"There was a frothiness that occurred as a result of the Blackstones and the Apollos
using mortgage-backed securities to fund their buyouts. It was a lot like junk
bonds becoming the instrument of choice in the late 80's and early 90's."
White explained that, in 2004, there were only $98 billion worth of
mortgage-backed securities issued. In 2008, he said, that number ballooned to
$314 billion. "So we grew right along with client demand. And now that market
has contracted severely. That $314 billion from last year will go to roughly $60
billion in 2008 -- an 80% contraction."
All fine and good, but don't let me catch profits per partner anywhere near where they were last year if you're gonna let people go in such numbers.
All kidding aside, this is what market professionals call the subprime crisis, etc. I looked, and it does not appear to be a technical term - i.e. dislocation is not a mathematical or statistical phenomena. Rather, it appears to be a euphemism like "outplacement" instead of "firings" or "nice" instead of "you should date in dimly lit restaurants."
Can anyone find a technical definition?
Interesting, sure. I have two questions. First, would it pay for the NYT to cut back on certain coverage to increase margins for the owner? Taking the opposite tack, is there a way to make the standard news content more attractive to advertisers? I am not sure there is without hindering usability either online or in the paper.
Second, setting aside the Sunday RE guide, which is long-standing, would new additions like T magazine succeed if not for their association with the venerable NYT? If the NYT lends gravitas to these products, it does so largely through its reputation as a news organization, in which case the brand itself has to recieve some credit. Yes, the paper makes the highest margins on ads in peripheral business units, but they spring from a trunk that establishes the brand. Think of Google - the ads pay the bills, but the search and services must continue to improve so that Google remains the most desirable place to place those ads.
Of course, Dark Knight has something Ironman does not, Joker. Watching Heath Leger makes you forget Nicholson ever did the role, and that was considered pretty dark at the time. No, watching Leger conjures up comparisons to Hopkins's Hannibal. An evil so perfectly nuanced and forcefully embraced by its thespian perpetrator it demands rapt reverence at it alternates between screeches and whispers.
The writing was amazing. Extreme dark comic writing without too much cheese. The jokers many-angled schemes were well thought out. The stunts integrated into the schemes so as not to seem excessive in context. And the choice to shoot building collapses and "sky hook snags" in IMAX without the use of CGI, captivating.
Perhaps the best praise: this movie actually deserves all the praise heaped upon it.
This is "Golden Shellback" in action. It doesn't look like anything because it is a coating applied in gas form to the outside of gadgets. It makes it so the water doesn't get in. How? No idea. More when we I have one.
[HT Gizmodo ]
Here is what I don't get: Funding. NACA has membership dues, but I doubt they are enough to run the whole organization. I can't find information on their site about accepting donations or entering into partnerships. The lack of transparency makes me a little skeptical. Anyone have any insight?
Ahmed: What did you do this weekend?
Humahn: I put WHDI in my home.
Optimus is not famous for delivering. Their keyboard, sporting a customizable color LED under EACH KEY arrived really late and REALLY expensive. Their second iteration, the Pultius (above), seems more reasonable. 15 keypad-style customizable keys for any shortcut you could possibly want.
My question: who needs 15 shortcuts? Can I assign macros to them - then, at least keyboard shortcuts would be easier.
I like to take a few minutes to unwind on the couch. You are lazy.
I have an occassional sweet to round out a nice meal. You need to watch what you eat.
What about the positive-negative bias? It seems like a similar attribution error:
I suck. Occassionally, something manages to go right.
People don't really like me. Sure, I was invited, but only because he invited everyone else in the crew.
- she is "in an existing relationship" with the fetus that is protected by
the U.S. Constitution
- "her existing constitutional rights with regards to that relationship
will be terminated."
- "abortion increases the risk of suicide ideation and suicide."
- and abortion "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living
Abortion rights advocates filed for and obtained an injunction against the script. The Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit (a federal appeals court) lifted the injunction, making the script 'operational' as of last Friday.
I've been through all of these arguments before many times, so I won't rehash them here. Suffice it to say that fetuses and mothers both have serious arguments on their sides and that advocates on both sides have been caught up in the politics and emotion of this debate for so long that they aren't really even dealing with each other any more.
