Tuesday, August 23, 2011

“Pale Blue Eyes” (Prague, 1972)

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind

Wallace Stevens, “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm”

Some are frustrated by the language barrier. They feel it is irrational. They equate immediate access to very single bit of information as liberating. They do not understand that even in a world of immediate access, cultural artifacts such as texts are always mediated by myriad cultural and economic institutions. True, these mediations are often negative and distorting. But is that necessarily the case?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

In a Market Storm, Don’t Do Something, Just Stand There

Some of the best investment wisdom is the hardest to follow. I once heard the best investor alive, Warren Buffett, say in an interview that in times of crisis the best thing is to sit still. Everyone’s instinct is to scream “don’t just sit there, do something.” But the appropriate thing to do is to let the madness wash over you like a wave. Overtrading has been proven over and over again to be the main factor explaining poor investment performance. Retail investors should minimize the amount of times they jump in and out of stocks.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mr. Market Gets Lost in the Funhouse of Algorithmic Recursiveness

However, Mr. Market suffers from some rather incurable emotional problems; you see, he is very temperamental. When Mr. Market is overcome by boundless optimism or bottomless pessimism, he will quote you a price that seems to you a little short of silly.
--Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor

In a volatile market week like this, it is remarkable how impressed journalists are by one day’s precipitous plunge and the next day’s soaring highs. You almost want to scream at the TV set: “What part of volatility don’t you get, you silly himbo?!” Until volatility subsides, one 500-point move up or down doesn’t mean absolutely anything.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why Crowdsourced-Post-Editing is Doomed as a Business Model

Listen to this quote from former Economist correspondent Charles Wheelan:

I will never forget stepping off a plane in Kathmandu; the first thing I saw was a team of men squatting on their haunches as they cut the airport grass with their sickles. Labor is cheap in Nepal; lawn mowers are very expensive. (p.17)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Web 2.0 Dogma: Is Any Translation Better Than No Translation?

One of the unspoken dogmas of the crowdsourced post-editing (CPE) model is that if you can’t afford to translate a website or document, the next best thing is to McLocalize it. In other words, use the CPE model at pennies a word. Privately, the vendor will tell you that “of course, the translation is lower quality, but at least you have access to some approximation of the original.” The recurrent mantra is that “bad translation is better than no translation.”