Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Ponzi schemes

Tuesday Shazbat

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* The world is awash in Robin Williams remembrances today, but for my money I’d recommend his recent appearances on WTF and Harmontown. Louie. Longreads has also collected four essays and his appearance on Charlie Rose. Robin Williams’s Best Bad Movie. Suicide contagion and social media. How to report a suicide. The MetaFilter thread.

* It’s primary day in Wisconsin. Endorsements from Shepherd-Express.

* Eyewitness to Michael Brown shooting recounts his friend’s death. Police Reportedly Refused Offer to Interview Man Who Was With Michael Brown During Shooting. Police in Ferguson Fire Tear Gas on Protesters Standing in Their Own Backyard. Ferguson Police Cite Safety Risk in Decision Not to Name Officer in Shooting. Ferguson, MO, is 67 percent black, and its police force is 94 percent white. The FBI steps in to investigate ultimately sign off on everything’s that happened. Dystopia as how-to manual.

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* Paramilitary Police Are Changing Law Enforcement in the Suburbs. Jon Burge, Torture, and the Militarization of the PoliceAmerican Gulag.

* Against civil forfeiture.

* Hillary Clinton’s campaign will be predicated on “peace, progress, and prosperity,” with “peace” defined as “forever war.”

ISIS Post PR Photos They Took With John McCain.

* CFP: Mean Girls.

* Nnedi Okorafor’s syllabus for ENGL 254: Science Fiction.

* On the greatness of Metroid.

* The NCAA Is a Wreck Now.

What’s less known, however, is that in the 2012 constitutional case, these same challengers filed briefs describing Obamacare to the court in precisely the way they now say the statute cannot possibly be read. Namely, they assumed that the subsidies were available on the federal exchanges and went so far as to argue that the entire statute could not function as written without the subsidies. That’s a far cry from their argument now that the statute makes crystal clear that Congress intended to deny subsidies on the federal exchanges.

* Ursula K. Le Guin: About Anger, Part I.

* The City and the City watch: a proposal that Israel and Palestine become grosstopic, overlapping states.

* Cary Nelson keeps digging: Zionist groups planned to lobby Univ. of Illinois trustees over Salaita appointment. Corey Robin has been coordinating some boycott campaigning for English and Political Science / Philosophy, though personally I think the English statement’s extension to tenure review cases is just too self-undermining to commit to.

* Announcing The Daily Show Podcast, without Jon Stewart.

* Marquette will give John Lewis an honorary degree at the new student convocation on August 20.

* California debates ‘yes means yes’ sex assault law.

Legislation passed by California’s state Senate in May and coming before the Assembly this month would require all schools that receive public funds for student financial assistance to set a so-called “affirmative consent standard” that could be used in investigating and adjudicating sexual assault allegations. That would be defined as “an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision” by each party to engage in sexual activity.

Silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent. The legislation says it’s also not consent if the person is drunk, drugged, unconscious or asleep.

For some reason that escapes me, this is hugely controversial.

* The time Bruce Wayne had an affair with Barbara Gordon while she was dating Dick Grayson, impregnated her, before prompting her to head out and have a miscarriage while crimefighting. You know, for kids.

* Uber vs. Lyft: whoever wins, we lose.

* Apple’s workforce after 30 years of operation is still 70% male. And that’s better than most of the tech sector.

* Hoarders are the new Luddites.

Help a hoarder consolidate and safe-keep their things today. Lend them money to rent a storage locker. Volunteer to help them keep their things at your place. Their stuff is the final shred of resistance to the destruction of all non-Apple-approved human endeavors.

* Activision is making a new King’s Quest. Space Quest and Quest for Glory next!

How American Universities Have Destroyed Scholarship in the U.S.

* And because everything is a bummer today: Ponzi Scheme Capitalism: An Interview with David Harvey.

