The Exclusivity of Language

Google defines “doublespeak” as “deliberately euphemistic, ambiguous, or obscure language.” I want to open up with this term because I am well-aware that there is some language used in the real estate business that is not only inaccessible to the people the realty agents sell to, but some of it is very deliberately misleading. There is plenty of discipline-specific terminology used in many varying fields, but not every field has any built-in need to deceive people. Continue reading “The Exclusivity of Language”

Testimony, Complacency, and the Ethics of Belief

In our last few classes, I noticed that topics in social epistemology—one of my pet interests—have been permeating our discussions about the Housing Crisis and The Big Short. Epistemology is the theory of knowledge and broadly concerns questions related to belief, justification, and knowledge. Social epistemology is concerned with the ways in which various social forces and systems affect knowledge, justification, and belief. Whether I trust what you say might depend on how I view you or how important it is that I have entirely accurate information, how teachers interact with you might depend on your gender (and race, and class), how doctors evaluate your pain might depend on your race (or gender), and whether I follow your orders might depend on whether you can give me something I need (e.g., a job). I have some ideas about the convergence of social epistemology and the issues we’ve been discussing, but I hoped to introduce the concepts and issues associated with testimony and the ethics of belief as we continue through the course. Continue reading “Testimony, Complacency, and the Ethics of Belief”

Interview with a Vampire (/My Dad)

Yesterday it occurred to me that my family actually bought a house during the crisis, sometime around May 2008. (We don’t actually live in that house anymore.) I was around twelve when we moved into that house, and I don’t recall ever hearing about financial difficulties within our family or struggles regarding the house; we actually made a number of improvements to the house, painting it, putting new floors in, new counters, etc. I don’t think I even knew there was an economic crisis going on. Thinking about it today, I wondered why my family was so unaffected by the crisis, so I called my dad to ask him about it. Continue reading “Interview with a Vampire (/My Dad)”

Wall Street and Stereotypes

As I was discussing the fictional elements of “The Big Short” in a small group, my group talked a lot about how many of the characters in the story are presented as “quirky”, not like how we would imagine someone on Wall Street to be like.  For example, Michael Lewis repeatedly mentions how Steve Eisman, one of the major players in the story is “atypical” when compared to the usual characters of Wall Street.   Continue reading “Wall Street and Stereotypes”

Trust & the Need for Credit (and before I forget to post this…)

Perhaps I’m caught up with the vibe of energy from last week’s class. With that said, I am conflicted with the use of credit. It could be due to the means of not (so far) requiring the need for credit, but or more so to the uncomfortable nature of using credit (if that makes any sense). To be frank, finances bore me, and I mean bore in the sense of sincere disdain for money. I dislike the desire for money, and I hate the necessity of it (says the introspective college kid). I prefer not to dwell so harshly on a current events that relate to the economy, or becoming vexed by the idea of being critiqued for what thoughts arrive into my head, whether they hold any validity or not. That probably explains as to why I’m still apprehensive for the need for education requiring a heavy payment, which to me should be a freely given option if such a tenure can be maintained. I suppose all of this comes to mind due to a close friend of mine referring to the education system as a scam. Albeit a very successful one.

In that instance, a drive for stability – and overwhelming “over-stability” leaves me to wonder how unstable we (as in everyone) really are. This (to me at least) relates to corrupt officials in the bank industry that seem to ignore the risk of financial instability, despite the many signs as demonstrated and later realized in both Inside Job and The Big Short. On Monday, a classmate in our group mentioned the act of trust, which in itself relates back to trusting the relationship between the bank and the loaner. There is a massive bout of instability that kept growing and growing, despite the warning signs of a financial crisis. It leaves me to wonder (yet again) on how unstable we really are. This instance goes in regards to not only the financial system, but the educational system, legislative, and judicial systems (sure, we’ll include the executive as well). Doesn’t this behavior reflect poorly on how we treat the systems that are meant to guarantee, or at the very least, ensure stability? The risk in trusting higher ups to not exploit their position also leaves me to question the amount of deserved credit. I suppose this entire body of contemplation may find more weight when revisiting Roach, primarily regarding the Bodies of Law section. With or without coffee.

Current: Definitions and Cross-Lingual Musings

In class on the 17th, we looked at pictures and articles the Steven J. Baum law firm’s Halloween party. One of the sides that stood out to me (find it here). It says “*!$%^&(  foreclosure! I’m current!!” It prompted me to think about the word current, its interdisciplinary use as well as its connections to Spanish. Continue reading “Current: Definitions and Cross-Lingual Musings”

Humanizing Complacency in The Big Short

Throughout our discussion of The Big Short, we have talked about how Lewis characterizes the bankers who bet against the market in a way that appeals to readers who may feel alienated by all of the heady economic jargon surrounding the details of the housing crisis. The reader can empathize with Steve Eisman’s cynicism after the death of his son, and understand the underdogs Charles Ledley and Jamie Mai and their “garage band” hedge fund. Despite the extensive back stories as well as detailed physical attributes given to the reader by Lewis to make these guys relatable, I could not help but consistently question whether or not their bets indicated complacency towards gross injustice.

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King Lear, “How to Harvest a Migrant Worker”, and Batteries

During the lecture on Friday, we discussed our readings of King Lear and The Big Short, by Micheal Lewis, and discussed how we could compare elements of the books and there representations of power to that of how modern society uses batteries.

I do not know much about how batteries work, but I’ve been thinking about how people use batteries everyday and for many uses, and once the batteries are drained, they are disposed of, normally without any thought of it’s environmental impact. We extract it’s energy, and then get rid of it.

There are obvious parallels we can look at when lending “batteries” as metaphors for actual people; King Lear gives away all of his power and is thrown out into the elements, and Wall Street gives away adjustable rate mortgages to impoverished immigrants as they present themselves as an easy target. There is little-to-no thought put into the future of these people by their benefactors; Roach writes in Echoes in the Bone that “violence is the performance of waste.” (Roach, 41), and, oddly enough, thinking about batteries has helped me analyze that quote a little more.

It will be interesting to see how environmentalism will tie into future readings; the transfer of power within the texts have shown that there is frequently little thought put into the future of their actions, and I can see the housing crisis possibly be a model of what happens when issues are left unregulated and ignored, for example, climate change, or capitalism as we know it.

Scatological Language in The Big Short

As i’ve been reading The Big Short i’ve found it really interesting to focus on the concept of scatology that Dr. Beth introduced us to towards the beginning of the semester. Scatalogical language, as defined here, is obscene language that particularly deals with excrement or excretory functions in a humorous manner. Scatological words and phrases are frequently peppered throughout Michael Lewis’ novel, and I’ve noticed that they often function to drastically change the tone of a conversation.

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