On March 26th of this year I ran a search on Amazon for capitalism and my first result was Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which had come out just two weeks before. It sounded exciting (and infuriating and impenetrable) but since I couldn’t find a copy in Austin’s public library system, I wrote it off for the time and started clicking through the recommended also-boughts. I compiled a list of similar Serious titles that were available and left for my day job. Two hours later, on a break, I opened Twitter, and the top item was a headline from The New Yorker: "Piketty’s Inequality Story in Six Charts." Was I baader-meinhoffing, or was something serious at work?
I still haven't had a chance to watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix yet (waiting for that Labor Day binge), but I've read a few pieces about the show, including Adam Davidson's piece in the Times Magazine about how prison commissaries work, and the difficulty Piper Kerman has to buy simple things like shower shoes and a radio.
The latest issue of Scientific American has an excerpt from a book about how people with psychopathic traits—"a grandiose sense of self-worth, persuasiveness, superficial charm, ruthlessness, lack of remorse and the manipulation of others"—are able to succeed, and points out that many politicians and world leaders often have these traits.
Negotiating a fee for this kind of stuff can be awkward. After all, you feel so cool to be asked! And maybe you're promoting your work, or your ideas, or your #personalbrand. But they are not holding this conference out of the kindness of their hearts or to do YOU a favor! Unless they are, and it's a nonprofit or true "community" (i.e., free) event, in which case: different story.
I've been thinking a lot about my marinara this week because I've been reading Michael Moss's Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Tricked Us. Company after company, product after product, Moss shows how Big Food formulates products for maximum addictiveness and overeatability. Oreos, Cheetos, Lunchables, Wonder Bread, they're all the same Iowa corn and Brazilian sugarcane, just liquefied, dyed and processed into different shapes and colors.
It's a funny world when T.V. show creators write long diagnostic pieces about how to fix the broken state of capitalism in the United States, but hey, this dude did create The Wire. The essay is broad, sweeping, reductive, and makes some great points. I kind of love it.
In Slate, Michal Lemberger argues that lemonade stands doesn't actually teach children about capitalism and entrepreneurship because people just like giving money to children.