"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, April 07, 2012

David Simon is tired of your love for The Wire
In a typically contentious New York Times interview, the guy who would probably appreciate it if we didn’t refer to him as “Wire creator” waxed crotchety over his exhaustion with all the too-late love for the show, which could have used that sort of attention when it was still on the air. Because, like the scrappy punk band that only sold a handful of records in its heyday, but now everyone is so into it, you just weren’t there, man: 
Damsels in Distress Onion review
My pick for the three dragonriders who will conquer Westeros are Old Nan, Hodor and Patchface.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Red Priestess
The night is dark and full of terrors,
but the fire burns them all away
Camila Vallejo, the World’s Most Glamorous Revolutionary
Spain Jolts Euro Zone Back on Alert
"Embarrass the Future"? by Linda Greenhouse
The chief justice’s concurring opinion in the strip search case, only three paragraphs long, is interesting for a reason beyond what it might suggest about intramural stress. Here is the final paragraph:
“The court makes a persuasive case for the general applicability of the rule it announces. The court is nonetheless wise to leave open the possibility of exceptions, to ensure that we not ‘embarrass the future.’ ”
“Embarrass the future”? The quote, from a 1944 opinion by Justice Felix Frankfurter in a tax case, is usually offered to mean that the court shouldn’t encumber itself by declaring solutions to problems that have yet to emerge. Maybe that’s all the chief justice meant. But John Roberts is both a careful prose stylist and a man acutely conscious of his and the court’s place in history. There are so many other ways of expressing a minimalist impulse than this unconventional use of the word “embarrass” that I have to wonder whether he didn’t have in mind the prospect of institutional embarrassment, and not only in the case at hand.
Feldstein v. Lazear on the Size of the Output Gap by EconoSpeak (ProGrowthLiberal)
Lazear wants us to believe that the economy could have continued to grow by 3.4% per year since 2007QIV even though average growth was less than 2.5% for the 2001 to 2007 period. If that claim had any credence then potential real GDP would have been almost $15.3 trillion as of 2011QIV as opposed to actual real GDP being only $13.4 trillion. In other words, Lazear wants us to believe that the current GDP gap is 12%. Not that anyone should believe such nonsense but isn’t it interesting that Dr. Feldstein is worried that we may be overestimating the GDP gap.

Republicans are simultaneously pushing two themes. One theme is that current Federal Reserve policy is endangering an inflationary spiral, which seems to be the concern of Dr. Feldstein. The other theme is that the Obama Administration is somehow making the recession worse, which Dr. Lazear was so happy to echo. Funny thing – these two themes appear to be contradictory.
(via Thoma)

Monday, April 02, 2012

Cold Winds Are Rising.

Briefly, three things struck me about last night's Game of Thrones season 2 opener. I liked how they used the red comet in the sky to shift scenes from Bran at Winterfell to Daenerys in the Red Wastes of Esteros to Jon Snow north of the Wall to Stannis Baratheon on Dragonstone. There was also the symmetry of the new kings standing up to their respective strong-willed mothers: Robb to Catelyn and Joffrey to Cersei. (Turns out they should heed their mothers' advice.)

Also during the small council meeting, Maester Pycelle displayed the white raven from the Citadel in Oldtown which means the maesters had determined the long summer was over and Winter is Coming. Littlefinger noted they had enough wheat for 5 years but if the winter lasted longer, well they'd have fewer peasants, of course.

For some reason this reminded me of macroeconomic policy discussion. In the United States, the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is generally seen as the authority for dating US recessions just as the conclave of maesters date the seasons in Westeros. And it reminded me of the way elite policymakers take an "objective" view of the fates of the "small people." Fewer peasants if they didn't store enough wheat? No biggie. Transforming cyclical unemployment into long-term unemployment and degrading the nation's productive capacity with a prolonged output gap? Oh well, won't really effect our social circle, just the common people, who as Jorah Mormont said "don't care about the games the high lords play" and only "pray for rain, health and a summer that never ends."

Charlie Jane Anders recap of season 2 episode 1 "The North Remembers"
(A couple of side notes: first, when Cersei makes a fuss over Littlefinger's mockingbird pin, was I the only one who went, "OMG, Littlefinger's in league with Katniss"? And second, the only pornotastic moment in the episode, in Littlefinger's brothel, involves newbie sex workers getting schooled in the art of fakery, underscoring that for Littlefinger, both knowledge and falsehood are power.)*
George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire by Genevieve Koski and Tasha Robinson

(good comment section. Spoilers by the barrel-full.)

The North Remembers (for newbies) - the Onion recap

What I find myself drawn to in the books and show are the characters who have a sense of honor and goodness.** Tyrion, Ser Jorah Mormont, Ser Barristan Selmy, Davos Seaworth and Brienne Tarth. I find it compelling even if some of them might in some people's minds have too much honor (like Ned Stark and Stannis). It makes a nice contrast in a world of such cruelty. As Robert Baratheon tells Cersei, "that's all the realm is now: backstabbing and scheming and ass-licking and money-grubbing." And then with Joffrey the people get another evil, capricious dictator not unlike the "Mad King" Aerys Targaryen who the Houses Stark, Baratheon, and Arryn rebelled against (with the Lannisters coming in at the very end).
* The Hunger Games soundtrack is doing well with two bands Krugman has promoted at his blog: The Civil Wars and Arcade Fire (although Arcade Fire were already huge.) There's also Neko Case who I love and Taylor Swift who I like but feel somehow I shouldn't like. She's too pop? Too young?

** I'm also drawn to the characters who are sort of cheeky, brave, fearless-in-a-way and smart-asses like Tyrion (who isn't afraid of his sister and talks back to his father) and Oberyn Martell who fights the Mountain - Jaime to an extent but for him its almost to a fault - and Renly Baratheon in the book. In the show to me he's painted as being more resentful of his brother Robert. In the book he comes off as more devil-may care (which turns out badly for him) although I like the actor who plays him in the show.