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September 19, 2008


I'm just disappointed to have seen so few headlines adapted from "Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition!" Actually as a person nearly illiterate in popular culture, I could do with fewer titles from song titles ... I'm sure they're immensely clever ("The Rain In Spain" excepted) but I miss a lot of the references, to the extent that I not infrequently fail to recognize that there was a reference to catch. The exception would be Spencer Ackerman - I doubt I've ever recognized a one of his post titles, but as they are all, with complete consistency, song lyrics, I know what he's doing and can admire it without trying too hard to comprehend.

Today -- with the new polls -- has been the first day in a few weeks I've even been able to engage emotionally with the headlines, song-derived or otherwise.

Warren: I'm just disappointed to have seen so few headlines adapted from "Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition!

Well, what did you expect?

I got my My Fair Lady usage in here, at September 17, 2008 at 11:32 PM.

"Open thread."

Here's my good news of yesterday.

Also, I've been having increased intermittent minor gout attacks in recent days, and tonight have been having some major, really painful, intermittent attacks.

Plus, earlier tonight, I was having an attack of tachycardia and trouble breathing, for a couple of hours, for no apparent reason whatever.

Plus, I've realized in recent weeks that on top of everything else, I seem to be developing arthritis.

Plus I rammed my right index finger into a wall accidentally last week, and it still hurts way too much.

So I'm a bit cranky. Crank crank crank.

I prefer:

Does John McCain Remember the Maine?

You should have saved this thread's title for one about Swift-boating.

About time for this. Call it the "We See Yoo" law. And thank Russ Feingold, and, I suppose, Dianne Feinstein.

Definitely need a ban on "Wake me up when September ends".

Personally, I think its a crime to not use Spanish War references. (Nod to Doctor Cleveland)

I rather liked Eric's Ego Trippin' at the Gates of Hell usage.

Farewell, ye Spanish ladies

Hmm...I've definitely seen "A Modest Proposal" as the headline of at least a hundred thousand blog posts. But the only specifically music-related reference of "A Modest Proposal" is I think the noted 1980s Washington, DC mod band. (Using "noted" loosely here.) So you're probably okay.

Definitely need a ban on "Wake me up when September ends".

surprised there aren't more "American Idiots"

Eric definitely has the best headlines ever.

Oh, great: part of my retirement fund is managed by a company that turns out to be owned by AIG....

Please update your Matt Ygelsies link. It still goes to the Atlantic, and he's at Thinkprogress now, I think.

I will comply once LGM has signalled their awareness of this tradition.

The exception would be Spencer Ackerman

The other exception is Eric Martin. I have long since given up trying to figure out every song he references, but I know the integrity is there. How he does it, I don't know.

Here's an open thread entry--apparently, billionaires are feeling it just like the rest of us, because they didn't see their net worths go up last year either.

make sure that fewer than a hundred thousand other blog posts have used similar titles.

Good news! "McCain in the Membrane" has 91,000+ blog posts left!

I personally used "The Mark of Zapatero," but I'm not really proud of it.

Spanish Inquisition wins, in my book.

Would Georgia's on my mi-, mi-mi, mi-, mi-, mi-mi, mi-mi, mi-ind" be any better.

Just wait. In a couple of weeks, we will be seeing all sorts of "October Surprise" headlines.

Fortunately, I hope, my 401k is being managed by State Street Bank & Trust.

hilzoy, I think your accounts are safe, if not necessarily immediately accessible. NPR did a story on this within the last couple of days. It's not the same as if you owned a lot of AIG stock. Which, I hope you don't/didn't.

And, IIRC, Lehman's bankruptcy didn't include their investment house. Hopefully AIG's bailout will be similarly compartmentalized. If their brokerage service needs bailing out, that's a really, really bad sign.

Slarti: that's my sense. Luckily.

Also lucky: I am by temperament not given to panic. This was good during the recent McCain bounce: I found it remarkably easy to think: this could be a bounce; won't know for a while; I'll worry if it hasn't gone away in a week. Likewise, I also find it pretty easy to think: retirement funds are long-term investments, and my retirement is still a long ways off, and since there's no real reason yet to think that VALIC will be affected by this, I will not panic now.

all our stuff's at UBS... which is a little scary, since UBS has had some sub-prime trouble recently. but, i figure it's just something else i need to stay calm about.

Yes, cleek. I think you should be much more worried about what your money is invested in, than in who is managing your accounts.

Which is not to say that you should have just anyone manage your money, but that's a different issue.

