- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Robalini's Note: Volcker & Goolsbee as Obama's chief "economic
recovery" advisors. Who saw that one coming?
Volcker will head new Obama board
Wed Nov 26, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday will announce the creation
of a president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, chaired by former
Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, to provide outside advice
from heavyweight thinkers, officials said.
Obama, who will be the sixth president Volcker has served, plans to
make the announcement in Chicago at his third news conference on the
economy in three days, allowing him to dominate news coverage during
The officials said the idea came from Obama, who wanted to preserve
the advisory structure he had come to appreciate over the course of
the campaign. The new body also reflects the magnitude of the
nation's economic problems, which Obama wants to solve in an
integrated way not just through attention to markets, but also to
jobs, wages and housing foreclosure.
The economic recovery board's staff director and chief economist
will be Austan Goolsbee, who was senior economic adviser to the
Obama campaign and will also be a member of the White House Council
of Economic Advisers.
The other board members eight to 16 people of a caliber of Eric E.
Schmidt, chairman and CEO of Google Inc. will be named later.
The board initially will exist for two years, but might well be
extended for longer. Transition advisers expect it might meet
roughly once a month.
Obama's plans for the board were first reported by The Wall Street
Volcker's official bio says he "was chairman of the Board of
Governors of the Federal Reserve System from August 1979 to August
1987. He is credited with playing the leading role in ending a
period of high and rising inflation and restoring a base for
sustained growth. Initially appointed to that position by President
Carter for a four-year term, he was reappointed in 1983 by President
Reagan. On the completion of his second term as chairman, Mr.
Volcker returned to private life, becoming chairman of the firm of
James D. Wolfensohn, Inc., a company concentrating on the provision
of investment banking services to a limited number of large domestic
and international organizations. He retired as chairman and chief
executive officer of Wolfensohn when that firm merged with Bankers
Trust Company in 1996. In the course of his career, Mr. Volcker
worked in the federal government for almost 30 years, serving in
office under five presidentsJohn F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson,
Richard M. Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan."
From Goolsbee's official bio: "He is a professor of economics at the
University of Chicago and a Fulbright Scholar. He [formerly wrote]
the `Economic Scene' column for the New York Times and was the Lead
Editor for the Journal of Law and Economics from 2001 to 2004. The
Financial Times named him one of the six Gurus of the Future/Best
Under 40 in 2005, and the World Economic Forum in Switzerland chose
him one as one of the 2005 Young Global Leaders. He received his
Master's Degree in Economics from Yale in 1991 and his Ph.D. in the
same subject in 1995 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology."
Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Article of the Month
From Instant Genius
THE NORTH CELESTIAL POLE
If you stood exactly on the spot that is Earth's geographic North
Pole and looked straight up into the sky, you would be looking at
what astronomers refer to as the North Celestial Pole (NCP).
Very near to that imaginary pole in the sky, with a little
variation due to Earth's rotational tilt, you would find the star
Polaris, also known as the "North Star" or the "Pole Star." It's
part of the constellation Ursa Minor, the "Little Bear," also known
as the "Little Dipper." (Polaris is the last star in the dipper's
Because of its location relative to Earth's rotation, Polaris
appears to us to stay in the same spot all night long, every night
(in the daytime, too, if we could see it). And because, from our
perspective, Earth rotates clockwise relative to that pole star, all
the other stars in the sky seem to move around it in a
counterclockwise direction. That phenomenon is known as diurnal
motion-from the Latin for "daily" (and it can be seen graphically in
This made Polaris extremely useful for ancient navigators (it
still does), since no matter where you are, if you draw a line down
from Polaris to the horizon-that point is almost exactly north. It
is, however, only visible from the Northern Hemisphere.
Polaris was not always nor will it always be our North Star. For
various reasons concerning the movement of celestial bodies, our
positional relationship to the stars changes on an approximately
25,765-year cycle. Two thousand years from now, the star known as
Gamma Cephei will become our North Star. And about 3,000 years after
that, Iota Cephei will take its place.
To find Polaris, first locate the Big Dipper (Ursa Major, which is
often easier to spot than the Little Dipper). The two stars that
make up the front of the cup (farthest from the handle) are known as
the "pointer stars." Follow them out from the cup, and the next
bright star you see is Polaris.
BRI CONTACT INFO
As always, we're here for you.
The Bathroom Readers' Institute
PO Box 1117
Ashland, OR 97520
phone: (888) 488-4642
fax: (541) 482-6159
For order inquiries: orders@...
For general correspondence: mail@...
THE BOTTOM LINE
From Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Jingle Bell Christmas
Here are some nominees for Scrooge of the Year.
