Oct

30

The Bintel Brief, a Dear Abby type column that has been a regular feature of The Daily Forward for 100 years, had the following letter about a husband’s death. “…My husband died and…I don’t know how it happened that during the drive home from the cemetery, I was alone in the carriage with my husband’s friend. Seated in the carriage, I began to cry again, and the friend comforted me, patted my hands and begged me not to endanger my health. A thought came to me. Isn’t this more than friendly sympathy? Isn’t this perhaps the interest of a man in a woman? As he comforted me, the friend began to kiss my hands and I looked at him in amazement. Instead of drawing back though, he began to stroke my hair and swore that he felt toward his deal friend’s wife as toward an unhappy sister. He drew me to him, and kissed me passionately. These were passionate kisses from a man to a woman. But they were mingled with his tears for the death of his dear friend and for my fate. I swear to you that in my heart there was only one love, for my husband was barely two weeks in the grave when he asked me to marry him. I told him I would marry him a year after my husband’s death. My daughter realized everything. With tears in her eyes, she blurted out that her father’s grave was not an hour old when I already had taken a new bridegroom”.

One is reminded of this by the Amaranth death spiral about which numerous articles have appeared describing how the brokerage houses and banks that were customers and suppliers to Amaranth made billions on the liquidation.

Scavengers (vultures, hyenas), decomposers (funguses and bacteria) and detritivores (earthworms); all of whom recycle the remains of dead organisms, play a large role in the ecosystem and are useful in breaking down animal and plant remains so that their nutrients can be used again in the system. Many organisms have developed specialized equipment for such recycling of the dead as it is so much easier to prey upon an organism that can’t defend itself than to have to deal with all the defenses against death that living organisms possess, such as disruptive behavior and death throes.

I have found many traders and institutions that specialize in the dead, and the stories of the Long Term Capital demise relative to the decomposers that; even as they were alive sold positions in front of them, is one that can never be emphasized enough. I found many such organisms hovering around me when I tried to climb up the stairs a few years after my 1997 disaster. Often I heard them laughing as they ordered me to liquidate positions shortly after they had taken opposite sides. I heard and smelled many similar such organisms in all too recent times also.

It is interesting to examine how these specialists in death organize their activities. And to figure out how to prevent them from having such easy pickings. The Bintel Brief answered the lady harshly “…Better if she had opened the carriage door and asked him to get out. There is no excuse for the disgusting behavior of the young man after his friend’s death. It is possible the widow is making a mistake in deciding to marry him, because it is doubtful she can be happy with such a man”. It is doubtful that we can’t quantify some aspects of the death throes that these disgusting and all too common market specialists prey upon and preclude their undiminished happiness.


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