Wanker of the Week

i-helped-break-teh-economy-sorryJacob Frenkel – AIG vice chairman, former Israeli central banker, and wanker:

Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) — At the World Economic Forum two years ago, Nouriel Roubini warned that record profits and bonuses were obscuring a “hard landing” to come. “I really disagree,” countered Jacob Frenkel, the American International Group Inc. vice chairman and former Israeli central banker.

No more. “Roubini was intellectually courageous, and he called the shots correctly,” says Frenkel, whose AIG survives only on the basis of more than $100 billion of government loans. “He gained credibility, and he deserves it.”

This is what happens when you fuck with Roubini.

Roubini See Global Gloom After Davos Vindication [Bloomberg]

blogenfreude adds:



Has anyone come up with a good recipe for shoe soup?

Anyone who lived through the US housing market melt-down of 89-92 know that another one was on the way by about 2001/2002 when the market had already become certainly unmoored in a lot of markets. Selling the madness overseas would just widen the crater. It was obvious to anyone in the space (from initial origination to securitization) that the thing was accelerating toward a cliff, fueled by complete abandonment of underwriting quality. Why are these guys called seers?

Not yet.

I think the “seers” were the only ones not high on Capitalistic Hope-ium (which is different than Obama Hope-ium) and filled with enough schadenfreude to gloat about it, too.

I blame that fucking Objectivist free marketeer nutjob asshole shitbag Fed Chairman fucking Greenspan. Fucking free money for the entire duration of Bush’s two terms, real interest rates of 0, 1, 2%, what the motherfucking fuck do you think people are gonna do but go out and borrow, ya fucking fuck. It was all about protecting the Bush economy, he would not have done it for a democratic president, he would have allowed a little recession around 2003-4, but that was politically fucking inconvenient for the 2004 elections, so instead he burned our seed corn, or some such fucking analogy, he kept interest almost negative, encouraged this fucking orgy of borrowing, encouraged deregulation, and fucking bankrupted the entire banking and finance systems. Yay, Greenspan.

And hey, its a simple, known fact, the market price of a house is not the nominal “price,” its the monthly payment. With 5% interest, of course the “price” of the house went up, because people make buying decisions not on price, but on payment, and with the low interest, buyers could afford higher-priced houses. Greenspan created the fucking bubble.

@rptrcub: It’s not so much how you cook it as how you eat it that matters.

I don’t believe for one second that all these bankers and Fed board members didn’t see it coming. They couldn’t all be as stupid as the average clueless consumertron.

Not only were there plenty of people like Roubini screaming “Fire!”, but also plenty of people like me who, with no financial expertise at all, could still do a bit of simple math, look at recent history with the Internet bubble and other housing collapses within my lifetime, and predict that housing prices simply could not continue to go up indefinitely.

This was a deliberately engineered bubble. Lots of “haves” made out like bandits, which is what they are. And as usual, the “have-nots” (or “have-not-muches” anyway) are commanded to bail them out so they can get to work on the next scam.

Money quote:
“The consensus is catching up with me, but it’s still behind,” Roubini said in an interview in Davos. “I don’t know what some people are smoking.”

I don’t think it was entirely deliberate, but I suspect that a lot of folks (I see you exCEO of Countrywide) realized that things were turning to shit by early 2006 and punched out with as much money as they can carry.

I didn’t buy into it (unlike the tech boom) and didn’t lose any money directly because of it.

More will probably leak out over the next few years which will make most of us mad(der).

I’m hoping Pitchfork and Torch futures will be through the roof by then.

@Pedonator: If they had been able to hold off the reckoning for 3 more months, McCain would be president. The McCain-Palin stimulus bill would reduce the capital gains and the top tax bracket to 0%, and abolish social security and medicare, while distributing $100 billion to the evangelical churches so they can set up “poorhouses” where those who profess faith in christ can be warehoused until they die and cease to be a burden.

@Prommie: Added a video below the break just for you.

@blogenfreude: And he even throws out some of his “greed is good” fucking invisible hand hocus-pocus, the fucking fuck, “those of us who thought the self-interest of the bankers would protect the shareholders’ equity are shocked.”

You mean “those of us whose entire fundamental premise underlying everything we believe is completely false are shocked.”

@ManchuCandidate: Yeah, I don’t mean every aspect of it was under the control of a few conspirators, just that many of these people did know what was happening and they were happy to lie to the rest of us to keep the irrational exhuberance inflating their own investments, then get out with a bundle before the shit hit the fan. I’m looking at you, Hank Paulson.

@Prommie: I guess it’s possible that his free-market ideology trumps common sense but I still have a hard time believing Greenspan views it all as an “oopsie”. I think the fucktwat is just plain lying when he claims to be “schocked, shocked I say!”

rptrcub: CNBC was a pure joy to watch this morning. All the analysts were chirping: “yay, yay, it wasn’t as bad as we thought, the market’s going higher, yay.” And the CEO of JPMorganChase (from Davos, natch) said that there was still a market for subprime loans. And that slimebag of a CEO that Home Depot’s got (lovingly ripped to shreds here) cornered David Gregory (who was on for some reason) and blasted him for not hammering pols on Meet The Press on EFCA and saying that its passage would destroy small business and on and on.