A dentist gave a $30 gift certificate to his dental assistant
for Christmas. She found the certificate could only be redeemed at
an upscale boutique owned by the dentist's wife that carried nothing
even close to $30.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco decided not
to hand out cash bonuses to its employees at Christmas. Instead,
each employee received a white painter's cap with the words "Bah
Humbug" printed on it.
Every year, a consumer electronics company in the English town
of Grimsby gives its workers the same Christmas bonus: a sack of
potatoes. (The owner's cousin owns a potato farm.)
Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, became notorious for
his "Scrooge Memo," in which he pointedly reminded employees of
their obligation to work a full day on Christmas Eve-or else.
Richard Martin, a 71-year-old apartment manager in Bay Ridge,
New York, got upset one year when someone tore down the Christmas
decorations he'd put up in the lobby of his apartment building. So
he wrote the following note and sent it to all his tenants: "Dear
scumbag: If I catch you, I will kill you where you are. You don't
want to f*** with the Irish."
Colin Wood hated Christmas so much that he rented a fallout
shelter for $600 so he could lock himself away for the holidays. He
said Christmas provoked too many family arguments and he preferred
to avoid the whole thing. His brother gave him a copy of Dickens' A
Christmas Carol to read while underground.
Kool Website of the Week: GoldenAgeStories.com
Robalini's Review: Whatever the merits of Scientology, L. Ron
Hubbard was sure one hell of pulp writer. Check out this site for a
treasure trove of resources for fans of Hubbard's classic pre-
Dianetics fictional yarns...
L. Ron Hubbard Pulp Fiction Books and Stories from the Golden Age:
Book Video, Books Online, Audio Books
Read book excerpts, watch video clips, get free book cover posters,
listen to old time radio show audio book story clips, and buy L. Ron
Hubbard fiction book titles in the Golden Age Stories Science
Fiction, Western, Mystery and Adventure book series by New York
Times best selling author L. Ron Hubbard. Explore the Interactive
Pulp Fiction Universe Flash site and online book store, join the
book club, register for the Itunes Book Podcast.
Air Cars: A New Wind for America's Roads?
by Jim Ostroff
Thursday, October 30, 2008
A new carmaker has a plan for cheap, environmentally friendly cars
to be built all over the country
An air-powered car? It may be available sooner than you think at a
price tag that will hardly be a budget buster. The vehicle may not
run like a speed racer on back road highways, but developer Zero
Pollution Motors is betting consumers will be willing to fork over
$20,000 for a vehicle that can motor around all day on nothing but
air and a splash of salad oil, alcohol or possibly a pint of
The expertise needed to build a compressed air car, or CAV, is not
rocket science, either. Years-old, off-the-shelf technology uses
compressed air to drive old-fashioned car engine pistons instead of
combusting gas or diesel fuel to create a burst of air to do the
same thing. Indian carmaker Tata has no qualms about the technology.
It has already bought the rights to make the car for the huge Indian
The air car can tool along at a top speed of 35 mph for some 60
miles or so on a tank of compressed air, a sufficient distance for
80% of consumers to commute to work and back and complete daily
On highways, the CAV can cruise at interstate speeds for nearly 800
miles with a small motor that compresses outside air to keep the
tank filled. The motor isn't finicky about fuel. It will burn
gasoline or diesel as well as biodiesel, ethanol or vegetable oil.
This car leaves the highest-mpg vehicles you can buy right now in
the dust. Even if it used only regular gasoline, the air car would
average 106 mpg, more than double today's fuel sipping champ, the
Toyota Prius. The air tank also can be refilled when it's not in use
by being plugged into a wall socket and recharged with electricity
as the motor compresses air.
Automakers aren't quite ready yet to gear up huge assembly line
operations churning out air cars or set up glitzy dealer showrooms
where you can ooh and aah over the color or style. But the vehicles
will be built in factories that will make up to 8,000 vehicles a
year, likely starting in 2011, and be sold directly to consumers.
There will be plants in nearly every state, based on the number of
drivers in the state. California will have as many as 17 air car
manufacturing plants, and there'll be around 12 in Florida, eight in
New York, four in Georgia, while two in Connecticut will serve that
state and Rhode Island.
The technology goes back decades, but is coming together courtesy of
two converging forces. First, new laws are likely to be enacted in a
few years that will limit carbon dioxide emissions and force
automakers to develop ultra-high mileage cars and those that emit
minuscule amounts of or no gases linked with global warming. Plug-in
electric hybrids will slash these emissions, but they'll be pricey
at around $40,000 each and require some changes in infrastructure --
such as widespread recharge stations -- to be practical. Fuel cells
that burn hydrogen to produce only water vapor still face daunting
Second, the relatively high cost of gas has expedited the air car's
development. Yes, pump prices have plunged since July from record
levels, but remain way higher than just a few years ago and continue
to take a bite out of disposable income. Refiners will face carbon
emission restraints, too, and steeply higher costs will be passed
along at the pump.
