ATTN: CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and the rest of the MSM
I simply can not take one more puff piece on the sad times falling on the wizards of Wall Street. CNN just ran another piece about the closing of a restaurant (Maggie’s, I think) that catered to the Wall Street crowd, complete with crying customers and accompanying funeral dirge-like music, and I almost barfed. Making it even more ridiculous, it followed a five minute piece in which we learned that the banking/financial sector is now switching to white shirts from multi-colored shirts- complete with interviews of owners of up-scale British boutiques.
While I am sad about the employees of the restaurant, I really can not take another story about the rough lifestyle changes facing the rich and stupid. I don’t care that they are having to sell their summer homes in the Hamptons. I don’t care that they now are opting to fly first class instead of using their private jets. Do the folks at CNN and elsewhere not realize how deeply offensive this is to the other 99.5% of the country? You know, the folks who, during the current economic disaster are losing their house, their life savings, and their medical care, not their lunchtime reservations at a Manhattan eatery?
I may have to just shoot my tv.
Speaking of which, have you heard that Hammaker Schlemerer is having to lay off employees since the ultra rich are not buying as many useless gadgets. It breaks my heart that more people cannot afford the self-shaking martini maker…
CNN is run by the rich and powerful reporting on the rich and powerful, with puff pieces about a dog riding a skate board or the world’s largest breakfast taco thrown in to appease the plebeians.
It’s not that they don’t realize they are being offensive, they just don’t give a shit.
Brings to mind nauseating, multi-thousand dollar sky dining, huh?*
(Jesus that thread on the ME Mess was riveting. I’ve been reading it since forever.)
*(Should’ve linked in case people missed CBS Sun Morn and are interested in eating in air.)
It’s all rather amazing– Lately, I’ve been hearing conservatives murmuring "Up against the wall, motherfucker"… The magic of the marketplace, I guess, or something.
CNN = Cogent News? Not!
That’s nothing really new. They’ll still blame the "elitist Hollywood gay affirmative action communist coastal establishment media types" like they were doing since freak’n Nixon.
It’s all rather meaningless when they want to lynch poor African-Americans in Mississippi for white color crime committed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange because blah blah CSA and Carter blah blah ACORN rigged the election blah blah its a conspiracy that everyone is in on but me.
The Other Steve
Well we’re spending money like there is no tomorrow.
Biocontainment chamber to protect you from the stench… priceless
And that’s why journalism is as crappy as it is today. They believe they are speaking to/for their "class" and nothing else matters.
@The Other Steve: Didn’t you just get married? Now a kid already?
/crunches the numbers….computes out a life of sin :)
@MattF: "up against the wall, motherfucker" describes where they are perfectly, so it makes sense they would be murmuring it.
Sadly, they’re not aware that they’re the one against the wall, but whatever.
Juan del Llano
You don’t really mean it, but there is great wisdom in this.
Funhouse Musing — If a TV falls in the forest, does it make a sound if no one is there to hear it? OHHHMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!
A friend who runs an animal rescue has had a 30% increase in requests to take dogs from families who can no longer keep them. Maybe some of those deserted brownstones?
Well, you can always switch channels from the Compassionate News Network over to MTP and participate in Gregory’s Great Obama Taint Hunt.
Or, you can read Brokaw, in the NYT, comparing Timmeh Russert with John Madden because they both have/had big guts and wear/wore socks.
You have choices.
No no. It’s cool. They’re naming the baby "Jesus".
Lee from NC
Even more amazing to me was an interview on NPR a week or two ago. I think it was Michelle Norris, though I could be wrong about that.
Anyway, she was talking to some guy who runs a small family-owned business with his father. Apparently, times are rough (who knew) and they are having to lay people off. He made polite-sounding noises about how tough it is to have to fire people and that he’s been through that himself.
So Michelle asked what I thought was a stupid follow-up question, that being "Which is harder-firing someone or getting fired". Stupid because I knew the correct answer was "Well, it’s really tough having to fire someone, you feel bad about it, but what can you do? Having said that, being fired is devastating and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone".
Instead, this douche says it’s tougher to be the one doing the firing because, as the firee, you now have boundless opportunities to change your life and redirect your focus, blah blah blah. Meanwhile, I have to sit here, with my steady income, and feel bad for myself. Pflllt.
OT: Anyone else completely bored at work? Half my dept. is out, no meetings scheduled, no one with any new projects to do, boss gone.
Very content to blog today with y’all fellow Jew’cers.
Maybe CNN thought they were giving the rubes a little opportunity for schadenfreude.
Do the folks at CNN and elsewhere not realize how deeply offensive this is to the other 99.5% of the country?
Maybe, but the main attraction of pieces like that is that they are very easy for the lazy media to do.
While I agree with your sentiment, surely there’s a more appropriate and satisfying range of targets?
The piece that needs to be aired is the story of the effects of crushing levels of consumer debt, bankruptcy, foreclosure and then divorce on families, particularly young families, who started out during what I call the "debt bubble" (because that’s what it was), and know nothing else.
Foreclosure is profound, in a way other financial losses are not. It goes to the core of "caring for" a family, a roof, and the whole (perhaps romantic) ideal of land ownership in the US.
I think it isn’t recognized, and I’d like for the family values conservatives who pushed this house ‘o cards debt-based economy to weigh in on it.
@Lee from NC: I heard that one. I had to turn the radio off or I was going to lose control due to RAAAAAAAAAAAGE.
CNN is reporting that someone stole a $10k statue from Bernie Madoff’s Palm Beach estate.
The Other Steve
We are just living up to the family values example set by Sarah Palin! :-)
@les: Yeah, shooting one’s computer monitor is a lot more fun.
The Grand Panjandrum
Just wait. Soon we’ll see stories of Mercedes dealerships filing for bankruptcies. Gosh the rich have even had to resort to using plain bags to hide their upscale purchases! Oh. the. horror. How do they continue on in the face of such adversity?
The Other Steve
Times are going to be much tougher for the race to the bottom American companies… As I am rebelling! I refuse to buy cheap crappy crap that only lasts a year. From now on I’m spending on quality.
Well, to a certain degree. I’m not going to spend a lot of money on a crib that’s only going to be useful for a year or so. Ikea has some perfectly functional models. I really don’t see the need to go to Pottery Barn and buy the $1,000 unit complete with marble topped changing table.
However the things we use day to day… it’s quality focused. We’ve just discovered that iron frying pans are cheaper and work better than the fanciest fancy all-clad frying pan you buy at Williams Sonoma.
@The Grand Panjandrum: But won’t we feel bad for those poor -schmoozing snobbery- salesmen who’ll lose their jobs?
God damn, I really wish one of those ‘news’ programs would ask me how I feel about this. I want to fucking yell at these ex-tycoons:
How many children didn’t get to have a Christmas this year, because of what you did?
How many families lose their home, and remember, that’s their ONLY home, they’re now HOMELESS, because of what you did?
How many people are going to go hungry tonight, because of what you did?
How many grandparents are going to die, aren’t going to get to see their grandchildren grow up, because they can’t afford their medical treatments, because of what you did?
How many divorces over money are going to happen, because of what you did?
And you want to complain about losing your fucking _restaurant_? To paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson: These tycoons deserve to die, and I hope they burn in hell! There’s your fucking money quote, you media hacks.
As long as the rich folks keep spending, I don’t care. Someone has to pump some money into this economy…..
The Grand Panjandrum
@demimondian: Yes. Can you imagine having to go work at a Toyota dealership after reaching the lofty heights of selling luxury brands. How awful. My goodness, they may even have to talk to some of "us" little folks.
jake 4 that 1
Paging Madame Defarge. Madame Defarge to Line One please.
@MH: You have to end it by turning to the reporter and yelling "And you helped them!"
