May 9th, 2010

Had fun at McDonald's!

Okay, so you're probably thinking, what? First, the obvious confession, yes, a large percentage of T.'s calories come from those french fries. It is sad and distressing to us, too. Second, what could I possibly mean, claiming to have had fun at McDonald's?

Well, T. wanted to go to Julie's Place and get a waffle on the way home from the park (because, after all, that's what we do, sometimes skipping the playground entirely). I was really not happy about the idea of going there at 11:30 a.m. on a Sunday, much less Mother's Day and the parking lot confirmed that my one hope (maybe everyone went upscale for Mom's Day brunch) was the b.s. that R. thought it was. So we went home and I convinced T. to accept a substitute: french fries at McDonald's. We went. We got fries and then some chicken nuggets (of which he actually had 1 and part of another, which was more than I expected). The fries weren't very hot. The place was mostly empty. Whatever.

But T. has been downright chatty lately, and he gets that we only understand some of the things he's trying to say, so when he wants to converse -- as we all are inclined to do -- he repeats himself a lot and slowly adds to his repertoire over time. There's a lot of mailbox! Or, red car! Or, riding in the blue car! (Punctuation in his pronunciation.) Frequently, there's "get gas!", and lately I keep having to try to explain to him that the gas tank is full. He finally understood, and said it the way I _should_ have: "get gas all done".

Often, when we're done with an activity and headed home, I ask him if he had fun doing whatever we just did. He _never ever ever_ replies. But today, he volunteered: "Had Fun McDonald's!" Sure, he was probably just repeating with emphasis what I normally would have asked him (just like when I was about to tell him I needed to run inside and get my bag and my wallet, and he volunteered, "get bag! get wallet!" which initially confused the hell out of me, because he is not nearly as intelligible as I'm implying he is and with inadequate context and only vowels, it can be an impossible puzzle). I don't care. He told me he had fun at McDonald's. That was awesome.

What is it with economists?

p 44 of _13 Bankers_:

"Fundamental reform requires more than rearranging the seats on the government lifeboat;"

Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic is a metaphor we are all familiar with and it _makes sense_: the Titanic _had_ deck chairs. Rearranging those chairs was probably as important an activity on the Titantic as setting and busing tables is in a sit down restaurant. Rearranging those chairs is _not_ a reasonable use of time while the ship is sinking.

But to the extent there are "seats" on a lifeboat (not all of them have seats), you _cannot_ rearrange them. They don't move. I understand what Kwak and Johnson are trying to do: they are trying to combine a metaphor from total disaster with efforts to avoid the worst results of a disaster in the context of a financial crisis. But this particular mixed metaphor is distracting and absurd.

Also, the authors are seriously creeping me out. I think Johnson's historical overview has serious problems. His description of emerging markets financial crises in the 1990s lacks perspective and nuance, recycling the usual crap about crony capitalism with no apparent sense of irony.

I suppose this is what happens when I read an attempt to explain financial crises in terms of politics written by an MIT economist. Not going to go well; should have seen this coming.

ETA: Elizabeth Warren apparently liked it. Hopefully it improves.

ETAYA: In case it doesn't, I picked up _This Time Is Different_. Better publisher, more historical.