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Showing posts from September, 2008

Batten Down The Hatches, People

...there's an economic hurricane just offshore.
If they don't reconsider this bailout and fast...
Dear readers: you need to read this. It's a letter from John Maudlin, an independent financial analyst, to his Congressman.
It's long, for which I apologize. But it explains the interconnectedness of this economy and why the so-called bailout is absolutely essential.
Dear Joe,

I understand your reluctance to vote for a bill that 90% of the people who voted for you are against. That is generally not good politics. They don't understand why taxpayers should spend $700 billion to bail out rich guys on Wall Street who are now in trouble. And if I only got my information from local papers and news sources, I would probably agree. But the media (apart from CNBC) has simply not gotten this story right. It is not just a crisis on Wall Street. Left unchecked, this will morph within a few weeks to a crisis on Main Street. What I want to do is describe the nature of the crisis, how th…

Read It And Weep

ClubOrlov: Adieu, Stage 1 Collapse

Geez, a couple more weeks of this turmoil and people might actually start listening to those who have been warning us all for years. 
I'm going to list Dmitry Orlov's stages of collapse here, so that we have a handy checklist:
Stage 1: Financial collapse. Faith in "business as usual" is lost. The future is no longer assumed resemble the past in any way that allows risk to be assessed and financial assets to be guaranteed. Financial institutions become insolvent; savings are wiped out, and access to capital is lost.

Stage 2: Commercial collapse. Faith that "the market shall provide" is lost. Money is devalued and/or becomes scarce, commodities are hoarded, import and retail chains break down, and widespread shortages of survival necessities become the norm.

Stage 3: Political collapse. Faith that "the government will take care of you" is lost. As official attempts to mitigate widespread loss of access to commercial sou…

Has Anybody Even SEEN a Liberal Ad?

I'm just wondering. I don't think I have.
I've seen Harper the Cold and Aloof coming off all warm and fuzzy, and I've seen Layton's 'New Strong' campaign ("we're so strong we're going to push all the corporations right the hell out of Canada by taxing them to death, and that's how much we care about the working Canadian!")
But no Dion. 
I know the Liberals are damn near broke, but yeesh, you'd think they could at least cobble something together. Then again, if Dion's in it, nobody'd understand it, anyway. Stephane Dion makes Jean Chretien look like Barack Obama.
Oh, how far the mighty are about to fall. Canada's Natural Governing Party is quite likely to be reduced to third party status in the House, with Layton's NDP bearing the standard of the Left. Provided Harper gets his majority, this can only be a good thing. (A Harper minority with NDP opposition and they might as well just call another election--the two parties…

FrankenBarbie?

I'm going to have to use that.
The Huffington Post is not known for its objective take on issues. John McCain is not exactly their favorite candidate and they make no bones about telling you this on every screen. Nevertheless, there's some interesting conjecture in here.
Bear in mind that John McCain is very likely to die in office, so Sarah Palin is truly a heartbeat away from the Presidency. I find the "Evita" comparison quite intriguing. 
Politically, Palin nee Heath and Peron nee Ibaguaren are worlds apart (all the more so since the latter's in the next world). But the two women have much in common. Both came out of nowhere--Palin from tiny Wasilla, Alaska, Eva from the slums of Junin--to assume positions of great power that nobody thought for a second either was qualified for. There's a memorable couplet from the Lloyd-Webber/Rice musical Evita that comes to mind: Her only good parts are between her thighs She should stare at the ceiling, not reach for the ski…

We're All On This Ship Together

In a solitude of the sea
Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.

Steel chambers, late the pyres
Of her salamandrine fires,
Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.

Over the mirrors meant
To glass the opulent
The sea-worm crawls -- grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.

Jewels in joy designed
To ravish the sensuous mind
Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.

Dim moon-eyed fishes near
Gaze at the gilded gear
And query: "What does this vaingloriousness down here?" ...

Well: while was fashioning
This creature of cleaving wing,
The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything

Prepared a sinister mate
For her -- so gaily great --
A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.

And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.

Alien they seemed to be;
No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their later history,

Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident 
On being…

Found in my email today....

Funny, I'm not American. But it still came to me. Whaddaya think, folks? Should I answer Mr. Paulsen? He seems legitimate.
--Ken

SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP

DEAR AMERICAN:
I NEED TO ASK YOU TO SUPPORT AN URGENT SECRET BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP WITH A TRANSFER OF FUNDS OF GREAT MAGNITUDE.

I AM MINISTRY OF THE TREASURY OF THE REPUBLIC OF AMERICA. MY COUNTRY HAS HAD CRISIS THAT HAS CAUSED THE NEED FOR LARGE TRANSFER OF FUNDS OF 800 BILLION DOLLARS US. IF YOU WOULD ASSIST ME IN THIS TRANSFER, IT WOULD BE MOST PROFITABLE TO YOU.

