Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)**
There is an extended scene early in the film where Dr. Pretorious is trying to convince Dr. Frankenstein to work with him to create a woman monster, and he brings out these jars filled with miniature human beings and the whole sequence is just way WAY out of place in the film. Really brings everything to a screeching halt and ruins the tone of the entire picture for me. Boris Karloff has more to do here and he is, again, very good, and the images and camera work are exceptional, but the film as a whole is not up to the original.
Transcript of second McCain, Obama debate -
"Brokaw: There are lots of issues that we are going to be dealing with here tonight. And we have a question from Langdon (ph) in Ballston Spa, New York, and that's about huge unfunded obligations for Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs that will soon eat up all of the revenue that's in place and then go into a deficit position. Since the rules are pretty loose here, I'm going to add my own to this one. Instead of having a discussion, let me ask you as a coda to that. Would you give Congress a date certain to reform Social Security and Medicare within two years after you take office? Because in a bipartisan way, everyone agrees, that's a big ticking time bomb that will eat us up maybe even more than the mortgage crisis."

I think it is about time we lose this idea of having "journalists" and TV anchorpersons moderate these "debates". Brokaw is an idiot. And a dangerous one at that because for some reason, people think he knows what he is talking about and look upon him as some sort of elder statesman. First of all he links Social Security and Medicare as if they are the same thing. No. They are fundamentally different and not at all alike. Secondly, Social Security is completely solvent and not projected to draw down on its assets until 2041. Got that? There has never been a time in its history when it was in as strong a financial position as it is now. What has everyone worried is the huge deficits we keep racking up year after year. And yet, we are able to pull $750B for Wall Street without too much trouble, $800B for the Iraq War ON TOP OF the regular appropriations for "defense" to the tune of $400B+ per year. "Entitlements" are not the problem. The problem is we lack the political will to spend our money wisely and appropriately. And McCain has no clue about it and Obama is willfully obtuse about it.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Wolf Man (1941)**
Doesn't hold up and not just because many of the scenes have become cliché. Lon Chaney Jr. just cannot act and he is very distracting. There's a pervasive feeling to the film that it's existence was just an attempt to create another Universal monster franchise and it shows.
Frankenstein (1931)****
The film has achieved iconic/archetypal status of course, but it's not unearned. Whale's compositions, his use of dolly shots, some masterful cinematography and a career-defining performance by Boris Karloff make re-viewing always interesting and enjoyable.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

How Credit Default Swaps Became a Timebomb | Newsweek Business |
"By the mid-'90s, JPMorgan's books were loaded with tens of billions of dollars in loans to corporations and foreign governments, and by federal law it had to keep huge amounts of capital in reserve in case any of them went bad. But what if JPMorgan could create a device that would protect it if those loans defaulted, and free up that capital? What the bankers hit on was a sort of insurance policy: a third party would assume the risk of the debt going sour, and in exchange would receive regular payments from the bank, similar to insurance premiums. JPMorgan would then get to remove the risk from its books and free up the reserves. The scheme was called a 'credit default swap'..."

And it should have been (and possibly may have been) illegal. It is also called a Ponzi scheme. And the sheer gall of these persons now running to the taxpayer to cover their risk is beyond comprehension. In a fair world, they would be facing criminal charges for fraud at the very least. But we all know this world is many things but fair is not even in the ballpark.