Tone. Fucking. Deaf.

BTW: do we have anybody officially blaming Black Eagle for Q4 GDP yet?

@chicago bureau: Just waiting for the WSJ headline: “Obamarxism Fails to Staunch Juggernaut of Clinton Recession!”

FlyingChainSaw: Head of nail, meet hammer.

Of course, if I were the GOP, I’d deny that the last eight years happened. Hell — the first things out of Cheney’s mouth when he meets a stranger is NASDAQ going to 10,000, praise for Joe Torre’s performance as the current manager of the Yankees, and relief that Y2K didn’t make all the computers go poof.

The tech boom was fun while it lasted, wages went up and people were basically playing with mad money. A housing bubble is way different because shelter is a basic human need. You don’t need a PhD to figure that out, but nobody had the sense to let any steam out of the boiler much less apply the brakes….

Greenspan’s head should be shoved up the ass of Ayn Rand’s corpse

BREAKING: Congress to purchase $700 billion in Mega Millions tickets at Virginia 7-11.

“I feel really good about this one,” stated House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, “our luck is changing and all of our nation’s fiscal woes will be solved after tonight’s drawing. And anyways, it’s more likely to pay off than those Wall Street bailouts. Those were just fucking ripoffs,” Pelosi added.

@chicago bureau:

Does Limbaugh calling this the “Obama Recession” count?

Krugman: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/30/damnification/

Synopsis: We are fucked. No matter what we do. So we might as well do something, even if we don’t know what to do. Maybe if we are lucky, we will be a little less fucked.

I have decided I liked it better when the economy was the elephant in the living room that noone wanted to talk about.

@Pedonator: OK, Ped, but why? I am but a simple country lawyer . . .

@Original Andrew: You heard about the time that Shaq bought $20,000 worth of lottery tickets and didn’t get shit. That’s the RML way, writ large.

@Prommie: Now it’s the rotting corpse that nobody wants to claim for proper burial.

@Tommmcatt Yet Again: I’m hoping that Limbaugh will go totally off the fucking cliff. He needs to be caught with a rubber suit, cattle prod and a Costco sized bottle of hillbilly junk during Super Bowl weekend. On camera. By Donovan McNabb, preferably.

@redmanlaw: On one of our many family trips to Florida for spring break, my dad bought lottery tickets, one for each of the four of us kids, and that night sat down with us in front of the tv in our hotel room to watch the drawing. Inevitably, none of us won, and when we turned to him for sympathy, he dryly responded, “That’s why you don’t play the lottery.” True story.

@nabisco: There has got to be one, out of the thousands he’s no doubt purchased and abused, pre-teen boy from a Caribbean island somewhere ready to tell the story of being ass raped by Limbaugh. When he got caught with the bogus Viagra script he chuckled he couldn’t talk about what a great trip he had. Why? His listeners would not be at all surprised or upset that he bought a houseful of women and pestored them all non-stop for a month. He’d proudly bellow about his prowess in that regard. It had to be something involving a boy or farm animals.

@redmanlaw: Bubbles facilitate enormous transfers of wealth from the bottom of the pyramid to the top. The people at the top of the pyramid know that not every single one of them is guaranteed to ultimately profit from the bubble, but with a bit of foresight the chances are good. So why not encourage the bubble?

And if we want to get even more cynical we can theorize that many of the people at the top understand well that our economy, based on infinite growth, is fundamentally unsustainable and that crises on the near horizon, such as peak energy/peak resources and global warming, are brewing a grand shitstorm for the prospects of civilization remotely as we know it.

But if you can take advantage of a bubble to amass vast amounts of paper wealth, and by luck or good planning cash out and manage to preserve a good chunk of that wealth in things of real value (like, say, vast tracts of arable land over giant uncontaminated aquifers in third-world countries), you may be positioned to set yourself up as one of the new feudal lords when the time is right.

I can’t find the anecdote online, so I’m relying here on memory of one of my grandfather’s favorite old stories. He was a union organizer for lumber mills along the Oregon coast in the ’30s and ’40s, back when that meant something.

The story is that Henry Ford is showing Samuel Gompers some fancy new automation machinery.

Ford: “And how will you unionize the machines, Mr. Gompers?”

Gompers: “And who will buy your cars, Mr. Ford?”

/TJ/ Michael Steele is your new President of Republicans.

We just missed total comedy (e.g., the Barack-The-Magic-Negro-singing, all-white-country-club-going-to, we-love-Baby-Jesus-except-for-the-whole-Prince-of-Peace-thing wing of the GOP) by inches.

But the bigger story is obvious. America has gone black. It is never going back.

@nojo: And Ford seemed to take that lesson to heart. Then again, he was actually making things that he needed people to buy.

But in this new Gilded Age our modern Robber Barons mostly accumulate wealth by conjuring tricks or blatant pyramid schemes, relying on nothing from the average consumer but willful ignorance and apathy so they can work their prestidigitation behind closed doors.

Perhaps they are expecting (even encouraging?) an inevitable die-off sooner rather than later to cull the world’s population to something a bit more manageable, looking forward to when the leftover unwashed masses will be grateful for whatever crumbs are thrown their way, happy to work in indentured servitude for a dry place to sleep and a condescending pat on the back.

