Archive for the ‘yale’ Category

first to market? Stigler’s law of eponymy!

January 26, 2010

One of the greatest takeways from my semester at Yale was that no matter how original you think you are, or an idea you have, someone has thought of it before, and has a little academic activity established around that thought already.

some, hundreds of years ago.

so, a bit of humility

Stigler’s law of eponymy is a process proposed by University of Chicago statistics professor Stephen Stigler in his 1980 publication “Stigler’s law of eponymy”.  In its simplest and strongest form it says: “No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer.”

Stigler’s Law was discovered many times before Stigler named it

Historical acclaim and reputation tend to be allocated to people unevenly. Scientific observations and results are often associated with people who have high visibility and social status, and are named long after their discovery. Eponymy is a striking example of this phenomenon. Particularly important scientific observations are often associated with a person, as in the case of Gaussian distribution, Halley’s comet, and Planck’s constant. Nature never works in isolation. Ideas arrive in parallel, and theoretical or practical works/experiments too are near simultaneous in time-space. It is the publicizing and recording of the work that assumes identity relationship with the one most famously connected with it. Indeed many ideas never see fruition for their time has not come or they are not fully recognised, appreciated or properly advertised.

Often the person who is associated with the particular observation, theory, or result was not its original inventor. Based on his studies on the history of statistics, Stephen Stigler therefore proposed his own “Stigler’s Law of Eponymy.” Stigler attributes the discovery of Stigler’s Law to sociologist  Robert K. Merton (which makes the law self-referencing).

merton, by the way. was a distinguished American sociologist perhaps best known for having coined the phrase “self-fulfilling prophecy.” He also coined many other phrases that have gone into everyday use, such as “role model” and “unintended consequences“. his son, robert merton is a noble prize winner in economics. he is the one of black scholes fame and long term capital management LTCM.

press here for a good article about how great ideas are not rare

who usually gets the credit? the most popular or powerful person at the time at which it gained wide acceptance.

the lesson here is:

  • there is already a principle named after a person for this. the  matthew principle, (more will be given to those that already have, matthew 25:29)
  • for israeli startups,  to invest in marketing

and time markets,

and get lucky.

reflection has been taken away from our lives

December 3, 2008

grand strategy with

John Gaddis, He is a noted historian of the Cold War and grand strategy. He has been hailed as the ‘Dean of Cold War Historians’ by the The New York Times. He is also the official biographer of the seminal 20th century statesman George F. Kennan.

Charles Hill, a diplomat ambassador and professor. involved in the iran-contra affair in a big way. teaches oratory of statehood. A career foreign service officer, Ambassador Hill was a senior adviser to George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, and Ronald Reagan, as well as Boutros Boutros-Ghali,


Paul Kennedy is a newcastle born historian specializing in international relations and grand strategy. He has published prominent books on the history of British foreign policy and Great Power struggles. his books have been translated to about 25 languages. the rise and fall of great powers.

some of the great minds at yale which produced much of US foreign policy since the first clinton adminstration. since 1992 presidents and secratery of state are yale graduates.

key takeaways:

  • what are the feedback loops of the machine? how does it balance in thick and thin times. during war and peace, expansion and contraction?
  • reflection has been taken away from our lives.
    timescale in planing a strategy. looking ahead vs the free metro newspaper that reports about you. the daily demands of ‘right now’. during office you do not acquire intellectual capital, you run on what you accumulated previously. IQ drops as you start to use powerpoint?
  • negative liberty as the absence of constraints on, or interference with, agents’ possible action. Greater “negative freedom” meant fewer restrictions on possible action. note that negative liberty is central to the claim for toleration due to incommensurability.
  • westphalian state system is convenient to ‘go back to’ and since it is easy as a thought paradigm it influences institutions. are nations the imagined communities? i think not



strategy is a way of thinking about how to get from where you are to where you want to be. calculated relationship between means and ends.

von clausewitz, war is the continuation of policy by other means. diplomacy is supreme and war is a tool, not an objective in itself. means is subject to the ends. this is significant because resources are limited. so, resource constraints are an example in which means are subordinate to the ends.

this is platitude. it reminds us of the basic, common sense, but this is exactly it purpose, to remind us of common sense while we are becoming professionals.


“Everything in war is very simple,” Clausewitz notes, “but the simplest thing is difficult.” (119) “In war more than anywhere else things do not turn out as we expect. Nearby they do not appear as they did from a distance.” (193) Moreover, “…every fault and exaggeration of [a] theory is instantly exposed in war.”

Clausewitz terms “friction” the “only concept that more or less corresponds to the factors that distinguish real war from war on paper.” (119) Friction is caused mainly by the danger of war, by war’s demanding physical efforts, and by the presence of unclear information or the fog of war.

First, the intrinsically dangerous nature of war means that in an atmosphere of blood, bullets,and bombs, “the light of reason is refracted in a manner quite different from that which is normal in academic speculation.” (113) Only the exceptional soldier keeps his incisive judgment intact during the heat of battle.

Second, physical effort in war also produces friction: “If no one had the right to give his views on military operations except when he is frozen, or faint from heat and thirst, or depressed from privation and fatigue, objective and accurate views would be even rarer than they are.” (115) Clausewitz hence reminds strategists not to forget the immense effect of physical effort upon the soldiers engaging in combat.

