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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lessons learned

The late Peter Bernstein had much to offer...

Jason Zweig had this to say (excerpts):

Investing has yielded a few stars so famous they are known by first name. Warren Buffett is one. Peter L. Bernstein -- the economist, investment consultant and prolific author who died on June 5 at 90 -- was another.

In his almost 70-year career, he taught economics at Williams College, worked as a portfolio manager at Amalgamated Bank and ran the investment-counseling firm of Bernstein-Macaulay, co-founded by his father and Frederick Macaulay, who invented the modern discipline of bond investing.

In 1974, as Wall Street was suffering its worst market decline since 1929, Mr. Bernstein co-founded the Journal of Portfolio Management to improve risk management with insights from academic research.

In 1970, he asked rhetorically, "What are the consequences if I am wrong?" and said "no investment decisions can be rationally arrived at unless they are [based upon] the answer to this question." He counseled investors to take big risks with small amounts of money rather than small risks with big amounts of money.

The same focus on the consequences of error was one of the main themes of "Against the Gods," which he published more than a quarter-century later.

Also in 1970, Mr. Bernstein wrote: "We simply do not know what the future holds." Over the ensuing decades, he returned again and again to that phrase in his speeches, articles and books, because he felt it captured the central truth about investing.

Asked in 2004 to name the most important lesson he had to unlearn, he said: "That I knew what the future held, that you can figure this thing out. I've become increasingly humble about it over time and comfortable with that. You have to understand that being wrong is part of the [investing] process."

I've read many books and articles over the years written by Mr. Bernstein and always felt fortunate that he shared his thoughts and insights. The willingness to accept uncertainty in the realm of investing (and life in general) is a valuable lesson.

( re: uncertainty see also here here here and here)

There were many who did not ask the question: what if I am wrong?

I can not predict, but I can observe. The trick is learning what observations are worth making and then using that information to construct workable contingencies.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I See London, I See France...

Off to London, Paris, and Southern France for three weeks to give the kids a chance to see a bit of the world.

No blogging for me during that period, but maybe my coblogger will step up to the plate.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's News?

I'm sorry, but the entire punditocracy has missed the point.

It is NOT news that someone in show business makes an intensely rude, crude, lewd, insulting, disgusting and/or despicable comment regarding an entirely inappropriate subject. Indeed, if we demanded an apology every time that happened, we'd never get anything else done.

The point is that Letterman's comment is a shot across the bow. He is saying, "Governor Palin, if you so much as poke your nose outside the great State of Alaska, we will insult and smear and humiliate and hound you and your family and your community and anybody who thinks or even looks like you until you feel so degraded and miserable that you run back home with your tail between your legs and never, ever come back. We hate you, we fear you, we loathe you, and we will stop at nothing to destroy you."

That's the news.

Fire up the Skeptics

Everyone is a Skeptic when it comes to religion. There are so many religions that it is impossible to be a believer in all of them so we are Skeptical about at least some of them. For the most part, we keep our Skepticism to ourselves because there is limited downside to letting others believe in whatever they choose to believe in as long as their attempts to convert the rest of us to their beliefs are kept within reasonable bounds.

However, if a religion exceeds those bounds, Skeptics will come out of the woodwork to attack that religion. Nobody wants to belong to a church that they believe is False. The propensity to not belong to someone else's church is so strong that wars have been fought over this sort of thing.

The Church of Human Induced Catastrophic Global Warmenism has exceeded reasonable bounds in trying to convert us all. This Church wants to use the full force and authority of the governments worldwide to force us to join. They want to limit our economic and political freedoms to force us to at least behave as if we believe.

To a great number of people, this is simply not acceptable and, sure enough, there is surge of Skeptics appearing all over the world.

I am one of those Skeptics. The science and economics on which the Church rests is full of holes, and unless that religion is one you wish to subscribe to, it may be safely ignored. If you do wish to subscribe to Global Warmenism, by all means please do so and limit your own energy usage and material consumption as you see fit.

Just don't impose your religion on the rest of us. Thanks.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Radical Christianists

Though not personally religious, I've argued numerous times that Christianity post-reformation is a peaceful and constructive religion.

Murders like this one undermine my argument.