The Shit Rich People Get Away With Is Wild

Rick Dickhead Fucks Over Everyone, Might Even Pay The Price For It (But Don’t Hold Your Breath)

The gist here is that this rich prick of course felt that he wasn’t rich enough, so he pumped the revenue line on his company books by basically creating two billion bucks out of thin air. External government auditors, being basically in the employ of the wealthy, of course attacked anybody who brought this to their attention rather than actually look into the books. It took an internal auditor with a soul to actually dig his feet in, refuse to sign off on the cooked numbers, and generate enough red alarms to where the external auditors could no longer ignore the issue.

So, dude was arrested today and probably has an up to 7% chance of seeing serious prison time.

Given that his crime is “faking money up” rather than taking actual money from actual people, part of me is like “who gives a shit, then?” but apparently he did that to make this company seem more successful than it actually is, which causes other greedy shitheads to invest their actual money into his fake bullshit in the hopes that all of these already-rich comfortable fuckheads can get Even Richer.

I don’t care about that, either, but at least I can kind of see what the actual crime is there.

What I don’t see him being arrested for, though, is the crime of ruining the lives/careers of the 5,000ish people who work for “his” company. Sure, he exposed the whole “money isn’t real” thing to us proles via his acts, which is the one unforgivable crime to the elites. But now they’re punishing his company by stripping its arbitrary value of its high number, and replacing it with a much lower one (in other words, the stock price has tanked, which means the investors and banks that have loaned it real money are now wanting that all back, immediately, which is not something any company is prepared to do).

So, while he’ll get some small punishment, the folks who work there will, more than likely, suffer more than he ever will. He’ll get some cushy prison sentence, if any at all, then come out the other end still a very rich man. Everybody else gets to look for a new job during a global pandemic and imploding world economy.

Doesn’t seem particularly fair, does it. Anyway, here’s a meme for no reason at all.

The Books of 2020: Catching Up (Part 1)

Gone through a spell here of books that were alright-ish but didn’t make hugely deep impressions on me so you know what that means: LIGHTNING ROUND!!!

1) The Last Emperox, by John Scalzi

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I generally like this dude’s sci-fi, and enjoyed, more or less, the breezy ease of the first two books in this series, but the closing volume didn’t do it for me. Has a general vibe of “I want to be done writing this book/this series”, he pushed the unpleasant bitchiness of fan-favorite Kiva Lagos just over the edge to “no way nobody would’ve just killed this asshole by now” levels, I felt some of the major characters were sorted out with big-time deus ex machinas… I just didn’t care for it. And there’s a general aura of (and this may entirely be due to my own political radicalization over the last few years) Clinton-esque neoliberal positivism over the whole thing that I just found off-putting given the stakes everyone was facing here. Just a big “meh” from me on this book.

2) The Last Day, by Andrew Hunter Murray

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The Last Day was a pretty fun ride marred by a pretty unbelievable and unsatisfying ending. A fun setup: in the VERY near future, the Earth’s spin starts to slow down, eventually settling, after quite a number of years, into no spin at all, locking the planet into a permanent lighted side and a permanent dark side. Both are mostly entirely uninhabitable, leaving humanity to try and survive on the few dry lands that are riiiight on the margins of the terminator. The English Isles, for plot purposes, happen to lie right in that habitable band.

The book takes place in the 2059, a generation into this new, shitty reality. Traversing the few parts of England that are actually under the control of its wonderfully English military dictatorship that tries to not appear as such, a disillusioned researcher who doesn’t have much hope left in anything gets a glimmer of it from an old mentor who betrayed her when she needed him most. From there, it’s mostly a McGuffin hunt, but I enjoyed how the setting was described: the weird, nuclear but almost entirely-off-page American exiles as a lurking menace/savior in the background, the descriptions of how the pasty, grey, cold and rainy English have adapted to being in a permanent high noon of 90 degrees and humid… a lot of books I enjoy are heavy on the world-building, light on a particularly believable plot, and this book fits right onto that shelf. Ask me about it in six months and I’ll struggle to recall it in any detail, but I enjoyed the quick two nights it took to get through it.

3) A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, by Barbara W. Tuchman

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I’ll keep this short… I loved this book, as does most anyone who appreciates good historical writing. She won the Pulitzer twice for a reason (if not specifically for this book).

Starting with the idea that a book based around the century that contained:

  • The Black Death wiping out 1/3rd to 1/2 of the entire population of Europe
  • The bulk of The Hundred Year’s War between France and England
  • A series of peasant rebellions that gave voice to the lowest members of society for effectively the first time ever (Narrator Voice: they did not end well for the peasants, but still)
  • etc., and so on, through all of the other Horsemen of the Apocalypse…

might make for an interesting read, Tuchman then goes further by finding the one French aristocrat who somehow managed to be present for almost every important event that occurred during this time AND who left a thick enough documentary record to base a credible history on, AND THEN tops it all off by just writing the shit out of a book covering all of this in great but never-boring detail.

It’s a really great read that touches on all aspects of life for both the Royal Knight at the focus of it all, up to his lieges, Kings of France and England, the Popes of the era, all the way down to the roughest village peasant. She provides SUCH a wonderful sense of the era, rich in detail on how people lived, were fed, worked, worshiped, etc…

It’s a fuckin’ triumph, and anybody who’s interested in the slightest in medieval European history probably already has read this book. If you haven’t, get on it.

The Books of 2020, #6: The Tragedy of Empire: From Constantine to the Destruction of Roman Italy, by Michael Kulikowski

I am an absolute sucker for books that take place AFTER epoch-defending events/times end. I feel like the Big Events are all copiously-covered by historical literature; there’s no shortage of books on World War II, the Roman Empire, the Civil War, etc.

But I am much more interested in the codas to these events. Okay, cool: Japan has surrendered. Rome has “fallen”. Lee has knelt to Grant at Appomattox.

Now what?

The Tragedy of Empire tries to answer this question, at least as regards the fall of Rome, by starting in Constantine’s reign, a decent consensus choice for “last high point of the Roman Empire”. We go from Rome’s final peak through the absolutely tragicomic “fall” of the Western Roman Empire, that part ruled generally from some city in Italy (though not always Rome near the end; ‘sup, Ravenna?) and not the eastern-ish half ruled mostly from Constantinople.

I was generally disappointed in this book. It is HEAVILY weighted towards a discussion of political, military and religious leaders and issues directly related to those topics; social, economic, and climactic factors, not so much. That’s fine, there is certainly a valid story to be told discussing primarily the lives and actions of the leading military, political and religious figures of the day, but it’s not the story I particularly want to read.

To be fair, there are (very) short sections two-three times throughout the book that talk (very) briefly about socioeconomic factors, or the changing climate we now know greatly affected the Roman world during this time; that’s good, but it’s not nearly enough.

But Kulikowski seems mostly interested in simply condensing and recording all that the primary sources have to say about the rulers through this time period. It does not matter if those rulers were good, bad, or barely noticeable; he gives the reader what is known about them. One might argue that it’s not particularly important to capture in great detail the life and doing of some Roman “Emperor” from the 420’s who was placed on the throne as a front by men of actual power, who did absolutely nothing while “ruling”, and who was summarily slaughtered in his bed after a glorious reign of a few weeks, but this book is going to tell you about him. His name was on a law promulgated somewhere once, and therefore He Matters.

The book would probably be better for the more-casual reader if the author exercised any editorial authority on which rulers to just leave the fuck out, either due to there not being much primary source material about them or because they simply didn’t do jack shit worth talking about. But, and all snark aside, this is a valid choice, I do believe Kulikowski expressly wanted to capture everything known about every leader of the era, good, bad or indifferent. In that, at least, he succeeds.

If you like old school, Great Men Make History-style recitations of high-ranking individuals and what they did or did not do well, this book will be your jam. Everybody else would be vastly better served reading something like The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians by Peter Heathers for a great, modern, general overview of all of the factors that contributed to Rome’s “fall” or The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire by Kyle Peters, for a view that specifically focuses on climate and health as primary driving factors of the fall. Actually, reading Kulikowski’s book AND Peters’ work would combine to give you a good understanding of all that went in, but the Heathers book combines all of that together in a well-written narrative that would be my single recommendation on the topic as a whole.