1/22-1/31/18….

1/22

Let’s start here. The more one looks at the evidence, the more plausible seem my suppositions, in Fixers,  about the moral character of the Obama administration: http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/blow-back/   Is it conceivable that Obama may have been as fixated on/afraid of Hillary as Der Trumpf is? That’s the thing about the Clintons. Even if it (perhaps) seems they aren’t, they’re always up to something.  Like dogs spraying a hydrant, they infuse any sphere they’re operating in with a miasma of mistrust. They’re never down for the count. 

1/23

Yesterday was a busy art day. Lunch with my old friend Marco Grassi, the restorer-dealer, who’s recovering from serious surgery, and then to the Metropolitan Museum for a tour of the great exhibition of Michelangelo drawings, our guide being the brilliant Carmen Bambach who conceived and executed what is surely one of the great exhibitions of my 60+ art-going years. Here’s a hint, though. This exhibition is almost too much, so reserve two or three visits, and make these as early in your day as possible, before the noisy hubbub of NYC life saps your powers of attention and your ability to see. If you can get the use of a forklift, study the catalogue.

Also from the art world: this is transcendently stupid: https://www.artsjournal.com/culturegrrl/2018/01/pay-to-play-maezawa-sponsors-brooklyn-museum-show-of-his-110-5-million-basquiat.html    How this blogger gets any attention is a mystery to me. Squeaking wheel, I guess.

From a smart guy: https://causeandeffect.fm/oxfams-excellent-inequality-report-1822314028

1/24

Every now and then, a book by a first-time writer receives so much in the way of critical attention and immediate commercial success that I spend a little Kindle money to see what the fuss is all about. The latest comet is a suspense novel called The Woman in the Window by (pseudonym) A.J.Finn. Right to the top of NYT bestseller lists. Well, don’t waste your money. There’s really nothing original and compelling about this book except the depth and variety of its ponderous, repetitive and yet overwrought mediocrity. Perhaps ominously, it comes with an AMZ blurb from Gillian Flynn whose own Gone Girl enjoyed similar supernova success but turned out to be a complete cheat (the champion in this department remains Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent). Interestingly, Flynn gushes that she’d like to share a bottle or two of pinot with Finn – when we are told on practically every page that the narrator’s (and presumably the author’s) tipple of choice is Merlot. It does make one wonder how close attention the blurbist paid. 

This makes sense. Not that it has a chance in hell of happening, given human nature and the American ignorance: http://www.businessinsider.com/henry-blodget-better-capitalism-1-2018?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

Well, this is interesting. From a 1956 Paris Review interview with Dorothy Parker (courtesy of The Browser):  “Being in a garret doesn’t do you any good unless you’re some sort of a Keats. The people who lived and wrote well in the 20’s were comfortable and easy-living. They were able to find stories and novels, and good ones, in conflicts that came out of two million dollars a year, not a garret. As for me, I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that’s too adorable, I’d rather have money. I hate almost all rich people, but I think I’d be darling at it. At the moment, however, I like to think of Maurice Baring’s remark: “If you would know what the Lord God thinks of money, you have only to look at those to whom he gives it.” I realize that’s not much help when the wolf comes scratching at the door, but it’s a comfort.” When I first encountered that aphorism about God and money, it was attributed to Ms.Parker, and I’ve continued the error. Now I learn that Maurice Baring (whose Have You Anything to Declare? is the greatest of commonplace books) originated the remark. It’s funny: to stand corrected at a ripe old age feels great! 

This Frank Bruni column perfectly supports my contention, long held, that pundits ought to be licensed like drivers, piling up penalty points for the punditical equivalent of moving violations like fatuousness, rhetorical flatulence, pomposity and so on, until a number is reached that results in suspension of license, possibly even permanently. The Patriots – and I’m a Patriot admirer but not a fan – do not field prima donnas and generally speaking keep their individual and collective mouths shut. They represent a triumph of discipline, organization, continuity and staff work. If, off the field, Brady and Kraft speak well of Der Trumpf, it’s probably because they’ve had their fill of assholes like Frank Bruni who think opinion equals knowledge. I know I have. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/opinion/patriots-super-bowl.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=6&pgtype=sectionfront1/25

