Monday, August 26, 2013

Vacation Notes

We are back, thank you Andrew Ross Sorkin, Suzanne Rico, and Marion Roach Smith for filling in for us while we were on holiday.

It was a dirty job but vacation is now over, here are some notes from my travels:

  • Every American Citizen should visit the Gettysburg battlefields at least once.
  • PJ Clarke’s is one of the best bars in the land.
  • Commercial flying is one big pain in the a _ _ .
  • It hurts to drive around the City of Detroit.
  • Every American Citizen should visit Washington D.C. at least once.
  • The 9/11 crash site in Shanksville, PA is another must see. To honor those heroes.
  • Jackson Country Club dining is overrated; Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan is underrated.
  • Comerica Park in Detroit hot dogs rate a 6 on a hot dog scale of 1 – 10 (Portillo’s in Chicago being a 10).
  • Ohio Turnpike rest stops are the best I have seen in America: Panera Bread, Starbucks, I wanted to stay the weekend.
  • Oberlin College in Ohio has a very lovely campus.
  • An evening tour of the Washington monuments is breath taking.
  • 25 year old nephews should not be so disciplined and centered.
  • Diversity is not a common theme in the Mid-West of the United States.
  • A great Reuben sandwich is to be had at the Rusty Nail Lounge in Canton, Michigan.
  • The St. Regis Hotel in Washington D.C. has a cool lobby.
  • The Pine Grille in Somerset, PA sells a bottle of Rolling Rock beer for $2.00.
  • Chelsea, Michigan is a town you always want to come back to.
  • I miss my Dad.

LIVING HISTORY -- "In 1963, The Post 'blew it': How "I have a dream" wasn't covered: An overlooked dream, now remembered," by Robert G. Kaiser, an associate editor of The Post, and managing editor from 1991-98: "There was no rush-hour traffic on Aug. 28, 1963; almost no one went to work. Downtown, the sidewalks were empty and businesses were closed. But at Union Station, the joint was jumping. So was the Greyhound bus station on New York Avenue. Scores of thousands - mostly black but about a third white - streamed out of trains and buses and began to march along the Mall toward the Lincoln Memorial. I was a Post summer intern - a kid reporter on his first big story - and one of 60 staffers the paper deployed that day. ... Ben Gilbert, the imperious city editor, had spent weeks planning the coverage. With help from colleagues, he was about to make one of the biggest goofs of his long career. ...

"I was sent to watch celebrities arrive at National Airport, where I attended a news conference by Marlon Brando ... I was then dispatched to the corner of Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Post reporters were stationed on every block of Constitution and throughout the Mall to cover any untoward incident. A sea of good-natured, well-dressed humanity paraded before me. The marchers carried signs but shouted no slogans. ... I was afraid of Gilbert, so I stayed at my post for several hours. Eventually I wandered toward the Lincoln Memorial, where the speeches had been delivered. ... I was too late to hear the speeches but soon heard about them, particularly the address by John Lewis, a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. This is the same John Lewis we know today as an avuncular Georgia representative, a gentle though forceful agitator ... In 1963, Robert F. Kennedy's Justice Department considered him a dangerous radical. So he got a disproportionate share of attention from reporters and officials.

"The Post's courtly civil rights reporter , Robert E. Lee Baker - he used Robert E. Baker as a less-provocative byline - reported: 'Lewis had intended to scorch the Kennedy Administration and Congress and "cheap politicians" in a highly emotional speech.' But, Baker wrote, 'he toned it down.' ... The main event that day was what we now call the 'I Have a Dream' speech of Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most important speeches in U.S. history. ... We were poised and ready for a riot, for trouble, for unexpected events - but not for history to be made. Baker's 1,300-word lead story ... did not mention King's name or his speech. ... In that paper of Aug. 29, 1963, The Post published two dozen stories about the march. Every one missed the importance of King's address. The words 'I have a dream' appeared in only one, a wrap-up of the day's rhetoric on Page A15 - in the fifth paragraph. We also printed brief excerpts from the speeches, but the three paragraphs chosen from King's speech did not include 'I have a dream.”

THE WAY TO WIN - "Handwritten Notes Are a Rare Commodity: They're Also More Important Than Ever," by John Coleman, a co-author of "Passion & Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders": "When I was a college student interning in Washington, D.C., a senior manager, Bridgett, made a habit of treating each intern to lunch over the summer. When my turn rolled around, it was no surprise that Bridgett proved an adept conversationalist and an excellent host. Several weeks after I'd returned to college, however, I was surprised to find an envelope from Bridgett in my mailbox. It contained a handwritten note and a copy of Flannery O'Connor's 'Mystery and Manners,' a book she'd recommended over lunch. I barely knew Bridgett, but her note said that I'd helped her organization and that she appreciated it and wished me luck. It was a gesture that stayed with me and forever led me to view Bridgett as a thoughtful person. ... Handwritten notes mean more because they cost more. Emails, tweets, texts, or Facebook messages are ... easy to write and free to send, and you and I produce hundreds of them every day. ...

"Handwritten notes ... are often notes of gratitude, civility, and appreciation that reach beyond the conventional thank-you. Robert Cialdini, in his classic work 'Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,' profiled legendary car salesman Joe Girard. Perhaps the most successful salesman of his generation, Joe would send a handwritten message to all his clients once a month with simple messages printed inside like, 'I like you.' Joe believed these little notes were one of the reasons his clients stayed so loyal to him. Because handwritten notes are so painstakingly slow - to draft, to send, to assure delivery - they're often a poor way to ask for things. Instead, they're more frequently used to remind others that you value your relationship. ... [I]n a world where so much communication is merely utilitarian, these simple acts of investment, remembrance, gratitude, and appreciation can show the people who matter to your life and business that they are important to you."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Richard Attenborough (90), Ben Bradlee (92), Warren Buffett (83), Elliot Gould (75), Carla Gugino (42), Scott Hamilton (55), Jean-Claude Killy (70), Sen. John McKain (77), Van Morrison (68), Lou Piniella (70).

'OLD' ECONOMIES RISE AGAIN - "The balance of world economic growth is tipping in another direction. Just as economists have begun lowering their forecasts for China and many other developing economies, the American economy is bouncing back. Japan appears to have turned a corner. ... Economic data out of Europe last week provided the first solid indication that many countries in the euro zone may be escaping ... recession. ... It is certainly not clear, based on only three months of data,  that Europe's recession has ended. But it is further evidence that the older engines of growth are revving into gear as the most recent sources of growth have been slowing down.”

"The growth of the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - has raised living standards in those nations and in others in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Those four nations had an even broader global impact by also providing new markets for American products. ... So a decline in their growth rate should be worrisome to the United States. But Jim O'Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist who coined the term BRIC more than a decade ago, thinks one of the new beneficiaries of the shift in the global economy is most likely to be the United States. 'I find myself thinking the U.S. is going to be one of the biggest winners,' said Mr. O'Neill."

TOP QUOTES FROM THE WATERGATE TAPES released this past week by the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. These are "the last 340 hours of more than 3,700 hours of phone calls and private meetings" Nixon recorded:

--Nixon chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, on June 23, 1972: "The only network that paid any attention to it last night was NBC, who did a massive story on the Cuban -

--NIXON, on Aug. 1, 1972: "Let's just be fatalistic about the goddamn thing."

HALDEMAN: "If it blows, it blows."
NIXON: "And if it blows, it blows. And so what?
HALDEMAN: "And we'll ride it out."
NIXON: "We didn't have to kick [Vice President Spiro] Agnew off the ticket, did we? So what is this?"
HALDEMAN: "Exactly. We'll ride it out."
NIXON: "So what is this? I'm not that worried about it, to be perfectly candid with you."
HALDEMAN: "Well, it's worth a lot of work to try and keep it from blowing."
NIXON: "Oh, Christ, yes. I still don't like the idea."
HALDEMAN: "But if it blows, we'll survive."

--White House counsel John Dean, on March 21, 1973: "I think that there's no doubt about the seriousness of the problem we've got. We have a cancer within - close to the presidency, that's growing. It's growing daily. It's compounding. It grows geometrically now, because it compounds itself. That'll be clear as I explain, you know, some of the details of why it is, and it basically is because (1) we're being blackmailed; (2) people are going to start perjuring themselves very quickly that have not had to perjure themselves to protect other people and the like."

2016 WATCH - "The Clinton dramas: Here we go again: Tabloid headlines. Personal dramas. Organizational disarray. Score-settling between rival factions documented in news accounts like a soap opera. Does this have a familiar ring? No one - or mostly no one - truly believes the swirl of headlines surrounding Bill and Hillary Clinton in the summer of 2013 should lead to a grand conclusion about whether another iteration of a Clinton campaign can be run effectively, free of the internecine warfare and incessant drama that marked her 2008 bid. But if Clinton and her supporters were hoping to allay those doubts well ahead of a possible 2016 run, the past few months have not been helpful. Clinton supporters would point out, fairly, that much of what has happened to them this summer - the steady stream of unseemly stories about Anthony Weiner's continued virtual liaisons, his wife and Clinton confidante Huma Abedin's very public decision to stand by him, and reports of mismanagement at the Clinton Foundation - has been beyond their control.”

"But it has all still renewed the question that hangs over Hillary Clinton: Has she learned from the mistakes of the past, and can she finally break some recurring cycles in her public life? Can she manage a functional, and focused, national campaign? ... The consensus among Clinton allies whose support dates back decades is some version of this: Bill Clinton and his wife have done enough good work to mitigate the periodic bouts of negativity from their world. But the coverage of late has been a reminder to Democratic operatives, Clinton donors and even their allies of years past. Asked his take on the latest round of headlines involving the Clintons over the past month, former Bill Clinton adviser James Carville said, 'Thus it was, thus it is and thus it shall be.'"

1).  Stanford Cardinal                                   6).  Georgia Bulldogs
2).  Alabama Crimson Tide                           7).  Ohio State Buckeyes
3).  South Carolina Gamecocks                    8).  UCLA Bruins
4).  Oregon Ducks                                        9).  TCU Horned Frogs
5).  Michigan Wolverines                             10). Clemson Tigers

ACC – Florida State Seminoles
Big 12 – Texas Christian University
AAC – Louisville Cardinals                 
Big Ten – Michigan Wolverines
Pac 12 – Stanford Cardinal                
SEC – Alabama Crimson Tide
Independents – Notre Dame             
BCS Champs – Stanford over Alabama
Ivy – Harvard Crimson                      
SCIAC – Cal Lutheran Kingsman

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – We are off and running with another season of NCAA Div-1 College Football, who will The Swami like this year? Saturday, 8/31, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN from Arlington, Texas the #12 ranked LSU Tigers vs. #20 ranked TCU Horned Frogs. A big inter-conference tilt; we like the Tigers to win and cover the spread of five points, 28 – 21 over the TCU Horned Frogs.   Season to date (0-0).


(NCAA, Aug. 29) Hawaii 24 USC 21
(NCAA, Aug. 31) LSU 28 TCU 21, Georgia 32 Clemson 30
(MLB, Aug. 31)  Detroit Tigers 6  Cleveland Indians 3
Season to Date (17-10).

JACK ASS OF THE MONTH – An easy choice this month, Bob Filner soon to be former mayor of San Diego. What a Jack Ass. San Diego is such a beautiful place to live and work. Why do they have such a difficult time finding decent people to govern their city? Mr. Filner’s record of sexual harassment is definitely an illness. Get some help and just get out.

DRIVING THE WEEK –  Today, Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Army Staff Sergeant Ty M. Carter in a ceremony at the White House. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the president will host a White House reception on Tuesday, and will deliver remarks at the Let Freedom Ring ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday. On Friday, Obama will meet with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia, President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania and President Andris Berzins of Latvia at the White House.

Consumer confidence at 10 a.m. on Tuesday expected to dip to 78 from 80.3 ... Q2 GDP at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday ... Initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday expected to fall to 330K from 336 K ... University of Michigan consumer sentiment at 9:55 a.m. Friday expected to remain at 80 ...

San Francisco Fed President John Williams speaks at 6:50 a.m. Monday in Gothenberg, Sweden ... Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker speaks at 2 p.m. on Thursday in Newport News, Va. ... St. Louis Fed President James Bullard speaks at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday and again at 9 a.m. on Friday in Memphis .

