Monday, September 22, 2008

Paulson's Unpleasant Economic Chemotherapy

Something smells in the basement. It's either really bad meat, or very good cheese. I think Sammy the wonderdog is taking out a colony of mice down there. I don't know if Sammy is killing them out of natural hunting instincts, or she doesn't appreciate that mice and large dogs don't make good playmates. Kind of like when Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife in Of Mice and Men because he strokes her hair too hard, not realizing his own strength. Either way, she's better than a barn cat, and is always happy to see you when you come home. You can't buy that kind of love - well, I guess you can, but you'll eventually need to get some blood tests and penicillin.

The Treasury Department's planned Wall Street bail out spear headed by Secretary Hank Paulson is giving many of us pause. The thought of such a large distribution of Federal money to the private sector at the expense of the taxpayers should cause any conservative to cringe. There are screams coming from both sides of the spectrum for decidedly different reasons, but National Review's Victor David Hanson puts some much needed perspective on the situation.

"In the sudden rush to blame the (supposed) crooks in DC and on Wall Street, we should first take a long look in the mirror. For two decades, we — as in we Americans — expected to buy homes, flip them, and walk away with thousands — without much thought about what might happen to the johnny-come-lately at the bottom of the pyramid when the game was finally up and housing prices cooled or crashed. Walking away from a mortgage on a house with negative equity was "smart;" putting someone in one who had no ability to come up with a down payment, monthly payments, taxes, and maintenance was "fair"; borrowing unduly against equity for cash expenditures was "understandable.

"We deified the masters of hedge funds, derivatives, and subprime mortgages, forgetting that passé oil production, mining, farming, manufacturing, engineering and construction were the real sources of our material wealth.

"We assumed mega-returns on our portfolios, without a thought what Wall Street did to get them, or the effect on others who needed to borrow at such high interest to run their businesses. Ours became a culture that wanted larger cars but less drilling to fuel them, more stuff and more credit from — and more anger at — the Chinese; less taxes but even more government hand-outs; ever more electricity, but fewer icky coal and nuclear plants — and always more health-care, education-care, prescription drug-care, housing-care, and always less care how to pay for it.

"So by all means let us prosecute the lawbreakers, finger-point at the enablers, lecture the stupid, but at least spare us the sanctimonious "they" did this to poor "us." If there were not a Senate Banking Chairman like Chris Dodd without shame cozying up to the creeps at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, or a Richard Fuld playing casino roulette with someone else's money, we would have had to invent them.

"We should argue over the course of Paulson's unpleasant chemotherapy to deal with these symptoms of a metastasizing disease, but let us at least consider what were the catalysts for that deeper cancer."

Keen insight from a brilliant guy.
Enjoy one of my favourite songs, Wave Of Mutilation, by the Pixies, with my apologies for the dumb youtube video.



Friday, September 19, 2008

Faceblah Part Deux - Weekend Greetings

Well over a decade ago, I remember some self-professed "technology expert" from the New York Times - with all the pompous self-righteousness that could only come from someone who worked for the Times - proclaim that the Internet was becoming such an unstoppable force because men love technology and men love porn. It was the sort of statement that perfectly encapsulated the thinking of the left-wing media intelligentsia - A quick witty repartee that rolled nicely off the tongue but offered little in actual substance. Mr. Techno-porn produced no facts, no figures, no fancy schmancy pie-chart graphics that illustrated what percentage of heavy breathers spent more time and money on the Internet in comparison with, say, folks who bought books on Barnes and Nobles, kids researching science projects, or Moms outfitting the family for the perfect fall picture on LL Bean. Nope, just a smug little comment and an "oh my goodness I'm so clever" look on his face, shared by all in the studio at CNN.

Putting dollars, cents, and guys with sticky keyboards aside, a much more irritating trend was emerging on the Internet. It was certainly less disturbing then wondering why your husband always shut down all his browsers every time you entered the room, but it was every bit as annoying - Social networking.

