Goldman Sachs bankers aren’t packing heat after all

Follow-up to this post:

New York police spokesman Paul J. Browne says that their records show only four Goldman employees have applied for gun permits in recent years — and the last application was made in 2003. That application, by the firm’s head of security for a “carry permit”, was granted. The only other employee granted a NYPD carry permit” is a building security guard. It was issued prior to 2003, said a police spokesman. Those applying for a permit must list their employer.

Wall Street Journal: Are Goldman Sachs Bankers Really Carrying Guns?

Goldman Sachs bankers buying handguns to protect themselves against the proletariat

Update: turns out this isn’t true.

I called Goldman Sachs spokesman Lucas van Praag to ask whether it’s true that Goldman partners feel they need handguns to protect themselves from the angry proletariat. He didn’t call me back. The New York Police Department has told me that “as a preliminary matter” it believes some of the bankers I inquired about do have pistol permits. The NYPD also said it will be a while before it can name names.

While we wait, Goldman has wrapped itself in the flag of Warren Buffett, with whom it will jointly donate $500 million, part of an effort to burnish its image — and gain new Goldman clients. Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein also reversed himself after having previously called Goldman’s greed “God’s work” and apologized earlier this month for having participated in things that were “clearly wrong.”

Has it really come to this? Imagine what emotions must be billowing through the halls of Goldman Sachs to provoke the firm into an apology. Talk that Goldman bankers might have armed themselves in self-defense would sound ludicrous, were it not so apt a metaphor for the way that the most successful people on Wall Street have become a target for public rage.

Bloomberg: Arming Goldman With Pistols Against Public

(via Global Guerillas)

See also this USA Today story about skyrocketing corporate security spending:

Companies have been slashing almost every cost imaginable to survive the recession, yet they are spending more than ever to calm CEOs who fear for their personal safety.

Starbucks, which has laid off workers, closed stores and switched from whole to 2% milk to save pennies a gallon, bumped its spending to $511,079 last year on the personal and home security of CEO Howard Schultz. FedEx, which quit matching employee 401(k) contributions, spent $595,875 on the security of CEO Fred Smith. Walt Disney spent $645,368 for CEO Robert Iger; Occidental Petroleum spent $575,407 for Ray Irani; and McKesson spent $401,706 for John Hammergren.

Wall Street bonuses to rise 40%

There has been plenty of evidence that firms like Goldman Sachs (GS) have had such huge profits that their bonus payouts may be at all-time highs.

The federal government has systematically begun to control bank pay packages. The Treasury “pay czar” is effectively controlling compensation at companies which still owe TARP money. The Fed is pressuring other large financial firms to tie pay to risk.

None of those efforts seems to be working well, because bankers are ignoring the signals from Washington.

A new compensation survey described in The Wall Street Journal predicts that Wall Street incentive pay will rise 40% this year. For those in the fixed-income part of the industry, the increase could be closer to 60%.

MSN Money: Wall Street bonuses to rise 40%

(via Braincrowbar)

Telephone Company Is Arm of Government, Feds Admit in Spy Suit

The Department of Justice has finally admitted it in court papers: The nation’s telecom companies are an arm of the government — at least when it comes to secret spying.

Fortunately, a judge says that relationship isn’t enough to quash a rights group’s open records request for communications between the nation’s telecoms and the feds.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation wanted to see what role telecom lobbying of the Justice Department played when the government began its year-long, and ultimately successful, push to win retroactive immunity for AT&T and others being sued for unlawfully spying on American citizens.

The feds argued that the documents showing consultation over the controversial telecom immunity proposal weren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act since they were protected as “intra-agency” records.

Threat Level: Telephone Company Is Arm of Government, Feds Admit in Spy Suit

(via Disinfo)

Sears gets warning for hacking customers computers

Between April 2007 and January 2008, visitors to the Kmart and Sears web sites were invited to join an “online community” for which they would be paid $10 with the idea they would be helping the company learn more about their customers. It turned out they learned a lot more than participants realized or that the feds thought was reasonable.

To join the “My SHC Community,” users downloaded software that ended up grabbing some members’ prescription information, emails, bank account data and purchases on other sites. Sears called the group that participated “small” and said the data captured by the program was at all times secure and was then destroyed. […]

The feds just officially resolved the case after commissioners accepted the proposed settlement and the penalty for Sears’ alleged overzealous, privacy invading behavior wasn’t even a slap on the wrist. It was a gentle touch. The harshest part of whole situation was the FTC actually letting people know the situation even happened.

The penalty: if Sears offers such a software program again it should be more honest about the implications. Sears has to destroy all the data — which was already done. And, Sears needs to help those who want to uninstall the software.

Sears gets mere wrist slap for allegedly spying on customers

(via Schneier on Security)

If an individual had used a virus to collect sensitive data? David L. Smith was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison and fined $5,000 for writing the Melissa virus. Under the Patriot Act, he could conceivably have been sentence to 10 years in prison (Smith committed the crime in 1999, before the Patriot Act was passed).

The Power of Continuous Improvement

Mike Speiser writes at GigaOM:

Mathematicians will tell you that the only way to learn math is to do math. Lots of it. The same is true in music and sports. While with math you quickly find out whether you’re right or wrong at a very atomic level with each problem you try to solve, with music a student listens to a song many times before she tries to emulate it — and then gets feedback on a note-by-note basis. And the same goes for sports — the stroke, the kick, the catch, the swing, the run and so on. Practice makes perfect, right?

