I followed a link about a "large dead jellyfish" that my friend sent out on Twitter-- I am a sucker for that sort of thing-- and found out that a large Lion's man jellyfish broke apart near a New Hampshire beach and stung nearly one hundred people, but what interested me more than the actual jellyfish was the metaphor that State Park Manager Ken Loughlin used to describe the size of the jellyfish: he said it was the "size of a turkey platter," which grosses me out, because he's associating a delicious land animal with a giant aquatic sac of poison, and now when I think of Thanksgiving, I think of a giant seething jellyfish on a silver platter and I blame Ken Loughlin for this and I'm sure he's ruined Thanksgiving for everyone else who read that article . . . and so I think he should be fired-- or at least put on probation and have to do a hundred hours of dead jellyfish picking on the New Hampshire beaches.
I was out late last night and very hungover when I wrote this morning's sentence, so it doesn't make much sense but I've tried to do a better job of it over here-- I apologize for the low quality content I produced this AM . . . but hey, it's not like I'm getting paid for this . . .
Dan Ariely used data from the website Hot or Not to see if people who were "aesthetically challenged" actually had different standards of what was "hot," and he found out that they don't, but that's not important-- what is important is that there is some serious "hotness inflation" on that site, kind of like grade inflation in high school . . . everyone is an "8" . . . and I mean everyone, warts and all, and now I think I'm going to put my photo on there so I can be an "8" too . . . I urge you to go there and see what I'm talking about.
One more idea from The Upside of Irrationality (sorry) that I can't stop thinking about-- this is an explanation of emotions and their influence on decision making, and Ariely explains it like this, we all know that our emotions can have an influence on our short-term decision making, you get stuck in traffic and it makes you irate, so you end up yelling at your kids about making noise in the car . . . but Ariely explains how this can lead to long-term influence . . . because though you usually don't remember your emotions from last week (how did you feel last Wednesday at noon?) you do remember your previous decisions and actions, and you generally think that your own behavior was rational and so you often repeat behaviors that happened in the past (this can be good, as well: you have a good day at work and get flowers for your wife in your ebullient mood, and then the week after, you just get her flowers because you are now the kind of guy who randomly gets his wife flowers-- you don't remember the good emotion that caused the initial decision, you just remember the decision) and so suddenly, because of some ephemeral emotions that you thought were short lived and only put you in a good or bad mood for a few minutes, the way you live your life is altered for good.
"superman," a sexual technique you might like to try with your ho, and now a new hip-hip album has furthered my sexual education and taught me another fun thing you can do to your ho . . . I learned this one from Big Boi's awesome solo effort, "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty" and the technique is called "The David Blaine" and this is how it works: you are making love to your ho from behind and you get someone from your posse that is similar to you in both physique and looks to somehow swap places with you while you are in the act, without your ho noticing the switch (it probably works better if she is high on the rock) and then you go outside while your body double keeps up the love-making and you bang on the window until your ho notices you and marvels at your magical David Blaine-like powers.
In his book What's the Matter With Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, Thomas Frank explains the nifty trick conservative Republicans have pulled off in the reddest of red states . . . and many other places in the mid-West: the poorest people, those most hurt by laissez faire capitalism, those most in need of social services and good public schools and a higher minimum wage and unionization, those that would most benefit from environmental reforms and public parks and regulation of big-business . . . those people happily vote against this time after time because the Republicans have made the elections about authenticity and brand loyalty and morality-- these people are voting for a higher cause, whether it is the anti-abortion crusade or gun rights or small government or home-schooling or the encroachment of "liberal intellectual values" into their square way of life . . . and the beauty of this is that these battles will never be won, and the Republicans have somehow inserted Adam Smith's "invisible hand" into this pantheon revered issues and the great paradox of this is that the very laissez-faire free-wheeling capitalism that the conservatives vote for produces the insipid entertainment culture that they rail against and the more they place themselves in the hands of privatized America, the more they will be offended, insulted, and outraged and the more they will fall into the hands of the very party that does them no good . . . or no good financially, but the point of the book is that sometimes people want to do better morally and emotionally, it might be more valuable to be indignant and poor than content and middle class; there's much more in here but it's a well argued take from an ex-conservative that lives in Kansas, I highly recommend it although it will probably piss you off (if you're a Northeastern liberal . . . if you're a economically disadvantaged red state conservative and you're reading this blog then the universe is a strange place and this book might explain why you have voted against your best interests for the last thirty years).
Adam Elliott's charming but dark (both in color and theme) claymation masterpiece Mary and Max will definitely make you laugh and maybe even make you cry-- though not as much as this movie; it's the story of the oddest of friends, an awkward Australian girl and her accidental pen-pal: an obese New Yorker with Asperger's (voiced by Philip Seymour-Hoffman) and the film has a novelistic sense of time . . . you journey through love, death, betrayal, suicide, alcoholism, neglect, and obsession and though it's all made of clay, you forget that soon enough: five cans of condensed milk out of five.