I've written about this before, and I have acquiesced to the caveat that we must give a piece of our soul to the great cyber gods. My once booming website has since become humble blog, which demands constant updating because of the rapid-fire pace of social networking sites and blogs in general. As you know, if you're a fan of constant updating, I may not be your man. Bookmark the site and visit, say, once a week. At least you get quality for your time...Well, depending on whether or not you abide by good taste and proper sleeping habits. Speaking of which, there is Facebook.

If the Internet is cyber-crack for the masses, Facebook is cyber-crack laced with meth. Facebook allows you to see what others have posted, and when and how often they've posted. Judging by a few quick scans, some of my friends don't sleep or go to work. I glanced at a friend's listings, and they posted or sent something out about every 1 to 2 hours for almost 3 days straight. You have to wonder what the hell is going on with someone when you see a post dated 3:31AM saying "Peggy Sue is wondering where everyone is". Here's a hint: Probably sleeping, Peggy. That would be a reasonable guess.

Another amusing thing are the ratings, or rankings, or whatever the heck they're called. Apparently, out of my group of friends, I'm consistently rated "Top Scientist". Really? I have to use my fingers to count. My parents did most of the work on my science projects in junior high, and when they didn't, I would just wrap a bunch of oranges in tin foil and stand in front of the class proclaiming "BEHOLD THE MIGHTY PLANETS", then sit down.

Remember 6 degrees to Kevin Bacon? I was never a fan, but I loved the concept, because it brought back the old fashioned parlour game where people would have to sit together, face to face, and socialize. If you've spent anytime on Facebook, people invite each other to cyber paint ball games and mafia wars, where they've conveniently taken out all the bother of human interaction. When people are out in public, I notice that manners are eroding, and am frequently shocked to see someone pick something up at a convenience store or coffee shop without making the slightest acknowledgement that there is a real person serving them. They simply mutter their orders and don't say another word or make eye contact. I know the coin flips the other way as well, but believe me, the reason the kids behind the counter don't talk to you much at late night burger joints is because most of them are higher than moon bats.

Now - Shut off your computers and go do something really crazy. Make a meal together with your significant other while playing some Brett Dennon, sit down, and....have a conversation.



Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sick Leave Blues

I'm off work for two months on the order of my esteemed doctor. It may sound like heaven to most people to get paid to do nothing, but I assure you it's about as stimulating as listening to an audio book of Soylent Green read by Senator Robert Byrd. The first couple of weeks off I watched movies all day long. I usually go through phases where I watch certain directors, but this time, I decided to go by theme, in this case three distinct themes. The first few days I watched tons of movie made about Hitler and the fall of the Third Reich (lots of 'last days in the bunker' sort of stuff). After about the third day of this, I'm pretty sure the owner of the small independent video store began suspecting that I was some kind of neo-Nazi. After my Third Reich phase came my Holocaust phase, renting the usual and some lesser known titles. During this phase I was certain the video store owner was thinking I was trying to atone for my brief stint as a neo-Nazi. The last phase I like to call "pay back time" - I rented movies about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, Munich, and The Sword of Gideon.

When I was returning some movies about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, I realized I was looking awful because I'm on lots of very strong medication for my heart and blood pressure and hadn't left the house very often. Thinking I needed to make some explanation for my appearance, I looked up at the poor clerk and said "I'm off work because the doctor says I'm sick". Now, if that clumsily worded excuse wasn't bad enough to freak out the video store dude, I realize he was not looking at me, but at the video cover that depicts a Jewish resistance fighter with one fist thrust in the air, and the other holding a rather imposing looking rifle. Now, I'm guessing at this point he thinks I've gone over the edge and one day am going to smash through the front door of his store with a star of David on my chest and a double barrel shot gun. To make matters worse, I simply left the store without waiting for a response from him, or clarification on my part about what "sick" meant. I imagine the guy now goes through his days white-knuckling it and jumping a mile every time he hears the door open.

Anyway, needless to say, movies are getting boring, and it's hard to blog on politics right now. Though my mind is overflowing, my fingers are finding it hard to clack out the proper words.

