blog advertising is good for you

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres





"The news media seem to have discovered something that economic wonks and number crunchers have understood for quite a while: How much richer the super-rich are than everyone else, including the merely rich. Mathematically speaking, the difference between poor and rich is much smaller than the chasm separating the well-off from the stupendously wealthy. We aren't discussing income inequality, Obamacare or stagnant wages. I am aware that the poor in this country have no discretionary income, and that there are many disadvantages to being lower income in the U.S.: bad health care, poor nutrition, lower educational opportunities, limited economic mobility, even a shorter lifespan. At least statistically, the differences between the uberwealthy and the merely well-off can be traced to three issues: 1. The rise of finance: The wealthiest 0.01 percent include many folks from the world of finance. The financial collapse didn't have a very long lasting effect on this. You can argue about the impact of hedge-fund billionaires in a variety of areas, but this much is beyond debate: They have thrown off the bell curve when it comes to income distribution among the very wealthy. 2. Stock ownership: 'The richer you are, the more likely your riches come from stocks, not salary,' as Derek Thompson of the Atlantic wrote. The very wealthy aren't so much well-paid as well-optioned. Some are entrepreneurs who built vast new businesses; others are chief executive officers and other senior executives who run major corporations. The bottom line is that big stock-option packages are major contributors to vast riches. 3. Taxes: The superwealthy pay lots of taxes in actual dollars. On a percentage basis, though, not so much. Indeed, the wealthier you are, the more likely the bulk of your income comes from capital gains. These are taxed at about half the rate of wages and salary for a comparable high earner. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the wealthiest 400 people derived half their income from capital gains. Those in the top 0.01 percent not only earn much more than the 1 percent but also get to keep much more of what they earn." (Bloomberg)








Illustration by James Ferguson of Glenn Greenwald







"It is after 3pm on a Friday when I walk into Bar do Beto, an old-fashioned Ipanema restaurant, but the place is full of diners enjoying a long, languid lunch. Glenn Greenwald is sitting in the corner, squinting crossly at his laptop. He is dressed in a T-shirt, long striped swimming shorts and flip-flops, which is something of a relief because, in the hottest Rio de Janeiro summer in decades, I am also wearing shorts. Since the day last June when he first met Edward Snowden, a National Security Agency (NSA) analyst-turned-whistleblower Greenwald has kept up a regime of 16-hour workdays, combing through thousands of documents passed on by Snowden, writing dozens of stories for the Guardian and other papers, sniping at his critics on Twitter, and setting up a media venture with a billionaire backer. In the process, Greenwald has become, perhaps, the most famous journalist of his generation. His reputation in the US is somewhat mixed, in part as a result of his abrasive approach to political debate, but in parts of Europe and Latin America he is considered the new incarnation of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Greenwald, 46, has lived in Rio for almost a decade, since he met his soon-to-be husband David Miranda on a holiday to the Brazilian city. 'This was our place when we first met eight or nine years ago,' Greenwald says of the restaurant. 'We lived a couple of blocks away and we always came here. Then they did this massive renovation and we kind of gave up on it for a few years. But we came back and the food was fantastic.' Greenwald tells me he was in here a few nights earlier. In an event that underlines his new status as an international leftwing celebrity, the actor and playwright Wallace Shawn had invited Greenwald to see The Designated Mourner, his play about shrinking political space in a once-liberal land, when it was showing in New York last year. As Greenwald has not travelled to the US since the Snowden story broke, Shawn came to Rio to put on a performance for him. 'Incredibly riveting and thought-provoking,' Greenwald says of the play, which was performed in a theatre rented for the occasion. Afterwards, Greenwald brought cast and crew to Bar do Beto to thank them.As we open the menus, we are confronted with the paradox of Brazilian cuisine." (FT)








