Friday, October 31, 2008

Poltergeists from the anus of Mr. Paulson, all rise

The banks using cash from the $700 billion U.S. rescue plan for bonuses, acquisitions and other purposes unrelated to lending are clearly not thinking like the working man. Still, their corporate scams are likely run by so-called "conservatives" who, thrilling to the new-nazoid urgings of Arnold, will consider it their Joesixpack-like duty to vote, if they do at all, for McCain/Palin.

If one proved to these sincere politicians that they are attracting the scum of the earth to their ticket, would they have the decency to see the error of their ways?

It's enough to snuff a good man out.

Here's hope he'll haunt them from above while the wraiths of Hank seek them from below.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Obama in Sarasota Today

It was disorienting to be around a political event that was not stupid or brutish. Rather it was flawless, low key, intelligent. Besides, he shook the kid's hand.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

mimetic poly-alloy

I did not know until I just discovered that if I try to drag a tab from Firefox onto Chrome, it opens that page in Chrome. (The existing Firefox page stays where it was).

The dropped Firefox tab opens a new tab if you drop it in Chrome's top tabs bar. It replaces an existing page if you drop it on the address bar. 

The reverse (dropping Chrome on Firefox) is not an option.

Chrome is eerily a bit T-1000-ish - morphing to intent.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

a great anthropological question

If it is true that the political centrality of the mass-worker has been replaced by the political centrality of the mass-bourgeois, then a great anthropological question poses itself on the terrain of human labour. 
The ideological hegemony of the Right – your boss’s interest is your interest, and you should do things on your own and not with others – does not stop before the factory gates, just like it doesn’t wait in front of the entrance to the home, where the holy family dwells. It enters, penetrates, invades, conquers, seizing hold of the soul – if there is no body of collective forces that pushes it back, countering it with the reasons of an organised solidarity. The material condition of subaltern labour – whether dependent or autonomous, stable or precarious – must now face up to this politically unprecedented situation, that the middle classes no longer need to be a separate social stratum, because they have become a diffuse democratic mentality. This is an illusory veil which the presence of an alternative horizon, both credible and practicable, has the duty to rend asunder.

But who today denounces the evils of society? 
Mario Tronti via Infinite Thought - see also Bad Hugh

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Clean Head, Clean Machine

The HI-Y CLUB is one of the finest organization of the school with its purpose of maintaining and spreading clean speech, clean athletics, clean living, and clean scholarship.

Microsoft patents web moderator robots

Microsoft has just been awarded a patent for technology designed to automatically detect and remove “undesired words or phrases” from all manner of digital communications, ranging from YouTube broadcasts to internet chat and songs.

The patent describes a system that listens out for phonemes (word fragments) likely to be part of a swearword. If it thinks it hears a forbidden phrase, the software either fades out the offending syllables or simply replaces the rude word with a similar-sounding but clean alternative lifted from earlier speech without a second’s delay. M$

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Friday, October 24, 2008


CLEVELAND -- Campaign advertising in the battle over bringing a casino to Ohio is approaching $47 million -- nearly $6 for every registered voter in the state. Plain Dealer

'Capitalism Has Degenerated into a Casino'

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus says that greed has destroyed the world's financial system.

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Bloody Ladies

- Zina Saunders via Golby, whose mirrorage is speculative, specular, and spectacular.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'd love to hear Paulson explain why this isn't a good idea

Andrew Caplin:

In most parts of the country, house prices are plummeting. Families are defaulting on their mortgages and being kicked out of their homes. That's bad news for them, but also for us, because bonds issued on the backs of those mortgages are being bought by the government as part of the Wall Street bailout. The more borrowers who default, the less those bonds -- our bonds -- are worth. Future taxpayers -- our children -- are being condemned to a subprime future.

But there is a way out of this mess. Meet SAM. SAM is a shared appreciation mortgage, [Wikipedia offers some cautionary comment] where the lender and the borrower essentially become stakeholders in the house, and where both profit when a home increases in value. SAM can reduce defaults and loan losses and give us taxpayers a fighting chance of coming out on top.

