I got a letter from Brown and Co, the closing of which was:
We realize that you have a choice in online brokerage providers and we do sincerely appreciate your business. We remain unwaveringly committed to delivering you low-cost, excellent trade executions and superior service.

Thank you again for your loyalty and business.

This is pretty good because the emphasis is on business (Brown and Co is a brokerage house), and a lesser, insidious emphasis on loyalty. They just tied the notion of loyalty to their name.

Although my impressions of 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' were skewed by my emotional response to the woman next to me, I'll try to bang out some analysis. It's going to be fairly analytical, because I don't believe I can accurately separate the film from the woman.

The story takes place at the birth of modern capitalism in Delft, the land of shareholders. The movie focuses on transactional nature of relationships: Vermeer's household depends upon Vermeer's ability to paint; Vermeer depends upon his patron, Van Ruijven; and the patron needs what he doesn't have.

These transactions may not always be symmetric. The beauty of certain paintings continues to strike us to this day, but what do we pay? When we stop and gaze upon beauty, what is the price we pay?

To a lesser extent, we get an object lesson in value. Not everything is as it seems, and we have to strive to see clearly the world around us (whether it's neighbors suddenly bankrupt, or Griet's beauty).