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July 28, 2012

NY Times' Keller: the entitled generation

NY Times' opinion keller: the entitled generation

We seem to have entered one of our periodic seasons of boomer-bashing. In rapid Op-Ed succession, we children of the postwar demographic bulge have been blamed for turning religion into an indulgent free-for-all, for giving elites a bad name and for making greed respectable, or at least acceptable. That's just this month, and just on this page. And it's not only conservatives beating us with the Woodstock whip. Kurt Andersen, a confessed liberal and one of our more prolific cultural omnivores, started the latest thumping July 4 with an argument that amoral self-gratification is just the flip side of social liberation: "Thanks to the '60s, we are all shamelessly selfish."

The notion that our generation has been spoiled rotten is not a terribly new thought. A dozen years ago Paul Begala (of Bill Clinton and CNN fame) published in Esquire the classic of boomer-loathing, "The Worst Generation." "The Baby Boomers are the most self-centered, self-seeking, self-interested, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing generation in American history," he declared. It's a sturdy genre. Perhaps while Googling yourself you have come across the blog Boomer Deathwatch ("Because one day, they'll all be dead"), a checklist of famous boomers who hit their actuarial sell-by dates. Even Barack Obama, who styles himself post-boomer though he was born in 1961, complained in "The Audacity of Hope" that today's hyperpolarized political discourse began with the "psychodrama of the baby boom generation."

July 27, 2012

Maddow's talent is explication

Rachel Maddow's show - no less partisan or liberal than Olbermann's, but marked by less conflict and more explication, less righteous fury and more policy wonkery - has become a prototype for MSNBC, a new idea for how liberal anger might play on TV, and the network has added shows by hosts who think very much like she does: Chris Hayes, Melissa Harris-Perry. "She's a model for everyone at this channel," says Phil Griffin, the head of MSNBC. "They look at her and, in their own ways, they want to be like her."

Maddow's talent is explication, of rendering complex topics clearly, and so her show, uniquely for cable news, reserves the first 18 minutes of airtime for a lengthy essay, a deconstruction of a single political topic, usually some obscure conservative shift in a state legislature, or some ripple in the foreign-policy universe that has gone unnoticed. Most political talk shows are filmed so tightly that the heads of their hosts fill the screen, so that the host's personality is front and center. The Rachel Maddow Show uses a far wider shot, so that Maddow herself occupies a smaller part of the screen, off to the side. The shift is subtle, but the message is starkly different. Bill O'Reilly, on Fox News, is a combatant and a champion. Maddow is a guide. O'Reilly's show says, Look at me. Maddow's says, Picture this.

The tricky part is knowing what to do about the lie. Chris Matthews would erupt in thunderous outrage; Keith Olbermann would dissolve into a knowing sneer. But Maddow's skills are different: She strives not for the expression of political anger but for its suppression, to distance herself from the partisan debate rather than engage it, to steward progressive fury into a world of certainty, of charts, graphs, statistics, a real world that matters and that the political debate can't corrupt.

Maddow's producers say, unexpectedly, that the closest analog for her style as a broadcaster is Glenn Beck, whose abilities as a performer she very much admires. Though their worldviews could not be more different, Maddow and Beck both attempt to pull off a similar trick: to reflect and redirect their audience's rage at politics without succumbing to it. What Maddow is trying to build is a different channel for liberal anger, an outsider's channel, one that steers the viewer's attention away from the theater of politics and toward the exercise of power, which is to say toward policy. On-air, like Beck, she is almost relentlessly cheerful. "Anger is like sugar in a cocktail," Maddow tells me. "I'd rather have none at all than a grain too much."

The perfect Maddow segment, he says, begins with some obscure image from the fringes - "a bird covered in oil in 1979," say - and then slowly winds its way into the heart of the political debate. "Eventually, you realize that the story of that bird is all about Mitt Romney," he says, "and it fucking blows your mind."

This kind of indirection - starting with the obscure and working toward the headlines - goes against the most basic rules of television, but for Maddow it can have a rare seductive power. "It's really important that in the top third of the segment you don't say 'Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,' or 'military tribunal,' or 'Guantánamo,'" Maddow says. "Because as soon as you say those things, people think they know what the story is. If you don't edit mercilessly to keep out all of the words that make people leap to conclusions about what you're going to say, you'll never persuade people that you're going to tell them something they don't already know. So you have to be, like, totally on."

July 26, 2012

French eating

In France, the French social anthropologist Claude Fischler theorizes, a meal is considered a kind of communion, an intimate sharing of experience. In the States, he argues, it represents a contract, a negotiation over aversions, allergies and dietary needs.

