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In the last analysis—does anyone still use that phrase?
it’s a great fake phrase, like “the moment of truth”
which Nabokov ridiculed so convincingly—
you can be sure of two things.
One is that Congress is going to kick the can down the road.
You know it, I know it, but somebody who doesn’t know it
can turn a sucker bet into a sucker punch and that is the essence
of what we call a derivative. And today we like to bank on the VIX,
which measures volatility as the square root of variance.
My friend Ajax (who used to play hockey for the Islanders)
says he is a momentum investor, leery of value traps,
and didn’t recognize my wife because he has “facial blindness.”
He looked me in the eye like a marshal in a western
and said, “What was the other thing
that we can be sure of?” I sold him on derivatives.
It seemed an act of kindness to lie.
“It could be a game-changer,” I said, knowing the phrase
would get him to take out his checkbook.
“We’ve passed the point of no return,”
he said as we shook hands.
“We always do,” I said.
“What about the long term?” he asked,
lighting a cigar with the fifty dollar bill
he had used to scoop white powder
from a mirror to his nostrils.
“In the long term,” I said, “we’re all dead.”
“Keynes,” he said, recognizing the quote.
“Keynes,” I said, walking him to the door.
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Reflecting on three monumental works of modernism—James Joyce’s Ulysses, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus—a hundred years on.
Both regulators and employers have embraced new technologies for on-the-job monitoring, turning a blind eye to unjust working conditions.
But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.