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Archive for October 2008

“the shade of some dead accountant”

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Charles Lamb on the South Sea House:

Situated as thou art, in the very heart of stirring and living commerce, — amid the fret and fever of speculation — with the Bank, and the `Change, and the India-house about thee, in the hey-day of present prosperity, with their important faces, as it were, insulting thee, their poor neighbour out of business — to the idle and merely contemplative,to such as me, old house! there is a charm in thy quiet — a cessation — a coolness from business — an indolence almost cloistral — which is delightful! With what reverence have I paced thy great bare rooms and courts at eventide! They spoke of the past — the shade of some dead accountant, with visionary pen in ear, would flit by me, stiff as in life. Living accounts and accountants puzzle me. I have no skill in figuring. But thy great dead tomes, which scarce three degenerate clerks of the present day could lift from their enshrining shelves with their old fantastic flourishes, and decorative rubric interlacing their sums in triple columniations, set down with formal superfluity of cyphers with pious sentences at the beginning, without which our religious ancestors never ventured to open a book of business, or bill of lading — the costly vellum covers of some of them almost persuading us that we are got into some better library, are very agreeable and edifying spectacles. I can look upon these defunct dragons with complacency. Thy heavy odd-shaped ivory-handled penknives (our ancestors had every thing on a larger scale than we have hearts for) are as good as any thing from Herculaneum. The pounce-boxes of our days have gone retrograde.

I’m having trouble keeping up, I must admit. It will be easier to finger up the dust when it’s all finally done and dead. More to come…

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October 24, 2008 at 12:41 pm

Posted in crisis, markets

in parts (free partial ebook in pdf! fiction! mine!)

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OK. I worked on something all summer, every day. As I said before, Starbucks, Tottenham Court Road, 3-5 pm. Everyday. I am dissatisfied with it, and so it has died. Or been killed. It was to be a sort of novel, a novel composed of single page tearouts from “other novels,” chronicling something like the soon to arrive decline and fall of the nation of my birth. Whatever. I’m going to start something new. Eventually. Maybe tonight. Probably not tonight but maybe tomorrow.

But here, for your edification and entertainment, are the first 25 pages of the thing. Maybe I’ll post more later – we’ll see. Yes, the blank pages are intentional. That’s just the point. And some of it already seems a bit anachronistic, given the (fuckit, yay!) even more rapid descent of things than I expected.

But the general themes are adswithoutproductsy. So here it is:


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October 15, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Posted in america, collapse, fiction, me, meta

central casting

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Oh dear… The video on the right here (sorry – can’t be embedded) does remind of more than one set of film strips that we’d rather we long behind us and elsewhere…

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October 12, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Posted in america

there have always been crises

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October 12, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Posted in crisis, literature


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From the sport section of today’s Observer:

Achille Mbembe, a professor writing in Cape Town’s Sunday Independent newspaper, gave a withering assessment of the problems to be overcome. ‘The biggest threat to 2010 is the anaemic state of the national football team,’ he wrote. ‘Hiring and firing coaches almost on a yearly basis won’t do. The weakness is structural and historical. Contrary to the major African football powerhouses (Cameroon, Nigeria, Ivory Coast), South Africa does not have a single player of international calibre plying his trade for one of the major European clubs.’

I love finding things like that! You know, Achille Mbembe, the author of things like that paper on necropolitics that everyone was reading a few years ago… Makes me feel a wee bit better about my long-standing and probably unbreakable habit of reading the sports section first!

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October 12, 2008 at 9:57 am

Posted in sports, theory

rate cut!

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From Bovary:

Ses expansions étaient devenues régulières; il l’embrassait à de certaines heures. C’était une habitude parmi les autres, et comme un dessert prévu d’avance, après la monotonie du dîner.

Futures down 289 after the Rate Cut of Global Unity! Everything that happens makes sense if you’ve read your Flaubert! I should write a business book!

Do you remember the beginning of the end of Bovary? There are a few endings, but do you remember what makes her start the process of killing herself? “Dans vingt-quatre heures pour tout délai.” – Quoi donc? “Payer la somme totale de…” And so on. The bursting of a shock-market bubble, her own personal little credit crisis, it is.

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October 8, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Posted in crisis, flaubert, markets

blame where blame is due

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This is classic.

The government is expecting the equity holder and bank management to suffer for conducting business legitimately in a regulated environment. If there is to be a day of reckoning then surely most of the blame should come back to the regulator and the government that removed the responsibility for oversight of the banking industry from the Bank of England to the FSA.

Class action lawsuit time! The banks can get in line right behind all those classics of vulgar apocryphal chitchat – you know, the woman who spilled coffee on herself at McDonalds, and the burglar suing the homeowner after he slipped entering through the back window and broke his ankle, and the guy who was injured while surfing on top of a subway car (but, dude, they could have posted a warning sign or something…..) and takes action against the MTA….

It’s quite a distinctive use of the word “legitimately” in that paragraph, no?

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October 8, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Posted in crisis, markets