Thursday, June 21, 2012

Goldman Sachs: Fool me once…

I recall an account of the lead-up to the 1929 crash mentioning that Goldman Sachs had created layers of shell companies whose notional values were calculated according to their vast inventories of one anothers’ worthless shares. Goldman Sachs was also a major player in the 2008 clusterfuck. Makes me think that, like Diebold, they ought to start marketing flaws as features. Here I imagine that, like MetLife, GS licenses the beloved “Peanuts” characters from the estate of the late Charles M. Schultz.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Decline and Fall

Every now and then I assign myself one of the larger white whales in the western canon. Five or six years ago it was The Anatomy of Melancholy. This year it’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Burton's Melancholy, stylistically almost impenetrable at the outset, was a hoot. Gibbon's Decline and Fall is nowhere near as forbidding: on the contrary, the prose is buttery, seductive. The author contrives to make long, complex sentences seem perfectly effortless. Although I’m generally familiar with the material from other authors ancient and modern, I’ve never enjoyed the telling quite this much. Very highly recommended indeed—but you didn’t need me to tell you that.