Zero Pollution Motors doesn't plan to produce the cars in the U.S.
Instead, it plans to charge $15 million for the rights to the
technology, a fully built turnkey auto assembly plant, tools,
machinery, training and rights to use trademarks.
The CAV has a big hurdle: proving it can pass federal crash tests.
Shiva Vencat, president and CEO of Zero Pollution Motors, says he's
not worried. "The requirements can be modeled [on a computer] before
anything is built and adjusted to ensure that the cars will pass"
the crash tests. Vencat also is a vice president of MDI Inc., a
French company that developed the air car.
The inventor of this technology is Mr. Guy Negre, who is the founder
and CEO of MDI SA, a company headquartered in Luxembourg with its R
and D in Nice, France.
The $70-an-hour autoworker Myth
By John Amato
Tuesday Nov 25, 2008
During the Automotive crisis that has erupted in the last few weeks,
many false narratives are being implanted by the right wing thugs
that helped push our economy off the cliff. Eric Boehlert tackles
this latest smear that our media is ignoring. Don't you think it
would be important for our media to actually do some in depth
reporting on this issue instead of reciting misleading, conservative
Indeed, that $70-an-hour meme, actively promoted by the anti-union
conservative media, has ricocheted around the traditional press as
well as the political landscape, where it was picked up by
congressional critics last week during hearings and used to argue
against aiding GM, Ford, and Chrysler.
But what's obvious to me is that it's harmful to public discourse
when the press, on such a central issue facing our country, fails to
clearly state the facts and instead perpetuates misinformation with
sloppy reporting -- reporting that seems to hold blue-collar workers
to a different standard than their white-collar counterparts.
But having the media echo conservative misinformation and bandy
about urban-myth salary figures about allegedly high-on-the-hog GM
workers does not constitute a careful review of the facts.
Question: Is the press just being sloppy on this issue of supposedly
pampered autoworkers, or are there other elements in play? Because
honestly, I've had trouble escaping the not-very-subtle elitist, get-
a-load-of-this tone that has run through the media's misinformation
on the topic; i.e., "These autoworkers get paid that?!"
Answer: No, they don't, so please stop reporting it. (And why has
the press been so reticent to note that Big Three autoworkers
recently made significant concessions to management?)
Make no mistake: The $70-an-hour claim represents a classic case of
conservative misinformation. It's also a very dangerous one. The
falsehood about autoworkers is being spread at a crucial time, when
a make-or-break public debate is taking place, a debate that could
affect millions of American workers...read on
And as Jane says, the UAW has done a terrible job in handling their
side of the PR battle:
This is largely because the UAW has, without question, executed the
worst, most non-existent public relations campaign ever. It's just
shocking how bad they are at this, leaving everyone to scramble in
their defense. Tying their fate to the automakers and leaving it to
the CEOs to present their case seems fraught with risk. (If I was
Gettlefinger I'd be on a plane to China looking for buyers to save
my members' pensions, but nobody asked me.)
The Collapse of '09 - Top Trends 2009
RHINEBECK, NY 27 November 2008 -- In November 2007, we
predicted "The Panic of '08" as a Top Trend for 2008. We were so
sure of our forecast that we secured the domain name, Panicof08.com
in November of 2007.
This November we predict "The Collapse of '09" as a Top Trend for
2009. We are so sure of this forecast that we have recently secured
the domain name, Collapseof09.com.
When we contacted you last year with our Top Trends list we wrote:
In 2008, Americans will wake up to the worst economic times that
anyone alive has ever seen. And they won't know what hit them. Just
as they were in a state of shock on 9/11, they'll be frozen in fear
when the Economic 9/11 strikes at the heart of Wall Street.
The "Panic of 08" hit as predicted, and so did the Economic 9/11 we
had forecast when Lehman Brothers went bust, Merrill Lynch crashed,
and A.I.G. was nationalized this past September.
Last year we wrote:
Dismiss this trend forecast at your own peril. If you believe
everything will be all right, and that the ship of state is sailing
along just fine, toss this out and go about your business.
There is still time to prepare for "The Collapse of 09" that trend
seer Gerald Celente predicts, and there is still time to plan for
how to best survive the aftermath that will follow. Forewarned is
To schedule an interview with Gerald Celente, Founder & Director of
The Trends Research Institute, contact:
845.876.6700 Ext. 1
Trends Research | P.O. Box 660 | Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Mumbai Attacks To Be Blamed On Pakistan?
Up to 100 dead in coordinated terror, India blamed previous attacks
Paul Joseph Watson
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Coordinated attacks across Mumbai, India's financial capital, which
have killed up to a hundred people and injured hundreds more, are
likely to be blamed on a terrorist organization linked to the
Pakistani ISI, providing further justification for controversial
U.S. bombings inside Pakistani territory and heightened rhetoric
against Pakistan on behalf of President elect Barack Obama.
