No, not a movie review. Something far worse than a Mel Gibson production is on tap for the US. The mortgage and banking crisis has come upon us and the world is at stake. The questions become…what can be done and who is to blame. I suppose, maybe who is to blame is a bit vindictive on my part rather the question is how can we avoid this happening in the future. So we will address that first…in my opinion (as an amateur economist with no formal training whatsoever…except for one semester of college), the problem stems back to a fundamental shift in the secondary mortgage market way back in 1999 when the Clinton administration in its infinite wisdom pushed fannie mae and Freddie mac to take on more of the sub-prime mortgage market to make for more affordable housing for low-income families. Now don’t get me wrong…as someone of suitably low-income, I have at least a basic understanding of paying bills and wanting things that you can’t afford. I would love to own a home…but I know that I can’t afford that right now. Unfortunately, the democrats in this country don’t see the logic of capitalism in the sub-prime market. The fundamental idea is that these people were getting high interest rates to compensate for the highly increased risk that they would default on their loans and the underlying financial instrument would become drastically undervalued. The value being lost not only in the process of foreclosure (very costly for banks, loss of payments and interest, insurance etc.) but also in the absolute loss of value that occurs when a property is foreclosed upon (vandalism, surrounding property value decline, and increased crime). So we had a system where banks, rightly decided it was best to avoid giving loans to people who could likely not pay them back. But the government stepped in with a social engineering approach and said, we need to give money to people and allow for banks to make bad investments with implicit assurance that the government will bail them out. Well, as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright said…”America’s chickens are coming home to roost.” Now, I don’t mean to put this squarely on the shoulders of the Clinton administration, because on the other side of things are greedy investors who look only to profits and corporate success in the short term. Thus we have a perfect storm of interests coming together in a massive collision. They turned wall street into the LHC of finance. We have on the left, social engineering without mind for reality, and on the right short sighted greed also without mind for reality. Push them together and wait 10 years and we get a massive explosion of long standing financial powerhouses. Now the super sensitive detectors, (i.e. the public) have become aware of the fragile underlying particles…sub-prime mortgages. Unfortunately, unlike the elusive Higgs-Boson this will be staring us in the face for quite some time. With all these people worried about a black hole emerging from CERN, after watching the aftermath of this collision I now wonder if maybe they’re right. Patrick OUT!!!


NY Time 2003



Rev. Wright

A Long Couple Days

So it has come to pass after three years of work on a variety of topics that my thesis might not bear the fruit that we thought it would. This of course has been on my mind for some time and as such, I needed a back-up of sorts. In this line of thought, I endeavored to find a topic that was both useful and suitably interesting to warrant more of my time. Without getting into too much science, approximately 11-12 months ago I found a topic and approached my supervisors only to be told to put it on hold and work on my own things. Of course this was disappointing and I kept on with my old work all the while reminding them of the work that could be done. Just recently, the work that I had proposed the year prior was actually completed…by another group…who is publishing their work. Wouldn’t ya know…their results were just as I predicted they might be. Ugh, so the weekend was spent mostly being disappointed with the Patriots and racking my brain for scientific ideas that might constitute a suitable plan B that would allow me to earn a PhD without another 4 years of work thrown in on top. A meeting this morning did a little to get me on the right track but I still find myself frustrated at being scooped on account of the ineptitude of those above me. I suppose its par for the course sometimes but its really just not right. All in all, a rough couple of days over the past week that have truly tried my patience. Of course now, I have a lot of work to do in my attempt to right the good ship PhD. What I really need now is a muffin top. Mmmmm Patrick OUT!!!

