I believe the Devil is in the details also.

From today’s Los Angeles Times Magazine I bring you some pullquotes from an article about the Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Coast. The whole article is worth reading: Heaven is in the Details

Marie Friedlander, Certified YogaGolf Instructor
“Breathe through your nose,” says Friedlander in smooth, even tones. High atop the course at the Pacific View Tee, three middle-aged male golfers stand barefoot on mats with their arms stretched overhead and palms together. “Become aware of your stance. Stack your spine. Stare at your drishti.” The two-hour session concludes with the men remarking how much more flexible and relaxed they feel. One golfer, who had complained of lower back pain, heads to a canvas tent, where his swing is videotaped. He compares it with a previously taped swing playing on a nearby laptop. He smiles.

I’m not sure how a 5000-year-old Indian religious practice works with the conspicious-consumption ritual sport of the American executive, but I bet both can be done pompously. A brilliant move, though; now they can sell yoga hours to the men and not just the women. —Ed.

As for the attention to detail, it’s as if all the veteran hospitality professionals brought on board sat in one room and asked themselves, What detail would I like to add? What would contribute to the perfect experience? That’s why there are five types of coffee in each villa, a choice of soaps and Villeroy & Boch china; why no guest will ever have to request toothpaste, a razor or shaving gel; and why such touches as orchids in the sitting rooms and expansive patios with chaise lounges and tables contribute to the feeling that you’re staying at a close friend’s vacation home. The details go beyond the guest rooms: Risotto is finished in a 28-inch wheel of Parmesan and served in individual silver dishes; the spa features temperature-controlled beds and a waiting room full of art books; and the lobby is a study in opulent minimalism.

(The print edition has a photo of a chef spooning a saffron-rich risotto into a hollow that has been cut into an entire wheel of parmigiano. If there is a purpose here other than excess for its own sake, I’d love to hear it. —Ed.)

(Also, the phrase “opulent minimalism” deserves an award or a terrible punishment, probably both. —Ed.)

Also we recommend feng shui if your teeth fell out

My health “insurer,” Blue Shield of California, just sent me a helpful note about anxiety.

They point out that we’re all anxious because of “recent world events,” and that’s normal.

They then go on to suggest every possible solution for mental distress that does not cost them money. Included are: homeopathy (!!!) which can “bring temporary relief.”

Also included are “Complementary and alternative health” solutions which are all very inexpensive and not covered by any insurance.

It’s a wonder they don’t just tell people to drink.

I await their instructions on setting your broken leg with reiki, wearing magnetic pants to reduce arthritis, and the magic of going overseas to get health care where they don’t have to hear about it.

Fuckers.

Gatsby 2.0

From today’s Wall Street Journal:

“The margin calls hit some chief executives who had borrowed to buy company stock. These included Chesapeake Energy Corp. Chief Executive Aubrey K. McClendon, who was forced to sell nearly his entire stake in the company, which he had accumulated in recent years, including a $43 million purchase in July. “These involuntary and unexpected sales were precipitated by the extraordinary circumstances of the world-wide financial crisis,” Mr. McClendon said in a statement. “In no way do these sales reflect my view of the company’s financial position or my view of Chesapeake’s future performance potential.””

I expect you to die, Mr. Bond!

henry t hyde

Meet Henry T. Nicholas, local billionaire and James Bond villain. Henry was the head of Broadcom, a big microchip company. Henry stands six foot six, has a dungeon under his house, slips Ecstasy to unknowing dinner companions, does meth and coke, has a prostitution problem, has armed guards patrolling his home, and flies around in a private jet with the drugs and the prostitutes. At least, this is what the prosecutors and some angry associates say, and some of it is beyond denial, in particular the dungeon. He is also on the hook for securities fraud at his company.

Christ, what an asshole. But just look at the guy! Wow!

Details, lurid and otherwise, are in this nicely done Vanity Fair article

RESEARCHERS FIND LARGEST YET SUBPRIME NUMBER

RESEARCHERS FIND LARGEST YET SUBPRIME NUMBER

WASHINGTON, DC (AP) — Economists working at the United States Department of Treasury and top Wall Street banks announced the historic discovery of a very large subprime number, the biggest yet seen.

The group, working in secrecy for years and using banks and real estate holdings worldwide as a laboratory, found the gigantic number some time in the last year and is only now releasing the information to the public.

“This is a win-win,” said Gary Leukotomakis, the Treasury’s Chief New Economist. “We’ve shown that subprime numbers far beyond anything previously imagined are now possible, and even likely.” Subprime numbers, which may seem esoteric to the typical American, are used in complicated financial transactions such as derivatives, credit swaps, REITs, “Jumbo loans,” nonconforming loans, and spectacular, heart-stopping international financial crises.

Thad Labbé, a senior economician at Goldman Sachs, credited new financial technologies for the breakthrough. “We had always theorized about the power of a regulatory vacuum, but when we were able to produce one in the field everything took a quantum leap,” he enthused. “Everything else we needed — weightless real estate, risk-free quantum risk, low-viscosity greed-through liquidity, and unpoppable Hyper-Bubbles — all of that stemmed from this revolutionary new postregulatory paradigm.”

