November 04, 2011
Corporate Greed, Behavioral Economics, and Financial Regulation in the Movies and on TV
Posted by Peter Huang

An article in today's Life section of USA Today titled Movies tap into anger at Wall Street describes how 3 movies in current release mirror public angst over economic inequalities and inequities: Tower HeistIn Time, and the already mentioned in 2 Glom blogs, Margin Call.

 

 

This autumn's documentary Chasing Madoff recounts Harry Markopolos’ multi-year crusade to expose the multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Bernie Madoff. Alleged victims of this massive fraud include the celebrity couple of Kyra Sedgwick (star of The Closer on TNT) and Kevin Bacon (of the original Footloose (1984) fame). The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act included a broad set of whistleblower provisions under which the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted specific rules and procedures to incentivize potential whistleblowers by way of cash rewards and protection from retaliation.

 

Closer 

Footloose

There is also a 2009 documentary about the subprime mortgage fiasco, which is now available on DVD, American Casino. 2001 economics Nobel laureate Joseph Stigltiz described it as being "a powerful and shocking look at the subprime lending scandal. If you want to understand how the US financial system failed and how mortgage companies ripped off the poor, see this film." 

 

This May, the HBO Films production of Too Big to Fail, based on the book of the same name with the subtitle of The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System--and Themselves depicted the autumn 2008 U.S. financial crisis and the sequence of (less than intertemporally consistent) policy responses by the Treasury department, the Federal Reserve, and other financial regulators.

 

Last autumn's Inside Job made a compelling argument in five parts about how the American financial services industry systematically and systemically corrupted the United States government and in so doing brought about changes in banking practices and legal policies that led directly to the Great Recession.

 

Although the documentary Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer focused primarily on the interaction of ego, hubris, power, scandal, sex, and politics, it also touched upon Wall Street and efforts by Spitzer to reform its excesses.

 

Of course, no list of movies related to the recent financial crises would be complete without including documentary film-maker Michael Moore's 2009, Capitalism: A Love Story, which criticizes the current American economic system in particular and capitalism in general. At one point, it asks if capitalism is a sin and whether Jesus would be a capitalist, who wanted to maximize profits, deregulate banking, and have the sick pay out of pocket for pre-existing conditions via clips from Jesus of Nazareth. Moore asks if one could patent the sun and questions how the brightest American youth are drawn towards finance and not science. He proceeds to Wall Street asking for non-technical explanations of derivative securities in general and credit default swaps in particular. Both a former vice-president of Lehman Brothers and current Harvard University economics professor Kenneth Rogoff fail to clearly explain either term. Moore thus concludes that our complex economic system and its arcane terminology exist simply to confuse people and that Wall Street effectively has a crazy casino mentality. 

 

Finally, the PBS Nova episode, Mind Over Money, which originally aired on April 26, 2010 asks whether markets can possibly be rational when people clearly are not. In other words, is there a version of the efficient markets hypothesis that can be true in a world populated by at least some boundedly rational actors? In posing this question, the show offers an entertaining, yet quite informative survey of elements of behavioral economics and finance. Its companion website provides additional resource materials concerning the role of emotions in financial decision-making. The debate which it depicts between the University of Chicago school of economics and the behavioral economics approach (including scenes of Dick Thaler playing pool) is a bit overdone and perhaps unintentionally comical, but it raises the question of whether it matters for law and policy how people make their financial judgments and decisions? Of course, the natural follow-ups of if so, then how and if not, then why not, are questions about which business law professors, Glom readers, and policy makers are likely to have perhaps quite strong and certainly divergent opinions.

  

A television program that has become quite popular is the USA network's original dramatic series White Collar, which is based upon the premise of an F.B.I. agent solving white collar crimes with the assistance of consultant who is a former (and current?) art thief and con man extraordinaire. Episodes have featured a black widow, baby selling, bank robbery, black market kidneys, bond theft, collusion, corporate espionage, derivatives, financial fraud by a Wall Street brokerage firm, identity theft, and political corruption.  

