Tuesday, October 28, 2008


From the Weekly Review, by Harper's:
a 27-year-old woman was arrested for shoplifting from a Walgreens in Florida and for brandishing, according to the arrest affidavit, “a well-used and bloody female sanitary napkin.” “I delivered a firm, lawful command to the suspect to drop the object,” stated one of the officers, “and told her it was gross.”

Monday, October 20, 2008

Carrie Brownstein: Funny

Inspired by the news that The Beegees'"Staying Alive" has the perfect beat for CPR, the multi-talented Ms. Brownstein offers some other songs that can save your life in certain situations:

2. Cougar or Bear Attack

When confronted by a bear or cougar while hiking, camping or mountain-biking, don't leave your survival up to chance. We all know that freezing, making yourself look bigger, maintaining eye contact and backing away slowly are the correct survival methods in this situation. But most people decide, wrongly, to run. However, many survivors of bear and cougar attacks have one thing in common: They all reported humming the tune "Suite: Judy Blues Eyes" by Crosby, Stills & Nash. It helps to hum the tune out loud, but only the end. (Yes, the "do do do do do DO DO do do do do" part.) When the bear or cougar retreats in response to this life-affirming melody, Crosby, Stills, Nash & You have won.

She also explains what songs to sing/hum/listen to in the event of choking ("War"), fire ("A Horse with No Name"), shuttlecock-retrieval-related falling ("Baby Got Back"), and joke-performance asphyxiation in a dry-cleaning bag ("A Case of You").

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cassidy on Soros on the Economic Meltdown

John Cassidy's review of George Soros's new book, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means, is one of the most lucid and illuminating accounts of these nearly incomprehensible times. Cassidy not only explains the origin of all the things you've been hearing about in the news, he explains the very basic foundations of the modern financial system in a way that someone who garnered D's in math and can't balance a checkbook can understand. It's long, but it's worth it.

He mainly argues that George Soros understands, and explains in his book, that markets can behave irrationally. They do not always operate according to strict theories or rationality imposed upon them by economists who use computer models to make predictions.
Financial markets perform two essential roles in the economy: (1) they take money from those with no immediate use for it, such as people saving for retirement and the hereditary rich, and put it into the hands of firms and entrepreneurial individuals with productive investment ideas but a shortage of cash to finance them; (2) they allow individuals and institutions to reapportion risk to those more willing to bear it. If Wall Street didn't exist, another method of allocating savings and risks would have to be found. One alternative is diktat, but the history of the Soviet Union and other Communist countries amply demonstrated the difficulties involved in centralizing economic decisions.

The great advantage of a market system is that it draws on information from throughout the economy and translates it into public signals—prices—that investors and firms can react to. Earlier this year, investors woke up to the fact that Detroit had ignored the threat of dwindling oil stocks and had bet its future on gas-guzzling SUVs: the stock prices of American car companies plummeted, making it much more expensive for them to sell equity in their corporations. Toyota and Honda, which had invested heavily in smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, have seen their stocks hold up much better, enabling them to raise funds cheaply. Nobody planned it, but in this instance the market rewarded foresight and innovation.

For financial markets to allocate resources to their most productive uses on an ongoing basis, the price signals they send must be the right ones day after day after day. Is this a realistic goal? A typical investor following the Dow's gyrations on CNBC or Yahoo Finance might be tempted to say no, but then the typical investor doesn't have the benefit of an economics Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Soros's theory of "reflexivity" is especially interesting and Cassidy even made up a helpful little diagram, but this isn't, unfortunately, in the online version of the article.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reason, Farewell

The cold, gnawing emptiness inside gets a little worse:
In the latest instance of inflammatory outbursts at McCain-Palin rallies, a crowd member screamed "treason!" during an event on Tuesday after Sarah Palin accused Barack Obama of criticizing U.S. troops.

"[Obama] said, too, that our troops in Afghanistan are 'air raiding villages and killing civilians,'" Palin said, mischaracterizing a 2007 remark by Obama. "I hope Americans know that is not what our brave men and women in uniform are doing in Afghanistan. The U.S. military is fighting terrorism and protecting us and protecting our freedom."

Shortly afterward, a male member of the crowd in Jacksonville, Florida, yelled "treason!" loudly enough to be picked up by television microphones.

(via AS)

Fight the Press

This is terrible:
Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."

(via Andrew Sullivan)

Monday, October 6, 2008


Had the aim been to attract much traffic with a clever gimmick, this is the blog you would be reading now. Yet, do not infer great amounts of rancor nor bitterness. A good idea is a good idea. And those pictures are hard to hate.

(via BuzzFeed)

Colbert at The New Yorker Festival

Zachary Kanin has put up quite the amusing post about Stephen Colbert's appearance The New Yorker festival. Colbert evidently covered a lot of ground:
On the philosophical implication of running for President: “We cast the show into the puddle of reality, and reported on our own ripples.”

On being kicked out of the Presidential election: “They tell you when you’re a child that anyone can run for President. But apparently not you, Stephen Colbert.”

On what he will do to an audience member’s friend who is an intern at “The Colbert Report”: “I will grope him.”

"I put sometimes the cartoons in the bookstore in the window."

The New Yorker had some kind of festival recently and they posted some mini-profiles of people who attended. Wilfred Merkel, 65, of Germany seems quite the charming man; he's the one that, when asked what section of the magazine he reads first, said that he puts "sometimes the cartoons in the bookstore in the window." To the question of which contributor to the magazine he'd like to sit next to on a long plane ride, he answered "I would like to find the magazine on board the airplane!" It's fortunate that Mr. Merkel's charm ends the slideshow because immediately preceding him is an attendee who evokes more ambivalent feelings.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Palin, Poet

"Challenge to a Cynic"

You are a cynic.
Because show me where
I have ever said
That there's absolute proof
That nothing that man
Has ever conducted
Or engaged in,
Has had any effect,
Or no effect,
On climate change.

(To C. Gibson, ABC News, Sept. 11, 2008)

"On Reporters"

It's funny that
A comment like that
Was kinda made to,
I don't know,
You know ...


(To K. Couric, CBS News, Sept. 25, 2008)

(via cf, original source here)

Harry Belafonte and DNC '68

(via BB)