"It is not looked upon highly, in France, to be on a diet," Valerie Bignon said. "Because, in principle, it's not really necessary." This sentiment surprised me, given that the company she worked for had purchased a diet company for $600 million. She explained to me how easy losing weight should be: "The main course is passed around on a big plate, and you take what you want. So if a French woman takes from the meat dish at all, she takes just a little. It is rather easy to do her diet without mentioning it to anyone." Bignon also serves on the advisory board of the corporate foundation for Nestlé France, a program interested, she explained, in "reviving the French culture of nourishment." She seemed torn between defending her country's food culture and promoting a product that offers a defense against the results of its erosion so far.

As is true in the United States, Jenny Craig clients in France are expected to meet, by phone or in person, once a week with a Jenny Craig consultant. In France, however, the consultants are all dietitians, whereas the American model relies on laypeople trained in the Jenny Craig technique. If the French take their food seriously, they also see dieting as a serious affair, something that could be hazardous to your health without appropriate supervision. The word "diet" has negative enough associations in France that Weight Watchers recently came up with a new marketing campaign there: "Stop the diets. Relearn how to eat."

Eating a full meal together at the table -- a first, light dish, then a cooked meat or fish with starch and a vegetable, followed by cheese or yogurt and possibly fruit -- provides enough sustenance, she suggested, to stave off that bête noire of American eating habits, snacking. She explained how the presence of others also ensures the social reinforcement of healthy dining habits, like helping yourself to only so much, and it builds the habit of discipline and moderation, as diners wait for all to be seated and served before beginning the meal.

"You know what I find totally crazy?" Bignon asked, momentarily sidetracked. "Le Self. You know this system? It's American. You take a plate, there's a line, you take some salad. . . ." She was referring to what we call self-serve, an option so neutral to me that Bignon might as well have been decrying the rise of the photocopy machine. "In school cafeterias, there used to be a gentleman who made the meal and a madame who served it, and everyone ate together at the table, as they do at home," she said. "But Americans hit on this system that is fast, it's cheap, you take what you want -- and now it's everywhere in France!" she said. "I am anti-Self. It's bad for rapport, and it's bad for health -- it's too individualistic."

During the presentation at Jenny Craig headquarters, a phrase appeared on the screen, an internal message for the diet counselors: "Keep a positive mind-set!" The sentiment did not strike me as terribly French, and Moreau assured me it was not. "The French are the most pessimistic people in the world," he said, citing a Gallup poll that was much discussed in France. The American Jenny Craig Web site urges dieters to "See What Success Tastes Like" and encourages them to "Feel Like New. Feel Like You." The French Web site is devoid of self-esteem-boosting sentiment, its motto more logic-based, almost Cartesian in construct: "I did the Jenny Craig solution. It works!" Mariah Carey tells them. "Why not you?"

Elaborate diet plans with chirpy self-help axioms are as American as gluten-free apple pie, part of a culture in which food is both the enemy and the cure. We overeat, we diet, we overeat some more -- and Nestlé is apparently betting that even the French will succumb to that same vicious cycle, needing American remedies for American habits.

Moreau had mentioned that the French are not only the most pessimistic people in the world but also the most depressed, at least as measured by consumption of antidepressants. I asked him why he thought the French were so down.

"Because we are French," he replied.

July 25, 2012


Anand Shimpi, 30, of Raleigh, NC's AnandTech.com, is not alone in the benchmark review business; sites including The Tech Report and Tom's Hardware have a similar obsession with performance data, though smaller followings.

But many chip executives, Wall Street investors and technically minded consumers see Shimpi's meticulously collected test results as the most authoritative and highly trustable.

July 23, 2012

failure is baked into the voluntary, self-directed, commercially run retirement plans system

First, figure out when you and your spouse will be laid off or be too sick to work. Second, figure out when you will die. Third, understand that you need to save 7 percent of every dollar you earn. (Didn't start doing that when you were 25 and you are 55 now? Just save 30 percent of every dollar.) Fourth, earn at least 3 percent above inflation on your investments, every year. (Easy. Just find the best funds for the lowest price and have them optimally allocated.) Fifth, do not withdraw any funds when you lose your job, have a health problem, get divorced, buy a house or send a kid to college. Sixth, time your retirement account withdrawals so the last cent is spent the day you die.

Not yet convinced that failure is baked into the voluntary, self-directed, commercially run retirement plans system? Consider what would have to happen for it to work for you.

-- Teresa Ghilarducci

July 22, 2012

More justice than God ?

The United Church is not alone. All the secular liberal churches are collapsing. The Episcopalians - the American equivalent of the United Church of Canada - have lost a quarter of their membership in the past decade. They're at their lowest point since the 1930s. Not coincidentally, they spent their recent general meeting affirming the right of the transgendered to become priests. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it doesn't top most people's lists of pressing spiritual or even social issues.

