The Prize is the Pleasure in Finding Things Out, the kick in the discovery, the observation that other people use it. Those are the real things

The Prize is the Pleasure in Finding Things Out

by SHANE PARRISH on NOVEMBER 3, 2013

Canadian filmmaker Reid Gower created the Feynman Series, a trilogy of physicist Richard Feynman’s penetrating insight into domains outside of physics. Consider the first, Richard Feynman on Beauty. Honours, the second part, shows Feynman’s healthy disrespect for authority. I don’t like honors. I’m appreciated for the work that I did, and for people who appreciate it, and I notice that other physicists use my work. I don’t need anything else. I don’t think there’s any sense to anything else. I don’t see that it makes any point that someone in the Swedish Academy decides that this work is noble enough to receive a prize. I’ve already got the prize. The prize is the pleasure of finding the thing out, the kick in the discovery, the observation that other people use it. Those are the real things. The honors are unreal to me. I don’t believe in honors. It bothers me, honors. Honors is epilets, honors is uniforms. My poppa brought me up this way. I can’t stand it, it hurts me. When I was in High School, one of the first honors I got was to be a member of the Arista, which is a group of kids who got good grades. Everybody wanted to be a member of the Arista. I discovered that what they did in their meetings was to sit around to discuss who else was worthy to join this wonderful group that we are. OK So we sat around trying to decide who would get to be allowed into this Arista. This kind of thing bothers me psychologically for one or another reason. I don’t understand myself. Honors, and from that day to this, always bothered me. I had trouble when I became a member of the National Academy of Science, and I had ultimately to resign. Because there was another organization, most of whose time was spent in choosing who was illustrious enough to be allowed to join us in our organization. Including such questions as: ‘we physicists have to stick together because there’s a very good chemist that they’re trying to get in and we haven’t got enough room…’. What’s the matter with chemists? The whole thing was rotten . Because the purpose was mostly to decide who could have this honor. OK? I don’t like honors.

20-Year-Old Hunter S. Thompson’s Superb Advice on How to Find Your Purpose and Live a Meaningful Life

20-Year-Old Hunter S. Thompson’s Superb Advice on How to Find Your Purpose and Live a Meaningful Life

As a hopeless lover of both letters and famous advice, I was delighted to discover a letter 20-year-old Hunter S. Thompsongonzo journalism godfather, pundit of media politics, dark philosopher – penned to his friend Hume Logan in 1958. Found in Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience (public library) – the aptly titled, superb collection based on Shaun Usher’s indispensable website of the same name – the letter is an exquisite addition to luminaries’ reflections on the meaning of life, speaking to what it really means to find your purpose. Cautious that “all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it” – a caveat other literary legends have stressed with varying degrees of irreverence – Thompson begins with a necessary disclaimer about the very notion of advice-giving:

To give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal – to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

And yet he honors his friend’s request, turning to Shakespeare for an anchor of his own advice:

“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles…” And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect – between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.

He acknowledges the obvious question of why not take the path of least resistance and float aimlessly, then counters it: Read more of this post

Fighting Your Business Battles: 6 Lasting Lessons From Sun Tzu’s Art Of War

FIGHTING YOUR BUSINESS BATTLES: 6 LASTING LESSONS FROM SUN TZU’S ART OF WAR

YOU’LL PROBABLY NEVER READ THE ENTIRE BOOK MANY CONSIDER A BUSINESS STRATEGY BIBLE. SO READ THIS INSTEAD.

BY MARK MCNEILLY

Business has always been tough, but it has gotten even more difficult as competition has become more global, faster-paced and increasingly technology-dependent. So why in the 21st century would it make sense to look to The Art of Warby Sun Tzu for business advice, a book on ancient warfare written centuries before the birth of Christ? Read more of this post

Reason is the Enemy of Greatness

Reason is the Enemy of Greatness

by SHANE PARRISH on NOVEMBER 5, 2013

“There can be no great genius without a touch of madness.”
— Seneca

This is a beautiful passage from Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone on the conflict between reason and nature.

