Monday, July 30, 2012

Back alley in Pilot Point TX...

Salutes to the Homeys

     Blogger Pater Tenebrarum of Acting Man put it nicely today: Since Mario Draghi "bought" European bankers and politicos a summer vacation by promising to pull out all the stops to save the Euro, this blog will take a break (not a vacation) for a week from the nauseating ongoing melodrama of international finance and instead offer reviews of the other bloggers and podcasters out there that I follow.

1. Outstanding for consistent excellence, acuity, clarity, and the milk of human kindness is the McAlvany Weekly Commentary. David McAlvany manages an investment company out of Durango, Colorado, with an emphasis on precious metals. His interview subjects are high-caliber figures often outside the posse of usual suspects making the rounds elsewhere on the web. He speaks beautifully in complete sentences, shows enough emotion to come off as sympathetically human, and has an equally intelligent sidekick in Kevin Orrick. Together they present the most coherent view of money and politics on the web. A Christian enthusiast, he admirably keeps religion mostly out of the script.

2. For years, The Automatic Earth has presented the most consistently intelligent, wide-ranging, and intellectually rigorous view of the overall ongoing financial fiasco in the written blog format. Until the past year, most of the commentary was written by the droll Raul Ilargi Meijer. Now he is joined by the brilliant energy and finance analyst Nicole Foss and young Ashvin Pandurangi. Their combined point of view is staunchly deflationist. They do immense amounts of homework, cut through all the bullshit to the dense core of our troubled reality, and publish several times a week. The title of the blog comes from a Paul Simon lyric out of Graceland.

3. Zero Hedge. The mysterious person(s) behind this massive continuous stream of reports and analysis from the loony bin of Wall Street and beyond has a manic edge but accurately reflects the madness of the current situation. Zero Hedge seems to post virtually around the clock, every day. They are relentless and hugely comical, with exactly the right sharply malicious overtones required in these evil times. The characters who infest their comment section are some of the worst vermin in trolldom.

4. Mish's Global Analysis. I don't know how Mike Shedlock ("Mish") does it. He puts out two or three commentaries a day as well as holding down a regular job. His great service to us is providing the best breaking analysis of breaking news, that is, making sense of events that are often mystifying -- since mystification is one of the prime tactics of financial playerdom in these dark, non-transparent times -- and getting it done in a very timely way. The upshot is that few of the dodges and ruses emanating from the money world get by this guard-dog, to the huge benefit of us civilians.

5. Charles Hugh Smith's blog, Of Two Minds, manages to publish keenly insightful analysis practically every day in the form of essays that tend to follow big picture themes: governance, energy, taxation, culture, electoral politics. Smith's penetrating, dogged analysis connects vast constellations of dots between the forces that are shattering late industrial economies. He apparently does it all by himself and has also produced several excellent books that form a rich matrix of understanding for anyone trying to make sense of the epochal changes coming down on us.

6. Naked Capitalism is Yves Smith's daily roundup of first rate essays on disasters of banking, including her own forceful callings-out of the ubiquitous misconduct that surrounds her on Wall Street where she works. Her writing is fluent and clear on subjects that would otherwise appear hopelessly abstruse, which is especially valuable where complexity is a cover for misbehavior.

7. In an earlier incarnation of this life, Chris Martenson was a PhD biochemist toiling for da man in the corporate swamps of Connecticut. He literally dropped out and reinvented himself as a blogger / podcaster when the peak oil and debt trap equation startled him into recognizing that the reigning system of political-economy's days were numbered. Since then, he has produced perhaps the best book on the failures of contemporary finance, The Crash Course, and has lately ginned up an excellent weekly interview podcast that should be indispensible.

8. The Archdruid Report. To the casual observer John Michael Greer would seem an odd figure, being a long-bearded, shambling, threadbare enthusiast of things druidical (whatever they are), but he's also about the most humane, articulate, and lucid observer of the crumbling economic and political scene from the realm of totally outside the box. He puts out a beautifully crafted essay every Thursday from the backwater of Cumberland, Maryland, and his view of where the human race is headed is sobering, reassuring, and full of authentic empathy for our multiple predicaments.

