May 2009

“I am here to enable dreams,” he explained to me long afterward. Bob’s view was that if I’d been unemployed for seven years and didn’t have a dime to my name but I wanted a house, he wouldn’t question my prudence. “Who am I to tell you that you shouldn’t do what you want to do? I am here to sell money and to help you do what you want to do. At the end of the day, it’s your signature on the mortgage — not mine.”…. My lenders weren’t assuming that I was an angel. They were betting that a default would be more painful to me than to them. If I wanted to take a risk, for whatever reason, they were not going to second-guess me. What mattered more than anything, Bob explained, was a person’s credit record…. “Don’t worry,” Bob reassured me, saying what almost everybody else in real estate was saying at that moment. “The value of your house will be higher in five years. You’ll be able to refinance.” (From here via DeLong.)

The pyramid isn’t there on the dollar bill for nothing. Because of complexity, emergence, disseminated intelligence, the singularity, the cosmic vortex, the Aquarian Age, the Power of Love, Jesus, and the free market, there are no limits anymore. Be all you can be!

More: The tweakers are crashing on us
We are living in Greenspan’s experiment
A funny math joke just destroyed half of everything)

Donald MacKenzie, An Engine, Not A Camera, MIT Press, 2006, p. 125:

    After 30 hours of blackjack, Thorp’s $10,000 had become $21,000. He went on to devise, with computer scientist William E. Walden of the nuclear weapons laboratory at Los Alamos, a method for identifying favorable side bets in the version of baccarat played in Nevada.

    Thorpe found, however, that beating the casino had disadvantages as a way of making money. At a time when American casinos were controlled by organized criminals, there were physical risks. (In 1964, while playing baccarat, Thorp was nearly rendered unconscious by “knockout drops” in his coffee).

A parable of theory and practice, knowledge and power, the intellectual in the real world, etc. If Thorp had been allowed to continue, eventually he would have owned the whole city of Las Vegas, but somehow that didn’t happen. How counterintuitive!

Of course, if Thorp had been playing against The State, or against Microsoft, things would have turned out entirely differently, since those are both law-abiding entities. That’s where his mistake lay.