him -- or let themselves hear what Smith preached... that 99% of past markets were ruined by aristocratism.

The same kinds of aristos who owned slaves in the 1850s, while the libertarians of that era proclaimed States Rights as a fundamental principle of limited government, righteously fighting and dying so that 5% of the population could own 25%, while 50% (poor working whites) fought at Gettysburg to defend their lords.

While decrying as "decadent" the urban populations who were wrestling with issues of governance and prejudice and freedom and complex government and education and science and all the matters that STILL are fussed over by educated urbanites...

...while the same rednecks and rationalizers in the Confederacy still growl at the future, wage culture war, and come up with rationalizations for why the lords should own everything.

In fact, they are cloud cuckoo romantics. The rednecks have (conveniently) put away their patriotic flag-waving - now that THEIR guy isn't president - and have gone back to fantasies about riding with Nathan Bedford Forest. They have resumed the acid fumings that led Tim McVeigh to believe outright treason was not only justifiable, but would lead to the US military staging a coup on the good old boys' behalf. Never bothering to do their homework as to who the US Officer Corps is delighted to have in charge right now (the Democrats.)

Morons.

But the libertarian fringe are worse than the rednecks. They need to parse WHICH members of the billionaires' Club are supporting the Dems and which are pumping money frantically into shoring up Limbaugh and Fox. The former set is where most of the self-made tech moguls are -- genuine achievers, most of whom have actually been asking to pay more taxes! (Just ask Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and others.)

The latter set -- the ones who long ago bought and paid for that brothel, the Cato Institute -- is rife with men and women who were born rich and never "achieved" much except to hire lobbyists and politicians to make their money grow. To privatise profits and socialize risks - exactly as described by Adam Smith.

Or else, people whose "achievement" was to manipulate money in ways that maximized opportunities to siphon, parasitically off the churn. Any "strike" by the latter caste will be fine by me.

Oh, but the ultimate question to ask the libertarians is simple. "Where were you in 2008?"

With the Republican Party imploding, having utterly discredited itself as a manager of the economy, defense, law, or any desideratum that any freedom-loving person ought to desire -- why wasn't the Libertarian Party able to draw more support from the vast number of disgruntled conservative Americans who -- with some legitimate reason -- want government that is slim, efficient, accountable and sane?

Even accounting for the execrable candidate they put forward in 08, there can be only one over-arching explanation for the LP actually LOSING ground in such a year, slipping into deeper irrelevance than ever.

The American people look at them, and see the glimmers of a good idea... but one that is throttled and distorted and ruined by a bunch of silly-ass loonies.

Libertarianism ought to be part of the solution in this country. It would be the perfect foil and negotiating opposition to the democrats. But not while it is led by jibbering fools.

Ilithi Dragon said...

On the subject of murder simulation, I have to ask, is it violent video games in general that are the issue in this particular case, or those particularly violent games in which the story/gameplay revolves around the character running around murdering people for revenge, money, lulz, etc.? Games like Manhunt and the GTA series come to mind as examples.

Speaking of Grand Theft Auto, I read a brief news blurb a couple weeks ago about one of the GTA 4 games actually doing good and being educational - a family was in a car accident in which their vehicle flipped over (nobody was seriously hurt, thankfully), and the daughter insisted that everyone get out of the car and get away from it as quickly as they could, because she'd learned from the game that cars that flip over can explode. Of course, it's common sense, sitting here in our computer chairs, to know that you should get out of a overturned car as quickly as possible, but remembering that and taking quick and decisive action on it right after the accident that flipped the car over, especially coming from a young girl, is still fairly impressive.

tacitus2 said...

Well I am back from far afield, and have acclimated the roughly 80 degree temp difference twixt Saharra and Tundra. I have lots to say on the folly and wisdom of the Middle East and of our own nation.

But, in the interests of the Brin Full Employment Project, I will with difficulty hold my fire until the politics lamp is officially lit.

In the meantime, something very cool.

www.planetary.org/exoplanets/

This is a complete, updated list of all identified extrasolar planets with data on each and a cool animated graphic showing orbits.

I think I have spotted the Tandu homeworld.

We won't walk on these rocks, but here's to hopin' our great grandchildren might.

Tacitus2

Tony Fisk said...

... But the Tandu aren't Zang, are they?

On a similar vein, Kepler seems to have got off on it's way without mishap
(Now, can we recap that CO2 observatory?)

alliti: Elder race accused of uplifting the Tandu. They claim they were coerced by their clients.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, consider any lamp you want to be lit,lit. This comments section is an open discussion board, even if I only make major postings 2-3 x month.

And lighting the lamp... pleas drop in on the Russ Daggatt site to see it amply shown that the Limbaugh Party is dissolving before our eyes.
http://daggatt.blogspot.com/2009/03/just-making-stuff-up.html

Seriously, Tacitus, my heart goes out to guys like you. Are there ANY conservative leaders willing to stand up and say the Elephant is dead, a putrid corpse, and that conservatism (which DOES have some definitions that are worthy, valuable and welcome at the table of ideas!) must find a new approach?

Republicans seem to be occupying some kind of alternative reality. The main Republican tactic these days is to mock every form of government spending to undermine confidence in President Obama’s economic recovery plans and foment opposition to them. It shouldn’t be too hard to find instances of wasteful spending – that’s the oldest populist trick in the book. But increasingly, they are just making stuff up.

Take Bobby Jindal’s Republican response to President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress last week. His big example of wasteful spending in the president’s stimulus bill was, “$8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a 'magnetic levitation' line from Las Vegas to Disneyland.” The whole right-wing noise machine has been shouting out this mythical Las Vegas-to-Disneyland train in recent days – originally as part of the stimulus bill but lately it has morphed into an element of the fiscal 2008 omnibus spending bill. As “reported” by FOX News’s Megyn Kelly (in the latter context):

It's a super railroad, of sorts -- a line that will deliver customers straight from Disney, we kid you not, to the doorstep of the moonlight Bunny Ranch brothel in Nevada . I say, to the moonlight Bunny Ranch brothel in Nevada . So should your tax dollars be paying for these kinds of projects?

