I don’t look forward to today. Plunging markets, trading brakes, B roll footage of traders shouting on the floor of the Stock Exchange,  top-of-the-hour radio news with the newsreaders using their Important Concern inflection because God forbid the story should speak for itself. Then tomorrow there will be an editorial cartoon that has someone selling apples. Panic. Stupid, useless snowballing hysteria. I’m not worried about the economy at this point; I’m worried what people will do save it. Rebates! Oh, that’s grand. Nothing restores fundamental consumer confidence like shoving money in their hands and yelling SPEND IT! SPEND IT NOW!  ON ANYTHING! THROW PILLOWS! STEEPLY DISCOUNTED HD-DVD PLAYERS! BLOWN-GLASS GEEGAWS! TRAILER HITCHES! BUCKETS OF PICKLES! IT DOESN’T MATTER! Or you could tax everyone more so they feel poorer, so they spend less, then wonder why retail sales are down, commercial property is soft, and business tax receipts have cratered.

Just leave it all alone, please.  It’s like a cold. You can put it off and cover it up but you’re going to have three miserable shuddering days of congestion and hacking no matter what you do. Unless you take zinc, of course.

That’s it! Spray the markets with zinc!

I’m not an economist, but I’ve noted something interesting. Since we decided that ethanol would be the cure to our “addiction to oil,” we managed to bump up the cost of corn, encourage a shift to corn production, and raise the price of foodstuffs. Which fueled inflation fears. Now that we have increased inflation, we have a fear of a recession, which drives the price of oil down, since demand is expected to slump. The price of gas has gone down a quarter in the last ten days, and it’s idling in the low $2.8x range. As others have noted, the cure for $100 barrel oil is $100 barrel oil. It all works out. There’s a boom and then there’s a bust. Having lived through a few, it’s annoying to hear the same fargin’ end-of-the-world hairshirt orations, especially from those who have spent their entire lives walking around with a bucket of black paint and a brush looking for good news to deface.

While looking through some old papers I was reading about the recession fears of 1948. There were ads in the paper telling people not to turn the thermostat up in January because there wasn’t enough heating oil. There was also a steel crisis, which worried analysts. Imagine anyone worrying about a steel crisis today. In any case, The Republic struggled through and came out the other side. Now? We’re not even in a recession, but you’d think the morning sun was about to be blotted out by the rain of money managers hurling themselves out windows. Of course the news is bad. The news is always bad. Even the good news is bad, eventually. If they cured cancer tomorrow it would take a day before analysts worried about the impact on Medicare, what with people living so damned long and all.

I think markets are inevitably rational, but it’s odd how the eventual rational judgments seem comprised of a million individual irrational freakouts.

Watched the third “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie this weekend; the first three hours were so-so, and the last six hours were better. It’s funny to see Keira Knightly have sword fights with grown men. Her head would be bouncing on the deck before she got her blade up to sternum level. I’ve seen all three movies and I have no idea what motivates her character, and I don’t care. The only interesting character was Geoffrey Rush’s pirate, who seemed authentically piratical. The movie annoyed me right off the start, when the veddy veddy bad English-type person read a list of suspended civil rights to a long line of condemned pirates. Habeas Corpus – suspended! The trapdoors drop, the pirates are hanged. Or suspended, if you like. Why, they even hung a child for being a pirate, those mean civil-rights suspending Englishmen. The free, diverse, sustainable life of the Pirate Community was a challenge to their idea of “order” and “civilization,” two false concepts that merely masked the same piratical desire for power and money. It’s charming when the pirates want power and money, because they’re played by humorous character actors and accompanied by music written in a major key.

I wouldn’t read this much into it, but it was rather heavy-handed. It’s a pity: the second and third “Pirates” movies could have been great, given the material. But they set all the dials on 11. There’s not a believable stunt in the film; it’s all derring doo-doo. You end the movie feeling like a gong that’s been struck with a sledgehammer for three hours.

If you do rent the movie, try this: flick through the movie via the chapter button. The last half is absolutely monochromatic.

A new feature for the Bleat: for the rest of the year, Tuesdays will feature a song from the top 300 of 1928. Music from 80 years ago. First up is a favorite of mine I played in an old Diner, I think – “Doin’ The Raccoon.” It’s a nifty dance number about the fashion craze of the day, the Raccoon coat, infectious and certain of purpose. Pay attention to the lyrics. Cole Porter they ain’t, but it’s still fun; Vassar = sex and Chicago = bullets. Also three pages of cheerful ATOM-AGE COMBAT funnies to be had. Enjoy, and I’ll see you at buzz.mn.