Hungry like ‘the Wolf’

I saw this movie a couple of weeks ago, and really enjoyed it:

It was truly a celebration of rich people behaving badly, and Leonardo DiCaprio was excellent in it.

Technically, it’s not supposed to be an inspirational movie. You know, bad people doing bad things and all that. Apparently, some stock brokers don’t see it that way (from the London Evening Standard):

Cinemas across London are preparing to welcome thousands of bankers, brokers and traders to bespoke private screenings, the Standard has learned, and a cinema booking company says there is more corporate demand for this film than any they can remember.

With one company planning to dress up Nineties Wall Street-style for the occasion, the City’s buzz about [Jordan] Belfort has the ring of an enthronement. It is tempting to think that DiCaprio’s character might be a new cult hero for a new generation of bankers, as Gordon Gekko (protagonist of 1987’s Wall Street) was to their bosses. You can imagine the Square Mile’s new generation quoting Belfort’s corny phrases about money, drugs and women like their pre-crash predecessors did Gekko’s.

A comedy email flying around between bankers in London and New York this week makes the link, plotting a market index since the Eighties with arrows showing major price falls on the release dates of Wall Street and its 2010 sequel Money Never Sleeps, and a Wolf of Wall Street arrow pointing at today’s high price. Will the Wolf consign so many bankers and traders to therapy and rehab that the markets will plummet on its release, the jokes goes. At least I think it’s a joke.

For those of you not familiar with international financial markets, “the City” referred to here isn’t London. The City is what the Brits call their version of Wall Street. They’re treating this movie like it’s a blueprint for success. Maybe they’re thinking all they have to avoid will be the drugs, the prostitutes and the money laundering. That way, they can steal people’s money legally, I guess.

Oh, by the way. The Wolf lives. Jordan Belfort is now a motivational speaker in California. Here’s an interview with him:

Got to admit. The guy is smooth.

Facebook and too much information

One thing I’ve noticed in the news for a while is that when anyone does anything particularly weird, crazy or murderous, some reporter somewhere finds that person’s Facebook profile and gets all kinds of juicy details.

Because a lot of people spell out their whole lives on Facebook.

There’s even an insurance commercial that talks about how burglars use Facebook to determine when someone is leaving their house vacant for a significant amount of time:

And the thing about Facebook is that it seems to be impossible to remove things from it. Back in the days when I had to hire people for a living, I’d occasionally do a Google search on them and find their life histories on their Facebook pages. (Yeah, dude, that photo of you with no shirt on and in the hat that holds two beer cans that have straws leading to your mouth is really going to impress your future employer.) I tell younger family members to watch what they post.

So wouldn’t it be nice to have the ability to erase your Facebook profile? (From Slate):

facebook_delete

Wow. That seems like a lot of work!

A little Wal-Mart trivia

Is there a Wal-Mart in your town? (Stupid question. Of course there is.)

Well, here’s a gif that shows you the spread of the American retail behemoth.

walmart_growth

That’s pretty impressive. It starts in the middle of nowhere (OK, maybe Arkansas is a suburb of nowhere) and has completely taken over the country.

Now the company will say the consumer has benefited the most from this, because Wal-Mart allows shoppers to buy more with fewer dollars, and given the economic trouble we’ve been through recently, that’s a fair point. But do you want to know who REALLY has benefited from all this?

Waltons

These are the Waltons. No not Erin, John-Boy, Jim-Bob and Mary Ellen. It’s Christy, Jim, Rob and Alice. They are the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune. Christie is the widow of John Walton, the second son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. (OK. Maybe the kids were called John-Boy and Jim-Bob.) The other three are Sam’s kids. That “B” after the dollar figure stands for billion. And that number above the dollar figure is where they rank in Bloomberg’s list of the world’s richest people. Christie is the richest woman in the world.

Now, year-to-date, their combined net worth shrank by about $1.2 billion. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say they probably haven’t have to cut back much to make ends meet.

It’s fascinating to watch the growth of a company over the years. And it sure as hell is amazing to see the amount of wealth it generated for a handful of people.

Too many notes

This song is called “Bad Apple”:

It has 8.49 million notes. It would be better with more than 8.48 million fewer notes.

There are, in fact, only so many notes an ear can hear in the course of an evening.

Even Mozart was told that:

And he didn’t require 8.49 million notes in a 5 minute piece.