Links 3/14/10

Apologies for thin posts, but the time change (did you reset your clocks?) and the book chat (see preceding post, we went nearly three hours) cut into my blogging time in a major way.

BBC

Guardian. One of my favorites is nowhere to be found: the opening sequence from Yojimbo.

Telegraph

Huffington Poat

Spoonful of Medicine. WTF? Drugs are now being marketed via Twitter?!?

Financial Times. The story is much more damning than its anodyne headline suggests.

PhysOrg

New York Times

Archein

Andy Kroll, TomDispatch

Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times. In case you wondered why the EU wants to keep US PE firms out. Morgenson is not indignant enough.

Beat the Press

One Salient Oversight

Calculated Risk

Bloomberg and Financial Times. This is looking more serious, but given Team Obama’s track record, the odds of a climbdown are very high.

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Gary P):

This is self-taught. Every once in a while, Jake will scour the house, gathering up all his possessions, then carry them around, showing them off to the rest of the family.

I think of him as our Canine Capitalist.

CIMG0350_2

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25 comments

  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I went to a great concert tonight.

    The group was called the Silent Band.

    I have never heard such un-intrusive music like that before. In fact, I didn’t hear anything. Very different from the usual noise polluting us today.

    Aftewards, some smart guy suggested we see the latest invention in movie technology – you know, first black and white, then color, and now, the current state of the art, black and black.

    Let me tell you, the black and black film (of course, it would have been just as amazing had it been white and white or purple and purple) was amazing. I think it was called ‘BeefWithoutBorders.’ I didn’t understand the movie a bit nor could I make out any image, but I would put it up there with anyone’s favorite movie scenes.

  2. Diego Méndez

    Kurosawa knew how to film opening sequences.

    However, my favourite is not Yojimbo’s, but Rashomon’s. That’s the best opening ever.

  3. Richard Kline

    The linked article on notable film scenes sent me on a reverie of several hours, too.

    To me, the best scenes are holographic in their impact, being visual metaphors of wide scope, condensed conceptual frames of the entire film, emotionally intense or at least keen focus, and captured with great precision. That’s more an auteur’s perspective than a performer’s, though the latter must deliver with surreal verve for the former to come off. Here are a baker’s dozen from twice that which come to mind:

    Napoleon and the Revolution. 1928. The denunciation and fall of Robespierre who despite the title has dominated the film, and the doomed and ecstatic defense of ‘terror for the cause’ by St. Just, played by the director, Abel Gance.

    L’Avventura. 1960. The final scene, where Sandro inexplicably weeps while Claudia incomprehensibly comforts him. In life, we often don’t know what the hell we’re doing, or even what is going on; here, we’ve spend two beautiful, maddening hours reaching the same understanding exactly.

    Romeo and Juliet. 1968. The marriage chamber at dawn, where as they speak of their passion for each other and their future in exquisite performance and choreography we, the condemned to know, understand that they will never see each other alive again.

    The Wild Bunch. 1969. The climactic confrontation and massacre, where the hair stands on your head from the instant you grasp, right at its beginning, that they know where they are going.

    Maîtresse. 1976. The final scene has almost nothing to do with the preceding film, but it is such a fabulous metaphor for an amour fou and performed with such zeal that, as the actors, I couldn’t stop laughing as the credits rolled.

    Raging Bull. 1980. The opening scene under the credits of De Niro as Jake LaMotta shadowboxes in slo-mo to the Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana. The camerawork and cinematography are breathtaking, and the sense of the music is that of the character and his arc to come in quintessence.

    Desert Hearts. 1985. Early in the film, closeted Helen Shaver is on her way to a Nevada ranch for a quickie divorce when she meets her host’s wildcat dyke of a niece, Patricia Charbonneu who drives by . . . the staging per-fect-ly expresses the latter’s character. And the love scene in time is so hot the filmstock should ignite.

    Salvador. 1986. In Salvador where scores are being murdered daily, James Woods frantically, barely bribes-begs his buddy’s way out of a death squad holding tank—but can’t quite get their Salvadoreño sidekick out too.

