New David Leonhardt Article on Facing Our Economic Challenges

At the New York Times, an early article from next Sunday's Magazine: The Big Fix. Absolutely worth a read. From the concluding paragraphs:
The norms of the last two decades or so — consume before invest; worry about the short term, not the long term — have been more than just a reflection of the economy. They have also affected the economy. Chief executives have fought for paychecks that their predecessors would have considered obscenely large. Technocrats inside Washington’s regulatory agencies, after listening to their bosses talk endlessly about the dangers of overregulation, made quite sure that they weren’t regulating too much. Financial engineering became a more appealing career track than actual engineering or science. In one of the small gems in their book, Goldin and Katz write that towns and cities with a large elderly population once devoted a higher-than-average share of their taxes to schools. Apparently, age made them see the benefits of education. In recent decades, though, the relationship switched. Older towns spent less than average on schools. You can imagine voters in these places asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?”

By any standard, the Obama administration faces an imposing economic to-do list. It will try to end the financial crisis and recession as quickly as possible, even as it starts work on an agenda that will inspire opposition from a murderers’ row of interest groups: Wall Street, Big Oil, Big Coal, the American Medical Association and teachers’ unions. Some items on the agenda will fail.

But the same was true of the New Deal and the decades after World War II, the period that is obviously the model for the Obama years. Roosevelt and Truman both failed to pass universal health insurance or even a program like Medicare. Yet the successes of those years — Social Security, the highway system, the G.I. Bill, the National Science Foundation, the National Labor Relations Board — had a huge effect on the culture.

The American economy didn’t simply grow rapidly in the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. It grew rapidly and gave an increasing share of its bounty to the vast middle class. Middle-class incomes soared during those years, while income growth at the very top of the ladder, which had been so great in the 1920s, slowed down. The effects were too great to be explained by a neat package of policies, just as the last few decades can’t be explained only by education, investment and the like.

When Washington sets out to rewrite the rules for the economy, it can pass new laws and shift money from one program to another. But the effects of those changes are not likely to be merely the obvious ones. The changes can also send signals. They can influence millions of individual decisions — about the schools people attend, the jobs they choose, the medical care they request — and, in the process, reshape the economy.

I Dare You..... listen to this song three times and tell me you are not totally hooked.

Thanks, Sarah, for letting me know about the song!

A Very Tasty Day

Had the chance with the ladies out of town for the weekend (visiting Cousin Laura in North Carolina) to head down to the Lower East Side on a culinary excursion. For some time now I have wanted to try the restaurant Porchetta, whose specialty is a roast pork sandwich - beautifully roasted natural pork on a tasty, crusty bun. Based on the recommendation in this New York Magazine review of the restaurant, I also had the crispy potatoes with baked ends (crusty stuff from the outside of the pork roast). All I can say is YOWZA! The food rocked and I suggest anyone who is a fan of sandwiches and/or pork head down to give the restaurant a try. The only downside worth mentioning is that the place is TINY - as in there is barely room for 6 stools and a narrow countertop. While I was at the restaurant I had the chance to check out Sara Jenkins' cookbook Olives and Oranges: Recipes and Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus, and Beyond which looks tasty and has great customer reviews. The cookbook includes the recipe for the roast pork, which you can also find at Porchetta Two Ways.

After lunch I headed over to Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar for a cornflake-marshmallow-chocolate chip cookie. Since I was full from lunch I waited until much later to eat the cookie, but it was great. Here's a funny review of the spot from Yelp.

Good thing the spin class I will attend tomorrow is an extra-long session..... (75 minutes).

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Here's A Cool Blog To Follow....

The White House Blog

Way Cool - My Polar Heart Rate Monitor

Since I'm still on the bench for running given my groin injury, I've been focused lately on spin classes. I've rearranged my weight training day so I can attend spin class three days a week - on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Today's class was the first I attended with a heart rate monitor, and the results were terrific.

The five zones pictured above correspond to ranges of % of maximum heart rate. Zone 5 is 90-100%, Zone 4 is 80-89%, Zone 3 is 70-79%, Zone 2 is 60-69%, and Zone 1 is 50-59%. Knowing my heart rate zone during class helps motivate me to push into higher zones and also keeps me from kidding myself about how hard I'm working. Today's class was really tough, and though I never got into Zone 5, I did spend a fair amount of time in Zone 4 (more than 20 minutes).

If you are committed to doing great cardio workouts, I suggest you consider a heart rate monitor. I have the Polar RS200 Heart Rate Monitor Watch (Black)


From the New York Times: Fitness Isn't An Overnight Sensation.