@mellbell: Great story. Makes me think of this.

(now why oh why couldn’t I figure out hyperlinks last night?? I wanted to post something like this)

@chicago bureau: He’s their one black friend to prove that they’re not racists, but . . .

TJ: WArning just issued by the CDC. Take cover, Sister Sarah!

The level of seismic activity at Mount Redoubt Volcano (about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska) has increased and an eruption is possible within days to weeks. CDC provides tips on the many things you can do to protect yourself and your family from the dangers a volcanic eruption can cause.

Oh and apparently Bart Simpson is shilling Scientology in Hell LAy area robocalls. And Nancy Cartwright has given the church painfully obvious pyramid scheme over $10 million over the years. Jeebus, what is with people? You can’t even make up crazier shizzle than Scientology.

@Mistress Cynica: Smite! Of course, it’ll be seen as a sign that US Amerika should not have elected an only half-white man to the highest office in the land next to head of Home Depot.

@rptrcub: Their own Magic Negro. That poor fucking cat will have to grin and bear it every time they play that song for him as their version of “Hail to the Chief”.

@Mistress Cynica:

The all-powerful Alaska homos caused that, too.

@Mistress Cynica: CDC provides tips on the many things you can do to protect yourself and your family from the dangers a volcanic eruption can cause.

1. Kiss yer ass goodbye.

2. See (1).

@redmanlaw: I was going to say their own House Negro, in the truest sense of the term. I am not sure how magic he is going to be for the GOP, considering at fundraisers people are going to keep handing him their dirty dishes.


Here in WA, we have a growing and bustling exurb called Enumclaw that’s built entirely in the valley that’s the direct, central lava flow path for Mt. Rainier.

I can’t see anything possibly going wrong there.

@Mistress Cynica: No, no, no. She needs to get over there for some serious mediawhoring, so she can be all mavericky and executivey and leadery in the face of a crisis.

homofascist: Oh my sweet baby Jesus. Rachel in her coverage of the GOPreakness employed a pink hat with lace trim, binoculars and an alcoholic beverage. The best coverage of a party chair election EVAH. Catch the replay. Srsly.

@chicago bureau: She’s right though; it did not look like a julep.

TJ/ Does anyone here know anything about guitars? Or as my dad says in his Philly accent, gee-tars? (And he says wuder, warsh and byoo-TEE-full.)

I catch the train to commute to work, and the station stop I use in Philly is underground and heated. Being both out of the elements and heated means that there are often street musicians and possibly homeless folks (I mean, maybe they aren’t actually homeless but kind of look homeless, and I don’t want to offend anyone who actually has a home by calling them homeless when they aren’t, if that makes any sense.) hanging out in the station.

So, anyway, last Friday and tonight there was this street musician who captivated me to the point that I almost missed my train. I love it when that happens — it used to happen in SF a lot when I caught the trolley to a station in the financial district where there would always be some absolutely awesome musician playing in the station for change.

My new love is a guy who plays a modified acoustic guitar and THE DRUMS at THE SAME TIME! He has a drum stick strapped to his left thigh, and he uses it to hit a cymbal. He plays a high hat with his left foot, a bass (?) drum with his right foot, and sometimes he uses a slide on his guitar. I love the sound of a slide. But there’s more!

He sometimes places his guitar flat on his lap and plays the strings with these drumsticks with little rubber balls on them — like mini mallets or something, all the while percussing away with his cymbal, high hat and bass drum. Sounds like lap steel or pedal steel. It’s a great effect.

Sometimes he puts the guitar down and he just rocks out on the rest of his COMPLETE drum kit! Huzzah! And all the while he’s singing! I am in love.

Today he said that there are YouTube videos of his World Cafe appearance, and I’m almost afraid to go check them out in case they suck or something and the spell will be lifted. I can’t allow that to happen.

So, here’s my question. His acoustic guitar is hooked up to an amp, but there aren’t pickups under the strings like there are on electric guitars. How is the sound of his guitar converted to electricity that is then converted back into sound without pickups? That’s what I want to know, cuz just looking at his setup, he has a regular ole acoustic plugged into an amp. I’m guessing there’s some contraption inside the body that allows his sound to be amplified, but I wanna know what that is.

Oh, and the name of his one-man show is Audible Eye if you want to check him out yourself. I signed up for his email list, and I’ll most likely buy his CD, if he has one. And maybe if I get my blog back up and running, maybe I’ll ask him for an interview to post on my blog, and then he’ll fall in love with me. How cool would that be? Or maybe I’ll get to interview THENEXTBIGTHING in alternative music. That would be cool as well. I could be all like, “I knew him when.”

@nabisco: My God, yes! Everyday when I come home from work, Jr starts bitching about Limbaugh. Thinks Rush is a straight-up racist. I draw a line in the sand when it comes to the man, and I have all things Rush on permanent ignore. But I love my son, and my son is engaged in this whole brouhaha right now, so I let him vent his Limbaugh-inspired rage on me when I’m dead-dog tired from working all day, and all I wanna do is veg. My kid says that Rush is on the top of his list of people he wishes would just STFU. I told him I used to feel the same way about Pat Buchanan until he basically became MSNBC’s bitch. Fortunes change.

