Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saturday Quiz: 19th Century French Author

Question: Which French author scandalized 19th century France with his naturalistic depictions of Parisian slums and their rough-talking, drunken, dissolute, often-promiscuous residents?
Here's the answer.

As you might have guessed, I am reading one of his most admired books (in translation).

Readers Journal is updated! Check out the stimulating array of experiences, commentaries and ideas from twelve fellow readers.

To whet your appetite, here are some brief excerpts from various contributors:

Fast forward to today. I recently had a falling out with a good friend, with whom I've played music with for almost ten years, The reason? I made the statement that behind each foreclosed home is a real estate agent who didn't do their job and failed in their fiduciary relationship with the buyer....

You nailed it again. Throughout the mass delusion my wife and I have been aghast as old freinds, neighbors and family bought into the morally bankrupt rational of "its just monopoly money" or "its different this time"... I think you have hit upon the criminal nature of our mass delusion. We have to admit our mistake in order to move on....

As with everything I read about this topic, though, I want to tear my hair out about the ten-ton elephant in the room that is being ignored. No one ever mentions or tries to seek out what I think would be a very telling statistic: How many of these defaults are Single-Family Owner-Occupied dwellings? (Not merely listed that way for under-writing purposes, but in actuality.)
The Mortgage Bankers Association of America estimates that anywhere between 30 and 70 percent of properties now in default are NOT S-FO-O. That is a crazy point spread which tells two different very different stories....

However, there is a broader issue here we must face, which goes beyond the individuals who were actively engaged in some degree of fraud. Namely, the entire credit bubble would never have occurred if society itself wasn’t complicit....

I have been following the posts and indeed things are becoming increasingly unstable. But from our studies in nature, i.e. chemistry, we should understand that all things are seeking equilibrium. In some cases equilibrium is achieved through an exothermic reaction....

On the subject of Government waste, I can't even began to tell you the frustration I face everyday on needless waste of our Government. I think there is a fatal flaw in the way system was designed. It forces us to be wasteful rather than thrifty. All departments are awarded for spending the budget not saving it....

Have a headache? (short satirical video with music)

I agree with your moral argument, but you might as well rail against the tide. The "your loss is my gain" ethic is already firmly embedded - witness the growth in popularity of poker and gaming, or trading existing financial assets (as opposed to issuing IPOs of productive new companies)....

Looking at life (mine) with the reasonable honesty I do, I learned along time ago that the only true way to really learn things is to immediately admit your mistakes or misconceptions and own up to the mistakes and drop the misconceptions....

And if that isn't enough to spark your thinking, here is a stunning new essay by Protagoras: Letter from a Constituent .

We are honored to host Protagoras' many insightful and satiric essays here on

NOTE: contributions are humbly acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency. Thank you, Wesley C. ($25), for your generous support of this humble site. I am greatly honored by your contribution and readership. All contributors are listed below in acknowledgement of my gratitude.

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