The iCrime Wave

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

How big is the iCrime wave?

National data aren’t available, but in New York, there were more than 26,000 incidents of electronics theft in the first 10 months of 2011 — 81% involving mobile phones — according to an internal police-department document. In Washington, D.C., cellphone-related robberies jumped 54% from 2007 to 2011, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. And the data may drastically undercount thefts. Since many don’t involve violence, many victims don’t bother reporting them.

Then a Miracle Occurs

Friday, August 10th, 2012

In case you were wondering who penned this classic math cartoon, it’s by Sidney Harris:

(I looked this up in response to a tweet by Jon Jeckell and then realized that Winchell Chung had already noted the correct cartoonist.)

The Jedi Way of War

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Jon Jeckell discusses the Jedi Way of War:

Chancellor Palpatine’s conspiracy to seize control of the Republic is central to the plot of the Star Wars series. Clearly a key part of his plan involved confusing, misleading and preoccupying the only other institution in civil society capable of recognizing and countering the usurpation and centralization of power — the Jedi Order.

(The Jedi Order seems to be an institution outside the government, yet with a role in keeping it accountable, limiting power, and fostering the rule of law, similar to the role the Catholic Church had in post-Roman Europe. Francis Fukuyama discusses this in detail in Part III of The Origins of Political Order.)

Palpatine deflected Jedi skepticism of the war by manipulating them to agree to lead it, with the premise they would avoid the need for war through their traditional role as diplomats and peacekeepers. By taking part in the government by leading the war, they devolved to just another interest group within the government, gradually ending their immunity to political infighting and culminating in charges of treason.

The Jedi were not only distracted from their role in upholding the rule of law during Palpatine’s political plot by taking a leading role in the war, but cognitive biases inherent being part of it prevented them from taking a wholly objective, critical view of it. Veneration and respect for the Jedi institution, their powers and skills, their selflessness and wisdom placed their reputation among society beyond reproach. No one questioned or criticized Jedi performance in the war, even when the war raged directly above the capital at Coruscant.

The Empire Strikes Back

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Robert Pollack interviews Yale professor Charles Hill on challenges to the liberal, state-based world order:

One, the aggressive kind, is exemplified by China. The other, very different, can be seen in the European Union.

China has been a believer in the international system in recent decades, he says. It has seen advantages in the doctrine of state equality (which it uses to defend against human-rights complaints) and has gained from the liberalization of trade. But as the U.S. pulls back—a shrinking Navy, President Obama’s foreign policy—things are starting to change.

The Chinese are talking about how they used to approach the world in the dynastic era, says Mr. Hill. “‘[We] know that states are not equal and therefore we need a world order in which that reality is recognized.’ This meme is getting around in China and is what accounts for statements starting two years ago as regards the South China Sea to Vietnam or the Philippines saying openly ‘We are a big power and you’re not a big power and therefore you should follow what we say.’”

The problem of the European Union, by contrast, is not the over-assertion of state power but the abdication of it without a suitable replacement. Of the current troubles in Europe, Mr. Hill says, “They took away the sovereign powers of the states” but they “didn’t take enough power to Brussels to be able to run the Continent under crisis situations.”

Why did Europe do that? Mr. Hill suggests that German and other war guilt was a big factor. “It so sickened the European intelligentsia” that “it was almost as though they said, yes, Europe has been the cause of all the world’s problems. Napoleon and colonialism and imperialism and Stalin and Marx and Lenin and Hitler and the Holocaust. But no more. Now we’re going to be the most moral people in the world. And the Americans who have been causing these problems along with us? They represent the past, we represent the future.”

In short, “the European vision is we’re just going to be nice” and “people will follow our lead. The Chinese view is why should we not do what we want to do with these little people who used to pay us tribute?”

In Praise Of Sikhs

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

A Sikh temple seems like an odd place to attack if you’re anti-Muslim. The War Nerd speaks in praise of Sikhs:

Then along comes the founder of Sikhism, Nanak, and says, “There is no Muslim, there is no Hindu.” Meaning the Hell with both of you. Sikhs were radicals from the start. All the little traditions people know about them started out as in-your-face rebel yells in the Punjab. Like those beards: only the Mughal were allowed to wear long hair and beards. So the Sikh all let theirs grow longer than John and Yoko’s. That name, “Singh,” every Sikh guy has? It means “Lion” but the real point is that it replaced all the caste names they had before. Like Malcolm making his last name “X.”

