Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Blacks in US face greatest loss of wealth in US history

January 19, 2008

Link

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The Corporate/Governmental Step It Up Rally

November 4, 2007

70 people (at peak turnout) gathered today in South Bend, IN, one of about 1,000 such gatherings over the weekend across the country, to hear politicians and businessmen speak about marginal environmental improvements and profit opportunities. The word “grassroots” was spoken with a straight face and a crooked intellect. That this bleak farce is a typical example of the environmental movement in America bodes poorly for the future of the world.

Worker collectives versus unions

October 25, 2007

I don’t understand why workers aren’t pre-organized. My concept of a union is a wage-setter, but this wage-setting should occur prior to employment. Prior to employment a worker should join a union. The union analyzes the profitability of corporations and sets the wages of employees based on that profitability.

The way this system would work is that corporations wouldn’t deal with individuals. If there are multiple collectives the corporations could wage-compete for the “best deal” among the unions, and the union furnishes the worker.

Body Shop founder on corporate issues

October 24, 2007

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Disorganizing the working class

October 23, 2007

Link

The Subprime debacle – welcome to American business culture

August 25, 2007

Link

A few bad apples?… uh, no.

The Global Financial Structure and Deregulation – Reality is out of Control

August 19, 2007

Link

On the Coal Mine collapse in Utah

August 15, 2007

Part 1

Part 2

On the Subprime debacle

August 13, 2007

From Danny Schechter

Western Propaganda and Deception in the Congo

August 6, 2007

http://tinyurl.com/34s68l

In response to Warren Spector from the thread “Warren Spector has sold out”

July 29, 2007

Okay, this is pretty funny…

Just wait and see. Wait. And See.

(I’m having way too much fun!)

And I’m only 51, wise guy–at least for another couple of months!

Warren

The internet does not seem to know in what month you were born, so I played the odds.

Does what you produce carry the Disney designation? If it does, all of the following applies. If it doesn’t, some of it still does…

Disney keeps a tight lid on anything produced through the Disney label… their label is far more important to them than any developer or his hopes for his creations. You’re never going to win any battles against them in terms of getting what you want into a game if they disapprove, but if they *don’t* disapprove of what you want to put into the game then what does that say about what you’re producing?

You talk about Disney as a “cartoon” studio – but it’s much more than that. They are producing a specific image… a kind of aspirational middle-class white-picket fence whitewashed dreamworld. Disney has it’s own *town*… Celebration, Florida. Disney is a kind of plastic utopia very much like the setting of the movie ‘The Truman Show’.

Disney Interactive http://home.disney.go.com/games/ focuses on extending Disney media generated from other sources – primarily movies. So they have their Chicken Little game and their Pirates of the Caribbean game, etc. Obviously this hurts originality and innovation, but the more harmful effect is that there is a constant focus on cinematics in Disney games. Big, bold, bright, oversatured color gives the Disney “look”.

Many gamers, myself included, believe the games industry should be becoming *less* cinematic, not more.

You’re probably quite happy that this takes the financial burden off of you, and allows you to develop original product as well as producing Disney product. I assume, however, that the original IP will still be subject to the Disney label and Disney’s control over the content, right?

You talk about “licensed property as a spur to innovation”. You may want to reevaluate that. Think about the best 100 videogames of all time. You know them a lot better than I do. Now of those 100, how many of them were based on existing licenses not produced by the same people making the game? Are there at least a few? Is there even one?

When you talk about “financial burden” it seems obvious that your focus is on making high-budget games. Are high-budget games even necessary? Again – that’s something gamers and the industry as a whole thinks is quite a problem, a problem you seem to embrace as needing Disney as a solution instead of just making lower-budget games. By “career goal” it seems you mean “financial goal”, right? That’s the very definition of “selling out” regarding the production of quality. This from the same person who called selling 500,000 copies of Deus Ex a “success”. So… did your definition of success change?

There is a vast untapped potential in games, and especially in game design. You’ve explored some of that potential in your previous games. Good luck on continuing that in your new configuration.

