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THE GAME OF LIFE

THE GAME OF LIFE

“Mother nature does not endow us with clear rules.  The game [of life] is not a deck of cards (we do not know how many colors there are).”  Nicholas Nassim Taleb is writing about probability, protesting that much of modern theory about it, especially financial theory of the type loved by Harry Markowitz, Robert Merton, and Myron Scholes, is really pseudo-science, since the real world cannot...

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IS PROGRESS REAL?

IS PROGRESS REAL?

“Since we have admitted no substantial change in man’s nature during historic times, all technological advances will have to be written off as merely new means of achieving old ends – the acquisition of goods, the pursuit of one sex by the other (or by the same), the overcoming of competition, the fighting of wars.”  So wrote Will and Ariel Durant near the start of their essay, the third...

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IS DEMOCRACY SECURE?

IS DEMOCRACY SECURE?

Plato boiled political evolution down to a sequence of monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, and dictatorship.  There are many illustrations of the sequence in history – not least in the French Revolution, and what is happening in Russia today.  At the same time, democracy seems to be under strain in the United States, the United (for the moment) Kingdom, and in South Africa, not to mention the...

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THE LESSONS OF HISTORY ABOUT WEALTH AND THE 80/20 VIEW OF SOCIAL ENGINEERING

THE LESSONS OF HISTORY ABOUT WEALTH AND THE 80/20 VIEW OF SOCIAL ENGINEERING

“Since practical ability differs from person to person, the majority of such abilities, in nearly all societies, is gathered in a minority of men.  The concentration of wealth is a natural result of this concentration of ability, and regularly recurs in history.”   So said Will & Ariel Durant, distilling 5,000 years of history, back in 1968, in a short collection of essays daringly...

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BEYOND THE IMITATION GAME

BEYOND THE IMITATION GAME

Does the truth matter – in entertainment, business, politics, and life in general?   Yes, of course, you might say.  I was prompted to ask this question by the movie The Imitation Game, which I watched last week.  Billed as a historical thriller, but “based on a true story”, it tells how brilliant mathematician Alan Turing cracked the German enigma code to defeat Hitler at the time he...

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SIMPLE PRINCIPLES FOR A COMPLEX WORLD

SIMPLE PRINCIPLES FOR A COMPLEX WORLD

For the past 40 years I have searched for simple, elemental, elegant and parsimonious principles that can guide us to make money, have a successful and enjoyable career, live happily and nudge the world a bit further in the right direction. To qualify, a principle must be so overwhelmingly powerful that any ordinary mortal – like you or me – can use it to create extraordinary results from...

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