Two timely and useful essays:
- Paul Graham: Good and Bad Procrastination:
The most dangerous form of procrastination is unacknowledged type-B procrastination, because it doesn’t feel like procrastination. You’re “getting things done.” Just the wrong things.
Any advice about procrastination that concentrates on crossing things off your to-do list is not only incomplete, but positively misleading, if it doesn’t consider the possibility that the to-do list is itself a form of type-B procrastination. In fact, possibility is too weak a word. Nearly everyone’s is. Unless you’re working on the biggest things you could be working on, you’re type-B procrastinating, no matter how much you’re getting done.
- Richard Hamming: You and Your Research:
- What are the most important problems in your field?
- Are you working on one of them?
- Why not?
Vanguard Founder and former CEO John Bogle has written a timely and useful book: The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism. Daniel Berninger posts a nice summary:
“The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism” argues most of the forces that produced the scandals among Enron, Worldcom, et al remain in place.
This means investors should expect another wave of scandals even as the bad
actors of the first wave go to trial.
The people running investment funds and corporations increasingly put their
short term interests ahead of the long term interests of the investing
public. The status quo has corporate CEO’s reaping a disproportionate share
of returns by finding ways to align the interests of the intermediaries with
their own. The link between executive compensation and stock options
produces more activities that boost short term stock price even as they
jeopardize long term prospects. Bogle makes the point “the more the managers
take, the less investors make.” By his calculations, investing owners take
100% of the risk while CEO’s, intermediary investment bankers, and portfolio
managers get 70% of the compounded return. The currently passive nature of
stock ownership follows the decline of direct ownership of stocks from 92%
in 1950 to 32% today. Portfolio managers do not hold corporate CEO’s
accountable because the average stock stays in a portfolio for less than a
year versus 15 years when Bogle got into the business in the 1960′s.
Well worth reading.
Jonathan Weil continues to dig into the ongoing KPMG tax shelter saga, this time, discussing several large investors who took advantage of the shelters to save millions in taxes.
David Berlind nicely summarizes the DRM (Digital Restrictions Morass) that plagues mainstream electronic media supported by big money politics and the likes of our own Jim Sensenbrenner and Michigan’s John Conyers.
Fascinating: Rivers and Tides:
This amazing documentary from Thomas Riedelsheimer won the Golden Gate Award Grand Prize for Best Documentary at the 2003 San Francisco International Film Festival. The film follows renowned sculptor Andy Goldsworthy as he creates with ice, driftwood, bracken, leaves, stone, dirt and snow in open fields, beaches, rivers, creeks and forests. With each new creation, he carefully studies the energetic flow and transitory nature of his work.