My question would be: can we not foresee a continuation of that ridiculousness for the foreseeable future, where you have one fiction built on another fiction, one crisis to the next?

Yes. I raise that question a bit in the book by saying there are these fictitious forms of capital that can continue to circulate and feed off each other, and they’re all Ponzi schemes, which can sometimes go on for a long time. Yes, there may be some possibility we’re moving into this era of fictitious capital formation and circulation, which is then managed by the central banks because they can just add zeros to the money supply at the drop of a hat, and have been doing so. First off, it seems to me increasingly senseless, and I suspect that people will start to say, well what’s the point of all of this? Secondly, I think the internal contradictions of that are that there’s going to be crashes, but then there have been financial crashes popping off all over the place for the last 20 years and capital has survived. For instance, there’s one in Indonesia, one in Argentina and then there’s one somewhere else. Dubai World goes bankrupt, somebody else goes bankrupt, there are all these asset bubbles popping up all over the place, and maybe we can continue in that vein for a while. But at some point, I think the possibilities will run out.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 12, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Sunday™ Reading™ Accept No Substitutes®

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* Put the Student Union of Michigan in charge! In the end, the university’s rationale for the campaign relies heavily on a narrative of state defunding. For example, as a Detroit News article relates, “President Mary Sue Coleman called the campaign ‘audacious’ and said no gift is too small since universities need philanthropy with states no longer able to support them to the degree they must for schools to be globally competitive.” This narrative seems difficult to square with the actual role of the endowment in funding university operations. The endowment contributes only 4.5% (of its total holdings) to the general operation funds of university each year. The principal stays invested. Thus, if we look at the breakdown of revenue sources at the university in 2010 the endowment contributed only $253 million. Student tuition however generated over $1 billion, while state funding totaled $315 million. The endowment clearly has very little to do with making up for lost state funding. Its purpose lies elsewhere. And that elsewhere is in the university’s move to behave more and more like a hedge fund, mobilizing donated capital to secure new revenue streams. It does this by taking advantage of its tax-exempt status to build up a hoard of money that it then invests around the world in shady funds and places it would rather the university community did not know about. In so doing, the university is slowly becoming an important player on Wall Street but to play with the “big boys” it needs more and more capital, which requires constant fundraising campaigns. This money is destined for investment not students. Little of it will ever reach students in the form of scholarships or be used to offset increases in tuition. (via)

* Meanwhile: The University of California Invests in Prisons.

* Yanis Varoufakis on ponzi austerity.

Whereas in standard Ponzi (growth) schemes the lure is the promise of a growing fund, in the case of Ponzi austerity the attraction to bankrupted participants is the promise of reducing their debt, so as to liberate them from insolvency, through a combination of ‘belt tightening’, austerity measures and new loans that provide the bankrupt with necessary funds for repaying maturing debts (e.g. bonds). As it is impossible to escape insolvency in this manner, Ponzi austerity schemes, just like Ponzi growth schemes, necessitate a constant influx of new capital to support the illusion that bankruptcy has been averted. But to attract this capital, the Ponzi austerity’s operators must do their utmost to maintain the façade of genuine debt reduction.

* “I am as American as April in Arizona”: Nabokov interviews at The Paris Review.

Student Debt is Crushing the Economic Future of the Young.

* Joyless Nihilism: Adam Kotsko on the Abramsverse Star Trek, Family Guy, and zombie postmodernism.

The Life and Times of an Aging Superhero Captured in Oil Paintings by Andreas Englund.

* In education, the problem is still poverty.

* America is a country made possible by hucksterism and carnival buncombe.

* Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt.

The environmental scandal that’s happening right beneath your feet.

* And the Philippines estimates at least 10,000 died from super typhoon. No words.

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Monday Morning Links

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21 Emotions For Which There Are No English Words.

* The better-looking are different from you and me.

