Sunday, April 28, 2013

Einstein Rebuked

Interesting take on a cliche:
I once read that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I fundamentally disagree with this idea. I think that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of hope. ~Debbie Millman
As someone who does the same thing most days, often coming up with nothing, I find this interpretation a real breakthrough.
I've been reading a lot of Jaak Panksepp who studies 'affective neuroscience', the biology of emotions like rage, fear, lust, care, panic, grief, and play.  He's famous for documenting when rats laugh via  inaudible chirps that correspond to tickling and the appropriate brain scan signatures. Lots of mammals have the same emotions humans do, which should come as no surprise to dog owners. He notes that he purpose of play is to takes us to the point of bad things happening, which explains why my kids always seem to end play with someone crying. He sees an instinct for seeking social interaction that turns on once the stronger affects (fear, lust, rage) as well as hunger are in check. It's useful to have an instinct to seek novelty and company, and it appears this is hard-wired.  If you take too much opiates, or are autistic, this instinct is stifled.
As for the Rienhart and Rogoff brouhaha, I don't see the big deal given our total debt-to-GDP ratio is like 500% if you include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The fact that 90% isn't a hard tipping point is irrelevant, we are way past that. Further, given we have been running a Federal deficit above 5% of GDP since 2009 every year, the idea that this R and R research has caused great austerity implies a novel definition of austerity.
I'm sympathetic to Barry Schwartz's admonition that we should satisfice more as a rule: optimizing too much leads to feeling bad about alternatives that are pretty similar. A lot in life is random, so if in picking a college or career you keep wondering 'what if?' you will be less happy and it's unhelpful because generally things you chose among were pretty similar. I think it's a very interesting question how and when to constrain choices you present others: too much choice is onerous, but more choice can better fit someone's unknown preferences. Unfortunately, those skeptical of the market seem drawn to think regulation could be of big help here; I think it's far better to leave such choices to those with skin in the game and a knowledge of the customers.  That is, bureaucrats will often think more than 3 of something they don't care about is enough, because for them it is, but that's a very silly inference. The Bloggingheads discussion is below:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weekly Roundup

Cliff Asness: An hour interview with Cliff Asness.

 It would be hard to improve upon Cliff's Big 4 Investment Principles:
  1. Cheap stocks beat expensive stocks 
  2. High carry beats low carry 
  3. Low risk beats high risk 
  4. The trend is your friend
I would just add that, 'risk' doesn't really help understand these principles, because while you can tell a risk story for #1 and #2 they generally seem characteristics more than covariances, for #3 it goes the wrong way, and #4 it doesn't really seem relevant.

Cliff also riffs on a hot new value metric, based on a paper by Robert Novy-Marx highlighting profit margin.

Sex and Envy: Tim Wadsworth at the University of Colorado Boulder finds that
 “There’s an overall increase in sense of well-being that comes with engaging in sex more frequently, but there’s also this relative aspect to it,” he said. “Having more sex makes us happy, but thinking that we are having more sex than other people makes us even happier.” 
Keeping-up-with-the-Joneses in bed. It's not much removed from my sons, whose misery is most affected by knowledge their brother can do something they can't. Wadsworth notes that regardless of the adjective--attractive, funny, smart, poor--these are only meaningful in a relative sense to peers, and so being sexually active only makes sense relative to others.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


The Missing Risk Premium is a quick read, but if you really have no time, here's a 120 page PowerPoint highlighting many of its main arguments.

Here's a paper in the JFE by Cao and Han finding that total variance generates lower-than-average returns, in this case, in option markets. Selling the highest volatility options generates a higher positive return over time. Clearly, this is risky, but so is buying volatility. I think this is best explained as another example of lottery ticket preferences, people love to overpay for 100-1 longshots.

Charles Gallistel argues that the essence of calculation is read-write capability, and currently neurologists have no understanding of the physical basis of memory.  His book is here.  That is, "fire together/wire together", something we do know about neuronal synapses, doesn't lead to storing sums in any obvious way, though this seems to be happening in things from bees and ants to people. Once we figure this out, I think database architecture will undergo a quantum leap in productivity, though perhaps we never will. 

Thursday, April 04, 2013

My Favorite Quotes

OK, one day into blogging retirement and I'm posting, but some asked in the comments for the quote list I mentioned, which I thought I'd share. As all arguments need a premise, and no premise holds for all arguments, this highlights we need to know a lot of aphorisms to be wise.

I know I'm missing hundreds more good ones, and some here are much better than others. That is, 'moderation in all things' is highly profound. In contrast, I don't agree that "Genius is only a greater aptitude for patience", but I do think patience is really important, so I like that quote. Then there's "To generalize is to be an idiot", which I think is just wrong, but I find it fascinating that a thoughtful person thinks this is true.

Most quotes without attribution I merely forgot where I read them, or they are a paraphrase of someone, or a mishmash of several authors.  I suppose one could google them and get a hit rate of 50%.

