Been wondering when this harassment penny was going to drop (from Politico): http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/24/leon-wieseltier-new-republic-emerson-collective-workplace-conduct-244120

Makes sense to me, but not a chance in hell of being implemented: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-10-24/faster-growth-begins-with-a-land-tax-in-u-s-cities?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_term=171024&utm_campaign=sharetheview

I find this an amazing story. Is nothing free from corruption? https://www.fastcompany.com/3065928/sleepopolis-casper-bloggers-lawsuits-underside-of-the-mattress-wars

Catching up on “60 Minutes this past Sunday, I watched their report (joint with The Washington Post) about the opioid epidemic and the successful lobbying by Big Pharma Etc to get legislation that blocked an effort to put stronger DEA enforcement in place. I found it pretty convincing. Today The Wall Street Journal  offers an editorial rebuttal that is also pretty convincing, exonerating the Congresspersons that “60 Minutes” painted as tools of Big Pharma Etc.  Of course, one has to take into account which side of the aisle WSJ speaks from, who its owner is, and the ideological predispositions of its editor. Still…anyway here’s an excerpt from WSJ that gives the essence of its  case (WSJ operates behind a paywall, so this is cut-and-paste): 

The media narrative now is that the pharmaceuticals lobby spent big to hoodwink Congress to pass a bill Members didn’t understand. The reality is that the trade group the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, took no position on the bill. That’s no surprise given that enforcement actions tend to hit distributors, not manufacturers.

To understand what’s going on here, zero in on former DEA official Joe Rannazzisi, the star source for “60 Minutes” and the Washington Post. Mr. Rannazzisi, the story notes, now consults for lawyers suing the opioid industry. Where there is pain and suffering, there are trial lawyers looking to make a buck. And the plaintiffs bar is using state lawsuits to turn opioids into the next tobacco. “Opioids: The Next Tobacco?” ran a trial lawyer seminar in Washington last month, as the American Tort Reform Association has noted.

All of this matters because Congress may soon try to whoop through a repeal bill, and Democrats fresh off scuttling Mr. Marino will now indict every GOP Member of Congress as a drug dealer. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who is running for the Senate, co-sponsored a version of the bill and has since walked back her support, which is unfortunate. If anything, Congress ought to do more to restrict DEA actions that can blow up the supply chain and interfere with medical decision-making outside its jurisdiction.

More broadly, note the cynicism of accusing one Republican of deepening a social crisis that had claimed tens of thousands of lives before Congress thought up this bill. The horrors of opioid addiction come from many dysfunctions, including too many prescriptions; a decline in work; heroin and fentanyl; easy access from Medicaid; and others. The story that a Member of Congress led a bipartisan conspiracy to worsen drug addiction is as false as it is implausible.

This figures. Like many another second-rate son of a well-regarded father, Treas. Sec. Mnuchin learned in the cradle that the best way to get recognized is to kiss the ass of the big guy in the room. http://www.businessinsider.com/schumer-steve-mnuchin-tax-reform-trump-2017-10 Add this to the mix:  https://dealbreaker.com/2017/10/chuck-schumer-now-wondering-aloud-if-steve-mnuchin-is-dumb-or-full-of-shit/

Caveat emptor! http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/the-big-yellow-canary-in-the-casino/

Mike Pence for President When-or-If: http://wallstreetonparade.com/2017/10/mike-pence-secures-the-no-law-zone-around-wall-street/

Where’s the guy with the funny little mustache? https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/republicans-just-caved-to-the-big-banks-and-exposed-trumps-sham-populism?reload=true



Skipped a couple of days. Playing a bit of catchup while waiting for Yale-Columbia to start on SNY.

Good stuff here. When Bull Clinton was elected, I noted in NYO  for people to be alert – as Little Rock was the US equivalent to Palermo. http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/the-informant-cometh/

Hard to do in a place (like NYC) where the mayor is the lying tool of developers. It may not in the end amount to much of a difference, but at least Michael Bloomberg made clear his intentions, and wasn’t in the pocket of the realty lobby: https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/27/how-to-stop-gentrification-and-house-a-nation/

Important: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/10/gaius-publius-defining-neoliberalism.html


From my pal Alexander.https://www.thetimes.co.uk/magazine/the-sunday-times-magazine/the-truth-about-facebook-how-to-win-2bn-friends-and-destroy-civilisation-9fhl5rbs9

