As you read a log, you have the curious sense of moving backward in time as you move forward in pages—the opposite of a book. As you piece together a narrative that was never intended as one, it seems—and is—more truthful. Logs, in this sense, were a form of human self-correction. They amended for hindsight, for the ways in which human beings order and tidy and construct the story of their lives as they look back on them. Logs require a letting-go of narrative because they do not allow for a knowledge of the ending. So they have plot as well as dramatic irony—the reader will know the ending before the writer did.
Anyone who has blogged his thoughts for an extended time will recognize this world. We bloggers have scant opportunity to collect our thoughts, to wait until events have settled and a clear pattern emerges. We blog now—as news reaches us, as facts emerge. This is partly true for all journalism, which is, as its etymology suggests, daily writing, always subject to subsequent revision. And a good columnist will adjust position and judgment and even political loyalty over time, depending on events. But a blog is not so much daily writing as hourly writing. And with that level of timeliness, the provisionality of every word is even more pressing—and the risk of error or the thrill of prescience that much greater.
No columnist or reporter or novelist will have his minute shifts or constant small contradictions exposed as mercilessly as a blogger’s are. A columnist can ignore or duck a subject less noticeably than a blogger committing thoughts to pixels several times a day. A reporter can wait—must wait—until every source has confirmed. A novelist can spend months or years before committing words to the world. For bloggers, the deadline is always now. Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.
Obsession: Loose nukes. I literally lie awake and worry that we haven’t paid attention to some of the real national-security threats that are out there.
Favorite item in house: The house mostly reflects Susan’s style, but I have to put my stamp on things. Once, I found a sculpture of a big, fat squirrel holding a reflector. You’re supposed to put it at the end of your driveway. We have it near the kitchen table; it’s the house mascot.
Obsolete item she won’t part with: I have a little stockpile of lawn mowers, some of which it has been years since they worked. But it seems wrong to get rid of lawn mowers, so I keep them.
Evening routine: Susan cooks dinner; I make drinks. We stay up all night talking or watching movies. Since we don’t have TV, we watch movies on the laptop. I do this whole arcane thing where I get cords and connect the laptop and the speakers to an outlet. It takes 10 minutes.
Full interview at the NY TIMES
Originally posted April 1st, 2008. Check out the comments.
We knew things were bad on Wall Street, but on Main Street it may be worse. Startling official statistics show that as a new economic recession stalks the United States, a record number of Americans will shortly be depending on food stamps just to feed themselves and their families.
Dismal projections by the Congressional Budget Office in Washington suggest that in the fiscal year starting in October, 28 million people in the US will be using government food stamps to buy essential groceries, the highest level since the food assistance programme was introduced in the 1960s.
The increase – from 26.5 million in 2007 – is due partly to recent efforts to increase public awareness of the programme and also a switch from paper coupons to electronic debit cards. But above all it is the pressures being exerted on ordinary Americans by an economy that is suddenly beset by troubles. Housing foreclosures, accelerating jobs losses and fast-rising prices all add to the squeeze.
Emblematic of the downturn until now has been the parades of houses seized in foreclosure all across the country, and myriad families separated from their homes. But now the crisis is starting to hit the country in its gut. Getting food on the table is a challenge many Americans are finding harder to meet. As a barometer of the country's economic health, food stamp usage may not be perfect, but can certainly tell a story.
This is the story of the real John McCain, the one who has been hiding in plain sight. It is the story of a man who has consistently put his own advancement above all else, a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather.
In its broad strokes, McCain's life story is oddly similar to that of the current occupant of the White House. John Sidney McCain III and George Walker Bush both represent the third generation of American dynasties. Both were born into positions of privilege against which they rebelled into mediocrity. Both developed an uncanny social intelligence that allowed them to skate by with a minimum of mental exertion. Both struggled with booze and loutish behavior. At each step, with the aid of their fathers' powerful friends, both failed upward. And both shed their skins as Episcopalian members of the Washington elite to build political careers as self-styled, ranch-inhabiting Westerners who pray to Jesus in their wives' evangelical churches.
In one vital respect, however, the comparison is deeply unfair to the current president: George W. Bush was a much better pilot.
This is dangerous. We have House members, many of whom I suspect can’t balance their own checkbooks, rejecting a complex rescue package because some voters, whom I fear also don’t understand, swamped them with phone calls. I appreciate the popular anger against Wall Street, but you can’t deal with this crisis this way.
This is a credit crisis. It’s all about confidence. What you can’t see is how bank A will no longer lend to good company B or mortgage company C. Because no one is sure the other guy’s assets and collateral are worth anything, which is why the government needs to come in and put a floor under them. Otherwise, the system will be choked of credit, like a body being choked of oxygen and turning blue.
Message to Congress: Don’t get cute. Don’t give us something we don’t need. Don’t give us something designed to solve your political problems. Yes, Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke need to accept strict oversights and the taxpayer must be guaranteed a share in the upside profits from all rescued banks. But other than that, give them the capital and the flexibility to put out this fire.
I always said to myself: Our government is so broken that it can only work in response to a huge crisis. But now we’ve had a huge crisis, and the system still doesn’t seem to work. Our leaders, Republicans and Democrats, have gotten so out of practice of working together that even in the face of this system-threatening meltdown they could not agree on a rescue package, as if they lived on Mars and were just visiting us for the week, with no stake in the outcome.
Mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley (B&B) is to be nationalised, the government has confirmed.
The government will take control of the bank's £50bn mortgages and loans, while B&B's £20bn savings unit and branches will be bought by Spain's Santander.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the move showed the government would "do whatever it takes to ensure the stability of the UK financial system".