“In layman’s terms,” said Labbé, “it was like free money. But forever, because it’s government science.”

Tiara Hampton, a professor of Freedom Science at the Guthy-Renker Institute for Postscientific Study, agrees. “This proves what we’ve been saying all along, what naysayers have pooh-poohed. There actually is no hard limit to a subprime number, and the actual risk to researchers is nil.” “In fact,” she remarked, “risk in this quantum environment is entirely reversed, so that it’s not possible to suffer consequences from so-called financial risk unless you’re unrelated to the experiment completely.”

Sources close to the team estimated the subprime number as nearly 700 billion, but cautioned that this number was not exact. “You have to understand,” said one source with first-hand knowledge, “that the actual number will be the product of rectal extraction for some time. The important thing is that it’s big, and bigger by a big number than the last big number.”

Spokesmen for the research group said they did not yet know what would produce the next large subprime number, but that they were confident it would be discovered in much the same way.

The research group, which until now had been working behind a veil of secrecy, was funded by the Freedom Science Foundation, the Goldman-Sachs/Treasury Revolving Door Society, and subscribers like you.

(tip o’the hat to mcbrennan for the inspiration)

Throw me the whip! No, throw me the mortgage!

IndyMac Bank, a prolific mortgage specialist that helped fuel the housing boom, was seized Friday by federal regulators in one of the largest bank failures in U.S. history. The thrift was one of the largest savings and loans in the country, with about $32 billion in assets. It now joins an infamous list of collapsed banks, topped by Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Co., which failed in 1984 with $40 billion of assets. The bank will be run by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., a federal regulator, and will reopen Monday.

Via Wall St Journal

Edit: Additional comedy from the full article: IndyMac specialized in Alt-A loans, a type of mortgage that can often be offered to borrowers who don’t fully document their incomes or assets. SO THERE’S NO CTRL-Z AMIRITE???

No on 98: Remember on June 3

CALIFORNIANS:

If you’re a renter, or you might be one, or you know and like people who rent, you should vote against Proposition 98 next Tuesday, June 3.

gordonzola has done a fine job of explaining why at this post and previously at this other post. I’ll summarize here with cut and paste bits from his post:

State Proposition 98 on the June 3 ballot will change your life and change our city forever if it passes. This dangerous measure would end all rent control in California. Worse, it would also end just-cause eviction protections. If it passes, landlords will be able to raise evict tenants for no reason other than that they want to raise the rent.

Besides attacking tenants and rent control, Prop 98 will also end a number of environmental regulations as well as zoning and land use laws. Under Prop 98, developers will be able to ignore height limits in residential neighborhoods, build on environmentally sensitive areas and bring chain stores into neighborhoods where they are now prohibited. Prop 98 will also end requirements that developers build a certain number of units which are affordable to people with low and moderate incomes.

Also likely to be ended by this language will be laws requiring landlords to give 60 day notices for large rent increases or no-fault evictions, as well as laws requiring relocation benefits for no-fault evictions. Laws limiting the amount of security deposits or limiting when a landlord can hold on to a security deposit will also end. Prop 98 is a constitutional amendment so its provisions will override all other local and state laws (and make challenging it in court especially difficult).

Please vote. Without a good showing it’s likely to pass, because they put it in a boring election between two important ones.

Pilaf with light sweet crude

No, we’re not running out of rice in the U.S. We are particularly not running out of rice in California, where we grow it. We’re also not running out of wheat. If the Costco isn’t selling you rice, they probably messed up their order and some junior manager is lying to you about rationing.

The price of food is indeed high and rising. People in less fortunate countries are rioting because they can’t afford to eat. Here in the U.S., poor people are being squeezed. People like me don’t even notice because we make good money.

This is a good time to think about what you eat. It’s an even better time to take a good look at where the food comes from, how it’s produced, and how it’s distributed. As usual, the root problems are about money: farm subsidies, water subsidies, tariffs, big agricultural companies who control all of those things, and bad government all over the world.

And in the U.S. particularly it’s about oil. Because you can’t grow food the way we do without artificial fertilizer, which is made of energy. And once we have all that bounty of soy and corn, we have to sell it somehow. And so we convert it into ethanol and celebrate our new energy, free from foreign oil! …that’s made from foreign oil. And up go the grain prices.

For me the threat is not rice rationing at the supermarket. The threat is endless war to keep our own food prices low with cheap oil.

Funny how it comes back there every time!

For now is the time for your tears

Gregory Haidl, son of ex-sheriff’s official, to be freed from prison Saturday
From Times wire services

The son of an ex-Orange County assistant sheriff gets released from prison Saturday after serving his sentence in a videotaped sex assault case.

Gregory Haidl, 22, is being paroled from Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga after serving part of a six-year sentence. He was given credit for good behavior.

Prosecutors described Haidl as the “maestro” who directed his friends in the assault of an unconscious 16-year-old girl on a pool table.

Haidl and friends Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann were convicted in 2005 of several counts of sexual penetration with foreign objects for the 2002 attack at the Haidl home in Corona del Mar.

Haidl is the son of former Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl.