"Wonder why Atlantic City is failing? The better question, the one asked by people who know the town: Why did anyone think it would ever succeed?"
The Minimum Wage Worker Strikes Back - She notes that her hourly wage of $7.50 is less than a Wendy’s combo meal: “I make less than the Baconator.”
In my last year on Wall Street my bonus was $3.6 million — and I was angry because it wasn’t big enough. I was 30 years old, had no children to raise, no debts to pay, no philanthropic goal in mind. I wanted more money for exactly the same reason an alcoholic needs another drink: I was addicted. … I wanted a billion dollars. It’s staggering to think that in the course of five years, I’d gone from being thrilled at my first bonus — $40,000 — to being disappointed when, my second year at the hedge fund, I was paid “only” $1.5 million.For the Love of Money by Sam Polk
"That we've gotten to this point is astonishing to me, because basically in winning its victory, in seeing that Wall come down and seeing the former Stalinist state's journey towards our way of thinking in terms of markets or being vulnerable, you would have thought that we would have learned what works. Instead we've descended into what can only be described as greed" -- David Simon
Before Greed: Americans Didn't Aways Yearn For Riches. A response: An Embarassement Of Riches: Literature And The Ethics Of Wealth In The Gilded Age. Both from Boston Review. [more inside]
"What is a cult film? A cult film is one that has a passionate following, but does not appeal to everyone. James Bond movies are not cult films, but chainsaw movies are. Just because a film has become a cult movie does not automatically guarantee quality. Some are very bad; others are very, very good. Some make an awful lot of money at the box office; others make no money at all. Some are considered quality films; others are exploitation movies. One thing cult movies do have in common is that they are all genre films - for example gangster films or westerns. They also have a tendency to slosh over from one genre into another, so that a science fiction film might also be a detective movie, or vice versa. They share common themes as well, themes that are found in all drama: love, murder and greed." - of the British TV film slots accompanied by an introduction perhaps the most celebrated is Moviedrome, running between 1988 and 2000 and presented first by Repo Man director Alex Cox and then film critic Mark Cousins. [more inside]
"The more ghoulish and extreme the show becomes, ...the more accurately it captures the reality of the cartels and their business."
The Las Vegas Sands Corporation, headed by multibillionaire and notorious supporter of right-wing causes Sheldon Adelson, is considering building an enormous gambling resort in crisis-stricken Spain: Euro Vegas [more inside]
The Yes Men pull one over on the AP, by convincing them that GE was going to donate their 3.2 billion dollar tax credit in response to public anger over the fact that they pay no taxes.
Bikram yoga, popularized in the USA by Bikram Choudhury, is criticized for being overly sexual and as subverting the traditional aims of yoga. The bacchanalian atmosphere at the training clinics held by Choudhury seem to confirm this view.
Charles Ferguson's cogent & enraging presentation of the financial meltdown may be best viewed in a theatre that serves beer. (YMMV) So if the financial system crisis in the last 3 years or so has you scratching your head, there are helpful diagrams on the website, & surprisingly equal party blameworthy interviews in the film. There are also helpful pdf's and good guy/bad guy lists for teaching about it. And once you leave the theatre, there's a place to read & talk about the film, and there's even a place with a list of what you can do. (Which is also open to suggestions for more things you can do.) An interview with film director Charles Ferguson from Oct 1, 2010 on NPR. Previously-ish.
Hollywood ate my childhood [or] Why film remakes are desecrating our most precious memories. Hint: it's the money. [more inside]
Chris Ware was commissioned by Fortune to illustrate their May cover. His "hilarious, beautiful, meticulous" submission, which included "Guantanamo Bay prisoners, Mexican factory workers, and a few potshots at business execs and money-grubbing politicians," was rejected. Hi-res Flickr version here. Previously (1, 2)
A new stadium, paid for with public money, that is far too expensive (even after prices were slashed) for most members of the public to visit, especially during a recession. Bomber Bucks. $5 bottles of water and $48 for a lousy steak. Have the New York Yankees finally pushed their fans too far?