Sparkletts Water Show
@kay: Having enjoyed that Valuable Life Experience in 2002-2003 — a foreclosure on my first home, selling off/borrowing against two parcels of land, one quite large, (sold at a loss), and the subsequent BK — I can tell you that concern for my "family" of a dog and three cats was far greater than my concern for myself. It was wrenching and horrifying. People who live in cars with their kids? Unfathomable. People vacating their foreclosed-upon houses with their pets inside alone? Unforgivable and incomprehensible. The Dine in the Sky segment on CBS Sunday Morning sickened me for how incongruent it is to the times. But many segments of that show are often feel-good fantasy fluff anyway.
Now I’m all riled up.
I wrote an essay when going thru the f/c entitled: "Foreclosure among the Runes. Beware the New Age Realtor." Gonna update it and shop it around now that f/c is all the rage. My realtor brought in two shamans to do ceremonies for my properties, did the cliche bury-St.Joe-upside-down-reversed-in-front-lawn ritual, told me to start boxing up all of my stuff to "clear my space". Her office mate told me if I knew where I wanted to go next the house would sell. It was my lack of clarity on my life’s direction, and my weak ability to visualize and assert my powerful intention for myself, that was stalling the whole shebang. House was on market for 2.5 years, all in all, as I recall. Good times.
Thank you. I have a renewed appreciation and gratitude for my life as it is today. But how I feel for the masses just now trying to live through the painful ordeal.
The Washington Post is covering that aspect. They seem to do a story a week on it. Today is increased use of emergency rooms for basic medical care for children. I’m guessing the health insurance went when the job did.
It’s a little annoying, though. They’ve decided the "hook" that makes it newsworthy is demand rising in middle to upper middle suburbs. It’s almost apologetic: "we wouldn’t be bothering you with this mess unless it was SPREADING closer to you…"
Yeah, I’m having a hard time mustering any kind of sympathy for these greedy fuckers. I’ve spent the last 13 months watching a business, I’ve spent 19 years building, lose 40% of it’s value. And I’m very grateful that’s all it’s lost.
Hey, they’re just selling us the rope…
In the olden days (of which paleocons are so fond), there would be many aristocrats swinging from lampposts — or at least the real threat of it happening.
One thing I haven’t seen mentioned in all the talk about the FDR and the Great Depression is that the super-rich them were genuinely afraid of a popular uprising / bolshevik revolution. (Rightly or wrongly is almost besides the point.) Read William Manchester’s The Glory and the Dream.
Unfortunately, fear of a popular uprising appears to have been deleted from the American popular vocabulary. The rich today are in part so brazen because they think they have nothing to fear.
So far, events have proven them right.
This is not so true in the rest of the world, e.g.: Greece, lately.
Yikes. Where’s your neighboorhood, Antartica? South Central? I’ve never heard of house taking that long to sell.
@Sparkletts Water Show:
I work in family court, exclusively. My rural county (and the two surrounding counties) contract the work out, and it goes begging. It’s the stepchild of the legal system, a weird mix of criminal and civil, and lots and lots of negotiation. Criminal defense lawyers here dismiss it as "social work", but I’m suited to it, and no one else even bothers to learn the unique procedural rules.
Delinquent minors (defense) and abuse, neglect and dependency. I’m busy. Busier than I’d like.
Comrade Ed Drone
Actually, it was a GM dealership I saw written up just yesterday, I think. The transport trucks came and took away the stock, even the used cars. I think the only "good" jobs for the near future are truck-drivers for auto rigs. Moving van drivers will be in demand, too.
Till even those jobs go, when it will be selling apples on the street (and no, I don’t mean "selling Apple© on the Street").
The Other Steve
A good part of the reason why the US did not go the way of Europe and fall into fascism, or communism, was because FDR stepped forward to put things in place to soften the blow resulting from the collapse.
Before my grandfather died, he wrote a little auto-biography talking about his life. Most people alive today don’t really understand just how bad the depression was. What’s happening today is bad, but it’s not nearly as bad as then.
From a political perspective, I don’t really mind this at all. Middle Class "I’ve got mine, Jack" conservatives were a fundamental block to pushing health care in the 90s. The notion then was that Hillary Clinton would take away your perfectly functional company insurance plan and replace it with government run crap.
Now, however, folks are looking at public insurance in a new light. It’s stories like this that wake up the middle class and remind them of exactly how close to their impoverished neighbors they really are. Middle class Americans aren’t stupid. Many of them know the debt trap when they see it (which is why they’re still managing to stay middle class). And the medical care debt trap looms much closer with stories like this.
Sometimes you’ve got to speak to your audience to sell a serious problem. "Bad shit approaches" will sell newspapers and inform the public at the same time. I’m much happier to see reports like this than "ZOMG! We found the WMDs, for real! Invade Syria!"
The Other Steve
They do on the high end.
Has everyone already read this piece of crap?
It must be nice to be a rich friend of Tina Brown so that you can air your pain on the front of her new online magazine.
Sparkletts Water Show
Guess I’m just lucky that way.
House was in a small, tourist-based, gorgeous Colorado mountain town. You may recall CO led the nation in F/Cs for a few years, and got an early start.
I should add it was an older house…20 years? Hard to compete with the glut of spec houses being built and the availability of land that was affordable back then. Rich people wanted to build their own, lower income had many cheaper, newer options than mine. I blame no one but me. I bought too much house, albeit at a great price for what it was, and assumed I could sell it when I needed to get out. Fail.
I always thought that was NPR (Nationalist Propaganda Repeated)…
@The Other Steve:
IIRC Consumers Reports gave it a pretty good rating, and it was far far cheaper too.
One thing, though—I’m going to stay away from cribs with drop sides.
The Other Steve
Oh my GOD! She’s not going to be able to hire a new butler!
@The Other Steve:
Definitely true. But IMHO you can get a good flavor of the nastiness from things like unemployment stats and demographics.
The best is yet to come. Hold your horses. You ain’t seen nuttin yet. We’ve not come near to touching bottom yet. You can measure severity by the bodies piled under the windows of Wall Street. There’s only that one french aristocrat who’s suicided. There’s plenty more to come…
The Other Steve
Aye. None of the Ikea cribs have drop sides. This is part of what makes them cheap. You screw it together and it just stays in place. The only thing that moves is that you can mount the mattress platform at two levels.
Everything I’ve read warns against drop sides… also they say you want a firm mattress with a mattress pad that you can take off and wash but you don’t want the baby bumper stuff.
I noticed at BabiesRUs.com that they have a number of cribs of this sort too… however they’re only available online. If you go into the store you can’t buy the $150 crib, they only sell the $300 cribs. Bastards!
It’s amazing though… This is a whole different world to research. I love researching purchases though. :-)
Even worse, the suffering rich meme is total bullshit, especially for Wall Street, and is only meant to garner sympathy for them as jes’ folks who are in it with the rest of us, not the pepetrators of the disaster. Most of the parasites who made the big money are already gone and laughing from whatever island offers them the best tax haven. Remember, this is a thinly populated industry that’s been paying itself $30 and $40 billion just in bonuses each year, multiples of what the entire U.S. auto industry nets for actually producing something. In the past 20 years, money flowed in vast rivers on Wall St., and even a peasant like me knows middle managers who cashed out millions in stock options, etc., not counting all the millions they made over their careers and through the wonders of insider trading, and retired at age 50 from companies since euthanized or put up for adoption.
Now, thanks to $5 trillion from the taxpayers, the rivers still flow, but only for the big boys just before they, too, cash out and split. The real pain will be felt by businesses that catered to the over-indulged appetites of the masters of the universe when they tired of the gourmet company dining room, and the low-level drones who are now, or soon will be, out of a job.
The Other Steve
In sincerely hope it doesn’t get much worse.
On MTP yesterday Gregory mentioned the CEO of GE is calling this not a cylical downturn, but an economic reset. I do believe that is correct.
@The Other Steve:
Well shiit.. I could have told you that. :-) I got two of em, all nice and seasoned. Heats up nice and fast, and if you take good care of it, it’ll go non-stick. That said, I do have the other types and sometimes non-stick is really handy for foods that turn out sticky.
