Re: The Day

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This really is exciting. Having grown up a Cubs fan, though, the excitement scares me to death!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:32 AM
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This really is exciting. Having grown up a Democrat fan, though, the excitement scares me to death!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:42 AM
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That it's likely my grandfather will not only see the day but will help make it happen by casting his ballot to put the first black president into the White House shows that Obama has already been a force for change.

Having cast a ballot for Jackson (No! Not Andrew Jackson!) back in the day, it doesn't quite have the same feel for me. That said: Now THERE'S the kinda thing I like to see!

max
['Cookin' with gas.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:42 AM
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Locally I know our school board president, who is a nice woman and also a Mormon. I mention that only because she has been getting complaints about our relatively new, african-american superintendent of schools.

She is surprised (and mad) about the blatant racist calls, and says sometimes she feels like saying "Guess what, our next President will be black too so you better get used to it."

Normally she is a staunch Republican but I know for a fact she won't vote for McCain. I dunno if she will stay home or vote for Obama but either way she is not supporting the GOP this year.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:28 AM
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Having cast a ballot for Jackson (No! Not Andrew Jackson!) back in the day

You don't seem like the Cold Warrior type. In 1972 or 1976?


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:36 AM
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I met Jesse Jackson in the Atlanta airport once. It was about 2 am, we were both changing planes. I told him I didn't agree with his positions, but admired his determination to keep running. He told me that I would change my mind, eventually.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:39 AM
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||

Huh. The U.S. debt clock has run out of numbers.

|>


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:01 AM
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Slogan idea to expand Obama's appeal into previously untapped areas: "Being president over the next four years is going to be hard, dirty, thankless work. Why not let the colored fellow do it?"

"OBAMA 08: Picking up the trash and sweeping up the yard"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:04 AM
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He told me that I would change my mind, eventually.

And it was true! TLL no longer supports Jesse's run for Pres.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:09 AM
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That Jesse, he's like psychic, or something!


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:12 AM
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He told me that I would change my mind, eventually

That is awesome.

As is Becks's story. Sniff.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:29 AM
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What ever happened to That Colored Fella's blog, now that you've reminded me of the phrase? I really liked him.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:30 AM
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I confess that I always get a big lump in my throat when I think about the historical implications. My grandmother would have loved to be alive for this. It makes my father's mixed signals that much more annoying and frustrating, too.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:34 AM
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Having grown up a Cubs fan, though, the excitement scares me to death!

Having grown up a Red Sox fan, I'm not sure if my elation over the 2004 postseason fueled my irrational optimism about the presidential election or helped saved my sanity after the crushing disappointment. Probably both.

I'm torn about what to do election night. I want to be able to celebrate with people if the forces of good prevail, insha'allah, but four years ago that didn't turn out so well. Plus, I'll cry either way, and that's something I prefer to do alone.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:48 AM
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14; In either case, having plenty of liquor on hand is probably wise.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:50 AM
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The best part of working the election this year is that when the polls close I'll be so busy that I won't have time to think about returns or commentators or pundits or any other breath-holding bullshit and by the time I get home to Rah I'll be so tired that one drink will send me straight into the land of drunken screaming/crying.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:52 AM
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A fine article by David Samuels in the New Republic on America's first non-white President.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 12:50 PM
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Rachel Maddow had NC Governor Mike Easley (blasted term limits!) as a TV guest last night, and he predicted a "reverse Bradley". It was kind of a great little story actually, & I wish I could pull up some MSNBC video to share (my work computer has the RAM of 1998).

Easley says his barber(!) tells him that many NC voters who say they won't vote for Obama among friends will change their minds when they're alone in a voting booth with only the future of their own economy & security to think of.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 1:05 PM
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his barber(!)

Do not discount the barber pole!

http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/article.php?art_id=1090

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lopez31-2008aug31,0,1469277.column


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 1:21 PM
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The Easley story makes some sense - surely the run-of-the-mill voter won't cut off his/her nose to spite his/her face. If racism decides this election, the country is done for in ways far beyond the state of the economy.

A conservative (R) friend with an even more conservative (R+) dad told me that his dad's savings have lost one-third their value in the last month. I asked how his dad was going to vote. Answer: he's going to abstain. Can't bring himself to vote D; won't vote R.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 1:46 PM
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The Easley story makes some sense - surely the run-of-the-mill voter won't cut off his/her nose to spite his/her face.

You have a very optimistic view of the run-of-the-mill voter. Lots of them have no problem with nasal self-mutilation. The way they see it, that face had it coming.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 1:49 PM
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Some Republicans haven't had noses since 1980.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 1:51 PM
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The real tragedy here is that Emerson's hogs just fucking love nose-flesh, too.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 1:56 PM
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||
Remember a week or so ago, when I asked for the odds on the Dow finishing below 8500 by Halloween? 8575.19 at today's close. Maybe tomorrow!
|>


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:09 PM
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Wow.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:14 PM
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Still planning to start the 529 plan, but it's looking more and more like there's lots of time left before this thing has bottomed out.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:18 PM
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MetLife next? Say it ain't so, Snoopy.
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2008/10/metlife-xl-capital-credit-default-swaps.html


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:22 PM
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Remember the good old days when the average Joe was screwed but the bosses were doing just fine? Now the bosses are screwed too.

It is a good time to start a 529. Don't try to time the bottom. We are close enough now.

In a way I've been lucky, coming at the end of the baby boom. I barely avoided the Vietnam draft. My Dad and Granddad avoided WWII. I'm avoiding the current slump so far, meaning I don't HAVE to cash out now and take my lumps.

The person who stops putting in and starts taking out now is the person who is screwed. My target date for cashing out is 2020, so right now I'm slowly buying low, like usual, and ignoring the screams. the key will be whether I can hold onto my job through this slump.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:28 PM
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The Dow Jones Wiki is not trying to update. I guess everyone is waiting for some sort of levelling off.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:30 PM
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The "Dow 32,000" guy is still a working pundit. It's amazing how durable those guys are.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:32 PM
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36,000. And he's not just a pundit, he's Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:40 PM
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Why is he under the secretary? Is he hiding? He should be hiding.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:42 PM
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Maybe he's hiding because he's under the secretary. That's frowned on some places.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:44 PM
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Huh. You know, I hadn't set up my 401K equivalent at the new job yet -- I figured I'd give myself a little time to get used to the salary. This is starting to feel like sensible market timing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:45 PM
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Well, my stock market portfolio has gone down 50% since last Friday morning. But at least I wasn't depending on it for anything. My grandfather was fortunate enough to not be alive and retired at a time such as now when its diminution could have caused him some problems.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:48 PM
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grandfather is fortunate enough


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:50 PM
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It is hard to think of anything to say right now that does not sound trite.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:51 PM
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I am trying very hard not to think about my mother, who is retired and living off savings/investments, but is still fairly young (late sixties). This is really bad for her, I think, although I don't know details yet.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:51 PM
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LB,

The devil is in the details. You'll need to find those out. Personally I'm buying some silk long john's for my sister's birthday this year. We haven't exchanged gifts in a long time, but this year she needs the help It's gonna be a cold winter with cold walks around Chicago. Someday I'm thinking she may need to move in with us, but a house with a married couple and another person can have problems.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 2:55 PM
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Personally I'm buying some silk long john's for my sister's birthday this year.

I would go with wool. Benefits of silk, probably even warmer, and easier to care for if you get the right stuff.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:00 PM
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a house with a married couple and another person can have problems.

Or comedy- "Tripp's Place" will be the "Three's Company" of 2010!


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:02 PM
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Yes, if there's another woman in the house and the husband is wild and crazy, the wife always gets jealous.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:04 PM
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26: Eh, if you contribute to any sort of tax-advantaged savings fund on a monthly basis, the dollar-cost averaging should take care of finding the market bottom for you. At a certain point, you just accept nice-looking valuations and ignore that you could lose 10-40% more in the short-term. So long as you don't need the money anytime in the next 5 years, it shouldn't matter too much anyway.

At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Also, I hope my parents still love me after I mentioned this stock as a good-looking value. At $15. (And it is a good value at that price! Provided it doesn't get killed by a 40% devaluation of the peso, it should be worth $25-30!). Oi.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:07 PM
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See, Tripp, Emerson has already outlined the plot of the first three episodes.

I wonder if we will return to Depression era entertainments of movie musicals and live vaudeville. HSM 3 and Pussycat Dolls are pioneering the effort.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:07 PM
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An update of "Three's Company" in which the hot babes are Jack's wife and Jack's sister? That's just edgy enough for the 21st century.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:08 PM
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What the heck is a "tax-advantaged savings fund"? I have never seen the words "savings" and "fund" together like that.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:09 PM
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True story, right after college I shared a house with two unmarried women. It was a very interesting dynamic. My mother refused to visit. I was my mother's oldest and she still had high standards at the time.

Yup. My roomies were a placid blond Norwegian and a fiery redhead Irish lass who had won something like second runner up in the Miss Montana contest, which isn't really saying as much as one might guess, but she had a great singing voice.

We were not nearly as funny as "Three's Company." I blame our writers.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:13 PM
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My mother refused to visit

See, if you had pretended to be gay it would have been hilarious, and your Mom would have visited. Or had a different reason not to visit.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:17 PM
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TLL,

There could be something in the depression era entertainment market. I've been starting back on my guitar, just in case things zig differently than I expect. I've also booked a couple industrial video shoots, keeping my toe in. Who knows for sure where this thing goes? Ya gotta keep your options open.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:21 PM
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It is called the 401-KEG Plan.

REALITY CHECK, INVESTMENT ALTERNATIVE: If you had purchased $1000 of Delta Airlines stock one year ago, you would have $49 today. If you had purchased $1000 of AIG stock one year ago, you would have $33 today. If you had purchased $1000 of Lehman Brothers stock one year ago, you will have $0 today. However, if you had purchased $1000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the aluminum cans for recycling, you would have received $214 today at redemptions. Based on the above, the best current investment plan is to drink heavily & recycle. It is called the 401-KEG Plan.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:26 PM
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What the heck is a "tax-advantaged savings fund"?

A butchering by me of name for the general class of tax-exempt savings vehicles.

IRAs (Roth and regular), 401Ks, 403Bs, SEP IRAs, Keoghs, 529s, and on and on and on.

In some you pay no taxes on the money you put in and then what you pull out is taxes as income, in the others you pay income taxes on what goes in but what comes out is untaxed. Either way, you don't pay any capital gains or income tax on transactions or distributions by securities held in those accounts, and you can only withdraw from them under certain circumstances.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:36 PM
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The math in 50 doesn't work for me. Say $8 for a six pack. 5 cents redemption gives 30 cents back. So for the 125 sixpacks I get for my $1000 I only make $37.5, which still beats AIG.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:37 PM
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The 401-KEG plan needs updating. Even cheap beer is now something like $0.60 a can ($24 for a 36-pack at my local packie, plus deposit), so you only end up with about $80.

togolosh, with his beer-snob ways, is clearly missing the point.

(Of course, my habit is to buy $8 six packs, pay the deposit, then soak the labels off to use for my homebrew, so nobody gets the deposit back).


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:40 PM
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Someone is stealing aluminum tire rims off the cars in our neighborhood, so they're thinking along the same lines.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 3:42 PM
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Ezra Klein is having an epiphany today

Rich Man's Populism

And so when politicians dance around the stage swearing that they'll never touch a family that makes even $150,000 a year, their populism rings untrue. Because it is untrue. To most of the country, no one makes $100,000 a year. It's five percent of the nation. And not a five percent they run into very often. But it's a five percent that pundits live amongst, that reporters live amongst, and that politicians live amongst, and all of those folks agree that it's not very much money at all, and so folks in the rest of the country rightly conclude that the political class is oriented towards itself and has no real understanding of how the rest of America lives or what they need.

Just freaking beautiful, the whole thing.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:03 PM
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That second link in 55 is excellent. Too bad half of Ezra's commenters are missing the point.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:15 PM
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It may be 5% of the nation making over $100K, but what percent of regular voters?

Also, every time someone links to EK, I have to really resist the temptation to point out that that headshot is just totally freaking adorable. I'd hate to objectify the guy, though.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:19 PM
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And here's Nouriel Roubini's solution(s) which does, I think, include a jubilee.

Just write off all personal debt:credit-cards, mortgages, etc. Then the gov't would recapitalize the banks. GM, for example, has depended too much for too long on interest as a major revenue stream.

A jubilee declaration by gov't would involve an unconstitutional "taking" in America, I think.

(Sorry, Becks)


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:20 PM
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People used to call Yglesias cute, so he deliberately grunged himself up.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:21 PM
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A jubilee declaration by gov't would involve an unconstitutional "taking" in America, I think.

Per Kelo, there is nothing wrong with a taking if it benefits "the people" indirectly as through private investment. The Constitution doesn't say property can't be taken, just that it needs to be paid for. So we are just haggling.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:16 PM
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Inherent in the concept of the jubilee is that no one pays for anything - hence unconstitutional. That said, I'm nearly to the point of pulling all of my money out of California debt because I can't see any way for the state to not be completely fucked. I'm trying not to panic out of a sense of social obligation, but I'm also wondering if 30 rounds of buckshot is nearly enough.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:25 PM
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I doubt that there is anything unconstitutional about changing the legal procedures for collecting debt, which is what you'd be doing (to you can't for debts of certain types undertaken at certain periods). Your not taking anyones property, your just modifying the method by which they get the courts to collect for them.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:37 PM
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That said, I'm nearly to the point of pulling all of my money out of California debt because I can't see any way for the state to not be completely fucked. That said, I'm nearly to the point of pulling all of my money out of California debt because I can't see any way for the state to not be completely fucked.

If California is so fucked that its debt isn't safe, we're all fucked regardless. Cash doesn't taste any better than bonds do if it comes to that.

My state, on the other hand, ugh. How is an economy that depends on mass tourism and military pork going to look 10-20 years from now? My wife and I have fairly secure jobs, and I'd really rather not think about relocating while my son is in school, but long term the prospects for this place just don't look very good.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:38 PM
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I remember back in 2000 a lot of talk about how 40 percent of Americans thought they would end up in the top 1 percent eventually, and 20 percent thought they were already there.

The conservatives made a lot of hay back in the day (maybe as recently as two years ago?) that the top 5 percent paid more than half of the income taxes.