I went to 2 hockey games on the weekend featuring the world famous Saint John Sea Dogs who, with grit that would have made the Spartan 300 proud, came back to tie a game against the Bathurst Titans with just 26 seconds left in the 3rd period, going on to win in overtime. The Sea Dogs are off to a promising season and have the full support of everyone here at the Straight Hype - all three of us, for what it's worth. We meet in a phone booth every Friday.

Have a great week everyone. I'll be off to Halifax visiting some friends. I leave you with the sweet sounds of Joe Purdy singing his wonderful song "Suitcase".


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Blogging by Numbers - The Blog to Nowhere!!

My good buddy Ace over at his home base put together a rather interesting list of idle ruminations that I loved. Lately I have lots of time to catch up on the various blogs and Internet sites I find invaluable, as I have been placed on a two month paid medical leave at the behest of my doctor who is struggling to get my diastolic pressure down from its currently alarming numbers. When I use those do it yourself blood pressure machines at the local pharmacy, I like to leave my numbers up on the screen for the person waiting behind me. It's fun to watch their expressions, which are remarkably similar to those youtube videos of people watching 2 Girls 1 Cup for the first time. It's been 4 years and 2 months since I last had a drink, but it seems my body is still dealing with the effects of years of 3 beer breakfasts, and weekend binges that would start on Friday, and stop when I ran out of booze and/or money - usually it was the latter. It's a miracle that aside from high blood pressure, some minor heart and stomach problems, I am otherwise healthy.

Let us begin.

1 - You know what really bugs me? People who quote country music songs under any circumstances when trying to emphasize a point. Like when people say, "Hey, yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery", or "I'm in a hurry to get things done...just like the song says, man". Of all the wonderful axioms and sayings that have been left to us though the ages by philosophers and poets, why do people scrape the bottom of the intellectual barrel and clog up the air with idiot pollution? I am known by my friends and colleagues as a polite and cheery person with a quick wit and self-effacing manner, but I swear to Zeus I'm going to Jap-slap the next person who assaults my ears with red-neck witticisms.

2 - Sarah Palin is the best thing McCain could have done for himself, and the apoplectic response from the left wing bloggers - instantly parroted by the media - have finally awoken the sleeping giant of conservatives, Christian conservatives, and right of center moderates who were going to sleep through this election. This attractive and articulate lady, who last night spoke so touchingly about raising a child with down syndrome, no doubt picked up a large swath of the soccer mom vote as well. Obama, who has sucked up every minute of press attention for the last seven months, is now out of the spotlight. Sarah Palin is tough and smart, and is exactly what McCain needed. A race that once was in doubt now seems to be within reach of John McCain. It is going to be such a sweet sight to watch the podheads over at and Code Pink when they hear the words "President Elect, John McCain". These bastards cheered and made the most horrific slanderous comments when the father of modern conservatism, William F Buckley Jr., died. I will spare them no quarter when we send their self appointed messiah packing.

3 - You should really watch The Aura by the late Argentinean director Fabián Bielinsky. It is a smart, suspenseful film, and it is a pity it will be the last film by this talented director, who died tragically young of a heart attack.

4 - I was sorely disappointed by "The Dark Night", though I had high expectations for the film. Heath Ledger was truly amazing, but everything else was just standard popcorn fare. I'll watch it again when the DVD comes out, but I doubt I'll be any more impressed than the first time I saw it.

5 - It makes me sad that Spanish and French films are usually better then most of the stuff spit out of Hollywood's pretentious slop bucket. Example - In Luc Besson's Angel-A, the movie's main character goes to a local Paris police station trying to get himself arrested in an attempt to hide from some nasty loan sharks coming to collect from him. He is refused, and in a fit of frustration exclaims, "I'm an Arab with no papers! What's the problem?"
6 - PS - They're called "comic books", and I refuse to call them "graphic novels" to bow to the pretensions of a few hard core geeks who flunked out of art school.

7 - I'm going to call it quits for today, because I'm not feeling well and this blog isn't going anywhere, or least anywhere interesting or funny. Have a good weekend and enjoy this They Might Be Giants classic, "Older".