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Lewis’ need to anchor his tale in personalities results in a skewed misreading of the subprime crisis and why and how it got as bad as it did. The group of short sellers he celebrates were minor-leaguers compared to the likes of Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and John Paulson. But no one on the short side of these trades, large or small, should be seen as any kind of a stalwart hero and defender of capitalism. Circumstances converged to create a perfect storm of folly on the buy side, beginning with essentially fraudulent mortgage originations at ground level, which the short-sellers – whether trading at the multimillion or multibillion dollars level – took advantage of. That they walked away with large profits may be enviable, but there was nothing valiant about it. In the end, Main Street, having been desolated by a mortgage-driven housing bust, now found itself the buyer of last resort of Wall Street’s garbage. –“Debunking Michael Lewis’ Subprime Short Hagiography,” Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism
To achieve uniformity, and to maintain quality control, Donnell likes all his cows to be on the same estrus cycle. That’s why, in April and May, during breeding season, a lot of them wear seeders—vaginal plugs carrying progesterone, each with a blue string for easy removal in a few days. The progesterone keeps the cows from coming into heat. When the plugs come out, each cow gets a shot of prostaglandin, which ultimately results in ovulation. At that point, one of the cowboys puts on an arm-length plastic glove and inserts an artificial insemination syringe loaded with 20 million sperm cells. George Self, who has cowboyed at the R. A. Brown Ranch for 57 years, is by far the best at this. “He has a gift with his hands to know how to feel into a cow that most people don’t have,” Donnell says. George will feel the reproductive tract with one arm, then with the other hand, guide the syringe through the cervical rings (the tricky part) and deposit the semen at the opening of the cervix. It takes maybe 60 seconds per cow, and every cow on the ranch, 1,300 in all, is bred that way, as many as 400 in a single day. –“Breeding the Perfect Bull,” Jeanne Marie Laskas, Smithsonian
Most families from Negros will justify the in-breeding as a way to keep the family jewels within—but if money was really the issue, why not just double-up and marry into another rich family? Or perhaps Lino Brocka was on to something when he made a film in Negros many years ago and spoke to historian Modesto Sa-onoy about mejorar la rasa (improving the race). It appears much more plausible, though, that incest was practiced religiously in the old days because it was safe and convenient—and because, frankly, more marriages and families stuck together and stayed happier that way. But speculation on how it affects the bloodline cannot be avoided, because if you play with the same test tubes for too long without washing them, you’re going to end up with something weird. –“At Play in the Fields of the Lords,” Jose Mari Ugarte, Rogue
More from Rafe Bartholomew:
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”