The New York Times on Our Great Leader

From an article by Gail Collins, on the Op-Ed page of the 20 September 2008 New York Times:

These times are so perilous that George W. Bush emerged from his burrow on Friday to reassure the American people about the financial crisis.

Looking either grim or overmedicated, Bush spoke for several minutes  —  1,260 words worth of reassurance.  That was a far more ambitious effort than the day before, when, as Politico’s Roger Simon noted, our president devoted 100 fewer words to his public utterances on the collapsing economy than he did to toasting the president of Ghana at dinner.

Behind the-first-president-with-an-M.B.A.-and-a-lot-of-good-it-did-us stood the Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, who appears to be actually running the government.

See, this is interesting:  self never knew that W had an MBA.  Now her next order of business is to find out where.  Or, perhaps it should be Ben Bernanke self should be investigating.  Does Bernanke have an M.B.A.?  And if so, from which august institution?  Would anyone from the alma maters of either Bush and Bernanke like to trumpet their assocation with these two stellar alums?  Self thinks not.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

The New York Times on the Budget Bailout

It took only eight years, dear blog readers. Eight years to totally trash a country. Did Osama anticipate how wildly he would succeed, when he devised the plan to send airplanes into the twin towers? Did he anticipate how easily Bush & Co. would fall into the trap, declare war on Iraq in the interests of national security and put us into this hole?

Let’s see: hubby and self’s retirement funds are now less than half what they were worth this time a year ago. Last week, the president attempted to soothe the raging waters with proposal of a $700 billion budget bailout. (But where is he? Self means, in person? Should he not be before the American people at this very moment, to explain what we the citizens can expect from this bailout? For it’s certain that we, and our children, and our children’s children will be paying the price for many, many years)

Here are a few excerpts from a New York Times editorial of 20 September, nine full days before yesterday’s stock meltdown:

  • It is painfully clear that the financial system will not rebound on its own from the excessive lending and borrowing of the Bush years and the credit collapse in their wake. The one-bailout-at-a-time approach hasn’t worked. And modest steps are no longer an option.
  • What is this going to cost the taxpayers and who decides? It’s generally believed that many of the troubled assets that the government would buy will, in time, be worth more than they can fetch in today’s chaotic markets. That’s far from a sure thing. The assets are tied to housing, so their value will depend on how far prices fall, how many people end up defaulting and how long it takes before housing rebounds — all big unknowns.
  • The administration and lawmakers also need to tell Americans that the era of cheap and easy money is over and that there are more tough times to come. Whose taxes will have to go up? How will the government help to create the jobs of the future? How will the most vulnerable Americans be protected? And they need to explain that the cost of the bailouts will compete with other spending.

Why not call a spade a spade? The Times asserts: “The regulatory failure . . . was grounded in the Bush administration’s magical belief that the market, with its invisible hand, works best when it is left alone to self regulate and self correct.”

That’s sheer laziness, dear blog readers. And it’s indeed a very cavalier — if not a highly criminal — way to run a country.

Columbia Fellowship in Modern Southeast Asian Studies

The Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University invites applications for its:

2009-2010 Postdoctoral Fellowship
MODERN SOUTHEAST ASIAN STUDIES

Candidates from Read the rest of this entry »

The Economist on Sarah Palin: What Is an “American Redneck”?

from The Economist of 13 September 2008:

“A backwoods, polar-bear-strangling Britney Spears manqué”; “Vice-President Barbie”: British newspaper columnists have sneered at Sarah Palin at least as energetically as some East-Coast Americans. Typically, however, there has also been an equal and opposite reaction to her appearance on John McCain’s ticket: we want one! This enthusiasm has generally been motivated by the sexy-librarian look and the Alaskan gothic back-story. But there are also sensible reasons for Britain’s political classes to pay heed to Mrs. Palin. She seems able to speak in the demotic lexicon of cross rednecks and others disenchanted with mainstream American politics.

The article then goes on to explain why there are no rednecks in Britain:

  • In Britain, “large fauna are not routinely slaughtered for fun.”
  • The British “cling to pubs and satellite-television dishes rather than Bibles and hunting rifles.”
  • Few British people “race tractors or follow NASCAR.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Second Quote of the Day: Chancelucky on the Bank Bailout

From chancelucky on the Bank Bailout (cut and paste from a comment he left this morning):

Sixty years later, they removed those restrictions and lo and behold a stock market crash and a sudden financial collapse with ominous talk of a depression. It’s like they got bitten by a dog then stuck their hand in the cage again.

