Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's THIS?

An article about the 1951 anti-Árbenz CIA-led coup in Guatamela? In Slate?

More specifically, an article about how "forensic economists" have uncovered evidence that people with CIA connections may have profited handsomely from stock trading based on insider knowledge of the upcoming coup?

And of other CIA-led coups, too?

Such trading on inside information is illegal, and when it involves highly classified details about a future CIA coup, it verges on treason. Yet the researchers found that prices of companies affected by the CIA's regime-toppling efforts—UFC in Guatemala, Anglo-Iranian (oil) in Iran, Anaconda (mining) in Chile, and American Sugar in Cuba—went up in the weeks and months preceding the coups. (The authors restrict their analysis to coups for which they had access to declassified planning documents and for which U.S. companies had had property nationalized by the targeted regimes.)

Furthermore, these gains were concentrated in the days following crucial government authorizations or plans for the coup (suggesting the trades weren't simply the result of good guesswork about a coup in the making). For example, in the week that President Eisenhower gave full approval to Operation PBFortune to overthrow Árbenz, UFC's price went up by 3.8 percent; the stock market overall was flat that week.

In all, shares of coup-affected companies went up by a total of 10 percent following top-secret authorizations, swamping the 3.5 percent gain that came immediately in the coups' aftermaths. If information hadn't been leaking into the stock market via insider trading, then the entire impact of the coup should have appeared only when the very public invasions took place and the investing world finally got news of the regime change.

With implications that we may one day find evidence of similar insider-trading shenanigans associated with the Iraq invasion? (Not to mention the all-but-forgotten 9/11 puts story. They don't.)

In Slate?

Saints be praised.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekly Random Flickr Blogging, #4200

I'm still busy as heck, but here's a quick three in honor of The Return of the Son of Night of the Living Random Flickr-Blogging. I'll be back later this week, I hope.

Students at Jazz Guitar Camp came to dread the unit on Django Reinhardt. "Mister Fontaine, if you would be so kind as to fetch the bandsaw, please?"
Wow, Matt Drudge is...different...since that trip to Denmark.
The Philippines, 1978. Production of Apocalypse Now is halted for another two weeks after Marlon Brando does a cannonball and the landing zone set has to be rebuilt from scratch.
(Images originally uploaded by valimax, jwebbphotography, and zchem; Random Flickr Blogging explained here.)


Friday, October 24, 2008

Leper Scheme!

I'm going to be out of action for a bit longer, but during the meanwhile, here's a trenchant bit of youtubery (h/t to the General):

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Michael Stipe has a couple of things to say:

"Attention! Categorical Aperitif will have to go back on hiatus for a bit, but nash says he'll try to be back next week. Also, if you drive a Toyota Corolla, license plate PZT 738: your lights are on."
(Image originally uploaded by fenderjaguar.)

That Cash Family

It's produced some humdingers, I tell you what. Now Rosanne has a hilarious little piece in The Nation called "Why I'd Be a Better VP than Sarah Palin." This awesome sentence-length paragraph sums it up quite nicely, but you'll have to read the whole in order for it to have its full effect—and please do:

In summation, I present myself to the GOP as a woman, and I repeat, woman, who has held a passport for thirty-eight years, a lip gloss-wearing soccer-volleyball-softball-gymnastics mom of five, who can carry a six-pack home to her husband like nobody's business, whose will is firmly aligned with God's will, a neo-natal conservative and legally savvy public figure, a border-watching, trigonometry-credited, breastfeeding, BlackBerry-tapping, cat-throwing maverick whose daughters are out of their teens, therefore immune to teenage pregnancy (although this is a private, family matter), and whose dad's head (or an eerie facsimile) adorns a state airline.
The sad thing is that whip-smart, witty, talented singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash would make a better VP than the person the McCain campaign actually tapped to run for that job—which is undoubtedly one of the reasons why more and more people are uttering that marvelous word landslide as they look at the polls and contemplate an ever-likelier Obama victory. Hell, most of the people in Lyle Lovett's address book would probably make a better VP than Sarah Palin—and one of those is Julia Roberts. Yikes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Suck. On. This.

