WILD AND CRAZY BOND GUY
From Steve Martin’s wonderful novella The Pleasure of My Company:
I was now purchasing a newspaper every day and perusing the financial section. I diligently followed bonds, mutual funds, and stocks and noted their movements. Movement was what I hated. I didn’t like that one day you could have a dollar and the next you could have eighty cents without having done anything. On the other hand, the idea that you could have a dollar twenty thrilled me no end. I was worried that on the day my dollar was worth eighty cents I would be sad, and on the day it was worth a dollar twenty I would be elated, though I did like the idea of knowing exactly why I was in a certain mood. But I saw another possibility. If I bought bonds and held them to maturity, then the fluctuations in their value wouldn’t affect me, and I liked that their interest trickled in with regularity. This meant that my mood, too, would constantly trickle upward and by maturity, I would be ecstatic.
Yaakov Har-Oz: ‘I actually got a refund from Priceline! Well, not because Priceline showed any flexibility. But after I hit the wrong keys by accident and ended up with a hotel room on the wrong dates, I called the hotel (the Drake in New York City – what a wonderful credit manager; I really must stay there next time!), and they agreed to cancel the reservation, at which point Priceline had no choice but to give me a refund. So the moral of the story is, don’t even try to negotiate with Priceline – but if you go straight to the hotel, you *might* stand a chance. PS: I got a room at a different hotel for the right dates – the Stanhope Park Hyatt, a $300+/night hotel room – for $150. Priceline’s great, but you have to be *very* sure before you click, because correcting a mistake can be a nightmare, and may not even be possible.’
VIEWS FROM THE TREASURY
Tom Riengold urges us to read this review of former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin’s new book. So that’s two recent former Treasury Secretaries’ books for your list – Paul O’Neill’s being the other. That one, by Pulitzer-prize winning author Ron Suskind, is based in part on 19,000 documents O’Neill provided him . . . many of which are now available for your perusal.
It’s fascinating to see actual copies of the kinds of papers that circulate at the very top of our government. Here, for example, is the agenda of a January 31, 2001 meeting with the President. It was 11 days after the Inauguration, and already Iraq was high on the agenda. Take a look.
(Curiously missing from the agenda is any mention of Osama bin Laden, even though it was just 24 days earlier, on January 7th, at Blair House, across the street from the White House, that the President- and Vice President-elect were told by CIA director Tenet that Osama and Al-Qaeda posed a ‘tremendous’ and ‘immediate’ threat to the United States of America. According to Bob Woodward’s generally pro-Bush book, Bush at War, that tremendous, immediate threat was ignored until September 11.)
HOW THE TROOPS ARE TREATED WHEN THEY RETURN
Tom Keller, immediate past commander of Disabled American Veterans’ Ohio chapter, is quoted this way in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column:
I have my own feelings about why the Bush administration is bringing the casualties back to the States in the middle of the night and wants to keep organizations like the DAV away from them. I believe the administration wants to keep the American people in the dark about the number of troops being wounded, the severity of the injuries they are receiving and the types of illnesses that may be surfacing . . .
If you can make time, read the whole thing. We owe it to our men and women in uniform to take note.
Tomorrow: How to Bet on Bush (Really)
Quote of the Day
In 1992, more was spent on legal fees in California [$16.3 billion] than on auto repairs, funerals, tanning salons, one-hour photo finishing, videotape rentals, detectives and armored car guards, bug exterminators, laundry, haircuts, day care, shoe repairs and septic tank cleaning combined.~Census Bureau survey, as reported in the LA Times
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