they come they took

I wonder who thieves are, we should all know, but wonder less about where thieves go:

Bruce Wasserstein, the head of the Lazard investment bank and the father of ‘mergers and acquisitions’ died on Wednesday after a career that put him at the center of global dealmaking from the go-go days of the 1980s through the current three decades of banking.

I keep tellin’ ya, ladies and gents, we know nothing about the rich. How is that?

Blind as we are, we have an important task to know who rules.

ideounlogical

Ayn Rand was proud, grouchy, vindictive, insulting, dismissive, and rash...

Arrogance so common, well, so Sarah, so Bernie Madoff, er, so easily Republican.

Ayn RandAmong a long line of successful psychotics, she built a glorious imaginary empire on that nuclear-grade temperament, then devoted every ounce of her will and intelligence to proving it was all pure reason.

Her temperament could have neutered an ox at 40 paces. “I am” and “I want” are an inadequate substitute for Ayn Rand’s years in Russia. This is the comedy, the tragedy, and the power of Rand.

New York Magazine:

After reading the details of Rand’s early life, I find it hard to think of Objectivism as very objective at all—it looks more like a rational program retrofitted to a lifelong temperament, a fantasy world created to cancel the nightmare of a terrifying childhood.

Repeat:

She built a glorious imaginary empire on that nuclear-grade temperament, then devoted every ounce of her will and intelligence to proving it was all pure reason.

So damn familiar and utterly tiring, she was proud, grouchy, vindictive, insulting, dismissive, and rash.

other than gumming

bumped into a snippet:

We will need to think out-of-the-box to come up with smart solutions. We need to build an innovation ecosystem. We need solutions that are scalable rapidly. We need to lead the world in key areas. We will have failures, but the impact of success will far outweigh the downside. We not only need more entrepreneurs, we need them to come up with big vision. We need entrepreneurs who are willing to run the risk of failure; to change the game dramatically. We need entrepreneurs who are not satisfied with building a small, profitable company but are willing to build big.

to save us

the showdown era

an aficionado of business disruption:

After all, as a venture capitalist it is imperative to understand ways in which a smaller private company can gain the upper hand on a large incumbent.

One of the most successful ways to do this is to change the rules of the game in such a way that the incumbent would need to abandon or destroy its core business in order to lay chase to your strategy.

words via a man on the desert, provocative words, the best these days, wot?

we sit among ruins

Mikhail Gorbachev:

The real achievement we can celebrate is the fact that the 20th century marked the end of totalitarian ideologies, in particular those that were based on utopian beliefs.

Yet new ideologies are quickly replacing the old ones, both in the east and the west.

Mikhail GorbachevMany now forget that the fall of the Berlin wall was not the cause of global changes but to a great extent the consequence of deep, popular reform movements that started in the east, and the Soviet Union in particular. After decades of the Bolshevik experiment and the realization that this had led Soviet society down a historical blind alley, a strong impulse for democratic reform evolved in the form of Soviet perestroika, which was also available to the countries of eastern Europe.

But it was soon very clear that western capitalism, too, deprived of its old adversary and imagining itself the undisputed victor and incarnation of global progress, is at risk of leading western society and the rest of the world down another historical blind alley.

snippet from Economist’s View

to rationally assess harm

He says:

Alcohol is more harmful than many illegal drugs.

The man is then fired as UK’s chief drugs advisor.

Professor David Nutt — Estimating drug harms: a risky business?

“I think we have to accept young people like to experiment – with drugs and other potentially harmful activities – and what we should be doing in all of this is to protect them from harm at this stage of their lives.

We therefore have to provide more accurate and credible information.

“If you think that scaring kids will stop them using, you’re probably wrong. They are often quite knowledgeable about drugs and the internet has made access to information extremely simple. We have to tell them the truth, so that they use us as their preferred source of information.

“A fully scientifically-based Misuse of Drugs Act where drug classification accurately reflects harms would be a powerful educational tool. Using the Act in a political way to give messages other than those relating to relative harms undermines the Act and does great damage to the educational message.”

We are dealing with huge challenges using irrational policies.

world unseen

a world waiting…

There are 480 million newspapers printed daily; 800 million automobiles registered on the planet; 1.1 billion personal computers including all desktops, laptops, notebooks and netbooks; 1.2 billion fixed landine phones; 1.4 billion internet users; 1.5 billion TV sets; 4 billion mobile phone subscriptions; 1.7 billion unique holders of a credit card; and 2.1 billion unique holders of a banking account.

The Next Four Billion by Tomi Ahonen.

strikes me as numbers to work with…

another boom too big

As well as Yellowstone’s continental dome, nor’westers are sitting on a pretty big pot:

a single immense body of magma may be feeding those big conical things Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens…

we are not hate

As he signed his name:

We have for centuries strived to live up to our founding ideal, of a nation where all are free and equal and able to pursue their own version of happiness. Through conflict and tumult, through the morass of hatred and prejudice, through periods of division and discord we have endured and grown stronger and fairer and freer. And at every turn, we’ve made progress not only by changing laws but by changing hearts, by our willingness to walk in another’s shoes, by our capacity to love and accept even in the face of rage and bigotry.

skim is never home

BusinessWeek:

“Despite decades of complaints that the United States does not have enough scientists and engineers, the data show our high schools and colleges are providing an ample supply of graduates,” said the State University of New Jersey. “It is now up to science and technology firms to attract the best and the brightest graduates to come work for them.”

