Archive for March, 2009

Prison Nation

March 29, 2009

Not only does the U.S. do a quarter of the world’s drugs and burn a quarter of the world’s gasoline – amazing for a country that’s only home to 1/20 of the world’s humans – the U.S.  incarcerates a quarter of the world’s prisoners: 2.3 million people in all. It’s evolved into a for-profit industry with a powerful lobby that must be de-legitimized. We need this to stop, and Sen. Jim Webb looks like the man with the right plan. Also I’m very leery about the shirtless guy in the photo below.

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Required economic viewing and reading

March 27, 2009

South Park’s “Margaritaville” episode:

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Simon Johnson ‘s “The Quiet Coup” in The Atlantic:

“Laws put in place more than 100 years ago to combat industrial monopolies were not designed to address the problem we now face. The problem in the financial sector today is not that a given firm might have enough market share to influence prices; it is that one firm or a small set of interconnected firms, by failing, can bring down the economy. The Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus evokes FDR, but what we need to imitate here is Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting.”

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Word’s second largest city nearly out of water

March 26, 2009

While the sensationalists spotlight ghastly drug violence in Mexico (and ignore piggish drug consumption in the U.S.), the taps in Mexico City, home to 20 million people, are running dry.

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Packs of wild dogs marauding on the Plains

March 25, 2009

In a new post-apocalyptic development on Colorado’s Eastern Plains, packs consisting of as many as 100 feral dogs have been terrorizing the Ellicott area.

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Goldman bailing out Goldman

March 22, 2009

Matt Taibbi’s “The Big Takeover” in the new Rolling Stone is a remarkable piece of journalism, the best take on the financial crisis I’ve yet read:

“In essence, Paulson and his cronies turned the federal government into one gigantic, half-opaque holding company, one whose balance sheet includes the world’s most appallingly large and risky hedge fund, a controlling stake in a dying insurance giant, huge investments in a group of teetering megabanks, and shares here and there in various auto-finance companies, student loans, and other failing businesses. Like AIG, this new federal holding company is a firm that has no mechanism for auditing itself and is run by leaders who have very little grasp of the daily operations of its disparate subsidiary operations.

In other words, it’s AIG’s rip-roaringly shitty business model writ almost inconceivably massive.”

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Letterman rules

March 21, 2009

“You remember that Sarah, one of the deals was one of her children, daughters, a very young girl, was pregnant and was going to get married to the young man that knocked her up. And her name was Bristol, and the kid’s name was Levi Johnston. You remember these kids? Well, they have broken up. Yes. So if you were going to send them a gift… And the kid, Levi Johnston, is saying that, ‘We are just not ready for marriage.’ And I thought that makes sense because their mother really wasn’t really ready to be vice president, either.”

Back from Baja

March 20, 2009

I’m back in Denver after a week in California, Alta and Baja. In Baja, I stayed in Loreto, caught a couple fish in the Sea of Cortez, drove to the great little town of Mulegé, and drank too many margaritas on St. Patrick’s Day.

My new book is out

March 17, 2009

Ramble California is just hitting the street as I type.

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The late, great Porter Wagoner

March 13, 2009

My buddy Barnes directed this a couple of years ago – worth a watch if you haven’t seen it:

U.S. unemployment hits 15 percent

March 12, 2009

The rarely reported U6 unemployment rate recently hit 15 percent. A lot of smart economists think it paints a better picture of the job market than the more commonly reported U3.