Hard to disagreehttps://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/10/ok-i-admit-it-donald-trump-is-an-idiot-but-hes-dead-right-about-unesco/

Sounds like a “must read”: http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2017/10/26/lessons-for-american-putin-rise/GzM9xcKPHk1YyW5eOhc50M/story.html?et_rid=1758184608&s_campaign=todaysheadlines:newsletter



Start here and give a listen: http://www.wnyc.org/story/what-trump-and-his-associates-were-politics/


Over the past couple of days, I’ve been pondering what to me seems the great political-economic story of the last half of my lifethe unrelenting merciless war on the poor: it’s been conducted without cease by the people with power and wealth, people like the Kochs, the Mercers, the Silicon Valley gang of four, and their minions in government, media and theory-peddling, against the penniless and powerless. It disgraces this country and must ultimately be the end of us – and yet the media steadfastly refuse to call it what it is: open warfare. 

Lots of Luck. Stiglitz, of course (and as usual) is right on the money, but considering the way the well has been poisoned, ain’t gonna happen. And to think that when I was at Exeter, we read Yankee From Olympus,  Catherine Drinker Bowen’s life of Justice Holmes, in which the great jurist’s antitrust opinions were pointed to as being of the essence of American democracy. https://www.thenation.com/article/america-has-a-monopoly-problem-and-its-huge/

OK: here’s my question. The properties were bought with money from overseas accounts. Then mortgaged, so: dirty money in, laundered money out. But how did all that dirty money enter the US financial system in the first place? Offsetting deposits? https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20171030/carroll-gardens/paul-manafort-indictment-nyc-real-estate?utm_source=Cobble+Hill+%26+Carroll+Gardens&utm_campaign=25792ffe65-Mailchimp-NYC&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_475d7f6b48-25792ffe65-139053093

Everything pales beside this dreadful tragic business on West St.!



A view of Tina Brown it’s hard to disagree with: https://medium.com/@mkramerbryk/a-likely-story-2ba9ad441e95

In case this was missed the first time around: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/the-myth-of-the-kindly-general-lee/529038/

And now – this: http://wallstreetonparade.com/2017/11/russia-trump-saga-both-murdoch-empire-and-nyt-have-soiled-hands/








Yesterday, time and energy were consumed by the semiannual meeting of the Robert Lehman Foundation, my sole remaining institutional connection, a board I’ve been on since the Foundation’s establishment some 45 years ago. We do good work in the service of art history and the arts generally, from high scholarship to bringing the arts to underserved communities and constituencies.


Let’s start with this: http://www.businessinsider.com/healthcare-costs-could-spur-the-next-recession-2017-10?utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=57483842&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–3zClSJxbcLtsn1bA5xkoQtV_XrGrZDD1noT8yCl1M3aaVLG5okerOVePqkAIkx47T2Y9FUTVxv102zxdzhCvsXriC2w&_hsmi=57483842 

I must say, it is funny how life works. There’s definitely a point at which the signs are clear that one is superfluous to requirements. when no one really gives a damn what you think or have to say and is therefore unencumbered by common small courtesies. For me, that point has obviously been reached. For instance, I recently completed an article at my normal length (1500-2000) words and was promptly advised that 800-1000 words was what is wanted. The cut was easy. I write in a baroque style, with trills and ornamentation, so I simply cut these out. My emails go unanswered. This is in its way sad-making, except for…

The time it provides to read. I was curious about Jennifer Egan’s new novel Manhattan Beach. It was strongly reviewed in NYTBR by Amor Towles, a writer I admire. It’s about World War II in NY Harbor and that summoned up resonances of October, 1945, when my brother and I, age 9 and 7 respectively, went on board the great carrier Wasp, our “honorary uncle” Joe Clifton commanding, when it arrived at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for postwar refitting to bring troops back from the Pacific. I can only say this. Manhattan Beach  is wonderful. ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!  Read it, I beg you! They don’t make novels like this any more.


From “Bloomberg Technology”:

“Tracking TV “viewers” was simpler when there were only three U.S. networks, although Nielsen’s statistical techniques have been questioned even in the relatively prosaic TV era. It is clear that as internet entertainment fragments how people spend their leisure time, it is simply tougher to track all the things we watch. And companies including Netflix can benefit from the confusion.

“In advertising, too, the migration of audience and advertising to the web hasn’t fulfilled the promise of clarity. The rough and probably wildly wrong ad metrics from magazines and TV have been replaced by specific metrics that drown people in information about “engagement” and “likes” but don’t necessarily make it clear which half of their advertising is wasted.

