Thursday, November 10

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Ida Tarbell’s classic write-around of the world’s only billionaire:

He was a silent boy — a silent young man. With years the habit of silence became the habit of concealment. It was not long after the Standard Oil Company was founded, before it was said in Cleveland that its offices were the most difficult in the town to enter, Mr. Rockefeller the most difficult man to see. If a stranger got in to see any one he was anxious. "Who is that man?" he asked an associate nervously one day, calling him away when the latter was chatting with a stranger. "An old friend, Mr. Rockefeller." "What does he want here? Be careful. Don't let him find out anything." "But he is my friend, Mr. Rockefeller. He does not want to know anything. He has come to see me." "You never can tell. Be very careful, very careful." This caution gradually developed into a Chinese wall of seclusion. This suspicion extended, not only to all outsiders but most insiders. Nobody in the Standard Oil Company was allowed to know any more than was necessary for him to know to do his business. Men who have been officers in the Standard Oil Company say that they have been told, when asking for information about the condition of the business, "You'd better not know. If you know nothing you can tell nothing."

Tuesday, November 8

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On a pair of Israeli psychologists who between 1971 and 1984 “published a series of quirky papers exploring the ways human judgment may be distorted when we are making decisions in conditions of uncertainty.”

Sunday, November 6

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On the TechCrunch founder’s venture capital fund, and a new breed of startup investor.

As Twitter-loving VC investors have become brand names themselves (Fred Wilson, Marc Andreessen, Chris Sacca), what one might call the auteur theory of venture capitalism has emerged—the idea that startup companies bear the unique creative signature of those who invested in them. To study a venture capitalist’s portfolio is to study his oeuvre.

Wednesday, November 2

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The world’s fastest growing economy isn’t China; it’s the “unheralded alternative economic universe of System D” aka the $10 trillion global black market.

Monday, October 24

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Who simultaneously did business with the U.S. government, the besieged Syrian regime, and the Libyan rebels last month? The group of 16 trading houses that collectively are “worth over a trillion dollars in annual revenue and control more than half the world’s freely traded commodities.”

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Who simultaneously did business with the U.S. government, the besieged Syrian regime, and the Libyan rebels last month? The group of 16 trading houses that collectively are “worth over a trillion dollars in annual revenue and control more than half the world’s freely traded commodities.”

Sunday, October 23

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How Warren Buffett’s public image has aided his success.

As a successful investor, he merely moved markets; but as the charismatic, reassuring, quotable prototype of the honest capitalist (a sort of J. P. Morgan with a moral sense), he's capable of influencing elections, galvanizing rock-concert-size crowds, and in general defining how we Americans feel about the system that underlies our wealth.

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How Warren Buffett’s public image has aided his success.

As a successful investor, he merely moved markets; but as the charismatic, reassuring, quotable prototype of the honest capitalist (a sort of J. P. Morgan with a moral sense), he's capable of influencing elections, galvanizing rock-concert-size crowds, and in general defining how we Americans feel about the system that underlies our wealth.

Tuesday, October 18

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“It’s striking that for all the talk about polarization in the US, the Tea Party Movement and Occupy Wall Street are entirely non-violent. Overseas, no one expected the Arab Spring protests to be as nonviolent as they were,” Pinker wrote in an email. The threat of overwhelming reprisal from authorities may have brought some peace to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England, but Pinker also pointed to research that, today, “nonviolent protest movements achieve their aims far more often than violent ones.” Still, the story of violence’s decline contains much violence, and America is no exception.

Monday, October 17

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Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook vs. Amazon.

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On 20-somethings in America, or:

My screwed, coddled, self-absorbed, mocked, surprisingly resilient generation.

Saturday, October 15

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A profile of Elizabeth Warren.