A Sikh temple is also an odd place to attack if you want a soft target:

One of the great last stands in Sikh history happened less than 25 years ago, when 200 Sikh militants holed up in their version of the Mormon Tabernacle, the “Golden Temple” in Amritsar, India. Anybody with sense knew those 200 Sikhs were going to fight like demons, because that’s what Sikhs have been doing for the past 400 years. Sikh military history is so packed with glorious last stands that George Armstrong Custer would be a smalltime footnote if he’d worn a big turban to go with that long hair and beard of his.

It was 1984, and the Indian Army must have known it was in for a big bloody mess to get the temple back, especially since its upper ranks are filled mostly with Sikh generals, Sikhs being the designated hitters of the Indian war game. But Indira Gandhi was PM, and she was a lady who didn’t like being disobeyed, so she ordered her Sikh Commanding General to overrun the temple.

Mistake. The Sikh CO inside the temple was a dude named Shahbeg Singh, who pretty much single-handedly engineered the collapse of the Pakistani Army in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. It was Shahbeg who organized the Mukhti Bahini, the Bangladeshi guerrillas who made history by being the first Bengali armed force in history not to pee in their dhotis and flee at the sound of gunfire. In fact, this Sikh must’ve given the Bengalis some kind of Sikh blood transfusion because they fought well enough to make the West Pak garrisons surrender en masse even before Indian troops crossed the Bengal border. After that it was the end of history for East Bengal, except for a bunch of whiney George Harrison begging chanteys, and a tidal wave or two.

Well, this same Shahbeg arranged the defense of the Golden Temple so well that at the end of a seven-day battle with the Indian Army’s best units, his 200-odd amateur militants had inflicted 83 KIA on the army and even managed to blast the first tank to enter the compound. They paid a price, naturally – at least 500 Sikh dead and the Temple blasted into gold dust. But Sikhs — well, if there’s one thing you can say about ‘em, it’s that they’re willing to pay any price.

And they make the enemy pay, too. Less than five months after Indira Gandhi ordered the attack on the Temple, she was strolling into her garden to be interviewed by that fat old Brit with the Russian name, Peter Ustinov, when the Sikhs got their revenge. It must have been a pretty scene, the fat man sweating in the Delhi heat, Indira swirling up in her best sari — when BOOM! Two of her bodyguards, who were Sikhs, naturally, opened fire on her with machine guns, turning her into human chutney.

As saint-soldiers, all Sikhs are supposed to carry a sword or dagger — the kirpan — at all times.

The Other Puritan Colony

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

The germs of US institutions were supposedly laid in the Puritan colony of Massachusetts Bay, started in 1630 by the Puritans fleeing religious repression in England — but there was another Puritan colony that didn’t lead to anything like the US:

Though Providence Island is less well-known today, it was no sideshow for the Puritans. Quite the opposite. The Providence Island Company was founded and run by the key Puritan grandees, the same men who would play leading roles in the English Civil War in a little more than a decade later.

All the same, as Karen O. Kupperman’s history Providence Island 1613 – 1641: the Other Puritan Colony documents things did not quite work out for Providence Island.

It wasn’t because of lack of funding or lack of talent in the Providence Island Company. In fact, it was the Providence Island Company that attracted both substantial sums of investment and many godly, devout and ambitious Puritans, much more than the Massachusetts Bay colony was able to. The main reason for this was the same one that made all colonists so much more interested in the Caribbean and South America to North America: that’s where they were hoping to grow valuable crops and export to the rest of the world.

Kupperman describes this as (p. 25):

The Providence Island adventurers in London were prepared to invest enormous sums of money in the expectation that their rich tropical island would produce enough wealth to enrich backers and settlers alike. Ultimately, they hoped the colony would serve as a nucleus for settlement of Central America, which would benefit the entire English nation. None would have believed that their enterprise would fold in a decade after absorbing a fortune, whereas its fellow puritan colony on the cold, rocky shores of Massachusetts Bay would go on to become the model for many later expeditions.

Providence Island also had the added advantage of being an easy-to-defend fortress in the middle Spanish colonies. So the investors poured money into the Providence Island Company.