How mass murder and mass abuse can bring a smile to the power elite

July 26, 2007

http://tinyurl.com/2q5uw7
http://tinyurl.com/37pcg7
http://tinyurl.com/2mkac4

Take close note of the facts and how each person here relates to them – while the elite self-justify their rule as a result of being “more capable” all the elite are capable of is creating, monitoring, and maintaining the abusive system that they themselves benefit from. The truth is by necessity not known to them – nothing that threatens their system can be known to them precisely because it would present a hardship to their very mind that they suppose to be “superior” to those they impact. It’s their victims that have a clear picture of reality. It’s their victims who can handle hardship. Why do the institutions for the mentally ill not collect the elite?… they are the most deluded people in the world. Perhaps because the assumption is that anyone who makes money by definition is quite sane… rules made up by the elite themselves. It’s the poor people who are closely, intimately examined for disabilities, diseases, delusions and encouraged to have them while the poor people would very much like the elite to have a clear picture of the world. The elite resist such a clear picture just as the poor resist disease and delusion…

It’s fairly pathetic that the elite capitalist west holds themselves as the ideal which the world should aspire to. All it takes is one look at them to see why people don’t.

Remember, remember… the mental institutions hold the troubled of the world… the trouble of the world however… that gets to roam free and destroy the world. The trouble, you see… rules the troubled.

I hope… I hope… that one day I too may be able to abuse and exploit the world! What a happy day of achievement that will be! All it takes is enough “education” and “good judgment”. All it takes is enough delusion.

The elite – what smiling, happy faces… what noble aspirations! Any more “nobility” or “aspirations” and there may be no world left at all.

The anal passage of Iraq is coated with American dollars – it’s not lube

July 12, 2007

http://tinyurl.com/2ebwn8
http://tinyurl.com/26zsaq
http://tinyurl.com/2zy8m7
http://tinyurl.com/2kdmdk
http://tinyurl.com/3ynhwe
http://tinyurl.com/2mqz6g

It’s great that corporations have brains and balls. Now let’s give them a heart and a soul

June 16, 2007

http://tinyurl.com/2cj4b2

http://tinyurl.com/26ct5s

http://tinyurl.com/28g6xz

http://tinyurl.com/2yoye8

Here’s an edited version of a writing of mine originally produced on 2-28-05:

One of my nightmares is when I have to besiege the corporate offices, with several automatic weapons, just to get a simple transaction that should be fully within my RIGHTS to occur. Then the cops are called and I go down in a blaze of no glory.

Meanwhile, some minion inside chuckles and keeps the account running.

The papers then say how I’m some psycho who snapped. Some people are just bad apples. Its good the cops were there to take care of the problem. Just another videogame player led to that logical conclusion.

Hopefully the company will have to pay to get my organstains washed off their parking lot. Too bad I think that taxpayers would end up footing that bill.

Outcome: Profit +1. The stockholders do adore.

The way things are going, at some point morality will have to be legislated. That is to say, for there to continue to be some. Lets just hope the companies don’t start controlling the legislation…

This is, after all, merely a logical outcome of treating human beings as bundles of money with the only morality being to transfer as much of that money from the bundle to the company as possible.

Isn’t it time to turn corporations from amoral into moral? *Besides* forcing the market to continuously adjust for their latest machinations, I mean. Moving corporations from forced morality into unforced morality. From the CEO saying “We are as moral as the market makes us be” to “We are as moral as we can be”.

I know. I know. Its tough to imagine a CEO ever saying something like that. That its so tough to imagine is indicative of the problem.

Changing the World: Understanding Corporations

June 12, 2007

http://tinyurl.com/2p9u2e

http://tinyurl.com/2kpcad

What isn’t usually understood about corporations, even considering this film, is that corporations exploit *everything*. They are complete pragmatists… they have no ethical consideration. They only *appear* to have ethical consideration in order for people to like them and continue buying their products and services… everything “good” about a corporation above and beyond its ability to maximize profits is nothing more than a PR move.

A lot of people today are “corporate activists”, which means they attempt to modify the practices of corporations. This is a bad idea if you address the corporation directly. The only good move is to create new laws that reform the corporation. The reason is that IF you are a traditional corporate activist such as an environmentalist interacting with corporations you are doing volunteer work to benefit corporations. You are being paid by your organization (if that), which in turn is being funded by taxpayers. The only sensible thing is working through legislators and the courts to change the laws, and making sure those laws are being fully executed against corporations.

Corporations love to exploit environmentalists. What they do is adjust their policies based on the degree of public awareness of an issue. So environmentalists do the work and the effort of achieving public awareness, lets say of some negative corporate activity, then the corporation modifies their practice, making sure through compliant media and sometimes the environmentalists themselves! that the public is very much aware of the modification. Then “everyone is happy”… everyone except the taxpayer who paid the environmentalists to benefit the corporation!

Don’t think the environmentalists are going to talk out against this: they love the media attention just as much as the corporations do.