@Pedonator: I had a discussion with my kid about old skool robber barons last night and pointed out that Leland Stanford, Sr. was one of the best. It took his kid dying at a young age to get him to convert his horse farm to a FREE university named after Leland Jr. True story — Stanford used to be free, I think co-ed from the beginning, and miners’ kids were getting edumacated next to wealthy ones. Sadly, when Leland died and Jane tried to keep the school going (getting professors to even consider moving from the east coast to Palo Alto was a struggle), Jane realized that they wouldn’t be able to keep the school going unless they started charging tuition. Sad day. And I think there were construction issues because an earthquake severely damaged buildings that were under construction.

@JNOV: I’m pretty sure that with an acoustic guitar, the pickup is basically a microphone inside the body, as opposed to a magnet under the strings. But really, you can get plenty loud with an acoustic, why amplify at all?

@Original Andrew: Afuckingmen! I lived in Hollywood very briefly — right off of Hollywood Blvd, and every goddamned day those Scientology people were fucking with me.

Chick: Want to take a free personality (or was it stress?) test?

Me: No, thanks. I don’t feel like joining a cult today.


Other random chick and dude: Want a free pass to a new museum?

Me: Sure! What’s this about psychiatry? Are you guys Scientologists?

Them: What? It’s a great museum — you should really go check it out.

Me: Seriously. Are you guys Scientologists?

Them: Just go check out the museum.

Me: Go away.

Random T-shirt dude: Antidepressants kill!

Me: Uh, excuse me, but can I get by, please?

Random T-shirt dude: Let me talk to you about the evils of psychiatry.

Me: No, thanks. I actually love my Effexor, and it has saved my life.

Random T-shirt dude: But, but…

Me: Please. I just want to get where I’m going. Go away.

I mean, these folks are worse than the Mormons. They will follow you down the street, block your path, shout shit at you, lie to you. Ugh. I had a daily run in with Scientologists cuz I lived right near one of their Celebrity Centres and near one of their recruitment posts. The neighborhood was rife with Scientology vermin.

@rptrcub: Too bad she doesn’t have a virgin daughter to sacrifice to the volcano god. Well, maybe Piper.

@Original Andrew: I was around for St. Helens, although Eugene escaped with only a light dusting or two. But the before & after mountain shots remain something to behold.

@drinkyclown: I think it was amplified to deal with the sounds coming from the drums and cuz he was singing into a mic. It was one elaborate set up. And I guess the louder you are, the more attention you’ll attract. Suburban Station in downtown Philly is pretty big. What you said makes sense — there’s just some old regular mic in the body, hunh?

@nojo: Yes. The Cascades scare me — you could never get me to live near there, and I’ll probably never camp there either. Years ago I read some doom-and-gloom article in National Geographic about how The Cascades will just basically go boom and cascade one day. ::shudders::

@Mistress Cynica: Haha!

@Pedonator: Teh Bush family was in the forefront of Eugenics when it was semi-respectable, I am sure they still hate Hitler for being so obvious and ruining it.

This, by the way, is why I keep saying Hitler was just an ordinary, run of the mill guy, he would not pass as evil at all in the Republican party today. The only thing remarkable about him was that he achieved the power to put into action the murderous thoughts that millions here in America share with him. I have heard straight from their mouths to my ears, members of the elite, talking about the poor as they would talk about an infestation of insects. “The People” are not people to them, they truly do not care. Many of them, anyway. W killed what, 300,000, 400,000 people, he does not care. He killed them just as sure as if he ordered them into gas chambers. The corporate aristoctracy, they do not care about the poor, in the US, our foreign policy has supported murderous dictatorships and kleptocracies that have killed, enslaved, starved and stomped on millions and millions of people. When they say they support “freedom” and “democracy,” what they mean, is they support the right of them and theirs to rule over and exploit the poor.

The only thing they support is the power of money. Democracy, to them, means the right of the rich to control, to subvert elections, to overthrow democracy, if democracy gets in the way of money.

I better be careful, my inner Marx is showing.

@JNOV: Ugh, man, they had some crappy ad campaign up here pretending that L Ron’s early fiction (or any of his work) was actually readable, calling them Golden Age stories or some shit. Then, one day on my commute home I saw what was either a horrible attempt at viral marketing of just some random cultist with a bright idea, but dude was actually dressed in full pirate regalia, WEEKS after talk like a pirate day, holding up one of those books and saying thinks like “Aha!” or “Interesting!” every few minutes. So props to scientology for confusing the hell out of me I guess.

@JNOV: You make the history of Stanford, which I know nothing about, exceedingly interesting.

It’s funny in a painful way that so many good institutions and good works have been funded by ruthless cutthroat “businessmen”. Stanford, Carnegie, Gates…what’s interesting to me is that they, and certainly we (by we I mean the majority blinded by the parameters of mainstream permissible thought) never think to question the very foundations of a system that by design results in gross inequity in the distribution of wealth.

Probably most of us here have entertained fantasies of using the system to become fabulously wealthy, only to use that wealth in the service of replacing the system with something fundamentally more equitable. And yet somehow it never happens.

