6/26/17-6/30/17

Good place to start: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/06/lee-camp-heres-no-legitimate-healthcare-debate-country.html

Score another for Fixers! Exactly as my novel predicted: http://mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org/

Here are two letters written two years apart to Roger Altman, whom I hired at Lehman Brothers and who has gone on to make a great success. These, I think, speak for themselves (the letters, along with other stuff I’ll be posting, turned up in a review-and-discard of old files preparatory to relocating):

Michael M. Thomas

66 Water St. – #5C

Brooklyn, NY 11201

tel: 718-694-6872

fax: 718-694-6961

[email protected]

 

June 27, 2017

 

Mr. Roger D.Altman

Evercore Partners

65 East 55 St.

New York, NY 10022

 

Dear Roger:

 

The other night, I was at a party in a very grand apartment in a very grand Manhattan building. The company assembled was pretty much of a certain age, with me (68) being at the younger end of the spectrum. Apart from Arthur Schlesinger, most were people who, I would expect, would vote Republican two times out three. Many owed their high standard of living to inherited wealth; all, I think, would have benefited from the Bush tax cuts.

 

And yet a funny thing happened. At one point, the President’s name was mentioned, and an audible ripple of disgust and revulsion ran around the room.

 

While I’m quite aware that it’s dangerous to extrapolate from anecdotal evidence, I think there’s a lesson here for the Kerry campaign, in which I understand you’re involved. It is this: by and large, Bush has made a lot of well-off people in this country ashamed of their advantages.

 

I’m one of them. But I’m also like a lot of people in my position: horribly worried about the direction the country has been taken since 2001, and not particularly keen to vote for a fellow member of the Fence Club on the basis of his campaign so far. How he voted in the Senate doesn’t concern me. The qualities and behavior patterns that go into making an influential Senator are not necessarily those that make a good or effective President. I don’t know Mr. Kerry; I do know his wife, for whom I have a tremendously high regard (indeed I was at her wedding in Pittsburgh to my late friend John Heinz.)

 

Reflecting on all of this has emboldened me to send you a short book I wrote in 1992 that was never published, although it was commissioned and paid for by Random House. I expect the ideas therein were considered too radical by Harry Evans’ patrons. But I think it has a number of ideas that you might find useful in helping your candidate articulate a vision of what kind of country this ought to be and how we should get there. Mr. Kerry’s great opportunity, as I see it, lies in just that: to oppose his own overarching vision of America against a President who doesn’t have one. I happen to be related in an Episcopalian fashion to the Bushes (my late godfather Jimmy Walker was G.H.W.B’s uncle,) and I was handpicked by Will Farish for the Zapata Board when G.H.W.B was bailed out, and one thing I do know about that family is that they believe in absolutely nothing other than that someone will always be there with a basket.

 

Most of what I forecast in the attached has come true. The illustrations may seem out of date, but these can easily be fixed by changing a few names and adding a zero or two to the footings. The larger principles involved- tax as rich what is rich; if we’re going to make the poor sing for their suppers, reward them if they hit the right notes; develop the concept of “the Public Capital” and hammer it home: this is your money, damn it! – might play well politically.

 

For most of my writing career, I have been exploring what I see as the decline and degeneration of the socioeconomic class into which I (and Mr. Kerry) was born, in which I was educated and in which I first obtained employment. A way of life in which, as I put it in the book, it seldom took more than two phone calls to get what I was after. A way of life that had at its heart the concept of noblesse oblige.

 

You are not going to win this election talking about tax plans that it will take clever lawyers and accountants fifteen minutes to figure out how to circumvent. Nothing is solved by further complicating what is already too complicated. Bold strokes, a bold vision, a brave new world: these are called for. People are worried about the kind of America their children and grandchildren are going to find themselves living in. Address this.

 

Anyway, I thought you might find my book useful. I have spent my entire working life learning to think creatively, even if it means cultivating wholly new habits of thought. The Pete Peterson model of dealing with crisis – hold a panel discussion, take out an ad in the Times, on to lunch at the Four Seasons – has proved inefficient, to say the least.

 

Onward!

 

And then this, two years later:

Michael M. Thomas

66 Water St. – Apt. 5C

Brooklyn, NY 11201-1080

718 694 6872 / 347 596 3437

[email protected]

 

April 17, 2006

 

Mr. Roger C. Altman

Evercore Partners

55 East 52 St.

New York, NY 10055

 

 

Dear Roger:

 

You may recall that I wrote you a couple of years ago in connection with some ideas for the Kerry campaign. I didn’t hear back, which I suppose didn’t surprise me, although now that I think about it, the fact that I gave you your first job in investment banking, from which you have springboarded to ever greater visibility and prominence, might have entitled me to at least the minor courtesy of a rubber-stamp acknowledgement.

 

You may also recall that I sent along a copy of an unpublished book I wrote back in 1992 about where I thought this country was headed wrong and what to do about it. That the book never saw publication looks in retrospect to have been a pity, since all of the more dire prognostications I laid out have come true. To make these required no genius on my part, although it did take a form of thinking conspicuously absent in what I then described as the American “overclass”: intellectual honesty – not to mention a touch of moral imagination.

 

In the book I also put forward a number of prescriptive notions, some radical in fact, others only so in perception, that basically involved the application of common sense both to the way we live now and to the way we seem quite happy to see others live. Among these were suggestions regarding Congressional pay and staffing, a sensible tax structure, market-based incentives for individual educational accomplishment and so on.

 

 

My purpose in writing that book was to suggest, by example if you will, that it is no longer practical, even if eminently feasible, to attack the ills that beset this great Republic with further dosages of bullshit, although I recognize that in some circles this substance, of which Prof. Frankfurt has written with uncommon eloquence, is thought to have the same therapeutic effect on overclass social guilt that Zoloft does on clinical depression.

 

And that brings me to the Hamilton Project, the Wall Street Journal report on which prompted me to look up your website and download the mission statement. This I read with great interest, several times, and what I read prompts me now to write to urge that you and your colleagues in this amazingly self-congratulatory undertaking cease and desist.

 

I say this in a kindly, even condolatory way. The “Project” has absolutely no chance of success – unless, of course, you equate (and it occurs to me that by now you may) a certain measure of PR exposure with achievement. For one thing, there are no new ideas in the statement. “Economic security and economic growth can be mutually reinforcing” is not a new idea, nor is any to be found in the page-long gloss that follows the enunciation of this bold new “principle.” If I may paraphrase Churchill’s well-known apothegm on the late Soviet Union, what we have here is platitude wrapped in cliché inside bromide – over and over and over. And this begs the question, for this nation at least, of a nation-fixing mission statement that nowhere (unless I am blind) includes the word “immigration.”

 

Another reason that the Project has absolutely no chance of success is – how am I going to put this gently? – the people behind it. Your Advisory Council consists of 25 individuals. Of these, twelve come from Wall Street, broadly considered. I cannot say for sure whether experience in grossly-overpaid lines of work such as hedge funds and derivatives trading and private equity and giving merger advice, which do not in the ordinary course of their business concern themselves with such matters as how to get a job, pay the doctor, put food on the table, equips one to understand, let alone deal with the vexations faced by the people in this country we need to worry about, but it seems conjectural at best.

 

Another ten members of your Advisory Council come from Academe, which requires no further comment, a consideration that also applies to the member who comes from the Never-Neverland of management consulting. Two others make their home in think tanks, and the last is in publishing. At   a time when enterprises like General Motors and Ford are back to wall, one might have thought some representation from the “make and do and hire and fire” sectors of American commerce would have proved helpful, even insightful. Perhaps even someone from Wal-Mart.

 

 

That said, I have no doubt that the Project will achieve its real goals. It will commission studies, enable consultants, stage conferences and symposia and panels, publish full-page newspaper ads, generate press coverage and the like, in the same inspiring manner as its ancestor in blather, the Concord Coalition of blessed memory.

 

But is this really the point? If there were some way to monetize self-congratulation, or to convert into BTUs the energy released by stroking the chin while gravely pursing the lips, I would argue otherwise. But the chances seem twofold: slim and none. The sad truth seems to be, at least in the eyes of one who has spent enough time at the Four Seasons to have a sense of how this stuff works, that this really isn’t a program about helping the less-advantaged or getting the country straightened out in a fiscal and intellectual sense, this is an advertisement for a government-in-waiting.

