Monday, April 6, 2009

The New York Times is my homepage

The Times is full of useful information. I find it without peer in the newspaper world, and I read a lot of newspapers. I visit the site at least once a day, sometimes more. Besides that, and irrespective of content, its format, its style, is in my opinion the best on the web; the fonts are carefully chosen, both for headlines and for text, in a such a way that I don't continually have to zoom in or zoom out, even with a high resolution screen, and it is pleasantly arranged to boot.

You might ask, don't I know that The Times is biased? Of course I do. I'm easily right of center politically. But why shouldn't it be so? It's their newspaper. Scanning their front page, the paper conveniently make looking through the headlines for things that interest me easy; it's child's play to detect the drivel before being sucked into the article. Very little practice is required. These headlines resemble crystal-sprinkled traffic cones on a great field of black asphalt. One does not have to be in the upper quintile of IQ to easily make this discrimination. I simply avoid articles in which I already know what they are going to tell me.

But every once in awhile, when I need a chuckle, I bump into one of these cones on purpose, just for the exhilaration of it—how crazy are they now? With luck, this can put a smile on your face that can last for several hours. I hit paydirt in this way yesterday with a story written, fittingly, by Louise Story: A Rich Education for Summers (After Harvard).

Now, right off the bat, just by reading the headline, you know that Larry Summers is going to get the stuffing beat out of him, again. Larry needs to resign himself to the uncomfortable fact that on the two coasts he is, and will remain, a pariah. He probably already has.

Louise writes:

Mr. Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Harvard president who is now the chief economic adviser to president Obama, earned nearly $5.2 million in just the last of his two years at one of the world's largest funds,… [H]e worked there just one day a week.

Bam. Take that Larry. Ready for more?

Mr. Summers joined the hedge fund world after his tempestuous, five-year term as the president of Harvard came to an unhappy end in February 2006, after a statement he made that women might lack an intrinsic aptitude for math and science.

Louise, just shy of slavering now, is giving us the juicy irony that at least women didn't fuckup the entire economy of the world as did Larry and his close associates. Here, she not only sticks it in, but she twists it, quite discombobulating Larry's stuffing.

It seems that after Harvard Larry applied for a job at D. E. Shaw, a hedge fund company. Though he was considered a "marquee hire," at his initial interview for the somewhat geeky firm, "where jeans, sweat shirts and sandals are common," the former Secretary of the Treasury was asked to solve math puzzles. It appears that he quite impressed the geeks interviewing him. Now this is a golden nugget of information that I had not expected to find; interesting in its own right. They weren't sure that he could still do math. Louise continues:

It is a quicksilver business and wildly lucrative. Mr. Shaw is said to be worth $2.7 billion…

If Louise thinks that a net worth of $2.7 billion is wildly lucrative, what must she think about Bill Gates and Warren Buffett? Doesn't she read? $2.7 billion isn't even a round off figure compared to the numbers I see in the paper every day now, usually ending in trillions. She does like her adverbs and adjectives.

[Larry's] arrogant personal style that turned off some Harvard colleagues seemed to evaporate [at] Shaw…

Of course it did, since he was no longer surrounded by the fuzzy wuzzies at Harvard.

Mr. Summers traveled to Dubai for a series of meetings with Shaw's marketing staff and potential investors. Bankers from across the region flew in for the event. Mr. Summers spoke at several lavish dinners…

In December, he attended the firm's annual holiday party, held in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, beneath the giant model of a blue whale.

If one is it all familiar with Dubai, and still under the illusion that a meeting of bankers there could be less than lavish, well… And it seems that Larry attended the firm's annual holiday party that was held at a museum. That's big news.

The other thought that this article left me with is that Louise, in her scorn of Larry Summers, seems completely to have ignored Tim Geithner, the now Secretary of the Treasury who, supposedly, is running the show in Washington. Larry would have been, well,… too visible. I, for one, hope that Larry and Tim are just as smart as can be. Having read dozens of articles on the state of the global economy, I confess I haven't the slightest idea how to fix it. Nor, it seems to me, have the myriad writers who criticize the government's every move, but don't really have a viable solution of their own. Go Larry!

As I neared the end of the article, I was not only feeling sorry for Larry, I was beginning to feel sorry for Louise. Dear, you need to get out more. I know you don't make a great deal of money at the Times, but you can probably afford a truly lavish dinner at La Grenouille for about 100 bucks, 200 if you take a friend, and 300 if you split a bottle of wine. It's not out of the question. And it will do you good.