I'll limit my comments to political ideology: Conservatives generally favor personal rights, states' rights, and limited government. The recent 2d Amendment ruling was lauded precisely because it championed individual rights and less regulation. This is the polar opposite - and yet it gets the same support from the same supporters. Which means that this is a question of social agenda, not political ideology. If so, has small government conservatism left the Republican party altogether, leaving limited government concerns to the third-party dregs of the libertarian movement?
Also - my political ideology is generally "live and let live." That, to me, jives nicely with classic conservative values. Why have they abandoned it?
That said, you simply must read "Shouts & Murmurs." It's the snide humor normally reserved for your neighbor's outfits applied to life at large. This week, Passive Aggressive Appetizers.
1. General Welfare clause: the government can only spend money for the general welfare, not for private companies. Fannie and Freddie used to be government-owned, but because they have shareholders now, they are no longer eligible for public funds.
2. Equal Protection clause: The goodly judge reminds us that all American laws must be equally applied, so the Fed can't chew gum, I mean provide funds to these companies, unless it brought some for the whole class - including, he points out, Indymac.
First, you'd think a judge would rely on some precedent or case law or something, but the Judge's argument stand instead on bald, sweeping statements about the broadest meaning of Constitution. As a former judge, Mr. Napolito well knows that the Constitution does not operate this way. There are several hundred years of case law setting out the nuances. You have the right counsel, but not for every trial, appeal, or motion. You have the right to assemble, but a permit can be required. And you have the right to equal protection - but that requires a protected class and permits some discretion. You'd expect a judge to at least acknowledge that he's glossing over this - the actual manifestation of the Constitution in modern American law. He doesn't.
Second, the arguments fail on their merits.
General Welfare: Fannie and Freddie own the vast majority of American mortgages, representing both the stability of home ownership and a HUGE chunk of the marketplace. If they fail, it hurts every single American.
Further, the Fed is running to protect these companies in large part because they are tightly regulated so that the market has always had a tacit understanding that they were guaranteed by the Federal government. That government guarantee, long implied and never disavowed, was put in place to empower all Americans to buy homes. If the government now has to make good on it, that is the execution of its powers for the general welfare.
The judge claims the companies are now private. The government caps the size of the loans each can buy and determines what is and is not "conforming." The Macs then don't get to selectively accept or deny loans. How, then, Mr. Napolitano, are these private entities?
Equal Protection: Last I checked financial institutions were not a protected class.
Second, there is the point that Fannie and Freddie aren't truly private entities, and so are part of the government, not citizens of the U.S. like private companies.
Third, what law is being applied unequally here? This is the Federal Reserve, a federal agency, acting within its discretion to carry out its mission - to preserve the integrity of American markets. Every time the Fed acts, it is targeting a subset of the market - why aren't all of those inequitable? Further, there is no charge that Mr. Bernanke is doing this for corrupt purposes. He is acting for the market, not for his personal or political interests.
Finally, the good judge may be looking at this at too high a level. He says the laws should apply equally between the companies. What if the laws should apply equally to the American people? At that level, Bernanke's actions do the most to help Americans equally. Indymac accounts were insured by the FDIC, so investor losses are covered. Fannie and Freddie mortgages are not insured, so damage to buyers is not. As for investors of both Companies - both took known risk and both will now lose all or close to all of their investments. The "bailout" is going to just keep these companies afloat; it won't buy back shares at their prices from 2 years ago. Seems like the Fed's actions treat both investors and depositors/buyers equally, so what's the problem?
A knob that will "re-analog" the knobs via a touchscreen interface - a really high tech way to go backwards. How about desingning a better touch interface or, even better still, using existing tech. Here is the Griffin Powermate - a USB multi-purpose knob. Couple with a touchscreen and you get the same result. Select the digital knob by touching it with your left hand, adjust using the knob in your right.
A year ago:
- Wii is greeted with skepticism by competitors. Users, on the other hand, can't get enough of them. That's partly demand, and partly planned scarcity on the part of Nintendo.
- PS3 is derided as a HUGE, EXPENSIVE messianic platform that wasn't. Critics thought it was simply a huge vehicle for Blu Ray and didn't offer much of an advance in the gaming console department.
