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Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:19 PM


Weekend Economists Writing Like the Dickens, February 8-10, 2013

Q: Do you know where the phrase hurts like the dickens comes from?

A Let’s focus in on dickens as the important word here, since there are lots of different expressions with it in, such as what the dickens, where the dickens, the dickens you are!, and the dickens you say!

It goes back a lot further than Charles Dickens, though it does seem to have been borrowed from the English surname...MORE AT LINK


Regardless of how it started, the phrase lives on. Here's a Caroling Group riffing on the theme:

Like the Dickens, a cappella quartets, began its singing career in the summer of 1992. David Craven (Company Owner & Caroler) and Kelly Treadway (Strategic Partner & Caroler), along with Kelly's husband Greg, were brainstorming together about a holiday entertainment company and happ'd upon the slogan, "Carolers who sing like the dickens” and thus the creation of Like the Dickens...


But no one or nothing is more entitled to the phrase than--WEE'S BIRTHDAY BOY OF THE WEEKEND--200 YEARS YOUNG---MANY HAPPY RETURNS OF THE DAY TO

Charles John Huffam Dickens ( 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's most memorable fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. During his life, his works enjoyed unprecedented fame, and by the twentieth century his literary genius was broadly acknowledged by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular.

Born in Portsmouth, England, Dickens left school to work in a factory after his father was thrown into debtors' prison. Although he had little formal education, his early impoverishment drove him to succeed. Over his career he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, 5 novellas and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children's rights, education, and other social reforms.

Dickens sprang to fame with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity, famous for his humour, satire, and keen observation of character and society. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly instalments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication. The instalment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience's reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback. For example, when his wife's chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities, Dickens went on to improve the character with positive lineaments. Fagin in Oliver Twist apparently mirrors the famous fence Ikey Solomon; His caricature of Leigh Hunt in the figure of Mr Skimpole in Bleak House was likewise toned down on advice from some of his friends, as they read episodes. In the same novel, both Lawrence Boythorne and Mooney the beadle are drawn from real life – Boythorne from Walter Savage Landor and Mooney from 'Looney', a beadle at Salisbury Square. His plots were carefully constructed, and Dickens often wove in elements from topical events into his narratives. Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha'pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them, opening up and inspiring a new class of readers. YOU COULD SAY JK ROWLING IS HIS LITERARY DESCENDANT, IF NOT AS POLISHED....

Dickens was regarded as the literary colossus of his age. His 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, is one of the most influential works ever written, and it remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre. His creative genius has been praised by fellow writers—from Leo Tolstoy to G. K. Chesterton and George Orwell—for its realism, comedy, prose style, unique characterisations, and social criticism. On the other hand Oscar Wilde, Henry James and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth, loose writing, and a vein of saccharine sentimentalism. YES, WELL, TIMES WERE SIMPLER THEN. LESS FOCUSED ON THE NEUROTIC...


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Reply Weekend Economists Writing Like the Dickens, February 8-10, 2013 (Original post)
Demeter Feb 2013 OP
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Tobin S. Feb 2013 #4
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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:20 PM

1. It's only 5:20 EST, No Bank Failures Posted Yet


Check back later...

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Response to Demeter (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:33 PM

2. Of Course, There is the Folding of the Anglo-Irish Bank in Ireland to Ponder


Anglo Irish Bank debt deal gets ECB clearance


The European Central Bank has cleared a deal to liquidate the former Anglo Irish Bank, the Republic of Ireland's Prime Minister has said. The Dail passed emergency legislation overnight for the deal, which lets Ireland defer by decades the bill for its most controversial bank bailout. Anglo Irish, now called IBRC, was nationalised in January 2009.

'More manageable'

Under the plan, the debt taken on by Dublin to finance Anglo Irish's rescue will be swapped for long-term government bonds. The original debt was set to cost Irish taxpayers 3.1bn euros (£2.6bn) each year for the next 10 years, with the next payment this March. Under the replacement bonds, repayment of the debt will not now begin until 2038, and will not be complete until 2053. The interest rate on the new debt has also been cut to 3%, compared with 8% on the old debt. However, the full details of the new debts are not available, so it is unclear exactly how much money the government might stand to save...Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that inflation over the coming decades would make the replacement debts much more manageable once they come up for repayment. By deferring the debt repayments, it also means the the government's deficit - its annual borrowing requirement - will be 2bn euros per year less than it would have been over the coming 10 years.

'Very special case'

The Irish parliament stayed up into the early hours of Thursday morning in order to pass the legislation enacting IBRC's dissolution. The lower house of the Irish parliament voted through the legislation by 113 to 36. It came after a stormy session in which the plans were attacked for their swift time frame and lack of detail. The leader of the Socialist Party, Joe Higgins, said the introduction had been "chaotic". Mr Kenny said the disappearance of Anglo Irish Bank and the Irish Nationwide Building Society, which is also held by IBRC, from the Irish financial landscape was "long overdue" and that without banking costs, Ireland's debt levels would now be below Germany's. The late sitting was needed in order to have the new law in place before the European Central Bank completed its regular board meeting on Thursday... the ECB had the power to veto the agreement. It comes at the end of 18 months of negotiations during which the ECB is said to have resisted any move that set a precedent for other eurozone governments facing large bills for rescuing their banks, notably Spain. Mr Honohan said on Thursday that the deal should not be interpreted as such a precedent. "It is a very special case," he said.

Toxic loan book

IBRC's board was dismissed on Wednesday and the accountants KPMG are now running the bank. Its loans will be transferred to the National Asset Management Agency (Nama), the Irish "bad bank" responsible for recovering the value of problematic loans made by other Irish banks. The IBRC has been winding down the old toxic loan book of Anglo Irish for more than two years. The Irish government issued the total 31bn-euro promissory note in order to cover most of the 34bn-euro cost of rescuing Anglo Irish...

Analysis: Jim Fitzpatrick, BBC NI business editor

Anglo was Ireland's baddest bank, its debts alone costing taxpayers over 3bn euros a year in repayments - around 2% of the country's economic output - for the next decade.

Although the Republic has been the most compliant, and in some ways, successful of the eurozone bailout countries, this expensive issue was threatening the stability of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government and ultimately the country's adherence to its eurozone bailout terms.

The legislation to liquidate the bank provides a path to restructuring that debt, reducing the annual payments and spreading the pain over a longer term...

Chief executive of former Anglo Irish Bank to leave FINALLY!


The chief executive of the former Anglo Irish Bank, Mike Aynsley, is stepping down in the aftermath of the institution's liquidation on Thursday. Aynsley, who joined the bank in late 2009, announced his departure in an email sent on Friday, which was seen by Reuters. A source told Reuters that several other senior executives who were hired as part of the bailed-out bank's 2009/2010 reincarnation had also departed. Larry Broderick, head of banking trade union the IBOA, said over 800 of the bank's staff were still in place after being offered new contracts by the bank's liquidator. Most of the contracts are temporary.

