space bike, wealth gives rise to a sense of entitlement and narcissistic behaviors

Spacelander Bicycle

Spacelander Bicycle. Designed by Benjamin Bowden for a 1946 exhibition of British industrial design. While this great postwar example of streamline futuristic design was a critical success at the exhibition, Bowden had a difficult time finding a manufacturer who would put it into production. By the time it found a manufacturer in the U.S. in 1960, much of the public’s taste in this kind of style had changed. Only around 500 were sold. Though now it is was of the most highly valued old bicycles on the market.

Study finds wealth gives rise to a sense of entitlement and narcissistic behaviors

According to a new study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin this month, wealth tends to increase a person’s sense of entitlement, which in turn can lead to narcissistic behaviors.

Paul Piff of the University of California at Berkeley told PsyPost “there is something about wealth that gives rise to a sense of entitlement, a sense that one deserves more good things in life than others, which in turn gives rise to an increased or inflated sense of self-importance, vanity, grandiosity, and omnipotence (narcissism).”

“Narcissism is a multi-faceted and complex construct, but that wealth is specifically associated with it suggests that as a person’s level of privilege rises, that person becomes increasingly self-focused – in a sense, becoming the center of their own world and worldview,” he explained.

“The studies in the paper measure narcissism in a whole host of ways, including measuring how likely someone is to stare at their reflection in a mirror (wealthier people do that more often). Even students who come from wealth, but have done little to create their own wealth (yet), report more entitlement. This suggests that wealth shapes an ideology of self-interest and entitlement that’s transferred culturally from one generation to the next.”

This is obviously not always the case, some people with wealth turn out to be great humanitarians. For those people the Spiderman message about great powers  being coupled with great responsibility does sink in with some people. I’ve experienced this quite a bit. There is an attitude of entitlement over the phone or in person – do you know who I am – I want what I want, I want it now and I deserve it because I am a executive VP or a wealthy lawyer or banker. Very strange behavior, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.

beach walkway

beach walkway. I noticed this morning that the 6 am sunrises are gone and then along came the big yellow school buses. Summer will soon be gone.

This recent editorial is a good example of the culture of entitlement and narcissistic behavior that guides our economy, The Leveraged Buyout of America

According to legal scholar Saule Omarova, over the past five years, there has been a “quiet transformation of U.S. financial holding companies.” These financial services companies have become global merchants that seek to extract rent from any commercial or financial business activity within their reach.  They have used legal authority in Graham-Leach-Bliley to subvert the “foundational principle of separation of banking from commerce”. . . .

It seems like there is a significant macro-economic risk in having a massive entity like, say JP Morgan, both issuing credit cards and mortgages, managing municipal bond offerings, selling gasoline and electric power, running large oil tankers, trading derivatives, and owning and operating airports, in multiple countries.

A “macro” risk indeed – not just to our economy but to our democracy and our individual and national sovereignty. Giant banks are buying up our country’s infrastructure – the power and supply chains that are vital to the economy.

These assets – airports, toll roads, and ports; control power plants; and store and hoard vast quantities of commodities of all sorts – are being packaged as investment instruments, a bet on their future value, much like the collateralized debt obligations that contributed so much to the Great Recession of 2007. And their are doing it with your money, your deposits – the excess of deposits over loans – as collateral for borrowing. Once again making bets that they cannot pay, if like the housing market, values should go down.


water drops wallpaper, pervasive culture of conservative corruption

water drops wallpaper

water drops wallpaper


Culture of Conservatism Exposed at Morally Corrupt Bank of America

Six former employees of Bank of America have come forward, alleging that the big bank intentionally denied eligible homeowners mortgage loan modifications, and lied to those homeowners about the status of their mortgage payments and documents.

Bank of America allegedly used these dirty tactics to lead homeowners into foreclosures and in-house loan modifications, both of which helped reap massive profits for BOA’s bottom-line.


Employees who did the best and most dirty tricks got gift cards and bonuses. It sounds like a bad satire that went straight to DVD because no one would believe it.

Philosophers are still good for something, Privacy and the Threat to the Self

To get a sense of what I mean, imagine that I could telepathically read all your conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings — I could know about them in as much detail as you know about them yourself — and further, that you could not, in any way, control my access. You don’t, in other words, share your thoughts with me; I take them. The power I would have over you would of course be immense. Not only could you not hide from me, I would know instantly a great amount about how the outside world affects you, what scares you, what makes you act in the ways you do.  And that means I could not only know what you think, I could to a large extent control what you do.