Through behavior like this, the government has turned the entire financial system into a kind of vast confidence game – a Ponzi-like scam in which the value of just about everything in the system is inflated because of the widespread belief that the government will step in to prevent losses. Clearly, a government that’s already in debt over its eyes for the next million years does not have enough capital on hand to rescue every Citigroup or Regions Bank in the land should they all go bust tomorrow. But the market is behaving as if Daddy will step in to once again pay the rent the next time any or all of these kids sets the couch on fire and skips out on his security deposit. Just like an actual Ponzi scheme, it works only as long as they don’t have to make good on all the promises they’ve made.

“Last year was a great one for the world’s billionaires,” said John Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner of Red Apple Group Inc., in an email written poolside on his BlackBerry in the Bahamas. World’s 100 richest people got $241 billion richer in 2012.

Most modern justice systems focus on a crime, a lawbreaker and a punishment. But a concept called “restorative justice” considers harm done and strives for agreement from all concerned — the victims, the offender and the community — on making amends.

* Facebook, women’s bodies, and gendered labor.

“White House weighs broad gun-control agenda in wake of Newtown shootings.” Probably just a trial balloon, but let’s hope there’s something real here.

* Today’s indescribable nightmare: anesthesia awareness.

* Flirtation rules (1800s).

* How Tide detergent became a drug currency.

* When Hugo Gernsback invented online dating.

* And The Guardian profiles the New York Jacobin/TNI literary scene.

Sunday Morning Links

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* What if a rainstorm dropped all of its water in a single giant drop? I love everything Randall has been doing on What If?, but I’m especially fond of What would the world be like if the land masses were spread out the same way as now – only rotated by an angle of 90 degrees?

* Say “digital humanities” one more goddamn time.

To be blunt, I want to give grad students permission to intelligently bullshit their way through questions about DH just as they would any other question.

Salman Rushdie vs. science fiction.

* Research demonstrates the word “illegals” is dehumanizing.

The term “illegal immigrants” was used in the study specifically to “test the extent to which respondents would use or avoid the phrase.” Study participants were exposed to negative and positive media frames and messages in the news on TV, radio and print as well as in entertainment media. According to the study, non-Latinos no matter what the media format, think that Latinos and “illegal immigrants” are one and the same. There was a higher percentage of people who agreed that Latinos are “illegal immigrants” when exposed to negative frames, but even when exposed to good messages, people still held on to that view. Additionally “over 30 percent of respondents believed a majority of Latinos (50 percent or greater) were undocumented. And in terms of how language matters, “while 49 percent of respondents offer ‘cold’ rating of undocumented, 58 percent rate “illegal aliens” coldly.

* Inside Paul Allen’s Quest To Reverse Engineer The Brain.

* Life as the wife of a Ponzi schemer.

Why The Jetsons Still Matters.

* Do You Have a Poor Sense of Smell? Congrats, You Are a Psychopath.

* And I did my part: Long Term Grade Inflation by Institution.

Friday Linkfest

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* The Portal 2s that could have been. I do, I happily admit, want to play all of these.

* Drop everything! My brilliant friend and colleague Melody Jue is now blogging at Philosophy of Water.

* At right is your photo of the day: An aurora over Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland.

* Joss Whedon explains how to write a sequel.

* Steal $80 million in a Ponzi scheme, get 18 months. Steal $4,367 in food stamps, get 3 years.

* “A dozen earthquakes in northeastern Ohio were almost certainly induced by injection of gas-drilling wastewater into the earth,” Ohio oil and gas regulators said today.

* The year without a winter. Things are going to get weirder. But don’t worry: God told James Inhofe global warming is a hoax.

* “I have not heard of another hug”: Janet Bell, Derrick Bell’s widow, speaks out.

* Pat Robertson gets one right: he says we ought to legalize it.

* The Seuss book no one’s bought us (yet): The Seven Lady Godivas: The True Facts Concerning History’s Barest Family.

* Jacob Burak crunches the odds on Russian Roulette. But he’s completely failed to account for the quantum immortality factor.

* Science quantifies the Tina Fey effect.

“When all other variables in the model are held at their mean, those who watched the SNL clip had a 45.4 percent probability of saying that Palin’s nomination made them less likely to vote for McCain,” they write. “This same probability drops to 34 percent among those who saw coverage of the debate through other media. Exposure to the clip had no significant effect on the likelihood of voting for Obama.”

* When Terry Kneiss wins a Showcase Showdown, son, he wins it.

* On chess, gender, and Laszlo Polgar’s Grandmaster Experiment.

* For more than two years, Adrian Schoolcraft secretly recorded every roll call at the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn and captured his superiors urging police officers to do two things in order to manipulate the “stats” that the department is under pressure to produce: Officers were told to arrest people who were doing little more than standing on the street, but they were also encouraged to disregard actual victims of serious crimes who wanted to file reports. I’m shocked, shocked! Followup to this This American Life story.

* The headline reads, “Breakthrough Alzheimer’s treatment stops brain damage in mice.”

* And TPM has today’s sci-fi architecture porn.

Monday Links!

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* Fredric Jameson previews his new book, Representing Capital.

You will now have understood that this distinction between politics and economics, between the achievable Utopia of the Utopian planners and the deep unconscious absolute Utopian impulse, is one between the social-democratic moment and the moment of communism. Communism can only be posited as a radical, even unimaginable break; socialism is an essentially political process within our present, within our system, which is to say within capitalism itself. Socialism is capitalism’s dream of a perfected system. Communism is that unimaginable fulfillment of a radical alternative that cannot even be dreamt.

* Unexpectedly, grad school lowers your blood pressure. It doesn’t seem right to me either.

* The GOP thinks not enough people are unemployed. Calculated Risk has a brief history of the current catastrophe.

Wisconsin has some buyer’s remorse.

* More on hydrofrackingHow radioactive is Pittsburgh’s drinking water? What’s fracking going to do to New York?

* First Big Coal Broke the Union. Then It Broke This Town.

* Trailer for the American remake of The King’s Speech.

* Scientists in Hollywood. The focus is on Natalie Portman and Mayim Bialik.

* Ponzi justice in Raleigh.

* And Jon Hamm, Superman. I’m sure yet another version of the origin story will be great, though.

The $ in Univer$ities

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The For-Profit College Rip-Off: Predatory Schools Take 90 Percent Of Revenue From Govt, Leave Students Bankrupt.

The Education Department today released new data on the rate at which higher education students default on their student loans, which showed that students at for-profit colleges — schools like the University of Phoenix or Strayer University — are defaulting at rates far above those at other institutions. In fact, 25 percent of students who attend for profit colleges default within three years. Here’s a chart comparing default rates at different types of schools (the green bar represents defaults at private, for-profit schools).

Here are some more key facts about for-profit colleges:

– Just 11 percent of higher education students in the country attend for-profit schools, yet they account for 26 percent of federal student loans and 44 percent of student loan defaults.

– Many of the schools make up to ninety percent of their revenue from U.S. taxpayersthrough the Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, and other federal assistance used by their students. 91.5 percent of Kaplan’s revenue comes from the government, along with 88 percent revenue at the University of Phoenix.

– CEO’s of for-profit colleges receive up to 26 times the amount of pay that the heads of traditional universities do.

Strayer CEO Robert Silberman was paid $41.9 million in 2009. As Bloomberg News noted, “Silberman’s annual compensation would have ranked him eighth on Equilar’s list of the highest-paid executives at the largest 1,000 companies.”

The schools also engage in aggressive recruiting and marketing tactics, promising students quick degrees and good jobs, when the result is more often a rip-off, resulting in “crushing debt and bleak job prospects.” A new report from the National Consumer Law Center said that the for-profits’ in-house loan programs are, for all intents and purposes, predatory.

There’s still more at the link.