In Friday's email, Aynsley described the debt deal that triggered the bank's liquidation, as "very positive for Ireland".

...The liquidation automatically ended the employment of all direct employees of the bank. Broderick said more than 800 of IBRC's 870 staff in the Republic of Ireland had been offered new contracts on Thursday. Most are on a rolling one-month basis, but about 100 staff in the bank's existing NAMA unit have been guaranteed work until July, he said. IBRC, in common with other banks that transferred commercial real estate loans to NAMA, continues to service those loans under an agreement with NAMA.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:37 PM

3. Thank you, Dear Anonymous Ones, For the Valentine Hearts!


I cannot tell you all how much your participation means to this venture (never mind to me).

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:39 PM

4. I'm focused on the profit motive.

I've gone from poverty to the middle class, albeit the lower end of the middle class, in my lifetime on my own merit. I'm 40 now and I don't plan on stopping there.

A lot of people think you have to hurt people to move up in society, and some people have, but I think it can be done honestly and without stepping on anyone along the way. I think rags to riches is still possible in America, that is, without hitting the lottery.

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Response to Tobin S. (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:47 PM

6. Welcome to WEE (and see the Stock Market Watch thread daily)


We can't guarantee results, but we try to post hard news, link to accurate information, and provide light-hearted entertainment...

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:44 PM

5. MARK BINELLI: Detroit, the Billionaire’s Playground (AND DEMETER'S HOME TOWN)



WITH the fourth anniversary of the Obama administration’s auto bailout approaching, the Detroit comeback narrative has settled into accepted history. Just last week, Chrysler, once the wobbliest of the Big Three, announced a ninefold increase in profits since 2011. In its Sunday Super Bowl ad, the company exuded such confidence, it no longer felt the need to defensively celebrate Rust Belt grittiness with the help of Eminem or Clint Eastwood, going instead with a syrupy paean to the Farm Belt called “God Made a Farmer.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if God also made second-tier assembly line workers starting at 14 bucks an hour, but no matter. Detroit was back! Unless, of course, by “Detroit” you meant the actual city rather than the auto industry, in which case, well, the picture becomes a bit more complicated. Battered for decades by the same problems — a steady loss of people and jobs, a soaring murder rate, a wholesale erosion of its tax base — the city now faces the prospect of running out of cash as soon as the end of the month, which would mean the largest municipal bankruptcy in United States history.

Three recent proposals on ways to patch holes in Detroit’s budget illustrate just how desperate things have become:

[LI]The first, and by far the most serious, came from Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan, who offered to lease Belle Isle, a city-owned island park, around 985 acres, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1883. Under the plan, in the works since last summer, the island would have become a state park with an entry fee, thus covering the annual $6 million in maintenance and operations costs — funds sorely needed for the beloved landmark, which in recent years has fallen into disrepair. When the Detroit City Council president, Charles Pugh, insisted that “Belle Isle is not about to sink into the Detroit River if we don’t approve the lease,” he was incorrect. And I mean literally: the city has not had the money to perform, in the words of The Detroit Free Press, the maintenance needed to keep the park “from sinking into the Detroit River.” Still, the council, under pressure from a vocal minority suspicious of “outsiders” looting Detroit’s few remaining assets, postponed a long-planned vote on the Belle Isle proposal, prompting Governor Snyder to rescind his offer. Soon after, Mayor Dave Bing, who had supported the governor’s plan, announced that he would be forced to close 51 other parks in order to keep Belle Isle, as it were, afloat. That means, according to another Free Press article, that “Detroit, a city with 700,000 residents, will have only 57 of its 300-plus parks open starting this spring.”

[LI]Belle Isle was recently at the center of a different moneymaking scheme. A group of wealthy libertarians suggested that private investors buy the island from the city for the nice, round, Dr. Evil-ish sum of $1 billion and transform it into an independent, self-governing territory. With the price for citizenship set at $300,000, the Commonwealth of Belle Isle would exist as a sort of free-market paradise; within 30 years, the group’s Web site predicted, the island would be known as the “ ‘Midwest Tiger,’ rivaling Singapore as an economic miracle.” One can order from that Web site a novella about this future Belle Isle, which describes the commonwealth’s low taxes, minimal government, even its own currency (called — seriously — “the Rand”). The book — a preview of its opening chapter has the hero landing on the rooftop helipad of the commonwealth’s 57-story Four Seasons hotel — makes the entire scheme very easy to mock as Objectivist fan fiction. But it’s not entirely a joke: private foundations and deep-pocketed members of the local business elite exercise an outsize influence in a city as broke as Detroit, providing financing for everything from a much-needed light-rail line to the ambitious Detroit Future City plan, which would entirely remap the city...People like Dan Gilbert, the owner of Quicken Loans and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Mike Ilitch, a founder of Little Caesars pizza, have been snatching up shuttered skyscrapers and prewar office buildings — since December Mr. Gilbert has bought at least five buildings and, reputedly, an entire downtown city block — as if they’re Monopoly properties.

[LI]The third revenue-generating idea, in fact, came via Mr. Gilbert’s Twitter feed. Why not, he mused, build a “world-class Epcot-like car attraction” in downtown Detroit? He bristled at indecorous comparisons to AutoWorld, Flint’s failed 1980s attempt at just such an automobile theme park, made infamous in the documentary “Roger & Me.”

Detroiters who are worried about ceding local power to Michigan’s Republican governor shouldn’t forget the ways in which power has already been ceded to an unelected oligarchy, whose members might, no matter how ostensibly well intentioned, possess questionable ideas about urban renewal. All three of these tragicomic attempts to stanch the bleeding highlight the obvious: Detroit needs money. While the salvation of the auto companies remains a signature achievement of President Obama’s first term, his inability to deal with the entrenched problems of cities like Detroit remains an enormous failure. When New York teetered on the brink of bankruptcy in the 1970s, it was famously told, in the headline of The Daily News, to “Drop Dead.” But then President Gerald R. Ford extended the city $2.3 billion in federal loans. That’s 1975 billions! An impossible sum to imagine in our current age of austerity.

Here’s hoping the libertarian billionaires turn out to be benign sovereigns.


Mark Binelli is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and the author of “Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis.”

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:51 PM

7. The Government's S&P Lawsuit Could Sink McGraw-Hill OKAY, EVERYBODY, "AWWW!"



Let’s cut through the esoteric legal theories and comically incriminating e-mails: By seeking $5 billion in penalties from Standard & Poor’s as punishment for inflating credit ratings, the Obama administration turned its fraud suit into a potential corporate death penalty case.

