Wife Steals Gold, Cantor Lawyer Husband Oblivious

How did Theresa Tambunting, a 50-year-old from Scarsdale, somehow managed to steal approximately 833 pounds of gold ($12 million), in bar and jewelry form, from the jewelry manufacturer where she worked as a vault manager? Sources say she smuggled it out in the lining of her purse over six years. But that’s not the only question begging answers. She and her husband, a lawyer at Cantor Fitzgerald, were well compensated for their legitimate work, so why did she do it? How did she manage to hide all of that from her husband, who apparently had no idea about the theft, and their two children? Where did she put it?

My guess: right out in the open, because men aren’t very detail oriented. Makes sense. Maybe he didn’t notice her new hairstyle so she thought some classy Mr. T type chains would grab his attention? Just guessing.

Coffee Fact

This afternoon, Sean read Tracey’s guide to coffee drinks for men. After a few uncomfortable moments, he said, “Cara, would you email Tracey and ask if it’s acceptable to stir a little cream into coffee?”

For a heartbeat, I was too puzzled to react. Then I started laughing. “Why don’t you just ask her?” I asked.

“Because if it’s not manly, she’ll know.”

When I could stop laughing, I asked Tracey and she replied:

Manly men MAY put cream in their coffee AFTER they’ve ordered it black. But I don’t really want to witness that myself. I realize all of this is an entirely arbitrary, don’t-ask, don’t-tell coffee/espresso policy.

But if you tell me now that hunky Sean uses soy, well, I will just slit my wrists and be done with it all.

Sean asked, “What’s soy?” so I knew we were all covered.

Happy Birthday, Bernie Madoff

Bernie Madoff celebrated observed his birthday at a federal prison in lower Manhattan, the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), while he awaits a sentencing hearing, tentatively scheduled for June 16.

“We do not celebrate inmates’ birthdays in any way,” said Scott Sussman, Public Information Officer for the MCC.

I know it’s silly but that seems really mean. Particularly for white-collar defendants.

Madoff’s wife, Ruth, visited him on Monday. The federal prison system says “handshaking, embracing, and kissing are ordinarily permitted within the bounds of good taste,” according to Bureau of Prison regulations.

No conjugal visits are allowed.

Ruth Madoff declined to comment as she left the prison.
….
Ruth has told members of her family that she still loves her husband of more than 45 years, but that she feels shunned and lonely because of her husband’s $65 billion fraud that cheated thousands of people, including some of her closest friends.

Yeah, that will make a girl lonely.

The case of Bernie Madoff just seems weird to me. The fact that he didn’t attempt defend himself seems queer to me. Maybe he really is guilty and feels deep remorse. I don’t know. It just seems weird to me that someone with a wife and children who love him wouldn’t at least go to trial where there is at least the sheer hope of a technicality to keep him away from a life sentence.

The Feminist Tango

I hate Oprah but read her monthly magazine. Occasionally, she’ll accidentally allow a good article through. That occurrence has become more rare since Obama became president. Though she’s not the one writing the articles, I find it a little suspicious that every issue since November 08 has included exuberant articles about Obama. She has what I call Mentionitis. Mentionitis is when you really like a guy and you find a way to work him into a conversation, no matter the subject. Example from my own life:

Those chocolate colored pants look great on you. Hey, did I tell you Evan lived in a European country for a while and used to have a piece of chocolate every morning? Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that great? Isn’t Evan great?

Example of mentionitis from the Oprah magazine (I am paraphrasing but these are actual examples.)

“My adopted daughter is black. When she wonders why she goes to an all-white school, I just remind her our president is black!” (Yes, really, somehow, in the mind of the writer, these two facts were connected.)

or

“When you need to cheer up, read a children’s book, take a bath, or just remember that Barack Obama is our President!” (Yes, really. It really says that.)

Suffice to say, my sporadic enjoyment of the magazine had become ever increasingly elusive. Then this month’s Oprah came in the mail.

I am willing to accept that there are different ways to do things. I also accept that relationships are very complex things, and you can’t think that just because you read a four-page article about somebody’s marriage that you understand all the forces at work.

Yet when I read this article about a couple learning to tango in Argentina, I was so full of disgust that I knew I would not re-subscribe to the magazine.

In the tango, as in every dance, the man leads. For men, I assume this is instinctive. For myself it certainly is. It has been this way since the beginnings of dance, and we can argue about why it evolved that way, but the fact is: it’s the most natural order of things.

So.

