“There’s a difference,” remarked one colleague, “between getting a girl to think you’re smart, and getting a girl to WANT to talk to you. The following are books that will make girls want to talk to you.
—Greatest pick-up book of all time is Just Kids by Patti Smith, because every girl has read it and they ALL want to talk about it.
—Any book ever written by Haruki Murakami
—The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
—White Album by Joan Didion
—What We Talk About, When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
—The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. (Don’t question it. Just trust.)”
Most business schools do offer ethics classes. Yet these classes are generally divided into two categories. Some classes simply illustrate ethical dilemmas without taking a position on what people are expected or not expected to do. It is as if students were presented with the pros and cons of racial segregation, leaving them to decide which side they wanted to take. Other classes hide behind corporate social responsibility, saying that social obligations rest on firms, not individuals. I say “hide” because a firm is nothing but an organized group of individuals. As the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission affirms, we should not impose burdens on corporations that we do not want to impose on individuals. So before we talk about corporate social responsibility, we need to talk about individual social responsibility. If we do not recognize the latter, we cannot talk about the former. Business schools should stand up for what they think is the individual responsibility of a good capitalist.
We honestly hadn’t thought there was a glut of national media stories examining hard times for the working poor following the economic collapse of the century; there’s the occasional A27 blurb that mentions mass starvation, but only as part of an argument about why capital gains should be taxed at zero percent. Yet for Hovde, the papers read like Pravda*:
During the Q&A portion of the event, Hovde expressed his support for lowering the corporate tax rate, tackling the country’s spending problems and lowering the national debt.
Then, pointing to a reporter in the audience, Hovde said he would love to see the press stop covering sad stories about low-income individuals who can’t get benefits and start covering issues like the deficit more frequently.
“I see a reporter here,” he said. “I just pray that you start writing about these issues. I just pray. Stop always writing about, ‘Oh, the person couldn’t get, you know, their food stamps or this or that.’ You know, I saw something the other day — it’s like, another sob story, and I’m like, ‘But what about what’s happening to the country and the country as a whole?’ That’s going to devastate everybody.”
One day, just one day maybe, we’ll see someone working at any mainstream news outlet — perhaps a reasonable centrist at the Washington Post or New York Times who misses the days of bipartisanship, of Tip and Ronnie fightin’ all day and then going out for a drink, of Newt and Bill ending welfare — advocate for lowering the corporate tax rate. But probably not in this lifetime.
This means that Twitter, officially a microblogging platform, in practice has often functioned in a way opposite to the blog. Of course a tweet is just a tweet, not to be made too much of. Even so, La Rochefoucauld, Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker, Cyril Connolly, the Kafka of The Blue Octavo Notebooks, Cioran — they would have been excellent tweeters, and the best tweets, today, rival their greatest one-liners. (In fact to encounter their sententiae parcelled out as tweets would have made for a better experience than reading The Unquiet Grave or The Trouble with Being Born straight through. Aphorisms are ideally consumed like nuts or candies, a handful at a time.) So Twitter doesn’t only have the widely recognized usefulness of providing updates on news and revolution, and illuminating links, and many laughs and smirks. It has also brought about a surprising revival of the epigrammatic impulse in a literary culture that otherwise values the merely personal and the super-colloquial as badges of authenticity. “Write as short as you can/ In order/ Of what matters,” John Berryman counseled in a pre-tweet of 44 characters. Favorite that, followers.
Chris Hitchens, Ulysses S. Grant, and Boris Yeltsin walk into a bar…