Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 8th, 2020

Rotterdam to Amsterdam in 10 minutes: a 4k sailing timelapse

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As I watched this I got to thinking about how very many places I’ve never been. Fascinating (and restful) video.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2020 at 6:05 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Common Causes of Very Bad Decisions

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Morgan Housel writes at Collaborative Fund on some common stumbling blocks that stand in the way of good decisions:

Italian psychologist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini was once asked why people keep making the same mistakes.

He said:

Inattention, distraction, lack of interest, poor preparation, genuine stupidity, timidity, braggadocio, emotional imbalance, ideological, racial, social or chauvinistic prejudices, and aggressive or prevaricatory instincts.

Let me add some more:

Incentives can tempt good people to push the boundaries farther than they’d ever imagine. Financial boundaries, moral boundaries, all of them. It’s hard to know what you’ll consider doing until someone dangles a huge reward in your face, and underestimating how adjustable the boundaries can become when rewards rise is a leading cause of terrible decisions.

Tribal instincts reduce the ability to challenge bad ideas because no one wants to get kicked out of the tribe. Tribes are everywhere – countries, states, parties, companies, industries, departments, investment styles, economic philosophies, religions, families, schools, majors, credentials. Everyone loves their tribe because there’s comfort in knowing other people who understand your background and share your goals. But tribes have their own rules, beliefs, and ideas. Some of them are terrible. But they remain supported because no one wants to argue with a tribe that’s become part of their identity. So people either willingly nod along with bad ideas, or become blinded by tribal loyalty to how bad the ideas are to begin with.

Ignoring or underestimating the full range of potential consequences, especially tail events that seem rare but have catastrophic effects. The most comfortable way to think about risk is to imagine a range of potential consequences that don’t seem like a big deal. Then you feel responsible, like you’re paying attention to risk, but in a way that lets you remain 100% confident and optimistic. The problem with low-probability tail risks is that they’re so rare you can get away with ignoring them 99% of the time. The other 1% of the time they change your life.

Lots of little errors compound into something huge. And the power compounding is never intuitive. So it’s hard to see how being a little bit of an occasional jerk grows into a completely poisoned work culture. Or how a handful of small lapses, none of which seem bad on their own, ruins your reputation. The Great Depression happened because a bunch of things that weren’t surprising (a stock crash, a banking panic, a bad farm year) occurred at the same time and fed on each other until they grew into a catastrophe. It’s easy to ignore small mistakes, and even easier to miss how they morph into huge ones. So huge ones are what we get.

An innocent denial of your own flaws, caused by the ability to justify your mistakes in your own head in a way you can’t do for others. When other people’s flaws are easier to spot than your own it’s easy to assume you have no/few flaws, which makes the ones you have more likely to cause problems.

Probability is hard. Black-and-white outcomes are more intuitive. It’s not easy to put effort into something you’re only 60% sure about. But people want to try their best, so it’s more comfortable to assume that what you’re working on has a 100% chance of success. That overconfidence breeds stubbornness, excessive risk-taking, and ignoring signs that you’re wrong until it’s too late.

Underestimating the need for room for error, not just financially but mentally. Ben Graham once said, “The purpose of the margin of safety is to render the forecast unnecessary.” If you know how hard forecasting is you know how important the quote can be. And room for error has two sides: whether you can survive an imperfect outcome financially without getting forced out, and whether you can survive it mentally without getting scared out. Bad decisions happen when there’s only one acceptable version of the future.

Underestimating  . . .

Continue reading. There’s more — and see also the book Decision Traps.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2020 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

I want to try finger limes

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After reading about these, I’m eager to try them. Atlas Obscura notes:

Do you want the flavorful pop of fish eggs without any of the guilt? Then finger limes may be the answer.

The finger lime is a small, sausage-shaped citrus that comes in an assortment of colors, including red, yellow, brown, green, and black. The best way to open one these fruits is to slice at its center and then squeeze one of the halves. When you apply pressure, little balls of pulp will spill out. These tiny juice bubbles easily separate from one another and pop when chewed, releasing a pleasant splash of flavor with each bite. This unusual texture has earned the fruit the nickname “citrus caviar.”

Finger limes taste very similar to regular limes, but with less sourness. There is quite a bit of flavor variation depending on a tree’s growing conditions, and inferior varieties may carry a slight taste of dish detergent. Thankfully, any soapy flavor is typically lost when combined with other ingredients.

The fruit is native to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2020 at 12:28 pm

Posted in Non-animal diet

Continuing the consideration of the handle

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Yesterday I used a shaving brush whose handle was modest to the point of diffidence yet did the job well. Today’s handle, in contrast, is a soaring efflugence of assertiveness that almost reaches vainglory. It also gets the job done, but it does call attention to itself: a supporting actor trying to steal the scene.

This brush is the Rooney Victorian of some years back, and the knot lives up to the handle’s promise: compact, firm, with a soft texture on the tips from its hooked bristles. The handle exemplifies “Stand Tall and Stand Proud,” and the brush’s pride is well-grounded.

Dr. Jon’s Savannah Sunrise shaving soap is a favorite, and the knot and soap worked together to deliver a thick lather fragrant with floral notes from the Deep South—specifically, Georgia: Orange Blossom, Peach, Gardenia, Jasmine, and Honeysuckle.

Today’s razor has an Edwin Jagger head riding on a handle from my Parker Semi-Slant. The EJ does quite a nice job: three easy passes, followed by a splash of Savannah Sunrise aftershave, and I’m ready for the day, a day in which I get a seasonal flu shot. (Make sure you get one, too.)

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2020 at 10:21 am

Posted in Shaving

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