1/25

These are the sorts of places in which one encounters the sort of people who use the word “exclusive.”  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-25/why-private-member-clubs-are-booming   They are about as exclusive as the credit cards their members use to settle their accounts. Odd, exclusivity (sic): when Cameron was PM, the press liked to say that he was the only person ever to resign from White’s. Wrong. The proprietor/author of this website did just that in the 1990s.  In my view, “exclusive” designates clubs from which I’ve resigned, like The Brook (for admitting Kissinger), White’s (for general assholery) and another (unnamed) club that I call “the world capital of self-congratulation” that rejected my resignation. 

1/26

Around the turn of the 20th century, an Oxford professor named John Alexander Smith concluded the prefatory lecture in his course on Moral Philosophy with the observation that what his students were about to learn would be of no practical use whatsoever to men headed for the City, the Bar, the Military or the Civil Service “save only this: that if you work hard and attentively, at the end of this course you will have a very good idea of when another man is talking rot – and that in my view is the main if not the sole purpose of education.” Smith’s remarks come back to me whenever I read about “social media addiction,” which really seems to be a thing – as today’s parlance puts it. It must be two years now since I shut down Facebook and Twitter and I don’t miss them for a second, a fact (and it is just that!) that I put down to an education that taught me to prefer the mindful to the mindless. I still look at Instagram, but I limit my exposure to me immediate family and a very few friends: all strictly personal.  

From POLITICO: 

“The 2016 Supreme Court ruling in the corruption case of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell narrowed the definition of what constitutes an “official act” under federal bribery laws – concluding that public officials setting up meetings, calling other public officials or hosting events in exchange for gifts, favors or donations did not meet the threshold.

The Court’s decision came several months after federal prosecutors began their investigation into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fundraising practices, and months before those prosecutors ultimately decided not to bring any charges against either de Blasio or his aides, not because they’d found no evidence of quid pro quo, but because of both the high burden of proof they faced, and the difficulty of proving corruption without “evidence of personal profit.”

Which could explain why, over the course of the last year, two donors to de Blasio’s campaign efforts have pleaded guilty to bribery of the mayor’s office, even after no charges have been filed against anyone in the mayor’s office. The first was Jona Rechnitz, who has said he donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the mayor’s campaigns and causes in exchange for access to de Blasio, which he certainly got. And earlier this week, Long Island restaurateur Harendra Singh’s guilty plea in another case was unsealed, showing he pleaded guilty to donating to de Blasio in exchange for help from the city, in the form of meetings arranged and calls made as he sought to renew a lease on a waterfront restaurant.

It’s worth noting the donations and the meetings that donors pleaded guilty to in their respective quid pro quo schemes all took place before the Supreme Court made its determination that those actions weren’t criminal under federal bribery laws. De Blasio has insisted that he and his aides “acted in a manner that was legal and appropriate and ethical throughout.” Former Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim, the prosecutor who announced charges wouldn’t be filed against de Blasio and who recently left the office after a nomination was made to replace him, took the rare step of issuing what appeared to be a public rebuke to the mayor in the pages of a newspaper last week, calling on the mayor to hold himself to higher standards. “As a private citizen, I certainly hope that a decision by a prosecutor not to bring criminal charges is not the standard that we should expect from our leaders.””

Information, please: what is the moral distinction between what de Blasio’s people did and what Der Trumpf’s are constantly accused of? This is the problem today. Much as I loathe Der Trumpf and what he stands for and whom he speaks for, his opposition ranges from the morally degraded (Hillary, De Blasio) to the utterly impractical (Soros in Davos).  

Farewell to a really good guy: https://www.dallasnews.com/arts/visual-arts/2018/01/23/dallas-art-historian-philanthropist-william-jordan-died-77

Two articles about Jordan Peterson, whom I hadn’t known about – but sign me up!  Neither article will appear in The Nation. Peggy Noonan:  https://www.wsj.com/articles/whos-afraid-of-jordan-peterson-1516925574   Chronicle of Higher Education (thanks to New Criterion):  https://www.chronicle.com/article/what-s-so-dangerous-about/242256

Watch out below! http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/happy-landings/

1/27

Sidney, thou shouldst be living at this hour! https://www.vanityfair.com/news/1997/04/The-Man-Who-Kept-The-Secrets  What a pair Korshak and Der Trumpf would have made, especially if Roy Cohn had been added to the mix!