I’m talking to you, Barbara Streisand.

Somebody cheer me up, for God’s sake. Start After Dark early, please, Nojo? I am gonna have to go look at Fleshbot.

@drinkyclown: Haha! Talk Like a Pirate Day is the best! Seriously, though, Scientologists are fucking TENACIOUS people! If you ever want to read something interesting, read L. Ron’s son’s Playboy interview from the 70s, I think. Basically the son said that his dad wrote this book that got published and starting getting whackadoo fan mail from people asking him for spiritual advice, and voila, a cult is born.

@JNOV: Ooo we had the cutest little earthquake early this morning, a 4.5 or something? I slept right through it but I guess it woke a lot of people up.

@Promnight: Exactly. Democracy, such as we’ve had it, is a tool that served the oligarchy fairly well during the post-war boom and right up through the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush era of (ultimately) an enormous transfer of wealth from the have-nots to the haves.

I suspect those in charge are just about done with “democracy” and are forging a new/old tool with which to wield control, even as we blog-comment.

@Pedonator: Probably most of us here have entertained fantasies of using the system to become fabulously wealthy, only to use that wealth in the service of replacing the system with something fundamentally more equitable. And yet somehow it never happens.

Yes. Forever yes.

@Promnight: You think the experiments ever fucking stopped? Prommie, don’t tell me you didn’t hear the binding crack on the fucking lab notebook when the Supremes handed America to the fascists. The Bush Administation’s complete social dismemberment of America is part of a larger experiment and population conditioning exercise to weed out the weaker social elements from the stronger, to breed slave stock and to provide stud services for elite couples with one or more sterile partners. The oligarchs will watch in splendid repose in bastions of luxury, supported by slave and indentured castes and protected by impoverished mercenaries, as the cities burn, cannibal anarchy becomes the order of the day and America devolves into a feudal dystopia of hunter-harvester cannibal tribes.

We had some good rich people in the past. Andrew Carnegie. Even the Rockefellers, correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that every National Park east of the Misssissipi was once a Rockefeller vacation estate, Great Smoky Mountains NP, Acadia, the one in the Virgin Islands. Buffet has said he is only going to leave his children a few million each, all the rest to charity, Bill Gates seems to be headed towards a good end.

But you know, if they make too much noise, if they really rankle the military industrial complex and the politico-crony capitalists like the Bushes, the government would squash them like bugs.

@drinkyclown: You know, earthquakes never really rattled me for some reason. I mean, most of the places I lived weren’t constructed in such a way that I thought something big and heavy might conk me on the head and cause some damage. I lived in Riverside County for the Northridge earthquake, and it woke me up, lasted long enough for me to realize it was an earthquake (usually by the time I’d realize we were having a quake, it would end), I put on my hard-soled shoes, got my toddler out of bed and sat with him in the hallway until the house stopped shaking. I guess the only thing that got to me was that the sound of all my shit rattling around downstairs in the kitchen cabinets made me think there would be one holy mess to clean up in the morning.

When I saw the damage on TV later that day, I was stunned. I especially remember the three-story apt bld that was reduced to a two-story bldg. But earthquakes. Meh. Lava flow, pumice clouds and all that crazy shit? No, thank you.

@Pedonator: Well, this is cheery, isn’t it, we got our hopey McUnicorn, and it just makes us realize the game is so rigged it doesn’t matter if we win.

I think we were good up through Eisenhower. It was right then, top tax brackets in the 80-90% range, Roosevelts social democracy was working, you could live on social security or disability, then. The tipping point, it seems to me, was the early 70s, its from that time that real wages started declining, that the two-income family became a necessity for all working people.

I wonder if we have had progress at all. My grandfather came to the US in 1910. He worked shovelling coal in a Con Ed power plant, at first, then went to work for ESSO (Standard Oil, SO, get it?) and in the 30s, at the height of the depression, my grandmother died in 1924, he raised 5 kids as a single parent. He had a car, they had a vacation cottage at the shore, they would rent one every summer, for the whole summer. My dad went to a prestigious private, Catholic, high school, now Saint Peters College in Jersey City. My Dad used to quote Julius Ceasar to me, in Latin, and Homer, in Greek. He never got past high school.

Ordinary working people can’t live like that today, I really wonder if they did not have it better.

@Promnight: It’s great that some of the super-rich, like Buffet and Gates, want to “give back”, but they never question (at least publicly) the situation that allows them to “take” in the first place.

And taking it almost always is. Super-successful capitalists are the ones who have learned how to rape the commons, suck on the teat of taxpayer subsidy, twist the law (or simply make the law) to their advantage, and externalize the social and environmental costs of their “entrepreneurial” industry.

Then they establish these great foundations in an effort to atone for their sins. I’m supposed to be thankful? Well, I am glad at least that they recognize their obligation to try to repair some of the damage they do. But just once I’d like to see someone like, say, George Soros, use their billions to really educate the public about the way things really work.

Then we’d really see torches and pitchforks on the street!

@Promnight: Always glad to bring my cheerful optimism and sunny worldview to a Stinquejam!

