16 July 2010

Appearances Matter

It's Visual Arts Day on the sausage platter, with many appetizing visual accompaniments to the usual platter of sarcastic, cynical link sausages. We'll start with this one, which reflects reality all too well:

Shoe, 16 Jul 2010

  • Tony Auth, 16 Jul 2010But I suppose that's better than the antics of some of the people who aren't in Congress, but think they should be. Not much, though: Insanity isn't much of an improvement over willful blindness. Ultimately, the real problem is that the Mad Tea Partiers are each individual King Canutes, demanding that the tide selectively cease to overwhelm their own personal sandcastles. (That those sandcastles were made with tools that, in turn, were made possible only by the various bits of progress of the past few centuries seems to have escaped them entirely; there's that willful blindness again...) They don't particularly care if someone else's sandcastle gets sloshed; they're paying no attention at all to who owns the damned beach; and, most ironically, they're spending their time and effort protecting something that they can't even live in for the long term anyway... because while they're busy holding back the tide, their castles are crumbling as they dry out in the sun (or from washed-up tarballs).
  • So Goldman Sachs is going to pay a half-billion-dollar fine to the SEC for its deceptions in CDO marketing — the largest ever fine against a brokerage. On one hand, this is a good thing: It is certain; it condemns behavior that many have claimed was just "being smarter and getting caught up by circumstances"; and it allows the SEC to move on to others. On the other hand, though, the amount is grossly inadequate, as it does not appear to represent even the entire firm profit from related trading and market-making, let along revenues (the proper measure for a fine)... and as the proportionality of the fine ossifies over time, as they always do, it will end up being treated as a mere cost of doing business, structured into the risk calculations on Wall Street. That last point seems to me to be critical, and I predict that this sausage will turn around to bite us all in the butt within a decade, as that cost of doing business gets factored in to even riskier behavior ("the net present value of our potential SEC fine is calculated as follows:") — despite the insufficient controls in the financial regulation bill, which is still better than nothing.
  • Jack Higgins, 04 Jul 2010And then there's the former governer of this fine state (of confusion, of insanity, of affairs — take your pick). The more that comes out about this, the more I'm reminded of the opening cartoon above. I did not put my butt on the line all those years ago to protect politics as usual; and the soldiers, sailors, and airmen over in Southwest Asia deserve quite a bit better than that. In short, corrupt politicians are insulting our war dead, wounded, and survivors. At least the obscenity ruling, striking down the FCC's "fleeting expletives" rule, might allow broadcast of the wiretaps... eventually. (And notice that this is an equal-opportunity sausage, with material from both of the major unprofessional, self-interestedly-biased insults to journalistic integrity in Chicago!)
  • You can find me at the library (HT: The Puppetmistress). But then, you've always been able to find me at the library. Now look at your grades... OK, look at your law school grades... OK, I'll admit to not studying in the library much at any time... Nor ever looking like a male model...