“And then there’s a whole industry built around fleecing companies that purchase ads. My Bloomberg colleagues wrote a great article a couple of years ago about how fraudulent advertising works on the internet, and it’s worth re-reading. Suffice it to say, lots of companies are paying for advertisements that no human being ever sees. BuzzFeed also detailed this week a complex ad fraud ring.

“Yep, the internet sure is great. Or at least it’s great at lies, damn lies and statistics.”     Compare this to your own views. I skip or click past 90% of the ads that pop up on my screens. 90% of what I buy on Amazon has been recommended elsewhere, usually in print media.

Why I always read Michel Hudson. https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/10/michael-hudson-socialism-land-banking-2017-compared-1917.html

Interesting – from an unlikely source: https://theweek.com/articles/729324/why-america-coming-apart-seams


Theodore Dalrymple, a writer I greatly admire, addresses a subject that has fascinated (and appalled) me for years: the saturative prevalence of tattoos. Obviously in some societies and orders, tattoos have a quasi-religious significance or utility. In our secular religion – the cult of “me” – the same would appear to apply. A few years back, I urged Arnold Lehman, a good friend and then Director of the Brooklyn Museum, to do a universal tattoo exhibition. A better venue for this than Brooklyn I could not imagine. Didn’t get done. I believe it might have drawn a million.Anyway, see what you think: https://www.newcriterion.com/issues/2000/6/exposing-shallowness


At the risk of jail time, I’m reprinting this from WSJ (the paper operates behind a paywall, but based on how much I have to pay for my WSJ subscription and the limited readership of my own gratis website I feel a modicum of guilt but no fear). It’s a first-rate piece by Christopher Mims about Facebook’s master algorithm. What I find interesting is the author’s emphasis on the essentiality of  human  inputs to the equation, which is driven by Artificial Intelligence:

Instagram engineers faced a Herculean task in early 2016. Fearing that people would miss the most important posts, Instagram’s leadership asked the engineers to transform the chronological photo feed into a curated list of posts based on users’ individual preferences.

Development of a similar algorithm for Facebook ’s News Feed, which determines what 2 billion Facebook users see, required an enormous investment of time by some of the world’s most highly compensated engineers.

At Instagram, three or four engineers got the job done in less than five weeks, says Joaquin Candela, Facebook’s head of applied machine learning. The team was able to clone the existing News Feed algorithm, then tweak it to suit Instagram.

However much Instagram’s engineers tweaked it, the fact that most of what powers Instagram came straight from Facebook’s News Feed shows the dominance and success of this basic engine of social media. Think of it—and the endless, modular chunks of AI that go into it—as Facebook’s master algorithm (my words, not Facebook’s).

If telling us what to look at next is Facebook’s raison d’être, then the AI that enables that endless spoon-feeding of content is the company’s most important, and sometimes most controversial, intellectual property. A sorted, curated feed tuned for engagement is the product of a device that may someday be viewed by historians as a milestone on par with the steam engine.

Only this engine, built to capture human attention, has shown itself to be exploitable by bad actors and possibly detrimental to our democracy, even when it is functioning as advertised. This has prompted congressional hearings for Facebook and other tech companies, scheduled for November. Facebook has been a vessel for Russian influence and the spread of fake news, and a potential cause for envy and unhappiness. The personalization of content that Facebook’s master algorithm allows, and the hyperpartisan news sites that have risen to feed it, have created, for many users, personalized “filter bubbles” of what is essentially nonoverlapping reality.

At the same time, the company’s announcement that it is hiring more humans to screen ads and filter content shows there is so much essential to Facebook’s functionality that AI alone can’t accomplish.

AI algorithms are inherently black boxes whose workings can be next to impossible to understand—even by many Facebook engineers. “If you look at all the engineers at Facebook, more than one in four are users of our AI platform,” says Mr. Candela. “But more than 70% [of those] aren’t experts.”

How so many Facebook engineers can use its AI algorithms without necessarily knowing how to build them, Mr. Candela says, is that the system is “a very modular layered cake where you can plug in at any level you want.” He adds, “The power of this is just hard to describe.” Pieces of that platform are performing all kinds of “domain-specific” tasks across Facebook’s properties, from translation to speech recognition.

