Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Money’

Here’s a lucrative new industry: Mistress-dispelling, or as we would call it, Querida-banishing.

June 20, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Money, Re-lay-shun-ships, Sex No Comments →

An escalating divorce rate shows the depth of gender inequality in Chinese society. Illustration by Malika Favre

China’s Mistress-Dispellers
How the economic boom and deep gender inequality have created a new industry by Jiayang Fan

Yu, a gentle-looking man in his early forties, with the placid demeanor of a yoga instructor, works as a mistress dispeller, a job that barely existed a decade ago but is becoming common in major Chinese cities. His clients are women who hope to preserve their marriages by fending off what is known in Chinese as a xiao san, or “Little Third”—a term that encompasses everything from a partner in a casual affair to a long-term “kept woman.” Mistress dispellers use a variety of methods. Some Little Thirds can be paid off or discouraged by hearing unwelcome details of their lovers’ lives—debts, say, or responsibility for an elderly parent—or shamed with notes sent to friends and family. If the dispeller or the client is well connected, a Little Third may suddenly find that her job requires her to move to another city. A female dispeller sometimes seeks to become a confidante, in order to advise the targeted woman that the liaison will inevitably crumble. In certain cases, a male mistress dispeller may even seduce the woman. Like all the mistress dispellers I spoke to, Yu said that he never resorts to this tactic, but he acknowledged that there are those who do.

Read it in The New Yorker.

Reminds me of that Romain Duris movie, Heartbreaker, in which he plays a professional hired by a businessman to break up his daughter’s engagement. So the heartbreaker woos the woman by, among other things, learning the big dance in Dirty Dancing. Mmmmm, Romain Duris.

How the Manila galleon trade gave rise to both the Chinese yuan and the US dollar

May 26, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: History, Money 1 Comment →

The Silver Way is available at National Bookstores (check the Glorietta branch), Php335.

“The Silver Way” refers to the Manila galleon trade, in which spices, silk and other goods were carried on ships from China to Mexico, via Manila. It was the first transoceanic shipping line, and it replaced the Silk Road in which goods were carried overland from China to Europe. This was possible because Andres de Urdaneta (as in Urdaneta Field, Urdaneta Village) figured out the return route from Asia to the Americas through the Pacific. (When Spain and Portugal divided the world between them, our islands were in the Portuguese half so a deal had to be struck.)

The Chinese didn’t really need anything from the Americas—then as now, they produced pretty much everything—so the galleons that went from Mexico to China would carry tons of silver in payment. The trade was so profitable that every year, only one galleon would leave from Mexico and one from China, and the investors would still become incredibly rich. It was the main reason the Spanish stuck around the Philippines so long, so I have wondered why we know so little about it. (Yes, there’s plenty of the information in Blair and Robertson, the 50+ volumes. My friend has read almost everything about the galleon trade, which makes him an expert, but if he does anything with the knowledge it would imperil his lead in the lifetime underachievement awards.)

This 100-page book from Penguin Specials is a crash course on those early days of globalization. It explains how the galleon trade led to the first global currency, and why the Chinese yuan and the US dollar are cousins if not siblings. If you want to understand the current world economy, you could start here.

The Money Diaries of famous people will make you feel less inept about your finances

March 21, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Money, Movies, Television 1 Comment →

It’s heartwarming, discovering that clever people whose work we admire can be just as stupid about money as we are.

Richard Linklater, the director of Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight and many other movies we love, explains why he’s glad he got downsized.

Anthony Bourdain seems to have all the answers, but when he was 44 he had never had a savings account, hadn’t filed taxes in 10 years, and was AWOL on his AmEx bill.

Courtship and the Market: Sexual freelancing in the gig economy

May 16, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Money, Re-lay-shun-ships No Comments →


A FRIEND of mine complains about how many of the men she meets on Tinder use corporate language to chat her up. First, they “reach out.” Then, after spending the night together, they “follow up.”

This kind of flirting is banal, but it makes sense. We constantly use economic metaphors to describe romantic and sexual relations. Few people today refer to women as “damaged goods” or wonder why a man would “buy the cow when he can get the milk for free,” but we have “friends with benefits” and “invest in relationships.” An ex may be “on” or “off the market.” Online dating makes “shopping around” explicit. Blog after blog strategizes about how to maximize your “return on investment” on OkCupid.

We use this kind of language because the ways that people date — who contacts whom, where they meet and what happens next — have always been tied to the economy. Dating applies the logic of capitalism to courtship. On the dating market, everyone competes for him or herself.

When parents worry about how their 20-something kids are (or aren’t) pairing off, or the authors of trend pieces lament “the death of courtship,” they seem to forget that the pursuit of sex and romance didn’t remain unchanged from the moment when the first Homo sapiens sidled across the savanna toward his soul mate until Steve Jobs rolled out the iPhone.

Read it in the New York Times.

Should you join an org? Go to grad school, maybe Wharton? Join the government? Vince Perez answers your career questions.

March 06, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Money No Comments →

What should you major in? What extracurricular activities should you choose in college (Do you have any hazing stories?)? Should you go to graduate school? Should you work abroad? Work in the private sector or join the government? How do you make a plan? Former energy secretary and now renewable energy proponent and part-time scribbler Vince Perez is interviewed by Quintin Pastrana for Bloomberg.

Monday Morning Vent: Bitch bank better have our money.

December 28, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Money 8 Comments →


We never wanted to be rejected by a taxi driver again. Life has enough indignity, disappointment, and misery for us to endure flagging down a taxi, telling the driver where we’re going, and watching him drive away without a word. Screw that.

Yes, we would miss the bizarre stories and the interesting cabbies, but we’ve written enough mad taxi stories in the last two decades to fill two books. So we got the Uber app. This required abandoning our beloved ancient BlackBerry and getting an iPhone so we could navigate the app. Then we got a debit card (we don’t like credit cards, we’ve been burned on those) to use specifically for Uber.