 

It is reminiscent of the 1960's campy, classic, and tongue-in-cheek television series, It Takes A Thief.

 

 

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November 02, 2011
Fear, Greed, and the Film Margin Call: A Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective
Posted by Peter Huang

I recently saw the movie, Margin Call, which is currently playing in theaters and is available on demand at Comcast. There are curretly 34 reviews of it by viewers at imdb, where it has a rating of 7.3 out of 10.

Margin Call Poster

I also just finished reading this paper, Fear, Greed, and Financial Crisis: A Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective, prepared for a forthcoming handbook on systemic risk. This chapter is by finance professor Andrew Lo, who is the director of the MIT laboratory for financal engineering. He also wrote another excellent paper which Glom readers are likely to find of interest, namely Reading About the Financial Crisis: A 21-Book Review, that was prepared for the Journal of Economic Literature.

In the interests of full disclosure, I taught at Temple law school a seminar titled Law, Emotions, and Neuroscience and co-taught at Yale law school with professor Dan Kahan a seminar titled Neuroscience and the Law. The seminars covered some basic materials about affective,cognitive, and social neuroscience before analyzing the potential and limits of applications to business law, conflict resolution, criminal law, ethics,  evidence, morality, paternalism, and social policy. Media coverage of neuroscience and law has a tendency to focus almost exclusively on such controversial issues as free will and responsibility in the criminal law context. Glom readers are more likely to focus on neuroeconomics and neurofinance, two nascent fields that ask how human brains engage in JDM (Judgment and Decision Making) in general and over time and under risk in particular.

Whychoosethisbook

Jason-zweig-economy-book

Also, as cognitive neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga recently stated: responsibility, like generosity, love, pettiness, and suspiciousness, is a strongly emergent property, which although being derived from biological mechanisms, has fundamentally distinct properties, just like the case of ice and water. The press and the public also seem to be fascinated with very colorful fMRI brain scans because they like the idea of being as the Wall Street Journal science writer, Sharon Begley, calls them: cognitive papparazi.

My system 1 believes in synchronicity, so this post, as evidenced by its title's homage to Lo's chapter, approaches the movie Margin Call from a cognitive neuroscience perspective informed by Lo's chapter. Lo provides a brief history of what we know about brains. He then explains how fear and the amygdala can exacerbate financial crises. He also demonstrates how the reward of money appears to share the same neural system and the release of the neuortransmitter dopamine into the nucleus accumbens as these rewards do: beauty, cocaine, food, music, love, and sex.

Homer-simpson-donut-dream

Lo proceeds to discuss a neurophysiological explanation for Kahneman and Tversky's experiment demonstrating people's aversion to sure loss. Lo proposes a neuroscientifically informed view of rationality that differs very much from an economic rational expectations conception, with the key difference being the role that emotion plays in JDM. Lo extends his analysis from individuals to groups by explaining the neurophysiology of mirror neurons, theories of mind, social interactions, and the efficient markets hypothesis. He concludes his neuroscience survey by describing the marvels and limits of the human prefrontal cortex, also known as the "executive brain." Of particular interest to Glom readers is decision fatigue, documented recently among judges rendering favorable parole decisions around 65% of the time at the start of and close to 0% by the end of each of 3 daily sessions that were separated by 2 food breaks (a late morning snack and lunch). This empirical finding that parole rates increased after food breaks is consistent with recent experimental research finding that glucose can reverse decision fatigue and the common adage to not make important decisions when tired

Willpower

Lo provides several practical and reasonable suggesions based upon cognitive neurosciences about how policymakers can engage in financial reform to deal with systemic risk. He concludes by advocating that financial economists utilize the great recession to re-conceptualize, rethink, and revamp neoclassical economics by forging a consilience between the neurosciences and financial economic theory. Building a deeper and better understanding of economic phenomena through improved economic models and intellectual frameworks can and should lead to a more appropriate financial regulatory infrastructure.

