Posts Tagged ‘the rich are different from you and me’
Meeting with journalists this morning, Pope Francis laid out his vision for the Catholic church, which includes cutting spending on ornate ceremony and instead spending that money on the poor. He urged excited fellow-Argentines to skip the costly trip to Rome to visit the first non-European Pope in almost 1,300 years, and instead give that money to the poor.
“Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor,” he told the gathered journalists. He explained the reason he took the name, Francis, after St. Francis of Assissi, was because of St. Francis’s devotion to the poor and love of animal life. On climate change, the Pope remarked, “Right now, we don’t have a very good relation with creation.”
The report, authored by David Callahan and J. Mijin Cha, found that “wealthy interests are keenly focused on concerns not shared by the rest of the American public, like keeping taxes low on capital gains, and often oppose policies that would foster upward mobility among low-income citizens, such as raising the minimum wage.”
* Chicago tried to ban Persepolis? Why? Why?
Years later von Kleist remembered explaining the suicide plot to his father, who paused only briefly before telling his 22-year-old son: “Yes, you have to do this.”
“He got up from his chair,” von Kleist remembered, according to an account by The New York Times, “went to the window, looked out of the window for a moment, and then he turned and said: ‘Yes, you have to do that. A man who doesn’t take such a chance will never be happy again in his life.’”
* Also from Richard: What do asteroids, MOOCs, and medical records have in common? All are examples, currently in the news, of the way in which public policy in the US is driven not by the common good or professionals or expert knowledge, but by the generation of mediashock in the service of the entrepeneurial desire of cybercapitalism to monetize data.
All of us that use the internet are already practicing Drone Ethnography. Look at the features of drone technology: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Surveillance, Sousveillance. Networks of collected information, over land and in the sky. Now consider the “consumer” side of tech: mapping programs, location-aware pocket tech, public-sourced media databases, and the apps and algorithms by which we navigate these tools. We already study the world the way a drone sees it: from above, with a dozen unblinking eyes, recording everything with the cold indecision of algorithmic commands honed over time, affecting nothing—except, perhaps, a single, momentary touch, the momentary awareness and synchronicity of a piece of information discovered at precisely the right time. An arc connecting two points like the kiss from an air-to-surface missile. Our technological capacity for watching, recording, collecting, and archiving has never been wider, and has never been more automated. The way we look at the world—our basic ethnographic approach—is mimicking the technology of the drone.
* The ACLU on what Rand Paul achieved.
* “Defense attorneys believe the girl, who lived across the river in Weirton, W.Va., made a decision to excessively drink and — against her friends’ wishes — to leave with the boys. They assert that she consented to sex,” reports the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s Rachel Dissell. Richmond’s attorney, Walter Madison, is getting specific, citing “an abundance of evidence here that she was making decisions, cognitive choices … She didn’t affirmatively say no.” She was unconscious at the time.
* The Herbalife war: Hedge-fund titan Bill Ackman has vowed to bring down Herbalife, the 33-year-old nutritional-supplement company, which he views as a pyramid scheme. With his massive shorting of Herbalife stock, the price plummeted, prompting two fellow billionaires—Ackman’s former friend Dan Loeb and activist investor Carl Icahn—to take the opposing bet on Herbalife. As the public brawl rivets Wall Street, William D. Cohan learns why, this time, it’s personal.
* The most influential songwriter of his time has become the first rock star voted into the elite, century-old American Academy of Arts and Letters, where artists range from Philip Roth to Jasper Johns and categories include music, literature and visual arts.
(some shamelessly borrowed from you-know-who)
* Britain paid reparations for slavery? That’s fantast–oh god.
The true scale of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade has been laid bare in documents revealing how the country’s wealthiest families received the modern equivalent of billions of pounds in compensation after slavery was abolished.
* Fathers matter, but so do grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Indeed, it may take as long as 300-500 years for high- and low-status families to produce descendants with equal chances of being in various parts of the income spectrum.
* 7 Obscure Children’s Books by Authors of Grown-Up Literature. Joyce! Twain! Woolf! Eliot! Shelley! Tolstoy! Wilde! 7 (More) Obscure Children’s Books by Famous “Adult” Lit Authors. Huxley! Stein! Thurber! Sandburg! Rushdie! Fleming! Hughes!
* Actually existing media bias: Glenn Greenwald on what’s become of MSNBC.
I wonder: does someone who goes from being an Obama White House spokesman and Obama campaign official to being an MSNBC contributor even notice that they changed jobs?