Krugman Wins Nobel Prize for Economics

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) — The American economist Paul Krugman won the 2008 Nobel prize for economics for bringing together analysis of trade patterns and where economic activity takes place, the prize committee said on Monday.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the prestigious 10 million crown ($1.4 million) prize recognized Mr. Krugman’s formulation of a new theory to answer questions driving world-wide urbanization.

“He has thereby integrated the previously disparate research fields of international trade and economic geography,” the committee said in its statement.

For an enlightening contrast between Paul Krugman and fellow New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (we'll leave David "Iraq is the Battle of Midway in the war on terror" Brooks out of it), see Tom Tomorrow.

Congratulations, Professor.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4563

For today. True story: I first encountered the name E.D. Hill on Media Matters emails as, mainly, a sidekick to Bill O'Reilly, and for a long time, I thought it was a guy. (I don't have cable.) Upon encountering a picture of said E.D. for the first time, I thought, E.D. Hill is a woman?!? Then all I could think of was that episode of King of the Hill where Peggy becomes Bobby's on-air sidekick when he does morning announcements over his school's PA system, and her idiotic schtick consists entirely of repeating something he just said and then waving a cowbell: "Backpack!" *clang clang clang clang* And, really, does E.D. do anything much more sophisticated? May she never live this one down.

A terrorist fist jab?
(Image originally uploaded by The Gay Gordons; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Play Us Off, Johnny

It's buried near the end, but at least the AP found time in its story about declining U.S. influence in Latin America under Bush (leftists, and not just Brazilians, waxing! America waning!) to mention an inconvenient fact about U.S. involvement in the region. Well, a sentence, anyway. Plus a nifty dark joke courtesy of Chilean president Michele Bachelet:

But the U.S. has an ugly legacy of covert intervention in countries including Chile, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Cuba. Chile's center-left president, Michele Bachelet, was jailed and tortured by a U.S.-backed military dictatorship in the 1970s. She recently recalled telling Washington's ambassador to Chile an old joke: "Some say the only reason there's never been a coup in the United States is because there's no U.S. Embassy in the United States."
Give it time, Madame President; give it time.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3607

Catching up: this is for Saturday a week ago.

The Sassy Adventures of Michiko and Tad was the last "creative" gasp of what critics had already dubbed "The 'It Was Coughing Up Blood Last Night' Network."
(Image originally uploaded by mark chang; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Say Anything

Having read today's Daily Howler, I immediately noticed a problem with this statement by a McCain-Palin spokesperson about the recent report on Sarah Palin's abuse of power in the Troopergate case:

In an e-mail statement, Ms. Stapleton said the report showed that the investigation was a "partisan led inquiry run by Obama supporters and the Palins were completely justified in their concern regarding Trooper Wooten given his violent and rogue behavior."
The problem is that the 14-member legislative council that released the report is made up of ten Republicans and four Democrats; ergo, the Palinite's denunciation is correct IF (a) by "partisan-led" she means "Republican-led" and (b) a significant percentage of those Republicans are Obama supporters. If neither of these is the case, then she's...oh...what's the expression...


Tsk tsk. Not very mavericky, that.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2453

This is for Friday today. I'm going to eschew the obvious Sarah Palin joke because, frankly, I'm concerned about America's lack of paradoxical self-sufficiency, and I think it's high time we stopped importing paradoxes from elsewhere and started generating our own. Drill, baby, drill.

My captions are all false.
(Image originally uploaded by lepham; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Sarah Palin, that is, and Gift being German for "poison," of course. Don't miss this look at the Palinite mob from bloggerinterrupted that's been making the rounds:

"He's a one-man terror cell." "He's got the bloodlines." "Think about the name." "His name says it all." If you told me twenty years ago that one day I'd be living in an America in which a shallow, incurious small-town beauty queen could ride a wave of racism, xenophobia, and frustrated sexuality to a spot that's potentially a heartbeat away from the presidency, I'd have scoffed at you. Yet here we are, in a land where a man's skin tone and foreign-sounding name are to some citizens as shiny, jangling keys to a baby. Perhaps each generation gets the demagogues it deserves.

I fear that the next few weeks in America are going to be very ugly.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4859

To all who've had them and/or expressed them, thanks for the kind thoughts about Gypsy. I'm still quite sad about her demise—I've always been more of a dog person than a cat person, and I'm surprised by how much of a connection I felt to her—but life goes on. I am and have been busy as heck, but I'm going to try to catch up with my DRFBing bit by bit, two or three a day if possible. This is for Friday a week ago.