S&P’s parent, McGraw-Hill (MHP), may not survive in its current structure if Attorney General Eric Holder follows through on his draconian civil action. “This alleged conduct is egregious—and goes to the very heart of the recent financial crisis,” Holder said at a press conference on Feb. 5 in Washington. McGraw-Hill, which denies wrongdoing, had net income of $867 million in the past four quarters. It can’t afford to pay $5 billion. McGraw-Hill stock fell more than 20 percent on word of the suit.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to go medieval on the country’s largest credit-ratings company became evident to McGraw-Hill months before the filing of the suit in federal court in Los Angeles. In settlement talks, Holder’s aides had been demanding the company pay $1 billion and admit to committing fraud, according to the New York Times. That could have ignited a fatal firestorm of additional litigation. The company decided to fight back instead.

None of which should trouble anyone except McGraw-Hill employees and shareholders, according to Barry Ritholtz, chief executive officer of the quantitative research firm Fusion IQ. “If Arthur Andersen received the ultimate penalty for their part in the Enron and other fraud,” Ritholtz blogged on Feb. 6, “I see no reason why Moody’s (MCO) and S&P don’t suffer the same fate.”


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Response to Demeter (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:53 PM

8. A Flaw in the Heart of the Justice Department's Case Against Standard & Poor's



The weakest point of the Department of Justice's case against Standard & Poor's is the government's assumption that there was something wrong with the credit rating agency changing its standards to win more business.

The 119-page civil complaint filed Monday night by the Justice Department abounds with evidence, much of it from emails and instant messages between S&P employees, that concern over the company's market share influenced its ratings decisions. For example, one employee directly complains that S&P had lost market share because its standards required 10 percent more collateral than Moody's.

But this only looks bad if you make the additional assumption that the issuers of the credit products S&P was rating did not care about the quality of the ratings. That is, for the Department of Justice's basic theory of the case to make sense you have to believe that the investment banks creating collateralized debt obligations wanted high ratings at any cost—even if the ratings were highly inaccurate.

This idea that issuers recklessly demanded high ratings for even the worst bundles of mortgage-related assets is deeply ingrained in public discussions about the financial crisis. It has become part of the conventional wisdom. It has not, however, ever been established in any legal arena. Which means that the Justice Department will have to prove that issuers demanded fraudulently high ratings in order to establish the claim that the agencies engaged in fraud by changing ratings in pursuit of market share...


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Response to Demeter (Reply #7)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 06:46 PM

44. I saw no reason why Citi, BoA, Goldman, JPMorgan, etc. didn't suffer what looks


like S&P's fate.

But then, Eric Holder just couldn't find any evidence that would hold up in court.

Imagine that!

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:54 PM

9. And now, we pause for the monthly Euchre game


I'll bring back a full report....keep on posting!

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Response to Demeter (Reply #9)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 12:08 AM

10. Dreadful cards, again


I only lost $3.50 because I got $1.50 in quarters from the people who got euchred...

but the meatballs were excellent: baked, not fried, and using stuffing mix instead of bread crumbs. A new recipe!

And sorting through condo board stuff as I sat out twice (and made more points that way than by playing 3 rounds...)

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:02 AM

11. Charles Dickens' Early Years


2 Ordnance Terrace, Chatham, Dickens's home 1817–1822

Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on 7 February 1812, at Landport in Portsea, the second of eight children to John Dickens (1785-1851) and Elizabeth Dickens (née Barrow 1789-1863). His father was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office and was temporarily on duty in the district. Very soon after his birth the family moved to Norfolk Street, Bloomsbury, and then, when he was four, to Chatham, Kent, where he spent his formative years until the age of 11. His early years seem to have been idyllic, though he thought himself a "very small and not-over-particularly-taken-care-of boy".
Charles spent time outdoors, but also read voraciously, especially the picaresque novels of Tobias Smollett and Henry Fielding. He retained poignant memories of childhood, helped by a near-photographic memory of people and events, which he used in his writing. His father's brief period as a clerk in the Navy Pay Office gave him a few years of private education, first at a dame-school, and then at a school run by William Giles, a dissenter, in Chatham.

This period came to an abrupt end when, because of financial difficulties, the Dickens family moved from Kent to Camden Town in London in 1822. Prone to living beyond his means, John Dickens was imprisoned in the Marshalsea debtors' prison in Southwark London in 1824. Shortly afterwards, his wife and the youngest children joined him there, as was the practice at the time. Charles, then 12 years old, was boarded with Elizabeth Roylance, a family friend, in Camden Town. Roylance was "a reduced impoverished old lady, long known to our family", whom Dickens later immortalised, "with a few alterations and embellishments", as "Mrs. Pipchin", in Dombey and Son. Later, he lived in a back-attic in the house of an agent for the Insolvent Court, Archibald Russell, "a fat, good-natured, kind old gentleman ... with a quiet old wife" and lame son, in Lant Street in The Borough. They provided the inspiration for the Garlands in The Old Curiosity Shop.

On Sundays—with his sister Frances, free from her studies at the Royal Academy of Music—he spent the day at the Marshalsea. Dickens would later use the prison as a setting in Little Dorrit. To pay for his board and to help his family, Dickens was forced to leave school and work ten-hour days at Warren's Blacking Warehouse, on Hungerford Stairs, near the present Charing Cross railway station, where he earned six shillings a week pasting labels on pots of boot blacking. The strenuous and often cruel working conditions made a lasting impression on Dickens and later influenced his fiction and essays, becoming the foundation of his interest in the reform of socio-economic and labour conditions, the rigours of which he believed were unfairly borne by the poor. He later wrote that he wondered "how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age". As he recalled to John Forster (from The Life of Charles Dickens):

The blacking-warehouse was the last house on the left-hand side of the way, at old Hungerford Stairs. It was a crazy, tumble-down old house, abutting of course on the river, and literally overrun with rats. Its wainscoted rooms, and its rotten floors and staircase, and the old grey rats swarming down in the cellars, and the sound of their squeaking and scuffling coming up the stairs at all times, and the dirt and decay of the place, rise up visibly before me, as if I were there again. The counting-house was on the first floor, looking over the coal-barges and the river. There was a recess in it, in which I was to sit and work. My work was to cover the pots of paste-blacking; first with a piece of oil-paper, and then with a piece of blue paper; to tie them round with a string; and then to clip the paper close and neat, all round, until it looked as smart as a pot of ointment from an apothecary's shop. When a certain number of grosses of pots had attained this pitch of perfection, I was to paste on each a printed label, and then go on again with more pots. Two or three other boys were kept at similar duty down-stairs on similar wages. One of them came up, in a ragged apron and a paper cap, on the first Monday morning, to show me the trick of using the string and tying the knot. His name was Bob Fagin; and I took the liberty of using his name, long afterwards, in Oliver Twist.

After a few months in Marshalsea, John Dickens's paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Dickens, died and bequeathed him the sum of £450. On the expectation of this legacy, Dickens was granted release from prison. Under the Insolvent Debtors Act, Dickens arranged for payment of his creditors, and he and his family left Marshalsea, for the home of Mrs. Roylance.

