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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Saturday Notables

This will be a random grabbag.

First, a personal anecdote that I feel proves the glass ceiling for women. Following our usual tradition, last night was the third poker night of the holidays. The parties involved were my physicist brother, the Chief and myself plus two canine kibitzers. I had just barely been holding my own, and last night appeared doomed to follow the same course. Therefore I decided to apply strategic psychological pressure by mentioning (at carefully chosen intervals) boob power and the dire fate of the patriarchal power structure once Hillary succeeded to the throne.

For a while, it appeared that the patriarchal power structure was remaining ascendant, but then I ended up with a ROYAL STRAIGHT FLUSH. I drew for it, mind you. Leaping to my feet as the patriarchal power structure refused to see my discreet sucker bait two penny bet, I slammed it down on the table. While the patriarchal power structure was staring at it with bulging eyeballs, and the Chief was muttering thanks to some patriarchal G_d that he hadn't gotten his full house, I leaped to my feet, raised my arms to the sky, and proclaimed the virtues of our great Leadress The Hillary the female representative of Womyn Power on this our Gaia.

You'll hardly credit this, but the patriarchal power structure left the table. My brother suddenly experienced a pressing need to read some article about physicists claiming that merely studying dark matter would hasten the death of the universe, and the Chief was seized by an uncontrollable urge to do laundry. They eventually came back, and in short succession I got two straights, three aces and a full house. They were folding a lot, thus depriving me of my rightful winnings in a clear demonstration of patriarchal wussiness.

Now on to other matters. This article details the worries over subprime adjustables in the UK. Sales and property values there are already slumping, prompting a credit tightening. The dominant loans there have been these two-year adjustables which reset to a much higher rate. The standard has been to refi after the two-year fixed period at the initial lower rate, and now a lot of buyers won't be able to do that. Ireland, the land of the IO mortgage, has growing supply and falling sales. The Spanish market is also slumping severely, and construction there has recently accounted for about 18% of GDP growth, so the results of a slump will be accentuated.

There is a truly excellent post at Calculated Risk regarding the decoupling theory (that the US will slump but the rest of the world will go on rapidly expanding). I have been writing about the declining YoY freight figures most of this year. Here is CR's graph on Chinese exports to the US:

This graph goes through September, and exports peak in October. They can not do more than barely exceed the previous peak, and this last happened in 2001, the year of the previous recession. If you go by freight figures, we appear to be in a consumer-led spending recession already. Dollar-denominated retail sales figures show increases, but this is because of the high cost of food, fuel and other necessities. YoY sales tax receipts are really beginning to slow now. The Chinese are worried, and who can blame them?

Moving on to non-economic matters, this article about an incident in Britain in which disabled veterans were jeered out of a public pool they were using for rehab disturbed me:
The men, injured during tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, were taking part in a rehabilitation session at a leisure centre, when two women demanded they be removed from the pool. They claimed that the soldiers "hadn't paid" and might scare the children.
It is not the first time that Headley Court neighbours have been accused of poor behaviour.

There was uproar earlier this year after residents objected to planning permission to convert a home into a six-suite hostel for injured soldiers' families to stay in. The local council later approved the building work.
David of Photon Courier has written about past incidents of this sort of thing. As for "scaring the children", what do these bimbos want disabled people to do? Hide themselves from sight? If you are not willing to have your children around disabled adults, the treatment of disabled children in public schools is going to be dire indeed. Sane women would use this as a teaching opportunity. There's more than one mental problem displayed here.

And last, a humorous note. In the wake of the various problems in the Episcopalian church, multiple bishops in Canada and the US are now fleeing either to the Southern Cone, African Anglican provinces, or the Catholic church. Ruth Gledhill seems to be displaying an odd attitude in this somewhat hysterically entitled article Pope prepares to pounce as Anglican haemorrhage begins:
Given the attentiveness Rome is showing to the requests from three US episcopal bishops to be received, plus the open letter requesting reception from one entire traditionalist breakaway Anglican church, the Traditional Anglican Communion, a good source tells me: ‘Rowan will be chewing the carpet. I would go as far as to say he is wondering where he actually stands.’

My headline is perhaps a little unfair to Benedict. The same source says: ‘Not just in the UK, but also in Europe, there is an enormous constituency, for the lack of a better word, of the spiritually disinherited. And this is not just about Catholics - it is also about believers in Russia who were cheated out of the practice of their religion by the Communists, in Europe by relativising thelogians and in the UK by clergy so desperate to please that they emptied the Christian faith of any content. Pope Benedict speaks in the name of these Christians and this is what makes his Pontificate so very exciting.’
In other words, a church with a coherent theology has attractions for serious believers. I don't see this as being the fault of Pope Benedict, so I would say the title is more than a "little unfair". The problem is not pouncing popes, but wussy, vague theology in the Anglican churches of the northern west. The joke is that the vast majority of all Anglicans worldwide live in the more orthodox communities of the Global South. Those communities are biblically based and growing rapidly in spots as far afield as Indonesia, Africa and South America (the Southern Cone). The huge majority of Anglicans are black or brown people who believe in the Creeds, and the feeble churches of the UK, Canada and the US are the itty-bitty tail of Anglicanism pretending to be the head while trying to wag the dog. Needless to say this produces a ridiculous spectacle of hubristic nonsense.


