Ah, Hell!

Paul Newman is gone. Possibly one of the coolest actors ever to walk the earth.

Who can forget him in Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, or The Hustler.

Two roles that stick out in my mind are his turns as Lew Harper (aka Lew Archer) in Harper and The Drowning Pool and as aging Irish crime boss John Rooney in Road to Perdition.  One other role, really a standin as the final Lew Harper movie and Lew Archer novel, was Harry Ross in the 1998 PI flick Twilight.  Newman played an aging private detective benefitting from the kindness of his friends, movie mogul Jack Ames (Gene Hackman) and actress Catherine Ames (Susan Sarandon).  In it, James Garner plays Raymond Hope, who looks suspiciously like an aged, corrupted Phillip Marlowe riding out his golden years on whatever graft he can find.

Newman owned every picture he was in, but was never over the top.  He reminds me more of Morgan Freeman than contemporaries Hackman and Jack Nicholson.  Newman defined cool in a way the Rat Pack before him couldn’t.  The Rat Pack told you they were cool (and let’s be fair here, backed it up).  Newman just was cool and didn’t have to say a word.  No bravado.  No machismo.  Just effortless charisma.

We’re going to miss you, Paul.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Rose

See that lovely lady to the left? That’s Mrs. Winter to you, Nita to me.  Nita and her son AJ came into my life at a time I didn’t know I needed someone.  I needed her.

For all the drama and upheaval I’ve gone through this year, 2008 has been the happiest, if not the strangest, year of my life.  She completely blew me away.

Today is her birthday.  Happy birthday, Sweet Rose.  I love you very much.

The Things We Do For Love

[Sick of politics and our crappy economy?  Me, too.  Let’s take a break and talk about cool stuff.]

What a year.  Divorced.  Married.  Going from middle-aged and childless to new stepdad in less than six months.  And the new union – new family – has been absolute joy.  But it hasn’t all been easy.

I got the condo known as Rancho Winter in the divorce.  Not a problem.  Diane found this sweet little cottage five minutes from her job.  So we all win.  Right?

Maybe not.

I’m typing this in a new office I refer to as The Dungeon.  No, I didn’t move my office downstairs to accomodate my new family.  What?  Are you kidding?  That’s where the Wii and the DVD player went.  Where are your priorities?

No, I’m in The Dungeon because Rancho Winter is no more.  When we married, Nita and I thought the condo would be the perfect home for us.  Near shopping and the I-275 loop where the high school had a technical program for AJ, all we were the big kitchen, big deck, and all that room.  But…

I’d grown used to the long commute.  Sure, I had to go through another state to get to downtown Cincinnati, but hey, it was fast.  Wasn’t it?  Nita’s commute was 40 minutes by back road.  One way.  We said nothing to each other.  But then we noticed something I hadn’t paid attention to before.

Eastgate has more cigarette butts on the ground than a Marlboro factory at full tilt.  Yep, the locals don’t seem to care about such things.  I didn’t notice before because I spent almost all my time upstairs in the office or away from Rancho Winter.  Now?

Ugh.

Then came the first day of school.  AJ was miserable.  Very miserable.  He’d handled all sorts of family-related problems before with little more than a shrug, taking out his frustrations in World of Warcraft.  He came home from school miserable and sick.

I could list my problems with the local school system here.  Being a new parent, I was ready to make sure the principal would have a very bad day everyday until AJ, never mind me, was made happy.  It’s pretty bad when the school is so logistically challenged that even the lockers aren’t assigned until a kid’s parent calls to complain.

We hated the school, the commute, the neighborhood…  And we hated having two house payments.  Since my house has only two years of wear and tear vs. 14 years for Nita’s, selling Nita’s place – especially now – would be a very, very bad idea.

And we both love Deer Park.  I first got to know this quaint little town just north of the city when I arrived in Cincinnati back in 1991.  It was close enough to my first apartment here that I did a lot of business there.  Nita and her ex bought her house back around the time the Foo Fighters became Dave Grohl’s full-time job.  The neighbors are friendly.  The town is quiet.  The cigarette butts on the ground are almost non-existent.  And yes, there are quite a few smokers here.  The commute is shorter, and the school system…

They missed AJ.

Three days into the school year, Nita asked me, “Can we please move back to Deer Park?”

I hemmed.  I hawed.  That was a HUGE change in plans, particularly after all the grief I took getting the condo refinanced.  (Note to those getting an amicable divorce:  Even if you and your ex are staying friends, the bank will supply all the drama you can handle.)  But it didn’t take long for me to see the benefits.

Shorter commute?  Nicer neighborhood?  Better school for AJ?

Hell, I just wanted to make my family happy.

We may have become a family in less time than most couples take to start leaving clothes at each other’s place, but we are a family.  I love them very much.

And I love living in our small (and now remodeled) house in this quaint little town I’ve known about for 17 years.

Sometimes, the big changes are the most worthwhile of all.

From MrHankPaulson (See also “p0rn” and “Candadian drugs cheap”)

[From various sources.  This one came from Ye Olde Day Job.]