Information Butler, or Time Vampire?
Every time one of Facebook’s two billion monthly users opens the Facebook app, a personalization algorithm sorts through all the posts that a person could theoretically see, and dishes up the fraction it thinks she or he would like to see first. The system weighs hundreds of frequently updated signals, says Mr. Candela. Without AI, many of these signals would be impossible to analyze.

An example of updated signals would be Facebook’s recent fight against clickbait—links to stories that are “misleading, sensational or spammy.” Training the algorithm takes human labor: A team analyzed hundreds of thousands of posts in 10 languages, flagging offending headlines that either withheld information (“Here’s the one thing…”) or exaggerated (“…will blow your mind”). The resulting system autonomously scans links, suppressing the ones that match what it learned from the human-generated data.

Facebook’s master algorithm now also can extract additional meaning from our posts and photos, Mr. Candela says.

The “recommendations” feature, for instance, allows a person to ask what to check out on a trip to Barcelona. Because Facebook’s AI actually “knows” what La Sagrada Familia is and where it is located, anyone who recommends it in a comment will see it pop up on a map above the post.

These capabilities are versatile enough that Facebook users have repurposed them in unexpected ways, Mr. Candela says. When Hurricane Irma hit Florida, people used Facebook to build a map of stores with bottled water for sale. The person who created the post activated the “recommendations” feature; others added to it simply by commenting on the post with retailers’ addresses.

Mr. Candela says teams add new features to Facebook’s master algorithm to “add value to social interactions.” Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg recently said the company’s goal was to “bring the world closer together.”

However it is phrased, it is measured in the way people engage with Facebook’s apps and networks, whether that is increasing the number of posts they like or comment on, or how useful they find machine-translated posts, or how often they use M, Facebook’s Messenger-based smart assistant, Mr. Candela says.

Time spent on Facebook’s various properties correlates with the company’s revenue, and that number was going up at last report: In April 2016, Facebook said it was capturing on average 50 minutes of every American’s day, up from 40 minutes in July 2014.

The unstated assumption behind the work of Facebook’s more than 20,000 employees is that getting people to use Facebook more is a good thing. It is certainly hard to imagine a world without it, given how it has become central to the way we connect, find news and keep up with friends and family.

But given what we have learned over the past year, it is worth asking whether the intentions of the hugely powerful Oz that is Facebook’s master algorithm are ultimately benevolent or malign.

Well, so it’s not going to be a replay of the Dodgers-Yankees World Series that punctuated the Octobers of my boyhood (Yankee victories in 1947, 1949, 1952,1953 with Dem Bums finally breaking the string in 1955). Somewhere in there I went from being a rabid Yankee fan to a Yankee-hater, a “surprising conversion” worthy of Robert Lowell’s poem on the subject, but now I’ve reconverted to the Bronx Bombers. You just can’t not root for these kids! As Dodger fans declared (it seemed) every autumn: “wait ’til next year!”

And now this: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/10/enlightenment-enlightenment-now.html

As a character in Fixers asks, “Whatever happened to compassion in this country?” http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/10/20/spreading-trump-salt-every-wound/a3PYAsgUnyhDqxzUH9DsyI/story.html?et_rid=1758184608&s_campaign=todaysheadlines:newsletter

It may be true that pigs can’t fly, but they can tweet! http://www.trumptwitterarchive.com/

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yadayada. AMZ isn’t killing independent bookstore, realty is. https://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/why-amazons-headquarters-are-plotnick-diamond.html

For 18 years, I have lived in DUMBO, in Brooklyn, a “neighborhood” (sic) in which there are none of the small shops that support an urban existence, but a plenitude of overpriced food outlets and tourist traps. The two groceries within walking distance are basically lunch counters with shelves, and have very eccentric inventories. I should add that I have published nine novels, with six of the most esteemed names in the business, and without exception these books have been marketed with a mixture of bad faith and incompetence, the same way they handle small bookstores. I buy a lot of books, and the breadth of AMZ’s stock, the speed of delivery and – of course! – the prices matter a great deal to me.

Why I quit Facebook. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/10/what-facebook-did/542502/


Breakfast food for thoughthttps://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/10/looking-next-crisis-may-looking-wrong-places.html

From Politico Morning Media:

PRESIDENT TRUMP FINALLY FOUND A NEWS MEDIA POLL HE LIKES. For the second time in five days, the president tweeted Sunday the results of a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll indicating that 46 percent of voters believe the bogus claim that the news media fabricates stories about him. Not only aren’t reporters making up stories (as I wrote Thursday ), but they also regularly give the White House and federal agencies the opportunity to respond to legitimate questions prior to publication — and are rebuffed.

