The 150,000-Word Sentence

Countries of the world where English is an off...
The Anglophone world…

Take that, all you doomsayers of the English language in the age of texting. Comes now word that the 517-page French novel Zone, by Mathias Enard — consisting of one 150,000-word sentence — will be published in English. Told from inside some guy’s mind as he takes a train trip, the story “has a lot of commas.” To which we can only add, exclamation point!

via New York Times Ideas Blog.

The Young and the Restless:

Image representing Barry McCarthy as depicted ...
Barry McCarthy

Why Infidelity Is Rising Among 20-Somethings

“Why is there so much cheating? All of the scholars I spoke with point to the higher median age at which young people get married as the most likely explanation. Since 1950, the age of first marriage has risen to 25 from 20 for women and to 27 from 22 for men. “It’s more common for people to be hooking up or having relationships with multiple partners” before marriage, says Prof. Laumann.

Even young people who engage in monogamous relationships before marriage may be hurting their prospects for a faithful married life. The habits they form in those premarital relationships are likely to affect their marriages, according to Barry McCarthy, a psychologist and professor at American University in Washington. “The most common way that dating couples end a relationship is by starting another” — that is, by cheating on their current partner. Moreover, once people have gone through a couple of breakups of long-term relationships, they may not be as worried about what will happen at the end of their marriage. “The costs of exiting have changed,” says Mr. Laumann.”


So Different?

Nasdaq Compuesto mensual largo plazo
Image by trackrecord via Flickr

Josh Marshall observes in Talking Points Memo:

“Since the story broke a few days ago, I’ve been extremely interested in the arrest of Bernard Madoff, former Nasdaq chief, whose investment business has been revealed as a massive scam with loses of as much as $50 billion. Since I’m in the news business a lurid story with gargantuan bad acts and fabulously wealthy people claiming they’re on the way to the poor house is irresistible at some level. But that’s not the root of my interest. What we’re hearing is that this was a classic, if vast, Ponzi scheme. So in the annals of the great financial sector collapse of 2008, unlike the various Wall Street firms and high flyers who were ruined because of the Real Estate Bubble, illiquid mortgage-backed derivatives and generalized speculative euphoria, Madoff’s operation was just a scam, an old-fashioned fraud, that a lot of big players got suckered into.

But put me down as suspicious — suspicious that the difference between Madoff’s and the other investment implosions we’ve seen over recent months will turn out to be so clearly one of kind rather than degree.

Did Madoff start his operation as a consciously fraudulent enterprise? Or was he another operator who was massively over-leveraged, made a bunch of bad calls (you don’t have to make many if your leverage is high enough), lost virtually everything but then was able to keep operating and taking in money and claiming high returns because he had such insanely tight control over his books? In other words, did he start legit, get into trouble and then evolve, for lack of a better word, into a Ponzi scheme?”

I have been waiting for someone to ask if this was really so different from the credit collapse, but I would go even further. The entire economy has been built upon a pyramid scheme in which the losers — the poor suckers who are late investors — are the working poor whose real earnings have consistently eroded and whose debt burdens have steadily grown while the rich get richer. And the bailout is just an effort to prop up the scam so it can continue unabated.

Shoes Prohibited in Iraq

old shoes

After yesterday’s events, the US Iraqi Command has moved swiftly to ban shoes as a security threat. US forces have completed house-to-house sweeps of seven metropolitan areas in Iraq, confiscating all footwear with enough heft to be thrown. Those resisting turning over their shoes, and their families, are being preventively detained. A US spokesperson denied that the move is Draconian, promising that the Command will be issuing foam rubber slippers and flip flops to all who queue up at local police stations to apply.

Palm Pins Its Hopes on Nova

Photograph of a Palm Treo 700p CDMA Smartphone...

I am a longtime Treo user (on my third upgrade at present) and have long been a fan of Palm devices, although no one can deny that the operating system is antiquated and anemic. On the other hand, you cannot scoff at the plethora of third-party developers who have made wonderful products for the Palm platform. Palm was long expected to have a new OS in store and now comes word it will be introduced at CES next month. Of course, the market now is a far different animal than when Palm dominated the handheld spectrum and they are looking for only a modest bite out of market share. Speculation is that the new OS, dubbed Nova, will have to be applicable to far more platforms than just smartphones to situate them properly. They tried to take a tentative step up with the ill-fated Foleo, which they withdrew from sale immediately at the point of launch. I for one have hopes that Nova makes it and that my peripheral brain can continue to exist on a Palm platform.