This couple is in Buenos Aires, learning to tango, and the following happens:

He would tell me what to do? I would happily surrender to his lead? Every knee-jerk instinct in my body rebelled at the idea of being pushed around against my will.

In the first place, it shouldn’t be against your will. If you are doing the tango, you do the damn tango, not some feminazi version where the man wears heels and the woman leads.

And why not surrender to his lead for a dance? What is going on in this woman’s life where the idea of allowing a man to lead in an ancient, sexual dance completely cripples her?

But it gets worse, and the next six sentences, which I will deconstruct, that really made me ill:

My husband’s instincts faltered because it is not in his nature to order anyone around.

1. Instincts do not falter.
2. He is not “ordering” you around. He is DANCING WITH YOU.
3. I can not think of an acceptable alternative to a man leading a woman in a tango. What would be the compromise here?
4. This is a truly beautiful tango. Watch how he is leading her, but it’s really *all about her*. Look how he supports her, how he gently guides her by placing his chest right next to hers. Tango is an incredibly sexy, incredibly difficult dance, and anyone who can make it appear as effortless as these two has my eternal respect. Watching this is just hypnotic to me. Oh my goodness, shivers!

In his work, he is, in fact, a leader. But it would never occur to him to use his authority in a heavy handed way. He leads by inclusion, by gathering in people and their ideas.

This is not leadership. Gathering ideas and people does not a leader make. Wars are not won by generals who ask every person, “What do you think we should do?” Businesses are not built by executives asking assistants if they should take on more debt. For anything in the world to happen, someone must make a decision. Somebody’s judgement must be unquestionable. Somebody must be willing to make the judgement that the rocket will reach the moon, that the bridge will hold, that the heart valve will function, or else you just end up talking all day and nothing gets done.

Men should not be “leaders” at home in the sense that they shouldn’t order around their wives. But men should also not be afraid of manning up and making a decision.

It is not a strategy. It is a genuine outgrowth of a kind and generous and emancipated personality.

It’s amusing me to that the author makes a silly feminist mistake of assuming that a leader can not be kind, or generous, or emancipated. I have been incredibly fortunate in my life to adore men who seem to have a combination of all these traits. I have danced with Jon and Sean (not at the same time) and neither were afraid to lead. I have watched Sean make billion-dollar decisions. Then I’ve gone home and watched him make me a big bowl of ice cream and spoon feed it to me. There is nothing that says leaders are jerks who just boss people around indiscriminately.

I’ve never danced with Evan but I can’t imagine him being afraid to take the lead. In fact, that sentence has just cracked me up.

Men in the real world are not like this woman’s husband, are they? And by the way, I don’t think her husband sounds very emancipated. It sounds like his masculinity has been beaten out of him.

In the end, they are not successful with the tango, because, as she says, she read Mother Jones when she was 14 and her husband read Gandhi. (Ooookay.)

This kind of woman disgusts me as much as this kind of pale approximation of a man that she calls a husband. What is so great about this non-masculine/non-feminine couple? What do they accomplish? One thing I know for sure is that they’re missing out on one of the most sensual, thrilling, exhilarating, bonding experiences that a couple can have: the tango.

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UPDATE
I just found this. It’s a much different tango than the above – very, very lively, flirtatious, playfully passionate and wow, some of the steps are just staggering! I love the energy of this one, though I think the above tango is my favorite – the slow, almost mournful passion of new lovers. This one will make you feel like you’re flying.

Liveblogging Life Without People

I’m writing and half-watching a program on the History program, Life After People. This episode is about what happens to the dead bodies.

I sort of hate myself for watching this. It is such a misanthropic idea – earth without people, or as they say on the program: Earth, Population Zero.

In the opening credits, it shows various destructive scenarios. New York gone, the Statue of Liberty’s arm and torch broken off, and the skyline of Houston, Texas being assaulted by what appears to be rockets or meteors.

Horrible scenes.

Yet they’re so realistic, and it’s such a darkly fascinating cue for the darkness inside me that I can’t turn it off. Thus resigned to watching this, I have learned that in the International Space Station is what is called the Immortality Drive, which contains the DNA codes for Steven Hawkings, Steven Colbert, and a Playboy model. “The Immortality Drive may be man’s best shot at preserving the species in a life after people,” says the voiceover, “but we will see if it can really last forever.”

Now it’s attacking art. “In the time of humans…” is a phrase that the narrator keeps using. “In the time of humans” … as if there was any other time that was relevant. The narrator says that the Sistine Chapel is better off without humans. “Without the annual press of two million tourists,” he says, “there are no ascending currents of human body heat. The frescoes on the ceiling, including God and Adam, are safe … at least for now.”