And now onto a few comments about the movie Margin Call. Without giving away the plot for those who may want to see it without any knowledge of its ending, this movie raises ethical and moral questions about individual versus social optimality, trading on the basis of private information, panic selling, professional codes or norms of behavior, and the costs a company may impose on society and pay to others to survive. There is certainly lots of fear and greed on display in this film. Set over the course of a day and sleepless night in NYC, the movie viscerally illustrates various forms of JDM and how individuals and groups of individuals can persevere under stress and time pressures. It is a movie that can and should provoke discussion about what could have been done differently by individuals, financial firms, and regulators. It is a film that I'm going to put on the list of movies at the start of the chapter about business law in the text, Law and Popular Culture: Text, Notes, and Questions (LexisNexis Matthew Bender, 2007) by David Ray Papke, Melissa Cole Essig, Christine Alice Corcos, Lenora P. Ledwon, Diane H. Mazur, Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Philip N. Meyer, Binny Miller, and myself that we are revising for a second edition.

Law and popular culture. text, notes, and questions

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April 01, 2011
Tiger Cub is Harvard Bound
Posted by Usha Rodrigues

Fans of our Tiger Mom Book Club may be interested to know that Amy Chua's eldest, Sophia, was accepted at Harvard.  The ATL piece is adulatory:

You can criticize all you want, but you can’t argue with success. Above the Law has confirmed that Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, the oldest daughter of Amy Chua and fellow YLS professor Jed Rubenfeld, received her Harvard acceptance earlier this week. Sophia has already made up her mind that Harvard is where she’ll attend college. (Can you blame her for wanting to trade New Haven for Cambridge?)

Some readers of Amy Chua’s book wondered whether it was premature of her to “end a parenting story when one child is only 15,” in the words of Elizabeth Chang of the Washington Post. Well, now we know how the story ends — very, very happily. As I previously observed, speaking from my own personal experience, “to Asian parents, sending a child to a top college is the ultimate vindication.” And colleges don’t get more “top” than Harvard (which is #1 in the current U.S. News rankings; but even if it weren’t this year, it would still be #1 in the minds of many Asian parents). 

I don't want to diminish Sophia's many accomplishments, which are extraordinarily impressive.  But all this excitement over Harvard seems a bit overblown.  For my particular brand of Asian upbringing--Indian by way of Goa--Harvard was never that big a deal.  The advice I think I'm going to give my daughters when they're Sophia's age (many, many  moons from now) is not to focus too much on getting into the "best" undergraduate institution.  Save that stress for graduate school, where it really matters.  But maybe I'm wrong?  I have nary a hint of Ivy in my education, a conscious choice.  Am I foolishly discounting the value of getting into Harvard? (HT: Dahlia Lithwick)

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March 03, 2011
Good-bye to The Ethicist
Posted by Christine Hurt

Randy Cohen, the writer behind "The Ethicist" in the NYT Magazine, is calling it quits.  I remember when I first started reading the column, and I was pretty much incensed every week.  The way we use the word "ethics" is a bit slippery, but I would expect someone who purports to be an "ethicist" to resolve dilemmas in some sort of way that adheres to some set of fixed principles.  This, of course, was not the case here. 

The Ethicist was merely an advice column with a fancy name, in which the writer of the column gave advice based on the writer's personal values.  (E.g., hiring nonunion workers instead of unionized workers is unethical (Hard Times, March 16, 2009); working for a tobacco company is unethical (Bad Company, Oct. 27, 2010).  And, like most people around us that we ask for advice, he often had his facts wrong. (Owner of car "totalled" by insurance company always keeps the car (Truth in Suspension, Jan. 25, 2009)  When faced with actual ethical codes, he advised that adherence to them is optional if no one is being negatively affected (Student-Teacher Relations, Dec. 5, 2008).  And, when advising whether to reveal others' unethical behavior, the Ethicist is inconsistent and out of his realm (advising theater intern to tattle on a plagiarist playwright because it might help his job review (Hidden Doings, July 6, 2008)  but advising carpenter not to rat out the sloppy painter because he might lose his job (Painted Into a Corner, March 12, 2009).  In the latter example, the Ethicist reveals that he is using his own intuitions as polestar: 

