Art and Reductionism

Art and Reductionism

Art and Reductionism

I was listening this morning to the music of Paul Van Dyk. He does techno music and, of course, not everyone enjoys that genre. Nevertheless, I find him quite talented and he is also commercially successful. And that got me thinking. Isn’t he one thing under economic analysis  and another as an artist? And this thought began to trouble me. (Here let me give you an example of his work from the people at You Tube) –

As an economic unit, we can discuss him in terms of record sales,  and perhaps check actuarial tables to see how long he might be expected to live and what profits he might generate over that period. But there are other elements that might be considered. For one thing, when I hear the music I want to dance and I know that I want to hear it again. There is a recognition of pieces of music that I have hard before and the knowledge that this music will be incorporated in that greater experience.

Music is an art subject to creativity. So there are standards other than profitability. We know that a five year tapping enthusiastically on a toy piano is not the equivalent of Tchaikovsky. But measured only by monetary standards, the artistic merits of different works melt away.

Here is an example of a once popular song that you might consider as not being on the same level of talent as the one above-

Imagine yourself as a television or a cable executive. If you have a perception of art as an independent value, you are likely to choose Van Dyk over Stevens. But if you have no perception or much more likely you were taught in business school or in an administrative program that only economic value is important than Stevens might be a better choice.

In fact, under Milton Friedman’s reasoning using anything but Stevens should that music generate the most profit is stealing from the shareholders. A firm has no social responsibility to any stakeholder save the shareholders for they are the economic engine of the organization. Considering the actual power of shareholders in the corporate, this is a fairly comical concept. Here, here and here are vivid examples and explanations of shareholder impotence. (In the third entry, while the author hates the idea of shareholder power, he admits they are currently powerless.)

Perhaps, since in fact, the shareholders are a secondary consideration, we should consider the customer, the audience, to be a legitimate stakeholder? Is there any duty under free market fundamentalism or Neo-liberal doctrine to the consumer? No, they are economic units whose interests are to be weighed in terms of profitability. But there is, if you think of the audience as human beings who may be harmed or degraded by kitsch art and enlightened by great art. But if you do a reductionist analysis – if every element of society from art to a new born child is subject to economic analysis and solely to economic analysis, than the audience is a mass of disassociated atoms who may be used in any manner desired. So why not bombard them with schlock? Why not lie or mislead if that is more popular than the truth? Why not encourage them to hate minorities, despise foreigners and think illegal acts by the government are a pretty good deal? It seems to me that adherence to that kind of reductionism, the idea that monetary value and greed are the basic elements of economic life and life in general, will work to nullify all the thousands of years of philosophy and religion and all the other elements of our cultural heritage that support the concepts of morals, ethics and brotherhood.

I understand the breath taking delight of a unified theory that explains everything. And I have met those who explained to me that economic analysis explains everything from child rearing to heroism and finally to all history. There was a book I read once that explained the American Civil War as purely an economic event. However, my perception is that slavery was a major factor and that the horrifying nature of the practice goes far beyond any economic practice. I worry that if a person were to make decision based on purely economic factors, judging human worth only in terms of value, than slavery begins to make a lot sense. I don’t think so.

Besides slavery, 16 hour days, child labor and moving dangerous industries overseas can all be justified economically. Taking logically to its final conclusion, human rights and democracy are serious impediments to economic development. How about a real life example? How about this one, or this one or this one. It often seems that if a local government questions privatization be it nursing homes or charger school, people begin to talk about abolishing it. Have you noticed what happens when local governments do things that anger corporate interests even in the most peripheral ways? How about this one or this one or this one or this one? These examples show cases where people are losing the ability to make decisions for themselves.

I have been told directly that if I judge one form of art, (if memory serves, my specific example was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), as less worth preserving than other art, I’m an elitist. My student seemed to feel that he had won the argument once he trotted out the word “elitist.” While I am cognizant that much of what passed for high art has been discarded over the years and much that was originally derided as trash has been re-examined and reassessed, I don’t worry too much about the “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” being reassessed as better than “Citizen Kane.” There are standards and many of them have stood the test of time. But I have been regarded as a fool and a pathetic one for not recognizing the obvious truth that people are a means to an end, that rules are for the weak and that I was never going to make real money with my attitude. In other words, standards, whatever they may be, art work or relational, are irrelevant. Monetary value is the thing.

