ButWhatFor Four for Friday | No. 026

Do the thing you have to do, the New York Stock Exchange in 1914, a love story through time, and the Armenian Genocide

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Trying it again

With the recent interest in the speeches from Theodore Roosevelt, Charlie Munger, and Joseph Brodsky, I thought I would restart the emails where I share works from others.

I don’t want this to be like other “curated” (I don’t like that word; sounds like “advertisement” to me…) emails, though. Similar to the longer articles, I will try to focus on interesting history and stories where you can learn something — without making the lessons / takeaways the main point. Hopefully, that keeps these interesting without being too “self helpy.”

I also hope you will feel free to comment on these with any reactions, thoughts, links to related and tangential topics, etc. I’ve been getting a number of emails lately, which I love and appreciate (keep them coming so I know what you find interesting!). You can also use the comment section to get conversations started with me and other subscribers.

As before, please share related items you come across with me at [email protected] or comment below — personal works are welcomed / encouraged, too!

ButWhatFor Four for Friday

  • One Quote: Thomas Huxley on the most valuable thing in education

  • One Long: The New York Stock Exchange in Crisis in 1914

  • One Short: I wanted to share a love story about two people I've never met

  • One Extra: Jocko Podcast: The Horrors of The Armenian Genocide

One Quote

Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It is the first lesson that ought to be learned and however early a man's training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.

Thomas Huxley, in Technical Education (1877)

This quote used to be pinned to my desk. I can tie most of my significant failures and mistakes back to my own inaction when action was obviously the right path forward.

One Long

The year 1914 has no precedent in Stock Exchange history. At the present time (1915), when the great events that have come to pass are still close to us, even their details are vivid in our minds and we need no one to rehearse them.

Time, however, is quick to dim even acute memories, and Wall Street, of all places, is the land of forgetfulness. The new happenings of all the World crowd upon each other so fast in the financial district that even the greatest and most far-reaching of them are soon driven out of sight.

This being the case, it has seemed to the writer of these pages that some record should be kept among the brokerage fraternity of what was so great an epoch in their history, and that this record could best be written down by one who happened to be very favorably placed to know the story in its entirety.

As it became apparent that a large-scale, global war was soon to engulf Europe (what would soon be known as World War I), the U.S.’s New York Stock Exchange closed its doors in July 1914. They would remain shut through December of that year, with price controls in place through April 1915.

While shutting down a stock exchange for a period of time at the outbreak of war might be assumed to be common, no war before or after (including the U.S. Civil War) has caused the same in the U.S. for more than a two-week period.

One Short

For the last time, Kathleen inscribed the book to Herald. She must have been nearly 100. By the time she died, their kids must have been in their sixties or seventies. They probably flew in to liquidate the estate, boxed up the books nobody wanted, and sold em.

Each signature supplies an answer to the question “Where were you, my spouse, when your mind was full of what mine now holds?” Each added signature declares: “I am here, and now, with my mind full of what’s held in this book.” It's beautiful.

These notes are such loving gestures. I cried when I realized what they meant. I'm weepy now. Did Herald and Kathleen do this in all their books? Maybe the inscriptions in the Dawn Treader are comparatively sparse and uninteresting by their standards.

One Extra

This is an emotional podcast on the often-forgotten Armenian genocide.

Between the 1890s and the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire supported the murder, rape, and destruction of the Armenian people, a Christian minority living within its borders (Turkey largely rejects labeling the events a genocide).

The Armenian genocide was a large part of what inspired Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish jurist, to coin the term “genocide” and push for legal safeguards for ethnic, religious, and social groups at international forums. Lemkin escaped Poland as Germany was invading, eventually making it to the United States and taking up a role with Duke University.

If you made it all the way down here, please take a moment to share it with someone that might find it interesting — I appreciate your support greatly!

Have a great weekend,

— EJ

Latest from ButWhatFor

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

But What For? Writing about anything, as long as it’s interesting

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