Split-pea soup for the soul: Diana Foote, food writer for the Treasure Coast Palm newspaper, says that anti-depressants are not what’s needed during the recession. Instead, she writes, “I suppose the erratic Dow has something to do with it, but I don’t feel safe anymore without a hambone in the freezer.”

I could handle the news that we might just let Detroit sink into oblivion. I could accept the rising unemployment figures. I could listen to the dire retail sales forecasts for this holiday season because I was safe in the knowledge that no matter what, I could whip up a soup with that bone and even the aroma of it would put us all at ease.

You see, I grew up with a hambone in my freezer. My Depression-era mother wouldn’t dream of being without one. I think of her often these days, and of the millions like her, who learned resilience through hard times.

For vegetarians, we recommend a victory garden and a nice quarter-pound soapstone.

This bailout may need a sump pump: Harvard University law professor Elizabeth Warren, chair of the Government Accountability Office’s panel overseeing the $700 billion dollar financial industry bailout known inside the Beltway as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, told the New York Times yesterday that so far the effort has been marked by a lack of focus and planning.

“You can’t just say, ‘Credit isn’t moving through the system,’ ” she said in her first public comments since being named to the panel. “You have to ask why.”

 

If the answer is that banks do not have money to lend, it would make sense to push capital into their hands, as the Treasury has been doing over the last two months, she continued. But if the answer is that their potential borrowers are getting less creditworthy with each passing day, “pouring money into banks isn’t going to fix that problem,” she said.

“Any effective policy has to start with the households,” Warren told senior financial reporter Diana Henriques. “Years of flat wages, low savings and high debt have left America’s households extremely vulnerable.” Professor Warren is an expert in contract and bankruptcy law, and has written frequently about middle-class economic hardships and predatory lending, most notably in her book The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke and the documentary film Maxed Out.

Like much of the public, lawmakers “have just been stunned by these economic and financial developments,” she said. “There wasn’t time even to develop a coherent list of questions to ask Treasury about what it’s doing and what it plans to do — and whether either of those are likely to address what’s going wrong.”

She added: “Our role is to make sure that the right questions are asked as early as possible.”

“Someone to Watch” over 40: Cartoonist, filmmaker and and animator Nina Paley, who turned 40 in March, was just nominated for a “Someone To Watch” 2009 Independent Spirit Award. Her nominated film, “Sita Sings the Blues” intersperses themes and characters from the Ramayana with Paley’s own epic romantic battles.

Up for the same award is Lynn Shelton, 43, director and co-writer of the feature film “My Effortless Brilliance,” about a self-absorbed writer vacationing in a cabin with his estranged friends. Jenny Lumet, 41, has two nominations, best first screenplay and best picture, for “Rachel Getting Married.” Finally, three-time Sundance cinematography awart winner Ellen Kuras, 49, is nominated for her documentary “Nerakhoon (The Betrayal),” a 23-year account of the lives of a Laotian refugee family in New York.

If called to serve…: We all know politicians need to be careful of being pranked, “punk’d” and otherwise pertubed by drive-time radio hosts. However, Southern Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen goofed on the side of caution yesterday when she twice hung up on Barack Obama, believing he was a celebrity impersonator, as reported by the Politico website. It took a call from Howard Berman, chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee on which Ros-Lehtinen is the ranking member, to convince her that the President-elect was indeed trying to reach her. Probably no truth to the speculation that Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s ringtone is “Oops, I did it again.”

[Rachel R.]

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  • Nina Paley December 4, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Thanks Rachel!
    Not that it’s important, but, er, it was May:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nina_Paley

    Reply
  • Women's Voices For Change December 4, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Sorry! We had 1966. The error has been corrected.
    Rachel Rawlings

    Reply
  • Women's Voices For Change December 4, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Sorry! We had 1966. The error has been corrected.
    Rachel Rawlings

    Reply
  • Women's Voices For Change December 4, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Sorry! We had 1966. The error has been corrected.
    Rachel Rawlings

    Reply
  • Nina Paley December 4, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Thanks for the plug! But I was born in 1968, making me 40 now.

    Reply