Terrorists armed with AK-47's and grenades conduced a series of
rampages on hotels, restaurants and public transport facilities
today, killing around 80 and injuring over 250 people. Initial
reports that terrorists had seized western hostages were later
dismissed by Indian government officials.
With the corporate media desperate to pin the blame in order to
score much needed propaganda points for the ailing war on terror,
suspicion is likely to fall on Pakistan, a country that President
elect Barack Obama openly threatened during his presidential
The bombings in Mumbai will also likely silence questions about
controversial U.S. bombing raids inside Pakistani territory aimed at
terrorists, strikes that have repeatedly killed innocent civilians.
It is commonly asserted that the Pakistani ISI helps fund and train
Journalist Stephen Schwartz notes that several terrorist and
criminal groups are "backed by senior officers in the Pakistani
army, the country's ISI intelligence establishment and other armed
bodies of the state." Author Daniel Byman states, "Pakistan is
probably today's most active sponsor of terrorism."
Indeed, Indian police claimed that the Pakistani ISI directed the
July 2006 train bombing in Mumbai which killed 186 people, which was
blamed on the Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba, an
organization based in Pakistan. Look for the same organization or an
affiliated group to be blamed for today's attacks.
As Bloomberg reports today, "The government has previously blamed
terrorist attacks on organizations linked to foreign powers, without
offering evidence or making arrests. Local media often blame the
attacks on groups backed by Pakistan or Bangladesh, without
identifying the security officials who provided the information."
With shrill corporate media outfits begging for a scapegoat to be
used as war on terror propaganda, it won't be long before an Al-
Qaeda-Pakistan link is claimed. Indeed, early reports already state
that the attacks are "thought to be linked to Al-Qaeda," offering no
evidence and in spite of the fact that an unknown group, Deccan
Mujahideen, has clamed responsibility for the massacre. The Deccan
Plateau is a large plateau in India, suggesting this is where the
terrorist group was based.
Axl Rose Gunning for Dr Pepper
Nov 27th 2008
Axl Rose is accusing Dr Pepper of doing the same thing he did for
nearly 17 years: Screwing people out of what they were promised.
Rose is accusing Pepper of profiting off the Guns N' Roses name,
after the soda company's website malfunctioned during their free Dr
Pepper giveaway on Sunday. The 20 oz. handouts were a promise made
by Pepper if "Chinese Democracy" ever hit the shelves.
Axl's lawyers are demanding full-page apologies in four major
newspapers, an extended period of time to collect on the free suds
and payment for unauthorized use the G'N'R name.
Uncle Fats' Tasty Meal of the Week
Here's what I made yesterday and it was the best chili I've ever
made, according to my wife. We had it with a little shredded
cheddar and Tostito Baked Scoops. I cut the beef up into pretty
small chunks (as Carroll Shelby says on his Chili Mix, which is
quite good "about the size of your pinky toe.") It's very fun to
make, and the moment of truth is when you throw all the meat back in
the post and stir in all the spices. Wow. Enough for 2+ meals
Beef, Black Bean, and Chorizo Chili
Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2007
Serve with classic condiments such as sour cream, chopped green
onions, and shredded cheddar cheese. For a thinner chili, cook
covered the whole time. You can prepare it a day ahead and
refrigerate, or up to two weeks ahead and freeze (be sure to thaw
the chili overnight in the refrigerator). Look for masa harina, the
corn flour used to make tortillas, in the Latin foods aisle at the
supermarket, or substitute fine-ground cornmeal. Use kitchen shears
to cut up the tomatoes in the can.
2 links Spanish chorizo sausage (about 6 1/2 ounces), thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 (14-ounce) cans less-sodium beef broth
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
2 tablespoons masa harina
2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chorizo to pan; sauté 3
minutes or until browned. Remove chorizo from pan. Add half of beef
to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until browned. Remove beef from pan.
Repeat procedure with remaining beef. Add onion and garlic to pan;
sauté 3 minutes.
Remove 4 chipotle chiles from can, and chop. Reserve remaining
chiles and sauce for another use. Add chorizo, beef, chopped chiles,
tomato paste, and next 6 ingredients (through ground cumin) to pan,
and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in red wine, lime
juice, beef broth, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and
simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Gradually stir in masa harina. Add pinto beans and black beans;
bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.
Yield: 10 servings (serving size: about 1 cup chili)
CALORIES 325 (30% from fat); FAT 11g (sat 3.8g,mono 4.7g,poly 1g);
IRON 4.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 53mg; CALCIUM 104mg; CARBOHYDRATE 31.4g;
SODIUM 898mg; PROTEIN 25g; FIBER 8.4g