@FlyingChainSaw: Your comment succinctly captures my basic understanding of how things work, in such a fabulously lurid manner.

I have one word. Bollywood. It is the solution to everything.

OK, slightly off topic. I had an epiphany this morning driving to the bus: we’ve got it wrong in the US about movies. Whether or not Angelina Jolie can act and to what extent she can or can’t act is not the issue. The issue is: is she pretty? That’s her job. Is Brad Pitt’s prettiness being served by this moustache thing he’s grown? No? Then it goes. Can Renee Zellweger be trusted to maintain her own face after what she’s already had done to it? The Oscars should then be about who is the best looking because that’s what we’re talking about anyway. It is all about the pretty. I’m feeling all kinds of better about everything.

Meanwhile, Times Square was sad. Empty. Groups of tour guides standing on corners. With all those billboards it looks like crap anyway but now it looks like abandoned crap. Toys R Us was empty, Virigin records was empty. There’s some kind of Kung Fu extravaganza booked in at the Marquis. Sad sad sad. I passed a man on a cell phone who was sucking his thumb and stroking his nose. There is a new DVD and Lingerie (!) shop on 9th and 40th. And everybody was looking pretty grim.

Meanwhile. Bollywood! Dance numbers on top of moving trains. Woo hoo!

@Benedick: I, too, love Bollywood. I got my first taste of it on The Farm (sorry to be so Stanford obsessed recently, y’all), but our campus cable station had these amazing ethnic channels, and one played Bollywood movies. The costumes, the hair, the jewelry, THE DANCING! The pure joy. There is nothing not to like about Bollywood, and I’m glad it’s your safe escape during these troubling times.

@JNOV: Well I was eight years old when St. Helens blew up, so between that and seeing lots of footage of Hawai’ian volcanoes, I still equate them with teh awesome! I wouldn’t want to be super near one, but seeing one of those go off would be SO RAD it makes me capsy.

@Benedick: I’m totally down with that. If we could just take the nation, give everyone a week off for a good Indian wedding with costumed elephants and plenty of spontaneous dance numbers I think we’d all be feeling better in no time. Maybe some “sword-fights” between battling dusky hunks in Vegas-worthy vests and genie-pants for the hand of the bride…yeah, you’ve got me interested now. This could be World Peace.

@drinkyclown: Haha! It’s all about perspective. When Jr and I were moving from NJ to CA, we spent 11 days driving across the country and camped all along the way. Loved The Black Hills, and we spent several days in Yellowstone. Our site was at approx 10K feet, and there was snow on the ground in August! We didn’t have properly rated sleeping bags, but we did have folding beach chairs and a shit load of comforters. So, we put our lounge chairs in our tent to keep us off the cold ground, got in our sleeping bags and covered ourselves with the comforters. It wasn’t too bad.

The thing about Yellowstone though is that I had no idea that place was a super volcano — like an eruption would give us a climate akin to a nuclear winter or something. Ho, ho, ho! Had I only known that those painted mud pots, hot springs and geysers were just Yellowstone’s way of telling us it’s gonna kill us all one day, we might have skipped the place. But ignorance is bliss, and the only danger we had to contend with there was the random saddlemaking dude who followed us from check in to our site trying to chat me up. I was suffering from some serious altitude sickness, so he eventually left me alone but not before giving me the coolest book ever about Crazy Horse and giving me a business card. I must have, “Stranger, please accost me” tattooed on my forehead in some sort of douche-visible ink, cuz I get ’em in all shapes and sizes.

@drinkyclown: We’re overdue for a super-volcano explosion at Yellowstone. Should be viewable from most of the Western USA, until all of us are buried in ash.

Yogi get your pickinick basket, shove BooBoo in your pocket and hightail it outta there!

@Pedonator: As before noted; action heroes who dance!! And dance really well. And are given to wearing what looks like the International Male catalog from 15 years ago. And a whole great wealth of cultural signifiers that mean nothing in the west so the whole world looks like some fantastical playground full of truly gorgeous people. Maybe that’s what heaven’s like. If there could be a workable heaven, it could be like Bollywood.

@JNOV: The dancing is so completely not like western dancing. The clip ifrom Bobay Dreams on YouTube is very interesting because it’s being danced by Americans(are they?) and digging down and getting athletic and losing the abandoned joy of the movies. I intend to work my way through the Netflix catalog.

@Pedonator: Haha! Buy me a coke!

@Benedick: The movies I saw were, I think, the real deal — real Indians shaking their money makers with abandon. Good stuff.

Hey — time to let the meds do their work and hit the hay. Night, all! Love you more than words can say.

@Benedick: If there could be a workable heaven, it could be like Bollywood.

Especially when Sri Studmuffin, who is destined to win the veiled, beaded bride, turns out to have been a high-school wrestling coach who is late to the wedding due to a bittersweet final tryst with the only student who was ever able to pin him.

@Pedonator: So what you’re saying is class consciousness is a prerequisite to revolution?

But how will it come about? When the dire circumstances of the masses cause them to awaken, and produce leaders, or will it be the work of cadres of intellectuals to foster the necessary class consciousness and thus precipitate the inevitable class struggle? We need to know if its Marx, Lennin, or Stalin, or Mao, who got it right.

