``I must give him his due. He has considerably cretinized me.'' Lautréamont

Pics click to enlarge.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When Madmen Reign (NYT)

kool aid disparaged

by Bob Herbert
The question voters should be asking John McCain is whether he has stopped serving his party’s economic Kool-Aid and is ready to change his ways.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Washington Panic (WSJ)

having the qualities of uproar

...The uproarious debate over the Paulson plan comes down to one main proposition: Are we going to give the government a new tool and resources to protect the financial system, or not?

Friday, September 26, 2008

It All Comes Down to Experience (NYT)

message praised

As Barack Obama continues to stay on message, it’s no wonder John McCain has proposed postponing the first debate.

The Cross-Cultural Classroom (NYT)

media politics analogized

In what is one of the most diverse communities in the country, a teacher learns to be aware of the many cultures that make up her kindergarten class.

Wasilla Watch: Sarah Palin and the Rape Kits (NYT)

women's issues addressed

Voters should know if sexual-assault victims in Wasilla, Alaska, were being billed for the cost of rape kits and forensic exams while Sarah Palin was mayor.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ten States With a Plan (NYT)

warming fairy combatted

Until Washington takes more responsibility for addressing global warming, the states should take the lead.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Park Avenue Diplomacy (NYT)

dowd's own foreign policy experience projected

by Maureen Dowd
Summoning his old Harvard teaching days, Kissinger surely looked for a common didactic starting point: She has seen Russia. “Goot. I haff seen it, too.”

Official Solution to the Financial Crisis

Convert mortgage securities into flower bonds, opening a market for them.

An Inadequate Case for the Bailout (NYT)

money flow skimming needed

Congress has more work to do on the proposal to bail out the financial system before lawmakers and voters can support it.

Long Live the Gray Wolf (NYT)

anopheles mosquito to africa is another

There have been few biological reintroductions as successful as the restoration of the gray wolf to the Rockies.

The Paulson Sale (WSJ)

hendiadys crisis

That's especially true if Treasury were to try and use these purchases to "recapitalize" the banks by overpaying for the assets.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Second Opinion? (NYT)

mortgage derivatives explained

by Bob Herbert
Henry Paulson has been handed the reins of government, and he’s galloping through the taxpayers’ money like a hard-charging driver in a runaway chariot race.

Railroaded (NYT)

sweeping powers praised

Gov. David Paterson of New York was right to give the state’s attorney general sweeping powers to investigate the disability fraud debacle at Long Island Rail Road.

Remember Iran? (NYT)

foreign policy explained

What is needed is a game-changing diplomatic initiative in dealing with Iran’s constant evasions on its nuclear program.

Trust Me (NYT)

economics explained

To protect the American taxpayer, Congress must ensure that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s bailout plan comes with clear ground rules and vigilant oversight.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Fine Mess (NYT)

``I hesitate to say I don't disagree with you''

by William Kristol
A friend serving in the Bush administration tried to talk me out of my doubts about the $700 billion financial bailout. I’m not convinced.

Barack Obama, John McCain and the Language of Race (NYT)

assholeness is cultural

The discomfort with certain forms of black assertiveness is too deeply rooted in the national psyche to just disappear.

Up for Sale? (NYT)

the proof of why

The accusation that Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio put his office “up for sale” is further proof of why public officials need to disclose private income.

No More Excuses (NYT)

waiting room reading material survey

If you’ve shied away from getting a colonoscopy, two new scientific studies may make you less reluctant.

‘Running Out of Time’ (NYT)

the completely unravel menace

President Bush needs a policy that bolsters Pakistan’s fragile civilian government before the country completely unravels.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Two Silences (NYT)


In the surreal silence of a forest in northern Finland, I discovered that in nothing there is something to hear after all.

Right to Smear (NYT)

swift boat was true, however

Although the wholesale descent into Swift Boat campaigning has been blocked, voters should not rest easy.

‘Never Again,’ Again (NYT)

water and gravity intelligence test

Hurricane Gustav gave the state of Louisiana a test for which it had three years to prepare. The state flunked.

The Push to ‘Otherize’ Obama (NYT)

moronize is also noticed

by Nicholas D Kristof
The political campaign to transform Barack Obama into a Muslim is succeeding. The real loser as that happens is our entire political process.

No Laughing Matter (NYT)

listening to scolds recommended

by Thomas L. Friedman
George W. Bush never challenged Americans to do anything hard, let alone great. The next president is not going to have that luxury.