But it quickly became a highly militarized, repressive colony, without private property in land for settlers, and with much of the production based on slave labor. In fact, the colony, though from the beginning faithful to the Puritan objectives, quickly got into military conflict with the Spanish, and towards the end, privateering against Spanish ships became a major activity for its inhabitants. In 1641, the colony fell to the Spanish.

What explains the very different — albeit short — trajectory of Providence Island from the more illustrious history of the Massachusetts Bay colony? The roots of this difference are not to be found in the germs, culture or ideas that colonialists brought with them — after all, it was the same group of people spearheading both colonization efforts.

Instead, it lies with the conditions that the Puritans encountered, and it was these conditions that ultimately shaped the path of the Massachusetts Bay colony towards inclusive institutions, while strengthening the extractive character of those in Providence Island.

The first factor was that Providence Island became from the get-go a militarized colony, partly because the Company was expecting hostilities from the Spanish (and also intended to use the island as a base against the Spanish). It was also partly because, for reasons we next explain, the elite needed the military fist to control the settlers. This militarized atmosphere contributed to the conflict on the island, discouraging investment and economic activity.

But the most important reason related to what was on the ground and what the investors in London expected to reap from the ground. As noted above, the investors viewed Massachusetts as mostly barren, so did not expect huge profits. It is for this reason that they allowed John Winthrop to take the charter of the colony with him, meaning that authority would rest with the settlers, not back in London. It was for this reason that there was not much opposition to giving private property in land to settlers in Massachusetts. In contrast, the Providence Island Company was a major investment for the prospect of substantial profits. So the Company did not let the reins go and did not allow private property for settlers.

In the grand scheme of things, it was probably the Massachusetts Bay colony that was the exception. Leading Puritans, though keen on their own freedom to worship, trade and enrich themselves, were not categorical supporters of freedoms in general. They thought that an orderly colony run, not by settlers or merchants, but by the elites — i.e., themselves — was the best model for development, especially when there were a lot of riches to be had. This, at least, seems to be the lesson they drew from past experiences as Kupperman explains (p. 51):

The adventurers were obsessed with the dismal failure of other colonial ventures, such as Bermuda and Virginia, to forge and sustain orderly, well-governed societies, and they traced such failure to the presence of divided councils in America and shortsighted greed of merchants and lesser gentleman in England. The solution was to keep power in their own hands in London, while restricting company membership to a small group of like-minded grandees.

But this made it much harder to motivate the settlers to experiment with the right crops and increase agricultural productivity on the island, so much so that by the time the Spanish overran the island, the hopes for high-value agriculture had still not been realized.

Kupperman’s description of this is also instructive (p. 42):

The colonists also objected to the uncertainty of tenure; they feared the dispossession of land laboriously cleared by them.

And she continues (p. 126):

Thus, even before Providence Island [today Providencia, belonging to Colombia, off the coast of Nicaragua] was settled, the essential meaning of the American experience was plain for those capable of reading it: Private property in land, combined with a degree of political devolution, was the key to success.

Kupperman describes why the Massachusetts Bay colony became exceptional as follows (p. 51):

Contemporaneous Massachusetts Bay Company also sought a radical solution to the same problems: The New England puritans, less intimately acquainted with the corridors of power at home, took the opposite tack and cut their colony off from English control by taking the charter with them and converting company meetings into the colony’s government.

But this was not a course that suited Puritan grandees.

All of this is of course a footnote to history, a small colony that lasted just 11 years. Yet it is also central for our understanding of colonial history, and how the trajectories of the colonies depended not so much on the good values and intentions of the elites, Puritan or otherwise, that organized the expeditions, but often on their inability to realize their plans of setting up colonies under their control.

The Road Warrior Is Here

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

The Road Warrior is here, Victor Davis Hanson says:

George Miller’s 1981 post-apocalyptic film The Road Warrior envisioned an impoverished world of the future. Tribal groups fought over what remained of a destroyed Western world of law, technology, and mass production. Survival went to the fittest — or at least those who could best scrounge together the artifacts of a long gone society somewhat resembling the present West.

In the case of the Australian film, the culprit for the detribalization of the Outback was some sort of global war or perhaps nuclear holocaust that had destroyed the social fabric. Survivors were left with a memory of modern appetites but without the ability to reproduce the means to satisfy them: in short, a sort of Procopius’s description of Gothic Italy circa AD 540.


