Veronique de Rugy dispels some myths about the economic crisis. Finance industry regulation was on the rise, not the decline, and one bit of actual deregulation that actually did take place is irrelevant to the situation:
While Gramm-Leach-Bliley did facilitate a number of mergers and the general consolidation of the financial-services industry, it did not eliminate restrictions on traditional depository banks’ securities activities. In any case, it was investment banks, such as Lehman Brothers, that were at the center of the crisis, and they would have been able to make the same bad investments if Gramm-Leach-Bliley had never been passed.
The real culprits? An explosion of high-risk lending. ("Stricter regulation of credit-default swaps wasn’t going to make those subprime mortgages any less likely to go bad.") The Fed’s "cheap-money policy."And this:
Allowing financial institutions such as Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and investment banks to maintain significantly smaller capital reserves than commercial banks, while implicitly guaranteeing their obligations
"Why oh why is there not one single alpha male in GOP Congressional delegation-aside from Olympia Snowe?" - the latest Kruiser Control video at PJTV (advance to 9:20)
Also featured in the video: the Voldemort-like curse of speaking Keith Olbertmann's name on MSNBC, Joe Biden's amazement at modern audio technology, and Chris Matthews' unpreparedness for the inevitable invasion from Canada.
I'm not in the mood for a lengthy synopsis tonight - check out the Wikipedia link or Lostpedia for the rundown.
In one scene Hurley suggests that Sayid and Claire could be turned from the "Dark Side," their sell-out to Fake Locke. Looks like he's right; Kate is gaining Claire's trust, and Desmond may have given Sayid some cause for second thoughts.
MIB wants off the island. Widmore wants to stop him, and take control of the island for himself for some purpose. Sawyer wants to leave those two to duke it out and flee the island. Jack has decided to stay, and to seek some way to keep MIB from leaving. Richard and Ben have the same intention - but what are they up to? And Desmond? If he's still alive (I'm confident of that), what's his next move?
In the flash-sideways storyline, will all the Losties show up at the hospital? Looks like that's Desmond's goal.
"It is the greatest middle-class, job-creating mechanism that we have ever had in America that doesn't cost tax payers a dime." - Andrew Stern, retiring president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), referring the organized labor movement. (April 14 Washington Post)
In the flash-sideways, Hurley won the lottery (with the same numbers?), bought Mr. Clucks, made it an international franchise, became a philanthropist - and to his mother's chagrin, he never married.
Mom sets up a blind date that never shows. Instead Hurley is approached by Libby; she has faint memories of the two on the island. Her chaperon Dr. Brooks breaks up the meeting - she and several patients from the Santa Rosa sanitarium are at the restaurant on a day trip.
Hurley drowns his sorrows in a bucket of chicken. Desmond finds him. Hurley tells him about Libby; Des says go after her. Hurley does just that; he visits Santa Rosa, bribes Dr. brooks with a generous donation for the rec room to arrange a visit with Libby. They chat, Hurley sets up a date, a beach picnic.
On the beach, she kisses him, and he has memory flashes on the island. And Desmond watches from a distance - you can just see the "Mission Accomplished" banner lighting up in his mind.
Des has another mission. He parks in front of the school where Ben works. Ben questions him, Des gives a story about moving into the area and checking out schools for his son Charlie. Ben walks away, Des sees wheelchair-bound Locke crossing the street - and he runs Locke down.
Back on the island, Hurley is met by the ghost of Michael, the man who shot Libby. Michael tells him that blowing the plane will get a lot of people killed. Hurley tries to stop Ilana (who has retrieved dynamite from the Black Rock) and Richard, who are adamant in their plans.
In a later meeting Michael tells Hurley the island whispers are all ghosts like himself, people who died on the island and are trapped there.
Ilana accidentally blows herself up, in an accident similar to Leslie Arzt's in Season One. Richard doesn't take that as a sign of being on the wrong path. They head to the ship for more dynamite. Richard will handle it himself, because he knows Jacob's gift of immortality will protect him.
But Hurley gets to the Black Rock first - and he blows up the ship. He confronts Richard, bluffing that he's in direct communication with Jacob at that moment, and that Jacob wants the group to meet with Fake Locke. Richard calls his hand, asking Hurley to ask Jacob what the island is. Hurley says he doesn't have to prove anything.
