The most unsurprising exposée of the decade

It's time to face facts: San Francisco is spectacularly mismanaged and arguably the worst-run big city in America.

Being the Cassandra that I am, there is some consolation in schadenfreude. San Francisco is one of my favorite locations on earth, but then so is Italy. Basic common sense in the political realm eludes both, probably for the same reason.

Rummy does origami


Bifurcation of the culture

Read every word.  Excerpt:
There was once a time when the lower ranks of society would admire the upper ranks, and work hard, however ineffectually, to acquire the habits and virtues of the upper classes on a journey of personal betterment. There was once a time when the upper ranks understood their duty to the lower ranks, and constrained themselves publicly in an act of noblesse oblige, to serve as example for their lessers. Today, that dynamic is destroyed. The losers know they’re losers, but they no longer give a shit. They wallow in their wretchedness like pigs in mud, sticking a porky hoof up the pinched sphincter of anyone who would encourage them otherwise. The winners know they’re winners, and despite their tissue-thin rhetoric to the contrary, know that it wasn’t hard work but the luck of the DNA draw that they aren’t rolling around in the sty with the pigs and who, if you get them behind closed doors and pry liberally with single malt scotch, secretly believe the left hand side of the bell curve barely even qualifies as members of the same human species. So now we have two groups, staring distantly at each other across the tar pit of our shredded national identity known as pop culture, who don’t give a shit about the other, and are feverishly living their lives to guarantee that a shit will never have to be given.
If you think this is sustainable, you have only to sense the bubbling resentment surfacing not only in the urban jungle where resentment is the engine of self-delusion, but in once placid regions like small towns and college campuses, to know it is not. Soon, there will not be enough gated land behind which the elites can barricade themselves and continue peddling their hypocritical pissant platitudes. The orc hordes will swarm like locusts and devour everything in their path. Even the danegeld will lose its power to pacify, if for no other reason than that the source of funds will not keep up with the hungry multiplying maws of the beasts of chaos. If you feed it, they will come.



Funny of the day

This week I'll post a few of the absolutely hilarious .gifs that I saw over in this 2+2 thread. Here's the first:


Should Kids Get the Vote?

Here's an interesting thought:
The fact is that the way issues are debated in our national political debates very rarely actually takes the future into account. What’s better, to protect teachers’ jobs or to give kids a good education? What’s better, to avoid a recession today or to avoid inflation tomorrow? We seem to prefer instant to delayed gratification – how, well, childish, ain’t it? This situation exists largely because those who have the biggest stake in the future have no say.

Since I think democracy is wrong in principle I guess this wouldn't make it any wronger and might even improve the system. It's likely, however, that it would simply substitute new absurdities for the current ones

Great quote...

...I was introduced to over at Sipsey Street Irregulars, which is a blog I've been following for the last several months:
I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman's club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave. -- H.L. Mencken

Whichever Mencken book this is in, I must have missed it but I'll leave the attribution in without bothering to fact-check it for you.

Political maxim #1

Diversity, freedom, security: pick only two.

Graphic illustrations

All these paintings are missing is marshmallow farts.

Crony Finance and the stimulus

Here's an interesting read by Simon Johnson, the former head of the IMF, that compares the current problems on Wall Street with the problems that the IMF continually dealt with in the third world.

The banking-and-securities industry has become one of the top contributors to political campaigns, but at the peak of its influence, it did not have to buy favors the way, for example, the tobacco companies or military contractors might have to. Instead, it benefited from the fact that Washington insiders already believed that large financial institutions and free-flowing capital markets were crucial to America’s position in the world.
One of those little peeves I've acquired over the last year is the continual confusion by pundits on both sides of the aisle between "capitalism" and "free markets" -- terms which are not interchangeable. Capitalism is a legal structure that enables capital to be pooled into a single legal entity. Free markets are simply free to the extent that they are unregulated. Capitalism can be a decidedly unfree system, as Washington is proving once again.

Thanks for all the fish

It's been a bit slow around here for the last couple of months, so to the two or three of you that still check in regularly I offer my regrets that the blog has faded away so ignobly. I may start writing for you again later in the year but with my health being what it is, it's become more of a burden than a pleasure.

UPDATE: Seems like I ain't the only one hanging it up. But I'm on FaceBook from time to time, so feel free to read me there...

Next phase: wheelbarrows of cash

How fun is it for him to say I told you so? I'll bet it's more fun than getting an additional couple of percentage points in his futile presidential bid.
We are at an economic dead-end and those in power are in denial. The truth is our economic problems are due to loose monetary policy, central economic planning, and the parasitic expenses of government.

Reality is a parody

Here we go:

The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged": The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That's the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies -- while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to "calm the markets," another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as "Atlas" grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls."

Song of the Day



In reference to this cogent quote, Megan says:
How long 'til analysts start touting canned goods and ammunition?

When they do, you'll know it's time to sell.