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About A.West

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  • Birthday 03/03/1970

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  • Location New Jersey/ New York City
  • Interests Finance, Economics, Tennis, educating my daughter Athena
  1. I Quit College!

    Elle, if you are going to be an entrepreneur or salesperson, then a college degree probably doesn't matter much. Maybe at Expeditors, people don't care about degrees. But in a lot of companies, degrees and GPA are part of a signalling process that tells people about capability, perseverence, etc. If you are going to work for yourself, or within one company all your life, then maybe it doesn't matter much that you don't finish a degree. But I think it could limit your options down the road, switching companies, or getting promoted to higher levels of management. I hear Expeditors is very merit-based, but not all companies are like that. Some companies expect/prefer top people to have MBA's, and if you don't have an undergraduate degree, you can't get an MBA. An MBA can also help you make a career change down the road of you want to. Even Carly Fiorina, who was focused on sales/marketing, eventually went back to school to get an MBA. If you're good, people who know you should recognize it, and a degree won't be a problem. But there may be times in the future when you deal with people who don't know you, don't trust your references or self-reporting of success on the job. Down the road you may need to pass through "gatekeepers" like HR who don't know you from 10 other applicants, and your resume may get thrown out of their pile because they can't check all of the boxes they want for you. I work in a field, investment management & research, where people do care a good bit about school, school GPAs, MBA degrees, GMAT scores, certification programs, etc., because they see these as proxies for both talent and dedication, and because self-reported investment skills and track records are fairly suspect and difficult to measure. My success in university certainly did help me win jobs and some key interviews over the years, and did help me perform on the job as well. Overall, if it's potentially of use down the line, and is doable without great sacrifice, I recommend completing a college degree while you're relatively young. I simply don't see much downside to getting it done.
  2. At the end of the article, the designer starts talking about the threat of taking philosophy too seriously, and how the city that is now drowning was originally designed to maximize freedom, then choked on too much of it! Sounds like this game was inspired by a critique of Objectivism rather than Objectivism itself.
  3. India Poised

    I've been covering some Indian investments for an Emerging Markets fund over the last half year. The bureaucracy in the country is depressing, but most of the entrepreneurs, businessmen, and younger intellectuals that I've been exposed to yearn for the government to get the hell out of their way. And they are willing to say so in public forums.
  4. Wet Shaving

    I have the Panasonic 8016, which uses essentially the same motor and blade combination that you have, Stephen (but without the fancy extras). The "trick" is not caring that my shave is not as baby-bottom smooth as I could get from a triple blade razor and shaving cream. That level of smoothness would only last half the day for me anyway. Maybe if my facial hair was black, or I was a politician kissing babies all day long, it would be a bigger deal to me. Regarding irritation, I remember getting more skin irritation from blades than electric razors. I changed to electric so many years ago, I don't recall the initial results. Maybe the comments in the electric razor instructions are true- that one needs to use an electric razor for 30 days for one's skin/hair to get used to it. Or maybe it just works for some skin/hair combinations better than others. I think also important is to not approach electric shaving in the same way one approaches razor shaving. Extra pressure doesn't make for a closer shave, and may increase irritation. Subtle pulling/stretching of your skin to make the hair approach the razor at the right angle seems to be more important.
  5. Wet Shaving

    I just replaced an old Panasonic electric razor with a new Panasonic razor that spins at 13,000 rpm. It's effective enough for me, as I prefer electric shaves over razor shaves, it's much faster, and I can do it without a mirror. To me, it's a tangible benefit of technological progress.
  6. Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD)

    SACD is nice technology that appears to be a dead end. Unless you have extremely high quality speakers and amplification, you probably won't hear much difference. And unfortunately, releases in the SACD format are limited in number, so the music you want to listen to may not be available. It hasn't been a business success for Sony. SACD and DVD-Audio were introduced at the same time, competing against one another, and neither were particularly successful. I personally think SACD is a dying format, and wouldn't invest a lot in it unless I could buy both the equipment and the recordings I was interested in relatively cheaply, and now, because I wouldn't count on so much coming out in the future. I'd be more likely to upgrade speakers to try to get a meaningful audible improvement. Maybe you have really good equipment already, but for most people, their CD player is not the weakest link in their audio reproduction chain. This is probably part of why SACD didn't take off as a consumer value proposition. I remember listening to a SACD demo at Red Rose Audio in NYC about 5 yrs ago, hosted by Mark Levinson (the man not the company). It sounded good, but it was his personal recordings designed to sound extra exciting, rather than a blind comparison of music I was accustomed to listening to.
  7. Negative on AS's Fiftieth

