Archive for March 16th, 2012

Biggest rope swing

| March 16, 2012 | Reply
Biggest rope swing

Here’s how to make a HUGE rope swing.

And here is the behind the scenes video:

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Goldman Sachs resignation

| March 16, 2012 | Reply
Goldman Sachs resignation

At the New York Times, Greg Smith, a Goldman Sachs employee explains his recent resignation:

Today, many of these leaders display a Goldman Sachs culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.

It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God’s work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.

Fair enough,  but it seems as though Greg Smith hung around, participating in this system he portrays as unethical, long enough to accrue a substantial nest egg.  It would certainly seem that he could have made a financial killing in ten years at Goldman Sachs.   Nonetheless, I applaud his article because he could have simply left Goldman without writing the article, which would deny us the benefit of his observations.

Then again, the article does seem like cheap talk for one who might be seeking to “repair” his career before moving to whatever comes next.    You could just imagine people looking at Smith suspiciously when he admits that he once worked for Goldman Sachs, at which point he would pull out this NYT article, turning an opportunist into a hero with a bit of deft writing.   I want to believe that the author is gallant, but my gut won’t allow me to do so.   Nonetheless, I appreciate his insights.

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Pope perfume

| March 16, 2012 | Reply

I don’t quite know what to say here, so I’ll just report the facts. I’ve recently learned that the current Pope (who does not take a vow of poverty, unlike Catholic nuns) has paid to have a special cologne created for him:

Italian celebrity perfume-maker Silvana Casoli, has created her most heavenly scent yet for a very special client, Pope Benedict XVI. Known for creating a number of perfumes that can be used by both men and women with names like Chocolat Bambola (Chocolate doll) and Vanilla Bourbon, Casoli has designed unique fragrances for famous personalities like Madonna and Sting.

Stranger than fiction, right? Wouldn’t you think that there are better things to spend money on? And it’s just for the Pope:

Unlike other perfumes, the scent won’t be sold to the public and is to only be worn by the Pope, explains Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.

I’m not the only one to find the story about Pope-cologne puzzling. Michael Morris, author of a website titled Funmentionables, has written an article he titled, “The Old Pope Smell,” in which he pulls out quite a few Bible verses that mention perfume.

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We care much more about college basketball than about reckless U.S. killings of innocent people

| March 16, 2012 | Reply
We care much more about college basketball than about reckless U.S. killings of innocent people

Glenn Greenwald:

I beamed with nationalistic pride when I learned of our country’s impressive evolution: our nation’s government is so practiced in “apologizing for carnage” that it’s becoming a perfected art. This pride become particularly bountiful when I heard NPR’s Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep yesterday talk to The Washington Post‘s Rajiv Chandrasekaran about the same topic and I learned how much worse the Afghans are by comparison (h/t dubo6254). First, Chandrasekaran observed that the level of anger in Afghanistan over their dead civilians isn’t nearly as intense and widespread as it is among Americans.

You’ll rarely see Greenwald sounding more infuriated with American complacency:

Unlike in Afghanistan, where they really don’t seem to mind, almost every American city was engulfed this week by turmoil and disruption as infuriated Americans took to the streets to rail against the ongoing slaughter by their government of civilians in Afghanistan. Indeed, “people’s sense of revulsion at this act” in civilized, life-cherishing America is “far greater” than in Afghanistan: Americans are just up in arms about it, besides themselves with rage, just like they always are when their government yet again extinguishes the lives of innocent civilians. The unrest sweeping America this week over this incident is probably the most tumultuous since that dark week of frightening protests back in December, 2009, when violent anti-war marches broke out in American cities over Obama’s cluster bomb and Tomahawk missile attack in Yemen that killed dozens of women and children. Kevin Drum this week accurately recalled the levels of American rage over the ending of that innocent human life.

Based on conversations I’ve been hearing on the street, I sense that Americans care 100 times more about the NCAA basketball tournament than they do about the fact that, for the past 10 years, the U.S. has been slaughtering civilians in Afghanistan and blithely writing it up as collateral damage. Listen to what people are talking about in your own life and let me know if there is any way to conclude differently.

Based on the shocking lack of engagement by the American media and the American public, I’ve created a new category at DI: Complacency. I’m afraid that I’m going to need to use it often.

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The varieties of fake meat

| March 16, 2012 | Reply
The varieties of fake meat

At Mother Jones, Tom Philpott discusses the alternatives to meat.

[T]here do exist meat substitutes that are made of whole foods—and actually taste better than factory-farmed chicken. Why not turn to them?

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How bright would the sun look from Pluto?

| March 16, 2012 | 1 Reply
How bright would the sun look from Pluto?

Bad Astronomy discusses how bright the sun would look if you were standing on the almost-planet Pluto.

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Secret laws being interpreted by secret court rulings, here in the land of the free.

| March 16, 2012 | Reply
Secret laws being interpreted by secret court rulings, here in the land of the free.

The secret parts of the U.S. Patriot Act are being interpreted by secret court rulings.

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The voters of Mississippi

| March 16, 2012 | Reply
The voters of Mississippi

Bill Maher recently featured Alexandra Pelosi’s video featuring what she indicates is a representative selection of voters from the heart of Mississippi:

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Teachings of Jesus that are ignored

| March 16, 2012 | 26 Replies
Teachings of Jesus that are ignored

A thoughtful and well-designed website titled “Christianity Disproved” presents this list of teachings of Jesus that are ignored:

  • Matt 6:20 – Pursue spiritual capitalism as opposed to financial capitalism.
  • Matt 10:34 – Jesus came to turn families against each other.
  • Mark 9:43 – If a body part causes you to sin cut it off.
  • Luke 6:29 – If someone is stealing from you let them.
  • Luke 6:30 – If anyone asks you for anything, just give it to them no matter what it is.
  • Luke 12:51 – Jesus’ purpose on Earth was not to bring peace but division.
  • Luke 14:26 – Hate your life, mother, father, wife, and siblings.
  • John 6:27 – Don’t work for food you can eat (such food spoils)

I looked these up, and sure enough, they are all in the Bible. Here are some other New Testament rules that most Christians violate, including the rule that people shouldn’t marry (presented by a site titled “Dwindling in Unbelief”). I’m planning on keeping these lists handy for the next person who comes along and demands that I follow the teachings of Jesus. And here are a bunch of Old Testament rules that all decent people violate.

Oh, and if you ever wondered who had the most powerful spit, Jesus or Muhummad, this is the article for you (also at Dwindling in Unbelief)

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