140-Year-Old Business Advice That Still Holds Up Today; Some work has inherent value. If you are involved with a business that produces something for the benefit of the community or society at large, you are adding something positive to the world. In return, your compensation may not be spectacular, but if you can make a living and save for the future, you’ll likely feel better about your life than if you’re involved in an occupation that takes something away from the world.

140-Year-Old Business Advice That Still Holds Up Today


There may be only about six stories in personal finance, but those stories seem to endure the passing of time. Good storytellers can breathe new life into the same old financial advice, and great communicators can introduce world-weary concepts to those who might need to hear them for the first time. While looking for information about a town in upstate New York, I came across a gazetteer written in 1871 for Saratoga County. It’s a booklet, digitized for aiding online research, containing a business directory of several towns within that county. Like a telephone directory, the book contains names and addresses of residents, although unlike a telephone directory, there are no phone numbers. The book is more than just a directory, though. The gazetteer offers historical accounts of the towns covered as well as general information a household in 1871 might need, such as a guide to the decimal system of measures, “recipes” for home remedies for common ailments, and of course, advertisements. (See one such advertisement, for pills “to prevent female irregularities,” reproduced here.) And particularly interesting was a section titled, “How to Succeed in Business.” Several pages in the book are dedicated to help readers make good decisions with their labors, their interpersonal relationships, and the management of their money. There’s nothing particularly special about this. Financial self-help guides and business advice have been published for longer than this country has been in existence, but I enjoyed this discovery and thought it would be worth sharing. Here are some excerpts, first on being an upright citizen in business. Read more of this post

The Gorilla Lurking Where We Can’t See It; A study of radiologists shows that when we pay careful attention to one thing we become literally blind to others—even startling ones like gorillas

August 9, 2013, 8:34 p.m. ET

The Gorilla Lurking Where We Can’t See It


Imagine that you are a radiologist searching through slides of lung tissue for abnormalities. On one slide, right next to a suspicious nodule, there is the image of a large, threatening gorilla. What would you do? Write to the American Medical Association? Check yourself into the schizophrenia clinic next door? Track down the practical joker among the lab technicians? In fact, you probably wouldn’t do anything. That is because, although you were staring right at the gorilla, you probably wouldn’t have seen it. That startling fact shows just how little we understand about consciousness. Read more of this post

Ex-Top Official Says China’s Xi Not Serious in Tackling Graft; “I can only see one thing: he has continued suppression. Besides that, I can’t see what else he wants to do. So I think he probably just wants to do one thing: to maintain his stability, maintain his position.”

Ex-Top Official Says China’s Xi Not Serious in Tackling Graft

By Sui-Lee Wee on 2:47 pm August 10, 2013.

File photo of Bao, a former member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, smoking at home during an interview in Beijing

Bao Tong, former member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, smokes at home during an interview in Beijing, in this February 20, 2013 file photo. (Reuters Photo/Petar Kujundzic/Files)

Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping is not serious about fighting corruption and is more intent on maintaining his position than curing the country’s “sickness,” the most senior official jailed over the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests said on Friday. Bao Tong, the most trusted aide to purged reformist Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang, characterized the new president as no different from Mao Zedong — the leader who led China into the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. It was Bao’s harshest criticism to date of Xi, who many liberals and intellectuals are hoping will emerge as a reformer, like his father, Xi Zhongxun, a liberal-minded former vice premier. “I can only see one thing: he has continued suppression,” Bao, 80, told Reuters in his apartment in Beijing. “Besides that, I can’t see what else he wants to do. So I think he probably just wants to do one thing: to maintain his stability, maintain his position.” Read more of this post

Are Startups Too Busy to be Creative?

Are Startups Too Busy to be Creative?

Aug 7, 2013 · 700 views

Alex Mayyasi. 


When a fan asked Ernest Hemingway how to start writing a novel, he recommended cleaning the fridge.  It was not an insult. It alluded to the weird way that our best ideas seem to pop into our head unbidden when we engage in a mindless task.  In an opinion piece for the New York Times, essayist and cartoonist Tim Kreider once described what he calls “The Busy Trap.” Differentiating between people busy with multiple minimum wage jobs and those who self-impose busyness by taking on ever more responsibilities and activities, he questions what it means when people exclaim “I’m so busy!” Read more of this post

All the Presidents’ Vacation Reading; Can a modern president hope to read as much as Adams, Lincoln and Truman did?