 

In conclusion, let me say that this letter is written in darkest self-interest. The day you receive this letter I shall turn 70. Years ago, I took my design for living from a famous New Yorker cartoon, in which a very fancy mother says to her son, “Eat your broccoli, dear,” and the lad, after inspecting his plate dubiously, replies, “I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it!” The sun will soon enough go down for the last time for me, and already the chances are that its final twinkling rays will be blotted out by the giant mounds of spinach with which the American landscape has been heaped by self-aggrandizing Panglosses in pinstripes. I beg you not to add to the pile.

 

As always,

 

It should go without saying that neither letter received a reply.

 

This makes a lot of sense to me: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/26/trump-president-style-mayor-215294

 

Read the first two posts: http://wallstreetonparade.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6/19/17-6/25/17….

Here’s something else I wrote in 1995.

 

The deal everyone’s yakking about. An interesting take: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/06/wolf-richter-amazon-slash-jobs-whole-foods-dump-cashiers-switch-cheaper-products-price-war-wal-mart.html And read the Comments.

It continues to surprise me that while everyone declares the Mainstream Media (MSM) risk being put out of business by Social Media, the newspapers and networks continue to report, say, Trump’s tweets as if these are real news and not simply the midnight ravings of an egomaniac.

From Audacious Hope to Hope Abandoned: the presidency of Barack Obama. It’s what got us where we are. And has gotten him (and the missus) a $60 million book deal.

You’ll recall my earlier post on Cecconi’s, the new restaurant across the street. Here’s a squib from the Observer:  “But those who are concerned that Jones’ Italian restaurants are just as exclusive as his member’s only clubs have no reason to worry: “It’s a restaurant that all sorts of people of all ages go to, everyone comes to Cecconi’s.”  Well, not quite, I can think of two people who won’t be dropping in.

A nation mourns. The news that the actor Stephen Furth, who indelibly played Kent Dorfman, aka “Flounder,” in Animal House  has me bent double, keening and rending garments. As must be the case with the millions of others of my age and a bit younger, people (especially men) who know the deepest of mortal verities: that Animal House contains ALL TRUTH. No character in the film better embodied this Parnassian quality than Flounder (“Women – can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.”) A deity has passed. I shall do what needs to be done at such a grave, grievous moment and pay the respect that is called for: I shall take down the DVD (“Special Anniversary Edition”) and watch the movie for what must surely be the 20th time.

I’m getting to know R.R. Reno, editor of First Things, the influential journal founded a quarter-century ago by Father Richard John Neuhaus to argue the relationship between religion and public life and as a counterforce to secularism. Reno is a very impressive guy. Here’s a sample: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/issues/november-18th-2016/the-meaning-of-donald-trump/    Here’s something I recently wrote to an e-correspondent: I believe that our political system leads to certain tendencies, perhaps inherently, that can all fairly be described as suicidal. Racism is certainly one. Money-worship is another. Institutional corruption, whether in the public or private sector, is a third. Secularism should probably be in there somewhere, perhaps as a stepchild of the previous three. Another, perhaps the most toxic, is ignorance, which no power that ever was on earth has done more to foster than the internet and social media. As I am fond of remarking: the trouble with the internet is that it gives millions of people with nothing to say a place to say it.
Now: if a number of these tendencies come alive simultaneously, as seems to me to be the case today, you have a perfect storm that can wipe out everything in its path. Starting with a phenomenon that absolutely baffles me: it is one thing to ignore the plight of the poor, that’s been going on for millennia. But to actively wage war on the poor, as now seems to be the case, would appear to invite the wrath of God in whichever form He is worshipped, and in whatever way He chooses to manifest His fury. I should add that I’m not a religious person – I am in church only for weddings and, more often at my age (81), funerals – but I have to say that climate change strikes me as having elements of divine anger.  In other words: does God lose patience? Ever?

