Friday, July 22, 2011

Soprano Nation -- no not that Soprano....

A particularly thoughtful young man sent this, and we pass it along to you for consideration:

A Polity of Castrati

Soprano Nation

“All of the world's problems are products of the male ego,” said a swaggering bulldagger she-cop in Law and Order the other night. Average gringa. Actually, only some of the world's problems, as for example wars, are products of the male ego.

Of course, a curmudgeonly male—though I don't know any of these—might respond, “Woman, everything that keeps you and your sisters from squatting in caves and crushing lice is a product of the male brain.”

Which is true.

It is curious: Women seem to have no idea how profoundly they depend on men, and not just to fix thingy-whiches that make cars go. The pattern is that men invent and women use. Men invented cars, and women learned to drive them, usually without having the foggiest idea of how they work. Men also invented refrigerators, television, aircraft, hair-dryers, and tampons. Since women with few exceptions do not think technically unless they have to, they are unaware of the inordinate amount of inspired brainwork that led over millenia to computational fluid dynamics, band theory, the double helix, and TCP/IP.

We hear much triumphalism from women these days about the “male malaise,” the poor performance of boys in class, their depression and inattention in school, their declining presence in the universities. Why are these thing happening?/..................

Read on -----

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Inside the hedge fund world

Portrait of no. 1 hedge fund Bridgewater's Ray the New Yorker.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Retail experience
Or pays to shop around

Commerce is as a heaven, whose sun is trustworthiness and whose moon is truthfulness.

Bahá'u'lláh 1817-1892, Persian nobleman and founder of the Baha’I religion.

Had a clink in my bike chain recently. Not every crank, just every ---- so – often -------------?

What did it mean? Was I about to go hurtling over the handlebars like some of the luckless worthies in this year’s Tour de France?

I stopped by the local cyclery, about five blocks from my house. Young guy finally comes up from the basement. I told him my problem. He looked at the bike.

“Your chain is shot,” he said. “And the gears. And the brakes might go out, too. I had three like these in the past month just SNAP.”

How much to fix?

“Chain and gears. $150 to $170. But you know for an extra hundred or so you can get a whole new bike. Let me show you one,” he said walking me to the front of the store. “You’re here, you have your helmet on. Try it out, take a ride.”

He took my driver’s license as security – I guess my bike sitting there wasn’t enough – and off I went. It was a nice new hybrid, a Marin Kentfield FS, in a metallic silver. It was a pretty smooth ride, but I didn’t have the history with it I did with my trusty Trek 800, circa 1990.

Turned out, though, the bike wasn’t a hundred more, it turned out, it was $499. I said I’d think about it. I didn’t think enough at that particular moment on the way out, though, because I forgot my license (so did mr. cool guy bike tech), and had to drive back later that day.

Very next day, I was pedaling north, and remembered that my original bike dealer had moved to Highland Park. Would their service shop take a look, and give an opinion?

I was met at the front counter by a sincere young professional type. He looked at the chain, I lifted the bike, he spun the wheel, the chain wouldn’t clink, I rued.

“Of course not,” he smiled, "they never do once you get here." he laughed, most reassuringly. He studied the bike for a moment, and guessed it’s age within a couple years.

“Can I try something?” He took the bike out on the sidewalk and rode it down and back..

“Your bike seems fine,” he said. “I tried the gears. You don’t need a new chain or gears.”

That was it. He didn’t try to sell me a bike. I inquired about a new one, and he asked me what kind of riding I did. (Up and down the Green Bay trail, about 50 miles a week.) He complimented me, and showed me their Cannondale Quick, $469. “Quick, responsive, sturdy, fun to ride,” he said. We talked a bit, and decided, if I wanted to, a halfway move up would be to try two new hybrid tires on my ancient Trek, $30 each.

The store was spacious modern, with restroom facilities for cyclists. I was treated with respect, not like an imbecile.

Which cycle shop will get my tune-up business end-of-season, even though it’s a long ride north? And whatever the cost? (It’s $110, by the way vs. $89.50 at the first shop I described.) You guessed it.

Postscript: The Marin Kentfield FS can be found online for $319, reg. “$449.” The Cannondale Quicks, of which there are a number, were actually more than the $469 I was quoted by the second dealer. Surely does pay to shop around, pays to meet people, gather information.