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game theory III.

Kevin Drum may have the missing link between the Paul Krugman op-ed from the last post, and the “head-fakes” I had originally imagined being deployed by Obama & Company. I was just thinking of writing something like this, myself. Scooped!

Do supporters of bank nationalization really think it’s either legally or politically feasible at this point in time? I’m skeptical on both counts. Legally, I’m not sure Obama has the statutory authority to take over a big bank. He may well need congressional authorization of some kind first. And even if he doesn’t, does anyone really think it would be wise to go down this road without broad congressional support anyway? I don’t.

Like it or not, there’s only one way to get this support: show that (a) one or more of the big banks really is insolvent and (b) every other option for rescuing them has been exhausted. Geithner’s plan does both.

It was only a few months ago that tens upon tens of millions of dollars were poured into calling candidate Obama a socialistical, communistical, terroristical dude. Could he be ginning up the populism, positioning Geithner as a useful idiot, and preparing a big speech that calls for a new America? Exciting! Krugman says if today’s plan fails, there might not be the will in Congress to do what comes next (nationalization). But if that’s the last resort, would they really decide to do nothing, instead?

game theory II.

I have no idea what I meant by “head-fakes,” at the end of that last post. Sort of got led into by the use of a snappy phrase just before. Deception obviously isn’t a good idea. For a more substantive, bleak view.

game theory.

Fell flat on my back a couple of times yesterday while tossing the disc with Jan. So I’m a little sore, and it’s depressing that it’s a consequence of doing one of my favorite things in the world. But how great is it living around the corner from my high-school buddy, and even closer to a softball field? Idyllic. There was even a team of youngsters throwing and talking with their coaches and parents in the springtime, in the sunshine.

So… Ana Marie Cox was a founder of Wonkette, which is one of the original snazzy political snark-fest websites. She’s a bit of a Blogfather, so I flew off the handle a little bit and subscribed to her Twitter feed, which I get on my desktop through TweetDeck, which I got on the recommendation of her website.

I kind of understand the appeal of this whole internet thing: the computer is your window and there’s maybe a softball field out there, some houses, some yards, some folks, maybe this guy lives next to your backyard, which actually belongs to the house behind the yard’s other back corner, they have five kids and you like to see the Dad teaching his little ones to ride tiny motorbikes, but you don’t talk to them much. Oh, wait, that’s me.

So… turning eyes back online. Now and then I see Ana Marie Cox’s tweets.

She seems to be at a briefing by Secretary of the Treasury Geithner. (One nice thing about Ana Marie Cox, in addition to all the posting about swilling alcohols. She’s a credentialed White House reporter. “We’re in!”) This morning, I turn on her tweets for the first time in a long while, internetly speaking, and she’s posted this.

Geithner, calling on reporters: “I’ve been going left, I want to go right.” Eric Cantor has an orgasm.

Geithner: “I am very confident this scheme DOMINATES all the other alternatives.” Mainly bc it is the one they’re using.

RT @dan_munz: “‘dominates’ language is a game theory thing: http://is.gd/oxlF. Oooo, look at Tim Geithner and his big fancy brain!”

The last one starts with something sent to her by a reader named Dan Munz. The odd web address is a little twit-sized link to the Wikipedia page on “Dominance (in Game Theory)”. I read a little bit about Game Theory recently. It’s interesting, but I have nothing interesting to say about it. Then she posts this.

Geithner getting slightly testy.Garrett: “How will you know this is working?” Geithner: “Not by participation.” Uhm.

He would seem to be talking about participation meaning whether or not investors flock to his plan, right? Weird, right? Because that’s the point of the plan. To bring in private participants. I do a websearch for “participation in game theory,” and something comes right up. Now that’s something he’d say: you can’t judge my success by whether it’s a success for everyone — it’s all part of a bigger undertaking, we’re figuring out this complex thing as we go. I think it’s time to read some more about Game Theory. Seems like the kind of thing that my President, who’s kind of like me in some ways, would be impressed by when formulating policy to make moves & not fake moves.

And throw in some head-fakes, boys. This ends a basically Pro-Obama post. Even pro-Geithner! Rare breed these days.

(Ooof, my back. Time to go outside.)

such bounty.

Spent a nice Saturday in Greensboro, an hour westwardly, wisely taking pastoral Rt. 421 instead of billboardy Forty. Because that stretch of Rt. 40 really is just a fat, gritty, and very billboardy flpp-nngg-ghgg.

We found Boba vegetarian restaurant before we left, and what’s funny about that is it was Mia’s suggestion to look online. (She does not like computers.) It’s there in this little area I call the Student Gulch, next to UNC Greensboro, a block-long dip in the earth with a funny traffic pattern as well as coffee, chow, and vintage… and a hippie eatery that’s possibly named after a bounty-hunter.

