Today's Blogs

Gray Lady Endorses Graybeard, Lady

Bloggers debate the New York Times’ presidential endorsements, speculate about Société Générale’s rogue trader, and evaluate a scientist’s claim to have made a “significant but not final step” toward creating artificial life.

Gray Lady endorses graybeard, lady: The New York Times editorial page has endorsed Hillary Clinton and John McCain. If that’s not enough, McCain has also picked up an important endorsement from the key aging action star demographic: Sylvester Stallone.

“The New York Times is notoriously liberal but it is still nice to see that they are assessing this race in exactly the same way that I have been,” claims liberal Indiana grad student Biscotti. TalkLeft’s Jeralyn Merritt concurs: “I think the Times is correct that Barack Obama is not ready or experienced enough to be President and that his change meme sounds good but lacks specifics.” And Capitoilette’s Guy2K, a disappointed Edwards supporter, considers it a “badge of honor” that his candidate didn’t win the endorsement. He writes, “[B]y picking Clinton, already the winner of the lion’s share of Times’ coverage, the paper is simply shouting in its own echo chamber—justifying their abstract perversion of fairness by confirming that their anointed frontrunner is, indeed, the one out in front.”

Conservatives are cynical about the NYT’s motives. Captain’s Quarters’ conservative stalwart Ed Morrissey calls  it “poison” for McCain. He continues, “It does provide a test for the McCain campaign, however. If they trumpet this endorsement, it will show a tone deafness towards the party base they need in the closed primaries. Rudy, on the other hand, should note that his candidacy is the one that the New York Times fears the most.” He then shakes his head over McCain’s decision to highlight the endorsement on his website. Right-leaning Conspiracy Squirrels has a more underhanded take: “[D]oes the Times view McCain as the best bet on the Republican side to beat Hillary Clinton, whom they also endorse, and they cynically feel that their endorsement will kill McCain’s primary candidacy and get him out of the way for their girl?”

Gawker boils the NYT’s reasoning into two headlines: “New York Times To Obama: It’s Not You, It’s Us,” and “New YorkTimes To McCain: It’s Not You. It’s Giuliani.”

Some are more interested in Sylvester Stallone’s endorsement of McCain. Referencing Chuck Norris’ endorsement of Mike Huckabee, Jeff, commenting on the Chicago Tribune’s Swamp, wonders, “What would happen if Rambo fought Chuck Norris? Would the extra fist behind Chuck’s beard knock Rambo out?” Red’s Trading Post’s Ryan Horsley, a gun-shop manager, points out that, unlike McCain, Stallone supports gun control: “[McCain] needs to realize that not all action stars are the same.”

Read more about the endorsements. View Stallone’s endorsement.

Kerv ball: Bloggers are probing the story of Jerome Kerviel, the French trader who pulled off the largest fraud in banking history. France’s second largest bank, Société Générale, lost 4.9 billion euros thanks to trades he made, from which he gained nothing.

Conspiracy theories abound. Venture capitalist Fred Destin speculates about whether Société Générale is trying to pin the blame on Kerviel. “SG has decided to prosecute him but on only very limited terms: document fraud and attacks on their internal control systems while not pursuing any monetary damages and saying that he did not attempt to profit from the trades. This will allow them to pursue him in the courts on a very focused case which reduces the risk that they will have to reveal any of their internal accounting.” And Cardboard Spaceship’s Hamish, a financial services consultant in Switzerland, vents, “This whole thing stinks of more than just one rogue trader on what I’ve heard so far.”

Some wonder if Kerviel’s actions pushed the Fed into slashing interest rates Tuesday. On the Toronto Globe and Mail’s StreetWise, Boyd Erman tells U.S. readers, “As you revel in the lower interest charges on your line of credit following Tuesday’s big Fed rate cut, think of how one brave Frenchman came to your rescue, slashing the vig on that new 52-inch flat screen to something a little more manageable.” Portfolio’s Felix Salmon chastises the bank for acting too soon:. “I’d say that when Kerviel’s position was discovered, he was maybe 1.5 billion or so euros underwater; the rest of SocGen’s losses are just as much the bank’s fault as they are Kerviel’s. If they’d taken a deep breath and simply bid the position out to a big bank or hedge fund, I think they could have got away with much, much smaller losses.”

Pink Slip Blog’s Maureen Rogers, a product marketing consultant, points out that Nick Leeson (whose fraudulent trading forced Barings Bank to collapse) is a successful author, motivational speaker, and football club manager. “If Nick Leeson could resurrect his career - and, in fact, erect it on the foundation of his fraud - chances are that Jerome Kerviel, when he comes to his senses (and gets out of jail), will have some story to tell. At minimum, he should be able to find work in risk management, no?”

Read more about Kerviel. For those who don’t understand the scandal, Financial Crookery cooks up a transcript that purports to explain it.

Read/Write genes: Bloggers are evaluating the significance of biologist Craig Venter’s announcement that his team has created a synthetic chromosome based on Mycoplasma genitalium (a bacterium that lives in human genital tracts). Is science one step closer to creating artificial life?

Synthesis’ Rob Carlson, a biotech consultant, translates biotech speak for the rest of us: “The team was evidently unable to successfully use the synthetic chromosome to boot up a new organism.  It turns out that one of the techniques they developed in fact gets in the way of finishing this final step.” Carlson suggests that the discovery is not going to revolutionize biotechnology any time soon. Open…’s Glyn Moody receives the news more enthusiastically, pointing out that this breakthrough means that “genomics goes read-write … where creation is just as important as consumption.”

Read more about the bacterial chromosome. Remote Central posts a video and transcript of a conversation between Richard Dawkins and Craig Venter. Biopact, a biofuels blog, summarizes the history of Venter’s research, and its potential implications for biofuels.