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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:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
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 naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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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.”