Although Charles eventually attended the Wellington House Academy in North London, his mother Elizabeth Dickens did not immediately remove him from the boot-blacking factory. The incident may have done much to confirm Dickens's view that a father should rule the family, a mother find her proper sphere inside the home. "I never afterwards forgot, I never shall forget, I never can forget, that my mother was warm for my being sent back". His mother's failure to request his return was a factor in his dissatisfied attitude towards women.

Righteous anger stemming from his own situation and the conditions under which working-class people lived became major themes of his works, and it was this unhappy period in his youth to which he alluded in his favourite, and most autobiographical, novel, David Copperfield: "I had no advice, no counsel, no encouragement, no consolation, no assistance, no support, of any kind, from anyone, that I can call to mind, as I hope to go to heaven!" The Wellington House Academy was not a good school. "Much of the haphazard, desultory teaching, poor discipline punctuated by the headmaster's sadistic brutality, the seedy ushers and general run-down atmosphere, are embodied in Mr. Creakle's Establishment in David Copperfield."

Dickens worked at the law office of Ellis and Blackmore, attorneys, of Holborn Court, Gray's Inn, as a junior clerk from May 1827 to November 1828. Then, having learned Gurney's system of shorthand in his spare time, he left to become a freelance reporter. A distant relative, Thomas Charlton, was a freelance reporter at Doctors' Commons, and Dickens was able to share his box there to report the legal proceedings for nearly four years. This education was to inform works such as Nicholas Nickleby, Dombey and Son, and especially Bleak House—whose vivid portrayal of the machinations and bureaucracy of the legal system did much to enlighten the general public and served as a vehicle for dissemination of Dickens's own views regarding, particularly, the heavy burden on the poor who were forced by circumstances to "go to law".

In 1830, Dickens met his first love, Maria Beadnell, thought to have been the model for the character Dora in David Copperfield. Maria's parents disapproved of the courtship and ended the relationship by sending her to school in Paris.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:04 AM

12. Dell's largest investor opposes buyout as too low




Dell Inc's largest independent shareholder, Southeastern Asset Management, on Friday vowed to fight a $24.4 billion buyout of the No. 3 PC maker led by CEO Michael Dell, cementing opposition to what would be the largest buyout since the start of the financial crisis.

Southeastern's opposition to the deal, which Reuters first reported late on Thursday, sets up a potential battle with billionaire founder Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake, who are pushing a deal to take the company private at $13.65 a share.

Southeastern, run by activist investor Mason Hawkins and owner of 8.5 percent of Dell, including options, argues that the company is worth $24 a share if its financial services division, recent acquisitions and other assets were factored in.

With Southeastern's objection, shareholders representing 11 percent of the Dell shares not held by Michael Dell have now said they will vote against the deal, according to news reports. Billionaire Dell, who created the computer maker out of his college dorm room in 1984, holds a roughly 16 percent stake...

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:14 AM

13. For Some Landlords, Real Money in the Homeless




Willy Machan acknowledges he is a gadfly, someone who writes bristling letters to local officials to get conditions improved in his grim single-room-occupancy building. But he was surprised by what his landlord offered last July to persuade him to move out of the room he has lived in since 1984 and for which he pays $371 a month. “If you are not happy, I will give you $25,000 cash,” he recalled the landlord’s representative telling him. Though barely getting by on Social Security, Mr. Machan, a 68-year-old retiree, turned down the offer, saying he had nowhere else to go. But some of his neighbors in the building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan — where the 71 rent-paying residents share bathrooms and there is no kitchen — told others they accepted similar cash payouts with the excitement of lottery winners and quickly vacated.

The landlord, Alan Lapes, was clearing out these tenants to accommodate a group of people not often regarded as desirable: New York’s homeless. The city’s Department of Homeless Services pays many times the amount the rooms would usually rent for — spending over $3,000 a month for each threadbare room without a bathroom or kitchen — because of an acute shortage in shelters for homeless men and women. Indeed, the amount the city pays — roughly half that amount goes to the landlord, while the other half pays for security and social services for homeless tenants — has encouraged Mr. Lapes to switch business models and become a major private operator of homeless shelters. He is by most measures the city’s largest and owns or leases about 20 of the 231 shelters citywide. Most of the other shelters and residences are run by the city or by nonprofit agencies, but his operation is profit-making, prompting criticism from advocates for the homeless and elected officials.

...At several of Mr. Lapes’s shelters, tenants — both homeless and longer-term residents — say the buildings are often characterized by violence, drug-use, mice, broken elevators, periods without heat and hot water, and violations of fire safety laws. At 237 West 107th Street, a six-story women’s shelter formerly known as the West Side Inn, many of the 200 tenants said they often waited for an hour or more to take a shower at one of the shared bathrooms on each floor.

Joyce Colon, a resident there who entered the homeless system in December, said she was shocked by the violence and prostitution in the building. “For $3,000 I could have gotten an apartment, a down payment and a security deposit and some furniture,” Ms. Colon, 49, said. “The landlord is getting $3,000 and I’m getting nothing.”


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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:17 AM

14. Health Care Spending In America, In Two Graphs SEE SECOND ONE ESPECIALLY



Spending on health care has, of course, been rising in the U.S. for decades. Health care now accounts for 18 cents of every dollar Americans spend, up from 7 cents in 1970.

But where, exactly, is all that money going? And, for that matter, where is the money coming from to pay for all that health care? We found answers to both of these questions in this data set.

First, here's where the money is going:

Despite huge changes in medicine and medical technology, the share of health dollars that flows to each major category has changed little in the past 40 years. In other words, spending on each category — drugs, hospitals, doctors, etc. — has increased at about the same rate.

What has changed dramatically is where the money comes from:


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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:29 AM

15. Global ‘credit supernova’ turns 2013 bull into bear Paul B. Farrell


Bill Gross predicting a “Credit Supernova.” Yes, that’s what the “Bond King” sees dead ahead. He knows, his firm has $2 trillion at risk of collapsing into the “Black Hole” coming after the Credit Supernova, when the Federal Reserve cheap money finally explodes in America’s face, brings down the economy, again.


Gross’s Credit Supernova metaphor is the explosive headline on his latest Pimco newsletter... Is America’s star economy burning out? Sure sounds like it: Gross is doing more than just hinting with his Credit Supernova metaphor. He’s predicting the collapse of the American economy and global financial markets, far worse than the 2008 Wall Street bank credit collapse, worse than the 2000 dot-com crash.

As the folks over at Business Insider put it: “Investment banks have morphed markets with ‘Ponzi Finance.’ And time is almost up.”...the Fed’s “Ponzi Finance” must run its printing presses full blast to pump more and more credit into the economy “just to cover increasingly burdensome interest payments, with accelerating inflation the end result.” The problem is huge: Bernanke’s Ponzi Finance is self-sabotaging. Endless cheap money upsets the balance between credit expansion and real economic growth, resulting in diminishing returns: “Each additional dollar of credit seems to create less and less heat. In the 1980s, it took four dollars of new credit to generate $1 of real GDP. Over the last decade, it has taken $10, and since 2006, $20 to produce the same result.” Bad news.



