The leadership vacuum

By Fortuna Publica, Pelosi's floor speech yesterday takes the cake for laughably dumbass politicking over the bailout. After berating Republicans up and down over their character, judgment, and beliefs for 15 minutes, she closes by demanding they step up and cover her ass on the bailout bill. Is it any wonder they refused to do so?

The best argument against democracy is the leaders it produces.

And while I'm ragging on Pelosi, I'll add a bipartisan gender-bashing by saying that last week's Palin interview with Katie Couric was such a gobbledy-gook of nonsense that I was surprised she didn't keel over with an aneurysm. Isn't that what stroke victims sound like? I know that many of my friends and readers are in the tank for the GOP since Palin was added to the ticket, and I myself have a visceral like of the lady and the way she's pissed off all the right people. But pandering with symbols is easy, and that might be all you'll get from Col. Tigh.

Article up

over on Culture11.

Hey Kudlow...

How 'bout that Greatest Story Never Told meme?


The truth? You can't handle the truth!

Via Barry Ritholz, here's Ron Paul channeling Cassandra.

Yeah, no one believed her, either.

UPDATE: Breda riffs with a similar post title. Check out the damning video.

Black Monday?

Wow what a hootananny! I think the Democrats are forced into a corner now in that they'll have to bring on board the 95 Democrats who voted against the bailout bill. That means a party-line vote that they'll actually have to take responsibility for! It's a good move for the Republicans because the bailout is total bullshit; Congress just needs to be seen "doing something." I disagree with Megan, who thinks this is an example of national interest subsumed by politics. I think it's an example of one of those rare times when national interest, principle, and politics all align.

Here's one vote for a Do-Nothing Congress. I suspect the financial markets are going to differ with me in the short- and medium-term, but a partisan Democrat Party bill may calm the markets even if it is a path that leads straight to Niflheim.

Megan's Law

If you're full of crap, then STFU. She says:

Now I protest one of McCain's ridiculous falsehoods: that he is going to pay for tax cuts by cutting spending in agencies you don't care about and never heard of. Those agencies don't cost us enough money to pay for rebating that strange federal telephone tax. If you actually want to cut taxes, you have to address entitlement spending. And McCain is so far just as cowardly as the rest of them about actually taking an axe--or at least a means test--to Social Security or Medicare. I mean, fine, if you say you want those programs and are therefore willing to have marginal tax rates hit fifty percent. (Well, not fine. But I admire your consistency). But if you aren't willing to touch those programs, you cannot, with a shred of intellectual honesty, claim that you're going to meaningfully cut government spending.

the problem is that no matter which politician you vote for, a politician gets elected.


For the record, if the Chicago White Sox back into the playoffs with the make-up game on Monday, I will be very embarrassed. If they end up winning the series, I'll be embarrassed infinity and demand they asterisk the Championship with a note about their suck.

More Mencken

"To be happy one must be (a) well fed, unhounded by sordid cares, at ease in Zion, (b) full of a comfortable feeling of superiority to the masses of one's fellow men, and (c) delicately and unceasingly amused according to one's taste. It is my contention that, if this definition be accepted, there is no country in the world wherein a man constituted as I am — a man of my peculiar weakness, vanities, appetites, and aversions — can be so happy as he can be in the United States." -- On Being An American (1922)

An Inconvenient Truth

Right after 9/11, I used to think that it was a good thing Al Gore didn't get into the White House. After all, the conventional wisdom was that rooting Al Quada from Afghanistan would be an impossibility that would stick us in a quagmire worse than Vietnam. And if there's one word to describe Al Gore, it's Conventional Wisdom.

Now, I think it didn't matter much which of them got elected. In the larger arc of American civilization, these last eight years have basically been a push. We had some barbarians rampage briefly through our territory. We've had a minor foreign adventure in the Middle East and generally scared/pissed off the other states in the world. The economic system hasn't changed much. Neither has the educational system. The political system remains dysfunctional.

What feels different is the degree of general fucked-uppedness, precisely because very little has improved or changed much at all over all that time. So the problems we had before are much more acute now. The economic problems in the socialist corporatism that we generally mislabel as a Free Market have only been exacerbated, if anything, by mindlessness and inertia.