Reason is the enemy of all greatness: reason is the enemy of nature: nature is great, reason is small. I mean that it will be more or less difficult for a man to be great the more he is governed by reason, that few can be great (and in art and poetry perhaps no one) unless they are governed by illusions. Read more of this post

Organizational Complexity: The hidden killer

Organizational Complexity: The hidden killer

by Michael Wade | Nov 8, 2013

Four steps to reduce complexity

There’s no questioning the fact that companies today are faced with growing complexity. Environmental, political, and competitive changes conspire to create a challenging and complex operating environment. In response to these ever evolving pressures, companies often try to mirror external complexity in their internal environments. For example, they may respond to more sophisticated customer demands by creating tailored products and services. They may address the need for cost cutting and innovation by building matrix organizational structures. They may attempt to add new processes to address evolving market needs. In isolation, each of these responses makes sense, but in combination, they can significantly affect organizational performance.  Read more of this post

A Cure for the Allergy Epidemic? When we left farming life, we lost the microbes that kept our immune systems in check

November 9, 2013

A Cure for the Allergy Epidemic?

By MOISES VELASQUEZ-MANOFF

WILL the cure for allergies come from the cowshed? Allergies are often seen as an accident. Your immune system misinterprets a harmless protein like dust or peanuts as a threat, and when you encounter it, you pay the price with sneezingwheezing, and in the worst cases, death. What prompts some immune systems to err like this, while others never do? Some of the vulnerability is surely genetic. But comparative studies highlight the importance of environment, beginning, it seems, in the womb. Microbes are one intriguing protective factor. Certain ones seem to stimulate a mother’s immune system during pregnancy, preventing allergic disease in children. Read more of this post

Con Men Prey on Confusion Over Health Care Act

November 9, 2013

Con Men Prey on Confusion Over Health Care Act

By JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG and SUSANNE CRAIG

To the list of problems plaguing President Obama’s health care law, add one more — fraud. With millions of Americans frustrated and bewildered by the trouble-prone federal website for health insurance, con men and unscrupulous marketers are seizing their chance. State and federal authorities report a rising number of consumer complaints, ranging from deceptive sales practices to identity theft, linked to the Affordable Care Act. Read more of this post

Ender’s Game, its controversial author, and a very personal history

November 1, 2013 12:00 AM ET
Stranger in a Strange Land

Ender’s Game, its controversial author, and a very personal history

By Rany Jazayerli
The Ender’s Game movie premieres today, nearly 30 years after Orson Scott Card’s science fiction classic was published. The film, in development for almost half that time, does not lack star power. The story is about a dystopian future in which pubescent boys and girls are recruited to lead armies against aliens who nearly destroyed humanity a generation earlier, and the film necessarily casts teenagers1 in the lead roles. Asa Butterfield, who plays the title role of Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, was last seen displaying his talents as the lead in Martin Scorsese’s beautifully rendered (albeit interminably boring) Hugo. Abigail Breslin, who plays Ender’s sister Valentine, and Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Ender’s Battle School mentor, both earned Oscar nominations before they were 15. The adult leads, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, and Viola Davis, are even more decorated. If the movie flops, it won’t be because the actors can’t act. Read more of this post

Is Silicon Valley Arrogant? Not by My Definition

Is Silicon Valley Arrogant? Not by My Definition

The tech world is all atwitter over accusations of arrogance. In an essay in the Wall Street Journal headlined “Silicon Valley Has an Arrogance Problem,” Farhad Manjoo decried the industry’s “superiority complex” and wrote: “For Silicon Valley’s own sake, the triumphalist tone needs to be kept in check.” He probably intended his piece as a friendly warning, but not everybody in the Valley took it that way. (Just peruse the comment threads.) What sparked Manjoo’s column was a speech last month by Stanford University lecturer Balaji Srinivasan titled “Silicon Valley’s Ultimate Exit.” Srinivasan proposed that techies should think about leaving the U.S., in part to escape from regulators who stifle progress but also because, even though the tech industry is the nation’s only reliable creator of wealth, Americans will eventually “try and blame the economy on Silicon Valley.” Read more of this post

Earnings, but Without the Bad Stuff; Managers of companies that have generated only losses, like Twitter, are happy to suggest metrics that they think are better suited for assessing their operations

November 9, 2013

Earnings, but Without the Bad Stuff

By GRETCHEN MORGENSON

Twitter’s red-hot stock offering last week makes clear that, as in the first Internet bubble, investors will pay up for a company even if it hasn’t turned a profit. And managers of companies that have generated only losses, like Twitter — and even those that are profitable — are happy to suggest metrics that they think are better suited for assessing their operations. Managements’ recommended measures, typically not found in generally accepted accounting principles, have an uncanny way of burnishing a company’s results. They do so by eliminating some pesky costs of doing business. As such, these benchmarks are also known as earnings without the bad stuff. They were central to the valuations that propelled Internet stocks skyward in the late 1990s. Then, the higher the market climbed, the kookier the metrics became. Read more of this post

Sitting on farm fence in global bidding war for Warrnambool Cheese & Butter; While big business battles for control of the Warrnambool dairy producer, farmers are undecided.