RINK RATS POLL – Who will win the BCS National College Football Championship this year?

Alabama                     Ohio State
Oregon                       Stanford
Georgia                       Michigan

Next week, words and quote of the month and what is different about this new academic year?

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
August 26, 2013

#IV-19, 176

Monday, August 19, 2013

Writing Lessons: What to Share When Writing Memoir, with Emma Brockes

By Marion Roach Smith

I PURCHASED THE fine new memoir, She Left Me the Gun, immediately after reading The New York Times’ review of the book that read, in part, “It’s one of those memoirs that remind you why you liked memoirs in the first place, back before every featherhead in your writers’ group was trying to peddle one.” That second phrase, well, let’s just leave that lie, shall we? But that first one? It’s spot on. Emma Brockes’ memoir is indeed one of those books that reminds you why we love this genre.

Here, the author generously takes on the high-wire topic of how much to tell, and how particularly tricky that question becomes when the story is yours.

Read on. Learn a thing or two about what to leave in and what to take out. Like what you read, and want to read the rest of the book? All you have to do is leave a comment to be entered in the big book giveaway.

What to Leave in – And Take Out
By Emma Brockes

I have an odd feeling that in order to write this book, I really needed already to have written this book, if you see what I mean. Writing memoir is desperately difficult, because you are not only trying to manage all the things you manage in a regular piece of writing – characterization; structure; convincing dialog etc etc – but, of course, you are also trying to manage and by-pass your own internal filters. Everyone lies to themselves and it can take forever to untangle what you genuinely thought about something at any given time, and to pin down and interrogate your own evasions. Or to articulate how you got from thinking one thing to thinking another, honoring each stage of that journey without turning your memoir into a piece of sloppy, self-involved journal writing.

I err on the side of brevity; I like to get in and out again as efficiently as possible, so we can all finish up and go home. In the context of memoir writing, the risk I faced was cheating the reader of enough emotional reaction shots to feel sufficiently involved in the story. Good memoir writing must negotiate the line between under and over sharing and understand the aesthetic impact of each. That’s also a pacing issue; when to linger and when to move on. These are all bog standard writing problems, but in the context of a memoir they are particularly tricky because of course you are the character in question, and you need simultaneously to be third party to yourself – to render your own personality realistic – without getting too jazz-hands and contrived about it. Looking back, I can’t think of any exercise less appetizing than sitting around all day thinking “WHAT AM I ACTUALLY LIKE?” A non-writer friend of mine who watched me go through that process said, on receipt of news that another friend of ours was about to embark on his memoir, “God, you’re all so gross.” I’m inclined to agree.

Anyway, it’s worth doing if the story is good enough. And if you can be more or less humorous about it. And if you can bear to spend years of your life picking bits of fluff out of your belly-button. If not, I would counsel doing something more fun, like sorting out your closets or getting started on your tax return.

She Left Me The Gun, an excerpt

If You Think That’s Aggressive, Then You Really Haven’t Lived

My mother first tried to tell me about her life when I was about ten years old. I was sitting at the table doing homework or a drawing; she was standing at the grill cooking sausages. Every now and then the fat from the meat would catch and a flame leap out. She had been threatening some kind of revelation for years.

‘One day I will tell you the story of my life,’ she said, ‘and you will be amazed.’

I had looked at her in amazement. The story of her life was she was born, she had me, ten years passed, end of story.

‘Tell me now,’ I’d said.

‘I’ll tell you when you’re older.’

A second later, I’d considered saying ‘Am I old enough now?’ but the joke hadn’t seemed worth it. Anything constituting a Life Story would deviate from the norm in ways that could only embarrass me.

I knew, of course, that she had come from South Africa and had left behind a large family: seven halfsiblings, eight if you included a boy who’d died, ten if you counted the rumour of twins. ‘You should have been a twin,’ said my mother whenever I did something brilliant, like open my mouth or walk across a room. ‘I hoped you’d be twins, with auburn hair.

You could have been. Twins run in the family on both sides.’