The idea that the Sistine Chapel has any meaning at all without human beings is laughable. What Michaelangelo created was transcendent – but that also means that the knowledge of it is enough. We don’t have to have the actual thing to value it (I’ve never seen it, except in pictures, but I know I value it deeply because it is evidence of the greatness that man can achieve.)

Six months after people. Huts in Antarctica thrive because the average temperature is negative three degrees below zero. Mold and insects do not exist. Cans of meat from 1919 are still on the shelves, and the narrator says they’ll survive for centuries more. And next is footage of meats – actual, recognizable meats, hanging from hooks, from 1919 which the narrator says is also edible and will continue to be for two hundred more years at least.

But what does “edible” mean in this context? Edible for whom? If there are no humans, what value is the meat, whether or not it was slaughtered today or in the Middle Ages? A man tells the story that a mastodon came up through the ices, and scientists in 1928 cooked it and served it for dinner at a meeting in Paris.

“How did it taste?”
“It tasted like rotten meat. It’s been buried in the ice for ten thousand years. But it is edible.”

I suppose by that definition, balloons, lint, shoes and mice are edible.

They’re attacking Houston and Boston specifically.

The USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides”

Um… Cara? Why are you liveblogging this? I do not know. It feels important.

Anyway, it says that nine months after people, the search to see what survives become more intense. Back to Boston. The USS Constitution’s hull can not withstand the constant infiltration of water. The water starts leaking, shrinking and expanding and rotting. Automatic bilge pumps would drain the water, but without it, the Constitution would remain afloat for a year, maybe less, then sink.

Three years after people, the International Space Station still orbits, but without constant recalibrations from terrestrial stations, it drifts off course, losing two miles of altitude each month. It will fall to earth, and destroy itself in the process. Oh, and here’s the scene I described earlier, with what I thought were missiles descending upon Houston.

“The Immortality Drive proves to be quite mortal, after all.”

It is now showing Hashima Island in which all the buildings are dead, empty, destroyed, concrete walls fallen, metal netting strewn across the ground, “thirty-five years of wind and rain.”

“Mankind’s bids for immortality have long odds.”

Fifty years after people. This is just unbearably horrible. The images catch in my cerebellum, marking themselves in memory.

Domestic parrots escaped into the wild, and retain the words taught to them by their vanished masters, says the narrator. Strange, how poignant that our language would live on in the treetops. American English spoken by tropical birds.

A man says that parrots live about sixty years. So it’s plausible that fifty years after the last human being is gone, and our language has not been uttered for all that time, we could hear “human noises” in the wild. Well, we couldn’t hear them. But they would exist. And I wonder if the domesticated parrots would pass their words on to other parrots, learning from each other like little babies.

Seventy-five years after humans. The Bunker Hill bridge is decaying (strange, they didn’t choose to profile the Golden Gate Bridge for this.) A construction expert says bird poop and rainwater would wear away the protective plastic coating on the Bunker Hill bridge, and says that the lethal combination partially caused the bridge failure in Minnesota in 2007.

One hundred years after people, the combination would corrode the steel of the cables that are suspended between the two extremities. The bridge can maintain its structure until fifty percent of the cables failed. Spectacular failure of the bridge.

Lady Liberty’s torch is now about to die. Without humans, it is inevitable that she would crumble.

Now back to Houston. The domed stadiums (Enron Field!) have spent one hundred years as subtropical paradises. In the time of humans, it cost $500,000 per year to maintain the Astrodome. After a century, in great chunks, the steel and lucite domes come raining down. The visuals are astonishing, of course. But it hurts to see this. Hurts very much indeed.

One hundred and fifty people years without people makes Boston look like an overgrown garden. The John Hancock building, eaten by vegetation, falls in a spectacular collapse, reminiscent of September 11. “The urban jungle is now just jungle,” says the narrator.

The scene of two gorgeous red parrots saying, “Hello, hello” over the empty, garden-like, destroyed city is almost too much to bear. “Though these parrots have never interacted with humans, their ancestors did, and some remnants of speech remain.”

The drop-off of the language would be about 200 years. There is no benefit for the parrots to keep using human words, there is no evolutionary compulsion to, and they are not rewarded. So the language slowly dies.

Two hundred years after humans.

“The tallest building in Houston has had its windows blown out by hurricanes.” That’s you, Shell Tower. The insides are corroded by rain.

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And then the building is stripped to its bones. Oh heavens. This picture is just overwhelming.

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As someone who loves architecture almost as much as I love Enron, it is actually painful to see buildings in this state. Then the steel frame corrodes and collapses.