Think about your actions and make sure you are not subsidizing the faux morality of corporations, no matter which proxy is in vogue at the moment.

We need to get the economics right, and make sure that corporations are paying for their own improvement. It doesn’t matter if this cuts into corporate profits.

Environmentalists, Congress, Corporations, the White House… who looks out for *taxpayer* interests nowadays?

Why, when a corporation changes its policy, isn’t it fined for use of the old policy?

I’m reminded of the FBI mantra: “Everything is OK now. We screwed up in the past, but everything is fixed.” The implication is that you don’t need to take any action against us for our *past* monstrosities, because they are gone now. But all that really happens is that the organization tries to become more secretive and do the same things, or has to blast the public with information about whatever good it does in order for them to respond positively and essentially PAY for the good. And guess what: if that public awareness fades so too will the “goodness” of the corporation.

What needs to take place in all secretive organizations is a fundmental shift so that they become actual good institutions, rather than bad institutions having to be continually forced into some form of quasi-decency.

We need to compel that shift. We need to punish any institution that abuses the public and prevent them from changing only if they receive sufficient PR.

We need to reject all institutions that do not have morality and ethics as part of their own fundamental interests, motives, and actions.

No, everything is NOT ok now. One of the major challenges of the 21st century is to create that change.

One example of the world of Rot

June 9, 2007

From No Logo, p156,157-8:

“It’s tempting to dismiss Celebration and the idea of the branded town as the particular neurotic obsession of the Disney corporation: this isn’t a harbinger of the future privatization of public space, it’s just Walt playing God again from beyond the grave. But with virtually every superbrand openly modeling itself after Disney, Celebration should not be too readily dismissed. Of course Disney is ahead of the game – Disney invented the game – but as is always the case with the Mouse, there are many would-be imitators trailing behind, taking notes. From his perch as adviser to the top media conglomerates, Michael J. Wolf observes that theme-park-style shopping locations like Minneapolis’s Mall of America may be precursors to the live-in malls of the future. “Maybe the next step in this evolution is to put housing next to the stores and megaplexes and call it a small town. People living, working, shopping, and consuming entertainment in one place. What a concept,” he enthuses.

Setting aside, for a moment, the Brave New World/Stepford Wives assocations such a vision inevitably evokes, there is something undeniably seductive about these branded worlds. It has to do, I think, with the genuine thrill of utopianism, or the illusion of it at any rate. It’s worth remembering that the branding process begins with a group of people sitting around a table trying to conjure up an ideal image; they toss around words like “free,” “independent,” “rugged,” “comfortable,” “intelligent,” “hip.” Then they set out to find real-world ways to embody those ideas and attributes, first through marketing, then through retail environments like superstores and coffee chains, then – if they are really cutting edge – through total lifestyle experiences like theme parks, lodges, cruise ships and towns.

Why wouldn’t these creations be seductive? We live in a time when expectations for building real-world commons and monuments with pooled public resources – schools, say, or libraries or parks – are consistently having to be scaled back or excised completely. In this context, these private branded worlds are aesthetically and creatively thrilling in a way that is totally foreign to anyone who mised the postwar boom. For the first time in decades, groups of people are constucting their own ideal communities and building actual monuments, whether it’s the marriage of work and play at the Nike World Campus, the luxurious intellectualism of the Barnes & Noble superstores or the wilderness fantasy of the Roots Lodge. The emotional power of these enclaves rests in their ability to capture a nostalgic longing, then pump up the intensity: a school gym equipped with NBA-quality equipment; summer camp with hot tubs and gourmet food; and old-world library with designer furniture and latte; a town with no architectural blunders and no crime; a museum with the deep pockets of Hollywood. Yes, these creations can be vaguely spooky and sci-fi, but they should not be dismissed as just more crass commercialism for the unthinking masses: for better or for worse these are privatized public utopias.”

Quotes from “No Logo”

June 5, 2007

Naomi Klein’s “No Logo” is amazing. It’s filled with great quotes… here are a couple of them:

“Like so much of cool hunting, Hilfiger’s marketing journey feeds off the alienation at the heart of America’s race relations: selling white youth on their fetishization of black style, and black youth on their fetishization of white wealth.” p78

“Sontag proposed camp as a defense mechanism against the banality, ugliness, and overearnestness of mass culture. “Camp is the modern dandyism. Camp is the answer to the problem: how to be a dandy in the age of mass culture.” Only now, some thirty-five years later, we are faced with the vastly more difficult question, How to be truly critical in an age of mass camp?” p84

To all those who claim that games are becoming too much like movies…

May 9, 2007

You obviously have a point. “Intertwined communities”. Do game developers ever get anything right?

