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Premises Premises

Walking to work this morning I passed a Citibank branch which prominently displayed their promises to New York.

The first was:

We Promise

to be there when you need us.

That’s a promise only the government can make for them.

This is pure noise, expanded on by the aptly-named Brad Dinsmore, formerly of BoA, now Head of Retail Banking, North America Consumer Banking, who said: “We are thrilled to share the power and promise of Citi with one of the greatest cities in the world, New York ?”

It’s a scary phrase, Consumer Banking. I never looked at it before.

They also promise “to protect your identity as if it were our own,” which I take as more of a threat than a promise.


My instinct much of the time these days is that the cure the government has chosen for the excesses of the past decades is the same sickness that caused it. Each successively larger mini-crisis since the mid-90s was met by an attempt to restore the status ante quo which temporarily postponed a still larger crisis that then led to a still larger intervention which led to ? ?

I don’t totally believe the world would have ended if various firms had fallen into the hands of bondholders, and I like to think that if it had, then we’ve only postponed it.


In this regard, I am working on a book about the way we use theories & models to handle the world and life in general, and how these theories and models work and don’t work. One of the things I’ve been writing about, on a tangent that is getting longer and longer, is the miraculous history of the theory of electromagnetism from Coulomb to Feynman. I want to try to explain the Wonder (in the Spinozan sense, capital intended) of being able to discover/create an understanding like this. It’s taking all of my available time so I don’t do much else.


What makes me much happier today is the announcement that Verizon Wireless, my carrier of choice, who have the best service in New York but the worst phones in the world, are finally going to get an Android phone. I am subsisting on a Palm Treo that won’t sync with my Mac properly anymore unless I spend hours trying to transfer data using any software I can find, which I do, and I am waiting for a Mac-compatible Verizon phone to arrive before I spend all my days as well as nights on this. As an early Newton owner (the first smartphone though it didn’t have a phone) through the 90s and proud of it, I have suffered long enough.

What also makes me happy is that Apple has rehired the guy that was the marketing manager for the Newton of long ago, and so it seems they are coming out with a tablet version of the iPod Touch that will let you read books on it in color looking like the real thing. I suspect it’ll be much better than the Kindle, which sounds slapped together. Newton is a good name. In Vienna they have a street named (and not just fake-alternately named like in New York) after Boltzman.

Published in Models