Archive for the ‘Amusement Parks’ Category.

Silicon Robber Barons

Silicon Valley’s power brokers want you to think they’re different. But they’re just average robber barons.

. . .

The press [i.e., clerisy] enjoys excitedly praising tech titans by comparing them to fantastical and mythical figures. Zuckerberg is Caesar. Elon Musk, a wizard. Peter Thiel, who believes that he lives in the moral universe of Lord of the Rings, is a vampire. I do not know if these men believe that they have the supernatural powers the media claims. Maybe they do. I do know that they do not mind the perception, or at least have done nothing to combat it, even among those critics who believe that they’re cartoon villains.

. . .

This might not be so bad if the phenomenon were limited to daft profiles by fawning magazine writers. But this Hegelian fan fiction is nowhere more potent than from the mouths of the Disruptors themselves. Mark Zuckerberg speaks in the voice of God. Shane Smith, by his own account, is the Stalin of Vice. Silicon Valley investor Carl Icahn was called “evil Captain Kirk” by fellow billionaire Marc Andreessen, before he was himself dubbed Dr. Evil by Rod Dreher, who has evidently not absorbed a cultural reference since 1999. When Elon Musk worries that Larry Page is hurtling toward AI without a sufficient appreciation of the risks, he calls it “summoning the demon.” Seamless CEO Jonathan Zabusky, a typical case, says his food delivery application for depressed millennials is “disrupting the paradigm” by showing people that “the era of the paper menu” is over. AirBnB’s mission statement laments “the mechanization and Industrial Revolution of the last century,” which “displaced” “feelings of trust and belonging”; their mission is to turn the world back into the “village” of simpler eras by encouraging longstanding residents of gentrifying areas to rent out their homes to monied travelers. Some firms are more modest: HubSpot, a marketing and sales platform, is merely on a mission to make the whole world “more inbound,” which is to say, more reliant on their blogging tips for small businesses.

. . .

Let us state the obvious: None of these men are Roman Emperors, and they haven’t got the wherewithal to “blow up” anything but a stock market bubble. They are not Lex Luthors or Gandalfs or Stalins. Their products do not bring about revolutions. They are simply robber barons, JP Morgans and Andrew Mellons in mediocre T-shirts. I have no doubt that many are preternaturally intelligent, hardworking people, and it is a shame that they have dedicated these talents to the mundane accumulation of capital. But there is nothing remarkable about these men. The Pirates of Silicon Valley do not have imperial ambitions. They have financial ones.

The vast majority of Silicon Valley startups, the sort that project lofty missions and managed improbably lucrative IPOs despite never having graced the cover of The Economist or the frontal cortex of the president, work precisely like any other kind of mundane sales operation in search of a product: Underpaid cold-callers receive low wages and less job security in exchange for a foosball table and the burden of growing a company as quickly as possible so that it can reach a liquidation event. Owners and investors get rich. Managers stay comfortable. The employees get hosed. None of this is particularly original. At least the real robber barons built the railroads.

Like all slim ranks of oligarchy, the Silicon Valley billionaires hate and fear nothing more than ordinary people. This manifests itself in mundane ways, in their open, cartoonish class spite (why, they ask, must Innovators in San Francisco be burdened by the existence of homeless riff-raff?); it is revealed in their most contemplative moments too. Peter Thiel has said that when the history of the 21st century is written, René Girard will be remembered as one of its greatest intellectuals. Girard is best known for the contention that all human desire is mimetic, that not only aesthetic taste but even hunger and lust are modeled on the desires of others. Perhaps this is why Thiel does not believe that capitalism and democracy are compatible. We know which side he’s chosen. So long as he and his fellows can continue to exploit that same mimetic tendency to persuade people that they are superhuman and essential to their flourishing, his side will continue to win.

. . .

If your enemies can convince you that they are an unprecedented species of madman, you will convince yourself that you need unprecedented weapons to fight back or that you may be better off just hiding in the forest. But you are not.

The rigged contracts and wage suppression, the racism and surveillance collusion (soon to be playing voluntary footsie with Donald Trump’s NSA, with further chicanery to follow), all these sins of Silicon Valley have come about and been overcome before in the short history of American capitalism. They require only the same weapons as before. Organization and agitation. Strikes and labor laws. The ordinary practice of radical politics. Some of these efforts have begun already, with militant organizing and unionization drives beginning to organize Silicon Valley laborers against their exploiters. But these movements require national and popular support, support that cannot begin until the pretense and terror of world-conquering wizards is abandoned and the truth is laid bare: These are only rich assholes, the same as they ever were. All that superman bullshit is just the cheap propaganda of the powerful, propaganda so thoroughly saturated in the American mind that its own inventors might believe it.