    It was quite a weak editorial. I wonder what prompted it - some promotional material in the UK? I'm also curious about where the author got his list of UK fans from: So Atlas Shrugged now clashes with the predominant culture, fancy that! Does the author think it didn't back in 1957? My guess is that with so many editorialists and editors on holiday break or hung over, this poorly written opinion piece just fell through the cracks to fill space on a slow news day.
  8. On the "possible"

    I wonder what Evan Picoult thinks about this issue. He's an Objectivist who developed methods for measuring risk for Citigroup. Financial institutions try to quantify numerous exposures to possible but sometimes very low probability events. In my own work in finance, there are some events so unlikely, that for the purposes of decision making, they are treated as if their possibility did not exist. But that's not the same as considering them truly impossible.
  9. Are gold prices a concern?

    The problem is that REITs are typically more correlated to stock market moves than the underlying real estate returns. TIPS and I-Bonds can protect one from rising CPI, but CPI is a poor reflection of real inflation, and those instruments offer very little upside above CPI right now.
  10. Sounds like a good reason to oppose the Evangelical movement, which I thought pretty much all Objectivists already did. I don't see many Evangelicals involved in Republican politics, except in Democratic party critiques of Republicans. In New Jersey, this year, I can't recall seeing any promotion for the Republican candidate even vaguely referring to religious themes. I mostly see it in Democratic ads warning me about the various bad positions the Republican candidate may have in this regard (opposing stem cells or abortions, etc.). The Republican may indeed be bad, but they are certainly not crusading behind Christian theology in NJ, it but rather hiding it from the general public. If they have to hide and apologize for whatever Christian-driven policies they have, (other than their outreach within Churches I guess) then I find it difficult to see that they have much momentum or pose an increasing threat. As far as I can tell, Republicans as a party don't sell theology, rather, they reflect whatever levels of Theology exists within the population. That's part of the Republican party's many bases of support, but not the only base. Republican's aren't the intellectuals or disseminators (nor are the Democrats), rather, both cash in on various trends within the population created by the intellectuals (including theologians - both parties have Reverends among their elites). When leftists were considered a threat, I don't recall Objectivists targeting the Democratic party, but rather, they targeted the Universities and intellectuals, because that's what helped create them. Even if religion has become a greater threat now, I would think that the only way to stop it is to go to the source, intellectuals and Churches.
  11. I really hated Gary Cooper's courtroom scene in The Fountainhead. To me he seemed to be choking on the words. I generally avoid seeing that movie, but I still might buy the new DVD. At some point I might start hoping that they turn it into a non-philosophical action movie, letting Ragnar, Ellis Wyatt and Francisco blow things up, and then letting Dagny get into plane and car chases, and then having her come in guns a blazing to rescue Galt for the climax. If they stay away from the philosophy, at least they can't misrepresent it.
  12. Does this mean that somebody didn't like the Jim Hart screenplay? A new scriptwriter whose favorite book is a Christian tract doesn't sound good. I wonder if they're just starting all over to write a script to suit the stars, or fit a new business plan.
  13. Greenspan discusses economics, and Ayn Rand

    Paul, I think he was contrasting his new view of economics with his prior view of economics as econometrics. In other words, he learned from Rand that economics is about people, rather than a subset of statistics. Interesting then that later on he was still viewed as someone very focused on obscure data sets.
  14. Hip-Hop

    What is the "bad side" of waltz? Or of harp music? I don't think all forms of music have the capability to convey brutality and malevolence in the way that forms like rap/hip hop/ etc. do.
  15. market based management

    I may not like the guys politics, but as far as corporate management philosophies go, it looks better than at least 90% of the company principles I've come across. (And I've seen hundreds over the years). Furthermore, given that the company is large and successful, that provides some evidence that they know how to manage for results. As an intern, I suspect you won't need to be dealing with the chairman of the board too much. In many cases, the way a company works on the ground is a lot different than its corporate value statement sounds like. The shorthand I'd take from this company's statement is that they pay for and reward performance, not seniority, and they value training and internal intellectual property. Most companies say this too, but many don't live up to it, maybe this company really takes it seriosly. Most of the rest of the stuff is standard in the business world, not groundbreaking philosophy. Koch does spare us the typical stuff about loving kids, community, diversity, the earth, stakeholders, etc., and so perhaps their HR department wastes less time on that than most companies.