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June 26, 2017

idler: modern stoicism misses the point

Without a transcendent perspective on life's harshness, without trust in an unfolding higher than human vision, all we have is our desire, our frightened calls for control, our empty cries for freedom echoing about in the indifferent void. If you can feel the force of that thought, you can feel the depth of what Epictetus was driving at.

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February 16, 2016

Inured to the animus: Scalia, Kagan, and David Axelrod

The Supreme Court is a singular institution in our system: lifetime appointees, powerful in their impact but uniquely opaque in their process of arriving at decisions.

We have become inured to the animus that characterizes the relationship between many of our elected officials in these highly partisan times. But members of the court, free from the pressures of running for office, relate to each other in a different way.

So much so that a conservative lion would lobby the President's adviser for his liberal friend. Thank you, Justice Scalia, for your service to our country.

David Axelrod

January 20, 2016

Embarrassed by your first version ?

"If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late."
-- LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman

January 18, 2016

Pitched ?

"I've never swung at a ball while it's still in the pitcher's glove."

-- Warren Buffet

July 20, 2015

The Bloomberg Way

A chapter in The Bloomberg Way, the bible for its journalists, begins, "If we don't know the people on our beats, what they do, where they're doing it, when they're doing it, and how they do it, we don't know our beats."

September 9, 2014

Unbridled loathing means never having to say you're sorry.

Unbridled loathing means never having to say you're sorry.

The moral of the story here is that if you have the choice between losing JPMorgan billions of dollars and wounding a few egos by telling people that the banking experience is less than desirable, lose the billions - at least you won't have to give up any of your money.

August 9, 2014

One foot in the grave, two at sea

Most land-based jobs are safe, but when a seaman boards a ship,
one foot is already in the grave.

April 14, 2014

A neighborhood of people working for slightly more than minimum wage in exchange for a chance to play-act at brunching in a nice neighborhood.

It felt like a neighborhood of people working for slightly more than minimum wage in exchange for a chance to play-act at brunching in a nice neighborhood.

Continue reading "A neighborhood of people working for slightly more than minimum wage in exchange for a chance to play-act at brunching in a nice neighborhood." »

May 6, 2013

business separates into attackers, disrupting, changing the world, and defenders, trying to de-risk


The world of business really separates into these two groups. The attackers are the entrepreneurs who are disrupting the status quo, trying to change the world, take the hill, anything is possible, and have nothing to lose in most cases. They're driven by passion and the idea and intensity. Large organizations -- and it's true of Fortune 500s and it's also true of governments and other large organizations -- are defenders. These guys aren't trying to pursue the art of the possible, how to maximize opportunity. They actually are trying to minimize the downside, and hedge risk. They're trying to de-risk situations. Entrepreneurs can't even think this way. It's not even a concept they understand.

-- Steve Case, AOL founder

May 1, 2013

We'll shout "fat, crippled banker!", perhaps in the future,


Perhaps one day, far in the future, when we hit a finger with a hammer, we'll shout "fat, crippled banker!"

-- MELISSA MOHR, author of "Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing."

December 23, 2012

Cézanne and Poussin put reason in the grass and tears in the sky.


Five months before he died, Paul Cézanne attended the unveiling of a bust of Émile Zola, his old soulmate, at the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix. Numa Coste, friend to both, addressed the gathering. He reminded the attendees of Zola's autumnal insistence that "one thinks one has revolutionized the world, and then one finds out, at the end of the road, that one has not revolutionized anything at all." The elderly painter cried at the words.

John Rewald, preeminent authority on late-19th-century French painting, extended Zola's regrets to Cézanne himself. Concern with revolution was irrelevant, Rewald wrote in his 1986 biography of the painter. What mattered was that Cézanne had succeeded in adding "a new link in the chain to the past." Implicit in Rewald's tribute was recognition that artists build upon antecedents. Great art is as much the harvest of what came before--angles off precedents, bends in common practice--as individual endowment.

It was the concession of a scholar of the old school, for whom the discipline of history preceded the poetics of art appreciation. By contrast, Alex Danchev, self-described "unorthodox Professor of International Relations," is a jack-of-all-disciplines writing under the dispensations of the cultural studies movement. Traditional history, from Danchev's perspective, is a gray, unsmiling thing with the smell of the stacks about it; cultural studies, conversely, is blithe and nimble. In a 2009 essay on the presumed intersection of art and politics, Danchev illustrated the difference:

Cézanne is supposed to have said of Poussin that he put reason in the grass and tears in the sky. Reason and tears may be as good an encapsulation of International Relations as any.

Even metaphors obey some kind of logic. This one signals wide interpretive latitude: "Reason and tears" is a gnostic generality for rent; it can be leased to any purpose.