@Pedonator: @JNOV: I really hope by the time it goes off we’ve gotten to the space elevator and orbital platform stage, ’cause could you imagine seeing something like that from space?

@Pedonator: Not to flog a dead horse but dear god the men are good looking. I saw something with Hrithik Roshan (why on earth has he not made US movies?) in which he is so foolishly beautiful you cannnot look away. And then he plays his own father – don’t ask – who is, shall we say, mentally challenged, even though he was given special powers by ET who seemed to be from the same planet as the Close Encounters crew. To play the father they uglify him in the same way they used to put a pair of glasses on Hope Lange (for instance) and then have everyone act like she’s a freak of nature with her ugliness. I don’t know when I’ve enjoyed anything more.

@Promnight: Class war was declared at least as early as Reagan’s election. I dunno what it would take to get the potentially revolutionary class to revolt, if the last eight years haven’t done it. Pay-per-view executions of foreclosed homeless famblys?

There is lots to be learned from Marx. Not everything, but certainly Lenin, Stalin and Mao aren’t good models, not that any of them really practiced Marxism. All of these figureheads were products of a shift from the most basic reality-based economics (land = food = survival) to more abstract capitalistic industrial/financial modes of being (mechanization and wildly unchecked usury).

We have abstracted ourselves so far from the source of our most essential succor we don’t even recognize when the Teat of Mother Earth spills poison in our hungry maws.

I don’t expect revolution to come about. I expect a big die-off. Perhaps, perhaps not in my own lifetime, but certainly within the next century or so, whether from a super-volcano explosion, the ravenous over-exploitation of the commons, some strange combustible synergy of unregulated toxins we pour into the air and water at ever-increasing speed, or a simple biological correction via virus.

Or something like that. But maybe that’s too optimistic. Cannibal hordes are a good fallback.

@Pedonator: The hope for humanity is Western Europe, they are the heirs of Roosevelt’s revolution which tempered capitalism sufficently to prevent the levels of exploitation Marx predicted would bring about revolution. They adopted it and took it further, as we backed away from it. If they can survive and prosper and become the exemplar that poor people in other nations can look to and say, “why do we not have health care like them?”, if they can survive, then they will set the standard and perhaps democracy is still strong enough to force the oligarchy to accept that standard.

If not, then we will just all wind up Paraguay.

@Promnight: I agree that Western Europe has had a much more humanitarian implementation of capitalism. But I’m afraid they are doomed as well. Health care is important but it isn’t the only thing. They survived and prospered but now they are suffering the same effects of rampant capitalism that we are. Shit, they shiver whenever Putin rears his ugly head and shuts the gas off through the Ukraine.

Make no mistake, their ruling classes are part of the same world-wide oligarchy that has bankrupted the USA. The entire object of globalism was to free capital from national boundaries. Do you think any of these oligarchs give a fuck about nationalism, but for all the wrong reasons?

And if anything they have a more recent cultural imprint of feudalism, predisposing them to such a system if it gives them bread.

One good thing they have going for them is, they haven’t made nearly as much disastrous investment in the infrastructure of happy motoring, strip malls and exurbs — though in recent years they seem to have been on an Apollo-plan to catch up with us. Many if not most Europeans still know where their food comes from and actually care about it.

Actually, though, its not that the european consumers demand to know where their food comes from, its that the european food producers are not monoploized, and there are a greater proportion of smallholders than in the US, but nevertheless the small farmers are very much organized, and the resistance to US industrialized food production models is not because of consumers, but because of the political power of the small and artisanal farmers in europe.

@Promnight: That is an excellent point. The workers are much more organized over there. But I think they also tend to have much more support from the consumers.

Here, it’s more like, “Dude, you’re interrupting my supply of high fructose corn syrup!”

And have you seen that commercial from the Corn Mafia, with the upscale vaguely-ethnic brown woman schooling her fellow uppity white soccer-mom about her concerns re: the Kool-Aid? Vaguely-Ethnic-Mom is all, “Relax bitch, high fructose corn syrup is fine…in moderation.”

Yeah, tell that to my brother, who doses his only child daily with 64 oz. buckets of soda from the nasty roach-infested 7-11 fountain. I think he had to get special cup-holders installed in the mini-van just to support those reservoirs of sickly-sweet poison.

But then, I’m such a fucking hypocrite. The only difference is, I prefer to get my empty sugar calories from wine, or really any form of alcohol. Plus I willingly inhale tobaccan carcinogens on a regular basis.

So I guess we’re all some of us are just fucked up.

@Pedonator: We’re totally fucked. The US of A public would line up and drink the Jonestown Koolaid if Nike and Disney and Hannity told them to.

Thats why I have been saying for over a year, that now that we have found each other, we got to get a big boat. I have modified my opinion only so much as to recognize that it would actually be easier to just admit we are fucking hippies and establish an off-the-grid commune somewhere, it would cost nothing but labor.

But we are not hippies, which, really just means that we are not impractical, isn’t the ultimate judgment on hippies simply the fact they were impractical, just couldn’t make their vision happen?

