Reading list for Saturday, October 28, 2018: Late-stage capitalism

World’s billionaires became 20% richer in 2017, report reveals

From The Guardian:

Billionaires made more money in 2017 than in any year in recorded history. The richest people on Earth increased their wealth by a fifth to $8.9tn (£6.9tn), according to a report by Swiss bank UBS.

The fortunes of today’s super-wealthy have risen at a far greater rate than at the turn of the 20th century, when families such as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts controlled vast wealth. The report by UBS and accountants PwC said there was so much money in the hands of the ultra-rich that a new wave of rich and powerful multi-generational families was being created.

“The past 30 years have seen far greater wealth creation than the Gilded Age” the UBS Billionaires 2018 report said. “That period bred generations of families in the US and Europe who went on to influence business, banking, politics, philanthropy and the arts for more than 100 years. With wealth set to pass from entrepreneurs to their heirs in the coming years, the 21st century multi-generational families are being created.”

Why Private Equity Is Furious Over a Paper in a Dermatology Journal

From the New York Times:

Early this month, a respected medical journal published a research paper on its website that analyzed the effects of a business trend roiling the field of dermatology: the rapid entrance of private equity firms into the specialty by buying and running practices around the country.

Eight days later, after an outcry from private equity executives and dermatologists associated with private equity firms, the editor of the publication removed the paper from the site. No reason was given.

Furor over the publication and subsequent removal of the article has deepened a rift in the field over what some see as the “corporatization” of dermatology and other areas of medicine.

Airbnb can’t go on unregulated – it does too much damage to cities

From The Guardian:

Remember the “sharing economy”? That rhetoric looks more comically disingenuous than ever in light of the news that a single Airbnb user in Barcelona is managing a portfolio of properties that brings in an eye-watering £33,000 a day in high season. Old neighbourhoods are being overrun with short-term tourists and shops selling souvenir tat. Rents for residents are being driven up, in Barcelona as well as Berlin, New York and elsewhere. Airbnb is a parasitic monster that squats over cities and hoovers up vast sums of money through its slimy proboscis. So what can be done?

Also worth checking out, even if it’s a couple of years old:

No More “Struggle Porn”

In Medium:

I call this “struggle porn”: a masochistic obsession with pushing yourself harder, listening to people tell you to work harder, and broadcasting how hard you’re working.

Struggle porn has normalized sustained failure. It’s made it acceptable to fly to Bali and burn through your life savings trying to launch an Amazon dropshipping business. Made it reasonable to keep living on your parents money for years after graduation while you try to become #instafamous. Made LinkedIn into a depressingly hilarious circlejerk for people who look way too excited to be having their headshot taken.

Working hard is great, but struggle porn has a dangerous side effect: not quitting. When you believe the normal state of affairs is to feel like you’re struggling to make progress, you’ll be less likely to quit something that isn’t going anywhere.


Let’s see how prescient this new “Onion” headline is

Remember when this Onion headline came out, and in the beginning, we thought it was just a funny joke and not an eerily accurate harbinger of our fates to come? Good times:

Then, in November 2016, this headline came out, and we thought “Well, maybe they’re exaggerating just a little”:

Well, here’s the latest Onion headline. It’s not all that far off from reality right now, and I don’t think FOX News have have fully unleashed the scaremongering:


Meme of the day: Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones

@dorseyshaw came up with the idea; I just meme-ified it.


Florida of the day: What happened to “Bubba the Love Sponge”?

Bubba the Love Sponge at Bubba’s Beach Club in Ybor City, 1996

I’m a relatively recent transplant to Tampa Bay (I’ll have been here five years next March), but even I am aware of the existence of Tampa’s most infamous radio show host, the shock jock known as “Bubba the Love Sponge”. It’s not because of the fame he gained through his meteoric rise on terrestrial radio in the 1990s and early 2000s, his stint as Howard Stern’s first choice to host a show on Stern’s satellite radio channel from 2006 to 2010, or even his gig as an interviewer with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.

It’s because he’s the cuckolded party in the Hulk Hogan sex video, and hoped to profit off it someday.

Bubba the Love Sponge in 2007, possibly auditioning for a spot in a Smash Mouth tribute band. Beside him is his now ex-wife Heather, who was not yet auditioning for a spot on the Hulk Hogan sex video.

Here’s Wikipedia’s summary of the Hulk Hogan video incident:

In early 2012, it was reported that Clem had filmed his then-wife Heather Clem and Hulk Hogan having sex in his bedroom. Subsequently, on October 4, 2012, Gawker released a short clip of the video.[41] In this video, Clem can be heard saying that the couple can “do their thing” and he will be in his office. Furthermore, at the end of the video, Clem can also be heard telling Heather, “If we ever need to retire, here is our ticket”.[42] Hogan filed a lawsuit against Clem and his now ex-wife for invading his privacy on October 15, 2012.[43] Hogan later settled the lawsuit on October 29, 2012.[44] Following the settlement, Clem also publicly apologized to Hogan.[45] Hogan sued Gawker Media for publishing the tape, and a jury of six awarded Hogan more than $140 million in March 2016.[46] Gawker announced it would appeal as they were “disappointed” that the jury was unable to hear Clem’s testimony,[47] but ultimately reached a $31 million settlement with Hogan in November 2016.[48]

One of the reason’s that Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker succeeded was that Peter Thiel — yes, that Peter Thiel — spent $10 million to help finance lawsuits against Gawker Media, presumably because Gawker had published an article outing him as gay in 2007. The lawsuit set a precedent for rich people shutting down journalism that they don’t like. So yes, the current trend of calling the press “the enemy of the people” (one of the necessary ingredient in the side towards authoritarianism) is at least partly Bubba’s fault.

In you’re wondering where Bubba is now, wonder no longer: Tampa Bay Times has your answer in their article, What happened to Bubba the Love Sponge?


Sign of the day: “It’s not pie”

This sign was in the Women’s March in March 2018.


We can always hope

Thanks to Jeannie Cool for the find!


If you’re going to be a callous jackhole on Facebook, the least you can do is use proper grammar

Click the image to see the jackholery at full size.

I checked, and yes, it was posted by a real person (unsurprisingly, in Hillbilly Elegy country) and not a bot. A look through that person’s profile suggests that even for U.S. citizens, there’d be a significant number for whom he wouldn’t shed a tear if they were killed overseas. Their posts aren’t “we want a seperate white ethnostate” extreme, but they are along the line of “Alex Jones / Prager U” crazy.

The Facebook poster isn’t the only one pushing the “not a citizen” message to downplay the tragedy. Unsurprisingly again, so is Trump.

The Boston Globe does a good job explaining why we should care about the Khashoggi case:

Finding out the truth about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul and responding to it properly might seem to have little to do with the average American. Here’s why one diplomatic expert says the situation matters a lot.

Khashoggi was a legal permanent resident of the United States, Nicholas Burns said. “He’s a green card holder. He’s like lots of our relatives who first came to America who were in transition to become a citizen,” Burns said.

“We have an obligation to every American citizen, and we certainly have an obligation to green card holders to protect and defend them,” said Burns, a former career diplomat who worked in Democratic and Republican administrations.

As a green card holder married to a U.S. citizen, I have to wonder: how many people think the same way of me? I also have to ask a question that I asked in friendlier times: Will Americans ever consider me to be one of them?