Monday, January 24, 2011

NYT: Two White Gay Guys and a Black Kid with Aids

Not quite the first thoughts based on title.

The remarkably long and way-too-short life of Maurice Mannion-Vanover, born Sept. 11, 1990, dead at the age of 20 on Jan. 14. 2001
Some things we know for sure — a little boy dealt a seemingly impossible hand, the two gay men who decided to give him a home and a life, the unlikely spell cast by the only horse in Montclair.
Few people begin life with so many strikes against them as Maurice had when he was born with AIDS on Sept. 11, 1990, to a crack-addicted mother in a hospital in Washington. There were physical and developmental issues severe enough that his twin sister, Michelle Reed, lived only 20 months. Deserted by his parents, he got his first break in 1993 when two men, intent on caring for a baby with serious physical needs, agreed to take him in.

The two, who came to be known as the Tims, Tim Mannion and Tim Vanover, were told he would probably live six months. But, to everyone’s amazement, he began to thrive. He gained weight. His T-cell count steadily increased. In 1996, they adopted him, becoming the first gay couple in Washington to adopt a child. A year later, they adopted a second son, Kindoo, eight years older. When Tim Vanover got a new job in New York, they moved to Montclair in 1998.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Galle Heliwela: Thoil Thovil: Exorcism and Yak Natum

One of the few complete thovil videos I have seen online. This is old old music, pre Buddhist and I'd almost say before out of Africa. Ive shown these videos to Afro Cuban/Puerto Ricans and maybe then I can convince them I am out of Africa too. Its just the rhythms, so complex and for the uninitiated so out of tune. That said whats with the court jester head gear.

As crainsy1337 says
The yakun natima, or devil dance ritual of Sri Lanka, is nothing if not full of drama. Not just a charade or interval designed to entertain, the yakun natima is a carefully crafted ritual with a history reaching far back into Sri Lanka's pre-Buddhist past. It combines ancient Ayurvedic concepts of disease causation with deft psychological manipulation. Lasting up to twelve hours, it mixes raucous humour with deep-rooted fears to create a healing catharsis for both patient and community.

I just like the words in the first part. Is it about Seenigama Devol Kumaru.

Nondi Kumaru .......
Demala mau .....

Kawadi Somiya: Matara 2005

Assume this was a vow by someone in the forces. Watched this when I was nostalgic and out of SL about two three years ago. Still good and revives spirits, and reminds me why I continue to be a Sri Lankan. Like the part "Ranjan Aiya" around 7:10 mins. Cheers.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Peggy Lee (1969 ): Is That All There Is?

Pretty much sums up my philosophy of life, Is That All There Is. Maybe, might have thought different if I was tortured in some prison camp. Who knows, still got a couple of years to go.

Peggy Lee (May 26, 1920 – January 21, 2002), born Norma Deloris Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota. Beautiful woman, Beautiful music, wrote her own songs, what more can I say.

Babalu Aye: Deity and Dance : Cuba and Puerto Rico

Babalu Aye and dances for the other Orishas are the bases for Salsa, Mambo dances. Babalu Aye is also syncretized with Saint Lazarus

Paul Simon makes reference to Babalu Aye in his song "Rhythm of the Saints", which first appeared on the 1990 album of the same name. The lyrics enigmatically state: "Balalu-aye spins on his crutches/ Says leave if you want/ If you want to leave." Simon also used Saint Lazarus/Babalu Aye as a character in his Broadway show, "The Capeman"

Included a street (I think version) and a stage, Lionel Wendt version. For those who are thinking that the kids in the street version are being exploited (maybe they are, we working class are exploited all our lives) think of ballerinas. Ballerinas look more well off, they wear fancy clothes so look less exploited. Try wearing ballerina dresses in hot humid Cuba, that would be exploitation.

The Lionel Wendt version

This looks so much like a Gamini Fonseka filim in the 70's I had to linky it. This one is probably late 40's.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guantanamo Bay: Guantanamera (The girl from Guantánamo)

Guantanamera (girl from Guantánamo), written in 1929. Yes the same American Guantanamo Bay where terrorists are kept.

Celia Cruz (born Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso on October 21, 1924 – July 16, 2003) sings Guantanamera, probably 1945.

Bill Withers: Grandmas Hands

Bill Withers ( just a great singer song writer. Regardless of what kind of music you like, Grandmas Hands and Ain't No Sunshine are just Classics.

