David Brooks has an interesting col in today’s NYT. On point – but as usual a bit late to the party. Tribalism, Brooks’s subject, is the ultimate, most toxic form of the factionalism that Madison (Federalist 10) defined – and feared: “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” I wish Brooks would revisit James Fenimore Cooper’s The American Democrat, written in 1836 when Cooper had returned from a long sojourn abroad and was absolutely disgusted by what had become of his native land.

Useful in my ongoing failure to appreciate the theoretical and utilitarian perfection of blockchains and cryptocurrencies: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/10/cryptos-fear-credit.html

This is weird but makes for compelling reading. I do think she has Trump right. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/camille-paglia-hugh-hefners-legacy-trumps-masculinity-feminisms-sex-phobia-1044769


Business Insider has a list of Wall Street’s rising young stars. Looking it over, seeing what these people do, it occurs to me that Wall Street, like so much else in life, is subject to its own variant of Parkinson’s Law: activity rises in proportion to the number of people available to execute it.

Two columnists for whom I have minimal respect, Holman Jenkins at WSJ, and Friedman at NYT, have interestingly asymmetrical columns today on the Las Vegas horror show: Here’s Jenkins: “What if Paddock Were al Qaeda? He likely would have been stopped, because surveillance finds only what it’s looking for.” And now here’s Friedman: “If only Stephen Paddock had been a Muslim … If only he had shouted “Allahu akbar” before he opened fire on all those concertgoers in Las Vegas … If only he had been a member of ISIS … If only we had a picture of him posing with a Quran in one hand and his semiautomatic rifle in another …” The following comment on a New York Magazine article on the subject offers some eye-catching statistics. Are they true? I can’t say – so read at your own peril: “There are 30,000 gun related deaths per year by firearms, and this number is not disputed. U.S. population 324,059,091 as of Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Do the math: 0.000000925% of the population dies from gun related actions each year. Statistically speaking, this is insignificant! What is never told, however, is a breakdown of those 30,000 deaths, to put them in perspective as compared to other causes of death:
• 65% of those deaths are by suicide which would never be prevented by gun laws
• 15% are by law enforcement in the line of duty and justified
• 17% are through criminal activity, gang and drug related or mentally ill persons – gun violence
• 3% are accidental discharge deaths
So technically, “gun violence” is not 30,000 annually, but drops to 5,100. Still too many? Well, first, how are those deaths spanned across the nation?
• 480 homicides (9.4%) were in Chicago
• 344 homicides (6.7%) were in Baltimore
• 333 homicides (6.5%) were in Detroit
• 119 homicides (2.3%) were in Washington D.C. (a 54% increase over prior years)
So basically, 25% of all gun crime happens in just 4 cities. All 4 of those cities have strict gun laws, so it is not the lack of law that is the root cause.”


I have a terrible, humbling confession to make: based on the really quite positive review in NYT  by Janet Maslin, whose work I normally respect (although after this perhaps never again), I threw aside all my usual literary and storytelling  standards and Kindled Dan Brown’s new novel, Origin. I have no idea what book (or, in Brownspeak, invariably “tome”) Maslin read, but her report somehow suggested something different from the achingly pedestrian writing, the inability to leave any cliche alone, the boilerplate phony gravitas and so much other crap to which I exposed myself yesterday until my eyes drooped and I could read no more. Oh yes, Brown is an unabashed borrower. His BIG the
US brokers should fear Massachusetts AG’s probe
Lucrative order routing revenues rely too much on clueless customers, says John Dizard
October 6, 2017ory derives from the work of MIT biophysicist Jeremy England, whose name didn’t turn up in my skim of the acknowledgements – and there’s a talking, responsive computer named Winston. Whoever thought up the IBM campaign ought to sue (update: Brown does mention IBM’s “Watson” at one point.).

Interesting that Apple and Russian oligarchs think the same way about hoarding cash: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-10-06/the-russia-collusion-you-should-care-about

Amen! https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/10/economists-turned-corporations-predators.html


This link should work. Wall Street works and days:

US brokers should fear Massachusetts AG’s probe
Lucrative order routing revenues rely too much on clueless customers, says John Dizard
October 6, 2017

I continue to believe that the world’s GDP is now dominated by the manufacture of distraction:  https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-smartphones-hijack-our-minds-1507307811

In an April article in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, Dr. Ward and his colleagues wrote that the “integration of smartphones into daily life” appears to cause a “brain drain” that can diminish such vital mental skills as “learning, logical reasoning, abstract thought, problem solving, and creativity.” Smartphones have become so entangled with our existence that, even when we’re not peering or pawing at them, they tug at our attention, diverting precious cognitive resources. Just suppressing the desire to check our phone, which we do routinely and subconsciously throughout the day, can debilitate our thinking. The fact that most of us now habitually keep our phones “nearby and in sight,” the researchers noted, only magnifies the mental toll.

Watching Yale fold to Dartmouth. Yale defense typical of recent years: slow and stupid. Badly coached.


Through a feat of willpower that only be described as ‘heroic” I have finally made it to the end of Dan Brown’s Origin. Every page at least skimmed (80 out of the last 100, which comprise (SPOILER ALERT) a tedious, jejune, interminable lecture on the relationship between science and religion – real “claptrap to catch the groundlings”, as I suspect the typical Dan Brown reader will feel himself exalted by reading this posturing garbage.  The book does exemplify what I have long wondered at about second-rate books becoming huge bestsellers: let’s call this what Baudelaire called his “hypocrite lecteur”, “mon semblable-mon frere”  (“my like, my twin”) with the book representing a confluence of second-rate intellects and tastes identical in both author and reader. That said, on top of what I personally consider Origin‘s manifest literary and writerly failings, this is about as pretentious a book as I can recall reading. But bullshit sells, especially now.

Well, well: https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-has-a-luxury-problem-1507460401You’d think this would give AMZ the opportunity to set up a “HyperPrime” program for luxury goods. Lower discounts, careful brand policing, better visuals. Get the big punters in, people who never  shop AMZ, and expose them to the site’s conventional offerings.

OY! https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/07/opinion/sunday/children-alexa-echo-robots.html?ribbon-ad- ex officio idx=8&rref=opinion&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&pgtype=article

Good NYT Op-Ed today by Ross Douthat about liberalism and its sexist pigs. Of course, the Hollywood variety has always been the worst – and I speak from close observation as Dick Zanuck’s appointee in the early 1970s as ex officio  head of the 20th Century-Fox Talent School. I never laid a glove on any of my succulent charges, although I do confess to letting what my late father called “Cornell thoughts” pass through my mind now and then. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/07/opinion/sunday/harvey-weinstein-harassment-liberals.html?ribbon-ad-idx=8&rref=opinion&module=Ribbon&version=origin&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&pgtype=article 

For those like me, whose intellectual conscience keeps them off social media, but whose curiosity remains strong, here it is, all in one place: http://www.trumptwitterarchive.com/