2008: Good Riddance?

December 31, 2008 at 5:13 pm (Misc)

Perhaps it’s fitting that plummeting temperatures put a chill on tonight’s reveling in Time Square – a bitter end to 2008, annus horribilis?

There seems to be some glaring incongruities this holiday season. And it’s not just wacky mother nature that gives us 67-degree spring breeze one day and showers us with sleet the next.

On the one hand, about half of people surveyed by NBC News/Wall Street Journal believe 2008 was one of the worst years in American history. On the other, if you had spent half an hour in the vicinity of Rock Center in New York City, you would probably not use “sour” to describe the public mood.

Granted, there’re loads of foreign, aka boorish, tourists who tend to either step on your toes or push you as if you were a stroller. Or perhaps they merely delight in taking pictures with you – not the skyscrapers – in the backdrop.

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Quote of the Day

December 11, 2008 at 3:40 pm (Culture, Media, Misc)

“Children who grow up in a different environment may have very different early experiences, and may process information differently than children from a different environment.”

BBC

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What Shoddiness?

November 13, 2008 at 1:22 pm (Media, Politics)

The “Martin Eisenstadt” show writes itself. David Shuster and MSNBC are the gift that keeps on giving. Gawker has the blow-by-blow account.

What does it say about the “shoddiness in the traditional news media and especially the blogosphere”? It’s “not that some in the media don’t check stuff on the web. It’s that they’re prepared to believe – and write – anything about Sarah Palin.”

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“It’s the Economy, Stupid” Redux

October 10, 2008 at 4:47 pm (Politics)

According to Jay Cost at RealClearPolitics.com, one of the sensible metrics “has been more or less operative since the election of 1840: if the economy tanks during a Republican administration, vote Democrat. If it tanks during a Democratic administration, vote Republican.”

Applying this rule to 2008, we get the following. McCain, because he is of the incumbent party, gets the political harm. Obama, because he is of the out party, gets the political benefit. That’s all there is to it.

Since Lehman went belly up on September 15, the markets have gone over a cliff. Which means, with less than a month to go, that Sen. McCain’s fortunes are, largely, “out of his control”. Still, one can’t help wondering about the propitious timing for Dems.

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The 95% Myth

October 10, 2008 at 12:03 am (Politics)

Well, if you paid any attention to the increasingly heated political rhetoric from both parties, you would’ve heard ad infinitum, and justifiably impressed by, Sen. Obama’s “tax cut” for “95% of Americans”. Republicans, predictably, take issues with how the Obama camp define “middle class”, be it income below 65k or 43k.

It might be futile handwringing figuring out whether you fall into the lucky 95% bracket.The Economist provides a handy fact check.

[A]ccording to [Obama’s] written plans, he really means 95% of families with children, not 95% of Americans. But his real sleight-of-hand is to count handouts administered through the tax code as “tax cuts”. You might think that a tax cut means keeping more of what you earn. The way Mr Obama uses the phrase, however, it can also mean being given a chunk of money that someone else has earned. That is how he is able to offer “tax cuts” to “95% of Americans” when about a third of American households already pay no federal income tax.

So, how can you “cut” zero, you might ask? Well, It’s called a “refundable tax credit”, or “welfare” as it’s known in the real world. Basically,

It involves the federal government taking money from those who do pay taxes, and writing checks to those who don’t.

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Mainstreet on Bailout

October 2, 2008 at 10:25 am (Business, Politics)

If MSM reactions are anything to go by, the House has taken a severe beating for failing to pass Paulson’s bailout plan. However, ‘blog chatters’ – dismissed by an assortment of self-styled pundits – seem to tell a different story. Money quote this comment at FT Gideon Rachman’s blog:

[T]his is no longer about a bailout. This is about $3 ATM fees, getting charged $5 for using your credit card in Mexico, and a whole host of other things Americans are upset with their banks about. This is about people being irrationally mad at “Corporate America”. I saw one poll that said a majority would prefer a deep recession (51%) as opposed to this bailout. I don’t think anyone cares about the Dow falling 800 points. It is inconsequential to the average American. They want their pound of flesh. They have tasted blood and will not allow anything similar to this plan to pass.

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Blogosphere Enlightenment

September 23, 2008 at 12:31 pm (Culture, Politics)

We chanced upon this interesting ‘discourse’ and thought it illustrates the “sanctimonious fatigue” from the anti-hicks with what they call “reverse snobbery”, aka culture war.

Self-styled liberal blogger: “Some of us, in fact, don’t give a rat’s ass where she [Ed: Gov. Palin] comes from.”

Commenter: “Really? Did you support Obama over Clinton and Edwards because you liked where Obama wants to take us all next. or because you liked where he comes from?”

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Sexist Men at Work?

September 22, 2008 at 5:24 pm (Culture)

A British academic concludes from her study that men with sexist views ‘earn more’ than their modern-thinking brothers. It could be because “more traditionally-minded men are interested in power, both in terms of access to resources – money in this case – and also in terms of a woman who is submissive.”

A shot across the brow for self-proclaimed progressive men?

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Elegy for Wall Street (as we know it)

September 22, 2008 at 4:49 pm (Business)

It’s perhaps fitting that on the last summer day of 2008, the end of a swashbuckling Wall St era falls on a day when New Yorkers bid farewell to Yankee Stadium. The latter’s planned demise marks the untimely death of standalone investment banking all the more poignant, and prompts many a soul-searching moment: is it the beginning of the end for New York as we know it?

Of course, any self-respecting New Yorker would shoot down the idea in no time. But changes … they are a-comin’. Perhaps all the doom-and-gloom is really a blessing in disguise lest the latte-sipping, arugula-munching city sophisticates go over the cliff over Sarah Palin.

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The Week in Review

September 19, 2008 at 6:08 pm (Business)

In honor of the historical week that has changed the landscape on Wall Street, here’s a recap (courtesy of Reuters).

Friday September 12 – NY Fed president Timothy Geithner convenes an emergency meeting with Treasury Department officials and top executives at all the major Wall Street banks over Lehman rescue.

Saturday September 13 – While discussions over Lehman continue at the NY Fed’s Lower Manhattan building, AIG begins talks to regulators over its survival.

Sunday September 14 – Lehman finds no buyer but a group of 10 global banks and securities firms form a $70 billion loan program to help ease a credit shortage.

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