What in the world is going on with this world? Despite the guarantee of Andy Warhol's prediction about fame and fifteen minutes it's just isn't enough these days. It's not enough to be world-class and to have a compelling story that could motivate others.
It's not enough to have accolades, money and a great future. We began the week with a fallen hero admitting to years of deceit and we are finishing the week with a budding superstar leaving us scratching our heads wondering why.
Manti T'eo was the biggest story in college football last year. He was bigger than Johnny "Football" Manziel who bested the Norte Dame linebacker for the Heisman trophy. And the Alabama Crimson Tide who beat T'eo and his teammates for the national championship. Manti was a Mormon who decided to play for a Catholic school.
He brought energy, grit and excitement along with glory that had long been lost. Plus he was the sweetest kid in the world.
People loved him, due in part to the fact he played on after the death of his Grandmother and girlfriend within hours of each other. He told the world he met his girlfriend Lennay Marie Kekua after a November 2008 game at her college Stanford (Stanford won 45-38). She often went to Hawaii to visit Manti and his family. But last year she survived a horrific car accident only to be told she had leukemia. As fate would have it the two loves of Manti T'eo's life die within hours of each other.
Lennay's last wish was he play on and he did. The next game against Michigan State saw fans of both team cheer him on and he thanked them for the support. My jaw dropped initially upon reading the story that Lennay never existed and dropped even more as some writers are wondering if Manti himself was duped by a friend back in Hawaii. This is the beauty of a hero-worshiping society where it's not good enough to forgive them but to never see stains on their halos.
Living a Lie or a Hoax; What's Difference?
What I didn't get from headlines was the difference between a lie and a hoax. I figured it was just about cash; Lance Armstrong made millions under false pretense while college athletes are only awarded in adulation and praise. But this was cleared up by website museumofhoaxes.com:
One common thread that runs through all this activities is that they are all deceptive acts, or lies. But not just any deceptive act qualifies as a hoax. A small white lie, such as when an employee falsely calls in sick to take a day off work, doesn't qualify as a hoax. Nor do most forms of criminal deception, such as identity theft, counterfeiting, perjury, or plagiarism. To become a hoax a lie must have something extra. It must be somehow outrageous, ingenious, dramatic, or sensational. Most of all, it must command the attention of the public. A hoax, then, is a deliberately deceptive act that has succeeded in capturing the attention (and, ideally, the imagination) of the public.
So it's all about commanding the attention of the public. Maybe this explains the silliness in Washington DC where every day is outrageous, ingenious, dramatic and sensational. Plagiarists can still make it to the White House and perjury is protected by congressional immunity. Superstars and heroes and lawmakers each day breach our trust and bust our bubbles all because we chose to believe.
On the other hand there's the stock market and lack of excitement over the amazing rally it's put in over the past five years. There's been no fanfare. On the contrary, most people are waiting for a curtain to rise and the greatest stealth rally in history to be proven a sham.
Ironically, while America fawned over Lance Armstrong with suspended disbelieve most felt the upside move in the stock market was a hoax.
Stocks are grappling for direction, although they are not under a cloud of fear, they are just kind of waiting for a signal and leadership. News out of The Boeing Company (BA) create a drag on the broad market, but nobody thinks the Dream-liner issue is long term, even if it was three years late. Meantime solid earnings from CBS Corporation (CBS), eBay Inc. (EBAY), and BlackRock, Inc. (BLK) underscore the fact large companies get large from skill and can stay that way by paying attention (or losing their way then getting back on the stick). Citigroup, Inc. (C) missed, but that's company-specific. Outside of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) I worry still about the big names and their opaque walls.
Ironically, the fact that I'm not worried about the broad market has me a little worried.
But yesterday's housing starts came in significantly better than expected, +12.1% to an annualized rate of 954,000, and initial jobless claims plunged to 335,000. This news gave the market a bump and could provide some momentum although a sense of caution permeates the air.