There would be no panic in the streets. It would be loud, I imagine, that collapse, but then after it falls, deathly silent, as if it had absorbed all the potential for sound.

In New York Harbor, the torch falls off the Statue of Liberty, then her head, then other parts. But on the ocean floor, the impression of the torch would remain for perhaps forever – much like dinosaur prints.

That doesn’t qualify for immortality in my estimation.

Five hundred years after people, the Sistine Chapel would finally collapse.

Ten thousand years after people, most traces of human culture or existence has vanished. The planet has gotten warmer (even without people!) The meats in the Antarctica are gone. The huts are gone.

One hundred million years after people, every mark of man is gone. What survives is not what people made, but the simple mineral compounds they were made of.

Our teeth, the dentine, will survive. But little else.

Years ago, I watched a show about dinosaurs that made me wistful and astonished at the power of the earth. Now, I feel the maturity of those emotions. I feel like I want to grasp every human achievement, hold it in my hand and see to which mathematical sigils to which it will acquiesce.

I will miss us. Even when I’m not here, I will miss us.

Gay, Transgender Monks Get New Behavior Guidelines

Prepare your eyeballs, you’re about to read the strangest post ever:

A Buddhist preacher in Thailand has announced plans for new guidelines aimed at curbing the flamboyant behaviour of gay and transgender monks.

I need to list my thoughts to give the illusion of order.

1. Flamboyant behavior of monks. Man, that’s just awesome.
2. Gay and transgender monks. Man, that’s just … wow.

The “good manners” curriculum – the country’s first – is being introduced in the northern province of Chiang Rai.

The senior monk told the BBC he was particularly concerned by effeminate activities among novices such as the wearing of make-up and tight robes.

TIGHT ROBES.

I like the thought of seeing effeminate, skinny men in half-shirts dancing to Madonna and then claiming to be monks. Their lack of self-awareness is just boggling.

More than 90% of the Thai population are followers of Buddhism.

Great.

The BBC’s Jonathan Head in Bangkok says tales of monks behaving badly are nothing new in Thailand.

Hahahaha!

In America we have a problem with nuns. Those Sacred Heart bitches are out of control.

In recent years, they have been accused of abuses of their exalted position in society that range from amassing dozens of luxury cars, to running fake amulet scams, to violating their vows of celibacy, our correspondent says.

Of all austerity vows, celibacy is the most unnatural. Anyone who vows not to have sex is clearly mentally ill. Actually I think monks – and recluses – are just people who just haven’t met the right bunny yet.

Senior monk Phra Maha Wudhijaya Vajiramedhi told the BBC he would address issues like smoking, drinking alcohol, walking and going to the toilet properly, which are all detailed in the traditional 75 Dharma principles of Buddhism, and the 227 precepts for monks.

Do I want to know the rules of going to the toilet? No, I do not believe I do. I prefer ignorance.

He was especially concerned, he said, by the flamboyant behaviour of gay and transgender monks, who can often be seen wearing revealingly tight robes, carrying pink purses and having effeminately-shaped eyebrows.

Hahahah! I have tears in my eyes. I am shaking with laughter.

Thailand has a very large and visible population of transgender men, and Phra Vajiramedhi acknowledged that it was difficult to exclude them from the monkhood but he hoped his course could at least persuade them to curb their more extrovert habits.

If successful, the “good manners” course, at the Novice Demonstration School, would be replicated at other Buddhist monasteries and seminaries, he said.

If a monk engages in these behaviors, he’s not really a monk. He is fake and a fraud, a man whose tight robe is nothing more than a Halloween costume.

Gekko Lives: Wall Street Sequel A Go

Rumours of a Wall Street follow up have been floating for years, but now, it appears it might actually happen. (I am trying to remain calm. This is huge news for me! HUGE!)

Wall Street’s all the rage again — literally. And Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas have decided they have more to say about it.

Stone has just closed a deal with Fox to direct the follow-up to “Wall Street,” now tentatively called “Wall Street 2,” with Douglas starring. This would provide an unusual amount of continuity since Stone directed and co-wrote, with Stanley Weiser, the original 1987 exploration of the inner workings of the finance sector and its complicated relationship with greed.

The plot line for the new “Wall Street” iteration has not been divulged, but it will pick up with corporate raider Gordon Gekko, the character for which Douglas won a best actor Oscar more than 20 years ago. Gekko’s larger-than-life presence will once again loom over a younger upstart looking to navigate the shark-tank world of today’s Wall Street.

