Anything newsworthy happen this week?
I didn’t see anything either.
This Week in Our Dumb World
My first thought when I read this story (and stories like it) is that so many of these choices reflect the idea that businesses have shifted from making things to just making money. There is no value attached to producing something and all value is given to the idea that you could make someone rich. That’s it.
The paragraph excerpted below (in which a Wall Street guy says that no business is different) absolutely haunts me. It describes so much of what is poisoning our economic world. The idea that every business is the same and they all exist for purposes of siphoning money.
When you cut the margins on a table company, maybe some dinner gets spilled. When you cut the margins on airplanes, people crash and die in fire.
The inability to recognize the difference between those two things is everything wrong with American business culture.
A return to the “problem-solving” culture and managerial structure of yore, he explained over and over again to anyone who would listen, was the only sensible way to generate shareholder value. But when he brought that message on the road, he rarely elicited much more than an eye roll. “I’m not buying it,” was a common response. Occasionally, though, someone in the audience was outright mean, like the Wall Street analyst who cut him off mid-sentence: “Look, I get it. What you’re telling me is that your business is different. That you’re special. Well, listen: Everybody thinks his business is different, because everybody is the same. Nobody. Is. Different.”
And indeed, that would appear to be the real moral of this story: Airplane manufacturing is no different from mortgage lending or insulin distribution or make-believe blood analyzing software—another cash cow for the one percent, bound inexorably for the slaughterhouse. In the now infamous debacle of the Boeing 737 MAX, the company produced a plane outfitted with a half-assed bit of software programmed to override all pilot input and nosedive when a little vane on the side of the fuselage told it the nose was pitching up. The vane was also not terribly reliable, possibly due to assembly line lapses reported by a whistle-blower, and when the plane processed the bad data it received, it promptly dove into the sea.
It is understood, now more than ever, that capitalism does half-assed things like that, especially in concert with computer software and oblivious regulators: AIG famously told investors it was hard for management to contemplate “a scenario within any kind of realm of reason that would see us losing one dollar in any of those transactions” that would, a few months later, lose the firm well over $100 billion—but hey, the risk management algorithms had been wrong. A couple of years later, a single JP Morgan trader lost $6 billion because someone had programmed one of the cells in the bank’s risk management spreadsheet to divide two numbers by their sum instead of their average. Boeing was not, of course, a hedge fund: It was way better, a stock that had more than doubled since the Trump inauguration, outperforming the Dow in the 22 months before Lion Air 610 plunged into the Java Sea.
Sure, you could see the movie, but I promise you the real story is a thousand times more compelling and tells a much more complicated tale of post-crash America.
In the time she’d been gone, things had drastically changed. The market collapse in 2008 had left half of Wall Street unemployed, and the mood was such that the other half was staying as far from the Champagne Room as possible. The dancers, too, were all new, she found when she got on the floor. “There were all these Russian girls and Colombian girls, and they were giving blow jobs for $300,” Rosie said. “And they were good-looking. I was like, I can’t compete with this shit!”
Then she saw a familiar face. Samantha Foxx wasn’t dancing anymore, but she was still at the clubs every night, running a crew of dark-haired minions who would pick men up and bring them into the clubs. Samantha called this, rather grandly, “marketing,” although it is generally known as “fishing” and not seen as something one could make a career out of. But Samantha seemed to be doing extraordinarily well, Rosie observed, as she watched them clicking in and out of the Champagne Room, red soles flashing. “I started noticing, these bitches make a lot of money, and they don’t even really work,” she said. “Samantha had found some kind of loophole, where ‘I can get paid and not have to actually have sex.’ ”
Whenever the door to the rooms opened, Rosie would peer in, trying to figure out what they were up to. It didn’t take her long to figure out what was going on. “Like I said, I’m smart,” she said. “I would see the guy laid out, chillin’, and I would be like, Hmmm.”
Say what you want about shitty business speak, it’s given us a lot of fabulous satire.
On a pro forma basis, I’m having an outstanding year. In calendar 2002 I’ve gone to the gym on a regular basis and expect this trend to continue and to have a material impact on my health going forward. Year-to-date, my health has improved by a solid 15 percent on an annualized basis.
These results do not reflect certain items. Loss of good health and potential mortality stemming from 62 consecutive quarters of above-plan intake of assorted spirits, tobacco, and other substances reliant on mouth-to-lung delivery systems, and miscellaneous off-book chemical and pharmaceutical substances, are addressed in a one-time write-down. Results also include the application of “good will” regarding those days, and in some cases weeks, when actual gym attendance was negatively impacted or curtailed by visits to the racetrack, where I ate oysters and drank Budweiser. Finally, a recent post-workout lunch of a 22-ounce, bone-in rib steak at Smith & Wollensky and three shots of bourbon is treated here as a non-recurring expense. I’ll never do that again! I encourage you to focus on these pro forma results as a truer portrait of the state of my health than “traditional measures,” which suggest that I have been dead for at least a year.
I absolutely love almost everything Danny DeVito has been in.
Danny DeVito is history’s most improbable movie star. The man was a headliner for most of the 80s. That’s absolutely bonkers.
My All Time Favorite Danny DeVito movie is Ruthless People. It’s a crime that Ruthless People has fallen out of common viewing.
Other People’s Money is a deep cut great movie.
I will definitely miss Always Sunny when it’s gone.
“I think a lot about how someone shot ‘Here’s looking at you, kid,’” says Fred Savage, The Wonder Years actor turned director who was in the chair for “A Very Sunny Christmas.” “And then Michael Curtiz, the director [of Casablanca], went home, kissed his wife, and tucked his kids into bed … but did he know driving home that he’d shot this indelible moment in cinema? Do you know that you’ve done something magnificent? Because there’ve been a handful of times in my career when I’ve driven home and thought, ‘That was something special; that was something miraculous.’ And, hands down, one of those moments was when a greased-up, naked Danny burst out of that leather couch.”
Ask Danny DeVito about the time he slithered out of a couch nude and he perks up: “That was a cool idea—I liked that idea right away,” he says, staring upward with a twinkle in his eye. “It was hot in there before I broke through, but they had me greased up. … I was like a halibut, man.”
But DeVito’s fondest memory of filming the scene was shocking Kaitlin Olson, who plays Dee, into speechlessness. “There’s a great take on YouTube where Kaitlin doesn’t say her line,” DeVito says. He begins to sputter trying to get the story out. “She’s so stunned when I come out for the first time. She’s like … and I’m saying, ‘Hot, hot, hot, hot,’ and she’s looking at me like, ‘What the fuck?’”
Renia Spiegel was a Polish Jew living in occupied Poland during world war 2. She wrote a diary for 3 years that ends posthumously when her boyfriend recorded her violent death in the Warsaw ghetto. He hid the diary before being sent to Auschwitz. He survived and delivered the diary to her family. It was in a bank vault until 2012. It was finally published in English and released on the 19th. It is powerful and passionate and bears witness to the worst of humanity.
It deserves to be read.