Ben and Miles continue to follow Richard;Jack, Lapidus and Sun join Hurley. Hurley confesses his bluff, Jack says he knew Hurley was lying, but trusts him somehow.
Meanwhile, Sayid returns to MIB's camp, and leads him away in private to meet Desmond. MIB instructs Sayid to return to camp, and takes Desmond to an ancient well. The well sits on top of one of the island's unique magnetic pockets. Some ancient saw the effect on his compass, and dug to find the source of the power. Others throughout history have made the same discovery - and Charles Widmore is the latest.
MIB senses that Desmond exhibits no fear, and asks why. Desmond says he sees no point in it. MIB pushes him down the well. Back at the camp, he tells Sayid they don't have to worry about Desmond anymore. And then Hurley and company arrive!
I am confident that Desmond is not dead. He is in tune with the island, in much the way the real Locke was. The island will heal Des' injuries as it healed Locke's.
Through trial and error, I discovered that Blogger changed the value of the $BlogItemArchiveFileName$ variable. Originally, it contained everything to the left of the pound sign - now it includes the pound sign and the $BlogItemNumber$ value. And Blogger/Google didn't tell anyone.
I reported the issue THREE TIMES and nobody had an answer. Blogger tech support is about as unresponsive as the Vogon Constructor Fleet.
At 5:33 the narrator notes which state is the top destination for people moving to another state: Texas. Note the TX-CA employment graph six minutes into the video - since the recession Texas' employment leveled off, while California's numbers nosedived by a little over a million. That's 3.8 percent of the state's adult population of 26.1 million (source).
The President of Shell Oil is asked whether he can guarantee lower oil prices if the Feds allow increased oil exploration. He says that increased scarcity will guarantee higher prices. Maxine Waters threatens to socialize Big Oil - and then realizes what she just said.
My response to Waters: SINCE WHEN DID SOCIALIZING A GOOD OR SERVICE EVER REDUCE ITS COST? Look at public education. Costs per pupil are much higher than the average private-sector alternative. Socialized health insurance for selected individuals - I mean Medicare - drives up medical costs. Single-payer insurance systems (such as Canada's) and socialized medicine (such as the UK's) ultimately have to resort to rationing. These are the two primary arenas of Western socialism today - and nobody's figured out how to make them cost-effective.
In the normal timeline, Widmore has brought Desmond Hume to the island because for some undisclosed purpose. He needs someone who can survive an intense electromagnetic field normally lethal to humans. Hume had survived such an event before - the Swan Hatch implosion.
Widmore tests his theory without telling Desmond what's going on. Unfortunately a technician gets fried when the generator assembly is turned on prematurely. Des is strapped to a chair, the generator is turned on, he loses unconsciousness momentarily, and all of a sudden he's cooperative with Widmore.
Zoe and a Widmore flunky escort him through the jungle afterward, where Sayid, armed with pistol, knocks out the flunky, tells Zoe to run, and tells Desmond to follow him. Desmond clamly and cheerfully complies.
The alternate 2004 timeline folks are sensing the present-day timeline. Jack seemed to be showing signs of deja vu on Flight 815 at the beginning of the season. Sawyer might have gotten a whiff when he saw Kate after the flight and after her escape from her Fed escort Agent Mars.
Alternate Desmond works for Widmore, who is based in LA, married to Eloise, and happy to share his prized MacCutcheon scotch whiskey with Des. George Minkowski, who we know as the communications officer of Widmore's freighter, is Des' limo driver.
Des is tasked with babysitting a self-destructive rock musician, Charlie Pace, whose band is scheduled to perform at an event hosted by the Widmores. They chat in a bar, where Charlie tells of his near-death experience in the plane (he had swallowed his stash of heroin to prevent its discovery, only to have it lodge in his windpipe when the plane hit turbulence). Charlie caught a glimpse of a blonde woman who he had loved dearly - the real-timeline Claire, evidently.