Susan Sontag once wrote that every mass art form is practiced and experienced as “a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power.” Zero Dark Thirty’s critics, unwilling to understand themselves as the film’s intended audience, instead imagined that “real Americans” were being made tools of power through one of their most important social rites: moviegoing. What these critics did not confront was their own need to fend off anxiety. For Maya, as for many Americans, the anxiety has to do with the inadequacy of Osama bin Laden’s death as consolation for all of the disasters that preceded it. How else to explain the manic focus on proving that torture did not contribute to the search for bin Laden? It suggests a kind of desperation, a desire to hold up just this one episode as separate and different from the rest of the war. This desire is Zero Dark Thirty’s true subject, as well as the object of its critique.
* The Princess and the Trolls: The Heartrending Legend of Adalia Rose, the Most Reviled Six-Year-Old Girl on the Internet. People are the worst. Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the classic expression of this idea belongs to none other than the outgoing pope, Benedict XVI, who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was asked on Bavarian television in 1997 if the Holy Spirit is responsible for who gets elected. This was his response:
I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the Pope. … I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.
Then the clincher:
There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked!
* Hayley Schafer chose her dream job at the age of 5. Three years later, her grandmother told her that if she wrote it down, the dream would come true. So she found a piece of blue construction paper and scrawled on it with a pencil: “Veterianian.” “No one told me how to spell it,” she remembers. “They just said, ‘Sound it out.’ ”
At the age of 30, she still has the sign, which is framed on her desk at the Caring Hearts Animal Clinic in Gilbert, Ariz., where she works as a vet. She also has $312,000 in student loans, courtesy of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. Or rather, $312,000 was what she owed the last time she could bring herself to log into the Sallie Mae account that tracks the ever-growing balance.
* Stay Free or Die Tryin’: Scenes from the student protests at Cooper Union.
* Hidden behind a false wall and a fast-food restaurant, large black and brown images depict the faces of seven UCLA alumni, symbolizing the struggle of social activism and black history.
* I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.
* Ambivalent campus benchmarks watch: Today is “Tuition Runs Out Day” at Marquette.
The promoters of MOOCs claim to see universities as dinosaurs, but their business model is parasitic upon the very institutions they claim to be rendering obsolete. Udacity designs its own curricula rather than aggregating pre-existing university courses like Coursera and EdX, but without the Stanford credentials and backgrounds of its founders it is highly unlikely it would have gone anywhere. The affiliation provides startup companies with a highly desirable brand: the “top tier” of higher education, according to the U.S. News and World Report (which always rates the wealthiest and most selective schools as the best). A similar motive drives the colleges themselves: much like encouraging over-application to enhance their selectivity and thereby their U.S. News ranking, or establishing campuses in Abu Dhabi, China, and Singapore, the promotion of MOOCs is a way for highly competitive university administrators to enhance global brand visibility and give themselves an aura of cutting-edge innovation. The media’s celebratory response confirms the initial success of the strategy.
* From Cal’s student regent: “Online education: proceed with caution.”
* It’s a curiosity of literary history that Corelli’s fantasy virgin, unwrinkled and slim waisted, would give rise to one of its most grotesque, tragically despoiled characters. But without Corelli’s Thelma, there would be no Gollum.
No law directly regulates the sale of zero-days in the United States or elsewhere, so some traders pursue it quite openly. A Bangkok-based security researcher who goes by the name The Grugq tweets about acting as a middleman and has spoken to the press about negotiating deals worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with government buyers from the United States and western Europe. In an argument on Twitter last month, he denied that his business is equivalent to arms dealing, as critics within and outside the computer security community have charged. “An exploit is a component of a toolchain,” he tweeted. “The team that produces & maintains the toolchain is the weapon.”
* The rich are different from you and me: they’ve captured 121% of income gains during the recovery. You read that right, more than 100%.
* “You could safely say that Iceland holds the world record in household debt relief,” said Lars Christensen, chief emerging markets economist at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen. “Iceland followed the textbook example of what is required in a crisis. Any economist would agree with that.”
* Zounds! Credit agencies ripping everybody off. I’m shocked, shocked…
* In the largest false memory study to date, 5,269 participants were asked about their memories for three true and one of five fabricated political events. Each fabricated event was accompanied by a photographic image purportedly depicting that event. Approximately half the participants falsely remembered that the false event happened, with 27% remembering that they saw the events happen on the news.