I ask you to reflect. What if you have a child? Maybe schlock is okay for everybody else’s children but what about yours? I think you might consider doing what I did and not have television in the house. In my case that was from when my son was eleven to the present. He’s now 21, very well read and very much a gentleman. I believe that decision was important in raising a child with strong moral beliefs.

If you are willing to protect your child from poor taste, bad morals and just wasting their time on broadcast nonsense, and I believe you do – than together we believe there are standards that are important and useful. If that is the case, that calls into question the premises of free market fundamentalism and Neo-liberalism. It can’t be that everything is quantifiable in terms of value and yet there are important standards resting on other rationales.

Can we use economic analysis if there are other values? Absolutely. All we have to do is remember that this form of analysis is just a tool. Sometimes it’s useful. Sometimes it’s not. Applying it to every human endeavor is taking a valuable form of thinking and stretching it beyond its capabilities. But there are many who find this kind of gross simplification persuasive and because of the seductive nature of these ideas to wealthy elites, it has become a powerful tool for remaking civilization in the image of the market. That’s a form of idolatry. There are worthy ideas but this one destroys other ideas, in particular, the concepts of inherent human worth, the precepts of religion and philosophical reasoning. Can you imagine a society purely designed along the lines of a market?

We don’t have to live in a world where everything is economically valued. We can live with truth and beauty, love and honor. And we can use economic concepts for economic problems while remembering there are other ways of thinking and other ways of making decisions.

James Alan Pilant

 

Bank Robberies and Business Crime

Bank Robberies and Business Crime

I was looking at the FBI’s bank robbery statistics for 2009, interesting stuff. And it got me curious – what would business crime look like in terms of profitability by comparison?

 

Violations by Type of Institution

Robberies

Burglaries

Larcenies

Commercial Banks

4,495

44

10

Mutual Savings Banks

16

0

0

Savings and Loan Associations

105

3

0

Credit Unions

398

13

1

Armored Carrier Companies

0

0

1

Totals

5,014

60

12

This table is copied with sincere thanks to the FBI from http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/bank-crime-statistics-2011/bank-crime-statistics-2011

That’s 5,014 bank robberies. A little further down you find that the total take on all these robberies was $38,343,501.96. This comes out to an average of $7467.29. To get a middle class income you are going to have a rob several banks.*

Now, let’s have a look at a fairly typical business crime. Here’s a little quote from the SEC

In a complaint unsealed yesterday afternoon in federal court in Denver, the SEC alleges that Kristine L. Johnson of Aurora, Colo., and Troy A. Barnes of Riverview, Mich., have raised more than $3.8 million since April 2014 from investors they enticed into buying positions in their company Work With Troy Barnes Inc., which is doing business as “The Achieve Community.”  In Internet videos and other web promotions, investors were pitched “you and anyone you know can make as much money as you want” by purchasing positions that cost $50 each, and as they progress through the matrix they would receive a $400 payout on each position within three to six months.  Barnes claimed to have hired a seasoned programmer to perfect the triple algorithm investment formula supposedly generating the extraordinary returns.

Unlike a bank robbery where deposits are insured by the federal government, there is little change of recovery under these circumstances. The federal government (SEC) alleges that the funds were used to pay returns for the earlier investors. If true, this would be a classic Ponzi-scheme.

294 Bank Robbed!

I ask you to compare the profits. By any standards, the alleged Ponzi is a much better use of time and probably far safer than bank robbery. If we assume a profit of 50%, that is 1.9 million dollars. A bank robber would have to rob on the average 294 banks to get the same return. If our bank robber hits one bank a day, he’s working more days than a legitimate job at considerable hazard and his work doesn’t have medical insurance or sick leave.

If you do the business crime instead, you get to wear nice clothes, choose your hours and if you figure your profits (1.9 million) by a forty hour week at 52 weeks, that is $918.46 an hour. Now, should you point out there were two of them, you would be right and therefore each would only be getting $409.23 an hour. I would kindly suggest that they didn’t work that many hours.

So, what’s my point? There is business ethics and there is criminal justice. Criminal justice curbs crime and crime pays poorly. Business ethics is also concerned with crime and on a scale undreamed of by the common criminal. Now, of course, the criminal justice is also concerned with business crime. After all the SEC is acting in this case.