The Treasury said taxpayers were being protected from any B&B losses.
The move came on another eventful day of global financial turmoil:
* Wachovia, the fourth-largest US bank, was bought by larger rival Citigroup in a rescue deal backed by US authorities
* Benelex banking giant Fortis was partially nationalised by the Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourg governments to ensure its survival
* The Icelandic government took control of the country's third-largest bank, Glitnir, after the company had faced short-term funding problems
* Shares in Europe and Asia fell sharply, while in the US, Congress voted on a $700bn (£380bn) plan which aims to bail out Wall Street and ease the credit crisis
I have been sitting out here in Detroit simmering as I watch this mess of an election. I sit here with no free time and no one to sound off to. After two weeks of letting it all boil and brew within my wee brain, I have HAD IT. I finally lost it yesterday when an email from an unidentified individual referred to my wife and I as huge Obama "fans".
Now I can understand that many will question why I would lose it over such a small reference, in fact more than a few of you are wondering what exactly the reference was. Well when someone trivializes the amount of effort and investigation I have put into this election, it sets me off. It is this attitude that has this election as close as it is, the attitude that you choose your president the same way you select the winner of American Idol or the way you end up with a favorite baseball team by following the choice of your parents. That you are a "fan".
Before I get into the present, I think we all could use some perspective. Take a second and recall where you were eight years ago when Bush was about to "win" the 2000 election.
I was 24 years old and had hair. This shot is from the following summer. I couldn't find a single photo from back then since I didn't own a digital camera or a cell phone. In the years following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 occurred and then two years later we went off to war in Iraq. Now let's contemplate this for a second, we have been at war for 5 years, longer than my daughter has been alive. She has only lived in a world in which the United States has been at war. While it is simple to marginalize the war, consider that my daughter has lived in nearly the same amount of war time as I have. The point is that the stakes are high, this is serious, it is time to decide who you support and why, not who you are a "fan" of.
With that brief moment of perspective, let's get down to the dirt. The economy hit the fan today, again. It looks like it may go for another spin in the next couple days. Your GOP candidate stated that the fundamentals are sound and you may be inclined to believe him. Let's admit it, it is much easier than facing the pain that has been staring you down for awhile now. STOP. First of all this man, your candidate for the highest office in the land, has lost any ounce of credibility that he may have once had. All you people that see me as a "fan" are thinking, but S Nathaniel you are biased, of course you would say. Perhaps you should read the GOP bloggers, the supporters, who to say the least are disgusted.
Poulos - The trouble is that regardless of whether McCain’s campaign even cracks the top ten sleaziest campaigns in American history, it simply sucks. We know that much. We are on a need to know basis, and it is all we need to know. At this point, I don’t see much point in prevaricating over the truth: this campaign is flying beneath the pride of conservatives and Republicans.
Cohen - McCain has turned ugly. His dishonesty would be unacceptable in any politician, but McCain has always set his own bar higher than most. He has contempt for most of his colleagues for that very reason: They lie. He tells the truth. He internalizes the code of the McCains -- his grandfather, his father: both admirals of the shining sea. He serves his country differently, that's all -- but just as honorably. No more, though.
Now I want to leave you with one last thing to think about. The Obama campaign is too high minded to bring this up, but it is relevant and critical given the nature of the storm we face. McCain may have the most experience with economic times like these. That is due to the fact that he was snuggled right into the last major economic mess. In fact he was investigated over it. I urge you to do a bit of research. Especially think about the quote in bold below in regards to his statement today about the economy.
The U.S. Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s was the failure of 747 savings and loan associations (S&Ls) in the United States. The ultimate cost of the crisis is estimated to have totaled around $160.1 billion, about $124.6 billion of which was directly paid for by the U.S. taxpayer.
The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The five senators, Alan Cranston (D-CA), Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ), John Glenn (D-OH), John McCain (R-AZ), and Donald W. Riegle (D-MI), were accused of improperly aiding Charles H. Keating, Jr., chairman of the failed Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which was the target of an investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB).
The senators' initial defense of their actions rested on Keating being one of their constituents; McCain said, "I have done this kind of thing many, many times," and said the Lincoln case was like "helping the little lady who didn't get her Social Security." - Wiki
Man, you know who's got it made? Fucking idiots. Like not people with severe mental disabilities, necessarily (although I suspect some of them are quietly having a blast), but the generally dumb. They're not only the ruling majority in this or any country, but they glide across the world's rough edges on a thick, downy cushion of mild bewilderment not unlike those bumpers they put in the gutters when little kids go bowling. I was paying up at one of my town's two shitty Chinese restaurants last night and this old fat woman was at the register in front of me (of the variety you'd expect to collect either Hummels or state-themed thimbles) and as soon as she completed her transaction, she pressed her hands against one another in front of her chest like the Bangles "Walk Like an Egyptian" dance and loudly said "Sayonara!" to the politely smiling host. Sure, it induced a round of that squeaking-cough sound when you're trying to hold in gales of laughter from everyone within earshot, but can you imagine how worldly and refined she came across in her own eyes? She probably felt like Sir Richard Burton for the rest of the night.
Being smart's an OK time if you're into playing wikipedia for all your stupid friends and worrying about how things you write on the internet will be "construed," but at this point I would much rather be able to sit through an hour of Dancing With the Stars without feeling like there are ants running through my veins than recall the names of villains from 30-year-old children's cartoons any day of the week.
I mean, how sweet would it be to get really, really angry in a bar cause you overheard someone say something and you can't figure out whether or not they were talking about you, and if so whether or not they were making fun of you? I always know when someone's making fun of me and all it does is make me realize that I'm not going to do anything about it.
Full commentary at Vice Mag dot com