Alan Blinder is familiar to Wall Street Journal readers and investors. The former vice chair of the Federal Reserve just published “After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead.” His recent New York Times op-ed piece is a perfect playbook of what’s coming after Wall Street’s Credit Supernova explodes....here’s an edited, paraphrased version of Binder’s new 10 commandments:

1. Remember that people forget, too much, too fast

2. Never rely on self-regulation

3. More protection for shareholders

4. Elevate risk management

5. Use less leverage with increased capital requirements

6. Keep it simple, stupid

7. Standardize derivatives, trade them openly on exchanges

8. Keep all deals on the balance sheet

9. Fix perverse excessive compensation

10. More protection for consumers


Paul B. Farrell is a MarketWatch columnist based in San Louis Obispo, Calif. Follow him on Twitter @MKTWFarrell.

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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:36 AM

16. Tangle of Ties Binds SEC's Top Ranks



Enforcement cases at the Securities and Exchange Commission go nowhere unless approved by a majority of the agency's commissioners. But conflicts for the possible new chairman and other top officials could make it harder to get to "yes."

For example, SEC investigators are looking into the "London whale" trading mess at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and have yet to decide whether to recommend any action in the matter. Mary Jo White, nominated last month by President Barack Obama to lead the agency, wouldn't be able to vote on any case involving the New York bank for two years after taking the job. That is because J.P. Morgan recently was her client at law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

Daniel Gallagher, an SEC commissioner since 2011, also would have a conflict of interest. He came to the SEC from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, a law firm helping J.P. Morgan investigate the London whale and respond to government inquiries.

That would leave the bare minimum—three commissioners out of five—usually needed for a quorum at the SEC. Enforcement cases approved by such a small number of commissioners are especially vulnerable to criticism by judges and defendants, securities-law experts say....Conflicts of interest are a chronic headache for the SEC, an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of disclosure forms and votes on enforcement cases shows. The agency's four commissioners—one slot is vacant—are barred from enforcement votes and certain other matters affecting more than 20 companies...


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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:41 AM

17. DICKENS' Journalism and early novels


In 1832, at age 20, Dickens was energetic, full of good humour, enjoyed mimicry and popular entertainment, lacked a clear sense of what he wanted to become, yet knew he wanted to be famous. He was drawn to the theatre and landed an acting audition at Covent Garden, for which he prepared meticulously but which he missed because of a cold, ending his aspirations for a career on the stage. A year later he submitted his first story, "A Dinner at Poplar Walk" to the London periodical, Monthly Magazine.

He rented rooms at Furnival's Inn becoming a political journalist, reporting on parliamentary debate and travelling across Britain to cover election campaigns for the Morning Chronicle. His journalism, in the form of sketches in periodicals, formed his first collection of pieces Sketches by Boz—Boz being a family nickname he employed as a pseudonym for some years—published in 1836. Dickens apparently adopted it from the nickname Moses which he had given to his youngest brother Augustus Dickens, after a character in Oliver Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield. When pronounced by anyone with a headcold, 'Moses' became 'Boses', and was later shortened to Boz. Dickens's own name was considered "queer" by a contemporary critic, who wrote in 1849: "Mr Dickens, as if in revenge for his own queer name, does bestow still queerer ones upon his fictitious creations." He continued to contribute to and edit journals throughout his literary career.

The success of these sketches led to a proposal from publishers Chapman and Hall for Dickens to supply text to match Robert Seymour's engraved illustrations in a monthly letterpress. Seymour committed suicide after the second instalment and Dickens, who wanted to write a connected series or sketches, hired "Phiz" to provide the engravings (which were reduced from four to two per instalment) for the story. The resulting story was the The Pickwick Papers with the final instalment selling 40,000 copies.

In November 1836 Dickens accepted the job of editor of Bentley's Miscellany, a position he held for three years, until he fell out with the owner. In 1836 as he finished the last instalments of The Pickwick Papers he began writing the beginning instalments of Oliver Twist—writing as many as 90 pages a month—while continuing work on Bentley's, writing four plays, the production of which he oversaw. Oliver Twist, published in 1838, became one of Dickens's better known stories, with dialogue that transferred well to the stage (most likely because he was writing stage plays at the same time) and more importantly, it was the first Victorian novel with a child protagonist.

On 2 April 1836, after a one year engagement during which he wrote The Pickwick Papers, he married Catherine Thomson Hogarth (1816–1879), the daughter of George Hogarth, editor of the Evening Chronicle. After a brief honeymoon in Chalk, Kent, they returned to lodgings at Furnival's Inn. The first of ten children, Charley, was born in January 1837, and a few months later the family set up home in Bloomsbury at 48 Doughty Street, London, (on which Charles had a three-year lease at £80 a year) from 25 March 1837 until December 1839. Dickens's younger brother Frederick and Catherine's 17-year-old sister Mary moved in with them. Dickens became very attached to Mary, and she died in his arms after a brief illness in 1837. Dickens idealised her and is thought to have drawn on memories of her for his later descriptions of Rose Maylie, Little Nell and Florence Dombey. His grief was so great that he was unable to make the deadline for the June instalment of Pickwick Papers and had to cancel the Oliver Twist instalment that month as well.

At the same time, his success as a novelist continued, Nicholas Nickleby (1838–39), The Old Curiosity Shop and, finally, Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty as part of the Master Humphrey's Clock series (1840–41)—all published in monthly instalments before being made into books.

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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:46 AM



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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:48 AM

19. Got to get the morning started


with any luck, I'll be back after lunch, but don't wait up!

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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:04 AM

20. Nemo?

The winter storm on the east coast has been named Nemo.

2/8/13 Killing Nemo: Weather Channel's Storm Name Irks Some

Nemo, far from being pulled from the annals of Pixar Animation Studios’ (DIS) popular fish film, is the brainchild of morning show producer Pete Schwartz, who suggested using Greek or Roman names when the initiative began last fall.

And what inspired it? Twitter. More specifically, the network noticed how the hashtag #snowtober resonated on Twitter when someone in the Weather Channel’s social media department attached it to a nor’easter that came through in the fall of 2011, says Bryan Norcross, a meteorologist and hurricane specialist. He decided it was time to get more names ready to launch for fall 2012. “Everything needs a hashtag to get noticed,” he says.


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Response to DemReadingDU (Reply #20)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:50 AM

21. Notice,they're the only idiots using the name?

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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 01:51 PM

22. Taibbi: 'Bailout': Neil Barofsky's Adventures in Groupthink City


Neil Barofsky isn't going to like this, but the first person I thought of when I read the former TARP Inspector General's book, Bailout, was G. Gordon Liddy. Not that he has anything in common politically with Nixon's fanatical arm-roasting hatchet man, but after reading Bailout I had the same thought I had after reading Liddy's memoir, Will – that every now and then, a born writer ends up in some other, far more interesting profession, and we don't find out about it until he or she is forced for some reason to write a book.

