Here is what people are talking about... or at least what Im reading about.
New capital markets! - Michael Lewis, in an online piece, The Jock Exchange, for Portfolio.com, has revealed a new investment vehicle called Protrade which allows investors to bet on the future performance of athletes. Though it is currently only available in fantasy form, there is an incarnation in the works in which athletes agree to put 20% of their earnings (on and off field) into a trust out of which securities are sold. Since future earnings (endorsements and contracts) are supposedly tied to on field performance as well as marketability (JD Drew = exception rather than rule), you would actually be making an investment on a player's next contract. The value of these securities will fluctuate along with performance. It will also serve as a benchmark of how valuable players are which would have an impact on the salaries of athletes, so the market prices become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Also, as several states are enacting caps on carbon emissions, cap and trade markets are just around the corner. The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) is currently a voluntary market where pollutants are traded, but it soon could become the world's first and therefore most important exchange. Carbon however, unlike baseball players, is likely to be a more stable commodity simply because it will be tied to regulations that will be set by the government (much like government bonds). Both potential exchanges, as pointed out in the Lewis article, will be exciting in the initial stages as fortunes are swung as hedge fund privateers attempt to expose the inefficiencies in the markets.
Esquire, “State of the World” - an imaginative and chilling look at the geopolitical landscape as Bush's presidency comes to a close. The author, Thomas P.M. Barnett, points out the range of scenarios that could play out over the next 5-10 years, and even the best cases (which arent too likely) dont end too well with actors like Iran, China, and North Korea, playing a high risk game of chess with the US, EU, and Russia for control of the Mid East and Central Asia. At the same time, the prediction is that Islamic jihaddism will spread south into Africa instead of West to Europe. Good news for us, because no one gives a shit about Africa.
NYTimes, Breaking News: Investment Bankers from Elite Eastern Schools like Drinking Cocktails with Same. - Ok, maybe not breaking news, but it was a good article by Allen Salkin in the Sunday Styles section about how the richies with academic lineages of prep school and small private colleges have begun gathering at a hip restaurant and lounge in SoHo. Both of the owners, brothers Anthony and Tom Martignetti, claim that their schools were "epicenters of preppy partying," an assertion that I would assume is shared by all preppies regardless of alma mater. The article spends a good portion of its column space dedicated to the quality of biddies and gentleman a scene like this attracts (princesses and tall men). Though a great example of the gender gap could be seen when comparing the outlook from the guys "You dont meet girls here you want to hook up with once, you meet girls here you want to hook up with multiple times." And from the ladies "women come here looking for their future husbands." Sorry, girls: players gotta play.
"Do You!" by Russell Simmons - Hip-hop mogul breaks down the keys to happiness and success: yoga, meditation, and doing good. While I dont know too much about meditation, I have practiced yoga on and off for a few years now, and I seldom do good. (Lousy do-gooders like pompous Bill Coplin turned me off to that.) So I'll mark myself as moderately qualified to comment on the subjects, and I'll leave it to Simmons to explain that it's impossible to receive any sort of lasting success from the world without giving something of lasting value to it first.
But meditation's benefits should be more evident than they are, given that our biology and brains (while significantly developed) are not meant to be plugged in 24/7. I think about my day: Alarm goes off = boom snooze, then snooze again, and sometimes a third time. But after the second or third, I turn on NPR to listen to the morning news as I hustle in between kitchen, bathroom, bedroom trying to leave on-time. When I get out the door, its a 5-10 minute walk to the T, and another 40 on the train before I get to my office. In this time I am listening to music while simultaneously reading a magazine and checking news and email on my phone. When I get to the office, its email, sports, news, and oh yeah, work in additional to catching up with office gossip and the like. Then I get to the gym, where I listen to the ipod, watch ESPN, and read...then pretty much the same on my commute home. Finally I get home and what happens? TV gets watched passively while I go about the rest of the evening - dinner, emails, blogs, talking to friends on phone/aim. Then when its bed time, I turn the TV and turn on BBC news on the radio which I hear until I drift off (theres something relaxing about British accents...plus you know, I might have missed something during the day). My point is that there is literally no time I spend where I am doing nothing and just alone with my thoughts. And I dont think that Im atypical.
Which is why I like yoga. True, Im much more interested in the fact that my legs get a great strech and I can touch the ground with my palms afterward, but at the same time there are no cell phones in yoga class. And for about 10 minutes at the end you are supposed to do nothing but relax and think about nothing. Because the world is still out there, outside of you - and there are loan brokers at work, and bills at home, and crazy women everywhere else, but at that moment its just you...straight chilling, and if you can be cool with that, then you'll be alright with the world. My aunt once told me that you cant be with anyone until you can be by yourself. That's just part of why Simmons believes that all success comes from getting in touch with your higher self.