Thursday, December 11, 2008

Friday Diversion

A little something to distract you from the fact that you haven't even thought about beginning your Christmas shopping, and that from now until December 27th, your entire schedule has already been mapped out for you.

As always, here are some of the best things I've come across this week:

The End
By Michael Lewis

Leave it to the man who exposed Wall Street in his brilliant literary debut (Liar's Poker) to succinctly explain the collapse of the financial world as we know it. The subprime mortgage debacle is explained in layman's terms (love the fantasy football analogy), with a detailed account of how one man saw it all coming a mile away, and had the testicular fortitude to back it all up by literally shorting the entire subprime market.

If you ever needed a brief example of why this day of reckoning was inevitable, you need look no further than the following case:

Long Beach Financial was moving money out the door as fast as it could, few questions asked, in loans built to self-destruct. It specialized in asking home­owners with bad credit and no proof of income to put no money down and defer interest payments for as long as possible. In Bakersfield, California, a Mexican strawberry picker with an income of $14,000 and no English was lent every penny he needed to buy a house for $720,000.

Thanks to Unkle Mike for the link

In Hard Times, Fear Can Impair Decision-Making
By Gregory Berns

For any traders out there dealing with the effects of the previous article. A neuroeconomist explains how and why fear is so powerful a motivator in troubled financial times.

Another tip of the cap to Unkle Mike.

Rampage at VW Dealership ends with Man Swilling Champagne on Truck Roof
By Timothy Appleby

I'm not sure why, but this guy is kind of my hero. Didn't you ever have one of those days where you just wanted to ram your truck into a bunch of Volkswagens, sip champagne, and then piss all over everything in sight? This guy is like the poor man's Shawn Nelson (click HERE for the classic footage).

By the way, if you were searching for an explanation as to how this all happened, there is a single sentance that may hold some of the answers:

His truck bore Quebec licence plates, but police were able to verify that he was a Hamilton resident.

Thanks to TVB for the link.

Outside Agitator
By Larissa MacFarquhar

If you're into Naomi Klein and "The Shock Doctrine", you'll enjoy this piece. It's a look into the makings of the most visible and influential figure on the American left... who just happens to be Canadian, living in Toronto.

By the way, I love reading about the Bloor Cinema in the New Yorker. I feel like I discovered that place.

10 of the World's Best Beaches
By Robin Esrock

Winter sucks. If you're looking to get away somewhere hot and hip, here is a slide show to help in the decision making process. I have no idea how Tortuga Beach (Galapagos Islands) was left off this list.

Bissinger Vs. Leitch

The instant-classic footage of the famous Buzz Bissinger-Will Leitch showdown on Costas Now is now available at Deadspin. You may have come across some of the soundbite snippets online, but believe me when I say that these don't even come close to doing the full piece justice. It is comedy at it's absolute apex. Buzz looks like his head is going to explode. Literally. Spittle flying everywhere, spewing profanity at will, oozing condescension and disdain, unfounded accusations, unlearned opinions, referencing Rich Garces' tits... Poor Braylon Edwards looks like the third man in in a bad porn scene: just kind of sitting there, dick in hand, with nothing really to offer... And when Costas utters the phrase "Good luck managing a Denny's, Douchebag!", there's no going back. We're in the comedic stratosphere.

You can read Will Leitch's diplomatic take on the fiasco here, and the Deadspin founder is bang on:

We suppose we could have punched him in the nose or something, called him an asshole, said he was a piece of shit. It might have made for more riveting television; we are certain Costas wouldn't have minded. But that would have been counterproductive. When you see someone flailing desperately at someone, something, anything, there's nothing more to do than sit there, bemused and bewildered, amazed at what was happening, just like everyone else was. We cannot imagine any reasonable human being watching that display and saying, "doggone it, that raving man has a point!" The only way to win a battle like that is to let the audience take in what is happening, and trust them to respond accordingly.

Sure: We would have loved to have made all the points about blogs that we've made countless times before, trot them all out again, in front of a national audience. Had we that opportunity, we surely would have taken advantage of it. But we felt, in a way, the point was made for us. Watching this talented man spin himself into a typhoon of imploding bluster showed the fear, showed the anger, showed the futility of it all. We sat back and watched, and hoped nobody got hurt, just like you. Honestly: We really hope he's OK.

And for the record, I definitely have Will's back on this one: it is hard God damned work doing a blog.

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