Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quotes of the day

A spokesman says Bloomberg only supported three terms for himself, because the situation was extraordinary. At the time, Bloomberg said the city needed him to get through the financial crisis. He promised he'd convene a charter commission to put the question before voters again.--Associated Press

THE saga of Steven P. Jobs is so well known that it has entered the nation’s mythology: he’s the prodigal who returned to Apple in 1997, righted a listing ship and built it into one of the most valuable companies in the world. But the Jobs of the mid-1980s probably never could have made Apple what it is today if he hadn’t embarked on a torment-filled business odyssey.--Randall Stross

Play where the downside is limited relative to the upside, because the key to investing is margin of safety. Play to win, yes, but even more, play to survive, so that you can play longer.--David Merkel

Whatever you do don’t ever, ever, ever, not never, not ever, under any circumstance, any time ever. Am I clear? Add to a losing trade. Never, ever, ever. Why would you ever add to a losing trade? The market, which is the sum total of the wisdom, and perhaps the stupidly, but predominately the wisdom the sum total of the wisdom of the market is telling you are wrong. How dare you argue with the market? How dare you stand up? What sense of hubris must that take on your part to tell the rest of the world that you’re wrong and I’m right. Because that’s what you’re doing when you’re adding to a losing position. Don’t do that. I will tell you. I did that one time. I lost my wife [first wife]to a margin call. I did, in fact, that did happen…November 11, 1983.” Wives get very upset “when you come home and say, ‘Sweetheart, I lost the house today’”. ... The worst degree a trader can have is in economics and the best one is a liberal arts degree preferably “in psychology” or even religion because “at any one time, down on the floor the background that seemed to have the most viability was religion. ... Here is what the markets are all about: “The study of human begins dealing with the rational and the irrational. Dealing with rational numbers in an irrational environment. Dealing with irrational numbers in a rational environment. Dealing with irrational numbers in an irrational environment. And trying to make sense out of the chaos. Trying to bring order to the chaos.--Dennis Gartman

When the measured expected real return is below zero, how well can any recovery program work?--Tyler Cowen

For different reasons, the American popular memory of World War II is also due for some revision. In the past, we have sometimes described this as the “good war,” at least when contrasted to the morally ambiguous wars that followed. At some level this is understandable: we did fight for human rights in Germany and Japan, we did leave democratic German and Japanese regimes in our wake, and we should be proud of having done so. But it is also true that while we were fighting for democracy and human rights in the lands of Western Europe, we ignored and then forgot what happened further east. As a result, we liberated one half of Europe at the cost of enslaving the other half for fifty years. We really did win the war against one genocidal dictator with the help of another. There was a happy end for us, but not for everybody. This does not make us bad—there were limitations, reasons, legitimate explanations for what happened. But it does make us less exceptional. And it does make World War II less exceptional, more morally ambiguous, and thus more similar to the wars that followed.--Anne Applebaum

If it were possible to sum up in one sentence Ethiopia's struggles with famine over the past quarter-century, I'd suggest this: It's not the rains, it's the rulers. As Peter Gill makes clear in "Famines and Foreigners," his well-turned account of the country's miseries since the 1984-85 famine and the Live Aid concert meant to relieve it, drought has not been as devastating to Ethiopians as their own autocratic governments. Ethiopia is a classic example of Amartya Sen's dictum that famines don't occur in democracies, only under tyrannies. The "foreigners" in Mr. Gill's story either didn't know about this sad fact of life or chose to ignore it. In any case, the celebrities and humanitarians who rushed to the aid of starving Ethiopians in the mid-1980s unwittingly supported the very people most responsible for those grim days. The Derg, the brutal Marxist junta running Ethiopia at the time, contributed to the 1984 famine by forcing farmers to sell crops to the state at low prices. Many farmers instead consumed much of what they grew. The tradition of Ethiopians in areas with surplus food selling it to those in famine-stricken areas was thus disrupted.--William Easterly

Look, Mr. Osbourne, after studying your history, taking your blood, extracting your genes from the white cells, making them readable, sequencing them, analysing and interpreting the data using some of the most advanced technology available in the world today--and of course comparing your DNA against all the current research in the US National Library of Medicine, not to mention the 18th revision of the public human reference genome--I think I can say with a good deal of confidence why you're still alive. ... Sharon.--Dr. Nathan Pearson

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