“We kid you not,” says FOX News. (Is it worth pointing out that the Bunny Ranch is outside Carson City , 400 miles north of Las Vegas ? Not that I know these kinds of things.) Pure fiction. Yes, the stimulus bill included $8 billion for high-speed rail lines. But that allocation of funds does not include any “earmarks” and it doesn’t specify any such Las Vegas-to-Disneyland rail line. The funds are to be allocated by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican it is worth noting. While no specific projects have been designated, the Department of Transportation does have a map of proposed high-speed rail corridors... and none of them include Vegas.

....
So what is the Republican response to this worst global economic crisis in our lifetime?

“House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, reacted to the rise in unemployment today by calling for a federal government spending freeze.”
You can’t make this stuff up.

And don’t forget the “bold” GOP plan for turning around the economy: elimination of the capital gains tax. (Actually, there is nothing new about this proposal. Newt Gringrich was pushing it as far back as 1997 – when the economy was booming. Boom or bust, deficits or surpluses, war or peace, inflation or deflation, the Republicans have a one-size-fits-all solution: Tax cuts for the rich and reduce the social safety net.)


Now we hear that the size of the deficit is all the Dems doing. WRONG. All reputable economists - and even republican financiers - agree that the federal government must provide demand and in a huge way to stimulate our way out of this mess. The AMOUNT of the deficit belongs entirely, absolutely and irrefutably at the feet of George W. Bush and the Republicans.

The COLOR of the stimulus bill... what it will be spent on... is, of course, very much decided by Obama and the Dems. And I would certainly have wished for changed. A puritanical swearing-off of pork. No multi-year entitlements, A special prosecutor for Bush era thieves. Nothing would make me happier than if the Congressional GOP had chosen to be NEGOTIATING PARTNERS, engaging in genuine tug and pull to get accountability into the mix.

But they have chosen lockstep party disciplined naysaying. That means we have one deliberative body, the democratic party. It is a terrible situation, and every ounce of it the fault of a conservative movement that's gone mad.

But forget me... go read Daggatt's rant. It is cogent and demonstrates that guys like Tacitus have got to gather themselves together and decide what to do. We can wish them well and pray there are enough of them, with enough gumption, to split off and try something new.

tacitus2 said...

First, a word from "T-1".

"I have reserved as an employment for my old age, should my life be long enough, a subject at once more fruitful and less anxious in the reign of the Divine Nerva and the empire of Trajan, enjoying the rare happines of times, when we may think what we please, and express what we think."

P.Cornelius Tacitus

tacitus2 said...

By the way, do not try the above advice in Egypt. Marvelous people, thuggish kleptocratic government. Educated Egyptians in private refer to Mubarak as "the fat smiling cow". It sounds even worse in Arabic!

Big news overseas and here is the economic downturn. A very large amount of wealth appears to be missing. Even if some of it was fake Magic Unicorn Dollars, the impact on our society and the world economy is noteworthy. So, how did we get where we are?

Theory 1
It's the End Times. Capitalism, heck, commerce itsself has imploded. Gosh I hope not. Personally I will do OK, my skills are in significant demand. But I worry about my kids, and about those whose life work involves providing non essential goods and services. But fear not, should a tattered but still proud figure wander into my encampment some day and offer to trade stories for a square meal and a bed I will, David, be a most gracious host.

Theory 2.
It's all market mechanics. I am not buying this one, because it assumes the PE ratios, earnings etc that are published, and make up the data base, are honest. Clearly they were not. Once we screw the top off of every jar in the pantry and take a sniff, "normal" economic forces might work again. This leads to:

Theory 3.
It's all W's fault. This is a perennial fave in these parts, and does get partial credit as an answer. You got the big chair, its your fault. Of course it is a bit of a stretch to blame W for the even worse economic woes of Europe, which involve buying massive amounts of Eastern European Magic Unicorn Bonds, but I guess W's towering stature in the world could have influenced the more regulated financial systems of Europe to say, "Oh, what the heck". Contagious exhuberance I guess.

Theory 4.
The game is rigged. Well, yes in fact it is. And here is where blaming the inept Bush admin gets harder. Sure, the deficits were unconcionable. And the expense of the Iraq war may well have been the final straw. But letting the Dems off easy is a risky investment.

A couple of premises I prop up for you to consider and blast away at.

Primus
The stinkier aspects of the financial community have been heavily involved with the Dem party. Lets follow some money and people around, shall we?

per www.opensecrets.org the financial contributions of the Hedge Fund industry 1990-2008 have been directed 65% Dem 34% to those captains of industry, the GOP.

Fannie Mae, the detonator for the current explosion has been described as a refuge for out of power Clintonites. Fairly?

Franklin Raines CEO 1999 until forced out under SEC investigation in 2004. Former OMB director under Clinton. Total Fannie reimbursement? $90,128,761. Although in fairness the settlement with SEC required a 3 million dollar fine. Paid by Fannie's insurer.

Timothy Howard CFO 82 to 2004. Total take, 30,155,029. Too busy acting as head chef in the Fannie Mae kitchen to be political.

Jamie Gorelick Vice Chair 99-03. Total reimbursement 26,466,834. Former Clinton Dept. Attny General.

Jim Johnson, CEO prior to Raines. All around Dem fixer, bundler and good old boy. paid 21,000,000. Later had brief acclaim as head of Obama's VP search until above revealed, along with favorable mortgage deal from Countrywide (see Friends of Angelo, other FOA F. Raines and Sen. C.Dodd).

Top 3 recipients of campaign contrib from Fannie Mae (and Freddie Mac) 99-08? C.Dodd, B.Obama, J.Kerry.

To be fair, the next three on the list were Repubs. Partially this reflects the inclusion of Freddie Mac, which seems to have been the Republican brothel for financial dealings.

Sorry for the long post. My point being that the corruption is not confined to the Repubs, who are currently far enough from the levers of power to be fairly harmless. Watch the Democrats.

I respect the ideals of the DFL, while not trusting most of their elected officials even a little bit. (A case of respecting Principles but not Principals).

