Dried Roses

Sunday cat pix

Musa’s got a new bag.
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Musa, 3 Sep 2008

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LinkSeptember 7, 2008 in Cats

Sunday cat pix

HS veers left.
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HS, 6 Sep 2008

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LinkSeptember 21, 2008 in Cats

Read ’em and weep

First, an amazingly good account of the background to the current “crisis”, starting with the deregulation of S&Ls under Reagan:
In 1982, the same year John McCain entered the Senate, a bill was put forward that would substantially deregulate the Savings and Loan industry. The Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act was an initiative of the Reagan administration, and was largely authored by lobbyists for the S&L industry — including John McCain’s warm-up speaker at the convention, Fred Thompson. The official description of the bill was “An act to revitalize the housing industry by strengthening the financial stability of home mortgage lending institutions and ensuring the availability of home mortgage loans.” Considering where things stand in 2008, that may sound dubious. It should.
Seven years later, the S&L industry was collapsing…
Serious people agree… to loot the Treasury again:
Leave aside for the moment whether this gargantuan nationalization/bailout scheme is “necessary” in some utilitarian sense. One doesn’t have to be an economics expert in order for several facts to be crystal clear:
First, the fact that Democrats are on board with this scheme means absolutely nothing. When it comes to things the Bush administration wants, Congressional Democrats don’t say “no” to anything. They say “yes” to everything. That’s what they’re for…
Astonish your friends! Predict the future and watch their surprise grow, day by day.
Here’s the industry’s play: progressives will approach Nancy with ideas for reform, and she’ll agree to push for their proposals, and she’ll really mean it. Then industry lobbyists will go to Dennis Moore, Melissa Bean and a few other Democrats, and tell them how dire the consequences of the proposals would be, and that the members who understand how the economy works need to step up to stop Nancy and the crazy liberals from doing something rash. Then those Democrats will go to Steny and tell him how terrible Nancy’s crazy ideas would be, and how we can’t rush into something like that without much, much more thought…
Meanwhile, at the Newspaper of Record, the official story emerges:
A program to help troubled borrowers refinance mortgages — along with an $800 billion increase in the national debt limit — was approved in July. But its financing depended largely on fees paid by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, now in a government conservatorship.
The legislators who had been briefed Thursday about the crisis were reluctant on Sunday to describe in detail what many said was the breathtakingly grim picture sketched for them.
But Mr. Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, said on Sunday that legislators had been told that “we were reaching the point where people wouldn’t be able to get auto loans or home loans.” He foresaw “a very substantial reduction in economic activity.”
Mr. Frank said earlier that Democrats were particularly intent on limiting the huge pay packages for corporate executives whose firms seek aid under the new plan, raising the prospect of a contentious battle with the White House.
“They should accept some compensation guidelines,” he said, “particularly to get rid of the perverse incentives where it’s ‘heads I win, tails I break even.’ ”
But Mr. Paulson said he hoped to defer such an effort. “Pay should be for performance, not for failure,” he said. “But we need the system to work, so the reforms need to come afterward.”
For ‘bipartisan’, read: dictated by the Republicans. To avert a crisis so bad no-one can bear to describe it, we’ll give the banks $700 billion or so (on top of $200 billion to Fannie & Freddie, and $150 billion or so for AIG and other bailouts) and then talk about reform.
I must admit that the Iraq War is starting to look cheap.

LinkSeptember 21, 2008 in Current Affairs

Pattern of the week

Click the View button to see the pattern used as a background. Download it.
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LinkSeptember 21, 2008 in Patterns

Proust, one page at a time

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Véronique Aubouy proposes that 3000 people each read one page of À la recherche du temps perdu in front of their webcam, starting on 27 September. As of this morning (23 September), 977 have signed up. So there is still plenty of opportunity to take part.
The poster at the right, which is by Jean Marcchapoulie (or so I’m guessing from the URL), advertises a Proust conference in the alternative world Second Life on 4 September this year.
The entire text of the Recherche, in French, divided into 1588 lectiones, is available at proust.tv. The Scott Moncrieff translation accompanies the French, as do tag clouds and various other items of interest.
Cette année-là, quand, un peu plus tôt que d’habitude, mes parents eurent fixé le jour de rentrer à Paris, le matin du départ, comme on m’avait fait friser pour être photographié, coiffer avec précaution un chapeau que je n’avais encore jamais mis et revêtir une douillette de velours, après m’avoir cherché partout, ma mère me trouva en larmes dans le petit raidillon, contigu à Tansonville, en train de dire adieu aux aubépines, entourant de mes bras les branches piquantes, et, comme une princesse de tragédie à qui pèseraient ces vains ornements, ingrat envers l’importune main qui en formant tous ces nœuds avait pris soin sur mon front d’assembler mes cheveux, foulant aux pieds mes papillotes arrachées et mon chapeau neuf.

LinkSeptember 23, 2008 in Literature

Sunday cat pix

HS on the garden path.

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LinkSeptember 27, 2008 in Cats

How to spot the droids

They talk like this:
Wireless consumers will experience WiMAX device and XOHM service innovation on multiple levels as the computer, Internet, telecom and consumer electronics industries converge to redefine wireless mobility.
Sarah Palin, bless her heart, is no droid:
That’s why I say, I, like every American I’m speaking with, we’re ill about this position that we have been put in, where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Helping the—oh, it’s got to be about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans, and trade we’ve—we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, um, scary thing, but 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. We’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.
I was about to say that Palin would be the first president for whom we would need a translator, but then I remembered the elder Bush.

LinkSeptember 29, 2008 in Current Affairs