  1. You rarely find a nonconformist who goes it alone  ~ Hoffer
  2. A beautiful proof should appear inevitable, succinct, and unexpected.  ~ Hardy
  3. A boy becomes an adult three years before his parents think he does, and about two years after he thinks he does  ~ General Lewis Hershey
  4. A child’s goal is not to be a successful adult but a successful child.  ~
  5. A feature of government must be judged good when for a given purpose it uses the force of convention instead of physical force and its evil chances.  ~ Barzun  
  6. A gaffe is when a politician speaks the truth.  ~ Michael Kinsley 
  7. A healthy appetite for righteousness, kept in due control by good manners, is an excellent thing; but to 'hunger and thirst' after it is often merely a symptom of spiritual diabetes.  ~ Charlie D. Broad
  8. A knowledgeable fool is a greater fool than an ignorant fool  ~ Moliere  
  9. A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation.  ~ H.H. Munro 
  10. A man can fail, but he isn't a failure until he blames someone else.  ~ J Paul Getty
  11. A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business  ~ Hoffer
  12. A man who exposes himself when he is intoxicated has not the art of getting drunk  ~ Dr.Samuel Johnson 
  13. A man who suspects his own tediousness is yet to be born  ~ Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  14. A man's homeland is where he prospers  ~ Aristophanes  
  15. A mature man lives humbly for a great cause, an immature man dies for it.  ~
  16. A multitude of words is probably the most formidable means of blurring and obscuring thought  ~ Hoffer
  17. a passionate obsession with the outside world or the private lives of others is an attempt to compensate for a lack of meaning in one's own life  ~ Eric Hoffer
  18. A pathological liar is someone who tell untruths that serve no obvious purpose.  ~
  19. A patient had a 50-50 chance of benefiting from visiting a physician as of 1910.  Medicine was more like voodoo than science until the 20th Century.  ~ Abraham Flexner
  20. A person’s first duty, a young person’s at any rate, is to be ambitious, and the noblest ambition is that of leaving behind something of permanent value.  ~ GH Hardy 
  21. A poet over 30 is pathetic  ~ H.L. Mencken 
  22. A Pseudo-science consists of a nomenclature by which all positive evidence as favors its doctrine is admitted, and all negative evidence is excluded.  ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes.
  23. A psychotic thinks 2+2  ~5.  A neurotic thinks 2+2  ~4 and can't stand it. 
  24. A scientific theory is a tool and not a creed.  ~ J.J.Thomson  
  25. A sense of proportion, which implies priority, is the essence of common sense; it requires the ability to compared ends, as opposed to just means.    
  26. A single idea, if it is right, saves us the labor of an infinity of experiences.  ~ Jacques Maritain 
  27. A spoiled child never loves his mother  ~ Sir Henry Taylor
  28. A successful life doesn't require that we've done the best, but that we've done our best.  ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
  29. A thing is not necessarily true because someone dies for it.  ~ Oscar Wilde 
  30. A true scientist is known by his confession of ignorance  ~ A.O.Foster  
  31. A wise man proportions his belief to experience.  ~ David Hume 
  32. Ability, connections, and status are wealth 
  33. Again and again, the bright thought has occurred, "if we can only define our terms, if we can only find the basic unit, if we can spot the right 'indicators', we can then measure and reason flawlessly, we shall have created one more science."  ~ Jaques Barzun 
  34. All anger is self-righteous anger.  There are few cynical opportunists, more often ideologues and moralists. 
  35. All bad art is the result of good intentions.  
  36. All data are filtered, observation is necessarily 'theory-laden'.  ~ N.R. Hanson 
  37. All flatterers are mercenary, and all low-minded men are flatterers.    ~ Aristotle  
  38. All movements go too far.   ~ Bertrand Russell 
  39. All our advantages have complimentary negatives at some level 
  40. All supporters of totalitarian despots have hated the bourgeois.  
  41. All things are difficult before they are easy.  ~ Thomas Fuller 
  42. All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare  ~ Spinoza  
  43. All truth passes through three stages.  First it is ridiculed.  Next it is violently opposed. Last it is recognized as self-evident.  ~ Shopenhauer  
  44. Almost all inventors are extremely fond of their latest idea, to the degree that their good judgment is affected.  
  45. Almost anyone can do science; almost no one can do good science.  ~ LL Larison Cudmore
  46. Almost everything you do will be insignificant, but it is very important you do it.  ~ Ghandi  
  47. Always asking for finished products is a sure way to manage projects into failure.  One needs to manage a process that involves iterations of imperfect work.    
  48. Always try to simplify your syntax and enrich your vocabulary  
  49. An alcoholic is anyone you don't like who drinks more than you do.  ~ Dylan Thomas. 
  50. An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.   ~ Niels Bohr 
  51. An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows  ~ Dwight Eisenhower 
  52. Analytic or creative work is best done when in a somewhat lugubrious state of mind.  
  53. And no one lies as much as the indignant do.  ~ Nietsche  
  54. and those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music  ~ Friedrich Nietzsche 
  55. Animals don't think about meaning. 
  56. Ants are the most selfless animals, yet they are also the most warlike and take slaves.  If you don't value your self highly, how can you value other selves highly?  
  57. Anxiety is the essential condition of intellectual and artistic creation.  ~ Charles Frankel 
  58. Any explicit, complicated process invites its circumvention.    
  59. Any jackass can kick down a barn but it takes a good carpenter to build one.   ~ Lyndon B Johnson  
  60. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.  ~ Andy Finkel 
  61. Anybody can become angry—that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and it the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.  ~ Aristotle  
  62. Anyone can carry his burden, however hard, until nightfall.  ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
  63. Anyone can come up with very hard or very easy problems, the key is to come up with interesting yet soluble problems.    
  64. Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new  ~ Albert Einstein 
  65. Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation  ~ Edward R Murrow
  66. Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough.  ~ Gustave Faubert 
  67. Anything you're good at contributes to happiness.   ~ Bertrand Russell 
  68. Arguments convincing to one group are often totally unconvincing to others.       
  69. Aristotle maintained that women had fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths.  ~ Bertrand Russell 
  70. Arrive at knowledge over small streamlets, and do not plunge immediately into the ocean, since progress must go from the easier to the more difficult.  ~ Aquinas  
  71. Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.  ~ John Dewey  
  72. art is something valuable, neither anticipated nor wanted before it was created.  Science creates valuable ideas that are inevitable.  
  73. As farmers and manufacturing has declined, their status has declined, and their subsidies have increased  
  74. As regulations proliferate, it's impossible to enforce them all fairly. Enforcement becomes selective and capricious. Legislative micromanagement is the road to tyranny. 
  75. As you age, your talents go from Will, to Quickness, no judgment 
  76. At bottom are only two pure forms of legislation -- productive and redistributive.  ~ Richard A. Epstein
  77. At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want  ~ Lao Tzu 
  78. Attention implies the withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others 
  79. Avoid the temptation to work so hard that there is no time left for serious thinking.  ~ Francis Crick 
  80. Bad ideas aren’t retracted, they are orphaned.  ~
  81. Bad perseverance is defined by excessive perseverance stemming from ignorance of the situation, economics, or overconfidence.  ~
  82. Basic research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing.  ~ Werner von Braun
  83. Because geniuses can be eccentric doesn’t imply we should elevate pettiness, boorishness, and irresponsibility with virtue  
  84. Because reputation lags achievement, we should expect people to reach the zenith of their reputation well past the zenith of their productive output  ~ Richard Posner 
  85. Being a professional means doing your job on the days you don't feel like doing it.  ~ David Halberstam 
  86. Being objective doesn’t imply being neutral, in fact more the more you know the less neutral you  become  
  87. Better do a little well, than a great deal badly.  ~ Aristotle  
  88. Both the revolutionary and the creative individual are perpetual juveniles. The revolutionary does not grow up because he cannot grow, while the creative individual cannot grow up because he keeps growing  ~ Hoffer
  89. Business is not like chess, but like poker, where chance and asymmetric information demand anticipation and probability analysis.  
  90. By regulating action, which we can control, we indirectly regulate feelings, which we cannot  
  91. Cargo Cult analysis is analysis that superficially looks like sophisticated work, but in reality is missing the essence of true analysis.     
  92. Childhood is about developing friendships, interests, discipline and independence.  
  93. Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.  ~  James Baldwin 
  94. Comfort without struggle—and the sense of insecurity that motivates it—leads to self destructive decadence.  
  95. Commitment becomes hysterical when those who have nothing to give advocate generosity, and those who have nothing to give up preach renunciation.  ~ Hoffer
  96. Common sense and Bayes theorem suggests that given two persuasive speakers, you will find those which most agree with you as most persuasive.     
  97. common sense is an intuitive grasp of reality, which takes honesty  ~
  98. Common sense is as rare as genius.  ~ Emerson  
