Happy Easter Sunday…ReadsPosted: April 20, 2014
Good Morning and Happy Easter
(Cute illustration eh? Little fucking rabbits…or should I say little rabbits fucking? Well, about to at least.) Oh my, that is a bit too sordid for an Easter Morn, is it not? I don’t know, everything is still a bit hazy since Bebe got back from Chicago. I have a couple of extra teenage “other people munchkins.” Friends of my son spending the entire long weekend with us…lets just say the big ham is already gone, and it is now 2 am Saturday night.
Quick links to headlines:
While CNN has the figure up two : Death toll from South Korean ferry sinking rises to 52
This next article from the Irish Times is big news: Third mate was steering ferry for first time ever before capsize
In the grocers corner, NY Times: General Mills Reverses Itself on Consumers’ Right to Sue
Enjoy your bacon and OJ now, because that stuff is going to get even more expensive: The 10 Fastest Rising Food Prices – 24/7 Wall St.
But that is okay, because you probably will not be able to afford the bacon anyway…since you have to deal with this shit: After foreclosure crisis, renters suffer under Wall Street landlords | Al Jazeera America
The poster child for the foreclosure crisis has been a middle-income suburban family. But low-income urban renters also saw their buildings over-mortgaged at the height of the crisis, and now faceless hedge funds and nameless investors are replacing their desperate landlords — sometimes with disastrous consequences.
Six years after the foreclosure crisis helped tank the world’s economy, investors are snatching up “distressed” properties — those that are in foreclosure or facing foreclosure — and seeking to turn a profit on them. Advocates for affordable housing worry that this profit comes at the expense of tenants.
Joanna Paulino knows this all too well. She lives in a lower-income neighborhood in the Bronx borough of New York City. Her home is a prewar building, a once attractive structure like many others in the city’s outer boroughs. But after years of neglect, it is crumbling; there are more than 140 violations registered against the premises.
Pathetic and disturbing.
Over the last several months, Wall Street firms have snapped up an estimated 200,000 single-family homes with the intention of renting them out. The New York–based hedge fund Blackstone Group is now America’s largest landlord of rental homes after purchasing over 40,000 foreclosed single-family homes in 14 metro areas around the country, from Atlanta to Phoenix, to convert into rental properties. But certain investors are also snatching up “distressed” urban rental buildings like the one where Paulino lives in the South Bronx. Unbeknownst to many low-income renters, their buildings were over-mortgaged during the bubble. In New York, many of those buildings are due for refinancing now — making them vulnerable to acquisition by hedge funds.
“Since these buildings are so over-mortgaged,” said Harold Shultz, an affordable-housing expert who works with the Citizens Housing Planning Council of New York, “the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to be refinanced.”
Desperate landlords and banks are looking for new owners and investors. And Wall Street is ready to step in and help out.
These groups often purchase buildings sight unseen, with little knowledge of the conditions a foreclosed building might be in. Sometimes, especially in the case of apartments, foreclosures can take years to resolve.
So while old owners, banks and new owners or investors sort out the debt, buildings languish in disrepair. And when an agreement is eventually reached, there is no guarantee for tenants that conditions will improve.
I will use those last few stories to tie into the post that Boston Boomer wrote Friday: Friday Reads: American Oligarchy, South Korean Tragedy, and Hillary Under the Microscope | Sky Dancing
Where she focused her post primarily on the study results of Martin Gilins and Benjamin I. Page of Princeton and Northwestern Universities, and a recent article by Larry Bartels, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University.
The word Oligarchy and its various forms were used heavily throughout. (I always have to sound out the word oligarchy in my head when I am reading that word to myself. Even then I am not confident my mind’s voice is pronouncing it correctly.) 😉
On Friday I found this op/ed while looking for cartoons and it struck a chord, but it did not give an answer: How Not to Talk About Wealth Inequality by Tina Dupuy
Have you heard we live in an oligarchy? Perhaps you’ve been told America is a plutocracy? Is that because of widespread demagogy?
Circumlocution: a big word meaning using unnecessarily lofty words to express an idea.
Welcome to the baffling world of liberal-speak.
Oligarchy, plutocracy and demagogy: The holy trinity of sesquipedalian polysyllable liberal loquaciousness.
This language liberals, in particular, have chosen to talk about elitism is, well, really snooty. When we talk about a tiny fraction of people having undue influence on our politics—we use words barely anyone understands.
Marinade in that irony. It’s like if we were broadcasting NASCAR only in Latin. Oligarchy? That sounds like a German cabbage dish. Demagoguery sounds like a flourish in square dancing. Plutocracy sounds like we should just be friends.
