Karl Marx The Concentration and Centralization of Capital
Although the basic Marxian model assumes perfectly competitive markets with a large number of small firms in each industry, Marx was aware of the growing size of firms, the consequent weakening of competition, and the growth of monopoly power. He concluded that this phenomenon derives from the increasing concentration and centralization of capital. Increasing concentration of capital occurs as individual capitalists accumulate more and more capital, thereby increasing the absolute amount of capital under their control. The size of the firm or economic unit of production is increased correspondingly, and the degree of competition in the market tends to be diminished.
A more important reason for the reduction of competition is the centralization of capital. Centralization occurs through a redistribution of already existing capital in a manner that places its ownership and control in fewer and fewer hands. Marx maintained that larger firms would be able to achieve economies of scale and thus produce at lower average costs than would smaller firms.
Competition between the larger, lower-cost firms and the smaller firms would result in the elimination of the smaller firms and the growth of monopoly.
The battle of competition is fought by cheapening of commodities. The cheapness of commodities depends, ceteris paribus, on the productiveness of labor, and this again on the scale of production. Therefore, the larger capitals beat the smaller.
The increasing centralization of capital is furthered by the development of a credit system and of the corporate form of business organization. Although the corporation was just beginning to assume importance during Marx's time, he demonstrated a remarkable insight into some of the long-run consequences of the growth of the corporate economy. Corporate capitalism is characterized by the fact that its enterprises assume the form of social enterprises as distinguished from individual enterprises. It is the abolition of capital as private property within the boundaries of capitalist production itself. Transformation of the actually functioning capitalist into a mere manager, an administrator of other people's capital, and of the owners of capital into mere owners, mere money capitalists.
Marx's view was that capital accumulation, economies of scale, the growth of credit markets, and the dominance of the corporation in business organization would lead to the concentration and centralization of capital into fewer and fewer hands. Competition would end by destroying itself, and the large corporation would assume monopoly power. With the large corporation would come a separation of ownership and control, along with a number of undesirable social consequences:
a new aristocracy of finance, a new sort of parasites in the shape of promoters, speculators, and merely nominal directors; a whole system of swindling and cheating by means of corporation juggling, stock jobbing, and stock speculation. It is private production without the control of private property.
Possibly no other vision of the future of capitalism advanced by Marx has been more prophetic than his law of the concentration and centralization of capital. Yet this prediction was not backed up by any substantial reasoning, for Marx did not fully develop an explanation of the forces that would bring about the growth of the corporation and monopoly power. According to Marx, the growth of the large firm with its monopoly power is merely another example of the contradictions within capitalism between the forces and relations of production that will lead to the ultimate destruction of capitalism.
Submitted by Betsy Finesilver
Food-on-a-stick is a good idea. As a kid, I loved food that was served on sticks, like corn dogs and Popsicles. As an adult, I see more advantages than just the excitement of holding a stick stuck into something edible. Food-on-a-stick has the benefit of utility. For example, I recently visited the Illinois State Fair, where one can participate in all sorts of amazing rural adventures, such as milking a cow. However, these adventures make your hands dirty. Thankfully, the majority of food at the Illinois State Fair is available on a stick, and therefore you do not even need to worry about washing your hands before eating.
At the Illinois State Fair, I received two free eggs-on-sticks when I purchased a salad. This was by far the food-on-a-stick I was most interested in trying. Had they offered me a free hard-boiled egg sans stick, I probably would have said, "Eh, no thanks." But hard-boiled-egg-on-a-stick sounded so intriguing I couldn't say no. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed. Eating the egg-on-a-stick was very pleasant. In fact, in some ways, the egg-on-a-stick was superior to an egg-not-on-a-stick. Namely, the ability to rotate the egg via the stick enabled me to salt the outside of the egg evenly without resorting to rolling the egg in salt I'd sprinkled on a plate.
In the end, the friend I shared my eggs-on-sticks with reviewed this food in a very accurate way. "You know," he said, "egg-on-a-stick doesn't really taste any different than egg-not-on-a-stick." Technically, he's right. Whether a hard-boiled egg is on a stick or not, the white part will be rubbery and slimy, while the mustard-colored yoke will be crumbly. Yet the refreshing addition of the stick made eating the egg a much more exciting experience.
What will be next? Chicken-on-a-stick? I can only hope so. Or maybe chicken-on-a-stick came first.