Whoever wins the presidential election in November will make no difference in this situation whatsoever, either. The People really, really don't want them to anyway despite all the bitching to the contrary.
"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." H. L. Mencken

this post is not about the election

Other than reading teh Internets, I've been getting my body healthy and doing my dammittest to get some kind of routine going again. I'm just graduating to the advanced DVD of this dude's super psycho martial-artsy yoga. If you think yoga is all granola and pussy, well, try to keep up with his source power workout. Well, maybe it is a little granola but I don't mind -- I'm an internationally travelled and highly cultured motherfucker.

Last weekend I introduced a n00b to the wonders of pistol shooting. It went so well, we're going again this weekend too! There's my version of constructive politics -- making the world a better place one bullet at a time.

I haven't been too engaged with Fortuna on a regular basis, other than as an observer of the world and participant in the general uncertainties of life. But She still occupies my thoughts and makes me laugh as I watch people struggle desperately with Her. To be at war with luck is not to fight Fortuna--that way lies madness and destruction. You can't win unless you make Her your ally.

Here's the book that I'm reading now. I'm not sure if I like it or not, but I'm into it 300 pages already and it gets harder to put down as I go along.

Here's a really good movie I discovered by accident. The music is striking and it's fun to hear people speaking Czech and English with an Irish accent.

Here's the earworm song o' the ding-dong day for you.

Here the MSM gets it

In reading the incomparable Jerry Pournelle on the current financial crisis, I stumbled upon this article in the New York (fuckin') Times that makes essentially the same point I did on that same day, but in more forensic detail.

scapegoating the scapegoats

I recently read a terrific history of the great depression by Amity Shlaes (thanks and praise to my friend Jeff, who sent me a copy of the book). Shlaes describes in forensic details the ways that the New Deal prolonged the crisis much longer than it needed to go and undermined the rule of law in the process. The parallels of that crisis with our current situation are interesting, if not exact. But as Mark Twain said, history doesn't always repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Anyways, Shlaes wrote a must read article about these parallels in the Journal the other day; go hither and read it.

UPDATE: No, I'm not claiming that this is the beginning of another Great Depression. But it is a serious crisis of the financial system, much like the liquidity crisis of the post Black Monday world. The government is not making exactly the same mistakes that Hoover did; but the ones they are making could lead to equally serious problems or worse (think Weimar). One thing our modern mindset lets us do with ease is kick the can down the road.

Name that paradise

Even with the political madness gripping the place, California has a lot going for it - Mediterranean climate, an incredible variety of landscapes, and world dominance in a couple of profitable industries. You could spend a lifetime just drinking the local wine and dining on the distinctive local cuisine. In those ways it's a lot like Italy, but there's another country that it resembles more.

To all that good stuff, add in a vast chasm between the rich and the poor. The split is very clearly along racial lines. The majority of darker-skinned people, who speak a different language, do the menial labor and traditional servant work like house cleaning and nannying. The minority whites live in secured compounds with fences and guards to secure themselves against gangs of violent predators.

Now you've got it -- it's South Africa. Cape Town is still worth visiting, but in the end it's just a lot like Santa Barbara.

In which I channel Cassandra

Do you really want a recap of last week? Well, how about this: the election is almost meaningless. No matter who gets elected the regulatory agencies will still run the show. Neither party will do anything but rearrange the deck chairs on the sinking ship.

The giant sucking sound you're hearing is the beginning of capital flight from the USA as our market regulators outlaw liquidity. This is it -- the unwinding of the Golden Age. I hope you enjoyed it! I sure did. Now let's see who can laugh in the face of adversity, 'cause there's a whole bunch coming down the pipeline.

History will look back on the summer of '08 as a turning point of far greater importance than is currently realized.

Fall weekends are outside days

It is very easy for me to spend far too much time in front of a screen. You probably do, too. Do you see how beautiful it is outside right now? That's where I'm spending my weekend.