9. Jim Willie's Hat Trick Letter at The Golden Jackass Report is a deep, complex, often savage dissection of financial reality that always manages to illuminate new angles on the giant hairball of lies and swindles that the money world has become in our time. He writes in a singular telegraphic style that is delightful to read in a way similar to the pleasures of watching certain horror movies. He assumes that his readers already know a lot and can follow the often recondite pathways of financial discourse that he is such an excellent guide to

10.  The Keiser Report with Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert. Stacy is the straight-person to Max's antic persona. But no one has flogged the evil-doers of banking as hard and unrelentingly as Max, who worked on the inside of the investment racket until driven by outrage to become one of its fiercest attackers. His perch in Paris gives him a front-row seat on the shenanigans now unraveling civilization in the Eurozone, but he shines his lamp under the rock of Wall Street regularly and loves to put the wicked Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan in the spotlight.

11. King World News. Eric King is the reigning gold bug of podcastdom. While he unabashedly "talks his book," one gathers he does it because he sincerely believes in the arguments for precious metals (as I do) and he brings out around five punchy interviews a week with a revolving cast of fellow gold bugs and other generally intelligent high level players in that world - though I could do without the snide Gerald Celente.

12. Financial Sense New Hour. Jim Puplava recently expanded his formerly weekends-only massive three hour podcast to include premium-priced weekday interviews with a lineup of insiders. Puplava covers the waterfront energetically, but he has some weaknesses: 1.) his malaprop rate is staggering; 2.) he doesn't challenge guests spouting obvious nonsense; 3.) other than being a staunch inflationist, his views on the markets shift with whatever wind is issuing from a guest's mouth; and 4.) he's a closet John Bircher who does an annual summer show (any week now) featuring an appalling roster of right-wing crazies. In a normal culture, that alone would tend to discredit all his other worthy endeavors. His sidekick John Loeffler sounds more consistently intelligent. Both of them are jesus freaks, of course.

     I left a few characters off the main list, but shoutouts to CK Michaelson's Some Assembly Required blog, Bruce Krasting's blog, Bill Bonner's The Daily Reckoning, Whiskey and Gunpowder, the brave Martin Armstrong, Jesse's CafĂ© Americain, Barry Ritholtz's The Big Picture, Carl Denninger, Peter Schiff, the great, sobering Doug Noland of the Prudent Bear's Credit Bubble Bulletin, Pater Tenebrarum of Acting Man, Doug Henwood, the savvy and beautiful Lauren Lyster, Bill Moyers... and probably several others who I am (unfortunately) too rushed to mention.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Abandoned bldg in Tioga TX...

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Life feeds on Life"...
Tioga TX...