White Chocolate Reese's Peanut Butter CupsUpdate II:
Submitted by Alycia Yerves
They have them in white now.
Snickers DuoUpdate III: (I can't stop!)
Submitted by Chris Hicks
I was so excited when they released these here in the U.K. Finally, I thought, a Snickers that's big enough to share but easy to divide. No more tendrils of snarled caramel. No more lost peanuts. I will peel the wrapper in the middle, revealing two neat halves, and that will be the end of the division. Any friend would gladly accept such an offer.
But I was wrong. It seems that, at 4 a.m., in a petrol-station forecourt, the potential friends I'm shouting at are not put off by the unhygienic implications of a hand-broken king-size Snickers: they're put off by my desperation. And my sobbing.
So, Mars, fuck you. I felt better casually tearing off a hunk of a kingdom than offering half of an unwanted meal for two.
Croatian Crackers With Pâté (Podravka)*updated
Submitted by Zainah Usman
If cotton were spun into a biscuit, and that biscuit began to ooze, and the ooze smelled like a desk drawer, then you'd have Podravka, the Croatian cracker with liver pâté. Thanks, Croatia!
Hope and Trust, and the Mini Depression
When the history of the Mini Depression of 2008-2010 is written by future historians, the word "distrust" will appear again and again.
Financial stocks are in free fall because no one trusts financials any longer. A sell-off in bank, housing, insurance and other financial stocks has accelerated in the wake of Geithner's bailout plan because the administration raised expectations too high that the plan would cure troubled banks. Yet it has become clear (even to Alan Greenspan) that the only way anyone is going to trust what they see on bank balance sheets is if bank regulators take over troubled banks, at least until those balance sheets are washed clean.
Geithner must be realistic about what can be accomplished even then. After all, the bubble was pumped up by financials. Between 2003 and the peak in 2007, the American Stock Exchange financial services index just about doubled. By 2007, financial services companies accounted for 22 percent of the S&P 500 index's market value. Now that figure is closer to 12.5 percent, and still dropping. That precipitous drop isn't bad for the economy; it's good. After all, what was the financial industry of 2007? Much was wishful thinking based on speculation, wildly optimistic (and inaccurate) models of risk-management, and outright lies. In other words, hot air -- and the sooner we let all the air out of the financial economy, the sooner the real economy can begin to recover.
Meanwhile, economic distrust is spreading around the globe. What started two years ago with a sub-prime lending problem in the United States is now global, the ugly consequence of untrustworthy global capital markets and inadequate worldwide demand (led by fearful consumers in the United States). The fragile economies of Eastern Europe are in danger of collapsing. The Russian economy is shrinking. Most of Latin America is in trouble. More worrying, Japan's recession is deepening. Even China, whose rapid growth seemed unstoppable, is slowing to a relative crawl. Global investors are fleeing risk; global consumers are hunkering down.
Given all this, America's stimulus isn't nearly large enough. At the least, it should be replicated, proportionally, by every major economy. Central banks around the world must also continue to lower interest rates and open their lending windows. Bank bailouts must be coordinated. Protectionism should be avoided.
In this world of economic distrust, it's vitally important that President Obama and his administration maintain credibility on the economy. Raising false expectations would do far more harm than good. In remarks aired this morning on ABC's "Good Morning America," former president Bill Clinton said he wanted the American people to know that Obama is "confident that we are gonna get out of this and he feels good about the long run. ... I just would like him to end by saying that he is hopeful and completely convinced we're gonna come through this." Clinton's suggestion is understandable but misguided. Happy talk at this point in time is so incongruous with what most Americans (and others around the world) know and are experiencing that it could undermine Obama's credibility.
The truth is that no one has any idea how long this crisis will last or exactly how to reverse it. Anyone who says differently cannot be trusted. And because restoring trust is so central to mending the economy, our leaders must be extremely careful not to indulge right now in the audacity of hope.
Put the Thing Down, Flip It, and Reverse It
By David Weigel 2/20/09 1:31 PM
Remember when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) ran for re-election? Here’s a refresher:
Californians dodged a bullet. Instead of having their taxes raised by $10 billion (let’s just accept the ad’s figures), they now have a $12 billion tax increase as part of a budget that reduces education funding by $8.4 billion and borrows another $11 billion.
