Archive for August, 2013
31 Aug 2013

More Interesting than the Book of Mormon

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31 Aug 2013

More About Goldman’s Dress Code

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Bankers — The two-button suits, buttonless collars, and custom shirts really don’t look that well.

GSElevator, the cynic who earlier this year was offering advice to summer interns, is back at Business insider, with even more sartorial advice.

I find the millenial perspective interesting, though I frequently do not in the least agree. So, instead of quoting him, I will just comment and respond.

Shoes

Loafers are fine for casual wear, but for business? Especially for investment banking??

My own opinion is that, no, sonny, loafers have not really become appropriate. What has happened is that more tasteless ethnic louts confusedly think the high prices associated with Gucci loafers make them formal and appropriate.

Men walking around offices in loafers will strike the genuinely critical observer as adolescent.

For serious occasions, and banking is serious, a man ought to wear serious adult footwear, with laces.

GSE has lots of money. He ought to get his shoes custom made.

He is right about using shoe trees, but I find his inclination to get his housekeeper to polish his shoes impressively self-entitled. My cleaning women, I think, would typically have either rebelled or done a poor job. I favor getting one’s shoes polished at a shoeshine stand at the station or one’s club.

One other note: Bostonians believe that only waiters swear black shoes. So in Boston, be sure to carefully match fine shades of brown or cordovan to one’s blue and grey suits. Since neither you nor I are actually from Boston, we cannot possibly do what an old school Bostonian would and wear brown shoes with a black suit.

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Socks

If GSE has seen some Brits running around flashing pink socks, he probably should be told that the proper term in “cerise,” and those gentlemen are subtly boasting about belonging to the Leander Club, the home away from home of aging crew jocks.

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Pants/Trousers

No cuffs on full weight formal woolen suits? God forbid! You omit cuffs on summer weight suits, on poplin, khaki, seersucker. But only spivs and ethnic gentlemen with more money than taste wear conventional suits without cuffs.

Pleats are entirely a matter of ephemeral fashion and individual taste.

If you don’t wear a belt, you will have difficulty carrying a handgun. Your trouser waistband will not provide adequate support. Besides, trousers without a belt buckle concealing the top closure look too informal.

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Belts/Suspenders

Obviously, no gentleman should ever wear a visible haberdasher’s logo on anything but a polo short (and, personally, I used to remove Rene LaCoste crocodiles with a razor blade when I was really hard-core).

I think all bespoke trousers ought to come with suspender buttons. I’d say that one ought to wear, in most cases, both a belt and suspenders: the belt purely ornamentally to complete the look of the trousers, and the braces for actual support.

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Shirts

In general, one should avoid white collared coloured shirts. Most men simply cannot pull them off. They are naturally expressive of vanity and excess. And they shout aloud: “I have been to a custom shirtmaker.”

I have my doubts about custom shirts in general. In most cases, they are not superior in fabric, tailoring, or even cost to good men’s off-the-peg shirts, but they are fussier. I have had shirts custom made, but I found that I actually don’t like tailored sleeves which closely hug the wrist, and I’m perfectly content with standard Oxford cloth white shirts from Brooks Brothers, J. Press, or Paul Stuart.

I tend to associate the precise shape of the collar and whether or not the shirt has a pocket with exactly which traditional men’s shop sold me the shirt.

Those of us who attended certain universities tend to wear button down collars in all but the most formal of diurnal circumstances. If one understands these things correctly, one understands that men’s style is timeless. There are no 1990s. There are no 2020s. If Cary Grant came to work at Goldman’s wearing the grey suit he was wearing in North by Northwest (1959), he’d look better than anyone else and he’d be perfectly in fashion.

I think cufflinks are excessive most days, and French cuffs too much trouble. But this sort of thing is within the realm of individual taste and expression. But, if you are going to wear cufflinks in the daytime, they had better be discreet and in careful good taste.

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Ties

You have to tie a Windsor knot if you are wearing a wide collar and/or if you happen to be using a thin tie. Very old neckties often lack good linings. Well-made contemporary neckties, on the other hand, typically form an excellent knot when tied simply in the four-in-hand knot. A Windsor knot will be too big for many collars, will not suit a lot of modern ties, and is liable to identify you as an egotistical Bond villain to any observant agent of MI6 in your vicinity.

If you do not know how to form a tie with what, in my circles, we called a “wimple,” you don’t know how to tie a tie properly. It is an essential ingredient in any properly tied necktie, and if Al Sharpton ties one and you don’t, it may be very sad indeed, but Al Sharpton is right and you are wrong.