Bailout has its first paperback release this week, and Barofsky accordingly is making the media rounds (check out Comedy Central tomorrow), where he'll mainly be asked about the political revelations in the book. You know, the inside-baseball stories of how the officials who administered the TARP bailout fought transparency at every turn, failed to do due diligence on the health and viability of bailout recipients, seemed totally uninterested in creating safeguards against fraud, and generally speaking spent more time bitching about the media and plotting against the likes of Elizabeth Warren and, eventually, Barofsky himself than making sure the largest federal rescue in history wasn't a complete waste of money.

As the former Special Inspector General of the TARP, a key official who was present at the highest levels throughout most of the bailout period and saw from the inside how both the Bush and Obama administrations attacked the economic collapse, Barofsky does have that story to tell, and the book unsurprisingly is full of historically weighty scenes and factoids that will be culled by reporters like me for years to come.

But there's a secondary and I think more interesting subplot to this book, a personal story that will give it more staying power. Just like Will was really a journey-of-self-discovery story that just happened to have the Watergate burglary as a backdrop (the book's real climax comes in the post-Watergate prison years, where Liddy really "finds himself", Bailout is a kind of Alice in Wonderland tale of an ordinary, sane person disappearing down into a realm of hallucinatory dysfunction, with Tim Geithner playing the role of the Mad Hatter and Barofsky the increasingly frustrated Alice who realizes he's stuck at the stupidest tea party he ever was at.


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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 02:34 PM

23. Stocks Up As Trade Falls; Best Close For Nasdaq Since 2000

2/8/13 Stocks Up As Trade Falls; Best Close For Nasdaq Since 2000

From PonziWorld: "This is Fucking Awesome"
It only took 13 years and $8 trillion of combined fiscal/monetary stimulus to regain 50% of the Nasdaq's all time high ! At this rate, only another 13 years and $8 trillion until I break-even...


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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 04:12 PM

24. A Tragedy


Can anything ever get fixed for the common people?

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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 04:18 PM

25. Dickens' First visit to the United States


In 1842, Dickens and his wife made their first trip to the United States and Canada. At this time Georgina Hogarth, another sister of Catherine, joined the Dickens household, now living at Devonshire Terrace, Marylebone, to care for the young family they had left behind. She remained with them as housekeeper, organiser, adviser and friend until Dickens's death in 1870.

He described his impressions in a travelogue, American Notes for General Circulation. Some of the episodes in Martin Chuzzlewit (1843–44) also drew on these first-hand experiences. Dickens includes in Notes a powerful condemnation of slavery, which he had attacked as early as The Pickwick Papers, correlating the emancipation of the poor in England with the abolition of slavery abroad. During his visit, Dickens spent a month in New York City, giving lectures and raising the question of international copyright laws and the pirating of his work in America. He persuaded twenty five writers, headed by Washington Irving to sign a petition for him to take to congress, but the press were generally hostile to this saying that he should be grateful for his popularity and that it was mercenary to complain about his work being pirated.

In the early 1840s Dickens showed an interest in Unitarian Christianity, although he never strayed from his attachment to popular lay Anglicanism. Soon after his return to England, Dickens began work on the first of his Christmas stories, A Christmas Carol, written in 1843, which was followed by The Chimes in 1844 and The Cricket on the Hearth in 1845. Of these A Christmas Carol was most popular and, tapping in to an old tradition, did much promote a renewed enthusiasm for the joys of Christmas in Britain and America. The seeds for the story were planted in Dickens's mind during a trip to Manchester to witness conditions of the manufacturing workers there. This, along with scenes he had recently witnessed at the Field Lane Ragged School, caused Dickens to resolve to "strike a sledge hammer blow" for the poor. As the idea for the story took shape and the writing began in earnest, Dickens became engrossed in the book. He wrote that as the tale unfolded he "wept and laughed, and wept again" as he "walked about the black streets of London fifteen or twenty miles many a night when all sober folks had gone to bed."

After living briefly in Italy (1844) Dickens travelled to Switzerland (1846); it was here he began work on Dombey and Son (1846–48). This and David Copperfield (1849–50) mark a significant artistic break in Dickens's career as his novels became more serious in theme and more carefully planned than his early works.

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:40 AM

26. sunday and i decided on ruffles -- i don't know, too much?

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Response to xchrom (Reply #26)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 12:27 PM

38. Not Enough, IMO


When you want ruffles, you want the best.

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:29 PM

41. Ooooh Fabulous! Nt

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:42 AM

27. China Passes U.S. to Become World’s Biggest Trading Nation


China surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s biggest trading nation last year as measured by the sum of exports and imports of goods, a milestone in the Asian nation’s challenge to the U.S. dominance in global commerce that emerged after the end of World War II.
U.S. exports and imports of goods last year totaled $3.82 trillion, the U.S. Commerce Department said last week. China’s customs administration reported last month that the country’s total trade in goods in 2012 amounted to $3.87 trillion.

China’s increasing influence threatens to disrupt regional trading blocs as it becomes the most important commercial partner for countries including Germany, which will export twice as much to China by the end of the decade as it does to neighboring France, said Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Jim O’Neill.

“For so many countries around the world, China is becoming rapidly the most important bilateral trade partner,” O’Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs’s asset management division and the economist who bound Brazil to Russia, India and China to form the BRIC investing strategy, said in a telephone interview. “At this kind of pace by the end of the decade many European countries will be doing more individual trade with China than with bilateral partners in Europe.”

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:44 AM

28. Retail Sales in U.S. Probably Rose on Labor Market Gains


Sales at U.S. retailers probably grew in January as an improving job market helped consumers cope with an increase in the payroll tax, economists said before a report this week.

The projected 0.1 percent rise would follow a 0.5 percent advance in December, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 68 economists before Feb. 13 figures from the Commerce Department. Another report may show factory production is expanding.

Employment gains are shoring up consumer sentiment and boosting sales for retailers such as Gap Inc. and Target Corp., even as a two percentage-point rise in the tax that funds Social Security trimmed paychecks. Higher home values and stock prices are also bolstering household wealth, giving an added lift to the purchases that account for about 70 percent of the economy.

“The longer-term prognosis here is a little bit better,” said Michael Brown, an economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina. “We are starting to see personal income grow a little bit due to additional job creation.”

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:46 AM

29. U.S., Allies Winning in Afghanistan, U.S. General Allen Says


U.S. and allied forces are winning the war in Afghanistan, the departing NATO commander, U.S. Marine General John Allen, said in Kabul today.