If you demand prolefeed, please check the Google Reader posts that I share with you in the box at the top right of the page. I helpfully scan all the interesting blogs and select the interesting stuff to share with you there. You're welcome.

More Hooey

It's been a hell of a lot of fun watching the culture war reignite since Sarah Palin was nominated. And boy is it getting bitter! I think it's pretty obvious that -- on a visceral level at least -- I generally fit on the side of the rednecks. But I'm detached enough from the whole thing to find both sides pretty hilarious. The lefties have definitely lost a screw or few over the Lady Governor, but some of the reaction on the right is revealingly silly as well. Here's a good example from one of the right-wing blogosphere's graduates into the commentariat, Bill Whittle. In furthering my attempts to make enemies and annoy people, allow me to pick a little on a guy I generally agree with.

Let's break this article down into it's basic points:
The writer is a fantasy D+D geek
Education is run by Grima Wormtongue
[A gross misinterpretation of Toynbee]
The cultural elites are all useless Grimas leading the rot in our society
The good common folk of the country are being betrayed by those traitors above
[Another gross misinterpretation of Toynbee]
John McCain and Sarah Palin are standing up for all that's right and good

Does this not seem a little overly black and white? Sure, there were lots of insights into the human experience in Tolkein's works as Bill says. The analogies were illustrated in an extreme context in order to highlight the writer's points clearly. But it seems that Bill has done a reverse-double-backflip and started viewing reality in light of the analogies! Just because the analogy sort of fits does not mean that the fictional account is more real than reality. Bill, please -- get outside, Ipecac up the Koolaid, and stay away from the SCA meetings.

wearing ship and missing stays

Ahoy mateys! Today be the day to have a tot o' rum and sing a shanty to the pirates of old. When their souls run 'fore the wind from Davey Jones' locker, global warming will end and Ragnarok will come. Arrgh!

The geeky elephant in the room

I’ve seen a lot of stuff on the Web about the crisis on Wall Street, but mostly it’s people whipping their own pet horses so I’ll try to provide y’all a fair reckoning of what went down and why.

The first factor in the crisis is the easy money regime ruling the Fed over the last decade. They had a lot of reasons for shoveling cash out the door of the way they did (reasons I won’t get into here), but for every action there’s a consequence—and in the world of symbols, the reaction ain’t always equal and opposite like it is in the physical world. That’s factor one.

As I think we all know by now, lenders tried to put this cash to work by drumming up as much business as possible in the mortgage markets. There were powerful incentives for them to loosen underwriting standards beyond simple greed. Congress had mandated that banks focus at least some of their efforts towards "disadvantaged" communities, but the only way to comply with the law was to accept some sub–prime applications. That’s factor two.

These two factors put the chips on the table, but it was Wall Street who decided to shove the stack all-in. Like Mikey McD in the opening scene of Rounders, they thought they had a lock. But Fortuna disguised herself as Teddy KGB and stacked ‘em for their overconfidence. It’s not Greenspan or the bleeding-heart liberals who caused the current meltdown, it was the know-it-all math geeks making the big bucks on the Street.

Now mortgage lenders don’t particularly care about the borrower’s credit as long as they can sell the loan to someone else. Most of the companies that write mortgages sell them to the big Wall Street houses, who in turn smash the mortgages together into a bond and sell them on the Street. The factors that go into pricing the security generally have to do with the dependability of that cash flow in relationship to the prevailing rate of return that the street expects from bonds. For Fannie Mae bonds, that dependability was considered to be pretty high—after all, the taxpayer had pretty much guaranteed that they would make up any losses.

But the buyers wanted a clearer idea of the risk inherent in the mortgage-backed bonds they were buying. Some wanted to make more money for more risk, and some were willing to accept lower return for less risk. So the houses build financial products out of these mortgages using a process known as securitization. You can pretty much securitize anything as long as it has a cash flow associated with it. The bonds were split into what are called tranches, with the lowest-risk (and lowest return) bonds in the highest tranche, and the highest-risk (and highest return) bonds going into the sub-prime tranche. Each tranche had thousands of different mortgages in them, all with the same risk of default as determined by the math-types. This way, if any one mortgage defaulted, the bond itself was able to absorb the loss with the thousands of other mortgages in it that didn’t default.