It’s worth asking why the 2003 recall vote ever needed to happen.
What Are They So Afraid Of?"
To read the tabloid press and the right wing edu-blogosphere these days, one would think that the decision of the KIPP AMP teachers to organize with the UFT was something akin to the four horsemen of the Apocalypse riding into town.
Anti-unionist image of teachers organizing
What is extraordinary is the violent tone and tenor of much of this commentary, and the violence done to the most simple and straightforward of facts.
The Fordham Foundation’s Flypaper blog announced that the teachers at KIPP AMP had decided NOT to organize, in the latest iteration of its well-established practice of mangling story after story about teacher unions beyond recognition. This was followed by the usual mealy-mouthed update announcing that the truth was, well, the opposite of what it had just reported. For good measure, Fordham blogger Palmieri expressed her outrage over the fact that under New York State public employee labor law, employees have an unambiguous right to organize with a union — regardless of whether their employer approves of their choice. And she helpfully provides a link to the anti-teacher union organizing manual of the Atlantic Legal Foundation, the not for profit arm of the law firm Jackson, Lewis, the most notorious anti-union law firm in the US.
At the blog of Jay Greene and the United Cherry Pickers, Matthew Ladner suggests that what Rome is reputed to have done to Carthage is the right approach for an unionized charter school: “KIPP should pull the plug on these schools at the end of the school year, burn down the buildings and plow salt into the ground upon which they once stood.” Does the resort to ancient campaigns of annihilation and extermination sound a bit extreme? Might observers reasonably conclude that this sturm and drang is about nothing but a desire to eliminate unions? For Ladner, Vice President of the Goldwater Institute, extremism in the pursuit of anti-unionism is no vice, and facts are no obstacle on that road. He simply invents out of whole cloth a set of extreme fictions — imaginary KIPP AMP teachers set on destroying the educational program of the school and mythical 1000 page contracts — to justify his position.
Not to be outdone by its right-wing bethren in the edu-blogosphere, the New York Post weighs in with an editorial denouncing the KIPP AMP organizing.
What is it about teacher voice that so frightens the denizens of the far right, that even the prospect of democratic teacher input into decision-making in the educational workplace should be met with such rhetorical ferocity?
I think Congress ought to figure this out fast, before the pitchforks and torches appear!
The Stimulus and the Auto Bailout: The Perils of Confusing American Companies With American Jobs
Do not confuse American companies with American jobs.
The new stimulus bill, for example, requires that the money be used for production in the United States. Foreign governments, along with large U.S. multinationals concerned about possible foreign retaliation, charge this favors American-based companies. That's not quite true. Foreign companies are eligible to receive stimulus money for things they make here (as long as the nations where they're headquartered have signed the WTO procurement agreement). For example, Alstom, the French engineering company, is eligible to receive stimulus funds for the power turbines it produces in Tennessee; Japan’s Sanyo, for the solar cell parts it makes in Oregon; and French-owned Lucent Technologies, for the high-speed internet components it produces here, as well as the research it does here through its research arm, Bell Labs. On the other hand, U.S. Steel may not be eligible for stimulus money for the steel slabs it casts in Ontario, Canada.
I'm not defending the "buy American" provisions of the stimulus bill. I'm just saying they're not the same as "buy from American companies." And although these provisions skate close to protectionism and risk foreign retaliation, at least a case can be made that if American taxpayers are footing the bill in order to create American jobs, the jobs should be created, well, here in America.
The same confusion haunts the debate over the auto bailout. Advocates of bailing out GM and Chrysler, and most likely Ford, say America can’t afford to lose "its" auto industry. But this argument leaves out the fact that foreign-owned automakers, already producing cars here in the United States, employ – directly or indirectly – hundreds of thousands of Americans. And at the rate the Big Three are shrinking, and plan to shrink even further -- even if they get bailed out --foreign automakers may soon be employing more Americans than the Big Three.
Meanwhile, the Big Three themselves are global. A Pontiac G8 shipped by GM from Australia has less American content than a BMW X5 assembled in the United States. General Motors’ European subsidiaries include Opel and Saab; Ford’s include Volvo.
I’m not arguing against an auto bailout. But it ought to be focused on helping American auto workers rather than helping global auto companies headquartered in America. Why pay the Big Three billions of taxpayer dollars to stay afloat when, even after being bailed out, they cut tens of thousands of American jobs, slash wages, and shrink their American operations into small fractions of what they used to be?