But not all business crime is prosecuted and when it is, there are often only fines. Are you aware of the Holder doctrine? Here’s William D. Cohan’s take on it:

That Mr. Holder prefers large settlements to prosecutions is no surprise to anyone familiar with the so-called Holder Doctrine, which stems from his now-famous June 1999 memorandum — when he was deputy attorney general — that included the thought that big financial settlements may be preferable to criminal convictions because a criminal conviction often carries severe unintended consequences, like loss of jobs and the inability to continue as a going concern.

So, if a typical American citizen commits a crime he can expect to go to prison while a bank executive’s whose conviction might have “unintended consequences” will pay a fine. This is where the accused in the SEC case (referred to above) erred – they didn’t run a larger organization where there could be unintended consequences of prosecution.

So, in conclusion, business crime pays hundreds of times better than regular crime, and if done on a large enough scale, prosecution will be waived and fines imposed instead.

It makes it difficult to understand why anyone would want to do something so mundane as rob a bank.

James Pilant

* I have decided to call the amount of money made in an average bank robbery in 2009 – a Pilant Unit. That is, an average of $7467.29 so that the scale of business crime might be better described. In future articles I will refer to business crime in terms of these units. jp

I’m Not Gone!!!

My Kind Readers!

Beginning around the 25th of November, I began to deal with sinus and ear infections.

It was rough. I still managed to go to work (the life of an adjunct is what it is) and stayed even on the bills.

But anything else had to wait. So, I’ve posted but little and for that I apologize.

I finished the third bout of antibiotics last Thursday, the 4th of February. Except for a touch of bronchitis I am very much myself.

Last year, 2014 will gradually fade into memory – my dreams were shattered and what remains is pleasure in books and a love for my students – it will have to be enough.

The blog continues.

So do I.

James Pilant

Bizarre Experts Are No Accident

Bizarre Experts Are No Accident

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Bizarre Experts Are No Accident

Recently Fox “News” had a televised disaster, a terrorism expert whose knowledge and expertise were laughable.  But this cannot be a surprise to those of us who pay attention to the content of cable news.

(At the bottom of the page is a piece from Addicting Info in which a capable journalist discusses the problem.)

In the far off past of the 1960’s, television news lost money. It was supposed to. The news was a return to the public by the networks in return for the use of the airwaves. It was required and expected by the law creating the FCC and part of the administrative rules of the agency.

How times have changed.

The networks were released from these responsibilities to provide a public service. This was in the name of the free market. Because we all know that only when business is freed from regulation and responsibility to the public can real benefits be expected. After all businesses are self-regulating. They will not act against the public interest – Didn’t you read Milton Friedman?

And what benefits we have reaped! Now we have the opportunity to watch “news” programs where facts, reasoning and any semblance of respect for reality are expendable.

So what’s surprising about experts on terrorism who couldn’t cross the street without a map and a boy scout? People who have no concept what they’re talking about are often far more interesting (provocative?) than real experts. After all, you go to college for years and then work in a field for more years, write scholarly papers in an almost inscrutable form of scholarly and bureaucratic English, you tend to be wordy and cautious. This is boring. Since news must turn over the big bucks – (boredom kills profits.) We gotta’ have action. That means extreme statements, and they have to be loud and certain – because that generates ratings.

And if your network has an ideological basis, any real expert is verboten. We’re not just selling news, we’re selling ideology – a one-two punch of certainty  for a specific demographic.

So, by converting to a free market formula for news and giving up any responsibility to the public, we have the opportunity for a representative democracy in which a majority of the population believe nonsense, in which science is ridiculed, conspiracy theories treated as legitimate news and demogogary elevated to an art form.

This is bad business ethics.

James Alan Pilant

Addicting Info – Watch This Journalist’s Brilliant Take Down Of Cable News Experts (VIDEO)

During an interview, Scahill told CNN’s Hala Gorani:

“CNN and MSNBC and Fox are engaging in the terrorism expert-industrial complex, where you have people on as paid analysts that are largely frauds who have made a lot of money off of portraying themselves as terror experts and have no actual on-the-ground experience. … Some of your paid analysts, that you have on this network or other networks, basically are just making money off of the claim that they’re experts on terrorism and really don’t have the scholarly background or on-the-ground experience to justify being on your network or any other network.”

via Addicting Info – Watch This Journalist’s Brilliant Take Down Of Cable News Experts (VIDEO).

Obama’s Wonderful Words

Obama’s Wonderful Words

Tom Wheeler is Chairman of the FCC. Tom Wheeler before becoming Chairman of the FCC was a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry. Tom Wheeler was appointed by President Obama.