Here's how: Imagine a family that took out a $200,000 mortgage but can only afford payments on a loan only three-quarters that size. The hole they're in gets deeper when the value of the house falls. Rather than repossess the house the lender can opt to refinance the mortgage with a $150,000 SAM. That way, the lender gets something in exchange for the write-down: a significant share of any future appreciation in the house. So, if five years later, the house is sold into a recovered market for $200,000, the lender would get an appropriate share of that profit.

If we allowed SAM in this country, taxpayers would get a share of the appreciation in any houses that got written down. This would reduce the odds of the homeowner defaulting and increase the value of those bonds that you and I now own.

Tragically, as useful as SAMs could be to our economy, we can't use them. The IRS imposed a block on SAMs nearly 40 years ago. But that block could be lifted with the stroke of the Treasury secretary's pen. Henry Paulson should pick that pen up and save our children from a subprime future.

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rules of the game

Today (2007) any wealthy individual can take $1 million and go to a prime broker and leverage this amount three times; then the resulting $4 million ($1 equity and $3 debt) can be invested in a fund or funds that will in turn leverage these $4 million three or four times and invest them in a hedge fund; then the hedge fund will take these funds and leverage them three or four times and buy some very junior tranche of a CDO that is itself leveraged nine or ten times. At the end of this credit chain, the initial $1 million of equity becomes a $100 million investment out of which $99 million is debt (leverage) and only $1 million is equity. So we got an overall leverage ratio of 100 to 1. Then, even a small 1% fall in the price of the final investment (CDO) wipes out the initial capital and creates a chain of margin calls that unravel this debt house of cards. roubini

More from The Great Crash 1929

...[Paulson] doesn’t dispute that he changed direction. Mr. Paulson said that by Oct. 2, as he was departing for a weekend getaway to an island with his family — his first weekend off in nearly two months — he told his staff, “We are going to put capital into banks first.”

Although the bailout bill still had not passed, the financial markets had deteriorated. He did not, however, inform Congress of his change of heart, and the House debate revolved almost entirely around the asset-purchase plan. media entity

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Steaming past Macedonia

US rockets up 12 places in press freedom rankings - to 36th in the world. via Digby.

Last year's performance was noted here.

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Monday, October 20, 2008


The former head of Britain's intelligence agency, M15, says the U.S. response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks – specifically the invasion of Iraq – and the launching of a worldwide "war on terrorism" was "a huge overreaction." Raimondo

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Courteous gall

James K. Galbraith, Professor of Economics, University of Texas

Excuse me for asking an impolite question.

But did David Walker, Eugene Steuerle -- or Peter G. Peterson himself -- devote even five percent of the vast resources that they have lavished in recent years on the supposed "entitlement crisis" to warning about the impending mess on Wall Street?

Did they write anything about it? Did they speak out against the Bush administration's abandonment of supervisory responsibility in the financial system? Did they protest the massive abuse of unsophisticated home buyers by the loan originators in the subprime sector? Did they comment on "liars' loans," "neutron loans" and "toxic waste"? Were they heard about the risks involved in securitizing subprime loans? Did they foresee that credit default swaps could collapse like a house of cards? Did they caution that the stock market might crash, ruining the private retirements of millions of Americans?

If they did, I must have missed it.  National Journal Online h/t JH

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Unidirectional blog post

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Can the Net be more than TV with tweets?

A thought for a legitimate political mashup, if someone can do it:

Take last night's debate - toss the TV elements - i.e., the moderator, the stage, etc. Just have the voices of Obama and McCain in podcast form, searchable by question.

Then have text of each question come up, followed by the ability to click on answers from the two TV debaters, but also on answers from McKinney and Nader from the Demo Now expanded debate.

Invite other candidates to respond as well.

