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Comments: Week of April 13, 2009

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1. Who caused the mess on Wall Street? In his first-person account of how he wrote the software that turned mere mortgages into incendiary bonds (My Manhattan Project,” April 6), Michael Osinski admitted that he bears his share of responsibility for having enabled the deeds of overzealous traders. But most of the commenters on nymag.com didn’t agree. “If he hadn’t written the software, someone else would have,” wrote one reader. “Such is the way of Wall Street.” Another reader absolved Osinski by saying, “His software did not cause the collapse. It only allowed the house of cards to be many stories tall.” A few readers even tried to argue that Wall Street was merely a convenient target for popular resentment: “Everyone wants to blame a banker. No one ever wants to blame people who signed their name on a mortgage which they didn’t fully understand. Blame can be spread up and down the chain of command. But the Schadenfreude runs deepest for the bankers because they make so much money.” Osinski did have his detractors, some of whom expressed doubt about the authenticity of his contrition. One reader blasted him for having a “blatantly phony sense of guilt,” but then turned right around and credited him for “burst[ing] the ego bubble that has brainwashed the entire banking industry.” The blog Inner Banks Eagle posted a lengthy sermon on the corruption of Wall Street, arguing that “the greatest threat to human freedom has become the delusion that Wall Street is capitalism.” So what’s the alternative? “Though capitalism is awkward without a financial industry like banking, it is still possible. It is done with barter.”


2. In his story about how the Yankees are operating like the good times are still rolling in New York (Boomball,” April 6), Will Leitch drew the ire of at least one reader for suggesting that Derek Jeter is no longer a stud on the field. “HAHA, the only thing that was missing from that Jeter paragraph was a giant ‘NO ONE DENIES THIS!!!!’ at the end. Will, your sad Jeter-bashing only serves as comic relief to the rest of us New York sports fans.” This same reader went on to recount that “in May, a pitcher named Daniel Cabrera plunked Jeter in his wrist. Jeter was hitting .314 prior to getting hit. The next 25 games after that, Jeter hit .198, looked plain awful, and Girardi should have prolly kept him on the DL a bit longer. Jeter hit .324 after the All-Star break, including .345 and .342 in August and September. Your calling him ‘barely an average baseball player anymore’ is disingenuous at best.” Another reader contested Leitch’s suggestion that the Yankees probably won’t have problems filling their expensive new stadium: “I can go to yankees.com right now and get two tickets in the front row for virtually any game. No one is buying the expensive seats because they are super expensive. (First five rows between the bases are $900 to $2,650 per seat! Is this the Super Bowl?!?) Even the $375 seats have no takers at all. Want eight in a row right behind the dish for a Saturday game against the Red Sox? They are available.”


3. Given the reaction to Vanessa Grigoriadis’s encounter with homegrown pop star Lady Gaga (Intelligencer: 125 Minutes With Lady Gaga,” April 6), the young performer deserves props for aptly naming herself. A sample: “Thatta girl! … Hmmm, me likey … That’s right. She’s a LADY. Heart you so bad, Gaga … She has realized that even the smallest details of her image have to go with the persona she has created. Nothing is overlooked, which makes her stand out from all the other plastic monotonous pop singers. She’s the real deal!” But one disco lover was offended: “Can we not call her a ‘disco queen,’ please? I am not knocking her talent, or anything else, simply saying that her music has very little to do with disco, or dance music in general. It is processed and spit back out, like a momma bird feeding her chicks.”

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