Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quotes of the day

... Mr. Buffett didn’t build his $10 billion-plus stake in I.B.M. overnight. He started buying eight months ago, beginning in March. You wouldn’t have known that if you had been studiously reading Berkshire Hathaway’s filings — known as 13Fs — in which companies must disclose stock holdings. There was no mention of I.B.M. in Berkshire’s quarterly filing in April, nor in August. Instead, if you were looking carefully, you might have found an odd footnote that said: “Confidential information has been omitted from the form 13F and filed separately with the commission.”
Translation: Mr. Buffett received special permission from the S.E.C. to keep secret his investment in I.B.M. — and possibly keep secret stakes in other companies that he is building positions in that we have yet to learn about. Mr. Buffett’s special treatment from the S.E.C. is not new — he has long taken advantage of an obscure rule to avoid disclosing his bets to the public before he is good and ready. Mr. Buffett — and other billionaire investors like Carl Icahn, Bill Ackman and Nelson Peltz — essentially argue that the simple disclosure of an investment would cause the price to rise so much as to scuttle their strategy.
The rule says that the S.E.C. “may prevent or delay public disclosure of form 13F information for public interest reasons or the protection of investors.” In this case, the rule is clearly meant to protect the investor — Mr. Buffett — not the public.--ANDREW ROSS SORKIN

As a general rule, you can usually assume that someone is trying to screw someone else whenever you find these two elements working together:


Complexity is how evil schemes are hidden from the public. Complexity is what caused so many people to get mortgages they couldn't afford. Complexity is how hedge funds hide their treachery. Complexity is how the derivatives debacle was possible. Complexity is how your financial manager can get away with charging you for doing nothing. Complexity is why you don't know if you can get a better deal with another phone carrier.--Scott Adams

I’ve always been curious about successful men, leaders, and what they know that the rest of us don’t. This book was entertaining because Eisenhower was a character, nearly getting himself kicked out of West Point, causing a lot of trouble. But always there was in him a sense of confidence, a sense he would become somebody important. And more than this, he believed the world needed him — that if he didn’t exist, things would fall apart. He believed he was called to be a great man. I wondered, as I read, where he got this confidence.  I found the reason for Eisenhower’s confidence early on in [ At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends.], in a chapter in which he discussed his childhood. Dwight Eisenhower said that from the beginning, his mother and father operated on an assumption that set the course for his life: that the world could be fixed of its problems if every child understood the necessity of their existence. Eisenhower’s parents assumed, and taught their children, that if their children weren’t alive, their family couldn’t function.--Don Miller

Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.--Dwight Eisenhower

... because Oscar campaigns are always based in part on the terrified certainty that the performance in itself cannot possibly be enough, all three men also come equipped with prepackaged narratives. DiCaprio’s, unveiled in a New York Times "Arts & Leisure" cover story simply headlined “Risk Taker,” is just that: I’m a hard worker who challenges myself with transformative roles for serious directors, and you’re never going to see me sell myself out for Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Shitload of Doubloons. Clooney’s narrative goes something like: I use my star power to get small and worthy movies greenlit, the clear implication being that the difference between The Descendants with Clooney and The Descendants with someone else is the difference between a movie you get to see and a movie you don’t. And Pitt’s, tailored to the tortuous history of Moneyball, is: I stick with projects I believe in for years until they get made. All three of these premises have enough truth in them to be legitimately deployed. But there’s a problem: They all fall into an awards-narrative category that Movieline’s Oscar guy, Stu Van Airsdale, astutely identified a couple of weeks ago “It’s a nice story. It’s just not … charming.”  Academy voters like to be seduced by a narrative, not simply persuaded by it, and a Clooney vs. Pitt vs. DiCaprio contest has a slight whiff of “Which of the three richest, handsomest, most popular boys in the school are we going to choose as class president?” They are, in short, the 1 percent — and this is not an ideal year to be in that category.--Mark Harris

The [Stereotype Threat] study investigated the applicability of previous experimental research on stereotype threat to operational Graduate Record Examinations® (GRE®) General Test testing centers. The goal was to document any relationships between features of the testing environment that might cue stereotype threat as well as any impact on GRE test scores among African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and female test-takers. Among such features were the gender and ethnicity of test proctors and more general factors, such as the size, activity level, and social atmosphere of test centers. Our analyses revealed several relationships among environmental factors and several variations in test performance for all groups. However, we found no direct support for stereotype threat and, in fact, found some effects for proctor ethnicity that ran counter to a stereotype-threat explanation.--Walters, Lee, and Trapani

These angry women have even less of a leg to stand on, now. Ding dong, the Sterotype Witch is dead, at least when it comes to race and gender in GRE performance (unless someone has another study with the same scientific credibility they can point me to).--Cav
Photo link here.

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