See, if you're already broke, with relatively little paid into Social Security, and you have no savings, and no pension, and no significant assets, while you're moving into your fifties, you already know you're screwed, so you don't have to worry about any of this stuff.

It makes it all much easier. You don't have any direct worries about financial crashes at all.

I offer this tip, along with the hard learned lesson that nothing helps one achieve less emphasis on materialism in life like losing all your possesions -- twice -- in hopes anyone might gain from it, without necessarily having to go through my own experiences.

Sorry, Gary. And I was just this morning telling the kids to quit telling people that we're poor. Possibly part of that is our fault, because we've been fairly un-careful with our money up until this year.

See, they have poverty and frugality all mixed up together, and they think whenever we're on a budget (which is all the time, now) that we're poor. They're proving a little slow on the uptake in this particular area, mostly because they don't have any notion of income and expense, and because they've never experienced much different from what they're experiencing right now.

They don't know how poor people live. Or rather, they don't remember; they were taken out of (comparative) poverty when they were about one year old. I remember, because I was in middle school about the time we crossed over into middle class. I don't have memories of the times when we had to get assistance and food from the church and neighbors, but my older siblings do.

But everyone likes to complain when things get tight, and I think it's common to forget to appreciate how much that kind of talk grates on the truly destitute.

Forget "Spanish Inquisition" -I prefer Python's "I'm a Lumberjack and I'm OK" -written and performed by the other Palin.

Oh, great: part of my retirement fund is managed by a company that turns out to be owned by AIG....

Since Jan. 1 of this year, my 401k is down nearly 15%. This comes after meeting with our company's 401K administrator in the spring, who told me my current mix was a good one. I'm glad I'm only 39.

"But everyone likes to complain when things get tight, and I think it's common to forget to appreciate how much that kind of talk grates on the truly destitute."

No, it wasn't grating. Not any more than simply every day is, at any rate. Sorry if I gave that impression, or the impression I was trying to get people to shut up. I'd go crazy if I let the fact that most folks on blogs are better off than me get to me all the time (admittedly, it gets to me some times).

Mostly it just means that my sense of when I can be humorous about that sort of thing is way out of kilter, I guess.

I mean, I'm quite used to being destitute, after all, and it's when I'm faced with immediate urgent needs that it chaps me, or when people are, say, complaining about how poor they are while discussing whether to get a Porsche or a Lexus, or their trip to Europe next week, or somesuch: something like retirement plans, on the other hand, which are sensible things to have, just aren't real to me, they're so abstract and out of reach, and not something I need next week, so it really doesn't bother me particularly at all. I was pretty much just kidding, while also having a small point at the bottom that I didn't mean in any harsh way. At least, I don't think I did.

And, after all, I have it far better than a good percentage of people living on the planet, as well. And I'm eating well right now, and not worrying about the roof over my head; just stuff like not having a dentist, or a therapist for more than a few months, and finding a medical clinic, and the like.

"Forget 'Spanish Inquisition' -I prefer Python's 'I'm a Lumberjack and I'm OK' -written and performed by the other Palin."

This Palin?

Boy do those words ring true to me, Slart. I make upwards of 75k in a fairly employable field, and when Jess is working she brings in at least half that. We got used to living high on the hog, indulging in gadgets and luxuries and expensive food because we could. Our kid has grown up expecting that a big-screen TV and a house full of computers is normal, though thankfully we've had the sense to spoil him with excess in books rather than toys. The last time we were anything remotely resembling poor was when he was a toddler.

We're terrible at saving, though, and so every now and then something unexpected happens and forces us to implement spending caps for a short time. This time we got smacked by it in a big way: Jess's sister lost her home, and now she's down in Florida helping her sister pack so they can road trip up here. Then the teacher's union in the Bellevue School District went on strike, so right on the heels of illness that had me working from home, I had to spend two weeks staying home with the kid. The first day back to school was the day I had to drive Jess to the airport, and she's going to be gone for at least another two weeks--during which I'll essentially be a single parent for the first time. And because her sister is broke, our total shared budget--their road trip and our daily food/etc expenses--is about $120 a day.

Which brings me around to what you were talking about, Slart: I'm fully aware that most people in this country don't make on a good day, in net wages, what our budget has become in "hard times". I am acutely, embarrassingly aware of how lucky we are. I'm also very grateful that a long time ago we set up a separate checking account for bills, from which we never ever spend, and had my paycheck auto-deposit a flat amount to that so that we are never short on rent/bills. That habit has literally saved us many times.

I guess the one silver lining in all of our current economic woes is that it gives us an opportunity to hopefully teach that perspective to our kid. That line about associating poverty with frugality really hits home.

