Category Archives: On the Media

Hot Air: The Game, Stop

I have a mental block when it comes to understanding much of anything to do with economics, macro-variety. Mostly it’s because I see economics as a contrived, flawed, crooked game. The whole scheme for centuries has been molded and manipulated by the haves in order to keep them that way. The entire foundation of economics is based on the unspoken philosophy that holds, Hey, we’ve got dough so that means we’re smarter people, more hard-working people, better people; if you haven’t got dough, too bad, you deserve your lot in life.

Just this past week some weird Wall Street thing went on that I’ve struggled to grasp. That is this whole GameStop phenomenon. I have long been unable to wrap my modest cerebral cortex around the very idea of short selling. I’ve tried to read explanations of it and within seconds my eyes glaze over and I start wondering if perhaps I should clip my toenails. BTW, toenail clipping is out for me for at least the next couple of months due to restrictions placed on me in the wake of my right hip replacement in late December. I am walking, though, and exercising and, slowly but surely, getting back to some modicum of normality I haven’t felt in nearly a decade. Here’s my new gadget:

I sometimes think about that long screw connecting my new plastic joint cup to my hip bone and start shuddering. The very idea that a piece of hardware store merchandise is inside me — permanently — doesn’t quite sit terribly well with me. Then I shake my head and worry about other things, like trying to persuade The Loved One to clip my toenails. (She does, happily. Bless her.)

Anyway, GameStop and short selling. I was listening to On the Media with Brooke Gladstone today. She covered it all because it is perhaps the definitive third decade of the 21st Century media story, inasmuch as the players involved used what-the-hell-ever social media to upend the market for a few days. She had a guest on, some fellow who writes about the economy, meaning I’ve never heard of him although, acc’d’g to Gladstone, he knows his stuff. She asked him the perfect First Question: What is short selling?

I’m a huge advocate of First Questions, employing them on my Big Talk weekly radio interview program on WFHB, 91.3 FM, Bloomington. First Questions are those queries about concepts and things that we all talk about regularly and confidently that we know what we’re talking about but…, well, maybe we’re not so smart about them as we’d like to fancy ourselves.

This fellow launched into a lengthy explanation of short selling, in keeping with economist-talk. Economists cannot, psychologically or biologically, explain anything in simple understandable terms. Y’know, because then it might dawn on the rest of us that the game is rigged. It’s like priests and ministers talking about god and existence. They go on and on for hours, dancing around the conclusion that, golly, we just don’t know.

Toward the end of the economist’s disquisition he said, and I paraphrase, in short selling, somebody borrows a bunch of stock from somebody else and sells it at, say, twenty bucks a pop. They’re hoping the stock’s value is tumbling so they can then turn around and buy back those shares for a ten-spot each. Then, when they return the stock to its owner, they’ve ended up making ten dollars on each share.

If I were a cartoon character, a lightbulb would have gone on over my head. Aha, I though, now I get it.

The economist continued: short selling is good for the market because it keeps certain stocks from becoming overvalued due to irrational exuberance, although why that’s important remains unclear to me. And, trust me, I wont be delving any deeper into these things because…, economics, right?

But I get it — as much as I care to get it — now. Short selling. Makes sense. And it sucks to high heaven. All I could think of was any system that rewards people for the woes and misfortunes of others is sick, probably fatally so. You, the short seller, are hoping an entire company — investors, managers, laborers, plus their families, their butchers, their mortgage holders, etc. — suffer the collapse of said biz just so you can make a few bucks betting on that failure.

My pal, the Lake County Republican, tells me capitalism ain’t perfect but it’s the best thing we’ve got. For my money, if that’s true we’re in a world of shit. I wouldn’t brag about it.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.” — Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

STEEL WILL

Forget Columbus. Forget all the rest of the pirates and rapists and genocide artists and pathological acquisitors we were force-fed as heroes in elementary school.

Neil Armstrong and his mates, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, rode in a shiny white tin can a quarter million miles away from Earth to a place where there was no air, no water, no natives to beg for help from (then kill) — I mean, honestly, can you imagine any more audacious, courageous thing to do?

Aldrin, Collins & Armstrong

Farewell, explorer.

THE CAPITOL OF LIES

Make sure to catch this weekend’s edition of “On the Media.” Host Bob Garfield interviews former NPR Congressional Correspondent Andrea Seabrook, who quit her job, basically because she was sick of the bullshit spewing from the mouths of politicians these days.

Andrea Seabrook

Which is admirable — to an extent.

Seabrook tells Garfield she’s running from lies. “The lies that I’m talking about are just the complete and total disingenuousness of almost everything that’s said all day long in the US Capitol.”

She gives examples of how pols from both parties break the 8th Commandment as a matter of course.

The obvious question is, why do Seabrook and her colleagues let the bums get away with it? She acknowledges their complicity in the great lies. Journalists, she says, collude with pols “by covering what politicians say all day every day, rather than what they don’t say. As journalists, walking into a situation where we know it’s political theater and then recording those words and playing them back to the American people as if they were news plays into the game that they’re playing.”

House Of Lies

Still, she doesn’t say why she continued to play the game even after recognizing that she’d been drawn in. Why, for instance, did Seabrook never say to a pol who was lying, bald-faced, to her, “That’s not true! Why do you say such things?”

Seabrook is starting a new website called DecodeDC which, she promises, will dig beneath the lies.

The problem is only political geeks and policy wonks will go to her site. The vast majority of the citizenry will be stuck with commercial media reporters who not only play the game, but love it.

Maybe Seabrook is heroic for chucking it all. Maybe it would have been more heroic had she stuck it out with NPR and rebelled from within.

THIS. IS. SCARY.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

Skepchick: Click For Full Article

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

Present/&/CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

Click For Full Article

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

◗ IU Bill Armstrong StadiumHoosier women’s soccer vs. Missouri State; noon

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Alice”; 3pm

First United Methodist ChurchVoices United: Benefit for Interfaith Winter Shelter, featuring Heidi Grant Murphy, Kevin Murphy, Grey Larsen & Cindy Kallet, Rachel Caswell, Tom Walsh, Jeremy Allen, Steve Zegree; 4pm

The Player’s PubMusic: Andra Faye & the Rays; 6pm

Bryan ParkSunday Outdoor Concert series: Creek Dogs; 6:30pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Surviving Life”; 6:30pm

Bear’s Place — Ryder Film Series: “Take This Waltz”; 7pm

ONGOING

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th

  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th

  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th

  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th

  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st

  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012

  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st

  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • “Media Life,” drawings and animation by Miek von Dongen; through September 15th

  • “Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture”; through September 15th

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

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