30 October 2008

Credit Crunch, Wheat Crunch, Oil Crunch...

For his first exhibition in a gallery, Pharrell Williams created some furniture with vibrant colors and slick surfaces. One chair with the legs of a man and a woman evokes a sexual intercourse. The chair is produced in four different colors, with a choice for the seat in leather, veal skin or velour leather. For this chair, Pharrell Williams diverted examples of classical furniture and updated it into his vision of style with intense colors and sensual material.

Pour sa première exposition en galerie, Pharrell Williams crée du mobilier au couleurs vives et aux surfaces lisses et brillantes. Une chaise avec les pieds d'un homme et d'une femme évoquant un acte intime. La chaise est déclinée en quatre couleurs, avec une assise en cuir, en peau ou en cuir velours. Pharrell détourne du mobilier classique, qui correspond à sa vision, avec des teintes vives et des matières sensuelles.

25 October 2008

There is no friend as loyal as a book. Ernest Hemingway

"5. To know that one does not write for the other, to know that these things that I write will never cause me to be loved by the one I love (the other), to know that writing compensates for nothing, sublimates nothing, that it is precisely there where you are not - this is the beginning of writing."
R. Barthes

18 October 2008

Our Vital Bodily Fluids (Land of Milk and Honey)

Letter: Andrew Lahde, Lahde Capital Management

By Andrew Lahde

Published: October 17 2008 19:09 Last updated: October 17 2008 19:09

October 17, 2008

Today I write not to gloat. Given the pain that nearly everyone is experiencing, that would be entirely inappropriate. Nor am I writing to make further predictions, as most of my forecasts in previous letters have unfolded or are in the process of unfolding. Instead, I am writing to say goodbye.

Recently, on the front page of Section C of the Wall Street Journal, a hedge fund manager who was also closing up shop (a $300 million fund), was quoted as saying, “What I have learned about the hedge fund business is that I hate it.” I could not agree more with that statement. I was in this game for the money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.

There are far too many people for me to sincerely thank for my success. However, I do not want to sound like a Hollywood actor accepting an award. The money was reward enough. Furthermore, the endless list of those deserving thanks know who they are.

I will no longer manage money for other people or institutions. I have enough of my own wealth to manage. Some people, who think they have arrived at a reasonable estimate of my net worth, might be surprised that I would call it quits with such a small war chest. That is fine; I am content with my rewards. Moreover, I will let others try to amass nine, ten or eleven figure net worths. Meanwhile, their lives suck. Appointments back to back, booked solid for the next three months, they lookforward to their two week vacation in January during which they will likely be glued to their Blackberries or other such devices. What is the point? They will all be forgotten in fifty years anyway. Steve Balmer, Steven Cohen, and Larry Ellison will all be forgotten. I do not understand the legacy thing. Nearly everyone will be forgotten. Give up on leaving your mark. Throw the Blackberry away and enjoy life.

So this is it. With all due respect, I am dropping out. Please do not expect any type of reply to emails or voicemails within normal time frames or at all. Andy Springer and his company will be handling the dissolution of the fund. And don’t worry about my employees, they were always employed by Mr. Springer’s company and only one (who has been well-rewarded) will lose his job.

I have no interest in any deals in which anyone would like me to participate. I truly do not have a strong opinion about any market right now, other than to say that things will continue to get worse for some time, probably years. I am content sitting on the sidelines and waiting. After all, sitting and waiting is how we made money from the subprime debacle. I now have time to repair my health, which was destroyed by the stress I layered onto myself over the past two years, as well as my entire life – where I had to compete for spaces in universities and graduate schools, jobs and assets under management – with those who had all the advantages (rich parents) that I did not. May meritocracy be part of a new form of government, which needs to be established.

On the issue of the U.S. Government, I would like to make a modest proposal. First, I point out the obvious flaws, whereby legislation was repeatedly brought forth to Congress over the past eight years, which would have reigned in the predatory lending practices of now mostly defunct institutions. These institutions regularly filled the coffers of both parties in return for voting down all of this legislation designed to protect the common citizen. This is an outrage, yet no one seems to know or care about it. Since Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith passed, I would argue that there has been a dearth of worthy philosophers in this country, at least ones focused on improving government. Capitalism worked for two hundred years, but times change, and systems become corrupt. George Soros, a man of staggering wealth, has stated that he would like to be remembered as a philosopher. My suggestion is that this great man start and sponsor a forum for great minds to come together to create a new system of government that truly represents the common man’s interest, while at the same time creating rewards great enough to attract the best and brightest minds to serve in government roles without having to rely on corruption to further their interests or lifestyles. This forum could be similar to the one used to create the operating system, Linux, which competes with Microsoft’s near monopoly. I believe there is an answer, but for now the system is clearly broken.

