Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If an enterprise is too big to fail...

...and the government should therefore have to prop it up, then why not go the AT&T route of forced break-up? It worked for the telecommunications sector, and cost taxpayers nothing besides the cost of some bureaucrats' salaries.

Instead the US government spent taxpayer's money on propping up banks, keeping their shareholders whole. Private profit, public loss. And the so-called stimulus money is an equal misallocation of scarce resources.

Read this outstanding essay by David Einhorn, via John Mauldin's Outside the Box site.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

8 Symptoms of Groupthink

We have all heard the term. Let's remind ourselves of what it looks like in real life:

  1. Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
  2. Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
  3. Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
  4. Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
  5. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
  6. Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.
  7. Illusion of unanimity – The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous.
  8. Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.

The term "Groupthink" was coined by Irving Janis in 1972.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Desiderata and Snopes

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste..."

How many of us recall Desiderata from the 1970s? It seems that every college dorm had a poster of it somewhere, along with the requisite Lord of the Rings and Farrah Fawcett materials. It even made it onto vinyl as a Les Crane recording, although for copyright reasons YouTube does not carry the audio portion.

I spotted the poster in an office the other day, and like most of the others I remember it said "Old Saint Paul's Church, Baltimore, 1692" on the bottom. The sight was both familiar and a bit unsettling, because it caused me to momentarily question the emotional stability of the guy who had it on his wall.

Snopes.com explains the source of the 1692 reference and tells us that the text was actually written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann, an Indiana lawyer. Thanks Max, and thanks Snopes.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

When you have just done something stupid...

(as I did, putting a scratch in my hardwood floor due to my own pig-headedness)

...you should use "Remorse Code".

It sounds like this:

Duh duh
Shit shit shit

Thursday, October 08, 2009

British town names

If you find yourself in Penistone, be sure to experience the mighty organ.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009