What the Summer Breeze Said

     Europe is giving new meaning to the term "bootstrapping," the age-old (virtuous) idea of picking oneself up off the floor after some blow or reversal of fortune has laid you low. The new method might be called "skyhooking" in which a massive rescue apparatus secured at some mysterious point unseen in the clouds lifts whole exhausted nations from their knees in order get them to summer vacation. Hence: the interesting spectacle of an entire continent headed for vacation despite facing utter financial ruin, revolution, and civil war.
    No one who has been to Europe in our time can doubt that it is a lovely place to stage human existence. The towns and cities are in immaculate condition, even the ones bombed to gravel in the receding unpleasantness of the 1940s. The trains, trams, and subways run cleanly and on-time. The citizens, though well-fed, maintain normal physiognomies and wear dignified adult costumes out in public. Everything along the streets broadcasts the notion, central to civilization, that grace and beauty matter -- even the handwriting on the bistro chalkboards. What a wonderful place. I'd like to go back. But events suggest that this sweet period of history is drawing to a close and whatever happens there next will be less like Midnight in Paris and more like Riot in Cellblock D meets Quest for Fire.
     This skyhooking procedure has been both fun and sickening to watch, like any great public stunt of seemingly impossible derring-do. Here you have a whole bundle of nations, all up to their chins in the quicksand of debt, pretending to catch lifelines of new credit dropped mysteriously from the clouds by hidden central bank airships, only to find that the lifelines are a kind of collective hallucination coming over them like a fever dream in their hour of desperation. Seems rather cruel, actually. Especially since they have lately sunk deeper in the quicksand from their chins to their eyeballs.
     No one on the scene -- or watching from a remove for that matter -- can conceive a happy ending to this chapter of history, which might be remembered on some distant clear-skied day yet to come as the age of government-by-check-kiting. Or the Chinese fire drill banking model -- no offense to that great nation of diligent workpersons. Yet, reports from even the most anguished Euro nation du jour (Spain) say that the restaurants are bustling and there is no shortage of nearly naked nubile beauties along the beaches of the Costa Brava. And over in Italy, of course, a squirrel could make the journey from Monterotondo to Lago Maggiore by leaping from one outdoor luncheon table to the next with its knobby little knuckles never touching the ground.
     The question is: what happens when the recognition finally hits that the money just isn't there? That the whole circus of alphabet soup bailouts and skyhook rescue operations was a fraud? Well, my guess is that things fracture and splinter and there commences a great scramble for the table scraps of the incredible banquet that this congeries of nations put on its Master Charge card. And when the table scraps are all gone, the members of some nations, or regions within nations, set out pillaging around the place where their neighbor sat at the banquet, and pretty soon you get such a disorderly scene in the lovely old banquet hall of Europe that even diligent Chinese tourists will not venture there for a while.
     None of this is to say that the action I describe is not following similar lines in other corners of our sore beset planet. For instance, those diligent Chinese I aver to have been running a set of banking rackets at least as shoddy, careless, and plumb crazy as the Eurolanders. And don't get me started on the Anglo-American clusterfuck, which has left the rest-of-the-west with a future as ingeniously booby-trapped as the Aurora cineplex shooter's apartment (and to a strikingly similar note of destructive insanity).
     But in these dog days of summer (and the horse latitudes of the spirit), isn't it easier to just mix another vodka and tonic, kick off your flip-flops, and enjoy the feeling of cool sand between your toes? Rest up all y'all. Events will be pinging around the reality-scape good and hard in a few weeks. Me: well, I'm just keeping the fruit trees watered out back for now. 
     Enjoy your vacation.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

gathering storm near Leonard earlier this afternoon...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lavon sunset...

Monday, July 16, 2012

from 5 Min forecast:

“According to a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York,” Chris writes by way of background, “about half of the stock market returns enjoyed in the past decade are a result of the actions taken by the U.S. central bank.

“The study guessed that if you excluded Fed actions over the last decade, the S&P 500 would be at 600 today — instead of 1,352. Put another way, the study essentially says that the gains we’ve seen in the market are mostly fake. They are not due to real earnings gains, but just manufactured good looks that come from printing money.

“This reminds me of an old Seinfeld episode with the following dialogue”:
“Jerry: What about the breathing, the panting, the moaning, the screaming? “Elaine: Fake, fake, fake, fake.
“Likewise, we might say, ‘But what about all those earnings reports and conference calls, the boosted sales, the profit margins?’”

“Fake, fake, fake, fake!”

Up on Caddo Lake...