One of the strangest things about Road Warrior was the ubiquity of tattooed, skin-pierced tribal people with shaved heads and strange clothes. At least the cast and sets seemed shocking some thirty years ago. If I now sound like a reactionary then so be it: but when I go to the store, I expect to see not just the clientele, but often some of the workers, with “sleeves” — a sort of throwback to red-figure Athenian vase painting where the ink provides the background and the few patches of natural skin denote the silhouetted image. And stranger still is the aging Road Warrior: these are folks in their forties who years ago got pierced and tattooed and aged with their sagging tribal insignia, some of them now denoting defunct gangs and obsolete popular icons.

I am not naïve enough (as Horace’s laudator temporis acti) to wish to return to the world of my grandfather (my aunt was crippled for life with polio, my grandmother hobbled with the scars and adhesions from an unoperated-on, ruptured appendix, my grandfather battled glaucoma each morning with vials of eye drops), when around 1960, in tie and straw hat, he escorted me to the barber. The latter trimmed my hair in his white smock and bowtie, calling me at eight years old Mr. Hanson.

Like Road Warrior, again, what frightens is this mish-mash of violence with foppish culture, of official platitudes and real-life chaos: the illiterate and supposedly impoverished nonetheless fishing through the discounted video game barrel at Wal-Mart; the much-heralded free public transit bus zooming around on electrical or natural gas power absolutely empty of riders, as the impoverished prefer their Camrys and Civics; ads encouraging new food stamp users as local fast-food franchises have lines of cars blocking traffic on the days when government cards are electronically recharged; the politician assuring us that California is preeminent as he hurries home to his Bay Area cocoon.

Who’s Afraid of Development?

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Surely even the most kleptocratic dictator would be in favor of economic development, right?

Economic development means greater income, greater taxes and more stuff to grab, so what’s not to like about it? But actually, it often doesn’t work that way.

In the early 1980s in Takasera, a village in Rukum District in western Nepal, a group of locals decided to begin a development project and bought a Swiss-made water mill which would power machinery such as a press to make oil and a saw mill. The community sent a group of men to Kathmandu who learned how to dismantle the machinery and then put it back together again. The machinery was brought back and successfully put into operation. In 1984, a government official wrote saying that in autonomously undertaking this project the community had “usurped the role of the king” and the mill would have to be shut down. When the locals refused, the police was sent to destroy the mill. The mill was only saved because the villagers were able to ambush and disarm the police.

So why was the Nepalese government opposed to the mill? The answer is that the monarchy and the elite surrounding it, who controlled the government, were afraid of becoming political losers. Economic progress brings social and political change, eroding the political power of elites and rulers, who in response often prefer to sacrifice economic development for political stability.

The mill in Takasera was not the first time in Nepalese history that Nepal’s rulers had tried to block development. Historically, the Nepalese political elite have clearly preferred political stability and the political status quo to development and this had inhibited them from taking the actions which were needed to promote development. In the 19th century a position of hereditary prime minister, known as the Rana, became the real power in the country and Chandra Shamsher, the Rana between 1901 and 1929, told the British King George V that the British faced the opposition of Indian nationalism because they had made the mistake of educating Indians. He closed down as many as 30 schools in Nepal, not wanting to face a similar opposition in Nepal. He went further and deliberately tried to keep his country isolated, for example by refusing to build a road linking the Kathmandu valley to India in the 1920s. The son of Mohan Shamsher, the last Rana who ruled from 1948 to 1951, infamously argued, “we cannot possibly take steps which in any way may be subversive of our autocratic authority,” and this included economic development. So economic development was out.

Dolphins Don’t Believe in Open Source

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Dolphins don’t believe in Open Source:

Observing wild dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia, researchers from Georgetown University used hunting tools as a marker of dolphin societal habits.

Noticing some dolphins in the area used a sponge to protect their beaks while hunting, they attempted to discover why the practice had not spread.

They found the useful tool had first been used by a single dolphin nicknamed “Sponging Eve”, after she scrape her nose while foraging for food in rough sand.

To solve the problem, she broke off a piece of sea sponge to protect her, going on to teach the behaviour to her offsping.

But two decades later, knowledge of the tool had not spread among the whole dolphin population in the area.

Scientists observed 36 spongers and 69 non-spongers in the area over a 22 year period, taking careful note of their relationships.