What happened is the buyers of these sub-prime mortgages miscalculated in a very fundamental way the kind of risk they were getting paid to take by owning these bonds. The way they calculated the risk of the bonds was figuring out the average default rate on the underlying mortgages. Just as an example, let’s say the default rate on prime-rate mortgages has historically been zero. The return on that investment will be roughly the same as the interest rates paid by the mortgages. Then let’s say that the default rate on sub-prime mortgages has historically been two percent. So the premium paid by the sub-prime mortgages will factor that into the price and pay a return rate that compensates investors for that two percent default rate. All very nice and clean, yes?

Well, not exactly. The problem lies in the assumptions that the quants made when assessing the risk. Can you see what it is in the paragraph above? You know what it is. We’ve all heard and read the term so often that our eyes just glide over it without a thought. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Historical averages fail to describe anything but the historical average. Every quant shop pays lip service to this fact, but when they assess risk profiles, they assume the opposite. Otherwise, there’s no way to use a Value at Risk (VAR) model because it uses historical daily price volatility as the key measure or risk.

The problem was made even worse because Wall Street forgot even the lip service that they paid to uncertainty. By treating their VAR models as gospel, they discovered that there was a way to make even more money! By using leverage! With the markets awash in cash due to the easy money described in point one, mortgage-backed security investors would borrow money at cheap rates and buy more mortgage bonds that returned a higher rate than what they had to pay on the loan. And bonus—they could use the mortgage bonds as collateral against the loan because the lenders were using the same VAR models! Hooray—free money! By the time the party ended, the whole financial system was on the hook: investors, lenders, and insurers.

What this crisis boils down to is that Wall Street has no idea how to assess the non-linear nature of market risk but they build a lot of prettied-up linear models to pretend that they’ve got everything covered. And in normal markets, they do. But when things go wrong, they go a lot wronger because of these normalized assumptions.

Again, I refer you to the Simon quote in the blog header.

The markets need to buy Quicken

I hope you've been out of the stock market, as I recommended back in 2006. My read on the macro economic situation was pretty damn good, but before I pat myself on the back too much I have to say my prediction about how silver would react was initially profitable but the recent massive selloff ran me over. But if you used proper risk management and sell discipline, you've made out like a bandit over the past two years - especially when compared to the buy-and-hold dogmatists.

So now that the worst-case scenarios are in the process of coming true, what next? Both McCain and Obama are calling for massive interference by the government to protect the free market from, ya know, freedom (markets are only allowed to go up, after all). Further witch hunts, Reg FD-style idiocies, and the collapse of the investment banks will accelerate the financial industry's move to London and other points overseas. I expect New York City to go bankrupt in the next four years.

On a federal level, more government liabilities means higher taxes and a weaker dollar. There's just no way they can avoid raising taxes in some form. It'll likely be through some mechanism that's completely transparent to anyone paying attention but not directly obvious to the oblivious hoi polloi. But it won't be enough; the government has taken on too many unfunded mandates over the last decade to avoid further deficit spending. So they will try to weather their way out of it by printing more money.

Printing more money and a collapsing financial industry means one thing: a weaker dollar. Commodities have sold off recently because markets are pricing in for lower growth and lower consumption. Another factor, though, that isn't getting much media play is that the dollar stopped dropping relative to the other fiat currencies as people realized that the Euro is just as much a POS as the dollar. But as Washington panics, get ready for the next leg down! Even with lower consumption, the relative value of a dollar to a barrel of oil or ounce of gold will likely drop. Maybe this is where my silver play belongs...

We're in for a very rough economic storm and I have zero confidence in the government's ability to keep from making it worse. If history is any guide, real assets will be king, credit will be useless, and cash will deteriorate. In a real bear market, even the bears don't make money, so a defensive posture may be best. It's a certainty that there'll be vicious rallies to crush the shorts, so only the most agile (read: full-time professionals) can even consider trying to play the downside (in fact, I'd be surprised if the markets don't stage some kind of rally in the next week or so - that's how volatility works). Better to keep your powder dry. Again, I like real assets as the way to ride out the storm.

