Some longer form columns for your weekend reading pleasure:

• Drivers Pay WTF?! Secret Road Tax in $15 Billion for Car Repair  (Bloomberg)
• Leaving Wall Street (n+1)
• The reporter who saw Subprime coming (Columbia Journalism Report)
Myth Of Decline: U.S. Is Stronger and Faster Than Anywhere Else (The Daily Beast)
The A/B Test: Inside the Technology That’s Changing the Rules of Business (Wired)
• Coming to America: Americans have always loved Tocqueville (Claremont)
What do debutante balls, the Japanese tea ceremony, Ponzi schemes and doubting clergy all have in common? The social cell (New Statesman)
Cuckoo! Our body clocks have social jet lag. And it’s making most of us a little crazy. (NY Mag)
• The Art of the Heist: Valuing Art through Its Theft (Bookslut)
Delta Dawn: How Sears, Roebuck & Co. midwifed the birth of the blues (

What darkness lies in the hearts of men?


A Tale of Two Continents

Source: NYT

Category: Financial Press

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

26 Responses to “10 (Longer) Weekend Reads”

  1. DeDude says:

    I just read this great take down of the “50%” pay no federal income taxes right wing BS.

    It turns out that the Foxification of facts is not just in selecting a specific tax that low income people are not rich enough to pay. The way the numbers are calculated will count 4 college guys sharing an apartment as 4 “households” (probably not paying any income taxes for obvious reasons).

  2. rd says:

    Neglected infrastructure is like a chronic illness brought on by poor habits. You end up with all sorts of little problems, like the car repair bills, increased energy usage sitting in traffic because of lane closures, reduced fisheries due to water pollution, difficulties for businesses because they can’t get enough water etc.

    A major problem is that government accounting is essentially an oxymoron, so the focus historically has been to build new facilities that a politican can put his name on (nearly always a male name) but not fund the maintenance and eventual replacement.

    Most infrastructure is in quite brutal environments conducive to rapid deterioration of poorly designed and built components. It is a testimony to how well built much of it was decades ago that it still functions at all.

  3. ConscienceofaConservative says:

    Biden & Schneiderman might be going after subprime packaging….

  4. “…Today, A/B is ubiquitous, and one of the strange consequences of that ubiquity is that the way we think about the web has become increasingly outdated. We talk about the Google homepage or the Amazon checkout screen, but it’s now more accurate to say that you visited a Google homepage, an Amazon checkout screen. What percentage of Google users are getting some kind of “experimental” page or results when they initiate a search?…”
    “…Over at Yahoo, according to FastCompany, quite well. Since setting up their crack personalization team in 2009, clicks on Yahoo’s “Today” box have increased 270%.

    That’s saying personalization makes us four more times likely to click on a link. Whether you believe personalization makes the internet more efficient, more fractured or more mind-numbing, that’s a pretty impressive number.

    For those concerned about the self-looping and fragmenting effects of the filter bubble, the good news is that Yahoo’s algorithm is not entirely human-free. Editors are in charge of curating the 50-100 versions of the “Today” module that could pop up on your Yahoo home page; the bots just guide them to which stories work best and, ultimately, which take on “Today” you’ll see…”

    the ol’ Adage..”*Reality is a Fractal.” has, seldom, been as easy to See..

    and, as 43 used to like to ~say, this will help “Catapult the Propaganda”..~

  5. constantnormal says:

    … I find the “Tale of Two Continents” chart to be a bit of misleading cheerleading … via deceptive charting … a broader view would be more informative, but “informative” is not the goal here … merely cheerleading.

    Whether we are preceding or following the EU is unimportant to the author of this chart … and implicit in it is the (false) notion that the US and the EU are disconnected and separate entities, with no influence whatsoever upon each other …

    Really, a 1-year comparison chart? Amidst an economic calamity that extends AT LEAST since late 2007?

    Exactly what is the message here, and is there anything whatsoever in the chart to make one believe it?

    Just a single point to punctuate my problem with this stuff … take the last chart, comparing EU vs US financial stocks …

    if we were to extend that chart back over a decade, and to mark the point at which we did away with the mark-to-market rule in our financial reporting, how many think that these lines would have tracked each other pretty closely up to that point, and diverging thereafter? A show of hands, please.

    What would that say (if it is in fact, the case)?

    Anything at all about the relative strengths of the EU and US? ANYTHING?

    It’s a shame, because a proper look at these relationships might have sparked a lot of meaningful discussion, along many different lines, some of which would fall along the path the author wants … others not-so-much. I think it is clear that the EU’s austerity medicine is doing it more harm than good, but that cannot be shown by any of these charts (although I can say that it does).