The Battle of the Beaches: The Jersey Shore vs. Cape Cod over on Gheorghe: The Blog).
A Sentence Where The Title of the Sentence is Longer than the Sentence Itself (But Not as Long a Title as a "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening")
Though I had an extremely long day of World Cup Imbibing (10 AM to Midnight) the day before Ian's kiddie birthday party, I thought I recovered nicely-- I got up early from Stacey and Ed's place in South Amboy and drove Stacey's stick shift car (not my forte) to Helmetta so I could get my car, and I was still home before 7 AM, and I immediately starting doing whatever my wife asked me to do-- I picked up the cake and balloons and juice boxes and other ingredients, I cleaned the kiddie pool, I straightened the back yard, and I attempted to fill water balloons-- but by the time the party rolled around I was dragging a bit, and I guess I wasn't as involved as I should have been, and mainly I talked to my friend Dom about a new book he was reading that sounded interesting (Flat Broke in the Free Market: How Globalization Fleeced the Working People) but any time Catherine asked for help I helped her and then later in the day when we were at the pool I jokingly mentioned to a friend that I had "failed" at Ian's kiddie party and she said, "Let me guess what happened . . . one of the parents there was a friend of yours that you hadn't talked to in a while and instead of helping your wife, who was running around like a madwoman, you sat and talked to your friend and had to be reminded by your wife to help out," and I said, "That's remarkably accurate, how did you know?" and she said, "Because my husband did the same thing and I said to him, 'Look asshole, if you want to talk to your fucking friend, then you call him up like an adult and you go meet him in a god-damned bar like a grown-up but right now you're going to help me with this party'" and I should mention that this is a friend who rarely uses profanity.
So we put our digital camera on a tripod the other day and made a stop motion Lego movie . . . the plot was very simple: two cars drove at each other and then crashed, resulting in a pile of Legos, but we were able to screw up every aspect of the film; there are fingers in several shots, it's choppy, the crash looks awful, the lighting switches because we used the flash on some pictures and not on others, and we were too far away for it to look very good . . . so when you go on YouTube and watch a decent Lego movie, understand that it took A LOT of skill.
I just finished the new Michael Lewis book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, and I've probably got a three day window to explain what a "synthetic sub-prime mortgage bond-backed C.D.O." is-- but I guarantee no one will ask me this (thus the purpose of the blog) and I can also explain tranches (both senior and mezzanine) and credit default swaps and the corruption in the AAA ratings of these bonds and lots of other good stuff . . . I had to read many paragraphs two or three times, but Lewis intersperses financial analysis with the story of a group of investors that were "in the know" and it's these characters that propel the plot of the book: caustic and gritty insider Steve Eisman-- who was on a mission to get back at all the people who foisted the terrible no-doc sub-prime mortgages on the working poor--and the one eyed medical doctor with Asperger's, Dr. Steve Burry, who became obsessed with sub-prime mortgage bonds and CDO's and actually read the prospectuses and realized that the whole trillion dollar house of cards was bound to collapse, even if the housing market didn't fall, even if it just stopped rising as quickly as it did in the years past, and then there's the "garage band" hedge fund started by Jamie Mai and Charles Hedley to short the housing bond market, and that helps explain just how difficult it is for regular people to invest in the same markets that the big brokerages firms are controlling; I've read a few good books on this theme, including House of Cards and The Black Swan (and also Michael Lewis's last collection of essays Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity) but this new book really explains the exponential nature of this dilemma . . . we all know some wacky mortgages were issued (and some with good intentions, the initial reason for a greater variety of mortgage types was to allow people with weaker credit to purchase homes, in the hopes that they would then be able to save money in the form of real estate) and I think everyone knows now that the bonds that were based on slices of these mortgages failed, but Lewis really gets into how CDO's multiplied these loans exponentially into more and more nested products which only contained more of themselves, and how the ratings agencies saw this as "diversification" even though many of these funds contained pieces of each other and even though they were ALL based on the price of housing (unlike earlier derivatives, which were based on a wide variety of weird loans: credit cards, airplane leases, etc.) and he explained just how opaque this market was, and how "inside" and how difficult it was to even obtain the shorts (the credit default swaps) on these products, and how even after housing prices started to fall and everyone was defaulting on their mortgages, the insurance on these CDO's still didn't sky-rocket in price because the funds were being propped up even though the reality beneath them was caving in-- and it makes you feel really out of the loop as a regular person, even rich people didn't have access to these markets (but we all had access to the information!) and the ending is sad in a way, because everyone involved in the crash walked away with money, even the investors who went long with the sub-prime loans, everyone got paid and the government bailed out the banks and brokerages (except Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers) and though we, the people, couldn't get in on the party, we will pay for the clean-up (at least with the oil spill, though we are paying for the clean-up, we've been in on the party, driving around like lunatics all our life).