Posts Tagged: Capitalism
1

"Occupy My Condo"

In which we re-answer questions sent to The Ethicist.

I know of someone who has lived mortgage-free for three years while the bank foreclosed on his apartment. During that time, the man paid his monthly maintenance to the building but did not pay his mortgage. His rationale: He had been in the furniture business and lost much of his income with the financial crisis, and not one of the bankers responsible for the meltdown has gone to jail. And furthermore, as a result, his apartment was worth less than he paid for it. Does any of that matter? Is strategic loan default ethical? NAME WITHHELD

You're a nosy [...]

2

Hardcore Art Flippers: Taking The Art Market To Its Logical Conclusion

Stefan Simchowitz took collecting and "art advising"—that's helping people choose which art to buy—to where it was always going to go. He has a posse, a gang of 100 (100 men, seemingly), who buy artists (men, seemingly) in bulk when he says go. ("Sean Parker, Steve Tisch, Orlando Bloom, Guy Starkman, Enrique Murciano, and Rob Rankin, who is the head of investment banking at Deutsche Bank worldwide," he told Artspace.) He's a "disruptor" and a "cultural entrepreneur," he believes in "inexpensive channels for art that allow it to get redistributed and redistributed and redistributed with great virality." That means resale. (He was also producer of Requiem for a [...]

6

How Do We Know Who People Are?

It seems worthwhile to revisit the idea of the universal reputation market, in light of Schrödinger's Satoshi Nakamoto. Is this man Satoshi, or isn't he? For now, he equally is and he definitely isn't the progenitor of Bitcoin. No one has yet elaborated a way to decide.

One way, of course, that we might discover if this person is Satoshi Nakamoto is through constant surveillance—both physical and digital. Would that be a good thing?

How do we know who people are? We have some definite if hackable systems, like social security numbers. Names are a problem; sometimes unique, often not. So people are who they say they are—except, more [...]

9

Your Selfie Realization

Perhaps you are on your way to the gym, listening to some hip-pop anthem to get the blood going. You think: yeah, that sounds good. "We are gonna run this town tonight." "I do want that cake cake cake cake."

There is a slight slippage of ego as you meld with the persona in the song—staring into the mirror to find you are mouthing out a rogue, “Westside!,” or whispering with a little too much conviction: "I am a god." A glittery EDM beat comes in, lifting you up, rollercoaster style, to the bridge of the track, where, adrenaline spiking, you become your true self—which is to say, [...]

9

Hello, Welcome To Blockbuster, May I Help You

I graduated high school in 1997 and I went to work at the Winn Dixie deli counter, which totally sucked. I was still living at home and that fall I enrolled at Tallahassee Community College. I was more unsure of my future than at any other point in my life before or since.

A friend from high school had recently been hired at Blockbuster, and he got me a job there too that fall. Blockbuster was a step up. Not only did we not have to handle foodstuffs, but we also got free video rentals—although we didn’t get health care, or vacation, or sick days.

But I cannot overstate the [...]

1

The Museum Of 9/11 Golf Balls, Terrorism Sweaters And World Trade Center Knives

Pinnacle Anniversary Tribute Golf Balls

In most suburban homes, you wouldn't be surprised to find an array of dusty objects—pencil sharpeners, empty milk bottles, skateboards, air fresheners and perhaps a Mr. Potato Head—tucked into corners of spare bedrooms. In Andrew Marietta's house, in Cooperstown, New York, this stuff shares a common theme: September 11, 2001.

Marietta is the owner of one of the world's largest private collections of September 11 memorabilia. Stored in boxes scattered around his home are 1500 to 2000 objects originally produced by companies to commemorate the event. Many of these items are strange in their ordinariness: Marietta's collection includes not just plaques [...]

38

Something Ordinary In The Air

I worked for a brief time for a lawyer in London named Randolph Fields, who was co-founder of what became Virgin Airlines, among a lot of other things. (He died aged just 44, I was sad to learn, in 1997.) He was a guy simply busting with life, when I knew him; a very smart and I think a kind man underneath all the rich-guy mucho-macho posturing, fond of fast living and poker.