— Sunday’s New York Times provided a good case study in how the Trump administration will dismiss an entire line of inquiry rather than address specific points of concern before the news is out (and can even be dubbed “fake”). Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Eric Lipton tried for months to get the EPA to respond to dozens of questions for his Sunday front page story on an industry insider-turned-top-EPA-official helping to rewrite environmental rules that benefit chemical companies. Lipton said he “did want to hear their views” and “was disappointed” to only get the following terse response.

— “No matter how much information we give you, you would never write a fair piece,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman told him in an email. “The only thing inappropriate and biased is your continued fixation on writing elitist clickbait trying to attack qualified professionals committed to serving their country.”

— A similar situation played out in the pages of The Times Magazine, with contributor Jason Zengerle describing having “provided a detailed list of questions” to the White House about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s relationship with Trump. The response he received: “The president has assembled the most talented Cabinet in history and everyone continues to be dedicated towards advancing the president’s America First agenda. Anything to the contrary is simply false and comes from unnamed sources who are either out of the loop or unwilling to turn the country around.”    Orwell’s Animal Farm  has come true!

An important writer takes on an important subject: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a13052210/donald-trump-pox-americana/

What people don’t realize about this jerk – which I suspected the second he announced his mayoral candidacy four years ago – is that he’s a two-faced, fake-liberal shill for the powerful urban lobbies: garages, car services, developers etc. https://slate.com/business/2017/10/bill-de-blasios-crackdown-on-e-bikes-is-a-truly-bad-idea.html   If you truly want a better city, this pig is not the one to vote for.

And this hours later. What did I tell you! http://gothamist.com/2017/10/23/de_blasio_traffic_congestion.php?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Gothamist%20Daily%20Winter%20Storm%20Warning%20In%20Effect%20As%20NYC%20May%20See%206-12%20Of%20Snow%20Possibly%20More&utm_content=Daily%20Gothamist%20Daily%20Winter%20Storm%20Warning%20In%20Effect%20As%20NYC%20May%20See%206-12%20Of%20Snow%20Possibly%20More+CID_d3500f546aaa3b7669ab237847b116d9&utm_source=CM&utm_term=De%20Blasio%20Unveils%205-Point%20Plan%20Intended%20To%20Ease%20Traffic%20Congestion


How can you not love this? http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/10/20/fastest-growing-city-america-florida-cape-coral-215724

No comment needed: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/10/how-the-internet-changed-the-republican-party-forever?mbid=nl_th_59ebecdaba5ae801ce174bad&CNDID=42793573&spMailingID=12207187&spUserID=MTQzOTExNDk1OTIxS0&spJobID=1262092059&spReportId=MTI2MjA5MjA1OQS2

This is what happens with people have (or have access) more money than is good for anyone except the promoters and their commissionaires. https://www.economist.com/news/business/21730446-five-outliers-chesapeake-energy-netflix-nextera-energy-tesla-and-uber-have-collectively

One asks why the authorities can’t force lower interest rates or some other kind of anti-usury policy on small loans and credit balances, say $100K and below,  to get the lower 60% out of hock: http://www.businessinsider.com/ray-dalio-warns-of-struggles-for-bottom-half-of-us-economy-2017-10?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_content=FinanceDaily&utm_campaign=Post%20Blast%20%28clusterstock%29:%20What%20you%20need%20to%20know%20on%20Wall%20Street%20today&utm_term=Finance%20Insider%20-%20Engaged%2C%20Active%2C%20Passive%2C%20Disengaged













I took Columbus Day off. So now it’s Tuesday.


A canary on the runway instead of in the coal mine? Could signify much. Economic slowdown, fear of activist investors, world running out of new billionaires. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-09/private-jet-glut-spurs-insane-bargains-for-aspiring-buyers

I really do urge this website on what readers I have. Amazing the doltish, illiterate expressions. The right word for Trump is pathetic. http://www.trumptwitterarchive.com/

People like me have got to learn to differentiate “blockchain” from “cryptocurrency.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-09/want-to-ditch-social-security-numbers-try-blockchain?cmpid=BBD101017_TECH&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_term=171010&utm_campaign=tech

No comment needed: http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/8445/

And so it always seems to go: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20171009/REAL_ESTATE/171009904

And then this: http://ritholtz.com/2017/10/publicity-is-king/

A lot of money for a single hand, even if Leonardo did paint it: https://news.artnet.com/market/christies-leonardo-da-vinci-salvator-mundi-1110734