Grandmas Hands

Ain't No Sunshine

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gypsy Music: Guitar Sitar

Beautiful Music, hopefully for the SL audience I'll put together that guitar/sitar (do you get the connection) music is from the gypsies (ahiguntakayas in Sri Lanka) , i.e the Roma, Romani. Django Reinhardt, Charlie Chaplin was of the Smith family of Romanichals. Michael Caine too is considered to be of Romanichal descent.
For those who read classics, Guy Mannering by Walter Scott, footnotes about Meg Merrilies mentions that gypsy language has similarities to Indian languages.

More about the Romani/Gypsies in the future.

Latcho Drom - Banjaras Indian Rajasthan Gypsy Dance

The Rise of the New Global Elite

F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he declared the rich different from you and me. But today’s super-rich are also different from yesterday’s: more hardworking and meritocratic, but less connected to the nations that granted them opportunity—and the countrymen they are leaving ever further behind.

This widening gap between the rich and non-rich has been evident for years. In a 2005 report to investors, for instance, three analysts at Citigroup advised that “the World is dividing into two blocs—the Plutonomy and the rest”:
In a plutonomy there is no such animal as “the U.S. consumer” or “the UK consumer”, or indeed the “Russian consumer”. There are rich consumers, few in number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take. There are the rest, the “non-rich”, the multitudinous many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie.
What is more relevant to our times, though, is that the rich of today are also different from the rich of yesterday. Our light-speed, globally connected economy has led to the rise of a new super-elite that consists, to a notable degree, of first- and second-generation wealth. Its members are hardworking, highly educated, jet-setting meritocrats who feel they are the deserving winners of a tough, worldwide economic competition—and many of them, as a result, have an ambivalent attitude toward those of us who didn’t succeed so spectacularly. Perhaps most noteworthy, they are becoming a transglobal community of peers who have more in common with one another than with their countrymen back home. Whether they maintain primary residences in New York or Hong Kong, Moscow or Mumbai, today’s super-rich are increasingly a nation unto themselves.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of U.S. workers, however devoted and skilled at their jobs, have missed out on the windfalls of this winner-take-most economy—or worse, found their savings, employers, or professions ravaged by the same forces that have enriched the plutocratic elite. The result of these divergent trends is a jaw-dropping surge in U.S. income inequality.

But while their excesses seem familiar, even archaic, today’s plutocrats represent a new phenomenon. The wealthy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s era were shaped, he wrote, by the fact that they had been “born rich.” They knew what it was to “possess and enjoy early.”
That’s not the case for much of today’s super-elite. “Fat cats who owe it to their grandfathers are not getting all of the gains,” Peter Lindert told me. “A lot of it is going to innovators this time around. There is more meritocracy in Bill Gates being at the top than the Duke of Bedford.” Even Emmanuel Saez, who is deeply worried about the social and political consequences of rising income inequality, concurs that a defining quality of the current crop of plutocrats is that they are the “working rich.” He has found that in 1916, the richest 1 percent of Americans received only one-fifth of their income from paid work; in 2004, that figure had risen threefold, to 60 percent.
George Soros, who turned 80 last summer, is a pioneer and role model for the socially engaged billionaire. Arguably the most successful investor of the post-war era, he is nonetheless proudest of his Open Society Foundations, through which he has spent billions of dollars on issues as diverse as marijuana legalization, civil society in central and eastern Europe, and rethinking economic assumptions in the wake of the financial crisis.

As Glenn Hutchins, co-founder of the private-equity firm Silver Lake, puts it, “A person in Africa who runs a big African bank and went to Harvard might have more in common with me than he does with his neighbors, and I could well share more overlapping concerns and experiences with him than with my neighbors.” The circles we move in, Hutchins explains, are defined by “interests” and “activities” rather than “geography”: “Beijing has a lot in common with New York, London, or Mumbai. You see the same people, you eat in the same restaurants, you stay in the same hotels. But most important, we are engaged as global citizens in crosscutting commercial, political, and social matters of common concern. We are much less place-based than we used to be.”

In a recent internal debate, he said, one of his senior colleagues had argued that the hollowing-out of the American middle class didn’t really matter. “His point was that if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile means one American drops out of the middle class, that’s not such a bad trade,” the CEO recalled.