We are a great people. Of course we are capable. But thieves are too common and never more able.

your pocket either way

asymmetrical inflation:

Whether an economy generates asset price inflation or consumer price inflation depends on the details of to whom cash flows. In particular, cash flows to the relatively wealthy lead to asset price inflation, while cash-flows to the relatively poor lead to consumer price inflation.

via odograph

downfall instead of progress

Oh those flourishing days!

July
1926

Tiaret is a centre of Arabian culture and Arabian schools and mosques. As I left the town, I passed a remarkable mosque, an example of splendid arts with amazing designs of strikingly harmonizing lines, arches and ornaments. It was built several centuries ago and is witness to the exceptional level of the Arabian arts of the past.

Vavilov’s voyages of discoveryAround it were the usual primitive villages and filthy reservoirs. The children were afflicted with trachoma. The rudimentary agriculture was of a haphazard nature. Again I happened to arrive on a market day. On beautifully prancing, splendid horses, smartly turned out Arabs, mostly with light-colored skin and wearing enormous, metre-wide straw hats and burnooses, came together in the village. Frequently one could see horsemen wearing two hats, one on top of another, apparently to be chic. The dimension of the hats was hardly due to necessity, but was rather an exaggerated fashion.

Both the most primitive and the greatest of the arts all meet here; all this contradiction amazed me and was hard to understand. In any case, on the whole, when traveling around in Syria and Palestine and, later on, in Tunisia and Morocco, it was difficult not to be aware of the ancient and outstanding Arabian civilization represented by immortal geographers, Arabian arts and the Mauritanian style (typical of Africa). In the same way, during a visit to Greece, it is difficult to understand how Athens, which now holds such an insignificant position within the modern world, could once occupy such a significant place among the advanced ancient civilizations.

The ancient time remains an unsurpassed example of an era of important art and sciences, covering all subjects from the medicine of Hippocrates and the natural sciences of Aristotle to the history of Herodotos and Strabo.

Why, when conditions are more favorable, has there in essence been such an enormous downfall and degradation instead of progress?

As if too many in the Middle East resent the failings of today while ignoring the fall of yesterday.

artificially fluffed

All assets are overpriced:

First of all, assets didn’t always appreciate faster than GDP. For the first several decades of this history, economic growth, not paper wealth, was king. We were getting richer by making things, not paper.

Beginning in the 1980s, however, the cult of the markets, which included the development of financial derivatives and the increasing use of leverage, began to dominate. A long history marred only by negative givebacks during recessions in the early 1990s, 2001–2002, and 2008–2009, produced a persistent increase in asset prices vs. nominal GDP that led to an average overall 50-year appreciation advantage of 1.3% annually.

That’s another way of saying you would have been far better off investing in paper than factories or machinery or the requisite components of an educated workforce.

We, in effect, were hollowing out our productive future at the expense of worthless paper such as subprimes, dotcoms, or in part, blue chip stocks and investment grade/government bonds.

fear sniffer

assess the stress: A device that can ‘smell’ human fear could identify terrorists.

City University London; led by Prof Tong Sun; the 18-month project aims to develop two sensor systems that can detect the unique chemical signature of the fear pheromone.

media is ours

Mike Masnick:

NFL didn’t count on outspoken Bengals player Chad Ochocinco from taking things even further.

Ochocinco has decided to set up his own Twitter-based reporting operation on goings on within the NFL, believing that via other players, he’ll be able to get the real scoop and post the information faster and more accurately than any traditional “reporter.”

He says he’s “knocking out the middleman.”

And this is exactly the point we were making about how the media landscape is changing. People want relevant news and information in a format they find most useful. They don’t care if it comes from a reporter, an athlete or the guy down the block. Yes, there are different levels of trust with who delivers the news, but reporters need to realize that they’re not the only gatekeepers any more — no matter how much they wish they were.

captain’s worry

A thoughtful exposition worthy of your read.

“We took his letter very seriously, because he was a good officer,” Holbrooke said in an interview. “We all thought that given how serious his letter was, how much commitment there was, and his prior track record, we should pay close attention to him.”

Washington Post:

The reaction to Hoh’s letter was immediate. Senior U.S. officials, concerned that they would lose an outstanding officer and perhaps gain a prominent critic, appealed to him to stay.

He wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter [pdf].

not business-as-usual

A fossil-powered future is no longer necessary and may not even make economic sense.

A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables by Stanford civil and environmental engineering Professor Mark Z. Jacobson and University of California-Davis researcher Mark Delucchi:

  1. Technologies needed for 100 percent clean power are already working (or close to working) today.
  2. Cost of generating and transmitting these renewables would be less than the projected cost per kilowatt-hour for fossil-fuel and nuclear power.
  3. Shifting from conventional to clean power would lead to a 30 percent decrease in global power demand.

25 percent clean energy by 2025.
100 percent by 2040.

glimpsed in the clouds

Morgan Meis:

The shadows of winter make the world one way: brittle maybe, precise. The angle of the sun makes the world of summer another way entirely: smeared across the afternoon, vibrating.

That’s why so many Romantic artists like the weather. They know that the weather does not make the world, but it does make the world ‘what it’s like’.

So, the Romantics enjoy writing about the weather, and they enjoy painting the weather. They are cloud watchers and rain walkers.

They wait for the light to be just so.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Winter Dreams:

Dexter knew that there was something dismal about this Northern spring, just as he knew there was something gorgeous about the fall. Fall made him clinch his hands and tremble and repeat idiotic sentences to himself, and make brisk abrupt gestures of command to imaginary audiences and armies. October filled him with hope which November raised to a sort of ecstatic triumph, and in this mood the fleeting brilliant impressions of the summer at Sherry Island were ready grist to his mill …