Behind most evil in the world is either a bad engineer or a really good lawyer.

Hanlon’s Razor states that we should not attribute to malice that which is more easily explained by stupidity. In a complex world, this principle helps us avoid extreme paranoia and ideology, often very hard to escape from, by not generally assuming that bad results are the fault of a bad actor, although they can be. More likely, a mistake has been made.

People may ask me for my opinion because they think I’m intelligent, think I’ve been a successful investor, or know I’ve lived through a lot of history. But none of that should be confused with expertise on subjects of every kind.

Howard Marks, Nobody Knows II

What a man wishes, that also will he believe.

Demosthenes

As a Swiss, I am an inveterate democrat, yet I recognize that nature is aristocratic and, what is even more, esoteric. Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi is an unpleasant but an eternal truth. Who are forgiven
their many sins? Those who have loved much. But as to those who love little, their few sins are held against them. I am firmly convinced that a vast number of people belong to the fold of the Catholic Church and nowhere else, because they are most suitably housed there.

I am as much persuaded of this as of the fact, which I have myself observed, that a primitive religion is better suited to primitive people than Christianity, which is so incomprehensible to them and so foreign to their blood that they can only ape it in a disgusting way. I believe, too, that there must be protestants against the Catholic Church, and also protestants against Protestantism for the manifestations of the spirit are truly wondrous, and as varied as Creation itself.

Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul

Marie Kondo has been so influential on my psyche I thank our old code before I delete it.

These are sad days in literature. Homer is dead. Shakespeare is dead. And I myself am not feeling at all well.

Mark Twain

Issue to issue you are getting influenced by the people who have a very strong interest.

Ben Horowitz

Insurance companies offer standardized policies which can be copied by anyone. Their only products are promises. It is not difficult to be licensed, and rates are an open book. There are no important advantages from trademarks, patents, location, corporate longevity, raw material sources, etc., and very little consumer differentiation to produce insulation from competition. It is commonplace, in corporate annual reports, to stress the difference that people make. Sometimes this is true and sometimes it isn’t. But there is no question that the nature of the insurance business magnifies the effect which individual managers have on company performance. We are very fortunate to have the group of managers that are associated with us.

[…]

A little digression illustrating this point may be interesting. Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates and Hathaway Manufacturing were merged in 1955 to form Berkshire Hathaway Inc. In 1948, on a pro forma combined basis, they had earnings after tax of almost $ 18 million and employed 10,000 people at a dozen large mills throughout New England. In the business world of that period they were an economic powerhouse. For example, in that same year earnings of IBM were $ 28 million (now $ 2.7 billion), Safeway Stores, $ 10 million, Minnesota Mining, $ 13 million, and Time, Inc., $ 9 million. But, in the decade following the 1955 merger aggregate sales of $ 595 million produced an aggregate loss for Berkshire Hathaway of $ 10 million. By 1964 the operation had been reduced to two mills and net worth had shrunk to $ 22 million, from $ 53 million at the time of the merger. So much for single year snapshots as adequate portrayals of a business.

Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders, 1977

Lucille Henderson sighed as heavily as her dress would allow.

J.D. Salinger, The Young Folks