Good question: http://dealbreaker.com/2017/06/rentec-cftc/

Preparatory to relocating, I’ve been going through boxes and cabinets of old files, throwing away 90% of what I come across. Somewhere I found this, written by me at the end of 2012. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2011/12/28/big-lie-wall-street-has-destroyed-wonder-was-america How could I have gotten the outcome so wrong? The only answer has to be that my formative years – childhood through college – coincided with the years (1941-1960) that America showed itself to best advantage and left me with a residue of optimism and idealism that it has taken decades to scrape away. It’s very disheartening to reflect on the likelihood that for over fifty years I’ve gotten my own country wrong. That reflection played an important role in designing Fixers,  in which the narrator has to come to terms with the realization that the WASP traditions he was raised to revere and emulate – discretion, noblesse oblige properly understood, concern for others, the responsibilities that go with privilege – have been stamped into nothingness under the heavy tread of money-worship, unconcern for others, me-firstism and so on.

 

Interesting thought: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/06/not-just-working-class-service-class.html

A view from the front: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Block-Amazon-11243628.php I like this:

The Wal-Mart in a small, central Texas town never made a profit.

For 10 years, the megastore operated in Hearne, north of Bryan, with lower prices and better deals than local businesses. Wal-Mart eventually pulled the plug, but not before Hearne’s downtown was littered with empty storefronts. After the megastore closed, the closest place to buy basic necessities was a 26-mile drive away.

Reading about Amazon’s plans to buy Austin-based Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, you’ve got to wonder how much longer until the entire nation ends up like Hearne.

When China exports tires or steel at a loss and puts U.S. competitors out of business, we declare it illegal and call it “dumping.” When Wal-Mart, Amazon or Uber does it, we declare it a good investment opportunity and call it the free market.

For the MUST list: http://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Gadfly/240311?key=2ZIPoiHsy9X3ZNGVLN4YvrK9ZZs1KWhBz010O-PCftXT1KFIDXHagaaR3q7QmshNZUZBRDV0YzJXemFoekJiQTIyelFpYjBXRVhNdS0zeV9TZVMwbHJHUFo5dw

What we need is compassion with brains: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nancy-pelosi-democrats_us_594d808ce4b05c37bb767d21 High IQ noblesse oblige, shall we say?

 

 

 

6/12-6/16/17….

Just back from a week in UK seeing my wife’s family and the old (in several senses) friends I care about. Lovely time. Now the move begins, and I need to get settled before resuming posts. A lot to think about, a lot to say. But first we need to survey the battlefield and establish our order of battle. Back anon.

Boston Globe  baseball writer: “I know I write dumb stuff on Twitter I wouldn’t think of writing for the Globe. That’s the case for many reporters, and we should be held accountable.” Which seems to me to beg the question:  so why do you Tweet at all, asshole!

Waited in vain for one of Trump’s cabinet to give an edge to the round-table sycophancy by saying something like, “Mr.President, I am honored to be able to kiss your giant fat ass and suck your tiny dick.”

Will try to get up to speed eventually. For the nonce, this is pretty good, although I generally haven’t voted Democrat. https://baselinescenario.com/2017/06/15/telling-a-better-story-a-new-economic-vision-for-the-democratic-party/#more-16694

One thing that occurred to me in London that I will be writing more about – someday – is that while much is made of “trickle down,” the theory being that vast accumulations at the top of the wealth pyramid must result in some part of the excess “trickling down” into the purses of lesser mortals, rather after the manner of a champagne fountain, what actually seems to “trickle down” in real life are higher costs,  and that rather than improving the lot of the poor or of those people who are marginally getting by, “trickle down” actually worsens their situation.

Today’s (6/16) WSJ reports the same of two $70 million units in one of the new condo towers abuilding in Manhattan. For some time, I’ve been puzzling over this quandary: morning comes, time to go to the office or heliport or wherever; you check your To-Do list (more chewing gum for the fading trophy wife, something from JAR for the girlfriend) descend from your 80th-floor, $70 million aerie in a more-or-less-private elevator, emerge to much uniformed and tasseled bowing and scraping, clamber into your Escalade (Wealth Rule #7: the smaller the tycoon, the larger must be the vehicle) and now what? You’re stuck in the same miserable traffic as the rest of us schmucks, breathing the same polluted air, trying to hear yourself think over the ceaseless honking clamor of what must be the world’s noisiest city. This is what the immortal J. Durante would characterize as “a revoltin’ development.” And so one asks: can special, dedicated Limousine Lanes be far in the future? Another reason to read a marvelous book I’ve mentioned before: Moskowitz’s How to Kill a City. Did you know that under Bloomberg 40% of NYC was “rezoned” – ie. handed over to developers, usually with a fake “affordable” tax subsidy. That is some amazing number.