No doubt the Congressional Blue Ribbon Commission to investigate the shady dealings, faked accounting, dubious political contributions will turn up some interesting stuff. I expect it to convene shortly after Al Gore comes out with his documentary on the dangers of global cooling.

Secundus
Do the policies being advanced by President Obama cause the stock market to go down?

15,000 high point of the Dow
10,322 Dow on the day reasonable observers called the race for Obama (see my post here day of McCain's acceptance speech)
9,625 Dow on election day
8,122 Dow on Inaugeration day
since then virtually every announcement of economic policy bites out another 300 points, and we stand around 6,500.

The investor class, which is a large segment of our nation, is voting as we speak.

Cheerfully ready for vituperation, villification and demonization.

Tacitus2

occam's comic said...

If the following quote from the Financial Times is correct, we are in a world of trouble:

"Falls in the value of financial assets worldwide might have reached more than $50,000bn, equivalent to a year’s global economic output, the Asian Development Bank will warn on Monday."
(the number does not include derivatives)

50 Trillion Dollars!!!!
A years worth of Global Output!!!!
Losses of this size are just staggering and they are going to continue. This crisis is going to force big changes all over the world. Any ideas on how to deal with it?

David Brin said...

No vituperation at YOU Tacitus. But some stern logical correction.

What you described were anecdotes. The inveterate habit of conservatives. And while the conflicts of interest and outrageous CEO compensations you relate are despicable, not one openly reveals itself as "corruption." It was the way the game was played in the Oughts.

No, the blame for the game goes to those who deliberately disabled our immune systems. Bushco did a LOT worse than you describe. They dismantled and distracted and quashed and bullied the entire US civil service and all of our public servants who were assigned to detect, warn and deter such behavior.

They did this in order to grant phony "emergency" contracts amounting to hundreds of billions... while ensuring safety for pals who stole MORE hundreds of billions. While enabling gamblers to throw dice with about two trillions. These are not small potatoes.

You credit Obama with losing the confidence of the investor class? Har. Anecdotes. The stock collapse correlates with revelations of actual economic health that were squelched under Bush. Only now do we know how many lost their jobs... and how many more won't spend, in fear of losing theirs. Obama deserves ZERO blame... except for actually (at last) allowing honest statistics to get out.

T, we will not permit changes of narrative. The story is this.

Conservative Revolution Phase One:
Reagan ends the practice of collegial negotiation.

He ends the assumption that at least the cabinet secretaries will represent their agencies' purpose. (Interior Scy & EPA = environmentalists, Labor Secy a labor person, commerce represents business, even under dems.)

He wages the Cold War end game in such a way that only a few parallel worlds survive the commie spasm... thankfully we are one of them. So I do not begrudge him an aircraft carrier

But I do begrudge him ripping Carter's solar panels off the White House roof, canceling nearly all energy research, telling us to spend like mad and ignore the future.

And starting Culture War (though Reagan himself was too pleasant to turn it nasty.)


Conservative Revolution Phase Two:
Took America from its peak - economic, financial, military, diplomatic, scientific, cultural and in every single other measure of health... and reversed EVERY SINGLE METRIC, weakening the nation in every single conceivable way... a perfect record that is as treasonous as it is utterly undeniable.

Now add in the fact that that side is ALWAYS wrong on the big issues -- civil rights, women's rights, the environment, climate change, science... heck now THEY are the big defenders of "don't ask, don't tell," which they predicted would destroy the military! (In fact, Bush did that.)

Note that none of this has to do with actual left and right... markets are proved and nobody sensible really wants socialism. Instead of left vs right, it is sane vs absolutely cloud-cuckoo crazy.

No anecdotes can distract from this. Or from the treason called Culture War. Truly decent and smart American conservatives make up a clade of tens of millions of people who ought to see what monsters have done to their movement, and escape the clutches of the maniacs and join us in honest negotiation. I've spent the last several years chasing that dream, reaching out and arguing the case IN CONSERVATIVE, MARKET-LOVING TERMS.

But they won't. They'll never break the hold that Murdoch and limbaugh have on them.

And for THAT I will never forgive them

Tony Fisk said...

Tut, T2. Your Pointus Secundus smacks of the 'making stuff up' riff that Daggett is on about. (and while typing this, David has dealt with primus)

Noise aside, the Dow Jones shows a steady decline over the last month or two. No causative links to Obama's announcements/actions there.

Watching the stock market needs to be done with a rueful shake of the head, sometimes. A few years ago, my erstwhile employer bought a company who specialised in pathology testing reagents. The reasoning was well thought out, the business model being something akin to inkjet printers. Our company made automated tissue stainers, which sell once, then need continual supplies. So, make your money out of the supplying the demand you've created.

A sound investment... and the share values promptly dropped by the same amount for which they'd bought the company. The next year was spent trying to shore up confidence in the decision. The CEO cheerfully plotting their efforts to staff (basically, share prices rose ... until they tried educating. ie reminding, the market about their decision.) Strategy? Hell, no! We want profits! (Actually, management weren't that worried, the long term shareholders knew the score and weren't selling. It was the volatile 'investment' set which didn't like this planning idea)

menesso: a rich, dark coffee. Made with kool-aid

tacitus2 said...

David
Anecdotes? Guilty as charged. I am not trying to change your, or anybody's, world view. Just toss out some food for thought here and there.
So, the standards for corruption vary from year to year? Fanny Mae execs have a great deal to answer for. Worse in all regards than the politicians who reach for their zippers or wallets at inopportune times (or in the case of Spitzer, both). The Fannies help wreck the dreams of millions and get a measly fine that they do not even pay personally.

I could lambaste the actions of the GOP at length, and with invective that you would applaud. But there seems no shortage of hands to attend to that task.
For the record, I do not think McCain would be doing better. Worse on the economic front. He is a relatively honest pol, and when he said the economy was not his strong suit he spoke truth.

