March 2011

Album Cover: Crash

"You wear nothing, but you wear it so well."
Dave Matthews Band / Crash Into Me

Why You Should Watch Inside Job

March 07, 2011 6:29 PM

I'm one of the unlucky many who purchased a home in 2007, right before the housing market collapsed. As such, I'm one of the unlucky many who are stuck paying a hefty mortgage payment each month on a home that isn't nearly worth what I'm paying for, at least from a market perspective. Fortunately, though, I'm lucky enough to afford that mortgage and haven't lost my house.

As covered in my recap of 2008, I was also directly affected by the widespread changes to the economy when the company I've worked for since college ended up cutting half its employees in October of that year. Again, I was fortunate enough to retain my employment through that rough period, but as I said back then, it was nevertheless an experience I hope I never have to go through again.

Since the economy's downturn, mostly through religiously watching The Daily Show, but also by attempting to soak in some understanding via nifty infographics, I've tried my best to learn how and why the economy tanked the way it did. However, up until today, I really didn't fully grasp the details and certainly didn't appreciate the vast corruption that took place to get us where we've been the past few years.

Enter Inside Job, a documentary by Charles Ferguson that succeeds in clearly outlining the roots of the economic crisis. Having watched the film today, I not only understand how we got where we are, but I have a newfound disappointment in our country's past and present failings in terms of financial regulation.

What I liked about the film is that it hears from all sides (at least those who didn't decline to comment), including members of oversight committees (using the term very, very lightly), politicians, economists and other academic experts in an attempt to uncover how things got out of control so quickly. Without a whole lot of extraneous commentary, it's easy to see the scumbags for what they are. I also liked that the film didn't take sides politically, but instead outlined how each of the presidents since Ronald Reagan -- and yes, Barack Obama is included -- has played an integral part as an enabler of the corruption and conflicts of interest that have caused our economy to collapse.

After watching the film, I feel both disgusted and deflated; the former mostly because I'm a believer in learning from past mistakes, and it is painfully clear that none of that is happening at present, and the latter because it doesn't appear that there is anything a middle class American can really do to reverse the direction of these dangerous cogs that have been steadily turning for decades. I do, at least, feel like I have a firmer grasp on the overall problem, and that is precisely why I wholeheartedly recommend Inside Job to anyone who wishes to understand how America got into the financial mess it is in today.

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Nathan Matthew

March 05, 2011 11:02 PM

Last Friday the 25th, my pregnant wife told me that she was feeling the kind of contractions she remembered feeling not long before our daughter was born. This effectively raised our collective "threat level," and we spent the bulk of the day preparing for what would most likely be an extended stay at the hospital. After our daughter had been put to bed, we started packing our things and let our neighbors know that we'd need someone to come over and stay at the house in case our daughter woke up for some reason.

In what would become the theme for the next several hours, everything seemed to fall into place and we arrived at the hospital around 11:35pm that night, just as my wife's contractions were getting debilitating. After the typical poking and prodding of nurses, my wife received an epidural at around 1am from a very interesting anesthesiologist who sounded like a Kiwi but is apparently from South Africa. Her water broke at around 3am, after which we were told to kick back for a bit and wait for our forthcoming baby to work his way toward the outer world. Of course, kicking back was a bit easier for me to do than my wife. ;)

Although we were hoping for a relatively quick labor (because of our opposite experience the first time around), things slowed down a bit and it wasn't until after a new team of nurses had arrived (around 7:30am) that the idea of pushing entered the discussion. In fact, it wasn't until around 9:15am that my wife really started to push. On the positive side, though, the delay gave our doctor, who technically was still on vacation, enough time to make it in to the hospital to deliver our baby. Better still, once the pushing did start, it only took around 40 minutes before our newborn son, Nathan Matthew Zimmermann, was lying on my wife's chest and crying loudly. It was a very happy and relieving moment, particularly since Heidi's entrance into the world was so much more dramatic.

Nathan was born at 10:05am on the morning of February 26th (Johnny Cash's birthday!). He weighed in at 9 lbs. 10 1/2 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long. His physique certainly matched that weight, as he arrived barrel-chested and well-built all around. He also had very light blond hair, which totally threw my wife and me for a loop, especially considering that Heidi's hair had been jet black when she was born (it's since turned dark blonde).

A week later, having had time to reflect on the whole experience, I feel very fortunate that the labor and delivery went down the way it did. As I mentioned earlier, everything seemed to go about as smoothly as it could, my wife was an absolute all star through it all, and we ended up with a very healthy baby boy who has had us smiling since the moment he arrived.

Just as I've started to get the hang of being the dad of an amazing daughter, I go back to the drawing board to find out what being the father of a son is all about. :)

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