G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Digesting in Numerical Form


Nick Cullather:


“...Americans increasingly digested their information in numerical form. After 1905, gamblers judged horses by the portents in the Racing Form and baseball fans sized up hitters by the tables in The Sporting News. Newspapers published an avalanche of statistics evaluating business acumen by quarterly earnings, literature by copies sold, and drama by the number of weeks on Broadway. Many observers considered such quantitative reasoning a national trait. 'If the English are a nation of shopkeepers, Americans are a nation of expert accountants', critic and playwright Eugene R. White observed..."

 Max H. Bazerman and Ann E. Tenbrunsel, The New York Times, April 2011:


"...When we are busy focused on common organizational goals, like quarterly earnings or sales quotas, the ethical implications of important decisions can fade from our minds. Through this ethical fading, we end up engaging in or condoning behavior that we would condemn if we were consciously aware of it.


The underlying psychology helps explain why ethical lapses in the corporate world seem so pervasive and intractable. It also explains why sanctions, like fines and penalties, can have the perverse effect of increasing the undesirable behaviors they are designed to discourage..."

John Cassidy, The New Yorker, November 29, 2010:


 "...On Wall Street dealing desks, profits and losses are evaluated every afternoon when trading ends, and the firms’ positions are “marked to market”—valued on the basis of the closing prices. A trader can borrow money and place a leveraged bet on a certain market. As long as the market goes up, he will appear to be making a steady profit. But if the market eventually turns against him his capital may be wiped out. “You can create a trading strategy that overnight makes lots of money, and it can take months or years to find out whether it is real money or luck or excessive risk-taking,” Philippon explained. “Sometimes, even then it is hard.” Since traders (and their managers) get evaluated on a quarterly basis, they can be paid handsomely for placing bets that ultimately bankrupt their companies. “In most industries, a good idea is rewarded because the company generates profits and real cash flows,” Philippon said. “In finance, it is often just a trading gain. The closer you get to financial markets the easier it is to book funny profits...."

 I have worked in organizations who were obsessed with quarterly performance.

Sometimes I thought there was  little else happening. You closed the current quarter and projected the next. Or you closed the next quarter and projected the current. Or whatever.

The person who was an outstanding employee got fired in the next and the person who was an obscure also-ran became the guy to watch.

I have already shared  following great cartoon on the subject of being accountants on August 30 2007.
Artist: Sam Gross, The New Yorker,  January 11 1993

Now, I share another great cartoon I came across in March 2014


Artist: David Borchart, The New Yorker, March 2014

Was man's life as boring as this, even in caves?

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