Obama's Wonderful Words

Obama’s Wonderful Words

President Obama is calling for strong protections for net neutrality with his usual eloquence and newsworthy phrasing. Where was this concern when he appointed Tom Wheeler?

If the President says he wants something done and he appoints someone who is not on the same page, whose fault is it? And how seriously should we take a President who says wonderful, wonderful things but whose actions are not in sync with those same wonderful words?

I believe in net neutrality. Without it, this web site and many others like it will load slower and probably eventually disappear from the net altogether. The President appears to be on my side. It is well said that appearances can be deceiving. If he really wanted net neutrality he would have appointed a stalwart defender of the concept and not an advocate for the cable companies to the commission.

What he wants it to have it both ways and he’s getting it. He wants to be seen as being on the right side of the issue but doesn’t want that right side to become law. So, the President puts on his game face, calls us to battle and then does nothing while keeping up appearances.

It’s called being played and I don’t like being played. I’m not tired of his talk – I’m disgusted with the talk. I believe in the power of words. I’m a teacher. But words are only one element of leadership. Sometimes words are the only things you have but this is the President. He actually gets to appoint people and direct policy. You would think that there would be synchronicity between the two things but with this President, you would be wrong.

I want to see Net Neutrality enshrined in law. The President says he is on my side. How much he means and how much it matters remains to be seen.

James Pilant

Obama Net-Neutrality Stance May Spur Fight With GOP – WSJ – WSJ

Mr. Obama specifically called for the Federal Communications Commission to go beyond its previous proposals and explicitly ban broadband providers from blocking, slowing down or giving preferential treatment to some websites. To achieve that, he said, the FCC should classify broadband as a utility or common carrier, which would open up the industry to greater regulation.

via Obama Net-Neutrality Stance May Spur Fight With GOP – WSJ – WSJ.

From Around the Web –

The bottom line is that there is no way around net neutrality if we want a free and open internet. The internet must be explicitly protected. We cannot rely on the mythical free market fairy to do something that is the job of the FCC. (This is a great article – I have to be careful how much I quote or Google penalizes me, so please go and read the whole essay!)

As we’ve learned in other spheres, however, corporate executives are not ones to let virtue stand in the way of profit, and today’s telecom tycoons are no different. For some time, they’ve been scheming to dump the idea of net neutrality, viewing its public benefit as an unwarranted obstacle to their desire to grab greater profits.

Isn’t it peculiar how everyone agrees that things like “Internet fast lanes” are bad except for the companies that stand to directly benefit from these net neutrality-bending ideas, and the lobbyists on their payrolls? The debate rages on, and net neutrality shot into the spotlight yet again earlier this week when President Obama came out in opposition of fast lanes, and in support of Title II of the Telecommunications Act, which would reclassify Internet service providers as utilities.

 

The Billionaire Price Index

The Billionaire Price Index

Paul Singer, a billionaire, believes inflation is a serious problem and he is dumfounded by government data that show otherwise. According to him, the evidence before his eyes shows there is a high rate of inflation. He tells us that he has personally witnessed a dizzying increase in the price of up-scale real estate and high-end art prices.

Obviously, this is a silly conclusion based on the most fragmentary evidence, but why is it a business ethics problem?

Simple. Mr. Singer is a billionaire, for many, a fount of wisdom. And the fact is, he is far more influential than thousands of voters (or bloggers). Politicians shake with fear that he might give to their opponents and hope upon hope that he will give to them. Financial publications, business television and newspapers breathlessly publish his words as if he were a newly minted Old Testament Prophet.

But here, he, a major figure in the financial world, shows that he does not understand inflation. What’s wrong with his analysis?

First, the top 1% are doing extremely well right now having captured the lion’s share of the income gains since the financial crisis of 2007. So, obviously prices will increase for high end items when high end incomes are increasing dramatically. That’s pretty simple.

But his analysis is worse. If you’re looking for inflation outside the numbers presented by the CPI, such analysis would seem to include a look at major nation wide prices on such things as energy. Further, if there is an actual high rate of inflation, shouldn’t it be reflected in the currency markets as well as in the countless economic transactions like those on the Chicago Mercantile?

Reasoning and logic are basic to business ethics. Before you can analysis the ethical and unethical, it is a necessity to understand what’s going on. Mr. Singer is calling for dramatic changes in economic policy. These would have the effect of more protection for already accumulated capital and make the labor market more difficult across the country causing hardship for millions. His reasoning is nonsensical but his influence is vast.

