The “Hell” of Online Shopping

I recently came across the following dreck which sickened me.

The Hell of Online Shopping

In it, Delia Ephron, as famous for being Nora Ephron’s sister as her own work, laments about how she bought some items from J. Crew, which were probably made in India or China by poor young laborers for pennies a day, which were then erroneously assembled and/or delivered by underpaid fulfillment monkeys (I’m paraphrasing her a little here) likely earning all of $7.25 an hour. That this outrage was perpetrated on her family in Beverly Hills, her hometown, was unforgivable, resulting in a complaint lodged into the company, in which she begrudgingly accepts $50 for the inconvenience. The CSR that took that call probably makes $100 a day.

I was disgusted by this article, and I challenge you to read it and not be similarly repulsed by her first world problems, which, if you think about it, were really brought about by her own laziness. To have even been preoccupied enough with these issues in light of recent events in Newton and elsewhere makes her banality almost sinister.

For the last four years I was caught up in a twisted version of Christmas in which the scale and cost of gifts was the measure of one’s love for another. Lines were drawn over whose family was more important to visit. Christmas became a trying, tedious and anxiety-ridden chore. I dreaded and hated its annual return. I finally understood when the media would talk about “elevated levels of stress”around the holidays.

I’d still like to think that I wasn’t as self-absorbed as Delia, however.

This year, I am glad to say I didn’t buy a single gift for anyone. What I did do, was spend my Christmas at the gurdwara (Sikh temple), honoring my high school friend’s grandmother, who recently passed. I fixed things around the house and cleaned up after my mother for a change. I ran errands for my brother, who has been limping from foot pain. I did the things I think my dad would have done for my family had he not passed away nearly two months ago. I connected with my family and friends.

And yet having lost so much this year, I had my best Christmas in half a decade.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Link to IMDB here. Go see it. Who knew making sushi could be so existential. The slow-motion (and sped up) preparation scenes were breathtaking. It reminded me of that scene in the Last Samurai where Tom Cruise says “From the moment they wake, they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue. I have never seen such discipline.” After watching it, I wanted to go back to Japan just to try his restaurant before the inevitable happens.


I just saw Drive. Hot damn.

As soon as the intro credits rolled I knew I was in for a treat. 80’s inspired fonts and music, and this track leveled me.

Ryan Gosling.


Carey Mulligan.

Oscar Issac.

Christina Hendricks.

Ron Perlman.

with Bryan Cranston.

and Albert Brooks.

Click here for the opening credits and turn the volume to 11; the link won’t work for long I’m sure.

If that doesn’t give you a semi chub, I don’t know what will.

The movie was a masterpiece. I think the best thirty seconds in the entire movie (and all movies of 2011) is when Albert Brooks asks Ryan Gosling’s character: “So where’d you put the money?” Gosling’s reaction to that question is so arresting that I physically tensed waiting for what was going to happen next. Bryan Cranston is probably my all-time favorite actor right now, and its great to see him in movies after his fantastic work in Breaking Bad. Carey Mulligan is also a new favorite, having just come off the excellent Never Let Me Go. She possesses that quiet natural ability that Gosling also pulls off so well. Their chemistry in the movie exceeds any I have seen in a long time, despite the fact that there is rightly no sex scene. I wanted to watch this movie again immediately after completing it.

Siloed To Death.

Sometimes in our industry and our professionalism, we get siloed to death…So we’re siloed in here – well, he is an art director. Well, yeah, maybe, but I would like him write some words too and let’s see if he can write a little bit. Oh, she is a strategy person. Yeah, but I’d like to hear her ideas as well, not just think of a strategy. So I think it’s our goal, all of our goal, and we all wish, to break out of those silos. The higher– the longer you work, the bigger the silo– the more people want to put you in a silo. why? So they can define you are by their terms. Our job is to never let anyone define who we are by their terms.

I think my mother taught me that life is a hallway of open doors. Over time, more and more doors close. The harder you work, the longer those doors stay open to you, and conversely, laziness accelerates their closing. That image in my mind has always haunted me. And it is true.

Nowhere is the process of siloing more prevalent than in the law.

When you first set foot in the door as a bright-eyed summer associate, in most firms, you get one summer to figure out what group you are going to end up in at the firm. Eight weeks to determine your future career path for the rest of your life (that is, if you can hack it). That, for me, was the first time I felt actively siloed. You are taught that to be a jack of all trades and a master of none is impossible in a top tier law firm; you must specialize to survive. So you pick a group, and over time, you are further siloed, as the derivatives expert, or the securitzation opinions guy, or the synthetic leasing guy. So we sit, waiting at the beck and call of someone who requires our exceedingly narrow expertise. And I’ve seen, as certain competencies become obsolete, men literally be siloed to their death (in the law).