Yet in business you often find people who have been doing something for a long time and just aren’t very good at it. Why? Lack of feedback. After all, imagine trying to solve math problems and waiting an entire year to get the answers, or hitting 1,000 serves and getting a summary of your performance at your “annual review” rather than after each serve or at the end of a game. Practice only makes perfect when there is frequent, high-quality feedback so that the right adjustments can be made, be it in math, sports, music — or business.

In certain disciplines, like engineering and sales, there is somewhat objective and frequent feedback. Your program compiles without an error and does what it was meant to do. Or you close the deal and make your quota. If, however, you’re in one of the many disciplines in which immediate and objective feedback is not available, practice may not lead to perfection so much as enforce bad habits.

Let’s say you’re a mid-level executive — a GM or product manager of some sort. More than likely, you’re measured by how well you interact with and present to your manager and senior executives. Consequently, you optimize to managing the bureaucracy (your boss in particular) rather than delivering the right product or service to customers. And so does your boss, and her boss, and so on and so on. Here the only thing that you’re practicing and perfecting are your brown-nosing skills. How can you expect to learn in an organization with that type of feedback and incentive system? How can such an organization, by extension, possibly produce excellence?

GigaOM: The Power of Continuous Improvement

(via OVO)

His case of the large software company vs. the small start-up isn’t entirely convincing, but it’s not hard to apply this to the economic and political issues of the time. Executives receive massive bonuses completely out of sync with the results of the long or even medium term results of their actions. Bills are passed loaded with superfluous “features” and are extremely difficult to evaluate and debug once they become law.

New Arthur Magazine with New Writing from Alejandro Jodorowsky, Plus: How to Hex a Corporation

arthur magazine

An excerpt from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s new book, the Center for Tactical Magic’s guide to hexing corporations, and plenty more.

Full issue available for download in PDF at Arthur (or available in print at these locations)

(though I still think the definitive article on magical warfare with corporations was Wes Unruh’s article first published here by Technoccult. Then again, I’m biased.)

Esoteric Agenda

“There is an Esoteric Agenda behind every facet of life that was once believed to be disconnected. There is an Elite faction guiding most every Political, Economic, Social, Corporate, some Non-Governmental or even Anti-Establishment Organizations. This film uses the hard work and research of professionals in every field helping to expose this agenda put the future of this planet back into the hands of the people.”

(via Google video)

Bad Moon Rising- “King of America” (the Movie)

“Beyond the pure insanity of a nutty cult leader having the influence that Reverend Moon has, there are so many things so very wrong here I hardly know where to begin. But I’ll force myself to start with what’s been in the news recently. And I’ll do it briefly because, as I’ve said before, this topic has been discussed to death in the corporate media. And now that I think about it, it’s not that it’s been discussed so much, but how it’s been discussed, as an endless 20 second loop, that’s the problem.

If you go back as far as I do, ask yourself when the last time was, or if you don’t go back that far, ask yourself if you’ve ever, heard the Reverend Sun Myung Moon mentioned in the corporate media. I go back far enough to remember the John Belushi skit from the documentary when it first aired on Saturday Night Live. While Reverend Wright sound bites play on and endless loop in the corporate media, a man who has more political influence and is more dangerous than all the religious nut cases you can name combined, and I don’t include Wright in that group, is rarely, if ever brought up. In fact, he’s only been mentioned recently in the blogosphere from what I’ve seen, and I watch a lot of CNN and MSNBC. And while that might not be exhaustive coverage of what the media is reporting, googling his name for news stories on him finds only a handful. One by AlterNet, none by major media outlets.”

(via A Revolution of One)

(direct link to “King of America” on Veoh)

(Related: “Who is Rev. Moon?”)

Subliminal exposure to corporate logos effect how people think, study says

Kevin at Grinding looks at the connection between a new study on corporate logos and the connection to sigil magic:

The team conducted an experiment in which 341 university students completed what they believed was a visual acuity task, during which either the Apple or IBM logo was flashed so quickly that they were unaware they had been exposed to the brand logo. The participants then completed a task designed to evaluate how creative they were, listing all of the uses for a brick that they could imagine beyond building a wall.

People who were exposed to the Apple logo generated significantly more unusual uses for the brick compared with those who were primed with the IBM logo, the researchers said. In addition, the unusual uses the Apple-primed participants generated were rated as more creative by independent judges.

“This is the first clear evidence that subliminal brand exposures can cause people to act in very specific ways,” said Gr?inne Fitzsimons. “We’ve performed tests where we’ve offered people $100 to tell us what logo was being flashed on screen, and none of them could do it. But even this imperceptible exposure is enough to spark changes in behavior.”

Other than their defined brand personalities, the researchers argue there is not anything unusual about Apple and IBM that causes this effect. The team conducted a follow-up experiment using the Disney and E! Channel brands, and found that participants primed with the Disney Channel logo subsequently behaved much more honestly than those who saw the E! Channel logos.

Full Story: Grinding.

See also:

Marketing Without Tears.

Wikipedia: Priming.

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