picture by Ole Begemann
(a guide for dummies)
In 2008 Alibert Botogol took Green Ideas in a fresh direction: rebranding the site for a short while as 'Green Ideas is Credit Crunched' with over half of its content concerning life in an 'Investment Bank' 1
Contemporary critics suggested this was no more than a transparent and cynical attempt to attract more hits by including popular search terms2 in the title of the page, but kinder readers suggested it was a genuine attempt to open a window into a job which was genuinely indescribable but fleetingly topical
Whatever the reason, Alibert's relaunch wasn't a complete success for, despite the radical new logo and colour-scheme and minor adjustment to the, seldom-read, right-hand side-bar, the style of writing still remained that of a cryptic smart-arse and by Nov 2008 he had still only four 'followers'. One which was himself.
His November 2008 post 'Cowslip's Warren' was typical of the style of the period being particularly cryptic and yielding no fewer than three comments of complaint and is worth looking at in more detail to unravel its meaning. Especially for Americans
In this post Botogol is preoccupied with people leaving his Bank and the different ways in which departures are handled. For any Investment Banker beyond the age of 40 this was entirely normal. The first style of announcement that he discusses is fulsome and warm, but, he says, reserved for the 'time'servers' - senior bankers who didn't set the world alight. The most successful bankers ('rainmakers') on the other hand, he claims, generally leave on bad terms and receive only grudging notices
Botogol allows a hint of bitterness to show through in his desriptions of the first two styles, but his tone changes as he discusses the departure of the hapless 'RIFFED' (victims of a Reduction In Force, or redundancy programme).
The post's title, Cowslip's Warren, is a reference to the popular novel Watership Down, in which the travelling rabbits encounter a strange warren whose inhabitants live a life of unimaginable riches, provided with generous bounty of luxurious food and protected from pests by a local farmer. However it turns out they pay a terrible price for not only are they humiliated by other rabbits at Dinner Parties, the farmer also sets snares for the unwary, and any rabbits caught are dead meat.
The rabbits of Cowslip's warren develop a complex culture that detracts attention from their doomed and shallow lives, a culture with one strong taboo: those who disappear are never mentioned again. Botogol likens this to the fate of the riffed - who in Investment Banks at the time were normally removed suddenly, and without farewell from the working environment; or 'Cubicle'
1. Investment Bank - in the 20th Century the economies, and employment markets of US and UK were dominated by Investment Banks, controlled by greedy, bonus driven executives, the banks failed to survive to the great Crunch of 2008-2017, brought down largely by the greed of the employees, as every fule kno. (see Golden Goose)
2. Popular search terms in 2008, mention of which any in a blog-post being sure to attract readers included 'credit crunch', 'greedy', 'investment bank', 'jonathan ross' and 'russell brand'
Needlessly Cryptic References Used by Botogol in Cowslip's Warren
Bigwig - a hardworking and loyal character in Watership Down
Owsla - Middle Management team in a warren.
Outer Party - Middle Management team in the novel 1984 by George Orwell
Parsons, Tom - Unperson (someone who is disappeared by the state) in the novel 1984