The "Rich Man's Populism" link suggests (to me) the idea that if only Obama were talking about taxing people $75k or more, then he would seem more in touch with ordinary Americans and would win more votes.

I don't know what to say to that, other than please. Do people really agree?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:39 PM
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If California is so fucked that its debt isn't safe, we're all fucked regardless. Cash doesn't taste any better than bonds do if it comes to that.

For all that California is rich and awesome, it is in really poor financial shape for a few reasons. A wide-reaching anti-tax ballot measure passed in 1978, the results of which are that property taxes are incredibly low and it takes a 2/3 majority to raise taxes. There is a 2-term limit on the state legislature, and it's been gerrymandered such that the Republicans can never go below 1/3 or hope to reach 1/2 of the legislature, so the only way they can exercise power is to block tax increases. Finally, there have been no end of ballot measures passed to dictate spending, so the legislature actually has very little room to maneuver, even if it wanted to.

Of course, all of this stuff is hugely popular (Prop13 is probably about as popular within California as Social Security). The state is in denial of its financial situation. For all that Arnold has done a lot of reasonable stuff, he's really dropped the ball on this.

Now, it's possible that we could have a ballot measure or something to restore sanity to the state budget process. I'm just not sure if that will happen before or after the state defaults on some of its debt. I am afraid it will happen after.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:56 PM
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Around here someone who's making $50,000 thinks they're very well off. Housing prices are lower but not much else. I don't have the heart to tell them. Conservatives will say that relative poverty isn't poverty, and they're half right, as long as the contrast isn't experienced. I had an eye opener when I was in a youth cultural group and saw the other parents, who wer making $50,000-100,000, grovelling before the board of directors -- people who could write a $10,000 check any day of the week. Communist peasant though I was, I thought very little about the super-rich, because I never encountered them

The economy depends on people always strivign for more, whereas civil peace depends on people being contented with what they've got. If 20% of the population thinks they're in the top 5%, the established order wins.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:57 PM
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65: OK, fair enough, California's political system is fucked up enough that it's conceivable that the state could stumble into default. OTOH it's hard to imagine a scenario where GO debt doesn't get paid in full, with interest, sooner or later.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:05 PM
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that property taxes are incredibly low

This is not true- and the recent turnover of properties at ever higher value has left some counties with an unexpected surplus.http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_10655989

This will evaporate soon enough.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:09 PM
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link here
http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_10655989

Anyway- property taxes are not the problem. The legislature, and the people through the initiative process, make drunken sailors look like monks.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:12 PM
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67: I haven't pulled my money out yet, because it is hard to imagine. It's just less hard than it used to be.

Conservatives will say that relative poverty isn't poverty, and they're half right, as long as the contrast isn't experienced.

Yup. People in rich areas spend a lot of their money on positional goods (houses on hills or condos downtown, expensive cars). If your neighbor's car isn't three times as expensive as yours, who cares?

Also, power law income distribution, typical person in the midwest probably knows someone making two or three times as much, while some latte-sipping coastal elite probably knows someone making ten times as much.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:18 PM
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Property taxes are in general low. They're fixed at 1%-ish, and can only rise at 2% per year while you own your house.

But yes, it's the spending and the 2/3 majority to raise taxes that are the big issue.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:19 PM
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Proposition 13 destroyed the public schools, which used to be among the best.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:20 PM
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IOW, Howard Jarvis is personally responsible for the mouse piss in B's hair.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:26 PM
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71. 1.25% plus special districts. Only low in comparison with states that have no income tax.

Prop. 13 is holy writ.

Proposition 13 destroyed the public schools, which used to be among the best.

Depends on the district. But you knew that.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:29 PM
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Tax base for LA county is $1.1 trillion. @ 1.25% that's $1,375,000,000 in tax revenue. Somehow I don't feel undertaxed.
http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jul/09/local/me-assessor9


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:38 PM
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I don't feel undertaxed

And this is why the state is fucked.

Also, note that the tax base went up despite real estate values dropping. Assessed value only changes when you sell.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:50 PM
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I did TLL last time. Could someone else explain things for him this time?

How often do republicans feel undertaxed, TLL?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:51 PM
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Left off a zero. $13,750,000,000. Thirteen and three quarters of a billion dollars. For LA county alone. Population 9,948,081. $1382 for every man woman and child.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:54 PM
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75

Tax base for LA county is $1.1 trillion. @ 1.25% that's $1,375,000,000 in tax revenue. Somehow I don't feel undertaxed.

Actually $13.75B.

People who have owned the same house for many years do end up undertaxed.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:55 PM
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How often do republicans feel undertaxed, TLL?

The reason Prop 13 passed in the first place is because property taxes were rising faster than people's willingness to pay. There is no something for nothing here or anywhere else.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:57 PM
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I don't feel undertaxed

And this is why the state is fucked.

Also, note that the tax base went up despite real estate values dropping. Assessed value only changes when you sell.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:57 PM
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People who have owned the same house for many years do end up undertaxed.

Sometimes called the elderly. On fixed incomes.

I am all for sane tax policy, but there is a lot of money going to the government here in CA. Perhaps those elected to do so can figure out how to spend what they have, instead of what they want.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 7:00 PM
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At yeswecarve.com, the Barack O'Lantern.

And they have stencils !



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 7:07 PM
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Stock market futures still red.

Over in comments at Rittholz, someone mentioned that the DJIA went down 93% from 29-33.

But the financials were only leveraged to 10% back then. Current leverage is 3-5%. So we could drop much further than 93%.

Cheers.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 7:11 PM
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I have hated, loathed, despised Republicans for forty years to the extent of never breaking bread with certain relatives. The youth of America is starting, just starting, to understand why.

Supply-side kills people. It could kill billions of people if we are not very very careful. SS economics should be treated in social situations like the most virulent kind of anti-semitism or racism. "Tax cuts create growth" should get the same response as "bring back the ovens."

All tax cuts are evil, always. All tax cuts are evil always.

A good example is your median worker making #37.5k. Give her a $2k AMT break or, by pooling resources and risk, give her $10k worth of health care?

For now, I will simply call Obama "wrong" in calling for net tax cuts. He could be lying.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 7:31 PM
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Don't listen to the haters! Silk long johns are the best.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 8:34 PM
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24: My wife called and told me about the Dow. The first thing I said was "Apo was right! I thought he was high. Apparently I was high, and he was sober."


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:57 PM
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Nikkei down 10-12%
Yen up 5+% against the dollar
Dow Futures point to under 8k tomorrow

Bush will calm us all in the morning

Sweet dreams


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:12 PM
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[Scoop Jackson]You don't seem like the Cold Warrior type.

Oh, that was cold.

In 1972 or 1976?

I was five in '72. Musta been '76!

Remember a week or so ago, when I asked for the odds on the Dow finishing below 8500 by Halloween? 8575.19 at today's close. Maybe tomorrow!

Time for new odds for Halloween.
10:1 in favor of the DOW finishing below 8000.
5:1 in favor of the DOW finishing below 7000. 20:1 before March.
1:1 in favor of the DOW finishing below 6000, 3:1 before March.

The question is, is how much intervention will the Feds engage in to keep the DOW up above 5000.

Trading floor 2008-2018: 3000.

max
['That ought to be about right.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 1:44 AM
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I was five in '72.

But aren't you a Chicago Democrat? You would have been qualified to vote at least two or three ballots.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 2:13 AM
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89:Wasn't it you at Yggles, Max, who did a historical correlation of the Dow to GDP, and came up with an average of 50%/6-7k? That was a good comment.

This Late Thread at Thoma's has got me up all night, reading & thinking. Most of the commenters seem to agree with me about inquality destabilizing economies, but I am not satisfied with their arguments, and the specific question was about bubbles.

I can think of many examples of more equal societies having recessions...although the recessions of the 50s & 60s were not that damaging...and certainly examples of very unequal societies being relatively stable.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 2:31 AM
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But aren't you a Chicago Democrat?

Not the last time I checked.

You would have been qualified to vote at least two or three ballots.

Yeah, but not for Scoop Jackson.

Over in comments at Rittholz, someone mentioned that the DJIA went down 93% from 29-33.

Ah. That's what you meant by Stirling being overoptimistic. (Yes, I rather miss oldman.) Well, stocks are off 53% from the 2000 peak. Problem is that the 2000 peak was 200% of GDP. '29 peak was 90-130% of GDP.

max
['Ouchie.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 2:32 AM
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That's what you meant by Stirling being overoptimistic. (Yes, I rather miss oldman.)

I think Stirling has been surprised by the depth of this current crash, and sees it as an opportunity for macro change.

What I meant by Stirling's optimism was what I see as his hope that people will act rationally and in the best interests, eg, the energy/web economy.

I remember oldman as more accepting of the possiblity that we can all go batshit crazy.

I gotta go study or distract myself with a game or fiction or something. I am getting way overexcited again. The world will end with or without me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 2:40 AM
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That was a good comment.

Thank you!

Most of the commenters seem to agree with me about inquality destabilizing economies, but I am not satisfied with their arguments, and the specific question was about bubbles.

I think the third variable connecting the two is the rather drastic increase in the amount of credit. (That is: year over year without end, the amount of credit created cannot outpace the amount of actual economic growth. The kicker to this being that GDP includes some growth in the amount of credit as real economic growth. The amount of credit will contract, either less painfully, or more painfully.) Lots and lots of extra credit means rich people getting lots of dough and helping drive bubble creation. The fish come in at the tail of the bubble and drive it to insane heights.

I remember oldman as more accepting of the possiblity that we can all go batshit crazy.

I have no problems with that concept. Sometimes nations simply go mad, as this one has. See Germany, France, Russia, the UK, etc.

I'm surprised Stirling is surprised at the size of the crash.

max
['700 point on a 14000 DOW is one thing, 700 on a 300 DOW another.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 2:55 AM
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Grist for the Emersonian mill hogfarm:

There are two faulty assumptions here. First, saving America's banks won't save the economy. And second, the economy doesn't really need saving. It's stronger than we think.[...]
It turns out that John McCain, who was widely mocked for saying that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," was actually right. We're in a financial crisis, not an economic crisis. We're not entering a second Great Depression.[...]
When banks failed during the Great Depression, there were not so many foreign investors that were cash-rich (or these days, oil-rich) and appreciative of how some of the bank assets, personnel and brand names in the United States could be used to earn profits in the future. And don't worry about foreign ownership: Americans would benefit if foreigners brought money into our economy to enable banks to continue to lend.
And if it takes a while for banks and lenders to get up and running again, what's the big deal? Saving and investment are themselves not essential to the economy in the short term. Businesses could postpone their investments for a few quarters with a fairly small effect on Americans' living standards. How harmful would it be to wait nine more months for a new car or an addition to your house?
Casey B. Mulligan is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago.

Shorter: Not to worry, if things get bad, we can just sell ourselves into debt slavery!

max
['They smoke a lot of crack there, don't they?']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 3:11 AM
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Christ, that's the dumbest argument I've read yet. Apparently you can become a professor economics at the University of Chicago without actually knowing anything about the economy. Milton Friedman would be surprised to find out that the banks aren't that important.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 3:58 AM
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Whoops. Forgot the link.

max
['Good times!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:46 AM
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10:1 in favor of the DOW finishing below 8000.

@ 9:37, NYT had the DOW down to 7886. Obviously not a closing number.

max
['Deleverage the hedge! Whee!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:34 AM
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My prediction is that this will bottom out at 7100 or so. This is based on careful study and analysis of numbers pulled out of my ass. Actually, it's just half the peak value from a year ago.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:39 AM
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This is based on careful study and analysis of numbers pulled out of my ass.

And yet... I find myself as persuaded by this as by anything else I've read on the economy lately.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:26 AM
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I thought it would bottom out at 8500, utilizing a similar ass-based methodology, but it's plainly going way lower than that. 5800?


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:29 AM
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Every night, I go home feeling guilty that I didn't open the 529 plan yet. Every morning I wake up feeling like I was really smart.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:46 AM
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101: I think that's the ass-backwards-based methodology.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:46 AM
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ass-backwards-based methodology

Listening to Marketplace on public radio yesterday, I came to a new appreciation of the ass-backwards-ness of finance and financial reporting. I think Kai Ryssdal might commit on-air seppuku if this whole thing goes on a bit longer. Dude sounded seriously depressed and confused yesterday.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:50 AM
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0058.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:54 AM
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We're definitely in the realm of Keynes' "animal spirits" here. Why are people selling now? Why did they sell last week, and then buy? To figure out what's going on, we would need to know what random neurons are firing in the heads of traders.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:54 AM
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Yeah, I'm sure that foreign investors will be even more eager to buy American financial instruments once they've lost half of what they put in. It also seems odd to think of foreign investors possibly willing to rescue us as a sign of fundamental strength.

I never read Tabarrok's petition carefully, much less analyze it because I'm not able to, but it looked like junior Chicago school fanatics trying to to cash in ideologically. On the one hand they're true believers, and on the other they've got pipelines to influential people in finance and also in the media, so their point of view has become intuititive for a lot of the electorate.

People in econ tell me that libertarian Chicago schoolers are only one part of the profession, perhaps 5%-10% of the total, and that most economists are moderate Democrats, but the Chicago School people have a much greater public prsence. They're ideologues and willing to play the political game and write pop books, whereas the moderate and liberal mainstream economists are elite scientists and above the battle.

