Why Do Harvard Kids Head to Wall Street? « The Baseline Scenario

Very interesting article. One good bit:

The typical Harvard undergraduate is someone who: (a) is very good at school; (b) has been very successful by conventional standards for his entire life; © has little or no experience of the “real world” outside of school or school-like settings; (d) feels either the ambition or the duty to have a positive impact on the world (not well defined); and (e) is driven more by fear of not being a success than by a concrete desire to do anything in particular. (Yes, I know this is a stereotype; that’s why I said “typical.”) Their (our) decisions are motivated by two main decision rules: (1) close down as few options as possible; and (2) only do things that increase the possibility of future overachievement.

And another one:

You internalize the rationalizations for the work you are doing. It’s easier to think that underwriting new debt offerings really is saving the world than to think that you are underwriting new debt offerings, because of the money, instead of saving the world. And this goes for many walks of life. It’s easier for college professors to think that, by training the next generation of young minds (or, even more improbably, writing papers on esoteric subjects), they are changing the world than to think that they are teaching and researching instead of changing the world.

Why Do Harvard Kids Head to Wall Street? « The Baseline Scenario

Trevor Clark (@trevorclark), a guy I knew back in the old high school days of yore, recently did a two-part interview about his life as an adventure photographer.

The main thing I need for any deadline is a fast and reliable Internet source. Working away from my van, I just make sure I have a plan and if all else fails, I do the old-fashioned journalistic thing and find Internet, no matter what.

One time I even ended up in a couple’s bedroom (absolute strangers) at midnight, fixing their router so that I could use their internet to upload a set of images that needed to be ready for Italian distribution within the hour.


An economy that is more entrepreneurial, less managerial, would be less subject to the kind of distortions that occur when corporate managers’ compensation is tied to the short-term profit of distant shareholders. For most entrepreneurs, profit is at once a more capacious and a more concrete thing than this. It is a calculation in which the intrinsic satisfactions of work count.

Matthew B. Crawford, The Case for Working With Your Hands. NYT Magazine, 5.24.09. That last sentence is such a winner. (via)

Shop Class surveys an economic landscape where everyone must go to college or else be viewed as suspect, stupid, and/or unemployable. The massification of higher education has also created a new vocational pitfall: I’ve got a degree; therefore, I should be doing smart, clean, fun, and well-paid work. Except for clean, these adjectives can be scarce in cubicle alley.

Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soul Craft. – review by Michael Agger – Slate Magazine. Looks like another one for the reading list.

It’s just so damn easy to look upon someone else and jealously think, “Wow, he sure got lucky.” Real people did not have great opportunities fall in their lap. Mostly, crappy opportunities come along, and in the meantime, you make the best of them.

Po Bronson [via powazek]

A worthy bit from The Disadvantages of an Elite Education:

The opportunity not to be rich is one of the greatest opportunities with which young Americans have been blessed. We live in a society that is itself so wealthy that it can afford to provide a decent living to whole classes of people who in other countries exist (or in earlier times existed) on the brink of poverty or, at least, of indignity. You can live comfortably in the United States as a schoolteacher, or a community organizer, or a civil rights lawyer, or an artist—that is, by any reasonable definition of comfort. You have to live in an ordinary house instead of an apartment in Manhattan or a mansion in L.A.; you have to drive a Honda instead of a BMW or a Hummer; you have to vacation in Florida instead of Barbados or Paris, but what are such losses when set against the opportunity to do work you believe in, work you’re suited for, work you love, every day of your life?

My awesome run the other night

I have a small area map that I keep handy for plotting new running routes. My ongoing arbitrary goal is to run every road on the map, interstate excepted. So I was out in some new neighborhoods the other night (I run almost exclusively after dark), and some areas were a little sketchy. Graffiti, trash, railroad tracks, a few abandoned buildings, etc. All of this spookiness abetted by the late hour and the old guy I passed early on, who says to me, “Watch out, man. Watch out. Ha!”

Hugh MacLeod has 10 questions for Seth Godin. Seth on wealth: “Look, there are 8 million millionaires in the USA. Why do these people go to work every day? Why not downsize appropriately and just sit on the beach? Because they’re too smart. They realize that the purpose of living isn’t to bake in the sun until you die.”

–I’ve always liked the Georgia font, especially those dropped numerals (1234567890). Lately it has become the “in” font for websites. One student finds that Georgia helps him get better grades.
–Steve Pavlina lists “10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job“. I’ve enjoyed his website quite a bit, minus the more out-there, new-agey essays (for example).

–I just love this political cartoon with Al Gore. The set-up (so perfectly in character), the wit, the cynicism… Gets me every time. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to read his book or see the movie yet. Though I’ve heard that his lecture circuit presentation is a barnburner.

–Composer Philip Glass and IBM teamed up with IBM to create the Glass Engine. I absolutely love the interface used to explore the range of music, allowing you navigate by title, year, style, emotional content, and more. I’d really like to see stand-alone software with the same functionality. I’d add in the ability to customize and create your own categories, and of course personalize the metadata for each of those. My other idea for this would be to run the software through a wall-sized touchscreen…