Back in the 1960s, the liberal churches bet their future on becoming more open, more inclusive, more egalitarian and more progressive. They figured that was the way to reach out to a new generation of worshippers. It was a colossal flop.

"I've spent all my ministry in declining congregations," says David Ewart, a recently retired United Church minister who lives in British Columbia. He is deeply discouraged about the future of his faith. "In my experience, when you put your primary focus on the world, there is a lessening of the importance of worship and turning to God."

The United Church's high-water mark was 1965, when membership reached nearly 1.1 million. Since then it has shrunk nearly 60 per cent. Congregations have shrunk too - but not the church's infrastructure or the money needed to maintain it. Today, the church has too many buildings and too few people to pay for their upkeep. Yet its leadership seems remarkably unperturbed. "It's considered wrong to be concerned about the numbers - too crass, materialistic and business-oriented," says Mr. Ewart. The church's leaders are like the last of the Marxist-Leninists: still convinced they're right despite the fact that the rest of the world has moved on.

Clearly, changes in society have had an enormous impact on church attendance. Volunteerism and other civic institutions are also in decline. Busy two-career families have less discretionary time for everything, including church. Sundays are for chores and shopping now. As for Sunday school, parents would rather take the kids to sports.

Tall building of New York: the first three centuries

These were buildings no taller than the Dakota, but in 1885 The New York Times urged restrictive legislation and darkly predicted that "if the streets were lined with eight-story buildings, half of the occupants would be deprived of sunlight, and their children would be etiolated like plants grown in a cellar." You can tell it's serious when The Times brings the kids into it.

As tall buildings grew in numbers, architects found themselves in a difficult position. In 1894 the prominent architect George B. Post denounced the skyscraper, as it was now freely called, as an "outrage." On the other hand the commission he received from his $2 million, 10-story New York World Building, on Park Row -- well, that put outrage in a certain perspective.

In 1897 The Record and Guide, alarmed by a proposal for a building 2,000 feet high, protested that New York was open "to attack from the audacious real estate owner" who cared nothing about robbing light from the neighbors, adding, "All that is needed is a barbarian with sufficient money and lunacy." The Chamber of Commerce, equally alarmed, supported legislation to severely restrict skyscrapers.

July 21, 2012

I think they meant downpayment

Renters don't have to lay down massive deposits, suffer the headache of dealing with condo and co-op boards, or pay taxes, common charges and big repair bills after signing away their savings.

High end renters.


Most of us have no choice but to rent, given the hefty deposits required. But in the world of high-end real estate, there are some renters who clearly can afford to buy multimillion-dollar residences but choose to rent instead. They're a small segment of the market, these "super renters." Or, given some of the new rental properties -- including the penthouses at New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street -- perhaps it's better to call them "sky-high renters."

Starting in September, the development, which is currently one of the tallest residential structures in the Americas at 870 feet, hopes to rent the three penthouses on the 76th floor for $45,000 to $60,000 a month.

For those doing the quick math, that means an annual cash outlay of $720,000 for the largest, north-facing penthouse, which is 3,800 square feet spread over four bedrooms, or about $16 per square foot per month.

Top athletes and musicians who live a lot of their lives on the road often choose the convenience of renting, at least for a while. Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees paid $30,000 a month in 2009 and 2010 to live in a two-bedroom apartment owned by Leroy Schecter on the 35th floor of 15 Central Park West.

Then there are the home renovators. About four years ago, when the market was considerably softer, a family paid $30,000 a month for a year to rent a Fifth Avenue apartment while a central air-conditioning system was installed in their Park Avenue residence, Mr. Hughes said.

But the idea that an all-rental building could command rents exceeding $20,000 a month is relatively new in New York, brokers say.

For the moment, at least, the only one that seems to be trying is One MiMA Tower in Midtown, where three residences on the 63rd floor have been listed for $20,000 to $25,000 a month.

July 20, 2012

adhd marriage ?

His wife's distractedness was particularly challenging when the children were young.

"She could be in the room but paying no attention to what was going on," he said. Traditional counseling didn't help. On the brink of the divorce, the wife found Ms. Orlov and Dr. Hallowell's Web site, adhdmarriage.com, and began consulting with Ms. Orlov. Although the couple have only just started therapy, they are finally hopeful about their future together.

"It's been a revelation," the wife said. "I didn't realize what a critical piece the A.D.H.D. has been in my marriage."

July 19, 2012

Give this man a TED talk

while psychologically damaging experiences like childhood abuse often elicited sympathy for the protagonist and sometimes even prompted considerable mitigation of blame, the participants still saw the protagonist's behavior as intentional. The protagonist himself was twisted by his history of trauma; it wasn't just his brain. Most participants felt that in such cases, personal character remained relevant in determining how the protagonist went on to act.