I write for a living and these words make my eyes glaze over. And they’re used all time, often by well-meaning liberal-types attempting to advocate for the have-less in this nation. Case in point: Paul Krugman. His columns “Oligarchs and Money,” “Oligarchy, American Style” and “Graduates Versus the Oligarchs”—do cover how economic policies favor a fraction of 1 percent of Americans but his go-to word is comprehended by even fewer.
Go see what else Tina has to say. One thing she does not mention is some examples of substitutes for Oligarchs, Oligarchy etc.
More on this after the jump…
Ask the folks down at my local McDonald’s, “What is an Oligarchy?” and they may think you are some kind of pervert trying to pick them up. (Then they will as you to meet them in an hour, cause they got to go home and get the pig.)
The average redneck who votes Republican can not even get beyond the fact that there is a black man in the White House. Sorry, but in my part of the country it is still very much true.
You want to see the average voter who picks the dude with the capital R. after his name on the ballot? Here, meet a few residents of Blairsville, Georgia. You all may know it better as Banjoville.
Yeah, we have made the news again, this time the NPR stations are broadcasting a radio show, listen here…it gives you the full effect when you hear these people “in person”: Tarred and Feathered | This American Life
If you can’t listen to the 18 minute show at that link above, read the transcript here: Transcript | This American Life
Look at what people can do someone…
Act One. The Hounds of Blairsville. There are all kinds of ways that you could be tarred and feathered, but the effects are pretty much the same, I think. People stop talking to you. You’re a pariah. Stephanie Foo has this story from a small town in Georgia called Blairsville.
Topix is a website. If you live in a big city, chances are you’ve never even heard of it. But if you live in a small town, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Topix was originally supposed to be a local news site. But in practice, it’s just a big message board where anybody can create an account and post a news item. And so more often than not, in places like Blairsville, it’s mostly gossip.
Blairsville’s roughly a mile square. It’s got a population of about 650. And that day, dozens of people were commenting on Gene’s fiancee’s murder. At first, the comments were sympathetic, people saying they felt sorry for Paulette and her children. And then the comments got ugly.
It might not seem like a big deal that a couple of idiots are gossiping about you on the internet. But in a small town, it’s different. You almost definitely know the people who wrote these things about you. And you know, the moment you walk outside your house, everyone you see has read it and is talking about it. Because in Blairsville, news travels fast.
As a matter of fact, you being here for just a couple of hours before we met, I could almost tell you where you’ve been and what you even had for lunch.
What do you mean? Like, just by asking other people?
You remember when you called me and said that you were about to have lunch? I’d already had two people call, and say, hey, did you know that there’s a reporter over here in town?
I didn’t talk to anybody.
Maybe somebody who was eating at the restaurant?
That’s a big possibility.
When I walked into the restaurant Gene was talking about, I had noticed that everyone turned and gave me the side eye. The big guys in hunting gear in the back, the tiny neat woman in the front. I sat there awkwardly, wondering whether it was because I was the only Chinese person in town. When the waitress came up and asked me for my order, the restaurant went silent to hear what it was.
And this sort of talk, it’s mostly harmless. But when Topix came onto the scene, it took gossip between friends, gossip that people would ordinarily recognize as just gossip, and made it into something more serious.
This is Mark Cox. He’s a friend of Gene’s. He owns the hole-in-the-wall diner in town.
You could tell somebody something and they’ll kind of believe you. But if they see it in writing, they’re going to believe it. Once you write it down, it’s not gossip anymore. You know, that becomes truth for what people are concerned with.
Other people told me the same thing. Like this woman I met in town. She’d heard a friend gossiping about Gene, saying that he was a pervert, a child molester. She thought, yeah, right.
I remember. I mean, I can remember back things being said and I just brush it off and go on. But when it’s written there, and for anybody, I mean, and if it’s on the web, then you kind of like, oh my gosh, is this true? Could this happen, you know? It puts that seed of doubt in your head. Of course.
Gene did manage to calm his fiancee’s parents down. But he was happy to go back home to Blairsville. He’d lived there for 16 years at that point, knew everybody. So when he got back, he was floored by the way people were suddenly treating him. Like, as if everything online was true.
Hi, Mr. Stookey.
Hi, are you Jennifer?
Stephanie, I’m sorry.
Come on. You’re the first China lady I’ve ever met.
Russell’s a sweet guy. But he does say exactly what’s on his mind, which actually made him the perfect man to take Gene’s case, because when Russell heard Gene’s story, he despised the whole idea of anonymous posters. And all he wanted to do is give them hell.