Finally located the rebuttal to the extremely stupid attack (posted above on 1/23) on Brooklyn Museum’s upcoming display of a Basquiat by Lee Rosenbaum (aka “culturegrrl”): https://news.artnet.com/market/the-gray-market-how-to-run-an-acid-test-on-museum-scandals-and-other-insights-1203194?utm_content=from_&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Saturday%20newsletter%20for%201%2F27%2F18&utm_term=artnet%20News%20Daily%20Newsletter%20USE

No, s***, Sherlock! The limitless corruptibility of social media: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/01/27/technology/social-media-bots.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news 

This is from a 1903 review of Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth (thanks to Lithub.com) No comment needed. Nothing changes: “To a normal observer the most pitiable figures in life are the well-bred, impecunious hangers-on of the rich. What life must theirs be! What a sacrifice of self-respect! What an effacement of individuality, of pride, of honor! What a life of lies! And all in order to lie soft and fare well at others’ expense; to live in the limelight, and possibly gain some permanent material advantage or connection.”

Understood. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/26/donald-trump-twitter-addiction-216530    It does occur to me that if the media would stop using Der Trumpf’s tweets “as hooks for stories,” we’d all be better off. The more we reduce the size of the congregation to whom Der Trumpf preaches, the less widespread the importance the press bestows on these utterances, the more he’ll be isolated: just him and his base, howling at the moon. It’s OK for the media to read this garbage, just don’t report it. It’s not news. 

1/28

Read and – if you own the stuff – weep: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/why-bitcoin-is-a-bubble-by-nouriel-roubini-2018-01?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=376e4a8ce7-sunday_newsletter_28_1_2018&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-376e4a8ce7-93490385

Very interesting to watch a notion gain traction. Still, to paraphrase the famous line from Julius Caesar: “The fault, my fellows, is not in the software but in ourselves.” https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/internet-platform-monopoly-threats-by-roger-mcnamee-2018-01?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=376e4a8ce7-sunday_newsletter_28_1_2018&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-376e4a8ce7-93490385

No comment needed, apart from the observation by Naked Capitalism (where I found this post):  “But that is America’s task, not the world’s. The world’s task is this. Should the world follow the American model — extreme capitalism, no public investment, cruelty as a way of life, the perversion of everyday virtue — then these new social pathologies will follow, too. They are new diseases of the body social that have emerged from the diet of junk food — junk media, junk science, junk culture, junk punditry, junk economics, people treating one another and their society like junk — that America has fed upon for too long.” I especially like the phrase “cruelty as a way of life,” which perfectly describes the 30-year-war waged against the poor by the rich and bribable. https://eand.co/why-were-underestimating-american-collapse-be04d9e55235

Every six months or so, someone publishes an article about how we’ve gotten Adam Smith wrong, or distorted his true views, or otherwise traduced him intellectually. This one (thanks, Barry Ritholtz) strikes me as really very good: https://aeon.co/essays/we-should-look-closely-at-what-adam-smith-actually-believed 

1/29

I think Der Trumpf has maneuvered the Dems into a corner. To me, it’s even money whether Russia played the Trump card on Twitter and in social media because they think he’s an idiot, or they think he’s a potential ally – and he could be a combination of both. What we used to call “a useful idiot.” I think the “collusion” charge is bullshit. He seems to be dialing back the “Fire and Fury” now that he’s got the opposition sputtering and clutching their pearls. This guy has gotten away with the s*** he’s gotten away with by being a devious, bullying negotiator (sic) utterly without scruple. Deflection is always the name of the game: get the other side focused on the immaterial, marginal, provocative stuff while you clean out the cash register, 

I agree (from NYT via Politico): “The Subway Is Next Door. Should New Yorkers Pay Extra For That?” – New York Times’s James Barron: “Today, with the subway in precipitous decline and the city enjoying an economic boom, some policymakers think the time has come for the subway to profit from the financial benefits it provides, including its considerable contribution to property values. Proponents point to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where co-op and condominium prices in a 10-block stretch near the Second Avenue subway have risen 6 percent since it opened in January 2017, according to figures from the Corcoran Group, a large real estate firm. In Manhattan’s main business corridors, from 60th Street south, the benefit of being near a subway adds $3.85 per square foot to the value of commercial property, according to calculations by two New York University economists. 

