The Vulgar Trader

Our Business is Bullshit, and Business is Booming.

A current pejorative adjective is narcissistic. Generally, a narcissist is anyone better looking than you are, but lately the adjective is often applied to those ‘liberals’ who prefer to improve the lives of others rather than exploit them. Apparently, a concern for others is self-love at its least attractive, while greed is now a sign of the highest altruism. But then to reverse, periodically, the meanings of words is a very small price to pay for our vast freedom not only to conform but to consume.

—Gore Vidal


From the Verge:

President Obama is in Japan on a state visit right now, and he’s been making some high-tech new friends. Honda’s humanoid robot Asimo was on hand at Tokyo’s Miraikan science museum — previously host to the colossal Kuratas mech — to demonstrate its soccer abilities. After offering a bow and exchanging a few words with Asimo, Obama said its ball skills were “pretty impressive,” according to The Wall Street Journal. But the robot might have done its job too well; Obama later told students that ”the robots were a little scary. They were too lifelike.”

From the Verge:

President Obama is in Japan on a state visit right now, and he’s been making some high-tech new friends. Honda’s humanoid robot Asimo was on hand at Tokyo’s Miraikan science museum — previously host to the colossal Kuratas mech — to demonstrate its soccer abilities. After offering a bow and exchanging a few words with Asimo, Obama said its ball skills were “pretty impressive,” according to The Wall Street Journal. But the robot might have done its job too well; Obama later told students that ”the robots were a little scary. They were too lifelike.”

U.S. Imprisonment Rate Per 100,000 Residents, 1978-2012 - Imgur

U.S. Imprisonment Rate Per 100,000 Residents, 1978-2012 - Imgur

When Parents Die, Private Student Loans Can Come Due

From AllGov:

The New York Times reported that some lenders are demanding immediate, full repayment following a co-signer’s death “more or less automatically, combing public records of deaths and bankruptcies, comparing them to loan records and generating repayment demands and default notices.”

“The ways in which they’re exercised don’t seem to be in the best interests of their companies or the best interests of the borrowers,” Chopra said. “It doesn’t seem that there is a thoughtful business decision.”

So what is the justification? Since private loans are not backed by the government, Chopra submits that Wall Street is betting the borrower will be unable to pay the loan back.

However, Chopra noted that these private student loans are used to back securities sold on Wall Street, raising the question of whether early repayment demands and default risks hurt or help these investments. It has been documented in the wake of the financial crisis that investors sometimes benefited from mortgage-based securities going under, depending on how they bet on their outcome.

We are caged by our cultural programming. Culture is a mass hallucination, and when you step outside the mass hallucination you see it for what it’s worth.

—Terence Mckenna

Student Suspended For Twriling Pencil Like a Gun

From the Washington Times:

A 13-year-old New Jersey boy was suspended from school Thursday for twirling his pencil around in math class and making another student uncomfortable.

Ethan Chaplin, a 7th-grader at Glen Meadow Middle School in Vernon Township, was twirling around a pencil with a pen cap on it when a student behind him yelled, “He’s making gun motions, send him to juvie!”

They removed him from class and forced him to undergo a physical (drug test) and psychological evaluation.

Reports claim the child was stripped, had to give blood samples (which caused him to pass out) and urine samples. Four hours later he was cleared to leave the facility and has since returned to school.

When the Huffington Post asked interim Vernon Superintendent Charles Maranzano why he decided to take such strong action, he replied, ”I don’t want to be the one who failed to act when there were warning signs being demonstrated or displayed.” To our knowledge, there are no established “warning signs” that have stood up to any scientific muster.

From Lee Camp: “In some places around the US, living in your car is now being criminalized. The war against the poor has hit an all-time low.”

Give me a land of boughs in leaf
A land of trees that stand;
Where trees are fallen there is grief;
I love no leafless land.

Short version: Louisiana is investing in “Big Data,” a centralized network of information, to determine risk to the state and develop analytics to study pre-crime. You know the drill.

Just a glance around the USA these days ought to nauseate the casual observer. We have an infrastructure for everyday life that is failing in every way imaginable. Are you disturbed by the asteroid belts of vacant strip malls outside your town? Or the empty store fronts along your Main Streets? What do you suppose these places will be like in ten years when the mirage of shale oil dissolves in a mist of disappointment and political grievance? How are Americans going to feel when gasoline just isn’t there at a price they can pay, and they are marooned in delaminating strand-board-and-vinyl houses 23 miles away from anything? Does the sheer immersive ugliness of the human imprint on the American landscape not give you the shivers?

Special-ed student who recorded being bullied on his iPad threatened with felony wiretapping charges

From the Daily Caller:

A learning-disabled 15-year-old Pennsylvania sophomore was threatened with felony wiretapping charges for using his school-approved iPad to record being bullied by other students.

After his numerous reports to teachers went unheeded, the student, who has not been identified, decided to take matters into his own hands after repeatedly being tripped, pushed, insulted, nearly burned with a cigarette lighter, and generally bullied since moving to the South Fayette School District 20 minutes outside Pittsburgh.

“I was really having things like books slammed upside my head…I wanted it to stop. I just felt like nothing was being done.”

The story goes on to describe the types of abuse recorded. We wish we could say this was atypical high school bullying, but it’s sadly standard fair, even for a special ed student.

The federal wiretapping charges were dropped, but the judge handed down a guilty verdict of “disorderly conduct.”

According to aattp.org, “This marks the first time that a bullying victim recorded abuse, and was later charged with a crime.”

Of course, authorities deciding to enforce the law beyond what their common sense and personal conscience dictates is nothing new. Never mind that the government never holds itself to such standards.

Read the rest.

UPDATE: While Pennsylvania is a two-party consent state, these are described as federal wiretapping charges — and therefore especially heinous.