It is perhaps telling that Blankfein is the son of a Brooklyn postal worker and that Hayward (BP CEO) —despite his U.S. caricature as an upper-class English twit—got his start at BP as a rig geologist in the North Sea. They are both, in other words, working-class boys made good. And while you might imagine that such backgrounds would make plutocrats especially sympathetic to those who are struggling, the opposite is often true. For the super-elite, a sense of meritocratic achievement can inspire high self-regard, and that self-regard—especially when compounded by their isolation among like-minded peers—can lead to obliviousness and indifference to the suffering of others.

The lesson of history is that, in the long run, super-elites have two ways to survive: by suppressing dissent or by sharing their wealth. It is obvious which of these would be the better outcome for America, and the world. Let us hope the plutocrats aren’t already too isolated to recognize this. Because, in the end, there can never be a place like Galt’s Gulch.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Grand Funk Railroad (1969): The all american Band

Critics hated them, audiences loved them. And if you know about the home town, Flint, Michigan you would understand the passion in the music. Yes, the same Flint Michigan that Michael Moore wrote about.

What more can I say. As a grad student (OK I am just off the boat) my friends (still friends) pretty much advised Grand Funk was not the in thing. Apparently, Grand Funk didnt do cool guitar chords. I have vinyl of Grand Funk, and still love the music.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ohio Players: 1974

This color and dress was cool in the late 70's (at least to me, here in SL). Yes, I had hand me down orange shirts from my cousin Robin and 8 track tapes of Tina Turner, Blackbyrds, and Temptations 1990 (1973) from my other cousin Logai (Bernard).

Wiki about the Ohio Players

Bloom Box: Electricity from a Box for a House

A good friend of mine (Chanaka Atukorale) sent me this YouTube Link
Bloom Box K.R. Sridhar-Part 1

Some skeptics, mainly on cost effectiveness.
What is Bloom Box?
  • Bloom Energy’s Bloombox Fuel Cell is simply a revolution. Think about a box that consists of a stack of ceramic disks coated with green and black "inks". These ceramic disks are separated by cheap metal plates. Oxygen and methane is fed in, the whole thing is heated up to 1,000 Celsius, and electricity comes out. Bloom estimates that a box filled with 64 ceramic disks can produce enough juice.
  • We can't say that the Bloom Box is cheap. The box is far too expensive. However, some major companies like FedEx, Google and eBay have already started using the boxes. It has said that eBay has were installed 5 boxes 9 months ago and has already saved $100.000 in electricity costs. According to some sources, eBay even claims that the boxes generate more power than the 3,000 solar panels at its headquarters. Another company Google, which is big search engine, has been using 4 Bloom Boxes for the last 18 month. They were Bloom Energy’s first customer.

Payback from saving is 3 to 5 years on 100kw plant. Not bad depending on lifetime

NY Times Post: Gas from Rice Husk


This is why I’m writing today about a small but fast-growing off-grid electricity company based in Bihar called Husk Power Systems. It has created a system to turn rice husks into electricity that is reliable, eco-friendly and affordable for families that can spend only $2 a month for power. The company has 65 power units that serve a total of 30,000 households and is currently installing new systems at the rate of two to three per week.

One day he ran into a salesman who sold gasifiers — machines that burn organic materials in an oxygen restricted environment to produce biogas which can be used to power an engine. There was nothing new about gasifiers; they had been around for decades. People sometimes burned rice husks in them to supplement diesel fuel, which was expensive. “But nobody had thought to use rice husks to run a whole power system,” explained Pandey.

In Bihar, poverty is extreme. Pretty much everything that can be used will be used — recycled or burned or fed to animals. Rice husks are the big exception. When rice is milled, the outside kernel, or husk, is discarded. Because the husk contains a lot of silica, it doesn’t burn well for cooking. A recent Greenpeace study (pdf) reports that Bihar alone produces 1.8 billion kilograms of rice husk per year. Most of it ends up rotting in landfills and emitting methane, a greenhouse gas.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fannie Freddie and the Chinese: The IOU Laws

Wrote this around 2008 to explain the financial crisis and the implications for US China relations..

Fannie Freddie and the Chinese: The IOU Laws

Hu's your daddy now
or is it Yu is the Patsy

Those statements are going to make sense once you read this email. This is an attempt to explain what happening in world of high finance and world politics right now. This is Long, and you are ADD jump to the end and read the Law and the consequences.