It seems to me that disregarding evidence and making policy based on that disregard is irresponsible and unethical. The billionaire price index is a self serving fantasy for those whose accumulated wealth is threatened by any inflation. But these individuals are powerful enough that their fantasies can make policy. It shows that they are out of touch with basic economic reasoning and the lives of the vast majority of Americans.

It also implies that the “ruling class,” the “beltway,” and the “very serious people” (all very much the same group) have a loose grip on reasoning but a hard and strong grip on ideas that favor protecting their interests.

James Pilant

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The Billionaire Price Index

An Excerpt from The Washington Post -

This billionaire thinks the Fed is missing the hyperinflation in the Hamptons – The Washington Post

Which brings us to Paul Singer. He’s the hedge fund billionaire who’s made a small part of his fortune buying bonds from countries on the edge of default, and then suing them to get paid in full.* (This hasn’t worked quite as well with Argentina). Well, it turns out that he has some very idiosyncratic ideas about what inflation actually looks like. His latest investor letter recycles all these ideas, inveighing against the Fed’s “fake prices,” “fake money,” and “fake jobs,” before zeroing in on where inflation is really showing up — his wallet:

Check out London, Manhattan, Aspen and East Hampton real estate prices, as well as high-end art prices, to see what the leading edge of hyperinflation could look like.

That’s right: Paul Singer thinks Weimar-style inflation might be coming because he has to pay more for his posh vacation homes and art pieces.

via This billionaire thinks the Fed is missing the hyperinflation in the Hamptons – The Washington Post.

Relevant comments from other web sites:

This guy is called “the Vulture” for a good reason. I didn’t give him the nickname. He’s called that by everyone in the banking community. What he does is he buys–he finds old debts that were considered long settled by nations that were in a civil war, like the Congo or Argentina, or the U.S. auto industry, okay? And what he does is he then–after a deal has been worked out, he waits about ten years, and then he suddenly shows up and says, hey, wait, you owe me! Well, how much? Oh, say, 10,000 percent more than I paid.

Testing Madness

Testing Madness
137

Testing Madness

Students attending Holyoke public schools have their test scores posted in their classrooms on the walls. (See the article at the bottom of the essay.)

“Under Dr. Paez’ direction, teachers are currently required to post student data including test scores, reading levels and other academic scores and information in their classrooms and other public areas of schools,” said Paula Burke, of Lawler Street, parent of a third-grader at Donahue School.

Humiliation used as a means of social control? – or for “encouraging students?” It sounds like a Dickens novel.

That’s not teaching. That is corporate culture. Teaching encourages learning and has a deep and abiding concern for the psychological welfare of the students. Because we that teach know that a damaged learner gets few benefits from an education. Corporations post results to force competition and winnow out the winners and the losers.

But these are not corporate pawns made to suffer psychological abuse to make them push for higher sales. These are children.  We’re not supposed to be dividing them into winners and losers. First, of all, they are children. Children going to school can have good and bad years, good subjects and bad subjects, etc. Second, designating human beings in the midst of the development of their skills and judgment is bound to be wildly inaccurate. Is is simply not fair.

But what does fairness have to do with testing madness? It is designed to determine winners and losers – principally losers.

But what is the matter with the truth? After all they earned those scores, they should know where they stand?

No, they are not adults with a capacity to absorb criticism. This is because adults have formed self perceptions with defenses. These children are very young and they have little to filter out the devastating effects of early stigmatization. This is a definition of labeling theory? – Do you see the connection?

Unwanted descriptors or categorizations – including terms related to deviance, disability or diagnosis of a mental disorder – may be rejected on the basis that they are merely, often with attempts to adopt a more constructive language in its place. A stigma is defined as a powerfully negative label that changes a person’s self-concept and social identity.

There is a perception among many that labeling people as losers particularly early in their lives has an effect on the rest of their lives. That testing partisans are willing to curse children by stigmatizing them does not speak well of the testing movement.

What is this competition thing, anyway? I’ve heard people speak of competition as if it were the natural process of life that everything revolves around. There have to be winners and losers. Not always. There are some things in our society that lend themselves to that but many, most, don’t. We don’t educate children into winners and losers. We educate them to have basic abilities like reading and writing but principally we educate them to be good citizens because that is what makes for successful democratic societies.