They have no character. That means they have no guts. They have no guts, no character. They lack courage, no balls at all. (WHISPERED) Should I say balls? Anyway, I’m old school. If I’ve got something to say, I’ll say it to your damn face. [GUFFAWS] That’s just the way it is. You see these scars on my face? A lot of times, people don’t like that. And they’ll punch you. But that’s their opportunity. And that’s the way you do business in this life. You say it to their face.
First let me say I know Russell, and he is full of shit. He eats at a local Chinese restaurant all the time, and has even sponsored the restaurant owners kids soccer teams. Russell has met a lot of “Chinese Ladies” let me tell you!
Why he said something like that? Because he is an asshole. But, that is something he will tell you himself.
You can read/listen to the rest…I will not discuss Sybil Ballew…that is one bird you can sort out yourself.
On a personal note…Gene is the guy who gives Bebe her beautiful curls. The man can style hair like nobody’s business…and if anyone has courage it would be Gene, for coming back to Blairsville after all the hell this town and its people put him through.
Anyway, as I was saying…these are an example of the average voters who elect those republicans for reasons that Boston Boomer mentioned in her post Friday:
These study’s results reinforce Larry Bartels’ findings about the tendency of white Americans to support the goals of the super rich even when it is not in their own best interest.
The study notes that the position of the median American and the position of the affluent American are often the same; therefore, regular people tend to think that their political interests are being represented when they see the triumph of some political position that they agree with. In fact, the researchers say, this is a mere coincidence. Yes, the average American will see their interests represented—as long as their interests align with the interests of the wealthy.
I just thought those three links sort of tied in together.
In another segue:
Proving it is never too late to shine your lame duck ass for a new generation of 1% oligarchs, Barack Obama laid open the real constituency of national politicians. And proved certain any inference that such was only the constituency and province of the GOP, Koch Brothers et. al is false.
If this is not stupid and ugly to the common Democratic fanchild, it is hard to imagine what is, or could be. From the New York Times hagiography:
On a crisp morning in late March, an elite group of 100 young philanthropists and heirs to billionaire family fortunes filed into a cozy auditorium at the White House.
Their name tags read like a catalog of the country’s wealthiest and most influential clans: Rockefeller, Pritzker, Marriott. They were there for a discreet, invitation-only summit hosted by the Obama administration to find common ground between the public sector and the so-called next-generation philanthropists, many of whom stand to inherit billions in private wealth.
“Moon shots!” one administration official said, kicking off the day on an inspirational note to embrace the White House as a partner and catalyst for putting their personal idealism into practice.
I guess the Obama White House couldn’t fathom a better phrase for coming in their pants over big money.
If there is a more sick comment on the perverted state of US national politics, it is hard to imagine what it would be.
We are ruled by a bunch of oligarchs, and political handmaidens that kiss the oligarch’s asses and hew their beck and call. If the fact the great once and forever symbol of the common citizen “hope and change”, Barack Obama, is such a distant leader, constantly beholden to not only the future of the moneyed class, but the current too, then there is no reality for the American public.
The well-heeled group seemed receptive. “I think it’s fantastic,” said Patrick Gage, a 19-year-old heir to the multibillion-dollar Carlson hotel and hospitality fortune. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Mr. Gage, physically boyish with naturally swooping Bieber bangs, wore a conservative pinstripe suit and a white oxford shirt. His family’s Carlson company, which owns Radisson hotels, Country Inns and Suites, T.G.I. Friday’s and other brands, is an industry leader in enforcing measures to combat trafficking and involuntary prostitution.
The New York Times penned a factual report of this sick instance. Will the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, or any of the other august opinion pages of national press, deign themselves honest enough to write opinion and/or editorial pieces recognizing this political cancer for what it really is?
Finish reading the rant at the link.
But you know, all those that do have money…what do they do? Let them eat McMansions! The 1 percent, income inequality, and new-fashioned American excess – Salon.com
We have sprawl, wars over cheap gas, stagnant wages and longer hours because your boss wants this awful, ugly house
McMansions? Doesn’t hold a candle to my Midget Mansion.
I think Gin and Tacos has a great response to that Salon thread: LARGE LAWNS AND SMALL MINDS | Gin and Tacos
Thomas Frank’s latest is on the post-Great Recession resurgence of the McMansion. After falling briefly in 2009, the average square footage of new home construction in the U.S. has resumed its inexorable growth. It’s a surprisingly bland offering from Frank, telling us little that we didn’t already know. With no judgment – because god knows I’ve been there – it comes off as a piece one writes when unable to think of a topic on a deadline.