The Rising

     The word lamppost is popping up lately with alarming frequency in connection with the word banker in all kinds of respectable places, and I don't think this refers to, say, men in Armani suits searching for their car keys where the light is shining on the sidewalk after quaffing a few rare cuvee jeroboams of Louis Roederer Cristal. Rather, it seems to suggest a certain unease with the levers of jurisprudence in this republic of grifters, stooges, and bought-off lackeys. 
     Also of late come rumblings from the most august newspaper in the land that certain questions concerning LIBOR-fixing among American bank officials might soon be entertained in a federal courtroom. But isn't it a fact that the US Department of Justice has its hands full - not to mention its dockets - with cases of alleged performance-doping by star athletes? Just think: all that effort (and expense!) at repeated prosecutions and Roger Clemens remains at large! His fastball might yet shred the constitution and dishonor all the combined sacrifices of our men in uniform in countless heroic wars.
     Meanwhile, has The New York Times sent a reporter to chat up the elusive John Corzine? It must be an easier job than, say, trekking to a cave in Tora Bora to interview the late Mr. Osama bin Laden - which a few plucky reporters actually accomplished back when - yet Mr. Corzine is now better hidden than the Orang-pendek of Sumatra. And higher-functioning, too, considering his current role as Uncle Scrooge McDuck to the Obama reelection campaign. In what 5th sub-basement of a Robert A. M. Stern-designed luxury high-rise does Mr. Corzine sit with his moneybags of purloined MF Global customer funds writing checks to the Democratic National Committee?
     All this is to say that when a few lame rumors of prosecutorial zeal appear in old gray mouthpiece for the status quo, you can bet that the true tipping point of public impatience has probably been breeched and the fall of the elites is closer than you think. In the sizzling sauna that the US has become under the regime of climate change denial, the black swans of political turmoil are moistly hatching. Who knows what form the mischief might take and how the trouble starts. Perhaps a hostage crisis at the Maidstone Club where families of a dozen hedge fund chiefs are held in the pool house by an out-of-work pipefitter from Wantagh high on bath salts. Or a swindled soybean farmer in a Semtex-rigged vest pays a call on the PFG-Best futures trading headquarters in Cedar Falls, Iowa, just as the lawyers and their financier clients sit down in the conference room to an ordered-in lunch of sloppy joes, fries, and slurpees. Or maybe a part-time evangelist off his Zoloft in some broiling strip-mall in a bankrupt California shit-hole sees the numbers 666 resolve among the remnants of his half-eaten enchilada on a Mitt Romney for President commemorative plate and packs up an arsenal of legally-acquired small arms for his journey to the Republican Convention in Tampa....
     This is, after all, the country where the Kardashians reign. Anything might happen.
     This is also the fruit of utterly failed moral leadership in a rudderless society adrift on a sea of delusion and untruth in an age of accounts unsettled. The battle over which empty suit gets elected president is a preface to the discovery that the national government only pretends to be in charge of anything. As the reality of total, comprehensive bankruptcy simmers up, perhaps a critical number of citizens stop forking over their quarterly taxes - since it would be the same thing as pounding sand down a rat-hole. Then, things really go south governance-wise. The next revolution in North America could make 1793 Paris look like an Ace of Cakes episode. Lamppost lynchings will seem too merciful. Rather, look for a new realty TV launch: Kardashian Kangaroo Kourt, in which every week a score of obscenely wealthy celebrities plucked from the realms of banking, showbiz and politics are dragged over three miles of barrel cactus in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge behind a Dodge Mopar-loaded Ram Runner (mostly American-made).
     In the meantime, let's just all kick back these hot summer nights on the front porch with a few vodka and Red Bulls and enjoy Jack Abramoff's new radio show on Clear Channel in which the re-branded "lobbying reformer" offers advice on improving the transaction of public business in our nation's capital. This is Mr. Abramoff's first job since completing his prison work-release gig in a kosher Baltimore pizza store. God bless you, Jack.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Dr Pepper"

