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cannabis-plant-leaf

Bullshit.com

The basic scam in the Internet Age is pretty easy even for the financially illiterate to grasp. Companies that weren’t much more than pot-fueled ideas scrawled on napkins by up-too-late bong-smokers were taken public via IPOs, hyped in the media and sold to the public for mega-millions.

[…]

“Since the Depression, there were strict underwriting guidelines that Wall Street adhered to when taking a company public,” says one prominent hedge-fund manager. “The company had to be in business for a minimum of five years, and it had to show profitability for three consecutive years. But Wall Street took these guidelines and threw them in the trash.” Goldman completed the snow job by pumping up the sham stocks: “Their analysts were out there saying Bullshit.com is worth $100 a share.”

[…]

The market was no longer a rationally managed place to grow real, profitable businesses: It was a huge ocean of Someone Else’s Money where bankers hauled in vast sums through whatever means necessary and tried to convert that money into bonuses and payouts as quickly as possible.

If you laddered and spun 50 Internet IPOs that went bust within a year, so what? By the time the Securities and Exchange Commission got around to fining your firm $110 million, the yacht you bought with your IPO bonuses was already six years old.
Besides, you were probably out of Goldman by then, running the U.S. Treasury or maybe the state of New Jersey.

Taibbi, M. (2010, April 5). The Great American Bubble Machine. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-american-bubble-machine-20100405

confident-idiot

Confident Idiots

Logic itself almost demands this lack of self-insight: For poor performers to recognize their ineptitude would require them to possess the very expertise they lack. To know how skilled or unskilled you are at using the rules of grammar, for instance, you must have a good working knowledge of those rules, an impossibility among the incompetent. Poor performers—and we are all poor performers at some things—fail to see the flaws in their thinking or the answers they lack.

In many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.

Dunning, D. (2014, October 27). We Are All Confident Idiots. Retrieved from http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/confident-idiots-92793/

cruise-ship-300x124

Symbolic Offense

The ships described in the article are the big vessels run by the big lines, and they have all manner of accommodations, depending on how much you spend. The end result – a hierarchy of comfort and amenities ordered by expenditure – is something whose symbolism appalls some folk, because if something doesn’t present sufficient opportunities to be appalled, you have to concern yourself with its symbolic offense.

Lileks, J. (2016, May 2). How to be angry about other people’s vacations. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com/how-to-be-angry-about-other-people-s-vacations/377833321/

18-Wheeler

Coked-Up Editing

The number of cuts per scene is astronomical, ensuring that the audience never gets a chance to orient itself in the environment, or, for that matter, care about what is happening. Liam Neeson is impressive physically, but the fight scenes are filmed with so many cuts that the action itself is never clear. In one car chase scene, involving multiple police cars, an 18-wheeler, and the various commuters on the road, a car commandeered by Mills ends up driving the wrong way down a crowded freeway. At least I think that’s what I was seeing. The coked-up editing makes it impossible to tell, and it made me yearn, longingly, for the classic car chase scene in “To Live and Die in L.A.,” also involving a car barreling the wrong way down a freeway. That visceral, gripping scene in “To Live and Die in L.A.” was filmed so specifically that the audience never loses its orientation in space. Effective car chase scenes involve care in the execution: it’s not enough to show a car flipping over in slo-mo, surrounding it with 100 quick edits designed to disorient. Ironically, that approach ends up making it look like the movie is trying too hard.

O’Malley, S. (2015, January 9). Review: Taken 3 (2015). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/taken-3-2015

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