– The notion that property owners should pay extra for their proximity to the subway is called “value capture” and has long been debated in urban planning circles. Now Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo , a Democrat, has made value capture a prominent part of his plan to salvage the subway system by proposing to give the Metropolitan Transportation Authority the power to designate “transit improvement subdistricts” and impose taxes. The plan’s final contours are a long way off and would need legislative approval. But at a moment when the subway is facing its worst crisis in decades, there is a growing consensus that property owners should shoulder more of the cost of a subway system that has nourished their bottom lines.”

My friend Yves Smith, founder-proprietor-moving spirit of the indispensable website Naked Capitalism has written this post that asks a lot of questions about The Way We Live Now that have for some time perplexed me, mainly connected to the issue of why we all seem so unattached. I suspect it has to do something with the primacy of social-mediaworthy “experiences” over any other form of human activity and self-validation: when everyone’s haring off in search of some personalized excitement that can be exhibited on, say, Instagram, where’s the “glue” that’s supposed to bind us? https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/01/anything-working-less-not-solve.html

I give up! https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-great-bookshelf-debate-of-2018-spine-in-or-out-1517167114

1/30

Worth thinking about. I admire Joseph Stiglitz, but this citation epitomizes the self-defeating pointlessness of knee-jerk (with an accent aigu on “jerk”) anti-Trumpism. https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/01/ilargi-shithouses.html

For whom would you vote? I’m thinking about my choices. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/01/25/the-five-most-important-public-intellectuals-in-america-today/?utm_term=.0359d399c3ed

Brooklyn should consider this, adjusted of course for demographic skews. Anyone dressed in a way that proclaims assholism will have his garb confiscated: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/01/solve-dutch-equilibrium.html

1/31

Not in a million years! https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-01-31/facebook-really-wants-you-to-come-back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/15 – 1/21/18….

1/15

Let’s start here. I might add a disclosure point. I reviewed Michael Wolff’s 2008 book on Murdoch for The New York Observer. Afterward, Wolff – whom I didn’t know – told me I was the only reviewer who “got” his book. What that said about me or my reviewing is something I’m still pondering a decade later. Anyway: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/14/michael-wolff-interview-fire-and-fury-donald-trump?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+USA+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=260528&subid=23770632&CMP=GT_US_collection

My darling wife brought this to my attention. Good stuff! https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/15/fire-and-fury-inside-the-trump-white-house-by-michael-wolff-digested-read

Once more into the breach! https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/15/should-i-invest-bitcoin-dont-mr-money-moustache?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+USA+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=260528&subid=23770632&CMP=GT_US_collection

1/16

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/01/right-wing-media-reaction-trump-shithole-comments?mbid=nl_th_5a5d35adb2571072cf48eb23&CNDID=42793573&spMailingID=12754564&spUserID=MTQzOTExNDk1OTIxS0&spJobID=1321442123&spReportId=MTMyMTQ0MjEyMwS2    This resonates oddly with me. You may loathe the person VF reports as making the observation for his politics or ideology, but he’s right in one regard: Der Trump’s “s…hole” usages are the way certain types talk in bars. If you report the locutions accurately you run certain risks, although what happened to me surely won’t happen to Vanity Fair’s writer. Here’s my sad story. Around 1990, I published a “dynastic” novel about Wall Street titled Hanover Place. One of the principal themes of the book was the uneasy, now and then ugly relationship between Christians and Jews, a fraught situation I had observed at first-hand in my years at Lehman Brothers and Burnham & Co. I knew what was said – what expressions were commonplace, what language was used – in certain locker rooms and around certain dining ables by parties to the conflict and I accurately reproduced those locutions in my novel. When the book was reviewed in NYTBR, the reviewer, Judith Martin aka “Miss Manners” of The Washington Post, accused me of harboring the sentiments expressed by the fictional characters I had created in the novel. The book and I were tarred with the brush of anti-Semitism. Martin’s review effectively killed the book, since it scared my team – agent, publisher etc., who were Jewish – into pretending they had nothing to do with it. A glowing review by Stephen Birmingham, author of Our Crowd, in WaPo didn’t help. Nor did an evening a month or so later at the Harmonie Club when I was invited to “defend” Hanover Place. At the end of the session, a number of members came up to tell me that this had been one of the best club evenings ever.  