    Matador. 1986. Assumpta Serna’s first seduction-murder, a scene so vivid and carnal one could almost cast oneself in either role and say “Yes!” as you can imagine Almodovar gleefully cackling to you just off screen.

    Why Has Bodhi Dharma Left for the East? 1989. There is a sequence of shots where a child-monk wanders alone in the woods, and I guarantee that 99.9% of those who watch it don’t know what it means, even Buddhist initiates who know most of it. It is a metaphorical journey of the dead where he dies and is reborn as a bodhisattva—but the images are in fact direct representations of constellations on the ecliptic which one passes through exactly, in that sequence of images, on the Journey of the Dead. I’ve spent years reconstructing the underlying mythology, and know where the constellations are, but to suddenly and unexpectedly see them in the middle of this film hit me with metaphysical force, and the whole film pivots on this transformation as the director well-understood.

    La meglio gioventu. 2003. The suicide scene. You absolutely do not see it coming, it is perfectly staged and acted, and the entire four-hour film turns on this event and its evitability. I adore director’s who dare to amaze with the faith that their audience will follow.

    Silent Light. 2007. The first scene of the lovers together, where a very married man with a huge family he loves is drawn by carnal gravity to the woman for whom he cannot thrust aside his desire. It’s 95 in the shade outside and their clothed bodies touch like they only have one skin.

    Don’t Look Now. 1973. As a final Napoleon, the only one here mentioned in the linked article: the scene where Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland make love like it’s the last thing they’ll ever do. Which very nearly . . . . I haven’t seen it in 37 years, and I can still recall the sweat on their skin.

  4. My favorite scene: A guy from Jenner and Block assigns his teams each to write about 100 pages of report. That would require over 20 teams. Did Jenner and Block actually write it? If not, who did.

    It’s fascinating that they would choose the guy who runs Jenner and Block to do this work. This was their big early client:

    Got that? Construction and materials in Chicago? Worked hand in hand with Daily? Kept himself out of the clutches of the squid in Chicago? Are people stupid? Jenner was their go-to lawyer. *That* is what Jenner & Block is built on. Still HQ’d in Chicago, with offices in D.C. and NY… you think this company is squeaky clean? The geniuses directing this play probably understand that people are really not *that* stupid and will be able to make the connections from Jenner & Block and Anton to all sorts of terrible things. So why use them? To cover things up really well with a 2,000 page report? It can’t possibly be just a massive PR move. “Look at the heroic Jenner & Block,” they will say. “They have exposed all the filth at Lehman!” “They are beyond reproach!” “Anton should be on the Supreme Court!” What is it, PR, or sophisticated coverup via massive report?

  5. Scytale

    What a waste of time this Clock changing is. What good does it do? I look forward in fear when I have to put my clocks forward 11, or 23 hrs, because there is no provision to turn them back!

  6. kevinearick

    the trick to running a regenerative system on the horizontal is masking gravity in a manner that makes it an investment, running up and down the orbital energy levels.

    as we have seen, finance is a function of will, mind over matter.

    1. kevinearick

      adjust the speed of the economy by moving the horizon forward. gravity has its uses.

      hiding information only serves the purpose of capital, as does passive investment.

      labor has been paying to bankrupt itself in return for promises.

      take a look at that contract price between China and Canada, and compare it to the price had Iraq been allowed to bring its oil to market. How dare he threaten the cartel.

      1. craazyman

        look Obiwankinobi, what’s your best 10-bagger? I need to get rich quick and move to Paris, where I can live in an absinthe bar and piddle with my artistic fantasies.

