Tuesday, September 30, 2008

driving my ducks to a mighty poor pond...

the current financial crisis has me thinking of the good old days of business school sitting in those finance and marketing classes learning how to price derivatives and develop ads to sell coca-cola and fast food to people who didn't need it all in the name of profits.

what stood out and ultimately led to a shift to cultural anthropology (and marketing) was the lack of humanity in money. think of the game of monopoly, the object is to acquire the most and gradually bankrupt your opponents after taking everything they have.

this is the central tenet of modern capitalist business, which is based upon an Anglo-protestant ethic. earthly success is seen as a a direct consequences of god's favor. the objective is to acquire the most, more than necessary just to maintain alive on this planet. business is not about people, it is about non-stop acquisition and the drive for eternal profit. oil companies do not need 44bn usd a quarter they need 54bn. business is simply a non-sustainable cycle of "more". now it does not matter as much if mcdonalds is driving to make more profits to the detriment as much as banks and mortgage houses approving ARM mortgage for people who could not afford houses, leading to foreclosures and flooding the rent market, allowing landlords to increase rent due to the increased demand.

lastly, nothing in business is left to chance. as a finance student we calculated every conceivable aspect of companies was analyzed and re-analyzed (acct. receivables, debt ratios, etc.,) and even customers (actuaries would estimate the life expectancies of people and risk management would estimate the expected debt that would never be repaid) in order to determine the viability of their current and future operations, so it seems unlikely to me that "geniuses" on wall st. could not foresee the fact that if people could not afford a house the day they bought it, when their mortgage adjusted a few years later they would be in the street. there needs to be more humanity on the bottom lines of balance sheets.

"money often costs too much"
~ralph waldo emerson

Monday, September 29, 2008

may you live in interesting times...

today congress defeated the bailout bill and the ride on the 2 train during rush hour was most interesting with all the wall street-types sitting rather subdued and humbled on the subway as nearly $1 trillion dollars of "value" was wiped out from the u.s. economy.

later on, as i sat to argue with at&t wireless customer service before boarding the train on the upper west side i was able to eavesdrop on a man speaking on a pay phone (?) loudly about losing much of the value of his mutual fund investments and anticipating having a tough time paying the bills during the upcoming month. no bailout to be found on 94th and bway today, just the kind of inhumanity in business that made me shift from finance to marketing in undergrad.

"May you live in interesting times"

colors, colors, colors...

so, this has been my reality for the past 26 days or so, uncapped paint jars and cans, 6am bedtimes, trying to knock out a painting a day for an upcoming exhibit on latin heritage month (28 new canvases in total). All this time inhaling these toxic acrylic paints have gotten me to think of colors...the infinite possibilities of shades and patterns and blends.

the magical quality of pigment that have the potential to transform opinions, thoughts, emotions, or...even the ability to bore people to death...ha! we shall see october 6th.

"Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions"
~Pablo Picasso

Sunday, September 28, 2008

¡viva columbus!

Why is it that Latino Heritage month begins and ends in the middle of two seperate months? 

I understand September 15th being the day all of central america gained its independence (back when all five countries were one unified territory) but the fact that Columbus Day, that great harbinger of indigenous extinction that he was, falls within the "month" dedicated to Hispanics is rather odd...can we get a whole month...? maybe august (actually asian/pacific islander month) or september...

just anything that doesnt have Columbus Day in it...

"Sanity is a madness put to good use"
~George Santayana

the frog and the scorpion

i was introduced to this fable by the friend Dayana, which goes a little something like this:

  1. a scorpion asks a frog to carry him across a river.
  2. the frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion reassures him that if he stung the frog, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown as well.
  3. the frog agrees.
  4. In mid-river, the scorpion stings him, dooming the two of them.
  5. when asked why, the scorpion states, "I am a scorpion, it is in my nature".
which got me thinking about the inability for an individual to suppress their "nature", in any sense, the same way a leopard cannot change their spots. Daily, such truth in action is on display within this crazed city, with many people alternating the role of frog and scorpion setting aside common sense and misplaced confidence in the good nature of the unproven, a move which ultimately destroys all parties.

"Can the Ethopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil".
~Jeremiah 13:23, NIV


Saturday, September 27, 2008

a chance meeting with death...

Walking on La Rambla in Barcelona looking for inspiration, estrella damm, and a distraction from summer school, i came across this puppeteer with a puppet of death.

Interestingly enough it was the most popular of the attractions on La Rambla that morning, with individuals on all ages intrigued by a reality of our existence that most of us fear...

"Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides".
~Lao Tzu

goodbye blue sky...

I have found myself rather fascinated and discouraged at the same time during this U.S. political season and the seemingly fanatical allegiance to a given political party regardless of whether the other party may, for these next 4 years, be able to govern better or have candidates that are more competent (re: Palin). 

What happens at the national level is so complicated and diluted by party politics, compromise, lobbyists and corruption that little of what is said can pass the truth test with flying colors. How much change can occur from the top-down remains to be seen. Furthermore, the electoral system belies the whole "democratic" majority rules thing and it is rather unfair that states like Ohio, etc. become the key decision makers for the rest of the country. With all due respect to rural America of Grant Wood "American Gothic" fame,  over 70% of the population is urban and since the decisions of presidents that can potentially raise the ire of terrorists will most likely impact the citizens of San Francisco, New York, and D.C. rather than Columbus, Ohio or Omaha. 

"There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle".
~Alexis de Tocqueville