I keep trying to get people interested in using portions of yet another Monty Python bit:

"A Møøse once bit my sister ... No realli! ... Mynd you, møøse bites Kan be pretty nasti"

So far no takers.

Will wonders never cease? There is an intersection between things we hold true, other than the obligatory null set.

Our recent onset of fiscal responsibility is not because of out own personal hard times, but is instead because we all of a sudden realized that we'd been recycling debt for over a decade, and weren't really making our position any better. So we paid off our debt, put some cash in what amounts to passbook savings, are paying our mortgage down, and maxed me out on 401k deposits.

We're always going to have things to do with our money, we realized, and so we're shooting for a day when we can give responsibly and ongoingly to charity, while making sure our kids are taken care of through college. The younger will probably get some sort of scholarship; she's already a torch and only in second grade. I suppose it's possible that the older kid will get a different kind of scholarship, if they have such a thing for the disabled. We're preparing for having her live at home indefinitely, just in case.

But, and the kids just don't get this, yet, we have a lot of expenses that we could cut, if we needed to. For one, we don't come even close to eating on the cheap. Not that we're living on steak and truffles every night, just that we're not on the beans-and-rice end of the spectrum, either. Although sometimes I make that just because I like it. The wife and I each have our own car, too, because one of us needs to, to have the kids go to the schools they're in. If we had the kids in district, we probably wouldn't have the attention the older one needs, or the gifted program for the younger.

In terms of just that, I think we're fabulously wealthy. So the poor thing...well, I try not to get angry with them, or disappointed. It's our own fault that they don't know better.

Speaking of moose, this British(!) website is ... well, remarkable.

So the poor thing...well, I try not to get angry with them, or disappointed. It's our own fault that they don't know better.

Perhaps I am being optimistic here, but assuming that Slarti's kids and situation (i.e. saying they are poor) are not an outlier (and I mean, if it is, this as a compliment because you are obviously showing them something about values and such), if it is a more general case, it's good that there is some class in saying that one is poor because it goes against the whole Gordon Gecko Greed is Good mantra.

We are trying to deal with that for our youngest one. Our oldest grew up as we were becoming "established", so we were renting and I had just gotten tenure, and so, the buying of our house and the filling it up with stuff, as George Carlin put it, came as she was growing up, so she seems to have a sense of how purchases are something that you think about, how you make decisions about what to buy and what to put off. The younger one basically got plopped into the environment where all this stuff was already there and so she doesn't seem to understand that process. Of course, she 4.5 years younger and has second child's syndrome, in that she is expected to understand the same things that the older one does, and perhaps these differences are more related to personality.

I've mentioned that I do some work in Vietnam, and next year, I hope to take my oldest daughter with me. It's not just that I would like her to see some of the things that are there, I would like to think that seeing some of the kind of poverty that exists there might be important for her.

It's also something that I think about in terms of the environment here. In Japan, even though the safety net is fraying and moving to that net requires the complete exhaustion of all other alternatives (here is a NYTimes article that shows what happens when budget slashing meets this), it is like a cocoon compared to what is on offer in the states. And the fact that poverty is much more hidden makes it more difficult to teach explicitly.

A number of writers note that if there is a bring spot to the current market problems, it is that the US will not adopt the Japanese approach to dealing with bad assets, which was to pretend that they weren't bad, but merely slow down the economy so that the asset bubble wouldn't completely burst, the so called soft landing. I can understand why that wouldn't work in the US, but in some ways, it seems preferable.

Luckily our debt is fairly nominal. Jess has somewhere around $15k of school loans, and we both have a few miscellaneous medical bills that we're dealing with, but on the order of hundreds rather than thousands of dollars. I've never had a credit card and every instinct tells me it would be bad for me to have one, especially at the rates I'd get with some of the marks on my credit.

John McCain just said in a stump speech:

"..... this is how we see this election ..... country first or Obama first."

I give up.

The Republican Party is evil and I hate the fuckers. I spit on their mothers.

If Obama is elected, I want McCain, Palin and every Republican down to county dogcatcher arrested for treason.

They've destroyed our country.

We're trying to do a good job keeping the kids aware of things like, well, you don't just throw your trash on the ground, and you try to be considerate of other people. They get that kind of thing. They don't really get poverty, though, because I think to get that you have to live it, or even be around it from time to time. The school my younger daughter attends has some lower-income people attending, but we're talking people who can still afford to feed and clothe their kids.

Literally, they have no idea how good they have it. I don't mean it like they should be more grateful; I mean it that they should be more aware.

