Skip to main content


Showing posts from December 12, 2021

Baja by Karen Chamisso

    Wrapped in a digestive absence the citizen of beachtowels opposes a dead eye to the inanity of the ocean’s endless flourishes,   as though, perpetual spectator she already knew the myriad of plots there - expecting no watery mouth to pronounce the aggrandizing period.   As – so we are told – the gods to demons the demons to neuroses are fled belly down, on her territorial towel she dreams of sex, food and money instead.        

A tap dance: luck and the unlucky in the land of the free

                                                                                  1. According to an essay by Arthur Machen (the English ghost story writer who fascinates Javier Marias, the great Spanish novelist), Grimaldi, the most famous clown of Regency England, was performing one night in 1803 in a play called “A Bold Stroke for a Wife” when he was told that there were two men waiting to see him at the stage door that led from the back of the theatre into the street. Grimaldi went to see what they wanted, and confronted two apparent strangers. One was in a white waistcoat, and had evidently been living in the tropics, such was the complexion of his skin. He greeted Grimaldi familiarly. Grimaldi was at a loss as to who this person was until the man unbuttoned his shirt and showed the clown a scar. The man was Grimaldi’s brother John. This was pretty amazing – John had supposedly gone down on a Naval ship years before. Grimaldi, of course, was overjoyed, and invited the men in. John

What will you give me for the extinction of mankind? Bids start at 600 trillion dollars...

  In Catastrophe: Risk and Response, Richard Posner, the most coldblooded judge since the eponymous Judge in Blood Meridian, considered the economics and law of human catastrophes. It was reviewed in Slate in 2004, from which I take this precis of one of his thought experiments.   “Consider the possibility that atomic particles, colliding in a powerful accelerator such as Brookhaven Lab's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, could reassemble themselves into a compressed object called a stranglet that would destroy the world. Posner sets out to "monetize" the costs and benefits of this "extremely unlikely" disaster. He estimates "the cost of extinction of the human race" at $600 trillion and the annual probability of such a disaster at 1 in 10 million.”   The six hundred trillion dollar figure is so absurd that it is … almost touching.   For that 600 trillion dollars, by the Escher-like economics favored by Posner, is equal to zero dollars. In as mu