The threshold for mandatory whistle-blowing is high. My guideline for duty-to-report questions is this: You must come forward when doing so will prevent serious imminent harm to a particular person. That is not the case here. . . . the fate of whistle-blowers is seldom serene, and ethics does not compel you to sacrifice your job over this.

However, the Ethicist's polestars seem to be mutable, as he had earlier stated that ethics required revealing the plagiarist, though I doubt that serious imminent harm was at issue there.

Perhaps if the NYT continues the column, they will hire an actual ethicist, or at least someone educated in ethics, philosophy, theology, or even (gasp) law.  Mr. Cohen, who is exceptionally readable, is a comedy writer, most notable a writer for the David Letterman Show.  I am reading I Think I Love You, an entertaining novel by Allison Pearson (I Don't Know How She Does It) about a 13 year-old Welsh girl who subscribes to a magazine that features a monthly letter written by David Cassidy, her American (even better, Californian) idol.  However, that letter is written every month by a Londoner, who has recently graduated from university and plays in a band that would never, ever be mistaken for the Partridge Family.  Anyone can be David Cassidy; anyone can be the Ethicist!

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December 28, 2010
"The Other Guys" ends on a serious note
Posted by Gordon Smith

Catching up on email, I found another video that may be of interest, this one courtesy of Joan Heminway. The credits for "The Other Guys" show "How a Ponzi Scheme Works," offer some graphics on TARP/bailouts/the financial crisis, and highlight executive compensation. See the story here.

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December 17, 2010
The UBS Dress Code Memo
Posted by Christine Hurt

If business casual was a by-product of the tech bubble, where everyone was making so much money we didn't care what we looked like and anyway the richest people are wearing jeans and sneakers, then the current fiscal realities are turning back the clock to office conservatism.  UBS has released a 40-plus page memo designed to encourage employees in Switzerland to look and smell their best, when standing, sitting or walking around.  Why?  Unsurprisingly, to present a polished, serious demeanor to elicit client trust.  It's almost funny that an institution would have to present a reason for employees to appear professional, when this was a given until ten years or so.

A lot of it is expected:  Wear black, gray, navy.  Skirts should be mid-knee.  Men should leave the earrings and bracelets at home.  But a lot of it is sort of invasive, touching on topics I wouldn't want to discuss with my superiors:  lipstick, perfume, dark roots, onion breath.  But maybe it's better to get it out in the open.  Better to be told not to wear black fingernail polish with designs than to be fired later for unclear reasons.

My short legal career bridged the "Mad Men" world and the Google world.  When I began practicing, women did not wear pants, and men's dress shirts were white.  Jackets and ties for men and jackets for women were unwritten rules.  I once had a male partner ask me to check to see if a paralegal was wearing pantyhose.  (I pretended to forget when asked later.)  I appreciated the broadening of the sartorial world to include French blue shirts for men and pantsuits for women.  Like a lot of female associates, I was stymied by business casual.  Business casual is a(n expensive) landmine for women.  Our firm came up with an equally long casual Friday memo, covering closed-toed shoes, stockings, and jackets.  Later, I heard the battle was over capri pants and flip flops.  Will the UBS look catch on here in the U.S.?  We'll see.  We'll it get to law schools.  I doubt it!

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November 30, 2010
Fun with the Internet
Posted by Gordon Smith

Subzin allows you to search phrases in movies. Following Ann Althouse, I searched for names, including my own. My favorite results were from 2012, which I haven't seen:

Time       Phrase

00:14:19 Bye, Gordon.

