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      No, central banks aren’t screwing the economy up with their purchases: Veolia (Paris:VIE) has issued a 500 million 3-year EUR bond (maturity November 2020) with a negative yield of -0.026 %, which is a first for a BBB issuer. To be clear, central banks didn’t buy those bonds, investors did. But central bank purchases of […]
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Waiting…

… for the bus to the Port Authority.

It’s freezing and cloudy. Shoulda worn an extra sweater.

Cappacino and walnut bread for breakfast. At least the inside is warm.

******************************

In Washington Square Park:

*******************************

Decisions, decisions…

Holger Danske at Tørst

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Context

This happened to a friend:

1.) When she was a lady in waiting in Once Upon A Mattress as a senior in high school, the cast decided to throw each other off during the last performance. Her partner was a nice looking tenor. As the last note of “We Have An Opening For A Princess” ended, all the ladies grabbed their partners and kissed them. (It wasn’t in the script.) This friend French kissed her partner on stage. Was he surprised? Yes. Did he see it coming? No. Did it throw him off as intended? Yes. Was it hilarious? Absolutely. She says she’d do it again.

2.) Summer session. Friend was taking physics. Finals over. Hanging out with friends. They said, “we have this annoying roommate who passes out cold when he’s drunk and he has a pre-employment physical next week”. Friend considered for a few moments and asked “Do you have an electric razor?”

Why, Yes! Yes they did!

So this friend and the roommates got the victim drunk, waited for him to pass out. Then he was de-pantsed and the friend delicately held his penis out of the way as she shaved all of his pubic hair off. The next day, she was in a car with the victim who had woken up sans pubes, his roommates tenderly taping them to his bedroom door. He looked embarrassed and confused. Friend acted shocked and appalled. She had no idea his roommates could do such a thing.

In retrospect, she probably shouldn’t have done either of these things. She apologizes. It was supposed to be funny. But it probably wasn’t. Ok, the first case was funny and he wasn’t the only one kissed. It was a planned practical joke by a cast of a dozen.

The second was humiliating. I’m sorry I did it.

At least I’m not a pedophile.

Let’s not get all sans culottes, people.

*********************************

I’m driving to NY today to see BiFF. We are hitting the city tomorrow and crashing in some edgy artsy boutique hotel in Brooklyn tomorrow night. (I suspect there is a foodie connection to the location). I have been told to wear walking shoes and *try* to look hip. Packing my best black jeans, black leather jacket and ankle boots, and got my hair cut last night. “I like it all wild and messy. You’re that kind of girl“, said Andrew. “If you mean disheveled, go for it”, said I. He certainly did. It’s a bit Chrissy Hynde but blonde and longer and messier and wild.

Hip. ✅

BiFF can be seen with me now.

Gotta get my ass in gear and update my navigator and throw a load of laundry in the wash so I can hit the road by noon.

Will try to take pics and check in. Try not to mess up the place while I’m gone.

We should be shocked.

This is the headline for one of the stories in The Atlantic today:

Did we read that right? Why is the military debating whether it needs to do a Jaime Lannister on the President??

There is nothing even remotely ok with this. We should NEVER elect a president who we have to watch this closely. The person running one of the greatest nuclear arsenals in the world should be trustworthy, smart and wise.

From what I understand from Greg, one of our commenters who knows a little about background checks, working with nuclear material has the most comprehensive and strictest government background check around. The president of the US should be able to pass that background check while he’s campaigning. Anyone who can’t, shouldn’t be elected.

We can’t leave dangerous weapons around for man children to use in a fit of pique over a personal insult.

That’s where we are, people. Trump is no John F Kennedy.

He’s not even Kruschev.

This is a big problem. It goes beyond tribalism. I’m the bad scenario, both Clinton supporters and Trumpers are toast.

This sounds familiar

In The Disrupters, the New Yorker’s recent look at gender discrimination in Silicon Valley, we find the usual suspects. Guys who sexually harass, patronizing guys, VPs who mistake the female engineer for the secretary, all the best projects getting assigned or reassigned to young white guys (rampant in Pharma R&D as well.).

But there was one account of how things have changed in Silicon Valley that sounds sickeningly familiar. It’s from Ellen Pao, the venture capitalist who sued her firm for discrimination and lost. Where have we heard this before:

On a recent evening, I met Pao at the restaurant of the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown San Francisco. It was early, around six, and the restaurant, a favored spot among investors and tech-company founders, was still mostly empty. Pao was dressed conservatively, in khaki pants and a navy T-shirt, and as we talked she sat perfectly upright, her hands folded in her lap. She told me that when she entered the industry, in the late nineteen-nineties, women were vastly outnumbered by men, but the atmosphere was not as aggressive or money-obsessed as it is today. She described many of the early investors and entrepreneurs as “dorks,” united by the fact that they “were all interested in technology.” The environment changed, she said, after the early venture-capital firms started investing in tech. “They happened to all be white guys who had graduated from the same handful of élite colleges,” she said. “And they tended to make investments in new firms started by people they knew, or by people who were like them.” This created a model of hiring and investing that some refer to as the “Gates, Bezos, Andreessen, or Google model,” which Melinda Gates recently characterized as, “white male nerds who’ve dropped out of Harvard or Stanford.” Little has improved over the years: two recent studies found that, in 2016, only seven per cent of the partners in venture-capital firms were women and just two per cent of venture-capital funding went to female founders.