        1. kevinearick

          passive investments are all loss leaders, and I am currently working for small labor. having said that:

          if you look at the cost of a government worker, it’s not just the pay, the benefits, the truck, the equipment, the tools, the overhead, other government workers that have to be hired to supervise, etc, etc, etc., which means the typical government worker costs in excess of 100k.

          the typical union worker costs in excess of 200k, because of the opportunity cost of political jobs, doing the wrong thing, faster and faster, and all the same costs as the government worker, x 2 – you need nexus supervision.

          we have been running a economic activity, make-work economy for over three decades, which means there are very few highly skilled workers available, with demand far in excess of supply, so the wages of highly skilled, unprotected labor is going up, as capital seeks productive outlets for investment.

          after 35 years of complete control, this is not a good time to be capital, to seek short-term return on investment, which is why so many people are hoping for armageddon. this is the time to make a structural investment in what comes next, or bet on armageddon. small labor has done both for quite some time.

          the Fed has to manage inflation and employment, so it’s going to balance inflationary monetary expansion, with deflationary termination of long-term government employment, from the bottom up, replacing it as necessary with temporary short-term government employment. that’s the pressure container breaking the bonds, and it’s about to increase by an order of magnitude.

          as the nexus recedes, it begins the path of induction, sucking in skilled unprotected employment where unprotected labor return / asset devaluation is greatest. that’s where the gas gets injected.

          so, basically what you are asking is: where and when will the final set of dominoes begin ignition, so you can safely ride the wave to wealth, from a distance.

          in the armageddon scenario, the skills that will allow a community to survive will be worth more than gold, and we have been discussing those skills all along. get them, or be the very close right hand man to someone who has them. in any other case, an understanding of military tactics and/or some gold will be required to buy into a group.

          now, let’s assume that you are not a physicist, or a mobile EE at the top of the trade, and that things are going to work themselves out as they always have in the past – the spring is going to release, it’s going to cast small labor forward, without bimodal cleavage, the falsework is going to fall away, and the cartel is going to remain attached by unraveling appropriately, in a quantum advance, like an inchworm.

          you want to maintain a cash ready position, and we are in the currency trading phase. Betting with and against the Canadian dollar, with leverage, has been an easy bet, with a minor amount of calculus, which has outperformed the market in terms of reward / risk, while maintaining a “performing” asset in hand with ready exit. (talent is better than gold, which is currently non-performing). Pick the currency pair you like, but watch the liquidity protection in your choice of banks. we are entering the window of rapidly increasing probability of bank holidays.

          In any case other than armageddon, you want an equity position in the organization that begins rolling out the next wave of technology, which will be a new organization, because no existing organization is capable of quantum advance. If we assume the thread of History will not be clipped, this new organization is going to sell technology prototypes, which will drive all kinds of economic development, along a newly streamlined economy, through branches, and into pipelines of final products.

          because capital has been mercilously hunting down small labor for decades, passive investors will have no access to the seed. so, the question becomes, do you have top skills in some related implementation activity that will get you in the door somewhere in that path (as close to the seed as possible). talent is the premium at the seed; capital is the premium at the product pipeline. you have some combination that will determine your entry point for maximum return on investment.

          the cartels are going to do everything in their power to maintain the status quo, compressing the spring (or loading up the catapult if you like). thay have already locked all the nation/states together to put their heels in the dirt, and are now moving together toward the edge of that cliff, with no let-up from that $500T load hanging over the side.

          so far, they have just changed numbers in computer accounts, and are recycling tax receipts into entitlement checks, from a cash flow perspective, but, as China has noted, even that process is going into deficit now, and they cannot make a single mistake.

          the banks are already geared up for lockdown, martial law has already been approved and prepared for, and real April tax receipts, which only Treasury will know, are going to be interesting.

          for now, that is as clear as I can get, except to say that small labor could care less which day that rock drops, or the method by which it is released.

          1. kevinearick

            goliath can go over with that rock; cut the rope and topple into a million pieces and launch that projectile; or get reasonable and go along for the ride.

            where do you want to be?

            normally, small labor recoups that 35%(of the old 100%) on top of the new 51%, for something between 60-70% on release of the newly charged battery. in this case, small labor is willing to accept the 51% to land this thing into an equilibrium orbit as required by current planetary limitations.

            The cartels’ problem is that they want to negotiate down from the 51%, on the assertion that small labor is beginning at 15%, which couldn’t be more wrong. Unlike the Democrats, small labor doesn’t negotiate.

            just my opinion.

          2. kevinearick

            this is no secret:

            what’s the best ways to short a government right now for the big players?

            trigger a tax extension or make a call.

  7. velobabe

    Private Equity’s Trojan Horse of Debt Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times. TPG the Texas Pacific Group, led by David Bonderman. wonder when bonderman would be written up in conjunction with the world finances (on call 7/24 by the chinese). known bonderman for 11 years, since my daughter has been teaching him pilates. he built a resort on 2500 acres in cougar canyon. he has let me mountain bike those most magnificent hills with 360° views of sublime prominent beauty that can be seen on earth. really this guy has placed himself well when the revolution comes, he has his moat strategically placed to protect himself, familty and money.

    1. Swedish Lex

      If all Bonderman wanted was to live a seclusive life in the wilderness riding a bike, could he not have done so directly without help wrecking the economy first?

      1. velobabe

        he’s not riding the bike i am riding my bike on his 2500 private acres. don’t think he knows how to ride a bike. he knows how to do pilates though.
        he is not the sole participant ruining this economy. just a private equity guy that doesn’t have to answer to share holders nor regulators. i think that is what the article was about:
        “Private equity and banking can be very constructive functions of the economy, but they will destroy this industry if the leading players do not regulate themselves,” he says.

    2. KFritz

      So, if a local Wiseguy gave us kids candy and was momentarily benevolent with us back in the day, that’s supposed to have absolved him for all the crimes he committed? Gimme a break!

  8. craazyman

    the Lehman/Enron piece made me thing of Friday, when the young just-out-of-college temp receptionist at my client’s office FINALLY GOT A JOB! after more than a year of fruitless searching.

    She wants to work in HR. She’s a sweet, wonderful, smiling person whose bright personality and intrinsic kindness of spirit (not to mention hot bod, ha ha, and authenic smile everytime she sees me — but I don’t let it make me wonder, not at 49 years old for God’s sake, even though I’m buff as a wide receiver ha ha haha hahahaha hahah) cuts through the post-office-like worker-drone demoralized gloom that defines my client’s office vibe.

    She’s glowing like she’s going to be a new mom and where is she going to work? The Blackstone Group!!!

    And her boyfriend just got a new job too! Can I believe it??? Both at the same time. He’d been doing something or other for Bloomberg, but he just got hired as an analyst at GOLDMAN SACHS!!!

    I bit my tounge and smiled and told her how great that was and how it must be such a relief to finally have found a real, career-starting job. All she could do was wearily nod and smile–she’d be temping, bartending, whatever to bring in the pennies and pay the rent. She was so relieved and so happy.

    And so two wonderful kids (or at least one, I don’t know the boyfriend) — are onto the assembly line, to be processed like meat and stuffed with the madness of their soul-less elders, until they too become the very thing that they cannot now even fathom if they tried.

    Yes Ionescu, Rhinceros. Rhinoceros.

    It doesn’t have to be this way, with a little sensible regulation and oversight. We really could be men and women, really.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The problem is things are so out of whack, a little sensible regulation and oversight won’t fix things. Sweeping changes are necessary. 95%+ of the “wealth” is held by people between the ages of 55 and 65. Thats retirement age. Who is going to buy it? The legions of young people who don’t have jobs. Internships are the modern slavery.

      At the same time, states are cutting into pensions to cover the wholes in services, but they are keeping the older workers and cutting younger workers. Those older workers are still approaching retirement.

      None of this takes into account rising energy prices, peak oil, rising sea levels, shorter growing seasons, or the crisis of Medicare and our future senior population. (Spoiler Alert: Its going to triple).

  9. KFritz

    Re: Greatest Film Sequences, not mentioned in Guardian

    The Third Man: the chase for Harry Lime through the sewers of Vienna, and the final scene as Joseph Cotten watches Alida Valli walk away

    Treasure of the Sierra Madre: the real gold blows away, seen by no one

    1. KFritz

      Not to mention the baptism/multiple murder scene from The Godfather. Clemenza running late, huffing and puffing up the stairs, and arriving just in time to shotgun two victims in an elevator was a nice touch.