- XbOX was experiencing the "Ring of Death" debacle, wear three red lights would appear on your xBox - the console's version of "check, please!"
- Wii is still as hot as the day it hit shelves. It is still hard to get one and the new version isn't making it any easier. Wii fit is even more experimental...and just as popular. Gaming has come back to the masses and gaming during a party (other than a geeks-only LAN party) is born.
- PS3 turns out to be the messiah, but not for games. Blu Ray killed HDTV thanks in large part to the ready-made console market. Sony is laughing all the way to the bank.
- xBox. Hm. The system is not dying any more and there is an external HD. It is the most popular Rock Band and Guitar Hero platform, so that gives you a sense of its market penetration...but that's only because the games weren't released on xBox until recently and xBox gamers either own, or want to own, a Wii.
Thursday, I parked the car down the block from some "Emergency Parking" notices. Not noticing any notices down my way, I figured I was safe. Walking around the neighborhood this past Saturday afternoon, I found a 2000 blue Volvo sedan parked there instead. If not for the Honda Passport parked outside my building sporting a broken window with glass scattered along the sidewalk, I would have just assumed that I miscalculated and the car had been towed. The broken window conjured up stats of oft-stolen civics, a rising west-end crime rate, and so on.
Saturday turned from dinner and movie into car titles, websites, and phone calls. First, to the GEICO site to check coverage. There I found "What to do if your car is stolen." That alone was worth the price of admission - particularly because it told me that I was covered. Second, I went to the DC DMV site to see if I had been ticketed. If I had a ticket, I reasoned, I was towed. No ticket.
Not giving up, I headed outside for another walk around my neighborhood and my short term memory. My normal neighbors were treated to a meandering twenty-something, looking first this way and that, then down at his Blackberry calendar, then intently up at the sky-down at the ground-up at the sky, and finally off down the street to repeat.
I was sure when I left the house that I had parked in Volvo spot. I returned damn-near positive. I pulled up another site - DC's Tow lot. Turns out that they too have an online form to fill out if you were towed. It didn't find the car. Neither did a call.
Geico says you should get a police report before you call them, so I called 311. This is not a non-emergency number, it is the "Mayor's Information Hotline." No biggie. They took down my information and that of the car, and promised to have someone call me back.
Having nothing else to do but wait, RSC and I headed for a bite to eat. She wanted to know what to expect now that we might be filing an insurance claim. I guessed about a 1-week investigation, 2 weeks for claims, and perhaps a month before we saw a check. I thought we might see something near the Kelly BlueBook value for the car. It would not enough to buy a new one, but it'd put a dent in the purchase price.
We sat amidst the partiers in an Adams Morgan eatery and chatted. A new car would be an automatic instead of our manual. It might be a Hyundai, given our friends' recent experiences. It'd need 4 doors and good mileage, but it didn't really need sex appeal. We recounted past experiences when we were robbed and how it isn't so much the loss of goods as it is the violation of "the stuff I include within my space." Of course, I said, I've experienced enough change in my life to realize how widely the human experience varies. While I don't understand what would make someone steal, I don't doubt that for some people it is a reality that isn't just normal, but preferable. I don't think they do it for fun.
RSC and I were in a 7-11 grabbing dessert when we found out they didn't do it at all. A woman, who sounded heavyset, droned and bulged through my handset to explain that the car wasn't stolen, but relocated. Uh huh. Relocated to where. 1700 Florida. Northwest DC? Yes. So it hasn't been towed. No, sir, relocated. I hang up and explain to RSC that the car has been relocated. Towed? Yes, I suppose, they had to tow it to the new spot, but they didn't tow it to the impound lot. A boon, as the impound lot rates are quite a bit higher than simply having your car moved.
Of course, the impound lot also keeps track of your car. The woman on the phone doesn't. She wasn't there when they moved the car and she wasn't there in the 100 degree Sunday morning sun as I again set out to scour the DC streets. She also didn't interface with the Metro Police Department located 1 block south from the epicenter of my search. 20 minutes later, I spotted my silver Honda Civic parked on the 1700 block, only three blocks south of the promised spot.