Literally, they have no idea how good they have it. I don't mean it like they should be more grateful; I mean it that they should be more aware.

Well, short of creating a poverty boot camp, there's not much one can do. But I do think the fact that they may be saying they are poor means that they have the basic awareness that it is not something to be ashamed of. If that is of any consolation.

Yet it is strange, it is difficult to imagine someone wanting their children to be impoverished, but you want them to know it in some way that is real.


There's really not much to say in the wake of Thullen's comment at 1:36, but ... I hear you, man.

A number of writers note that if there is a bring spot to the current market problems, it is that the US will not adopt the Japanese approach to dealing with bad assets, which was to pretend that they weren't bad, but merely slow down the economy so that the asset bubble wouldn't completely burst, the so called soft landing.


You must be reading a different set of writers from the one’s I’ve been reading – reading between the lines it sounds to me like the PTB (Powers That Be) are doing everything they can to prop up asset values, with the Fed using all these new fangled black box lending facilities (e.g. TAF,TSLF) to let the sinners engage in market-to-model in disguise, and taxpayer">http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/19/putting-a-price-on-a-government-bailout/">taxpayer funded bailouts in the half trillion dollar range being discussed (mark my words, the final price tag will be at least twice as high). That sounds an awful lot like 1990s Japan, only less honest about what is really happening.

Regarding frugality vs. poverty, props to everybody upthread who gets it. We never had too much of a problem with our heads getting swelled up in my neck of the woods since our local economy didn’t inflate during the Greenspan years the way other parts of the country did, so now the ride down isn’t as noticeable either. Frugality is good, those who have the good fortune of being able to practice it by choice rather than because you have no other options should be grateful for the opportunity and make the most of it.

Did anyone else see on the news yesterday during a McCain-Palin rally that Palin referred to the ticket as the Palin-McCain ticket?


Woman is out of control.

TLT, My point is that everyone is acknowledging that these assets are bad, hence the money is being pumped in. Perhaps a difference in name only, but I was specifically thinking of something like this

While the turmoil in U.S. financial markets could turn frightening this week the good news - such as it is - is that no one can say the U.S. is repeating the Japan experience, in which recovery from a painful bust in the property and stock markets was deferred as the banking system failed to quickly write down bad loans and consolidate.

"Let's not make Japan's mistakes: No zombie banks, please," Westwood Capital banker Len Blum wrote in July. "When assets are overvalued, write 'em down."

Of course, a lot of this has to do with the way things work here in Japan versus the US, so perhaps precisely the same measures are being used, but in the US context, you get to see the sausage made right before your eyes.


I think we are looking at two different side of the situation.

The link you posted read to me as commentary - what smart well informed folks are saying we should do. I'm looking somewhat more pessimistically at what (at least so far) we are actually doing or there are concrete proposals (from the PTB) on the table to do in the near future about the problem.

It seems to me that these positions are not yet overlapping (hopefully they will converge over time). YMMV.

"Well, short of creating a poverty boot camp, there's not much one can do."

I'm available for lectures, he said brightly.

I work cheap.

Thanks TLT, that does make it clearer. And this is a description of what happened here, that I imagine is not going to take place in the US

With the economy driven by its high rates of reinvestment, this crash hit particularly hard. Investments were increasingly directed out of the country, and manufacturing firms lost some degree of their technological edge. As Japanese products became less competitive overseas, the low consumption rate began to bear on the economy, causing a deflationary spiral. The Japanese Central Bank set interest rates at approximately absolute zero. When that failed to stop deflation some economists, such as Paul Krugman, and some Japanese politicians, spoke of deliberately causing hyperinflation[1]. To this day, 2008, the Japanese Central Bank has the lowest interest rates in the developed world.

The easily obtainable credit that had helped create and engorge the real estate bubble continued to be a problem for several years to come, and as late as 1997, banks were still making loans that had a low guarantee of being repaid. Loan Officers and Investment staff had a hard time finding anything to invest in that would return a profit. They would sometimes resort to depositing their block of investment cash, as ordinary deposits, in a competing bank, which would bring howls of complaint from that bank's Loan Officers and Investment staff. Meanwhile, the extremely low interest rate offered for deposits, such as 0.1%, meant that ordinary Japanese savers were just as inclined to put their money under their beds as they were to put it in savings accounts.[2] Correcting the credit problem became even more difficult as the government began to subsidize failing banks and businesses, creating many so-called "zombie businesses". Eventually a carry trade developed in which money was borrowed from Japan, invested for returns elsewhere and then the Japanese were paid back, with a nice profit for the trader.

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