From the Editors
Best in Blogs: Siren-Sounding Stock Guy Isn't Fake, Wall Street Protests Flop, Don Draper Pitches Facebook
Top Stories for the Week of September 26-30, 2011
Maybe the old devil Jack Nicholson was right: we can't handle the truth. On Monday some financial talking-head nobody went on the BBC News and confessed (raw video here) that the stock market is "toast" and bad, bad stuff is coming, that "it doesn't matter how much money they want to put in, it's not going to work, because this problem cannot be solved." But he noted that traders like him dream of another recession because, hey, even during the Great Depression, the guys who saw it coming made a mint. He also explained that governments don't really have any power because "Goldman Sachs rules the world" and that everyone needs to bury their nuts like a squirrel to prepare for the worst. What's next, a horrible Facebook revamp? As Mediaite recaps: "It's a video that the Occupy Wall Street gang and Glenn Beck fans can all watch together ... a pretty terrifying clip. It's all the more terrifying because, hey, the guy's just being honest."
But as the video went viral across the Web, the ritual killing of the messenger began. Slaughter was our only hope. We learned his name, and Gawker called Alessio Rastani a "sociopath," which sounds severe, but actually it's like a regular person calling water wet; Gawker has an entire category devoted to people it has branded as sociopaths. Forbes cited a scientific study hinting that "stock market traders display similarities to certified psychopaths." German paper Der Spiegel reported on this study that stock traders "behaved more egotistically and were more willing to take risks than a group of psychopaths who took the same test." Hey, that's why they make the big bucks! Business Insider (whose co-founder Hendry Blodgett is a disgraced former stock analyst who was charged with fraud by the SEC for not being free-flowing with the truth) took glee in pointing out that Rastani "turns out to be just some guy living in his girlfriend's house." Wow, looks like we've all been duped - not by the entire financial system but by this guy, who can't be trusted, because ... look, he lives with his girlfriend. To be balanced: a British newspaper report also noted that Rastani isn't really a big-time trader, he has "about $1,542.70 in the bank and his trading assets are $15,737.17 in the red." Great - a newspaper found out and reported to the world a private citizen's bank balance and where he lives - so we can all stop being scared now.
Finally, there was a last ditch effort to prove that Ratani doesn't actually exist . Maybe it was just a hoax by the anti-corporate prank squad the Yes Men, who have been known to impersonate real businesspeople and admit to difficult "truths." "Is Alessio Rastani actually one of The Yes Men?" asked one media outlet. A fake trader? posed another. He could be Yes Men founder Andy Bichlbaum, blogged HuffPo UK. "If you look at his blog, his Twitter account, and his interview with Forbes, not to mention his notorious BBC interview, it's pretty clear that Alessio Rastani is, at least in part, who he says he is," blogs Felix Salmon. "That said, however, the resemblance to 'Jude Finisterra' from the Yes Men is startling. Which raises the question: is it possible that Rastani is both a trader and a member of the Yes Men? And the answer there, I think, is absolutely yes." Sigh. He does exist. Well, at least we get a mocking animated video.
These are tough times. The would-be "Occupy Wall Street" protest movement wants its turn to spin in the news cycle blender, but, as blogs reported this week, it can find the on button. The New York Times, NPR and even the old devil Mother Jones dismissed OWS - and that fact "bespeaks an out of touch left press," says Death + Taxes blog. The NY Observer wondered in print whether the protests were just a "bonfire of the humanties majors." Ouch! College! "It's unsurprising that establishment media outlets have been condescending, dismissive and scornfulof the ongoing protests on Wall Street. Any entity that declares itself an adversary of prevailing institutional power is going to be viewed with hostility by establishment-serving institutions and their loyalists," writes Glen Greenwald at Salon. The Mahablog views the meager response to the Wall Street sit-in by comparing it to the Wisconsin protests, which maybe were more focused on a particular issue, and more likely to have an impact. "Truly, the only thing Occupy Wall Street has going for it is that they are getting beaten up by cops, and by all means let's focus on the cops and the pepper spray and the orange netting, because that's wrong. But the larger mystery to me is why the NYPD even bothered. Just ignoring them would have been more effective."
In an online movement apparently tied loosely to the Occupy group, a Tumblr photo blog called We Are the 99 Percent has emerged, allowing struggling young strugglers of today's economy to itemize their hardships by putting them on paper. It's sad and scary. But, who know, maybe it's just catching people at a bad time, a time that will pass, and when we look back on it all some day, with out college bills all paid, living in our girlfriend's swanky apartments, the video we remember from this week in history won't be of some siren-sounding stock trader but the cool video of Don Draper from Mad Men pitching the new Facebook.
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