Speaking of which (last paragraph especially): http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/racism-o-rama/

Here’s Krugman in today’s NYT: “…this new divergence reflects the growing importance of clusters of highly skilled workers — many of them immigrants — often centered on great universities, that create virtuous circles of growth and innovation. And as it happens, the 2016 election largely pitted these rising regions against those left behind, which is why counties carried by Hillary Clinton, who won only a narrow majority of the popular vote, account for a remarkable 64 percent of U.S. G.D.P., almost twice as much as Trump counties.” I feel the columnist might have pointed out that while Clinton carried counties that accounted for 64% of GDP, a significant portion of that edge must have been generated in NY which is where – ironically – Der Trump, champion of 21st Century Know-Nothingism, made his money! 

MUST! https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/16/books/review/philip-roth-interview.html?emc=edit_ne_20180116&nl=evening-briefing&nlid=2476992&te=1 

This above all: “…H. L. Mencken, … famously described American democracy as ‘the worship of jackals by jackasses’”.

1/18

Amen! http://michael-hudson.com/2018/01/could-should-jubilee-debt-cancellations-be-reintroduced-today/

Hope springs eternal. https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2018/01/17/trump-exam-shows-serious-heart-concerns-outside-mds-say-white-house-rejects-claim/moqTAIfte62ZSoYRsG5ctO/story.html?et_rid=1758184608&s_campaign=todaysheadlines:newsletter

1/19

?Quien sabe? https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-perfect-candidate-for-therapist-in-chief-1516320352

This sort of piece is why I’ve always been a huge fan of Phil Mushnick: https://nypost.com/2018/01/19/vikings-so-called-hero-finds-new-low-in-nfl-celebration-lunacy/

From my friend Alexander: http://www.alhambrapartners.com/2018/01/18/third-times-a-charm-2/

1/20

Bret Stephens has a very sensible Op-Ed in today’s NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/19/opinion/clueless-versus-trump.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion-columnists    Like it or not, Der Trump can be given credit for the huge stock market rally in this sense. There is probably more concentrated free/investible capital loose on the world than at any time in history. Clearly the sense prevails that the USA, for a number of reasons but certainly including the regime, is the most hospitable place on the globe for Big Money to find love and comfort. I must say that the Trump regime may be coarse, gross, corrupt and chaotic, but the opposition strikes me as just plain stupid.

1/21

Every day in every way, someone – the latest being Rep. Meehan – learns the great truth to emege from the Clinton Administration, so repeat after me, children: YOU ARE GOING TTO GET CAUGHT! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/3-1/14/18….

1/3

Nothing like a first-thing-in-the-day puke: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2018/01/02/daily-202-trump-s-true-priorities-revealed-in-holiday-news-dumps/5a4af37830fb0469e883fe50/?utm_term=.0e6c987c172a

Time to hit the fallout shelter: http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/forecast-2018-go-wrong/

Can hardly wait: Der Trump posted on Twitter Jan 2, 2018 08:05:10 PM: “I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!

Unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable – or vice versa: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/03/us/politics/trump-bannon.html?emc=edit_na_20180103&nl=breaking-news&nlid=2476992&ref=cta&_r=0

1/4

In all the kerfuffle – the keening and moaning – about Der Trump, who seems every day to be playing with several fewer cards than the accustomed 52, a choice piece of political-economic wisdom has gotten lost in the noise. It was promulgated by the late Herbert Stein and states, simply, that if something can’t go on forever, it won’t. I think this applies to Der Trump. The omens are gathering like vultures on a branch: the Wolff book, Der Trump’s split with Bannon (which provides the extra useful insight that the way to go after DT is to go after his children (Donald Jr’s an idiot, can be depended upon to put his foot in it), jump on their every social and business (Ivanka, Eric) move, estrange Melania from her husband  by over-reporting their young son), various leaks.  

Everyone’s talking about this: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/michael-wolff-fire-and-fury-book-donald-trump.html

And this: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/michael-wolff-my-insane-year-inside-trumps-white-house-1071504?utm_source=Dealbreaker+Newsletters+Master+List&utm_campaign=3ff9c4fbfa-MAILCHIMP_DB_OPENINGBELL&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_7b7b809044-3ff9c4fbfa-410840457

1/5

I seldom find myself on the same side of any argument as John Podhoretz but his view here https://view.email.fortune.com/?qs=826e2939270b6d21bc7c72033c529d7208586dd941ff110006770261f36479f02d612e8bc77e58f73b3aec4a91463a3f5aa13145e6e7aa73c5683903adcd7c7b  jibes with my own view of Wolff (disclosure: I reviewed Wolff’s book on Murdoch for The New York Observer, and found it a curate’s egg, convincing in parts but also calculated to cause a stir thanks to its benign (more than most) view of The Digger). I find it hard to believe that Wolff was allowed a virtual free run of the White House, talking to whomever he pleased. I find it impossible to accept that Gary Cohn, who hasn’t gotten to where he is by being e-indiscreet, sent that scurrilous email to Blankfein. Wolff is a writer whose unquenchable thirst for stardom leads him down strange fantasist lanes. I was educated to believe that public figures can’t sue for libel (you should see the stuff that the press said about Grant!) but we shall see. Wolff vs Trump: reminds me of the tigers racing in circles at the foot of L’il Black Sambo’s tree (apologies to all you identity victims out there.)  Throw this into the mix: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/04/donald-trump-michael-wolff-book-216245

1/7

Figures: https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2018/01/06/trump-making-obama-great-again/Ge68WgqS6ljwXtwjSpDTYI/story.html?s_campaign=breakingnews:newsletter

Have finished Chernow’s Grant. A commanding work of history that should be read by every American 40 years or older, not only to remind them of what they may have forgotten (or may never have known or learned), but because every other page, especially those dealing with Grant’s presidency, contains thought-provoking resonances of the state in which this Great Republic now finds itself. I’m of the generation raised by learned professors and lists published in NYT  to rate Grant as the worst American president, worse than Buchanan, worse than Harding, a drunk and a dupe. How little they knew. On the basis of Chernow’s openly, admittedly redemptive biography, Grant ranks close to the top! 

1/8

Journalistic gutlessness incarnate…and yet…and yet…I have to say that there’s not been a day when I wished Hillary Clinton were president, just as there hasn’t been a day when I haven’t wished Der Trump wasn’t president…so how do I get around that? https://nypost.com/2018/01/06/were-still-better-off-with-trump-than-clinton/

In the last month, two friends have died whose lives I looked upon with something approaching envy (odd for me, since I abandoned envy as an existential organizing principle years ago) because it seemed to me that these two got out of life what they wanted, and that “what” jibed with my sense and definition of a life well-lived.  The first was Bob Wilmers, who died three weeks ago. The other was Gene Thaw, who died last week. Gene brought honor, style and intellectual distinction to the vocation of art dealer (a vocation I craved for myself, but was bullied away from by my father – although that’s another story). He was a consummate connoisseur, with a versatile eye that found interest and quality in everything from Old Masters to Native American art. There are art dealers who embody the “art” part of the designation – Bill Acquavella, Paul Kasmin, Cecily Langdale, Mark Brady, Richard Feigen – and art dealers who emphasize “dealer” in the way they go about their business (a jumped-up commodities-promoter like Gagosian comes to mind, or the bucket-shop operators who flog Koons and Wool to purblind hedge-fund types).  Gene was of the first part, in spades:  and a notable collector-philanthropist in the bargain. And so it goes. Ave atque vale. 

