finem respice

Hunting Krugerrand Defecating Unicorns

Karma, Lobotomized

Monday, March 2, 2009 - 14:32 (+0100) by ep

sounded good on paper

Karma is a very unappealingly idealistic concept. It may be some innate cynicism on my part that colors the lenses through which I see karma, but I find traditional understandings of karma to be an unlikely dynamic in any version of the cosmos that is not self-servingly laced with a sufficiently toxic dose of anthropic bias to return very high LD50 numbers. The sort of bilateral and evenhanded “cosmic justice,” for lack of a better term, that is implied stretches the imagination a bit past the limits of suspended disbelief. However, performing a rather radical hemispherectomy on karma results in a substantially more compelling version of the dynamic. Negative karma, of a sort, seems quite common. One wonders if the surgeon responsible for the procedure warned the patient and his or her wards about the possibility of hemiplegia and vision issues following the surgery. As an aside, one also wonders what cosmic karma seizures looked like before the operation.

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Fighting Uncertainty With Uncertainty

Saturday, February 21, 2009 - 15:03 (+0100) by ep

i have a cunning plan

True to the populist environment that characterizes the clear air turbulence we all have to fly through for the next n months, mortgage "cram-downs" are a hot topic. Why not? On the surface they seem like an easy fix. Even from a Chicago School of Law and Economics perspective they have a certain charm, dare I even say, a certain charismatic appeal? Who would ever argue that between the creditor (large international financial institution) and the debtor (middle class- but increasingly upscale- individual) it is the debtor that holds the title of "least cost avoider"? And, of course, there is political capital to be accumulated by lunging at the banks and piercing a lung with the rapier of "financial justice." These combine nicely to create a bitter amalgam that, as a topical salve, is about as likely to cure the patient's syphilis as bleeding him. To borrow from a more brazen, amusing and fictional cynic: "I think I'm on the point of spotting the flaw in this plan."

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Death of the Modern

Saturday, February 21, 2009 - 02:38 (+0100) by ep

the fog does not vanish just because you are above it

One can occasionally find deep contradictions in what otherwise would be considered the unadulterated artistic product of Romanticism as a movement, or perhaps, more widely, the brilliantly optimistic trappings of the Enlightenment. Deeper and darker threads, even in works hailed as hallmarks of individualist optimism, present themselves to the meticulous critic after sufficient scrutiny. This is to say, that which appears transparent and plain, rarely is. Be this a consequence of the deep and insatiable lust of curiosity that characterizes our species (more simply, that we are just seeing things), or some actual, tangible darkness in all expression, I'm not sure we know. Suffice it to say that, where the affairs of man are concerned, transparency is an illusion. Always.

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Look To The End

Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 11:40 (+0100) by ep

the corruption of power

The birth of finem respice comes at an unfortunate time. This site's motto, finem respice, seems particularly apt when the long-term consequences of ill-considered ventures threaten to be so severe. Incredible as it seems, the possibility of a default by the United States is no longer considered alarmist. In fact, after a little bit of reflection, this doesn't even seem all that incredible anymore. Whatever your view of the likelihood of an actual default- and flaccid arguments about the semantics of the term “default” notwithstanding- it is difficult to overstate the gravity of this kind of sentiment. If anyone needs a more definitive statement of the danger of a crisis of confidence for a highly leveraged institution, then they weren’t paying attention when Lehman Brothers slipped smoothly beneath the dark and frigid waters of financial ruin.

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