Most people believe that capitalism and competition are synonyms, and I think they are opposites. A capitalist accumulates capital, and in a world of perfect competition all the capital gets competed away: The restaurant industry in SF is very competitive and very non-capitalistic (e.g., very hard way to make money), whereas Google is very capitalistic and has had no serious competition since 2002.

Peter Thiel, answering the question “What is one thing you believe to be true that most do not?”


I went to Google, typed in San Francisco chauffeur or San Francisco limousine, I just filled out an excel sheet and I just started dialing for dollars, right? First ten guys I called, three of them hung up before I got a few words out, a few of them would listen for like 45 seconds and then hung up, and three of them said ‘I’m interested, let’s meet.’. And if you’re cold calling and three out of ten say ‘let’s meet’, you’ve got something.

Travis Kalanick, on how he started Uber


Beyonce embraces antifragility

In her first published poem, Beyonce says:

Utopias, they don’t much interest me.
I always mess things up a bit.
It’s chaos, in part, that helps us see.

Interesting, particularly for someone who’s been called a role-model for President Obama’s daughters…by the President himself.

The origins of perfection lie in imperfection. Success arises from failure. The solution lies in the problem.

Reality is so twisted. Fantastic.


Third, there are words and phrases that you can’t use in my store: like, oh my God, neat, sweet, have a good one, that’s a good question, totally, whatever, perfect, Kindle or Amazon. These words give me brain damage. I’m serious. When people use them in here, I tell them to get a thesaurus and stop being so mentally lame.

Jim Toole, Owner of Capitol Hill Books


That happens to be my goal: to flip current culture into lasting value.

And anything of lasting value, through the requirements of existence, must change the course of history.

But mustn’t one know history in order to make it?


My idea was then and still is that if a man did his work well, the price he would get for that work—the profits and all financial matters—would care for themselves and that a business ought to start small and build itself up and out of its earnings. If there are no earnings, then that is a signal to the owner that he is wasting his time and does not belong in that business. I have never found it necessary to change those ideas, but I discovered that this simple formula of doing good work and getting paid for it was supposed to be slow for modern business. The plan at that time most in favor was to start off with the largest possible capitalization and then sell all the stock and all the bonds that could be sold. Whatever money happened to be left over after all the stock and bond-selling expenses and promoters, charges and all that, went grudgingly into the foundation of the business. A good business was not one that did good work and earned a fair profit. A good business was one that would give the opportunity for the floating of a large amount of stocks and bonds at high prices. It was the stocks and bonds, not the work, that mattered. I could not see how a new business or an old business could be expected to be able to charge into its product a great big bond interest and then sell the product at a fair price. I have never been able to see that.

Henry Ford


Children are overbearing, supercilious, passionate, envious, inquisitive, egotistical, idle, fickle, timid, intemperate, liars, and dissemblers; they laugh and weep easily, are excessive in their joys and sorrows, and that about the most trifling objects—they bear no pain but like to inflict it on others; already they are men.

Jean de la Bruyère, 1688


The fust thing in this life tew be desired, in the phisikal line, iz a happy set ov bowells, after that, virtew, and branes, are in order.

Josh Billings


History reports that the men who can manage men manage the men who can manage only things, and the men who can manage money manage all.

Will Durant, The Lessons of History (1968), originally from The Age of Louis XIV (1963)

Social effects of cutting-edge technology

In The Information Diet, Clay Johnson mentions an instance of social anxiety about new technology:

Electricity came with a set of critics, too: the electric light could inform miscreants that women and children were home. The lightbulb was a recipe for total social chaos.

This doesn’t strike me as an unreasonable opinion.

Perhaps we should be less anxious about technology. I’m not very excited about drones and wearable technology, but who knows…maybe they won’t be as bad as we think.

This is the central illusion in life: that randomness is risky, that it is a bad thing—and that eliminating randomness is done by eliminating randomness.

Nassim Taleb, Antifragile