"Three remakes of 1980s movies are arriving in theaters today, but neither Robocop, About Last Night, or Endless Love is projected to be a major box office success, and I doubt you're surprised: Lately, it seems like movie remakes have been arriving — and underperforming — with greater frequency, from Carrie to Total Recall to Footloose. Why, then, are studios still so determined to make them? Here are four of the big reasons why the remake trend shows no sign of waning (alas). 1. Because remakes appease shareholders. Imagine you're a studio executive at Fox, and you've got to go in and pitch next year's slate to a bunch of shareholders and money men. Do you tell them that for February 2015, you've got an original haunted house movie starring Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt? Or do you tell them you've cast those two stars in a remake of Poltergeist? It's the latter, a known quantity, that will put your investors at ease: Since these remakes are of movies that were presumably successful the first time around, they feel like less of a gamble. Studio executives have a short half-life, and angry investors can be a thorn in their sides — just look at how hedge funder Daniel Loeb hammered Sony in the press after original pictures After Earth and White House Down flopped — so green-lighting a remake or two is like throwing them red meat. If you want to keep your job and cover your ass, it's what you do. 2. Everything is now based on something else. Look ahead to the month of March, and virtually every single film debuting in wide release is based on a pre-existing property, from Divergent and Noah (both derived from literary sources) to Need for Speed (based on a video game) to Mr. Peabody and Sherman (adapted from the old cartoon). This is partly because studios are reluctant to take a risk on a property that hasn't already proven itself in some format, but plenty of remakes are generated from years of passive development, too: Studio readers (who are tasked with finding movie-ready concepts in new books, graphic novels, etc., or the studio's own back catalogue) will recommend library titles for remake consideration, executives will then float those properties on open-assignment lists they send out to the agencies, and if someone comes in and pitches a take they like, then everyone is off to the races." (NyMag)











"You do not have to look far in Africa to see the influence of reggae music. Once I met a Tuareg tribesman in the Sahara Desert who proudly played me a Bob Marley ringtone on his cell phone. Reggae music swept ’round the world in the 1970s, then receded a bit in most places. It still lives large in Africa. There is great reverence for the Jamaican classics, but there are also many lively local scenes. Reggae is music for the dispossessed, and Africa itself plays a leading role in reggae’s narrative. In reggae mythology, Africa is the Promised Land, the destined homeland where the African diaspora will someday be repatriated. Africa—and Ethiopia in particular—is the “Land of Zion' sung about in so many reggae songs. Reggae has its own code and language, infused largely with the ideology of the Rastafarians—followers of a spiritual system that arose in the 1930s in Jamaica. A big influence on the Rastafarians was Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican political leader in the 1920s who led a Back to Africa movement among descendants of slaves throughout the Americas. Rastafarians regard Garvey as a prophet who predicted that one day a black man would be crowned king in Africa and would bring deliverance to dark-skinned people everywhere. 'Follow, follow, follow, follow Marcus Garvey’s footsteps,' sang reggae singer Burning Spear. And where exactly was Garvey going? 'We’re leaving Babylon, we’re going to our father’s land,' Bob Marley told us in 'Exodus.' Not Babylon, Long Island, mind you, but the metaphorical one where, as Marley sang, 'the system is the vampire'—the wicked place that embodies all of what’s wrong with Western culture. Babylon, as Steel Pulse said, 'makes the rules . . . where my people suffer.'ast November, I had some business in Ethiopia, but I went a couple of days early. We know much about the influence of Ethiopia on the Rastafarians. I was curious to see the impact of the Rastafarian movement on Ethiopia. Rastafarians encourage their followers to pick up and head to Ethiopia, to repatriate. Underneath reggae’s cool backbeat rhythms are endless messages to get thee back to Zion. Billions of dollars worth of that message have been repeated over and over, all around the planet, for the past 40 years. With more than a million Rastafarians in the world now, shouldn’t Ethiopia be teeming with Rastas? Well, 'teeming' isn’t quite the word, but there is a thriving community." (VanityFair)

No comments: