Money

We Are Forever Grateful for Your Sacrifices, Part II

Amazingly, I passed all my first year law school exams (okay, by the skin of my teeth), and that fall I was back in Cambridge ready to start my second year at Harvard Law. But they wouldn’t let me register for classes because I couldn’t pay the (staggering) tuition. When I’d started my first year …

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We Are Forever Grateful for Your Sacrifices

“Thank you to all of our alumni veterans for your service. We are forever grateful for your sacrifices.” – Email received on Veterans Day by Your Humble Blogger from Harvard Law School When that email landed in my inbox I was at first both surprised and pleased. After all, Harvard University has been, for half …

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Spitting Into the Wind, Part III

I’m perfectly well aware that Noel Coward once remarked that reading a footnote is like having to stop making love so you can go downstairs to answer the door. But what did he know? I love footnotes. In his (much over-praised) book, “Infinite Jest,” David Foster Wallace included almost 100 pages of footnotes, which was terrific. Unfortunately, he …

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Herbert Simon: 20th Century Galileo

James H. Morris is a retired professor of computer science and dean of the School of Computer Science as well as the Silicon Valley campus of Carnegie Mellon University. In a series of blogs for Pittsburgh Quarterly he writes about some of the computing pioneers he encountered during his career. Although he was less approachable …

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Bloggy, Blog Blog…

We’re talking about my blog—blogging about blogging, talk about a navel-gazing exercise—and also about the book of blog posts that I just published. Selection criteria Since there exist, as of this moment, well over 300 of my blog posts, averaging 1,000 words each, I couldn’t simply publish all of them. That would result in a …

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Raj Reddy: Modern Circumnavigator

James H. Morris is a retired professor of computer science and dean of the School of Computer Science as well as the Silicon Valley campus of Carnegie Mellon University. In a series of blogs for Pittsburgh Quarterly he writes about some of the computing pioneers he encountered during his career. Raj Reddy began life in …

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Spitting Into the Wind

The first blogging software hit the market in 1999, but it was a technology in search of a use. I never even heard the word “blog” until the early 2000s, and didn’t focus on it until, in 2004, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary selected “blog” as the Word of the Year. (It’s a truncation of “web log.”) Even then …

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Allen Newell: The Lone Ranger

James H. Morris is a retired professor of computer science and dean of the School of Computer Science as well as the Silicon Valley campus of Carnegie Mellon University. In a series of blogs for Pittsburgh Quarterly he writes about some of the computing pioneers he encountered during his career. After succumbing to Alan Perlis’s …

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The Dear John Letter (to your Financial Advisor)

For many people, the worst part of the process of terminating an advisor happens at the very end, when you finally have to tell the guy the relationship is over. Think about that love affair that just wasn’t right. You knew that he/she was wrong for you, but actually breaking off the relationship filled you …

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Robert Taylor: Demanding Coach

James H. Morris is a retired professor of computer science and dean of the West Coast campus of Carnegie Mellon University. In a series of blogs for Pittsburgh Quarterly he writes about some of the computing pioneers he encountered during his career. As I struggled with the rigors of being an assistant professor at University …

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Firing Your Financial Advisor, Part III

Now that we know why we’re going to fire our financial advisor, let’s talk about when to do it. Obviously, if any of the issues I detailed in my last post are operating, the time to fire your advisor is ASAP. But even if no hot-button issues have raised their ugly heads, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all is …

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Alan Perlis: The First Computer Scientist

I was a teenager in 1957 when the Russians launched Sputnik. In the national reaction to it I was inspired to pursue science. I was all set to go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or the California Institute of Technology to become a physicist, when the Carnegie Institute of Technology offered me a full …

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Firing Your Financial Advisor, Part II

If you Google “Should I fire my financial advisor?” you will land on a lot of brain-dead articles. If any of the reasons listed in those articles apply to your financial advisor and you haven’t fired him, you’re probably hopeless. But in the interest of comprehensiveness, let’s take a quick look at reasons to fire your advisor right …

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Firing Your Financial Advisor

“You’re fired!” – Donald Trump. The incredible—and incredibly long—bull market in both stocks and bonds that has persisted since the end of the Global Financial Crisis is now teetering. Whether or not the market bloodbath that occurred in October continues, the bull will in fact come to an end one of these days. When that …

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On Children’s Literature

“Why do we give children the illusion of a world that doesn’t exist and which all their lives they will compare with a harsh reality?” –Georges Simenon A few weeks ago I published my 300th post since I launched the blog back in 2013. In recognition of this dubious anniversary I’m going to talk about …

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Why We Don’t Take Our Meds: The Conclusion

“If you torture data long enough, it will confess anything.” –Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase “[Medical] science is really hard to turn around. People get emotionally invested, financially invested, professionally invested.” –Dr. Jonathan Moreno, Professor of Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania Last week I pointed out that a ridiculously expensive drug ($15,000/year) that had to be taken …

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No More “Bad Cholesterol”? Not So Fast…

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as though nothing had happened – Winston Churchill It was mid-2015 and I knew I was in trouble as soon as I walked into my doc’s office – he was grinning from ear to ear and waving a piece …

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The Heart Cholesterol Complex

It is difficult for a man to understand something when his income depends on his not understanding it. H.L. Mencken About the time World War I was breaking out in Europe, doctors conducting postmortem exams on heart attack patients discovered that those patients’ coronary arteries were gunked up with cholesterol. “Aha!” said medical science, “People …

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The Really Horrible Versus the Ordinarily Horrible

By “PVCs” I don’t mean the stuff they make pipes out of. I mean “premature ventricular contractions.” When people have heart attacks, especially serious ones, heart muscle dies and turns into useless, deadweight scar tissue. To make matters worse, hearts that are pocked by scar tissue conduct electrical waves very differently than hearts that are …

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How Many Heart Beats Do You Want?

So there I was, at the end of April 2015, off all my prescription meds. (I still took a baby aspirin and a multivitamin, don’t ask me why.) I was feeling great and knew I needed to exercise, but knowing and doing are two very different things. Before my heart attack I had a very …

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Who Says There’s Really “Prediabetes”?

I want to launch this post with a disclaimer—don’t do what I did. On the other hand, the usual advice—consult with your physician—might be even worse, for the reasons I’ll get to. After my 2015 stress test (described in last week’s post) I had a very depressing follow-up call with my doc. “Your ejection fraction …

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Death Becomes Her

“Why?” is the obvious question: dead bodies of all ages (arriving daily), grieving families, being surrounded by sadness and despair, not to mention dealing with the more unseemly but necessary “physical” aspects of the job. As a family business—sure, that makes sense—family pressure can go a long way, and there is no shortage of customers, …

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