    Instead, the creator of these pictures is dead-set on telling a story instead of reporting.


  6. Greg0658 says:

    Oral Hazard Says: April 27th, 2012 at 12:10 am
    “Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”
    Can never be said often enough.

    if I were to take the time & bits to Like a link the nymag HumanTimeClock story .. got 2/3rd thru word for word, skimmed, then read ending .. then OralH captured quote came to mind
    “Neglected infrastructure is like a chronic illness” .. I know I sound like a broken clock but FMCitBPtP in the 21st century is going to bring much much pain .. get over that design

  7. RW says:

    Several have commented on the hidden tax increase embedded in degrading infrastructure as well as delayed maintenance or upgrades but the take I always think of comes from Eric Hoffer

    “Civilization is a place to hang the broom.”

    @DeDude, good article; too bad those stupid and/or prejudiced enough to believe the “only 52% pay taxes” crap are unlikely to be influenced by facts.

  8. MayorQuimby says:

    Decline is no myth.

    Very few AAA rated companies.

    Overindebted gvmt

    Maxed out private sector

    Semi hyperinflation as policy

    Corrupted and controlled gvmt

    Two sets of laws for top and bottom

    Labor participation % falling

    Food stamps and SS disability still rising

    Etc etc etc

    Darkness will come before next dawn and next dawn will only come if we use the darkness to default bad debts, delever, tax the rich, prosecute malfeasance and regulate (for real), destroy public sector unions (and absurd pension funds and insane property taxes), cut unaffordable social programs to affordabe levels, tort reform, insurance reform etc. ie…rectify the imbalances built up during Green-anke years.

    THEN….our future is bright. And there is no place with more potential out there than US. We just can’t get “there” from *here*.

  9. Ahjay says:

    Ref to “Tale of Two Continents” …

    US and European economies used to move in tandem… Seems like not any more…

  10. Greg0658 says:

    (original content only available on TBP :-)

    a local radio talk show is about to go into weekly 30min financial segment
    and the regular airtime fill dj (wait – is that a tj) intros how the market is up for the year but had a slip this week

    saletypes – is there an App that takes into account, cash put into a stock at priceA, after time period brought out at priceB, THEN that + (or -) figures the interest accrued on that cash in that stock (dividends and splits too) THEN aggregates DOW500 into a realistic talk point*

    or is this whole market sales spin to attract cash with that lovely** to the corporations interests for their workers

    (oh) THEN (somehow) takes into account public corporations and its ramifications on local jobs*** … for public corp to stay solvent and remain alive must continue to beat quarters or marketeers will yank cash

    * for we know that a higher market does not translate to the general populace at large (as say a pure bonds sphere)
    ** ie: other peoples money for nothing (actually a fee to investors) with payback at par an issue
    *** now really – we all know a job is the most important method to survive’g

  11. Greg0658 says:

    actually that talk show is over by 15 minutes

  12. DrSandman says:

    Just read the Bloomburg article. I can honestly say the ideas contained within informed our recent car buying experience. We considered something light, fuel efficient, and nimble for DC traffic to replace my sports sedan (4 cyl turbo). I shopped and test-drove a Volt, a few VW TDIs, and a few other penalty boxes.

    However, our tire bills (4 new every 25k miles with $900 worth of 500AA UTOQ tires…), alignment costs ($100/year), 2 new rear shocks @ 50k miles (@$500 per + labor), WAAAAY more than wipe out any gasoline cost savings of driving anything more fragile than an SUV.

    Hence, we are now a 2 Jeep family — a little one and a new Grand Cherokee. And I don’t feel one-bit guilty shuttling my family around DC in 2 SUVs — especially since we’ve been rear-ended 5 times in 7 years here. Safety first, then long term net savings.

    It just doesn’t pay to drive something fuel efficient.

  13. MOIDALIZE says:

    Nothing would improve human existence more than the recognition that there’s no single “right” way to sleep, and that sleep patterns and internal clocks are as variable as personalities. A more permissive attitude towards sleep would benefit us all.

    We all recognize the necessity of getting a chance to eat something or go to the bathroom while at work or school, yet we’re all expected to just gut out any sleep deprivation and muddle through.

  14. SOP says:

    Infrastructure –

    how much of it is just building Stone Heads?
    How much is Churn to keep the delusion of global economic growth alive?
    How much is due to the psychology of previous investment following “The greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.”

    Myth of Decline – U.S. Is Stronger and Faster Than Anywhere Else.

    For a more entertaining and less propagandsadistic version see “Team America – F*ck Yeah!!!”

