The Envy Economy



From the Globe and Mail Report on Business Magazine

When Oliver Stone's upcoming sequel to Wall Street (Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps) is released this fall, there will be renewed debate on whether "greed is good." People may disagree with Gordon Gekko, just as his protégé Bud Fox ultimately did in the original film, but most will accept that greed is, if not good, then at least centrally relevant to the argument. Since the 1980s, you could say that greed has become the economic and cultural meta-factor: either the juice that drives markets and innovation, or the corrosive force bent on bringing the global economy to its knees (again).

But what if the Gekkos and the Foxes were arguing about the wrong variable entirely? What if greed were secondary, a shadow cast by a different meta-factor altogether? That's what Eric Falkenstein, a U.S. economist with a growing following, argues in his book Finding Alpha, published by Wiley last year. Falkenstein does not believe the market is driven by greed. He thinks the market is driven by envy.

Posted: Friday, May. 28, 2010 7:07am

Olympics at street level, Diyah Pera photographs

I went out with Diyah Pera, a photographer friend of mine, on Friday to watch the protests. She took some great pictures.

I like the one above in particular. There's hope and determination in the face. There's another quality I'll inadequately describe as "realness". Experience, life lived. I don't know about you, but I want to hear what this person has to say.

But then you have the Che icon, and suddenly the air starts to come out of the tires. Che Guevara, whose Stalinist convictions lead him to sign a letter to his mother "Stalin II" at one point. (Please note the link is to the Workers Liberty website, not the National Review.)

I'm not trying to trash anyone's favorite t-shirt hero here. Only pointing out the irony. Stalin was known for many things, but tolerating protest marches certainly wasn't one of them.

More pix after the jump.

Posted: Monday, Feb. 15, 2010 12:04pm

Wacky Pack Stories: Hostile Thinkies

My best friend's name was Sten, as in Stendhal. As in Stendhal Beauregard-Vincent, his father having been important at one point in France. Then he (Sten's father) had decided to grow a beard, become a boat designer and move to West Van. He designed sailboats for quite a few famous people, including the catamaran that song writer was later found dead in, floating off Passage Island. The one the ferry hit. (That was the same guy who wrote the song Michael Jackson recorded. I can never remember the name, but the tune stays with me. Ba ba, baaa.. etc)

Sten and I, in school and around our street, were known as the Hostile Thinkies. I have theories where the name came from, but no real solid proof. It was from my brothers probably.

Posted: Friday, Jan. 22, 2010 9:36am

Learning to live with the Suicide Machine

It's hard not to twin the phenomenon of the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine, as reported in Time this week, and the release of Jaron Lanier's new manifesto against Internet hive think You Are Not a Gadget.

On the one hand, you have long time technology analyst describing the ensnaring culture of the Internet hive-mind. On the other hand, you have a techology company offering a way out: kill your online self.

Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 8:54am

Tokyo: Eastern Promises

In travel, while you don’t want to rush, moments of real speed can be exhilarating. I mean those times during a trip when you can feel the globe rotating under your feet, the landscape transforming before your eyes. Liftoff out of Vancouver, on a trans-Pacific flight, is particularly evocative of this sen­sation for me. The ground melts away behind, the scenery blurring and morphing. The sea opens up under the wheels, and there is a sudden sense of transference, of life moving from the known to the possible. And when the landing gear folds home, with that light but comforting thud, a point is sealed: We’re all in transit, in physical suspension, mid-teleportation. When the flight is over – I feel this every time, with a sudden and intense certainty – a new world of unpredictable possibilities will begin to make itself known.

Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009 10:00pm

Walking the Way

For Walrus Magazine
I can’t explain the feeling I’m having here, standing on the beach in Comillas, a little seaside resort on the Cantabrian coast of Spain. I’m actually wading in the water, because my feet are aching, and as I stare out to sea, my mind drifting, it suddenly occurs to me—ten days and 250 kilometers into a planned twenty-two-day walk across Spain, west from Irun along the centuries old Catholic pilgrimage route to the famous cathedral town of Santiago de Compostela—that my journey has really, finally begun.
Posted: Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 9:00pm

Tokyo: Without a Plan

It seemed like a good idea when I woke up: a day spent hunting the perfect Tokyo cherry blossoms. Here was the plan, drawn up in the first seconds after waking, still in my bed at the Claska Hotel: I’d walk the Meguro-gawa upstream to its source, following the many kilometres of cherry trees that line the banks of the old canal, which links the ocean to Shinagawa and Meguro and which only disappears underground – according to my Tokyo street atlas – north of the Ikejiri-Ohashi train station.

Posted: Friday, Oct. 9, 2009 9:00pm

Tokyo: Simple Pleasures

Dream City

I’m having a strange moment here in Tokyo. It’s 6:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, and I’m doing calisthenics in the park with about 50 old ladies I’ve never met before. Bending, twisting, stretching. Following the cadences of a warbly 1920s piano tune that’s playing from a radio up front. I’m completely out of place. I’m completely lost, might as well face it. But while the old ladies hide their smiles and the sun eases up over the ginkgo trees, a cool wind riffles the leaves and I feel paradoxically at home.

Posted: Tuesday, Sep. 8, 2009 9:00pm

The Mobile Age - Part Three: Post-Globalism

The modern archetypes of mobility were the nomad and the settler, whose degree of mobility were established by preference, and the refugee and the prisoner, for whom mobility was determined by external forces. Globalization made a hybrid experience of being a settler and nomad, a seamless blending of home and away in many lives. In this third essay on mobility, Timothy Taylor journeys to the crossroads of Shanghai to peer into the future, exploring and imagining what happens to human experience when the sense of place begins to disappear altogether.
Azul Viva Tapas Lounge is down in the French Concession on Donping Lu. And while I’ve only been in the city 24 groggy hours, Shanghai delivers a moment of insight here.
The mix of people contributes to the effect. Our host, Peruvian/Canadian Eduardo Vargas, has invited a dozen of us this evening to taste-test new Azul Viva dishes, and the Conde Naste Shanghai Restaurateur of Year in 2006 is quizzing us after each bite: frogs legs with chili mayo, thin sliced beef filet with horseradish and crisp onion, foccacio with dipping oils, another beef dish with chimichurri.
Posted: Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2007 9:00pm

Casino Risque



27 April 2007 for The Globe and Mail Report on Business Magazine


Online gambling, extreme fighting, heat from U.S. authorities-the fabulous (and somewhat murky) world of Calvin Ayre, farm boy-turned-tycoon


There is a moment in pretty much every bout of mixed martial arts-or MMA, as it is now popularly known-where the spectator will see roughly the following: a lean, mid-20s male, muscular and tattooed, astride the chest of a similar mid-20s male, pounding his fists downward into his opponent's face. This moment doesn't always signal the end of the fight. MMA is known for slippery manoeuvres that turn the fight improbably upside down: knee bars and chokeholds that are applied in a sudden unfurling of limbs, a slithering of bodies that invert the expectations, like some huge, sweating piece of origami unfolding to reveal an object you could not possibly have predicted.

Posted: Monday, Apr. 16, 2007 9:00pm
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