I don’t understand all the Hermès folderol. I own a few Hermès ties, but there is nothing in my eyes magical about that brand of necktie. In fact, I tend to frown upon wearing Hermès because its tie designs are commonly just like Ferragamo’s, and I dislike wearing ties which identify their brand via their design. I only own a few Hermès and maybe two Ferragamo ties because those examples are witty club ties, jokingly alluding to various equestrian activities, so they’re useful to wear when I’m working as judge or the like at an event.

I think GSE overlooks more interesting tie questions like: do you wear the currently preferred width of tie, or choose your own? Do you wear club ties in the office? Or are they too hearty and informal? What brands and styles of design do you find intolerable? Do you wear seasonal, humorous, or holiday ties at all, ever? And where do you stand on the bow tie question? My own view is that some people like bow ties and can pull them off, but most of us cannot.

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Suit Jacket

Two button is down market, moderne, not good. The three button jacket is classic. Some men are obliged to wear two button suits due to problems with their figures, but if you do not have to, you should not.

He’s right about grey and Navy, but black suits are also possible. We all have to go to funerals occasionally.

If we are all working at Goldman, then we are all rich and we can all meet with visiting London tailors. GSE fails clearly to warn against allowing them to talk you into any of the excesses of contemporary British tailoring (other than peaked lapels). Buy the US-style sack suit, not the double-breasted, nipped in at the waist, big-lapeled Prince Charles suit. But there does remain room for individual expression. Do you want the stiff, fully-tailored Huntsman military uniform look? Or the Anderson & Shepherd softer tailored look? Hook back vent (American), side vents (British), or no vents (Continental)?

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Business Casual

Do not do business casual.

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Watches

Rolex and Audi may be cliches, but Rolex is the least expensive very high end watch, and people who own expensive watches tend to look at other people’s wrists. In some circles, if you aren’t wearing a Rolex or above, you may lack financial credibility.
GSE obviously doesn’t understand cars. Audi is making better cars than BMW or Benz these days.

I don’t myself believe in rules about watches, but you can count on it that some people will see that Rolex or Royal Oak on your wrist and condemn you as a frivolous waster afflicted with vanity, while others will look at anybody without a top tier timepiece as a probable pauper.

Miscellaneous

I guess he’s right. The generation that has trouble figuring out how to tie a tie had better dispense with pocket squares.

31 Aug 2013

Captain Frank Jones’ Company, Frontier Battalion, Texas Rangers 1887

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Company D, Frontier Battalion, Texas Rangers, 1887

Heritage Auctions is selling the original cabinet card photo of this iconic Western image from the John N. McWilliams Texas Ranger Collection on September 20th in Dallas.

Back row from left: Jim King (murdered while working undercover February 11, 1890), Bass Outlaw (discharged 1889, killed by Constable John Selman in El Paso April 4, 1894), Riley Boston, Charles Fusselman (ambushed and killed by rustlers April 17, 1890), James William “Tink” Durbin, Ernest Rogers, Charles Barton, Walter Jones; Sitting (from left): Robert Bell, Cal Aten, Captain Frank Jones (Killed in a fight with Mexican bandits near San Elizario, Texas, June 30, 1893, Joseph Walter Durbin (retired and became sheriff of Frio County), Frank L. Schmid Jr. (died June 17, 1893 of gunshot wounds received August 16, 1889 in Fort Bend County when caught in a crossfire between two hostile political parties).

Winchester and Colt Model 1873s seem to be the universal choice.

The mortality rate from gunshots for members of this small group of men was pretty impressive. Five out of fourteen (four on the right side of the law) were dead with the next seven years.

30 Aug 2013

Allah Akbar to You, Too

WARNING: Blood and gore alert!

We first see a Syrian rebel, identified by the pro-Assad forces who released the video as a trained-by-Nato [Turkey] member of the Free Syrian Army, apparently trying to clean his RPG-7 launcher. When he fires the weapon, well…. .it does not work out well for him.

Some viewers think that the Syrian regime has managed to slip some doctored RPG rounds into rebel supplies, but I think the viewers who are right are the ones who said that this chap inadvertently failed to elevate his aim above the fence he was hiding behind.

29 Aug 2013

Obamacare: the Choice of a Generation

29 Aug 2013

Searching for Wild Chocolate in the Amazon

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Rowan Atkinson tasted what some people refer to as “the Dom Perignon of the Amazon” and immediately set out to find the man who discovered wild cacao beans growing in the jungles of Bolivia.

They called it Cru Sauvage. The impeccable Swiss packaging alluded to its aboriginal provenance, and inside were two bars wrapped in golden foil, 68 percent cacao. I’d paid $13 (plus shipping!) for these skinny little planks of chocolate, just 100 grams’ worth of “Wild Vintage.” That’s $60 a pound. After savaging its wrapper, I placed a square of the dusky stuff on my tongue and closed my eyes.