I never hear the rattling of dice that it does not sound to me like the funeral bell of the whole family.
In 1943, while the Allies were busy battling the Axis Powers and the Nazi Regime, there was another kind of war that was being waged against a helpless populace (living on the Indian Sub-continent). A war that has been largely ignored by the mass media and the history books of our time. It is known as the Great Bengal Famine, and ended up causing the death of an estimated 1.5 million to 4 million people.
Wrath, Greed, Pride, Gluttony, Lust, Envy, Sloth
Don't forget your display!
Made by: Hamilton Design
Don't forget your display!
Made by: Hamilton Design
What market has grown from $900 billion in 2000 to more than $45.5 trillion and is completely unregulated? Welcome to the world of Credit Default Swaps. Speculative derivatives have been described as "financial weapons of mass destruction" by some guy named Warren Buffet. Some people wonder how you can have "$1 trillion in swaps bet on the success or failure of GM when the entire market cap of GM is a mere $15 billion." Credit Default Swaps are being triggered from Northern Rock in the UK to ANZ Bank down under as the "subprime" crisis unravels. AIG's CDS loss portfolio has already climbed to $5 billion from a previsouly estimated $1 billion. [more inside]
U2FU? Paul McGuinness, longtime manager of the band U2, has called on governments to compel ISPs to introduce mandatory French-style service disconnections to stop unauthorized downloading. [more inside]
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. [25 min Google Video.]
William Blake's Grave. Museums and galleries only have a few weeks left to save William Blake’s long-lost watercolour illustrations accompanying Robert Blair’s poem “The Grave”, before they are dispersed at auction in New York on 2 May.
Lawyers appear to missing out on the growth of the leisure class. Despite American's growing leisure time, and despite another round of pay increases for starting associates, lawyers seem to be working more hours than ever. As long as lawyers are tied the billable hour, it seems that greater salaries for associates inevitably means longer hours for associates. Law professor Pat Schiltz argues [pdf] that the longer hours for new associates combined with the high pressures of law practice means that those lawyers often suffer from depression, anxiety, alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide at very high rates, and are often forced into unethical practices just to meet the requirements of the law firm.
A few years back ASCAP, the performing rights agency that collects fees on behalf of songwriters and publishers, attempted to collect licensing fees from summer camps for songs sung around the campfire by Girl Scouts. This week, PRS, the UK equivalent of ASCAP, flexed its muscles by demanding a licence fee from a guitar shop owner for customers who play copyrighted riffs while testing instruments. Jimmy Page must be rubbing his hands together.
An Evaluation of Federal Tax Policy Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics An evangelical Christian law prof. evaluates Bush admininistration tax policy and finds it immoral.
Outrage in Deadheadland: fans are furious since the Grateful Dead pulled thousands of freely available concert recordings from Live Music Archive. Some threaten boycotts. Are the Dead really looking out for "Grateful Dead Values" or simply protecting their commercial interests? Have Deadheads been spoiled by free access to the music? Bassist Phil Lesh says he had no say in the matter, Barlow thinks it's "like finding out that your brother is a child molester," and heady bloggers are torn. Or is it all moot anyway? "The idea that they could stop people from trading these files is absurd... It's no longer under anyone's control. People have gigabytes of this stuff." (Previously on Mefi.)
I'm the 24,519,565 richest person on earth! According to the Global Rich List, which says I make more than 99.506% of the people alive today. Only 24.5 million people between Bill Gates & myself...
With this year's Pulitzer Prizes announced, the award for Investigative Reporting went to Nigel Jaquiss of Williamette Week, a Portland alternative newsweekly. Jaquiss' story revealed the "30-year Secret" that led to the downfall of one of Oregon's most influential politicians, helped foster a public backlash against corporate greed, and exposed a conspiracy of silence, favoritism, and scandal among the powerful in Oregon.