  99. Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down in the mind before you reach eighteen.    ~ Albert Einstein 
  100. Confused thinking … leads nowhere in particular and can be indulged indefinitely without producing any impact upon the world.  ~ Stanislav Andreski 
  101. Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.  ~ Nietzcshe  
  102. Could Hamlet have been written by a committee, or the Mona Lisa painted by a club?    Creative ideas do not spring from groups.  The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the Adam, whether it takes ultimate shape in a law of physics or a law of the land, a poem or a policy, a sonata or a mechanical computer.  ~ A Whitney Griswold
  103. Courage is a readiness to risk humiliation.  ~ Nigel Dennis 
  104. Courage is about doing what you're afraid to do.  ~ Eddie Rickenbacker 
  105. Courage is grace under pressure  ~ Ernest Hemingway
  106. Courage is no less a virtue because it is rarely needed 
  107. Courage is not demonstrated by assuming unpopular stands from the past that subsequently became popular.   
  108. Courage is the most important virtue because it is the hardest.  ~ David Brooks 
  109. Crass self interest is often masked with pretexts such as justice and fairness and process.  ~
  110. Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.  ~ Anna Freud 
  111. Creative people are often neurotic, and tend to have more anxiety, lower self-esteem and lower tolerance for stress than other individuals.  
  112. Criticism is always a kind of compliment.  ~ John Maddox 
  113. Cursed is everyone who places his hope in changing the nature of man  ~ Augustine  
  114. Data are like inkblot, you read into them your unconscious preconceptions.  
  115. Death need not concern us because when we exist death does not, and when death exists we do not.  ~ Epicurus
  116. Deep faith eliminates fear.  ~ Lech Walesa 
  117. Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for the appointment by the corrupt few  ~ George Bernard Shaw
  118. Democratic socialism leads away from socialism because people eventually choose nonsocialist policies.    
  119. Distrust all those who love you extremely upon a very slight acquaintance and without any visible reason  ~ Lord Philip Dormer Stanlope
  120. Do not be a hair splitter in whose hands the complicated questions do not become simple, but the simple complicated. 
  121. Doing something important comparatively well gives meaning, because people necessarily then appreciate you.  
  122. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.  ~
  123. Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.  ~ Mark Twain 
  124. Don't look at what people say, look at what they do 
  125. Doubt is the essence of consciousness.    
  126. Economics involves the implications of individuals making rational decisions given their constraints and sef-interest.  
  127. Education is an admirable thing, but is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.  ~ Oscar Wilde 
  128. Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.  ~ Albert Einstein 
  129. Education would be so much more effective if its purpose were to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they don’t know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.   ~ Sir William Haley
  130. Elegance and consistency are means to an end, which is out-of-sample prediction.  
  131. Emphasis on models as the major difference is wrong, the main difference is in variable selection and the transformation of those variables.     
  132. Empty vessels make the loudest sound, so they with least wit are the greatest babblers.  ~ Plato  
  133. Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity.  ~ Albert Einstein 
  134. Errors are many, truth is unique.  ~ Peter Kapitsa 
  135. Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under  ~ HL Mencken 
  136. Every man loves what he is good at.  ~ Thomas Shadwell 
  137. Every man supposes himself not to be fully understood.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  138. Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world  ~ Arthur Schopenhauer 
  139. Every speech should contain only three main points.  All else will be forgotten.    ~
  140. Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.  ~ Will Rogers 
  141. Everyone, according to the Japanese, has a hidden ikigai.  
  142. Everything ends badly ... otherwise it wouldn't end.  ~ Koglan the Bartender
  143. Everything is always decided for reasons other than the real merits of the case  ~ John Maynard Keynes
  144. Everything is both simpler than we can imagine, and more entangled than we can conceive.  ~ Goethe  
  145. Everything must not always be said, for that would be folly.  ~ Montaigne  
  146. Excellence is rarely found, more rarely valued.  ~ Goethe  
  147. Exempt from vulgar prejudices, but full of his own  
  148. Experience is a dear teacher, and fools will learn from no other.  ~ Ben Franklin 
  149. Experience is the Mother of science.  ~ H.G.Bohn  
  150. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge ~ Winston Churchil
  151. Experts are much better at describing, explaining, performing tasks, and problem-solving within their domains than are novices, but, with a few exceptions, are worse at forecasting than actuarial tables based on historical, statistical models. 
  152. Experts not only know what works, they know what doesn’t work.  This makes them bad for creativity.    
  153. Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored  ~ Aldous Huxley 
  154. Facts without theory is trivia.  Theory without facts is bullshit.  
  155. Facts, however, will ultimately prevail; we must therefore take care that they be not against us.  ~ Francis Bacon 
  156. False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often long endure; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, as everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness.  ~ Charles Darwin 
  157. For creative thought, common sense is a bad master.  Its sole criterion for judgment is that the new ideas shall look like the old ones.  In other words it can only act by suppressing originality.  ~ Alfred North Whitehead
  158. Forget past mistakes.  Forget failures.  Forget everything except what you’re going to do now and do it.  ~ William Durant 
  159. Fortune does not change men, it unmasks them  ~ Suzanne Necker 
  160. Friends aren't soulmates, they are people you do things with  
  161. From birth to 18 a girl needs good parents.  From 18 to 35 she needs good looks. From 35 to 55, good personality.  From 55 on, she needs good cash.  ~ Sophie Tucker 
  162. Genius is only a greater aptitude for patience  ~ Comte de Buffon
  163. Give not advice without being asked, and when desired, do it briefly.    ~ George Washington 
  164. Given the difficulties forecasting the future, it is very useful to simply know your present condition  ~
  165. Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.  ~ Barry LePatner 
  166. Good models are models useful for making important decisions.     
  167. Good warriors are indolent laborers  
  168. Great ideas are new, true, and important 
  169. Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.    ~ H.G.Rickover  
  170. Great young innovators make radical simplifications that allow them to leapfrog the expert’s relative advantage in technical knowledge. Older innovators are most often praised for their wisdom and judgment.  ~
  171. Greatests crimes are of excess rather than need 
  172. Growing up is about developing friendships, interests, discipline and independence.  ~
  173. Guilt is feeling bad about what you did, shame feeling bad about yourself. Choose guilt.  ~
  174. Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling, enduring, and accomplishing.  ~ George Sheehan 
  175. Happiness is not mostly pleasure, it is mostly victory.  ~ Harry Emerson Fosdick
  176. Have strong opinions weakly held.  They are then theories you test.  
  177. Have the courage to change the things you can, the patience to accept the things you can't, and the wisdom to know the difference  ~ Serenity Prayer
  178. He that loves to be flattered is worthy of the flatterer.  ~ Shakespeare  
  179. He who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, though to him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden.  ~ Aristotle  
  180. He who is to be a good ruler must have first been ruled.  ~
  181. He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.  
  182. He who praises everybody, praises nobody  ~ James Boswell 
  183. He who says there is no such thing as an honest man, you may be sure is himself a knave  ~ George Berkeley  
  184. Holding beliefs proportionate to evidence requires humility  
  185. Human beings are, necessarily, actors who...can be divided...into the sane who know they are acting and the mad who do not.    ~ W.H.Auden
  186. humans are tribal, so being tribal makes one human.  
  187. Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.  ~ Aristotle  
  188. I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act.  The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.  ~ Abraham Maslow 
  189. I can think of nothing less pleasurable than a life devoted to pleasure  ~ John D Rockefeller
  190. I can usually judge a fellow by what he laughs at  ~ Wilson Mizner 
  191. I contend we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do.  ~ Stephen F. Roberts
  192. I desire to go to Hell, not Heaven.  In Hell I shall enjoy the company of popes, kings, and princes, but in Heaven are only beggars, monks, hermits, and apostles.  ~ Machiavelli  
  193. I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.  ~ Bill Cosby 
  194. I like, as a director and a spectator, simple, direct, frank films. Nothing disgusts me more than snobbism, mannerism, technical gratuity... and, most of all, intellectualism.  ~ John Ford 
  195. I love him who desires not too many virtues. One virtue is more of a virtue than two, because it is more of a knot for one's destiny to cling to.   
  196. I never saw a pessimistic general win a battle.  ~ Dwight Eisenhower 
  197. If a man is often the subject of conversation he soon becomes the subject of criticism.  ~ Kant  
  198. If all men knew what each said of the other, there would not be four friends in the world,  ~ Pascal  