Chocolate is the one of the most complex foods we know. It contains more than 600 flavor compounds. (Red wine has only 200.) Chocolate can be bitter, sweet, fruity, nutty, and savory all at once. It takes the vast library of taste and blends it into one revelatory package. The tropical cacao tree has secret things to tell us about flavor and desire, and for more than a decade I’ve made a hobby of tracking down those secrets.

This incredibly rare and expensive chocolate was produced by the venerable firm of Felchlin, which claimed that it was unique in the world, made from an ancient strain of cacao native to the Bolivian Amazon—i.e., wild cacao, au naturel, unmolested by millennia of botanical tinkering. It hit me with an intense nuttiness, but without the slightest hint of bitterness, a combination I’d never experienced. Aromatics burst in my sinuses. Citrus and vanilla. The flavor dove into a deep, rich place, and then, just as I thought I had a handle on it, the bottom fell out and it dove some more. That might sound ridiculous, but I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time “researching” the best chocolate in the world, geeking out on it like the most obnoxious sommelier, and this was something entirely new.

When the feeling finally began to subside, I opened my eyes and started looking for the man responsible.

Read the whole thing.

The stuff is only $37 a pound here.

Hat tip to Fred Lapides.

29 Aug 2013

Horace Mann and Public Education

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Horace Mann 1796-1859

Sippi says he’s educating his kids at home because public education has moved very, very far from its original agenda and ideals.

[M]y children are receiving a public school education at home. They are. They simply don’t attend the public school; they’re getting this education from my wife, inside my house.

Hmm. But that’s bound to give you the wrong idea, too; you’ll assume that means we’re giving the kids the same sort of education that’s being offered in those buildings they still call public schools. You see, there are no public schools in America that I know of. They’re reeducation camps for people that weren’t educated in the first place, maybe, or little prisons, or pleasure domes for creepy teachers, or places where tubby women work out their neuroses about eating on helpless children at lunchtime — but there’s not much schooling going on in school. A public school is a really expensive, but shabby and ineffectual, private school that collects their tuition with the threat of eviction from your house.

I grew up in the same town as Horace Mann. I know all about public schools. The concept is as dead as a Pharaoh. The idea that universal literacy and a coherent public attitude toward citizenship would result in a better life for the country as a whole was a sweet one, and it worked for a while, until they “fixed” it. They’ve been fixing the hell out of it for over half a century now. They fixed it the way a veterinarian fixes dogs, to my eye.

Here’s Wikipedia’s list of Horace Mann’s reasons for public schooling:

    (1) the public should no longer remain ignorant
    (2) that such education should be paid for, controlled, and sustained by an interested public
    (3) that this education will be best provided in schools that embrace children from a variety of backgrounds
    (4) that this education must be non-sectarian
    (5) that this education must be taught by the spirit, methods, and discipline of a free society
    (6) that education should be provided by well-trained, professional teachers. Mann worked for more and better equipped school houses, longer school years (until 16 years old), higher pay for teachers, and a wider curriculum.

Let’s take them in turn, and see how Old Howlin’ Horace’s ideas have turned out in what’s called the public schools, but aren’t anymore.

    1) Is that cursive? I don’t read cursive.
    2) The public seems completely uninterested in what happens in public school, or they wouldn’t send their kids there. Anyone really interested in public schools is horrified by what they find out. Talk to a teacher about what they’re required to do in there — after they’ve had a few drinks. I have. One I spoke to referred to themselves as a “tard farmer.” Do you want to sent your children to a “tard farm”? We don’t.
    3) My children are from a variety of backgrounds, all by themselves. We didn’t turn either of them away. Tell my Irish grandmother and wife’s Calabrian grandfather that all white people are the same. Bring a weapon to defend yourself. A “back-up piece” is probably a good idea if you’re talking to my grandmother, by the way.
    4) Public Schools aren’t non-sectarian. They teach their own religion, and persecute any vestige of any other, except for momentary alliances with subcultures that will help them persecute what they feel is the dominant culture outside the school.
    5) Parents are not allowed to enter a public school, even to walk their children to the door. Children are routinely persecuted for any behavior that deviates one iota from the what a militant vegan on a recumbent bicycle prefers. That’s not the spirit, method, or discipline of a free society.
    6) Teachers are well-trained and professional — just not in delivering an education to children. They are trained to be vestal virgins in a weird temple that forgot where they put the statue of the deity of mammon they worship. If public school worked, everyone who graduated from it would be capable of teaching in one.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

29 Aug 2013

Kintsukuroi

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29 Aug 2013

America’s New Role

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How often do I ever agree with Dennis Kucinich? Not often. But he nailed it this time:

“So what, we’re about to become Al-Qaeda’s air force now?” said Kucinich.