Shia LaBeouf is in talks with the studio to take on the younger role. Stone and Co. hope to begin production over the summer.

Ohmigod! Ohmigod! I am so excited I can barely sit still!

Here is my first post about the movie, which I will repost here:

The whispers are just starting to piss me off now. Is there a sequel to Wall Street, or not? And is it called Money Never Sleeps, or not? QUIT TEASING ME ALREADY. JUST GIVE ME THE GODDAMN SEQUEL, BITCH.

Banking sites are running wild with speculation about this movie, and I have my own ideas:

Financial vehicle/mode of global domination:
Hedge fund

Mode of communication:
Blackberry, obviously.

Bullshit shorthand move to let us know how much time has passed:
Sweeping view of lower Manhattan with no World Trade Center.

Gratuitous mentions:
Emperors Club
Moody’s
CDS-related insider trading
Enron
Tyco
WorldCom

Home after prison:
Immense loft. Some things never change.

Bad Guys:
They’ll go global on this one. Chinese might be too on the nose, so I say Russians.

Odds that a character will be based on either Jeff Skilling or Andy Fastow:
2-1

Odds that Gordon Gekko will abandon the “greed is good” mantra
12-1

Odds that they’ll show real news footage of Jeff Skilling being arrested:
2-1

Marc Dreier To Plead Guilty

Disgraced lawyer Marc Dreier will plead guilty May 11 to money laundering and other charges in an alleged scheme to sell $700 million in fictitious promissory notes, his lawyer said Monday.

Via WSJ:

Gerald L. Shargel, Dreier’s lawyer, said his client will enter a guilty plea to all the charges in a superseding indictment unsealed in March – conspiracy, securities fraud, money laundering and five counts of wire fraud. Dreier will plead guilty without a deal in place with the government, Shargel said. His lawyer had previously indicated they expected a quick resolution of the case.

Prosecutors have alleged Dreier sold about $700 million in fake promissory notes and misappropriated client funds from his law firm. The out-of-pocket loss to investors and clients when the fraud was discovered in December was more than $400 million, the government has said. The overall scheme allegedly ran from 2004 to 2008.

Dreier also is facing civil charges by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, filed in December, and his assets have been frozen. His law firm, Dreier LLP, filed for bankruptcy protection on Dec. 16.

I don’t have anything to add specifically about Dreier, but I am wondering if these types of crimes are more frequent these days or if tales of financial crimes are just getting more coverage. It seems we live in an age where every week somebody is accused of a multibillion dollar fraud; I wonder if this constant reporting is contributing to our feeling of financial doom.

When little girls start vanishing or shark attacks start happening, they become full-time news fodder and create panic. It seems to me the same thing is happening here but with more severe circumstances. Every time a story of fraud is reported, citizens become that much more worried about money, and I think it might have a small effect on the overall economy.

There is no way to measure this, of course, but it’s my present working theory.

Cantor Fitzgerald Executive Murdered; Husband Charged

Bartlett, Tennessee judge Freeman Marr found probable cause today to hold Joe Caronna for trial on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Tina, last October. The case will now be presented to the Shelby County grand jury.

Tina Caronna’s body was found in her black Avalanche on Oct. 27 – two days after she was reported missing from her Cordova home. Joe Caronna said she was last seen leaving their home on Eatonwick in Countrywood on Oct. 25.

The medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide and said the 44-year-old victim died of asphyxiation.

Detectives focused on the husband early and continually pieced together evidence in the case, but did not have enough to charge Joe Caronna.

The break came when a neighbor told police that a surveillance camera at his home showed suspicious activity at the Caronna residence the day Tina Caronna disappeared. It included moving cars around until the black Avalanche was in the garage. The Avalanche was the only car seen leaving the house that day, and no other suspicious cars were seen in the area, the neighbor said.

Authorities obtained a first-degree murder warrant for the husband on March 8. He was arrested March 25 at a Jackson, Tenn. motel.

EllisonBlogger: Psychiatrist Quoted In Chron Article Is ETF Prosecutor's Husband

In what should be a shocking lapse in judgement but unfortunately is pretty routine for the Houston Chronicle, reporter Loren Steffy published an article about the statement that Cara Ellison put out this afternoon. Mr. Steffy then got a very negative quote from a psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Henry Walker, in which he says that Ellison is “paranoid”. It took all of two phone calls to learn that Dr. Henry Walker is the husband of Lydia Walker, a prosecutor on the Ellison Task Force.

I am starting to think the Houston Chronicle just doesn’t care anymore at all. They’re not even trying to be ethical.

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