The Weekend Zeitgeist – 5.18.2019

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Every morning, we run the Narrative Machine on the past 24 hours worth of financial media to find the most on-narrative (i.e. interconnected and central) stories. On the weekend, we leave finance to cover the last week or so in other shifting parts of the Zeitgeist – namely, politics and culture. It’s not a list of best articles or articles we think are most interesting … often far from it.

But these are articles that have struck a chord in narrative world. 


May 18, 2019 Narrative Map – Non-Financial Articles

Source: Quid, Epsilon Theory

The Fight Against Anti-Semitism Is the World’s Responsibility [Jewish Journal]

There isn’t much to be said about this, except how depressing it is that articles about anti-Semitism are still among the most-connected to broader narratives in news in 2019.


The Modern Bonfire of the Vanities [American Greatness]

The iconoclasm debate is back on the menu, and the kind of language used by each political pole on this topic is fairly well-established at this point. That means that a story or two, an editorial like this and coverage of Mayor Buttigieg stating his willingness to consider removing art celebrating Thomas Jefferson are enough to bring this back to the front-and-center.

It is a topic that emerges because it is so naturally virulent, and so little subject to mind-changing that the act of bringing it back into the public consciousness seems almost certainly a sign of intent to expand the widening gyre. This ranting opinion article is exactly of that ilk, intended to convince no one of anything, other than to convince anyone right of center to “get mad.” Everyone has abstracted the monuments into whatever issue matters to them, argues on that basis, and all the angry ships from both sides pass in the night.

If the article you’re reading about includes monuments to Jefferson or Washington, consider this a GTC instruction to ask “Why am I reading this NOW?”


The Gig Economy In The Crosshairs: The Ninth Circuit Extends Dynamex Retroactively [Vinson & Elkins]

The article is wonkish, of course. It’s the V&E blog, after all.

But the language of gig economy businesses, wages, and the powerful and rising influence of technology companies on our lives and livelihoods, are all highly connected parts of the Zeitgeist. I think it is likely they will be connected to our upcoming election cycle as well.


The Trailer: The left has pushed the Democratic Party, but Biden isn’t passing the litmus tests [Washington Post]

As we will argue when we launch our ET Election Index in the coming days, while Biden is polling extremely well, the language used in discussions about Biden is among the least connected of any candidate to the narratives and core issues of the campaign. There is plenty of time for that to change, of course, but for now we there’s a meaningful chance that either his dominance begins to fade or his policy platform is forced to move leftward.


The Navy’s probe into sky penis For the first time, the tale can be told. [Navy Times]

  1. God bless the person who wrote this sentence.
  2. God bless FOIA.
  3. God bless the Navy.

See the face of a man from the last gasps of the Roman Empire [National Geographic]

Hedonic adjustments, even in death. Yes, funerals may cost upwards of $10,000, but you really must consider the quality and craftsmanship of this beautiful mahogany-paneled casket before you assert inflation against a shallow rock-lined pit.

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J
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J

Top Gun 2 is gonna be awesome. That’s a negative Ghost Rider, pattern is full….

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Mark Kahn
Member
Mark Kahn

Regarding funerals:

1. The Egyptian pyramids – nothing is new, nothing has really changed and nothing since has topped them for funeral extravagance.

2. When my Depression Era, knew-the-value-of-a-dollar Dad died when I was 24, I had to make the arrangements for his funeral, which, as most probably know, is a business finely honed at using emotional blackmail to separate grieving people from their money.

Well, after saying no to almost everything – “thank you, but we can drive ourselves to the funeral, thank you, but it will be a very small and private family only affair, thank you, but…” – the funeral director suggested I buy a $2000+ metal “vault” to put the casket in, which “is 100% guaranteed waterproof so that your father may rest in peace.”

Having been raised in a house that hadn’t forgotten the Depression, I let only one beat go by and, then, asked, “who’s going to go down and check that it hasn’t leaked?” The funeral director stared at me, I stared back – both with blank expressions on our faces – and, after two beats, he said, “so no metal vault.” I nodded my agreement.

I though my father would have been proud.

Nothing is really new and nothing really changes.

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The Daily Zeitgeist

Frauds and Traitors

By Ben Hunt | August 16, 2019 | 2 Comments

Throwing words like “Fraud!” and “Traitor!” around so casually … it doesn’t reveal the true frauds and the true traitors.

It makes it easier for them to hide.

Read more

When Potato Salad Goes Bad

By Ben Hunt | August 15, 2019 | 4 Comments

On Tuesday, the Macy’s narrative was “I think they can make their comps.”

On Wednesday, the Macy’s narrative was “I think they can cover their dividend.”

This is what it means for a narrative to go bad. This is what it means for a story to break.

And when a story breaks, so does the stock. Not just for a little while, but for a loooong time.

Just ask GE.

Read more

A Cartoon in Three Parts

By Rusty Guinn | August 8, 2019 | 2 Comments

Cartoons are not evil. And yet they are the engine behind the Long Now, and very much at the center of our financial Zeitgeist. What is a clear eyed, full-hearted investor and citizen to do?

Read more

The Last Chance

By Rusty Guinn | August 7, 2019 | 6 Comments

You want scarcity? Access to the upper echelons of high society? Well, say no more. It’s your very last chance to buy this most special, most fantastical, most legendary, most unattainable of whiskies.

Read more

Are You Sweet Talking Me?

By Ben Hunt | August 6, 2019 | 4 Comments

It’s my favorite part of any Batman movie … that scene where the henchman pays a visit to the crazed supervillain – the Joker is the gold standard here – and you just know that the meeting is about to go terribly, terribly awry for the thug.

It’s a funny scene in a movie.

It’s a crappy way to run a country.

Read more

The Donkey of Guizhou

By Ben Hunt | August 5, 2019 | 7 Comments

My point in relating the fable of the Donkey of Guizhou is not that I believe China is the tiger and the United States is the donkey in our current trade-war-going-to-currency-war.

My point in relating the fable of the Donkey of Guizhou is not that I believe the current United States president is a braying donkey in his “easy to win” trade-war-going-to-currency-war.

I mean … I do, but that’s not my point.

My point is that Chinese political leadership believes that they are the tiger and the current United States president is a braying donkey.

Read more

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