And yeah, there are exceptions like Sawicky and Baker and young Galbraith, but as far as I know none of them are well-respected within the profession. A lot of the pros deny that the elder Galbraith was an economist at all.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:59 AM
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As I said on Trollblog, whenever economists fail they blame the other, inferior social sciences, such as sociology and psychology. We apparently have an unstable system which will collapse is The People have a mood swing, but economists only tell us that after it happens. Before the collapse they just tell us about what a splendid science economics is and how lucky we are to have them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:02 AM
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If Ryssdal does off himself, we won't be able to masturbate to him any more, but nor will we have to remember how to spell his name. Once the stonemason has it correctly carved on the tombstone, it can be forgotten.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:06 AM
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If the markets are so rational, then psychological effects shouldn't be possible. Take that, Zombie Friedman!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:07 AM
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So, if it's investor psychology to blame, couldn't the economists just confidently assert that the nose dive is expected to bottom out at, say, 7100, thus psychologically manipulating investors to chill out as the Dow approaches 7100?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:07 AM
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Does anyone understand the Iceland mess? How can the value of the banks have been more than the GDP? What would be the effect of the UK suing them on behalf of British depositors? It sounds really dumb to me, but Gordon Brown is supposed to be pretty smart, and he does have a PhD in economics.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:08 AM
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I'm hoping for the British Navy to blockade Iceland and then be destroyed by the plucky Swedish and Norwegian navies and air forces, with a little help from their Socialist neighbors to the east. That's what I'm hoping for. And then seeing a Vasa put on the British throne.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:13 AM
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Yeah, I'm sure that foreign investors will be even more eager to buy American financial instruments once they've lost half of what they put in. It also seems odd to think of foreign investors possibly willing to rescue us as a sign of fundamental strength.

I think that author is of the mindset that sees the concept of the nation-state as a bizarre anachronism.

"One particular geographic area has an aversion to MONEY that comes from another geographic area? The people of one geographic area are reluctant to move to another one if capital moves there? This kind of irrationality will never do in the world I envision."


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:14 AM
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I know this is exactly what Shearer would say, but wouldn't you guys normally be pretty sympathetic to an argument saying that the stock market is not a great measure of American economic prosperity?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:26 AM
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To figure out what's going on, we would need to know what random neurons are firing in the heads of traders.

Dude! It's been the same graph every day since they stopped shorts. Day opens down, as the brokers throw in the leftovers from the previous day, plus the overnight panic sales from the fish. Immediate upturn as the the people fish buying on the tip move in. That's not enough to overcome the selling pressure from the fund selling into the rally but it gets you back to par. Then the slow wander down during the afternoon as the funds are poised to dump. Lastly the forced sale at the end of the day as the funds move to adjust their positions before close.

It's the forced selling at the end of the day that's doing all the work. That's the hedges deleveraging.

There's no fundamental floor here.

max
['Really.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:27 AM
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Is that article really saying that the crisis is okay because it's confined to the stock market? That would make even less sense.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:29 AM
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Hold on, Iceland is hoping for a loan from Russia to bail them out?!

What a world we live in. Seriously. If you were raised and indoctrinated in the cold war era such as I was this is just so, so weird. I mean, did Gobachav tear down the wall so the Russian mafia would bail out Iceland?

Does this mean we'll have to get our Russian brides from Iceland now? This is all so confusing.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:30 AM
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The weird thing, in the sense of "horrible", is that one major set of influential pop economists is even worse than the Chicago school --cornucopians like Laffer and Kudlow and the Dow 36000 pair. The two Dow 36000 guys are both in very influential positions today.

Phil Gramm got his PhD from the influential U. of Georgia econ dept.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:31 AM
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Does anyone understand the Iceland mess? How can the value of the banks have been more than the GDP?

The same way the value of all derivatives was up to 672 trillion dollars. They evaded sensible reserve requirements, which allowed them to make a bunch of loans, but also meant they owed a lot of money. They ratcheted/levered themselves up to more than Iceland is worth. Margin call: busted.

What would be the effect of the UK suing them on behalf of British depositors?

Not much. 10% of nothin' is still nothin'.

but wouldn't you guys normally be pretty sympathetic to an argument saying that the stock market is not a great measure of American economic prosperity?

Well, yeah! But all those other measurements have been in the toilet for awhile.

max
['That's how you knew it was a bubble.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:34 AM
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For me, putting a Vasa on the British throne is the important part, but I don't trust Putin to come through. He's an evil one.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:34 AM
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119: Krugman's book "Peddling Prosperity" describes this pretty well.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:34 AM
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max, if you're right in 116 (I haven't studied graphs of the S&P's trading day movements) aren't their very obvious ways to make money off of that?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:36 AM
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My guess that in Iceland, as opposed to the US, the careers of the people who fucked up will be seriously impacted. Gram may still be the new supersized Secretary of the Treasury.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:37 AM
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121: My money says Putin discovers he's heir to the Romanovs, and one of his nieces gets flown in.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:40 AM
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A little bit this reminds me of something my small town banker brother-in-law told me once.

A local shop was having trouble and was writing bad checks. The bank was charging the huge fees they do for bad checks, which amounted to usury but got around the regulations. You know, a $25 fee on a $5 check.

The bottom line, though, was that while on paper it looked like the bank was making a huge profit on the deal the actuality was when the shop went under the bank would get bupkes.

Sometimes the balance sheet lies.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:42 AM
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Canada should have moved into the Kevlavik base when the US moved out. Their new bid for colonialism is doomed to fail if they don't have homefield advantage against the Russians.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:43 AM
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Chicago School people have a much greater public prsence.

Because they say things that powerful people want to hear. They key to success in any institution is sucking up to power.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:44 AM
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120: Right, I don't really expect the UK depositors to get their money, but would Iceland be even worse off if the British government goes after it. It seems to me like cooperation is more likely to promote some semblance of stability.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:47 AM
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Canada should just join Iceland and Sweden as new Russian provinces.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:48 AM
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Chicago school people, starting with Friedman, write more and better popular books for the general audience. Kenneth Arrow, et al, are supposedly liberals, but they're Scientists. And they're liberals in a very particular antipopulist technocratic way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:50 AM
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119: Haha, I read that as "DOW 3600".

Ha friggin ha.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:52 AM
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128,131:Has everybody read the Naomi Klein speech give at Univ Chicago? Nice. Available at Digby's if you haven't.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:59 AM
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Because they say things that powerful people want to hear. They key to success in any institution is sucking up to power.

That is true outside of institutions too. If you can't beat 'em join 'em.

Unfortunately power corrupts and all that, so you have to give up any moral principles you may have to do it. So there is that.

The dilemma: who to be, who to be? Karl Rove or John Emerson? (John, no offense, I'm saying you have stuck to your principles but Rove is richer.)


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:11 AM
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How can the value of the banks have been more than the GDP?

World financial assets are 3.5 times world GDP, and I don't think that even counts CDSs. So we are all Iceland.

Seriously, though, financial assets can be greater than GDP for the same reason your net worth is greater than your income. It's just that it's easier to leverage up on the individual scale than the world scale, because if everyone in the world tries to cash in their assets at once it's a bigger issue than if one individual tries to sell all their assets.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:13 AM
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Thanks, PGD, that makes sense. It's just that Iceland's were like 9 or 10 times GDP.

One more thing. Krugman quotes Justin Fox saying

Did anybody else notice that when Hank Paulson was describing in his press conference today what the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act enables Treasury to do, the first thing he listed was "to inject capital into financial institutions"?

That wasn't how Treasury initially advertised its Troubled Asset Relief Program. It was sold as a way to get the market for mortgage securities moving (or, to use the jargon, liquid). Lots of academic economists objected that liquidity wasn't the problem, it was insolvency. What Treasury needed to do was recapitalize financial institutions and take equity stakes in return..

I know that this is a really dumb question, but could someone define what liquidity means in this context, and what is meant by insolvency. Is it just that more people are demanding their assets from banks than the banks can pay which means that they're insolvent? (I think that's wrong.) They have a lot of assets which are worthless which means that they don't have anything to lend to people? (Also wrong, I'm sure).


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:19 AM
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Chicago school people, starting with Friedman, write more and better popular books for the general audience.

I'm not sure this is true. Do you have examples?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:21 AM
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I tried to do block quotes, but they didn't work. The two paragraphs from "Did anybody else notice..." through "and take equity stakes in return" were a quotation.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:21 AM
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Right, I don't really expect the UK depositors to get their money, but would Iceland be even worse off if the British government goes after it. It seems to me like cooperation is more likely to promote some semblance of stability.

The thinking on the part of the British appears to be that Iceland is fucked anyway, so they may as well try to get back whatever money they can.

Seems reasonable.

It'll be interesting to see who's still left standing when the LEH CDS auction finishes.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:22 AM
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BG, there is actually something of a debate among economists about the difference between liquidity and insolvency, or whether there really is a difference.

A liquid asset is an asset you can easily sell and convert to cash. If your creditors demand money from you immediately and you need to sell something quickly to pay them back, then you better have liquid assets.

An illiquid asset is an asset that cannot be sold quickly or easily, but is still worth something. That can happen if the market is thin -- e.g. a rare bottle of wine might be valuable, but it's hard to make contact with the world of wine collectors to actually convert it into cash.

Finally, being insolvent is having no assets.

The liquidity / solvency debate is about: do I own valuable things, it's just that it's hard to sell them quickly in current market conditions? Or, are the things I own actually worthless, so I'm insolvent?

As I said above, the distinction can become sort of metaphysical. During economic crises things get particularly hairy, as the crisis itself can make formerly valuable assets worthless -- I may have bonds for companies that had good cash flow and solid business before the crisis, but when the crisis hits they go bankrupt and can't pay the bonds, making my assets worthless. That's just how a crisis feeds on itself.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:26 AM
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"Freakonomcs", "Discovering your Inner Economist", and "Capitalism and Freedom" come to mind, but there's a lot of pop Chicago econ out there. The stuff right libertarians and little-government Republicans read. Becker and Posner, maybe; they aren't pop, but they write for the general reader.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:34 AM
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That's sort of what I'd always thought that the terms meant. I just haven't understood how people have been using the terms lately.

Are people who are claiming that this is a liquidity crisis the ones who are saying that all of these mortgages are worth something; it's just that nobody is willing to trade them right now. Would that be because the houses themselves can't be easily sold? (Theoretically, people could pay off mortgages even if they've got negative equity.)

I think that my questions are basically stupid. This is really confusing.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:37 AM
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BG- Banks need to be liquid, ie have ready funds, to both make loans and meet the demands of the depositors. The banks are hoarding cash to prevent a run on the bank. Because depositors are pulling out funds left and right the banks are reluctant to do any lending, which is how they make money.

The solvency issue is trickier in that a banks assets and liabilities are basically backward. The cash they have belongs to the depositors, and the assets are the loans. When borrowers aren't paying on the loans, the assets are worth less, if not exactly worthless. The regulators make the bank change the balance sheet, and voila, insolvent, hello, FDIC.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:39 AM
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I think that part of what confuses me about all of this is the extent to which banks are actually holding the bad loans. Are the bad loans all mortgages or ar there poorly performing business loans too?

It seemed like the whole point of mortgage backed securities derivative market was to pass the loans off to other people. I mean, I've always understood that a deposit was a liability and that a loan was an asset. It just didn't seem like banks had assets anymore, since they were always selling the loans. I mean, I guess I thought that they just had the cash from the loans that they sold. Of course, if nobody wants the loans, you don't have more cash on hand to lend and need to keep money in the bank to pay depositors. Just thinking aloud.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:47 AM
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"Freakonomcs", "Discovering your Inner Economist", and "Capitalism and Freedom" come to mind, but there's a lot of pop Chicago econ out there. The stuff right libertarians and little-government Republicans read. Becker and Posner, maybe; they aren't pop, but they write for the general reader.

Freakonomics (which is the most popular of these books) doesn't fit in with what you're saying; it's mainly glib econometrics and self-promotion, and doesn't have any consistent political implications.

The glibertarian stuff (Steven Landsburg is the worst offender, but there are plenty of others) and the law/econ stuff (Posner) is pretty bad; I'm not sure Becker does that much writing for the general reader (has anyone here read any of his books?)

On the more liberal side of things, off the top of my head you have Richard Thaler (also UChicago though, but the opposite of what you consider UChicago to stand for), Robert Frank, Robert Schiller, Paul Krugman, Viviana Zelizer (a sociologist, but one who writes about relevant econ sociology issues in a very accessible way; definitely a better read than Posner).

It looks to me that the big difference is that only the glibertarians have a blog network full of people who sit around promoting each other.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:56 AM
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This isn't necessarily a crisis of conventional banks, although they are affected it's a crisis of financial institutions more generally. Not just the investment banks -- GE stock is plunging because they made so much money from GE Capital, which is a financial institution that provides consumer credit. It's true that the mortgage securities were sold, but they were sold around the circle of other financial institutions. In turn, many of the bank assets are still dependent on those other financial institutions remaining solvent. The whole distinction between conventional banks and other financial institutions that generate credit got very blurry over the last decade. (This is often referred to as the "shadow banking system", one way to look at what we're seeing now is

"Balance sheet contagion" is one term used to refer to the way in which the balance sheets of very different financial institutions are linked together, and one going down pulls others with it.

Obviously, BG, none of your questions are stupid -- perhaps just some reflexive insecurity made you say that -- I don't think anyone who doesn't work directly in the industry at a pretty high level really understands what is going on right now. And even those that do are pretty in the dark, nobody gets it fully. Risk in the financial system outran the capacity to understand it except in general terms.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:02 AM
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It also seems to me that the glibertarian movement is really out to sea with the collapse of the housing and stock markets. For the past few decades, their arguments have been essentially conservative: the status quo is good even if it seems unfair, and if you mess with it bad things will happen to everyone. When bad things start happening, no one believes this anymore.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:03 AM
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Whoops, forgot to finish last sentence, first paragraph--

(This is often referred to as the "shadow banking system", one way to look at what we're seeing now is a massive run on the shadow banking system that is rippling outwards into the wider economy).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:04 AM
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Freakonomics does have lots of political implications. It assumes and reinforces a glib freemarketer point of view. Read what it says about race. He makes a big thing about being anti-KKK at the beginning, but there's nothing liberal in it.

Perhaps the liberal books are better, but they're not effective; perhaps I just should have said "more effective". You meet ten pop freemarketers for every pop liberal, and liberals tend to make non-economic arguments for their views -- which is OK, because we're finding that economics is pretty limited.

I haven't even heard of Thaler and Zelizer, and as a sociologist Zelizer doesn't count in terms of what I'm saying.

The Austrians aren't Chicago School, but they have a right wing pop presence too.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:05 AM
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BG, don't be ashamed. The economists are faking it at the moment. It turns out that it's all psychology and animal spirits after all! Ha! The joke is on us!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:07 AM
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145: Freakonomics is crap, but not because it's explicitly right-wing. But it still represents obnoxious economics triumphalism -- now that we've solved the economy and become a universal social science through "natural experiments" and instrumental variables, we can stop being so boring and take up our place at the New Yorker cocktail party. It is to economics as Malcolm Gladwell is to journalism.

