Saturday, January 27, 2018
"Fear dressed up as wisdom provides poor counsel. It lures you into thinking that if you will just trust it, it will afford you some level of control.
But guess what? You're not in control. So I'm calling bull on that illusion. It's time for a wake-up call. Maybe a little cold water in the face wouldn't hurt.
Life isn't safe, remember.
But life can be wonderful if you choose adventure rather than fear.
I get where these fearful tendencies are coming from, I really do. Humanity has, by and large, come to the conclusion that the world is getting worse and worse every day and that people are ultimately bad. No wonder everyone's scared to death.
Life feels altogether different when your perception shifts, though. It's amazing how gorgeous the landscape of life looks when we choose to believe that all people have good in them and every situation has potential for a positive outcome. It may be buried or dormant, but I truly believe it's there - most likely waiting for someone to look for it, to help unearth it, to expect it, maybe even to demand it."
-Chip Gaines, Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff
- 1. Don’t confuse your workplace with your family.
- 2. When you have little left to learn on your job, it is time to move on.
- 3. Take risks with high plausible upside. Avoid risks with high plausible downside.
- 4. Save and invest to get rich slowly.
-Arnold Kling. Details may be found here
All of you, when young, will make your own history: you will struggle, you will betray some and others will betray you. You will love and lose love. You will feel profound joy and deep sorrow and during all of this you will grow as an individual. That’s why it is your duty when you get old to tell the young about your odyssey across the vast ocean of your life. It is why when death does come for me – even if it mauls me with decrepitude before it takes me – I will not lament either my old age or my faded youth. They were just different times of the day when I stood in the sun and felt the warmth of life.
-Harry Leslie Smith, a borrowed from this love letter
Friday, January 26, 2018
Speculation, like most human characteristics, appears to be a mixed bag. It has its positive benefits and it has its dark side. Any economic system that involves freedom will experience speculation. There is no use rooting for government to control it, as the evidence is ample that by the time speculation turns to a manic bubble, legislators and regulators are fully engaged in helping the bubble grow.
If the world of finance and investing interests you, Chancellor's well-written book is a must read. Only two regrets about the book. The first is that he wrote it in 1998. I would have loved to read his take on the great mortgage bubble years of 2004-2007. The second is highlighted by this page 271 excerpt:
At some point principled laissez-faire gives way to a
widespread acceptance of short-cuts in the pursuit of
self-interest, and from there it is but a short step to
It is pretty clear from his research and writing that when speculation turns to mania, fraud and other criminal behaviors have taken over the bubble. It is no longer "speculation."
Thursday, January 25, 2018
"I despise scientism, warmly — the pretence of science, dressed in high-priestly labcoat robes, in pursuit of an essentially theocratic power; or, “settled science,” as its adepts call it."
-David Warren, as lifted from here
.....................would I have predicted what is shown on this chart. I can, however, testify to its painful truth. We still have a number of fabulous, wooded, reasonably price, residential building lots available. Come on people, let's get building!
..................................................................it pays to remember:
"The most important truth about policy is that there is no Truth."
-Arnold Kling, as culled from here
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
“A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it does this task so well. It gives people what they want, instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”
“I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or it they try, they will shortly be out of office.”
.........and its only redeeming value is that it has proven to be more effective at providing a decent life for more people than all the other systems combined.
"Friedman boldly asserted that all societies were structured on greed: 'The problem of social organization,' he claimed, 'is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of system.'"
-Edward Chancellor, Devil Take The Hindmost: A History Of Financial Speculation
Ed. Note: If the lust for power is considered one facet of "greed," surely you will agree that Friedman is correct about societies.
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
It is ridiculous, if not blasphemous, to believe that God wills us to despise the natural world he created, with its unspeakable beauty, which is available to even the most destitute for the mere price of noticing it.
-The Monks of New Skete, In the Spirit of Happiness
“Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought. Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.”
-Samuel Johnson, The Idler
Monday, January 22, 2018
The great problem of man, how to live in conscious harmony with himself, with his neighbor, and with the whole to which he belongs, admits of as many solutions as there are provinces in our Father's kingdom; and it is in this, and not in the material sphere, that individuals and nations display their divergences of character.
-Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen
“People who look for easy money invariably pay for the privilege of proving conclusively that it cannot be found on this earth.”
-attributed to Jesse Livermore
The crookedness of Wall Street is in my opinion an overrated phenomenon. The hearts of Wall Street men are not more or less black than the hearts of the men in the sausage-cover game. There is probably the same percentage of malpractice, but the Wall Street depredations are more spectacular. The involve vastly greater sums, and they make more interesting reading. Best of all, they suggest to the public an excuse for the public's own folly.
The indignation school of writers never tires of pointing out the millions that are stolen in the Street. But while the millions are being stolen, the billions are being lost. Nothing crooked—just bad luck and bad brains met together in an effort to do something that couldn’t be done in the first place.
-Fred Schwed, Jr., Where Are the Customer's Yachts? or A Good Hard Look at Wall Street
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Periods of speculation had always fostered dishonesty, but in the nineteenth-century American stock market this tendency was even more pronounced. The corruption of speculation was not limited to company promoters and stock operators; it infected the entire political class of the 1860s.
Having burnt their fingers at direct speculation, the New York legislators reverted to the more certain profits of bribery. ... Gould subsequently travelled to Albany with half a million dollars in cash - needless to say, the money technically belonged to Erie shareholders - in order to bribe the legislators to validate retrospectively the new issue of shares. Vanderbilt played the same game but was defeated by Gould at (what Adams called) the "legislative broker's board, where votes are daily counted." The total expenditure on bribes in Albany during the summer of 1868 was estimated to exceed a million dollars.
-Edward Chancellor, Devil Take The Hindmost: A History Of Financial Speculation
............................................................especially about the future:
"Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau," declared the eminent Yale economist Irving Fisher in the autumn of 1929. A few weeks after this oracular pronouncement, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had declined by more than a third. The worst was still to come. On 8 July 1932, the Dow Jones closed at 41.88, a drop on nearly 90 percent from its 1929 peak.
Edward Chancellor, Devil Take The Hindmost: A History Of Financial Speculation
The commercialization of molecular biology is the most stunning ethical event in history of science, and it happened with astonishing speed. For four hundred years since Galileo, science has always proceeded as a free and open inquiry into the workings of nature. Scientists have always ignored national boundaries, holding themselves above the transitory concerns of politics and even wars. Scientists have always rebelled against secrecy in research, and have even frowned on the idea of patenting their discoveries, seeing themselves as working to the benefit of all mankind. And for many generations, the discoveries of scientists did indeed have a peculiarly selfless quality.
When, in 1953, two young researchers in England, James Watson and Francis Crick, deciphered the structure of DNA, their work was hailed as a triumph of the human spirit, of the centuries-old quest to understand the universe in a scientific way. It was confidently expected that their discovery would be selflessly extended to the greater benefit of mankind.
Yet that did not happen. Thirty years later, nearly all of Watson and Crick's scientific colleagues were engaged in another sort of enterprise entirely. Research in molecular genetics had become a vast, multibillion-dollar commercial undertaking, and its origins can be traced not to 1953 but to April 1976.
That was the date of a now famous meeting, in which Robert Swanson, a venture capitalist, approached Herbert Boyer, a biochemist at the University of California. The two men agreed to found a commercial company to exploit Boyer's gene-splicing techniques. Their new company, Genentech, quickly became one of the largest and most successful of the genetic engineering start-ups.
Suddenly it seemed as if everyone wanted to become rich. New companies were announced almost weekly, and scientists flocked to exploit genetic research. By 1986, at least 362 scientists, including 64 in the National Academy, sat on advisory boards of biotech firms. The number of those who held equity positions or consultancies was several times greater.
It is necessary to emphasize how significant this shift in attitude actually was. In the past, pure scientists took a snobbish view of business. They saw the pursuit of money as intellectually uninteresting, suited only to shopkeepers. And to do research for industry, even at the prestigious Bell or IBM labs, was only for those who couldn't get a university appointment. Thus the attitude of pure science was fundamentally critical toward the work of applied scientists, and to industry in general. Their long-standing antagonism kept university scientists free of contaminating industry ties, and wherever debate arose about technological matters, disinterested scientists were available to discuss the issues at the highest levels.
But that is no longer true. There are very few molecular biologists and very few research institutions without commercial affiliations. The old days are gone. Genetic research continues, at a more furious pace than ever. But it is done in secret, and in haste, and for profit.
-Michael Crichton, from the Introduction to his 1990 book, Jurassic Park