There has been a lot of brouhaha on the Freddie and Fannie and their preferred shares.
As usual thats smoke and mirrors. The bigger problem are Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) issued by Fannie and Freddie and the Chinese who own a large chunk of them

For the uninitiated:
Somebody got a loan for a house. They promised to pay that back and make monthly interest payments well.The bank took that IOU note (and a lot of others) and sold it to Freddie and Fannie. Fannie and Freddie in turn collected all those IOU's and bundled them into a Big Ole IOU.Then gave it a fancy name called Mortgage Backed Security (MBS) and that Big Ole IOU was now an Asset. If one wants to know more about MBS, and Ubernerd called Tanta has written more than you ever want to know at a place called Calculated Risk. For our purposes all you need to know is that MBS is name for big IOU which is made up of little IOU's

See, now when I was growing up, an Asset was something you could wrap your hands around.Or you get someone else to wrap their hands around it. First a story

Right out of school, I started working in a audit firm as an articled clerk. It was a job a that paid a very much less than indentured servant (125 Rs, USD 12 per month !) and tasks not much better. One of the first on site audits I did was for Mercantile Investments, who financed cars on Hire Purchase. This type of business is called, Leasing these days; same stuff different name. So as I am checking receipts/invoices and I come across this whole pile that just says Payment to xxx. And its a lot of money (remember I was getting only 125 Rs) 3,000 Rs each month. This definitely warranted an investigation, so I asked Philip who headed the audit and was never around what I should do. Phillip (Babapulles) say "Send the guy a post card (this was before cellphone days) and ask him what it is all about". Couple of days later, the receptionist tells me some one has come over to answer the audit questions. Now I had heard of the de Goon family of Sri Lanka but had never met one. The gentleman seated at the reception didnt need an introduction. This was an honest to God, de Goon. I didnt need no introduction to recognize a member of the de Goon family. The instinct self preservation kicked in, I apologetically said all I needed to verify if Company had actually paid de Goon. See, I had the best interests of Mr. de Goon in mind. End of conversation. Note to self: No more postcards to Mr Gune de Goon in Goontown. (Gune means good in Sinhalese).

So you ask what the hell has my job got to do with MBS and Fannie and Freddie. Please bear with me: there was a moral to that story.
If you are in the car leasing business or by extension the IOU business you need the services of the de Goon family. Dont want to deal with that de Goon family then find another line of business, that does not deal with IOU's.

I call this this the IOU law 1: If you are in IOU business you need the de Goons.

The Jewish community knows this law very well. They got the message well and truly when Shakespeare wrote Merchant of Venice. See ole Shylock entered into an above board agreement and got an IOU from Antonio. Then Antonio cant pay up and does not want to honor his IOU and has the support of the de Goons. You the reader argue what has the Portia to do with de Goon family. She is really Portia de Goonelli who "passes judgement" and then sends the Goonelli's to "enforce judgement". See Shylock was in the IOU business but he did not have the services of the de Goons. He broke IOU Law 1.

This brings us to IOU Law 2: If you are in IOU business and dont have the de Goons,you can be charged with YouDaJew, which can have penalty ranging from confiscation of Assets to to death, yes death.

If you have broken IOU Law One, you can be charged with the law YouDaJew. To explain how this law works, I turn to example from the famous history book Ivanhoe written by Scott. Mr Templar de Brute-Guinbert and his friends had given many IOU's to I-say-eek of Yak. But I-say-eek was in violation of IOU law 1: So, Mr Templar de Brute-Guinbert decides to charge I-say-eek with IOU Law 2 and confiscate I-say-eek's assets and daughter as well. Luckily I-say-eek has a friend in Ivangood and all ends fairly well. Actually Shylock was also charged with IOU Law 2 and assets confiscated, Its just that I aways liked the Ivanhoe history book.

It was after that the Jewish Community got into the bauble and stuff business, i.e. as in; I give you stuff/Baubles you give me cash. Talk about cash business and see eyes light up. The other community that loves the cash business is our South Asian compatriots up North, the Yindians. I think they are relatives of the Jewish community based on nose size. They have always done cash only business, but of late seem to be venturing into the IOU business. So for nobody has written MeYindian of Uganda, so the message hasnt got thru about the YoDaIndian law. Its the same law as YouDaJew just a different language. In Malaysian/Vietnam is the YouDaChink and in Sri Lanka its the YouDaDemala. ( More on this, i.e the bauble business, the dreams/intangible business at another time).

