Snarky Behavior

Entries tagged as ‘douche-bags’

Douchechill!

January 3, 2008 · Leave a Comment

Via Paul Krugman:

Rupert Murdoch, said on the eve of the invasion of Iraq:

The greatest thing to come out of this for the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be $20 a barrel for oil. That’s bigger than any tax cut in any country.

Via Overheard in New York:

    Rupert Murdoch, at conference If you wanted to stalk a young girl, it’d be much easier to do on Facebook than MySpace.   

    Conference attendee: Douche chill…

–Grand Hyatt Hotel

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In Defense of Kobe

November 1, 2007 · 5 Comments

“Leadership: the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.”
–Dwight D. Eisenhower

This week while I watched the Lakers’ opener, I was very unsurprised to find that Kobe Bryant was being booed. Kobe’s off-season included a very public trade demand, a leaked video of him trashing the Lakers’ management, and a terrible music video with Tyra Banks.

Nope wait, that last one was some time ago. But he still deserves to be booed for it.

What Kobe doesn’t deserved to be booed for are his contributions on the basketball court. He is hands down the best all-around player in the NBA, which means he is the best living basketball player on the planet. How many people can (pretty unarguably) state that they are the best at what they do? Him, Federer and Tiger? Outside of sports, it’s pretty hard to measure.

Chuck Klosterman made a pretty important point about the NBA in his most recent Page 2 article: namely, the NBA is never as good as we’d want it to be because it’s never as good as we think it should be. Let’s explore that for a moment.

We want the NBA to be exciting. We want the outcomes of the games to matter to the players, for rivalries to form, for the regular season to be meaningful. That is to say, basketball is not the ballet: you’re not necessarily there to see the human body performing at its highest level (although that’s certainly part of it), but to see what happens when these bodies compete and struggle, when there is a clash of wills and ability played out in a structured, competitive environment. (Incidentally, this is why I prefer college basketball to the pros: even though the talent level is incredibly higher at the pro-level, the meaning behind the competition is much greater for the college game.

The endemic problem with the NBA is just what Klosterman identifies: the season is too long to give any one game significance (as is the case in football); the back-and-forth scoring dynamic too monotonous to rev up the intensity of the environment (which soccer and baseball enjoy); and the players too highly paid and contractually insured to demand full intensity on any given night (hence the comparative appeal to the college game).

For its part, the NBA tries to fix structural and systemic problems with a polish and luster that smears lipstick all over its own snout. It tries to engage its White audience by making its employees dress more “suitable” for a business environment. It hypes up the “entertainment” value of its product by promoting individual players over their teams. By creating video montages and all-star festivities centered around high-flying dunks and breath-taking displays of athleticism.

Again, those are the things offered by the circus, by the ballet. I can watch SportsCenter to see the highlights. What I want out of the NBA, what compels me to watch the game, is its competition.

Which brings us back to Kobe.

Kobe Bryant is a competitor. He is a leader. He is a cocky ass-hole, assuredly, but he is a leader.

Different contexts require different leadership positions. Previously this week I posted a clip of Alec Baldwin (the greatest actor of all time!) undercutting the confidence of a group of salesman by pulling the alpha male “brass balls” leadership technique. In a cut-throat industry like sales, where you “f*ck or walk,” it’s important that the employees be constantly challenged, constantly pushed. Their salaries are too good to incentivize their work ethic in any other way. That is to say, when you’re making a good living (and basketball players make millions for working 9 months out of the year), it’s easy to become complacent and push yourself short of your potential.

Kobe Bryant has brass balls. He is Alec Baldwin, undermining the confidence of his teammates, expecting them to expect more from themselves. He drives an $80,000 BMW (in 1980 dollars) and has a gold Rolex that costs more than what some of his teammates (ahem, Jordan Farmar) make in a year. And he is pulling all the strings he has available to him to make himself and his situation successful. He is pushing the buttons of management (who are also easily complacent with a financially viable and successful franchise living off the laurels of its tradition and market)… and he’s doing all of this without giving a flying you-know-what about what sports writers think of him.