We labeled this pattern of responses "naïve dualism." This is the belief that acts are brought about either by intentions or by the physical laws that govern our brains and that those two types of causes -- psychological and biological -- are categorically distinct. People are responsible for actions resulting from one but not the other. (In citing neuroscience, the Supreme Court may have been guilty of naïve dualism: did it really need brain evidence to conclude that adolescents are immature?)

Naïve dualism is misguided. "Was the cause psychological or biological?" is the wrong question when assigning responsibility for an action. All psychological states are also biological ones.

A better question is "how strong was the relation between the cause (whatever it happened to be) and the effect?" If, hypothetically, only 1 percent of people with a brain malfunction (or a history of being abused) commit violence, ordinary considerations about blame would still seem relevant. But if 99 percent of them do, you might start to wonder how responsible they really are.

It is crucial that as a society, we learn how to think more clearly about causes and personal responsibility -- not only for extraordinary actions like crime but also for ordinary ones, like maintaining exercise regimens, eating sensibly and saving for retirement. As science advances, there will be more and more "causal" alternatives to intentional explanations, and we will be faced with more decisions about when to hold people responsible for their behavior. It's important that we don't succumb to the allure of neuroscientific explanations and let everyone off the hook.

John Monterosso is an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Southern California. Barry Schwartz, a co-author of "Practical Wisdom," is a professor of psychology at Swarthmore College.

July 18, 2012

Investment schemes to use eminent domain to take mortgages from banks

"Sooner or later," said Mayor Acquanetta Warren of Fontana, who has seen the value of her own home cut in half, "all these people who are upside down on their homes are just going to leave the keys out on the door and say forget it. This was supposed to be the promised land, and now we have people waiting in some kind of hellish purgatory. The people who were so eager to give us money before now won't even talk to us."

The idea to use eminent domain to seize mortgages first came from a group of venture capitalists in San Francisco, Mortgage Resolution Partners, who would collect a fee for each of the restructured loans. The firm is also trying to persuade officials in Nevada and Florida to try the idea. San Bernardino County officials were immediately intrigued, given that roughly half the homes in the area are underwater and the unemployment rate remains at nearly 12 percent. (Last week, the City of San Bernardino voted to file for bankruptcy, saying it would not be able to cover payroll costs through the summer.)

Officials in Suffolk County, N.Y., where about 10 percent of the homes are valued at less than their loans, are also considering the mortgage plan.

"Nobody else is addressing this adequately, and we're still stuck," said Regina Calcaterra, the chief deputy county executive in Suffolk County. "If Washington or the private sector was able to address this, there wouldn't be a need and we wouldn't even have this conversation."

More than 20,000 homeowners in the county could ultimately be eligible for the program, which would first focus on Fontana and Ontario, two of the largest cities in the county. The county is just beginning to consider how it could move forward with the proposal and officials say they will consider alternatives, but many banking and mortgage groups have already voiced skepticism or hostility about the plan.

Ken Bentsen, the executive vice president of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, said the idea would almost certainly be challenged in court and would have a major impact on the local market.

"If the government has the ability to abrogate the contract at will and at the expense of the bond holder, the investor is going to do one of two things: require a tremendous premium for the risk they are incurring, or just not invest at all," Mr. Bentsen said. "It would be a risk factor that would be impossible to underwrite."

July 17, 2012

FDA email snooping

Agency officials began the electronic monitoring operation on their own.

The software used to track the F.D.A. scientists, sold by SpectorSoft of Vero Beach, Fla., costs as little as $99.95 for individual use, or $2,875 to place the program on 25 computers. It is marketed mainly to employers to monitor their workers and to parents to keep tabs on their children's computer activities.

"Monitor everything they do," says SpectorSoft's Web site. "Catch them red-handed by receiving instant alerts when keywords or phrases are typed or are contained in an e-mail, chat, instant message or Web site."

The F.D.A. program did all of that and more, as its operators analyzed the results from their early e-mail interceptions and used them to search for new "actors," develop new keywords to search and map out future areas of concern.

The intercepted e-mails revealed, for instance, that a few of the scientists under surveillance were drafting a complaint in 2010 that they planned to take to the Office of Special Counsel. A short time later, before the complaint was filed, Dr. Robert C. Smith and another complaining scientist were let go and a third was suspended.

In another case, the intercepted e-mails indicated that Paul T. Hardy, another of the dissident employees, had reapplied for an F.D.A. job "and is being considered for a position." (He did not get it.)


Posted in Health.

July 16, 2012

Two classes in America divided by I do

NY Times: marriage rates determine class; single moms drift downscale. The data, illustrated.

