Drops from the Fire Hose – November 8, 2012

Work-Life Balance as a Men’s Issue, Too — The Atlantic

A few men have ventured forth to have their say; their contributions have been illuminating. Just last week Ken Gordon wrote a great piece asking why he is not identified as a “working dad,” even though he works from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. juggling the responsibilities of parenthood and work in the same way his wife does. He sees the label “working mom” and he says, rightly, that working dads deserve the same recognition. I found his position fascinating because I have been mulling from a different perspective why we don’t talk about “working fathers” the way we talk about “working mothers.” As I see it, we need the adjective “working” when we talk about mothers because our deep assumption is still that “mothers” are in the home. If they are not in the home we need a special adjective to make that clear. Conversely, as Gordon recognizes, “fathers” are by definition in the workplace, so adding “working” would be superfluous.

This difference is just one example of the many ways our language still reinforces traditional stereotypes and sends negative messages, something I am exploring in the book I am writing. But it never occurred to me that from a working father’s perspective, “working mother” now connotes being both a breadwinner and a caregiver. It’s a dual status that, in Gordon’s words, equals a “master of multi-tasking,” a “kind of real-life superhero.” Many women would question whether “working mother” is always seen as a badge of honor, but the upshot is that we can both agree that we should all start talking about “working fathers” as well as “working mothers.” That shift would at one stroke take a big step toward defining work-family issues as a social and economic issue rather than a “women’s issue.” As Jena McGregor wrote in the Washington Postlast week, 60 percent of fathers reported feeling work-family conflict in 2008, yet politicians seem to notice these issues only when they are trying to woo women voters.

The Inevitable Lightness of Financial Modeling — Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

That’s essentially how financial models work. When quants want to value a new, complex and illiquid security, they build a model to (approximately) replicate it out of liquid securities whose current prices they know.

If you want to reliably estimate the future unknown value of a strange new security (fruit  salad, say, or an equity option or a subprime mortgage CDO) you must find a portfolio of more common liquid securities (the ingredients) that, together, are similar to the salad, under all future circumstances, because you don’t know what the future may bring. That is where risk lies. If the salad and the fruit (i.e. the unfamiliar security and the common ones) are similar under all future circumstances, no matter how the future turns out, then their current values should be equal.

To implement the model you need two things: (1) a specification of what you mean by all future circumstances (for the prices and availability of fruit, say) and (2) a model or recipe for making the salad.

Most of the mathematical complexity in finance involves describing the range of future prices of each ingredient. Given your assumptions about the range of future prices, you can use your recipe or model to estimate the price of the salad.

5 Common Job Interview Mistakes to Avoid — Mashable

In a time when job seekers can send literally hundreds of applications without hearing back from employers, the invitation to a job interview can feel like winning the lottery. The odds are long, the chosen ones few. Once you’ve been invited to come face to face with your potential employer, you don’t want to mess things up by committing a common, easy-to-avoid job interview mistake. Here are five common job interview mistakes, and how to avoid them.

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