(Montana Wildhack is a female character in Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s “Slaughterhouse Five”. Most notably she appeared on the back of fictitious science fiction magazines, dressed primarily in a smile, requesting, “I want a man who can give me a genius baby!” She was played by Valerie Perrine in the movie (an otherwise horrible, horrible movie). The joke was three-fold: first, a play on the 50-60’s era convention of putting a provocative cover on science-fiction to “sex” it up, second, Vonnegut’s satire on equivocating genius and beauty, and lastly, the notion that genius could be inherited, predicted like eye or hair color. I once remarked, to one of my sisters, how ironic it was that Henry the 8th kept executing his wives for failing to give him a boy when males determine genetic variation, gender, to which she replied, aghast, “That’s not ironic, that’s tragic!” I countered with, “Potato, pototo,” knowing I couldn’t actually make her any angrier.
To me, irony and tragedy is the same girl in a different dress. Not that a flattering dress is unimportant, but the girl is the thing, really.
As brought up several times by my former in-laws, reversion to the mean is the rule in genetics and genius is always unpredictable. I once remarked, as a response to that, “And yet she’s so smart!” which my in-laws interpreted as a slight. They had good verbal skills…)
On today’s “Squawk on the Street” (CNBC; everyday, people) Erin Burnett teased a segment on her show “Street Signs” (see previous parenthetical phrase) about “Is Ben Bernanke responsible for inflation?” or tease to that effect. Having made that exact supposition in previous email to her, I emailed her again with the progression of my thought since that time. The first email, dated November 23, 2010:
RE: the downward spiral. Okay, I get what Ben Bernanke is doing, I really do, but aren’t the destabilizing effects of QEII already starting to appear around the world? Nigeria is revolting, sovereign debt crises in the PIGS, Euro devaluation, and even North Korea is taking a page from the Tea Party (Don’t Tread Near the 38th Parallel). As you like to say, correlation is not causality, but do you believe in synchronicity? Sure, with the Congress in lock-up for the next two years, Gentle Ben is all we’ve got as far as economic stimulus is concerned but how can QE not be viewed as currency manipulation around the world when the Fed has gone as far as stating that asset inflation and dollar devaluation are desirable goals? All this to fix the disproportion in the housing market? (David Kotok on SOTS was outstanding, btw.) Doesn’t QE have the unfortunate effect of giving the illusion of fixing housing valuations by expressing the value in debased dollars? And for the love of God, who thinks Ryan Reynolds is the sexiest man in the world? Isn’t he Canadian? Although I don’t know this for a fact, I don’t think chatrooms are filled up with women bragging about their Canadian lovers, I could be wrong about that, but I DON’T THINK SO! Monte?!? Van Wilder!?! Sweet Baby Jesus, Erin, you have the bully pulpit for three hours a day, how can you let this go unchallenged? He looks like the guy Alpha males pushed down and took his lunch money.
It went on from there…
The second email, dated today, January 20, 2011:
RE: Bernanke and inflation. As I’ve stated previously (see above)… Why did Bernanke propose QEII? Because he thought stimulus was necessary and given the composition of Congress it was unlikely to come from there. Why? Congress does the bidding of the people or at least what polls determine that to be. Who answers the polls? Some cranky guy in in Des Moines that happens to be home. Why is he cranky? He’s using canned tomato sauce in his spagetti (sic). Why? Aphids destroyed his tomato plants. (The narrative could be played out many different ways.) So, using quantum mechanics, aphids are causing inflation and blaming Bernanke is intellectually lazy… Not that being intellectually lazy isn’t as American as apple pie. Which are also affected by aphids. Makes you wonder, huh?
(Done from memory, the only copy of the original went to “Street Signs”)
My point was QEII was a direct result of Congress failing to recognise the necessity of further direct fiscal stimulus and leaving it up to the blunt object of Fed monetary manipulation. This came about as a result of the populous being intellectually lazy about politics. Tragic.
What came as a great, and pleasant, surprise to me was the actual segment on “Street Signs”. They approached it as an attempt by the Fed to correct manipulated currencies (the Chinese yuan and Brazilian real were noted) by forcing inflation into those countries. This is of course true, predictable and occurring. The closing comment was to the extent that this inflation “was sure to start showing up at Walmart” whose motto should be, where the intellectually lazy shop. Ironic.
In politics, the dress matters more than the girl. When Washington is to be relied upon in crisis, which I assert is the present time, it is misguided to think that polls should be directing the economic policy of this country and, to a large extent, the futures and fortunes of this nation and nations around the world. In other words…
Inflation is being caused by the intellectual laziness of America. Not aphids.
Oh yeah, Montana Wildhack. You can’t blame the schools for not educating children when all of society rewards nonintellectual achievement more than thought. If being smart in America actually meant anything, the beautiful women wouldn’t be hooking up with rock stars or athletes, they’d be hooking up with guys who could give them smart babies. Or at least not intellectually lazy ones. I guess I never gave Marilyn Monroe enough credit.
So, ladies, I challenge you: who among you will strip down and declare, for your country, “I want a man who can give me a genius baby!”
I’ll post it on the blog…