Salmonism is perhaps the weirdest of sexual fetishes, but my God, is it good exercise.
(Image originally uploaded by brodiemanlsu; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Gypsy (????-2008)

Gypsy was one of my sister's cats. She was at least 18—adopted from a shelter when young, she'd been with my sister for almost two decades—and had been getting steadily sicker and thinner and slower. She got put to sleep last night. I stayed with her as she died. She was one of the sweetest, smartest, most personable animals I have ever known, and I could not bear the thought of her spending her last moments on a cold table in the hands of nought but strangers. I am feeling quite sad today.

I've known many cats, but I've never known a "people cat" as peopleish as Gypsy. She seemed to genuinely like the company of humans, and her wariness with strangers gave way easily to a sense of trust that always made me feel strangely honored. Her trust, and her intelligence, came in quite handy when, years ago, she was diagnosed with diabetes. My sister had dreaded the thought of having to hunt down, immobilize, and inject a squalling cat with insulin twice a day, but Gypsy took to her injections with an awesome acceptance: far from running and hiding, she'd hop up on a table or chair, stand obligingly still, and even meow as if to say "thank you" when they were over. She seemed to understand what they were for—at least in the sense that they were something humans did because we loved her, and she trusted us, and if this was one of the ways we wanted to show it, then so be it. She was easily the smartest, people-savviest cat I've ever known.

I got another taste of her intelligence one night years ago when I was housesitting. It was a cold night—cold for Florida, anyway—and I was about to close the place up for the night when Gypsy began acting very strangely, running back and forth and yowling and carrying on in a decidedly unGypsyish fashion. I paused in my locking-up routine and was wondering what was up with her when another cat, Mary, came sauntering in from the increasingly chilly outdoors. As soon as Mary showed up, Gypsy went back to behaving normally. Perhaps it's foolish to attribute intentions to a cat, but I swear, it was like she wanted to keep Mary from getting locked out in the cold and was trying to distract me long enough to let her get inside. That's the way it seemed at the time, and later experience with Gypsy gave me little reason to doubt the impression that she was quite sharp for her kind.

Gypsy was very affectionate. She particularly liked to hop up on the back of a chair—the better to be at human arm level, I guess—and be vigorously petted. When you did this to her, she would purr and rumble with a vigor that belied her advanced years. It is quite painful to think that none of us will ever have one of these miniature human-cat bonding sessions with this sweet creature ever again.

I know that a swift, painless death is preferable to suffering, but I was not prepared for just how swift her death was. When the vet clinic folks say "it's very quick," they're not kidding. I had assumed that "very quick" meant that, after the injection, the animal gradually gets drowsy, lays down, and slowly drifts off—forever. Oh no. They shaved a patch of fur off of one of Gypsy's legs, injected her there, and after just a few seconds her upper body collapsed onto the table, her tongue came out, and she went totally still. I'd like to think that my presence comforted her and that her last thoughts were of my hand on her head and my voice in her ears and the genuine, immeasurable affection I was desperately trying to convey across the species barrier in those final few seconds of her 18+ years, but I fear that, despite my efforts, her last moments were ones of bewilderment and fear, of cold strangers' hands and a sudden, terrifying, onrushing darkness. And that thought is like a dagger in my heart.

So I'm not in a happy mood today. I'll be back tomorrow if I have the spirit. Until then, and for always, don't forget to stop and smell the flowers.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Wishing Sarah Palin into the Cornfield

This is not quite what I had in mind, but oh well (h/t Sinfonian):

Sorry, I can't get to my backed-up DRFBing or much else today; I'll try to get caught up some tomorrow. Remember: it's a good thing nash did that. It's a good thing.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Get Your Appetite Suppressant On

"...and slurp oysters out of Thomas Friedman's belly button"? *urp* *retch*

(See here if the embed thingie above doesn't load.)

Sorry for the sudden inadvertent hiatus; I've been very busy. I'll be back tomorrow with some catch-up DRFBing and some other stuff. I know I won't die of desperate laughter while watching the VP debate tonight 'cause I'm not gonna watch it; I'm gonna tape it. Perhaps I'll die of desperate laughter some other time—but not tonight.

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