Valley of the Dolts

Moral preeners aided and abetted by the clerisy.

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World Cup 2014 and Brazil – Bread, Circuses, Crony Capitalism, Edifice Complex

If professional sports aren’t euvoluntary enough to survive on their own merits, then maybe more of us should hit the big orgs like FIFA, the NFL, and the NCAA where it hurts: right smack dab in the pocketbook. We may not have favelas in the States, but we do have a large, nearly unanimous literature that clearly states: “independent work on the economic impact of stadiums and arenas has uniformly found that there is no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development.” (Siegfried & Zimbalist, JEP 2000)

World Cup Woe

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How Not To Respond to Criticism

“To truly see the diversity of the human race is sometimes frightening….”
Tyler Cowen

We now present a masterclass in how a business owner should not respond to criticism.

The Folks at Amy’s Baking Company In Scottsdale Have Gone Insane


Part 2

It appears that the owners of Amy’s Baking Company in Arizona expected an appearance on celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares” program to vindicate them. They believed that they serve quality food, that they have been unfairly slandered by the entire Internet. Maybe they had never seen the reality program, which features last-ditch efforts to save failing restaurants run by people who are delusional or incompetent…and frequently both.

How Not To React To Internet Criticism: The Epic Facebook Meltdown Of Amy’s Baking Company


Part 1

Perhaps that it’s beyond a bad idea to accuse an unhappy customer of working for the competition, and then call him/her “ugly,” a “loser,” and a “moron.”

Ouch! Today’s Hard Lesson on Yelp

Yelpers went nuts over the weekend — and guess who was the topic? Amy Bouzaglo of Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, who apparently cooked up a storm on Saturday.

In fact, I reached out to one diner who was at Saturday night’s taping of Kitchen Nightmares at Amy’s. He got a very real dose of reality television — more than he bargained for, actually.

Screaming, Expletives, and, Eventually, Police: All in the First Night of Kitchen Nightmares Taping at Amy’s Baking Company

Wow. Just wow.

Amy’s Baking Company [Yelp]

Get popcorn:

Ozymandias

Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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State of the Union 2013


Oh yeah, all those mean, nasty horrible, drastic cuts to the federal budget.

Our Moral Preener in Chief thinks (almost) all of us are rubes.


text here

But if the proprietor of the most open and transparent and clean-smelling administration of all time wants to make some real news, he might speak honestly to the segment of the American electorate that he is screwing over six ways to Sunday: Young voters between the ages of 18 and 29. Listen up, kids! Your parents are robbing your futures blind and you’re chumps enough not only to go along but to say – like the adorable title orphan in the classic baby boomer musical Oliver! – please, sir, I want some more.

From virtually every possible angle, Obama is helping to diminish the prospects for today’s younger generation. First and foremost, his response to the Great Recession – stimulus and the massive piling up of debt – is slowing the recovery. Ginormous regulatory schemes such as Dodd-Frank and the creation of huge new soul-and-bucks-sucking programs such as Obamacare weigh heavily on the economy now and in the future too. His refusal to discuss seriously old-age entitlement reform – Medicare and Social Security and the 40 percent of Medicaid that goes to old folks – is a massive storm front on the economic horizon. His preference for secrecy and overreach when it comes to executive power won’t screw young people as obviously as his economic policies, but when he leaves office in 2017, he will have created far more terrorists than he needed to.

State of the Union: Will Obama Tell Young People He’s Screwing Them Big Time?

Actually, given Obama’s history of banal greenjobsenergy- education infrastructure- makingstuff SOTU boosterism, it’ll probably be none of the above.

Another non-surprise is what we’re virtually certain not to hear: a big new plan to reduce the $16.4 trillion federal debt — roughly $5.8 trillion of which arrived between Obama’s first big address to the joint Congress (technically not a SOTU!) and this one.

Yet while the state of the union may be sobering, the good news is that you don’t have to be.

As President Obama drones on in his State of the Union address tonight, follow along with Reason’s 2013 SOTU drinking guide. Take a drink, and click a link, if the president…

The False Choice Between A Shot Or A Beer: Follow Along With Reason’s 2013 SOTU Drinking Game

Expect a lot of moral preening from our First Comedian, our Moral Preener in Chief.

On February 17, 2009, in remarks at the signing the $787 billion Stimulus bill, Pres. Obama promised it would lift two million people out of poverty.

However, according to the latest available Census Bureau data, quite the opposite occurred. In fact, there are now 2.6 million more people living below poverty.