July 15, 2012

Goldman builds what Goldman needs

TIMUR GALEN, the global head of corporate services and real estate at Goldman, spearheaded the group that imagined Goldman Alley. In 2006, Goldman bought the 15-story building behind the headquarters location, which contained a midpriced Embassy Suites hotel, a movie theater and dining choices that might fit well in a suburban strip mall. It had a markedly different vision for what would be reborn there.

As Mr. Galen expressed it, Goldman wanted to shift to "what we thought of as the best of New York." It didn't rely on chance. "Mostly we went out and invited who we wanted," he said.

That included Danny Meyer, the prolific New York restaurateur who heads Union Square Hospitality Group, and he opened three restaurants, with his latest outpost of the Shake Shack already a popular attraction on the corner of Murray Street.

Goldman people like wine. Enter the Poulakakos family, whose Wall Street restaurants Goldman knew well. The family opened its first wine store, Vintry Fine Wines, and Harry's Italian restaurant.

Alan Phillips had three existing restaurants in the acquired building. Goldman was willing to keep one, his Pick a Bagel, and gave him space for two new ones, Wei West, an Asian restaurant, and Beans and Greens, a salad place.

Gourmet groceries? Battery Place Market was on the other side of the World Financial Center, and Goldman workers who lived in Battery Park liked it. It was offered an alley spot for a second outlet.

Flowers? Bloom, a luxury uptown florist, was invited down. For eyeglasses, Goldman went to Artsee, with its handmade frames in styles like buffalo horn and surgical steel, and asked it to also find an eye doctor.

The pastry chef François Payard was regularly serving sweets to Goldman executives at other Goldman locations, and so the company gave him the nod to open a bakery.

Goldman's far-flung employees travel a lot to New York, and many used to stay at the Battery Park Ritz-Carlton until Goldman bought the Embassy Suites and directed them there. They would refer to it as Hotel Goldman. They didn't adore the place, even with the free all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.

Also, an Embassy Suites wasn't really in keeping with the Goldman image or what it felt would excite tourists. It converted the hotel to a Conrad, a higher-end Hilton brand. Goldman owns the hotel, while Hilton runs it. There's a rooftop Loopy Doopy Bar and a giant ballroom that Goldman uses for events like analyst training classes.

When Goldman Sachs, the potent financial services firm, opened its new 43-story, $2.1 billion steel-and-glass headquarters on a former parking lot at 200 West Street in October 2009, it was an area sorely in need of more shops and restaurants. So Goldman, helped along by $1.65 billion worth of tax-exempt Liberty Bonds and an additional $115 million in tax sweeteners, simply created its own.

Fanning out from its headquarters bounded by Vesey and Murray Streets, next to the World Financial Center and a block northwest of ever-rising ground zero, there is now a kind of Goldman village anchored by Goldman Alley, as the locals call the public passageway between Vesey and Murray that's shielded by a tilted glass canopy.

In this Goldman-enabled world, any of its 8,000 employees can dart downstairs and acquire spicy onion rings at 1 a.m. Or, if the need arises during the day, pick up a Cymbidium orchid. Or grab a bottle of A. Edmond Audry Tres Ancienne Grande Champagne Cognac.

Its location and thick wallet allowed Goldman to assemble its environment as few companies in New York ever have. Since it is a busy user of black cars and cabs, it carved out a driveway in front of its building. It contracted with two parking lots nearby for black cars to sit, keeping them from idling on the street. (Residents say traffic has still worsened.)

Goldman employees visiting from out of town must sleep, so the company bought a hotel and then upgraded it to fit its particularities. And when you need a place to park, a good solution is always to buy a parking garage. So Goldman did, acquiring the lease to the public garage at the Riverhouse condominium building nearby. The hotel offers valet parking at the garage.

Goldman occupies another tower across the Hudson River in Jersey City, and owns the pier there. Ferries already plowed back and forth, but Goldman paid the BillyBey Ferry Company to increase frequency to every seven or eight minutes from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Residents have repeatedly lamented the noise and pollution, so Goldman has built two quieter ferry boats of its own, though they are not yet in service.

Just what effect Goldman's village will have on the encircling Battery Park City neighborhood remains unclear. It's still early. Most of the alley has come alive just in recent months, and a couple of spaces await occupants.

Nonetheless, Elizabeth H. Berger, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, a business group, said: "The sense I have is there's a buzz. Certainly it's good for local baby sitters, because more people are going out at night."

July 14, 2012


The irony is that they are victims of enduring prejudices that persist, in part, because gay celebrities enjoy the protection of a cozy omertà among the social and media circles like the one that shielded Mr. Cooper -- whose homosexuality was an open secret for years in New York -- until his welcome revelation, which took the form of an e-mail sent to the gay journalist Andrew Sullivan on Monday.