Boba Fett
I used to venture around that part of town when my brother was finishing at Guilford College, just down the street. And there were all the times back in the day, driving Rt. 421 with Jay, Catherine and Kendra, on the way to the Saturday morning Qi Gong classes held by old Master Zhao in a Guilford gymnasium. And, you know, I think the last time I saw Providence uber-Etsy-artiste Jenine Bressner was in a punk crash-pad house right around there. So I do like going back.

My fake “duck” with curry was good. The fresh spring rolls and avocado/broccoli soup, too. And then we browsed a little. It was a mistake not coming home with the elegantly framed, wicker-ish, ribbon-hinged, brassy-latched, my-piano-matching, thirty-five-dollar laundry hamper that we saw at the Clothesline consignment shop. And we missed by an hour getting there for a firm, affordable, work-of-art couch that sadly sported a ‘SOLD’ tag.

One last thing I’ll say about all this is that Greensboro has some great houses. I recall hoping that some of the ones we saw today were student rentals, because those stylishly vintage abodes tucked around seemed to really deserve inspired, youthful energy coming and going.

Plus, silly young folks with potential need the grounding energy of awesome architecture to cradle them. (God, why am I not in charge? …God?)

My Google-Fu did not yield up miraculous photos of the buildings we saw. Flickr came through only a little better, with this and this, and one that’s especially interesting because it’s new-not-old, and because it’s a Judy Garland Cream Puff next-door to Larry The Cable Guy’s Cousin’s Meth Lab Front Operation; still, them ain’t the ones we saw. If I could remember the streets, I could Google Maps Street View ’em… Oh, who cares?

My Flickr seach for “greensboro nc house” also yielded stairs, a Polaroid, an actual book-shelf, and a house being punched.

OK. The primary reason for this post is to put down a marker regarding the Bailout “think-piece” I started earlier this evening. Now I have to finish it. Until then…

Paul Krugman’s latest NYT bit.



Michelle and Barack are planting herbs and vegetables. Maybe a new part of the President’s morning workout will be a bit of sunrise weeding and mulching.

Earth Angels II


Report from David Chatowsky:

My First Five Minutes in Nicaragua

I arrived in Sandino International Airport in Managua, Nicaragua, at 1:15 pm on Saturday the 14th. I went through Customs fine and was soon in the lobby talking to my good friend and interpreter, Jairo Cortez. Waiting with Jairo was Erica, a beautiful Nicaraguan women who wants to be involved in my Angel Art Program. After the usual shaking of hands and exchanging of greetings, we headed to a waiting taxi. On the way, Jairo and I started talking about the time he stayed up much too late at a house I was staying at during a fiesta.

It happened like this: After the festivities were over, Jairo told me in a very serious and “bravado” way that he was going to go out into the night to catch a ride back to his hometown. I told him it was too late and he should stay with me, but he laughed and said, “you don’t tell me to stay. I am a Nicaraguan and I can flag down a friend at any hour of the night!” Well, after saying this, he swaggered out into the night only to return a half hour later with his hat in hand. In my mind’s eye, I can still see him sleeping off the fiesta on my tile floor with a small piece of concrete as a pillow.

We were laughing over this story when we came to our taxi waiting in the airport parking lot. I thought I had a good suggestion. “I’d better sit in the back, because if the cops see me they might flag down the taxi and get their share of the gringo factor.” The gringo factor is a common problem in Central America. As you can imagine, the locals raise their prices to take advantage of the gringo.

“No,” Jairo said. “Sit in the front, and if we get into any trouble I will talk our way out of it.”

Here we go. As he is saying these very words, he opens the taxi door with a loud bang and scratches the truck parked next to it. Just then, a desperate-looking Nicaraguan man eating a piece of fruit walks by & hears the bang & sees the scratches & spies the gringo sitting in the taxi & starts yelling for the police. Sure enough, the police soon arrive and a large investigation is started.

The parking lot is filled with “witnesses,” and the policemen start writing diligently in a notebook. They look up only to offer a hard glance at our group. At this point, I start to pray a simple prayer to protect the minds of the police from the greed that may try to creep in. Erica, the young woman who had come to meet me, speaks to the police.

“I am very nervous,” Erica says to them, “I have never been involved with the police. Now, please tell me how much you want for the scratch and we will be on our way.”

“Two-hundred cordobas,” said the truck’s owner.

Erica pays the man and we take off for the town of Nagarote, with me in the back of the taxi… where I should have been stashed in the first place. On the way to Nagarote, Jairo says, “Two-hundred cordobas is equal to ten dollars and I thought it was cheap, so I didn’t say a word.” I thought that had been a good idea, as he had contributed enough to the episode already.

We soon made it to Nagarote, where I was greeted by a sea of smiling faces. The next day, I took the bus to La Paz Central. It is Jairo’s hometown. Once here, I met the Mayor at a birthday party held in the shade of three-hundred mango trees.

But that story is for next time.

Photograph above is of President Clinton arriving in Managua, March 8, 1999. How much “gringo factor” he received and/or dished out is not known. Find all of David’s reports from Nicaragua here at the index; when he and I met is here.