Bacevich: always worth reading: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/10/andrew-bacevich-americas-permanent-wars-as-mere-background-noise.html

The Way We Cheat Now: http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/airbus-corruption-scandal-threatens-ceo-tom-enders-a-1171533.html


http://nypost.com/2017/10/05/swedish-death-cleaning-is-the-morbid-new-way-to-de-clutter-your-life/We did this as part of the move. A ferocious triaging of stuff, starting with my entire library, including DVDs, videodiscs, and a machine to play these: 254 boxes to Brooklyn College. I could have opened a Staples with the extraneous office supplies I’d accumulated. These went to  a stepson to distribute in the public school where he teaches. 1200 music CDs to LoftOpera. 15 large construction bags of clothes to St.Mary’s Church. The floor-to-ceiling bookcases I had custom-built in 2000 have gone to a new community center on the island of Jamaica. The feeling of relief is palpable. I can die neat.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/10/matt-stoller-toward-new-democracy.html Why you should never let a day go by without looking at Naked Capitalism. 

https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-the-nypds-sting-on-harvey-weinstein?via=newsletter&source=DDMorning  Oy! Play the tape. Why have no reports of this Weinstein mess, at least the ones I’ve seen and read, revived the time-honored phrase “casting couch.”

The Yale Endowment has reported what it believes to be a disappointing investment performance. I don’t believe the number they’ve given, nor the numbers posted by any institutional investor with large holdings in private equity. venture capital and another types of investment that cannot be liquefied quickly. The reason is simple: performance figures from PE, VC and what-have-you are furnished by the sponsors. Your illiquid holdings are what you’re told they’re worth by the promoters, and you have no basis for challenging them. The promoters give you what in the old days in “the awl bidness” we used to call “an Oklahoma Guarantee.” As in: “I guarantee there’s ten million barrels behind them leases – or I’ll be a sonofabitch!”

No comment needed: https://www.forbes.com/donald-trump/exclusive-interview/#707465b2bdec


Somehow yesterday slipped by. Yesterday was my youngest son’s 31st birthday.

Good points here. Having been keeping up with Wall Street on Parade as much as I should have. http://wallstreetonparade.com/2017/10/blaming-russia-for-major-u-s-problems-raises-risk-of-not-seeing-enemy-within/

Important: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/10/john-helmer-lunatic-russia-hating-washington-70-years-old-started-joseph-alsop-george-kennan-washington-post.html

Celebrated the 80 of my dear friend Bill Acquavella with a lovely lunch at the Brook tendered by his sons. Eight of us. The Brook remains among the most elegant – if not the most elegant – of Manhattan clubs. I was a member for 20-odd years, until I felt I had to resign when they admitted Henry Kissinger as a member. Only club in Manhattan that had, at least in my day, six or seven different ties. I belong to a number of sought-after clubs, but I’ve resigned from even more lofty ones: the Brook, and – here’s the showstopper- White’s in London. They boast that the only person ever  to resign from White’s was recent PM David Cameron, and then strictly for political reasons. Wrong.


Interesting: http://apps.bostonglobe.com/metro/graphics/2017/10/amazon-boston/?s_campaign=breakingnews:newsletter

Now this makes a lot of sense: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/10/tim-oreilly-time-rewrite-rules-economy.html

Especially when you contemplate these swine: http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2017/10/14/the-kochs-want-that-tax-cut-badly/oUJ2VvCU0GAIT7cbdZfIXL/story.html

I’m not sure I grasp the intricacies, but I find this informative with respect to what really needs to be discussed when we try to sort out Facebook’s effect on politics: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/10/what-facebook-did/542502/ 


Lest We Forget: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-10-16/black-monday-at-30-wall-street-remembers-the-1987-stock-market-crash

Something wicked this way comes? https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-15/london-house-prices-fall-at-fastest-pace-since-financial-crisis

I think this is spot on. Even if I had billions, I wouldn’t touch this picture (haven’t seen it in the flesh (sic) though). And do hit the link to Christie’s’ promotional video: https://news.artnet.com/market/the-gray-market-salvator-mundi-sale-1117208?utm_content=from_&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=US%20newsletter%20for%2010%2F16%2F17&utm_term=New%20US%20Newsletter%20List

Why, indeed? http://wallstreetonparade.com/2017/10/why-have-investigations-of-wall-street-disappeared-from-corporate-media/




















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/