Elizabeth Warren goes after banking regulators in HSBC case

elizabeth warren hsbc

“Elizabeth Warren Comes Out Swinging Against Banks”:

The latest example came last Thursday during a Banking Committee hearing, when Warren demanded answers from a panel of federal regulators as to why the multinational bank HSBC got off with a fine for money laundering for Mexican drug cartels — along with violating international sanctions against several countries, including Iran and Libya — when people caught with drugs go to jail for life.

“No one individual went to trial, no individual was banned from banking and there was no hearing to consider shutting down HSBC’s activities here in the United States,” Warren said. “So … what does it take? How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this?”

I am astounded by the fact that no one went to jail as a result of the HSBC investigation.

Global temperatures rising at faster rate than any point in last 11,500 years

climate change graph

“The Scariest Climate Change Graph Just Got Scarier”:

To be clear, the study finds that temperatures in about a fifth of this historical period were higher than they are today. But the key, said lead author Shaun Marcott of Oregon State University, is that temperatures are shooting through the roof faster than we’ve ever seen.

“What we found is that temperatures increased in the last hundred years as much as they had cooled in the last six or seven thousand,” he said. “In other words, the rate of change is much greater than anything we’ve seen in the whole Holocene,” referring to the current geologic time period, which began around 11,500 years ago.

My greatest fear is that we’re already too late to stop this change from becoming irreversible.

The state of racism today

racism today

Something that should be talked about more:

Now that racism is no longer respectable, it’s tempting to reason conversely and suggest respectable people can’t be racists. But to do that is to reason racism virtually out of existence. Most of the world’s religious and moral traditions try to remind us that while good works are always to be valued, there is something in the human soul that makes good people prone to doing bad things. That did not stop being the case when racism was deemed “bad” by national consensus in this country, and those of us who will never suffer a single indignity for the color of our skin should remember that before turning all human experience on its head and claiming we are the victims of racism if our own good will is challenged.

Darwinist mob goes after atheist philosopher


Leon Wieseltier, for The New Republic:

Here was a signal to the Darwinist dittoheads that a mob needed to be formed. In an earlier book Nagel had dared to complain of “Darwinist imperialism,” though in his scrupulous way he added that “there is really no reason to assume that the only  alternative to an evolutionary explanation of everything is a religious one.” He is not, God forbid, a theist. But he went on to warn that “this may not be comforting enough” for the materialist establishment, which may find it impossible to tolerate also “any cosmic order of which mind is an irreducible and non-accidental part.” For the bargain-basement atheism of our day, it is not enough that there be no God: there must be only matter.

There are idiots on every side of every religious debate. Checkmate, (a)theists!

The liberal denial: ignoring the psychology of the right

Chris Mooney, writing for Mother Jones: 

So it is not that Schlafly, or other conservatives as sophisticated as he, can’t make an argument. Rather, the problem is that when Schlafly makes an argument, it’s hard to believe it has anything to do with real intellectual give and take. He’s not arguing out of an openness to changing his mind. He’s arguing to reaffirm what he already thinks (his “faith”), to defend the authorities he trusts, and to bolster the beliefs of his compatriots, his tribe, his team.

Liberals (and scientists) have too often tried to dodge the mounting evidence that this is how people work. Perhaps because it leads to a place that terrifies them: an anti-Enlightenment world in which evidence and argument don’t work to change people’s minds.

But that response, too, is a form of denial—liberal denial, a doctrine whose chief delusion is not so much the failure to accept facts, but rather, the failure to understand conservatives. And that denial can’t continue. Because as President Obama’s first term has shown—from the healthcare battle to the debt ceiling crisis—ignoring the psychology of the right has not only left liberals frustrated and angry, but has left the country in a considerably worse state than that.

How do we effectively run a country when half of its citizens won’t listen to reason? Do we follow China’s lead with their “special economic zones” and have “libertartian regions” where people are can have few government benefits, low taxes, the ability to teach their kids whatever they please, and legislate on any moral grounds they see fit while the rest of us enjoy a well-regulated market economy with a strong safety net and science-based education? At that point, would it even be worth it to stay united as one country?