Afghan forces are almost completely leading operations, Allen said, adding that he’s “comfortable” with progress there. The U.S. and its allies plan to hand over security to Afghanistan’s forces by the end of 2014.

Allen said he’s concerned that the improvement in the workings of the Afghan government will lag gains in combat. Afghan rhetoric to improve governing “isn’t enough,” he told reporters today. “The rhetoric has to be accompanied by real and meaningful reform” that builds on the continued security progress, Allen said.

President Hamid Karzai “has spoken the right words. Now we must see the fulfillment,” Allen said. Reforms “must reduce the capacity of the criminal patronage networks to grip and weaken the institutions of state” and “genuinely” take care of “the rights of minorities,” particularly women, he said.

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:47 AM

30. Egypt Inflation Climbs Most in Two Years as Pound Weakens


Egyptian consumer prices last month posted the biggest increase in more than two years after the pound weakened to a record and foreign reserves slid.

Prices rose 1.7 percent compared with 0.2 percent in the previous month, according to the state-run Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics. The annual rate climbed to 6.3 percent from 4.7 percent, the data show. High prices were one of the reasons that triggered the 2011 uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

The pound has weakened 7.8 percent against the dollar since Dec. 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, as the central bank started capping the amount of dollars each lender can buy at currency auctions. The regulator said the policy seeks to conserve reserves, which have plunged more than 60 percent since the revolt to $13.6 billion last month.

“The trend is expected because of the devaluation but the magnitude is above expectations,” said Mona Mansour, chief economist at Cairo-based investment bank CI Capital, who has forecast an annual inflation rate of about 5.8 percent. “We see more inflationary pressures because we are expecting further devaluation for the currency.”

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:49 AM

31. Mazuka - Queen ida

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:55 AM

32. Jole Blon Harry Choates 1946

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:00 AM

33. An Inside Look At The Pretty Miserable Working Conditions At An Amazon Warehouse


The working conditions inside an Amazon warehouse are pretty miserable, according to a big FT report by Sarah O'Conner.
She dug into the impact of a new Amazon fulfillment center on the small British town of Rugeley. Her conclusion is that Amazon's warehouses, though they employee hundreds of people, aren't necessarily all that great for the local economy.

Amazon employs people at minimum wages. It's also not terribly committed to a large workforce. It uses hiring agencies to bring in temporary employees. As a result, the effect on the local economy is not what people were expecting. People were expecting a boom in retail and housing, but instead it's been pretty much the same as before the warehouse opened.

"Our definition of a good employer is someone who takes on people and provides them with sustainable employment week in week out, not somebody who takes on workers one week and gets rid of them the next," a member of the district council told O'Conner.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/working-conditions-at-an-amazon-warehouse-2013-2#ixzz2KVLtO5Kd

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:22 AM

34. Moody's shares fall amid rating agency legal fears


Shares in the US credit rating agency Moody's fell 7.7% in trading in New York on Friday amid fears of legal action surrounding rating agencies.

Moody's shares have now fallen more than 20% since Monday, when it was revealed rival agency Standard & Poor's was being sued by the US government.

Moody's chief executive said he had no knowledge of any impending lawsuits.

The share price fall comes despite Moody's reporting a 66% jump in net profit for the last quarter of 2012.

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:31 AM

35. French economy to avoid recession, says central bank


The French economy will avoid recession this year, according to the country's central bank.

It predicts growth of 0.1% in the first three months of 2013, a more upbeat outlook than that of many economists, who are discouraged by recent data.

A recession is usually defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.

In its monthly report, the Bank of France said: "Forecasts point to a modest rise in [industrial] activity in February."

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:49 AM

36. don't mess with my toot toot

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Response to xchrom (Reply #36)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:47 PM

45. What????

No 'My Big Mamou'

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Response to AnneD (Reply #45)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:45 PM

46. I put that one on my Facebook. Nt

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:57 AM

37. Rocky road ahead for Mongolia


In Mongolia today, hunger for coal, copper, gold and uranium wealth is at odds with democracy as the demands of international resource giants collide with a stubborn political culture of resource nationalism.

In time for the June 2012 parliamentary elections, Mongolia's grand khural (parliament) passed a law subjecting the purchase by "state-owned entities" of controlling interest in strategic Mongolian mining enterprises to government approval (as well as a host of other key industries).

The immediate provocation for the legislation was the sale by a Canadian company, Ivanhoe Resources, of its controlling interest in SouthGobi, an operator of coal mines in Mongolia, to a Chinese

resource giant, the Aluminum Company of China, known as Chalco.

The legislation overtly targeted China. Vice Finance Minister Ganhuyag Chuluun Hutagt told Bloomberg that the country needed new investment laws to diversity its exports to countries other than China, which consumes a lion's share of Mongolia's coal and copper:
We don't want to be faced with one sovereign ... Our struggle to gain political freedom was a long one and we cherish that. We will not let foreign government-owned entities control strategic assets in Mongolia.
This is not an unambiguous win for non-Chinese international resource companies.

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 12:34 PM

39. Dickens and Money



In May 1846 Angela Burdett Coutts, heir to the Coutts banking fortune, approached Dickens about setting up a home for the redemption of fallen women from the working class. Coutts envisioned a home that would replace the punitive regimes of existing institutions with a reformative environment conducive to education and proficiency in domestic household chores. After initially resisting, Dickens eventually founded the home, named "Urania Cottage", in the Lime Grove section of Shepherds Bush, which he was to manage for ten years, setting the house rules and reviewing the accounts and interviewing prospective residents. Emigration and marriage were central to Dickens's agenda for the women on leaving Urania Cottage, from which it is estimated that about 100 women graduated between 1847 and 1859.

Middle years

In late November 1851, Dickens moved into Tavistock House where he wrote Bleak House (1852–53), Hard Times (1854) and Little Dorrit (1857). It was here he indulged in the amateur theatricals which are described in Forster's "Life". During this period he worked closely with the novelist and playwright Wilkie Collins. In 1856, his income from writing allowed him to buy Gad's Hill Place in Higham, Kent. As a child, Dickens had walked past the house and dreamed of living in it. The area was also the scene of some of the events of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 and this literary connection pleased him.

In 1857, Dickens hired professional actresses for the play The Frozen Deep, which he and his protégé Wilkie Collins had written. Dickens fell deeply in love with one of the actresses, Ellen Ternan, which was to last the rest of his life. Dickens was 45 and Ternan 18 when he made the decision, which went strongly against Victorian convention, to separate from his wife, Catherine, in 1858—divorce was still unthinkable for someone as famous as he was. When Catherine left, never to see her husband again, she took with her one child, leaving the other children to be raised by her sister Georgina who chose to stay at Gad's Hill.