I know this seems to be getting too long, and you must be thinking you better get to the point. Unhappily I have to tell a fairy tail. No, No, not that kind of the fairy or tail. The main character of this story as has always been against fairies, though of late they have been making a song and dance of liking fairies. No, this story is a fairy story as in the Grimm Borthers (Grimm Brothers?, fairy tales?, I think i need to re-read this stuff). Anyways here goes.

See, there was this small town where the big Kahuna was the Johnny be Good family. In the past they used to dig up stuff in their backyard and make things and give them to the people in the village. These things made less work, like not having to walk to get to places. As usual there were the cynics, that said you had to work harder, to get the stuff to keep the things that made less work, keep working. Then there are the other who whisper that the be Good family were really de Goons who changed their name. That does not really matter for the MBS story, I think. Anyways, of late the be Good dont make stuff, the rest of the village makes stuff for the be Good's. The be Goods give the villagers IOU's for the stuff. However,there were some villagers who refused to give stuff and take the be Goods IOUs in exchange. They got slapped with the law DeDaTerrorist. This law has been around for thousand of years, but it was the be Goods who codified the law.

Let spell out those new laws

IOU Law 3: One be charged with DeyDaTerrorist, if they have got stuff and dont accept in exchange IOU's. Enforcers of this law are the be Goods. Another version of this law is DeyDaBlack. (They used another word a few years back which was like DeyDaNi......).

IOU Law 4: One is in compliance with YouMaFriend, if they have got stuff and accept in exchange IOU's. The compliance of this law is ensured the Peace Coons and Advisor be God. (be God is aclose relative of be Good).

Now that we know about the four IOU laws, lets get back to the MBS and the Freddie and Fannie story. If you remember a MBS is really a big IOU made from a whole pile of small IOU's. So, Fannie sell the big IOU to other people. Now, I like the use of the word sell, implying Fannie and Freddie are selling things. My understanding of an IOU was that hopefully some one would agree and trust in accepting a IOU. Anyways, lets use the accepted word sell. So, Fannie and Freddie sell the IOU's. The biggest buyer of these IOU's is China. You may well ask why is China buying IOU's. We need to get back in time for that.

See the good ole USofA had been wanting to get out of the making stuff business. Much cooler to be in the selling intangibles and dreams. You get to wear a suit and dont get your hands dirty. (Actually some of the makers of intangibles actually wear shorts and sandals to distinguish themselves from the sellers of intangibles). So the USofA got China to make stuff. The Chinese said thanks comrade, and got to it and started making stuff. So the Chinese were in the bauble and stuff business. The Chinese got in return from the USA, dollars which the USA said was good as gold.

I am going to digress for a little.

Everyone says dollars (or whatever) are good as gold. Why dont you bury dollars and gold in your back yard (dont put it in a box). Dig it up after a couple of years (10 years) and see which is better, I dont think the dollars (or whatever) will cut it. What about if a NM happens (Thats a Sri Lankan Experience). Essentially the then Sri lankan finance minster NM Perera decreed older Rupee notes invalid. To get replacement note just exchange your notes at the bank. The catch, beyond a cut off amount you got taxed, i.e 70% of what youhanded over. How's that for a taxation method.
Back to China and dollars. Mr. Maka Stuffa in China dont get dollars. The Chinese govt gets the dollars, and gives Mr. Maka Stuffa a couple of dollars. Cool scheme, beats taxation. Now, the the Chinese govt has boat loads of dollars. Word got around about the boat loads of dollars the chinese govt was holding. The next thing the intangible sellers, Mr Wall St (as in Saint) be Good was knocking on the door of the Chinese govt. Mr. Wall St. be Good says, "See Mr Chink (they tink its a compliment) you are loosing time value of money, your money has to grow".

Unsolicited advice on my part: If You dont know what time value of money is, dont worry about, just kick out those who say they do. They are trying to recoup what they lost learning the time value of money.

The Chinese govt guys think, these one smart cookies, wear a suit tie and all and got clean hands. They ask what should we do. Mr. Wall St. be Good " Buy Fannie Mae, MBS. Youll get all your money back and each year get interest as well". Chinese govt guys, "Heres all our dollars we got from selling stuff, Give us MBS"

You realize what happened. The Chinese went from the bauble/stuff business to the IOU business. Maybe they didnt realize MBS was really IOU business. Its also possible even if the book MeChink in Vietnam/Malaysia has been written, it is not really applicable.

So, whats the situation now. The Chinese have gazillions of IOU's from the USof A and big part of Fannie May IOU's. The Chinese can get wise and stop buying these IOU's. What happens to what they already own. This is what some call a Quandary, Conundrum. I call it "Holy shit, what the fuck should I do".