- Glom onto wannabe Hollywood scene
Greed May Not Be Good, But It Sure Comes Easy And Feels Lovely, Thank You Very Much: Just how greedy are you? Lately I've been rereading Rabelais's outrageous, politically incorrect, magnificently written Everyman's edition of Gargantua and Pantagruel, in Thomas Urquhart's and Peter Anthony Motteux's no less magnificent translation [pdf file]. Everything in this 16th Century book seems to address us and challenge us to be - how shall I put it? - up to it. It's rolicking; bawdy; irresistible. Too much is not enough, indeed. Just how valuable is excess of all sorts? Very, I'd say. And this century presents unique opportunities for overdoing it in the most delightful way, wot, wot?
WorldCom goes boom. (NY Times link.) Another big firm with accounting, ahem, "issues" declares bankruptcy. If you're comparing these disasters by size, this one completely blows Enron and Global Crossing out of the water.
Someone we trust says something reassuring. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, arguably the most powerful man in the world, blames "infectious greed" for the recent panic-like tail-spins on Wall Street, but says that the economy is on the way to recovery. One comment held that Greenspan was finally able to let out how he feels about what's going on, without shrouding his opinion in economic jibber-jabber.
"For once he really spoke his mind. He usually tends to obfuscate things quite a bit."But really, how many of you expected Greenspan to say anything other than "the fundamentals are in place for a return to sustained healthy growth"? Does Greenspan actually feel this way? Could it be that he is actually majorly pessimistic, but is using his soothing sweet-song voice and obvious clout and earned respect to somehow buck recent trends? Bush's speech didn't do much for our faltering economy, but will Greenspan's? Can one man's mere words possibly change the course of history? Well?
Tearing Apart The Fast Company 1990's From Salon.com. A superb critique of management à la the 1990's and a really good explanation of Enron, rolled into one.
Gasoline price gouging reported. In the wake of yesterday's tragedies, I'm not surprised by the courage and resolve many have demonstrated. I'm also not surprised by the nauseating greed evidenced by others. What's the price of gasoline (or other goods and commodities) doing in your part of the country?
The problem isn't too much greed, but too much cowardly greed. "Spineless lenders, weak-kneed investors and meddling regulators intent on reducing risk pose a greater threat to the global economy than the volatile financial markets... 'The critic's image of the global financial markets as a giant casino is wrong," [writes British financial writer Daniel Ben-Ami], 'On the contrary, the modern financial markets are more often characterized by a fear of risk-taking than a reckless disregard for danger.'"
Aslan gets a makeover? (NYTimes link, reg. required, sorry.) Apparently Harper-Collins and the C.S. Lewis estate see a Harry Potter-style merchandising bonanza in the Narnian Chronicles -- if they de-emphasize that pesky Christianity, that is, and write a few more Narnia books, and produce some plush toys of the Narnian characters. I feel queasy.
So we think we're free? Bill Moyers tells us that we're in the grip of the mega-corporate media who know how to lavishly butter their own bread. And if we like jam? Too bad.
Good Greed? If any of you hypocritical snobs think the Christmas season has been ruined by consumerism, University of Florida Prof James Twitchell is here to set you straight - A century ago, Twitchell says, people relied on family ties, professional status or religion to provide them with...a sense of meaning in life... Today...an expensive handbag can mean as much as a college degree or membership in a church...And that, Twitchell says, is a good thing.
Capitalism to the extreme in Russia. A Russian Grandma was caught trying to sell her grandson for $90,000. No she wasn't selling him to some adoption agency so he could go to a 'caring family' somewhere in the west. She was selling him for his organs. She even rips off her other son (the boy's uncle). His excuse, "I wanted to buy a house and a new car and some clothes. It was my dream." I'm sure it was his nephew's dream as well to be sold for his organs.