LiteratEye Extra: China”™s Prank Thwarts “˜Theft of Culture”™

Editor’s Note: W.J. Elvin III’s LiteratEye column about literary hoaxes is featured here, and only here, every Friday. This is a LiteratEye Extra:

News Analysis: China”™s Prank Thwarts “˜Theft of Culture”™
by W.J. Elvin III, March 3, 2009

artchinanewsafpgi-200Do pranks have a role in repairing theft of culture? Apparently the Chinese think so. Quite often, theft of culture refers to items captured by a conquering army, so-called “spoils of war,” sometimes excused as “war souvenirs.” There are many other ways items of cultural significance are liberated from their proper homes including outright theft, sale by someone who has no right to sell, and treasure hunting (sometimes in the respectable guise of archaeology), to name a few.

Examples could be drawn from the world over (see More nations demanding return of relics, from Business Inquirer) but this particular case is from China, formerly a huge shopping mart for collectors and now trying to reclaim some historic cultural items it considers plundered. When two extraordinarily valuable Chinese bronzes went up for auction the other day, the high bidder at nearly $40-million, a Chinese government official, then refused to pay. Continue reading “LiteratEye Extra: China”™s Prank Thwarts “˜Theft of Culture”™”

ADHD Investing

Top 2009 Resolution: Don’t Be Stupid
by Daniel Henninger
Wall Street Journal
January 8, 2008

Bernard Madoff revealed our thoughtless ways.

adhd-investingBack in olden times, mankind found it useful to live by mottoes. A motto reduces the helpful lessons of life to three or four words, maybe two, as in the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. Or, apropos now: Look before you leap.

The most famous motto in our time has been Google’s Don’t Be Evil. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but here’s a motto for the next four or five years: Don’t Be Stupid.

It would not have occurred to me to posit Don’t Be Stupid as a motto for our times had not 2008 ended with the Bernard Madoff story. Up to then, we were all preoccupied with the economic meltdown that began in mid-September with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and other household gods of global finance.

The economic crisis, originating in the subprime mortgage lending phenomenon, was said to be complex. Madoff’s story, however, was simple. For years, uncounted numbers of the most sophisticated people here and in Europe conveyed to Mr. Madoff tens of billions of dollars because this solitary investor, unlike virtually every other professional investor, achieved returns in excess of 10% annually in all economic seasons. Continue reading “ADHD Investing”