Sunday, November 23, 2008

Market Talk

I think we're close to the bottom.

If you look at the DJIA over the long run, in the last twenty-odd years there are a essentially two periods. The first lasted from 1985 to 1995 and exhibited relatively predictable, non-volatile growth. It coincides with the quickening of globalization, deregulation, and financial innovation. The second period is the "Bubble(s) Period," starting in the mid-1990s and covering the dotcom boom and bust and then the leverage/credit boom and bust.

If you work on the assumption that the growth of the first period was more rational and sustainable over the long run, and the growth of the second period was mere froth, then you'd expect the market to collapse until it was roughly back in line with the long-term growth average consistent with the first period.

I separated the data from the first period (it's in red), added a trend line, and projected that line forward until today. If the market had grown at the more rational, 1985-1995 pace (ie if the false bubble wealth had never been created), we'd be somewhere in the 7500-8000 range today.

The market closed in that range several days last week. Does that mean we've hit the bottom? I think the answer is yes, more or less. It could probably fall even lower temporarily, maybe even closing below 7,000 (especially if Citigroup fails). And it's certainly not going to climb anytime soon. But it doesn't have too much farther to fall.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Ultimate E-mail Faux Pas

In this profile of Bravo chief Laura Zalaznick (which is very good but could have been half the length), we learn that a producer once accidentally sent her an e-mail meant for someone else, in which he rants about her being controlling and overcritical, and calls her a dirty word that rhymes with "runt." This was how she reacted:
She neither laughed it off nor fired anyone. Instead, a few weeks later, she wrote an essay about the experience and published it on a literary Web site called Open Letters. The essay is a thoughtful, brutally honest meditation on the expectations of a woman in power. “I’m probably regarded as being tough, fairly hardhearted, outspoken,” she wrote. “I am occasionally criticized for digging in and being less accommodating to other people’s ideas and criticisms than I ‘should be.’ But this is a weird sort of (double) standard to be held to, especially in a ‘creative’ job where passions are usually what get ideas heard.”
I like that. She could have flown off the handle or played the aggrieved victim, but instead she turned an ugly incident into the opportunity for thoughtful reflection. It probably provided some catharsis for her and gave her a forum to work through her feelings rationally. At the same time, she shamed the letter-writer without destroying their relationship. (In fact, the two are now friends.) No wonder she's had such an incredible career.

P.S. Here is the full letter, including the original email. She kept the offenders' names private, which is an extra nice touch, since certainly those close enough to the situation to matter will know who they are anyway.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

On emo, aging, Dashboard Confessional, and bad metaphors

My iPod makes me feel old. Or at least it did last week. I was at work late one night and put it on shuffle, just for fun, willing to play Russian Roulette with 5,000-plus songs, unsure which would be secretly, mortally humiliating.

The gods of math and chance and imperfect randomness threw Dashboard Confessional at me. And you know what? I fucking loved it. I wanted to scream infidelities. Ender save me and everyone else. The Swiss army romance romanced me right into the bedroom.

But after the music stopped and I fell from those dizzying heights and sat there, panting and craving a cigarette, holding the sheets loose around my chest, I wondered: How true is my love? How honest? Chris Carrabba had my sentimental 16-year-old heart, to be sure. But at 25? Is the love still true? Or, good god, am I old enough to be nostalgic already? Are dim memories of lunch tables and SATs and three-minute warning bells the only reason this emo-weenie holds me captive?

American Football
says no. I discovered them just a couple weeks ago (thanks, Alisa), and they're every bit as maudlin and tormented as Katie Holmes' ex-lover (sample lyric: "Well I'm not dead yet / But the regrets are killing me"). And even though I discovered them at the ripened -- nay, bright-yellow-and-beginning-to-show-brown -- old age of one-quarter of a century, I still eat it up. I don't love bad emo because of ancient memories. I'm just a sucker for that shit.

P.S. You're welcome, Torres.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sticks and stones

What an age we live in, huh? Not only can trained medical professionals send a calculated dose of electromagnetic radiation through my body, revealing the bones beneath my flesh, but I can possess a small, omnipresent camera with which to photograph said revealed bones.

The blue squiggly line highlights my left navicular scaphoid, apparently the most important of the small wrist bones. Note that it is in two pieces. This is not how it should be. I had surgery yesterday to put it back into one piece. Doctors inserted a small titanium screw into the bone, and grafted a piece of my radius into the split.

This morning, when nurses removed the bandages to take out a small drain that had been in place since surgery, was the first time I saw the surgical wound. It was also the first time I have ever been nauseous.

It's not too terrible, all things considered, but when it's your own wrist, emotions are elevated.

Scroll down for the picture, but only if you have a strong stomach.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I Break My Silence...and My Wrist

It's been a long time since I've written, so I'm breaking my silence to report that I've broken my wrist. Playing softball of all things. God this is embarrassing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Email Bankruptcy

I'm thinking of declaring email bankruptcy. Lawrence Lessig did this a few years back when his unread message pile grew beyond a certain point. He simply hit the "Mark all as read" button and called it a day. I'm up to 376 unread messages. It might be time for drastic action.

Friday, March 07, 2008


Pretty much the last perk available at Newsweek is free dinner on Thursday nights. It's a hit-or-miss affair. The topic of conversation one week was HPV infection rates among sexagenarians. Last night, though, was...divine. The kind of conversation that you recap for all your friends, and make them feel bad for missing it. It was mostly an insider's account of who's gay in Hollywood (Will Smith, Jada Pinkett, Kevin Spacey, John Travolta are all for sure). But I also learned about the Richard Gere gerbil story for the first time (and, in the process, discovered the "right" way to insert rodents into bodily orifices) and learned what a Hot Carl is and who does it.

John Cusack came up, and someone told us that he's a total sleazeball, and a womanizer. I said, "Yeah, and he'll just Say Anything."

Workplace Morale

Today we had a conversation about the best place in the office to hide in the event of a workplace shooting by a disgruntled employee.

Read into it what you will.