  199. If an experiment comes out as expected it can be very nice, but if it can only be considered great if it is a surprise.  ~
  200. If any philosopher had been asked for a definition of infinity, he might have produced some unintelligible rigmarole, but he would certainly not have been able to give a definition that had any meaning at all.   ~ Bertrand Russell 
  201. If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. There is no point making a fool of yourself.  ~ WC Fields 
  202. If Columbus had turned back, no one would have blamed him. Of course, no one would have remembered him either.  
  203. If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough  ~ Mario Andretti 
  204. If God is dead, everything is allowed.  ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
  205. If I asked people what they wanted, I would have given them faster horses  ~ Henry Ford 
  206. If many years go by in a field in which no significant new facts come to light, the field sharpens up the opinions and gives the appearance that the problem is solved.  ~ Thomas Gold 
  207. If merely 'feeling good' could decide, drunkenness would be the supremely valid human experience.  ~ William James 
  208. If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.  ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein 
  209. If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.  ~ Albert Einstein 
  210. If we do not discipline ourselves the world will do it for us.  ~ William Feather 
  211. if we expect people to take us as we are, we should expect others to also be as they are  ~
  212. If we take man as he is we make him worse, if we take man as he should be we make him what he can be  ~ Goethe
  213. If you buy the why, the how is infinitely bearable  ~ Nietsche  
  214. If you can distinguish between good advice and bad advice, then you don’t need advice.  ~ VanRoy  
  215. If you get a good wife, you will become very happy; if you get a bad one, you will become a philosopher—and that is good for every man.  ~ Aristotle  
  216. If you lose your temper, you’ve lost the argument.  
  217. If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you.  ~ Don Marquis 
  218. If you read a book and aren't a better person, there's no reason to have read it.  
  219. Ignorant men raise questions that have already been answered.  ~ Goethe  
  220. In an adequate social order, the untalented should be able to acquire a sense of usefulness and of growth without interfering with the development of talent around them  ~ Hoffer
  221. In answering an opponent, arrange your ideas, but not your words.    ~ CC Colton 
  222. In banking, it’s credit, spread, and volume.  You can’t have all three.  
  223. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.  
  224. In every fat book there is a thin book trying to get out.  
  225. In prosperity our friends know us, in adversity we know our friends 
  226. In public speech, tell jokes in threes.  Start silly, get more serious. 
  227. In real life, good people are interesting and bad people are dull, while in fiction it is the opposite.    
  228. In science, read the newest books.  In literature, read the oldest.  ~ Edward Bulwer-Lytton. 
  229. In the absence of either fear or hope, only the present moment has any reality: you do what is most amusing, or least boring, at each passing moment.  ~
  230. In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.  ~ Janvande Snepscheut 
  231. Include a fresh metaphor or illustration in every major presentation  
  232. Indignation does not imply moral superiority 
  233. Instincts include: seeking, rage, fear, lust, care/confidence, grief/panic  
  234. Intolerant people think they are applying integrity 
  235. Is does not imply ought, but it informs it.  
  236. It doesn't have to be perfect to be good  
  237. It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong.  ~ Richard Feynman 
  238. It has been my experience that folks who have not vices have very few virtues  ~ Abraham Lincoln 
  239. It is a golden rule not to judge men by the opinions but rather by what their opinions make of them.  ~ George Lichtenberg, 
  240. It is a hard thing for intellectuals to acknowledge benefits from their rich moral inferiors who never so intended it.   ~ Victor Davis Hanson
  241. It is a truism to say that a good experiment is precisely that which spares us the exertion of thinking: the better it is, the less we have to worry about its interpretation, about what it really means.  ~ Peter Medawar 
  242. It is always probable that something improbable will happen.  ~ Logan Bleckley 
  243. It is awfully important to know what is and what is not your business.  ~ Gertrude Stein 
  244. It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid.  ~ George Bernard Shaw 
  245. It is difficult for people to sort out problems on the fly as failure spreads through a complex system.  
  246. It is equally a mistake to hold one’s self too high, or to rate one’s self too cheap.  ~ Goethe  
  247. It is far better to be flexible and know how to learn, rather than trying to make sure you get it right the first time and don’t make mistakes.    
  248. It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place  ~ HL Mencken 
  249. It is important to be accepted, more so than to have specific friends. 
  250. It is inaccurate to say I hate everything.  I am strongly in favor of common sense and honesty, which makes me against most of what we do.  ~ HL Menken 
  251. It is much better to know something about everything than to know everything about one thing.  ~ Pascal  
  252. It is much easier to make measurements than to know exactly what you are measuring.  ~ J.W.N.Sullivan.  
  253. It is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.  ~ Descartes  
  254. It is not good to have everything one wants  ~ Pascal  
  255. It is not he who gains the exact point in dispute who scores most in controversy—but he who has shown the better temper  ~ Samuel Butler 
  256. It is not once nor twice but times without number that the same ideas make their appearance in the world.  
  257. It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.  ~ Machiavelli  
  258. It is one of the blesings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them  ~ Emerson  
  259. It once took 90% of our population to grow our food. Now it takes 3%. Are we worse off because of the job losses in agriculture?  
  260. It takes years of training it ignore the obvious.  
  261. It’s always tempting to do good at someone else’s expense  ~ Bastiat  
  262. It’s easy to have faith in yourself and have discipline when you’re a winner, when you’re number one.  What you got to have is faith and discipline when you’re not a winner.  ~ Vince Lombardi 
  263. It's good to have dreams, but not illusions.  ~
  264. It's not what you have done, but the life you lead.  Karma exists 
  265. I've never known a person to live to be one hundred and be remarkable for anything else.  ~ Josh Billings 
  266. Just as flattery of a friend can pervert, so the insult of an enemy can sometimes correct.  ~ Augustine  
  267. Justice is Equality…but equality of what?  ~ Book 3, Aristotle's Politics
  268. Keep you fears to yourself, but share you courage with others.  ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
  269. Keys to a convincing theory: simple enough to be apprehended without much strain but convoluted enough to require a caste of interpreters. 
  270. Kids don’t need encouragement thinking they understand things they have only the vaguest understanding of. 
  271. Kids gossip more in part because they expect more from their friends, and thus experience many petty betrayals that they have to talk about.  
  272. Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom  ~ Herman Hesse 
  273. Knowledge has to be sucked into the brain, not pushed into it  ~ Victor F. Weisskop
  274. Knowledge is of two kinds: we know a subject itself, or know where to find it.  ~ Johnson  
  275. Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness  ~ Santayana  
  276. Laws are silent in time of war.  ~ Cicero  
  277. Laymen feel that facts are easy and theory is difficult.  It is often the other way around. 
  278. Less is More  ~ Robert Browning 
  279. Liberty is more feasible that equality, and pursuing liberty hurts equality less than pursuing equality hurts liberty. 
  280. Literature is mostly about sex and a little about having children.  Life is the other way around.  ~ David Lodge 
  281. Live your life so that if someone says 'Be yourself' it's good advice.  ~ Robert Orben 
  282. Man needs, for his happiness, not only the enjoyment of this or that, but hope and enterprise and change.   ~ Bertrand Russell 
  283. Many can bear adversity, but few contempt.  ~ ThomasFuller  
  284. many friends are the key to happiness  ~ Epicurus
  285. Many think we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.  ~ Alfred North Whitehead
  286. Mechanizing man's work had changed but not lighted his toil.    ~ JS Mill 
  287. Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.  ~ Arthur Conan Doyle
  288. Men are born for each other’s sake, so either teach people or endure them  ~ Marcus Aurelius 
  289. Men are made by nature unequal.  It is vain, therefore, to treat them as if they were equal.  ~ James Anthony Froude
  290. Men are more apt to be mistaken in their generalizations than in their particular observations.   Machiavelli  
  291. Men believe in the truth of anything so long as they see that others strongly believe it is true   Friedreich Nietzsche 
  292. Men do not desire merely to be rich, but to be richer than other men.  ~ John Stewart Mill
  293. Men need sex more than women, and this gives women power over men.     
  294. Moderation in all things  ~ Democritus
  295. Modesty is a virtue not because it implies servile humility, but because it implies a combination of honesty and knowledge 
  296. Monarchy operates on the principle of honor, republicanism on virtue, despotism on fear, and totalitarianism on ideology or (seen from within) on truth.  
  297. Money, it turns out, is exactly like sex.  You thought of nothing else if you didn't have it, and thought of everything else once you did.  ~ James Baldwin 
  298. More than pay what makes for a happy organization is confidence that higher-ups are making good decisions.  
  299. Most analytical work is nonproductive: little is new and a significant portion is actually incorrect.     
