I was watching a viral video of a 45th President trying to persuade journalist Jonathan Swan of an anti-virus response that was ‘better than the world’. That’s when one-time boss of Salomon Brothers came to mind. He was a securities trader who traded on your mortgage without security.
Michael Lewis wrote of John Gutfreund that it ‘was easy for Gutfreund to say money didn’t matter. He paid himself more than any chief executive on Wall Street … His attitude … towards the firm changed once he had cashed in his chips. He and others ceased to view Salomon Brothers as an instrument of wealth creation and began to treat it as an instrument of power and glory, a vast playground in which they could be the bullies.’ Liar’s Poker (1989) is still worth a read (or re-read) if you want to learn more about leaders who don’t let morals get in the way of anything.
The Big Short is also worth a read. So is The Undoing Project as was Moneyball. I’m guessing that pretty much anything else by Michael Lewis is worth reading. So I bought The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy before the 46th President consigns the 45th to scrutiny by academic historians. I’m only a third of the way into it but wow, what a story so far.
I’ve been studying a single sunflower plant that was gifted to us at the start of our lockdown. It came in a small pot, a seedling perhaps five centimetres tall. It had been germinated in a Wicklow poly-tunnel and I presumed I could harden it on our north-facing back deck for a few weeks. That was back in March. Once an arbitrary hardening period was served, I repotted it. Nothing happened that I could see for the entire first month. That nothing included an absence of leaf loss. Encouraged, I continued the weekly fertiliser feed. The weather improved in May and it started to grow in inverse proportion to the reduction of night time hours.
It’s now two metres tall and has one big disk. Four more new flower-heads have appeared in the last ten days. I’m doing most things right.
It stands just outside the kitchen window and it’s been quite something to watch just one plant grow from seedling to flower, progress we monitored as we cooked or made coffee.
How does it grow?
How did it follow the sun in those days before the disk became too heavy?
These are questions I will return to in the coming days. Meanwhile, here are a few photos of our one sunflower, each with an unidentified bee.