And, ‘My stepmother was pregnant with twins, once.’ There were no twins among her siblings.

She always referred to her like this, as ‘my stepmother’, and unlike her siblings, for whom she provided short but vivid character sketches, and even her father, who featured in the odd story, Marjorie was a blank. As for her real mother’s family, all she would say was, ‘Strong women, strong genes,’ and give me one of her looks – a cross between Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen and Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here – that shut down the possibility of further discussion.

It wasn’t evident from her accent that she came from elsewhere. In fact, years later, a colleague answering my phone at work said afterwards, ‘Your mother has the poshest voice I’ve ever heard.’ I couldn’t hear it, but I could see it written down, in the letters she drafted on the backs of old gas bills.

It was there in words like ‘satisfactory’ (great English compliment) and ‘peculiar’ (huge insult). ‘Diana,’ she wrote to her friend Joan in 1997, ‘such a pretty girl, but such a sad life.’

She was imperiously English to her friends and erstwhile family in South Africa, but to me, at home, she was caustic about the English. The worst insult she could muster was, ‘You’re so English.’

I was English. I was more than English, I was from the Home Counties. I played tennis in white clothing. I went to Brownies. I didn’t ride a horse – my mother thought horses and unnecessary complication – but I did everything else commensurate in those parts with being a nice girl. This was important to my mother, although she couldn’t help hinting now and then, at how tame it all was.

“Call that sun?” she said, when the English sun came out. “Call that rain?” When I got bitten by a red ant at Sports Day, my mother inspected the dot while I started to sniffle.

“For goodness’ sake. All that fuss over such a tiny little thing.” Where she came from, any ant worth its salt would kill you.

Among the crimes of the English: coldness, snobbery, boarding schools, ‘tradition’, the royals, hypocrisy, fat ankles, waste and dessert, or “pudding” as they called it, a word she thought redolent of the entire race. “The English,” she said, “are a people who cook their fruit.” It was her greatest fear that she and my dad would go down in a plane crash and I would wind up in boarding school alone, eating stewed prunes and getting more English by the day.

If I’d had my wits about me I might have said, “Oh, right, because white South Africans are so beloved the world over.’ But it didn’t occur to me. It didn’t occur to me until an absurdly late stage that we might, in fact, be separate people.

Above all, she said, the English never talked about anything. Not like us. We talked about everything. We talked a blue streak around the things we didn’t talk about.”

Reprinted by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.  Copyright © Emma Brockes, 2013.

Author’s bio

Emma Brockes writes for The Guardian’s Weekend magazine and has contributed to to The New York Times, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle. She is the winner of two British Press Awards – Young Journalist of the Year and Feature Writer of the Year – and while at Oxford won the Philip Geddes Memorial Prize for Journalism. Her book What Would Barbra Do? How Musicals Saved My Life was serialized on the BBC. She lives in New York.

RINK RATS NOTE: This is Week #3, the final week, of our Summer Vacation. We thank Ms. Marion Roach Smith for her blog The Memoir Project for being our guest blogger this week.

Next week: Words of the month, Jack Ass of the Month, and a note from the road.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Somerset, PA.
August 19, 2013

#IV-18, 175

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Shot of Jack Daniel's On Memory Lane

By Suzanne Rico

Down in The Hollow - The Jack Daniel Distillery

Jack Daniel, the 5’2” tall founder of the whiskey empire, died from gangrene at the age of 61.  He got it after he kicked a safe in his office for which he’d  forgotten the combination and broke his toe.  But although Gentleman Jack’s temper ended his tenure as boss of the eponymous distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 is still the best selling American-made whiskey in the world.

Betty Jo, a black-haired, soft-spoken Southerner and my mother’s best friend from high School, was our guide to both Lynchburg, Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama where she lives. My mom moved to Huntsville in 1954, when her father–a rocket scientist–went to work with Werner Von Braun at the Redstone Arsenal to help the Americans win the Space Race.  Betty Jo, who’s lived in an ashram in India and has a real live guru, refuses to be sad about Gabriele’s death, sure that whatever it is that makes us uniquely human never dies.