Interesting. The prediction of robots rising up and taking over has been around a long time. My first year at Exeter (1950-51) the Dramat put on R.U.R, a 1920 play by the Czech playwright Karel Capek. Humans invent robots (this introduced the word”robot”) which then rise up etc. etc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.U.R. For serious students of the history of American drama, let it be noted that I – who had been a matchless Scrooge and Sniggers (in Lord Dunsany’s A Night at an Inn) at Buckley – played a nursemaid. And badly.

When the Lady Wife and I read that Cecconi’s (a branch of Soho House, or – as it is known in this apartment – “Douchebag Central” or “DC”) had opened up in the Empire Stores, we decided to stroll across Water St. to #55 to have a gander. http://mailchi.mp/guestofaguest/finally-soho-house-brings-cecconis-to-new-york?e=fe7590a783 We’re neither of us foodies, but I had a special reason for going over there. Enzo Cecconi, the eponym for the DC chain, is an old friend. That is, he became a friend because he married Sarah Coleman, with whom I played a lot of golf at Cypress Point back when we were 15 and 16. We were exactly the same age (I was born 04/18/1936 and Sarah a day later). She came from a famous golfing home (her father George L. Coleman gave his name to the gilt-edged amateur tournament staged every year at Seminole). Over time, we drifted apart and then encountered each other in 1977, when I stayed at the Cipriani in Venice, where Enzo was the General Manager. Sarah had turned him into a golf nut; I recall going 18 with him at the Lido course across the lagoon. A year or so later, they left Venice and Enzo opened his namesake restaurant in London, back of the Burlington Arcade. It was terrific, and a huge success. Enzo kept it for 20-odd years, then sold it – he and Sarah built a big house in Pebble Beach – and then it got sold again, and finally ended up in the hands of DC, which attached the Cecconi name to a string of restaurants around the world, of which the version opposite where we live is the latest. So we had a reason for going above and beyond culinary curiosity, even though a perusal of the menu online disclosed the presence of vitello tonnato,  a dish of which I am uncommonly fond, and which I have difficulty finding in nearby restaurants.

So we went over and thereby experienced as revolting a restaurant experience as I have ever had, although I suppose it was guileless of me to expect otherwise, given the utter lack of class and manners that is as much a part of today’s urban young as those stupid fedoras they affect, who throng to “clubs” run by and for people who have no idea whatsoever what a proper club is like. When we entered the restaurant, we were practically blinded by the light reflected off a sea of empty tabletops. As our vision cleared, and could see what is by any standards a pretty elegant set-up (I think Enzo would be satisfied), a snooty voice informed us that “We’re not accepting walk-ins.” The latter term, which I hate, was made to sound like “lepers.” We pleaded that we were only dropping by to have a drink, but Ms. Snoot remained obdurate. “we’re not accepting walk-ins.”  To be fair, she was probably simply reciting a script prepared by the sort of social illiterates who use words like “exclusive” a lot. Anyway, there seemed to no point in arguing, so we left, vowing never to return (and we shan’t, vitello tonnato notwithstanding), and ambled over to AlMar, one of Brooklyn’s truly great, truly underrated restaurants, for a delicious dinner.

Returning home, my wife saw outside #55 Water St. what seemed, in the metaphorical sense at least, to be a queue of typical DC “FOMOs” (Fear of Missing Out) waiting to get in and photographed it for posterity.

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You have been warned. Assholes are as assholes do. And I should add a sad bit of news: my teenage golfing pal Sarah Cecconi died earlier this year at her home in Pebble Beach.
A confession: I continue to be unable to think, let alone speak the phrase”President Trump.”
Here’s an article that I find interesting and relevant in all its particulars, but especially (scroll through) in its suggestion of a way to look at Brexit from a “non-Yob” point of view: https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/06/post-truth-its-pure-nonsense/

 

6/1/17….