Lastly, while I still have an audience, I would like to bring attention to an alternative food and energy source. You won’t see it included in BP’s, “Feel good. We are working on sustainable solutions,” television commercials, nor is it mentioned in ADM’s similar commercials. But hemp has been used for at least 5,000 years for cloth and food, as well as just about everything that is produced from petroleum products. Hemp is not marijuana and vice versa. Hemp is the male plant and it grows like a weed, hence the slang term. The original American flag was made of hemp fiber and our Constitution was printed on paper made of hemp. It was used as recently as World War II by the U.S. Government, and then promptly made illegal after the war was won. At a time when rhetoric is flying about becoming more self-sufficient in terms of energy, why is it illegal to grow this plant in this country? Ah, the female. The evil female plant – marijuana. It gets you high, it makes you laugh, it does not produce a hangover. Unlike alcohol, it does not result in bar fights or wife beating. So, why is this innocuous plant illegal? Is it a gateway drug? No, that would be alcohol, which is so heavily advertised in this country. My only conclusion as to why it is illegal, is that Corporate America, which owns Congress, would rather sell you Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax and other addictive drugs, than allow you to grow a plant in your home without some of the profits going into their coffers. This policy is ludicrous. It has surely contributed to our dependency on foreign energy sources. Our policies have other countries literally laughing at our stupidity, most notably Canada, as well as several European nations (both Eastern and Western). You would not know this by paying attention to U.S. media sources though, as they tend not to elaborate on who is laughing at the United States this week. Please people, let’s stop the rhetoric and start thinking about how we can truly become self-sufficient.

With that I say goodbye and good luck.

All the best,

Andrew Lahde

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

17 October 2008

Maybe that's why curators find us so disgusting

"For Fritz, when he was writing, the lines meant roads and the letters ride on motor-bicycles - on the pen - upon them. For instance, 'i' and 'e' ride together on a motor-bicycle that is usually driven by the 'i' and they love one another with a tenderness that is quite unknown in the real world. Because they ride together there is hardly any difference between them, for the beginning and the end - he was talking of the small Latin alphabet - of 'i' and 'e' are the same, only in the middle the 'i' has a little stroke and the 'e' has a little hole. Concerning the Gothic letters 'i' and 'e', he explained that they also ride on a motor-bicycle, and that it is only a difference like another make of bicycle that the 'e' has a box instead of the hole in the Latin 'e'. The 'i's are skillful, distinguished and clever, have many pointed weapons, and live in caves, between which, however, there are also mountains, gardens and harbours. They represent the penis and their path coitus. On the other hand, the 'l's are represented as stupid, clumsy, lazy and dirty. They live in caves under the earth. In 'L'-town dirt and paper gather in the streets, in the little filthy houses they mix with water and dyestuff bought in 'I'-land and drink and sell this as wine. They cannot walk properly and cannot dig because they hold the spade upside down, etc. It became evident that the 'l's represented faeces. Numerous phantasies were concerned with other letters also."
-Melanie Klein "The Role of the School in the Libidinal Development of the Child," 

1 October 2008

Chubby Banker Bunker

"I saw that my uncle was about to be metamorphosed into the fearsome Professor, and I made no reply.
'Now,' he went on, 'look at the manometer. What does it say?'
'It indicates a considerable pressure.'
'Good. You can see by descending gradually, and accustoming ourselves little by little to the density of this atmosphere, we have avoided any sort of inconvenience.'
'Except for slight ear-ache.'
'That's nothing, and you can get rid of it by breathing quickly, to equalize the pressure inside your lungs with that outside.'
'Yes, of course,' I replied, determined to say nothing more which might annoy my uncle. 'It's even a positive pleasure to live in this dense atmosphere. Have you noticed how clearly you can hear everything down here?'
'I have. A deaf man would soon come to hear perfectly in these conditions.'
'But won't this density increase?'
'Yes, in accordance with a rather uncertain law. It is true that the weight of matter will diminish as fast as we descend. You know that it is at the surface of the globe that weight is most perceptible, and that at the centre of the earth objects weigh nothing at all.'
'I know that; but tell me, won't this air we are breathing end up by acquiring the same density as water?'
'Probably, under a pressure of 710 atmospheres.'
'And lower down?'
'Lower down the density will increase even further.'
'Then how shall we continue our descent?'
'We shall have to fill our pockets with stones.'
'You have an answer for everything, Uncle.'"

Jules Verne, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, p. 145.