28 Aug 2013

Japanese Office Prank

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27 Aug 2013

Champis, the Herding Rabbit

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(not embeddable) 5:08 video

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

27 Aug 2013

Yale President Comforts Incoming Freshmen on Inequality

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Fatuous imbecile in action.

New Yale President Peter Salovey, in his address to incoming freshmen, described his own “modest upbringing”, admitted that there is inequality at Yale, but assured students they will wind up rich and happy anyway.

“You, Class of 2017, bring your different cultures, religions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations to this campus.” [link]

Yale president Peter Salovey delivered an address to incoming freshman about equality and the American dream. He spoke of his own immigrant grandparents and modest upbringing, and encouraged students to be open and open-minded about their own class (“one of the last taboos among Yale students”).

Estimated Yale tuition + room and board + books + personal expenses, according their website, is $60,900 for academic year 2013-2014.

Heartening: “Why did I choose to talk about Yale and the American Dream today? To assure you — especially those of you from families that are not affluent – that the dream is very much alive here at Yale. Ten years after they graduated, members of the Yale Class of 1998 reported impressive — and similar — average salaries and a high level of life satisfaction, regardless of whether they came from families whose standard of living was ‘far below average,’ ‘below average,’ ‘average,’ or ‘above average.’”

27 Aug 2013

Dots

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Hat tip to Madame Scherzo.

27 Aug 2013

Lycurgus Cup Proves Romans Has Nanotech

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Smithsonian magazine:

The colorful secret of a 1,600-year-old Roman chalice at the British Museum is the key to a super­sensitive new technology that might help diagnose human disease or pinpoint biohazards at security checkpoints.

The glass chalice, known as the Lycurgus Cup because it bears a scene involving King Lycurgus of Thrace, appears jade green when lit from the front but blood-red when lit from behind—a property that puzzled scientists for decades after the museum acquired the cup in the 1950s. The mystery wasn’t solved until 1990, when researchers in England scrutinized broken fragments under a microscope and discovered that the Roman artisans were nanotechnology pioneers: They’d impregnated the glass with particles of silver and gold, ground down until they were as small as 50 nanometers in diameter, less than one-thousandth the size of a grain of table salt. The exact mixture of the precious metals suggests the Romans knew what they were doing—“an amazing feat,” says one of the researchers, archaeologist Ian Freestone of University College London.

The ancient nanotech works something like this: When hit with light, electrons belonging to the metal flecks vibrate in ways that alter the color depending on the observer’s position. Gang Logan Liu, an engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who has long focused on using nanotechnology to diagnose disease, and his colleagues realized that this effect offered untapped potential. “The Romans knew how to make and use nanoparticles for beautiful art,” Liu says. “We wanted to see if this could have scientific applications.”

When various fluids filled the cup, Liu suspected, they would change how the vibrating electrons in the glass interacted, and thus the color. (Today’s home pregnancy tests exploit a separate nano-based phenomenon to turn a white line pink.)

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The cup’s history via Wikipedia:

The cup was “perhaps made in Alexandria” or Rome in about 290-325 AD, and measures 16.5 x 13.2 cm. From its excellent condition it is probable that, like several other luxury Roman objects, it has always been preserved above ground; most often such objects ended up in the relatively secure environment of a church treasury. Alternatively it might, like several other cage cups, have been recovered from a sarcophagus. The present gilt-bronze rim and foot were added in about 1800, suggesting it was one of the many objects taken from church treasuries during the period of the French Revolution and French Revolutionary Wars. The foot continues the theme of the cup with open-work vine leaves, and the rim has leaf forms that lengthen and shorten to match the scenes in glass. In 1958 the foot was removed by British Museum conservators, and not rejoined to the cup until 1973. There may well have been earlier mounts.

The early history of the cup is unknown, and it is first mentioned in print in 1845, when a French writer said he had seen it “some years ago, in the hands of M. Dubois”. This is probably shortly before it was acquired by the Rothschild family. Certainly Lionel de Rothschild owned it by 1862, when he lent it to an exhibition at what is now the V&A Museum, after which it virtually fell from scholarly view until 1950. In 1958 Victor, Lord Rothschild sold it to the British Museum for £20,000… .The cup is normally on display, lit from behind, in Room 50 (it forms part of the museum’s Department of Prehistory and Europe).

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