As they designed their new airline, Fields and Richard Branson worked through zillions of maddening details, from buying their first plane (a complicated affair) to applying for routes to developing all the new amenities they'd [...]

7

The Life Cycle Of A Pop Song

Conception Phase The song is born in a basement, a warehouse, or among buskers on the street or subway station. The song may not be entirely finished yet.

Underground Phase The song is played to a small crowd of 3 – 20 friends, mostly drunk, incoherent, and incapable of judging its quality.

Ambivalent Phase You hear it in concert and no one cares. It’s not worth bragging to your friends, even if you secretly like the song.

Connected Phase You hear the song and it’s so refined that it’s good. Your first thoughts are, “Is this real? Am I hearing this?” This is the great “aha” effect [...]

19

Checking In With My Pile Of Rejected 'New Yorker' Cartoons

In 2012, in a rare moment of actual confidence, I mailed an envelope of cartoons to famous New Yorker cartoon editor Robert Mankoff (who, for the short number of weeks surrounding this event, I referred to, in my head, as Bob). I never heard back. Which, I mean, was not a surprise. I’d been doing a lot of drawing, almost entirely for the Internet, and almost entirely for free. The Internet can be a tricky thing; sometimes it feels like there are countless outlets and platforms for creative people, and other times, it all just feels a little pointless. Content is disposable, and whether or not you contribute to it, [...]

5

"Do What You Love"—Oh, But Not That! On Recognizing Sex Work As Work

Astra Taylor’s forthcoming book The People’s Platform, about who has power and who gets paid in the age of the Internet, mentions the following quote about the virtues of “open-source” (read: unpaid) labor from Internet guru Yochai Benkler:

“Remember, money isn’t always the best motivator. If you leave a fifty-dollar check after dinner with friends, you don’t increase the probability of being invited back. And if dinner doesn’t make it entirely obvious, think of sex.”

That quote, unsurprisingly, is from a TED Talk. The talk's audience chose to reflexively laugh rather than actually think about sex or about work. It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone in the audience [...]

6

Man Acquires Money, And Then Houses

Today's least offensive Times op-ed (we can't even talk about this) begins like this: Just five years ago, Adam Fleischman was in a two-bedroom rental with his wife and their year-old son, fumbling around for a career that might stick. Screenwriting hadn’t worked out. Same for finance. He was 38 and, he told me, “It was do or die.”

Today he owns two houses here, one with six bedrooms and a makeshift vineyard out back. He said that he’s toying with the idea of a third in London.

That's about the founder of Umami Burger, but: it seems like that's all people can think to do when they [...]

11

New York v. London

This interview with Alfonso Cuarón is so great: "There’s more a sense of a fun intellectual community in New York. Here [in London] it is not. This is a city supported and made by the banks. And also, British upper classes are very philistine, while in the U.S. you can have an upper class that is cultivated, not necessarily good or bad, so that they support the arts. And because of that, with all the flaws of the U.S., something it keeps that is great is the sense of possibility. Look, I can be critical about a lot of stuff around U.S. politics and stuff, and something I [...]

22

The Ka-Ching Zone

The quasi-hypnotic effects of certain Internet activities were discussed by Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic recently: "The Machine Zone: This Is Where You Go When You Just Can't Stop Looking At Pictures On Facebook." In particular, Madrigal drew serious attention, at last, to the elephant in the room: people may spend hours a day demonstrating compulsive "engagement" on Facebook or Tumblr, but they very commonly loathe themselves for doing so:

Silicon Valley has made the case to itself (and to the users of its software) that we are voting with our clicks. [...] Of course, that completely elides the role the company itself plays in shaping user behavior to [...]

3

Advertising and The Future of the Less-Evil Internet

"The information economy that we are currently building doesn't really embrace capitalism, but rather a new form of feudalism," writes Jaron Lanier, in Who Owns the Future? That book is published today, and you can order it from all the usual places. (Indiebound; Amazon; McNally Jackson; Barnes & Noble; Powell's. See what I did there?)