  June 26-27, 2007
Renaissance Hollywood Hotel
www.hollywoodandgames.com

Network with top talent and leading executives in the game and entertainment industries at the second annual Hollywood and Games Summit. Learn about how to capitalize on crossover business opportunities, and gain insights on how to navigate these intertwined communities for mutual benefit.

Featured speakers include:
Jesse Alexander, Executive Producer, Heroes
Yuri Lowenthal, Actor, Afro Samurai, Prince of Persia, The GIlmore Girls
Yannis Mallat, CEO, Ubisoft Montreal
Susan O\’Connor, Game Writer, Gears of War

Adorning your Cleavage

May 8, 2007

Adornment dangling from the ears. Adornment around the neck. Adornment around the wrists. On the face. On the belly button. Sometimes in other places. Why not the breasts?

Perhaps the assumption is that guys look there anyway, so adornment is overkill. That’s very pragmatic, but it’s also not an exciting position to take.

The normal adornments are out. Obviously piercing doesn’t work.  A necklace-type adornment doesn’t work without something to attach the adornment to, and then things get too complicated. How about a surrounding type of adornment?

How about feathers, for example? They would feel nice and present a nice look. Depending on the supporting clothing I don’t know if it would often work, but creative fashion designers could find a way.

The novelty should get a woman VERY noticed.

Improvement of the Real-Estate Agent commission system

March 14, 2007

As discussed in the book Freakonomics, real-estate agents make commission based on every dollar of the sale price of a home. The problem is that the vast majority of a home’s cost takes no effort at all to get. So a home that could sell for between $250,000 and $300,000 lets say… the first $250,000 is easy. Therefore they should receive no commission based on it. They should instead receive a much larger percentage commission, but *only* on the amount of dollars they sell the house for above the baseline.

This begs the question of how the baseline is determined and who determines it. Ideally this would be done by means of a publically available computer formula. I don’t know whether this is doable. Another solution is to have a third party, who obviously must not have relations with either the real-estate agent or their client, form the baseline, perhaps even associated with the government.

This would improve the system assuming the additional element (the computer formula or third party) does not introduce problems or costs that supercede the gains. Its something that should be introduced on an experimental basis and can be taken from there.

A New Political/Economic System

January 19, 2007

I’m appalled that I don’t have an established position on what political/economic system I prefer. This post is part of forming a position.

The major systems in play (Corporatism/Socialism/Fascism) are each problematic. Corporatism is centralized and amoral. It can be worse than a dictator who is usually at the very least “of the people”. Socialism’s stressing of human input instead of human output is morally suspicious. Fascism ends all debate by making human happiness dependent upon an eternally powerful state.

What I’d like to see is a decentralized Capitalist system. New laws would reduce favor given to corporations.

Neoliberalism is destroyed such that multinationals can’t be used as an economic form of war. International trade would be engaged in with an eye toward cultural and political reality versus treating the world as a necessary consensus.

That’s it from a realistic perspective. That is to say, I believe this system can happen. What I *really* want is unrealistic for the moment, but you never know about the future…

The single biggest problem I see economically is that there is a disconnect between actual value and economic value. For example, I very much enjoy Stephen Colbert’s work. For this enjoyment I have not paid him a single penny. I have likely provided him some small amount of funds by talking about him positively, leading other people to watch him on TV (helping his ratings, thus advertising revenue, thus his popularity and likelihood of future success in the media). This effect however is very small. On the other hand, I spend money on things I am benefitted by far less.

Proponents of Capitalism have a harsh name for this: the Free Rider syndrome. But its far worse than that… all capitalism mediates is transactions… it does not mediate EFFECTS. According to me I should pay hundreds of dollars to Colbert and I should be refunded most of my money for other media. Capitalism doesn’t agree since effect is, again, not what is being regulated.

Under my ideal system, humans are paid as they create positive effect. Ideally after Colbert gave his speech at the Presidential roast, for example, he should have walked off and picked up an enormous check, fairly small amounts from millions of different people.

The biggest argument I’ve seen against my position is that economics works out in the end. Thus, *because* Stephen Colbert has created such a large positive effect people will continue to pay for whatever he is selling.

But that’s bullshit. He should be paid for what he does right, not have to keep going to make up for what was undersold previously.