Now begins that awful time of year when the air is full of “What’s Hot in the Hamptons?” buzz wherever one looks, and the Instagram Idiots are out in full force. My six children, now aged thirty to sixty, were raised out there in the ’60s through the ’80s, and it might as well have been a different geologic era. Houses were affordable, which among other things meant that people who worked there lived there; traffic was negligible (Southampton to East Hampton was a fifteen-minute drive; today it’s likely to be over an hour) and one didn’t have to go grocery shopping at 7AM to be sure of finding a parking spot. The tables at Shippy’s and Bobby Van’s weren’t booked a month in advance, and the bar crowd at the American Hotel didn’t make one fear for the future of mankind.  The place and the people were altogether quieter. There were open fields. Still, when someone like me reflects on “duh Hamptons” as was, I bear in mind the observation of a wise friend over lunch a few weeks ago: “It’s not the way Southampton has changed that I hate,” she said, “it’s the way I’ve changed. I’ve grown old….” And her voice trailed off, and I could guess what her mind’s eye was seeing. Housman once again got it right: “It is the land of lost content/I see it shining plain/The happy highways where I went/And cannot go again.”

And then there’s this kind of piece, sent to me by my son Michael, written by a fellow who’s a 1990s Hamptons nouveau, which in his world counts as old money. As I recall, the author is a chubby little fellow who had – may still have – a Main St. shop that sold rather ordinary “resortwear.”  http://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/tradition/a9874648/southampton-new-york-history/   One correction, I knew hardly anyone who went to Herb McCarthy’s. The place we went was Dick “Enjoy your steaks, kids!” Ridgeley’s joint out on the highway.

This site is likely to be inactive starting now, because we’re going to London for a week: T to see her mum and family, me to see old (in several senses) friends whom, aa a glance  at the actuarial tables suggests, I feel I better see now because…well, you get the point.

And then when we return, we’ll be in that special hell known as moving. Thanks to considerate landlords, it’ll only be down the hall, but I’m a bit of a packrat and the prospect of dealing with all this stuff – the books alone, the books! – terrifies me. Funny, when I moved here over 17 years ago, I failed to include in my game plan an element that’s proving to crucial: getting old. Just like the rest of us. See you in a week or so.

And while I’m away, ponder this: https://baselinescenario.com/2017/05/31/economism-and-arbitration-clauses/#more-16618

Or this. De mortuis…. http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/06/john-helmer-presidents-inferiority-complex-zbigniew-brzezinskis-russia-hating-obsession-putsch-plotter-itchy-trigger-finger.html View image on Twitter

Finally, given my jaundiced view of social media (I’ve disconnected from FB and Twitter, and on Instagram I follow a very few people,mainly family, and seldom if ever post): http://dealbreaker.com/2017/05/trolls-real-time-crowd-sourced-stock-trading-online-game-buy-tesla/?utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=52590753&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_egDLWwSWzvkzQiyn4_xM6fjFA2pZghM6zJPZC6HO36O9RaBodSRqMmM2-GLkSEAbPsx5oAwCb6AmvNVk16-QNtSJKWg&_hsmi=52590753

 

In today’s NYT, the paper’s spinner of digital metaphysics, Farhad Manjoo, refers to Twitter as “his daily addiction.” Further down in the piece, Manjoo lists the properties that make Twitter so addictive: “It’s where political messaging and disinformation get digested, packaged and widely distributed for mass distribution to cable, Facebook and the res of the world.” Funny: I find this hardly an incentive to addiction, but then I never got crack, either.

Then there’s this: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-01/meal-kit-company-blue-apron-files-for-initial-public-offering Excerpt from the article: “The company’s net loss widened to $54.9 million in 2016 from $46.9 million a year earlier, despite net revenue climbing to $795 million from $340.8 million in the same period, according to the prospectus. Among risk factors listed in the filing, Blue Apron warned that it may never make a profit.” Where do I sign up!

And…finally… New York  has a long expose of Uber. The piece incorporates a striking photo of Ubermensch Travis Kalanick standing next to Super Bowl hero Tom Brady at the Kentucky Derby. The difference in height is considerable, and given Kalanick’s reputation, brings to mind one of my happier coinages of years past, to wit: that most of the world’s problems can be traced to three sources: sex, money and short men.

A bientot, mes chers.