Chipping away at privacy is the loss of freedom by way of dehumanizing people. The people who think they have nothing to hide  have not contemplated the the workings of their essential selves. Those who think they’re saving us in the name of national security are using a similar rationale as the old East German Stasi. That didn’t work out too well.

e e cummings birthday, park path autumn wallpaper, fashion as disguise

Today is the birthday of e e cummings (Edward Estlin Cummings) October 14, 1894 – Cambridge, Massachusetts, died September 3, 1962.


Over silent waters
day descending
night ascending
floods the gentle glory of the sunset
In a golden greeting
splendidly to westward
as pale twilight
comes the last light’s gracious exhortation
Lifting up to peace
so when life shall falter
standing on the shores of the
May I behold my sunset
over silent waters

By way of the book Eight Harvard Poets and Project Gutenberg.

birds on a wire

There is a lot of merit in the old adage that sons, or daughters, should not be held accountable for the sins of their father. Not your fault if you were born from an asshat. That said, Tagg Romney was set up in business by his father and has an active roll in his campaign, Tagg Romney’s Company Misled Reporters About Its Relationship With Ponzi Scheme–Linked Firm

When I interviewed him in Las Vegas, Tagg told me that his associates were “cleared” of any wrongdoing associated with the Stanford Ponzi scheme. Court documents directly contradict Tagg and show that the lawsuit has not been dismissed.

The New York Times followed up on my story with its own report and confirmed that Tagg’s business partners received incentive pay for selling bunk Stanford CDs. They wrote about one Stanford victim, a local Charlotte businessman and philanthropist named Herman Stone. Stone was pressured by Brandon Phillips, an executive working now for Tagg’s firm, into putting $2 million into a fraudulent Stanford CD and lost everything.

There also that old saying about like father like son. Tagg seems to have the same elitist looter world view as his father. Since it is generally true that rich white folks do not go to jail – there are occasional exceptions – Tagg will never be held to account in the criminal justice system. Hopefully those he defrauded may have some luck through civil action.

old park path autumn wallpaper

Publishing: A very public library. A New York City tech start-up wants to create a Spotify-like service for reading. A place where you can borrow books? The idea is that you check out an electronic book for an annual fee and you can pretty much keep it as long as you need to finish reading it. The author would be compensated by some amount for every time a book is checked out. The full story does note that musicians have not been thrilled by a similar arrangement with Spotify.

Anecdotes of Fashion or how throughout history men and women have used fashion to torture themselves and hide flaws.

If a reigning beauty chanced to have an unequal hip, those who had very handsome hips would load them with that false rump which the other was compelled by the unkindness of nature to substitute. Patches were invented in England in the reign of Edward VI, by a foreign lady, who in this manner ingeniously covered a wen on her neck. Full-bottomed wigs were invented by a French barber, one Duviller, whose name they perpetuated, for the purpose of concealing an elevation in the shoulder of the Dauphin. Charles VII. of France introduced long coats to hide his ill-made legs. Shoes with very long points, full two feet in length, were invented by Henry Plantagenet, Duke of Anjou, to conceal a large excrescence on one of his feet.

Ken Burns: Romney’s war on public TV is a loss for USA. PBS is mostly self supporting and accounts for about .01% of the federal budget. About the same amount of money Rush Limbaugh spends on bacon, which is 100% more than Jonah Goldberg spends on fact checkers for his columns and books.

alfred beach’s pneumatic subway, romney corrupt to the core, early autumn wallpaper

Advancing the shield – interior of the tunnel. The tunnel was for Beach’s pneumatic subway. The idea of an underground transportation system was, as far as documentation can show, was by British manufacturer George Medhurst in 1805. The British public, on hearing of the idea did not think much of being crowded into tubes underground. 65 years later Alfred Ely Beach pondered how to best transport New York’s booming population from one part of the city to the other. Beach too thought why not send people in tubes underground propelled by pressurized air. Even 65 years after Medhurst the idea seemed fantastical, but Beach’s ideas were logical in terms of what would become the science of pneumatic. Scientific American reviewed an article about an earlier idea by Beach to run such an underground system by means of horse drawn cars and it seemed rational enough to be published in 1849.

Entrance to tunnel, with passenger car coming in. At the 1867 American Institute Fair, held at the Fourteenth Street Armory, Beach showed the public his first model, a laminated wooden tube, six feet in diameter and one hundred feet in length. The scale was meant to show a car that would accommodate ten passengers. This car or tube would be propelled through the tube by means of a fan making two hundred revolutions per minute.