They leave the bar in Desmond's sports car, with Des driving. Charlie grabs the wheel and forces the car into the marina. Des gets glimpses of Penny and the "Not Penny's Boat" message that the regular-timeline Charlie had written on his hand when they were at the underwater DHARMA hatch. At the hospital, Des prepares for an MRI. The visions return, more vividly. He tries to get answers from Charlie, who will only say that he needs to find Penny.
Des goes to Eloise Widmore and tells her Driveshaft won't be able to make the gig. She takes rock band recklessness for granted and is quite unperturbed. But Des overhears some of her servants mention a Penny who's on the guest list. He asks about Penny, and Eloise is quite mad. She tells him he's not ready - this Eloise knows something.
And so does her son Daniel - who in this timeline carries his birthname Widmore and not the alias (or stepdad's name?) Faraday. Overhearing the confrontation, Daniel privately approaches Des and confides a couple of things. First, Penny's identity. Second...after experiencing a deja vu moment over a cute redhead (Charlotte Lewis, obviously), Daniel had subconsciously drawn up a bunch of equations in his journal. This Daniel is a musician, not a scientist. He had shown a college friend the notes; friend says that they're the product of someone who'd devoted a lifetime to quantum physics. Daniel says that a nuclear explosion has altered the reality that everyone is experiencing, and is somehow aware that he set it off.
On a tip from Daniel, Des goes to meet Penny - she's jogging at night at a stadium. They meet, shake hands, and Des passes out. He asks her out for coffee. They agree to meet in an hour. He goes to his limo, tells about the coffee destination, and requests George to acquire the Flight 815 manifest.
There seems to be a connection between the electromagnetic experiment and Alternate Desmond's passing out at the stadium. Did the two Desmonds make contact?
Let's take a closer look at that classroom handout linked in the post below.
The teacher, Barbara Geerdes, is correct in that humanity is viewed as basically good by many liberals and as basically flawed by many conservatives. She unwittingly describes the Utopian and Tragic Visions, as coined by Thomas Sowell.
In the Tragic Vision, humans are inherently limited in knowledge, wisdom, and virtue, and all social arrangements must acknowledge those limits. "Mortal things suit mortals best," wrote Pindar; "from the crooked timber of humanity no truly straight thing can be made," wrote Kant. The Tragic Vision is associated with Hobbes, Burke, Smith, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, the jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., the economists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, the philosophers Isaiah Berlin and Karl Popper, and the legal scholar Richard Posner.
In the Utopian Vision, psychological limitations are artifacts that come from our social arrangements, and we should not allow them to restrict our gaze from what is possible in a better world. Its creed might be "Some people see things as they are and ask 'why?'; I dream things that never were and ask, 'why not?'" The quote is often attributed to the icon of 1960s liberalism, Robert F. Kennedy, but it was originally penned by the Fabian socialist George Bernard Shaw (who also wrote, "There is nothing that can be changed more completely than human nature when the job is taken in hand early enough"). ...
In the Tragic Vision, our moral sentiments, no matter how beneficent, overlie a deeper bedrock of selfishness. That selfishness is not the cruelty or aggression of the psychopath, but a concern for our well-being that is so much a part of our makeup that we seldom reflect on it and would waste our time lamenting it or trying to erase it.
The Tragic Vision says that humans' prime motivation is self-interest, that human do not perfectly desire or perfectly understand what is good. We are inherently selfish, and not basically beneficient as the Utopian Vision claims.
Geerdes claims, "If you give people opportunities to improve themselves they will usually take advantage of them and improve." Improve themselves how? She's referring to welfare handouts, judging from her what she says about conservatives, that they perceive welfare as something that "will not be used properly" and that will "cause additional problems as the weaker tendencies of human nature will be reinforced."
There's a lot of truth in these statements. The Tragic Vision recognizes that humans will tend toward the easiest path available to a particular goal. To borrow an old Rush Limbaugh quip, the government safety net can easily become a hammock. The Tragic Vision also believes that people tend to allocate earned goods more wisely than they allocate freebie goods, contrary to the Utopian view that the welfare dependent are just as efficient as working citizens. The fact that the latter put more effort into work puts an RPG round in the Utopian claim.
