Explaining Southern California's economy

Clinton speaks, rich people, the end of email: DeBord Report talks with Andy Dean

I went on "America Now with Andy Dean" again yesterday to talk about a few recent blog posts, including one on Bill Clinton's Herculean speaking fees, good rich people and bad rich people, and the end of email. The wonderfully conversational Darryl Parks was filling in for Andy, and we bantered for a while. I've embedded the broadcast, above.

I've been on this show a few times now and richly enjoyed each experience. You can check the segments out here and here.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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Who is Steven Cohen? The lowdown on the hedge-fund legend who wants to buy the Dodgers

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Harry How/Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw and teammates of the Dodgers celebrate a two run homerun of Matt Kemp for a 2-1 win over the St Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on April 17, 2011.

As KPCC's Corey Moore reported yesterday, billionaire hedge fund king Steven Cohen wants to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers. You'll recall that owner Frank McCourt, mired in an acrimonious divorce proceeding and dueling with Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, put the team into bankruptcy in June. That desperate gambit failed and McCourt has given up the fight. The team now has to find a new owner by April 2012.

Enter Cohen, with an estimated net worth of $8 billion, but more importantly, a reputation as Wall Street's most successful — and controversial — trader. In fact, few men more perfectly represent the ascent of the swashbuckling trader on the Street than Cohen, who started his hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, in 1992. It's now worth $12-$14 billion.

With coin like that, Cohen could easily afford to bid for the Dodgers, whose value has been pegged at around $1 billion.

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Could a condom ballot measure drive the porn business into bankruptcy?

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Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

An empty condom package rests on a table during the shooting of a porn scene for the adult film production company Vivid, 18 May 2004, on the set in Canoga Park, California, about 40 miles west of Los Angeles.

UPDATE: Last year at Minyanville, Susannah Breslin explored allegations that the porn business, contrary to popular belief, is actually a terrible business that barely rises to the description.

Earlier today, my colleague Tony Pierce posted on the LA City Attorney office's lawsuit against a proposed ballot measure for June 2012 that would require all male porn actors on sets in Los Angeles to wear condoms in order for productions to be permitted. The measure is supported by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has been advocating to take this issue to the voters for a while:

The foundation was only required to get 41,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot. They gathered approximately 71,000. [AHF Executive Director] Michael Weinstein said they had no trouble getting enough people to sign the petition.

"It was not difficult at all," Weinstein said. "The overwhelming majority of people - liberal and conservative, of all ages and genders - understand this issue as an issue of fairness and worker protection."

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We're not ready for the end of email yet

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Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

A man checks his email on a Blackberry.

Thanks to Felix Salmon for pointing me to this Financial Times post by Maija Palmer about the end of email. Yes, that's right — it's yet another argument that email is outdated, badly designed, and the death of all things productive. Here's a taste:

The ability to track email is increasingly becoming a turn-off. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in an age of heightened regulation, bankers are eschewing email in favour of less traceable forms of communications, such as hand-written notes...

However, for many companies, it is simply that email is seen as inefficient. “We believe email is fundamentally unproductive, you need to sift through too many documents and things get lost,” says Leerom Segal, president and chief executive of Klick, a Canadian digital marketing company. “It has no prioritisation, no workflow, and assumes that the most important item is the one at the top. My business partner became so frustrated with how dumb email was, that 14 years ago he began to build better tools for us to manage workflow.”

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Should Occupy LA pay $400,000 to restore City Hall park?

Corey Moore/KPCC

Occupy LA encampment the morning after Mayor Villaraigosa's eviction order went into effect.

The bill is in for Occupy LA. This is from AP:

A preliminary report by the Los Angeles city administrative officer estimates the nearly two-month Occupy LA encampment at City Hall cost the city at least $2.3 million...

[...]

But the report notes that the estimate does not include the cost of restoring City Hall park. A rough early estimate of restoring the park to its original condition was $400,000.

That's some not-inconsiderable coin. And it does raise an important question: Should Occupy LA, in as much as it's able, defray some of the cost? After all, Occupy Wall Street could make a mess in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, but a few high-pressure hoses, some disinfectant, and a small fleet of dump trucks could clean it up (after the protesters had left, of course). 

Occupy LA, on the other hand, camped out for weeks on what had been green(ish) grass. Which is now neither green nor grass anymore. 

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