With my sister Simone, who had flown in from Seattle to join me in poking around in the past, we visited my mom’s favorite places.  Monte Sano mountain, where she loved to hike, the old Huntsville High School, now used as office space, and finally, her house, it’s small swimming pool built by my grandfather long since filled in.  Standing outside it, by complete chance, we met Doretta, a 92-year-old German woman who lived nearby, and karma began to work its magic.  Dorretta, whose husband had also been a rocket scientist, rattled off tidbits about my grandfather and grandmother, mentioned all my aunts and uncles by name, and finally, got to my mother.

“And Gabi?” she asked, not having seen her in almost sixty years.  “How is Gabi?”  Our eyes filled with tears when we told her the sad news, this old connection to our mother feeling as present and sharp as Doretta’s lively blue eyes.

But it was impossible to linger in sadness with Betty Jo.  The next morning, we drove to Tennessee, hiking into a vast forest where cliffs, caves, and crystal clear waterfalls studded the topography.  I’d never been rock climbing before, but these days, I’m all about the new and different.

Betty Jo, an expert climber who never uses her age as an excuse, scampered straight up a sheer 50 foot wall, a recent knee replacement not slowing her down.  In minutes, she had attached carabiners and a safety rope, put a harness on Griff, and sent him on his first ever rock climb.  Both boys showed the fearless confidence of kids who don’t know yet how badly life can hurt them, but when Ado slipped and dangled for a moment in thin air, I nearly threw up my bacon and eggs.

I also nearly broke my back teaching the boys to water ski.  Balancing on top of my double skis, Griffin got up on his first try, but I floundered with Ado five times before we had success.  Apparently, his little meatball body is more difficult to balance than Griffin’s string bean physique.  Their smiles were worth the pain plaguing my 48-year-old spine for the next couple of days.  When CBS decides to launch “Kid Survivor”, mine will surely have a lock on the million dollar prize.

Life felt celebratory in the deep South.  In addition to Jack Daniel’s, we spent lazy afternoons fishing and swimming in the deep, warm waters of Tims Ford, a man-made lake only 20 minutes from Lynchburg.  But I couldn’t get Jack’s gangrenous death out of my mind—what a temper he must have had to kick a metal safe, especially one that contained the booming profits from his smooth, mellow whiskey.  And when he was dying, I wondered, watching his foot rot as a result of a temper tantrum, was it his business or personal life that mattered most?

One night, lying on the still-warm Tennessee grass under a vast carpeting of stars with my family and friends, matching constellations on the iPhone with real ones in the sky, I hoped that Jack had not suffered like my mama had.  Perhaps, I imagined, Mr. Daniel simply drank a bottle or two of his legendary product and went peacefully into the soft, Southern night.   With the darkened forest all around us whirring and whispering with the force of life, that didn’t sound like such bad way to go.

RINK RATS NOTE: This is Week #2 of our Summer Vacation. We thank Ms. Suzanne Rico for her blog Walking Papers for being our guest blogger this week.

Next week: Week 3 and last week of our summer vacation, Marion Roach is our guest blogger.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Washington, D.C.
August 12, 2013

#IV-17, 174

Monday, August 5, 2013

On Wall Street, a Culture of Greed Won't Let Go


Ethics. Values. Integrity.

Wall Street firms spend a lot of time using those catchwords when talking about developing the right culture. Bank chief executives often discuss how much effort they devote to instilling a sense of integrity at their institutions. The firms all have painstakingly written codes of conduct, boasting, “Our integrity and reputation depend on our ability to do the right thing, even when it’s not the easy thing,” as JPMorgan Chase’s says, or, “No financial incentive or opportunity — regardless of the bottom line — justifies a departure from our values,” as Goldman Sachs says.

And yet a new report on industry insiders about ethical conduct, to be released on Tuesday, disturbingly suggests that Wall Street’s high-minded words may largely still be lip service.

Of 250 industry insiders from dozens of financial companies who responded to questions — traders, portfolio managers, investment bankers, hedge fund professionals, financial analysts, investment advisers, among others — 23 percent said that “they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace.”

If that’s not attention-grabbing enough, consider this: 24 percent said they would “engage in insider trading to make $10 million if they could get away with it.”