I learned that Comprehensive Insurance feels amazing the second you think you might need it - naches for only $70/year. I learned that, in the event of a robbery, I have my ducks in a row. Oh, and I learned that searching for a car of which there is at least one per block can be emotionally taxing. You stop quickening your step by the time you're checking whether the eighth one might be yours.
As for me, I hope he was referring to himself...that this is some sign that he's simply going to phone it in for the final months.
Wrong 1: Lynne Bloch moves into a Chicago condo, mounts a mezuzah on the door, and is told to remove it by the condo association. They have rules prohibiting tenants from placing any items in the halls - no exceptions. (precise language - "mats, boots, shoes, carts or objects of any sort” Could you distinguish a mezuzah? Sure. Does the language cover everything? Yeah, it kinda does.) This is not the wrong - the association had the rule to start with. By law, Lynne received the rules before she bought. Caveat emptor.
Wrong 1 is that she sued for mental distress arising from the ordeal. Why didn't she sue for discrimination? Well, the board had already amended the rules to provide an exemption by then. Ms. Bloch, I get that you weren't happy, but you won and - to coin a phrase - "there is no need to go and make a federal case out of this!"
Wrong 2: This second point made me think twice about the sort of people Ms. Bloch was facing:
Judge Wood [the judge who wrote a dissent three times as long as the
opinion] also criticized the condo association for filing a brief that
accused the plaintiffs of trying to get a “pound of flesh” from the group. She
noted that the reference comes from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” and
pertains to the human collateral insisted upon by a nefarious Jewish
moneylender, Shylock, who is later punished by being forced to convert to
Christianity. “This is hardly the reference someone should choose who is trying
to show that the stand-off … was not because of the Blochs’ religion, but rather
in spite of it,” she wrote.
One of the best rules of legal writing is to "drown your darlings." Don't put in a cute turn of phrase because you are in love with it. It detracts from the force of the writing. This goes in the other extreme - finding and inserting a darling that is deliberately offensive.
This is where "ethics" and "Ethics" (the formal rules) often diverge, but, if Illinois is anything like Virginia, this is primed for an ethics violation for failure to comport oneself as a professional - plain and simple.
[ HT to RSC ]
Our latest addition, one judge's reaction to plaintiff's 465 page complaint (a normal complaint ranges from 15-50, double spaced):
Plaintiff has a great deal to say,
But it seems he skipped Rule 8(a).
His Complaint is too long,
Which renders it wrong,
Please re-write and re-file today.
Federal Rule 8(a) (used in federal court) requires that a complaint be a "short and plain statement" of the claim, much like the lymeric is to this criticism.
The Ramsey's whole life was shot over this death. They moved from Atlanta, and, while rich, they've had to lay very low. JonBenet's mother died of cancer in 2006, still under the pall of accusations, and now the father and son have nothing but their defamation suits to comfort them.
I'll admit thinking these folks were guilty as sin when I first heard of the case. C'mon. Her name is made up of her father's names (John Bennett), she was a pageant competitor before she hit grade school...the level of materialism and narcissism in this family was enough to make anything seem possible. I was wrong - I wonder who I can blame for that.
Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than
anyone ever has. ...
"It means a lot to me," the 25-year-old Homosexual said. "I'm glad my body
could do it, because now I know I have it in me."
Wearing a royal blue uniform with red and white diagonal stripes across the
front, along with matching shoes, all in a tribute to 1936 Olympic star Jesse
Owens, Homosexual dominated the competition. He started well and pulled out to a
comfortable lead by the 40-meter mark. This time, he kept pumping those legs all
the way through the finish line, extending his lead. In Saturday's opening heat,
Homosexual pulled way up, way too soon, and nearly was caught by the field,
before accelerating again and lunging in for fourth place.
Bamboozled by their own computers, imagine that. But you want to know why this post is really here? It's because the article elicited this comment on WaPo (part copied):
The same-sex lifestyle is one of pain, loneliness, depression and unhappiness. I
know of this first hand, as I lived the same-sex way for over thirty-years.
Please all, open your eyes to what's in front of you and don't listen to the
mainstream media, who have clearly been co-opted by the the supports of this. It
is not just the same-sex activity is immoral. It is harmful to the individual
and to society. Look at the the depression, drug use, promiscuity and downright
perversion. And believe me, what goes on behind closed doors and in private is
far worse than what you've been lead to believe in the media.
