So here we are. Or anyway, here I am, and whether or not any of you will be is, as of this moment, rather an open question.
With any luck, however, some of you will be, and by the time you click away to whatever clicks next, it may not have all fallen under the heading of “15 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.”
Anyway, people tell me I have things to say, and who am I to question such obviously extraordinary judgment? Well, in point of fact, I’ve been questioning it for years, but it’s all reached a sort of critical mass, and here we/I/perhaps you are.
So we’ll be talking about whatever there is to talk about. I do stock market stuff to pay for the dog food (and, y’know, mortgage and stuff, but first things first), so we’ll have a section for that, once I figure out how to set up the site to have sections. Baseball (Mets fan, for my sins in a past life, married into the Pirates and my dad was from Cleveland, for my sins in several others), music of all sorts, the occasional excursion into matters of faith, and politics as well.
As far as that last minefield goes, I’m interested in the process and know my way around the rules of statistical inference, so I seem to talk and write a lot about polls and trying to understand what they actually mean, which can make some of my more ideologically-inclined friends a little peevish from time to time. Personally, call me a radical centrist. Grew up in what used to be called a Rockefeller Republican household in the effete, elite, Northeast. We now exist only in natural history museums, so I’m damned if I know what to call it now. I think the system works best when the private and public sectors cooperate. Government isn’t the answer to every question, nor is it the enemy. Private industry should be allowed to be as free of interference as it shows itself able to be. When and where it shows itself unable, regulation and policing are necessary. I believe the government should be available to give a helping hand to everyone who needs it—and nobody who doesn’t. I believe that in the 21st century the social contract has been expanded to include industry; that, ultimately, we all have a responsibility to look after and lift up each other. It is clear that we live in a time out of balance; that equilibrium needs to be restored. Some people are always going to believe that they’re getting a raw deal, and that can not be helped; what can be helped is those people who actually are being treated unfairly by a system that promises them equal opportunity, and that applies to every American.
As for my work in the markets, I’m an equities guy. I spent a shade over a dozen years at a major Wall Street firm, rising to a non-trivial level in Equity Research at the tail end of the era where someone motivated and who at the very least convinced enough other people he was bright could forge a career for himself without a passel of certifications and degrees that add letters to the end of your name but only sometimes value to your work. I’m a generalist by nature, probably due to my low boredom threshold. I built a group of stocks at the almost-aforementioned sell-side firm based on commonalities in business models, rather than via product or services provided (and there’s that interest in process again). I’m a story guy, so I love turnarounds and other event-driven ideas; where there’s something that isn’t business as usual, particularly on the positive side, there’s a chance you’ll find me nosing around. And I emphasize on the positive side; I’m basically a long guy, though I can be enticed into the occasional pair trade. I did more shorting in my last business a decade ago; I’ve outgrown schadenfreude.
I’m an Episcopalian by choice, tending to the Anglo-Catholic variety, but at odds with its conservative majority; a sometime part-time seminary student. The combination of intellectual freedom and tradition in the deep meaning of the liturgy makes it a home where I can feel the presence of the Spirit more deeply than anywhere else I’ve found. The half-millennium of Anglican theology (and yes, kiddiwinks, it does exist, despite our best efforts to pretend otherwise—remind me to tell you some time about the four-year course I once took that had about six pages of our own tradition’s theology and a couple hundred on a bunch of Germans—emphasizes the importance of engaging with the world while simultaneously keeping in touch with what lies beyond and within. Do your best; it’s the best that can be done.
I have a deep and abiding respect for other traditions, so long as that respect is mutual. I feel sorry for fundamentalists and fundamentalisms; we all want a degree of certainty in our lives, but at what cost? If your faith is cemented in place by a need to feel that the world isn’t a scary place, well, I’m not sure what it really is, because nowhere in the small print is it suggested that the world isn’t a scary place.
So that’s who I am, at least at 10:55 am on Tuesday, 11 October 2016, as I’ve little doubt that I’d have written this somewhat differently had I sat down another time, and perhaps you can infer why I’m here. If not, stay tuned; it will likely become apparent.
To conclude, as said Reggie Hammond in 48 Hours, “Y’all be cool. Right on.”
PS As for the title; guess the provenance, win a lifetime supply of confidence knowing you have excellent taste in pop music.