The global appeal of the novel has led some fans to hallow it as a classic, but, with all due respect, it is not to be confused with “Madame Bovary.” Rather, Fifty Shades of Grey is the kind of book that Madame Bovary would read.Anthony Lane reviews Fifty Shades of Grey.
If you’re elected president,” asked one guest at a 2007 hedge fund managers event for Obama, “what will you do to the taxes on the people in this room?” “I’ll raise them,” Obama fired back. The managers, who share social circles and an educational background with Obama, approved of his style. These days, however, the bloom is off the rose. In The Big Split, Alec MacGillis investigates the souring of a 20 year relationship between Democrats and high finance, and surmises that it's the administration's rhetoric more than its policy that has upset the masters of the financial universe.
"I can tell you that the days of of white, wealthy, upper-class [Smith] students from prep schools in cashmere coats and pearls who marry Amherst men are over. This is unfortunate because it is this demographic that puts their name on buildings, donates great art and subsidizes scholarships." Anne Spurzem, Smith College '84, reacts to news about the increase in diversity at her alma mater during President Carol Christ's tenure while Christ prepares to step down in 2013. Unsurprisingly, Spurzem's comments have caused an uproar among students and alumnae, leading to the creation of the Pearls and Cashmere Tumblr, which celebrates the diversity feared by Spurzem. Meanwhile, President Christ has responded to Spurzem's allegations in an open letter to to the Smith community.
This week has seen a lot of discussion of the American criminal justice system and its failings, and a lot of concern about what can be done to fix it. In 1947, a working class black man looked like he was about to have the full weight of the system brought down on him for taking justice into his own hands. But after Chicago leftists - including labor unions, religious leaders, artists, civil rights activists & others - launched a movement, James Hickman was set free after an all-white jury, in a trial presided over by a white judge, failed to convict, and the DA chose not to re-try because of the magnitude of public support for Hickman. According to a review in The Nation, a new book tells the story in a way that turns the typical right-wing biases of the true crime genre on their head. [more inside]
Occupy Wall Street is an event comprised of anti-corporate non-violent protests that are being promoted by a range of groups including the AdbustersMedia Foundation and a New York City group called General Assembly. Months ago a plea was put out to diverse political and activist groups urging them to descend on Wall Street on September 17th and take part in long-term occupation of the area in the spirit of the Arab Spring rebellions. [more inside]
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says the National Guard is prepared to respond to unrest among state workers: "Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights." NY Times offers more reporting on Walker's proposals here. Notably, Walker is reportedly refusing even to negotiate with the public employee unions. Though Walker's carefully worded announcement avoided any specific commitments about how guard troops might be used much beyond noting the Wisconsin Governor's concern that "some union leaders will try to incite their members," a look back at the history of the labor movement in the US reveals that this wouldn't be the first time in US history the National Guard has been called upon to respond to labor unrest, and that the results haven't always been pretty. [more inside]
Conspicuous Combustion: since May 2007, 292 luxury cars have been burned in Berlin. A simple Google Map at brennende-autos.de ("Burning Cars") charts the date, model, and location of each.
Class Mobility within America - The mythology surrounding Horatio Alger is a powerful force within American culture: the idea that anyone can pull oneself up by the bootstraps to become financially successful. Surprising research by statistician Miles Corak shows that Americans have no more income mobility than Europeans — contradicting cultural presumptions of egalitarianism — and even less than Scandinavian countries, despite their heavy taxation. Marketing slowly meets reality in the American Dream...
If the poor get richer, does the world see progress? The global "consumer class", defined by those who make $7,000 or more in local currency, is growing quickly but making it even more difficult for the worlds poor to get ahead. 1.7 billion belong to the consumer class while over 3 billion survive on less than $2 a day. Will the growing tide of new consumers in the developing world contribute to the solution of global poverty or simply add to the problem?
If You Want to Talk About Class Warfare... Molly Ivins gives it to 'em: Some days, you have to believe that right-wing ideologues have lost touch with reality completely. Their latest proposal to prevent future Enrons is - ta-da! - cut the capital gains tax. And exactly what does that do to prevent future Enrons? Nothing.