I’m like you, I don’t buy anything cheap in quality. If I buy something it has to last. I also try to make sure I buy it in-state so I’m helping our local economy. It’s a bit more, but if it’s good quality I don’t mind buying it.
Lee from NC
@The Other Steve:
And will have to sell the Florida cottage! OH NOES! Quel tragique (or something Frenchish sounding).
My neighborhood is totally middle-class suburbia. When I moved into my current digs in ’99, no other houses on my street were for sale at the time. In 2002, the little old lady four doors down decided to move to Florida, so her kids took over her modest ranch and put it up for sale.
It sold in 2007 to a HVAC contractor and his g/f, who have since fixed it up a bit more, landscaped it a bit too.
The offspring took to calling it "The forever-for-sale house"
We got really lucky and sold our house in Houston in late July to a developer who was going to knock it down and put up a much larger house on the same lot. We have since heard that the developer is out of cash and can’t afford to go forward. We had it on the market for 9 months and it was a tough sell (old house, weird layout).
Houston was not that inflated relative to other large cities, but our old neighborhood was in the thick of the sell for "lot value"/tear down craze and prices had really shot up from when we bought the house in 2005.
I’m scared shitless of the medical care debt trap. I know that all it takes is one medical incident that will put me into bankruptcy depending on what it is. IT’s not something you can save for unless you got a million dollars or something. I need about two million I think by 65 to cover my wife and I..
No. SATSQ. What Nikki said. The people in the beltway have no idea how the majority of Americans live. Which is why I always find Bobo’s and George Will’s blatherings on the what real Americans think so hilarious.
What gets me about this is that these guys is how much they’ve tried to justify the way they’ve made an outrageously good living basically by skimming off the top of American production by hauling out a list of virtues that they supposedly have that the hoi polloi doesn’t. Witness David Brooks’ most recent douchebaggery, where he reviews a book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and rejects the premise – that "great people aren’t so great" and are, in fact, produced largely by a confluence of opportunities rather than by individual herculeanism. Gladwell observes:
(my emphasis). Brooks counters with the traditional defense of wealth: that it is the product of self-discipline:
Which is just infuriating, when you consider that the median income in the US is about $42,000 per year for a family of four. The idea that a family living on that kind of money isn’t practicing self-control (try living on that kind of budget without it…) but the coked-up residents of Wall Street are is ludicrous; the idea that credit default swaps were allowed to thrive the way they did completely undermines the argument that the "time horizons" of Brooks’ great individual creative geniuses extended beyond the end of the FQ.
But still, they tell us all, they are Masters of the Universe, and they work harder and are more disciplined than, say, a single mom who works two jobs and figures out how to stretch a pound of hamburger to three nights instead of two so that she can afford to buy her kids the new pairs of shoes they need this month, and that’s why it is just that the world should be as it is.
knit knit knit…
The Moar You Know
The wealthy in this country do not yet know the meaning of suffering. And they never will, as my fellow Americans are far too spineless to exact revenge for the wrongs they have suffered at the hands of this class of people.
No, I don’t feel particularly sorry for the bond daddy that now has to sell his second home in the Hamptons, or might have to relocate to digs cheaper than those he bought on the Upper East Side, or whose wife will have to wear a ball gown for the second time to this year’s Met gala.
I do feel bad for the back office workers at so many of the Wall Street firms. These are the people that aren’t the titans of Wall Street and didn’t get bonuses based on non-existant or short term profits. They are the people that took care of the paperwork that kept the machine running and many are now in the process of figuring out how to file for unemployment and wondering how they will pay their rent. It is not only the rich that are feeling the effects of the financial collapse and some of them deserve our sympathy.
In keeping with Steve’s desire to purchase only quality goods, I need recommendations for a dishwasher. My five year old Kenmore is dying a slow and painful death and needs to be put out of its misery. I’m willing to pay for quality, if it will buy me more than five years of life. Anyone have an opinion on Bosch or Kitchenaid dishwashers, pro or con? Any advice would be appreciated.
I usually try to play the devil’s advocate with a post like this, but I don’t think I can. You covered the only group we should feel bad for, the restaurant employees, and you acknowledged that it’s a little absurd to try to feel bad for this people who probably aren’t suffering very much in the long term, so it seems like the bases are covered. Hell, even if they are suffering a lot worse than most, essentially living on the street, you almost have to think they deserved it. Maybe I’m a little biased, but I feel as if most of these people were smart, they’d have reserved some of their money to ride out of the rough times. If they were dumb enough not to do so, perhaps their downfall was inevitable.
@liberal: No, not really.
In order to understand the difference between now and then, you need to focus on the difference between meaningfulness and reliability. Right now, for instance, we may disagree about whether the the unemployment D rate truly reflects the current employment environment, but we all understand that it means something when compared to measures last month, or five or six years ago. I can look at the number and say "Ah. It’s harder to get a job this month than it was last month." even though the number itself measures something basically ridiculous.
When one compares modern figures to Depression-era figures, though, that falls apart. First, the measures from that time are far less reliable than modern measures are. We simply have much better statistical tools now, so the numbers measure whatever they measure more reliably. We don’t really know if the numbers from 1932 are overestimates or underestimates, we just know that they were *big*. Second, when I said above "it’s harder to get a job", I implied that it was still possible, at least for many candidates. During the peak of the depression, *there were no jobs*. Period. Even supremely highly qualified candidates simply dropped out of the labor pool altogether. We have no experience with any situation like that.
Sparkletts Water Show
At the risk of being ridiculed to death, y’all should seriously look into Aflac (quack) policies. I was an agent for about 8 minutes when I lived in CO, and worked for an agent. Seriously good products for the very purpose of throwing wads of cash at you in case of accident, cancer dx, ICU, etc etc.
Some of the policies are not age rated, premiums never go up, and they are quick to pay claims. I know because I processed claims for the agent.
I pay $80/month for the accident/cancer/ICU policies combined. Never had to use them in 2+ years. They give you little paybacks for annual cancer screenings and I got about $80 last year for not using my accident policy at all.
I mean, the accident policy will pay you an initial $125 (or so) if you hurt yourself in most any way, and then $35/chiro/doctor visit for several weeks. Seriously worth looking into, even and especially if you have no other coverage. YOU really do get the cash directly from Aflac and have no obligation to use it to pay med bills, or even tell med providers you have the insurance. The crux of the pitch when selling the policies is citing the % of BKs attributable to medical bills every year.
Duck pimp over.
@Comrade Ed Drone:
A few months ago I noticed a Longtime Chevy dealer close up shop. Now they’re building a new Mercedes dealership right next door to where the Chevy dealer was. For some reason I get angry everytime I drive by it. It’s almost enough to make want to act out "Fight Club" style.
The Grand Panjandrum
OT: Here you go, Cole. I remember a recent discussion on hot dogs. Did it include this gem? I couldn’t find it in the archive.
I do believe the worst is yet to come. FWIW.
According to Consumer Reports,
Whirlpool DU1055XTS[Q] ($350)
Kenmore (Sears) 1373 ($500)
Bosch SHE33M0UC ($540)
were all rated "best buys," with the more expensive models running quieter. No specs on repair/breakdown rates.
My old Maytag is about to clock in ten years, knock wood.
Things are getting a little ugly at Ihoz Labs with reduced hours being the word of the month. Hopefully this will rectify after holiday doldrums/snow storm recovery is over.
If not, well it’s not like I’m trying to plan a wedding this year or anything…
The whining about the cottage and what not was irritating, but this woman was not part of the problem. If you read the piece, she worked hard. She may be pampered, but she worked for her money. I didn;t read anything about her losing her homes because she took out three HELOCs at the height of the real estate bubble on property she bought with option ARMS.
I do feel kind of bad for her.
I never had any sympathy for wall street types, but this article by Michael Lewis has put me solidly into the camp that wants to see these guys burned at the stake just to keep the rest of us warm this winter. I’m still totally pissed three days after reading this article.
