July 29th, 2011

El Huipil


Today, R. and I went to lunch. I suggested some possibilities, and we ultimately wound up in Maynard trying to find a tacqueria he thought he had seen a sign board for. We found it! El Huipil. And it is excellent. It is very new (started last September, according to their website).


It is counter service, with beverages in coolers; they have no ice. I got a chicken burrito. I believe R. got the carnitas. Their beans were _perfect_. Nothing too salty, either. They have huipils decorating the wall behind the counter. Of course, I didn't know what a huipil was when we were there; I only figured out that's why the dress/blouses after I came home and looked up the restaurant so we would have the number for takeout later. Google translate let me down; I resorted to "define huipil".

Of course nothing is as perfectly wonderful as the Boca Grande in Cambridge, however, this is wonderful and it is wonderfully close to where we live.

Policing the Twenty-First Century


Waltham is using FB and Twitter and an app to distribution information (traffic, parking bans, Amber alerts, public safety issues).

"Additionally, the department has partnered with Citizen Observer/tip411, a company that offers group alerting and anonymous tip tools, to establish unidentifiable tiplines via text, Facebook and the police website."

And, in an effort to keep crowds of drunken, er, young men from doing foolish things, BC Police are trying lollipops:


"She is taking her cue from the United Kingdom, where police officers and bar staff routinely hand out lollipops."

There are concerns about doing this as more than a one-time stunt: food allergies and hey-we're-carrying-too-much-stuff-already. One solution: get the bars to pass them out. I have this vision of bars of the near future: to one side of the door, a bowl of free condoms, on the other, a bowl of free lollipops. . .

I had no idea reading stories about police techniques could be so much fun. Maybe I'll do this more often.

About August 2

I get a certain amount of email (and snail mail) regarding investment issues. I almost never write about them here for a variety of reasons, however, this one is so funny (in a good way!) that I feel compelled.

First: huge kudos to Chris Ahrens and Mike Schumacher for producing something both plausible AND readable. Many of these communications are neither.

After spending some time explaining that August 2 is not a default date and it's a projection anyway, Ahrens et al note that this is a date when there would in the ordinary course of business be an announcement about another auction -- an auction which might not be able to happen until after the debt ceiling is raised (or more time has gone by). There's a little speculation about the impact of an announcement (minimal) and then on to the Ratings Agency Downgrade Threat. In that section, they break down who holds US debt and how they might react to a downgrade. Many who hold debt have rules about the quality of debt they can hold, however, the downgrade(s) that might occur would not be severe enough to trigger these rules for money market funds. The money quote: "Strike us dumb if the rating agencies drop the US below the second tier in the next month." Heh. This was the point where I started paying attention.

On the subject of Central banks: "We have met with most of the major central banks in the past 3-4 months, and cannot recall any of them indicating it will sell Treasuries if the US is downgraded." These are people who fully understand the "compared to what?" problem. Hedge funds, asset managers and index funds and insurers and commercial banks seem underwhelmed by the prospect of a downgrade (many said they'd buy if yields rose).

There _might_ however be an impact on collateral agreements if US debt was no longer considered "risk free".

So the downgrade is being treated as a non-issue, already priced in. Then they move on to contemplating an actual default. "We agree that it is a very hard concept to get one’s mind around, but feel obligated to make an attempt." *snicker* Maybe I shouldn't be laughing, but that is hilarious. Anybody got popcorn?

"if Treasuries stop accruing interest, will electronic platforms shut down and markets move to manual pricing and voice-over trading?"

You thought the foreclosure crisis caused a complete seize-up (har de har har) of bureaucracy? You ain't seen nothin' yet. This has nothing to do with panic, and everything to do with omg we have to do it all manually.

LOTS of stuff has rules that say, "Cannot hold defaulted securities". There would be a lot of forced liquidiation.

The sum up is tremendously ambiguous: so, what _would_ happen to the yield curve in the event of a default? Flight implies a massive uptick. But a recession would be associated with a drop.

And that's the end of the note (possibly along with the contents of your brain, if you understood all that).

Again, Ahrens and Schumacher did a great, punchy job with a tricky problem. I am _not_ mocking them. And the situation is pretty dire. But anyone who knows me knows how I react to Really Dire: DOOOOOMMM!!! :-)

Snarking in the Senate

Bloomberg broke in with the Senate convening shortly before 8 p.m. Eastern time.

The House passed a bill. The Senate has convened. Reid is trying to get a vote to table what the House passed and then send back to the House the Senate version for it to be voted on tomorrow afternoon (1 p.m. in theory. [ETA: I think I misunderstood what I heard.] Based on what happened Thursday, Reid is justified in snarking about schedule). Reid wants and up-or-down on his version; McConnell isn't going to let that happen. Probably.

I think we don't know the precise content of the Senate version yet.

McConnell's "out of body" remarks were amazingly insulting.

ETA: House bill down, 59-41.

Jeffs trial continues


Jeffs calls down the wrath of god on the prosecutors and is told not to say that again in front of the jurors. Jeffs says his first amendment rights are being violated and is told that those do not cover polygamy. Jeffs tried to claim some kind of religious confidentiality to cover religious records that were being testified about.

The grammar in the Jeffs quotes is strikingly off.

Think there will be a TV movie? Maybe made by/for Court TV?

If you're wondering what I'm talking about: FLDS leader on trial for "marriage" and sex with young girls. Lots of them in general, two in particular for this trial. DNA evidence (child) for the 15 year old and (shudder) an audio tape of sex with the 12 year old. Way, way, way beyond creepy.