Plant a garden, stock up on ammo, and sacrifice to Fortuna Conservatrix.

Don't read my analysis as investment advice. Unless I've reviewed your personal finances in detail, I can't know what I'd recommend. I'm offering general observations only that may not apply to your situation.

Freedom or Security: a radical view.

Just saw this Penn Gillette video linked over on Anarchangel.

There's a balance to be struck between helping the downtrodden and letting people work out their lives for themselves, but that balance needs to be made at the family and perhaps community level, but not by elected officials.

Eminem is wrong

somebody's listening to techno! Pretty cool use of freeware here:


I'm too sick and ick to come out and play today. But if you're in my sandbox because you really think you like to think outside the box, check out the crimethink that Chip Smith is posting. Go on, I dare you.

Leave your two minutes hate in the comments and I'll be back later with some doubleplusgood prolefeed.

The Fed put

is taken off. Well, actually not.

Our government is taking on more and more financial responsibilities that it has no ability to pay for. The fact that the Federal government refused to bail out this particular investment bank is meant to be a signal that it will let bad businesses fail. But with all the other bailing out going on over the past seven years, it's way too little and way too late. And the result is to add a further impossible burden to the next generation's negative balance.

Sports Day

I was just too busy yesterday to bother with teh Innernets. But now that we're standing around the coffee machine: How 'bout them Broncos? I love that Shanahan decided to go for two to take the lead. The Chargers were on their heels and had no answer to Cutler. But to my San Diego friends who feel cheated by the refs: boo fuckin' hoo. In the rematch, I'll take the Broncos and the points.

The day was capped by my Sox blowing a seven run lead, only to take it back for good with a pinch hit grand slam in the eighth. Being long-ball dependent is not my favorite style of baseball, but Ozzie seems to have the team on the right wavelength. The pen has been pretty solid this year, so if the Sox can work through a bad patch of relief and win anyway, the division is all but theirs. World Series, here we come!

Holiday Schedule For A CounterClkWise World

As a revolutionary traditionalist, I propose to revamp the holiday schedule to conform to our secular, leisure-driven lifestyles. As a restive shut-in as is typical in our modern age, I’d prefer holidays to be organized around modern notions of leisure time, as opposed to the needs of the agricultural calendar. So without further ado, here are the proposed holidays for the CounterClckWise world:

Super Bowl Sunday—Scream, gamble, and get good n’ hammered. It's a great day to be in the sports book of a Vegas casino
George Washington’s Birthday— Take a day to teach the youth about his greatness, drink some corn
White Rose Day—Sophie and Hans Scholl and Christopher Probst deserve their own special day. "Es lebe die Freiheit!" (Long live freedom!)
Beltane—Celebrate the end of winter by getting roaring drunk
Patriot’s Day— On April 19th, we shoot our guns, damn the monarchy, and drink whisky
Kentucky Derby Day—Head to Louisville, wear a straw hat, gamble and drink mint juleps
Fortuna's Day—June 11 is holy to Fortuna, but no you don't get a day off of work. Save it up for Fors Fortuna, you impious heathens! A sacrifice to her (such as a straddle in front of the blind) is necessary
Summer Solstice—The longest day of the year. Worship the sun and chase each drink with a glass of water. The party goes on until...
Fors Fortuna—The great festival to celebrate our patron Goddess. If you don't already live in Vegas, come 'n visit! It's like Mecca for Fortuna worshipers. I guess that would make Wall Street our Jerusalem
Independence Day—Fireworks, barbeque, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, drinkin’
The All-Star break—A holy experience where we watch the game, laugh a lot, and drink good beer
Talk Like a Pirate Day—ARRRR! Pass the rum, matey!
Fall Equinox—Like Labor Day, this one’s pretty much an excuse for a tipsy three-day weekend
The World Series—Hopefully, it goes seven games. Maybe we should make that mandatory. Again, beer is the preferred option
Halloween—Nothing like a shot or two of rye to keep you warm before the costume party
Thanksgiving—Yay for family, food, and wine! And football
Yule—a week-long festival over the Winter Solstice where we sacrifice a horse to Odin, burn some logs, exchange presents, and get pukin’ drunk. By Fortuna's favor, it almost always falls in the week where the Mass Culture is celebrating Christ Mass and New Year (Gregorian, Revised)

Thought for the day

Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too. -- Marcus Aurelius

Words fail me...