00:28:15 No, Gordon gave it to me for my birthday.

00:34:49 Gordon!

00:34:55 Gordon!

00:39:28 Gordon!

00:46:43 Gordon. Gordon, you can fly.

00:46:55 Come on, kids. Gordon's gonna get us out of here.

00:47:27 Gordon, go. - Come on.

00:47:28 Gordon! - Go, go, go!

00:47:33 We're not there yet. - Gordon, take off.

00:57:01 Stop it, Gordon.

Apparently, Gordon is a pilot.

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November 17, 2010
Prince William and Kate Middleton: The Modern Royal Wedding?
Posted by Christine Hurt

Royal weddings were historically events involving property and politics; now, it's merely tabloid fodder.  However, I have to say that news of the long-awaited engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton was interesting enough to make me pause a moment and read a little of the commentary.  My only reference point, of course, is the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales.

Diana came into the spotlight when I was 12, the perfect time to buy into the fantasy of a fairy-tale marriage.  I set my clock for the middle of the night so that I could watch the Royal Wedding live (only to find it replayed forever after that).  As a shelver at the public library, I often spent my breaks coming through books devoted to Diana, who must be one of the most photogenic persons ever to have lived.  Kate Middleton is also extremely photogenic, but her journey to being a princess is a little different.

First, William and Kate have dated for many years, lived in a group house as friends, and now live together presumably as more than friends.  Diana, almost a decade younger when she became engaged, was widely celebrated as having little dating experience.  The most interesting factoid I've seen all day is that, if she is Queen, Kate (formally Catherine) will be the first Queen of England to have attended, much less graduated from College.  Of course, England has only had one Queen for most of the modern era that saw women go to college in droves, but Diana did not go to college.

I still haven't given up on fairy-tale weddings.  I hope that this handsome couple lives happily ever after.

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October 25, 2010
Red Owl, Mary Tyler Moore, and The Paper Chase
Posted by Gordon Smith

I was teaching Hoffman v. Red Owl today in Contracts. In doing some background research, I found the Red Owl entry on Wikipedia, which mentioned that Mary Tyler Moore can be seen in a Red Owl meat department in the introduction to her show. Sure enough ... at the 0:26 mark you can spot the Red Owl logo in the upper right hand corner:

Listening to the theme song got me all nostalgic for the early 1970s. When I was growing up in Osseo, Wisconsin, we didn't have many television stations -- just NBC, CBS, and public television, unless your family had a UHF antenna, which brought in ABC -- but TV was an important part of our social lives, such as they were. For me, television theme songs are the soundtracks of my childhood.

One of my favorite theme songs from the 1970s is from the mostly forgotten series The Paper Chase, which fueled my interest in going to law school. Performed by Seals and Crofts, the song's lyrics would feel comfortable on a greeting card, but I loved that show!

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October 01, 2010
The Social Network is a Great Movie for Transactional Lawyers
Posted by Gordon Smith

Is it possible to have a spoiler when the story is this well known? If you don't want to know what's in the movie, don't read this post.

The Social Network begins with a frenetic exchange between Mark Zuckerberg and his soon-to-be-former girlfriend, Rachel Something, who becomes a Rosebud for the creation of Facebook. Later in the movie, Rachel utters the memorably stupid line, "The Internet's not written in pencil, Mark. It's written in ink," but that was one of the few missteps in this script. 

While the supporting actors are terrific, this movie depends on Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg, and Eisenberg is terrific. I will leave the serious movie reviews to others (including Christine and Larry, who seem to have a good thing going at Illinois), but I wanted to note that The Social Network is a fabulous movie for lawyers, particularly transactional lawyers.

One of the main threads of the story is Zuckerberg's alleged theft of the Facebook idea from Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, which I blogged about over three years ago when it led to litigation. Another thread is Zuckerberg's conflict with Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, which involves an attempted dilution of Severin's shares. Then there is the angel investment by Peter Thiel and the distributions of shares to various other people, including Dustin Moskovitz, whose important role in developing Facebook is cheated in the film.