Billy Crystal (paraphrased) said that a Jewish boy’s true Barmitzvah is the day he realizes he’s more likely to own an NBA franchise than ever play for one. The same could be said of a sports writer. He is a fan first, and a journalist second. Sports writers want their stars to be good guys, to be the heroes they idealized growing up. And there is a strong degree of cynicism when the writers realize that some of these alpha male competitors are Alec Baldwin ass-holes. So they openly begrudge the players for being “selfish,” for being “bad character guys.” They likewise chastise coaches perceived to be “too tough” on NBA players, who do not respond well to the expectation of self-discipline, hard-work, commitment, etc.

Kobe Bryant certainly could rest on the laurels of his previous 3 titles. He could certainly flash his boyish grin and be friendly with the media. He could play the rest of his career as the best player on a mediocre team, he could garner scoring titles and lavish shoe contracts, and he could secure a legacy in the pantheon of the greats. But Kobe doesn’t want to be one of the greats. He wants to be Ali. He wants to supplant Jordan. He wants to be the greatest.

So why do we begrudge him for it?

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One more thing:

October 11, 2007 · Leave a Comment

I’d like to apologize to the JP Morgan banker who was improperly implicated in this Craig’s List exchange.  I’ve since removed his name, but as this Yahoo! article states, he was simply a victim of forwarding an email with his signature line, which someone else then interpreted as authorship.

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The Self-Entitled Generation

October 5, 2007 · 3 Comments

Ok, I’ll bite.

Boston Globe writes article on “The New Me Generation.” Says young people are narcissistic and over-value their own opinions and intelligence, the result of being coddled during the “self-esteem” boom of the hippie child-rearing era. Quotes “professor” from San Diego State to prove this thesis.

(Let the record show: this is a professor from the same university that sent out a press release for its record high graduation rate — at 57%. And yes I can bash on the Aztecs since both of my parents were grads. It might be the only university on the planet where people come out dumber than they already were coming in. Well, maybe Chico too.)

I used to really be into generational studies that categorized large swaths of people into one sweeping evolutionary movement. It made me feel as if I were part of a some sort of historical progression. Like my friends and I were on the cusp of distinguishing our collective legacy.

Not any more. That stuff is all crap. Let me explain:

One thing you learn as a writer (er… blogger) is that, given time constraints and writer’s block, it sometimes becomes very difficult to write anything of insightful substance. So you make something up.

One thing you learn as a student (er… yeah, student!) is how to recognize weak arguments and lazy research. (Note: It’s usually your own).

One thing you learn as a young person entering a work-force hyper-saturated with baby-boomers that should’ve retired five to ten years ago is that old people love to think that they know what makes the young Turks tick. That’s why the eat up these “What’s With Kids Today???” pieces.

These types of quasi-social science articles are no different from my BS blog posts, aside from the fact that they quote people to substantiate their claims, whereas my arguments are self-substantiating because I’m a self-entitled, narcissistic, genius.

It is quite possible that the boomer generation, having lived through a tumultuous period themselves, in which they were distinctly defined by homogeneous characteristics, and having today aged in such a way that they are one big moving bio-mass of Merril Lynch targeted advertising, can only conceptualize its proceeding generations in categorical terms.

If that’s the case, let me set the record straight: young people are diverse. They are smarter than ever, but in many ways they are more ignorant than ever. We aren’t self-entitled because we were coddled, but because our parents never gave us the same opportunity to screw-up that they had. The kids quoted in this Globe article undoubtedly were placed on the fast track to success from day 1, in what I’ve called the “hyperbaric chamber” of pressure, applying to colleges, participating in “resume boosting” extracurriculars to make them “well-rounded.” From day 1, we’ve learned to game the system.

Moreover, we live in an age of information, and we’re consumers of it. We’re more socially networked than our parents. We are much more comfortable with technology, and the tradeoffs of privacy. So in that sense, we certainly share some traits.

However, we also live in a long-tail environment. Cable television gives us hundreds of options of sub-divided mass culture from which we can choose to identify with. We are in many ways too diverse to categorize.