Tony, the Tut admonition was a nice side comment on my Egypt sojourn. You are sly. So, you feel I am making up the Dow numbers? Or you are disagreeing with my musings as to their relevance. I guess you are free to do either.
None will, I assume, excuse GWB for the implosion of the S and P dot com bubble that occured early in his term? No, that's his fault.

Obama is the man of the hour. I supported him (with some limitations). He has done only a few stupid things so far (lets axe the deduction for charitible giving by the wealthy...those damn Carnigie Libraries never were any use). Now, real leadership would be to toss the Omnibus back to congress for expunging of the more egregious earmarks, as promised during the campaign.

You all keep an eye on Rush, and whatever collection of Republican strawmen amuse you. But the folks with the power to improve or worsen our lot, and our children's are the Dems. I'm keeping my eye on them.

Tacitus2

ps Kudos to Sen Feingold (D-WI) for condeming earmarks in the budget bill. A liberal with integrity.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Dr. Brin, you sound as angry and outraged as I sometimes feel, though you have a fairly clear sense of where to direct your wrath and frustration. That's something I'm still not entirely clear on, in some ways, which is just as frustrating, and I envy you your (at least apparent) clarity. I'll get it sorted out eventually, though, either on my own, or through the well-presented arguments, evidence and logic of others.

I still find a disturbing parallel, though, between the performance of our government these past eight years, and the performance of the Manticoran government in David Weber's Honor Harrington novels, after the opposition parties take control. There are so many intriguing parallels of behavior.

On the subject of socialism, it is no more evil than capitalism, and like capitalism, it has many levels, variations and extremes, some healthy, some not. I personally think one of the looser variations of socialism, mixed with capitalistic entrepreneurialism, would be an ideal form. The fundamentals would be provided for - such as base food, shelter, health care, and education, with the rest being taken care of by entrepreneurial individuals, or a mix of government agencies and employer-owned companies.

You see, one of the problems I have with the constant touting of capitalism as the American Way and The Righteous Good Way, is that it promotes institutionalized greed, and a mentality of 'every man for himself.' That doesn't seem very enlightened, to me, not in the least. Another problem I have is the cost of education. I firmly believe that knowledge should be free - the only cost should be the effort required to learn it. I shouldn't have to pay tens of thousands of dollars, or wrack up tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debts, to get an education. It also means that the poor are more likely to stay uneducated, and poor, while the rich stay educated, and rich. Again, it doesn't strike me as a very enlightened approach.

Now, I'm not saying that everyone should get free hand-outs - we might as well be vegetables taking our nutrition through a tube up our posterior if that were the case - but a system that promotes individualism above all else, at the expense of others in need when you have plenty, or that serves to maintain or even widen the gap in education and wealth, goes against what I feel to be morally right. Individualism is great; we're all individual people, and we all have basic rights as independent, conscious beings, regardless of race, creed, species, gender, etc. But everything in moderation. Individualism can be taken too far into the extreme, into narcissism. Enlightenment also calls for a willingness to give of the self for the benefit of others. A generous spirit, and all that. Something many Americans could stand to learn a little more of.

And I totally went off track there in a random direction. I'm going t stop now, because if I keep going, my train of thought is going to end up looking like a complex fractal pattern...

Tony Fisk said...

Tut? Oh! Quite unintentional! (quoth the eggcorning hippocampus)

I don't dispute the numbers, just the significance of any spikes (We see patterns, it probably being safer to see an unreal tiger in the long grass than not see a real one. To follow on from my anecdote, a rise in share price was attributed to our CEO getting married, thereby presumably having less time to stuff things up)

You all keep an eye on Rush, and whatever collection of Republican strawmen amuse you. But the folks with the power to improve or worsen our lot, and our children's are the Dems. I'm keeping my eye on them.

So you watch our backs, while we watch yours? Fair enough. It's what healthy immune systems do.

(As an aside, here's who Charles Stross is voting for.)

bogintoc: Standard treatment for the after-effects of too much menesso

Arcanedesigns said...

Tactius2 said: So, you feel I am making up the Dow numbers? Or you are disagreeing with my musings as to their relevance.

One of the more interesting points I've heard lately is the lockup of credit in the banking system is not a sign of a malfunctioning system. It is, instead, a sign of a sudden outbreak of common sense in a system of delusion. Many of the banks are truly insolvent and connected to each other through their CDS. The financial destruction is spreading through these connections and they took a long time to build. The distrust these banks have for each other is something that should have existed for a long time now.

Another is the viewpoint that our economy vastly over-extended itself in many ways, and is now collapsing back to a point where it can sustain itself. How far it needs to collapse back has been extended by the obsoletion of retail stores, newspapers, etc. by the more streamlined internet companies.

Both of these situations were years in the making - they didn't start coming apart because of Obama.

David Brin said...

T... if the decent conservatives were to merely sit on their hands and let Limbaugh speak for them, while the GOP congressers do nothing productive except gnash while the dems deal with problems...

...well, that would be contemptible for many reasons, one of which is that I WANT decent versions of conservatism and libertarianism at the table!

But there is another level. If Limbaugh is not repudiated by decent conservatives, and sent into the wilderness where he belongs, then his rants will fire up the Confederacy into engaging in Civil War Part IV.

In 1865, Part One did NOT devolve into guerilla war because one "decent conservative" Robert E Lee had the guts to say flat-out no to guys like Nathan Bedford Forest. But I see no similar gutsy, principles conservatives saying no to Limbaugh.

The result could be guerilla war. A plague of McVeighs. The rants and rationalizations have already started, in ton-loads. And when that storm hits, it will be - above all - the fault of "decent conservatives.

Doug S. said...

Michael Steele, recently appointed chair of the Republican National Committee, publicly insulted Limbaugh.

The result?

Steele apologized, and there are calls for him to resign.

Yep, Limbaugh really is the head of the Republican party these days. At least it's not Ann Coulter, though!

Stefan Jones said...

The universe's Hubris/Downfall mechanism is broken. Or perhaps sabotaged. Nothing else can explain why Rush Limbaugh hasn't self-destructed.

Or maybe the universe is saving up its blowback. When Rush falls the cause will be horrifying beyond belief. Like, workers accidentally unsealing the secret room where he keeps his collection of unwholesomely stained inflatable marsupials.

