Vacuous Lives

That the uber rich are often profoundly decadent sybarites is hardly a news flash or even noteworthy. The Egyptian Pharaohs, the Emperors during myriad dynasties in ancient China as well as the Monarchical leaders of France and England have all seen numerous corrupt and depraved members. Modern America with the infamous one hundredth of the top one percent with their philistine manners are merely following the pattern of the ultra-wealthy. Moral depravity and vacuous lives are often inherent in the lives of the worldly super rich.

Vindication (2015, August 22). Re: Dinner and Deception: Serving elaborate meals to the super-rich left me feeling empty [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/23/opinion/sunday/dinner-and-deception.html?ref=opinion&_r=0


Murky Dark

[Michael] McDonald’s numb, phantom longing is matched to music (featuring “Rosanna”-era Toto players) that comes in stormy but slowly clears up, only to drop back into the murky dark again exactly as he comes to the realization that he’s clinging to the apparition of a closeness long since departed.

Pitchfork. (2015, August 24). The 200 Best Songs of the 80’s: #147 Michael McDonald “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near).” Retrieved from http://pitchfork.com/features/lists-and-guides/9700-the-200-best-songs-of-the-1980s/?page=3


[Edward Gibbon’s] father had neither the business sense nor the resilience of his grandfather, and through social ambitions, pretensions, and mismanagement, squandered much of what had been a considerable fortune.

“His gay character and mode of life,” Gibbon, in mild understatement, wrote, “were less adapted to the acquisition than to the expenditure of wealth.”

Epstein, J. (2015, September 1). The Best of Scribblers Edward Gibbon and the importance of great writing to great history. Retrieved from https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/best-scribblers/



Just as the heavy industry can greenwash to produce the appearance of environmental responsibility and the consumer industry can pinkwash to connect themselves to cause marketing, so the technology industry can “engineerwash”—leveraging the legacy of engineering in order to make their products and services appear to engender trust, competence, and service in the public interest.

Bogost, I. (2015, November 5). Programmers: Stop Calling Yourselves Engineers. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/11/programmers-should-not-call-themselves-engineers/414271/

Handcuff Emoji

“To be accused is to lose.  Every time.” Dean Strang, speaking of the loss of reputation and character damage when charged with a crime, guilty or not.

Making a Murderer. By Laura Ricciardi. Dir. Moira Demos. Perf. Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. Netflix, 18 Dec. 2015. Web.


It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

Mark Twain (or not)



“The second generation paleo-rich are the worst because they actually think they deserve their position, and they haven’t even done anything to earn it. Trump is a classic second generation paleo-rich, as are the Waltons and the Kochs.”

Classic examples of being born on third base and then insisting you hit a triple.

Jim in Austin (2017, June 30). Re: How the superrich have funded a new class of intellectual [Blog Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/167934/How-the-superrich-have-funded-a-new-class-of-intellectual#7081938


Mirage of Happiness

Like so many Kaufman characters, the ones in this movie are struggling, stumbling even, towards what might be a mirage of happiness, while battling both their own social conditioning and pathologies and the bland indifference of the world around them—a world that includes billions of other people who all think they are the stars of their own life-movies, and at times seem deeply frustrated by the fact that they haven’t experienced one of those transformative moments that tell moviegoers, “Everything is going to be fine for this character now, don’t worry.”

Seitz, M. Z. (2015, December 29). Review: Anomalisa (2015). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/anomalisa-2015


Thought Leader

The purpose of the thought leader is to mirror, systematize, and popularize the delusions of the superrich: that they have earned their fortunes on merit, that social protections need to be further eviscerated to make everyone more flexible for “the future,” and that local attachments and alternative ways of living should be replaced by an aspirational consumerism. The thought leader aggregates these fundamental convictions into a great humanitarian mission. Every problem, he prophesies, can be solved with technology and rich people’s money, if we will only get our traditions, communities, and democratic norms out of the way.

Sessions, D. (2017, June 28). The Rise of the Thought Leader. Retrieved from https://newrepublic.com/article/143004/rise-thought-leader-how-superrich-funded-new-class-intellectual


The upstarts who work at startups don’t often stay at any one place for very long. (Three out of four startups fail. More than nine out of ten never earn a return.) They work a year here, a few months there—zany hours everywhere. They wear jeans and sneakers and ride scooters and share offices and sprawl on couches like Great Danes. Their coffee machines look like dollhouse-size factories.

Lepore, J. (2014, June 23). The Disruption Machine: What the gospel of innovation gets wrong. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/06/23/the-disruption-machine

School Desk

Unqualified Snobbery

The most “worldly” society I have ever lived in is that of schoolboys: most worldly in the cruelty and arrogance of the strong, the toadyism and mutual treachery of the weak, and the unqualified snobbery of both. Nothing was so base that the school proletariat would not do it, or suffer it, to win the favour of the school aristocracy: hardly any injustice too bad for the aristocracy to practice.

Lewis, C.S. “A Reply to Professor Haldane.” Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories, Edited by Walter Hooper, Harvest Books, 2002, pp. 79.

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