The Appearance of Being Earnest
It’s 1879. The courtroom in Santiago is full. The tables and benches and sidelines hold a defendant, his accomplice, the lawyers for all sides, the justice of the Chilean Supreme Court, and onlookers. The trial had dragged on for two years. The defendant was incarcerated all the while at the nearby Des Hotel Ingles. This autumn afternoon was the end of a very long journey. Up to that point in life, the accused had “engaged the most elegant suite of rooms in the most fashionable hotels,” charming investors with his “large, eloquent eyes.” Having spent the prior decade crisscrossing half the globe from Europe to North America to South America, he was the man papers from the United States to New Zealand called “foremost in the ranks of the world’s swindlers,” the man who they said had “the black heart of a conscienceless scoundrel,” the one the New York Times devoted ten long paragraphs to in his obituary six years later as the “king of swindlers.” He was the Chevalier Alfred Paraf.[more inside]
Don't Watch That TV is a rabbit hole of fun and weird videos, mostly focused on urban/ dance/ electronic music, sorted into 20 different "channels" or programs. To make this timesink more manageable, I'd like to bring your attention to their Beat This channel, wherein producers are challenged to create a new beat, from scratch, in 10 minutes. The first mix is from a young producer who goes by Swindle, and he pulls off a pretty nice track in the time allotted, joking he should do all his tracks in ten minutes. But if that doesn't catch your fancy, and all those producers names don't mean anything to you, may I present Kieren Hebden, aka Four Tet, making a beat with nothing but MJ's Thriller album as the source material, sampling and distorting it into something weird and new. [more inside]
"The reality is that the post-bailout era in which Goldman [Sachs] thrived has turned out to be a chaotic frenzy of high-stakes con-artistry, with taxpayers and clients bilked out of billions using a dizzying array of old-school hustles that, but for their ponderous complexity, would have fit well in slick grifter movies like The Sting and Matchstick Men. There's even a term in con-man lingo for what some of the banks are doing right now, with all their cosmetic gestures of scaling back bonuses and giving to charities. In the grifter world, calming down a mark so he doesn't call the cops is known as the "Cool Off.""
"The most important of the all-too-human functions of consultants is to sanctify and communicate opinion. Like ministers of information, consultants condense the message, smooth out the dissonances, unify the rhetoric, and then repeat and amplify it ad nauseam through the client's rank and file. The chief message to be communicated is that you will be expected to work much harder than you ever have before and your chances of losing your job are infinitely greater than you ever imagined."If you've ever known a management consultant, this explains why they always seem to have that "outrageously unjustified level of self-confidence." A fascinating insider's look into the anthropology of business consulting -- Masters of Illusion: The Great Management Consultancy Swindle
Soapy Smith was "the king of the frontier confidence men." Born Jefferson R. Smith, he gained the nickname "Soapy" after running a successful scam that the Denver newspapers dubbed "The Prize Package Soap Sell Swindle." He ran criminal enterprises in Colorado and Alaska until his death at the hands of vigilantes in 1898. Every year his descendants hold a wake in his honor. His story has inspired several books and movies. The Soapy Smith Preservation Trust maintains an extensive archive of his life and times.
That ain't bad for two weeks work and 75,000 pounds. On this day in 1977, after being with the label for just six days, punk pioneers The Sex Pistols were fired from A&M Records due to pressure from other label artists and its Los Angeles head office. 25,000 copies of ‘God Save The Queen’ were pressed and the band made £75,000 ($127,500) from the deal, thus cementing the legend of the Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. Under pressure by Conservative MP Robert Adley among others due to their outrageous behavior - specifically, their notorious performance on ITV Today with Bill Grundy - EMI had dumped the band in January. Also appearing on television with Grundy and the Pistols that day were members of the Bromley Contingent: Siouxsie Sioux and Steve Severin, who later formed Siouxsie and the Banshees.
There's no justice like angry mob justice. "But like vigilante gangs of the American frontier, ad hoc communities seeking justice on the electronic frontier sometimes trample the very laws they seek to enforce, as their quest for justice warps into a plot for revenge." Sounds familiar. Man swindles eBayers out of 125 grand; angry mob takes control of his e-mail account, grills his mother and assumes his identity.