Go ahead and kill your TV. I cancelled my cable and stopped watching about 20 years ago. The withdrawl period is much shorter than you imagine. Once you’ve stopped watching for a while, you won’t believe how stupid and hideous it looks when you check back in.
@The Moar You Know: I’ll bring the torches if you’ll bring the pitchforks.
The Other Steve
I have a 4 year old Kitchenaid I just had to spend $150 to replace the control panel and buttons. Sure warranty covered parts, but not the labor. In doing some research on google this was a real common problem. That being said, the insides are great and it washes great!
I’d probably buy it again though. Although I definately liked the looks of the Bosch but I’ve never owned one.
My GF works at Uni-Group (United van lines/mayflower) and their bussiness has tanked. Consider: If your house has just been foreclosed, can you really afford to pay for a moving company? And with all the foreclosures, housing prices are in a serious decline, so who wants to sell their house at a loss? Add to that the fact of, how many can actually get a loan on a new house?
You’re a kinder man than I. I think I was more pissed that Tina Brown thought it was a good idea to publish the sad story of a wealthy woman forced to ride the subway and dismiss her maid.
i can feel sorry for her that she lost her money, yeah. but sorry because she now has to ride the subway, along with the rest of the vast majority of NYC residents who can’t afford any other way to get around? no.
maybe she can make money again writing status erotica for manhattanites. i would mock more but feel only contempt.
When the the market falls out of the automatic watch winding display case industry, I’ll agree we’re making progress.
Personally, if I bought one of these and it did not come with a free Nero and violin, I’d feel gypped.
The Moar You Know
@Incertus: Here’s the problem in a nutshell – we’ll be the only two guys there.
Men voluntarily starved to death during Great Depession I because they didn’t want to accept help. They’d send their women and kids to the Red Cross, but they themselves would just walk away and die. That people would do this rather than murder the people who did this to them shows you all you need to know about the utter futility of trying to get modern Americans to fight the system that is ruining them.
And the argument has been made that the GD1 generation was a lot tougher than those alive today – which certainly seems to be true. I can’t imagine my fellow Americans today doing anything – at best, maybe waving signs on street corners and yelling. Hell, protests don’t even get much press anymore, much less actually change anything.
@gbear: Three years without commerical TV, five without movies. Visiting family this holiday was pretty weird – they base their lives around shows. And movies. I no longer seem capable of understanding either anymore.
One of the first things to go was my cable, no withdrawls at all. And you’re right, if you check back in, watching at someone’s house or something, it actually hurts your brain.
Like an ice cream headache, but worse.
A little bit of schadenfreude if you’re not a big fan of Tom Friedman. The Bucksbaum family is the billionaire clan our esteemed editorializer married into.
Oh my god, that’s so sad. If you’re a hedge fund manager, you should call CNN. Maybe they will do a piece on you.
Brother John’s lack of compassion for the newly oppressed is disturbing. For example, po’ Bernie Madoff has been ordered not to leave his shabby $7 million apartment on the Upper West Side for the near future. This is barbaric, particularly considering the beautiful weather that has hit The City these past two days. Instead of fresh air and outdoor activities, Bernie has been relegated to 24/7 treadmill duty.
And now the sad news about Maggie’s- known for the best $9 cup of soup in town- is just a cherry on top of the sundae. Word has it CNN is working on a folo story on how some Wall Street guys are now brown-bagging it five days a week to work.
I, for one, applaud the efforts of these news channels to keep us informed of the trauma "the important people" are feeling due to the global financial meltdown.
@The Moar You Know:
It seems not so much a case of spinelessness but more like willfully deluded: So many Americans believe that they’ll be rich too someday and don’t want to punish the class they aspire to join. A country full of Gatsbys out there chasing something they can’t quite catch.
This will sound judgmental, but it’s not meant to be. I’m curious about how this time is affecting people who never had much to begin with but who can skate by because there is work, even if it’s not glamorous, and who live in such a relatively cheap part of the country that their expenses aren’t huge. Specifically, I’m talking about people like my friend’s fiancee’s family. She’s studying to be a physical therapist at a medical school and came home for Christmas. She told me some stuff about his family, not so much in a disgusted way but in a more astonished way. She couldn’t believe how the mother of the family would stay online all day because creditors were calling the house. She couldn’t believe that her fiancee’s brother would spend his bonus from Walmart on a digital camera instead of saving up for the second baby his girlfriend was having in the spring. And so on.
I don’t know the specifics of this, so perhaps I’m missing something, but it seems like such a strange way to live. It’s not as if these people are living on the street, but it doesn’t sound like there’s much a fall back plan. But does that matter to them if they can still get some money and still have enough cash to function by eating and so on?
@cyntax: ‘zackly. the same delusions that propel people in good times continue on in bad ones. see, e.g., joe, plumber.
delusional? i think so. but then i don’t have much stake in this system.
the only difference is that the identified bad guys change over time. sometimes.
I was always partial to the importance of religion. Like Napoleon supposedly said, it’s what keeps the poor people from killing the rich people.
@Brian J: one explanation (though not the only one) is that most Americans are now (at least if they are under, say, 55) the people who have been assaulted (no not rhetorical excess here) by advertising in every aspect of their existence since birth. they have been exhorted to buy and feel good since they were old enough to comprehend. here in the US, when you think about the immediate gratification nature of most of us coupled with relentless advertising and the notion that a consumerist society is heaven on earth, it’s a wonder we haven’t all spent ourselves into peonage.
@The Other Steve:
I seem to be oblivious to this one, but what’s the beef with the drop-side crib? My 18 month-old has been sleeping in one comfortably his entire life without incident, and frankly based on its construction I can’t foresee an incident taking place. Perhaps it depends on the specific type of mechanism?
The firm mattress is a must (the babies love it) and the mattress cover is handy for the occasional vomiting or other escaped excremental, although most baby mattresses are coated in vinyl and easy enough to wipe down.
The baby bumpers are OK (I’ve researched this one thoroughly) as long as you get the breathable bumpers. My son likes to toss and turn, so before we got bumpers his limbs would frequently get stuck in between the slats which would cause him to wake up crying. The breathable bumpers prevented that, and while adding no risk whatsoever because your baby can still breathe even if their face is pressed up against it.
Gave up my cable two years ago. I subscribe to Netflix so I can watch movies and any good TV (The Wire) that happens along. I get my news from NPR and the Net. I do not miss television at all.
A For Sale sign just went up at the house next door to me. (60 years old, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, no garage. Small.) The owner is selling it because the renters, my neighbors, had to stop paying the rent when the guy raised it from $3300 to $4000. (Rents in this neighborhood are currently running about $1800-2000.) The house was purchased at the height of the bubble; the owner probably paid $450,000. It’s probably worth (now) $240,000. There are empty and foreclosed upon houses all around me. It’s sad and ugly.
I can generate a tiny spark, since it was all her own money, earned with her own brains and wit. What I find interesting is that the same "I’m connected and worldly" way of operating was exactly what brought her down. She got into Madoff’s secret society because she knew the right people. Funny, but often in life this is exactly the reason people make it to filthy rich in the first place.
But, more interesting is the timing. Sounds like she bought in in the 90s (intentionally vague here?). Well, hun, your troubles are just beginning. Those who got in early and got those ridiculous fake returns are about to get sued by those who got in late. If she added up all her outflow from Madoff over the last decade, it’s probably a staggering chunk of change.
I don’t trust anyone with my money. I don’t have a lot, but what I do have I keep in 8 different kinds of accounts at 8 different companies. My attitude has always been that any of them can disappear at any time. wft, is up with ALL of her money being in one place?
@The Moar You Know:
"Three years without commerical TV, five without movies. Visiting family this holiday was pretty weird – they base their lives around shows. And movies. I no longer seem capable of understanding either anymore."
I had this experience on Christmas Day. There were several attempts at conversation that started with "did you watch…" or "did you see…" and my husband and I kept having to say "no". The TV was also left on as background noise for the first part of the gathering, until I couldn’t handle the distraction of it anymore– advertisements yelling "save 60%" while we were discussing a sick loved one– and switched it off.
