Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Christmas Nymph

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. And I couldn't be happier. I've hated Christmas most of my life. I thought it was great when I was a little kid--I mean what small child doesn't love being bombarded with gifts--but, once I got a bit older, I started to wonder about the whole thing.

I think the thing that bugs me most about Christmas is how a sombre Christian holiday has been transmogrified into an orgy of empty commercialism and pressure to spend, spend, spend. I'm also confused by some of the imagery associated with Christmas. Wisemen, mangers and camels I can understand. But Santa Claus? What does he have to do with the birth of the Christ child? And Christmas trees? Haven't those been co-opted from pagan winter rituals? Isn't having a living coniferous tree in your house something that might appeal more to Wiccans than Christians? Just asking....

Maybe part of the reason that I'm such a Grinch is that there really isn't a part of Christmas focused on adult guys. The kids have Santa Claus, the women have the decorating and baking and all that other crap. Adult men? We get nothing. I propose the introduction of the Christmas Nymph, a comely young woman who will do a seductive dance around the Christmas tree while kids open their gifts and women watch them do it. Imagine, if you a will, a hottie like this:

Whoa-HO-HO, talk about a Merry Christmas! Forget about my two-year old son, I'd be the first one downstairs Christmas morning if I knew she was waiting for me!

Gentlemen, let's all band together. The time for the Christmas Nymph has come!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lawyers Gone Bad....Yet Again

The most successful guy in my law school class never practiced law. Not one day. A math major and actuary prior to law school, he returned to finance as soon as we graduated. After several years creating sophisticated financial products for some of the largest insurance companies in the world, my classmate chucked it all to start a hedge fund based upon an algorithm that he had created that generated consistent gains through currency arbitrage trading. Over the course of ten years, all the trappings of extraordinary success--the monster house, a collection of classic cars, personal jet travel and eye-popping philanthropic giving--ensued.

And then my classmate was indicted for running what the U.S. Attorney called "a classic Ponzi scheme." According to the indictment, there had never been a trading algorithm. My classmate was simply taking money from people, generating fictitious trading records and using funds from later investors to pay "returns" to earlier investors.

My former colleague and friend, Philip Slayton, is the author of Lawyers Gone Bad--Money. Sex and Madness In Canada's Legal Profession. Here's Philip looking considerable more relaxed than when we practiced together back in the day:

Philip's book generated a lot of buzz in the Canadian media when it came out in the summer of 2007. Things really took off when Macleans did a cover story on Philip's book using the headline: "Lawyers Are Rats!"

Philip, if you ever want to do a second edition of your book, have I ever got a story for you!

Monday, December 1, 2008

US Thanksgiving Musings

Well, another U.S. Thanksgiving has come and gone. I've really grown to enjoy Thanksgiving and some of its traditions. I get a particular kick out of the Presidential turkey pardon. I'm not sure why I like it so much, but I think it's because there's always the possibility that the turkey will go berserk and embark upon an all out claw scratching, beak pecking assault on the leader of the Free World. Here's a photo of President Bush taken last Wednesday pardoning 2008's lucky gobbler:

No outrageous turkey behavior this year. But, there's always next year!

My parents came from B.C. to join the festivities this year. I was a little concerned about how my mother and my mother-in-law would get along. I joked with my wife and sister about getting a pair of those semi-circlular blade-tipped thingies that Kirk and Spock fought with in that classic episode of Star Trek. You know, the things in the following photo:

Nothing as dramatic as the fight between Kirk and Spock (which you can catch here broke out. Just a lot of wary eyeballing. Once again, there's always next year!