They found: “Spongers were more cliquish, had more sponger associates and stronger bonds with each other than with non-spongers.

“Like humans who preferentially associate with others who share their subculture, tool-using dolphins prefer others like themselves, strongly suggesting that sponge tool-use is a cultural behaviour.”

This tendency to associate with those most like themselves is, scientists believe, a “critical role in human (sub)cultures”, and “may be true for dolphin society as well”.

(Hat tip to the perfidious Buckethead.)

Curious Excuse

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Your excuse for anything today, brought to you by xkcd:

Sorry, I was up all night trying to download photos taken by a robot lowered onto Mars by a skycrane.

Schooling in Egypt

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Under Mubarak, Egyptian schools had surprising priorities. Daron Acemoglu and Jim Robinson explain what their Egyptian friend told them:

When he was 10, five hours a day for months were spent not in the classroom, but preparing a dance show for Suzanne Mubarak’s annual visit. This was not an isolated event. There would be such a visit almost every year, and a large chunk of the school year would be spent on this.


Key assignments included writing letters to President Mubarak thanking him for all his tireless work for Egypt; designing a logo for Mubarak’s campaign in elections (no matter that the elections were already fixed); drawing scenes of loyal Egyptians gathering in the streets out of their love for Mubarak. You get the picture.

You might think things may have changed after Mubarak’s fall. And yes they have. Now key assignments include writing letters to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, thanking them for their tireless work for Egypt. Bonus points are given to those students who emphasize that this tireless work includes defending Egypt against foreign-financed revolutionaries and their puppet masters masquerading as NGOs.

Larisa Latynina

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

American swimmer Michael Phelps recently beat Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina‘s record for most career Olympic medals. So, what was her athletic career like?

At the age of 19, she debuted internationally at the 1954 Rome World Championships, winning the gold medal in the team competition.

At the 1956 Summer Olympics, Latynina competed with Ágnes Keleti of Hungary to become the most successful gymnast of the Olympics. Latynina beat Keleti in the all-around event, and the Soviet team also won the team event. In the event finals, Latynina won gold medals on the floor (shared with Keleti) and vault, a silver medal on the uneven bars, and a bronze medal in the now discontinued team event with portable apparatus. Keleti also won six medals: four golds and two silvers.

After a very successful World Championships in 1958 (winning five out of six titles despite competing whilst four months pregnant), Latynina was the favorite for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. In the all-around event she led the Soviet Union to take the first four places, thereby also securing a win in the team competition by a margin of nine points. Latynina also successfully defended her floor title, took silver medals in the balance beam and uneven bars events, and bronze in the vault competition.

Latynina won all-around titles at the 1962 World Championships, beating V?ra ?áslavská of Czechoslovakia. Still the defending World Champion at the 1964 Summer Olympics, she was beaten by ?áslavská in the all-around competition. Latynina added two more gold medals to her tally, winning the team event and the floor event both for the third time in a row. A silver medal and two bronzes in the other apparatus events brought her total of Olympic medals to eighteen — nine gold medals, five silver and four bronze. She won a medal in every event in which she competed, except for the 1956 balance beam where she came in fourth.


Latynina retired after the 1966 World Championships and became a coach for the Soviet national gymnastics team, a position she held until 1977. Under her coaching the Soviet women won team gold in the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Olympics.

The Craigslist Experiment

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Eric Auld wasn’t finding much success in his job hunt, so he decided to run an experiment to learn about the competition:

I invented a job and posted it to Craigslist.

Sure, the job didn’t exist, and you might protest, “But Eric, how cruel of you to lead all these people on!” Then I thought of the mountain range of jobs to which I had applied in the last few weeks, followed by the complete lack of correspondence from these potential employers, and then I didn’t feel so bad. I assumed that those who had applied to this non-existent position would most likely shake the experience off as just another stone in the quarry of disappointment. (If, gentle Reader, you are one of those unfortunate applicants, then I offer my sincere apologies.)

I thought of sites where I regularly search for jobs, and settled on Craigslist for this experiment, since positions are uploaded there more frequently than on any other site I usually visit. I thought of the major cities where I’ve been applying to jobs, and settled on New York, since… well, it’s New York; it’s the place to be.