The assumption is that we don’t watch TV out of some intellectual snobbishness, but it has more to do with being cheap. I haven’t owned a TV since 2001, when I couldn’t see the point of paying for cable when I owed student loans, and lived where there was virtually no network reception. As a result, I fell out of the habit of watching TV, and whenever I was in the room with one afterwards I found it irritating. Very little I have read or heard about in the years since has lead me to believe I’m missing much.
Meanwhile my husband can’t justify paying the license fee (we’re in the UK) when it goes towards shoddy news reporting, reality shows like "Can Fat Teens Hunt?" and house-makeover porn. So we don’t. We took the TV out of the living room when we remodeled recently and haven’t put it back.
John, there are still too many investment bankers running about to go wasting bullets on your innocent TV.
Yeah, now we’ve got the relgion of Consumerism and American Exceptionalism.
Hm… ponsi schemes for everyone!
Not dissimilar to BrianJ’s example above.
The Moar You Know
@cyntax: I used to think this was the case as well, but not so much anymore. I don’t think most people are under the impression that they’re going to be rich someday – but I do see an active and ardent desire to not punish the rich, especially those who drive policy. I label it "spinelessness" as I don’t have a better single word for what is a very complex issue.
@R-Jud: You know, we have the same experience — and the same explanation; we’re cheap. Like you, I have come to find the noise of a TV just about intolerable, not out of snobbishness, but because it’s just loud and invasive, and I am not longer able to block it out.
Ah but the schadenfreude is sort of heartwarming.
After them living the high life for years, it sort of does my heart good to see that even these guys got a bit of the heartache – if not near enough of what they deserve.
Duke of Earl
Newton Minow called TV "a vast wasteland" on May 9, 1961, it has not improved one iota in the meantime.
My wife watches TV, I don’t except on very rare occasions. I was glad the day after the RNC that my wife’s TV is a projection unit with the screen just painted on the wall, patching and repainting the wall was much cheaper than buying a new big screen would have been.
Poul Anderson’s classic SF novel "Brainwave" posited a form of field which inhibited the intelligence of any being with a notochord or better, that field has now been found to emanate from TV sets, I can literally feel the intelligence and attention span being sucked from my body when exposed to this field.
@Duke of Earl:
I usually stick to Sports Center. They’re usually not bad, so long as it isn’t the off season.
"Like you, I have come to find the noise of a TV just about intolerable, not out of snobbishness, but because it’s just loud and invasive, and I am not longer able to block it out."
"Invasive" is really apt. A few people suggested to me that I have a hearing problem because I can’t follow a conversation when there’s a TV on. So I had my hearing checked, and it’s just fine. I guess there’s something special about TV noise.
/it’s the sound made by the egg on the IHOP commercial when you stick your toast in the "eye"
Well, you are elevating popfaux snobbery to a level just short of spoof, but …..
While I wouldn’t necessarily trade for Seinfeld, which is a work of art, and give up Glen Gould, or Richter, or Pavarotti, or Sarah Vaughan or Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington … there’s been a lot of good tv. Just recently, John Adams, for example. Six Feet Under. Mister Ed. Not kidding, I would probably give up hot food for Mister Ed if I had to. Well, for a few days anyway. Depending on what was in the refrigerator.
Just because 94% of tv is crap doesn’t mean tv is crap, any more than the fact that 94% of fiction is crap would mean that Les Miserables or The Grapes of Wrath are crap. Eh?
I’m really familiar with what you describe because I almost inevitably get quite far into their lives.
I can describe it best as a domino effect. They were shaky as hell, truly "marginal" financially, and a series of relatively minor events can knock them down so far they can’t get back up. Like this: the car battery was dead so I got 9 "points" at work, so lost the "perfect, perfect" attendance bonus, which led to not making the car payment….which led to a call to Human Services from the kindergarten teacher….
I am relentlessly practical. That’s my approach. That way I can avoid moralizing, an area I’m deeply out of my depth in anyway, and offer something useful.
I guess I just want "attention paid" to reality.
The Moar You Know, I think it’s actually worse than that. Spinelessness implies that if only they had "courage equal to desire" to borrow a line from Ye Good Olde Days, they would be willing to raise the barricades and sing ‘ca ira’ — but I’ve had even young hipster Bush-hating liberals get outraged at my telling them that corporations like Ford and Perdue don’t care if they live or die and are just using them as fodder for their profits – and thus, by extension, should be treated as the social predators they are instead of revered as godkings to be admired and lauded and vicariously identified with. This is just TOO far left, to point out that people only interested in profit are willing to pay hush money to a few thousand people whose cars flip over or whose kids get melamine poisoning rather than cut into their profits to avoid the problem or fix it.
I think it’s a primate power-worship thing: we really do, most of us, deep down believe that les aristos are Up There above us on the top of the societal pyramid because they deserve it, that there is some sort of cosmic favor upon them (this is held even by the most irreligious) and that they deserve to be treated better than anyone else, because otherwise they wouldn’t be up in the high places now would they? People don’t think they’re going to ever be Donald Trump – hell, you can’t even get 90% of Americans who ARE rich to admit that yes, they’re really rich, they’re not middle class if they’re in the top 10% of all households in the country – but they see the Wig mocking and deriding those even less fortunate than themselves, and they get off on it.
Another swipe from Yeats, this time paraphrased: They hurl the little streets against the less – and every single time we get punked by it. But – attacking the poorer is easy. Attacking the rich? Hell, they’ve got bodyguards! And lawyers! And senators in their pockets! Who’s safer to go after, poor people from out-of-the-group, or the folks in charge? (Yes, we are many…but they though few are rich. Look at Rio, at Jakarta, at Moscow…and DC and NYC and LA.)
The only optimistic thing in this is – ’twas ever thus. Remember in ATOTC, Mme. and M. Defarge take a potential recruit to the Revolution’s cause out to a political event, and he and everybody else cheer the royals and all their pomp and circumstance like crazy. And Madame smiles, and knits, and doesn’t mind it because this is one more thing keeping the aristos complacent…
According to the extensive research we did when we bought a new dishwasher about a year ago, any of the commonly available dishwasher brands have a 50-50 chance of dying within 5 years of purchase. This is because almost all dishwashers are assembled by a small handful (i.e., less than 5) different manufacturers. So, more important than the brand is the maintenance/replacement package. At $600 for the mid-range dishwashers, it makes sense to get the protection package.
That said, we bought this one and are very pleased with it. If I’ve linked to the right model (it’s hard to tell because they don’t list all of the features), this has a china cycle and a potwasher cycle. We make a maintenance appointment once a year, and a repair person comes out and checks to make sure everything is working properly. The protection package has already paid for itself, because at the one-year check, we discovered that the heating coil was on the verge of dying, so that was replaced for free.
The Moar You Know
@bellatrys: Your post falls into the category of a "long and complex" explanation for the phenomena, albeit a very complete one. I would like a single word – perhaps "collaborator" would do for most of the nation. Perhaps the word does not exist.
As you so adroitly point out, almost all Americans sincerely and religiously believe that the movers and shakers who have fucked us all for generations to come are supposed to be above the law, not to mention retribution. The notion of even holding them accountable (never mind exacting revenge) sends even self-described liberals to the fainting couches by the thousands.
It seems the issue may be that we sincerely, almost religiously, believe that America is the meritocracy that we’ve always been told that it is, regardless of how much bloody, blatant evidence there is to the contrary. I find the persistence of this belief amazing; the nation has never been anything approaching a meritocracy in my lifetime, and as far as I can tell from history (never a reliable source) it never has been.
Duke of Earl
Sturgeon’s revelation (now known as Sturgeon’s law): 90% of everything is crap..
But then, brother Ted was an optimist.
Tastes differ, there are a few interesting shows but you have to wade through a ton of garbage to find them and then they aren’t consistent (I’m remembering some conversations here about "Heroes").