I AM WORKING WITH MR. PHIL GRAM, LOBBYIST FOR UBS, WHO WILL BE MY REPLACEMENT AS MINISTRY OF THE TREASURY IN JANUARY. AS A SENATOR, YOU MAY KNOW HIM AS THE LEADER OF THE AMERICAN BANKING DEREGULATION MOVEMENT IN THE 1990S. THIS TRANSACTIN IS 100% SAFE.

THIS IS A MATTER OF GREAT URGENCY. WE NEED A BLANK CHECK. WE NEED THE FUNDS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. WE CANNOT DIRECTLY TRANSFER THESE FUNDS IN THE NAMES OF OUR CLOSE FRIENDS BECAUSE WE ARE CONSTANTLY U…

"There are no atheists in foxholes"

Umm, well, that's not true. But I think it's fair to suggest there are no free-marketeers in an economic meltdown.Paulsen, Bernanke and Bush (oh my) all spouted a variation on the "we had to do it" meme. We had to print off about seven hundred billion dollars to save America and the world from much greater turmoil down the road.
Bull roar.
And roar the bull did, as the Dow slingshotted back up after a couple of days of catastrophic losses. The TSX composite was up 848 points in a single session as investors fell all teary-eyed over their government saviours and gave them sloppy puppy-kisses. These would be the same investors who have been on a Dawkins-esque crusade against government intervention ever since...well, ever since the last time the government had to step in and save the financial system from itself...the savings and loan crisis.
See here, I would have thought a financial system in such grave disarray as to require an infusion of $700,000,000,000.00 would win…

Happy Birthday Eva

My wife's turning 39. They say it's the ones with the zeroes at the end that freak you out, but in Eva's experience, the nines are much worse. She's been a tad angst-y about the impending three-niner for a couple of months now. Nothing I say seems to have any effect. Typical man I am, trying to fix things that can't be fixed, right? Except--and love, I'm talking directly to you here--it's not that it can't be fixed, it's that it isn't broken in the first place. Far from it, in fact. You're in the best shape you've been in since you were a teenager. No, better than that, actually, because you smoked back then. You're losing weight and further developing that awesome pile of muscle.  Most people having age-related crises think to themslves shit, here I am turning none of your business and I'm old and decrepit and where did my life go and there's so much left to do but I don't know what it IS and 
That ain't you, love. Never…

People are Weird

People are weird.That's no great shock, of course. But I'm confronted with weirdness everywhere I go. Weirdnesses large and small compete for my attention, while all around me, hordes of people walk right on by, occasionally rubbing their very noses in the weirdness without even catching a whiff of it. It starts young: parents hustling their kids to activity after activity, gobbling up every minute of their childhoods in an obscene headlong rush to turn them into adults. These are the same parents who complain bitterly about how stressed their lives are, yet they see nothing odd in inflicting that same stress on their children. There's been an increased number of shootings on the streets of Toronto lately. Predictably, the mayor's calling once again for a ban on handguns. He does this every time there's a handgun murder, and his supporters eat it up, knowing as they do that criminals can be counted on to respect any ban that's put in place. Teenagers spend huge ch…

Subprime Explained

When I was much younger, my dad took me to a place called Depot Harbour. It's a ghost town on the shores of Georgian Bay. Eighty short years ago, the town was a bustling, thriving home to more than 3000 people.  Then the Great Depression happened. The grain trade dried up, the railway closed down, and the town withered and died. 
We weren't there long, but the visit made a deep and lasting impression on me. Little wonder: there's something haunting and heart-wrenching to regard former church steps leading nowhere or the ruins of a Roman-inspired railway roundhouse.

(If you're interested, here's a good site showing what Depot Harbour looked like in its glory days.)

This has certainly been a historic week on Wall Street. The morbid jokes are starting to make the rounds...

What's the difference between Wall Street in 1929 and Wall Street in 2008?In 2008, you can't open the windows.
I'm reading an article in Forbes that poses the question "Is the U.S. Going B…

Baby steps

It's no great secret that we want to get 'off the grid', certainly by the time we retire. Originally, we envisioned a solar and wind-powered cottage-type place on water. The water's important. For Eva, water is primal. She is fully herself in and around water: an accomplished swimmer, she proved to be such a good lifeguard that an entire "Junior Lifeguard" program was created to accommodate her before she was of legal age to be a lifeguard. Water grounds Eva; it relaxes her, rejuvenates her, reconnects her...pick your spiritual term. I derive all the same benefits out of a body of water so long as I don't actually have to immerse myself in it. Swimming is not a strong suit of mine: even a simple front crawl rapidly degenerates into doggy-paddling, and the effort necessary to keep myself afloat is far too much like work to be remotely relaxing. But by all means give me a view of the river. Let me sit on the dock, as I do at my dad's place, and mentally …

Going Moldy....

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