* Defense Nerds Strike Back: A Symposium on the Battle of Hoth. gerrycanavan.wordpress.com will be tracking this important story as far as it goes.
Lecerf, frantic, called the police from his car — and they sent an escort that The Guardian describes as “a platoon of police cars” to help him navigate a highway full of fellow cars and get them to swerve out of the way of the speeding car. (Lecerf stayed, appropriately, in the fast lane.) What resulted was a small miracle of technological coordination: Responding to emergency services’ advance warnings, three different toll booths raised their barriers as Lecerf approached. A police convoy ensured that roads were kept clear for the speeding car. Fellow drivers, obligingly, got out of the way. Emergency services patched Lecerf through to a Renault engineer who tried — though failed — to help Lecerf get the speeding car to slow down.
* And the reason for the season: Wes Anderson valentines.
* The rich are different from you and me: The New York Times reports this week that megabank HSBC has escaped criminal prosecution for money laundering that probably funded terrorists and narcotics traffickers. Why? Because regulators and prosecutors were petrified that an indictment would undermine the entire financial system. The Times quotes anonymous government sources who confessed fears about bringing formal charges because doing so would be a “death sentence” for the bank. So they let it off the hook.
* Scientists plan test to see if the entire universe is a simulation created by futuristic supercomputers. I really feel as though nothing is more likely to make them pull the plug on us. Let’s just take a step back here.
* New from the Library of America: classic 1950s SF.
* Academic shock doctrine watch: Wayne State administrators propose the elimination of tenure.
* The new normal: Confirmed heat deaths rise to 10 in Wisconsin.
* In the time it took me to write this post, Mitt Romney made $2,163.40.
The world’s super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32tn, from their home countries and hide it abroad – a sum larger than the entire American economy.
A university governed entirely by wealthy businesspeople steeped in a culture of corporate strategy memos will reflect the peculiar perspectives of the modern rich. The financialized American economy has made vast fortunes for gamblers with poor impulse control who mistake a lucky roll of the dice for intelligence and virtue. It’s not surprising that the same kind of fast-twitch thinking would lead a group of homogenous financial patrons talking among themselves to lose patience with a career higher education administrator who was insufficiently galvanized by the latest columns from Thomas Friedman and David Brooks. The Decline and Fall of a Public University: How Status Anxiety Doomed the University of Virginia.
“I wanted to increase the work requirement,” said Romney. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless.’ And I said, ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.”
Let Jamison Foser have the final word: “If you think rich stay at home moms are awesome and poor stay at home moms lack dignity, it isn’t motherhood that you respect.”
“We were happy, studying hard. Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time.
* CNN has interviewed women in all branches of the armed forces, including the Coast Guard, who tell stories that follow a similar pattern — a sexual assault, a command dismissive of the allegations and a psychiatric discharge.
* And a little NostalgiaFilter: What if Google had launched in the 80s?
* It used to be that families first signed up for education loans when their child enrolled in college, but a growing number of parents are seeking tuition assistance as soon as kindergarten. Though data is scarce, private school experts and the small number of lenders who provide loans for kindergarten through 12th grade say pre-college loans are becoming more popular.
* As for what may have driven her to do it, the prosecutor argued in her opening statement that whatever horrors Harris had endured at the hands of her father should have little bearing on the crime itself. A Daughter’s Revenge. Not for the faint of heart.
* More nightmares: Aleksander Hemon records the death of his young daughter.
* To conclude, a projection from 1981 for rising temperatures in a major science journal, at a time that the temperature rise was not yet obvious in the observations, has been found to agree well with the observations since then, underestimating the observed trend by about 30%, and easily beating naive predictions of no-change or a linear continuation of trends.
* Corporations Hoard Cash Overseas In Anticipation Of Congress Giving Them A Huge Tax Break. It’s like they can see the future!
* Olson noted that the IRS relied on computers to audit all but the highest-income brackets. “We’re getting to a situation where the only people who will get face-to-face audits are the 1 Percent,” she said. “For the majority of taxpayers, the IRS has become faceless, nameless, with no accountability and no liability.”
* Learning literally nothing from history: The Obama Administration has approved the expansion of a pilot program that allows poultry producers to hire their own regulators. Via LGM.
* And I may have done this one before, but why not again? The Collective Snapshot.
The “upper class,” as defined by the study, were more likely to break the law while driving, take candy from children, lie in negotiation, cheat to increase their odds of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work, researchers reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Take candy from children! Yikes.