Archive for June, 2009

The French, racially insensitive? Say it ain’t so.

June 20, 2009

‘King of the Apes’ swings again

the exhibition’s curator, Roger Boulay, has also been keen to investigate why some are left uneasy about Tarzan – especially his relationship to black Africans.

But he says this queasiness is mainly generated by the Hollywood versions of the story, not by Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original novels.

“Sometimes the books can be quite subtle and rich,” he says.

M. Boulay, I read those novels when I was a kid. And subtle is one expletiving thing they were not. Burroughs was a king of camp and in-your-face closeted homoeroticism, but subtle? Nuh-uh.

And it wasn’t so much Tarzan’s relationship to black africans that was a problem (they were, like everyone else in the place, just backdrops for the northern-european-but-not-german Uebermensch) as the author’s constant dicta about race and the bestial aspects of the lower races and the polluting effect of civlization on the noble savage blood and just the whole notion of using an entire goddam continent full of living, breathing intelligent people as a canvas for some white guy’s adventures with a white woman.

“but you do have to remember that he dates from 1912.”

and then some.


The best argument for regulating the hell out of the financial industry

June 18, 2009

In huge change, Obama’d strip Fed of credit card oversight | McClatchy

American Financial Services Association officials said they didn’t believe that the proposed new agency was a reflection of past regulatory failures.

“We honestly believe that the regulatory bodies in place now have adequately addressed the situation,” said Chris Stinebert, the association’s president and chief executive. “The regulatory structure as it exists now between the federal (government) and the state(s) is working.”

C’mon, you guys just helped CRATER THE ENTIRE WORLD ECONOMY by pushing credit on people who couldn’t afford it and pulling midstream bait-and-switch scams on those who could, and you think the current regulatory morass is fine? Oh, right. You bought legislation that makes it easier to fly a camel through the eye of a needle than to get out of your credit-card debt, and pain at the top of the financial industry is still not being able to afford the second vacation home. I guess you would think that the current setup is working just fine.

Even more chilling is another guy working for the same organization:

However, the commission could end up limiting consumer credit options and innovation just as the economy is beginning to rebound, said Bill Himpler, the executive vice president for government affairs of the American Financial Services Association, the trade association for the consumer credit industry.

When you remember what “innovation” and “consumer credit options” (yep, always the option to pay more) have meant during the runup to this recession, that translates something like, “We’re not lending a lot of money right now because everyone is cutting back and we’re not sure people can pay any more, but as soon as people start having money in their pockets again we’ll have new ways to siphon it back out. And we don’t want anyone interfering with that.”

These folks might be so transparently out of touch with reality because they’ve swallowed their own hype. Or they’ve simply bought enough legislators that they can say stuff like this knowing that no one can touch them.

Web Soap Operas

June 12, 2009

Blogger’s baby was a hoax —

By Sunday night, when “April’s Mom” claimed to have given birth to her “miracle baby” — blogging that April Rose had survived a home birth only to die hours later — her Web site had nearly a million hits.

Maybe this is the next big money-making operation on the web. A million hits even at minimal ad rates is about 20 grand. Figure the total take was several times that, and you’ve got way better revenues than a typical first novel. Somebody could hire a stable of good writers, get a few stock photos, pitch different web operas to different demographics, and bam! Not incredible revenue for any given site or opera company, but a pretty comfortable living all round. At first people would probably be pissed off at getting taken in, but pretty soon you’d have an audience that enjoyed the staging and the faux conflict, like the people who watch reality shows or professional wrestling. And then you’d see people in the know gently explaining matters to their friends who thought the sick babies/wives/grandmothers or the piledriver head-slams were real…

Some real-estate moguls are really innumerate

June 9, 2009

h/t Eschaton

and so are reporters:

The Center City high-rise condo market may be soft these days, but Residences at Ritz-Carlton developer Craig Spencer won’t let it get the better of his bottom line.

“I turned down a $1.3 million all-cash sale from a buyer who wanted me to cut the price by $50,000,” Spencer said yesterday as he showed a visitor the 8,000-square-foot unfinished penthouse at the top of the 43-story, 270-unit building at 15th Street and South Penn Square.

Now let’s do the math. Say, for example, that this guy is paying 10% on his construction loan, and it actually cost him $500K to build that $1.3-mil unit. For every month he refuses to sell, he’s out about $4200 in actual costs, and he’s also out (conservatively) the $3K a month or so that he could get investing that $800,000 profit somewhere else. And that’s before the cost of lighting, cooling, cleaning and so forth for the apartment in question. So if it takes him an extra six months to sell the unit, he has indeed let his ego get the better of his bottom line. And his cost could well be higher…

The economy is doing worse than you think.

June 6, 2009


So, no, one month of “only” 350K lost jobs is not enough to make me optimistic that everything is going to turn around, even slowly.

But guess what, it’s worse than that. Every month under normal conditions (ha) the US economy has to produce something like 120-150,000 jobs just to keep up with the natural growth in the labor force from rising population. So that 350,000 job lost, ostensibly turning the corner, is really half a million jobs short of what we need just to stay in the same place. And every time you hear about the number of jobs lost during the recession, mentally add another million and a half or two million people who would have found newly-created jobs under normal conditions, and haven’t been.

(There’s a tiny bit of a twist here, namely that the labor force, the number of people the Bureau of Labor Statistics thinks actually want to be employed, has been shrinking, as it often does in recessions. But that’s not because fewer people need or want jobs, it’s because millions of people look at the market and the odds of actually finding paying work and say, “screw it, I’ll collect social security/file for disability/keep piling up school loans/live on someone’s couch for another year/give up and squat in an abandoned house/anything but keep up the futile search for a job.”)

Update Nov 5: Just how bad is the economy? So bad that someone shilling for a call center body shop would take the time to write comment spam soliciting disabled people to sign up with them. On a post that has had 4 views ever.