Archive for February, 2009

He Coulda Been the Contender

Posted on February 27th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

I saw The Wrestler last night. Much as I was impressed by Sean Penn in Milk, how could Mickey Rourke not have won best actor for that film?

He left everything out there in that performance….you just felt that, physically and emotionally, it took Rourke a lifetime to get to a place where could play that part. And you could see every stupid mistake, every bad choice, of that lifetime in his ravaged face and battered body. Heartbreaking and amazing, I thought.

Players in Thin Stripes

Posted on February 27th, 2009 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Times reports on the number of baseball players who seem to have mysteriously lost weight over the winter.

This minitrend has been labeled the Pedroia Effect by Greg Lalas, retired soccer player and writer for Goal.com. He was referring to the 5-foot-9-inch, 180-pound second baseman with the Red Sox who hit .326 with 17 home runs last year and was named most valuable player in his league.

I for one wouldn’t mind seeing a deemphasis on the home run in baseball—to me, it’s massively overrated. I much prefer to see men leading off first and second, the pitcher checking the bases warily, all the strategy implicit in the situation, than some musclehead providing three seconds of excitement with a home run.

(2nd) Quote of the Day

Posted on February 26th, 2009 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

“This crisis is neither the result of a normal turn of the business cycle nor an accident of history. We arrived at this point as a result of an era of profound irresponsibility that engulfed both private and public institutions from some of our largest companies’ executive suites to the seats of power in Washington, D.C.”

—Barack Obama, in an introductory message to his budget.

Quote of the Day

Posted on February 26th, 2009 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

“Thirty years later, people still remember it.”

—Former Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent, on his famed home run against the Boston Red Sox in the top of the 7th on October 2, 1978.

For more info, see The Greatest Game...

Forbes on Harvard’s Endowment “Meltdown”

Posted on February 26th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

It’s the cover story—and it’s not pretty.

Desperate for cash, Harvard Management went to outside money managers begging for a return of money it had expected to keep parked away for a long time. It tried to sell off illiquid stakes in private equity partnerships but couldn’t get a decent price. It unloaded two-thirds of a $2.9 billion stock portfolio into a falling market. And now, in the last phase of the cash-raising panic, the university is borrowing money, much like a homeowner who takes out a second mortgage in order to pay off credit card bills. Since December Harvard has raised $2.5 billion by selling IOUs in the bond market. Roughly a third of these Harvard bonds are tax exempt and carry interest rates of 3.2% to 5.8%. The rest are taxable, with rates of 5% to 6.5%.

It doesn’t feel good to be borrowing at 6% while holding assets with negative returns….

And more explicitly than other articles, Forbes suggests that Larry Summers cost the university billions of dollars.

(And no, that’s not a reference to his severance package.)

The bad bet on interest rates–a swap in which Harvard was paying a high fixed interest rate and collecting a low short-term rate–goes back to a mandate from former Harvard president Lawrence Summers.

The bottom line: Harvard is in financial crisis.

The Plight of the Young Harvardian

Posted on February 26th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

In the Crimson, junior Eugene Kim writes that the current economic crisis should prompt students to reconsider “the trade-school mentality that has characterized our campus in recent decades.”

In particular, the annual ritual of the junior-year finance internship search—which has given rise to a disturbing sense of entitlement—must be reined in. It is one thing to offer valuable pre-professional opportunities to interested students; it is entirely another to create a disturbing subculture of hyper-competitiveness that destroys the very foundation of the liberal-arts education Harvard claims to offer.

A worthwhile thought. But in times of crisis, will people take Kim up on it? Or will they try even harder to nail down that still high-paying finance job?

You Know the Economy’s Bad When…

Posted on February 26th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

…the “Life is Good” store goes out of business.

The Plight of the Young Conservative

Posted on February 26th, 2009 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Washington Post reports on the empty, tragic life of young conservatives in Washington today.

John O’Keefe, 23, another conservative think-tank intern who might be out of a job after his internship ends in May, dismisses his liberal contemporaries. “The only thing they have are blogs. They feel like gods of our generation,” he says, before ruminating on a very Washington cure-all. “I’m hoping that people get [angry] at Obama and start forming political action committees.

The only thing they have are blogs?

How dare he insult blogs.

But seriously, why would any young person want to be a Republican now? The party stands for nothing except torture, tax cuts, and a knee-jerk opposition to anything President Obama does.

Scott Keeter, survey research director at the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, suggests there may be broad reasons why Republicans are not in sync with millennials. “I don’t want to go too far and say this is a lost generation for the Republican Party,” Keeter says. “But it’s a serious portent that [young people’s affection for the Democratic Party] is not dependent on Obama — it’s a function of demographic shifts, and that this generation came of age when the Republican brand has been damaged.

Eight years of George Bush will damage your brand, yes.

Every Little Bit Helps

Posted on February 25th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

The new Depeche Mode single, “Wrong,” is just released—and it’s good!

Here’s the extremely disturbing video. Boy, are DM dark.

Depeche Mode – "Wrong" (official music video)

A Few Thoughts on Last Night’s Speech

Posted on February 25th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Anyone else watch the president address Congress last night?

I love the fact that his speech is also on the White House website in Spanish.

The Bush administration might have done that—but only so that they could track anyone who read the Spanish version, eavesdrop on their phone calls, arrest them without charges, torture them, try to convert them, and then deport them.

(And by the way—how great was it to hear Obama say, ” I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture”? Pretty great.)

Hyperbole aside, some simple reactions:

I thought it was a fine speech, conveying his concern about the economy to the American people, and that the Republicans behaved boorishly.

I loved it when he said that health care reform would be addressed within a year, but I find it hard to believe; members of Congress just don’t get how terrifying the idea of getting sick without health insurance is for so many people across the country.

I like Joe Biden, and now I like him more; I’ve never liked Nancy Pelosi, and now I like her less. Could she stop jumping up and down like someone is goosing her?

I really wish members of Congress would stop asking the president for an autograph. Ticky-tack.

I also wish that CBS News consistently identified Dan Bartlett, whose analysis was clearly partisan, as a former close aide to President Bush, instead of as “a CBS News political analyst.” I’ll bet most Americans have no idea who Bartlett is….

Sure, it was cheesy, but I loved that bit about the young girl who wrote, “We are not quitters.” It’s great, how inspiring children can sometimes be, and how they can remind us of what we should aspire to.

I love that Obama said that we need to ” save our planet from the ravages of climate change.” Jesus, it’s about time that an American president acknowledged this.

If you don’t think that Obama was terrific last night, try this exercise: Imagine how you would have felt if John McCain were standing up there under the same circumstances…..

Now, that’s scary.