So sure, while there may be some “go-getting” narcissistic self-entitled douchebags out there, they are certainly not random or representative of an entire generation. They are just the most ostensibly obnoxious, and easily accessible (for reasons of self-promotion) to lazy journalists looking to get quote-substantiation for their hack-pieces.

Ugh.

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If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life…

October 3, 2007 · 2 Comments

… never make a pretty woman your wife.

This post will be long, but wah-woo-wee-woo worth it!

The following was posted on Craigslist in the “Women-Seeking-Men” section:

Okay, I’m tired of beating around the bush. I’m a beautiful (spectacularly
beautiful) 25 year old girl. I’m articulate and classy. I’m not from New York.
I’m looking to get married to a guy who makes at least half a million a year. I
know how that sounds, but keep in mind that a million a year is middle class in
New York City, so I don’t think I’m overreaching at all.Are there any guys who
make 500K or more on this board? Any wives? Could you send me some tips? I dated
a business man who makes average around 200 – 250. But that’s where I seem to
hit a roadblock. 250,000 won’t get me to central park west.

I know a woman in my yoga class who was married to an investment banker and
lives in Tribeca, and she’s not as pretty as I am, nor is she a great genius. So
what is she doing right? How do I get to her level?Here are my questions
specifically:- Where do you single rich men hang out? Give me specifics- bars,
restaurants, gyms-What are you looking for in a mate? Be honest guys, you won’t
hurt my feelings-Is there an age range I should be targeting (I’m 25)?-

Why are some of the women living lavish lifestyles on the upper east side
so plain? I’ve seen really ‘plain jane’ boring types who have nothing to offer
married to incredibly wealthy guys. I’ve seen drop dead gorgeous girls in
singles bars in the east village. What’s the story there?- Jobs I should look
out for? Everyone knows – lawyer, investment banker, doctor. How much do those
guys really make? And where do they hang out? Where do the hedge fund guys hang
out?- How you decide marriage vs. just a girlfriend? I am looking for MARRIAGE
ONLYPlease hold your insults – I’m putting myself out there in an honest way.
Most beautiful women are superficial; at least I’m being up front about it. I
wouldn’t be searching for these kind of guys if I wasn’t able to match them – in
looks, culture, sophistication, and keeping a nice home and hearth.

THE ANSWER

Dear Pers-431649184:

I read your posting with great interest and have thought meaningfully about
your dilemma. I offer the following analysis of your predicament. Firstly, I’m
not wasting your time, I qualify as a guy who fits your bill; that is I make
more than $500K per year. That said here’s how I see it.
Your offer, from
the prospective of a guy like me, is plain and simple a crappy business deal.

Here’s why. Cutting through all the B.S., what you suggest is a simple
trade: you bring your looks to the party and I bring my money. Fine, simple. But
here’s the rub, your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into
perpetuity…in fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an
absolute certainty that you won’t be getting any more beautiful!

So, in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning
asset. Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation accelerates! Let
me explain, you’re 25 now and will likely stay pretty hot for the next 5 years,
but less so each year. Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in
you!

So in Wall Street terms, we would call you a trading position, not a buy
and hold…hence the rub…marriage. It doesn’t make good business sense to “buy
you” (which is what you’re asking) so I’d rather lease. In case you think I’m
being cruel, I would say the following. If my money were to go away, so would
you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It’s as simple as that. So a deal
that makes sense is dating, not marriage.

Separately, I was taught early in my career about efficient markets. So, I
wonder why a girl as “articulate, classy and spectacularly beautiful” as you has
been unable to find your sugar daddy. I find it hard to believe that if you are
as gorgeous as you say you are that the $500K hasn’t found you, if not only for
a tryout.

By the way, you could always find a way to make your own money and then we
wouldn’t need to have this difficult conversation.

With all that said, I must say you’re going about it the right way. Classic
“pump and dump.” I hope this is helpful, and if you want to enter into some sort
of lease, let me know.

My take:
1) Seeing how I float from class to class only dealing with numbers (economics, statistics and accounting), I can’t help but evaluate this exchange with a utility/efficiency lens. From that angle, the respondent hit this e-mail out of the park. $50,000 bonus for you.

2) The orginal poster states that she can’t understand why she’s “seen really ‘plain jane’ boring types who have nothing to offer, married to incredibly wealthy guys.” I think this highlights the central confusion in the male/female (Venus/Mars) dynamic, at least from the women’s perspective: women confuse men’s short term interests with their long term goals. They then market themselves to match men’s short term interests, and are angry and upset when this does not yield their desired expectation (marriage).

3) Men take the opposite approach: they recognize that wealth is a conduit to power, and power to sex (the Scarface Theory– “first you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women!”)

All things being equal (in college, when self-generated wealth does not factor into play), lacking striking physical attractiveness, men can either capitalize on their self-projected potential for wealth-generation (i.e. “the douchebag factor,” which women frequently misconstrue as “confidence”), or they can forgo sex altogether, invest in themselves completely, and become wildly successful in five to ten years… having sacrificed their sexual prime, waistline, and hairline.

By such a time (the accelerated mid-life crisis) men are looking to settle pragmatically, not cash in on a trophy wife based on a relationship that is completely disingenous and will undoubtedly result in the divestment of half of his earnings via the inevitable divorce settlement. He worked hard for that money, sacrificed a lot, and intends to keep it.

Meanwhile, the douchebags (like the respondent) are, in the early stages of their careers, only looking for bigger and better, to flip women like a real-estate investor might flip condos. The end-goal of such a venture isn’t a ritzy-apartment overlooking Central Park West (the hot chick), although it certainly might be desirable to have that on the side, if you can afford it (and get away with it). The end-goal is a secure mansion that you can lock up with your worldly possessions and off-spring (the “plain jane”), providing him with safety, security and an anxiety-free life-style where he can kick up his feet and read the paper.

4) I don’t have the necessary analytical tools to give this e-mail exchange a proper feminist critique (or quite possible it’s what I possess that makes such an interpretation unrealistic), but this e-mail exchange REALLY highlights the assymetrical dynamic of the sexes, does it not? Maybe it is because women are on a clock, and are the first to cave into the constrained institution of marriage, that they are more responsive to the demands of men’s preferences than men are to women?

In any event, many women (such as the above poster) continue to see their best avenue to wealth, happiness and security as elbow decoration to a wealthy, happy and successful man. This is despite the fact that women are entering professional careers and obtaining degrees of higher education at a higher rate (and number!) than are men. I’m too lazy to link, but the New York Times just ran an article about how wealthy women in the city find it difficult to date men who are not as wealthy as them. Simply put: men aren’t as proportionally attracted to wealth in women, as women are to wealth in men.

5) All of this discussion really highlights why you should marry for the right reasons instead of the wrong reasons. And I’m not necessarily saying the right reason is “true love”… that is the lazy, default answer. You are delusional and unreasonable if you believe that “true love” will substantiate your existence… if you rely on “true love” to guarantee your life’s happiness, the only gurantee you’ll get in dissatisfaction, except in very rare instances.

No, the “right” reasons to marry are: trust, responsibility, mutual respect, companionship, love (as a component, not as the only component)… maybe even dual income, caretaking considerations, etc. So unless these were the “matching things” the original poster was referring to in her original post, then the respondent’s evaluation of the offer as “crappy” — seems appropriate.

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Doing Good vs. Doing Well

July 24, 2007 · 9 Comments

My friend Robby has pointed out that I’ve been rather harsh on the types of people who gravitate toward the seat of national power (which I will call home for only one month longer). He suggested that “they” — a convenient target of my criticism– might actually be exaggerated extrapolations of “us” — my beloved inner-circle.

I suppose there’s a small bit of truth to the assertion. But moreover, I think that my true inclination is to distance myself (and my friends) from all parties; to paint ourselves as the Swiss neutrals in this hipster/douchebag war.