    2. Richard Kline

      The sewer chase in The Third Man is very fine, as is the scene referenced in the article where Harry Lime is found in the dark of night by a kitten. But my favorite scene from that film of scenes—and the best films have endless astounding scenes—is the ‘conference’ in the ferris wheel. Cotten has been seeking Welles for night after dangerous night; now in the light of day suddenly here he is!, and so full of charming menace one doesn’t doubt for a _second_ that he would fling his old chum to his death without even losing his smile if that was to his advantage, and Cotten suddenly doesn’t doubt it in the least, either. Welles was only on the screen in three scenes in that film, and he completely dominated its action and sensibility, a tremendous demonstration of acting, screenwriting, and direction to one end.

      The metaphor at the end of Treasure of the Sierra Madre is very fine, yes. The multiple hit sequence in the Godfather is technically a montage since it has multiple scene contexts in it, but it is the most famous montage of the last fifty years. The couple submachine gunned in bed is the underline to me, but the full stop to the whole sequence is Carlo kicking out the window of the car while he’s being garrotted; who thought _that_ one up? As a scene, though, to me Michael’s double hit in the restaurant is the best one in the film, especially since we know it’s coming though the characters don’t yet it still is a shocker. I’ve always had trouble with the roulette scene in The Deerhunter, though the film is undeniably beautifully composed. The underlying racism and touches of flagrant unreality—a revolver? really? where everyone used automatics???—so one doesn’t really know who to root for, which was another manipulation by the director. I thought the wedding opening the film was excellent though. And the graduation scene in Heaven’s Gate is truly astounding for its scale and visual composition. . . . But as so often with Cimino, there’s a mar to it: Hurt and Kristoffersen are manifestly too old for the roles.

      Why do I choose to discuss films when the oozing misdeeds of Lehman’s and its non-investigation present themselves to our consideration? Just this: the Man wants you to cower in poverty and fear, resigned to powerlessness, grateful for the tip of a hire sheet on the factory machine of capital as the next processee, in hopelessness. So the answer is to live well, and that every day. To see make small beauties and see large ones, remember past joys; to look up and see the sky. Don’t give the man your soul, that’s the first line of resistance and the last.

      1. Richard Kline

        And really, if you want to see Russian roulette, 13 (Tzameti) is the ne ultra of the concept, and an awesome film in every respect. The first group scene of the contest there would be about #30 my list of notable scenes abbreviated here. See the film if you haven’t, and it will erase Cimino from your frame. Sez I.

        1. run75441

          Richard:

          .38 S&W pistol (revolver) was a favored sidearm in Vietnam especially for tunnel rats.

  10. EmilianoZ

    Everybody knows the best film scene ever shot is the russian roulette sequence in the POW camp in “The deer hunter”. I can still hear the vietcong shouting to John Savage: “Maoo! Maoo!”.

    “Heaven’s gate” aint as good as “The deer hunter” but the final battle scene between the poor peasants and the army of mercenaries hired by the rich landowners should be an example to us all. Note that the opening scene is a Harvard graduation ceremony where John Hurt’s speech is nothing less than a staunch conservative manifesto: nothing must change!

    1. run75441

      Emiliano:

      I can’t say this would ever happen and I agree the roulette scene from “The Deer Hunter” is good and the movie depressing; but, I would point to Full Metal Jacket and the scene with Private Pyle before he shoots Hartman and himself.

      “What is your major malfunction, numbnuts? Didn’t Mommy and Daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?”

  11. Robert Dudek

    A sequence from another Kurosawa film – Dersu Uzala:

    A captain of a Russian surveying team circa 1905 and a local (Dersu) living off the land (who have become friends) are lost on the open tundra with the wind rising and nightfall approaching. Dersu’s quick thinking saves them both.

    You could make a list of the ten best Kurosawa film sequences and be forced to leave off numerous gems.

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