In the end, however, this film is only about one person. And his Idea. That Idea is at the heart of Facebook and the movie, and watching people grasp for a piece of it is what makes this movie fun.

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June 01, 2010
Peter Kraus and Law and Society
Posted by David Zaring

Peter Kraus, who managed to become the best paid investment banker in America last year, while failing his way to AllianceBernstein, is the subject of the latest "I hate bankers" profile in the New York Post, though the lesson might be more that those with law degrees should make like Lloyd Blankfein and trade them in for finance jobs whenever possible.  Kraus spends his money on Park Avenue apartments, awesome clothes and watches, and modern art.  It is a fun read.  But his handlers were bonkers to permit it while Andrew Cuomo is investigating the guy.

Like Gordon, I think Law and Society has good options for the business oriented scholar - and one of the best panels I attended during the conference was an explicitly pre-tenure panel.  If you want to know where scholarship is headed, you can do a lot worse than to hear the research agendas of those soon to be on the job market.  It's something that AALS and ALSB do not provide - though, to their credit, I think you can find it at CELS, ALEA, and CLEA.  It's part of the mix of a good conference.

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May 06, 2010
Enron: The Musical
Posted by Tamara Piety

Isn't this just a weird idea? Not only was the Enron debacle a personal tragedy for a lot of the people involved, it was pretty bad for investors and employees as well. Somehow that just doesn't seem to me like excellent material for musical comedy.  However, audiences loved it in London where it was launched but critical reaction here has been mixed, (see this Broadway round-up), although one of the most important critics, Ben Brantley at The New York Times, didn't seem to care for it.

His review had this to say:  "In Lucy Prebble’s 'Enron,' the flashy but labored economics lesson that opened on Tuesday night at the Broadhurst Theater, money doesn’t just talk. It sings. It dances. It puts on funny animal costumes. And of course it blows bubbles." But ultimately he seemed to feel it was "all show (or show and tell) and little substance."  Read the rest here and see a teeny, eetnsy clip from the show with a voice over from the director here and judge for yourself how gripping this looks. To me not so much. 

However, I was just in New York City and resolved, since I was blogging for The Conglomerate, to try to see the show and report back. Alas! The per person ticket price I was quoted, $176 (after broker's fees - how ironic is that?) caused me to balk. I wasn't that convinced it would be good in the first place, but I drew the line at plunking down that sort of change just so I could say I'd seen it and report back. But I would love to know if anyone has seen it and what you thought about it 

And then there is this even stranger postscript. It turns out that Enron employees made tons of spoof skits themselves (remember the "mark to market" accounting skit from "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room"?) that eerily prefigured the real musical.  Read this I think I'd rather watch those clips than the musical currently on Broadway.

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Up in the Air about "Up in the Air"
Posted by Tamara Piety
I know the movie "Up in the Air" is now a little bit old news; but this is one movie I've been wanting to comment on that I thought a Glom audience might be interested in. In the movie George Clooney plays a guy named Ryan Bingham who works for a company that is hired to do the termination interviews when a company has to do a lot of lay-offs. Bingham lives to travel and believe relationships "weigh you down," that the secret to life is to keep moving.

    Was it just me, or did others find what was essentially a feature-length, product placement for American Airlines and Hilton Honors a little less than thrilling?  Don't get me wrong, George Clooney is always great. And full disclosure, I'm an Advantage member and a Hilton Honors member and like racking up points with the best of them. But I really am not so thrilled about forking out $8.50 for a sales pitch, and a slightly snarky one at that.

