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The Scandal of High Frequency Trading or Why Michael Lewis is Wrong

The latest scandal roiling the financial markets was ignited by Michael Lewis’ book, Flash Boys. Lewis accuses the markets of being rigged so that the average investor is always being outmaneuvered, outpaced and out-traded by wickedly fast high frequency traders (HFT). Their computerized trading algorithms, Lewis argues, gives these traders an unfair, and possibly illegal, advantage. A bit too provocatively ...

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NBC’s Parenthood: When the Winning Strategy is Losing

The writers of Parenthood, the popular NBC family drama, use an interesting device to dramatize conflict. When two characters have a difference of opinion their exchange begins in measured, even tones. One person talks, while the other listens. Then the second person talks, while the first one listens. But as their disagreement heats up, the exchange gets faster and faster until no one is listening and both ...

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Valentine’s Day: The Myth of Love and Desire

The most recent short lived celebrity marriage lasted only two weeks: Rachel Snider is filing for divorce from Terrell Owens, claiming he only married her for her money. Yet, in announcing her plans to divorce Terrell, Rachel says this of their relationship: "I really valued his love and friendship for 5 years. Out of the love in my heart, I tried to help him. We had a secret relationship for 5 years and I ...

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Watching Super Bowl Ads with the Little Prince: From Delusion to Freedom

There’s an absurd character in The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who reveals more about our capacity for self-delusion than we might want to admit. He’s called the King and when it comes to desire, he is as deluded about his own power as we are about ours. The King’s delusion is this: he believes that the movements of the sun, moon and stars are the result of his commands. That’s right – the sun ...

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My Interview about Sacrificial Systems on Peace Paradigm Radio

I had the great pleasure of discussing the sacrificial system, mimetic desire, scapegoating and peacemaking with my wonderful friends at the Metta Center for Nonviolence, Stephanie Van Hook and Michael Nagler. The interview was broadcast on Peace Paradigm Radio on December 27 and I hope you enjoy our discussion of how René Girard’s insights enable us to take responsibility for our own complicity in the perp ...

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Dieting to Extremes: Anorexia, Mimetic Desire and the Death of Isabelle Caro

Are you on a diet now? Are you starting one tomorrow? Dieting is a preoccupation for most of us, the result of living in a land in which we are bombarded with two competing messages: advertisements of often irresistible foodstuffs and media idols celebrated for their svelte figures. Some of us manage to lose some weight, many gain it back, but for a few of us the healthy desire to control our eating and she ...

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Why Mimetic Theory Explains Everything about Desire – Even Why I Want the ShamWow!

Late at night, when I can’t sleep, I watch infomercials. Vince with ShamWow has always been my favorite. He’s so excited about the ShamWow and he makes such a convincing argument. (See the video below.) “It just does the work. Why do you want to work twice as hard?” “It’s made in Germany. You know the Germans always make good stuff.” Then he does the cola trick … I love the cola trick. But I really want the ...

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Desire Blogalogue Part Three: More Than Just a Gummy Bear

Adam, I’m so glad you challenged the idea that we and our desires are solid and impermeable as billiard balls. That idea is so ingrained in our culture of hyper-individualism that even Ira Glass, the host who brought us the tale of the Kiss Cam kiss, drew a completely unsupportable conclusion from his own story! He couldn’t grasp how it was possible that the accumulated gaze of 50,000 people could cause a b ...

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Desire Blogalogue Part 1: The Power of the Kiss Cam

Hey, Adam – Have you ever wondered what possesses people to do embarrassing things on camera? I heard a story on the radio this weekend about a guy doing something he swore he’d never do, all because of a Kiss Cam. I think this guy’s apparent self-betrayal is crying for mimetic analysis and I’d love to discuss it with you. Here’s the story that appeared on NPR’s This American Life with Ira Glass: Bill Langw ...

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