June 17, 2012 archive


Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth, 1955


(I)n this novel corporate lawyers… have gained a stranglehold on the world. Business Law is an extremely lucrative career, while Criminal Law pays enough to afford some of the luxuries of life but not enough to save for the future.

Success means living in a luxurious automated “bubble home” constructed by “GML”, a corporation which is nominally public but whose shares are never traded openly. All work contracts include GML housing as part of the pay scale. Not having a contract job means having to live in a community such as “Belly Rave”, originally a post-war suburban development for returning soldiers, now a slum ruled by teenage gangs. Its original name was “Belle Rêve”.

For the common people, there are bread-and-circuses entertainments in the form of gladiatorial games of various kinds, with monetary rewards for the winners. Some games pit elderly people against each other armed with padded clubs, but others are more deadly.

(T)he “public assistance” system … ensures that nobody starves, without actually making life worth living. … (R)esidents indulge in a kind of barter, or petty theft, extortion, and gang crime, or simply anaesthetize themselves with liquor.

Wall Street… has become a hybrid stock-market and public casino.

The plan Bliss hatches is to bankrupt GML rather than indulge in a proxy battle. Mundin is dispatched to sabotage certain GML houses, including the model in the Smithsonian, at the same time spreading rumors through his political connections.

(T)hey return to Wall Street where Mundin starts a run on the market by carefully selling off large chunks of the GML stock. After a while the selling takes on a life of its own.

As the market collapses, the plotters are left with large amounts of cash, which they use to buy up GML and other companies at bargain prices. At the end they are counting their riches and savoring their triumph.

Not currently in print.  Copies in very good+ condition available @ Rudy’s Books for $2.50.

On This Day In History June 17

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

June 17 is the 168th day of the year (169th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 197 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1885, the Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, arrives in New York City’s harbor.

The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World, French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue has become an icon of freedom and of the United States.

Bartholdi was inspired by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye, who commented in 1865 that any monument raised to American independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. Due to the troubled political situation in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870s. In 1875, Laboulaye proposed that the French finance the statue and the Americans provide the pedestal and the site. Bartholdi completed both the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions. The arm was displayed in New York’s Madison Square Park from 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened due to lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer of the World initiated a drive for donations to complete the project, and the campaign inspired over 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar. The statue was constructed in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe’s Island. The statue’s completion was marked by New York’s first ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.

The statue was administered by the United States Lighthouse Board until 1901 and then by the Department of War; since 1933 it has been maintained by the National Park Service. The statue was closed for renovation for much of 1938. In the early 1980s, it was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that a major restoration was required. While the statue was closed from 1984 to 1986, the torch and a large part of the internal structure were replaced. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, it was closed for reasons of safety and security; the pedestal reopened in 2004 and the statue in 2009, with limits on the number of visitors allowed to ascend to the crown. The statue is scheduled to close for up to a year beginning in late 2011 so that a secondary staircase can be installed. Public access to the balcony surrounding the torch has been barred for safety reasons since 1916.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Greeks go to the polls in vote that threatens to shake world economy


By msnbc.com staff and news services

As polls opened on Sunday in a Greek vote, the outcome of which could decide whether the heavily indebted country remains in the euro zone, the World Bank warned that the election of an anti-austerity government could spark a global economic crisis.

“Europe may be able to muddle through but the risk is rising. There could be a Lehmans moment if things are not properly handled,” the outgoing head of the World Bank Robert Zoellick told Britain’s Observer newspaper.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Aung San Suu Kyi: A lesson in the value of kindness

Egypt’s Copts back Shafiq as anti-Islamist bulwark

Rio+20 deal weakens on energy and water pledges

Saudi Arabian women risk arrest as they defy ban on driving

New G.O.P. Help From Casino Mogul

Slave Food

To make a long story short, I once got assigned to cater a volunteer party out of the otherwise discardable leftovers from the rentier crowd.

Once that was done I swore I’d never eat slave food again.


A Connecticut Rabbit
(Directions by Ray Bradbury)

Late Night Karaoke