Surprising success story: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines, Flying Above an Industry’s Troubles – NYTimes.com:

Mr. Wahto retired six years ago, but not before seeing the transformation of flying in Alaska and of the airline where he spent his career. Alaska Airlines is puny compared to the major carriers: it has 124 planes, while United Airlines has more than 700 and four times as many passengers. But because of the state’s topography and extreme weather, it was the first to develop satellite guidance, a navigation technique that has transformed landing at Alaska’s tricky airports. The technique is now at the heart of the Federal Aviation Administration’s plan to modernize the nation’s air traffic system, a project that is expected to cost tens of billions of dollars over the coming decades.


Alaska Airlines, in fact, had the industry’s best on-time performance for the third consecutive year in 2012, with 87 percent of flights landing on time, according to FlightStats, a data provider.


Megamergers, most recently of US Airways and American Airlines, have redrawn the boundaries of domestic carriers, concentrating the business as never before. Alaska Airlines, for its part, has cultivated staunch independence. Unlike carriers that have faced bankruptcy or acquisition, Alaska has turned a profit for 33 of the last 39 years. In 2012, it had a record $316 million in net income, up 29 percent from 2011.

Alaska Airlines uses more advanced technology to provide better service to their customers, and in exchange it has been far more successful at consistently turning a profit than its competitors. Funny how that works.

How did sexual reproduction first happen?

While we don’t know for sure, we can guess by looking at organisms that exhibit both sexual and asexual behavior:

IMO (this is educated speculation, as this is somewhat outside my realm of expertise) sexual lifestyle of the baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae actually gives us hints into how sex might have evolved. Both this yeast and the divergent fission yeast (they diverged 1.1MYA) have two sexes that are determined by the sequence of DNA at the MAT locus in the genome. Baker’s yeast have two genes that can be copied (through gene conversion) at the locus, the MATa or MATα (alpha) genes. They are encoded on the left and right sides of the MAT locus. When a yeast is MATα, for example, the MATα gene will be at the MAT locus, the MATa gene will be transcriptionally silenced, and the transcription of the MATα gene at the MAT locus will make that yeast appear to other yeast as a MATα. It does this by secreting the alpha-peptide and presenting an A-receptor, so it both tells other yeast that it’s an α through the peptide, and is able to recognize other alphas through its receptor. This ensures that during sex the yeast will always mate with the opposite type.

The reason I bring this system up is obvious: it’s a very simple and elegant way of thinking about how sex could have evolved as it’s a way of getting two subtypes of species with very little evolutionary change. In essence, it’s the yeast’s way of mixing and matching advantageous evolutionary traits throughout the population. In a nutrient rich and healthy environment, baker’s yeast predominately (though 1% will still mate) exists as asexually propagating diploid (2 copies of each of their 16 chromosomes) cells. However, in stressful/nutrient poor conditions, yeast will mate and sporulate, and produce 4 spores, 2 MATa, 2 MATα, and each mixed and matched for 1 of the original 16 chromosomes. Once conditions get better, they mix and match further, and create a new heterogeneous population. Presumably, these mechanisms exist to ensure survival through the obvious advantage of variation in a population, more specifically through: (1) spread of rare genes that may confer fitness advantages in the new environmental condition, (2) the elimination of mutated genes that occur in asexually reproducing populations by genetic drift and mutation.

The thread has plenty of discussion on the topic if you’re interested.

Corporate Cyber-Warfare begins between Google and Microsoft

From WMPowerUser:

I guess we missed the declaration, but it seems the cold war between Microsoft and Google has really warmed up.

Google has previously already said they will not be making apps for Windows Phone and Windows 8, but now they have taking things a step further by blocking Windows Phones (both 7.5 and 8) from accessing maps.google.com.

And people thought Apple dropping the Google Maps data from it’s mapping API was aggressive.