1. Paul Lerman: ‘Did you happen to see this recent New Yorker cartoon? Three smirking captains of industry, sitting around in a plush office, looking very pleased with themselves (two smoking big cigars). One says, ‘Well, we’ve licked taxes, that just leaves death.”
2. A great piece by Intel founder Andrew Grove in Wednesday’s Washington Post. Click here.
3. Flynn: ‘Thinking of the topsy-turvy times we are in (specifically the last four market years), I was struck by a passage I just read in A Bend in the River, the 1979 novel by V.S. Naipaul, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. An older man, sometime in the middle years of the past century, is addressing a younger man who is yearning to break out of his old village and start a new life. The older man says, ‘A businessman isn’t a mathematician. Remember that. Never become hypnotized by the beauty of numbers. A businessman is someone who buys at ten and is happy to get out at twelve. The other kind of man buys at ten, sees it rise to eighteen and does nothing. He is waiting for it to get to twenty. The beauty of numbers. When it drops to ten again he waits for it to get back to eighteen. When it drops to two he waits for it to get back to ten. Well, it gets back there. But he has wasted a quarter of his life. And all he’s got out of his money is a little mathematical excitement.’ I wonder if the excitement of our rapid advance on the Internet and in technology – and all the gadgets and thrills associated with it – makes us too preoccupied with the gloss, the sheen, ‘the beauty of numbers.’ Enron, Adelphia, et al, maybe these are the visible manifestations of that. Old lessons, buried in books; maybe not so bad after all.’
☞ Is AOL cheap here at $12.50 – if it is cheap here – because, based on the future profit potential of its assets, the enterprise is worth even more than the $55 billion it is being valued at? Or simply because it sold for $90 a few years ago? I don’t know the answer, but I know that only the first question makes any sense.