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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Whoops, missed a day somehow. (Even grad students get busy sometimes.) Here's a few links I've been saving; scroll all the way to the bottom for your daily dose of Watchmen panic.

* One of our most beloved blog denizens has started up a March Madness blog. Add it to your feeds immediately.

* Executing someone on their birthday may seem hilarious, but actually it's sort of cold. (via Srinivas)

* Same goes for trading your minor-league pitcher for ten bats. Via MeFi.

* All about experimental philosophy.

* The Daily Show's evisceration of CNBC was amazing last night. Also, incredibly well-deserved.

* Forget man-on-dog: will gay marriage start us down the slippery slope to human/robot marriages? It could happen right here in North Carolina. Only Steve Benen sees where this really leads: man/dog/robot/robot-dog polygamy.

* Two games: Linear RPG and Exploit, the second from amateur-game-creator of the moment, Gregory Weir, (The Majesty of Colors, Bars of Black and White).

* “You have to understand,” he told me, “Iceland is no longer a country. It is a hedge fund.” Vanity Fair has a huge feature on the Icelandic financial collapse that really makes for fascinating reading. More discussion at MetaFilter. (via my dad)

Global financial ambition turned out to have a downside. When their three brand-new global-size banks collapsed, last October, Iceland’s 300,000 citizens found that they bore some kind of responsibility for $100 billion of banking losses—which works out to roughly $330,000 for every Icelandic man, woman, and child. On top of that they had tens of billions of dollars in personal losses from their own bizarre private foreign-currency speculations, and even more from the 85 percent collapse in the Icelandic stock market. The exact dollar amount of Iceland’s financial hole was essentially unknowable, as it depended on the value of the generally stable Icelandic krona, which had also crashed and was removed from the market by the Icelandic government. But it was a lot.

Iceland instantly became the only nation on earth that Americans could point to and say, “Well, at least we didn’t do that.” In the end, Icelanders amassed debts amounting to 850 percent of their G.D.P. (The debt-drowned United States has reached just 350 percent.) As absurdly big and important as Wall Street became in the U.S. economy, it never grew so large that the rest of the population could not, in a pinch, bail it out. Any one of the three Icelandic banks suffered losses too large for the nation to bear; taken together they were so ridiculously out of proportion that, within weeks of the collapse, a third of the population told pollsters that they were considering emigration.
* When will voters start blaming Obama for the economy? Nate Silver has the numbers suggesting that will start in 18 or so months, though I bet that timeline could halve or worse that as people grow frustrated with prolonged economic hardship.

* What Obama could learn from Watchmen: Matt Yglesias reports on Ronald Reagan's own Ozymandian scheme for global unity.

* And Jacob sends along your hope-crushing Watchmen reviews for the day.

J. Hoberman in Village Voice: The philosopher Iain Thomson (who valiantly brought Heidegger's Being and Time to bear on his reading of Watchmen) maintained that Moore not only deconstructed the idea of comic book super-heroism but pulverized the very notion of the hero—and the hero-worship that comics traditionally sell. For all its superficial fidelity, Snyder's movie stands Moore's novel on its head, trying to reconstruct a conventional blockbuster out of those empty capes and scattered shards.

David Edelstein, New York Magazine: ...this kind of reverence kills what it seeks to preserve. The movie is embalmed.

Meanwhile, Steve Benen and Adam Serwer take a stand against Anthony Lane on behalf of geeks everywhere.