Print Story I wanna hit this town till its teeth come out
Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Sun Sep 10, 2017 at 02:22:28 AM EST) Reading, MLP, Me (all tags)
Reading: "Pride and Prejudice", "Utopia for Realists". Me. MLP.


What I'm Reading
Did quite a bit of reading while covering nights at the hospital. Finally got around to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It's definitely a good book, wittily written and with sharp observation of character. Pretty much as I expected from my second-hand cultural immersion, though I expected it to end soon after the proposal but it keeps going for ages. Like "The Great Gatsby" or "Invisible Man" it's a classic that's surprisingly easy to read for its reputation.

I don't feel particularly enlarged or enhumaned after reading it though. It's very focused on a particular class, time and place that's not of great interest to me, it's so drenched in irony, that it didn't really make much emotional connection.

What I'm Reading 2
Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman. Short, inspirational book calling for more ambitious political thinking. Points out how lots of modern achievements were previously thought of as impossible utopias. The big ideas he presents include Basic Income, a much shorter working week, unlimited immigration and, er, deemphasising GDP in favour of more complex and subtle statistics.

Compared with books like Inventing the Future which offers a very similar programme, Bregman tries hard to present these ideas as not being left-wing but part of a kind of technocratic centrism. Fine if it works to appeal to people, not sure if it will.

A lot of time is spent explaining and defending the basic ideas: in my case I'm pretty familiar with them, but it seems like a pretty good introduction. There are still some bits that were new to me: the account of how Nixon came close to introducing a guaranteed income system was fascinating, and there's a good debunking of the myths of about the Speenhamland system. (A fairly successful 18h century system of poverty relief, that was retroactively declared a failure by a report where the conclusions were written before the data was received.)

Overall, quite interesting, but in my case definitely preaching to the converted.

Me
Toddler had a chest infection which turned nasty, setting off asthma-like symptoms that are apparently not actually asthma. He had to be admitted to hospital and was there from Tuesday to Friday, spending much of the time in an oxygen mask. My wife and I basically took turns to be with him. He's a restless sleeper so I spent most of each night putting his mask back on when it fell off, trying to get it done before the beeps started. Poor kid suffered though he took it quite bravely. "I don't want to be here for ages!" he kept saying.

I took the time off work. Might cause problems when I get back but can't be helped.

Oddly, while the hospital time was horrible and the lack of sleep a problem, the few hours I got at home were refreshing it's the first time I've had with the place to myself since he was born. Felt so good just to walk in, stick a ready meal in the microwave with no cooking and no washing up, just switch on Dave and watch Top Gear or whatever was on, with no-one making any demands on me for an hour or two.

Links
Socioeconomics. Fiscal Austerity After The Great Recession Was A Catastrophic Mistake. UK employers raise pay as Brexit skills shortage bites . House flippers not subprime borrowers triggered US housing market crash.

Politics. How the press lied about the little girl staying with Muslim foster parents. Capitalism's Crisis of Care. Vidal Sassoon: Hairdresser's Secret Life as Jewish Anti-Fascist Streetfighter. How the aristocracy preserved their power. Conservative Party election autopsy 1, 2 (most interesting), 3.

Pics. Evolution of medieval elephant images.

Sci/Tech. Farming in the Netherlands. Tapeworm diet pills were a myth. Roman cavalry barracks unearthed near Hadrian's Wall.

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Flippers by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Sep 10, 2017 at 12:56:40 PM EST
I sat on a jury that dealt with a case of mortgages and flippers gone bad.  The details aren't relevant but one thing I did learn is that the loans flippers take out are not the same as the loans normal home owners use.  There are banks that specialize in high-interest loans that are expected to be paid off very quickly.

The loan in question on the trial had an interest rate of (and this is not a joke or hyperbole) 21%.  Flippers take these loans out because they only expect to pay a few months of the mortgage and then get a big payoff when they sell for 50% over what they bought.

It should be obvious that in such a system, not being able to flip the house for significantly more than the combo of the purchase price and the cost of construction updates very quickly can be disastrous.

I don't think it's fair to leave subprimes entirely off the hook.  It was a system of dominos.  Clearly if a lot of subprime foreclosures started showing on the market, prices would be depressed (or really, just stagnate) which would start screwing the flippers.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

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