As we approach the fifth anniversary of the onset of the financial crisis this September, it appears memories are shorter than ever. If the report is accurate, the insidious culture of greed is back — or maybe it never left.

The questions were posed last month by the law firm Labaton Sucharow at the behest of one of its partners, Jordan A. Thomas, a former assistant director and assistant chief litigation counsel in the enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The results are a telling reminder of the continued challenges the industry faces, challenges that appear endemic.

While the results may not be scientific, they are stark. For example, 26 percent of respondents said they “believed the compensation plans or bonus structures in place at their companies incentivize employees to compromise ethical standards or violate the law.”

There is a view that the ethical problems come from the very top: 17 percent said they expected “their leaders were likely to look the other way if they suspected a top performer engaged in insider trading.” It gets even more troubling: “15 percent doubted that their leadership, upon learning of a top performer’s crime, would report it to the authorities.”

There is nothing acceptable about these responses.

Wall Street has a very real problem, whether the leaders of the industry want to believe it or not.

It is often said that it is unfair to paint an entire industry with a broad brush, and it is. There are clearly good people out there doing good work. A large majority falls in that category. But the numbers presented in the report reflect an unsettling reality that there may be more than just a few bad apples in the industry, too. It should be considered a red flag when insiders say this: “28 percent of respondents felt that the financial services industry does not put the interests of clients first.”

Perhaps oddly, the problem is most pronounced among the youngest employees in finance, the next generation of leadership on Wall Street.

Remember the question about whether an executive would commit insider trading for $10 million if there were no repercussions? Well, if you parse the numbers by seniority in the industry, respondents with under 10 years of experience were even more likely to break the law: 38 percent said they would commit insider trading for $10 million if they wouldn’t be caught.

That result is particularly striking since I would have expected the next generation of financiers to be the most interested in helping to build a new, anti-Gordon Gekko culture on Wall Street.

Virtually every top M.B.A. program in the country now teaches ethics classes, many of them required. In 2008, a coalition of students started the MBA Oath, a voluntary pledge among students to “create value responsibly and ethically.” So far, more than 6,000 students have signed the pledge.

And yet, the report and other anecdotal evidence suggest that whatever is being done both in the classroom and on the job is not enough. According to a controversial study called “Economics Education and Greed” that was published in 2011 by professors at Harvard and Northwestern, an education in economics surprisingly may be making the problem worse.

“The results show that economics education is consistently associated with positive attitudes towards greed,” the authors wrote. “The uncontested dominance of self-interest maximization as the primary (if not sole) logic of exchange, in business schools and corporate settings alike, may lead people to be more tolerant of what other people see as morally reprehensible.”

The problem is compounded by a trait shared by everyone, no matter their industry. “People predict that they will behave more ethically than they actually do,” according to a 2007 study led by Ann E. Tenbrunsel, a professor at Notre Dame. “They then believe they behaved ethically when they didn’t. It is no surprise, then, that most individuals erroneously believe they are more ethical than the majority of their peers.”

That may help explain why, in the Labaton Sucharow report, 52 percent said they “believed it was likely that their competitors have engaged in illegal or unethical activity in order to be successful.”

It may also explain why 89 percent of respondents “indicated a willingness to report wrongdoing” yet so few do.

As part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law, the S.E.C. developed a $500 million whistle-blower program that pays 10 to 30 percent of penalties collected to the whistle-blower. The fund still has some $450 million in it, despite recent remarks by Stephen L. Cohen, associate director of the S.E.C.’s enforcement division, that we should expect bigger payouts soon. Mr. Thomas of Labaton Sucharow helped develop the whistle-blower program when he was at the S.E.C., and he now represents whistle-blowers.

“We are seeing a culture of silence,” he said. “There’s an unwillingness to come forward.”

Greed, for far too many, is still good, apparently. There’s still much work to be done before the catchwords become the culture.

RINK RATS NOTE: This is Week #1 of our Summer Vacation. We thank Mr. Andrew Ross Sorkin for his blog DEALBook from the New York Times for being our guest blogger this week.

Next week: Week 2 of our summer vacation, Suzanne Rico is our guest blogger.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Jackson, MI

August 5, 2013

#IV-16, 173