Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Games, Banks and Conquests

Outside my study window the red camellia is in early bloom. It’s at that stage where there is no brown decay stains so it looks splendid.

Jamaican Bolt impressively won the 100 metre sprint at the world athletic championships in the record time of 9.58 seconds. The Jamaican women are also beating the Americans in the sprints. It was the same Berlin stadium that Jesse Owens won the Olympic title in 1936 and our own Jack Lovelock won the 1500 metres. Valerie Vila won the shot put.

The Australians were playing cricket at Canterbury. Their fast bowler Lee clean-bowled a local batsman. The bail flew off and a sea-gull swooped down and took it away. Obviously mistook it for a chip. It would be a disappointed bird.

Citigroup which was bailed out by the American taxpayer with $45 billion wants to pay its top 25 executives an average of $10 million each this year. Unbelievable check to demand such princely sums when Americans everywhere are losing jobs. Obama, however, is in a bind. If the bank’s too big to fail the taxpayer will have to prop it up. If his government refuses to let the bank reward its top executives he will be pilloried by Wall Street lobbyists.

The argument will be used about the need for talent. Wall Street has shown an amazing lack of talent in recent times. If Obama said to these big banks you’re on your own and they did fall over the results would be catastrophic. I can’t see an easy resolution to this bind.

I finished Douglas Porch’s Conquest of the Sahara last evening. It is a book of interesting facts but somehow it didn’t grab me. It wavered between travel and scholarship. The story itself is interesting - France’s struggle to explore and dominate the vast, arid, inhospitable desert, a tale of foolhardiness, bravery, brutality and opportunism. All colonialism comes at a cost. This one seemed to contain more folly. And dying or dead camels.

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