Journal of a Journalist

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Eyjolfur “Eyjo” Guðmundsson, an academic, a gaming buff, and an in-house economist for CCP Games, describes his job as being just like “a research scientist for a central bank.” Except his bank and its currency don’t exist in the real world. Guðmundsson oversees the function of InterStellar Kredit (ISK), the in-game money for EVE Online, a science fiction-themed game world whose average player spends three hours a day online.
Meet The Alan Greenspan Of Virtual Currency In “EVE Online” | Fast Company | Business Innovation

Filed under gaming economics eve online

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Here’s Where We Talk About Journalism And Class Again

I just found out, via Slate, about a book in which the author went undercover working at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table. The author, Tracie McMillan, went undercover as a farm worker, an Applebee’s employee and a Wal-Mart employee.

Just to be clear, I’m not criticizing McMillan. Her book seems genuinely interesting; I will probably buy it. I’m just taken aback that working at Wal-Mart and Applebee’s (and, well, working as a farm worker) is so far outside of the experience of typical non-fiction buyers that a book has been written about it.

Here’s the thing: Non-fiction is generally written to cater to the prejudices and interests of the upper-middle class and those who aspire to it. Many members of that class never worked at a McDonald’s, a Wendy’s or a Target. A book is needed to explain it to them. Make of that what you will.

Filed under journalism economics

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Left-Wing, Right-Wing, Fucking Angry

I grew up in a white ethnic, mostly lower middle-class neighborhood in outer borough NYC. It’s beyond the subways — you need to drive or take a bus to go there. Every time I return home, I notice that the local strip malls have all turned into vacant storefronts, pawn shops, or check-cashing joints. I don’t care what your political leanings are, but that just isn’t right. We seem to have lost the script somewhere along the way…

Filed under economics

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Citigroup spent years intentionally buying up every bad mortgage loan it could find, creating bad securities out of those bad loans and then selling shares in those bad securities to duped investors. And then they sometimes secretly bet *against* their *own* bad securities to make even more money. For one such bad Citigroup security, Citigroup executives were internally calling it, quote, “a collection of dogshit”. To investors, however, they called it, quote, “an attractive investment rigorously selected by an independent investment adviser”.

This is fraud, and it’s a felony, and the Charles Princes of the world spent several years doing it again and again: knowingly writing bad mortgages, and then packaging them into fraudulent securities which they then sold to suckers and then repeating the process. This is a big part of why your property values went up so fast. But then the bubble burst, and that’s why our economy is now shattered for a generation, and it’s also why your home is now underwater. Or at least mine is.

Anyway, if your retirement fund lost a decade’s-worth of gains overnight, this is why.

If your son’s middle school has added furlough days because the school district can’t afford to keep its doors open for a full school year, this is why.

If your daughter has come out of college with a degree only to discover that there are no jobs for her, this is why.

But back to Charles Prince. For his four years of in charge of massive, repeated fraud at Citigroup, he received fifty-three million dollars in salary and also received another ninety-four million dollars in stock holdings. What Charles Prince has *not* received is a pair of zipcuffs. The nerves in his thumb are fine. No cop has thrown Charles Prince into the pavement, face-first. Each and every peaceful, nonviolent Occupy LA protester arrested last week has has spent more time sleeping on a jail floor than every single Charles Prince on Wall Street, combined.

The more I think about that, the madder I get. What does it say about our country that nonviolent protesters are given the bottom of a police boot while those who steal hundreds of billions, do trillions worth of damage to our economy and shatter our social fabric for a generation are not only spared the zipcuffs but showered with rewards?

In any event, believe it or not, I’m really not angry that I got arrested. I chose to get arrested. And I’m not even angry that the mayor and the LAPD decided to give non-violent protestors like me a little extra shiv in jail (although I’m not especially grateful for it either).

I’m just really angry that every single Charles Prince wasn’t in jail with me.

Thank you for letting me share that anger with you today.

Patrick Meighan
Patrick Meighan, a writer for Family Guy, explains why he joined Occupy LA

Filed under economics news ows occupywallstreet occupyla

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Ok, everyone read this Slate piece about Lynda Barry right the hell now. There’s going to be a ton of interest/linkage/reporting on Barry over the next few weeks due to the epic NYT Magazine profile coming out, but here’s what I want to discuss…Barry, one of the best known underground cartoonists in the world, is frank about not being unable to afford health insurance and having serious financial issues. This is a person whose work is regularly taught in university classes and whose books had a huge influence on American popular culture.I’m lucky enough to have befriended a lot of people I idolized when I was a kid. Musicians, authors, artists, folks like that. Many of them have t-shirts for their bands sold at little shops at St. Marks Place and others have torrents of their work circulating around every single warez site. Neither see a penny from that. Being in a legendary indie rock band or having your cartoons in the back pages of the Village Voice for years isn’t a guarantee of being able to retire comfortably. Being in the culture industry may be fun, but sometimes it really sucks.

Ok, everyone read this Slate piece about Lynda Barry right the hell now. There’s going to be a ton of interest/linkage/reporting on Barry over the next few weeks due to the epic NYT Magazine profile coming out, but here’s what I want to discuss…

Barry, one of the best known underground cartoonists in the world, is frank about not being unable to afford health insurance and having serious financial issues. This is a person whose work is regularly taught in university classes and whose books had a huge influence on American popular culture.

I’m lucky enough to have befriended a lot of people I idolized when I was a kid. Musicians, authors, artists, folks like that. Many of them have t-shirts for their bands sold at little shops at St. Marks Place and others have torrents of their work circulating around every single warez site. Neither see a penny from that. Being in a legendary indie rock band or having your cartoons in the back pages of the Village Voice for years isn’t a guarantee of being able to retire comfortably. Being in the culture industry may be fun, but sometimes it really sucks.

Filed under economics culture news

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The Youth Unemployment Bomb

In Tunisia, the young people who helped bring down a dictator are called hittistes—French-Arabic slang for those who lean against the wall. Their counterparts in Egypt, who on Feb. 1 forced President Hosni Mubarak to say he won’t seek reelection, are the shabab atileen, unemployed youths. The hittistes and shabab have brothers and sisters across the globe. In Britain, they are NEETs—”not in education, employment, or training.” In Japan, they are freeters: an amalgam of the English word freelance and the German word Arbeiter, or worker. Spaniards call them mileuristas, meaning they earn no more than 1,000 euros a month. In the U.S., they’re “boomerang” kids who move back home after college because they can’t find work. Even fast-growing China, where labor shortages are more common than surpluses, has its “ant tribe”—recent college graduates who crowd together in cheap flats on the fringes of big cities because they can’t find well-paying work.

(via jhnbrssndn)

Filed under economics