And lets face it, not very many people watch TV that way, most just turn on the tube and surf until they find something not too horribly annoying (to them anyway).
@The Moar You Know:
It may not be the only factor, but it seems to be a pretty strong contributing factor from what I gleaned in this analysis [pdf warning] of the 2002 National Election Study survey. But as you mention, it’s a very complex issue, and much of it turns on people being uninfomred and unable to make the connection between public policy (helathcare, schools, etc.) and tax policy… surprise, surprise.
99% of all commentary on political blogs distilled down into one compound sentence. Brilliant.
Second that, gbear. Fifteen years ago I was so broke I sold my tv to make rent. I didn’t have much of a withdrawl. I spent the next 10 years without a tv, and I began to notice very weird things. I noticed how a ton of people couldn’t describe an event or situation without referring to some TV show. I call it the Seinfeld Effect, because at that time so many people would try to describe some event in their life and they just couldn’t without saying ‘Omygod it’s just like that Seinfeld where George and Jerry do that thing with..blah blah blah’.
Another disturbing moment for me was about 5 years ago, when I began ‘checking back in’ in the course of pedaling the exercise bikes at the Y. Naturally there were TVs on the wall, so I had the opportunity to actually watch the better part of some tv shows I otherwise would never watch. I recall CSI was one of the shows. I had never heard of it. I recall being horrified at this segment on it where they pour out the partially saponified remains of a woman who had been murdered and sealed in a 55-gallon drum for months. The horror was how they did it. Close ups, very big production values, accurate anatomy, no detail left un-masturbated over by the camera. There was a fascination with the gore that struck me as a kind porn for death.
When I couldn’t look at it anymore, I looked away at faces of everyone in the room who were also watching it. And their faces were placid. Or bored. It was the visage of the humdrum.
I was gobsmacked. They had just watched the rotting corpse of a woman being poured out of a drum in carefully orchestrated detail (as real as special effects and careful lighting could make it without actually using a real body) and lo there was no reaction on their faces. I was freaked as much by what tv had become as I was by how inured people had become to it.
I think you have to go away from TV for at least a year to get an accurate sense of just how big an impact TV has on how people perceive and make sense of their world. Consider what gbear noticed, how shockingly hideous and stupid TV really is, and then consider that this is the lens with which people have come to see and understand what is around them. That very disturbing.
Another lesser effect I noticed: A tv running in a room becomes almost unbearably distracting if you’re trying to have a conversation with someone in that room. Ads on tv also become more distracting, seemingly harder to ignore.
I read somewhere (sorry cant recall where but it was in some science-type magazine article) that young children are especially vulnerable to advertising because they have not yet learned how to filter the noise from signal, as it were.
When you don’t watch TV for some years, all those filtering abilities fade and you again see TV as it really is, as young children do. And when you add to that the hideousness and violence and stupidity that it really is, it is really shocking we even allow kids to watch it.
For the past 5 years my wife and I have had a tv for watching dvd movies for ‘in-house’ dates, and now that I live in tornado country I use it to monitor tornado weather conditions when there is a tornado watch. I don’t allow my kids to watch it, with the exception of Sesame Street and selected kid-friendly DVD movies.
Go ahead and kill your TV. It’s insidiously killing a part of you.
Of course they do; it’s part of the left-wing media’s conspiracy to enrage the populace to the point where they go all torches-and-pitchforks. Heads on sticks, buddy. Heads on sticks.
@The Moar You Know: Pfft. No TV for… about thirteen years now, though I still watch movies sometimes. The real long-term consequence for me has been that I’m now weak against the attention-grabbing nature of TV programming. If someone has a TV on in the background, I get very, very distracted, because I’m not used to tuning it out, and it’s designed to make people perk up and pay attention.
I meant ‘a kind of porn for death’, not ‘a kind porn for death’.
Duke of Earl
I think the two main topics here are intimately related, the awfulness of TV and the psychic lethargy of the American people.
The great majority of people in America get most of their news and a great deal of their worldview from television.
If all of what you know (or even most) comes from the babble box then you don’t know much and what you do know is mostly wrong.
There is an old aphorism about it’s not what you don’t know that hurts you so much as it is what you think you know that isn’t so. "Honest, I thought the gun was unloaded"..
An intelligent, informed and well-read populace would have been far more difficult to railroad into supporting the invasion of Iraq. I’m just a lower middle-class dude with an internet connection and a passing knowledge of history and it was quite clear to me that invading Iraq was almost certainly going to turn into a quagmire.
I remember telling my former-Marine son in law my thoughts on Iraq, he is a good and respectful kid and didn’t tell me to my face that he thought I was an idiot but I know he was thinking that because he has admitted as much in the last year or so. Son-in-law is considerably more respectful of my opinions on things now, all it took was my predicting the greatest strategic blunder in US history to bring him around.
But having it concentrated makes it a lot easier to hunt down and kill the fraudsters if they steal your money.
I pass the coroner’s office and lab every day M-F, in the fourth largest county in the US.
The screams, the shrieks, the gasps, the anguished cries — OH MY GOD NOOOOOO OH JESUS — and then the sound of the poor people in there passing out and hitting the floor, it is heartbreaking, just gut wrenching.
The horror. The horror!
Death, and gore, right there, across the street from a Greek restaurant! Not out in the dark countryside somewhere, but RIGHT THERE!
Hope springs eternal in the human breast.
I thought those were milk glands.
@The Moar You Know: a great little subthread–i’d never thought of these as explanations. i lean towards the notion that the meritocracy is the ginned up explanation for the more basic (hard-wired?) heirarchic [sp] tendencies.
for me, even that thin veneer died when i realized that the people running the country didn’t even have the brains to keep Bush out of the Oval Office. what on earth were they thinking? nothing, apparently. i am reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall and though it’s been said better elsewhere, the parallel decay of the upper class and consequent destruction of the empire is really quite striking.
Oh god! I also have found, since I stopped watching tv, how incredibly distracting it can be to hear it. I thought it was just me though, I’m very glad to find out that I’m not alone in this.
It makes visiting my dad very frustrating, because apparently he and his wife can’t stand being without tv on in the background. Like it’s some kind of comforting hum. They don’t understand when I ask if we can turn it off while we’re talking or eating dinner. They seem to get nervous when it’s _not_ on.
It’s called Gorn. You’re welcome.
I’d say that almost all Americans sincerely believe that the movers and shakers..etc..for generations to come OWN the law and if you mess with them they will make your little life a hell from which you will never be able to recover. It’s what they do, and they can afford to do it. Not many of us poor folks can afford to take that chance, & jail really sucks.
@Duke of Earl:
That interrelationship reminds me of something Winston Churchill was supposed to have said regarding architecture, something along the lines of "We shape our buildings and then our buildings shape us."
I figured someone would decide my delicate sensibilities would be overwhelmed by virtual death and gore. But I believe you have misunderstood what I found so disturbing, so horrifying. In other words, I believe you missed my point.
I also believe someone who says ‘it’s the sound made by the egg on the IHOP commercial when you stick your toast in the "eye"’ or who says he would give up hot food for Mr. Ed is too far inside the bubble and naturally would miss what I was trying to describe.
Even in your sarcasm it seems you couldn’t get beyond the bubble of the entertainment biz: Were you copping Brando’s line from Apocaplyse Now! or Conrad’s Heart of Darkness? (I doubt it was intended to be Conrad’s Kurtz. "The horror, the horror" is part of our cultural consciousness because of Brando and the movie, not Conrad’s novella.)
As I said before, a person would have to leave the tv bubble completely for a good chunk of time before he or she could really understand what I (and others) are describing here. You have to leave a culture for a long period of time, almost never speaking the old familiar language and learning how to describe the world in a new language, how to see that old culture from outside of it, before you can see that old culture anew. And when you return to that old culture, after forgetting many things and remembering only how things were when you left you will likely be shocked.