But why would I want to be the bard, or the impartial observer(s)?

Well, part of me recognizes that I too am an ideologue, and so are many of my friends. But of a different sort. We came to DC for the two-year stay only, and not the lifetime committment. We leaned to the left, wanting to do good. Wanting not to “sell-out.”

But two years out of college, and I’ve barely scraped together a positive net-worth. “Doing good” can be a fruitless and frustrating exercise. At the very least, it’s trying on one’s patience. “Doing good” moves at a slower pace than someone like me, who’s been in a hyperbaric chamber of competition since the age of 13, is comfortable with.

So my priorities, like many of my friends, have shifted to “doing well.” That implies elite education. Professional school. Complex problems and creative solutions, on demand. Long hours. High reward. And high compensation.

It all sounds dangerously close to “selling out.” Compromising my values of leisure, creativity, exploration of intellectual curiousity, etc. for comfort, security, and status. And a big fucking plasma TV.

For two years in DC, I didn’t have to make that decision. But once I signed a promissory note for $50,000 in student loans, I did. And in doing so, I severely limited my professional options.

SIPA is an interesting school. Of the 250 or so students in every class, I would guess nearly half go into the humanitarian/peace keeping/development tracks. This path leads to NGOs and other third-sector organizations that are very rewarding metaphysically, but don’t help much in making those $1000 per month loan payments. The rest of the students go into the security/management/finance concentrations, which result in careers in the consulting/finance/management sectors. And nice suits.

And then there’s me. I still feel like Keeanu Reeves in The Matrix, deciding which pill to take. Sure, I’d like the TV, but I’m going to sweat through the suit anyway… might as well get one on the cheap.

I’m certainly not alone in this. Daniel Brook calls our predicament “The Trap.” The gist of his book? Rising economic inequalities lead to rising inequalities in freedom and opportunity. In the world of relativity, even the uber-wealthy private equity shmucks are serfs lining the coffers of the Blackstone billionaires.

So, without an affordable education, our opportunities are limited. The decision to “do good” or “do well” is often times made for us. Which, you know, sucks. I want to do good, and feel good about doing it. But I’m not sure how soon I’ll be able to.

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Late Night Potshots

July 14, 2007 · 1 Comment


Look at me! I’m blogging from a coffee shop! Wheeeeeeeeee!

With 32 oz. of caffeine surging through my arteries (I’ll be free-basing espresso by September), I am currently one of those annoying scumbags who takes up entirely too much space at a cafe to plug in their desktop-replacement laptop. Pretty proud of myself about that.

Why am I here? Ostensibly, to fulfill a remedial distance learning requirement for math/econ. But there are entirely too many distractions — the most dangerous of which are summer sun-dresses, my absolute downfall– to relearn integration at a coffee shop.

And I would just do it from my apartment but a.) I need the coffee b.) I’d fall asleep at home c.) I’d rather sit in a freely-provided air -conditioned environment and d.) social norms limit me from surfing inappropriate or embarrassing websites while in public, which keeps me on task.

Clearly, I’ve found other ways to goof off. Including reading The Washington City Paper , a coffee-house staple. This month’s front page article is a half-hearted exposee into the young Washingtonian social-club, Late Night Shots. LNS is an oft-derided target of Wonkette for its ironically ostentatious exclusivity.

Though the writer attended a social event and took seemingly diligent notes, the article itself is severely slanted. She comes across as a loyal soldier lobbying grenades at the army of WASPS, under direct orders from her editor-general. (Nothing like a good class-based prejudicial argument to get tempers heated and people talking.)

Now don’t get me wrong… LNS by all accounts, is a cluster-fuck of douchebaggery. Its members are the vapid, status consumed young Republicans that severely chap my ass every time I’m in Georgetown (formerly recognizable for their popped-collars, they’ve since adapted –”they say no one pops their collars these days.”) This is a social class of future Roves and Cheneys that deserves to be exposed for its hypocritical value systems and latent underlying elitism and social prejudice.

