Saturday, September 08, 2007

More Greed

The sub-headline on this is priceless:

How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury

Pathetic Greed

I can understand how someone who's worth millions would play the lottery. On a long enough timeline, it might seem like a good investment.

Think about it in non-millionaire terms. You'd spend a penny or two every week for a piece of paper on the off chance that it might win you $10,000 or more someday. Chances are you wouldn't win, but we're talking a buck a year here, two bucks max. That's nothing. That's the spare change that ends up in the couch cushions. That's just getting the burger and not the whole value meal for one meal.

Of course, you risk losing your money completely. You could die before you win, but you'd only be out a couple hundred bucks total. That's less than the fees a broker would charge (lifetime rates) to manager your investment account.

And hey, it seems to pay off, at least for some people. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican Congressman from Wisconsin, a millionaire many times over, won the lottery...for the third time.

Jim Sensenbrenner, for the record, is an asshole.

Insatiable Greed

Before I went to bed last night (yesterday afternoon), I was reading from a book I have called A History of Mexico by Henry Parkes. The first couple of chapters deal with the Spanish conquest, which is quite a late start to the history of Mexico, if you ask me. It would be like starting a history of Europe with the launch of the Columbus expedition. You're going to be missing a whole lot, man.

At any rate, the civilizations of Pre-Columbian America has long been a subject I've been fascinated with, and lately I've been thinking about Hernan Cortes, specifically about La Noche Triste, the night Cortes barely escaped from Tenochtitlan alive. (Maybe I'm still lingering over the Pre-Columbian images in The Fountain and Apocalypto, but for some reason, I think the events of La Noche Triste would make a great movie.)

In some circles, Cortes is considered to be one of the great conquistadors, perhaps even the proto-conquistador. I think Cortes should be considered one of the great scoundrels of history, up there with the worst of them. He was a horrible man, ruthless and cunning, responsible for massacres, rape, pillage, and plunder. His sins were matched only by his greed, and may have in fact been inspired by it.

If greed is good, then Cortes was a saint.

Poor iPhone Users

It just doesn't pay to be an early adopter, does it?

George Bush, Miserable Failure

Commenting on Bin Laden's latest taped message, President Bush said:
"The tape is a reminder of the dangerous world in which we live and it is a reminder that we must work together to protect our people."
It's the kind of stupid meaningless shit that you would expect Bush to say, but he missed another reminder when it comes to Osama Bin Laden.

The latest Osama tape should remind us that Bush's policies have not only failed to bring Bin Laden to justice, but they have also failed to put him out of business.

For that, I'd like to thank the Republican Party (who nominated him), evangelical Christians and neocons (who voted for him), and Congress (who never tried to stop him). From the bottom of my heart: Thanks, guys! Your wisdom is obviously beyond reproach.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Horatio Alger in A Thousand Years (Or More)

Thanks to the collapse in the sub-prime mortage market, Countrywide Financial Corporation is suffering some major problems. In response, the company is cutting some 12,000 jobs, almost 20% of its workforce. 1 in 5 jobs, just gone. That's a lot of people with targets on their backs.

However, there's one sector within the company that's presumably safe from the job cuts: the executive boardroom.

Countrywide's CEO is a guy named Angelo R. Mozilo, and last year he made almost $50 million according to the SEC. (Actual number: $48,133,155) In other words, a lot of fucking money.

A little perspective: A man earning the National Average Salary (approximately $36,764 as of 2002) would have to work for 1309 years to make what Mozilo made in 2006.

Yes, 1309 years! That's a long time.

If you and 42 generations of your descendants worked fulltime for over a millennium, you might, collectively, come close to making what Angelo Mozilo made in a single year.

That is absurd. You expect me to believe that one CEO (of an underperforming, in-trouble-with-Wall Street company, no less) equals 1309 "Average Workers?"

Are you nuts?

Updated: Since posting this, I've thought about solutions. What can be done? How can we close the wage inequality gap?

There's all kinds of things the government can do, but I don't think they should do them. Forget about CEO salary caps, raising the minimum wage, encouraging more union organizing.

I think the best thing (perhaps the only thing) that we can do is to stop celebrating greed.

Contrary to what Gordon Gecko says, Greed is not good. More on this later.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

DVD Buying Blues

So now that it's easier to steal a DVD on the internet than it is to swipe it from Target, can DVD manufacturers stop putting those damn annoying, nearly impenetrable security stickers on DVDs?

Andrew Sullivan's Wedding Vows

Andrew Sullivan went and got himself married. To a man.

Here's his wedding vows:
I, Andrew, take you, Aaron,
to be no other than yourself.
Loving what I know of you,
trusting what I don't yet know,
with respect for your integrity,
and faith in your abiding love for me,
through all our years,
and in all that life may bring us,
for better or worse,
for richer or poorer,
in sickness and in health,
till death do us part,
I accept you as my husband
and pledge my love to you.
Now tell me, how can anyone be against that?

Maybe it's time we stop pretending gay marriage opponents are mounting a principled defense of "traditional marriage" and just admit that they're just mean-spirited haters who only half-heartedly believe in love and freedom.

Someone should tell them that those values can't be universal if they only apply to straight people.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hail Draco, King of the Dragon Men

I got an interesting idea for a new story, and it's about this.

I might incorporate a little of this Clutch song too. It's called Oregon and I've been rocking it at least once a day for a week.
I fashion my crown from Quezalcoatl's quills
Build my palace in the jungles of Brazil
In the summertime, come my children
For I hail Draco, King of Dragon Men
It's gonna be great.

Matthew Yglesias on Intellectual Property

Matthew says:
The nation's IP regime is supposed to serve the public interest, not the business models of today's IP-creating companies.
Sorry, Disney, Sony, Microsoft, and all the rest of you bitches.