Continue reading "Cézanne and Poussin put reason in the grass and tears in the sky. " »

April 21, 2011

Middle class

"Even when uttered by Democrats, middle class often sounds like a
mealymouthed way of saying, Us, and not them, where them includes poor
people, snake handlers and those with pierced tongues."


- - Barbara Ehrenreich







.IncomeHousingEducationInvestments
$7.500,000 +...
$1,750,000 +...
$1,00,000 +...
$500,000 +...
$250,000 - $500,000 +2..
$100,000 - $250,000 +...
$250,000 - $500,000 +.1..

The debate over who and what are middle class will become more intense as economic programs are aimed and promoted to rescue, assist, and promote the middle class.

See references:
1. $250,000 to $500,000 income mortgage struggle.
2. New healthcare taxes on individuals earning $280,000 and up.
3. Middle class: only up to $250, 000 annual income ?
4. Under $250,000 is middle class: Obama.
5. Middle class at $150k.
6. America's middle class is motorized mobilized.
7. Krugman and Clinton: middle class up to $250,000 in 1993.
8. Middle class is in the middle.
9. Middle class, social security, FICA taxes.
10. Tax breaks for income over $250,000 for a family to expire ? Middle class could suffer.
11. (Upper) middle class: assets of $2 million to $15 million, "the lower end of the high end" -- divorce(e) advocate.
12. Alternative minimum tax (AMT).
13. Democrat messaging.
14. Middle class turns wealthy from $1.75 to $7.5 million -- Fidelity Investments
15. Middle class NY Times readres make $119k (2009).

March 23, 2010

The most important economic competition is actually between you and your own imagination -- Tom Friedman


This isn't complicated. In today's wired world, the most important economic competition is no longer between countries or companies. The most important economic competition is actually between you and your own imagination.

-- Tom Friedman

March 21, 2010

The years from 1989 to 2009 were consumed by locusts.


What caused this dire loss of faith in our government and leaders? Mr. Judt spreads the blame around. He criticizes the narcissistic left of the 1960s, which was largely uninterested in social justice. "What united the '60s generation was not the interest of all, but the needs and rights of each," he writes. He blames that generation's political leaders too. What the baby-boomer politicians have in common, he notes, is "the enthusiasm that they fail to inspire in the electors of their respective countries."

He surveys an earlier and "superior class of statesmen," who, regardless of its members' political leanings, "represented a political class deeply sensitive to its moral and social responsibilities." Politically speaking, he declares, "ours is an age of the pygmies."

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West missed an opportunity to reshape the world. "Instead," Mr. Judt writes, "we sat back and congratulated ourselves upon having won the cold war: a sure way to lose the peace." Here is his historical judgment: "The years from 1989 to 2009 were consumed by locusts."

-- Tony Judt

March 10, 2010

the dark, half- crippled, doughnut-gobbling man-apes of the literary world

So let's read Lipsyte and rejoice; let's celebrate the laugh-producing Milo Burkes who are all too rarely brought to us by brave and bitter men -- let's celebrate the canny, well-educated yet perpetually failing furtive Internet onanists, the dark, half- crippled, doughnut-gobbling man-apes of the literary world, who cast their lumpen shadows across the rest of us.

These are the kind of unlikable, lovable protagonists we miss; these are the self-loathing, mediocre secret geniuses who can set our people free.


Lydia Millet's

January 31, 2010

An efficient, competitive private mortgage market, an area in which commercial bank participation is needed. Those are matters for another day.

In this country, I believe regulation of large insurance companies operating over many states needs to be reviewed. We also face a large challenge in rebuilding an efficient, competitive private mortgage market, an area in which commercial bank participation is needed. Those are matters for another day.

-- Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, chairman of the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Continue reading "An efficient, competitive private mortgage market, an area in which commercial bank participation is needed. Those are matters for another day." »

December 28, 2009

Class Warfare a Threat to US Recovery -- Art Cashin

If Only We Could Just Get Back To Work

"Jobless claims were actually even better than some down here [on Wall Street] thought," cashin said. But he cautioned that political conflict such as the ongoing health-care debate is constituting a form of class warfare -- which could hinder America's return to economic health.

"It's bubbling up again, all this 'Wall Street versis Main Street' stuff...If we could get back to work again instead of pointing fingers, things in this country would go a lot better."

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November 2, 2009

Trafficking, not trade

In every part of the world, countless individuals are callously exploited for profit,'' Pillay said. ''While trafficking may be a problem related to migration and to transnational crime, it is also -- and fundamentally -- an attack on the dignity and integrity of the individual. Trafficking involves practices prohibited in every country including slavery, debt, bondage, forced labor and sexual exploitation.''

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October 11, 2009

Folly of prizes

Folly of prizes: If an achievement is meritorious enough to justify a prize, it doesn't need one. If too obscure to be recognized, it has no chance of receiving a prize.