I would just like to say of your recent run at the poker table, typical. Is it poker playing prowess, or a confirmation of an unwritten rule among men, to never play poker with women? It has something to do with universal dark matter, and the infinite cosmic muffin of deep outer space, to be sure. ;-)
Dark matter and Lilith, eh?

The Chief and the Bro did not apparently encounter that universal rule.
Hate to rain on your megalomaniacal power trip rush but getting a Royal is just math.

Trust me on that, I live in Vegas.

It does pay a little better here on the cash side but sometimes bragging rights supercede money.

Can you reduce the number of word verification letters? That's very taxing.

Dark matter and Lilith, eh?

I knew it! A first name basis! Just joking around. I don't mind playing w/ the ladies who know how to play.
Ah, how refreshing to get a bit of a different view of MAMA from this post. I laughed out loud!
Poker, eh? I never learned to play, but the thought hit me a couple of days a go that I might enjoy it, and actually have some sort of natural gift for it as it's similar to my vocational training.
Viola - yeees, there is the DARK SIDE. At least there is when either my brothers or the Chief is around to be teased.

CF, I can't believe you never played poker!!! You'd love it!

Edgar, pleased to hear that laws are made to be broken, at least this one. My mother, who was a true lady, loved playing poker. She once opened on a large pot and bluffed us all except the Chief with two 2s. When called, she flushed charmingly, looked at the cards with great surprise, and said "Why, I thought I had three!" Despite a genuine case of incredible good breeding, she was known occasionally to let loose with an obscenity when the cards did not go her way.

TS, the Chief finds my calculation of the odds to be something akin to cheating, and in order to frustrate it, he has taken to betting before he looks at his cards. THAT'S MEGALOMANIA. If you don't comprehend the humor in describing Hillary's campaign as "Boob Power", there's probably nothing anyone can do to help.

I'm sorry about the word verification junk. I resisted it for the longest while, but eventually was overwhelmed with spam.
CF, for those slow days at the office, this site is pretty good.
Thanks, Mama. Please let me know when I'm going to have a few slow days. Please!!

P.S. can you send me the link privately? The big brother smart filter is there to protect me.

Can't get porn, either...
Contrast Rowan on American imperialsim:


... with Benedict on the failings of Islam:


The trendy v the coherent.
Sorry, those links are:
Uggh. Rowan.
Benedict's lecture.
The swimming pool story reminded me of a passage in Nicholas Montserrat's WWII novel "The Cruel Sea." The protagonist, a naval officer, is at the cinema while home on leave. Also attending is a group of RAF pilots with hideously burned faces. Several women object to their presence, saying that they sould not be allowed out in public.

I don't know if this was based on an actual incident, but Montserrat did draw heavily on his own WWII experience in his writing, so it seems possible.
One of my favorite quotes is: "One man's religion is another man's belly laugh."

One of my personal observations about religious groups, especially Protestant ones is that groups reach a certain age, then a sub group thinks that the theological elites of the Church have made the 'simple' message of the Bible too complex and break away.

The break aways rock along for a generation and accumulate members, then in order to defend their views and accumulate more members, they establish schools of theology which about a generation later discover that the world and the Bible are very complex, by the 3rd generation the next break away group longing for a 'simple message' is forming.

In any case, in the Southern Hemisphere, our black and brown brothers are discovering the joys of the Pentecostal and Charismatic beliefs over the older communions.

So the dispute in the Episcopalian communion is a fight over a diminishing market and may be driven by that diminishing market more than theology. After all competing with groups that have such happy services is bad enough, competing with 'simple messages' just makes it worst.
Vader - the difference between the northwestern Anglicans and the Anglicans in the rest of the world is that the Anglicans in the rest of the world are largely poor. Therefore the orthodox theology makes great sense to them. If you live in a poor society, those messages about thrift, charity, and all the rest of it speak right to you. No Christian church that isn't orthodox is going to have much power in places like Africa or Asia, where millions die from preventable causes, and where the very old-fashioned virtues do lead to longer, healthier lives.

Here, most of us live at comfortable distances from the seams of life for a long time. There, no.

Our consumerist society doesn't seem to manage its wealth well, and could probably use some good old-fashioned Bible thumping. Whether we want to believe it or not, using wealth to screw the workers is not a tactic that leads to long term success. I read Jeremiah and think that he could be walking the streets today. We are suffering from a lack of seriousness and a willingness to institutionalize wishful thinking in the west.

They don't admire that about our culture, and they shouldn't. The great values of the west have been around for much longer than the culture of the last thirty years, and have born great results. The culture of the last thirty years is doomed to die an ignominious death.
David, that's an interesting anecdote. I wouldn't be that surprised.
I've just reread Benedict's lecture through Mama's link: a beautiful beam of light, when all about are either attacking Islam or excusing its faults.

Truth and reason are ready for us - but we have to be big enough to find a way through and meet them.

Now, tell that to the financial markets!
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