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Showing posts from February 10, 2008

The 3 trillion dollar recession and the price of tea

LI finds it clarifying to refer to baseline numbers when thinking about big events, like wars and recessions. For this recession, we hold to the number, 3 trillion dollars – which reflects the growth rate for consumption over the growth of GDP over the last ten years, according to Michael Mandel at Business Week. And that growth, in turn, reflected the magic economy of assets inflation in a world in which inflation was supposedly dead. The magic was in simply not registering the extent of the assets inflation – it was put in a black box, technically diminished so that the information it gave to the Fed could be ignored. When you fix the information that you are supposed to respond to, you destroy the integrity of the machine. It is that simple. And now, of course, we have asset deflation and inflation on other fronts. This story captured LI’s attention. As, apparently, hardcore members of the bottom 20% on the American wealth scale – oscillating between being in the straight poverty c

News from our great Democratic Ally

Pleas for condemned Saudi 'witch' “In a letter to King Abdullah, the rights group described the trial and conviction of Fawza Falih as a miscarriage of justice. The illiterate woman was detained by religious police in 2005 and allegedly beaten and forced to fingerprint a confession that she could not read. Among her accusers was a man who alleged she made him impotent.” Let the winds strip the calendar back to glorious January, when our beloved leader, President Backbone, made the democracy tour in the Middle East. Among the chroniclers of a moral moment that rivaled Jesus preaching on the mountain and Buddha’s revelation under a sweet gum tree, nobody’s tongue worked as eagerly on the presidential behind as Michael Abramowitz, the Washington Post chronicler of all the fun and goofy things our, well, greatest president ever did on his fabulous trip. The highlight of the tour was, of course, our consultation with our great democratic ally in the fight against the intolerable to

Happy Valentines Day, LI readers

LI is shackled by a tight schedule today. And it is Valentine’s day! During our busy day yesterday (a meeting with a potential editing client, and in the evening, an invite to see a film about an election campaign in Japan , followed by music at… what was the name of that 6th street club?) we heard many disparaging things being said about Valentine’s day. Of course, LI, blistering in our sore and sour solitude, could cast an evil eye on Valentine’s day. But fuck that – those who bitch at the mighty power of Venus notoriously suffer dire fates. Unfortunately, the American media, or the NYT, has decided on this day to treat us to a love story among the powerful – thus, the report on that über-rebarbative couple, Nicholas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni. At least it is slowly penetrating the Americanosphere that this romance “made in France” is pissing off the French royally. For some reason, the air of the can-can still lingers over “France” in the American media, as though it were a country de

elephant crusoes

Alas, this week is going to be so crowded that LI is going to have a hard time doing what we promised: that is, writing about the social animal. We wanted to go at this thing in classic philosopher-bot style by goin’ back to the greeks, scanning through Aristotle and Plato for some quote, then scanning up rapidly to Descartes. You know the drill. Instead, I think we will be entering the subject through a different route. Instead of Aristotle or Plato, Pliny. And instead of going at this all straightforwardly and with a tie on and chalk dust on the seat of my trousers, I’m gonna go at it crookedly (I saw I am Cuba last night – a film seemingly designed to be shown by IT’s Kino Fist! – and was impressed by the insane camera work, which seemed to be the expression of a camera man who had been taken with, nay, traumatized by Kertesz’s distortion photographs for the first episode involving riotous American sex tourists exploiting virtuous Cubans – and I thought, why not me?) and introduce

The murderer and the punctum

The true fan of real crime books must be subject to moments of panic – or so say I, a fan of real crime books subject to moments of panic. Those are irrational, lock the door moments. I am still haunted by a very little moment in Serpentine, Thomas Thompson’s book about Charles Sobhraj, the killer who preyed on tourists on the “hippie road” in Asia during the 70s. The moment occurred, if I remember correctly, when Sobhraj and his pathetic lover were living in Pattaya, a resort town in Thailand. Upstairs from them was a Dutch couple, who’d come down with a mysterious sickness (Sobhraj would befriend people, give them poisoned food or drink, then nurse them through their long sickness until he had seized all of their money, then dispose of them). The lover went up to visit them one day and found them bound and gagged, seated on some chairs. And she decided not to see this, so she simply shut the door. (At the time, she was pretending that her lover’s wealth and the disappearance of vari