So what is one to make of this? “Cultural attractions”? http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20180105/REAL_ESTATE/180109950

Read this: http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/oprah-winfreys-full-golden-globes-speech/story?id=52209577   And then read it again. 

Kunstler clearly has: http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/fairy-tale/

1/9

Yesterday, NYC came as close to urban Gotterdammerung as I dare say it has in a good long time. During the morning commute, no less than 15 subway lines had problems. The LIRR’s main lines broke down for a time. There were a number of water main breaks, including one that affected the UN department where my wife works, shutting down electronic apparatus essential to her job as a translator-editor. In the afternoon, my area’s Spectrum (formerly Time-Warner) internet connection was out for several hours.  And they were still trying to sort out JFK!

I like this: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-01-08/how-to-make-companies-share-their-bounty?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_term=180108&utm_campaign=sharetheview

Interesting but troubling. Seems to imply a way to keep people in “distraction bondage” even as they grow older and should be giving up this stuff: https://view.email.fortune.com/?qs=e1157827ff9dc1756ba5cba4650688f0b5bf0f12b7de49c3d6ba30011d4e9f11c697a6324dc13d382af6a2015670133ffe7e289a0ec5a59a57cb15f138f9e09b

1/10

From the absolutely indispensable website, The Browser. I have given annual subscriptions (only $20 per) to my family. I urge you to subscribe. The Browser  is the best assurance I have that time spent wandering the Internet isn’t the complete waste it usually is. Of course, Galbraith’s Op-Ed goes directly to the Putin-Russia-2016 Campaign business that has the collective knickers of the self-regarding and  self-important in such a twist: http://www.nytimes.com/1986/01/05/opinion/the-year-of-the-spy-in-a-manner-of-speaking.html

1/11

I never believed in Wriston, the 1980s Messiah of all-new American banking (my novel The Ropespinner Conspiracy stems from the premise that a Soviet “financial mole” rises to the top of U.S. banking and sets out to destroy it by doing exactly what Wriston was doing at the time at Citi): http://wallstreetonparade.com/2018/01/can-a-serially-troubled-wall-street-bank-grow-by-shrinking/

1/12

I like thishttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agjGFwpTFaM

I agree with Noonan. And with H.G.Salsinger. veteran Detroit sportswriter, who on the retirement of Ty Cobb wrote: “We shall not see his like again. For the game has changed. And not for the better.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-oprah-and-the-art-of-deflection-1515715459

Triple amen! I no longer read “the front of the book” in The New Criterion, to which I’ve subscribed from Day One, thirty-five years ago. https://thebaffler.com/latest/decline-of-the-new-criterion-ganz 

1/13

Curiouser and curiouser: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/01/the-strange-brands-in-your-instagram-feed/550136/

This explains it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/how-robo-call-moguls-outwitted-the-government-and-completely-wrecked-the-do-not-call-list/2018/01/09/52c769b6-df7a-11e7-bbd0-9dfb2e37492a_story.html?utm_term=.074dadf70053

1/14

Really quite satisfying: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/jan/13/the-top-30-vanity-projects-in-tv-film-and-music

Watched the Patriots clobber the Titans in a clear case of the former utterly outcoaching the latter. All the talk-show lead-ins, plus Tony Romo, who was doing the “color” on CBS,  emphasized that the only chance Tennessee had was to rely on its behemoth linemen on both sides of the ball. OK, fair enough, but if that’s your game plan you better have at least a dozen of the aforesaid mastodons, because if they have to run side-to-side (“East and West” in NFL parlance) they wear down quickly and need to be rapidly cycled in and out (for confirmation, check out the Atlanta fatigue factor in the 2017 Super Bowl). Going in, however, I think I heard someone say that the Titans were down to five defensive big boys – and that proved to be that. Brady & Co. went side-to-side and quick stuff on the wings.  By halfway through the second quarter, even on TV you could see the Titans were gasping. Game over

Indispensable: https://www.project-syndicate.org/section/economics