Making money for the sake of making money

Social Network, The
Aaron Sorkin, adapted screenplay

This was definitely a Sorkin movie – the shotgun dialogue – but the director (David Fincher) really made the movie with interesting choices of cinematography and the non-linear plot (although that could have been Sorkin, as well).

I know of Facebook and some of the backstory, but I’m not really in a position to say how accurate it was. The tech parts were, for the most part, spot on (except that Zuckerberg had an AT keyboard. I don’t think so…).

Good watch, but not something I’ll watch again any time soon, if at all. I’ve seen it. That’s that.

All movies

I saw “The Social Network” today (review, right – One word review: “Meh”), and the two take-aways from the movie I saw were:

  • Zuckerberg didn’t care about money; he just wanted his site to be cool, and
  • Zuckerberg took Sean Parker’s advice, and didn’t take the easy money, but retained control and built the site out as he – not stockholders – wanted it to be.

(NOTE: That’s from the movie, not necessarily from reality.)

This resonated with me on a couple of levels: The current state of the internet is a lot like 1998 – the bubble is rising. And a lot of it is that people are pumping money into companies with no real due diligence, and it seems as though a lot of companies are being built to be purchased.

It’s all about the Benjamins.

The internet is getting closer to Wall Street than Main Street. On Wall Street, all they really do is figure out ways to make money. Period. No new products, no tools/devices to make life better – just schemes to make money. Use money in a novel way to make more money. To the nth degree.

While this is, to a (non-nth, let’s say) degree, fine (hey, “Greed is good,” right?), it causes problems when the banks/brokerage houses are suddenly the financial engines of the country, instead of GM, Ford, General Electric and so on. Ya know, companies that actually make something in addition to profits.

That’s why I gave GroupOn props for spurning Google’s buyout offer.

Much like Zuckerberg, GroupOn decided to stay true to its vision and not settle for a couple of pallets of cash. At the same time, part of both Zuckerberg’s and GroupOn’s equation is that no matter that offer is presented, it doesn’t come close to the potential valuation of either property. As of today, both companies have bet correctly.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Shot In Arizona

Screenshot of

Yesterday, Saturday, January 8th, 2011, a gunman shot – at point-blank range – U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D, AZ) as she was at a meet-and-greet in her home district.

The assassination attempt left six dead, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl, and over a dozen injured, many critically.

Giffords is currently out of surgery, and doing well (considering the circumstances). Long-term prognosis has not even been mentioned.

A couple of quick notes:

  • There can be no excuses – just explanations – for this carnage.
  • I’m appalled by all this senseless slaughter. A representative, doing what reps do on weekends – making themselves available to constituents and the press – was, apparently, targeted for a cold-blooded assassination. Have we come to this?
  • This was a relatively unknown member of the House of Representatives. Yes, a Democrat in a red state, but not some politico who gets attention (pro/con) like, say, former half-term Governor Palin, President Obama, Senator John McCain and so on. Why her? That’s one of the scary aspects of this. Obama – as the first African-American president – will, sadly, get a bunch of death threats. But Giffords? Or any other below-the-radar government official/aide. Why?

Lots of talk on the intertubes about this, obviously.

There is no upside to this for anyone, yet there is a lot of finger-pointing.

Taking a longer view of the situation,’s Howard Fineman puts his finger on the bigger picture – while not ignoring the incredible suffering this shooter has inflicted on individuals, the community and the nation as a whole.

The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is a watershed event in many ways, some of which we cannot yet know, but one of the clearest and simplest is this: Congress and its members are about to be permanently quarantined, physically isolated, from the people it and they represent.

Thirty years ago, there was no such thing as security on Capitol Hill or for members. Members of the public were free to roam the halls, and police presence was practically invisible. There were no barricades around the grounds, and even the leadership rarely had any form of protection.

The Hill was the very model of the People’s Place — and in that respect it was an inspirational symbol of our democracy.

— Howard Fineman, The End of Access

DC PoliceI was in DC this summer, and it had changed in so many ways since I was last in the district (over 30 years ago, granted).

The White House is now a fortress: Lockdowns for foot traffic when a helicopter is inbound, police with M-16s everywhere, barricades are the norm.

It’s sad, but it’s – unfortunately – a reaction to reality. And it’s in evidence across federal buildings.

Yesterday, many individuals died, and many were injured.

One of the casualties was at least one facet of democracy: the idea that an individual can meet – face-to-face – with those who represent that individual.

Going to be much harder moving forward.

I’m not minimizing the loss of life or those who were physically injured yesterday, but this event has far-ranging consequences.