Obligatory Nader-hater deflector: I do understand the rancor that mention of Nader will inevitably provoke, particularly at this moment. But if the Net is to create something sort of new -- to add spectra to our monocultural televisic world -- something like this seems necessary. McKinney has some very sharp responses to the Mass Media "treatment" of Acorn and electoral malfeasance in the DN debate:
you know, I really don’t like the idea that the face of election fraud, given the past two presidential elections, is now a face of color and one of poor people. more.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Times misses coffee spewing story opportunities

The New York Times gives us breathless drama, quotes Paulson:

“I’ve always said to everyone that ever worked for me, if you get too dug in on a position, the facts change, and you don’t change to adapt to the facts, you will never be successful,” he said in the interview.

The paper did not seem to think it worthwhile to ask at what point in the change authorization from Congress might be, uh, something to do. Or how much it adds up to ($2 trillion). Or whether the bankers are required to think humanely, ethically, responsibly about lending. You know, shite like that.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

De-privileging the known

Frank Paynter points me to 

Guerilla Open Access
Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier. more
Aaron Swartz invites the Internet to be, and remain, the Net, rather than a strip mall of private corporate preserves. At least when it comes to human knowledge. It would seem unnecessary to advocate that knowledge, the roots of cognition for the species, be open and available to all. But it is. 
The known ought to be the non-problematic bit. But it isn't.

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House twitterer




bathroom heater turned off
bathroom heater turned on
bathroom heater turned off
bathroom heater turned on
the phone is ringing (Isle of Wight)
the phone is ringing
bathroom heater turned off

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Incorporation is the annihilation of the memory of social responsibility

Bollocks, inc.:

The concept of corporate social responsibility argues that a company should consider the interests of society in their business decisions, to go beyond basic obligations and on occasion do something for the greater good. Do you think that concept pertains to the gaming industry as well?

Absolutely. Nintendo works regularly with a number of charities, most notably the Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation, which works to place video game consoles in children’s hospitals. Having video games on hand for kids helps reduce anxiety and boredom during hospital stays.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

No one could have foreseen this

Friday, October 10, 2008

The road to living fetish

He wrote back that she should read again from the Old Testament the story of Esther, a beauty queen who became a real one, gaining the king’s ear to avert the slaughter of the Jews and vanquish their enemies. When Esther is called to serve, God grants her a strength she never knew she had. link

In a nut(house)shell: Paranoid, ideologically projected otherness nurtures repression of necessary intelligence, leading in times of crisis (generated by this very malapropistic mode of address) to maximal fetishization.

Speaking-of-unabashed-ignorance dept.:

The administration that made jingoism into national policy and distrust of the other into the people's cool aid chose to deregulate debt limits and to blind any eye monitoring superspeculative debt instruments.

People pray for, or to, Palin on this live map, on which Alaska is occluded:

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

The million derivatives newspaper

October 07:


$6 Million for the Co-op, Then Start to Renovate

“There’s the new rich and there’s the old rich. There’s the poor rich and the rich rich.”

What would you do with $25,000? Buy a new Toyota Camry? Pay for six months at Harvard?

Instead, how about some really fancy chocolate?


October 08:
As one former dancer observed, if a stripper is doing her job right, the patron’s bald spot, his mortgage (and maybe even his huge portfolio losses) cease to exist.

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Money for nothin'

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Anyone else waking up inside a story by this guy?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

TV Guide

On the telly:
The impression that we see them and they don’t see us. So the legislators can say they were deceived by the Bush administration about Iraq, even though the public informed them, loudly and unequivocally. The impression they are sealed in a glass bubble, a virtual world different from ours. The perpetual irony of television, watching over the shoulder of the heroine as she enters the dark alley where danger awaits, deaf to our screams, somehow has carried over onto the public’s relation to politics, faintly, irrationally, so that now Congress can claim they did not understand the Bush bailout, although it was explained in all the daily papers and on the internet and by their constituents when they called and emailed; they had to deliberately avoid having any hearings, to avoid inviting economists, to avoid letting even members of the financial industry give opinions on the Congressional record, inside the reality tv scenario where it cannot but become part of the story, part of what they can be held accountable for knowing. They exist in the isolated pseudoworld of a television show which penetrates our living rooms while not being penetrated in return – a television show unaware of us, except to display occasionally a self-consciousness of being watched from another plane of existence.