Free Food

So for all the shit that we put up with in the life limbo we call grad school...we certainly do get a fair amount of free food. Granted its all left over food from department or company meetings but I'll take what I can get. Its not every job in the world where you get to feel brilliant on occasion and work with equipment that costs more than some peoples homes and then you get to scrounge for food like a homeless person all in the same day. I am at a particular advantage in the scoring of free food. Our lab lays nicely neighboring the most often used conference room in the building and thus the opportunity for superior surveillance. Someone always knows when food is being brought in and how many people there are to eat it...thus we get a good lay of the land. Today was breakfast, a bagel and cream cheese and a few muffin tops. I grabbed a corn muffin top and was thoroughly impressed...for WPI food, this was pretty damn good. It got me thinking, if muffin tops are so good then we do we even bother with regular old muffins. For those of you not in with the pre-noon pastry patter, a muffin top is exactly as it sounds...its all the goodness of the carefully caramelized conspicuously crisp muffin top without that boring cake like bottom portion to ruin it all. The tend to be pretty wide and flat and very delicious. Truly they are a superior gastronomic goody. So back again to why we even bother with the regular muffins in the first place...the only thing I can think of is tradition and a whole lot of regular muffin pans lying around. Imagine the stock piles of aluminum muffin pans that would result if everyone discovered these little luxuries. People would be giving away used muffin pans like grandma's fruitcake at Christmas. Of course even a muffin top pan has a little bit of a base sticking out beneath the sumptuously sweet snack above...if only we could rid ourselves of that bit o' boringness. Imagine, a muffin pancake combination that was the shape of a pancake but baked like a muffin...does such a thing exist...i don't know. If it doesn't I've just invented it and this post serves as proof of my intellectual claim to it from here on out. Off to work on a recipe...or maybe just get another bagel before the vultures arrive. Patrick OUT!!!

Alliteration count: 13

So maybe its not all bad

So its been a while since I last posted. I'm sure you'll understand that I had to recover mentally from the loss of Tom Brady for the season. It was is if all my hopes for a redeeming season with a super bowl victory to top off a flawless season were dashed in an instant of torn tendon. Then...the unthinkable...trusting Matt Cassell with guiding the team. While I wasn't ready to throw in the towel on the season quite yet...Cassel certainly did not inspire much confidence. What little I saw of him during the preseason made me wonder why they bothered keeping him around. Looking back I still wonder what was going on there. Was that bill belichek screwing up or was it genius? I guess there is a part of me that wants to continue the idolization of the great football genius. Perhaps he was just trying out all the plays he wasn't sure would work...maybe he didn't want to give his secrets away during games that don't count...maybe he wanted to instill a sense of humilty in a team that won 18 games in a row last year. I don't know...maybe he just played too many bench players and they didn't try very hard. I guess I really don't care because now Mr. Cassell seems to be working out OK. I guess its hard to really suck when you've got the kind of supporting cast that he does...including for the first time since correy dillon left that we've had a real running game. Certainly the game seemed quite a bit more balanced this sunday than we have grown accustomed to watching the brady era. Its better though...I think that now games will be interesting to watch...we will need a more complete game. Everything is in play now and no singular football savior is going to come from behind with a masterfully orchestrated two minute drill. 2-0 isn't a bad way to start...i just hope that this is the real deal and that we aren't destined to return to preseason form under the young one's guidance. Patrick OUT!!!

Conventions I'm Through with You

Its official, I have had my fill of political conventions and the media circus that surrounds them. I guess you could say that my political love affair with the presidential election has now ended. I am removing its number from my cell phone, ending my Facebook friendship, and erasing its birthday from my calendar. Of course, I know that in a few months after all the commotion has died down and the vote gets closer that the 527s will woo me back and I will rekindle this relationship that has done me nothing but harm and sapped valuable productivity from my daily life. So for now, we are done. I can't take anymore of the incessant nagging for votes, the hate speech and the yelling. All the while, there is this sinking feeling that these political parties are cheating on me. Now I know, I haven't always been loyal either but I just dont feel special anymore. I want to be loved for who I am and not forced into the mold of a perfect republican or democrat, one demographic or another. I think we just need some time apart, maybe I will vote green or libertarian this go around. Ralph Nader might be my rebound relationship. I need a couple of one-night stands with the communist party or the "Guns and Dope" party. Something to get my mind off where this relationship has gone. I know its been a long road and I stuck it through with clinton and now bush but I'm not sure I can take anymore without a little more respect coming the other way. So to you 2008 election I say, "Its time to go our separate ways...

So I'll be gone 'til November
Said I'll be gone 'til November, I'll be gone 'til November
Yo, tell my girl, yo, I'll be gone 'til November
January, February, March, April, May
I see you cryin', but girl, I can't stay
I'll be gone 'til November, I'll be gone 'til November"


Patrick OUT!!!