We cooperate in social settings, in obeying the law and doing such complex tasks as driving. To get to work, to successfully achieve our goals, cooperation is generally more important than knocking the other guy down.

Sometimes we compete but most of the time and in most situations we cooperate. Generally speaking education is a cooperative endeavor.

Turning it into a meat processor devoted to dividing students early and often into groupings of success and pain is only good to the most twisted of minds.

This is corporate thinking and corporate processing aimed at the most impressionable of our population. It calls into question the judgement and intelligence of our corporate elites. This kind of formulaic, one size fits all, group think is not an indicator of ability. It’s an indicator of a pervasive lack of thought. In short, an inability to understand business ethics and apply ethical thinking to the world at large.

Over and over again, I see simple business ideas of dubious quality applied to every situation apparently because if it is an idea from business it must be good.

I believe in a reliance on facts and reasoning. That is how you make good judgements in life and in education.Formulaic thinking has good results when luck and chance favor it. That’s not good enough.

James Pilant

“Poster child for tenure”: Why teacher Agustin Morales really lost his job – Salon.com

Last February, Morales and some of his colleagues, as well as parents whose students attend Holyoke public schools, spoke at a school committee meeting (the equivalent of a school board) and protested a directive from higher-ups to post students’ test scores on the walls of their classrooms, complete with the students’ names. Paula Burke, parent of a third-grader at Donahue, called the walls “public humiliation.” Some teachers questioned whether posting data publicly violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. As I reported at the time for In These Times, the superintendent tried to turn the tables on teachers, saying that they were never told to use students’ names and that the directive did not come from the administration, but the teachers released a PowerPoint from their training session that clearly showed photos of sample data walls, with first names and last initials.

via “Poster child for tenure”: Why teacher Agustin Morales really lost his job – Salon.com.

An additional note from the Washington Post –

Today’s version: data walls, where teachers are making lists of all kinds of data — very often student test scores and grade data — and putting them up for display so everybody can revel in the glory of data. The use of “data” to “drive instruction” has become a mantra among many school reforms in recent years, and, as one manifestation, teachers in states across the country are being encouraged to create these data walls. They are even getting professional development in how to create them. Some include the names of students — even kindergarteners — while some don’t.

A Good Person, Really?

A Good Person, Really?
A Good Person, Really?

A Good Person, Really?

At the bottom of the page is an excerpt from “War Machine’s” suicide note. For whiny self indulgence, it would be difficult to exceed. In his mind, he is being persecuted, apparently for being a “real” man.

What does this have to do with business ethics? Haven’t you noticed that men’s sports seems to involve on a routine basis, a level of misogyny more appropriate for the Dark Ages than 21st century America? It’s not an aberration. It’s part of the win at any cost mentality. It’s part of a male centered system in which moving a ball around an enclosed area is somehow of critical importance.

A lot of this is about money. A hooked customer is much better than a thinking one. But on the other hand, a lot of it isn’t. The feeder teams, the high schools, have only limited money incentive to compete (aside from the enormous costs to education) yet here too we encounter misogyny on an incredible scale. Rape victims are re-victimized. Hazing of a particularly deviate kind is considered a “boys will be boys” problem. Parents rush to defend football programs where the players act more like a youth gang than a sport.

It results in attitude’s like War Machine’s note. War Machine is a victim in his view – a very high level of Freudian projection. The woman he seriously injured is persecuting him. When she broke up with him and moved on, she had the nerve to have sex with someone else. You can almost hear an orchestra of tiny violins. And he’s unfairly being charged with crimes because he’s a guy living in the wrong era. Ah, if only there was a good Viking raiding party needing a few good men, maybe some horde ready to ride out of the wilderness and destroy a fledgling civilization. But unfortunately, he lives in a nation where there is some law and he will be held accountable.

This bleeds over into schooling, work and politics.

One of the worst elements of misogyny that seems to leak into every part of work and play is the amazing capacity for males to blame women for male behavior. Be it rape, pregnancy, or spousal abuse, every single time, no matter what the circumstances, “she” should have done something else. She should not have been out that late, She should not have worn those clothes. She should not have talked back. She should not have resisted or she should have resisted. She should have known what to expect. She should not have been drinking.

Or on the job – she should not have been so aggressive. She should not have applied for the job if she was just going to get pregnant. She should not have joined a job if she couldn’t take being or not being in the “boys’ club. She shouldn’t take so much time off. She shouldn’t have so many children.