In front of the telly:
The NYT and the Washington Post have been filling up with indignant comments since Paulsen’s Wall Street Cargo Cult plan – (buy holy objects, wait until spirit appears, sell again) – shocked the complacent American householder. And, surprisingly, from shore to shore, they’ve been hardworkin’ savin’, scrimpin’ and so squeakily virtuous that heaven looks down in envy! Who would have guessed? All the time I thought it was the householders that elected Bush twice, looked on with bloodlust and shiteating grins as we invaded Iraq, took out 800 billion dollars in home loan equity, and watched with greed and no inclination to question as housing prices became the little guy’s stockmarket – bound to go up! Are these the same people who resided in a country most known, for the last eight years, for its trade deficits and its charming deal with China – buy our T-notes and we will buy your bloodspeckled plastic toys! I musta been livin’ in the wrong country.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

"Now I call him Milton"

...the appeal of these ideas, I think, to politicians who are actually in over their head on economics—and, by the way, this goes for military dictators, too, like Pinochet—who get control over a country and are totally clueless about how to run an economy, is that it lets them off the hook completely. It says government is the problem, not the solution. Leave it to the market. Laissez-faire. Don’t do anything. Just undo. Get out of the way. Leave it to us. link

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Book rec for Palin

Since Sarah Palin has discovered reading, it would be small to not make recommendations that might broaden her outlook, liberate just a bit her tundraic mind, with its too-short days.

Here's something she might warm to:

William of Ockham: A Short Discourse on Tyrannical Government 

Bill comes highly recommended. Early on he showed real Maverick traits, bucking the power of the Pope, for example.

(remerciements a M. Locke for the Mav image)

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Question for the Candy Dates

From Federico Fellini, Interviews - which I'm reading at Kia's suggestion: are one of the few directors in the world today who doesn't look at rushes. I think you are almost totally alone, and I think it is important to point out to everyone that this is the way you behave...

F: One never does what he wishes; he does what he can, so I am obliged to do what I can and I am conditioned to say that I am doing what I wish. If I go to see what I have done, I see only what I can do, so it distracts me. I prefer to go on like a blind man, following with the imagination of the picture to delude myself that I am going in this direction.

Q. for Messers McCain, Obama, O'Biden and O'Palin:
How does this sit with you as a modus operandi for your first term in the White House?

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Friday, October 03, 2008

bankrupting Sarah

The cheery, well-oiled mooseshit streaming from Sarah Palin, e.g.. . .

He knows to learn from the mistakes and blunders we have seen in the war in Iraq, especially. He will know how to implement the strategies, working with our commanders and listening to what they have to say, taking the politics out of these war issues. He'll know how to win a war.

. . .smacks of the perky fraudulence of certain mortgage maestros who got us into the mess we're in. The next time she says "John McCain and I will fix this you betcha!" someone needs to invite her to offer a few details.

How come we never do? A hypothesis: it's because we have become so habituated to commercial advertising speech -- its intonation, its cheerful confidence, its sound bites innocent of logic, evidence, truth-claims -- that we've forgotten that arguments are supposed to cohere, gather force from reference and relation, connect with historical and scientific knowledge, carry within them their own auto-critique.

We've forgotten that. USians growing up in a TV dominated household have been exposed to Yottabytes of commercial bilge over the past 25 years, but not a single passage from Homer, or Aquinas, or Epictetus, or Spinoza. 

Media are as media do.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

vote for Google

Insidious totalitarian temptations dept.:

Seeing something like this, I can't help think, let Google do it. All of it. The government, Wall Street, perhaps even the UN. Someone there actually seems to know how to think, plan, conceive, do something. More than one can say for the current "lights," including the media's light on those lights. How much more lunatically rash is this than Paulson's inspiration, or putting the USian Thing a McCainstroke away from Palin?

Anyway, the blogmeme thing is noice.

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