This brings up one of the biggest flaws in Capitalism: You can only sell what the customer EXPECTS to buy, not what he actually buys. A transaction is not concluded after its effect is done, its concluded BEFORE it can do any actual effect. My system makes value and effect simultaneous, or as near as can be. *Surprises* kill Capitalism.

While I might say that this system is unfeasible, it really isn’t. The problem right now is that there’s no requirement of honesty… Stephen Colbert can affect Joe Schmoe for $100 worth of value but Joe Schmoe can just be a greedy asshole and not pay anything… there’s no accuracy checker. Noone knows Joe Schmoe well enough to determine how much positive effect Stephen Colbert has had on him.

You might say, we’ll get around the greedy asshole effect by making everyone pay X amount, and simply let them choose who to give it to. Unfortunately, this will lead to popularity management, which simply is a corruption of the system. “Popularity management” is probably no worse than modern politics, but the idea is to be *better* than modern politics.

This would be a great system, but the at the moment insurmountable problem is the certain inaccuracy that will result between effect and payment, making this system far worse in practice than decentralized Capitalism. I suspect at some point there could be a technological solution to the problems.

Its possible to implement this system on top of the current Corporate Capitalist system. Its already being done when websites sell T-shirts with the logos or themes of the site or when the site asks for donations.

Corporations do not own their employees

January 18, 2007

That seems like an uncontroversially true and boring statement, but not so fast.

“Universal amps up toon business – steals Chris Meledandri from Fox”

I’ve been seeing more and more quotes like this one, saying that corporations “headhunt” or steal from others.

A curious statement… how can you steal what is not a possession? Under the normal standard of mobile labor, someone *should* move to a different company if he gets a better offer. Its no big deal and certainly does not constitute theft.

Of course, you could argue that the word is merely sensationalistic and it doesn’t mean anything beyond that. Fair enough, although idle sensationalism is a problem all its own.

Someone from Interplay is on the crack

December 13, 2006

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=12075

What got me was this:

“The company’s predictions rely on reaching a total of one million subscribers during the first year, becoming profitable in the second year and generating revenues of $160 million per year, with a net income of over $50 million per year from year three.”

By year 2010 (when the game is *projected* to be released, meaning its almost certain not to be released prior to 2011) the MMO market will be even more satured than it is now. The playerbase will certainly be larger as well, but there are a TON of MMOs still being planned and will release prior to 2011 or even 2010. For a company with an insider’s knowledge of Chapter 11 to make this kind of prediction seems rather ridiculous.

At least they aren’t selling their developmental costs short: $75 Million budget. WOW. In fact, I don’t think WoW cost that much to produce (out of the gate at least).

Microwages

November 12, 2006

Players are generating content for developers for free. This happens whenever a player adds content that is used by players. Developers are incorporating this more and more into gameplay. Spore takes it a step further, having the game automatically upload player creations which they generate during necessary gameplay to a server which then analyzes and puts those creations into the games of other players.

In this piece I consider microwages – fair payment to players for the value of the creations they put into the game. One part of this is determining the wage amount. Spore is the example throughout.

This can be determined as other wages are determined – by supply, demand, and economic value. These laborers dynamically fill work opportunities. A highly skilled microlaborer in Spore is one who creates a very effective creature – one that can provide a challenge for expert players around the world. This is the laborer in low supply… any game player can make a mediocre creature. Another rare microlaborer is he who makes a very cool looking/behaving creature, creating delight among the other players.

One way to set the top end of the microwage pay scale is to assume the same payment as if the player was at the high end of the developer pay scale with respect to his creation. So if a top artist takes X time to make an equivalently valued creature, the amount of pay for that period of time would go to the microlaborer. If the microlaborer produces a better product than what the artist can produce, he gets a higher wage. Wages would then increasingly fall down the quality line.

As more and more creatures are made, less and less money would be paid out due to less value being added to the game.

For this to be implemented a late Beta of each game would be sent to a third party designated by law for the purpose of setting the microwage structure for games.

Hmm

November 8, 2006

From http://www.igxe.com/Cheap-Gold-WorldofWarcraft-Stonemaul_Alliance.htm

“Price Slashed again! unbeatable price from the direct sale. You are buying the gold from the game developers directly, not from the resellers, no hacking , no cheating , guarantee work !”

“No Waiting, No Bidding. IGXE.com – Direct Sale Service offers you the best and fastest way to buy world of warcraft WOW Gold from game developers directly. You will have the best buy , lowest and unbeatable price.”

Is it true that Blizzard is selling gold?