There's a whole genre of pop economics that in retrospect will totally date to the market triumphalism of the late 90s.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:08 AM
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Just track what he says about race in the book and tell me it's not right-wing. He's very glib and devious, but he simply assumes all kinds of nasty stuff.

In one place he says that the seventies were a great time for criminals because of liberal laws, but then reagan cracked down. Then he says that blacks were doing fine until the crack epidemic hit, and that was the main reason that things went bad for the black communities. Isn't that bullshit? The main reason? But also, if you join the two statements, it turns out that the period (1970s) when blacks were improving their lot was the same period that criminals were running wild. What do we make of that? Just nasty stuff.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:12 AM
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I have to go walk McManus's dogs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:13 AM
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I haven't even heard of Thaler and Zelizer

This has nothing to do with how "effective" their books are; Thaler as far as I can tell has sold far more books than Cowen or Becker. He has a book out now ranked #256 on the Amazon list.

I suspect you haven't heard of Thaler simply because he doesn't have a blog.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:17 AM
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On the more liberal side of things, off the top of my head you have Richard Thaler (also UChicago though, but the opposite of what you consider UChicago to stand for), Robert Frank, Robert Schiller, Paul Krugman, Viviana Zelizer (a sociologist, but one who writes about relevant econ sociology issues in a very accessible way; definitely a better read than Posner).

These guys are bourgeois common-sensical liberals who seemed really left because of the right-wing hegemony. (And Thaler is not even that, he's not really liberal at all). I guess Frank and recent Krugman (over the last few years) might be verging on really left. But no real leftist gets play in America. Look at Krugman's stuff from the mid-90s, the stuff that got him the NYTimes gig -- it reads now as class Slate stuff. He started to go really Democratic in 2000, but only started to go genuinely left over the last few years as Bush made him question everything.

I'm a bourgeous liberal myself, but I can say that the lack of genuine left economic thinking in the intellectual marketplace is seriously hurting us now. We're having to face the paralysis of major capitalist institutions without real deep, considered, long-term thought about alternatives. The guys you mention never fucking dreamed that we'd need a public alternative to the profit-driven financial system.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:19 AM
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151: yep. Dead on.

There are some foundational assumptions that economists often make that tilt you in a right wing direction. The assumption of rational behavior; perfect information; assuming that you can accurately measure total utility in total dollars, etc. A lot of these assumptions are often defensible in that they're necessary to do the math--but, they're going to bias your results & make them not reflect important considerations that policy makers should not ignore. The scrupulous economists recognize these limitations & are up front about how their assumptions throw their results. The other ones, don't. And there's an annoying trend towards trying to colonize all of the social sciences


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:19 AM
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He [Thaler] has a book out now ranked #256 on the Amazon list.

a book called "Nudge", a title which adequately reflect the spirit of helpful minor tinkering at the institutional margins that you will find within it.

Basically, over the last 20 years "left" came to equal "not a right wing whack job or a smug libertarian". That is not its proper meaning.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:21 AM
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washerdryer:max, if you're right in 116 (I haven't studied graphs of the S&P's trading day movements) aren't their very obvious ways to make money off of that?

Sure, if you're nimble and have cash. I'm sure there are people making money. Unfortunately, the people who usually makes lots and lots of money have their nuts in a vise and are the ones doing the selling. The feedback loop is closed so forced selling begets more forced selling, both in terms of straightening out positions, because of panicking, and because of margin calls (that's where the investments banks and the like come in).

max
['Everybody is trying to make ends meet.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:25 AM
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152: but noted race realist Steve "Seafarer" hates Levitt with a passion, so he can't be that bad.

He's glib as hell, but he really isn't out to promote a free-market view of things. His point is that through simple use of statistics, economists can discover things about the world that's avoided the grasp of all other social scientists. Annoying and ridiculously wrong, yes, but I don't think he has a problem saying "the free market didn't work" if he can pull out some statistics to show that.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:27 AM
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definitely a better read than Posner

This caught my eye, if only because I read judicial opinions written by Posner with a fair amount of regularity and, whether or not one agrees with the result, they are generally a good read. He is, fairly so IMO, considered among the best writers in the legal world.

(And I'm not just saying that because he ruled in my favor last time I was in front of him and I have a reasonable chance of drawing him for a panel next week... )


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:29 AM
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These guys are bourgeois common-sensical liberals who seemed really left because of the right-wing hegemony.

I wasn't even saying that they're left; I was disagreeing with the notion that only the Friedmanites are good at getting books out. Ultimately I'm saying is that you can't fully judge the economist profession by the fact that McMegan has a blog, and she links to Tyler Cowen, who links to Bryan Caplan, who links to Richard Posner, who links to David Friedman, who links back to Cowen who links back to McMegan, all while promoting some ridiculous book like "A Farewell to Alms."


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:32 AM
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Is this the econ questions thread? I found BG's questions illuminating and would like to add one:

Why do large businesses depend on so much credit for daily expenses?

I've always assumed that if you ran an ice cream store, you make payroll and buy new ice cream using the money you took in last month selling ice cream. You probably took out a loan to start the business, and you would take out a new loan to get a fancy soft-serve machine, but you don't borrow money every month to make payroll.

But now I hear that banks and big manufacturers borrow money every day. So if Jane from accounting makes a 100 copies of something, the money to do that is borrowed. Why do big companies work like this? Do small companies also work like this, and I just didn't know it? Do companies have to work like this, or do they just prefer to?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:33 AM
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160: heh, when pressed on this I may have to backtrack a little. But I think she approaches economic/sociological issues from a much more commonsensical, human perspective.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:36 AM
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"A Farewell to Alms" is a great title for a freakonomist book! Has it already been written? Quick, write it, Babar!


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:36 AM
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Wow Di, I didn't realize that people had actual visual confirmation that Posner runs a courtroom in addition to writing three books a day.

From where you were, could you see what kind of speed he takes? Did his eyes have a crystal meth bulge, or did he have the smooth control of someone who uses Provigil?

Was he actually writing a book while you were presenting your arguments?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:38 AM
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Rob- there can be anywhere from a thirty to sixty to even ninety day lag from the time a company bills to the time it gets paid from another company. Only at the retail level is it cash on the barrelhead, and even then there is a lag from the credit card company.

The short terms loans are lubrication. Makes everything smoother and nicer. Strictly cash economies are slow. But loans require trust, of which there is very little right now.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:40 AM
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162: that's a great question -- whether to rely on debt or retained earnings or equity is a central question in corporate finance. I'm not really qualified to answer it, but a few things are --

1) when businesses are expanding investment for the future, or even day-to-day operations, cannot always be funded out of current cash flow. To take the ice cream store example, if you expect more customers next month than this month your new ice cream for next month might cost more than you earned this month.

2) Even when you are not expanding, there is often a gap in timing between your receipt of revenues and your need for immediate expenditures that has to be plugged with short-term debt. The most prominent example right now is state governments who won't get a lot of their tax receipts until April-May, but spend evenly every month, and so need short-term revenue anticipation borrowing to cover. But the same can happen with a business that, for example, won't get paid until after it delivers the goods, but has to pay suppliers for the raw materials needed to produce the goods right now.

3) Debt is tax-favored over relying on retained earnings.

U.S. corporations are actually sitting on a lot of cash right now, so many should be able to fund operations out of that without borrowing. But still...

Also, you should check out Casey Mulligan's NY Times piece today, which makes exactly the case that debt is less critical to ongoing business operations than we think it is, so we should leave the financial sector to fend for itself. There are problems with his argument, but at least he's being a consistent free-marketer and arguing that free markets are durable to disruption and shouldn't be instantly "rescued".


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:43 AM
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Already written, CN.
Something about the British upper classes descending into the lower classes, changing the genetic makeup of the lower classes and paving the way for economic growth.
A bizarrely over-promoted book, given how speculative it was.
Something that supports Emerson's thesis, I guess.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:44 AM
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TLL did a better, faster job in 166. It's economic lube.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:45 AM
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165: He does indeed exhibit an immense amount of visible energy. He also had his laptop open on the bench during the argument. I had assumed this was for purposes of having electronic versions of the briefs and cases ready at hand, but now that you mention it, maybe he was finishing off a quick chapter of a book between questions to counsel. I have no evidence that would support any allegations of doping.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:45 AM
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PGD, I've been trying to figure out the technical mechanisms by which the Fed conducts open market operations, and I find it really confusing. I read econbrowser and only understand about 1/3 of it. I'd like to get to 80%.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:47 AM
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But now I hear that banks and big manufacturers borrow money every day. So if Jane from accounting makes a 100 copies of something, the money to do that is borrowed. Why do big companies work like this? Do small companies also work like this, and I just didn't know it? Do companies have to work like this, or do they just prefer to?

A lot of people run like this too, by buying things on their credit card and paying it off at the end of the month.

As to why... if you want to be able to make payroll even if your biggest customer pays you a month late, you either need to keep a bunch of cash on hand, or have a line of credit with a bank who keeps a bunch of cash on hand for you. Once you have the line of credit, it's tempting to just use it all the time, and spend the pile of cash you were keeping around for emergencies. To stop using the credit, you need to rebuild your cash reserves by saving up a bunch of money. Which is always painful.

Also, banks want you to borrow money from them, so they are always telling people to "put your money to use instead of having it just sit there."

Running on credit is probably easier and cheaper when everything is going well, but there are obvious problems when things go to shit. Now that things have gone to shit, it looks completely retarded. In practice, it was just risky, and in order for things to be risky, sometimes they have to go bad.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:48 AM
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170: The case for brain doping is the same as the basic case for doping in athletes like Barry Bonds: How else to do you explain the performance? The argument doesn't meet legal standards, but it has a big effect on fans.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:50 AM
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I think that a lot of the bubble, and also many optimism errors by American military strategists, can be attributed to legally-prescribed amphetamines and antidepressants. If our leaders had any capacity for doubt, fear, unhappiness, and regret, they'd be less disastrous leaders.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:18 PM
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So, 90 minutes to go. Late day rally, or plunge into the 7000s?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:28 PM
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I'm guessing "plunge." For the reasons articulated by togolosh in 99.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:30 PM
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I'm going with plunge for reasons articulated by Di in 100.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:35 PM
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Late day rally to 100 up!

Maybe?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:36 PM
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175: I thought it was supposed to be government that they were going to shrink to the size where they could drown it in the bathtub, not the markets. Oops!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:37 PM
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Doping worked for Erdös, but strikes me as inadvisable for people in policy positions and positions of authority. (It may have been a factor in some of JFK's bad judgement too.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:38 PM
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"We couldn't get to the gummint, but we've drowned your retirement savings in the bathtub. Hahahahahaha!"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:43 PM
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BG:

I should be clear that when I speak of my BIL's small town bank the situation is NOT the same as the bigger banks, the giant corporations that do financing, or the investment banks.

My BIL's bank does things the old-fashioned way. It is privately owned and does all its loaning locally, mostly to farmers. It is under strict regulations and has frequent audits in order to get the FDIC insurance, and it has to keep so many liquid assets and it is not allowed to be leveraged very high.

Because of this it has also avoided the current problem, and will have money to loan to farmers like usual, but it only has enough money to loan to existing farm customers. It can't bail out the county much less the country.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:52 PM
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If farmers are suddenly the only ones with credit, hell has frozen over.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:59 PM
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Late day rally wins!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 1:31 PM
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Still 15 minutes to go. Everyone is taking every rally as an opportunity to get out -- the sign of a true bear market.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 1:37 PM
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184: Proving the one immutable truth of Wall St.: always bet against whatever I guess.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 1:42 PM
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Get rid of Bear Stearns and you get stern bears.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 1:42 PM
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If farmers are suddenly the only ones with credit, hell has frozen over. and the Vikes will win the Superbowl.

I saw an interesting local ad for Norm Coleman today against Franken. It showed Franken with a bunch of the really bad headlines about the terrible financial crisis right now and said something like "Financial times are terrible and Al Franken would be worse!"

My God.

Then I saw a really local ad for Walz, our Democratic congressman, and it slammed his Republican opponent for proposing we 'gamble in the stock market." That's the first ad I've seen which equates investing in the stock market with gambling and slams the GOP for wanting to gamble. I think it is a pretty good wedge ad. I can see some serious money has been dumped into our local MN races.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 1:52 PM
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Al Franken: Thank you, Jane. Well, the "me" decade is almost over, and good riddance, and far as I'm concerned. The 70's were simply 10 years of people thinking of nothing but themselves. No wonder we were unable to get together and solve any of the many serious problems facing our nation. Oh sure, some people did do some positive things in the 70's - like jogging - but always for the wrong reasons, for their own selfish, personal benefit. Well, I believe the 80's are gonna have to be different. I think that people are going to stop thinking about themselves, and start thinking about me, Al Franken. That's right. I believe we're entering what I like to call the Al Franken Decade. Oh, for me, Al Franken, the 80's will be pretty much the same as the 70's. I'll still be thinking of me, Al Franken. But for you, you'll be thinking more about how things affect me, Al Franken. When you see a news report, you'll be thinking, "I wonder what Al Franken thinks about this thing?", "I wonder how this inflation thing is hurting Al Franken?" And you women will be thinking, "What can I wear that will please Al Franken?", or "What can I not wear?" You know, I know a lot of you out there are thinking, "Why Al Franken?" Well, because I thought of it, and I'm on TV, so I've already gotten the jump on you. So, I say let's leave behind the fragmented, selfish 70's, and go into the 80's with a unity and purpose. That's what I think. I'm Al Franken. Jane?


Posted by: Al Franken | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 2:06 PM
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Al Franken: [cheers and applause for bespectacled Al Franken, in suit and tie] Thank you, Dennis. In December 1979, I sat behind this desk and asked you to think about what you could do for me, Al Franken. [SUPER: AL FRANKEN] ... Well, it's ten years later and I know you're wondering what the '90s will bring for me, Al Franken. [SUPER: AL FRANKEN] Another Al Franken Decade? No. No, in the '90s, I'm going to be looking beyond myself, Al Franken. [SUPER: AL FRANKEN] Because, frankly, I'm worried about the kind of world we're leaving to my children. I've had two this decade. A son, Joe. And a daughter-- Uh-- [can't remember daughter's name] ... Boy, this is embarrassing. Um-- I can see her face. She's - she's really beautiful. In fact, when I look at my kids, I see me, Al Franken. [SUPER: AL FRANKEN] ... And that's why the 1990s will be the Joe Franken Decade. Joe? [Five year old Joe Franken, a tiny boy in a checked suit and tie, rolls into view on a chair and joins his father - cheers and applause] Hi, Joe.

