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Archive for February, 2010

If only the financial mess we are now in to our crotches could be solved by calling in the pigs who caused it.  We could butcher, salt, and smoke this problem away, but that is not going to happen.  John Lanchester has written a great little book with a sappy title, I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay.  He is an English novelist and essayist who started out researching our current financial crisis for a novel.  Lucky for us he found the crisis a generational story too good to pass up.

We are harrowed by weak-kneed, ignorant politicians in both the US and UK, and a gluttonous financial sector that has bribed its way to financial anarchy.  It is a modern plague of Grendels and clinging mothers too big for a first round knockout.  The savagery and loses will and are changing our way of life with the rage and blindness of the American teaparties a mild, early symptom.  More is to come.  So if you want to know how all of this came about in a well researched, articulate, clear narrative, buy the book.

If I could pull a fascist edict I would make the book required reading for every community foundation trustee and director.  Trustees and directors are charged with protecting a public trust and ensuring that it works for the public good.  That means they need to understand risk far better, more openly, and with a longer historical perspective than the fast talking investment managers out to sell their private brand of risk management.  They need to remember that pigs are cute and hogs are very intelligent animals.  As animals they are not pets, friends, or environmental partners.  If you can’t get good sized hams out of them, sell them.

As long as I am making recommendations I have one for President Obama.  I know he is busy but I understand he is a fast reader.  So here it is.  Send the cute one home.  Tell the dowdy one not to call, you will call him.  Read the book, then pass it to your lady because I voted for a team, not a single act.  Charles Marlin

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It ought to be called trash but it is too much fun to be that.  Literary prize potential is nil but a reader won’t care when they are delighted to have the book in hand.  In Seth Greenland’s Shining City the narrator begins as Marcus, moves on to Breeze, and caps his life and career as Pimp Daddy, hip deep in money.  The schmuck stumbles at first but then finds his stride, keeps the love and loyalty of a smart wife, raises a decent son, and enjoys the company of a funky mother-in-law.  How does he do it you ask?  He is a native of Los Angeles where all things are possible.  Charles Marlin

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