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transaction is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

Henry Merritt “Hank” Paulson Jr. is the
United States Treasury Secretary and member of the International Monetary Fund Board of Governors. He previously served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs.

 

 

What Have We Learned This Week?

We learned Milton Friedman was full of shit.

Like Karl Marx’s “From each according to his gifts to each according to his needs,” Friedman’s hands-off economics are a beautiful dream.  And like Marx, Friedman seemed to lack the ability to factor in man’s unrelenting instinct to screw his fellow man.  So just as Big Communism died an ugly death in the 1990’s, so unrestrained capitalism is about to bite it big time in the 2000’s.

Oh, you’ll still be able to make a buck, but like the so-called “workers’ paradise” envisioned by Lenin and Mao, Wall Street’s giddy deregulatory orgy resulted in a mutant form of feudalism.  Only now you have oversized banks in place of a “people’s republic.”  This week, coupled with the end of the Soviet Bloc so long ago, proves one point:

There is no wisdom, security, or morality in being ideologically pure.  There are only doom, failure, and hypocrisy.

Attention Liberals, Democrats, Pissed-Off Republicans, And Independents Who Have Already Said No To McCain…

You are hereby ordered to read the following post over on John Scalzi’s blog.

And then on pain of me being very, very rude to you, you are hereby ordered to implement it and stop whining!!!

Whining and getting all scared and stuff is what wingnuts do.  Stop stealing their thunder.

God, you’d think you people never elected a president before.

Why can’t you just make fun of McCain like Dusty Rhoades?

Plenty Of Blame To Go Around

Last year, my wife abandoned a sinking ship of an investment firm for a more (and surprisingly still) stable mortgage broker.  Why?

The firm specialized in “innovative” products such as the “No income verification loan” and its twin, the “No asset verification loan.”

I’ve taken out two loans in the last two years, both standard mortgages.  The first mortgage broker I dealt with mentioned these types of loans, along with the ever-popular “Interest only loan,” and said, “These have to be the stupidest damn ideas anyone has ever come up with in this business.”

When Nita left the brokerage last year to work for her current employer, she said, “I thought those were the dumbest ideas anyone’s ever come up with.”

Now who’s stupid?  The lenders?  The borrowers?  The government?

Answer:  D, All of the above.

If you want to understand why John McCain (never mind Barack Obama) will raise your taxes if elected in order to pay off our newly acquired $700 billion debt, you need only to look at this scenario.

This is Bob.  Bob makes a lot of money working for the makers of Enzyte.  However, Bob has no assets, and while he makes a lot of money working for the makers of Enzyte, Bob doesn’t make THAT much money.

This is Bob’s wife.  If Bob buys an overpriced, oversized McMansion in Blue Ash, she’ll deep kiss his big boost of confidence until he’s satisfied.

So Bob visits Hugh Jazz, mortgage broker.  Hugh looks at Bob’s assets, credit, and income.  Well, Citigroup, Fifth Third, and Bank of America all send back Bob’s mortgage app with attached sound files of the underwriters laughing hysterically.  Not to worry, says Hugh.  He whips out a no-income verification app and says to Bob, “So how much would you make if you were paid what you were worth.”

Bob writes himself another big boost of confidence for his salary.  The bank likes this number better and floats him a loan at higher interest.

Except that the loan is based on what Bob wrote down, not what Bob actually makes.  Soon, it becomes apparent that Bob can’t make his payments.  Worse, he’s out of a job when the feds close down the makers of Enzyte.  Bob tries to sell his house, but Hugh Jazz has written so many of these types of loans that the house isn’t worth what it once was.  So Bob defaults.

Now Hugh’s hemorhaging business because no one can get credit anymore.  Why?  Because there are millions of Bobs in this country, and most of them are fucktards.  Well, so’s Hugh for pitching this idea in the first place.  But if you think that’s bad, the bank is run by fucktards who somehow forgot that the first rule of lending is to make sure the borrower can pay you back.  Even loan sharks know this.  (Kneecapping is not profitable.  Getting paid back is.)  Then again, who came up with no-income and no-asset verification loans anyway?

The banks, however, did this because it was legal and they thought they’d make a ton of money on the raised interest.  Cute.  So if you let people be stupid and shoot themselves in the foot, they’ll likely do it.  Now, I think warning labels are an affront to God and Darwin as it interferes with natural selection, but in this case…

The government was a bunch of fucktards for not stepping in in the first place and saying, “Hey!  You can’t do that!  Everyone will go broke if you do that!”  Instead, they wait until a repeat of 1929 before stepping up.  (Upside:  Unlike Herbert Hoover, Bush didn’t wait four years.  Score 1 for W, not that it matters now.)

And that, friends and neighbors, is why you’re on the hook for $700 billion.  You’re paying for a broad range of fucktards.

For those of you who can’t handle turning the mortgage meltdown into an extended dick joke (Why?  You’re being screwed, so it fits.  Sorta.), I suggest you read this explanation from CNN’s Glenn Beck, possibly one of the smartest and funniest wingnuts around.