August 9, 2013, 8:48 p.m. ET

All the Presidents’ Vacation Reading

Can a modern president hope to read as much as Adams, Lincoln and Truman did?


This month, for a fourth summer, President Barack Obama will vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. What will he read during his down time? That, too, has become something of a summer ritual. On his two most recent trips, Mr. Obama has made a pilgrimage to the Bunch of Grapes bookstore to pick up some books, the names of which, inevitably, find their way into the media, where they are dissected and debated by his allies and critics alike. Mr. Obama’s summer choices have included Daniel Woodrell’s “The Bayou Trilogy” and Ward Just’s “Rodin’s Debutante” in 2011 and Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” in 2010. For authors, the presidential imprimatur provides priceless publicity. “Freedom,” in particular, caught a wave. At the time of Mr. Obama’s visit to Martha’s Vineyard in 2010, the novel had yet to be officially released, but Mr. Obama obtained an early copy from the store, adding to the book’s cachet and, as Politico’s Karin Tanabe wrote, setting the “Web atwitter.” The book shot up the best-seller lists. Only Oprah, it seems, provides a bigger sales bump. Read more of this post

The wit and wisdom of Isaiah Berlin; How the cold war shaped the great philosopher’s thinking – and tested his integrity

August 9, 2013 7:06 pm

The wit and wisdom of Isaiah Berlin

By Duncan Kelly

How the cold war shaped Isaiah Berlin’s thought – and tested his integrity

Building: Letters 1960-1975, by Isaiah Berlin, edited by Henry Hardy and Mark Pottle, Chatto RRP£40/Random House UK RRP$59.95, 704 pages

Isaac and Isaiah: The Covert Punishment of a Cold War Heretic, by David Caute, Yale £25/$35, 336 pages

A Mind and its Time: The Development of Isaiah Berlin’s Political Thought, by Joshua Cherniss, OUP £60/$110, 288 pages

By the 1960s Isaiah Berlin was assured in his fame, a shining star in an unusually cosmopolitan academic and cultural firmament. His professorship at All Souls in Oxford, where he held the chair in social and political theory, was only one, rather small component of his life. Berlin was globally connected, particularly in Washington, where he had worked in the British embassy during the war, and he would reap rewards from his numerous networks in the decades that followed. Friends in the Ford Foundation secured him the funding, matched by the British businessman Leonard Wolfson, for the construction of a new graduate college in Oxford in 1965, which he served as the first president. Wolfson College is a tremendous legacy and a fitting monument to a life whose achievements were recognised across continents. In Building, a new and weighty volume of letters written between 1960 and 1975, all of Berlin’s characteristic gifts are on display – as well as some of his darker moments. Already, he was looking back, drawing the threads of his intellectual preoccupations together. Writing in 1969 (after turning 60) to the painter Dorothea Head, he laments the aimless “dashing about” of the day’s secure and prosperous youth, and reflects on the pressures faced by his own generation. “We feared something: war, economic collapse, totalitarianism. But ennui is worse.” Read more of this post

Starbucks chief Howard Schultz steps into JC Penney fight, saying hedge fund manager Bill Ackman is a “destroyer of companies”; “Bill Ackman has blood on his hands for being the one who brought Ron Johnson in”

Last updated: August 9, 2013 8:19 pm

Starbucks chief steps into JC Penney fight

By Barney Jopson and Dan McCrum in New York

Howard Schultz, chief executive of Starbucks, has accused the hedge fund manager Bill Ackman of being a “destroyer of companies” as he stepped into a fight between the investor and the struggling retailer JC Penney. Mr Schultz, one of America’s best-known businessmen, spoke out after Mr Ackman, a JC Penney board member, wrote a letter urging fellow directors to find a new chief executive quickly and released it to the media. “I thought it was disgusting,” Mr Schultz told the Financial Times, accusing Mr Ackman of bypassing established governance procedures. “When I saw what happened [on Thursday] . . . I’m distraught.” Read more of this post

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