Lets see what can happen. This is really the IOU business. So the IOU laws apply.
Lets reiterate them before we proceed.

IOU Law 1: If you are in IOU business you need the de Goons.
IOU Law 2: If you are in IOU business and dont have the de Goons,you can be charged with YouDaJew, which can have penalty ranging from confiscation of Assets to to death, yes death.
IOU Law 3: One be charged with DeyDaTerrorist, if they have got stuff and dont accept in exchange IOU's. Enforcers of this law are the be Goods. Another version of this law is DeyDaBlack.
IOU Law 4: One is in compliance with YouMaFriend, if they have got stuff and accept in exchange IOU's. The compliance of this law is ensured by the Peace Coons and Advisor be God. (be God is a close relative of be Good).

a) China could say forget about the IOUs, lets move on and pretend like it never happened. The only problem is Mr. Maka Stuffa, might get pissed that the Chinese govt gave his dollars back to the Mericans to get granite counter tops.

b) The rest of the world could get together and make a gazillion big IOU for the US. This trick has been tried before for Weimar Germany. You know how that ended. The NastyVonGoons took over and enforced the DeDaTerrorist on the next door neighbors. The DeyDaTerrorist Law was called DeyNoAryan at that time. Next they went after their country guys and slapped them with the YouDaJew law, based on the IOU's being from the International Cabaal. You the reader will argue that NastyVonGoons stuff that happened had nothing to with IOUs. I say read it up or watch PBS.

c) The US could say to China, here are a couple of H-Bombs, Aircraft carriers and the like and lets call it quits.

d) The Chinese could say better pay up or we send the Mai Guns to enforce the IOU Law 1 against the USA . The Mai Guns have experience enforcing the DeyDaLama Law (Its DeyDaTerrorist Law in Chinese). That was a piddling little exercise and not on the scale to enforce a IOU Law 1 against the USA.

c) The USA could charge the Chinese with the YoudaJew law and attempt to enforce it with the be Goods. The only problem is this is not a cut and dry affair. Its unknowns as to who is the better enforcer, the Mai Guns or the be Goods.

I dont know whats going to happen. Keep tuned. Just remember this can all be explained by IOU laws.

Excerpts from Tantas posts

Tanta (Doris Dungey ) out at passed away on Nov, 30 2008. Early as 2006 Tanta was indicating that this whole economic demise was probably underway.

I just loved her writing. Clear succinct, and extremely amusing.
I think she has coined a phrase for these times to describe the distribution of risk, "Circle jerk of risk". For those who dont know what a circle jerk is, look it up in .

Here is a Compendium of Tanta's Posts and below some excerpts, my favorites. Bold, Underline emphasis by me.

From Tantas first post Let Slip the Dogs of Hell 12/15/2006

I still haven't gotten over the fact that there's a "capital management" group out there having named itself "Cerberus". Those of you who were not asleep in Miss Buttkicker's Intro to Western Civ will recognize Cerberus; the rest of you may have picked up the mythological fix from its reprise as "Fluffy" in the first Harry Potter novel. Wherever you get your culture, Cerberus is the three-headed dog who guards the gates of Hell. It takes three heads to do that, of course, because it's never clear, in theology or finance, whether the idea is to keep the righteous from falling into the pit or the demons from escaping out of it (the third head is busy meeting with the regulators).

If you thought the only thing that would stop the circle jerk of risk was putting some credit and pricing discipline into the game, I guess you're just a weenie like me. Anyone who can make sense of this is free to set me straight. And if the answer has "sorting socks" in it, don't bother. I've tried that.

This is from confessions (Tanta Makes a Confession 4/03/2007 )

I was there, I had the dream, I drank the Kool Aid, I drafted the Letters of Intent to Participate in Pissant County's latest bond program. I trained loan officers to understand how ARMs work, because I believed that I could get them to want to inform their customers—because it is the right thing to do. I could make it fun to be on the side of the angels, and still make a fair profit for the depositors and the shareholders and the employees.

And a comment/answer that just made my day ( 04.03.07)

Eek, one Thursday afternoon, having read the latest outrage from HR, I stormed out of the office like the Wrath of Goddess, and stopped at a very cheap retail outlet--in all senses of the term--to purchase a lime green sleeveless zip-front mini-dress and a pair of deep brown high-heeled platform-soled ankle-strap sandals to wear to work the next day, the holy casual Friday.