See, it’s all the women’s fault. You might think rape is an affirmative act requiring decision making and physical action on the part of the perp, but no, men are lured into rape by the siren call of cunning, conniving women. You know, the root of all evil, cursed by poor negotiating skills with snakes. And women get pregnant by themselves. And beat themselves up, etc.

A new era is upon us. We are going to have to think about these issues. The note from “war machine” is a wake up call to the rest of us about the costs of misogyny, the macho culture of sports and the stupidity, the self-righteousness of some men.

James Pilant

Addicting Info – War Machine’s Suicide Note Blames Men’s Oppression For Making Him Beat Ex-Girlfriend

However, his attitude changes later in the letter as he admits to “crying like a lil’ bitch” and blames Mack for the “f*cking ridiculous” allegations that have ruined his life. He wrote:

“They wanna charge me with battery and domestic violence? Fine, do it, but don’t railroad me with B.S. fantasy charges like: Rape! Attempted murder! Kidnapping! And Burglary! It’s making it impossible for for justice.

I’m a good person with a huge heart and everyone who knows me know that, especially Christy.” (source)

War Machine seems to have forgotten that he fractured Mack’s rib, ruptured her liver, knocked out her teeth and broke her nose. Not to mention that he attempted to kill her, and would have succeeded if she hadn’t run away. Instead, he suggests that Mack’s “scumbag agent” is pressuring her to testify against him for cash.

Toward the end, War Machine again whines about men’s rights, saying:

“Society has killed men, I was never meant to live in this era anyway. Follow your dreams and think for yourselves.” (source)

via Addicting Info – War Machine’s Suicide Note Blames Men’s Oppression For Making Him Beat Ex-Girlfriend.

A Few Relevant Comments from my fellow bloggers -

Now, it wasn’t as if I was personally attacked by someone of the opposite gender on this mundane monday afternoon. God, no, I doubt I even had an encounter with the beast we call “men”. But after checking twitter, and deciding to look on an individual’s account (granted, I have no fucking idea how to use twitter), I was shocked horrified and downright confused. Do boys like this even talk to their mother?

Hysteria, the root of the word “hysterical,” was used as a medical diagnosis into the Victorian age, almost up to present times. Throughout history, women were frequently connected with the misogynistic theories of the Greeks that set them out as being the weaker sex. Christian Europe purported that women were weaker than men, that they were more fragile and prone to “demonic possession.”

No matter how often women try to explain about the discrimination, the abuse, the pain, the fear, and the hate that women are subjected to in our society, a man will try to knock her down some more.  Well guess what guy?  I’d rather spend the rest of my life alone than submit myself to the likes of you.  Bring on the negative comments!

The Fourth Estate is Vacant

The Fourth Estate is Vacant

The state wants to spy on us – but is it up to the job? | Technology | The Observer

Many moons ago, shortly after Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA first appeared, I wrote a column which began, “Repeat after me: Edward Snowden is not the story”. I was infuriated by the way the mainstream media was focusing not on the import of what he had revealed, but on the trivia: Snowden’s personality, facial hair (or absence thereof), whereabouts, family background, girlfriend, etc. The usual crap, in other words. It was like having a chap tell us that the government was poisoning the water supply and concentrating instead on whom he had friended on Facebook.

via The state wants to spy on us – but is it up to the job? | Technology | The Observer.

The Fourth Estate is Vacant

The Fourth Estate is Vacant

The Wasteland of American News

I was reading a joke the other day. It went like this:

CNN was changing its name from “The Most Trusted Name in News” to “Holy crap, we’re all going to die.” This is from the Borowitz Report from the New Yorker Magazine. This is only a short distance from the truth. The media coverage of the spread of Ebola has been sensationalism at its worst. The 24 hours new cycle has been turned over to know-nothing commentators, crank conspiracy theorists and a band of insipid hosts who appear to have given up on even the appearance of journalism. From time to time an expert appears only to be ignored or marginalized or both. It would be hilarious if the subject wasn’t so important and the stakes so high. I’m seeing comments on Facebook talking abut the millions of dead from the Spanish Flu Epidemic and classroom talk of death dealing sneezes.

The Fourth Estate is Vacant

I have graduate hours in journalism. I’m not seeing much in this crisis. It’s been replaced by a corporate inspired search for higher ratings and for at least one network, political attacks of the most base kind. It’s all about the money. And as long as it is, the money will be on lies, exaggeration and the fomenting of panic, anything to keep the gullible and uninformed glued to that empty screen and these substitutes for competent professionals.

Surely, this tells us as a society, as a people, that glorifying greed carries a terrible price. Just when we need the truth we receive ratings fodder. Can it be any clearer that honor, fairness and truth are the basic foundation of a successful society?

If every human endeavor is only worthwhile if it is profitable, if success is measured only in coin, then this kind of “journalism” is fully justified. If a company’s only responsibility is to increase its profits, the public be damned. Even when misinformation kills, it sells.

Is business ethics just a joke? Certainly, when I tell people what I do, I get a lot of ironic smiles, chuckles and looks of pity. Maybe that’s all I deserve, a voice in the wilderness who sees Americans increasingly devolving into prey animals, narcissists who hunt for the last dollar from the last of their fellow citizens.

If common humanity, if simple human decency, cannot compel responsible journalism, how far has the nation’s moral fabric decayed?

James Pilant

Here are some linked quotes from other bloggers whose writing is superlative –

The Fourth Estate as we know it is in its death throes, fighting for a last breath before meeting its maker.

Journalism is a slippery slope. In order to uphold the fourth estate and provide the public with current news, ethical issues arise left, right and center. News-gathering, interviewing and reporting are areas of journalism where ethical conduct is imperative at all times in order to maintain the respect for the media as a reliable source of public information.

Journalism is not public relations. It’s goal is not to spin stories and appease audiences for personal gain, but of course, corruption is everywhere in this world even if we choose to ignore it. Unnamed sources can be fishy for a number of reasons, with the biggest one being that it encourages lazy journalism. 

This is currently being threatened by the same conglomerates that overtook television and made it the face-rotting advertisement box are trying to change the rules so companies can pay extra money for an ‘internet fast lane’.

The last one is a little peripheral, but damn, what writing! (jp)

 

The Three Percent!

The Three Percent!
The Three Percent

The Three Percent

Spare me your “femvertising”: The advertising industry’s weird, persistent woman problem – Salon.com

Recently, at New York’s Advertising Week, a hedonistic celebration of all things commercial, a half dozen panels focused on women. Discussion topics ranged from the instructional, namely how to avoid insulting women when you’re trying to sell them stuff, to the philosophical, which asked tough questions to the tune of, essentially, “Could it be women’s fault they’re not being promoted?” Panels with titles like “Women Aren’t Creative?” readily recognized that women make 80 percent of household purchasing decisions.  What the smiling executives at center stage were a little slower to acknowledge is that women are only 3 percent of the creative directors making decisions about how to best sell things to these millions of shopping ladies. The word “femvertising” was thrown around a lot, but never the word “feminism.” Perhaps that’s because in an industry famous for being sexist, feminism is scary even if it sells.

via Spare me your “femvertising”: The advertising industry’s weird, persistent woman problem – Salon.com.

Where are the women?

Women might be smarter when it comes to selling things to other women. Certainly, they would bring experience to the table. There are differences in male and female shopping. But does “The Three Percent” reassure you that women are being represented?

Yes, in the advertising field, only three percent of the creative directors are women. And this is in a world, a nation, where women go to college and graduate in larger number than men. Is it easy to believe that women are just not applying for these jobs? – that they are just no qualified – that women lack creativity and useful knowledge about marketing to women?

There has to be a suspicion about hiring practices and employment in the industry. Suspect “like hiring like” or an “old boys network” or a” set of frat connections,” there is something wrong.

Can it be that the constant horror of ads in garish poor taste directed at women is a result of women’s absence in key roles in advertising? (1)

You want to pound your head against a stone wall. How can people be comfortable with a field dominated by men when every day we have solid, clear and compelling evidence that when it comes to women, they just don’t get it. Three percent is not an accident, not a statistical anomaly; it’s a conscious decision by hundreds of men to not hire women. And by not hiring women, they damage their ability to make money and please their customers. So, this kind of hiring misogyny is foolish and counterproductive.

Surely, someone, somewhere, can view this statistic and make a better decision. It’s time to hire some women to sell to women.

James Pilant

 

 (1) Given advertisers’ complete willingness to exploit women’s fears and insecurities whenever necessary to promote a product — especially when that product is edible — I wasn’t terribly surprised this morning when I walked onto a Manhattan-bound R train and saw this advertisement …

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