Monthly Archives: September 2008

The President is “Very Disappointed”

Upon hearing the bailout failed to pass in the house:

A White House spokesman said that President Bush was “very disappointed.”

“There’s no question that the country is facing a difficult crisis that needs to be addressed,” Tony Fratto told reporters. He said the president will be meeting with members of his team later in the day “to determine next steps.”

This fuckin’ guy didn’t determine “next steps” BEFORE the vote? Contingency plans weren’t discussed? What does this man DO all day?

Update: Bush added,

“Our strategy is to continue to address this economic situation head on. We’ll be working to develop a strategy,”

How recursive.

Insightful Commentary From Ziya Danishmend

The other day I stumbled across Ziya Danishmend’s blog, Notes from the Backyard. Ziya is a CD over at Blast Radius who I met last year while conducting a job search. Our chat went well and his point of view was very prescient and insightful. What we covered is essentially broken down in a post on his blog, “Feeling Chippy?” The following quote is a bit ancillary to his main theme (which is traditional advertising/metrics need to evolve – or get out of the way – in order to fulfil contemporary brand-promises) but great nonetheless:

The by-product of this organizational and institutional struggle is anxiety. It can rule – and ruin – a creative group and an agency. Especially when the organization itself becomes vested in the pretense of the numbers game – attempting to figure out the customer with pointillist accuracy. Often times the creative output of an agency (traditional or digital) thus biased ends up lifeless and dry. It should come as no surprise then that not a single agency, digital or traditional, has ever been named by Fortune magazine as one of the Top 100 Best Places to Work.

Economic Shock Therapy

Last Spring I read the Shock Doctrine and for a few months I was an evangelist for it’s ideas to everyone I talked to. But somehow the Shock Doctrine’s central thesis wasn’t the most present thing in my mind during this week’s financial meltdown. I guess I was so distracted by the Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson saying:

(via the NYT)

that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally

I lost perspective as to what stage of the Disaster Capitalism process we’re in. I’ve read the case studies Klein set forth in her book. I understand the thesis. Yet I was one of those distracted by all of the bad news I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. It took an appearance of hers on Real Time with Bill Maher last night to get the gears turning in the right direction. Here are some interesting quotes I pulled this morning:

(via the NYT)

Most broadly, what are the long-term costs of the government’s stepping in to restore order after so many wealthy financiers became so much wealthier through what now seem like reckless bets on housing — bets now covered with public dollars?

(via Naomi Klein’s Blog)

But rest assured: the ideology [free market capitalism] will come roaring back when the bailouts are done. The massive debts the public is accumulating to bail out the speculators will then become part of a global budget crisis that will be the rationalization for deep cuts to social programs, and for a renewed push to privatize what is left of the public sector. We will also be told that our hopes for a green future are, sadly, too costly.

And that’s what appears to be the real A-bomb of this crisis. It isn’t the failing of the storied financial institution in NYC that’s been around for over 100 years. It isn’t the surprising turn to corpotate socialism thr fat-cats are advocating for themselves and their buddies. It isn’t the federal government stepping in at the 11th-hour showing a surprising ability to do something in the face of crisis (see Katrina, Iraq, 9/11, climate crisis, foreign dependency on oil, etc.). The real A-bomb is the DEBT we’re all going to inherit. Read more from Naomi to be better prepared than me.

Minitek Music and Innovation Festival

When I heard the word-of-mouth that there would be something called The Minitek Music and Innovation Festival happening in NYC over the weekend I was intrigued. Music and innovation – sounds right up my alley. Evidently a group of individuals that usually throw parties in NYC were attempting to go one step further with an actual festival. Their thesis was that highly motivated electronic music consumers & producers alike would congregate for a weekend-long festival, experimenting with cutting edge technology enhancing/extending the audio experience and otherwise enjoying a great lineup of DJs.

Albert Hwang’s 3D Light Projections

Continue reading

Obama Vs. McCain Tax Cuts

So I was talking with a tax attorney the other day and he was trying to convince me that Obama would tax the middle and upper-middle class more than McCain to redistribute the wealth down to the poor. This, he argued, would be putting an undue pressure on the “middle-class” therefore McCain was their real champion. Now, I think the central issue with this discussion was this person’s definition of “middle-class”. In NYC, an individual making $100k/yr lives fairly normally once you factor in ridiculous rent, price of goods and services and a responsible savings/retirement stragety – I’d argue they don’t have the capital to go balls-out too often and yet they can most likely afford to do what they want, when they want ot do it (within reason). If we look at this demographic, Obama will actually CUT their taxes by MORE than McCain. So for all of this rhetoric about Obama being a tax-and-spend liberal I have somehting to say: Taxing those that make more than $603k/yr and funding things like schools, healthcare and FEMA is change I can believe in!

Steven Johnson’s New Book

It’s a another book in the vein of The Ghost Map — an idea book wrapped around an historical narrative, and like Ghost Map, it has an organizing theme of how innovative ideas emerge and spread in a society, while integrating many different threads along the way: 18th-century London coffeehouse culture; the Adams-Jefferson letters; the origins of ecosystem science; the giant dragonflies of the Carboniferous Era; the impact of energy deposits on British political change; the discovery of the gulf stream; the Alien and Sedition acts; Jefferson’s bible; the Lunar Society; mob violence; Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions; Ben Franklin’s kite experiment.

This fall is shaping up to be a very busy season for media consumption. Not only are there a zillion Oscar-type movies out there but Malcolm Gladwell AND Steven Johnson (my two favorite authors) have new work hitting the shelves. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy on Amazon. Go get yours.