I wonder how many of the kids who live in those McMansions go to schools near chemical plants: One Year After Texas Disaster, Report Looks At Schools Located Near Chemical Facilities
A new study released Wednesday finds there are almost 10,000 schools across the country located within a mile of a chemical facility.
The research was released ahead of the April 17 anniversary of an explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant, which killed 15 people and injured hundreds of others. The explosion left many people wondering why schools and homes were located so close to the plant.
The report finds that 4.6 million children attend a school located within a mile of a facility that stores potentially risky chemicals.
Now for the boob portion of the post.
This next link made me think of Bebe and it gave us a new sign off for her text messages: ( . ) ( . )
I thought that with cleavage came power. But as my breasts swelled to a 32G, I found the opposite to be true
Which leads to the latest comic book geek sexist asshole alert: Are These the Hills You Want to Die On? – Lawyers, Guns & Money
Amanda Marcotte has an interesting entry up about comics editor, Janelle Asselin, who had the temerity to point out that maybe giving a teen girl comics character the body of a porn star* wasn’t such a great idea. This was received as well as you might imagine in the geek community. Male geeks everywhere were like “You know what? You’re right. She looks kinda ridiculous and not age-appropriate.” HA HA HA!!! I’m just joking. That’s not what really happened. What really happened is…guess!:
B.) She was harassed.
C.) She received rape threats.
D.) She received year’s supply anal lube, because, well why not?
If you guessed B and C, congratulations! You’ve just won a year’s supply of anal lube because you are incredibly smart and I’m an incredibly thoughtful prize-giver.
It is always at least a B or C…
But Amanda asks a really really interesting question I thinks she gives short shrift, and it’s this: Would it be so bad if women had more say in/control over the geek world? Would it really be bad if there were fewer super-sexy (I guess), busty characters in video games and comics? If comics and and video games were less chauvinistic would that really be bad? Would it harm these mediums in some way? I’m asking. Seriously.
*Some people in the comments objected to Amanda pointing out how ridiculously busty the girl was, noting that some young women are very busty. Well, no. Not really. The truth is that the amount of women–young or old–who are that busty are fairly rare, and the vast majority of those women also have fat elsewhere on their bodies–it hasn’t all been miraculously deposited into gravity-defying breasts. Sorry. It just doesn’t happen. OK, it does happen, but it really is–sorry to burst your bubble–INCREDIBLY RARE.
Uh…About big busty girls, I refer to that article prior, re: My Boobs, My Burden!
Which in turn brings me to…this: Artist Imagines World Where Male Superheroes Get Pin-up Treatment
Now for some funny one liners, by Joan Rivers. You can ignore the crap here on Paltrow, but if you go to the bottom of the page there are 80 quotes from Joan, some are really good. A few favorites:
She’s so pure, Moses couldn’t even part her knees.
– Joan Rivers
Mick Jagger could French-kiss a moose. He has child-bearing lips.
– Joan Rivers
My daughter and I are very close, we speak every single day and I call her every day and I say the same thing, “Pick up, I know you’re there.”
– Joan Rivers
I can see myself and Bebe in that last one…
The rests of today’s stories are in link dump fashion.
The Colombian author’s book One Hundred Years of Solitude established him as the defining member of a movement known as magic realism. A Nobel laureate, García Márquez died on April 17 having inspired an entire generation of Latin literature
The music does not die by being visualized, just as some zaftig Baroness did not die upon being painted.
The daring seafarers who went on Christopher Columbus’ second trip to the New World in 1493 had major obstacles to overcome in their journey.
Not only were they stepping into the unknown to find a home, but a new study suggests they may have also suffered from scurvy while sailing across the Atlantic.
The scurvy killed many of the early colonisers, researchers claim, causing the ultimate demise of the LaIsabela settlement within just four years of it being founded.
The modern style of clothes emerged in the Depression, and so did the focus on the figure beneath the fabric—with a startling result: as Americans’ wardrobes became more similar, bodies diverged along class lines.
British Pathé was one of the leading producers of newsreels and documentaries during the 20th Century. This week, the company, now an archive, is turning over its entire collection — over 85,000 historical films – to YouTube.
The archive — which spans from 1896 to 1976 – is a goldmine of footage, containing movies of some of the most important moments of the last 100 years. It’s a treasure trove for film buffs, culture nerds and history mavens everywhere.
And finally…your last link this Easter Morning: 16 Delicious Facts About Peeps | Mental Floss
You know whether you prefer chicks to bunnies, fresh to stale, or plain to chocolate-covered. But there’s a lot you may not know about Peeps, everyone’s favorite (non-chocolate) Easter candy.
That’s all folks.
Enjoy your day!