That’s backwards. The auto bailout should help American autoworkers keep their jobs or get new ones that pay almost as well.
Whether it’s stimulus or bailout, policy makers must remember that American companies aren’t the same as American workers – and our first responsibility is to the latter.
Partisanship, by the Bye
by Hendrik Hertzberg
Throughout the fortnight-long Battle of the Stimulus Package—the Capitol Hill confrontation that culminates this week in a signing ceremony for a historically unprecedented piece of legislation that will inject more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars’ worth of adrenaline into America’s fluttering economic heart—one question preoccupied commentators and observers, especially those desperate for relief from the daunting substance of the matter: was President Obama being “bipartisan” enough?
Some discussed the question calmly, others less so; but there was something like a consensus that if non-trivial numbers of Republican legislators failed to support the stimulus bill the fault, and the obloquy, would be Obama’s. “The bill will be judged a political success not simply if it becomes law, but if it’s deemed ‘bi-partisan,’ ” ABC’s “The Note” Web site warned. The Los Angeles Times, while calling the bill’s quick passage in the House of Representatives a “big legislative victory” for Obama, cautioned that “it was clear that his efforts so far had not delivered the post-partisan era that he called for in his inauguration address.” (The man had been in office for eight days—a tight schedule for era-delivering.) On the Senate floor, the remarks of Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, provided evidence that an age of perpetual political peace had not yet dawned. “This bill stinks!” Senator Graham exclaimed. And:The process that’s led to this bill stinks! . . . There is no negotiation going on here! Nobody is negotiating! We’re making this up as we go! The polling numbers are scaring the hell out of everybody, and they’re in a panic! They’re running from one corner of the Capitol to the other to try to cobble votes together to lower the cost of the bill to say we solved the problem! This is not the way you spend a trillion dollars!The “process,” admittedly, was a hurried one; it had to be, what with the banking system frighteningly close to collapse, the economy in its deepest crisis since the nineteen-thirties, and job losses, which approached three million last year, accelerating to more than a half million a month. Still, the President found time for cordiality, inviting Republicans from both Houses of Congress to join him for cocktails, a Super Bowl party, and more cocktails. Nor was his “outreach” purely social. “This was not a drive-by P.R. stunt, and I actually thought it might be,” Zach Wamp, of Tennessee, told the Times after he and his Republican House colleagues finished a long session with the President. “It was a substantive, in-depth discussion with our conference.” More to the point, the bill they were discussing had already been tailored to soothe Republican sensibilities. It included tax cuts as well as direct spending, and its size, however huge by normal standards, was not even half the output—two trillion dollars—that the recession is expected to drain from the economy in the next two years.
After the Senate passed the stimulus, which Sean Hannity, on Fox News, denounced as “the European Socialist Act of 2009,” Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, pronounced it “a dramatic move in the direction of indeed turning America into Western Europe.” Whether or not greater income equality, better health, and fewer prisons would really be a dystopian nightmare, McConnell’s vision of “the Europeanization of America” has already come true in a way that bears directly on the question of “bipartisanship”: what might be called America’s parliamentary parties have come to resemble their disciplined European counterparts. As recently as the nineteen-sixties, for reasons of history and origins, the Democrats were a stapled-together collection of Southern reactionaries, big-city hacks, and urban and agrarian liberals; the Republicans were a jumble of troglodyte conservatives, Yankee moderates, and the odd progressive. Ideological incoherence made bipartisanship feasible. The post-civil-rights, post-Vietnam realignment, along with the gerrymandered creation of safe districts, has given us—on Capitol Hill, at least—an almost uniformly rightist G.O.P. and a somewhat less uniformly progressive array of Democrats.