May 2, 2009

Ecological awareness in America today

When someone thinks of global warming, they think of a politicized, polarized argument. When you say 'global warming,' a certain group of Americans think that's a code word for progressive liberals, gay marriage and other such issues.

-- ecoAmerica's president and founder, Robert M. Perkowitz

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January 20, 2009

Indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

BHO44, Managing Director, USA

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January 4, 2009

Jealousy and begrudgery are still alive and well in Ireland

"Jealousy and begrudgery are still alive and well in Ireland, and whoever eradicates them should be prime minister for life," he says as he tucks into a heaping plate of gravy-drenched turkey and mashed potatoes in the restaurant of one of the two hotels he owns -- and is hoping to raze. "It's part of the Irish psyche and it is the result of 800 years of being controlled by other people, of watching everything the master or landlord is doing."

Crime, gangland disputes and a sense of anomie flourished as Moyross and other similar projects evolved as cocoons of poverty and hopelessness.

Property developer Sean Dunne with his wife, Gayle Killilea, in Dublin

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November 2, 2008

All on a government loan.

With my torture film
Drive a gto
Wear a uniform
All on a government loan.
I'm worth a million in prizes


-- Iggy Pop and David Bowie, 1977, as prophets.

Continue reading "All on a government loan." »

October 1, 2008

Most researchers

"Most researchers want to put this in the greater context of their own research."

-- Greg Mankiw

August 8, 2008

Hipster as consumer or as producer ?

I'd always understood "hipster" as someone who tried to claim creativity by proxy, by acquiring someone else's creative output, and trying to defend that acquisition as unique by deriding anyone and everyone else who acquired it as wannabes.

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April 12, 2008

Another way of seeing

There is another way of seeing, but it never
occurs to us to remove our glasses.

-- Ben Wolfson.

September 24, 2007

Meritorious Meritocracy

In a meritocracy, it is those who are without merit who will
be left behind. Do the meritless(*) merit assistance ?

Despite their image as meritocratic beacons of opportunity,
the selective colleges serve less as vehicles of upward mobility
than as transmitters of privilege from generation to generation.

-- JEROME KARABEL

(*) Also including those with a paucity of merit.

Continue reading "Meritorious Meritocracy" »

September 15, 2007

Two types of people

There are basically two types of people - those who create glib
dichotomies as a cheap rhetorical device, and those who reject
oversimple two-valued logic as a tool of social inquiry.

MeFi

August 11, 2007

Meat deficiency?

Before reading this I would have never drawn the line between
being a lesbian and a vegetarian. But now, whew, it's like an
epiphany !

-- adrienne / okvoiceofreason

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June 27, 2007

Life after 30

After the age of 30 if you're still drinking beer out of plastic cups
that should tell you something about the caliber of person you are.

-- Deal Breaker

June 10, 2007

Dancing with a bear, Dr. Joycelyn Elders

"It's like dancing with a bear. When you're dancing with a bear,
you can't get tired and sit down. You have to wait for the bear
to get tired."

-- Dr. Joycelyn Elders

May 28, 2007

Slope: slippery or greasy ?

Slippery slope arguments should be avoided unless
there is proof that the slope is greased.

-- Richard Thaler

Continue reading "Slope: slippery or greasy ?" »

April 22, 2007

The best American understands America

The best American is not the American who has been here
the longest or the one who just arrived, it is the one who
understands the principles of America the best because
we are a country held together by ideas.

Rudolph W. Giuliani

April 19, 2007

Hard to be consistent

“It’s hard to be consistent when you are making it up every day.”

Barry Diller, IAC/InterActiveCorp (the Internet conglomerate)

14nocera_diller.jpg

Today, IAC has 64 companies, including LendingTree, TicketMaster,
HSN (formerly the Home Shopping Network), Ask.com, Match.com,
Evite, Citysearch and CollegeHumor. Although it generates more than
$6 billion in revenue, it is not particularly profitable and its assets,
with some notable exceptions like TicketMaster, tend to be second-tier.

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March 20, 2007

Long range, short rtange

You must have long range goals to keep you from
being frustrated by short range failures

-Charles C. Noble

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September 11, 2006

Right track is an insufficient condition

Even if you’re on the right track,
you’ll get run over if you just
sit there.

-- Will Rogers

August 26, 2006

Enterprises require new clothes

Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.

-- Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862), Walden

May 20, 2006

Two types of people dominate technology

Two types of people dominate technology:

  1. Those who understand what they do not manage; and
  2. those who manage what they do not understand.

    -- Putt's Law.

April 8, 2006

On being afraid

War on terror is not about stopping you
from being afraid, it's about making you afraid.

-- George Lakoff.

April 1, 2006

Slippery slope

This isn't just a slippery slope.
It's a toboggan into chaos.

-- FRANK RICH (NYT), January 22, 2006.