    “It’s time to panic.” Hugh Hendry ;)

  15. FBI: We Need Wiretap-Ready Web Sites – Now
    May 5th, 2012

    Via: Cnet:

    CNET learns the FBI is quietly pushing its plan to force surveillance backdoors on social networks, VoIP, and Web e-mail providers, and that the bureau is asking Internet companies not to oppose a law making those backdoors mandatory.

    The FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a controversial proposal that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance.

    In meetings with industry representatives, the White House, and U.S. senators, senior FBI officials argue the dramatic shift in communication from the telephone system to the Internet has made it far more difficult for agents to wiretap Americans suspected of illegal activities, CNET has learned.

    The FBI general counsel’s office has drafted a proposed law that the bureau claims is the best solution: requiring that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly.

    “If you create a service, product, or app that allows a user to communicate, you get the privilege of adding that extra coding,” an industry representative who has reviewed the FBI’s draft legislation told CNET. The requirements apply only if a threshold of a certain number of users is exceeded, according to a second industry representative briefed on it.

    The FBI’s proposal would amend a 1994 law, called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, that currently applies only to telecommunications providers, not Web companies. The Federal Communications Commission extended CALEA in 2004 to apply to broadband networks.

    Posted in Dictatorship, Surveillance, Technology
    Obama Regime Wants Prosecutors to Have Easier Access to Cell Phone Records
    May 4th, 2012

    Via: Reuters:

    The U.S. Congress should pass a law to give investigators freer access to certain cellphone records, an Obama administration official said on Thursday, in remarks that raised concern among advocates of civil liberties and privacy.

    Jason Weinstein, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s criminal division, argued that requirements for warrants at early stages of investigations would “cripple” prosecutors and law enforcement.

    Posted in Dictatorship, Police State, Surveillance, Technology

  16. SOP says:

    Re “U.S. Is Stronger and Faster Than Anywhere Else.””

    Meet The Competition –

    Fuel Policies Bedevil Asia as Price Increases Hurt Poor: Economy

    For K. Indrani, who cleans homes in Colombo to support her invalid husband and 16-year-old daughter, living on the 600 rupees ($4.70) she earns a day just got harder because the Sri Lankan government raised fuel prices in February.

    “We have only three lights in our house, but we try to keep them off as much as possible,” the 46-year-old said. “This is affecting my daughter’s studies. We are forced to keep the fridge running, but we are having to cut down on food as we can now afford less on the same pay.”

    Indrani’s plight highlights the dilemma for Asian governments from Indonesia to India as they struggle to rein in rising subsidies for energy and food that are inflating budget deficits…

    UN official calls for US return of Native Land

    A UN special rapporteur has called for the US to restore tribal lands, including the Black Hills of South Dakota, site of Mount Rushmore.

    James Anaya announced the recommendation at the end of a 12-day tour, during which he met tribal leaders and government officials…

    The Thin Veneer of Civilization keeps us “Safe”

    (this cute – and a bit scary)

  17. Mike in Nola says:

    @Mark in Htown: I’m sure they’re already doing a lot of snooping. Just lazy. Points up the need for VPN’s that only come out in foreign country that don’t care about the US terrorism BS.

  18. mad97123 says:

    Daniel Gross’ piece on the Myth of US decline seems a bit premature in its conclusions, and does not reconcile with Bernanke’s “Fiscal Cliff” on-coming reality.

    “America’s recovery.. it rests on an understanding of its core competencies and competitive advantages” — Indeed deficit spending (core competency) and owning the reserve currency (competitive advantage) do in fact explain much of the recovery.

    Gross mistakes the impact of deficit spending and money printing for growth, just as all those who were claiming “This is the best economic environment ever” back in 2007 when the economy was based on a consumer refi/debt driven spending.

    And now we have “forged an economic structure that is more resistant to shocks”? We’ll see….

    We may be able to exercise our competitive advantages a while longer, but odds are this new “New Economy” based on creditism instead of capitalism will end badly.

  19. SOP says:

    Mark and Mikeinnola – a funny, Russian slant on

    “just lazy FBI… Need Wiretap-Ready Web Sites…”

    Back in the USSR, to spy on your conversations, the KGB had to come and install a bug in your apartment. That was quite a job in itself….

    Then the conversations overheard by this bug had to be recorded… swap the bulky reel-to-reel magnetic tapes… it became necessary to map out the quarry’s social connections, the process was, again, laborious…

    …Compare that to the situation in the US today, where CIA/FBI/NSA/Homeland Security is quite far along in forming one giant security apparatus that dwarfs the quaint old KGB in both intrusiveness and scope, though probably not in effectiveness, even though modern technology makes their job trivial to the point where much of it can be automated…

  20. norcal_steve says:

    @Barry, I loved the Mike Hudson link (and the link from there to Hudson’s countrywide whistleblower story)

    Great stuff, thanks!