Joe Franken: Hi, Dad. [SUPER: JOE FRANKEN]

Al Franken: Ah, I under-- First of all, congratulations on, uh, first, on being my son. And, uh-- ... And on my decision to make the 1990s the Joe Franken Decade. Now, I understand you - you have a joke for us.

Joe Franken: Knock knock.

Al Franken: Who's there?

Joe Franken: Me.

Al Franken: Me, who?

Joe Franken: Me, Joe Franken. [SUPER: JOE FRANKEN] ... [applause]

Al Franken: And, Joe, your watchword for the '90s is?

Joe Franken: [enthusiastic, with pumping of fists] YES! ...

Al Franken: By the way, Joe will, uh, turn fifteen just before the close of the Joe Franken Decade. You - you did a good job, Joe.

Joe Franken: Thank you, Daddy.

Al Franken: Ah, and, for those of you who won't be, uh, in - be able to be in Times Square on New Year's Eve, here's a little peek at how the Joe Franken Decade will be ushered in.

[Cut to Times Square at night where a lighted ball with Al's face drops as a roaring crowd counts down to zero. When it hits bottom, green neon text reading "1989 - GOODBYE AL" switches to "1990 - HELLO JOE - HAPPY JOE FRANKEN DECADE" and Al's face is replaced with Joe's. Fireworks explode, the lighted ball ascends, the crowd roars. Extended cheers and applause as we dissolve back to the WU desk.]


Posted by: Al Franken | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 2:08 PM
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Dow closes down 1.49% Yay Pessimists! you win!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 2:13 PM
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I think that a lot of the bubble, and also many optimism errors by American military strategists, can be attributed to legally-prescribed amphetamines and antidepressants. If our leaders had any capacity for doubt, fear, unhappiness, and regret, they'd be less disastrous leaders.

I have always rushed to blame active malice in my moments of wondering how the hell the right can say or think Thing X but I have never considered this possibility. Do candidates, when if they disclose their medical records, also disclose their past and current prescriptions?


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 3:25 PM
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their past and current prescriptions

Cindy McCain says that don't prove nothin'!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 3:31 PM
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McCain has admitted to taking Ambien.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 3:34 PM
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The thing is there are long economic swings or cycles, and each one rewards a certain mentality. Other mentalities are mocked and driven to the margin. The 1982-2000 runup rewarded a combination of giddy optimistic magical thinking and sharklike selfishness / opportunism. The combination of those qualities could make you a lot of money.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 3:43 PM
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I'll put a nickel on it right now: his concession speech will consist of the curtain going up as he shouts at someone off-stage, "What do you mean I just ran an entire campaign in my sleep?" Then he looks out at the crowd and blinks at the lights.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 3:43 PM
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136

I know that this is a really dumb question, but could someone define what liquidity means in this context, and what is meant by insolvency. Is it just that more people are demanding their assets from banks than the banks can pay which means that they're insolvent? (I think that's wrong.) They have a lot of assets which are worthless which means that they don't have anything to lend to people? (Also wrong, I'm sure).

Others have replied but here is my take.

A liquidity problem is when you have enough assets to meet your obligations but you can't convert them into cash quickly enough. A solvency problem is when you don't have enough assets to meet your obligations.

So for example if someone kidnaps a child and demands a $1 million ransom even a rich parent may have trouble obtaining that much cash immediately. This is a liquidity problem. On the other hand a poor parent just doesn't have the money. That is a solvency problem. Note the need for cash here is unexpected, if a rich person knows they will need $1 million in cash on a future date they will arrange their affairs to make the money available. Also it is prudent to keep some cash for unexpected reverses, thus the common advice to keep 6 month's living expenses (or whatever) available in liquid form.

Now banks depend on all their depositors not demanding their money at once. This is because generally depositors are entitled to get their money back (if they demand it) faster than banks are entitled to get payment on their loans. You can take money out of your checking account any time you want but you don't have to pay back your 30 year mortgage any faster than the payment schedule even if the bank really needs the money now. This always involves risks (another thing that can go wrong is interest rates shoot up so the banks has to pay more interest on its deposits than it is collecting on its loans) but in normal times it works out as deposits are fairly predictable and if one bank is unexpectedly a little short of cash it can borrow from another bank which unexpectedly has more cash than it needs. Obviously these are not normal times. Banks are reluctant to lend to each other for two reasons. They are worried they won't be repaid. And all banks are more worried than usual that their depositors might unexpectedly want to withdraw their money, so they want to keep a higher than usual amount of cash on hand. This desire for extra cash makes them reluctant to loan to each other (or anyone else for that matter).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 3:51 PM
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"Ambien: for that three o'clock in the morning call.

Obama: not on Ambien.

Will he be tough enough"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 3:56 PM
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can be attributed to legally-prescribed amphetamines and antidepressants

Eh, if they were that harmful, they wouldn't be so widespread. Amphetamines are one thing, psych meds quite another. I mean, you probably don't want me running your country, but if I'm off my meds you really don't want me running your country (I might legalize everything in a fit of anomie). So, if you're forced into the position of my running your country, you'd want me medicated.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 4:00 PM
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?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 4:06 PM
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195: It's like if Darwin's finches started hedge funds.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 4:07 PM
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Eh, if they were that harmful, they wouldn't be so widespread.

???????????????????


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 4:07 PM
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142

Are people who are claiming that this is a liquidity crisis the ones who are saying that all of these mortgages are worth something; it's just that nobody is willing to trade them right now. Would that be because the houses themselves can't be easily sold? (Theoretically, people could pay off mortgages even if they've got negative equity.)

There is definitely a liquidity problem, what is uncertain is to what extent it is also a solvency problem. Almost every first mortage is worth something, a house may be worth less than the amount of the loan but very few (completed) houses are literally worth nothing. Second (or higher) mortgages and some slices of mortgage pools can be worthless or nearly so. People are reluctant to trade mortgages now because it is difficult to accurately value a mortgage when there is a substantial chance of default. And people are worried about fraud.

Note mortgages don't have to all be worthless for banks to be insolvent. If a bank is leveraged 10 to 1 (ie every $100 in loans is funded with $90 in deposits and $10 in equity) the loan portfolio just has to lose 10% for the bank to be insolvent.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 4:09 PM
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I'm just saying that if you must have lunatics running your political system, better a medicated, rather than an untreated, lunacy.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 4:10 PM
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144

It seemed like the whole point of mortgage backed securities derivative market was to pass the loans off to other people. I mean, I've always understood that a deposit was a liability and that a loan was an asset. It just didn't seem like banks had assets anymore, since they were always selling the loans. I mean, I guess I thought that they just had the cash from the loans that they sold. Of course, if nobody wants the loans, you don't have more cash on hand to lend and need to keep money in the bank to pay depositors. Just thinking aloud.

Washinton Mutual (WaMu) and Wachovia got in trouble because of mortgages they had in their loan portfolios. Banks can't just hold cash, they need to loan it out at higher interest (net of expenses including defaults) than they are paying on deposits. Any of these loans can go bad (and are more likely to do so if the economy tanks). Some banks have exposure to homebuilders. And credit card loans could become a problem.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 4:19 PM
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199 and 204 assume that there were treatable conditions there in the first place, and that people were not using these medicines to make them "better than well." Given US government history with speed alone, that is a deeply dubious proposition.

In unrelated news, it turns out that transcripts don't show when you're talking reallyreally fast, and therefore it's possible to look a lot more coherent on paper than you felt when you did the conference presentation in person.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 4:24 PM
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155

I'm a bourgeous liberal myself, but I can say that the lack of genuine left economic thinking in the intellectual marketplace is seriously hurting us now. We're having to face the paralysis of major capitalist institutions without real deep, considered, long-term thought about alternatives. The guys you mention never fucking dreamed that we'd need a public alternative to the profit-driven financial system.

This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. When problems were found with Newtonian mechanics, the answer was Einstein and relativity, it wasn't a return to Aristotle. Most left economic thinking is irrelevant because like Aristotle it is hopelessly mired in the past.

And of course you should separate economics and politics. Pure economics should no more be left or right than mathematics or physics.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 4:28 PM
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assumes there were treatable conditions

Considering the last eight years, I think I'm on solid ground here. Hell, our whole political discourse is a "treatable condition", and if the polls are any indication, the patient may survive.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 4:33 PM
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159

but noted race realist Steve "Seafarer" hates Levitt with a passion, so he can't be that bad.

I don't thiink this is exactly right. Sailer appears envious of Levitt's success (as he does of others like Macolm Gladwell) and he has critiqued Levitt's abortion prevents crime theory but I don't think hates with a passion is accurate.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 4:35 PM
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||

I'm going to consider this the "fiddling while Rome burns" thread and put my liquor bleg here. Does anyone have recommendations for a good whisky that retails in the $30-50 per bottle range? I don't care too much for it myself, but figure I should have some around for guests.

|>


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 4:40 PM
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209: well, we can put aside the psychoanalysis and just say that Mr. Seafarer was a bit obsessed with debunking the Levitt abortion/crime theory, and thus I conclude that the sinister racial implications of such theory couldn't have been that bad.

207: Most left economic thinking is irrelevant because like Aristotle it is hopelessly mired in the past.

Eh, this strikes me as simply ignorant. Almost all ideas can be found to have roots in the past; for just about any contemporary political debate, you can dig up some 18th-century political debate that has the same basic shape. "Let's lower taxes" and "disturbing the status quo could have scary consequences for everyone" weren't invented yesterday.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 4:47 PM
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re: 210

How hardcore are your possible guests?

The 'safe' choice in Scotland is usually Glemorangie. Most people like it and it doesn't have that TCP/chemical taste of things like Laphroaig.

If they are into whisky, then something like Laphroaig or another Islay malt? Something milder like Bruichladdich?

I assume by whisky you mean Scotch. If you mean American, I have no clue.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:03 PM
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If you mean American, I have no clue.

Well, apparently you can speak like one.

(Has "I have no clue" been picked up on the other side of the ocean, now?)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:10 PM
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Well, this would be for people who specifically want to drink whisky over other spirits. They'd probably be somewhat hardcore, or at least the people I'm thinking of at the moment would be. The 10-Year Laphroaig looks doable, as does standard Glenmorangie. Would there be a big difference in accessability between the two for people newer to whisky?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:15 PM
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re: 213

I wasn't aware it was an Americanism.

Would, "ah dinnae ken?" work better?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:16 PM
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Would, "ah dinnae ken?" work better?

In one of those audio clips you sometimes do, yes, that would work better. Just written, it's a toss up.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:18 PM
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The only whisky I have here right now is a bottle of Lagavulin, which, since you don't like it, isn't really a "safe bet for guests" kinda thing.

Unless calvados counts? I have some of that, too. Oh! And some Jacopo Poli grappa. So, a big liar is what I am.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:20 PM
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In one of those audio clips you sometimes do, yes, that would work better. Just written, it's a toss up.

First, I think "wouldn't it be great if all of ttaM's blog comments were audio comments"? Then I imagine a world where every blog comment is an audio comment, and I am terrified.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:29 PM
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Actually, if we're going to go into the liquor blegging...

If one is to be properly stocked for guests, what should one keep on hand? Realistically, I really should start thinking about entertaining now that I can. If I wanted a basic, stocked bar for standard drinks, what do people keep on hand?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:32 PM
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In unrelated news, it turns out that transcripts don't show when you're talking reallyreally fast, and therefore it's possible to look a lot more coherent on paper than you felt when you did the conference presentation in person.

As someone who reads reams of transcripts for a living, let me assure you that the person preparing the transcript has a massive amount of control over how coherent you sound. I've seen brilliant orators reduced to babbling idiots on paper and I've seen babbling idiots (okay, me) made to sound articulate and collected. If you have the opportunity, make friends with the person preparing the transcript.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:35 PM
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re: 214

Laphroaig is a bit of acquired taste, I think. It has a sort of medicinal/antiseptic/petroleum-byproduct sort of flavour. People who like it, love it. A lot of people don't though.

Glenmorangie is much milder.

There are websites with tasting notes. I am not a big whisky drinker (I like it, but it really kills me in a way that, say, brandy or gin do not).


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:36 PM
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http://www.malts.com/en-gb/Helpingyouchoose/TheFlavourMap.htm

Quite useful.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:42 PM
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Unless calvados counts? I have some of that, too. Oh! And some Jacopo Poli grappa. So, a big liar is what I am.

If either of those counts as whisky, so does any distilled spirit.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:50 PM
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the person preparing the transcript has a massive amount of control over how coherent you sound.

Yeah, I think this varies. In this instance it is truly a verbatim transcript, and my natural punctuation was apparently clear enough that I'm just having to go through and change a few commas to semi colons and that sort of thing. It probably also helps that I don't tend to have um/uh/you know issues (at least, not in formal speech).

At one point when I was reading a lot of transcripts, I started to use "(ph)" myself, absentmindedly. I still use it as an informal note when I need to remember that it's not an accurate spelling.

My favorite transcription error is the poor guy who said "In the land of the wine, the one-eyed man is king." Except, of course, he actually said blind. I figured the reporter was just going on autopilot and not listening for content at all. How else could you think that made sense?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:54 PM
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221: Laphroaig can reasonably described as Scottish oil change. I quite like it, and it's cheap at the Trader Joe.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:06 PM
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210: Highland Park is much admired, and the 12-year can be had online within your price range. Macallan is very agreeable, a bit on the buttery side of Scotch. Glenfiddich is decent intro stuff.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:09 PM
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To me Laphroaig has something of an oxidized rubber soaked in iodine taste. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

As for Di's question, I'd say a decent representative of each of the following would be a good basic start: gin, vodka, scotch, bourbon, tequila, rum. Maybe also a brandy, and a blended whiskey like Chivas or Seagram's 7 or something. And some cans or bottles of soda, tonic, cola, lemon-lime, ginger ale. Angostura bitters. Some red and white vermouth.