July 13, 2012

WU Wunderground Weather Underground

In the eyes of Weather Underground's ardent fans, the Weather Channel appears to represent the wrong kind of weather information: personality-driven sunniness and hype, they say, rather than the pure science of data. As Mike Tucker, a computer professional in New Hampshire, put it on Facebook, reacting to news of the deal: "Noooo! "

The controversy illustrates the deep national divide between those people who just want to know if it's going to rain, and people who really, really, care about the data underlying the weather. Christopher Maxwell, a manager at a solar energy company in Richmond, Va., is in the really-really-cares-about-the-weather camp. He said he saw the Weather Channel deal as a sad sellout for Weather Underground.

"It seems to happen all the time," he said. "Something great gets invented and sold in the United States, and it gets bought up and destroyed."

Weather Underground was founded in 1995 in Ann Arbor, where it grew out of the University of Michigan's online weather database. The name was a winking reference to the radical group that also had its roots in Ann Arbor. Mr. Maxwell said he appreciated Weather Underground's fanatical devotion to data, and how it drew information from so many thousands of weather stations run by users that he is able to determine "microclimates" of variation that can prove important in getting the most out of a new solar installation.

July 12, 2012

reddit finance what are quant lifestyles like

reddit finance: What are quant lifestyles like ?

Posted in The Life and Quantfinance.

Buy side FI desk Mon-Thursday 12 hour days (8-8) Spend the day building trading/pricing models, test them, reporting functions done at night. A sample day Come in the office at 8am, eat breakfast at my desk and have coffee while catching up on news/market movements/big events fire up all the pricing and trading models, start checking the holdings, making sure we're positioned correctly. Start working on whatever piece of work I have to do, performance attribution on tons of issues to identify better "risk to reward" bets and other spreads that may be profitable. You'll spend your day creating models to do this. Confer with team about days movements (9am - 9:30 am), back to working on the models 12:30, have lunch maybe a quick workout too 13:30 check market, check daily p/l 13:40 back to working on models of the day ~16:00 confer with colleagues on potential trades/plays ~17:00 check days p/l, sign off on reports trade journals etc ~18:00 Conduct macro research/stress test/risk test, continue testing/refining models ~20:00 go home. Putting out random fires at anytime during the day: dealing with sell side sales guys (many of them are idiots), Chasing down unmatched trades, preparing presentations/client reports, Talking to clients Fridays 8-6 Would leave early on friday as I would fly somewhere new every weekend. 2.Quant trading for own book 6:00 am, wake up, hit the gym 7:00 check p/l 9:00 start working on research projects/ while keeping an eye on systems 15:00 stop research and go out and have fun :D Hours are very variable and you do the work whenever you want.... I'm considering going back to a "proper" job, but i'll make less money :(, however the structure of a workplace environment can be good, and I'd probably do something outside of trading so I can run my machines on the side.


I get in around 9 or 9:30 and make sure everything looks like it's running ok. Then I get coffee and water and read the news until my brain wakes up.
Then I work on my projects, usually research or strategy development. I go for lunch around noon.
I come back from lunch and check on pnl, etc, and maybe read stuff from my RSS feed for a bit. Then I get back to work on research.
I usually leave the office at 7, and I rarely work on weekends (occasionally I log in from home to make sure simulations are running correctly so I don't waste a weekend of computation time).
I do high frequency algorithmic trading for an established finance firm (not an investment bank). I have my own book there. I am lucky to have a boss who is more interested in the work I do than the number of hours I am at me desk.
Also I just have an undergraduate degree in math and no master's or phd, but I am only one of two at my firm with this background. It's a lot harder to get the job, but I guess if you went to a really top school, have the right background, and get lucky, it might work out.
I would recommend not doing a MFE program, but instead something more technical/academic, perhaps a masters in CS or operations research. At my firm we generally find that the mfe students aren't technical enough.

July 11, 2012


Rowing machines offer workouts on virtual water. See also Indo Row, Row New York, and harlemrivercommunityrowing.

Equinox gyms have a new 45-minute class called Indo-Row, which takes students through speed and distance drills on rowers. The gyms are also starting a 30-to-45-minute class in April called Shock Wave that sends students through four stations.

The highlight is the rowing station, where instructors assign up to eight people at a time a distance like 300 meters, which is supposed to take a minute or two to complete. The other students work out at the other stations, using that time to perform exercises like lunges and planks that target different body parts. A set ends when all rowers have completed their distances.

"The point is to work every muscle group intensely in a short amount of time and to surprise students by giving them different distances each time," said Jay Blahnik, a fitness educator and a creator of Shock Wave.

