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Comment Re:Bernie Madoff (Score 1) 158

That one was my initial thinking. Since then I have heard all kinds of stories about how he craved consistency. My thinking is that your theory is how it started but that his obsession with consistency is what made him different than the many traders who bite the bullet and send out statements that say, "You lost money this time around."

Comment So far my GPS kicksass sprinkled with common sense (Score 1) 406

The vast majority of the time my GPS will give me an identical or better route than I planned. Once in a blue moon it suggests an identically named city that is about a 20 hour drive away. Once in a while I doubt the strange routing it will suggest but out of curiosity I will follow its suggestions and it is mostly correct. The key is to have a GPS program that shows you the overall routing instead of just the next turn. This way you can see if it is driving you back and fourth across a river, or taking you for a loop mid trip.

Comment Re:So, now is it finally legal to... (Score 1) 406

I keep telling my wife that this is why I want to install a really loud air horn in my car, think semi truck loud, but she says no.

Years ago, I had a '77 Civic wagon in which the previous owner had installed a truck horn with a big yellow button on the dash. Since he also had disconnected the regular horn, I'd have to use that when the driver in front of me wasn't paying attention at a stop light. I'd get some pretty interesting reactions.

I don't know why he would have installed such a loud horn on the car, but it was probably because the original equipment was barely a little squeak.

Comment Re:Bernie Madoff (Score 4, Insightful) 158

To understand the why can improve detection and prevention. A different ponzi scheme from the same time frame, Stanford, smells more like old fashioned greed. I have talked with Enron people and they told me that there was this insane culture of WIN. Apparently a huge amount of time was spent doing sporty things that were competitive. They both were driven to compete at all levels, but also hired and promoted people who were driven to win. So while greed and broken moral compasses were at work there, they were pushed to take risks so that they could be winners. Risks as in things with prison as a penalty, not just financial risks.

So detecting and preventing Madoff, Stanford, and Enron from both the perspective of regulators and investors it is good to understand the stories behind these goons.

This is why I love science articles like the above. They both help shape my world view and can confirm/refute some observations that I have made.

For instance an interesting one that I have seen is when people have regular access to insider information and make many successful trades, they tend to delude themselves into thinking that they are great traders. Then when the inside information supply dries up they often continue to trade with the same apparent reckless abandon that was previously supported by ill-gotten information. The consequences are pretty straightforward.

Comment Bernie Madoff (Score 4, Interesting) 158

From what I read Bernie Madoff had a compulsion for consistency. When he played golf (and he was pretty good) he would apparently turn in an 80 every time. So I suspect that the vagaries of the market just went against his grain. This then begs the question. Did he run a Ponzi scheme because he was a crook, or did he pretty much have the wrong compulsion for the wrong industry.

I am pretty sure that I see this in other areas. For instance I was at an industrial company some years ago where an IT guy cut himself on the inside of a computer to the point where it may or may not have needed stitches. The company people freaked out. They were hinting that they would even bribe him not to report it. This got my curiosity going thinking that this injury would cause their worker's compensation rates to go up, or that it would spawn some kind of outsized investigation, but then a secratary said something like, "No, Dougie is obsessed with the fact that it has been 400 days accident free." I asked if that were true and she said it wasn't and that now for any minor injury he would hand out a week's vacation to not report it. So there was a huge sign that said 400 days accident free and everyone knew it was a lie except for Dougie's superiors.

So like most things in life I suspect that most people lie somewhere on a spectrum ranging from, "I couldn't give a shit about cheating, to, look at me the most consistent winner in the universe."

So while Madoff might have been scared that a bad report would result in fewer sales and higher redemptions, it was probably a situation where he would feel that he had somehow personally failed if he were to have to say that this year was 11% instead of 12%.

Comment Re:First Name Basis? Rude. (Score 1) 538

Grammer ignorami. Proper nouns should NEVER be preceded by articles.

Oh, the definite article is very commonly used before proper nouns, most often place names or geographical features (e.g. "The Mississippi (River)").

Sometimes "the" is used purely customarily (particularly in names translated from other languages like "The Ukraine" or "The Maghreb" ), but its primary function is to distinguish between nouns referring to specific things a speaker is expected to be aware of, and generic things that are just being introduced into the discourse: "a ball [which I haven't mentioned up until now] broke Mr. Smith's window; Mr. Smith kept the ball [which I just mentioned]."

In particular proper nouns which sound like they might be generic will sometimes customarily get a "the" tacked on to indicate the audience is expected to picture the well-known thing rather than some unknown one ("The United States", "The Great Lakes", "The Big Easy"). "The Donald" is a definite article usage of this type, with an bit of ironic deprecation mixed in.

By the way the plural of "ignoramus" is "ignoramuses", not "ignorami". That is because "ignoramus" was never a noun in Latin; rather it is a conjugation of the verb ignorare (to be unacquainted with, to ignore). "Ignoramus" entered English as a legal term to mean "we take no notice of" (e.g. a witness whose testimony is irrelevant because he has no firsthand knowledge).

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Mathematics is the only science where one never knows what one is talking about nor whether what is said is true. -- Russell