I am not talking about going abroad and immersing yourself in another, very different culture (although you do that and you will have also have some shocking relevations and insights when you return). I am talking about leaving the TV culture and learning to relate to the world without using TV, learning to describe the world without falling back on TV shorthand. Read for a year. Avoid the TV utterly. When you no longer understand what the fuck people are talking about — when people make some noise and tell you it’s the sound of that so-and-so commercial everyone knows and you have no fucking idea what they are talking about — then you have been outside the bubble long enough to know what I’m talking about.
Duke of Earl
I’ve noticed that too, it’s like a security blanket or something similar.
It’s even worse though than what you relate, for a couple of reasons you sound stupid to TV watchers. You don’t understand a big chunk of their conversational gambits (It’s like when Seinfeld did such and such) and you can’t concentrate on the conversation because the TV is too goddamn distracting (as you pointed out, deliberately so).
Not to mention when you correct some idiotic misimpression they have gotten from a fifteen second sound bite on TV and they tell you that you’re wrong because they saw it on teeeveeee..
And then of course if you mention that you don’t watch TV but are critical of it they will immediately tell you you can’t criticize what you don’t know.. Like it is possible to completely escape TV in America without living like the fucking Unibomber.
That One - Cain
Hell thanks to Netflix and Hulu, my main tv isn’t even on.. and of course, I love my library. The quality of a city really depends on how awesome the library is. :-)
That One - Cain
I don’t watch a lot of TV myself. We recently got an entertainment center and we found out that the cable didn’t quite reach all the way to the TV and so we opted not to attach it. So it’s never on, when it used to be on all the time. I gotta say, the difference was startling. It was quiet and could do other things. My wife definitely doesn’t watch as much TV as she used to thanks to that bit of change.
I think there is something wrong with having a TV in your main room. That said, if you’ve turned off of your TV; I’m assuming most of you are surfing the ‘Net for your entertainment. I find a disproportion of my time is spent on the computer typing in messages in some political blog called Balloon Juice arguing with digital automotons and threatening them with ineffectual, angry words.
I’m reading a book now, a Robert Ludlum book written in 2006.. The man’s been busy after death. Lot of spare time I guess.
Duke of Earl
I think the POV shift is a lot easier for those of us that are lifelong outsiders anyway. I know I’ve never really felt like I "fit" in American society and I’m most comfortable either in the company of other people similar to myself or of children because they do not yet have a rigidly fixed worldview. Generally I find it easier to talk to kids than I do the average prototypical American adult, I don’t mind explaining myself to kids so much.
I taught my two older grandkids two new words today in one half hour car ride, "landmark" and "probably", just by using the words and then answering their questions about what the words meant.
We’re going to be passing the Big Chicken soon.
What’s the Big Chicken?
You’ll know it when you see it.
Do you see the Big Chicken yet?
It’s a landmark around here.
What’s a landmark G’pa?
Something that’s unusual and is easy to see, like the Statue of Liberty..
Or the Eiffel Tower G’pa? (exact quote from the eight year old)
Can you tell I love my grandkids?
@Zifnab: A little bit of schadenfreude if you’re not a big fan of Tom Friedman.
Interesting – I knew that some dumbshits had leveled the Cottonwood Mall here in Salt Lake City and then gone broke, but I didn’t know it was those dumbshits.
That approach to development is kind of in vogue here at the moment. Last year a whole block of buildings was knocked down – including some historic ones – owing to the greed of the landlord. I know the guy, and he’s a real piece of work. When he found out, after the demolition had gone ahead, that (IIRC) the zoning laws didn’t allow him to build what he wanted to on the site, he threw a tantrum and generally futzed around until now with the financial collapse he can’t afford to do anything with the property. Pure short-sighted greedy stupid, which is what a lot of development is around here, and I don’t feel to bad for the guy. Just for the residents who lost a bunch of cool stores that used to be there.
The Moar You Know
@sparky: Got my copy back in 2005. Found it did two things –
1. Reassured me I wasn’t insane, that the things I thought were happening in our society were actually happening.
2. Gave me some clues as to what might be coming next.
I’d recommend that anyone read it if you want a very likely vision of what is in store for the United States. The Roman Senate’s abandonment of real power (really a crucial turning point for that society) has an astonishing parallel in this country, as it is what happened post 9/11 here. That decision had a profound impact on the Empire – yes, they thrived under some very good dictators, but had a pretty bad time of it under the bad ones. Eventually they couldn’t fight their way out from under the cumulative mountain of bad decisions made by the incompetent/insane leaders and the whole thing collapsed.
Getting back to the subject of the subthread, I would point out that the Roman people never made any serious attempt to reclaim their democracy, even after things went really, really bad. I suspect we won’t as well.
The Other Steve
One of the Covert One knockoffs using the Ludlum name probably. They aren’t quite as good as the real Ludlum books, but still entertaining.
Cassidy the Racist White Man
@ the other steve
STOP! Buy nothing new. Craigslist and resell shops around rich areas. I have 4 kids…trust me.
@binzinerator: thanks for the description of CSI. I had heard all the water-cooler chat about the original Las Vegas series. When I finally stumbled across it one night by accident, I had the exact response you detailed. Death porn….I’ll have to remember that.
TV is a very HOT medium. One cannot look away, as mentioned by many above. So WHAT is shown on that very HOT medium is incredibly important. Now it’s mostly crap. And yet most folks do not perceive it as crap. Instead it is the subject of many inane water-cooler conversations.
I think TV is the single most wrong thing about current American culture.
Duke of Earl
@Cassidy the Racist White Man:
Cassidy and I are in total agreement on this, baby items often get used only once for a quite short time and are readily available on the used market for pennies on the dollar.
In fact if you go on Craigslist and beg you can get a lot of stuff for free.
Creative begging is a skill that will be in demand shortly I fear.
I thought those were called lobbyists?
I didn’t see the piece, but if the average American gets a glimpse of how these people *used to* live in such stories, maybe it’s not all bad. They need to see the excess which has gone unreported for so long. Pull back the curtain.
Someone upthread wrote about the effect of TV on kids but I can’t find the post. But I recently watched a Book Lust segment on the excellent Seattle channel (public access, no commercials). Nancy Pearl is a treasure.
Here is the abstract of the video.
Linn gave a horrifying stat on how many babies now have video screens visible from their cribs. But I can’t recall it. ;=) She also mentions that babies can recognize logos (that is, brands) long before they can talk. And she said that social networking sites are really about teaching kids to shop. Very interesting stuff.
@The Moar You Know:
Oh, my goodness, I am reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, too. I picked it off the shelf because I haven’t been able to sleep for a few weeks now, and it looked like a possible insomnia cure. But no such luck: it is just as enthralling to me as the fictional I, Claudius because I keep drawing parallels between Rome and the USA. Scary, scary parallels. Interesting coincidence that Gibbon was working on it at the same time that the US was coming into being.
Also interesting (though tangential) is that apparently Gibbon’s nuts hurt an awful lot.
"Social networking sites are about teaching kids to shop."
Yes. My company uses them for exactly this purpose: selling things to people. Look at the explosion of review sites. Read a few reviews. Many of them were put there by companies like mine, to direct you towards our client’s product or away from our competitor’s. It’s even more insidious than TV ads, I think. I’d hang myself for being complicit in it, but I think I still have karma to burn from three years of teaching in the ‘hood. Also, it’s paying off the mortgage double-quick. Ugh.
@HyperIon: I think TV is the single most wrong thing about current American culture.
Agreed, with a close second being the automobile. I think they’re both potentially enormously useful and valuable devices, but the ways in which we Americans use them are horrific.
Unfortunately, between them they pretty much define post-WWII life in the U.S.
Duke of Earl
I tend to think of that activity more as extortion than begging, but that could just be my bias showing.
@That One – Cain:
Nancy Pearl is a local librarian who has her own an action figure. That’s how much Seattle loves books. We also have a newish and coolish downtown library.
Duke of Earl
Oops.. Well I screwed Cassidy’s quote up royally..
Bad computer, bad..
@Duke of Earl:
The Big Chicken? You live near Marietta? I recall there was a Big Chicken in Marietta, near Dobbins AFB. I lived in Marietta briefly, years ago. I once worked for a company located in an industrial park next to Dobbins. In 1989 they flew in an SR-70 Blackbird with two F-16 escorts. Every building emptied out to watch.
Anyways, it sounds like you have very smart grandkids.
The Moar You Know
@R-Jud: Made me cross my legs to read that. Ouch. That would suck. May have been history’s worst case of blue balls.
Interesting life history, though. His dad sounds like a real asshole.
I thought that was called political fundraising?
Man, you sure take all the fun out of fucking with you.
Thanks, but I’m more of a music guy. I listen to music when most people are reading. I spend so much time in front of computers reading the insane ramblings of people I work with — or on BJ, while waiting for jobs to run — that I have little eyeball energy left after a typical day. I don’t play computer games either, for much the same reason.
But thanks for the great advice, even though I have no idea who on earth it would be suitable for.
My new recreation for 2009 is going to be walking. I am getting a pedometer and I will be striving for walking targets here starting Jan 1.
Heh. Actually, you are looking at latex and rubber cement, mostly. And some digital effects.
About as realistic as a halloween costume, most of the time.
I supposed if porn could be made by having a plastic dummy fuck another plastic dummy, then you can call CSI "death porn."
I occasionally remark on my oldest offspring bursting into laughter at some reading from Fan Fiction. This time, she remarked on mine.
I blame TenguPhule.
That One - Cain
@The Other Steve:
I like the Covet One books it’s pure mind candy. This is more the Bourne Identity world with the spy agency, Consular Operations. They do all have a similar theme though, but it’s good for light reading. I’ve been taking a break from Fantasy novels.. but you can bet I’m going to be getting the last book of the Wheel of Time and finishing an 18 year long wait. Can’t believe I started that in my mid 20s and I’m hitting 40 next year…
That One - Cain
Portland loves their books too. I love books.. always have. It always makes me happy when I’m in the library and I see all these kids with stacks of books. Gives me a reason to believe that not everyone is sitting in front of the tubes. As a kid I used to be a big tv watcher, come in from home and just start watching TV. One day, my parents just cut me off. Best thing they ever did.
The Moar You Know –
Hey, I’ll have you know that was a SHORT comment for me!
Or maybe not in English. I tend to use the word "tamed" or "owned" (or PWN3D) sometimes to express this mindset. Also "power-worshipping", since that’s what it is. ("Aristocracy-worship" is more accurate, but then I have to explain how outfits like Enron and Haliburton are modern baronies, and it’s an upstream battle against the current of blind faith that There Are No Aristocrats, No Classes, And No Social Inequalities In America! Um, yeah, that’s why the Bushes and the Scaifes and the Coorses are all still gazillionaires despite the Depression…)
Having worked my butt off in school, and then for years and years for various employers, and never making enough to more than squeak by – and then being tossed out into the cold when the tech bubble burst without so much as a "sorry for exploiting you like this" – took a moderate/centrist/left-leaning crypto-liberal starting to dissent from the "bootstraps" credo (because dammit, I still had no boots!) and turned me into someone who finally understood why the bourgeoisie went to the lanternes along with les aristos: I think it was the time my well-to-do MIL who had never worked a day for her daily bread, told me that I should go to Europe because the fares were really cheap and take a vacation, when I couldn’t afford my electric bill; or maybe it was when she suggested I could drudge work for nearly minimum wage for her hobby side business and that would be a nice favor for me while I was looking for a full time job, wouldn’t it? And I couldn’t say, "Fuck you," because it was a family social occasion and I was raised to be A Lady (I got better) but I did see red, and on the way home I thought: My god, I’m turning into Madame Defarge! And then: I have become Lean And Hungry, now–
–Oh, have you read Harris’ Imperium? For folks who don’t have the time for Gibbons, it might be just the thing: I was very impressed at his portrayal of young idealists slowly getting dragged deeper and deeper into the mire of machine politics as they make ever more compromises with the plutocracy, and the mummified corpse of DEMOCRACY! that was paraded around until they finally, almost without realizing it, let it turn to dust in a time of "unprecedented" national crisis…
@The Moar You Know:
I’ve been trying to get my kids to take the economic situation seriously, but I don’t think they can even imagine how bad it could get. They are moving to less expensive apartments, and trying to keep their job situation in good stead, but they really are not preparing for a long haul recession. I, on the other hand, am jumpy as hell.
I look around my community (Sacramento) and I look at all the stuff people can do without. Groceries, no, you have to have groceries. Gas? If you have a car you need gas. Shelter and electricity, must haves. But, everything else? Eating out, new clothes, getting your car detailed, furniture? All things people do not *need*, but things people *want*. If people stop making those consumer economy purchases, how do the businesses keep operating? Where do the employees of those businesses go? Store fronts are closing every where. State workers will start being furloughed two days a month in February (an instant 10% pay cut).
We are a long way from the bottom. I’m incrementally cutting back. Starting in January no more cable TV or internet at home (will be juicing off free wireless at Naked Coffee probably). Scary times.
The Moar You Know
@bellatrys: Ha! It wasn’t a long and complex post, but it was a long and complex (albeit quite thorough) explanation. I was trying to boil down the state of willing participating in one’s own enslavement to one word, which was very overambitious; it’s not really possible.
I’ll have to check out Harris’ Imperium, although length is not something I find offputting – I liked reading Gibbons’ work.
I, too, used to be a centrist. I don’t want to get into the details but years of getting the short end of the stick changed that. BTW, your posts are awesome.
@LiberalTarian: We don’t make anything anymore – ergo, when we stop passing money to each other in this game of Mutual Retail Assured Service Sector Destruction, there will be no jobs. None.
We were told that we could survive as a service-sector society, that we didn’t need all those low-skill manufacturing jobs and they could be moved offshore and everything would be OK. I knew it was bullshit then and it’s bullshit now.
I suspect that some people in love with the long-lost dreams of the antebellum South wanted an America full of willing slaves and I think, since we don’t have the collective balls to make an example out of those people, that’s what we’re going to have.
@The Moar You Know
I believe the word you are looking for is toady.
That might explain it for some people, but I am not sure that applies here. The people I was talking about above sound like–again, I don’t know them in real life, save for my friend’s fiancee, and only then just a little–the sort who don’t think about material possessions as much, and therefore don’t have as much drive to earn money. It’s possible that financial security isn’t as valued when there’s less of a drive to own stuff.
Speakng of schadenfreude, I spent the day in Monterey, and took the drive thru the 17 mile drive. The number of mansions for sale with "price reduced" tags on them gave me a good laugh.
I work in IT, and the biggest lesson I took away from the 2000-03 recession was to pay off my considerable debt, which I accomplished in April of this year. I now have a pretty small economic footprint (I did buy a new car in June when my old one went wheels-up), and haven’t had cable all this time either. I don’t miss it in the slightest–that shit’s expensive–but I do admit that I’m physically attached to a computer about 15 hours a day. I also now have hundreds of DVDs thanks to a Netflix membership and the DVD-RW drive in my computer. *heh*
I do admit to jonesing for input when I can’t check stuff online for a while, but I’m a lot better than I was about 10 years ago.
What really pisses me off about that article is that the reporters are lamenting, as a terrible tragedy, that now the rich people have to live JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. Well, just like everyone else *used* to live, since now there’s a pretty large number of people who have no idea how they’re going to keep their home and afford to feed their children. I’d like to see some of these people get to that point–not [entirely] because I have a desire to make people suffer, but because goddamn it, they SHOULD experience first-hand just how dire the consequences are, to the actions they made purely from their own greed. Maybe when they’re hungry, cold and living out of their car, they’ll finally understand exactly what they were doing when they bet the farm on profiting from people’s misfortune.
As for the rest of us, we would do well to escape the mentality that credit is the same as free money. It wasn’t just Wall Street’s greed that put us here.