Someday Somewhere

Pavement's burning into gold
Embers risin' up into my eyes
Up on my back I feel the static more
Tripping the wire, surrounded in time

I see this as mystical
I'm sure that you know

Starry-eyed and under floors
Images I pictured inside
Trickling I try to close
Negative weight on my back I feel the the static you know
Tripping the wire, surrounded in time

I'd rather have everything than nothing at all 

 

Turns out 'passive' isn't so passive, after all

Ben Steverman, for Bloomberg:

Joe Brennan, the head of the firm’s equity index group, likens managing an index fund to a game of darts—one in which both the player and the target are constantly moving. Money rolls into Vanguard’s funds almost every day, and that cash has to be put to work. The funds must match hundreds of small shifts in their underlying indexes, caused by corporate actions such as acquisitions and share issuances. “We have to deliver perfection every day,” Brennan says. “Sometimes you have to deliver perfection-plus.”
In theory, the best an index fund can do is the return of the benchmark minus the fund’s fees. In reality, a fund faces additional costs from trading and transactions that can widen the gap between the returns of a fund and those of its benchmark. Success or failure is measured in tiny increments. “A basis point to us is a huge deal,” O’Reilly says.

I suppose it's ironic that I feel compelled to share this article now, given my recent departure from the finance sector, but credit where it's due - I had not fully appreciated the complexity and effort involved in maintaining an index fund that simply follows the market. Intuitively, it's a simple instrument that could perhaps be totally automated - but in reality, it takes skill and clever maneuvering to balance things appropriately and leverage various tricks to keep expense ratios at rock-bottom.

Design everything on the assumption that people are not heartless or stupid, but marvelously capable, given the chance.
— John Chris Jones

A turn towards the east, and then, a jump

Today is my last day working at State Street Global Markets. In two weeks, I begin a new journey with Docent Health, a startup that's aiming to remove the pain, and introduce much-needed empathy, into the experience of healthcare.

I'm ready to do some good.

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
— Theodore Roosevelt

Noted: Brand New

I visit this blog (an outcropping of Under Consideration) every now and then. Living in Boston, I'm surrounded by an uncountable number of advertisements and logos, and it's always an interesting thought exercise to critique the marks, and then dismantle them in an effort to reverse-engineer the thought process that led the creator(s) to design in such a way.

Admittedly, I'm probably pretty bad at that latter bit, not having too extensive a creative background. But I can appreciate when a seasoned designer speaks to the same sort of analysis.

Jenée Desmond-Harris, Vox:

“Burkini? A Wetsuit but there’s ‘burk’ in it so it’s forbidden. Undress yourself” 
That’s just one part of the text on a powerful illustration by an artist who goes by @LaSauvageJaune on Twitter, which astutely depicts the way that women around the world risk scorn and moral judgment for almost any choice they make about their appearances.

It was good of Vox to publish this piece, because they rightly identified an underreported aspect of this 'burkini' story: the whole debacle has less to do with what it purports to be about - conservative Islamic influence seeping into secular Western culture - and more to do with the simpler, more sinister reality that women are so judged and stereotyped by what they wear, to the point that we see frivolous, demeaning and categorically sexist laws created wholly to control their appearance. Even if the justification paradoxically has nothing to do with the women themselves, or the appearance in and of itself.

The whole genesis of this debate arrived under the pretense of the idea that the burkini was regressive towards the liberties of women, forcing them to conform to a controlling Islamic influence. But if you look past the thinly-veiled Islamophobia present in that loaded conjecture (which implies that a burka is a universal garment of shame brandished upon helpless and hapless female Muslims), the actual impetus for their invention was all about enabling Muslim women to more freely participate in western society/culture. It allowed for greater integration, diversity, and exposure. It's hardly enabling or harboring the sorts of opportunities for Muslim women that the Islamic State would enthusiastically put their seal of approval on. So the sole argument in favor of the (thankfully now-dead) burkini ban was illogical at best, and more likely insincere.

I'd go one step further and assert that the ban was worse yet, being counterproductive to the goals of those who were advocating for it in the first place. I don't think I have to say much to make a convincing argument that having police officers accost women, and force them to strip down in public view, does much more to segregate and harbor hostility and 'radicalism' than not having the ban to begin with.

The blatant sexism of this controversy is unsettling, and it is disappointing that few seem to establish that point upfront. This sort of discourse would never take place regarding what Muslim men might choose to wear. If this was really about the supposed infiltration of the boogeyman of radical Islam, you'd think that the conversation would be about something other than bathing suits. The proposition that a little more fabric on the beach is going to dismantle the values of Western culture is - to put it bluntly - a tad ridiculous.

The Olympics weren't a catastrophe, but the Paralympics are setting themselves up to be.

Aamna Mohdin, Quartz:

International Paralympic Committee chief executive officer Xavier Gonzalez praised London for delivering the “best-ever Paralympics Games” and challenged Rio to build on the success of the 2012 Games. But with the Rio Olympics now over, paralympic athletes will soon arrive to a city woefully unprepared. Only 12% of available tickets for next month’s Paralympics in Rio have been sold—that is a total of 300,000. The Paralympics start on Sept. 7.
As a result, the Paralympic Games are facing major budget cuts, which will affect the venues, workforce, and transport. Organizers were two weeks late in paying €8 million ($9 million) in travel grants, which was meant to support competing athletes and officials.