...but not as much as they fail this professor:

Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman. The Republican party's cynical calculation that because she has a womb and makes lots and lots of babies (and drives them to school! wow!) she speaks for the women of America, and will capture their hearts and their votes, has driven thousands of real women to take to their computers in outrage. She does not speak for women; she has no sympathy for the problems of other women, particularly working class women.

Isn't anyone at U of C embarrassed by this?

memorial or cynical manipulation?


Santa Barbara beach.

Vote in the comments. [Did I not just write about how I hate voting? Well, I'm not much for rules, anyway -- even my own.]

Obama the amateur?

Food for thought in this post by Andy McCarthy. Excerpt:

[Obama] has not been swift enough to discern the change in the audience. This is a guy who, up til now, had to appeal to (1) an ultra-Left Chicago district, (2) the 7 in 10 Illinois residents who just wanted Alan Keyes to go away, and (3) the Democrats' antiwar base. They gave him such a warm glow maybe he was duped into thinking everyone would love his routine. In any event, this is his first conversation with America and he's not ready for prime-time. Plus, he is in the unenviable position of having to pose as a post-racial, post-partisan centrist when his record is one of race-conscious, left-wing partisanship. It's only natural that when he gets rattled and is not reading a script, he reverts to Hyde Park.

In memory of ... gridlock

That smoking hole blown in the center of NYC seven years ago? Well, it's still there. Ain'tcha proud?

The Republic is dead again

Who is that guy in the tie amidst all those soldiers in this photo? Why, it's the sheriff with his posse!

Now that the military hardware's bought and paid for, I'd bet my whole stack that this damn thing gets used in a marijuana bust over the next four years. There's just no way they won't take that bad boy out for a joyride if they're allowed to keep it, and damn the 'civilians' who don't want to see tanks rolling down the streets of their town.

This is typical of the double-standard bullshit we've acclimated to over the last generation. Remember, if you shoot someone breaking into your daughter's room in the middle of the night, it's murder. But if you get shot by the cops while lying in your own bed, it's just an isolated incident in the process of keeping cops safe.

I'm for stringing up any public official in this country who thinks it's ok for the cops to run around in APCs with mounted .50s, unless they also think it's ok for me to own HEAT missles.

Are we dead yet?

Well, duh! The Large Hadron Collider has finally gone live, and yet somehow the world has not been blown to smithereens! Miracle!

You can check the status of our impending doom at

(via Culture11)

Blog rules

One of the great things about writing a blog is that, at its best, it's a way to develop ideas through writing in short snippets with feedback from intelligent readers. It's a lot more communicative precisely because it's less comprehensive and open to constant revision. Over the last couple of days I wrote a pretty lengthy and sourced piece for the blog, but I've decided to chuck most of it out of the window because it was turning into an academic essay. Blogging is not useful when you try to write too much in a single post. The way I'd rather approach this is to paint the broad strokes for your perusal and fill in the details as the ideas develop.

Comments are heavily encouraged. I am a big believer in the benefits of open source thinking, but let me also make it clear that I'm not interested in being a referee. Votes are boring and thoughts are gold. This is a House of snark and iconoclasm and crimethink, so there are no ideas that are out of bounds. If you're easily offended or even just normally offended, then please move along -- nothing to see here. I may delete comments just because I think they're stupid.

I also may go back and edit a post, which is often considered a no-no in the blogosphere but I have my own goals for this project that may not be the same as other bloggers. When I do edit, I'll note that it's updated but I may not necessarily leave in the redacted part if it's not addressed in the comments as part of the discussion.