This is just sort of a generic crowd pleaser/well drinks type set up. Most people can find something they'd like to drink in those options. Lemons and/or limes generally onhand helps too.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:16 PM
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Yeah, Macallan is a good choice, most scotch drinkers will at least like it.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:17 PM
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Blended whiskeys just so as not to wast the single malts on a mixed drink?

I'll back the Macallan's -- that was the scotch of choice for a law school buddy, and very pleasing for my relatively unsophisticated palate.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:25 PM
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229: Oops, I didn't mean Chivas, I meant Crown Royal. Most "Canadian whiskeys" are mild and well-suited to mixed drinks.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:30 PM
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OT: I am in the midst of trying to start a non-romantic friendship with a single straight dude. Why is that so hard? Any advice for how to do that without creeping said dude out?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:38 PM
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231: What's making it hard difficult? (Wasn't there a thread about this not long ago?)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:45 PM
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231: That's easy. Ask him for relationship advice regarding some plausible other. If his advice seems sincere, you win. If his advice smells of sabotage, that could get tricky.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:47 PM
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I'm sure there was such a thread, as it's prime Unfogged material.

I used to be very good at making dude-friends! In fact, I only started making girl-friends very recently. But it's difficult to make dude-friends when (a) said dude has not brought up his girlfriended status, (b) asking would make it sound like I'm making a move, which I'm not. Anyhow, I asked him if he wanted to maybe go watch a baseball game at a bar sometime, which is the closest thing I could think of to a cool female-friend outing, but maybe overdoing it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:49 PM
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re.:clueless:
I wasn't aware it was an Americanism.
Its facial etymology suggests that is is; i.e. words derived from common language tend to be British, where words derived from widely distributed media (books, tv, Doyle) tend to be American.
On the other hand, its opposite is definitely a Geekism, if not a Bay Aryanism.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:53 PM
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ask[ing] him if he wanted to maybe go watch a baseball game at a bar sometime

make[s] it sound like [you're] making a move, just with a connotation of condescension, depending on how you delivered it.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:56 PM
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What's wrong with being explicit about how this hanging out will be just as friends/not a date/not romantic/however you want to phrase it? A bit awkward, but it can clarify a lot, and you get it out of the way quickly.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:59 PM
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My BIL's bank does things the old-fashioned way. It is privately owned and does all its loaning locally, mostly to farmers.

Said BIL wouldn't happen to have a lawyer son who returned from a far-off state to work in the family business about three years ago, would he?

On whiskies, another vote for Macallan as a safe and very drinkable choice. Lagavulin is nectar of the gods, but only if you like it. Aberlour A'Bunadh might also be worth a shot. It's richer and punchier than the lighter whiskies, but very easy to drink. My wife and I generally prefer very different whiskies, but we both love that one.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:59 PM
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We're both into baseball, and he's in my field of study, so it's not condescension in that way. And he's very attractive, but not someone I should be dating. He was just lamenting the lack of opportunities to be social, as a new PhD student, and I agreed.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:00 PM
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231: Oh God, if you figure it out can you share the secret?! I'm having dinner tomorrow with a straight dude friend -- my counter offer to his "let's get together to watch this new DVD I got." (If you enjoy quirky drama, I'll add that up until recently he was sleeping with someone who up until recently was my friend and who regularly worried that he spent to much time talking to her about me. He called her "Di" once. Oops.) Nice guy, and I could really stand to make new friends, but it would help if the ex-friend hadn't planted the idea that he has a "thing" for me.

My advice otherwise, AWB, would be to talk about friends you could fix him up with. But, yeah, that apparently doesn't always resolve the ambiguities.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:04 PM
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I figure, you just act natural (a baseball game sounds like a great opening) and if you detect that he's got the wrong idea, casually say something like, "It's great to have a friend to hang out with!" or whatever.

And, hey! Speaking of baseball: Matsuzaka, please don't do that anymore.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:04 PM
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The OED's first citation for "clueless" is from 1862, "A strange story" by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton. And definitely English. The next is from someone in the RAF named Cyril. The first citation for "to have a clue" is from the original Brewer's (published 1870). It doesn't seem to be an Americanism in the least.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:05 PM
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I think a comically awkward explicit hash-settling would put you in good stead.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:06 PM
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243 to AWB, of course. As for Di, that situation sounds much more fraught. I wouldn't invite him over to watch a movie until you've hit a comfortable and clear friend groove.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:08 PM
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204: I'm saying that amphetamines, legal or otherwise, increase energy while leaving lunacy unchanged or increased.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:09 PM
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I think a comically awkward explicit hash-settling wouldput you in good stead be good comment fodder.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:10 PM
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244: You overestimate how large my apartment is. It is of the size that, if one were to watch a movie together, we would be in bed already. but I think getting an appropriate friend-groove going would be ideal. I don't tolerate questionable sexual tension well.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:12 PM
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208: Hell, our whole political discourse is a "treatable condition"

Our "whole political discource" is a [possibly] treatable condition caused, in some part, by amphetamine abuse.

I personally think that the best treatment for our political discourse in ingestion by hogs, but others disagree.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:14 PM
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No, the movie night recommendation was for Di. I thought you were going to watch baseball in a bar. Baby steps, people!

I watched the pilot of Dawson's Creek recently. In the very cute opening scene, between Dawson and Katie Holmes, she declares that puberty means they can't share a bed anymore. He protests, and they lay down awkwardly.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:14 PM
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What I meant to say:

208: Hell, our whole political discourse is a "treatable condition"

Our "whole political discource" is a [possibly] treatable condition caused, in some part, by amphetamine abuse.

I personally think that the best treatment for the cariers of "our political discourse" is ingestion by hogs, but others disagree.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:15 PM
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Thanks, people! The Macallan looks like the one I'll go with, since it's well recommended and it's in a promising place on the flavor map that ttaM linked to.

Di: M/tch pretty much gets it all. I've been building my collection more slowly since most people I know tend not to drink spirits, so I've only got vodka, gin, bourbon, cognac, and rum lying around the house, along with a few more exotic selections (Campari, Tuaca, a locally-produced absinthe). But thus far, no real complaints about the limited stock. Since I've got a fair amount of parties going on at the moment, I tend to buy big bottles of whatever medium-quality vodka and rum is on sale, but other stuff I tend to skew nicer.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:15 PM
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249: Sorry, Becks-style here.

I can share a bed with people chastely. For two years in a row now, I'll share a room at our conference with a married dude, with whom I am a happily chaste and yet intimate friend. And I can share a bed with gay dudes, mostly, without much misbehavior. But single straight dudes, man, I can't read them. It's not that I wouldn't sex up this particular dude, but that the failure to mention non-girlfriended-ness, at this point in our relationship, is unsettling and very familiar.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:18 PM
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I don't tolerate questionable sexual tension well.

Indeed. Little do most people know, but I am a pretty touchy feely gal at heart. I'm happiest when I can just lean against someone or touch their shoulder for emphasis in conversation or whatever. If there's the slightest ambiguity about the meaning of said physical contact, though, I pretty much freak out.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:19 PM
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Di: As you're building your bar, I recommend getting a few things that you like to make, so even if you can't offer all possible liquors, you can say, "Who's up for negronis?" Mmm.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:20 PM
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253: Exactly. He touches me at every opportunity, and flirts in incredibly aggressive ways, but calls me "Dude." No fellow who calls a lady "dude" intends to sleep with her. And yet! His body says yes!

He was wearing a short skirt, and danced like he wanted it, is all I'm saying.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:22 PM
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I'm touchy too, but I'm also bad at maintaining perspective in unclear situations. (No, Wrongshore, she won't fling herself off a bridge if you refuse her advances--she's just a touchy person too.)

It's a good thing I wasn't single very long.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:22 PM
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It's not that I wouldn't sex up this particular dude, but that the failure to mention non-girlfriended-ness, at this point in our relationship, is unsettling and very familiar.

Ah, so it's not really a question of preferring a wholly platonic friendship, but of preferring a wholly platonic friendship unless he's not already attached. If I read that right, you don't want to disturb the ambiguity until you are sure how the ambiguity shakes out?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:22 PM
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Hey, where does Balvenie go on the Malt Map? Also, how do you pronounce it? ball Veiny is how I order it, but is it BALL-ve-Knee?

My fiancee and her family made fun of me for mispronouncing amalgam the other day. (Imagine "camel-gram" instead of ("a-mall-gum"). Dad's a dentist, so they had been hearing the word all their lives.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:25 PM
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As you're building your bar, I recommend getting a few things that you like to make,

the problem with that approach is that I am pretty happy with vodka on the rocks, beer or wine. Bor-ing! I can make a decent sazerac, but I've never otherwise been very sophisticated on the mixed drink front. I have a vague idea of what goes into a Manhattan, because I have a relative who drinks those, and a Mai Tai because that's dad's specialty. But otherwise... Lost.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:26 PM
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No fellow who calls a lady "dude" intends to sleep with her.

No, this is just one kind of game.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:27 PM
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No fellow who calls a lady "dude" intends to sleep with her.

I don't think this is universally true.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:27 PM
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257: Plus, I would probably fuck things up somehow if I tried to do him, like I always do, and am taking a hiatus from people I might potentially care about. But yes, generally speaking.

On the other hand, I have a very keen desire to have an affair this month, as I'm going to be seeing the guy who broke my heart (such as it is) in May soon and I would like to have the defense of not caring so much.

I.e., it's about half about him and what I don't know about him, and about half about me and what I don't know about me. OTOH, he is nice, and seems to be making overtures that we should be friends!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:27 PM
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It sounds like an enjoyable pickle, AWB.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:29 PM
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He protests, and they lay down awkwardly.

Man, Dawson was a douche from the word "go," wasn't he?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:30 PM
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It's awful, WS. Sigh. I get myself into a lot of these pickles, and wish I were better at not trying to resolve them immediately. In the meanwhile, maybe we'll go watch a game together and be buddies, which would be good.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:31 PM
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On the other hand, I have a very keen desire to have an affair this month

This, it seems, is an exceptionally shitty position to be working from. Not at all attracted to dinner guy, but, eh, it's been awhile... Quite attracted to second, thoroughly inappropriate guy who is sending pretty decisive signals but who I know is no good for me, but, eh, it's been awhile... Really, it's hard to make good choices when one is thinking, dude, I just need a fling.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:32 PM
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If you can draw boundaries around attractive, inappropriate guy, then it seems as though the choice is clear.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:34 PM
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262: AWB is Becks-style for sure. Um, I'd bet you know you should stay away from this guy, sexually anyway. Wrong reason for maybe getting involved with him; confused motives in becoming friends with him.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:35 PM
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I think maybe we want what we want for a reason. Maybe the flags up on this one are more that he's the sort of hyper-masculine swaggerer I would have been into like ten years ago, except smart. If you're still into Guy Who's No Good, maybe you need to go there to get that particular kind of GWNG out of your system.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:36 PM
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264: I'd never seen Dawson's Creek, before, and my impression of James Van Der Beek was formed entirely by Rules of Attraction, a satisfyingly slimy movie in which he played a slimy man.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:36 PM
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I have no idea how to draw boundaries, Wrongshore. I would have thought that was clear by now....


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:36 PM
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I'd bet you know you should stay away from this guy, sexuallyemotionally anyway.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:37 PM
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I think AWB and Di both need to go to summer camp. Ah, summer camp! So sweet, the last days, the parents' arrival, the world restored, the liaisons severed. You say you'll write, but you won't after Thanksgiving.

There should be a way in adulthood to have hermetically sealed social situations.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:39 PM
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272: Amendment noted, okay. Just don't mess with him emotionally if possible. (I'm on this kick lately: playing games with people bad!)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:40 PM
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There should be a way in adulthood to have hermetically sealed social situations.

There is, but you pay by the hour.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:42 PM
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If you're still into Guy Who's No Good, maybe you need to go there to get that particular kind of GWNG out of your system.

Believe me, I've been trying to figure this one out for a LONG time. I'm no good for him either, and we both know we're no good for each other, and yet... It's inevitable, of course, at some point. Or maybe it's all just the thrill of resisting the sexual tension.

A little Becks style...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:42 PM
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I don't "play games" (which, btw, is maybe my least favorite phrase, as it seems to mean that the person you're speaking to is actually "playing games," when, more likely, you're both confused about what you want).


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:44 PM
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It sounds like you've gamed this through, Di. What would be the downside of going for Sexy Inappropriate Man? Social awkwardness? Uneven expectations? Criminal charges? Disappointment?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:46 PM
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What would be the downside of going for Sexy Inappropriate Man?

Boiling rabbits takes its toll on you eventually.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:50 PM
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Social awkwardness, definitely. Uneven expectations, probably. Hell, he's not even all that "sexy" -- I don't, apparently, go for conventionally attractive after all. We've been doing this ridiculous on again, off again flirty thing for like two years now. He reads me like very few people I've ever met, which scares the ever loving crap out of me, and he's quite a bit older. He's even met Rory, and they are mutually enamored with one another.

I actually had thought we were past this until we had a "friendly" drink last week...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:54 PM
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277: Right, I just meant that giving signals that you want to be just friends when you're actually assessing the possibility of seducing the other person is, um, it's, um.

As I said, this is just a kick I'm on lately.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:55 PM
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281: Self-protective? It's only game playing if you are intentionally manipulating the other person for your own persona (sexual or emotional) gratification,


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:57 PM
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281: What's so awful about trying to assess the reasonableness of friendship with someone who's not unattractive? It seems a lot better to me than immediately responding libidinally to someone who is attractive, which is more what I've done in the past. How is that a game?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:59 PM
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Ah, summer camp!

I've mentioned this before . . .


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:03 PM
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I think it's much kinder to send "just friends" signals when you are still evaluating than to send "possible seduction" signals.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:03 PM
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285: You have a point.

I suppose I'm only thinking it's game-playing territory if you're consistently making "just friends" remarks, and then at some point suddenly make a move on the person. I can see a completely valid response on the person's part: Whoa, whoa, what the hell? Friends! Cut that out!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:08 PM
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Back to the really important topic: assembling even a vaguely well-stocked bar can be damn expensive, especially if other people like to drink from it. I like to keep the basics, mentioned above, on hand for all those people-over-for-drinks-situations that I mostly never get around to engendering, plus I like a lot of obscurish/not very popular stuff, like Becherovka and genevre and slivovitz.

