obliquity.

August 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m reading John Kay’s Obliquity. Why our goals are best achieved indirectly because it was endorsed by Nassim Taleb. Taleb didn’t teach me anything new but he said everything in such interesting ways.

One vicious attribute is that the longer these animals can go without encountering the rare event, the more vulnerable they will be to it. For evolution means fitness to one and only one time series, not the average of all the possible environments.

[Interlude: Clearly, it is a brilliant idea to live in a different city every two years.]

I haven’t finished reading Obliquity. but experience so far is comparable (i.e. not learning anything new but enjoying the storytelling).

Charles Darwin attempted to follow Franklin’s rule when he set out the pros and cons of marriage in two opposing columns. A wife would provide “children, companionship, the charms of music and female chit chat.” But Darwin also noted the disadvantages: the prospect of “being forced to visit relatives, and to bend in every trifle”, the “loss of freedom to go where one liked”. Both men understood perfectly well that moral algebra is not how people really make decisions. Below his assessment Darwin scrawled: “It is intolerable to think of spending one’s whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working–only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa.” He ends his notes, “marry–marry–marry Q.E.D.” The following year, he wedded Emma Wedgwood; the couple had ten children.

Friday was coop shadow day at Manulife. Alice, our coop, spent half a day shadowing Mark, one of the US Life coops. Mark then spent half a day shadowing Alice. I did my usual product risk spiel: we setting standards, we approve new business plan, we approve new products, we monitor actual new business profitability relative to plan. People often ask me how I assess product risk. There are all kinds of check lists. But we don’t go through the check lists and say x% disintermediation risk and y% reinvestment risk. When we hate a product, we know it.

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