Terrific article on the benefits of exercise and the commitment required to make a difference. Here's one great story from the article:
Then there’s Charles Reilly, a federal prosecutor in Manhattan and a marathon runner who took a 10-year hiatus from the sport when he joined his local school board. He just did not have time to exercise, he said. Along with exercising less, he ate more. Soon he ballooned from 159 pounds to 282. “It came on gradually, but it came on,” Mr. Reilly said of the weight.

On April 18, 2005, he had his last school board meeting — he’d decided not to run for any more terms. Eight days later, he went out for a run.

“After half a mile, I had to stop and walk,” Mr. Reilly said. But he kept trying. A month later, he could run three miles without stopping. After three or four months, he says, he could run for five miles. By the end of 2006, he ran 10 miles. In the meantime, he also changed his diet. “My goal was to lose 100 pounds,” Mr. Reilly said. He did it, hitting his goal on Feb. 3, 2007, in a little over 21 months.

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Breaking Through: Science of Sport: Mind vs Matter

Great entry at Science of Sport with a look back at the mental challenge of breaking through the 4-minute mile barrier: Mind vs Matter. Love this quote:
we can each improve within ourselves by reframing our expectations, by challenging our beliefs, by identifying our own mental barriers and then breaking them down

Vanity Fair - The Devil at 37,000 Feet

The crash today of the US Airways flight into the Hudson River reminded me of an article I read a few weeks ago in Vanity Fair - The Devil at 37,000 Feet, by William Langewiesche. It's the account of a terrible aviation tragedy in Brazil that is fascinating for its exploration of human/technology interface issues and workgroup dynamics (in this case two pilots who were flying a small business jet), among other things. A fascinating read.

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Earth, observed - The Big Picture -

Kinda scary....I wonder what it looks like from the ground.

Earth, observed - The Big Picture -

Right On, Fred

I found this fascinating quote today:

If I think about all the issues we've had on wall street over the past year (see Michael Lewis and Daniel Einhorn's two part column for a great description of them), I think most of these issues have been caused by investors playing with other people's money without enough of their own net worth at stake. Financial leverage is a good example of playing with other people's money. You put up a tiny amount of your own money and you borrow the rest. If things don't go your way, you write off the little you put up and the lender takes the bath. That's been going on in the financial markets and the housing markets for the better part of ten years and we are now seeing the cost of that approach.A VC, Jan 2009

You should read the whole post.

To Lead, Create a Shared Vision (from Harvard Business Review)

The short article To Lead, Create a Shared Vision really resonated for me.

Some key excerpts:

"Being forward-looking—envisioning exciting possibilities and enlisting others in a shared view of the future—is the attribute that most distinguishes leaders from nonleaders"

"Leaders on the front line must anticipate merely what comes after current projects wrap up. People at the next level of leadership should be looking several years into the future. And those in the C-suite must focus on a horizon some 10 years distant. ... So how do new leaders develop this forward-looking capacity? First, of course, they must resolve to carve out time from urgent but endless operational matters. But even more important, as leaders spend more time looking ahead, they must not put too much stock in their own prescience"

"Yes, leaders must ask, “What’s new? What’s next? What’s better?”—but they can’t present answers that are only theirs. Constituents want visions of the future that reflect their own aspirations. They want to hear how their dreams will come true and their hopes will be fulfilled."

"As counterintuitive as it might seem, then, the best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present. The only visions that take hold are shared visions—and you will create them only when you listen very, very closely to others, appreciate their hopes, and attend to their needs. The best leaders are able to bring their people into the future because they engage in the oldest form of research: They observe the human condition."

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Photography Links

Photography meets surfing: Vincent Laforet's blog. You know from previous posts (If You Have 10 Minutes..... and Photography....) that I am a big fan of Laforet. The blog has recently covered a project to film a surfer - Jamie O'Brien - in Hawaii. The posts are a combination of some great video as well as behind-the-scenes details on Laforet's approach to the project.

Links to more links: 10 Hot Photography Tips and Tutorials from 2008 and 21 Settings, Techniques and Rules All New Camera Owners Should Know. From Digital Photography School.

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New York City Real Estate - Two Views

From the New York Times Economix column: New York, New York: America’s Resilient City

From the Wall Street Journal: New York, Boston Prices Expected to Fall Further

The Times piece seems more optimistic while the WSJ piece seems more realistic.....though one could argue that the differences have only to do with time horizon.

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