Smart Things I’ve Read Lately

“Until we know we are wrong, being wrong feels exactly like being right.” – David McRaney

“I’m just a collection of mirrors, reflecting what everyone else expects of me.” – Rollo May

“Basically, when you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you. I know people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them. If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.” – Warren Buffett

“If your opinions on one subject can be predicted from your opinions on another, you may be in the grip of an ideology. When you truly think for yourself, your conclusions will not be predictable.” – Kevin Kelly

“When I finish writing a book review, I will often say to myself, ‘There! Now nobody has to read the book. I’ve boiled it down for them.’ We would be better off if authors did that work themselves.” – Arnold King

“Life is not a problem to be solved. It’s a paradox to experience. You can believe one thing and also believe its opposite.” – Derek Sivers

“What is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.” – Ernest Hemingway (I think he’s ideally wrong but realistically right)

“The people who get the worst medical care in the world are the very poor and the very rich. The rich can have any crazy thing they ask the doctor for.” – (I forget where I heard this. It was referring to medical care 100 years ago. Profoundly true.)

“Evil usually enters the world unrecognized by the people who open the door and let it in. Most people who perpetrate evil do not see what they are doing as evil. Evil exists primarily in the eye of the beholder, especially in the eye of the victim.” – Roy Baumeister

“One is not nostalgic for the past the way it was, but for the past the way it could have been.” Svetlana Boym

“At first glance, nostalgia is a longing for a place, but actually it is a yearning for a different time—the time of our childhood, the slower rhythms of our dreams.” – Svetlana Boym

“Nostalgia is history without guilt.” – Svetlana Boym

Nassim Taleb once wrote about how publishers always try to push authors to write about topics specific to recent news events. “No, no; it’s the exact opposite,” he wrote. “If you want to be read in the future, make sure you would have been read in the past. We have no idea of what’s in the future, but we have some knowledge of what was in the past … I speculated that books that would have been relevant twenty years in the past (conditional of course of being relevant today) would be interesting twenty years in the future.”

“I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, not to hate them, but to understand them.” – Baruch Spinoza

“It is a curious feature of our existence that we come from a planet that is very good at promoting life but even better at extinguishing it.” – Bill Bryson on evolution

“Whenever you can in life, optimize for independence rather than pay. If you have independence and you’re accountable on your output, as opposed to your input – that’s the dream.” – Naval

“People who are driven by demons get shit done.” – Walter Isaacson, describing Elon Musk

“The highest form of creativity is found by improvising within a set of restrictions.” – Christopher Nolan

“A father hopes to be as extraordinary as his youngsters, in their innocence, imagine him to be, so that they need never become disillusioned with him. Perhaps some fathers accomplish that.” – David Von Drehle

The Charlie Munger formula for career success:

Russian saying on nostalgia: “The past is becoming more unpredictable than the future.”

“Competence is how good you are when there is something to gain. Character is how good you are when there is nothing to gain. People will reward you for competence. But people will only love you for your character.” – Mark Manson

“I have written too much history to have faith in it.” – Henry Adams

“It took a long time to get ahead. I will say, in retrospect, I’m glad it took so long because it was interesting.” – Munger

Harvey Firestone:

Why is it that a man, just as soon as he gets enough money, builds a house much bigger than he needs?

I have a house in Akron many times larger than I have the least use for; I have another house at Miami Beach which is also much larger than I need. I suppose that before I die I shall buy or build other houses which also will be larger than I need.

I do not know why I do it-the houses are only a burden. But I have done it, friends who have acquired wealth have big houses.

Perhaps it is some foolish survival of the ancient feudal idea when a big house meant a strong house in which one might keep a small army for protection. In a few cases, a big house is built just as an advertisement that one is rich; sometimes a big house is built so that great entertainments may be given. But in most cases, and especially with men who have earned their own money, the house is just built, and when it is done, no one quite knows why it was ever started. No end of men build their houses so large that they might as well live in a hotel.

“Ben Graham used to talk about Class 1 and Class 2 truths. Class 1 truths were absolutes. Class 2 truths became truths by conviction. If enough people thought a company’s stock was worth X, it became worth X until enough people thought otherwise.” – Buffett

“Happiness isn’t something you experience; it’s something you remember.” – Oscar Levant