Good Luck to Harold Pollack, and Welcome to Larry Kudlow

Big changes are coming with RBC’s bligging lineup

The New Harold Pollack
The New Harold Pollack
I should have seen this coming, but still it makes me sad. Harold Pollack’s 4 x 6 index card of financial advice was perhaps the most read, cited and tweeted RBC post in history. It drew coverage from Washington Post, Money Magazine, Vanguard and Motley Fool among many, many others. It is now a book that is getting tremendous press everywhere.

I thus understand Harold’s decision to move on from RBC to take up a regular investment advice column at Wall Street Journal and a “Pollack’s Mad Money” television show on CNBC, which fired Jim Cramer today to make room for Harold. Congratulations my friend, you will be missed.

However, with every ending comes a new beginning, so it is therefore time to welcome Larry Kudlow to RBC. Larry will have big shoes to fill, but is strongly committed to writing here about poverty, inequality and the need to expand the social welfare net and raise taxes on the wealthy. The only thing holding him back so far has been that he doesn’t know any poor people, but Harold, gracious in transition, has agreed to introduce to him to one very soon.

Swallow that coffee before reading further.

An enterprising Harvard University student found an outlet for that creative energy that comes from intense focus on a teeny subject, a phenomenon well familiar to anyone who made it through graduate school. She started a website, which seems to be mostly Twitter fodder, called LOL My Thesis. Authors sum it up in one (two, max) pithy sentences. I cannot choose a favorite. If I had done this for my law school paper, I think it would have been: “When a homeless woman called the ACLU after the DSS took her kid away, it did not end well for anyone except me, since I really needed a topic.”

But reading these, I conclude that scientists have the comedic edge. Ready? Swallow first! Continue reading “Swallow that coffee before reading further.”

May all your Christmases be stereotypes

Why Santa’s reindeer must be female.

Santa Claus may be white or not, according to taste, prejudice or marketing strategy. But here’s bad news for Megyn Kelly. The exploited reindeer that have drawn Santa’s sleigh through the busy Christmas night are necessarily reinhind, that is if they have proper antlers.
From an unnamed correspondent of Victor Mair at Language Log:

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female deer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December.

Female reindeer retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, according to EVERY historical rendition depicting Santa’s reindeer, EVERY single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl.

We should have known … ONLY women would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost!

Keystone Kop

George W. Bush sees no problem with the Keystone pipeline.

Former President George W. Bush Jr, to an oil industry conference on 14 November:

I think the goal of the country ought to be “how do we grow the private sector?” That ought to be the laser-focus of any administration. And therefore, once that’s the goal, an issue like [the] Keystone pipeline becomes a no-brainer.

He should know.

Best Joke I Heard This Week

Courtesy of a retired Norwegian politician:

A Dane, A Norwegian and a Swede were sentenced to death for terrible crime. The judge offered each a final wish before the sentence was carried out.

The Dane said “I’d like a beer”.

The Norwegian said “I would like to make a speech”.

The Swede said “I would like to be put to death before he begins his speech”.

What Are Your Favorite Split Metaphors?

Stanford University President Gerhard Casper once gave a speech in which he commented on his tendency to mix metaphors, which amused and at times bemused those around him. My favorite of the ones he quoted was:

“Let’s not drop anchor when we aren’t out of the woods yet”

My best friend, my wife and I got into the habit of calling such things “split metaphors” and keeping track of ones that made us laugh. Here are a few:

“I don’t think she’s shooting straight off the bottom of the deck”

“You really hit the nose on the face”

“He’s so good at chess that every time we play, he cleans my butt”

What are your favorite split metaphors?

Medical Mispronunciations

How do you pronounce Osphena, Tafinlar, Procysbi, Sitavig, Breo Ellipta and Tecfidera?

One of the challenging aspects of a career in medicine is that every week you have to learn new nonsense words that have been invented to describe the latest products. 2013 has already brought us Osphena, Tafinlar, Procysbi, Sitavig, Breo Ellipta and Tecfidera, among many other tongue twisters. I have never been able to figure out how the companies that make these products get us all to pronounce them the same way so quickly. Marketing I suppose.

With older drugs, there is no one fighting for branding, so you can pretty much please yourself pronunciation-wise. One of my favorite examples is a constituent of the poppy plant: Thebaine. NFL Legend Roger Staubach asked “How do you spell relief?“. I ask “How do you say Thebaine?”. Some people say THE-BANE (of my existence?), others make it three syllables THEE-BAYE-IN (of the wolves?) or THE-BAY-INN (all rooms with an ocean view?).

Personally, I never pronounce the name of any drug first in a meeting because I am afraid how people will react if I get it wrong.