1. Gabriel Sherman’s story on the war on overcompensation inside AIG (“Show Me the Money,” November 30) put a match to populist furor on nymag.com. “How on Earth are these employees still described as ‘talent’ when they sunk the world economy to such magnitude? Why pay a fortune or even a dollar to retain them?” sputtered one commenter. Others tried to be more dispassionate. “AIG took money from the government under extraordinary circumstances. Right now, these traders’ pay is being reviewed—under extraordinary circumstances,” noted a commenter. “It may not be fair, but it’s reality. A company can’t get public support on one hand and expect straight-up free-market compensation on the other.” At The Atlantic’s Business blog, Megan McArdle viewed the conflict from a political standpoint. “The question that neither I nor (as far as I can tell) the regulators have a good handle on is how good a trader you need to unwind these positions. If it can be done by any kid out of business school, then Ken Feinberg is right and the government should pressure them to give the money back. If it needs some expertise, then we’re kind of in trouble, because no one with any qualifications beyond a pulse would want these jobs.” A few commenters supported the traders. Said one commenter in their defense, “The remaining Financial Products traders had nothing to do with the CDS trades that caused this whole mess. Why don’t you take your pitchforks to Geithner, Paulson, and Obama’s house instead for being too feckless to drive a harder bargain with AIG’s counterparties?”
2. New York Magazine received an unexpected (and uncredited) homage during the November 19 finale of the sixth season of Project Runway. This year’s winner was a 27-year-old New Yorker named Irina Shabayeva, nicknamed by the other contestants “Mean-A-Irina,” for her TV-ready bitchiness. Irina incorporated a black shirt with an overlay of written reasons she loves New York into her final collection—she described it to host-mentor Tim Gunn on the second-to-last episode: “I put down my thoughts about New York.” Tim replied (reading off the shirt): “Reasons to love New York! Because Madonna is back?” Irina: “I do like Madonna!” In fact, Irina had taken our annual “Reasons to Love New York” issue from 2008—in which our editors and writers came up with various tributes to the city, including “Because Madonna’s Back to Distract Us”—and copied each reason we came up with onto the shirt. The matter was complicated by the fact that a major story line of the season was that Irina continually accused a different designer, Althea, of copying her work, thus the pot calling the kettle black etc. We pointed this out on our fashion blog, The Cut, a post that garnered comments like this: “It’s annoying because if she really loves New York so much, shouldn’t she be able to come up with her own reasons? It’s also annoying because she’s been self-righteously calling out everyone all season for copying her ideas, and declaring that she’s the only talented, creative designer on the show. Apparently not.” After Irina’s win, she was interviewed about the plagiarism accusations. “It’s so blown out of proportion,” she told EW.com. “It wasn’t, like, an article written by one person. It was opinions of New Yorkers you see everyday on the street. I still designed the T-shirts! It’s not like New York Magazine was like, oh, Irina, we’ll make the T-shirts for you!” There’s no word yet on whether the T-shirt will be available for purchase.