Geerdes then proceeds to achieve deep space flight with her claim that liberals favor democratic institutions while conservatives distrust self-governance. Girlfriend, it's the other way around. Tragic Vision conservatives favor self-government precisely because of their limited trust in humanity. Power has to be decentralized in order to minimize the potential for each government office's abuse.
The Utopian Vision favor centralized power. People are basically good, but some are more good than others, and if a given bureaucracy is initially staffed with the more-good-than-others, they will ensure that subsequent hires employ the equally enlightened, guarding the bureaucracy like a holy priesthood. Checks and balances are seen as an element of inefficiency, and an avenue for the less-good-than-others to interfere with operations.
The second half of the handout can be summarized quickly: conservatives favor tradition and the status quo and resist rapid change, while liberals are the opposite. Liberals and conservatives each favor and/or represent different status quo circles, each have different sets of traditions, and each call for different sets of rapid change. Some liberal traditions are quite old; centralized government, for one, is old as the hills, and unions, for another, date at least as far back as the Medieval guilds.
The Tea Parties have lots of folks challenging the status quo and demanding rapid change, and most of them aren't liberal.
In the flash-sideways storyline, Jin had not declared his suitcase full of $25 grand, so Customs is seizing it. That puts him in hot water with Keamy, the man Mr. Paik had told him to deliver it to.
Keamy and his goons take Sun and Jin to separate locations - her to the bank, where she has a bank account with the sum promised, and him to the restaurant. The goon accompanying her is multilingual Mikhail Bakunin. They learn that her account was drained by Mr. Paik - he had evidently surmised her scheme to "run away" from her dad's influence.
At the restaurant, Keamy tells Jin what the money was for: a payoff for Keamy to rub out Jin. Keamy leaves him the freezer, and he and his goons have a meeting with Sayid with unpleasant results. Sayid finds Jin and decides to leave him there, with a razor in his hand to give him a chance to cut himself free. Jin accomplishes this when Bakhunin and Sun arrive. He gets the drop on Bakhunin, shoots him dead, and finds Sun bleeding. She tells him she's pregnant.
On the island, FakeLocke tells Jin about the cave with the names on the wall - and that one is Kwon. He has to take the remaining names with him. It seems obvious that the purpose is to make sure none of the Candidates take Jacob's place. Sayid remarks to FakeLocke that all his emotions have vanished. MIB says that's not necessarily a bad thing.
While MIB takes off on an errand, Widmore's commandos attack the camp with tranquilizer dart guns - and grab Jin.
FakeLocke tries talking Sun into joining his camp. She refuses, despite the fact of Jin's presence. She runs away, hits her head and suffers from aphasia, which scrambles her ability to speak English but not her knowledge of the language.
On Hydra Island, Widmore tells geophysicist gal Zoe they carried out the order prematurely. He gives Jin a digital camera found on the Ajira plane - it's Sun's, with pics of their daughter. Widmore says that if MIB gets off the island, everyone's futures come to an end - something to that effect. He's also got a surprise - a package...
When MIB returns, he and Sayid prepare to go to Widmore's camp. Before they leave, Claire asks about the conversation with Jin. She wants to know if her name is on the wall - it isn't. He also says Kate's name is not on the wall, but he needs both her and Claire for unstated purposes. (Kate's is probably to pry Jack's complicity, and to secure Sawyer's.) He implies that he will not interfere with anyone's plans once they get off the island, which sounds like a hint that she's free to dish out all the revenge she wants against Kate once they escape.
MIB arrives on the island. Sonic pylons are set up; Widmore knows more about MIB than he lets on. The two meet on opposite sides. Widmore denies having Jin present.
Meanwhile, Hurley and Richard return. Richard intends to blow up the Ajira plane to prevent MIB's escape. Sun objects; she finally consents when Jack breaks the temporary language barrier with a writing tablet and assures her that he will reunite the Kwons. So the beach gang plans to head out to Hydra Island.
MIB returns to his camp without Sayid, who has stayed behind to lurk in the water to discover what Widmore's "package" is. He sees Widmore's gang lead a drugged Desmond Hume from the sub. Well now, Mrs. hawking was right that the island wasn't done with ol' Des...