Eddy at Crossing Wall Street has his 2013 buy list out.
The dirty secret of economics education is a good read.
Oldprof talks about the Fiscal Cliff – Plan B.
Farnam Street reviews Oliver Burkeman’s The Antidote: Happiness for People who can’t stand positive thinking – I’ve got another of Burkeman’s books and have read his stuff in the Guardian for years. He’s a very good, very funny writer. This book is on my buy list.
Albert Ellis, who died in 2007, rediscovered a key insight of the Stoic philosophers: sometimes the best way to address the future is to focus on the worst-case scenario not on the best.
Seneca the Stoic was a radical on this matter. If you feared losing your wealth, he once advised, “set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?’ ”
Here’s Farnam’s review of Hetty Green – The Richest Woman in America (note that she was also an incredible miser):
When good things are so low that no one wants them, I buy them and lay them away in the safe; when owing to some new development, they go up and my shares are so needed that men will pay well for them, I am ready to sell.
Some of my favorite Burkeman posts:
“…weaken the Puritan link between “working hard” and “making life awful”, and the work part gets easier, too. The Puritans, Pallotta concedes, “had a strong work ethic. [But] they also burned witches at the stake… We need new role models.”
Comparison and consumer options:
Might it not make sense, then, to comparison-proof your own life? This is one good argument for pursuing a long-held eccentric career ambition over something more conventional: if nobody else you know is a gherkin wholesaler, or a goat farmer, you’re much less likely to feel gnawed by the sense of not measuring up. It might pay to pick friends with different lifestyles, too. When I hear about successes of friends who are writers, I admit, my happiness is tinged with envy. (“Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little” – Gore Vidal.) But my friend the actor, or my friend the computer programmer? For them, I’m just happy: there’s no easy way to compare our achievements, so it never occurs to me to do so. Though there is one way, of course, in which anyone can compare themselves to others. Which is why friends who want to stay friends should never discuss money.
The anti-whiner crowd, I think, are really targeting the subset known as “help-rejecting complainers”: people who seek advice, then spurn it, because their real motive is to prove they’re unhelpable. They’re playing the game Eric Berne, in his 1960s bestseller, Games People Play, called “yes, but”: offer a solution, and they’ll find a reason to reject it. The right response is to refuse to play the game. Break the cycle by agreeing sympathetically. Or (and Blake does suggest this) ask: “What do you plan to do about it?” As for the other kind of complainer – the ordinary kind – you’ll probably just have to learn tolerance. Because the technical term for them is “everybody”.