December 11, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 7:57 PM


Seafood fraud widespread in N.Y., probe finds (Tiffany Hsu, December 11, 2012, LA Times)

There's a good chance that the white tuna sashimi served up at your favorite Manhattan sushi joint isn't white tuna at all.

Instead, 94% of the fish labeled as white tuna in New York turned out to be escolar, a type of snake mackerel with a toxin linked to digestive problems, according to an investigation by conservation and advocacy group Oceana.

DNA tests of 142 seafood samples taken from New York grocery stores, restaurants and sushi venues showed that 39% were mislabeled as different species, according to Oceana.

Earlier Oceana tests showed a 31% fraud rate in Miami, 48% in Boston and 55% in Los Angeles.

Posted by orrinj at 6:53 PM


The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever : In a bowling alley one night, Bill Fong came so close to perfection that it nearly killed him. (Michael J. Mooney, 6.20.2012 From D Magazine)

[A]ll you have to do is say the words "That Night" and everyone at the Plano Super Bowl knows what you're talking about. They also refer to it as "The Incident" or "That Incredible Series." It's the only time anyone can remember a local recreational bowler making the sports section of the Dallas Morning News. One man, an opponent of Fong's that evening, calls it "the most amazing thing I've ever seen in a bowling alley." 

Bill Fong needs no reminders, of course. He thinks about that moment--those hours--every single day of his life. 
Most people think perfection in bowling is a 300 game, but it isn't. Any reasonably good recreational bowler can get lucky one night and roll 12 consecutive strikes. If you count all the bowling alleys all over America, somebody somewhere bowls a 300 every night. But only a human robot can roll three 300s in a row--36 straight strikes--for what's called a "perfect series." More than 95 million Americans go bowling, but, according to the United States Bowling Congress, there have been only 21 certified 900s since anyone started keeping track. 

Bill Fong's run at perfection started as most of his nights do, with practice at around 5:30 pm.

Posted by orrinj at 4:04 PM


Treasury sells remaining AIG shares (James O'Toole and Aaron Smith, December 11, 2012, CNNMoney)

The Treasury Department said Tuesday it had agreed to sell the last of its shares in insurer AIG, resulting in what it says is a $22.7 billion profit on one of the key bailouts of the 2008 financial crisis.

All those pundits who said the danger of TARP was that it might work too well were right.

Posted by orrinj at 3:32 PM

Posted by orrinj at 4:39 AM


The robot economy and the new rentier class (Izabella Kaminska, Dec 10, 2012)

It seems more top-tier economists are coming around to the idea that robots and technology could be having a greater influence on the economy (and this crisis in particular) than previously appreciated. Paul Krugman being the latest. [...]

Apart from a few fringe voices, the technology factor -- and its likely effect on the natural unemployment rate as society moves towards a more leisure-focused framework, since all the hard jobs are done by robots and computers -- became victim to a deathly silence in the world of serious economic thinking. [...]

If you think about it, inequality is always going to be the natural consequence of a technologically-driven deflationary environment. Whereas in inflation, those with financial claims (a.k.a money) are impoverished as their purchasing power is eroded, while those in debt are enriched -- in deflation, those with financial claims (the result of increasing rentier flows, if Krugman's point is valid) become enriched as those in debt become increasingly impoverished.

In that sense QE and any move to "debase" financial claims is a move to dilute the wealth effect on legacy claims, which now claim a disproportionate share of available output, at least compared to what they did when they were created.

Low interest rates in many ways are thus only self-correction mechanism bringing the system back to balance -- trying to offset the growing power of the innovation-based capital rentier class.

Posted by orrinj at 4:34 AM


You want Hamas to behave? Then it's time to let it govern (Matt Hill, 10 Dec 2012, The Trelegraph)

[H]amas faces tough new choices in the wake of its recent confrontation with Israel. Like any radical group that succeeds in gaining power, it will increasingly be forced to make a painful choice between ideological purity and accommodation to the realities of government.

For some time Hamas has seen a power struggle between its commanders in Gaza, who shun any talk of future compromise with Israel, and its exiled leaders, who are influenced by the outlook of their hosts in countries like Egypt and Qatar, and increasingly see the idea of never-ending "resistance" for the dead end it is.

So far Israel has played its part in enabling the group to avoid choosing between these two ways of thinking. With Gaza under economic blockade and military siege since Hamas came to power in 2006, the organisation has never made the transition from resistance movement to governing party, with all the painful compromises that entails. [...]

Giving Hamas a chance to exercise real power in Gaza would empower less extreme elements who advocate a rapprochement with the Palestinian Authority and closer ties with moderate regional powers like Egypt, Qatar and Turkey. In this way, Israel could begin a process of nurturing the group's pragmatic strain, coaxing it towards compromise and legitimacy and eventually leaving its diehard militants on the margins - just as the world did with the PLO in the 1980s and 90s.