Interior of the passenger car, Frank Leslie’s illustrated newspaper, vol. 29, no. 751 (1870 Feb. 19). I don’t want to get into the varied history and systematic corruption of the Boss Tweed era of New York politics, but suffice it to say that no one did anything in New York at the time without Tweed’s approval and somehow benefiting financially. Tweed thought that Beach’s underground transport system would in fringe on the profits of the above ground rail system in which Tweed had a stake. So Beach and his partners applied for a permit to build a purely mail transport system. If you made the story of what happened after that into a novel everyone would read it as fantasy. Yet Beach actually succeeded in not only building the first section of the new subway, but did so right under Tweed’s City Hall. Well Beach was that battle anyway,

In February, 1870, one year after the surreptitious construction project began, Alfred Ely Beach revealed his secret to a dumbfounded public. Clean, quiet, brightly lit, and smooth riding, its station equipped with a grand piano, chandeliers and a goldfish-stocked fountain, Beach’s subway created a sensation in New York. In it’s first year of operation 400,000 visitors paid twenty-five cents to enjoy the block-long ride between Warren Street and Murray Street, and back again.

Beach responded to the public’s adoration of his brainchild by submitting a bill to the New York State Legislature to extend his line all the way uptown to Central Park–a distance of some five miles. Once again, Boss Tweed was determined to derail Beach’s dream. With New York Governor Hoffman securely in his pocket, Tweed was confident that any measure passed by the legislature allowing Beach to expand construction would be vetoed. He was correct. For two years, Beach tried in vain to propose subway plans that were beyond the grasp of Tweed’s political reach. Finally, in 1873, with Tweed removed from his powerful perch, Beach’s bill gained approval and Governor John A. Dix signed it into law. Beach had won a long fought battle. Little did he know he was about to lose the war.

A stock market crash followed almost immediately on the heels of Beach’s subway bill being written into law. Overnight, interested investors withdrew support and the dream of a New York subway was again deferred. It would be another twenty-five years before talk of a subway was taken seriously. By this time Alfred Ely Beach’s grand accomplishment was looked upon as a passing novelty. The pneumatic tunnel was long forgotten by most New Yorkers when in 1912, sixteen years after Beach’s death, workers excavating a new branch of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit happened upon a bricked up tunnel that housed, nearly intact, Alfred Ely Beach’s well-preserved subway car. Time had neatly preserved the transportation artifact. And while the once impressive fountain still remained, it had long since run dry.

Testing the correctness of position of tunnel at night

I can’t help thinking of a modern Boss Tweed, New Jersey governor Chris Christie(R) and his canceling of a new rail tunnel connection to New York. Though Christie probably sees the benefits, he canceled it out of political spite for the Obama administration.

Martin Scorsese’s film Gangs of New York was a fictionalized account of the Boss Tweed era. The new BBC America show Copper is similar in its depiction of the general corruption of the late 1800s. And Hell on Wheels, especially the first two episodes showed how pay for play politics was the norm, not the exception. As corrupt as that era was, from say 1846 to the 1890s, it was just more obvious in some ways than today. The U.S. political system is as corrupt as ever, Coal Miner’s Donor – A Mitt Romney benefactor and his surprisingly generous employees.

IT IS BOTH a pundit’s truism and a mathematical reality that Mitt Romney’s path to the White House runs through Ohio. And that path, in turn, runs through a firm called Murray Energy.

Over the years, CEO Robert Murray has brought in GOP pols from as far away as Alaska, California, and Massachusetts for fund-raisers. In 2010, the year John Boehner became House speaker, the firm’s 3,000 employees and their families were his second-biggest source of funds. (AT&T was in first place, but it has nearly 200,000 employees.) This year, Murray is one of the most important GOP players in one of the most important battleground states in the country. In May, he hosted a $1.7 million fund-raiser for Romney. Employees have given the nominee more than $120,000. In August, Romney used Murray’s Century Mine in the town of Beallsville for a speech attacking Barack Obama as anti-coal. This fall, scenes from that event—several dozen coal-smudged Murray miners standing behind the candidate in a tableau framed by a giant American flag and a COAL COUNTRY STANDS WITH MITT placard—have shown up in a Romney ad.