Brendan said...

An example of the problems that the credit squeeze is causing can be found here.

A desalination plant in Victoria, given the trends is a total no brainer. The State Govt has a AAA credit rating and even though this is a Public Private Partnership, none of the PPPs entered into so far have had the Privates loose money and the likelihood of this not making a profit are next door to zero. The hard fact of the matter is, no matter how good the deal, how guaranteed the return, no one is lending money.

Tony Fisk said...

We-ell, it makes more sense than piping mud from one dry creek to another. It is still picking up a lot of public opposition as the costs (economic and other) spiral, and that is probably contributing to investors' cold feet.

The real no-brainer is recycled water treatment (oh, yes: the 'I'm not drinking *that*' argument that led to an election promise. 1. I've never heard it actually argued, 2. most people I have spoken to think it's the way to go 3. in woods, no-one hears the wombats peeing)

(Sorry folks, a local issue... no inflatable marsupials were harmed in the exchange)

ribli: a texture reminiscent of the upper torso, before 'we' all got too obese.

Tacitus2 said...

Today's WaPo has a guest editorial by Senators McCain and Dorgan (D-ND) calling for just the sort of investigation on the sub-prime collapse that I was wistfully hoping for yesterday.

Chalk one up for Tacitus on "predicting the future".

Nice that our Solons could have enough time left over after investigating at length which baseball stars have had anabolics injected into their butts.

I have also been musing on the term "anecdotes" which was tossed at me in a somewhat dismissive fashion. Names, dates, salaries, contribution records. They seem more like facts to me. You can certainly critique their relevance in the overall scheme of things, but I have seen Manchurian/invade Iran scenarios erected here on much flimsier foundations.

Oh, and you can be sure that if such investigations ever happen they will nail enough mid level Bush Admin mopes to keep you all happy.

Tacitus 2

Ilithi Dragon said...

lol I'll bring the pizza to that party, T. } ; = 8 )

matthew said...

I need to vote with T here - he did supply some figures that look pretty bad for all involved. And I do support investigation into the Dems' dirty little corners.

As long as we get investigation into *all* the dirty little corners.

I am very, very partisan and very , very progressive.

You want investigation into Fanny? Sure, I belive in capital "T" transparency... But I have been hearing that investigations into the Repub's dealings are off the table. Gimme those investigations and I will gladly support looking into Fanny.

But don't say that investigating the last administration is "political," then call for an investigation into Fanny.

Tacticus2 - I am not trying to strawman you here; I have not heard you call investigation into the Bush years "political," but many that are calling for investigation into Fanny are doing just that.....


inglees: future trade language used in the ruins of North American MallLand.

Tony Fisk said...

Hmmm!, is this fellow the precursor of that McVeigh wave being predicted?

My father was stationed in Ethiopia for a period, and mentioned the local baboons that could become a nuisance. Throwing stones to drive them off was not an option, because they would retaliate in kind!

Doug said...

Speaking of the next stage of civil war, I do believe we have a Mr. Chuck Norris openly advocating Texan secession and nominating himself for President of the new country.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=91103

'On Glenn Beck's radio show last week, I quipped in response to our wayward federal government, "I may run for president of Texas."

'That need may be a reality sooner than we think. If not me, someone someday may again be running for president of the Lone Star state, if the state of the union continues to turn into the enemy of the state.

'From the East Coast to the "Left Coast," America seems to be moving further and further from its founders' vision and government. '

matthew said...

Doug, my one response to the Chuck Norris posting is good riddance to bad rubbish. I would personally support Texas leaving the union. Get rid of that bad stench, you know....

When I was in junior high in New Mexico we had to take an NM history class. The #1 salient fact I learned was NM and Texas went to war twice - and NM beat the snot out of those lousy SOBs both times.

I'd go join a NM militia just for a chance to make it 3/3.

matthew said...

Oh, except Austin.

When Texas secedes, Austin can secede from Texas and join Oregon.

We've always wanted a colony.

Hank Roberts said...

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/can-america-be-saved/#comment-144697

David Brin said...

Yep. Scoundrels always hide behind flags... then dump the flag and try to take the ball, the instant it is someone else's turn at-bat.

It's a long tradition. The South lost the presidency in 1860. Did they wait to see what Lincoln would do? Did they send delegations to negotiate with him? The way the Continental Congress tried, repeatedly, to give the King a chance to meet them halfway?

Did they even make demands he might have met? No, they preened and yowled and huffed and seceded simply because the other side got its turn at-bat.

In fact, it is permitted to break your oaths to a nation, if pressed to extremis, but only after having given negotiation and honor every chance. In 1861, they did not do that, and thus were simple, despicable oath-breakers.

Norris and his ilk seem to be building up rationalizations about how "I didn't leave America, America left me!" Their fabulations are the smoke and fury and childish tantrums of fair-weather patriots who avoid the steep burden of proof that men must meet, before they can morally break their oaths. Jefferson - after remonstrating with his king - did a historic job laying out the case that these assholes will never have.

But that won't stop them. Prepare for the McVeighs.

Jester said...

" On 9 December 2008, radiological dispersal device components and literature, and radioactive materials, were discovered at the Maine residence of an identified deceased [person] James Cummings.

Four 1-gallon containers of 35 percent hydrogen peroxide, uranium, thorium, lithium metal, thermite, aluminum powder, beryllium, boron, black iron oxide and magnesium ribbon were found in the home. Also found was literature on how to build "dirty bombs" and information about cesium-137, strontium-90 and cobalt-60, radioactive materials. The FBI report also stated there was evidence linking James Cummings to white supremacist groups. This would seem to confirm observations by local tradesmen who worked at the Cummings home that he was an ardent admirer of Adolf Hitler and had a collection of Nazi memorabilia around the house, including a prominently displayed flag with swastika. "

http://bangornews.com/detai

l/99263.html

McVeighs incoming.

tacitus2 said...

Before the "Old Grey Ghost" of the Confederacy was implausibly conjured into the 21st century I believe there was a serious question asked of me, ie how I would feel about "political" trials/investigations of departed Administrations.

And like all serious questions some thought is appropriate.

Investigating the Fannie/Freddie swamp and the financial meltdown generally gives me few qualms. Oh, there were some ideological fig leaves deployed, GOP liked to point to growth and increased home ownership, DFL actively promoted mortgages for lower income and minority borrowers. But most of what was entailed was good 'ol greed. About the max we could hope for from a serious investigation would be to:
-increase the population of Club Fed prisons for white collar crooks
-issue a few tepid censures for corrupt pols just this side of the law
-fire a shot across the bow for the large group of temptable pols and bureaucrats.
This latter is the best feature, and as such it matters less what the mix of Dem/Repub is, so long as the punishment is significant. Most crooks are ready to "turn their coats" from Red to Blue anyway.

But, to reach higher....

My first post here over two years ago was a tongue in cheek call for the impeachment of A.Lincoln for suspending habeus corpus, and for his inept prosecution of the Civil War. Incompetent political hack generals! Corrupt government contractors!

Before chewing up too much bandwidth maybe I could ask for some input. Assuming that each could be called to account in a following Administration, who would you like to see investigated/prosecuted? And feel free to add some of your own.

1.Abraham Lincoln. see above. played pretty free and loose with the law of the day. In a noble cause.
2.Franklin Delano Rooseveldt. Clearly engaged in foreign policy matters without advice and consent that put Americans in harm's way. (turned out to be right). Interned hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans without legitimate cause.
3. Ollie North. Broke scads of rules. Little personal gain, seemed like a dutiful soldier of R.Reagan.
4.Richard Nixon. Was the Ford pardon a good or bad thing in the end? How would things have changed without it?
5.B.Clinton. Clearly the process of impeachment went by the legal book. Just wanted to give any of my conservative brethern who may be lurking a chance to weigh in. Was it a good thing? Bad thing? Stupid thing to do?

Never offer a lit political lamp to somebody home recuperating from surgery!

Tacitus2

Boot said...

Absolutely, yes. You made a list of things which you perceive as problems with Lincoln, Roosevelt, North, Nixon/Ford, Clinton. Regardless of my beliefs on the right or wrong of these actions, I think it is important that we try to improve.

The goal should be prevent future misdeeds; to create effective efficient preventative measures and organization. If the only practical effective means is legal punishment and “retribution”, we should do so. I do not prefer the “fire a shot across the bow” method of deterrent. I prefer powerful watchdog agencies which have cameras trained on every single meeting. Transparency is my solution to the danger of giving watchdogs teeth.

Btw, the impeachment of Clinton was a wonderful thing. As an individual, I think it is utterly ridiculous to remove some for lying about their private life. But they should be removed if they will not be honest about the job we hired them to do. It is a sad, sad thing that we never impeached Bush for his betrayals of job related activities.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Drat, the Chuck Norris page doesn't appear to have a comments section... Most disappointing. } : = 8 / Perhaps I'll write him an email.

While I have been disturbed, outraged, horrified, and deeply disappointed by the behavior of my country over the last several years, I still love my country very much so. I will voice my questions and concerns and objections, quite vociferously if I feel compelled enough to do so, and if I feel my country has become corrupt to the point where tolerance while voicing complaint is no longer an acceptable option, and direct action is the only recourse, I will direct that action to restoring the principles and accountable rule of law upon which this country was founded. This country is my home, and I have pledged my allegiance to it, and everything that it stands for. To abandon that, to secede in rebellion, is a betrayal of those very principles, and the oath that I swore. ESPECIALLY for the reasons given in the article linked above, and generally touted by that ilk, which are the very definition of "light and intransigent." Any man who would choose secession over working to restore this nation, especially over such small reasons, and so quickly, is a patriot only in fair weather, and a coward. Any man who promotes secession, especially for such whimpering and childish reasons, is committing an act of treason.

And no, that is not the same as the Bushites accusing anyone against the war of being unpatriotic - you can be against the policies and actions of the government, loudly object to them, and work to change them, as is our right and our responsibility should we feel so strongly, but there is a difference between objecting and acting against policies, and secession. One is our right and duty as citizens, the other is cowardly treason. Secession is NOT a valid option, and most certainly not for such immature justifications. That anyone would honestly suggest such an idea, in complete seriousness, is... just... outrageous. Unbelievable. It degrades the value of everything this country stands for, and I will not hesitate to call such men treasonous cowards, nor will I offer any apology for it.

David Brin said...

Without knowing the details, let me pass along this proof that democrats can be skunks, too. (Though the red flag is the support this bill gets from Issa. Pure proof it must be corrupt.)

Yesterday Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) re-introduced the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act. This year it's H.R. 801 (last year it was H.R. 6845), and co-sponsored by Steve Cohen (D-TN), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Robert Wexler (D-FL). The language has not changed.

The Fair Copyright Act is to fair copyright what the Patriot Act was to patriotism. It would repeal the OA policy at the NIH and prevent similar OA policies at any federal agency. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where Conyers is Chairman, and where he has consolidated his power since last year by abolishing the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property. The Judiciary Committee does not specialize in science, science policy, or science funding, but copyright.

The premise of the bill, urged by the publishing lobby, is that the NIH policy somehow violates copyright law. The premise is false and cynical. If the NIH policy violated copyrights, or permitted the violation of copyrights, publishers wouldn't have to back this bill to amend US copyright law. Instead, they'd be in court where they'd already have a remedy. For a detailed analysis of the bill and point by point rebuttal to the publishing lobby's rhetoric, see my article from October 2008.

I'll have more soon on ways to mobilize in opposition to the bill and support the NIH and the principle of public access to publicly-funded research. Meantime, if you're a US citizen and your representative is a member of the Judiciary Committee, it's not to early to fire off an email/fax/letter/phone call to your representative opposing the bill and defending the NIH policy.

http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/2009/02/conyers-bill-is-back.html

Clinton's impeachment was a travesty, at all levels and in all ways. Legal scholars told the goppers leading the charge that the very QUESTIONS that BC purportedly lied in answering were both not-germane and in themselves illegal questions. But to impeach without even an indictment being filed?