For a while, after my return to Austin, I followed a plan of splurging on one bottle of spirits a month, and thus was starting to build up a more than just barebones bar, but then I decided to curtail that due to job/money situation, plus it wasn't quite keeping up with my consumption habits anyway, no other drinkers required. That is, if I have, for example, Chartreuse in stock, I'll tend to drink a fair amount of it fairly regularly, whereas if I don't have it I don't particularly miss it on any regular basis, but only in a "one ought to have that available, oughtn't one?" sense.

It's hard out here for a ponce, I tells ya. But I'm sure Di will invite me over for a drink any day now.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:09 PM
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I'd prefer to assume that I were to suddenly bust a move on a person, they'd be pleasantly surprised, if surprised at all, Parsimon.

Also: did Chip Caray just say, "Dice-K has a no-no through five!" The fuck, dude?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:11 PM
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The path parsi cautions against in 281 seems like the cautious and respectful one to me. Allowing sexual signals to fly back and forth when you have the overwhelming prediction that you'll end up just friends seems like the sketchier option, although even that falls into the all's fair realm.

There's something to be said for conserving the energy that you're inclined to just put out there, but not so much that it dampens the sexual Brownian motion.

(Apo? Apo?)


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:12 PM
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289 before 286. 286 seems quite right.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:12 PM
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Come with me to the liquor store, M/tch! You can tell me what to buy and mix up the drinks thereafter. You just rattled off four things I've never even heard of.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:13 PM
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re: 258

I'm pretty sure the first syllable doesn't rhyme with 'ball'. It rhymes with 'gal' [although I'm fairly sure the first vowel is very short so almost missing].

Or at least that's how I read it. I can't remember having heard it said before, but I'd bet rather a lot that 'ball' for the first syllable is wrong. And the stress should be on the second syllable.

B'lVENie. Not BALL-veiny.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:14 PM
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sexual Brownian motion

Is that what the kids are calling it these days?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:15 PM
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He made them up, Di. Or rather, they aren't drinks at all. Becherovka is from urban dictionary; it describes the act of trafficking a Ukrainian girl by promising her Hannah Montana tickets. Genevre was one of Lady Bird Johnson's dogs. Chartreuse is a color, and Slivovitz was the first D.J. in Appleton, WI to play "race records".


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:16 PM
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286: No one's talking about abusing a friendship with seduction. It's just about being happy with a friendship where seduction seems like a bad idea. I'm not a rapist, for Pete's sake.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:16 PM
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292: the VEN halfway between Venn and vain?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:17 PM
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295: Why did Pete ask you to stop being a rapist?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:17 PM
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295: So who's this Pete...?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:18 PM
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Come with me to the liquor store, M/tch!

You always know just what to say, Di.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:19 PM
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Pwnage be not proud.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:19 PM
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Funny you should ask. There actually is a Pete I could have seduced recently, but chose not to, because it would have felt exploitative. Pete!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:20 PM
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300: Whatever, I was at the liquor store with M/tch.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:21 PM
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Dammit, Wrongshore, stop trying to Scotchblock me!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:22 PM
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301: Sigh. There was a Pete a good dozen years ago whom I let get away. I really am an idiot.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:22 PM
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May I Scotchguard you?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:23 PM
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To tie it all together, there's a story about me, Pete, and a bottle of Glenfiddich....


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:23 PM
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Pete and 'fiddich were sitting on a fence. Pete fell off. Who was left?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:25 PM
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Pete and 'fiddich were sitting on a fence. Pete fell off. Who was left?

The Ugly Naked Guy. Alas.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:26 PM
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307: Fiddich?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:26 PM
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I mean, "307: Fiddich?"


Posted by: "Interlocutor" | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:27 PM
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"If you're so impatient, I'll just stop right there."

Di's was better.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:27 PM
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I'ma go watch TV and eat soup and hope I feel better enough to go hear Edmund Welles. Good luck not sleeping with people, everyone!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:28 PM
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311: You're not the first guy to realize that.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:29 PM
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Cayenne pepper, Wrongshore. Dose up the soup with cayenne and feel better!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:30 PM
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No fellow who calls a lady "dude" intends to sleep with her.

I won't claim universality here, but among guys whose MO is basically honest and earnest, thus relying on cute/smart/funny appeal, calling a girl "dude" does signify a category shift. I could totally see how some guys could abuse this, but sometimes the proverbial cigar is self-referential.

btw, the reason I used "condescension" in 236 is that neither of you has a team in the post season, and a non-fan inviting a guy to watch a baseball game in which he has no allegiance seems condescending to me. If you are knowledgeable about baseball, this doesn't apply. If you know he still has an active interest, this doesn't apply.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:33 PM
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295: It's just about being happy with a friendship where seduction seems like a bad idea.

Oh, for Pete's sake, you started out at 231 with:

I am in the midst of trying to start a non-romantic friendship with a single straight dude. Why is that so hard? Any advice for how to do that without creeping said dude out?

You're of two minds. Are you trying to start a non-romantic friendship because that's what you want with this guy, or because that's the most you think is advisable? See the difference?

Either way, of course there's a hell of a lot of room for leaving things open. If you want space for deciding on a seduction after all, don't make a lot of noises about 'just friends, just friends,' that's all. Since being just friends has not been your pattern in the past, as you've explained (and I understand this, believe me), I wouldn't go to lengths over a 'just friends' thing unless you mean it.

Or do whatever you want; we all make messes of these things, and life would be a lot more boring if we didn't. Of course I don't think you're a rapist.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:33 PM
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315: neither of you has a team in the post season

Lamentable, indeed. But there is lingering prurient interest in the post-season.

316:I wouldn't go to lengths over a 'just friends' thing unless you mean it.

No one's being obsessive about the "just friends" thing here. But it is advisable, for reasons beyond the libidinal. I.e., I'd have to be pretty convinced he's a decent person in order to risk what I'd have to risk in order to have even a casual relationship with him, which, I repeat, is not a goal. It's reasonable to like people and not know, after a very short time, what one wants from them beyond caution.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:38 PM
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As usual, parsimon, you seem to have a lot invested in judging AWB's actions. Why not chill out?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:40 PM
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One of the many unfair advantages of straight marriage is the way it makes it easier for me to start platonic friendships with straight guys and gay chicks.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:41 PM
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"Chick" is terrible. I lament the lack of a good counterpart to "guy" for that kind of usage.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:42 PM
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318: Fish gotta swim . . . .

But yeah, seriously parsimon, chill out, dude.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:42 PM
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320: "tomatoes".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:43 PM
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Yeah, sorry. Something got to me about the topic -- not personal to AWB, honestly -- probably because I've struggled with it myself.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:48 PM
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People get all excited about "chicks", especially british people. The male equivalent would be talking about "boys", and I'm not losing any sleep over it.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:50 PM
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324: what animal's juvenile form is named by "boy"?

I think dudes should be called "Joeys", as an homage to the mighty Kangaroo.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:52 PM
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since when was "friends" and "having sex" mutually exclusive?


Posted by: opinionated just-friend | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:01 PM
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I just use "men" and "women" precisely because there's no equivalent for "guys" and "chicks" is sort of offensive. "Girls" has become popular, but is also problematic; though I date myself in saying so, I gather.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:02 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:07 PM
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I use "gunsels" and "clydes".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:23 PM
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325: "Men", and Celtic fans. But that's not important right now. What's significant is that this problem is resolvable by not giving a fuck. If someone described me as a "boy", I'd find it mildly to moderately offensive, depending on context. I'd assume this to be somewhat analogous. I solve this dilemna by not giving a shit.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:29 PM
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329: For what do you use them?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:29 PM
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331: it's not really clear. I'd have to know what they are, first.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:33 PM
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Blokes and dames. But actually. This came up when the bookstore was an open shop: easy enough to say "This gentleman is asking after any material we might on x." The gentleman is, of course, a bit gratified to hear himself referred to in such a way. A bit puzzling what to say if the gentleman is a lady, however. "This lady is asking ...." doesn't quite cut it.

Huh. Well. A neverending conundrum, really.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:34 PM
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"Madam is asking..."

Go all out with it, what the hey.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:37 PM
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The other night at dinner, Noah informed us that "salt and pepper had a meatbaby."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:41 PM
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Was this before or after the drugs wore off?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:41 PM
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"Madam" only works if the madam in question is present. If you're on the phone, referring to the woman within her earshot, "We have a gentleman madam inquiring after material ..." doesn't work. What the hey, indeed. "Customer" is it. Drat.

No longer an issue, though, as we no longer have an open shop, and don't have to bother with the stroking.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:43 PM
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Are meat-babies anything like eye-babies?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:44 PM
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Before the drugs were even administered. He's pretty funny on drugs too, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:47 PM
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No longer an issue, though, as we no longer have an open shop, and don't have to bother with the stroking.

Wow, I should go to "bookstores" more often.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:50 PM
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OT: This story is ridiculous--a 15-year old girl is being charged as a sex offender for distributing naked pictures of herself--but check out the name of the high school she goes to!


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:51 PM
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341: you've broken my pun-making apparatus, Marvey. I hope you're happy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:53 PM
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Least surprising || of all time:

C'MON PAPS!

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:56 PM
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What does "open shop" mean in this context, parsimon?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:58 PM
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I'm in favor of the Japanese.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:01 PM
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340: There's a reason booksellers are called dealers. I'm finding this life more and more fascinating given the current state of economic affairs.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:01 PM
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Reading the comments around 300 was just awesome with Man Man's forlorn love-lost songs going on in the background.

I've been feeling bizarrely desirous lately as well, and wistfully thinking about the person I probably should've married even if we were dating at an absolutely stupid age and time to do so. I blame the impending winter for this. Chicago changed from Summer to Late Fall in about 12 hours flat, about a week or two ago. Went to bed after an evening of nice weather in the 70s, woke up to a windy and gray 50 degree day. That sort of kick gets a body thinking "Oh shit, winter in Chicago. Four months of nothing better to do than drink til stupid or order in pizza and screw. Better find someone to join in on the latter if you want your liver to survive."


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:03 PM
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344: What's that? Open shop means you may enter and browse, and we should by rights accommodate whatever pretensions and preconceptions you harbo(u)r.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:05 PM
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Four months of nothing better to do than drink til stupid or order in pizza and screw.

You have sex with pizza? That's gross, but more than that it just seems so painful.

Me, I am living somewhere with perfect weather every day but a distinct lack of my fiancee. It's crap, I tell you. Crap!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:06 PM
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348: So how do you sell books if noone can enter your store? Is it mail order, or invitation only, or something else entirely?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:09 PM
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Me, I am living somewhere with perfect weather every day but a distinct lack of my fiancee. It's crap, I tell you. Crap!

But is the pizza any good?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:12 PM
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For those less well acquainted with baseball, 245 represented a victory taunt. Don't we have any Florida folks? Probably just as well.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:13 PM
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No.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:14 PM
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350: Oh. Internet only, catalogued inventory online. The equivalent of mail-order. Invitation only for those who can behave themselves.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:14 PM
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Chicago changed from Summer to Late Fall in about 12 hours flat, about a week or two ago. Went to bed after an evening of nice weather in the 70s, woke up to a windy and gray 50 degree day.

That was my favorite time of year when I lived in Chicago. I miss it. I know, this attitude is queerpassing strange.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:17 PM
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353: Ouch. That sucks. I just had good pizza for lunch, and it brightened my day like a cloudless sunny sky. Now I really feel bad for you.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:17 PM
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355: Don't get me wrong, I love the fall here. I get to wear my nice-looking jackets before moving into Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man territory for the winter, it's nicer for running outside, and the crispness just feels refreshing. But it's definitely sent me into "prepare for winter" mode this past couple weeks. Since every nook and cranny of my apartment is already crammed with acorns, I suppose that only leaves finding a mate.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:20 PM
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Me, I am living somewhere with perfect weather every day but a distinct lack of my fiancee. It's crap, I tell you. Crap!

This is just a subtle way to remind everyone that you're engaged, isn't it?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:28 PM
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358: yup, so hands off, Josh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:40 PM
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I've been learning that running here is more complicated than it would seem; sure, it's beautiful every day, but the times when it's cool are fairly rigidly proscribed. Add to that my continuing inability to feel comfortable on a treadmill, and the ol' running schedule has suffered. On the other hand, your modern public university's gym is a thing to behold.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:42 PM
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358: Sifu was in Chinais engaged?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:45 PM
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Chicago winters. pffft.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:57 PM
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This is just a subtle way to remind everyone that you're engaged Blume is lonely and needs counsel , isn't it?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:09 PM
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362: After a Chicago summer, they're absolute hell. It's the contrasts that make it great soul-crushing.

As I await the arrival of dozens of semi-inebriated guests, I've found that my extremely tall Campari and soda tastes really nice with a splash of cranberry juice. Mmmm...


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:11 PM
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Po-Mo you should score some Peychaud's Bitters.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:13 PM
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Great Lakes winters are not to be fucked with. I first moved to Boston from the Cleveland area, and annoyed my old-school NE neighbors by continually asking when winter was going to hit. Hint: old school NE guys don't like it when you imply the possibility of a climate worse than NE's.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:19 PM
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There is no climate worse than NE's.

Sure, there are snowier climates, but not worse climates.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:21 PM
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After a Chicago summer, they're absolute hell. It's the contrasts that make it great soul-crushing.

Try Montreal ...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:22 PM
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365: Actually... I've already got some around. Any suggestions?

Here's the (very limited) current contents of my bar:
Hendrick's Gin
VS cognac
Campari
Bulliet Bourbon
Tuaca
Ketel One (bigass bottle was on sale)
artisanal absinthe
Mount Gay Rum (sailing family... the liquor tradition got passed on even though I can't sail for shit)

soda
tonic
cranberry juice
coke
grenadine
lime juice (Rose's)
Peychaud's and Angostura

I will try whatever is suggested and pass on my (questionable) judgment.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:25 PM
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367: Case in point.
Sure, spring and fall are optional in these parts, but try commuting 40 miles in a -20 F snow squall when your shitty car's heater is broken, and then tell me about NE's "worst" climate.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:27 PM
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370: shitty cars are not a fact of nature. Live in a city with public transportation!