So please participate, and have fun dammit! Also, be sure to use the Google reader link. I don't often link the cool stuff as a blog post because I share it with you there. You can use it even if you don't have a Google account.


The Raiders might as well just pack it in...that was an embarrassing ass kickin'. Broncos are looking pretty good! Cutler is turning into an elite QB.

In other news, today was definitely a writus interruptus day, as I ended up spending untold hours in waiting rooms and filling out papers. So bear with me, after driving my injured mom to physical therapy again in the morning, tomorrow's a writin' day.

Omnivore Hundred

Tagged on this by Roberta X.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.
The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile

6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho (Looks good)
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar

37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more

46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. (French Laundry!)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

I think her comment here is a bit hyperbolic; either that or she needs to go to Burning Man next year to get her freak on.

fog of insomnia

hence no writing today -- blank pages just make me fall asleep. More activity tomorrow, I promise, with the first in a several-part series on Heresy and Crimethink.

Poker pit bull

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Ain't she aces!

Palin a right-wing extremist?

Now I knew I liked her just for being a bug in the system, but it looks like I might just have to really like her.

Gov. Palin's Proclamation on Jury Rights Day

See, the biggest point in my favor about the futility of electoral politics is that we'd have to elect a new citizenry to get the whole Republic thing right (in a nutshell, I blame the voters). But if this is the kind of extremism that's popular up there, Alaska is looking better and better all the time...

Pitbull with lipstick

Did you watch The Speech last night? All my hippie faggot friends r pwnd! You know who you are, San Diego...

I think she did a very good job. The quibbles I read from the commentariat are kind of funny. Apparently, they wanted her to cram a quadrillion pages of policy and a Sybil-like range of emotional nuance into one teensy-weensie speech. But what she needs to do at this point is paint the broad strokes, not the details.

Odds on Palin withdrawing fell by 50% on the Intrade market overnight.

Urban hiking with Sarah

I really really mean it this time when I say I'll never blog about Sarah Palin again until next time. But I was watching this video and it struck me how ideal this small-town government thing is. When I wrote earlier about structural reforms, I was grasping towards this. Do you think the Governor of Alaska needs a staff of consultants and advisors to tell her what Joe Citizen is thinking? Hell, no! They just walk right up to her on the street, and address her by her first name.

Daddy, why can't we get us some ree-form?

OK, last post on it for awhile. Just want to throw in a comment I left on Barry Ritholz's blog:

McCain is angling to run a reform ticket, which appeals as much to Republicans who are sick of Bush as it does to independents. Palin strengthens that story. McCain's giving up the 'experience' talking point because it was essentially a losing position, for all the armchair pundits think it powerful. Obama wins in a change vs. experience election. But now, McCain is change too! I think it was a masterful deep post pattern; but it's way too early to know the outcome.

Do you agree that this was his thinking? It turns the cult of personality thing on its pretty little head. Personally, I doubt it'll work, simply because the nation has a special place in its nest for shiny things and Obama is just too damn shiny. But her presence makes the game alot closer.

I've heard from many, many commenters that McCain has now lost his strongest argument against Obama, but I disagree. His strongest arguments are culture and ideology -- Obama is one of the superelites (just like John Kerry), and one of the most socialist members of Congress (just like John Kerry). That's the way to run against him.

Politics as theater

Or as BSG!

Apparently, the Col. Tigh meme is gaining traction...

Grandson of the Bomb

Today is the official anniversary of Japan's surrender to end WWII. In 1945, my grandfather was the executive officer on an LST in the Phillipines. He told me that he had already received training orders for the invasion of Japan -- orders that entailed dropping tanks on the beach and then disembarking his crew to fight as infantry. Them's some pretty long odds against survival there...for my grandpa, my mother, and myself. So today, I raise my glass in salute to all the boys in the atomic chain, from Oppenheimer to the crew of the Enola Gay. Thanks for the millions of American lives saved/created as a result of your efforts!


If the sun weren't shinin'
if it weren't such a beautiful day
if I were feelin' more poorly
if my mood were more grey

I might sit inside
and blog about Palin
but I'm down at the beach
drinkin', surfin' and sailin'