Oh, chancelucky, you’re killing me!  Self loves the comparison to the person sticking his or her hand in the dog cage, absolutely loves it!  Ha ha ha!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Last Friday of September 2008

Self is finally able to catch her breath today (Self, you are so lame:  isn’t this the same beginning you used for a post yesterday?  Has your brain become so dessicated from teaching overload that you cannot think of another way to begin a post?  But, once again, I digress)

Okey-dokey, self has just finished wrapping up a morning of mega-lesson-plan preparation for the coming week’s classes.  She had a veritable diarrhea of ideas and devised two quizzes, two assignments (the hardest she could possibly make them) and three hand-outs.  Then, since she was feeling so fulfilled, so very self-satisfied, she decided to e-mail Marc Fitten of The Chattahoochee Review to see in which issue her story “Dumpster” would be appearing.  And she received an immediate reply, which went:

That’s been out for a couple of months!  Didn’t you get your copies?  I’ll send to you when i get back to the office.  The city is out of gas and my cars are both empty.

So, self e-mailed back:

Are you serious?  How does a city run out of gas???

And, thus far, Read the rest of this entry »

Memories of Russian Gardens

Today, self is finally able to slow down. The whole week was crazed: two classes on Monday, the second ending at 9 p.m. Two more (back to back) classes on Tuesday, which meant she was on her feet for five hours straight. Only one class on Wednesday, but self had to spend the whole afternoon grading papers and reading up on the texts she had to teach in two classes today, Thursday. Her neck ached something fierce, and she couldn’t even scrounge the time to douse her weary plants with so much as a bucket of water. She did, however, make vermicelli with clam sauce, and when hubby came home and showed more interest in the latest Sports Illustrated than in what self had cooked for dinner, self lay into him in a very uncharacteristic manner.

For the last few days, self’s been snatching moments to read Vladimir Nabokov’s Speak, Memory. The writer seems to miss two things acutely: butterflies and snow. While self is reading, she sometimes feels as if she has entered a hallucination. The Russia self knows is the Russia of Martin Cruz Smith novels and the Bourne movies (!!##) So: gray buildings, dour people.

But Nabokov’s Russia is a profoundly emotional and beautiful place, a Russia that seems to exist now only in a few old people’s imaginations, and in the stories of Chekhov. Here is Nabokov’s description of the landscape around one of his family’s homes:
Read the rest of this entry »

Dark Thoughts (Inspired by Announcement of “Five Under 35″ Award from National Book Foundation)

Self has struggled more than half her life to “make it” as a writer, and now comes the announcement of the “next generation,” from the National Book Foundation.
Truly, the guy (Filipino) who told self in Berlin, three years ago, “If you haven’t made it by now, you’re never going to make it” was right (if only it had not taken self three years to realize full import. But, once again, I digress)

Well, self could say, I did have my first book out when I was 33.

Yeah, (voice in her head says) but what have you done since then? One other book and an anthology. Pathetic.

So, move aside, self! Without further ado, the next generation of under-35 writers, newly annointed by the National Book Foundation:

    Sana Krasikov
    One More Year: Stories
    (Spiegel & Grau, 2008)
    Selected by Francine Prose
    Nam Le
    The Boat
    (Knopf, 2008)
    Selected by Mary Gaitskill
    Fiona Maazel
    Last Last Chance
    (FSG, 2008)
    Selected by Jim Shepard

Why can’t they have a category for over-40 writers? Or over-50 writers? Or for writers who have made it to middle age without giving up? Surely writers in the last group deserve some kind of recognition for their dogged tenacity? How about something for writers who-are-soon-to-be-no-longer-with-us? Oops, self forgot. The latter category already exists: it’s the Nobel.

Self, what is up with you today? Can you not just quit your everlasting whining?

Here are some award categories self would like the National Book Foundation to consider:

Awards for Writers with the Most “Chutzpah” and/or Tenacity (for writers who have reached a certain age and are still writing, without benefit of encouragement from any publishers whatsoever)

Awards for Writers Most In Need of a Massage (for writers who have incurred carpal tunnel syndrome, back problems, and other disabilites incurred during selfless pursuit of their avocation)

Awards for Writers Who Took the Longest Time Between Their First and Second Books (Self believes she actually might have a crack at this one, for her gap was 14 years)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Eavesdropping on “Chancelucky”

Because self thinks he is right and has something important to say:

Hidden Fees of the Bank Bailout

The Federal government recently bailed out AIG, the world’s largest insurance company, for 85 billion dollars in loans. Two days later, the Department of the Treasury is talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in “rescue” money for various financial institutions. These numbers are hauntingly familiar, because they’re roughly comparable to what we’ve spent on the War in Iraq. They’re also more expensive by a factor of at least ten than items like, fully funding special education (a thirty year old promise) at the Federal level, providing medical insurance for every child in America, giving every college student in America free tuition. Oddly we consider health care and education social “luxuries” that some claim we simply can’t afford, yet as best I can tell the various decisions that led to the current financial system and the War were also purely optional.

Pygmalion, The Remake: Starring, In Order of Appearance, John McCain and Sarah Palin

This morning, self doubled over with laughter (Quite a feat, considering she has shortly to teach two classes), all due to having read a post by an intrepid gang of Santa Barbara bloggers on contemporary misgivings

Check it out, dear blog readers.

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