In 1981, President Reagan’s tax cuts passed with the help of forty-eight cross-party votes in the House and thirty-seven in the Senate. Obama’s stimulus got zero and three, respectively. (Getting those three—a practical necessity, thanks to the scandalous routinization of the filibuster—precipitated the vote-cobbling scramble that Senator Graham was hyperventilating about.) Last week’s sudden withdrawal, under Party pressure, of Judd Gregg, a conservative Republican senator from New Hampshire, as Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Commerce was another signal that Hill Republicans have opted for total war. But this does not mean that Obama’s hopes for bipartisanship have been entirely in vain. A Gallup poll taken last week found twenty-eight per cent of Republican voters (and fifty-six per cent of independents) backing the stimulus. It had the support not only of the labor federations but also of the National Association of Manufacturers and the United States Chamber of Commerce. And four Republican governors—California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, Connecticut’s Jodi Rell, Florida’s Charlie Crist, and Vermont’s Jim Douglas—joined fifteen of their Democratic colleagues in signing a letter calling for its enactment. A Republican governor, you might say, is sort of like a Republican congressman—except with actual responsibilities.
At the President’s first full-scale news conference last week, two of the thirteen questions were about bipartisanship. As usual, Obama took the long view. The American people, he said, “understand that there have been a lot of bad habits built up here in Washington, and it’s going to take time to break down some of those bad habits.” His overtures to Republicans “were not designed simply to get some short-term votes. They were designed to try to build up some trust over time.” At the same time, he was firm about his “bottom line,” which,when it comes to the recovery package, is: send me a bill that creates or saves four million jobs, because everybody has to be possessed with a sense of urgency about putting people back to work, making sure that folks are staying in their homes, that they can send their kids to college. That doesn’t negate the continuing efforts that I’m going to make to listen and engage with my Republican colleagues. And, hopefully, the tone that I’ve taken, which has been consistently civil and respectful, will pay some dividends over the long term.Asked what he had learned from the stimulus tussle, Obama said again that “old habits are hard to break,” and added:Now, just in terms of the historic record here, the Republicans were brought in early and were consulted. And you’ll remember that, when we initially introduced our framework, they were pleasantly surprised and complimentary about the tax cuts that were presented in that framework. Those tax cuts are still in there. I mean, I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some, and then let them take credit for all of them. And maybe that’s the lesson I learned. But there was consultation. There will continue to be consultation.Fifty years ago, the civil-rights movement understood that nonviolence can be an effective weapon even if—or especially if—the other side refuses to follow suit. Obama has a similarly tough-minded understanding of the political uses of bipartisanship, which, even if it fails as a tactic for compromise, can succeed as a tonal strategy: once the other side makes itself appear intransigently, destructively partisan, the game is half won. Obama is learning to throw the ball harder. But it’s not Rovian hardball he’s playing. More like Gandhian hardball.
A video expressing concern that in West Virginia gay people can fly to San Francisco and get married. I framed the video in Devil Red!
The Wrongness Of Women's Trousers
I'm not a religious person so I tend not to be too interested in the theological side of religious debates. But this truly is illuminating.
It comes from a Catholic Bishop:Dear Friends and Benefactors:That's from the holocaust denying Bishop, of course. But you can certainly see why the conservative Pope would want to reinstate this person. I suspect this is one thing they absolutely agree on.
Canadians strike me as a gentle people; but "strike" is the word! Ten yeas ago I was innocently asked in Canada whether women should wear trousers. Some ten weeks ago, also in Canada, I was asked whether a girl should go to a conservative Novus Ordo university. The answer now to the second question may be as stormy as the answer to the first:- because of all kinds of natural reasons, almost no girl should go to any university!
The deep-down reason is the same as for the wrongness of women's trousers: the unwomaning of woman. The deep-down cause in both cases is that Revolutionary man has betrayed modem woman; since she is not respected and loved for being a woman, she tries to make herself a man. Since modem man does not want her to do what God meant her to do, namely to have children, she takes her revenge by invading all kinds of things that man is meant to do. What else was to be expected? Modem man has only himself to blame.
In fact, only in modern times have women dreamt of going to university, but the idea has now become so normal that even Catholics, whose Faith guards Nature, may have difficulty in seeing the problem. However, here is a pointer in the direction of normalcy: any Catholic with the least respect for Tradition recognizes that women should not be priests - can he deny that if few women went to university, almost none would wish to be priests? Alas, women going to university is part of the whole massive onslaught on God's Nature which characterizes our times. That girls should not be in universities flows from the nature of universities and from the nature of girls: true universities are for ideas, ideas are not for true girls, so true universities are not for true girls.
Bob says we should just take over the banks. Why is it that Krugman, Reich, DeLong and others say nationalize, but congress won't? I can't wait to vote out my representatives in 2010 and 2012!