I wanted to create a very basic ad: a full-time job with decent starting pay and health benefits included. I wanted to study a broad spectrum of job seekers, so I did not require any specific educational background or related experience for the position. The entirety of the ad was created using what I had seen in my own job searches: the most common job, the most common job duties, the most common pay, in the most advertised district on all of NYC’s Craigslist.

In the end, I produced this ad:

Administrative Assistant needed for busy Midtown office. Hours are Monday through Friday, nine to five. Job duties include: filing, copying, answering phones, sending e-mails, greeting clients, scheduling appointments. Previous experience in an office setting preferred, but will train the right candidate. This is a full-time position with health benefits. Please e-mail résumé if interested. Compensation: $12-$13 per hour.

I created a fake e-mail address to receive all of the applications. Before I published the ad, I hypothesized that I would receive a lot of résumés, and I didn’t want applicants usurping my personal inbox, especially for a non-existent position.

“A lot of résumés” is an egregious understatement.

I published the ad at exactly 2:41P.M. on Thursday. The first response came in at 2:45—just four minutes later. Ten minutes later, there were 10 responses. Twenty minutes later, there were 56. An hour later: 164. Six hours: 431.

At 2:41P.M. on Friday — exactly 24 hours after I posted the ad — there were 653 responses in my brand new inbox. Not wanting to face any more after that, I promptly removed the ad from Craigslist.

Why Denise Rich Gave Up U.S. Citizenship

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

The Wall Street Journal explains why wealthy songwriter Denise Rich gave up U.S. citizenship:

In 2011, nearly 1,800 people renounced their U.S. citizenship or residency, a sixfold increase from 2008. In May, a furor erupted after it was revealed that Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin had renounced his citizenship ahead of Facebook’s public offering, saving himself millions in taxes.

Experts say the increase in expatriations comes in part because of the Internal Revenue Service’s crackdown on undeclared and untaxed foreign holdings of U.S. taxpayers. Unlike many countries, the U.S. taxes citizens and residents on their worldwide income, but the rules were loosely enforced for many years. That changed after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and, separately, evidence that giant Swiss bank UBS and other offshore providers were encouraging U.S. taxpayers to hide assets abroad.


The exodus from the U.S. may also be intensifying because of the prospect of higher tax rates next year. Even if Congress extends current tax rates for a year or two, a new 3.8% tax on investment income for most couples with adjusted gross income above $250,000 ($200,000 for singles) will take effect in order to help pay for the heath-care overhaul.

In order to leave in good standing, Rich will owe exit taxes. U.S. citizens and residents who expatriate are treated as though they sold all their property the day before they renounce, even if they will continue to own it and pay property or other federal, state or local taxes. Capital gains are taxed at the current top rate of 15%, and some assets (such as individual retirement accounts) are subject to tax at ordinary income rates as high as 35%.

Expatriates-to-be also have to show proof of tax compliance for five years, and may have trouble re-entering the U.S. without a visa.

Fertittas Made Billionaires by UFC

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Ultimate Fighting has made Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta billionaires:

UFC today has 442 fighters from 38 countries under contract and will host 14 pay-per-view events this year, bringing in $500 million in annual sales. The Las Vegas-based company signed a seven-year television contract with News Corp.’s Fox Media Group in July 2011, and its content, broadcast in 19 languages, is available to more than 1 billion homes in 148 countries and territories.

That’s a long way from 2001, when brothers Frank Fertitta III, now 50, and Lorenzo Fertitta, 43, heirs to their father’s casino business, bought UFC for $2 million [giving Dana White a 10 percent cut to serve as president, and investing another $38 million to rehabilitate the sport].


Brutal or not, Ultimate Fighting has made Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta billionaires. Each owns 40.5 percent of Zuffa LLC — named after the Italian word for fight — the private company that controls UFC. Flash Entertainment, an Abu Dhabi government investment company, bought 10 percent in 2009 in a deal that valued Zuffa at more than $2 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named.


Each Fertitta controls a fortune worth at least $1 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In addition to their company stakes, they own real estate, art and four jet planes. The brothers hold their assets separately and through family trusts, they say. Las Vegas-based Fertitta Enterprises Inc., a single-family office that employs about 60 people, manages the Fertittas’ wealth. The office staff vets investment opportunities (it turned down a chance to buy stock in Facebook Inc. before its public offering), handles art transactions (each brother has a collection of art worth more than $100 million) and arranges for personal security.