Sitting on farm fence in global bidding war for Warrnambool Cheese & Butter

While big business battles for control of the Warrnambool dairy producer, farmers are undecided.

November 9, 2013

Jared Lynch

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Nick Renyard’s farm is far from the clang and clatter of city traffic and investment bankers’ offices. Bush and bird song line the road to the third-generation dairy farmer’s property nestled in the rolling green hills south of Timboon, in Victoria’s Western District. Mr Renyard’s association with Warrnambool Cheese & Butter is more than just that of a supplier and processor. His father John was director at the company, and Mr Renyard, 39, has owned WCB shares longer than he can remember. ”I’ve had them since I was a little kid,” he said. ”I can’t remember exactly how long I’ve had them but when I got them they were $2 ordinary shares and there were 500.” Almost all of Australia’s main milk processors, including NSW’s Bega Cheese and the country’s biggest milk processor, Murray Goulburn, have entered a global bidding war for WCB, which until recently was little known outside its home base in south-west Victoria. Read more of this post

New China Cities: Shoddy Homes, Broken Hope

November 9, 2013

New China Cities: Shoddy Homes, Broken Hope

By IAN JOHNSON

HUAMING, China — Three years ago, the Shanghai World Expo featured this newly built town as a model for how China would move from being a land of farms to a land of cities. In a dazzling pavilion visited by more than a million people, visitors learned how farmers were being given a new life through a fair-and-square deal that did not cost them anything. Today, Huaming may be an example of another transformation: the ghettoization of China’s new towns. Read more of this post

Forest Misuse Costs Indonesia $7 Billion in Revenue, Report Says

Forest Misuse Costs Indonesia $7 Billion in Revenue, Report Says

Illegal logging and mismanagement of Indonesia’s forestry industry may have prevented more than $7 billion flowing to state coffers from 2007 to 2011, costing the government more than its health budget, Human Rights Watch said. In contrast, the Indonesian government’s 2011 revenue from timber royalties and reforestation fees was $300 million, said Emily Harwell, the lead author of a report released by Human Rights Watch. Read more of this post

‘Western concept’ Chinese shares see US resurgence

‘Western concept’ Chinese shares see US resurgence

Staff Reporter

2013-11-10

Chinese companies seeking a stock listing in the US have seen a resurgence in 2013, but most US investors are not pursuing China concept shares but rather seeking Chinese companies with an “American shadow,” the Shanghai-based First Financial Daily reports. On Oct. 31, 58.com, a Chinese local classified-ad website, launched an IPO with a price of US$17, giving it a market value of more than US$1.4 billion. The company’s share price jumped 42% on debut. Read more of this post

Only 6% of employees in China ‘engaged’ in their work, less than half the average of 13% in other countries

Only 6% of employees in China ‘engaged’ in their work: poll

Staff Reporter

2013-11-10

Only 6% of people in China’s workforce are fully engaged in their jobs, less than half the average of 13% in other countries, according to a Gallup poll which surveyed 142 countries and regions between 2011 and 2012. The company asked employees to answer 12 questions including whether they learned new things on the job, whether their efforts were recognized and whether they made friends in the workplace. The employees were divided into three categories: “actively disengaged, “not engaged” and “engaged.” The report suggests engaged employees will bring benefits and innovation to their companies but their efforts could be sabotaged by those that are actively disengaged. Read more of this post

Spanish winemakers eye China’s wine frontier

Spanish winemakers eye China’s wine frontier

POSTED: 10 Nov 2013 14:20
Wines from Spain and the New World are gaining ground in China at the expense of their French counterparts, as increasingly adventurous Chinese wine enthusiasts push back the frontiers of a surging market, say experts. HONG KONG: Wines from Spain and the New World are gaining ground in China at the expense of their French counterparts, as increasingly adventurous Chinese wine enthusiasts push back the frontiers of a surging market, say experts. Read more of this post

Henry Blodget: Be Prepared For Stocks To Crash 40%-55%

Be Prepared For Stocks To Crash 40%-55%

HENRY BLODGET NOV. 9, 2013, 8:14 AM 49,411 140

The stock market continues to set new highs, which is exciting and fun for those of us who own stocks. I own stocks, so I’m certainly enjoying it. I hope stocks continue to charge higher, but I can’t find much data to suggest that they will. I only have a vague hope that the Fed will continue to pump air into the balloon and corporations will continue to find ways to cut more costs and grow their already record-high earnings. Meanwhile, every valid valuation measure I look at suggests that stocks are at least 40% overvalued and, therefore, are likely to produce lousy returns over the next 10 years. Which valuation measures suggest the stock market is very overvalued? These, among others:

  • Cyclically adjusted price-earnings ratio (current P/E is 25X vs. 15X average)
  • Market cap to revenue (current ratio of 1.6 vs. 1.0 average)
  • Market cap to GDP (double the pre-1990s norm)

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One More Systemic Risk to Worry About: M-REIT

One More Systemic Risk to Worry About

Borrowing lots of money overnight to buy long-term assets is a great way to blow up the world economy. That’s why everyone from Federal Reserve Governor Jeremy Stein, to the International Monetary Fund, to Financial Times columnist Gillian Tett is worried about the systemic danger posed by mortgage real estate investment trusts, which collectively own about $500 billion in assets, according to the IMF. The good news is that this risk can be reduced with the help of a little financial engineering. Read more of this post

Treasure Hunters of the Financial Crisis

November 9, 2013

Treasure Hunters of the Financial Crisis

By PETER LATTMAN

Five years ago, the global financial system was falling apart. Lehman Brothers had imploded. Banks had stopped lending. Foreclosure signs were as common as weeds on the front lawns of suburban homes. And Bruce A. Karsh saw the buying opportunity of a lifetime. Mr. Karsh, a low-key money manager from Los Angeles, had spent his career analyzing and trading the debt of companies. With the world economy buckling, the prices of corporate debt had plunged to levels suggesting that much of American industry was hurtling toward bankruptcy. So Mr. Karsh, through his Oaktree Capital Management firm, plowed money into distressed debt at a torrid pace, investing more than $6 billion over a three-month stretch. Read more of this post

Corporate disclosure, though frequently valuable, also has serious drawbacks, often leading to adverse unintended consequences that can outweigh its benefits?

November 8, 2013

Against Disclosure

By DAVID M. PRIMO

IN the policy world, corporate disclosure is widely seen as an unalloyed good. Publicly traded corporations are under growing pressure to reveal more information about C.E.O. compensation, political spending and even the dangers that climate change poses for the company. Shareholders need such information, advocates say, in order to hold managers accountable and reduce risks to the company and its reputation. Democracy itself, the argument continues, benefits when voters know more about how corporations operate. But a number of recent studies, including some of my own, suggest that this view is shortsighted. Disclosure, though frequently valuable, often leads to adverse unintended consequences that can outweigh its benefits. Read more of this post

When big beer goes small; MillerCoors had success this summer with its craft beer division. Other big brewers have dipped their toes into the craft category, but some are staying far away

When big beer goes small

November 8, 2013: 12:42 PM ET

MillerCoors had success this summer with its craft beer division. Other big brewers have dipped their toes into the craft category, but some are staying far away.

By Daniel Roberts, writer-reporter

FORTUNE — “The taste is flat out lemonade … maybe an eyedropper of booze,” writes the user Sammer on ratebeer.com’s page for Leinenkugel Summer Shandy. On Beer Advocate, where the brand has a 72 rating (“okay”), the user Alphagnome writes, “Honestly, it’s not good … BUT it’s refreshing.” Perhaps that’s all that matters for a seasonal drink; Leinenkugel’s lemonade-flavored beer had enormous success this summer. The second-best selling and fastest-growing craft beer, it outsold all of Leinenkugel’s other beers combined in the time it was on shelves. Shipments were up 24% over last year. And it has helped the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company go from producing 60,000 barrels a year when the Miller Brewing Company bought it in 1988 to now nearly 1 million. Read more of this post

Michael Pettis Cautions Abe (And Krugman): “Debt Matters”

Michael Pettis Cautions Abe (And Krugman): “Debt Matters”

Tyler Durden on 11/09/2013 16:16 -0500

Debt matters… even if it is possible to pretend for many years that it doesn’t,” is the painful truth that, author of “Avoiding The Fall”, Michael Pettis offers for the current state of most western economies. Specifically, Pettis points out that Japan never really wrote down all or even most of its investment misallocation of the 1980s and simply rolled it forward in the form of rising government debt. For a long time it was able to service this growing debt burden by keeping interest rates very low as a response to very slow growth and by effectively capitalizing interest payments, but, as Kyle Bass has previously warned, if Abenomics is ‘successful’, ironically, it will no longer be able to play this game. Unless Japan moves quickly to pay down debt, perhaps by privatizing government assets, Abenomics, in that case, will be derailed by its own success. Read more of this post

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