Category Archives: Language

“Market Democracy’s” Secret Side

photo of money under mattress

In a new book about Wall Street, Walter Mattli explains that the major banks and investment firms call the shots, but do so in the least transparent way possible. In short, the markets are not driven by supply and demand, nor by equitable forces, but by subterfuge:

“Dark pools” is a term used to describe a venue where trades are made without displaying “price order or order size information.” The volume of dark trading “tripled in less than a decade to about 37 percent of all trading in 2017.” Mattli hastens to point out their potential usefulness since dark pools are intended primarily for institutional investors, whose bids might otherwise overly disrupt the market. The spread of dark pools points to two facts: first, the increasing size of investment firms large enough to handle enormous transactions internally, and two, our collective participation in the very world that Mattli is describing.

Beheadings are Fine on Facebook

“We have specific rules around how many times you need to violate certain policies before we will deactivate your account completely,” Zuckerberg said. “While the offenses here [talk of beheadings], I think, came close to crossing that line, they clearly did not cross the line.”

graphic of guillotine

Trump’s Lawyers Deny Voter Fraud

Court documents show that, under questioning by a judge, the President’s own lawyers refuse to say that they have evidence for fraud. Instead, they confess that everything has been done in “good faith.”

graphic of court case at Old Bailey

THE COURT: I am asking you a specific question, and I am looking for a specific answer. Are you claiming that there is any fraud in connection with these 592 disputed ballots?

MR. GOLDSTEIN: To my knowledge at present, no.

Revisiting Molly Ivins

One of the memorable Texas writers is Molly Ivins. She participated in politics and learned a few things. Many of her quotations still resonate, such as:

“When politicians start talking about large groups of their fellow Americans as ‘enemies,’ it’s time for a quiet stir of alertness. Polarizing people is a good way to win an election, and also a good way to wreck a country.”

photo of Molly Ivins

Quotation of the Day

“A lot of things are unknowable if you make no effort to know anything about them.” Dr. Michael Worobey, University of Arizona

image of blind leading the blind

Return of “The Thursday Murder Club”

Having made my way through the novel, I want to point out a passage in the acknowledgments: “I first had the idea for this book a few years ago, when I was fortunate enough to visit a retirement community full of extraordinary people with extraordinary stories.” Richard Osman’s book is a fictional tribute to those colorful grey folks who have been verbally euthanized by the government. Instead of depicting seniors in care facilities as proto-corpses, Osman conveys the energy, cleverness, tenacity, and improvisational skills of adults over 50. Osman focuses on his characters’ attunement with justice, revealing the paucity of mystery novels that dwell mainly on puzzle solving.

Osman’s characters know that at any moment one of their actions could be interpreted as an indication of decline, deterioration, foolishness. The police officer Chris feels the need to remind Elizabeth, one of the adults over 50, of her place: “You didn’t think Donna and me might have been interested at this point?” asks Chris. Elizabeth: “Firstly, Chris, it’s ‘Donna and I.’ And secondly, who knew what the bones were? We didn’t want to waste your time until we knew for sure what we were dealing with. What if we’d called you out and they were nothing but cow bones? Wouldn’t we have looked silly old fools then?” (231)

cover of Spanish version of The Thursday Murder Club book

Irony Well about Dry

From a Trump appointee, Ronald Sanders, who decided to resign:

image of quotation from Sanders about why he is resigning
image of book cover with book title 'Till the Well Runs Dry

Lying as First Defense

Sky TV in the UK couldn’t be bothered with a couple minutes of investigation on the internet. The workers there decided to lie immediately when things started to look bad for one of their shows.

To have one hate symbol on your face may be regarded as a misfortune; to have two or more looks like carelessness.

Regrets of the “Screw Covid-19” Set

"Screw Covid" T-shirt photo

The rush that must come from wearing a T-shirt or hat that says, “Screw Covid-19.” It shows your power, your lack of concern in the face of danger. Plenty of people around who behave like this about going to the grocery store, attending football games — during a pandemic. Many of those citizens won’t change their minds by being carpet bombed by facts. Maybe our fellow citizens would give pause out of awareness that one of their own who wanted to “Screw Covid-19” and thought he was ready for the consequences now regrets that decision. Kenny went to the Sturgis motorcycle event earlier this year, and here’s what he says:

“I was naive,” he said. “I was dumb, you know? I shouldn’t have went. I did; I can’t change that, so I just got to move forward. But sitting here just the past few days, that’s all I keep thinking about. I’m like, Jesus, look at the hell I’m going through, the hell I put everybody through. It ain’t worth it. It wasn’t. It really wasn’t.”

Your decision can bring hell on others, and on yourself. If selfishness rules your life and you’re that self-aware, here’s a chance to protect yourself, to avoid a predictable regret that might change your life for the worse permanently.

Time to Pay Interpreters More

This from an article about Matt Levine, who writes comprehensible prose about financial markets:

He once took a term that appeared in a lawsuit — a “cash-settled forward purchase agreement for Citigroup shares with downside protection in the form of a put option at the same price as the forward” — and gave it the acronym CSFPAFCSWDPITFOAPOATSPATF. He makes readers feel in on the savage joke that is late capitalism

photo of bookstore window: the post-apocalyptical fiction section has been moved to Current Affairs