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Drowning Pool

     News that that a swarm of termites deep inside the British banking system have been fiddling the interbank interest rates (LIBOR) for years in order to systematically vacuum a few billion pence off the exchange floors for themselves is the latest blow to the credibility of the global money system - and probably a fine overture to a looming climactic implosion of the gigantic, creaking, smoldering, reeking, duck-taped edifice of broken promises, booby-trapped hedge obligations, counterparty follies, central bank euchres, sovereign flim-flams, and countless chicanes too various, dark, and deep to smoke out. Next, we'll probably hear that Lloyd Blankfein over at Goldman Sachs has been tinkering with the rotation of the earth in order to gain a few micro-milliseconds of advantage in his firm's high frequency trading rackets. After all, back in 2008 Lloyd himself claimed to be "doing God's work."
     In short, world banking is now hopelessly pranged, and I am not at all sure the project of civilization (modern edition) can continue by other means. The impairments of capital formation are now so profound that no one and nothing can be trusted. Not only are all bets off, but nobody will want to make any new bets - and by that I mean venture to invest accumulated wealth (capital) in some useful project designed to sustain human well-being. What remains is just the desperate hoarding of whatever remains in assets uncontaminated by the pledges of others to pony up.
     All this points to a dangerous new period of political history, a deadly Hobbesian scramble to evade the falling timber in a burning house as the rudiments of a worldwide social contract go up in flames. Such is the importance of legitimacy: the basic condition for governance, especially among supposedly free people. You can meddle in a lot of distributory issues - who gets what - but when you mess with the most basic operations of money to the extent that no one is sure what it's really worth, or what it represents, then you are deeply undermining society. This is now the condition that is set to blow up republics.
     Reality dislikes fraud and accounting tricks. Reality is serious about settling scores. Reality eventually intervenes and puts an end to monkey business. What will it be this time?
     Europe and America have been buying a month here, a month there (of a fragile, continuing status quo) on the installment plan. That's what QE, TARPs, LTRO, EFSF, Operation Twist, et cetera, are all about. Think of them as multi-billion dollar (euro) fire extinguishers bought on credit cards. Europe is now completely out of credit to buy more fire fighting equipment. For months now it has been down to whether Germany intends to keep supporting Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, the French banks (and a few stray forgotten places between the backwaters of the Danube and the Gulf of Finland) without any say in how they manage their allowance. Much as Germany enjoyed the Ponzi heyday of the Euro zone, a big "tilt" sign now flashes ominously over the continent, signaling game over. All fall down. Everybody gets real poor real fast. M. Hollandaise over in Paris has already sealed his fate with his stupid plan to return to "go" on the Ponzi game-board. Merkel's tattered scarecrow of a coalition will blow away in the next national election. The Club Med countries will soon boil up in street-fighting, Holland and Finland will drink themselves to death, and across the channel outsider Britain will fizzle away to a burnt bowl of mulligatawny. That's what the end of the summer looks like to me.
      Over here, in this sorry-ass edition of America, the election will look more and more like a World Wrestling Federation staged dumb-show between two catamite hostages of a foul corporate oligarchy. Imagine that horse's ass Mitt Romney spending the next four months denouncing Obama-care, modeled on his own health care reform in Massachusetts, while Obama pretends he has a grip on an economy where the rule of law is absent due to Obama's own omissions and negligence.
     And if you can't stand that spectacle, just look around at America itself: a wasteland of futile motoring and discount shopping populated by depressed, overfed clowns bedizened with sinister tattoos, pretending to be Star Warriors. No nation ever seen in human history ever laid such a disappointing egg. Only to have it fry on the sidewalk.