[  ]….The accounts of two sources who have worked in managerial positions at the firm, and a review of letters and memos to Murray employees, suggest that coercion may also explain Murray staffers’ financial support for Romney. Murray, it turns out, has for years pressured salaried employees to give to the Murray Energy political action committee (PAC) and to Republican candidates chosen by the company. Internal documents show that company officials track who is and is not giving. The sources say that those who do not give are at risk of being demoted or missing out on bonuses, claims Murray denies.

Murray is guilty of negligent homicide in the deaths of 9 miners. Murray lied about the safety violations, cost cutting measures, that caused the deaths so what are a few lies about coercing employees to pay for a radical conservative agenda they do not believe in. As Romney Repeats Trade Message, Bain Maintains China Ties

The tale of Asimco Technologies, an auto parts manufacturer whose plants dot eastern China, would seem to underscore Mitt Romney’s campaign-trail complaint that China’s manufacturing juggernaut is costing America jobs.

Nine years ago, the company bought two camshaft factories that employed about 500 people in Michigan. By 2007 both were shut down. Now Asimco manufactures the same components in China on government-donated land in a coastal region that China has designated an export base, where companies are eligible for the sort of subsidies Mr. Romney says create an unfair trade imbalance.

But there is a twist to the Asimco story that would not fit neatly into a Romney stump speech: Since 2010, it has been owned by Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mr. Romney, who has as much as $2.25 million invested in three Bain funds with large stakes in Asimco and at least seven other Chinese businesses, according to his 2012 candidate financial disclosure and other documents.

That and other China-related holdings by Bain funds in which Mr. Romney has invested are a reminder of how he inhabits two worlds that at times have come into conflict during his campaign for the White House.

As a candidate, Mr. Romney uses China as a punching bag. He accuses Beijing of unfairly subsidizing Chinese exports, artificially holding down the value of its currency to keep exports cheap, stealing American technology and hacking into corporate and government computers.

The only difference between the corruption of the 1800s and now is that it now it pays better. Romney and his conservative supporters claim they are the pinnacle, the standard for patriotism. If that is true it means that to be patriot in America means to be a morally corrupt monster. Mitt Romney Lined His Pockets Pimping Big Tobacco In Russia

Bain & Company were corporate consultants hired to assist companies in marketing, expanding, and streamlining their operations. After Mitt Romney had successfully launched Bain Capital and made a lot of money, he was asked to come back and turn around Bain & Company. It could be argued that Bain & Co was languishing because of the activities of Bain Capital, which was leveraging and consolidating companies that Bain & Co might otherwise have provided consulting services to. Whatever the reason, Romney agreed to come back and try to turn it around.

It would seem that one of the drivers of Bain & Co’s turnaround was to inject Big Tobacco companies into Russia’s emerging markets. From the article:

The Soviet Union’s downfall meant rich rewards for any company able to move quickly, and the timing was right for U.S. and British tobacco companies eager to control the cigarette market. Under pressure at home for marketing an addictive and deadly product, domestic sales were shrinking. It was a dilemma Bain and Romney knew well, having worked extensively on behalf of Philip Morris in the U.S. beginning in 1990. In 1992, Bain approached British American Tobacco — the international conglomerate behind Kool, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall and Benson & Hedges — offering a lucrative partnership in Russia. It worked.

Worse yet, taxpayer dollars helped launch the effort.

Bain was in the middle of all of this, putting to work the same skills it had sharpened in the U.S. — using taxpayer money to help it gain footholds in Russia. In March 1993, the American government gave Bain & Co. a $3.9 million contract to advise Boris Yeltsin’s administration on the privatization of the Russian economy, according records detailing the arrangement uncovered by The Huffington Post. Romney’s consultants helped foreign firms and aspiring oligarchs decide how to corral Russia’s riches — including writing an official manual that outlined how best to navigate the process. At the same time, Bain leveraged its contacts with senior Russian officials to arrange sweetheart deals for its tobacco clients.

The Russian government was an incredibly corrupt institution from the beginning. The fall of the Soviet Union gave rise to a robust black market system. For all of the high talk about Reagan and the fall of communism in those days, Russia’s “democracy” was little more than the oligarchy opening the door to receive some of the riches of the west, and Romney facilitated that.

Gangs of New York, Copper and Hell on Wheels are supposed to be entertaining historical dramas, maybe with a little message about behaving better. But in comparison to the deep tangled web of corruption we have today, those shows are almost light hearted fairy tales.

early autumn wallpaper