Obama ’09: Stimulus Will Lift 2 Million Out of Poverty; Today: 2.6 Million More in Poverty


The Ds and Rs deserve each other. And because we elected these people, we deserve what we get, good and hard.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

H. L. Mencken

North Korea’s third nuclear test since 2006 must be seen as a major embarrassment for Obama, coming on the eve of his biggest speech of the year (after his second Inaugural Address, of course). From the earliest days of his presidency, Obama has made nuclear nonproliferation a key goal, and his advisers have said he had wanted to revive this as a major “legacy” item in his second term. But North Korea’s act of open defiance only illustrates how little progress there has been on several fronts.

The administration’s early policy of “strategic patience”–refusing to negotiate until Pyongyang unilaterally agreed to suspend its program—appeared to provoke only more defiance from North Korea. Last week, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rebuffed a U.S. offer to negotiate directly over its covert nuclear program, despite multilateral agreement to impose the harshest sanctions yet on Tehran. And last fall, Russia abruptly announced it was dropping out of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which since 1991 has helped Moscow destroy or safely store nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons left over after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It’s not a pretty picture to present to the world at the start of Obama’s second term.

[Moral Preener in Chief] Obama must confront an embarrassing failure of his nonproliferation policies on the eve of his big speech.

Thomas Jefferson considered it “kingly” to deliver his State of the Union report as a speech, so he sent the Senate and the House some written comments instead. Woodrow Wilson, never reluctant to play king, brought back the speechifying in 1913, and the modern custom of addressing a joint session of Congress was born.

The state of the actual union has improved in many ways in the century since then, but State of the Union addresses have kept heading downhill. Calvin Coolidge reversed many of Wilson’s kingly policies, eventually including the oral address; before then, though, he made the mistake of broadcasting it on the radio, expanding the crown’s audience even further. (*) FDR brought back the speech (and the broadcast), the show came to TV in the Truman years, and under LBJ the other party started airing a response right afterward, an innovation that may sound even-handed and democratic but in practice just amplified the kingliness.

State of the Union Addresses: Going Downhill for 100 Years

When it comes to political lies that cannot and will not be met “It won’t cost a dime” is right at the top of the list. Not unexpectedly, that was the central thesis of numerous Fantasyland projections in Obama’s State of the Union Address Tuesday Evening.

Hot Air and No Substance; Obama’s Plan to Destroy Jobs “Won’t Cost a Dime”

Go ahead, enjoy the decline!

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4 Stories about Washington DC: Compare and Contrast

Sally Quinn announces the end of power in Washington,” by Sally Quinn, The Washington Post, June 7, 2012

Speaking of outdated archetypes, Greg Gutfeld “rips ‘relic of a dying era’ Howard Dean over Netroots Nation remarks.” Dean’s whole speech sounded like he thought Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Cliches was a how-to guide for public speaking.

Confirmed: The Death of the Cool,” by Ed Driscoll, June 11, 2012

Our Celebrity President,” by Mark Steyn, NRO, June 9, 2012

Bubble on the Potomac,” by Andrew Ferguson, Time, May 26, 2012

And bonus video about why NYC is soooooo much cooler:


(Psssst, Anna. You’re not cool….)

. . . . . . . . . . . .

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“Where are the women!?!”

ZZ TOP! ZZ TOP!” by Tim Blair, The Telegraph, April 26, 2012

Coney Island – Classic Wooden Coaster & Circus Sideshow

Coney Island … the birthplace of the hot dog … has many attractions … classic wooden coaster … great minor league baseball … the last 10-in-1 circus sideshow in America … aquarium … 150-foot tall Ferris wheel …


The Cyclone at Astroland

Coaster
The Cyclone, at Astroland – THE classic wooden coaster …
Review in New York metro.com
CoasterFanatics.com photos
Aquarium
New York Aquarium at Coney Island
10-in-1 circus sideshow
Sideshows by the Seashore … “the last place in the USA where you can experience the thrill of a traditional ten-in-one circus sideshow. They’re here, they’re real and they’re alive!”
Baseball
The Brooklyn Cyclones, a Mets affiliate, play in KeySpan Park … fireworks at Friday night games …
Ferris Wheel
The Wonder Wheel at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park … has both swinging and stationary cars

Coney Island Tourist FAQ
1000 Surf Ave. (Corner of West 10th St), Brooklyn, NY
Subway interactive map | schedules | HopStop: D, Q, F train to Stillwell Avenue (last stop)

Roller Coaster – Kingda Ka

OK, this is not in New York … but some New Yorkers spend as much time commuting to work as they would driving … to ride the Kingda Ka … an amazing new roller coaster located at 6 Flags in New Jersey … 456 feet tall … it reaches a top speed of 128 mph … going UP … lines will be long … if you’re at all queasy, make sure you have a designated driver for the trip back to the City …
Update: Kingda Ka reopened August 4th … and you can use an optional reservation service at the park ($ fee) so you don’t have to stand in line for hours …

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