But really, so many here are struggling, economically, others are comfortable, but struggling to maintain comfort, thats just a different, but just as unpleasant, struggle. Really, there is the possibility that a group of 20 to 40 people willing to embrace an artisanal agrarian lifestyle, could not all actually be very comfortable, and have a much more livable lifestyle, a more natural, integrated, social, lifestyle.

Why shouldn’t we be hippies? And if it gets to cannibal anarchy, if we are already self-sufficient, we be ahead of the game. If we are somewhere isolated, Cuba, New Mexico, we will emerge the least effected by the chaos.

@Promnight: I’m with you brother.

The problem is, many of us, even if we maintain decent incomes, have no recourse in the current economic CRISIS when it comes to liquidating assets (such as the house we live in) to fund the purchase of, say, some vast tract of arable land above an uncontaminated aquifer in a third world country, such as New Mexico (just kidding RML!).

If only someone like George Soros would come to our aid, fund an experimental socialist/libertarian/agrarian ecodome or something…

George, are you listening?

@JNOV: Back when I was working on a Nikon funded project with my photographer buddy for the San Jose Mercury News, we got to see part of Stanford’s collection of Ohlone remains and artifacts. We actually got to borrow some and shoot them under studio conditions as well as the repatriation at an undisclosed location for our project on the attempted revitalization of the Muwekma Ohlone band.

@JNOV: Tasers come in pink for the girls now. Just sayin’.

@Benedick: Wasn’t there also an Indian movie version of Spider-Man or was that just a comic book?

@Prom, Pedonator: My mother in law is selling the ranch in the immediate future. We’re all sad to see it go but she and her late husband were wiped out by a con man in a business scam and she needs the money to live on. BTW, there actually is a Cuba, New Mexico. What comes to mind about that place right now is that isolated early Pueblo Indian settlements near there were attacked for food when the Chacoan culture began to fall apart due to drought in 1130-1190 CE.

Commune? Did someone say commune? Woodstock, people. Streams run down the mountains. The aquifer bubbles up in my damn basement in heavy rain. I’m planting vegetables this spring. I just need to find some seeds for veggie burgers.

@redmanlaw: I find the Spider-Man movies so terribly dull, I watched some of the ‘new’ Batman thing the other night, and again… so dull and squalid. Which is why the Bollywood movies have so captivated me right now. They bear as much resemblance to real life as commercials on tv do here but because I know none of the references the whole world looks radiantly daft. It’s such a relief.

@Benedick: The guy sitting next to me on my flight from Miami this morning was watching a Bollywood movie on his laptop. His singing along with one of the musical numbers woke me up and I watched about five minutes of it. Beautiful people and clothes, no apparent plot.

In keeping with the Bollywood theme, I am thinking of all things Indian. When I lived in LA (Sept 2007, yes, just one month), I was listening to NPR on my 15 mile yet HOUR LONG commute to work. They were interviewing a singing group comprised of students of Indian descent who combined traditional Indian songs with modern arrangements/beats/tempos, etc. I think they hailed from Princeton. Their music was fucking amazing — they kind of stuff that gives you goosebumps and back-of-the-neck shivers when they harmonized just so of when they hit certain notes. It was lovely and transformative. I wish I had TiVo for my radio — a way to save programs and rewind bits I’ve missed while I was driving. I never remember the program the person performing on interviewed was on, so I can never go home and listen to the program online. Ugh. TiVo for radio. That’s my invention idea I am putting out there to the world — open source, no patent pending. Just make it for me, someone. I need it. And if any of you know about this Princeton (?) kids, please oh please let me know.

@SanFranLefty: The plots don’t work they way they do in US movies. They don’t have the same ‘motivation’ going on: a code developed by hacks to explain why characters do the things they do. As anyone knows the great mystery of life is why any of us do anything. TV and movies have worked out a whole system of codes that are supposed to relate to real life but actually have about as much to do with it as do commercials. The dance numbers too. In a musical, people talk endlessly about why characters sing, have we ‘earned’ the number, etc. The theory being that when emotion becomes too intense for words the characters sing. Not it seems in Bollywood. And the numbers don’t tell stories. They celebrate a mood or place or… They’re just different. It’s such a thrill. So everything looks unconnected to my eyes. It just happens like events in a dream.

@JNOV: I think I was in LA Sept of 07. Too bad I didn’t know you were there. Have you tried iTunes? I didn’t have any luck. There are a lot of singing groups in Princeton. It’s nice. They sing in the quads at various times.

@Benedick: Nope, haven’t tried iTunes. I’d actually forgotten about these folks until today. When I’m properly motivated, I’ll start Googling key words I remember from the story, and maybe I’ll find them that way. Speaking of singing college kids, Stanford has an a capella (sp?) group called EP Jones. I think the EP stands for Everyday People. Anyway, they did an amazing cover of some Stevie Wonder song. That one that goes, “I don’t want to bore you with my troubles/but there’s something about your love/that makes me weak and knocks me off me feet.” Goosebumps, I tell you!

ADD: Love, I have some stories about LA. I lived at the base of the Hollywood Hills near all the clubs, and getting sleep at night was unheard of. People told me to sleep with ear plugs. Didn’t help. If I were twenty years younger, I would have been in heaven.

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