URLs du Post-Christmas

I'm in catchup mode:

  • In case you missed it—likely, since it was announced Christmas Eve—the Obama Administration has put Mr. and Mrs. American Taxpayer (as well as their children, grandchildren, …) on the hook for unlimited subsidies for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as much as necessary to keep them from going broke.

    Captain Ed speculates:

    It looks as though Obama wants to use Fannie and Freddie as proxies for more social engineering and wants to prepare for them to take more losses as a result. That would be the only reason to completely uncap the commitment to cover its losses.
    Sounds paranoid, but unfortunately also sounds completely realistic. The WSJ article linked above notes some of the jobs "created or saved" by the move:
    Under the new packages, Fannie will pay as much as about $3.6 million annually to David M. Johnson, chief financial officer; $2.4 million to Kenneth Bacon, who heads a unit that finances apartment buildings; $2.8 million to David Benson, capital markets chief; $2.2 million to David Hisey, deputy chief financial officer; $3 million to Timothy Mayopoulos, general counsel; and $2.8 million to Kenneth Phelan, chief risk officer.

    At Freddie, annual compensation will total as much as $4.5 million for Bruce Witherell, chief operating officer; $3.5 million for Ross Kari, chief financial officer; $2.8 million for Robert Bostrom, general counsel; and $2.7 million for Paul George, head of human resources.

    I really doubt whether any of these guys could hit the cutoff man.

  • Bruce Schneier has the best comment on new air travel "security" measures that will impose (further) massive inconveniences on the innocent while doing nothing for actual security:
    I wish that, just once, some terrorist would try something that you can only foil by upgrading the passengers to first class and giving them free drinks.
    Prof Bainbridge has more extensive criticism, speculating that TSA really stands for "The Stupid Agency".

  • You will not want to miss "Dave Barry's Year in Review: 2009." For example, Dave notes the new administration getting off the ground in January:
    The No. 1 item on the agenda is fixing the economy, so the new administration immediately sets about the daunting task of trying to nominate somebody -- anybody -- to a high-level government post who actually remembered to pay his or her taxes. Among those who forgot this pesky chore is Obama's nominee for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, who sheepishly admits that he failed to pay $35,000 in federal self-employment taxes. He says that the error was a result of his using TurboTax, which he also blames for his involvement in an eight-state spree of bank robberies. He is confirmed after the Obama administration explains that it inherited the U.S. Tax Code from the Bush administration.

Last Modified 2012-10-05 8:43 AM EDT

An Updated Movie Quote

Dr. Evil: You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here! What do we have?

Number Two: Snowplows.

Dr. Evil: [pause] Right.

Number Two: They're mutated snowplows.

Dr. Evil: Are they driven by ill tempered and careless public employees?

Number Two: Absolutely.

Dr. Evil: Oh well, that's a start.

(Via Weekend Pundit.)

Last Modified 2009-12-29 11:19 PM EDT

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A long-ago present to another member of the Salad family, the DVD wound up in my collection, and I finally got around to watching it. Not bad, although I guess it's mainly aimed at the Y-chromosomeless demographic.

Johnny Depp plays the title character, and yes, Gilbert Grape is his real name. He's more or less trapped by his family obligations: his brother Arnie Grape (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is seriously mentally handicapped; his mother is morbidly obese and probably not all that mentally healthy either. Dad Grape is out of the picture (for reasons explained as the movie goes along). They live in a rotting farmhouse outside of the (fictional) small town of Endora, Iowa.

Gilbert's two sisters help out, but the situation is clearly one that breeds resentment and further dysfunction. Gilbert is carrying on an affair with Mrs. Betty Carver (Mary Steenburgen), and his life gets even more complicated when Becky arrives in town, stranded by the breakdown of her grandmother's vehicle. Becky is full of hippie wisdom, which she imparts, tediously, throughout the movie.

So: a bunch of stuff happens. It's not that interesting. There's symbolism out the wazoo, though. I can tell, because I nearly never notice symbolism; someone usually needs to point it out to me afterward. So if I notice it, it means the movie is really beating me over the head with it.

However: anyone who doubts that Leonardo DiCaprio is the Real Deal, actorwise, should check this movie out; he got a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his performance. (He didn't win, though; he could have been another data point in the "full retard" discussion between Ben Stiller and Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder.)

Last Modified 2012-10-05 8:39 AM EDT