"If people live in your house, use your credit cards and drive your car, you should know their last names; if you meet a woman who claims her name is Sparkle Smith, it isn’t; when you are in a business meeting, do not slouch. The round spoon is the soup spoon; do not break your roll in half and slather butter over the whole thing before you eat it; if you don’t know anyone at an event, talk to someone who is standing alone."

from The Big Leagues, a story in the NYT about an incoming how-to-handle-your-life training camp for NBA rookies. The subhed reads:

A killer three-pointer no longer cuts it in the world of pro basketball. To succeed as a multimillion-dollar brand, an athlete needs business savvy, fashion know-how and good table manners. Welcome to the N.B.A.’s other training camp.

"In this tragic moment, when words seem so inadequate to express the shock people feel, the first thing that comes to mind is this: We are all Americans! We are all New Yorkers, just as surely as John F. Kennedy declared himself to be a Berliner in 1962 when he visited Berlin. Indeed, just as in the gravest moments of our own history, how can we not feel profound solidarity with those people, that country, the United States, to whom we are so close and to whom we owe our freedom, and therefore our solidarity?"

— The headline in Paris’ Le Monde newspaper on 9/12/2001 was Nous sommes tous Américains (“We are all Americans”). The text above is the first paragraph, translated.



Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.


What is that sound high in the air
Murmur of maternal lamentation
Who are those hooded hordes swarming
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth
Ringed by the flat horizon only
What is the city over the mountains
Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air
Falling towers
Jerusalem Athens Alexandria
Vienna London


— Stanzas from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922) that always remind me of 9/11.

"I always like hiring people for my start-ups from Yahoo from that era [the Terry Semel era] vs. from Google, because I know the Yahoo people are smart but humble. They’ve seen the highs and lows. They are more realistic about how the world works."

— Unnamed venture capitalist in this story about Terry Semel’s legacy at Yahoo. I definitely left Yahoo! with a sense of humility and fire in the belly, both of which have been useful at Etsy.


Society says, “You’re too old, Wooderson. You’re a has-been; you gotta get on with your life.” But Wooderson knows who he is, what he wants, and is a very simple and content man. I always saw him as right on time, in his glory days—in his mind, and that’s all that matters… .

I always saw Wooderson as an American classic. Soon as I read his response, “That’s what I love about high school girls: I get older, they stay the same age,” I flew with him. I said to myself, Anyone who believes in that has massaged a massive perception into a personal truth, without attitude or a need to defend. That is a classic character.


Matthew McConaughey talking about his classic character David Wooderson from Dazed and Confused, ”An Oral History of Dazed and Confused

"I do want there to be more punk rock—I do, I do. I do want there to be more left-wing new wave—really. By Americans—I swear it. But not by a would-be out-of-work actor with Tiny Tim vibrato who spent the first half of the ’70s concocting “rock cabaret.” Admittedly, I’m guessing, but I’m also being kind—it sounds like Jello Biafra discovered the Stooges in 1977. C+"

Robert Christgau on the Dead Kennedys’ album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables [I.R.S., 1980]

Ouch. I’m a fan of the DK’s and my 15-year-old self is an even bigger fan.

The DK’s Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death might be my favorite album title ever.


The European: You do draw a lot of inspiration from books. What are books better at than the Internet?

Popova: Literature is the original Internet – every footnote, every citation, every allusion is essentially a hyperlink to another text, to another mind. The difference – the advantage, for me at least – is that in books, those “links” don’t beckon as immediate demands for our attention, redirecting us elsewhere before we’ve finished the present thought, but serve instead as gentle invitations to extend this thought once we’ve finished absorbing and digesting it. There’s something to be said for the value of slow, continuous, deliberate thinking, which remains the forte of books and the Achilles heel of the vast majority of the web.


— From interview in The European with Maria Popova, curator of the utterly amazing Brain Pickings.

"Listen now. When people talk listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling. Try that for practice. When you’re in town stand outside the theatre and see how the people differ in the way they get out of taxis or motor cars. There are a thousand ways to practice. And always think of other people."

— Hemingway on writing, via Brainpickings.

"… . when a company multiplies in size, the management jobs become brand-new jobs. As a result, everybody needs to requalify for the new job, because the new job and the old job are not the same. Running a two-hundred-person global sales organization is not the same job as running a twenty-five-person local sales team. If you get lucky, the person you hired to run the twenty-five-person team will have learned how to run the two-hundred-person team. If not, you need to hire the right person for the new job. This is neither an executive failure nor a system failure; it is life in the big city. Do not attempt to avoid this phenomenon, as you will only make things worse."

— Key piece of advice from Ben Horowitz’s excellent book, The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Building a Business When There are No Easy Answers.

"Ideals become easy prey when convenience is at stake. And it’s a matter of perception, too: Walmart puts its low-paid employees up front, parades their lack of dignity around for customers to see. Amazon gets to hide its poorly treated employees in warehouses, far from public view. Walmart’s cheaply made goods, all lined up and hanging on a rack, evoke the assembly lines of China. Amazon’s cheaply made goods, delivered individually in an attractive cardboard box to your door, seem like something magical; they don’t bear the fingerprints of people working for pennies a day in slave-labor conditions. All the ugliness of Amazon is behind the scenes, hidden behind a thick wall of corporate silence, and for that concealment, any number of people who consider themselves good citizens are willing to trade their loathing of Walmart for a deep and abiding love of the Great Walmart in the Sky."

— “It’s Time to Turn Your Back on Amazon