Pao said that the change was reinforced by another event, in 2012: the initial public offering of Facebook, at well above a hundred billion dollars, which cemented Silicon Valley’s reputation as the place to make a quick fortune. Tech companies increasingly began competing with banks and hedge funds for the most ambitious college graduates. “Now you had the frat boys coming in, and that changed the culture,” Pao said. “It was just a different vibe. People were talking more about the cool things they had done than the products they were building.”

In Pao’s recent book, “Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change,” she satirizes the over-the-top money culture that resulted. At Kleiner Perkins, “managing partners were always competing for more—more board seats, more houses, more land, and, always, more jets,” she writes. They coveted professional basketball teams, Hollywood movie-producer credits, and “private-jet escape routes to New Zealand” (in case of rising water levels, plague, or a proletarian revolt). In this environment, Pao argues, there was little awareness of the ways in which the industry’s gatekeepers had made it difficult, or even impossible, for outsiders to break in. “It’s just this reinforcing cycle, and everyone has built a culture around it. How do you break that cycle, in a way that’s meaningful?” Pao said. “Adding a few women to the mix is not going to fix this.”

I swear these are the same guys from The Smartest Guys In The Room, the book about Enron, and The Big Short, the book about the financial disaster of 2008, and all the merger mania of the last 20 years in Pharma and all of those aggressive guys on steroids that Karen Ho profiles in Liquidated.

They just keep hopping from industry to industry to get into startups, or manipulate oil markets, or force poor researchers to sign away their patent rights for pennies. And Pao is right that adding more women will not fix this “money at all costs” aggression. Guys usually start off with money, they’re more likely to form networks where money can be made and they support each other from the time they are in prep school together.

There’s a lot of crap coming out of Silicon Valley from the billionaire libertarians who think the rest of us love the “freedom” that the gig economy gives us. Yes, that’s the economy that makes you unemployable as soon as you decide you want to marry, own a house and stay in one place for awhile, at about the age of 35. Then all of the sudden, your desire for permanence clashes with their desire to be free of any obligation. I get these guys. They’re assholes of a different variety. They’re not really concerned with what happens in the cube farm.

But the guys from the fraternities and the ivies who will stop at nothing to get what they want and see women as beings not of their kind who can be discouraged from competing for the best jobs and positions and rewards and incentives and capital? Yeah, those guys are wrecking havoc in every company they land in. They’re ruining careers and paradoxically crushing innovation.

It’s time we had a talk with the schools where these jerks came from. Get to the root of the problem and yank it out by the junk.

**********************************

Two great tastes that taste great together, Robert Plant and Allison Krause.

She got the money and he got the Honey

Opioids

It was almost two years ago that my cousin died of an overdose. I’m not sure of everything he was taking. He was a nice person. The times when I saw him, I didn’t have a clue. He didn’t seem out of it or impaired or anything. Probably the most notable thing was he slept til the crack of noon, which isn’t unusual for a teenager. But he was in his mid thirties so you can’t blame adolescence. He wasn’t a bad person. He was enslaved.

He died way too young.

This part of the country is chock full of people addicted to opioids. Some of them fly under the radar for years, especially in the medical professions where drug diversion is not uncommon.

It’s an epidemic. And there’s not much being done about it. Especially these days as money is increasingly tight for government programs and only the well to do can afford treatment.

Someone should do something.

Bubbles

Donald Trump again made a fool of himself and us in the last couple of days. We’ve stopped cooperating with the rest of the world. We are out of the climate talks, Macron rescinded our invitation. We aren’t participating in the TPP and regardless of the reservations most of us had about labor in the pact, that’s not a good thing. Our entire west coast faces the pacific and we are a large trading partner. The TPP went ahead without us. Now we’re going to feel its effects whether we like it or not. It will be like England leaving the EU. We no longer have any way to influence what happens next.

And then there were his unbelievable remarks about Putin. As in, how could anyone believe him?? It’s not about what Putin did. We already have his number. He’s a corrupt, malevolent autocrat who is dismantling the protections the west had put up to keep the communist totalitarian state in check. He’s also probably the richest man in the world and he wants access to everything. The Magnitsky act is getting in the way of his goals and that of his colleagues in crime and money laundering. That’s who Putin is. *We* have no reason to believe him. But in any case, whatever the foreign enemy does is to be expected. We have no expectation of trust.

It’s about what Trump did with regard to his offer of assistance. That’s the only concern in our scope. So it doesn’t matter whether Trump believes Putin. It’s whether WE believe TRUMP.

I know that most of the readers of this site understand this distinction. You guys are pretty good a thinking analytically and can evaluate what is meaningful and what is not.

But if my podcast subscriptions are any indication, there are quite a lot of people out there in America who can’t think their way out of this. They’re living in a bubble.

They listen to Fox News, they associate only with their tribe and they are unaware of some of the information they need to make critical decisions. Some of them are still enthralled with Trump and want him to continue what he’s doing.

The good thing is their numbers are shrinking. They are a minority. They’re a minority with a disproportionally sized voice but we still outnumber them.

It is pointless to try to argue with them. They are more like cultists. I’ve spent most of my life around cultists and they too are in their own bubble. They shut out the rest of the world. Their authority figures spoon feed them indoctrination and fear, offering themselves as the only way to redemption and salvation.

I tend to not spend time with these people. It’s like banging your head against a wall. It feels so good when you stop.

Rant of the Non-Believer.

I saw Tim Minchin perform this in 2012 in DC when I took Brook to the Reason Rally to see her idol, Richard Dawkins. It rained the whole day while we stood outside on The Mall. We had taken the train from Trenton and weren’t planning to stay overnight. It was January.

Had a blast. 😛

This is what many of us would like to say to the woo-woo believers and anti-vax crowd but minchin does it better and rhymes.