Other options include group classes on weekends at Row New York, a decade-old club based in Long Island City, Queens. There's even a free session for adults with physical and cognitive disabilities.

Anatomically Correct, a personal-training gym in SoHo, has an interactive program called Indoorance created by the owner and trainer Mike Creamer. The gym has three Concept2 rowing machines equipped with 3-D screens that lead rowers through varying workouts on a virtual river.

July 10, 2012

Medicine fail: administered the wrong dose to the wrong group at the wrong time

Randall J. Bateman, director of the DIAN Therapeutic Trials Unit at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, says it is far too soon to admit defeat. He notes that the history of medicine is replete with stories of drugs that were almost abandoned because they were initially studied in the wrong group or were administered in the wrong dose or at the wrong time in the course of a disease. Even penicillin was a failure at first. It was initially tested by dabbing it on skin infections, Bateman says. But the way the drug was applied to the infections and its low dose made it impossible for the drug to cure even an infection that would otherwise respond to it. Finally, when the drug was tested at the right dose in the right patients, it cured eye infections and also pneumonia in people who were certain to have died without it.

"Even something as effective as penicillin can fail unless it is administered properly," Bateman says. He predicts that in the future it will become clear that for Alzheimer's drugs to be effective, they would have to be given earlier.

July 9, 2012

Like sandpaper: Alzheimer on colours

In 1901, a German psychiatrist, Alois Alzheimer, first noted the disease when he described the case of a 51-year-old woman named Auguste Deter. "She sits on the bed with a helpless expression," Alzheimer wrote. "What is your name? Auguste. Your husband? Ah, my husband. She looks as if she didn't understand the question."

Five years later, when Auguste Deter died, Alzheimer examined her brain. It was the color of sandpaper and the texture of tofu, like every other brain. But there the similarities ended. Deter's brain was shriveled and flecked with tiny particles that stuck to it like barnacles. No one had ever seen such a thing before in any brain.


July 8, 2012

Style vs age is no longer monotonic

Recent decades have witnessed an ever-more-pronounced blur between the phases of childhood and adulthood. This perhaps receives greater visual expression in New York, where hipster fashion embeds a continued wistfulness for early life. I was reminded of this one afternoon recently, when, near the Bergen Street subway stop in Brooklyn, I noticed a young mother in knee socks looking only a few years older than her toddler. (And certainly the reverse is true, with 15-year-olds going to school in Balenciaga.)

The paradox of the affluent New York upbringing, in some sense, is that it is subject to conflicted parental desire for both heightened sophistication and advanced attachment. Deborah Romano, the mother of three grown children, had her 24-year-old daughter, Julia, move out recently after living with her in her brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn, for a year and a half.

July 7, 2012

Flying today: private lounges are more crowded, the priority check-in lines longer.

These days, though, the advantages of being an elite frequent flier are harder to gauge. The private lounges are more crowded, the priority check-in lines longer. And on some flights there are so many elites that it's become almost a joke: "Never go to check-in at the elite line; it's way too long," said Randy Petersen, the founder of frequent flier Web sites like FlyerTalk.com and MilePoint.com.

Most frequent fliers, including Mr. Petersen, agree that, despite the erosion of many benefits over the years, elite status still comes with a few perks worth striving for -- including faster security lines; free checked bags, allowing elite passengers to avoid the overhead-bin scrum; rebooking priority when a flight is oversold; and often better access to award seats. And there is no doubt that traveling as an elite is better than the alternative. Though lounges may be more crowded, there are still free snacks and private bathrooms. And lower-ranking elites still have a decent chance of scoring an upgrade on flights that are not so popular with business travelers.

In 2010, Southwest moved from a system that awarded participants credit for flights to one that awards points based on the amount of money spent. And airlines have long offered invitation-only programs like United's Global Services and American's ConciergeKey, which lavish perks on those who spend the most on flights.

July 6, 2012

Again, faster

Againfaster, a crossfit style vendor, with kettlebells.

July 5, 2012

"New and improved" is another way of saying, "green and unproven."

"new and improved" is another way of saying "green and unproven."

-- Chuck Jaffe

July 4, 2012

New Brooklyn of Hakeem S. Jeffries (vs Charles Barron)

The district, newly configured and renamed as a result of the 2010 Census, stretches through the spine of Brooklyn and spills over into Queens. It takes in the poor and working-class housing projects of Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie and Coney Island but also middle-class and increasingly affluent brownstone areas like Clinton Hill, Fort Greene and Prospect Heights, as well as the stouter homes of Manhattan Beach, Marine Park and Howard Beach. Both candidates are African-American in a district that is 53 percent black, but the outcome of the primary may hinge on the reality that the recent redistricting has introduced large pockets of white voters (22.4 percent) and Hispanic voters (18 percent). The district also includes large Jewish enclaves.