    Critics seem to love the movie though. Anthony Lane for one over at the New Yorker had this to say.  Director Jason Reitman got lots of praise for using real people who had actually been laid off in the opening vignettes. And he says  he made this films because it was about "connections" and important things in life. See this. But the way he films the so-called important things (Bingham's sister's microscopic diamond ring, the cheesy looking hotel in which the wedding takes place, his sister's underwhelming betrothed, Bingham's own home in Omaha, etc. ) makes all those things suffer in comparison to the pristine framing of the shots involving the sponsors and ultimately appears to convey a rather different message; that only chumps believe in love or family. (Lane calls it "hokeyness" for a reason; Reitman made it look hokey.) 

    This is especially true when you consider how all the relationships turn out. Not well. (And the movie broadly hints that things don't look so good for his sister either.) You might conclude from the film that giving up anything for a relationship is for chumps; except that Bingham's job illustrates that maybe giving up relationships for jobs isn't such a great idea either. I won't spoil it for you if you want to watch the movie; but don't say you weren't warned.

    Seen in this light, his use of people who had really been laid off makes it look a little like Reitman is trading on their pain and authenticity while sniggering behind their backs at how foolish they were to have invested so much of themselves into their jobs.That is certainly Bingham's attitude in the film. He admits his severance speech is mostly intended to ease people out of the room calmly. 

    Reitman may be sincere in his desire to convey a message about the importance of human connections over material things, but if so, I think his message got hijacked by his sponsors. Advertising Age reported that American Airlines and Hilton didn't actually have a traditional product placement deal with Reitman. It had something even better. It provided access in exchange for some control of the portrayal. How Up in the Air Got a Free Ride It was a good deal for Reitman because the use of the planes and properties otherwise would have cost a lot of money. And it was a great deal for American Airlines and Hilton because this kind of advertising you just can't buy. But does it make for good films?

    I don't know. It is gotten to the point that whenever I see a brand name in a movie I wonder hope much they paid for that exposure. So far, I have never been wrong when I thought that there was a deal in the background. Next I want to know if BMW paid for a product placement in Roman Polanski's "The Ghostwriter." Hmmm.

NOTE: This was supposed to post on the 28th but I somehow failed to set it up properly to do so and so I am re-posting it today. Sorry for the duplication.

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March 20, 2010
WSJ Hedcuts, aka Stipple Drawings
Posted by Gordon Smith

See how they are done. Or read the blog of one of the artists, who did this ...

BarackObama
If you like this hedcut, you might be interested in Noli Novak's post about it.

For some reason, I have always thought it would be cool to have one of those made of me, but I can't see that ever happening. Unless I commit a massive financial fraud. And I am just not interested enough in money to do that.

So this post got me wondering ... is this a stipple drawing?

Seurat

Or is pointillism something distinctive? Debate. Or just consult Wikipedia, which says that stippling "is similar to—but distinct from—pointillism, which uses dots of different colours to simulate blended colours."

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February 22, 2010
Big Business in Corporate Culture: Are there no good guys (or gals)?
Posted by Lisa Fairfax

On Friday I participated in a conference at GW Business School entitled Corporate Governance and the Vision of the Firm, which, as the title suggest, focused on the aim of the corporation and ways in which the corporation can better respond to issues of ethics, misbehavior, and even social ills.  A lot of very interesting conversations came out of the conference.  Interestingly, one person noted that one of the challenges of reforming the corporation is that corporate culture too often portrays business in an extremely negative light.   That is, big business is often portrayed as entities driven by greed that will pursue profit without boundaries (ethical, legal, or otherwise).  As a result, whether it is a movie that focuses solely on a particular company or a show that seems to have some other focus, but references a business in some manner, such entities don't usually come out smelling like roses.  Of course, given recent corporate misdeeds, it is little wonder that businesses do not get to be the good guys in the story.  But one person noted that he could not think of a movie that portrayed business in a good light.  Perhaps it is all a matter of interpretation, but (in keeping with our movie theme) I wondered if our Glom readers had any ideas on this point.  Is there no movie in which big business gets to be the saint or at least not the sinner?

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