Geithner's "Stress Test" for Banks, and a Stress Test for America
The only way to make sense of Tim Geithner’s “stress test” for banks is to assume a kind of triage. Banks that are reasonably healthy right now -- whose assets are fully adequate to fund their liabilities, and can make new loans -- don't need a bailout. And banks that are too far gone to save –- whose loans when realistically valued won’t make them solvent even when the economy recovers -- shouldn't be bailed out. They should be put under receivership that pays off depositors, wipes out shareholders, and then closes the bank.
This leaves a third category of bank that could be salvaged -- whose assets are likely to be enough to make them solvent when the economy turns up again -- but that need bailouts in the meantime. Money from the Treasury and Fed will be used to lure outside investors to buy up these banks' bad loans and clear up their balance sheets so they can make new, responsible loans.
At least, that's the only sense I can make of it.
But how much of our financial system falls into the “too-far-gone-to save” category, and how much into the “might be saved with taxpayer help?” And how will Geithner and his colleagues at the Treasury be able to tell? After all, we got into this mess because banks were fiddling with their numbers and making bets off their balance sheets. And most still aren’t willing to write down their bad loans to realistic market values.
It would be far cheaper, quicker, and safer for the government to just take over every questionable bank. This is the only way we can get the truth about which should be shut down. And the way taxpayers who will be bailing out salvagable banks can ever recoup our costs. Why should any upside gains go to private shareholders who made bad bets or to bank executives and directors who got us into this mess in the first place?
Meanwhile, the rest of America could stand a stress test on a much bigger scale. No need to worry about families with adequate assets to get them through the storm. And the stimulus will help many others. But families that have lost their savings and are within a few years of retirement, or whose breadwinners have been out of work for months and have exhausted their unemployment benefits, or have no health insurance, or who are on the verge of losing their homes – may not make it. Instead of rewarding executives of insolvent banks that would otherwise fail, we should be helping insolvent families for whom failure spells disaster.
From Scott Horton:
Third, the Nelly account shows that health professionals are right in the thick of the torture and abuse of the prisoners—suggesting a systematic collapse of professional ethics driven by the Pentagon itself. He describes body searches undertaken for no legitimate security purpose, simply to sexually invade and humiliate the prisoners. This was a standardized Bush Administration tactic–the importance of which became apparent to me when I participated in some Capitol Hill negotiations with White House representatives relating to legislation creating criminal law accountability for contractors. The Bush White House vehemently objected to provisions of the law dealing with rape by instrumentality. When House negotiators pressed to know why, they were met first with silence and then an embarrassed acknowledgment that a key part of the Bush program included invasion of the bodies of prisoners in a way that might be deemed rape by instrumentality under existing federal and state criminal statutes. While these techniques have long been known, the role of health care professionals in implementing them is shocking.Just disgusting. Can we prosecute these bastards, please?
Neely’s account demonstrates once more how much the Bush team kept secret and how little we still know about their comprehensive program of official cruelty and torture. [emphasis mine]
MESSAGES OF LYRICIST
BY JULIE KLAUSNER AND RACHEL SHUKERT
- - - -
August 12, 1967
Timothy? Is that vous? Fetch the crayons, Timothy. It's Andy Lloyd Webber. Guess what I have? A ghastly idea for a show. I'll need you to make some sketches. Crayons, Timothy! Now: Joseph. Not Stalin! The Jew, from the Bible. Yes, Tim, I read the Bible every day. But this is new! I mean old! Old Testament. Ahem. Do you know what Joseph had that we don't? I'll give you a hint. A waistcoat? No! A dreamcoat! A coat made of dreams. It was red and yellow and green and brown and purple and gold and ochre and green and blond and black and poop and pee and cinnamon red and red and red and dragons and bugs and teeth and teal and lemon and black and white and mauve ... Where was I? Oh, yes. Dictation, Timothus! We need to discuss the Joseph Stalin musical set in Jewish times with Jews, remember? Get out your grease pencil. There will be a narrator. The narrator will be played by a sprightly he/she in harem trousers and a fez. She—or is it "shim"?—will look exactly like Markie Post. Who is Markie Post? I don't know, Tim! I don't know! But the name came to me in a dream. Do you know what this means, Timaphus? I'm a prophet! A prophet! A—
(Speech is drowned out by the sound of rushing water. A bloodcurdling scream, then silence. Beep.)