If they’re fictitious paper gains, are they fictitious paper losses?

On the Yeshiva University front:

The university’s chief financial officer, J. Michael Gower, said in an e-mail that the school’s actual principal investment in a hedge fund linked to Madoff had been only $14.5 million.
On paper, that stake had exploded in value over the past 15 years to $110 million, but Gower said all of those “profits” now appear to be entirely fictitious, meaning that the losses were mostly fictitious too.

It’s just not like it used to be . . .

Tugboat on the Tennessee

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

Chattanooga, that is. And when former Chattanoogans say that they mean that it’s so much nicer than when we were children. Mother and I got down to the river front for a long walk on Monday. Almost every visit there’s something new and interesting in the mix – since I was here this summer they’ve opened up the connections between Coolidge Park (between the two bridges) and the new stretch of park downstream.
We’re on the road now to NoVa for second Christmas with the nephews and nieces.

Good enough for government work – disappearing British art collection

Works of art worth hundreds of thousands of pounds are missing from British embassies and other official buildings around the world.
At least 50 paintings from the Government Art Collection are unaccounted for, according to the latest audit. None was insured. Some are known to have been stolen but more than half the total simply disappeared.

They disappear from the strangest places – from embassies to the Royal Courts of Justice – and occasionally they turn up at places like Sotheby’s.

Whatever happened to “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”?

From an interesting Madoff article at Bloomberg.com:

U.S. foundations that invested with Bernard Madoff donated more than $73 million to nonprofit organizations in 2007, according to a tally based on foundation tax returns.
The Dec. 11 arrest of the 70-year-old New Yorker has directly affected some 400 U.S. nonprofits, from Amnesty International to the Death Penalty Information Center to the Lymphoma Research Foundation. A precise accounting of Madoff-related losses isn’t possible. Each week brings new disclosures, and several foundations that said they had money with Madoff haven’t indicated how much. He is accused of operating a Ponzi scheme.
. . .
The JEHT Foundation — which gave away $24.2 million last year, primarily toward criminal justice reform — and the Picower Foundation — which distributed $268 million since 1989 — both recently announced that they’ve been forced to close.

I don’t really understand the chart at the link – how the JEHT foundation had assets of $7.5 million but gave away $24.2 million, but still. Maybe they left out a zero or two? The Picower foundation, which seems to have lost everything, had $958,425,057.
By the way – look at the number of higher education recipients in the lists. Ripples.

The New York Times, differently edited audio and transcript, and journalistic ethics

And what this kind of journalistic behavior leads to – bitter repetition of talking points. Mark Liberman of Language Log:

The editing in question didn’t change the sense of Ms. Kennedy’s answer much; it just made the clip shorter by taking out a back-and-forth that the reporter used to guide her answer in the direction he wanted her to take. But once you allow omission of context and silent ellipsis as valid editing techniques, you’ve opened the door to making anyone seem to say almost anything. (And you force savvy interviewees into trying to defend themselves by repeating their talking points no matter what you ask them.)
. . .
But I do have a couple of minimal suggestion for news organizations that aspire to a reputation for honesty.
First, we need a form of audio-visual punctuation to correspond to the three dots that are used to indicate ellipsis in text.

It’s a long entry and well-worth reading.

Counterfeit Designer Goods, Viking Swords Edition

It must have been an appalling moment when a Viking realised he had paid two cows for a fake designer sword; a clash of blade on blade in battle would have led to his sword, still sharp enough to slice through bone, shattering like glass.

Fascinating stuff – the real Ulfberht swords were made from high carbon steel imported from what is now Iran or Afghanistan; the fakes were made from locally-worked iron. When the trade routes down the Russian rivers closed the fakes took over.

Poor little rich girl

“Voting is the minimum thing that you can do, and she hasn’t done that. The next thing you can do is you could donate money, and she hasn’t done that,” said Doug Muzzio, professor of public affairs at Baruch College.

That’s Caroline Kennedy being asked to have done the minimum in the New York Daily News. Actually, I think that for a woman with something like $100 million, giving money would have been a lot more useful than voting.
via an article on the unserious candidate for Senate in these serious times at Commentary.

Where’s a camera when you need one?

I went with my mother to a craft shop today to exchange a photo album and to get some other stuff (yes, we were doing our level best to jump start the economy). Did you know they sell little hammers covered with FLOWERS for scrapbookers to use to pound eyelets into things? I couldn’t believe all the different colors of needle-nosed pliers available, either.
Whole folk arts developing and I don’t even notice them! Mother assures me there was a scrapbooking CONVENTION in Chattanooga this year.

The Americans with No Abilities Act in real life

Joanne Jacobs has a great story, LA builds arts palace for the untalented:

Los Angeles Unified’s new arts school will have a very expensive “world-class” building — but the school won’t enroll the most talented students, reports the LA Times. In fact, students with artistic, musical and dramatic talent will be urged to go elsewhere.

You have to read it to believe it. My post title comes from an Onion story someone in the comments remembered – Congress passes Americans With No Abilities Act.