Jaron Lanier is the author of You Are Not a Gadget, and is a "scholar-at-large" at Microsoft Research. LOL he's also working on an alternative to the space elevator.

But right now, he's looking at how things have come to work on the web. "The primary business of [...]

3

Who's Looking Out For Jasper Johns?

Two decades ago, Martin Lang paid £100,000 for what he thought was a painting by Marc Chagall—a reclining nude, dated 1909-10. Recently, at his son’s behest, Lang submitted the painting to the producers of the BBC art program "Fake or Fortune?" Unfortunately for Lang, "Fake or Fortune"'s analysis came up fake: it showed that the painting's blues and greens used pigments only developed in the 1930s.

Upon this discovery, Lang was issued a writ by the Chagall Committee—based in Paris and headed by Chagall's two granddaughters—which is the only body with the authority to declare the authenticity of a Chagall. Now that Lang's painting has been shown to [...]

19

On Lena, On Rihanna, On Kimye: The Very Necessary Death Of "Vogue"

The idea that there is an appropriate subject for a Vogue cover is a concept that Vogue invented. The years and years of white, able-bodied, skinny and young models and actresses have trained us to instinctively notice what is and isn't Vogue. There is the occasional diversion if the Academy Awards/Grammys/culture demands; but often when Vogue puts aside its insistence that only one kind of beauty exists in order to recognize a different kind of beauty, they do something worse, like the LeBron James cover with Gisele, which was maybe not an overtly racist decision, but certainly an editorial decision that reflected implicitly racist beliefs about the way a [...]

1

Who Runs Olympic Sports? It's Men

Congratulations field hockey, you're the most progressive sport in the whole Olympic program.

That needs some clarification: It's not the sports themselves under scrutiny here, but the sports' governing bodies. The above graphic describes the gender makeup of the executive committees—the people in charge—of every sport in the Olympic program (London 2012 and Sochi 2014). That's summer sports on top, winter on bottom; men on the right, women to the left.

For example, starting at the bottom—we are in the midst of the Sochi winter games, after all—the World Curling Federation has seven men and one woman on its executive committee (you can mouseover each horizontal bar for specifics).

[...]
5

Fear Of A Black Opening Weekend

The Best Man Holiday is a success. That is not particularly a "surprise." It did not "over-perform," nor did it soar for a "race-themed film," as USA Today originally wrote. To speak of it in these terms reduces The Best Man Holiday to thousands of frames of low expectations. It existed and won. As a film, it was 50% an above-average comedy and 50% an abysmal drama. But financially—the only metric that matters to studios—it was a knockout. Set in the present. Not filmed by Tyler Perry. Of which you can expect to see more.

Malcolm D. Lee's movies, in fact, have nearly all been significant [...]

5

Godspeed You! Huge Downer

Crazy times: Godspeed You! Black Emperor won the Polaris Prize, which celebrates a Canadian musician each year (they'll run out soon, having already been through Caribou, Arcade Fire and Feist). Now Godspeed may be going on tour with Nine Inch Nails, but they are not prepared to accept life in the big gross leagues and the kind of hoopla that accompanies $30,000 prizes at this point twenty years into their life as a band. So they said this:

-holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do.

-organizing a gala just so musicians can compete against each other for a [...]

1

Stoya on Sex, Sexing, Sexism, Sexuality And Cleaning The Cat Box

At the 2013 Adult Video Awards, I had the good fortune to meet the woman who calls herself Stoya. She’s mercurial, striking, and staggeringly smart—by turns a writer, lyra acrobat, and wildly successful adult performer. She’s also a busy bee. The other day we talked about privacy, sexuality, the Internet, feminism, pizza delivery guys and doing porn when she’s 50. Her Instagram is entirely cat-related.

The Awl: So, how long have you worked in the industry?

Stoya: Mm…since late 2007. So, six years?

The Awl: What are you doing in LA right now? Are you shooting stuff or just visiting or…?

Stoya: Well, it’s gonna be [...]