You all don't know this, but I'm not the voluptuous sort. Tall, thin. I looked about as appetizing as a half a Freon-flavored popsicle propped upright in a dollop of congealed dog poop. It was perfect.

I had decided I was tired of hectoring memos aimed at our file clerks and fax operators, those loyal dogged folks we paid just over minimum wage, and who had a bad habit of showing up on casual day a little, well, tacky sometimes. Even, perhaps, trashy. There I had been, quietly role-modeling for them all in my elegant, restrained Pendleton suits, and for some reason they didn't run right out and spend a week or two's gross for one of my tailored dresses. And, yeah, they occasionally crossed the line, taste-wise.

But that day, HR had to either pick on someone its own size or admit that it was time to address the clothing budget.

It's a wonder I never got fired.

I will never claim that childish acting out in the office will bring the revolution. Nor am I inclined to apologize for it, either.
From "Scratch and Dent" Loans in 1/31/2007 a comment on the Big Guns balance sheets

There used to be this idea that you didn't push so hard on your correspondents and brokers that you broke their backs—you need a counterparty to keep having a business model. That's a "normal" downturn idea. The current one seems to be more like "close the gates of mercy, shoot the wounded, and sink the lifeboats." That does imply—as JPMorgan also implies—that the Big Dogs have more cooties on the balance sheet than they're prepared to tolerate. Looks like total war to me.

Media Inquiries Policy (A Tanta Post from 2007)

Tanta (Doris Dungey) out at who passed away on Nov, 30 2008 wrote this in 2007. Bill the co blogger revisited the post a few days back in a piece titled 2007: Tanta breaks down the MSM Barrier.

Anyway here is the complete Tanta article on Blog Media Inquiries Policy.

From CR: Regular readers will immediately recognize that the following piece was written by Tanta. I'd like to add that I have an excellent relationship with several prominent reporters (you know who you are), and I look forward to continuing our offline discussions via email and phone calls. I've never sought any personal publicity, although I'd be happy if you quoted from the blog (with a reference). For those reporters hoping to have a similar relationship with Tanta, please think of Tanta as the Man in Black from the "Princess Bride":

INIGO: Who are you?!

MAN IN BLACK: No one of consequence.

INIGO: I must know.

MAN IN BLACK: Get used to disappointment.
Dear Inquiring Minds:

Calculated Risk is a hobby blog, created and maintained by a retired executive, with occasional assistance from a former bank officer and mortgage lending specialist who is currently on extended medical leave. Both of these people get endless questions, answers, hat tips, links, analysis, and overall inspiration from a very diverse group of commenters, regulars and occasional de-lurkers, all of whom are beloved except some of them.

CR regularly gets emails and comments from paid reporters who wish to know if CR or Tanta would like to be interviewed, or would simply like to answer one or several questions that the reporter has about economic or housing or mortgage issues. Because, so far, the answer has always been something on the order of “no,” we would like to explain to you why this is the case. (CR Note: I have no problem discussing general economic and housing issues offline).

Calculated Risk is a blog. That means that it is a medium on which CR, Tanta, and the commenters are free to publish the things they want to say about subjects in which they are interested and to which their expertise is relevant. It is possible that there are bloggers out there who are publishing blogs with the secret hope that they will be discovered by the Big Paid Media and get interview requests, so that they may see their names next to a short, context-free, undetailed, possibly memorable or pithy but usually just crudely-edited quote in the newspaper. Some people may have ambitions that go beyond that, such as becoming a freelancer for Big Media companies, in order that they may get paid in the high two figures to produce short, simple-minded articles that Big Media won’t fact-check any more than they fact-check anything else. There may even be bloggers so
innovative that they still have hopes that the Big Media, print or online, will quote directly from their blog postings and provide links (text or hypertext, as the format allows) so that Big Media’s readers can be directed to the blog for further information. It’s a big internet, we’re not all alike, and neither CR nor Tanta intends to be speaking for any bloggers other than themselves here. Suffice it to say we are not in the above categories.

Dear reporters, we quote your stuff periodically, giving credit both to the reporter and the publication, under fair use terms. We have no objection to your returning the favor. If you have an editor who will not allow that, and you think that the problem can be solved by getting one of us to drop our online personas, give you our real names, and say the same thing to you over the phone, so that you can get your editor to accept it as something other than just blogging, which everybody knows is untrustworthy ranting by anonymous nuts, you are making a faulty assumption about the relationship among us, our birthdays, and yesterday. Neither CR nor Tanta wishes to play into a set of assumptions that render what we say on the blog as unworthy of coverage by the Big Media, but what we might say on the phone to Intrepid Reporter as good dirt and straight skinny.