369: Hendricks, Peychauds and Tonic sounds like it might be good. Bourbon and Peychauds also sounds good. Tonic, lime juice and Peychauds is lovely if somebody isn't drinking.

That's all I've got. I'm sure there's more. A well stocked bar, all things considered.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:33 PM
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Live in a city with public transportation!

Oh dude, it's on. I departed the Bay Area for the wilds of Ohio, on account of a job. I left Ohio, on account of Ohio sucking, for another job. Then I get sucked into working for some dope out in Mass, which is where my family is anyway, so there I go. If Birmingham, Alabama wanted to meticulously document and search their child-killings, I'd write a db for them too. I'm flexible like that.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:48 PM
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on account of Ohio sucking,

I'm not arguing with you, here.

Except electorally, in which case, YAY! Ohio!

Don't go to Birmingham, though. I can give you people to talk to: bad idea.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 11:52 PM
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The weather changed today. One of the funny things about Los Angeles is that of course there are distinct seasons, but it's easy to forget that, so autumn always creeps up on you and BAP! Wednesday was a high of 90; now it's 60 outside, and I've put on my first sweater since April or so. I immediately got one of those season-changing colds, and having been so delighted that my apartment was longer an oven, found I wasn't warm enough under a throw blanket on the bed.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 12:02 AM
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A well stocked bar, all things considered.

It won't be in about 15 minutes.

Political staffers drink like fish, it's unbelievable.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 12:03 AM
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374: wrongshore you bastard let's do an LA meetup whilst some of us are on the west coast.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 12:05 AM
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Sounds very good, Tweety. How long are you around for? I've seen jms out here, but have yet to meet any other socalians.

Am going to see Joe's Garage tomorrow night. This will probably be thrilling to some of you and off-putting to many of you, and I'm guessing the former category will be almost entirely male.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 12:11 AM
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Probably not including me. Also, I don't live in LA, so would maybe need some lead time. You're in charge, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 12:15 AM
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OK. Let's meet at Taix, but only those of you who are not in LA should come.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 12:19 AM
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380

Don't go to Birmingham, though.

Indeed. Go to Montgomery.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 12:22 AM
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381

Apo, you'll appreciate 377.2.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 12:25 AM
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382

I just saw this car driving down Glendale Boulevard.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 12:27 AM
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381: Wow. Now if somebody would just stage Thingfish...


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 12:46 AM
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And at 5:30 in the morning, the party finally ended when the last Settlers of Catan game finished up. That's a sentence that I never thought could be uttered.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 4:25 AM
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384: It hasn't been, unless you talk while you type. Not that there's anything wrong with that.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 6:44 AM
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386

I read all Unfogged comment threads aloud.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 7:26 AM
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387

Do you use different voices for different commenters?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 7:51 AM
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388

Yes. I do all of Stanley's comments in mime, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 8:06 AM
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I disagree: uttering is modality neutral.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 8:07 AM
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388: I hear you.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 9:11 AM
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Not caught up yet, but I second 243. At worst you end up in a situation that's horribly uncomfortable for a few days, perhaps a week at most. At best you have a mutually awkward shared moment that breaks the ice and immediately takes your friendship to a closer level.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 12:49 PM
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392

Non-date accepted and scheduled!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 4:11 PM
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393

I don't tolerate questionable sexual tension well."

AWB, you've mentioned your desire for clarity and discomfort for ambiguity before. I feel the same way, but I ended up believing that teasing, ambiguity, mixed messages, etc. are essential to the courtship process, and that either I'd have to learn to deal with it or quit.

Nietzsche's personal experience of women, sex, love, courtship, and relationships was small and disastrous, and I think that that was his problem. He assigned the elusiveness and ambiguity to Woman, but I think that that was his narrow personal experience speaking. For women it's presumably assignable to Men.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 4:20 PM
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I ended up believing that teasing, ambiguity, mixed messages, etc. are essential to the courtship process, and that either I'd have to learn to deal with it or quit

Indeed. The initial teasing/ambiguity is actually kind of invigorating. The problem is when it's prolonged or keeps shifting directions (mixed messages) -- at which point I find that I'd really just like to get off the roller coaster, please.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 4:53 PM
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I think I'm to the point where it's no longer invigorating. I seem to prefer either flirting or fucking, not both, and haven't dated anyone I've flirted with for, uh... mmm... ever? Is it possible I've never dated someone who flirted with me? All the people I've ended up dating or sleeping with have been the very direct, un-teasy kind.

I'm off to a wedding party, sola. This should be either a great deal of fun or really grueling and claustrophobic.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 5:03 PM
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That's not a choice, btw. It seems like the set of men who are actually attracted to me and intend to do something about it does not intersect with the set of men who flirt with me. Life is weird. Goodnight, and happy Friday!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 5:05 PM
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That's not a choice, btw. It seems like the set of men who are actually attracted to me and intend to do something about it does not intersect with the set of men who flirt with me.

My guess is that the latter group intend to do something about it as well, but then get intimidated by your directness.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 5:07 PM
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My guess is that the latter group intend to do something about it as well, but then get intimidated by your directness.

They should probably get over that.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 5:09 PM
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No, it's easier to move on to flirting with someone who isn't intimidatingly direct.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 5:10 PM
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Definitely up for any LA meetup, particularly one at Taix.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 6:04 PM
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Send me an email, Halford, so I can add you to the caucus.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 6:36 PM
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401 -- Done.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 7:27 PM
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Ugh. Non-date finished. I really have no clue how to gently turn someone down. He's a nice guy. I enjoy hanging out. I have zero desire to kiss him. How many times do I have to tactfully dodge before that's clear? I hate to just bluntly say "I'm not interested" -- I'd rather allow him some plausible deniability. But no, he doesn't seem to be getting it...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 9:39 PM
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I have zero desire to kiss him. How many times do I have to tactfully dodge before that's clear?

Like physically dodging a kiss? I would think the answer to that is unambiguously, clearly "once".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 9:44 PM
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So by the third dodge...? (My cheek got lots of action.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 9:47 PM
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403: I strongly recommend directness. Plausible deniability=misunderstandings and pain. A simple, "Look, I don't know if this is what you're thinking or not, but I like hanging out with you, think you're great, but am just not feeling anything more. " won't crush anyone's ego and saves a lot of tension and pain.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 9:54 PM
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The only real solution is to smear something that tastes and smells really bad onto your cheeks, Di.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 9:56 PM
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407:

That's just what .... must not make the sexist joke. must not make the sexist joke. must not make the sexist joke. must not make the sexist joke.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 9:59 PM
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406: I know you're right, but directness is really hard. Isn't there a more avoidant-friendly option?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 9:59 PM
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409: Yes. It's outlined in comment 407.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:01 PM
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403: If I tried to kiss a girl, and she physically dodged me, it'd be a while before I tried to kiss any girl, much less her. Three times? He must really want to kiss someone. If I were a woman, I'd sympathize and let him, once. This is why I would make a bad woman.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:02 PM
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Something sterile and non-toxic, though, not feces.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:03 PM
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409 -- Nope. The only gentle way is the direct one. Or, just don't answer his calls until he stops calling, have ten minutes of guilt, and then forget about him forever. Either way!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:03 PM
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He could be an optimist, and think you just like to take it slow. Here's an ethically impaired slightly out-of-the-box idea: call him and ask for friendly advice on how to approach this guy you've met a couple of time in a professional setting, and once socially, that you're really interested in getting closer too. He knows you well enough to give useful (if still hypothetical) advice, and he'll certainly get the idea that you've got a different idea for your relationship than he does.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:06 PM
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Or, just don't answer his calls until he stops calling, have ten minutes of guilt

Now you are successfully pandering to the avoidant.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:07 PM
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414 is outside the box and effective but is evil.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:08 PM
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In a fantasyland where we all have a ton of friends, the form of rejection that would probably make him the most happy (not that this should be your primary concern) would be to set him up with another female friend of yours. Though this requires some effort and may be impossible, it would also be effectively passing the buck.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:09 PM
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414: I really like that idea, Charley. But I am a horrible liar. I probably need to find an actual, realistic target to pull that off...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:10 PM
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and he'll certainly get the idea that you've got a different idea for your relationship than he does.

Or, he reads it as "this is her way of sneakily letting me know she's into me, and I should tell her the best way to come on to me."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:11 PM
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417: See 240, supra. I've tried that strategy.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:12 PM
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418 -- OK, so now your have a project that keep you too busy to respond to him for a while. A combination of 418, 414, and 413.

OK, problem solved. Next!

(Or were you just venting? In which case we're all totally sympathetic to the situation in which you find yourself).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:13 PM
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420: OK then...create a really awesome profile for him on an internet dating site! I'm imagining you as sort of a Kate Hudson type in this scenario.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:15 PM
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421: Both venting and seeking advice. "Gosh, I'm just so busy," does work, at least temporarily. Maybe I can milk that until I have a genuine "So I met this guy..." to fall back on.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:16 PM
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419 -- I thought of that, and am sure Di did too. The obvious solution is to let him think that as the conversation starts, so he gets engaged in it, and then spring a couple of details in that make it clear that it simply cannot be him. You'd want to listen for the falling of crest.

There's no pont in being evil, if one is not going to be effective.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:16 PM
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Just sleep with him and "get it over with." Then you can move on with your life no problem. This advice brought to you by lonely wishful-thinking guys of America, Inc.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:19 PM
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414: You stole my idea from my comically underinformed advice to AWB! You bastard.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:21 PM
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Just sleep with him and "get it over with."

Heh. This just tells you how very unattracted to him I am. Half a bottle of wine, a martini, and many, many lonely nights.... and yet, nothing.

He's weirdly enamored with Antonin Scalia, so.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:22 PM
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425: Fuck, I forgot. Now they're going to revoke my union card.

403: Just fuck him and be done with it. It's like, what, two minutes of your time? Easier than agonizing over it, and you can probably get some free food.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:24 PM
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He's weirdly enamored with Antonin Scalia, so.

Oh good God, Di, what are we going to do with you? A libertarian, and now this?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:29 PM
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428: Hey, I went home with a bottle of wine and he would have paid for the dinner if I'd let him. And all for the bargain price of a few awkward pecks on the cheek.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:30 PM
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Ok, the enamoured with Antonin Scalia fact means that it's OK to deploy Plan Evil. Spend a month asking his advice about other, more attractive guys and various crushes that you have. Then, after you've landed some other guy, give the Scalia fan a call, making sure to describe how wonderfully awesome the new guy is, how passionate your new relationship is, and thanking the old guy ever so much for his advice. Finally, set him up with an unattractive or unpleasant acquaintance, to add to his sense of despair.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:31 PM
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set him up with an unattractive or unpleasant acquaintance

Preferably one who resembles Scalia as closely as possible.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:32 PM
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429: It's really bizarre, because he purports to be a Democrat. But then he starts speaking affectionately about "Antonin" and the time he met him at a Federalist Society function...

Maybe I should tell him how I'm really turned on by men who volunteer for pro-Obama GOTV efforts in swing states. Might get him out of the state and out of my hair for a bit.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:34 PM
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Finally, set him up with an unattractive or unpleasant acquaintance, to add to his sense of despair.

Again, see 240 above. Seems like a foolproof plan, but no.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:35 PM
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Doesn't call him Nino? This is getting lamer and lamer.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:38 PM
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Ooh, just tell him you're not really of his constitution. As an originalist, he'll take that as a sign of fundamental incompatibility. Bing bam boom.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:39 PM
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He also sniffed the cork for the bottle of wine over dinner. Dude.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:40 PM
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This is getting lamer and lamer.

My love life, in ten words or less...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:42 PM
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he would have paid for the dinner if I'd let him

Sucker. That's pride, fucking with you. What's the point of getting paid 77% of what you're worth if you can't cadge a few meals off social conventions and desperate dates? Fuck pride.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 10:55 PM
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Di, it sounds like you need to flee the lawyers. Stop reading Unfogged!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 11:00 PM
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Are you a lonely and desperate Boston-area woman or gay man? Are you dying to kiss someone on the cheek and have more money than sense? I may have an answer: for the cost of dinner and t-fare, I will treat you to a magical night of political bitching and invective against Microsoft. Then you get to kiss me on the cheek, twice if you order enough digestifs. Airport security may mistake me for a terrorist, but you'll mistake me for true love!


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 11:00 PM
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440: Sound advice. Perhaps I should take up yoga.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 11:10 PM
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Speaking of Democrats with unexpected opinions, I was surprised earlier today to find, after discussing American politics with some Israelis (residing in the U.S. for the medium- to long-term) who seemed generally happy about the prospect of Obama being elected, that they are all staunch supporters of Likud and think that McCain would be much better for Israel than Obama. They prefer Obama on general grounds and think he would be far better from America, but they thought I was laughably naive to suggest that maybe the U.S. bombing Iran would not be unambiguously good for Israel.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 11:18 PM
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"from" s/b "for"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 11:19 PM
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Jesus, Timlin.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-11-08 11:24 PM
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I was "hooked up" once with some random girl who was obviously completely enamored with me. It went along for a week or two with her tagging along to places, no one-on-ones, and then somehow we ended up in one of those late-night chats and she brought up the question of why my ideal person would be like.

I answered honestly. The crest fell pretty heavily. Sorry, random girl.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-12-08 1:40 AM
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406 is untrue. It can totally crush your ego.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-12-08 5:39 AM
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433.2 is fucking funny.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-12-08 5:59 AM
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The problem with trying to let someone down easy is that you're really trying to let yourself down easy, in that you're trying to get out of the situation in a way that minimizes the amount of guilt you feel, not the amount of suffering you cause. It's better to be direct. Honestly, it's probably better come across badly, in that this will dent whatever idealized image of you he has, and help him get over it.

I know this from experience; I have ended up sleeping with someone because I couldn't figure out how to let them down easy.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-12-08 6:14 AM
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Just sleep with him and "get it over with."

sleeping with someone you're not attracted to is a truly lousy experience. Lying around in bed afterwards trying to make small talk is excruciating. Like the worst naked cocktail party ever.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-12-08 9:30 AM
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Like the worst naked cocktail party ever.

Coming from someone who really knows their naked cocktail parties, this means a lot.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-12-08 1:05 PM
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