Truthiness Stages a Comeback (NYT)

truculence and propaganda twinned

by Frank Rich
The twin-pronged Rovian strategy of truculence and propaganda that sold Bush and his war could yet work for John McCain.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blocking the Sky to Save the Earth (NYT)

not everybody gets the same mail


The melting of the polar ice cap in recent years is decades ahead of model predictions, raising concern that climate change is proving worse than expected.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Social Security

The Social Security crisis is easily fixed. Raise the retirement age so that the number of (then increased) workers is big enough to voluntarily support the (then reduced) number of retirees. Done!

You get to spend the last (say, average) 8 years of your life on benefits, not a 30 year vacation after age 65. Raise the age so this is true, no matter how high the life expectancy goes.

Why not reduce benefits? Because SS fills a gap. It's an annuity adjusted for inflation that won't fail. The private market can't match that, because companies that might offer annuities don't last 30 years.

See for example AIG.

So the guarantee of SS is that you won't have the misfortune to outlive your savings, regardless of inflation and the misjudgments of the management of the annuity company you had the misfortune to choose.

People can easily save for an average retirement, but they can't save for a hundred year lifespan, should they happen to live that long. That's the risk that's being insured against.

If you want to retire earlier than the raised retirement age, great! Just do it on your own dime, to bridge the gap.

Problem solved, debt overhang removed.

(Argument brought up again on the occasion of the shaky condition of AIG, the huge annuity issuer.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Financial Meltdown

This has all happened before.

I am thinking of 1987, when portfolio insurance was very popular.

Portfolio insurance was a programmed scheme simultaneously trading in stocks in NY and their options in Chicago, that guaranteed that you couldn't lose money on your portfolio.

If nobody can theoretically lose money, then reality will enforce itself by violating an assumption.

In this case, in 1987, it was that it was suddenly no longer possible to execute simultaneous trades in NY and Chicago. There were no buyers. They didn't think of that.

Yet it was precisely a consequence of portfolio insurance that it happened.

So now everything is hedged and insured, and every hedge falls in value simultaneously.

If nobody can lose money, your assumptions are wrong, might be the rule to use.

You do yes have to look at what you're buying.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years Later, Ground Zero (NYT)

parking lot incompleted

The land where the World Trade Center stood still has the painful feel of a construction site. It is time for the political leaders to clear the roadblocks.

Nice Work if You Can Get It (NYT)

rich people discovered

The ousted chiefs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are at the center of an epic failure. They should not be rewarded any more for their failures.

Mississippi’s Ballot Trick (NYT)

musical trailers

Mississippi’s governor and its secretary of state have come up with a dirty election trick that is not only illegal, but shows a contempt for the state’s voters.

In Search of Gov. Palin (NYT)

well wisher advice

The best way for Sarah Palin to let America know about her record is to hold an honest news conference, which is what the campaign of John McCain is avoiding.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Bailout’s Big Lessons (NYT)

confusion supported

The government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac raises disturbing issues that may get lost in the tumult of the moment.

Hold Your Heads Up (NYT)

contrary impression acknowledged

by Bob Herbert
Without the contribution of liberals, the United States would be a much, much worse place than it is today.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

John McCain’s Energy Follies (NYT)

uranium is carbon-free

The John McCain who understood that the country should expand carbon-free energy sources has receded in time for the campaign.

Palin and McCain’s Shotgun Marriage (NYT)

obama praised

by Frank Rich
John McCain’s speed-dating of Sarah Palin reaffirmed that his decision-making process is impetuous and, in its Bush-like preference for gut instinct over facts, potentially reckless.

Georgia on My Mind (NYT)

innovation capacity displayed

by Thomas L. Friedman
Barack Obama and John McCain need to focus, not on war, but on strengthening our capacity for innovation — our most important competitive advantage.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

And Then There Was One (NYT)

takeover by big hand lotion

by Thomas L. Friedman
With his choice of Sarah Palin, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil.

Candidate McCain’s Big Decision (NYT)

serious question spectre summoned

Choosing Sarah Palin raises serious questions about John McCain’s qualifications.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sunspot Minimum

what does it take to surprise an astronomer?

The astonishing rapid drop of the past year has defied predictions, and caught nearly all astronomers by surprise.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Breathless Labor Day (NYT)

symbolism urged

This Labor Day feels a little different than most, deafened, as it is, between the cymbals of the two political conventions.

The High Cost of Low Temperatures

global warming

Congress must do the right thing and help those who, faced with the high price of home heating oil, may have to make some painful choices this winter.

Mr. McCain and Iraq (NYT)

mccain made to define terms

John McCain owes the country an explanation of how he plans to salvage the war in Afghanistan and what he means by victory in Iraq.

John McCain’s Challenge (NYT)

incompetence deplored at the NYT

John McCain’s task is to persuade the American people that electing him will not merely mean more of President Bush’s ideology and incompetence.


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