Friday, July 13, 2012

the Granada Theater...

Saturday, July 07, 2012

 Read these words from Justice Roberts opinion:
"Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."

The healthcare act is clearly a consequence of our (America's) political choices. The choices we make in November will be very telling; do we want to remain a free market democracy, or do we want to become a socialist nation like the (failed) European models?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

4th of July parade

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Hostage Racket

     Not to put too fine a point on it, but didn't that cunning rogue Chief Justice John Roberts pour a jug of Karo syrup into the gas tank of America's twelve trillion cylinder engine? Or, put another way (forgive the metaphor juke), didn't he just give President Obama enough rope to hang himself? Out to dry, that is. Roberts must know exactly what he is doing: prompting x-million young and/or poor voters to an election year tea party tax revolt. The Obama health care reform will henceforth be defined as a tax against people too economically strapped to buy health insurance - in other words, a gross injustice, courtesy of Obama.
     Or call it a poison pill. Obama gets to brag that the heart of his 2700-page reform package stands - at the expense of the very people it was designed to protect. Forget about the niceties regarding the interstate commerce clause and other chatter points. This was all about Chief Justice Roberts interfering in a presidential election in a most mischievous way. He might as well have just heated up a branding iron that spelled out T-A-X and applied it to Mr. Obama's forehead.
    Of course, with or without the so-called reform, the American health care system remains a hostage racket. When you are sick, you will do anything to get better, and the system knows it. You will sign onto any agreement to keep yourself alive, even if the health care system ends up taking your house and your children's educations. It is a well-established fact that the chief cause of personal bankruptcy in the USA is unpayable medical bills on the part of people who have health insurance. It is considered bad manners to inquire of a surgeon what his fee might be for a life-saving operation. Anyway, you don't want to know because it will be a figure with no anchor in the reality of hours spent or services rendered. Ditto the folks who run the hospital, where there is no reality-based relationship between things dispensed and prices charged. It's simple racketeering and true health care reform would be the vigorous application of Department of Justice attorneys on the doctors, pharma companies, insurers, hospitals, and HMOs who are engaged in routine, systematic swindling. But the truth is, we don't want to remove the swindle and the grift, we just want to find some way to get the American public to pay for their own shakedown.
     Before you get too exercised over the multiple idiocies and injustices of the current American medical situation just reflect for a moment that the whole creaking system cannot possibly survive no matter what the Supreme Court might have ruled or whatever Obama sought to accomplish. The US economic system is about to blow up. The banking sector has been kept technically alive on the life-support of accounting fraud since 2008, but that artful racket is coming to an end because sooner or later the abstraction called "money" must make truthful representations of itself in relation to reality, or else people cease to accept its claims of value. Without a functioning banking system none of the rackets organized into US health care can continue.
     The eventual destination of health care, like everything else in society categorically, is a much smaller, more modest, more local scale of operation. We'll be lucky if the people with medical expertise can reorganize the wreckage of the system into something resembling small local clinics with all the costly and pernicious racketeering bureaucracy peeled off it. The insurance companies will be in the elephants' graveyard of failed institutions. Let's hope the doctors and their support staff remember to wash their hands.
     A couple of side notes:
     Anyone seeking to understand the deplorable physical condition of the general public need only stroll through the supermarket aisles and see the endless stacks of manufactured sugary shit that pretends to be food in this culture. That whole matrix is coming to and end, too, by the way, but probably not soon enough to save the multitudes programmed into metabolic disorder. They will just have a shorter life-span, aggravated by loss of income in a cratering economy and everything that comes with being impoverished. The doctors themselves by and large know almost nothing about nutrition, and make no organized effort to militate against the homicidal processed food industry - which brings me to the second side note. 
     Namely, that the diminishing returns of extreme bureaucratization and turbo-specialization in medicine has only made the doctors generally stupider and more inept. My own situation is a case in point. For two years I suffered an array of peculiar symptoms ranging from numb hands to supernatural fatigue. My ex-GP showed no interest in investigating the cause. Even my request for a toxicology workup was essentially shrugged off.  I had to become my own doctor. For a while I suspected Lyme disease, which is raging in my corner of the country. I went to see a Lyme specialist who didn't accept insurance (because the insurance companies did not recognize his aggressive treatment protocols as falling within the current "standards of practice" - and this because the medical establishment doesn't know its ass from a hole in the ground about Lyme disease).
     Anyway, I asked the Lyme specialist to include a test for cobalt levels in my bloodwork because I thought there was an outside chance I had cobalt poisoning. The reason I thought this was because Google searches of my symptoms kept pointing to metal-on-metal hip replacement failure. I had gotten just such a metal-on-metal hip replacement in 2003. The hardware was developed because the orthopedists wanted to give younger patients a longer-lasting implant. That's when the diminishing returns of technology stepped in and kicked everybody's ass, including mine. 
     My cobalt blood test came back off-the-charts high. (My many Lyme tests all came back negative.) Wouldn't you know, though, that the Lyme specialist wanted to treat me for Lyme anyway. He ignored the cobalt numbers and wrote out a prescription for $400 worth of antibiotics. He was the proverbial guy with a hammer to whom everything looked like a nail. I declined that course of treatment and instead went to my new GP for a first appointment and asked for an additional cobalt test, along with one for chromium. (My hip implant is an alloy of titanium, cobalt, and chromium.) They both came back way over the toxic level.  Apparently, the rotation of the metal joint has been shedding metal ions into my system for nine years.
     Next I went to the orthopedic surgeon who put the implant in. He ordered an MRI and xrays and appeared rather concerned. Eventually I was routed to yet another orthopedic surgeon who specializes in "revising" hip implant failures - in particular ones of the type I have, which have been failing at such a staggering rate that the lawyers have assembled one of the greatest litigation feeding frenzies in history. They are going after the manufacturers of these devices.
     I have health insurance but I am quite sure that I will be soaked for many thousands of dollars beyond the coverage to resolve this problem, which will involve at least the changing out of the terminal bearings of my implant - if I am lucky. In the meantime, I have to become exactly the kind of pain-in-the-ass patient who asks too many questions so I don't end up crippled, or dead, or taken for ride like a purloined human ATM machine. I suppose I am also lucky that this happened to me soon enough to even have this kind of remedial surgery. Another year or two and I would have just steadily turned purple and croaked like some poor 19th century foundry worker.
     There's an excellent chance that I will be on the operating table at the same moment that another financial crisis erupts, one that will be orders of magnitude worse than the 2008 Lehman collapse. Won't that be something? I hope that the surgeon and the anesthesiologist, and whoever else happens to be on hand, don't all run out of the room at once to call their investment managers while I'm lying there inert, like a boned-out Thanksgiving turkey. Pray for my ass. I'm a hostage in the system.