  21. Robespierre says:


    I wish you had posted this one:
    Developing Nations
    “The promoters of these three variations on the theme of austere, hard news pessimism no doubt fancy themselves realists and responsible grownups. But they are nothing of the sort. They are burned-out casualties of neoliberalism, afflicted with dead imaginations or ideological blinders, who have forgotten what it means to grow a country and build a society. We need to move beyond their miserable and dismal trilemma. If the die-hard adherents of these schools of thought want to mope around the shuffleboard courts at the End of History Home for Final Surrender, let them. But it’s time for the rest of us to reject all three approaches and reignite our history.”

    Instead of this hack:
    Myth Of Decline: U.S. Is Stronger and Faster Than Anywhere Else

  22. Jojo says:

    May 2, 2012
    How Chemicals Affect Us

    Scientists are observing with increasing alarm that some very common hormone-mimicking chemicals can have grotesque effects.

    A widely used herbicide acts as a female hormone and feminizes male animals in the wild. Thus male frogs can have female organs, and some male fish actually produce eggs. In a Florida lake contaminated by these chemicals, male alligators have tiny penises.

    These days there is also growing evidence linking this class of chemicals to problems in humans. These include breast cancer, infertility, low sperm counts, genital deformities, early menstruation and even diabetes and obesity.

    Philip Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says that a congenital defect called hypospadias — a misplacement of the urethra — is now twice as common among newborn boys as it used to be. He suspects endocrine disruptors, so called because they can wreak havoc with the endocrine system that governs hormones.

    Endocrine disruptors are everywhere. They’re in thermal receipts that come out of gas pumps and A.T.M.’s. They’re in canned foods, cosmetics, plastics and food packaging. Test your blood or urine, and you’ll surely find them there, as well as in human breast milk and in cord blood of newborn babies.

  23. Jojo says:

    This is kind of cool:

  24. philipat says:

    So why is Obama so determined to follow the European Socialist utopia?

  25. Jojo,

    if you’re interested, see..

    Posted on February 21, 2012 – 7:35PM

    Last month, West Coast managed healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente announced that it would no longer purchase IV bags or tubing that contain PVC or the plasticizer DEHP. Although the move away from PVC- and DEHP-containing IV products has been picking up momentum in recent years, Kaiser’s proclamation is another sign of the definitive phasing out of the materials. To gain some insight, MPMN spoke with Kathy Kovalic, director of marketing, drug delivery & fluid therapy, at B. Braun Medical Inc. about what this firm stance means for the medical device industry.

    MPMN: What are some of the safety issues associated with PVC and DEHP?

    Kovalic: The issues are out there for both our patients and the environment. PVC and DEHP are both commonly used in IV bags, IV tubing, and product packaging. DEHP is added to make the plastic more flexible; however, it does not adhere to the plastic, but “floats” within the vinyl structure. During certain therapies, DEHP can leach from the structure and be infused along with the IV fluid, medication, or blood transfusion, thus entering the patient’s bloodstream. Blood products and several drugs, such as Paclitaxel, enhance leaching of DEHP from PVC containers. IV containers that do not contain DEHP eliminate the risk of toxicity, however. DEHP has been scientifically documented as a reproductive toxicant.

    These PVC-containing products also pose an environmental hazard when incinerated as waste material. When incinerated, PVC causes emissions of dioxin, a known human carcinogen that also causes reproductive and developmental disorders. Additionally, if products containing DEHP are disposed of in a landfill, the DEHP plasticizer can leach into the soil and ground water.

    MPMN: What does Kaiser’s transition away from DEHP and PVC IV products mean for medical device manufacturers?

    Kovalic: As a manufacturer, this new model of “green purchasing” in the healthcare sector will have to be taken into consideration. Product evaluation, now more than ever, includes the environmental and health impacts of each medical item. What this does is encourages suppliers across the industry to provide greener products, benefiting patients, staff, and the environment.

    The focus on products is just one aspect of these green initiatives, however. Healthcare providers are looking to suppliers that share the same environmental commitment by requesting this type of information–a company’s environmental commitment, use of potentially harmful chemicals in products, and information about product and packaging recycling….”

    to see, yet, another ‘Place’ those /wonders of ‘Science’/ can be found..

    “…A widely used herbicide acts as a female hormone and feminizes male animals in the wild…”