Then there was the stunning hypocrisy that more than half of the House members on the prosecution team were not only divorced, but had committed (and lied about) far worse adulterous affairs than BC's very worst pecadillos.

Given that BC verifiably gave us the most honest administration in US and human history, and the other side put us thru a billion dollar hate-frenzy, while promising on their very lives that "hundreds of heads will roll" (not one did), the entire affair was enough to utterly destroy that side's credibility...


...and that was before they went ahead and did their best to destroy the United States of America.

Now comes phase three of neoconservatism. No longer trusted by a majority, or even a large enough minority to do more than offer shrill howls, the next step will go into the basements and hidden bunkers.

Stefan Jones said...

Glen Beck's legion of cable TV "rebs' aren't neoconservatives.

They're angry bubbas, confused and outraged at the thought of blacks and women (and anybody but southern white conservatives) in power.

These are the panicky, apocalypse-hungry easily manipulated folks who fell for George W. Bush, twice, because they thought he'd be the kinda guy who'd be fun to have a beer with.

Does Beck really know what he's stirring up? Of course, if some "patriot" goes on a killing or bombing spree he'll tut-tut about, and then start suggesting it was a set-up by the evil feds.

Jester said...

May all that is decent forgive me, but a failed serious assasination attempt in 18 months wouldn't be the worst thing for the Democrats chances of picking up another Senate seat or two.

Jester said...

Conyers, of all people, supports this?

What, stimulus for publishers?

We (the taxpayers) paid for the research. We shouldn't have to pay twice to see it.

Conyers made some feeble argument about how this will somehow help Papers get peer reviewed....as if transparency doesn't provide the best possible peer review?

From what I understand, this bill overturns the long standing "Federal Use" doctrine which provides "the royalty-free, nonexclusive right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work" for any Federal purpose if it was commissioned by the Federal Government.

Basically, if a study is commisioned by NIH, the VA can make whatever use of it they want, copyright or no. This bill changes that.

It's not just about public access, but interagency use.

How does the biggest advocate of Single Payer Healthcare in Washington come around to supporting this?

Ilithi Dragon said...

Jester, that's exactly what people like Beck and Limbaugh will say. Because, of course, their listeners would never do such a thing, so it must have been some dirty, rotten, leftist liberal Democrat scheme, because the Dems are the only people who ever come up with those kinds of schemes. And they'll site some fictional reference of the Dems doing it before, etc.

In other news, batteries that can recharge in seconds, instead of hours, are on their way: http://www.techtree.com/techtree/jsp/article.jsp?article_id=99972&cat_id=505#846849

tacitus2 said...

I dunno Jester, getting pretty close to Wag the Dog land there...

Did anybody else actually read the stupid Chuck Norris comments in something like their original version? The tag line at the bottom indicates it is part of publicity for a Martial Arts event in Houston. So perhaps he is being stupid and inflammatory for the purposes of publicity. It has been known to happen. Of course, Mr. Norris is welcome to hold whatever beliefs he chooses, so long as he stays within the law.

My answers to yesterday's challenge.

Lincoln-gets a pass. If having your capital city entirely surrounded by an armed insurrection does not qualify as an emergency, then the term is without meaning.

FDR-you can't put him on trial, but in a better universe he lives long enough to apologize to the Niesei.

Oliver North-a military man. If willing to take a bullet for his country, should have been willing to see some jail time for it.

Nixon-not sure. The spirit of the times was dark back then. A trial, with a likely pardon afterwards, would have certainly curtailed subsequent Exec. abuses. Leaving the tiller of the ship of state in the firm hands of---Congress?

B.Clinton. The impeachment was a political disaster for the conservative world. Over reaching, the classic hubris sin. A Congressional resolution of censure would be about right. How much of the deranged hatred of Bush is an echo of the hatred of Clinton?

That's why you will not see me criticizing the current Pres without damn good cause. He is my president too. I just hope he is not in way over his head.

Collegially yrs.

Tacitus2

Ilithi Dragon said...

On Norris:

I did read the article by Norris linked to above. I think those actually are his views - I read the description of his new book that's linked on that page, "Black Belt Patriot", and it carried many of the same concepts and lines of thinking. As you said, Tacitus, it could just be trumped up for sales (something that I suspect Limbaugh does as well (or, did, at least - his current behavior is probably trumped up on ego now)). However, I'm not seeing it as such. I'll have to do a little more research to be sure, but it seems highly likely that Norris does, in fact, follow the beliefs he is espousing. He seems to be one of those types who thinks the Church and God shouldn't be separate from government, because, after all, God does know best, and Godlessness leads to sin, destruction, etc. Eh... No offense to any of the Christians here, but, government and religion were separated for good reasons, based on demonstrable past experiences. And, again no offense to any of the Christians here, it's been my own personal experience that people who take such a hardline theological stance tend to be, more often than not, very major hypocrites in advocating their religious practices and actually practicing them.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Ugh... http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/12/limbaugh.democrats.ad/?iref=mpstoryview

The DNC could really stand to learn one of the most basic rules of the internet: DON'T FEED THE TROLLS!!!


Wapotes: A new form of physically interactive emote emerging in 2034, for use against offensive or stupid friends.

tacitus2 said...

No offense taken. Seperation of church and state is an excellent thing for both entities.

Tacitus2

Sociotard said...

You gotta listen to this:

Link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tprMEs-zfQA

Synopsis for the broadband impaired: The video is a mashup of dozens of individual performances that had been posted to youtube. The poster edited clips from each of these performances to make one song (with a nice beat and a fun brass section)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ilithi Dragon said...

Holy crap, Sociotard, that is amazing! Thanks for the link, this is just too awesome!

Gilmoure said...

Bankers Say Rules Are the Problem

By FLOYD NORRIS
Published: March 12, 2009
If mark-to-market accounting is to blame for the current financial crisis, then the National Weather Service is to blame for Hurricane Katrina; if it hadn’t told us the hurricane hit New Orleans, the city would never have flooded.

Ilithi Dragon said...

So... Who else thinks that's comparable to a child trying to convince his mother that the cookie jar ran out of cookies only because she was watching when he stole from it?

tacitus2 said...

Tomorrow I hit the work schedule good and hard, but today just takin' it easy. Did one of my small part time jobs, taking care of the folks at the local county jail. (btw, the New Testament only contains two bits of clear vocational advice, commercial fishing and "when I was sick and in prison you visited me").

These are mostly OK folks, at least when sober and drug free.

No Bernie Madoff types so far as I know.

As we wave goodbye to Uncle Bernie, perhaps a parting look at some "incovenient anecdotes"?

Political contributions 1991-2008 $238K.

Percentage to Democrats 88%.

Current members of Congress in the top 15

C.Schumer
H.Clinton
C.Rangel
D.Obey

Admittedly the last two got chump change.

Something of a dust up occurred when it was revealed that Madoff's dtr was married to a former SEC compliance officer who had investigated the firm.

Surely a corrupted Republican,no?

Well, hard to say. He left the SEC in 2006 after being hired ten years previously during the administration of, oh, I don't know.

Now, if we could only figure out what Madoff bought with the 590K he spent on the lobbying firm of Lent, Scrivner and Roth, we might have a step or two towards transparency.

Tacitus2

(and yes, I will lay into a few Republicans when necessary. But I have had plenty of helpers there.)

Ilithi Dragon said...

That's good, Tacitus. There's corruption to be found no matter which side of the street you're snooping on, and the Dems shouldn't be getting any less scrutiny or more lee-way than anyone else. We've come off a bad run with the Reps, and all the indications I'm seeing are that they've got a lot more corruption running the controls than the Dems, so it's real easy and feels good to chew them out, but that doesn't mean we should let the Dems off the hook. The benefit of the doubt, perhaps, and the chance to have their turn at the reigns, definitely, but not off the hook and not free from criticism and close inspection.

We have to be careful in our attacks on the corrupt Republican and Conservative leaders that we don't relax our focus and let our attacks broaden into attacks on the Republican and Conservative movements as a whole. It's very easy to criticize Republican leadership in a way that criticizes the entire movement, even unintentionally, especially when addressing people who are not very open to criticism of the Republican or Conservative movements. That addicting self-righteous attitude is very tempting to adopt, but we must avoid it as much as we can, lest we slip into much the same mindset that we are opposing.

And above all else, let us remember that it is not, and should not be a battle between Dems vs Reps, Left vs Right, Liberal vs Conservative. It should be about what is moral and immoral, and what works and what doesn't work. Partisan politics is the last thing we need right now, and in our efforts to weed it out, we need to be careful that we don't fall into the very thing we are working against.

Cliff said...

Do the policies being advanced by President Obama cause the stock market to go down?

15,000 high point of the Dow
10,322 Dow on the day reasonable observers called the race for Obama (see my post here day of McCain's acceptance speech)
9,625 Dow on election day
8,122 Dow on Inaugeration day
since then virtually every announcement of economic policy bites out another 300 points, and we stand around 6,500.


The investor class, which is a large segment of our nation, is voting as we speak.

Tacitus2, all of your posts here are reasoned and thoughtful, so I'm surprised to see you engage in this witch doctor nonsense.

I mean, does anyone remember when our economy went "kablooie" last fall?
You yourself have pointed out causes for our current situation in the Clinton administration, so these are problems that have stretched back for decades.

How does the sea of random fluctuations known as the DOW suddenly become a valid indicator of Obama's effectiveness?

Anonymous said...

Cliff

Fair enough.

The underlying rot in the economy indeed antedates Obama.

Still, Witch Doctor is a bit harsh. I would not consider it beyond the realm of reason that investors look at the policies of an Obama administration and conjecture that the short term effects could impact profitability. Laudable causes all, but reducing carbon emissions, and the controversial "Card Check" rule on unionization to name just a couple, could in theory influence the bottom line. And massive debt scares me no matter who is chalking it up.

A more fair way for me to frame it would have been, are the current administration's policies having a positive or negative impact on the economic crisis.

Its inflation that really worries me. So far so good.

Better?

Tacitus2

Tony Fisk said...

OK T2, I'm happy to accept that you're playing the devil's advocate.

I meant to answer your list of characters, but you beat me to it: your responses are basically the same as mine. Yep, I'd be grilling Lincoln with some 'please explains', and I think he could have done so with ease. Clinton's impeachment? More damning of the accusors than the accused (although he was a wally!)

The Dow index correlations with Obama, though, was just a bit of gratuitous fluff. Applied, one hopes, with a bit of tongue in cheek?

This article describes Obama's explanations on carbon 'cap and trade' to the captains of industry and shows an articulate fellow with a sound grasp of his subject matter.

Under the cap proposal that we have it wouldn't even start until 2012, where we're going to be out of this recession -- or you'll have somebody else speaking to you in 2013.

(Laughter.)

But if we don't start now, if we wait until -- to have the debate in 2012, and then suddenly it turns out that oil is at $150 a barrel again, and we say, oh, why is it that we didn't start thinking about this and making some steps now to figure this out. Well, that's what Washington does. You guys could not run your business that way. And so the notion that we are doing some long-term planning now and trying to get this town to think long term, that somehow that's a distraction just defies every sound management practice that I've ever heard of.


Maybe that's the reason for whatever correlation there is: the bowel-loosening realisation by profiteers that 'the overseer is on the ball'? (OK, now I'm being snarky!)

Cliff said...

Tacitus - better.

I'm sorry if the witch doctor label was harsh, but that's what I think of when I see people peering into the random workings of stock market indices and declaring, "clearly, Obama is a failure," or "clearly, we must abstain from cap and trade."

As to whether or not Obama & Co.'s policies are impacting the economy positively or negatively, I think it will take a months at least to feel the impact on our multi-trillion dollar economy. The DOW seems too transient to be a good indicator at this point.

jamenti - an exotic spice from far-off Cathay.

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