Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong kicked off a campaign to restore his image Monday by admitting in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey that he used a sophisticated cocktail of performance-enhancing drugs to evince remorse and shame. “To make the kind of heartfelt apology I am making now without the help of drugs would be impossible, and so when it came to convincing millions of people that I am a decent human being who is capable of actual regret, I needed an edge,” Armstrong reportedly says in the extensive television interview, which sources said the cyclist prepared for by injecting himself with stamina-supporting recombinant erythropoietin and methocarbamol, a muscle relaxant that helps to slacken the Depressor anguli oris, Corrugator supercilii and other facial muscles required to frown and cry. “Make no mistake, it still takes a lot of skill to do what I am doing right now. Saying sorry over and over, all the while maintaining a veneer of humility when you’re actually a self-righteous egomaniac? Drugs or no drugs, that’s impressive.”
The Atlantic has apologized for the way they handled a “sponsored” article about Scientology on their website last night. That’s good, and necessary. (It belongs on their actual website, rather than in an email campaign, but whatever.)
The magazine would doubtless like for this to be the end of the discussion, and it probably will be. Most readers will forget it happened, except the ones who already hated the magazine. But the thing that happened last night is interesting for a couple of reasons, and I think it’s worth actually laying them out before we all agree to drop it and hope it never happens again.
And, as usual, the Onion made mincemeat of the whole “sponsored content” thing right away.
“I don’t know what to do,” sighed Gene Rosen. “I’m getting hang-up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid?’” Someone posted a photo of his house online. There have been phony Google+ and YouTube accounts created in his name, messages on white supremacist message boards ridiculing the “emotional Jewish guy,” and dozens of blog posts and videos “exposing” him as a fraud. One email purporting to be a business inquiry taunted: “How are all those little students doing? You know, the ones that showed up at your house after the ‘shooting’. What is the going rate for getting involved in a gov’t sponsored hoax anyway?”
“The quantity of the material is overwhelming,” he said. So much so that a friend shields him from most of it by doing daily sweeps of the Web so Rosen doesn’t have to. His wife is worried for their safety. He’s logged every email and every call, and consulted with a retired state police officer, who took the complaint seriously but said police probably can’t do anything at the moment; he plans to do the same with the FBI.
What did Rosen do to deserve this? One month ago, he found six little children and a bus driver at the end of the driveway of his home in Newtown, Conn. “We can’t go back to school,” one little boy told Rosen. “Our teacher is dead.” He brought them inside and gave them food and juice and toys. He called their parents. He sat with them and listened to their shocked accounts of what had happened just down the street inside Sandy Hook Elementary, close enough that Rosen heard the gunshots.
In the hours and days that followed, Rosen did a lot of media interviews. “I wanted to speak about the bravery of the children, and it kind of helped me work through this,” he told Salon in an interview. “I guess I kind of opened myself up to this.”
The “this” in question is becoming a prime target of the burgeoning Sandy Hook truther movement, which — like its precursor that denied the veracity of the 9/11 terror attacks — alleges that the entire shooting was a hoax of some kind. There were conspiracy theories surrounding the shooting from Day One, but the movement has exploded into public view the past two weeks, and a Google Trends search suggests it’s just now picking up steam.
You can see this guy walking from window to window in the helicopter feed
A security audit of a US critical infrastructure company last year revealed that its star developer had outsourced his own job to a Chinese subcontractor and was spending all his work time playing around on the internet.
Last summer, we talked about a site that Time Warner Cable had launched called Time Warner Cable Conversations, which it insisted would be a “conversation” between it and the public. As they put it, the goal was “to interact with our customers and to contribute to the on-going conversation about cable.” Except… as we noted at the time, they didn’t seem to want to discuss what most customers wanted to talk about. The “conversation” was limited to discussions about TV network deals, just as they were fighting with Time Warner Cable about how much the various networks would cost. If anyone wanted to “converse” about things they didn’t like about Time Warner Cable, such as it’s super low data caps, too bad. The comments on the site were limited and heavily moderated. Even friendly discussions about data caps were rejected.
And, now, it appears that TWC has decided to make the “conversation” even less of a “conversation.” It has removed the ability to comment altogether. So, it’s no longer a “conversation.” It’s just a marketing brochure.
This week we checked back and discovered the dialogue had decidedly turned one-way: namely from Time Warner Cable to you. The company deleted the few views that were published on cable television programming costs and removed its comment section altogether.
Of course, this is how companies like TWC view “a conversation.” They talk. You shut up and listen.
NEARLY 6,000 UK employees at US banking giant Goldman Sachs are among staff sharing out £8.1 billion in pay and bonuses for 2012 after it posted better-than-expected profits.
The total pay package – based on its global headcount of 32,400 – equates to an average of 399,506 US dollars (£249,977) for each of its employees and is 6% higher than in 2011.
Its bumper pay and bonus deal is likely to further stoke controversy after Goldman was yesterday forced to back down on plans to defer bonus payments to UK staff until the new financial year after Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King attacked the move.
Fellow US investment banking group JP Morgan Chase also posted full year figures today revealing its staff salary and bonus bill soared to 30.6 billion dollars (£19.1 billion), up 5% on 2011.
But the company’s chief executive Jamie Dimon saw his annual bonus cut in half – to 10 million dollars (£6.3 million) after a damning report following an investigation into its so-called “London Whale” trading loss.
The groups have ensured a strong start to the US bank reporting season, with both firms smashing market expectations.
Goldman reported net earnings nearly trebling to 7.3 billion dollars (£4.6 billion) in 2012, while JP Morgan posted a record 21.3 billion dollars (£13.2 billion) in profits after a 53% surge in the final quarter.
Goldman’s annual haul comes after fourth quarter earnings soared to 2.83 billion dollars (£1.8 billion) compared with 978 million dollars (£612 million) a year earlier after a strong performance from its investment banking arm.
The group yesterday made a climbdown on tax plans that would have potentially cost the Treasury millions of pounds.
Goldman had been proposing to allow bankers receiving bonuses to benefit from the cut in the top rate of income tax from 50p to 45p, announced by Chancellor George Osborne in last year’s Budget, which comes into effect on April 6.
Its U-turn came after pressure from the Bank and Treasury, with Sir Mervyn telling MPs it was “lacking in care and attention” to the rest of society.
But while Goldman’s total in pay and bonuses rose in 2012, the share of revenues paid out in salary and benefits for 2012 fell to 37.9% from 42.4% – the second lowest on record.
I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an Emperor, that’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.
The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.
We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in;
machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.
Our knowledge has made us cynical,
our cleverness hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little.
More than machinery we need humanity,
more than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.
Without these qualities life will be violent and all will be lost.
The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say: do not despair.
The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass and dictators will die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people and so long as men die liberty will never perish.
Soldiers: don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder!
Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men,
machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts.
You are not machines!
You are not cattle!
You are men!!
You have the love of humanity in your hearts.
You don’t hate, only the unloved hate.
The unloved and the unnatural.
Soldiers: don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty!
In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written:
– “The kingdom of God is within man.”
Not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men: in you!
You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.
Then, in the name of democracy, let us use that power, let us all unite!
Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security.
By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people.
Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.
Soldiers! In the name of democracy: let us all unite!