-- Hakeem S. Jeffries vs Charles Barron

July 3, 2012

Employment discrimination provisions

An employer's evidence of a racially balanced workforce will not be enough to disprove disparate impact.

Employment discrimination provisions of the act apply to companies with more than 15 employees and define two broad types of discrimination, disparate treatment and disparate impact. Disparate treatment is fairly straightforward: It is illegal to treat someone differently on the basis of race or national origin.

For example, an employer cannot refuse to hire an African-American with a criminal conviction but hire a similarly situated white person with a comparable conviction.

Disparate impact is more complicated. It essentially means that practices that disproportionately harm racial or ethnic groups protected by the law can be considered discriminatory even if there is no obvious intent to discriminate. In fact, according to the guidance, "evidence of a racially balanced work force will not be enough to disprove disparate impact."

EEOC: 1, 2.

July 2, 2012

Computers are speaking

In today's world, we have delegated many of our daily decisions to computers. On the drive to work, a GPS device suggests the best route; at your desk, Microsoft Word guesses at your misspellings, and Facebook recommends new friends. In the past few years, the suggestion has been made that when computers make such choices they are "speaking," and enjoy the protections of the First Amendment.

The argument that machines speak was first made in the context of Internet search. In 2003, in a civil suit brought by a firm dissatisfied with the ranking of Google's search results, Google asserted that its search results were constitutionally protected speech. (In an unpublished opinion, the court ruled in Google's favor.) And this year, facing increasing federal scrutiny, Google commissioned Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, to draft a much broader and more elaborate version of the same argument. As Professor Volokh declares in his paper: "Google, Microsoft's Bing, Yahoo! Search, and other search engines are speakers."

-- Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia, is the author of "The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires."

Defenders of Google's position have argued that since humans programmed the computers that are "speaking," the computers have speech rights as if by digital inheritance. But the fact that a programmer has the First Amendment right to program pretty much anything he likes doesn't mean his creation is thereby endowed with his constitutional rights. Doctor Frankenstein's monster could walk and talk, but that didn't qualify him to vote in the doctor's place.

July 1, 2012

Axciom, data refinery

A bank that wants to sell its best customers additional services, for example, might buy details about those customers' social media, Web and mobile habits to identify more efficient ways to market to them. Or, says Mr. Frankland at Forrester, a sporting goods chain whose best customers are 25- to 34-year-old men living near mountains or beaches could buy a list of a million other people with the same characteristics. The retailer could hire Acxiom, he says, to manage a campaign aimed at that new group, testing how factors like consumers' locations or sports preferences affect responses.

But the catalog also offers delicate information that has set off alarm bells among some privacy advocates, who worry about the potential for misuse by third parties that could take aim at vulnerable groups. Such information includes consumers' interests -- derived, the catalog says, "from actual purchases and self-reported surveys" -- like "Christian families," "Dieting/Weight Loss," "Gaming-Casino," "Money Seekers" and "Smoking/Tobacco." Acxiom also sells data about an individual's race, ethnicity and country of origin. "Our Race model," the catalog says, "provides information on the major racial category: Caucasians, Hispanics, African-Americans, or Asians." Competing companies sell similar data.

Acxiom's data about race or ethnicity is "used for engaging those communities for marketing purposes," said Ms. Barrett Glasgow, the privacy officer, in an e-mail response to questions.

There may be a legitimate commercial need for some businesses, like ethnic restaurants, to know the race or ethnicity of consumers, says Joel R. Reidenberg, a privacy expert and a professor at the Fordham Law School.

"At the same time, this is ethnic profiling," he says. "The people on this list, they are being sold based on their ethnic stereotypes. There is a very strong citizen's right to have a veto over the commodification of their profile."

He says the sale of such data is troubling because race coding may be incorrect. And even if a data broker has correct information, a person may not want to be marketed to based on race.

"DO you really know your customers?" Acxiom asks in marketing materials for its shopper recognition system, a program that uses ZIP codes to help retailers confirm consumers' identities -- without asking their permission.

"Simply asking for name and address information poses many challenges: transcription errors, increased checkout time and, worse yet, losing customers who feel that you're invading their privacy," Acxiom's fact sheet explains. In its system, a store clerk need only "capture the shopper's name from a check or third-party credit card at the point of sale and then ask for the shopper's ZIP code or telephone number." With that data Acxiom can identify shoppers within a 10 percent margin of error, it says, enabling stores to reward their best customers with special offers. Other companies offer similar services.

"This is a direct way of circumventing people's concerns about privacy," says Mr. Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy.