Thursday, October 30, 2008

People Might Remember

Eugene McCarthyIt is dangerous for a national candidate to say things that people might remember.

-- Eugene McCarthy (1916 - 2005) American politician, poet, and 22-year member of the US Congress (D-MN)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Politician Vs. Statesman

James Freeman Clarke, from UUA ArchivesA politician is a man who thinks of the next election; while the statesman thinks of the next generation.

-- James Freeman Clarke (1810-1888), preacher and author

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Guide Your Luck

Horseshoe on door for luckIt is a great piece of skill to know how to guide your luck, even while waiting for it.

-- Baltasar Gracian (1601 - 1658), Spanish Baroque prose writer

Monday, October 27, 2008

Informed Voters

Oregon voter pamphlet 2008I don't think anything will change until Americans revolt and get it into their heads that they need to be informed voters instead of just listening to the paid political ads.

-- Deborah Pryce, a United States representative from Ohio who is retiring, New York Times, 30 October 2007

Friday, October 24, 2008

Talk Sense

Adlai E. Stevenson II, March, 1953Let's talk sense to the American people. Let's tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains, that we are now on the eve of great decisions, not easy decisions, like resistance when you're attacked, but a long, patient, costly struggle which alone can assure triumph over the great enemies of man -- war, poverty, and tyranny -- and the assaults upon human dignity which are the most grievous consequences of each.

-- Adlai Stevenson, acceptance speech, Democratic National Convention, Chicago, IL, 26 July 1952

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Victory, Not Truth

Shining Victory (title), from trailerLike a lawyer, the human brain wants victory, not truth; and, like a lawyer, it is sometimes more admirable for skill than virtue.

-- Robert Wright, author and journalist (b. 1957)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Barrel distortion... The problem with the U.S. economy, more than lack of regulation, has been government's failure to control systemic risks that government itself helped to create. We are not witnessing a crisis of the free market but a crisis of distorted markets.

-- Washington Post editorial, 20 October 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lahde Duh

Foreclosure Trend ChartToday I write not to gloat. Given the pain that nearly everyone is experiencing, that would be entirely inappropriate. Nor am I writing to make further predictions, as most of my forecasts in previous letters have unfolded or are in the process of unfolding. Instead, I am writing to say goodbye.

I was in this game for the money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.

On the issue of the U.S. Government, I would like to point out the obvious flaws, whereby legislation was repeatedly brought forth to Congress over the past eight years, which would have reined in the predatory lending practices of now mostly defunct institutions. These institutions regularly filled the coffers of both parties in return for voting down all of this legislation designed to protect the common citizen. This is an outrage, yet no one seems to know or care about it.

With that I say goodbye and good luck.

All the best,
Andrew Lahde

-- Andrew Lahde of Lahde Capital Management, farewell letter (abridged) on his retirement (age ~38) after his fund earned 866% return in 2007 betting on the collapse of the subprime mortgage industry, Financial Times, 17 October 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008


Colin PowellAs gifted as he is, he is essentially going to execute the Republican agenda, the orthodoxy of the Republican agenda, with a new face and a maverick approach to it, and he'd be quite good at it. But I think we need a generational change.

-- Colin L. Powell, discussing Senator John McCain, and endorsing Senator Barack Obama, New York Times, 20 October 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

In Defense Of Cheating

Cheating[O]ur current educational methods ... test by requiring students to prove that they can regurgitate the information presented in class without assistance from others .... But in real life, asking others for help is not only permitted, it is encouraged. Why not rethink the entire purpose of our examination system? We should be encouraging students to learn how to use all possible resources to come up with effective answers to important problems. Students should be encouraged to ask others for help, and they should also be taught to give full credit to those others. So, the purpose of this contribution to Ubiquity is to offer an alternative approach: to examine the origins of cheating, and by solving the root cause, to simultaneously reduce or eliminate cheating while enhancing learning.

-- Donald A. Norman, Professor of Computer Science, Northwestern University, Ubiquity, Volume 6, Issue 11, 29 September 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Duly Rise

Napoleon BonaparteSo long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.

-- Aldous Huxley, novelist (1894-1963)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cinderella At The Ball

Cinderella's pumpkin carriageThe line separating investment and speculation, which is never bright and clear, becomes blurred still further when most market participants have recently enjoyed triumphs. Nothing sedates rationality like large doses of effortless money. After a heady experience of that kind, normally sensible people drift into behavior akin to that of Cinderella at the ball. They know that overstaying the festivities -- that is, continuing to speculate in companies that have gigantic valuations relative to the cash they are likely to generate in the future -- will eventually bring on pumpkins and mice. But they nevertheless hate to miss a single minute of what is one helluva party. Therefore, the giddy participants all plan to leave just seconds before midnight. There's a problem, though: They are dancing in a room in which the clocks have no hands.

-- Warren Edward Buffett (30 August 1930-), American investor, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Berkshire Hathaway 2000 Chairman's Letter

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Plenty There

Alan Turing StatueWe can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.

-- Alan Turing (23 June 1912 - 7 June 1954), British mathematician and cryptographer, Computing Machinery and Intelligence (1950)

Monday, October 13, 2008


Tom Hanks visits a hospital in 2004I'm glad I didn't have to fight in any war. I'm glad I didn't have to pick up a gun. I'm glad I didn't get killed or kill somebody. I hope my kids enjoy the same lack of manhood.

-- Tom Hanks

Friday, October 10, 2008

Market Boom

Explosion... [Yesterday's 7+%] declines [in the Dow and Standard & Poor's 500] came on the one-year anniversary of the closing highs of the Dow and the S&P. The Dow has lost 5,585 points, or 39.4 percent, since closing at 14,198 on Oct. 9, 2007. The S&P 500, meanwhile, is off 655 points, or 41.9 percent, since recording its high of 1,565.15.

U.S. stock market paper losses totaled $872 billion Thursday and the value of shares overall has tumbled a stunning $8.33 trillion since last year's high. That's based on preliminary figures measured by the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index, which tracks 5,000 U.S.-based companies' stocks and represents almost all stocks traded in America.


From Yahoo News

... and then there's today ....

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Artificial Boom

Ludwig von MisesTrue, governments can reduce the rate of interest in the short run. They can issue additional paper money. They can open the way to credit expansion by the banks. They can thus create an artificial boom and the appearance of prosperity. But such a boom is bound to collapse soon or late.

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) Austrian economist

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Knife Fight

Hoplite Fight, Athens MuseumAt the end of the day, campaigns are campaigns. In the last five days, it always comes down to a knife fight in a telephone booth.

-- Chris Lehane, Democratic political consultant, New York Times, 7 October 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Ventriloquist Ian Saville and Bertolt Brecht dummyIt was them saying, "We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you."

-- Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News military analyst, on a Pentagon effort to influence news coverage, New York Times, 20 April 2008

Monday, October 06, 2008

Nothing Is Illegal

Ambassador Andrew Jackson Young Jr.Nothing is illegal if one hundred businessmen decide to do it.

-- Andrew Young, author, civil rights activist, US congressman, mayor, and UN ambassador (b. 1932)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Bad Horsemen

Joseph SchumpeterPoliticians are like bad horsemen who are so preoccupied with staying in the saddle that they can't bother about where they're going.

-- Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950), Austrian-American economist

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Ambrose BierceCorporation: n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.

-- Ambrose Bierce, author and editor (1842-1914) "The Devil's Dictionary"

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Casino Capitalism

Gambling chipsThis crisis underlines the excesses and uncertainties of a casino capitalism that has only one logic - lining your pockets. It also shows the bankruptcy of "law of the jungle" capitalism that no longer invests in companies and job creation, but instead makes money out of money in a totally uncontrolled way.

-- German lawmaker Martin Schulz, chairman of the Socialists in the EU assembly, September 2008