Well, attacking the establishment, or the young spawn of the establishment, is never a difficult task. The article is fast and loose, interviewing members of the group who purportedly “hate what it stands for,” but never explaining why, or what they think the group actually does stand for. Anonymous or pseud0nonomous internet rants are included to demonstrate the groups’ apparently amoral world-views or supposedly ironic brand of humor. But this is done without exploring the pernicious relationships between exclusivity, in-groups, ironic humor, prejudice, racism, insecurity, politics and the rest.

All of which makes the in-group (rightly) suspect that such an article, lacking genuine criticism, is merely sour-grapes… a targeted attack by indie liberal hipsters that resent them for their wealth and influence.

It all reminds me of the Duke lacrosse players. When their rape charges were dismissed, I remember watching them indignantly condemn the media for presuming their guilt, and exploiting the racial and class dynamics of the case.

This pissed me off.

Look, assholes… maybe you didn’t rape a prostitute. Congratulations. But you still wrote an e-mail joking about “killing her as soon as she walked in the door.” And you still embody the old-boy entitlement that is pervasive in our country’s elite institutions.

America needs a legitimate conversation on the degradation of moral values, not on the left, where the “morals” front is always entrenched, but on the RIGHT. The City Paper’s superficial treatment is a missed opportunity to explore the systemic problems of conservative values.

Somewhere between Tom Wolfe’s literary hand jobs and Wonkette’s snarky pot-shots there needs to be critical analysis of the value-system of the ruling class. The City Paper swung and missed.

UPDATE
Two things to add to this:
1.) I called this article “fast and loose.” I meant: It all seems very presumptuous. You would never see an exposee into a gang (another young social group) without extensive research into the backstories of the individual members… some attempt to explain why they choose to behave the way the do.

2.) During a visit at Harvard (which is, fairly or unfairly, the consummate conversation piece , when it comes to issues in higher-education), I remember incredulously listening to a sociology major defend his senior thesis — arguing that social elite are just as constrained (in terms of limitations of opportunities) by their formative environment as are young black youth in America’s urban ghettos. I couldn’t believe it. This gross misconception, I believe, is the pervasive attitude we need to be challenging.

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Dobbsian theory

July 6, 2007 · 1 Comment


Journalism.org reports that CNN’s Lou Dobbs reaped a ratings bonanza during his coverage of the proposed Immigration Bill that was browbeaten to death in Congress last week.

In the last three months, from April 1-June 29, Dobbs devoted more than a quarter (26%) of the airtime on his nightly show to immigration. (That’s almost twice as much attention as he gave to the next leading subject, the Iraq war policy debate.)

A quick autopsy on the life and death of Kennedy’s Immigration Bill will tell you that the talking heads on the political right (led by Dobbs) singled out the “amnesty” portion of the bill, and gave marching orders to its minions of letter-writers to shoot the bill down.

Once a watchdog of corporate malpractice, Dobbs has remade his career the old-fashioned way… exploiting xenophobia. (It’s easy to pick on people who have no legal rights). At the same time, Dobbs has managed to maintain his “populist” “war on the middle-class” position, hammering domestic manufacturing industries for shipping jobs over-seas.

Lou Dobbs is the embodiment of Dani Rodrik’s impossibility theorem, which states that “democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible: we can combine any two of the three, but never have all three simultaneously and in full.”

Dobbs wants to have his cake and eat it too. That is, he wants to be a small “d” democrat, a nationalist, and a populist at the same time. He sells his brand of snake-oil to an audience eager to believe its feasible for Americans to win-win-win on every front in the face of global competition, without sacrificing on any level.

Does this mean we’ve completely departed from an era where our leaders ask us to sacrifice for the sake of our collective best interests? Is the only acceptable brand of rhetorical politicking now class war-fare, taxing the wealthiest and denying benefits from the poorest? What happened to Roosevelt’s “Call for Sacrifice” or Kennedy’s “Ask Not…” premises?

You know what happened? It went out the window post 9/11, when we asked our president what we could do to help, and he advised: “Keep spending…the American economy will be open for business.”

Color me inspired.

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