During this period, whilst pondering about giving public readings for his own profit, Dickens was approached by Great Ormond Street Hospital to help it survive its first major financial crisis through a charitable appeal. His 'Drooping Buds' essay in Household Words earlier in 3 April 1852 was considered by the hospital's founders to have been the catalyst for the hospital's success. Dickens, whose philanthropy was well-known, was asked by his friend, the hospital's founder Charles West, to preside and he threw himself into the task, heart and soul. Dickens's public readings secured sufficient funds for an endowment to put the hospital on a sound financial footing — one of 9 February 1858 alone raised £3,000.

After separating from Catherine, Dickens undertook a series of hugely popular and remunerative reading tours which, together with his journalism, were to absorb most of his creative energies for the next decade, in which he was to write only two more novels. His first reading tour, lasting from April 1858 to February 1859, consisted of 129 appearances in 49 different towns throughout England, Scotland and Ireland. Dickens's continued fascination with the theatrical world was written into the theatre scenes in Nicholas Nickleby, but more importantly he found an outlet in public readings. In 1866, he undertook a series of public readings in England and Scotland, with more the following year in England and Ireland.

Major works, A Tale of Two Cities (1859); and Great Expectations (1861) soon followed and were resounding successes. During this time he was also the publisher and editor of, and a major contributor to, the journals Household Words (1850–1859) and All the Year Round (1858–1870).

In early September 1860, in a field behind Gad's Hill, Dickens made a great bonfire of almost his entire correspondence—only those letters on business matters were spared. Since Ellen Ternan also destroyed all of his letters to her, the extent of the affair between the two remains speculative. In the 1930s, Thomas Wright recounted that Ternan had unburdened herself with a Canon Benham, and gave currency to rumours they had been lovers. That the two had a son who died in infancy was alleged by Dickens's daughter, Kate Perugini, whom Gladys Storey had interviewed before her death in 1929, and published her account in Dickens and Daughter, although no contemporary evidence exists. On his death, Dickens settled an annuity on Ternan which made her a financially independent woman. Claire Tomalin's book, The Invisible Woman, argues that Ternan lived with Dickens secretly for the last 13 years of his life. The book was subsequently turned into a play, Little Nell, by Simon Gray.

In the same period, Dickens furthered his interest in the paranormal, becoming one of the early members of The Ghost Club.

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:16 PM

40. Hey All! We're above Freezing!


35 balmy degrees F!

I feel so limp and languorous. Going to have to work all day, though. May be back around dinner.

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 05:42 PM

42. The spirit was willing to post more


but the flesh, after moving stuff for 2.5 hours, is at the point of collapse. I'll just finish off the bio of Dickens...

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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 05:47 PM

43. Dickens Last Years


On 9 June 1865, while returning from Paris with Ternan, Dickens was involved in the Staplehurst rail crash. The first seven carriages of the train plunged off a cast iron bridge that was under repair. The only first-class carriage to remain on the track was the one in which Dickens was travelling. Before rescuers arrived, Dickens tended and comforted the wounded and the dying with a flask of brandy and a hat refreshed with water and saved some lives. Before leaving, he remembered the unfinished manuscript for Our Mutual Friend, and he returned to his carriage to retrieve it. Dickens later used this experience as material for his short ghost story, "The Signal-Man", in which the central character has a premonition of his own death in a rail crash. He also based the story on several previous rail accidents, such as the Clayton Tunnel rail crash of 1861.

Dickens managed to avoid an appearance at the inquest to avoid disclosing that he had been travelling with Ternan and her mother, which would have caused a scandal. Although physically unharmed, Dickens never really recovered from the trauma of the Staplehurst crash, and his normally prolific writing shrank to completing Our Mutual Friend and starting the unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Second visit to the United States

On 9 November 1867, Dickens sailed from Liverpool for his second American reading tour. Landing at Boston, he devoted the rest of the month to a round of dinners with such notables as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his American publisher James Thomas Fields. In early December, the readings began—he was to perform 76 readings, netting £19,000, from December 1867 to April 1868—and Dickens spent the month shuttling between Boston and New York, where alone he gave 22 readings at Steinway Hall for this period. Although he had started to suffer from what he called the "true American catarrh", he kept to a schedule that would have challenged a much younger man, even managing to squeeze in some sleighing in Central Park.

During his travels, he saw a significant change in the people and the circumstances of America. His final appearance was at a banquet the American Press held in his honour at Delmonico's on 18 April, when he promised never to denounce America again. By the end of the tour, the author could hardly manage solid food, subsisting on champagne and eggs beaten in sherry. On 23 April, he boarded his ship to return to Britain, barely escaping a Federal Tax Lien against the proceeds of his lecture tour.

Farewell readings

Between 1868 and 1869, Dickens gave a series of "farewell readings" in England, Scotland, and Ireland, beginning on 6 October. He managed, of a contracted 100 readings, to deliver 75 in the provinces, with a further 12 in London. As he pressed on he was affected by giddiness and fits of paralysis and collapsed on 22 April 1869, at Preston in Lancashire, and on doctor's advice, the tour was cancelled. After further provincial readings were cancelled, he began work on his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It was fashionable in the 1860s to 'do the slums' and, in company, Dickens visited opium dens in Shadwell, where he witnessed an elderly addict known as "Laskar Sal", who formed the model for the "Opium Sal" subsequently featured in his mystery novel, Edwin Drood.

When he had regained sufficient strength, Dickens arranged, with medical approval, for a final series of readings at least partially to make up to his sponsors what they had lost due to his illness. There were to be 12 performances, running between 11 January and 15 March 1870, the last taking place at 8:00 pm at St. James's Hall in London. Although in grave health by this time, he read A Christmas Carol and The Trial from Pickwick. On 2 May, he made his last public appearance at a Royal Academy Banquet in the presence of the Prince and Princess of Wales, paying a special tribute on the death of his friend, illustrator Daniel Maclise.


On 8 June 1870, Dickens suffered another stroke at his home after a full day's work on Edwin Drood. He never regained consciousness, and the next day, on 9 June, five years to the day after the Staplehurst rail crash, he died at Gad's Hill Place. Contrary to his wish to be buried at Rochester Cathedral "in an inexpensive, unostentatious, and strictly private manner," he was laid to rest in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. A printed epitaph circulated at the time of the funeral reads: "To the Memory of Charles Dickens (England's most popular author) who died at his residence, Higham, near Rochester, Kent, 9 June 1870, aged 58 years. He was a sympathiser with the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England's greatest writers is lost to the world." His last words were: "On the ground", in response to his daughter Georgina's request that he lie down.

On Sunday, 19 June 1870, five days after Dickens was buried in the Abbey, Dean Arthur Penrhyn Stanley delivered a memorial elegy, lauding "the genial and loving humorist whom we now mourn", for showing by his own example "that even in dealing with the darkest scenes and the most degraded characters, genius could still be clean, and mirth could be innocent." Pointing to the fresh flowers that adorned the novelist's grave, Stanley assured those present that "the spot would thenceforth be a sacred one with both the New World and the Old, as that of the representative of literature, not of this island only, but of all who speak our English tongue."

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