I got sick to
my stomach when I used to chat on places like "gay".com. This is a place like
Dante's Inferno, where the souls of lost souls and demons torment each other.
The "gay" world is full of lost souls. The straight world doesn't know, and
doesn't want to know what "gay" people really do behind closed doors, but it is
not pleasant nor is it good for those who do it.
Uh-huh...you do realize that all of those things are similarly prevalent in straight homes, right? Both gays and straights commit immoral acts. Both gays and straights believe in god. Therefore, god must cause all people to act immorally. We must fight against god and his immoral ways. There we go. Problem solved.
[HT to McCloskey.]
To be more cynical: Favre, you were good, but perhaps never has good as that Pack and the media made you out to be. Don't let that message creep into the dicussion. Those whispers are already starting.
I recommend the second song on the list half way down the page.
In light news, here is a great review of one man's ride at the L'etape de Tour. The L'Etape is a preview ride that lets amateurs try 1 stage of the tour before the pros go at it. The NYT had a rider there, who blogged the experience. It is quite the read.
Overall: 40% of funds contain not a cent of the manager's money.
Among Morngingstar's Top Picks: managers averaged over $300,000 of their own money invested in the fund.
There's one disclosure you should consider looking up before you invest.
Two nights ago, I caught a few minutes of Larry's solo special on Comedy Central and was really turned off. For those who don't know, Larry is the famous originator of the NASCAR dad catch phrase "Git-R-Done!" Also, for those who don't know, Larry is nothing more than an act. Don't believe me? Watch some of the extra's on the DVD's and you'll see him break character. Part of what is funny about Larry is that his act itself is poking fun at the redneck (dare I call it this?) genre.
That's part of what made his set so offensive. There were jokes about toddlers and terrorists (terrorists wear their diapers on their heads, though both are full of ____), and a whole slew of other comments that can only be fairly characterized as Jingoist. This kind of comedy reinforces people's prejudice, it is destructive, and those who love the power of comedy to step past the socially comfortable should yell it down.
You'll ask: Don't you love an offensive joke? Yes. Yes, I do. But there is a difference even between "Look at how funny our stereotypes are!" and "Look at these dirty muslims, who have ___ for brains. " That's a qualitatively different message, and it has the opposite outcome of real comedy. Comedy breaks the barrier of politeness so we can talk openly about differences - white people laughing at blacks, laughing at Indians, laughing at chicanos, laughing at women, laughing and gays, laughing at white poeple - preferably all the same room. When one, homogenous crowd gets together to laugh at put-downs of another culture, that leads to- if not borders on-hate speech.
So lets fix other things stupid people like with hybrids. First stop, reality TV. What could be better than Top Chef or Project Runway? Runway chef, where contestants team up to dress the chef who dresses the goose to please the judges. Best outfit meets best dish to win. Speaking of best dish, let's not forget gossip shows like Real World and the Surreal life or appearance shows like America's Next Top Model or What Not To Wear. The hybrid: washed up celebrities get fantastic new looks to try to make again in today's media scene. And what about love and skill shows? Tila drops her tequila and Chris his Angel for the chance to teach two teams of wanna-be to strut their stuff. Better yet, let's just put them all on an island - with all of that cooking, cleaning, sowing, flirting, strutting, and politicking, the contestants should have a fully-functioning society up and running in no time. We'll call it, "America's Got Too Much Time on Its Hands."
[ p.s.: Holy crap, I think I just realized that reality shows are nothing more than getting us to compete at our chores. ]
The only remarks worth noting are that of Ariana Huffington, who exhorts Mr. Obama not to undercut his strengths by moving to towards the center. I tend to agree. This candidate's strengths lie in his ability to inspire and to lead as a progressive. That resonated with voters in the Spring and it should do so again in the fall. Being in the center risks an impression that you are more of the same or, worse, that you've abandoned the principles that made you so attractive from the get-go.
In other news, South Carolina still has the crime of "buggery" on its books. Buggery is the ancient term for sodomy, including all oral, anal, and trans-species intercourse.