I’ll bet this happens elsewhere in the financial industry and other industries as well. I ask myself – what have I contributed to society? Have I made the world a better place – or even left a mark? Is it even possible to achieve such high minded (but impossibly abstract) goals as a lawyer in a big firm? Succeeding on a big scale, working on big-name deals, is exciting, but it does not stifle the creak of doors closing before my mind’s eye.

Lupe fucking kills it.

When a song sends chills down your spine, you know you’ve hit something special.  Usually when this happens, it happens the first time you hear the song.  That didn’t happen for me the first time with this song, Words I Never Said, by Lupe Fiasco.  It did on the sixth time, when I was reading the lyrics alongside listening to the song.  Give it a try.

[Skylar Grey]

PS – I was dead wrong about Punxatawney Phil. On this one I am glad to be wrong.

What I’m reading, and a few predictions.

I don’t read much, mainly because my job is so reading-intensive. After reading all day, the last thing I want to do is read for pleasure. Sometimes I lament that I miss out on great books that would keep my mind sharp because of this dilemma. In any case, here is what I am reading right now.

The Bluebook Blues, by Judge Richard Posner (Yale Law Journal). Best quote: “A grim capitalist logic thus drives the malignant growth of The Bluebook.” I’ve always been impressed by Posner’s writing style, and this is no exception. He also happens to be right on this one. The Bluebook is insanely overdone, and hopefully they heed his advice to simplify it.

State of the Union, President Obama. Best quote:

“We do big things. The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice. And tonight, more than two centuries later, it’s because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.”

This is one of the most beautifully written speeches I’ve heard/read in recent memory. First he flips the script on the hackneyed but required phrase “the state of our union is strong.” Well done. I bet the person who wrote that speech was particularly proud of that. Another memorable moment was when described how technology would create benefits in everything from firefighting to medicine:

“This isn’t just about — (applause) — this isn’t about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.”

Wow. It felt like watching a new episode of The West Wing.

A couple of things that I noticed regarding the speech. First, the military generals did not clap when Obama spoke of the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” However, they did applaud other times, indicating that it was not just a matter of decorum when they did not applaud. I am not sure whether the generals failed to applaud because it is decorum not to applaud when the discussion is on the military, or because they are against the repeal. I am guessing the latter, which is disappointing.

Justice Scalia was again notably absent from the speech, as was Justice Alito (of “not true” infamy). Scalia’s absence troubles me and I believe that Scalia has reintroduced partisanship to the Supreme Court to a greater degree than any other recent Justice. In addition to his absences the State of the Union speeches, his opinion in Bush v. Gore and his public appearances at Tea Party meetings, his opinions have become more obviously partisan. In the legal industry, it is canon that federal judges should remain non-partisan (in fact, it is implicit in the Federal Judges Code of Conduct.” More recently, Justice Roberts decried partisanship in the selecting of federal judges.

I disagree with Justice Roberts, and I do not believe we should continue to observe the fiction that Judges should not belong to a political party. If anyone truly believes that Scalia makes decisions using an “originalist” approach, they are kidding themselves. Judicial decisions (including Supreme Court decisions) appear increasingly to have been made along party lines. Judges (including Justices) remain political appointees of a partisan President, confirmed by a partisan Senate. If we abandoned the illusion that judges do not “belong” to a political party, I think our judicial system would be more intellectually honest.

I think that the major networks should not be allowed to give commentary before and after the speeches. Pundits and journos should not be allowed to tell us what to think about the President’s speech. I think that the opposition response should be done away with; there is no entitlement to a rebuttal. The introduction of the “Tea Party response” makes this slippery slope embarrasingly obvious.


1. The Groundhog will see his shadow, and we will have six more weeks of winter. Obviously, the guys behind the groundhog have an interest in a high accuracy rate, and we all know this winter is going to continue to be brutal.

2. Gabrielle Giffords will run for President in 2016. (I predicted this a few days after she was shot).

3. Paul Ryan is running for President in 2012. I recently remarked that this guy looked like he was created by the Illuminati (Oh yeah, and if I die now, it was definitely murder). He’s the anti-Obama.

4. Paul Ryan will have to fight Michelle Buchman for the Republican nomination. Maybe they split the ticket. The ascendancy of the Tea Party is nigh, like it or not.