Do you, can you, understand the implicit insult in that? You want to talk to us because of what we have written on this blog, instead of simply engaging with what we have written on this blog. You are saying that blog entries we have written, at our own inspiration, on our own time, for our own intellectual purposes, backed up by our own research, are not good enough for you to use as source material (properly credited). It only “counts” if you get to ask the questions, form the story angle, edit the material, and put names on it. This is the message we’re getting from you, and the only reason that our answer to many of your inquiries is “no” is that we are—CR at least, is—too polite to make it “no, and go take a hike with the horse you rode in on.”

Some of you are also, if we may say so, operating out of a sense of entitlement that takes our breath away. Here is the entirety of an actual email we received from an actual reporter of a print publication (names omitted to protect the egregious):
I am working on a story about Wells Fargo and subprime lending. I am trying to determine if Wells Fargo bears any sort of risk to the subprime shakeout. You covered this topic on Feb. 16 after John Stumpf presented to the CFSB conference.

I have the same questions many of your bloggers did. What is co-issuing and does that really remove WFC from any risk from these loans?
That is the entire message except for the name and newspaper of the sender. CR and Tanta, who have both worked in large corporations for non-trivial amounts of time, can testify that we have rarely gotten emails like that even from our bosses, who were paying us in dollar-denominated instruments and therefore reserved the right to ask us to do some work. Tanta has herself received email requests for research and information from the CEO of her company that managed to include “please” somewhere near the beginning and “thank you” somewhere before the end. She has also received email requests from business associates who were not actually providing her paychecks, but who were sources of business for her company and thus part of what made her employer profitable, that included not only “please” and “thank you” but such phrases as “if you have the time” and “I realize you aren’t paid to do this, but” and “please let me know what I can do for you in return.” Stuff like that.

Let us say that we cherish those reporters who are regular readers of ours and insightful commenters on the blog, enthusiastic participants in a new medium, interlocutors rather than overlords. We hope any representative of the Big Paid Media will join us in our journey of discovery—just click on the “comment” link at the bottom of a post, make up a handle for yourself, and type away! Feel free to make suggestions for future posts; everyone else does. Feel free to share your own information; everyone else does. Feel free to get flamed if you get uppity; everyone else does.

At the end of the day, please try to understand that we’re doing this for fun. We are not being compensated except for the modest ad revenue that covers the costs of hosting the blog and doing some subscription research that pays salaries for Real Reporters. Insofar as you are sending us inquiries because you think we sound like professionals and have brains in our heads, we’re flattered. However, like you, we just want people to read what we have written. We are not here to hawk our services as comment-bots for some reporter on deadline, nor are we interested in anyone’s investment strategies. This blog is not about helping anyone else make money in the stock or bond or real estate market. Commenters are free to discuss such issues, although they are subject to being banned or having their comments edited if they appear to be disseminating insider information, or trolling for suckers to buy some product or service, or just hijacking threads to endlessly request investment advice that will not be given, unless such comments are sufficiently entertaining to the rest of us and provide useful opportunities for clever snark. The definition of “appropriate comments” is at the whim of the blog host, and there is no avenue of appeal. This guideline extends to emails sent to the blog host, which may or may not be read or answered as the blog host’s time, energy, and idiosyncratically fluctuating level of enthusiasm for reading emails allow. (CR Note: I try to read and respond to most emails) If you do not receive an answer to your email, it may be that we are simply without the time to get to it. It may be, as in the example above, that we do not trust ourselves to answer without blowing our cool in ways that are not conducive to a pleasant retirement or tranquil recuperation. Yes, this means that you are dealing with some hobbyists who really don’t care if this sounds “professional” or not. That is what we have been trying to tell you all along by our choice to be bloggers instead of professional research organizations. We apologize if our strategy was insufficiently transparent.

P.S.: If you are a Nigerian Prince, or anyone else, in need of a bridge loan in order to secure Endless Riches that you would like to share with us, please provide us with your SSN/TIN, checking account number, ABA/routing information, home address, and photographs. We promise not to share that information with anyone other than one or two acquaintances of ours at the DOJ. TIA, as we say on the blogs!