Sunday, February 10, 2013

Recent reading:

Craig Johnson, The Cold Dish

Jan Zwicky, Plato as Artist

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

William Poundstone, Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street

Taleb's book is virtually unreadable, full of insights marred by the author's snobbery, classism, and grotesquely mangled English.  Taleb has all of V.S. Naipaul's charm and none of his style.  Still, just as even a stopped clock is right twice a day, Taleb is deeply, profoundly right in passing, for example, in his essay "Philostratus in Monte Carlo: On the Difference Between Noise and Information" (pp. 64-69), and most of all in that essay's helpful Table 3.1, "Probability of Success at Different Scales."  I reread this essay five times last night between 1:30am and 3:30am and plan to photocopy it before dropping Fooled by Randomness back into New Arrivals at work.

Fortune's Formula is impeccably paced and well-written, and, despite the somewhat corny title, is probably the most useful investing/risk management book I've read since Graham and Dodd's Security Analysis.  Highly recommended for its ostensibly artless style, its humor, its synthesis of diverse fields (Mob bookmaking; horse racing; no-limit Texas Hold'em; blackjack; probability theory & etc.), and its immediate applicability to most aspects of my daily life.

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