Archive for July 12th, 2009

The Blame Game

For anyone interested in what happened at AIG last year, Michael Lewis’ Vanity Fair story is a must-read. Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker, is very good at making complicated investment procedures intelligible to the uninitiated.

The most interesting thing about the story is how it illustrates the grand lesson of last year’s economic collapse: Everyone screwed up and no one person is to blame.

Compare, as Lewis does, the AIG collapse, which has largely vanished from the public memory, to the Bernie Madoff case, which arouses everyone’s ire. Madoff is a simple, if tragic, story: One guy conned a bunch of people into giving him money, and then used the money for himself and his family, leaving nothing for his clients. Madoff is a thief and a criminal and deserves to serve every year of the 150 on his sentence. Continue reading

The Top 173 Things in History: #88. The Defenestration(s) of Prague

*None of the defenestrations of Prague actually involved Legos.

This actually happened. Some people were sitting around, mulling how to enact change, and finally thought, “You know what? That’s it! Let’s start throwin’ guys out windows.”

You know what’s crazier? This happened more than once. Like several times. Do the italics do my incredulity justice here? Instead of signing a declaration or firing some bullets or storming a jail, the Bohemians–on multiple occasions, mind you–thought the most viable means of protest was some good, old-fashioned defenestrating.

This would be like the United States having a proud tradition of Senatorial canings.

My favorite part of all this? The “real” Defenestration of Prague in 1618 didn’t even work, thanks to a little well-placed manure. The perpetrators that day must have forgotten their Aesop: “Look before you defenestrate.”

This is the kind of history you can’t make up.

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