  300. Most new ideas are bad. 
  301. Most people are too stupid to act in their own interest  ~ Nietsche  
  302. Most people do what they to do, no matter how heroic, because they have no option, they have a job to do so they go on and  do it.  
  303. Most people find confidence attractive  and convincing in presenting ideas.  Yet, it should be noted that confidence often implies ignorance or duplicity.    
  304. Most questions about correct word usage are questions of custom and authority rather than grammatical logic.    
  305. Most questions are really statements.   
  306. Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power.   ~ Bertrand Russell 
  307. Natural wealth is both limited and easily obtained, but vanity is insatiable   
  308. Nature isn't good or bad, it's indifferent. 
  309. Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.  ~ Abraham Lincoln 
  310. Neutrality only helps the oppressor, never the victim.  ~ Elie Weisel 
  311. Never complain and never explain.  ~ Benjamin Disraeli 
  312. Never explain--your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe you anyway.    ~ Elbert Hubard 
  313. Never mistake motion for action  ~ Ernest Hemingway 
  314. Never speak ill of yourself, your friends will always say enough on that subject  ~ Charles Maurice 
  315. Never will man penetrate deeper into error than when he is continuing on a road which has led him to great success  ~ Friedrich Hayek 
  316. New theories, when first proposed and supported, may make the first page of the New York Times.  Their demise rarely makes even page 18.     
  317. Nihilism, cynicism, and sarcasm are the symptoms of bored and guilt-ridden people who belittle those who create their comfort.   
  318. No conqueror believes in chance.  ~ Friedrich Nietzsche 
  319. No delusion is greater than the notion that method and industry can make up for lack of motherwit, either in science or in practical life.  ~ Thomas Huxley 
  320. No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness  ~ Aristotle  
  321. No great philosophy is ever proven wrong, just irrelevant.  ~
  322. No guest is so welcome in a friend’s house that he will not become a nuisance after three days  ~ Titus Macuious Plautus
  323. No human thing is of serious importance  ~ Plato  
  324. No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back.  ~ Turkish Proverb 
  325. No one washes a rented car   
  326. No one would choose a friendless existence on condition of having all the other things in the world.  ~
  327. No opinion should be held with fervor.  None holds with fervor that 7x8  ~56, because it is known that this is the case.  Fervor is necessary only in commending an opinion which is doubtful or demonstrably false.  ~ Voltaire  
  328. No people do so much harm as those who go about doing good.  ~ Bishop Mandell Creighton
  329. No science ever defends its first principles.  ~ Aristotle
  330. No single piece of macroeconomic advice given by the experts to their government has ever had the results predicted.  ~ Peter Drucker 
  331. Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn't matter anyway  ~ Richard Feynman 
  332. Nobody forgets where he buried the hatched  ~ Frank McKinney 
  333. Nobody speaks of a beautifful view for 5 minutes  ~ Robert Lewis Stevenson
  334. Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child   
  335. Nothing is ever achieved without enthusiasm.   ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  336. Nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come  ~ Victor Hugo 
  337. Often times what people do that’s valuable is very simple, but they make it seem more complex in order to flatter themselves   
  338. Older, accomplished people often fail miserably to appreciate new theories. 
  339. One can always be kind to people about whom one cares nothing  ~ Oscar Wilde 
  340. One may go wrong in many different ways, but right only in one, which is why it is easy to fail and difficult to succeed.  ~ Aristotle  
  341. One must never lose time in vainly regretting the past or in complaining against the changes which cause us discomfort, for change is the essence of life.  ~ Anatole France 
  342. One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important  ~ Bertrand Russel 
  343. One should respect an honest person even if he expresses opinions differing from one’s own.  ~ Albert Einstein  
  344. Only a small part of scientific progress has resulted from planned search for specific objectives.  A much more important part has been made possible by the freedom of the individual to follow his own curiosity.  ~ Irving Langmuir 
  345. Only by reading great works can you really get an inkling of how a great intellect works.   
  346. Only mediocrity can be trusted to always be at its best  ~ SirMaxBeerbohm  
  347. Only the simplest mind can believe that in a great controversy one side was mere folly  ~ AJ Kane
  348. Only thoughts reached by walking have value.  ~ Nietsche  
  349. Opinion is ultimately determined by the feelings, and not by the intellect.  ~ Herbert Spencer 
  350. Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them  ~ Ann Landers 
  351. Our Constitution is made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.     ~ John Adams 
  352. Our ignorance of history makes us libel our own times. People have always been like this  ~ Gustave Flaubert 
  353. Our minds are lazier than our bodies  ~ La Rochefoucauld  
  354. Our narrative self interprets the many parallel processes going on in our brains  ~
  355. Our task is not to penetrate the essence of things, the meaning of which we do not know anyway, but rather to develop concepts which allow us to talk in a productive way about phenomena in nature  ~ Niels Bohr 
  356. Patience is the companion of wisdom.  ~ Augustine  
  357. Peace of Mind comes from not wanting to change others  ~ Gerald Jampolsky 
  358. Pedantry is the dotage of knowledge.  ~ Holbrook Jackson 
  359. People are best judged by their actions  ~ Max Perutz 
  360. People can do remarkably well in controlling complex machines whose workings are fully understood and open to view.  ~ Robert Chiles 
  361. People know more than they can articulate (eg, grammar) 
  362. People want to hire someone more intelligent but less ambitious than themselves.   
  363. People who need advice are least likely to take it.   
  364. People wish to learn to swim and at the same time to keep one foot on the ground.  ~ Marcel Proust 
  365. Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away  ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  366. Personal retribution is the justice of those with a weak state   
  367. Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.  ~ Jonathan Kozol  
  368. Play is about taking things to the point of bad things happening   
  369. Politicians seek to elicit the words, “I don’t know why. I just like the guy.” 
  370. Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.  ~ Leonardo DaVinci 
  371. Prejudices, not faulty reasoning, are the main obstacles of truth  ~
  372. Preparing for battle, plans were essential.  But once the battle was joined, plans were useless.  ~ Dwight Eisenhower 
  373. Pride is in general censured and decried, but mainly by those who have nothing to be proud of  ~ Arthur Schopenhauer 
  374. Progress has been much more general than retrogression  ~ Darwin  
  375. Prose talent depends on having something to say and an interesting, highly developed way of saying it.  ~ Fitzgerald  
  376. Quoting one is plagiarism. Quoting many is research.  ~
  377. Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s own ignorance.  ~ Confucius  
  378. Reality is not subject to the limits of human knowledge.  ~ Troy Gustavel 
  379. Religion is about telling us what we shouldn't do, spirituality about telling us to feel comfortable doing what we want
  380. Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms. 
  381. Reputation is what you are perceived to be, your character is what you really are. 
  382. Rudeness is a weak man’s imitation of strength  ~ George Orwell 
  383. Sadness diminishes a man’s powers  ~ Spinoza  
  384. Science is a great many things, but in the end they all return to this: science is the acceptance of what works and the rejection of what does not.  That needs more courage than we might think.  ~ Jacob Bronowski 
  385. Science is built up with facts, as a house is with stones.  But a collection of facts is no more a science than a head of stones is a house.  ~ Henri Poincare 
  386. Science means simply the aggregate of all the recipes that are always successful.  The rest is literature.    ~ Paul Valery 
  387. Scientific progress is the cumulative growth of a system of knowledge over time, in which useful features are retained and unuseful features are abandoned.   
  388. Scientific research is not itself a science: it is still an art or craft.  ~ William H. George
  389. Scientists are always dispensable, for in the long run, others will do what they have been unable to do themselves ~ Peter Medwar 
  390. Search for pleasure, search for power, search for meaning.  The last is most important.  ~
  391. Seek simplicity and distrust it  ~ Alfred North Whitehead
  392. Seek, above all, for a game worth playing  ~ Robert S. de Ropp
  393. Selfishness and altruism are always present in children, one towards group mates, the other towards outsiders.  ~
  394. Self-righteousness is a loud din raised to drown the voice of guilt within us  ~ Hoffer
  395. Sexiness is unselfconscious and full of self-confidence, indifferent to the effect he or she is producing, and uninfluenced by others. There must be physical attraction, but beauty is unnecessary   
  396. Show me a good and gracious loser, and I'll show you a failure.  ~ Knute Rockne 
  397. Silence is sometimes the best answer.   
  398. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.  ~ Leonardo Da Vinci
  399. Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.  ~ Demosthenes  
  400. So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.   ~ Bertrand Russell 
  401. So long as men praise you, you can only be sure that you are not yet on your own true path but on someone else’s  ~ Friedrich Nietzche 
  402. Some think people who are equal in any respect are equal all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal  ~ Aristotle  
  403. Sometimes being brutally honest seems cruel but is kind.  Sometimes it is just cruel. 
  404. Sometimes it is more important to discover what one cannot do, than what one can do.  ~ Lin Yutang  
  405. Stories embody our search for meaning in an otherwise indifferent world, or experience of the rapture of being alive. 
  406. Stress isn’t caused by bad times, but by working where you feel your talents are being underappreciated.    ~ Lynn Cheney 
  407. Stupidity is without anxiety.  ~ Goethe  
  408. Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.  ~ Bill Gates
  409. Success is from effort, ability, and luck. 
  410. Success is peace of mind, attained only through self satisfaction knowing you made the effort to do the best you are capable   
  411. Suffering only has meaning when you cannot control the cause.  Your attitude can then be heroic.  ~
  412. Take the time to deliberate, but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in  ~ Andrew Jackson 
  413. Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.  ~ Arthur Schopenhauer 
  414. Talent should be judged at its best, character at its worst  ~ Lord Acton 
  415. The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook  ~ William James 
  416. The average man believes a thing first, and then searches for proof to bolster his opinion  ~ Elbert Hubbard  
  417. The average man, who does not know what to do with his life, wants another one which shall last forever.  ~ Anatole France  
  418. The benefit of optimism is that it mitigates discouragement   
  419. The best apology against false accusers is silence.  ~ Milton  
  420. The best use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.  ~ William James 
  421. The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.   ~ Linus Pauling 
  422. The Catholic and the Communist are alike in assuming that an opponent cannot be both honest and intelligent.    ~ George Orwell 
  423. The central business of adulthood, finding serious things to tie yourself down to   
  424. The chief difference between free capitalism and State socialism seems to be this: that under the former a man pursues his own advantage openly, frankly and honestly, whereas under the latter he does so hypocritically and under false pretenses  ~ HL Mencken 
  425. The chief virtue that language can have is clearness, and nothing detracts from it so much as the use of unfamiliar words.  ~ Galen  
  426. The devil can cite Scripture for his own purpose  ~ Shakespeare  
  427. The difference between a good and excellent employee is that the good one does what you tell them, and the excellent one does what you want.     
  428. The difference between an average artist and a bad what is what he can draw.  The difference between a good artist and an average one is what he sees.    
  429. The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense.    ~ David Schmaltz
  430. The enemies of the future are always the very nicest people  ~ Chistopher Morley 
  431. The essence of sport is courage.  ~ Thomas McGuane 
  432. The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.  ~ Henry Bergson 
  433. The fact that an opinion is widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.    ~ Bertrand Russell 
  434. The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.  ~ Mark Caine
  435. The fortune of our lives…depends on employing well the short period of our youth  ~ Thomas Jefferson 
  436. The fruits of philosophy are the important thing, not the philosophy itself.  When we ask the time, we don’t want to know how watches are constructed.  ~ Geoge Lichtenberg 
  437. The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil.  ~ Cicero  
  438. The goal of life is to be happy and have meaning.  Meaning comes from doing  things others value.  It's a balance, and takes prudence. 
  439. The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.  ~ Daniel J. Boorstin
  440. The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be; and if we observe, we shall find, that all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice of them.  ~
  441. The high-minded man does not bear grudges, for it is not the mark of a great soul to remember injuries, but to forget them.  ~ Aristotle  
  442. The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.   
  443. The implied volatility is the wrong volatility we use in the wrong model in order to get the right price.  ~ Peter Carr 
  444. The importance of a problem should not be judged by the number of pages devoted to it.  ~ Albert Einstein 
  445. The insights that make you rich change every couple years.  Insights that make you happy don’t.  ~
  446. The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant.  ~ Einstein
  447. The judge should not be young: he should have learned to know evil, not from his own soul, but from long observation of the nature of evil in others.  But knowledge should be his guide, not personal experience.    ~ Aristotle  
  448. The man who early on regards himself as a genius is lost.  ~ George Christoph Lichtenberg
  449. The man who sees both sides of a question is a man who sees absolutely nothing at all  ~ Oscar Wilde 
  450. the mark of a great writer is the ability to interest the uninterested in the subject she writes about  ~
  451. The more fundamental a scientific law the more briefly it can be stated.  ~
  452. The most exciting phrase to hear in science - the one that heralds new discoveries - is not "Eureka!" but "That's funny..."  ~ IsaacAsimov  
  453. The most imaginative people are the most credulous, for to them everything is possible.  ~ Alexander Chase 
  454. The most important characteristic of a good manager is someone who can recognize value, whether certain projects add value or simply a waste of time.    
  455. The most melancholy of human reflections, perhaps, is that on the whole, it is a question whether the benevolence of mankind does more good or harm.  ~ Walter Bagehot 
  456. the most troublesome problem which confronts social engineering is how to provide for the untalented and, what is equally important, how to provide against them.  ~ Hoffer
  457. The most vicious liars tell the truth in a way that leaves a false impression, leaving them technically immune to the charge of lying. 
  458. The old aren't good at science, the young aren't good at politics  ~ Michael Chricton 
  459. The old repeat themselves, and the young have nothing to say. The boredom is mutual  ~ Jacques Bainville 
  460. The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.  ~ HL Mencken 
  461. The only way to deep happiness is to do something you love to the best of your ability  ~ Richard Feynman 
  462. The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.  ~ Eric Hoffer
  463. The point to remember is that what the government gives it must first take away.  ~ John Striderr Coleman
  464. The poor don't need money or pity, they need temperance, diligence, thrift and other bourgeois virtues.   
  465. The preoccupation with detail necessary for works of creative genius is correlated with an  inability to manage or delegate  ~
  466. The problem with heart disease is the first symptom is often fatal.  ~ Michael Phelps 
  467. The real power of an individual isn't what they know, but the ability to learn.   
  468. The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.  ~ Hoffer
  469. The responsibilities we have as individuals can't be given to society: education, parenthood.
  470. The secret to being a bore is to tell everything.  ~ Voltaire  
  471. The state of nature is not peace, but of war.  ~ Kant  
  472. The stupid neither forgive nor forget.  The naïve forgive and forget.  The wise forgive but do not forget.    ~ Thomas Szasz 
  473. The sum of our knowledge is not like what the mathematicians call a convergent series … where the study of a few terms may give the general properties of the whole.  ~ George Thomson 
  474. The superior man is distressed by his lack of ability  ~ Confuscious  
  475. The test of man or woman’s breeding is how they behave in a quarrel  ~ George Bernard Shaw
  476. The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: the abolition of private property.  ~ Karl Marx 
  477. The thing that we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down  ~ Mary Pickford 
  478. The thing you are most certain of, that your consciousness exists, you cannot prove.  ~
  479. The thruth is that there is no terror untempered by some great moral idea.  ~ Jean-Luc Godard 
  480. The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.  ~ Herbert Spenser 
  481. The ultimate test of our integrity is not how we deal with those whom we agree but how we deal with those who we do not agree.  ~ Nathaniel Branden 
  482. The value of an ideal has nothing whatever to do with the sincerity of the man who expresses it.  ~ Oscar Wilde  
  483. The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults.  ~ Peter DeVries 
  484. The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.  ~ Wallace Wattles
  485. The virtue of simplicity is to avoid affectation.   
  486. The wise learn many things from their foes.  ~ Aristophanes  
  487. The wise man will want to be with him who is better than himself.  ~ Aristotle  
  488. The world has always been the same; and there is always as much good fortune as bad in it.  ~ Machiavelli  
  489. The world’s great men have not commonly been great scholars, or great scholars great men  ~ Oliver Holmes  
  490. The worst hatred is that which has superseded deep love.  ~ Euripides  
  491. The young always have the same problem—how to rebel and conform at the same time.  They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another.  ~ Quentin Crisp 
  492. Theory is an explicit set of instructions for building a mechanical imitation system   
  493. Theory is knowledge that doesn't work. Practice is when everything works and you don't know why.  ~ Hermann Hesse 
  494. There are some things so stupid that only an intellectual can believe them  ~ George Orwell 
  495. There are three reasons for punishment: deterrence, retribution, and incapacitation.   
  496. There are too many people who imagine that there is something sophisticated about always believing the best of those who hate your country, and the worst of those who defend it.  ~ Margare Thatcher 
  497. There is a condition worse that blindness, and that is, seeing something that isn't there  ~ L Ron Hubbard  
  498. There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.  ~ Bertrand Russell 
  499. There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.   
  500. There is no method but to be very intelligent.  ~ TS Eliot 
  501. There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.   ~ Thomas Jefferson 
  502. There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has not said it.  ~ Cicero  
  503. There is only one good, that is knowledge; there is only one evil, that is ignorance.  ~ Aristotle  
  504. There is simple ignorance, which is the source of lighter offenses, and double ignorance, which is accompanied by a conceit of wisdom.  ~ Aristotle  
  505. Things are never so bad that they can’t be made worse.  ~ Humphrey Bogart 
  506. Things exist before their idea does: the nation formed before the concept of a nation.     
  507. Think of your audience as intelligent but impatient readers  ~
  508. This food-and-shelter theory concerning man's efforts is without insight. The desire for praise is more imperative than the desire for food and shelter  ~ Hoffer
  509. Those good at war aren't good at peace, and those good at peace aren't good at war.  ~ Winston Churchill 
  510. Those who see their lives as spoiled and wasted crave equality and fraternity more than they do freedom  ~ Hoffer
  511. Those with the best ideas are right about the most important things, not about the most things, or the most complicated things.    ~
  512. Three ideas are central to science, that of equilibrium, cause and effect, and chance   
  513. To be able to concentrate for a considerable time is essential to difficult achievement.  ~ Bertrand Russell 
  514. To be engaged in a desperate struggle for food and shelter is to be wholly free from a sense of futility  ~ Hoffer
  515. To be fertile in hypotheses is the first perquisite of creativity and to be willing to throw them away the moment experience contradicts them is the next.  ~ William James 
  516. To be great is to be misunderstood.  ~ RalphWaldoEmerson,  
  517. To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others  ~ Albert Camus 
  518. To be liked tell people things about themselves that they would like to be true.  ~
  519. To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.  ~ Confucius  
  520. To change and to improve are two different things.  ~ Germanproverb  
  521. To disagree with three-fourths of the British public is one of the first requisites of sanity.  ~ Oscar Wilde 
  522. To do nothing is sometimes a good remedy.  ~ Hippocrates  
  523. To do something, say something, see something, before anybody else—these are the things that confer a pleasure compared with which other pleasures are tame and commonplace, other ecstasies cheap and trivial.  Lifetimes of ecstasy crowded into a single moment.  ~ Mark Twain 
  524. To escape criticism  do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.   ~ Elbert Hubbard 
  525. To generalize is to be an idiot.  To particularize alone is a distinction of merit.  ~ Blake  
  526. To inspire kids make them feel special, part of a brave corps on a secret, impossible mission.  ~
  527. To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.  ~ Charles Darwin 
  528. To make an improvement in the state of the art, one has to know the state of the art.  This is inevitably detail oriented work.     
  529. To many, total abstinence is easier than total moderation.  ~ St.Augustine at Hippo
  530. To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom.  ~
  531. To those who think, life is a comedy, to those who feel, life is a tragedy  ~
  532. To Unlearn is as hard as to Learn  ~ Aristotle Politics B4
  533. Truth is what will be steadily borne out by subsequent experience  ~ William James 
  534. Truth springs from argument among friends  ~ David Hume 
  535. Ugly things are made by those who strive to make something beautiful, and beautiful things are made by those who strive to make something useful  ~ Oscar Wilde 
  536. Unless a man has talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden  ~ Hoffer
  537. Use nouns and verbs, not adjectives and adverbs   
  538. Use the phrase 'it's a bit like… ' in speeches   
  539. We all have the strength to endure the misfortunes of others.  ~ La Rochefoucauld  
  540. We all start in ignorance and aim for virtue   
  541. We are all motivated by a keen desire for praise, and the better a man is, the more he is inspired by glory.  ~ Cicero  
  542. We are less hurt by the contempt of fools than by the lukewarm approval of men of intelligence  ~ Luc de Clapeirs deVauvenargues
  543. We are making forecasts with bad numbers, but bad numbers are all we've got.  ~ Michael Penjer 
  544. We are ready to die for an opinion but not for a fact  ~ Hoffer
  545. We are what we repeatedly do. Character is a habit.  ~
  546. We ask advice, but we mean approval  ~ CC Colton 
  547. We believe a scientist because he can substantiate his remarks, not because he is eloquent and forcible in his enunciation.  In fact, we distrust him when he seems to be influencing us by his manner.  ~ I.A. Richards  
  548. We believe in axioms or assumptions, not because they are deduced from the real world, but because the consequences they imply fit the real world.  ~
  549. We excuse the ignorant; we forgive the wicked  ~
  550. We have a tendency to assume people are a unity, and thus good people all good, etc.  But the fact that Hitler was good to dogs and children isn’t a paradox.    ~ Richard Posner 
  551. We have so much ill fortune as inconstancy, or so much bad purpose as folly, we are not so full of evil as we are of inanity; we are not so wretched as we are base  ~ Montaigne  
  552. We improve ourselves by victories over ourself.  There must be contests, and you must win.  ~ Edward Gibbon 
  553. We prove what we want to prove, and the real difficulty is to know what we want to prove.  ~ Emile Chartier 
  554. We receive three educations, one from our parents, one from our schoolmasters, and one from the world.  The third contradicts all that the first two teach us.  ~ Charles Louis de Secondate
  555. We took risks. We knew we took them. Things have come out against us. We have no cause for complaint.   
  556. What is confidence?  Ignorance, ignorance, sheer ignorance – you know there’s no confidence to equal it. It’s only when you know something about a profession, I think, that you’re timid or careful.  ~ Orson Wells 
  557. What is fruitful alone is true.  ~ Goethe  
  558. What is said when drunk has been thought out beforehand.  ~ Flemish proverb 
  559. What makes a principle a principle is our willingness to apply it to our own disadvantage.   
  560. What was hard to endure is sweet to recall  ~ European Proverb 
  561. Whatever enlarges hope will exalt courage.  ~ Samuel Johnson 
  562. Whatever you do, you need courage.  Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.  There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right.  To map out a course of action and follow it to the end, requires some of the same courage a soldier needs.    ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  563. When a debater’s point is not impressive, he brings forth many arguments,    ~ Talmud  
  564. When a woman isn't beautiful, people tell her. "You have lovely eyes, you have lovely hair. “  ~ Anton Chekhov 
  565. When choosing a boss, being competent is more important than being nice.     
  566. When making a point, don’t feel compelled to say everything you know about something.  It just obscures your point.  ~
  567. When people are free to do as we please, they usually imitate each other  ~ Hoffer
  568. When subjects felt happy, there is a decrease of activity in the regions of the cerebral cortex that are committed to forethought and planning.    ~
  569. When we feel that we lack whatever is needed to secure someone else’s esteem, we are very close to hating him  ~ Luc de Clapeirs de Vauvenargues
  570. When you have nothing to say, say nothing  ~ Charles Colton 
  571. When you become senile, you won't know it  ~ Bill Cosby 
  572. Whenever a subject takes seriously definitions and origins, it is involved in blather, not progress.  ~
  573. Where freedom is real, equality is the passion of the masses. Where equality is real, freedom is the passion of a small minority  ~ Hoffer
  574. Whereas wisdom favors the probabilities, folly favors only the possibilities.  ~ Gracian Balthasar 
  575. Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.  ~ Nietsche  
  576. Wide, cohesive lack of consistency is a great strength, because it can then be used to prove anything right, something found in all creeds.   
  577. Woe unto you, when all men speak well of you!  ~ Luke,6:26  
  578. Worldviews are more a mental security blanket than a serious effort to understand the world  ~ Bryan Caplan 
  579. Wrong hypotheses, rightly worked from, have produced more useful results than unguided observations.    ~ Augustus De Morgan  
  580. You can pretend to be serious; you can’t pretend to be witty  ~ Sacha Guitry 
  581. You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.  ~ Mary Tyler Moore
  582. You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.  ~ Henry Ford 
  583. You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him to find it for himself.  ~ Galileo Galilei 
  584. You don't get somebody to like you by doing them a favor. That only tends to build resentment over the fact that they are needy and you are not. No, you ask them to do you a favor.  ~ Ben Franklin
  585. You forgive others mainly for the selfish reason of moving on   
  586. You have enemies?  Good.  That means you have stood up for something  ~ Churchill  
  587. You have the right to your own opinion, not your own facts   
  588. You need data more than theory to destroy bad theories.     
  589. You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.  ~ Mae West 
  590. You wouldn’t care what people think about you if you knew how little they think about you   
  591. Your wisdom should be without pride.    ~ Augustine  
  592. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.  ~ Ray Bradbury 
  593. The principle difference between heaven and hell is the company you keep there.   ~ Lois Bujold
  594. People have a hard time with things that are too complicated, and things that are too simple   

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

My Last Regular Blog Post

I started writing this blog because I just wanted a place to get things off my chest. To me, heaven isn't flow or sensual pleasure, but rather, like what Plato described at going on at his symposiums, discussions about ideas (with beer!). It's fun to figure things out.  Blogging was a good way to relieve that need while not burdening my family, neighbors, or coworkers with discussions on big issues.  I found I liked articulating my thoughts because writing a blog post forced me to clarify my thoughts the way having guests makes one clean one's house: what's acceptable for your own ego isn't acceptable for others.  That has made me a better man.  You write 1600 posts, get two million visitors, and it's a real opportunity to grow.

Yet, as an avocation, it's a costly hobby. I have work and family that creates a large opportunity cost.  Further, it can lead to distrust by colleagues, wary of having their ideas broadcast to everyone.

Only in the past couple of years, I've had an epiphany about my purpose in the world, that what I know is 'enough.'  For decades I was just like this 9-year-old wondering what's important, why do people act like we do, what's my purpose.  Asking why is a big part of wisdom, the difference between simply knowing how and what to do.  Yet, at some point you have to stop asking why because we can't know the ultimate why, and suffice with the motive that something you love appreciates you being a better person (God, family, friends, a dog); perhaps after we shuffle off this mortal coil it will all be explained, which would be nice, but in the meantime if I try to make my dog, daughter, and creator happy by adopting the Nicomachean ethics, I'm probably pretty close to the ultimate truth.  I wish I appreciated more as a young man that ignorance is eternal, and your only duty is to lessen it every day, just as you work on all your virtues (empathy, tolerance, discipline, etc.). I can't figure it all out, but there's a point when you know enough to think your life has a purpose merely being a good mensch, and I'm glad to have figured that out. [editor note: I became a Christian in 2015, so I was clearly understating my existential doubts]

Just like where the Bible has a section on proverbs, I have been collecting favorite quotations, and at first, I tried to keep the list under 100 because I hate those really long lists ("Top 435 movies of all time"). Alas, I found it impossible to keep that list under 100 and so I'm now at 627 or so (see here).  For example, moderation in all things, or the idea that patterns usually don't scale, so communism works in a family but not society, etc. Perhaps most importantly, every argument has a premise, but no premise underlies all arguments, which is why we need lots of aphorisms.

Then there are ideas which often can't be reduced to a simple quote, like statistics, so my list of Essential Life Axioms is somewhere in the thousands.  When did this knowledge achieve critical mass and give me peace? Perhaps a couple of years ago when things finally came together and I thought, I really am comfortable with the stoic guide to life. Things seem to make sense, I should try to empathize with others, do my best at what I do best, and try to be a little better person every day.

My best idea pertains to the risk premium, and I argue this point rather tersely in my book The Missing Risk Premium. A big idea hits the triumvirate of truth, novelty, and importance. It's new (I documented the fact in my 1994 dissertation--which was soundly rejected by all the big minds back then, highlighting it's always a combination of what you know and who you know--I wrote out a novel explanation in 2006, which was pulled into my legal fight, and so it's rather ironic that much of that was predicated on the idea that low vol investing was verboten to me, as if I didn't have prior use and it wasn't public knowledge. The idea is important (much of finance revolves around risk premium, economics is based on a conception of utility maximization I contrast with), and it's true, it explains more of the data:
  • Most asset's don't show a higher average return for higher volatility assets
    • Any plausible risk factor will be correlated with total volatility in general
  • Those few assets that do show a seemingly textbook risk premium never generalize, it's not the covariance that is key (eg, lots of things correlate with the AAA-BBB spread without a return premium).
  • Unlike other explanations, my theory is an equilibrium one, it does not imply it's easy to sell people on higher Sharpe strategies
  • It's more consistent with primate culture and human Universals
  • It's more evolutionarily robust
  • It's got neurological correlates that the standard theory does not
  • Consistent with data on happiness 
 Like most humans, I have lots of decent little ideas too, some better than others, and I think I should focus these more at work. The other big ideas I prefer I cribbed from others, and while I like spreading the gospel sometimes, it's not something that gives me extended satisfaction.

Going forward I might blog once every couple weeks, just out of habit.

I want to say an especially fond farewell to those I've come to know via my blogging, even if it's just a cantankerous pseudonym.  Happiness is multiplied when shared with friends, and a shared worldview that reminds you aren't insane.

Gunga Galunga and thanks for reading.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Chimps are Status Obsessed

In this TED talk by Colin Camerer, he notes that chimps are human's closest cousins.  They are also status obsessed. In contrast, the concept of wealth is totally foreign to a chimp, as property rights aren't something they can really handle.

In my book, the Missing Risk Premium, I argue the fundamental status orientation is why there is no risk premium in general, and why the perverse demand for low volatility assets is not arbitraged away (benchmark risk prevents this).  This explanation is not even acknowledged by most (all?) academics for explaining things like the low volatility anomaly.

Economists assume the main motivator is what can best be defined as greed, while I'm arguing envy is more important. I don't think it should be this way, that's a normative issue, I'm just saying that's how people behave. Indeed, I agree that an economist's conception of self-interest would be a major improvement: short-sighted selfishness is worse than long-sighted selfishness, but it's not nearly as destructive as envy. Alas, economists have the standard bias of thinking that everyone thinks as they do. Further, they have the bias that since it would be nicer to think people are not so much envious as rationally self-interested, it has to be true.

Humans have been genetically the same for about 50k years, and only in the past 350 years have we really changed life for your average person. The American Plains Indians had no conception of property rights when Columbus got here, and it highlights an earlier stage of society, more like our chimp cousins and the instincts they bequeathed us. It's nice to think that hunter-gatherer's are more peace-loving, and more in tune with the environment, more authentic, etc., when actually they are homicidal, dogmatic, and status obsessed; their lack of greed isn't a feature, it's a bug.

It's good to appeal to higher aspirations, like telling your children they should aspire, not to be great men, but good men, because great men are often insufficiently empathetic. Yet, we shouldn't presume people are more greedy than envious, which is easy to do because most articulate chimps hide their envy behind altruism, as attacks on the 1% are presumably about wanting less injustice via equity. This is true for some, but I suspect it's not true for the vast majority, who simply want to knock those on top down closer to their level.