Ambiguous information in war is yet a third element which Clausewitz says distinguishes real war from war in theory. Although strategists should gauge plans by probabilities, it is sometimes impossible to do so during war, when most intelligence is indeterminate:

isaiah berlin, incommensurability. two concepts of liberty, He defined negative liberty as the absence of constraints on, or interference with, agents’ possible action. Greater “negative freedom” meant fewer restrictions on possible action. Berlin associated positive liberty with the idea of self-mastery, or the capacity to determine oneself, to be in control of one’s destiny. While Berlin granted that both concepts of liberty represent valid human ideals, as a matter of history the positive concept of liberty has proven particularly susceptible to political abuse. Berlin contended that under the influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant and G. W. F. Hegel (all committed to the positive concept of liberty), European political thinkers often equated liberty with forms of political discipline or constraint. This negative liberty is central to the claim for toleration due to incommensurability. This concept is mirrored in the work of Joseph Raz.

The third and last part of Adam Curtis‘s documentary series The Trap discusses Isaiah Berlin’s concepts of positive and negative liberty

you can not have it all at once, so you have to balance

power is not singular, it has multiple forums that need to be balanced. self confidence of french army occupying moscow. ‘war and peace’. taking moscow is not enough to win.

everything is related to everything else. astonishly frequently forgotten. so it is an ecological failure. any action will have (an equal) and oppsite reaction, even across spheres.

it is a practical and effecient manner of distiliing knowledge

individual players on the field will have to make their own decisions. instincts plus some training on expecting the unexpected

charlie hill

something is lost when quantitive methods and science is applied to all domains

in humanities, as opposed to sciences, you can not solve problems once in for all

no two problems are alike

democracy in america, ‘Forces’


theories                               leadership                     concepts

skilles                                  forces                           culture

mechanisms                        rhetoric                         values


Paul Kennedy

the power of rhetoric of roosevelt and kennedy

of the 7 coalition wars between the british and the france between 1689 and 1815 the french lose all with superior population and resources. why?

king, hmg, parlament, taxes: funing and loans. now you have markets. loans are never to be defaulted upon. so by middle wars, (7 years, napoleonic) swiss,dutch and french buy these loans because the british governement is the only one that has not deaulted on loans. now you get a feedback loop. large navy. destory others resources, lines,economies

you get balanced budget in piece times. there is possibilites of transferability.

Think With the Senses, Feel With the Mind

December 1, 2008

there is no such thing as a good painting without an idea, and there is no such thing as a good idea without a form.

session with robert storr, dean, yale school or art, director of the last biennale.

Robert Storr is an American curator, academic, critic, and painter. He was named Dean of the Yale School of Art for a five-year period beginning July 2006 and was the director of the Venice Biennale in 2007. He has been described as a “vital link between the museum world and academia” and “a gifted writer”.

here is an interview

wrote 2 books on richter, my favorite current artist. doubt and belief in painting is an interesting one

key takeaways:

  • next biennale in june. i am going who is coming?
  • volta in basel as well


above richter

  • brazillian favelas as creating and designing a neighborhood


  • artists that are ‘successful’ are often not from the country in which they become popular. their identity and nationality is complex. if art is ahead of ‘culture’ by decades, how does that reflect on identity and globalization?
  • does art have silos?
  • demian hirst as ‘bad art’? important cultural figure but not good enough?
  • artists who have done well in their regions, local galleries, that is where real art happens
  • no real art capital where things are happening. berlin is going to be the next place.


a god has died, a new one is born.

  • wallid raad, the atlas project
  • suspicion of collective a priori requirements, though is an indispensable  phase
  • respect something that is moving along in its own way

identity should be like garments of north africa. once in a while some nakedness should be visible.

  • art as a form of foreign policy
  • maus, a great book
  • studio museum harlem
  • cartoons as art. i agree that it is an under-rated medium
  • art as a way to learn how to learn
  • artis, promoting israeli contemporary art
  • artis, art tours study abroad.
  • imitating art similar to learning another language.
  • breaching the barrier, like karioke for the first time

1,2,3 4 stages of an american city

November 20, 2008

new haven and the american city



1st age: geography, community, agriculture, land

2nd age: industrialism urbanization density

3rd age: service, growth, end of urbanism, sprawl, decline of city, technology overcomes time and space. ‘nuclear family’. retail from dime store, general store, to  deparatment store to mall to big box.

transportation, decay of rail in favor of trucking. port cities to river cities to resource cities

4th period,  size matters, american cities are not close to the density and scale of major cities. cities market themselves, tell stories. re-invent themselves.

take a look at global footprint network & sage UW madison data

cities – where we go to see the future

November 19, 2008

fragments of the city

below, larionov, rain


key takeaways:

  • cities are thought of as places of stability, but are a place of change. values, people, lifestyle are often different than trends elsewhere in the USA
  • the street as a project. the city as a memory in image and fantasy of itself. a place of choice and also a place of last resort


cities have been forced to play politics from a weak position

neo primitivism, neo tribialism, schools of art and politics suggesting that human beings have evolved to live in a tribal, as opposed to a modern, society, and thus cannot achieve genuine happiness until some semblance of tribal lifestyles has been re-created or re-embraced.

Neotribalist ideology is rooted in the social philosophies of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and William Kingdon Clifford, who spoke of a “tribal self” thwarted by modern society. The Evolutionary Principle of anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, which states that a species removed from the environment in which it evolved will become pathological, has been cited by Neotribalists as providing a scientific basis for their beliefs.

Certain aspects of industrial and post-industrial life, including the necessity of living in a society of strangers and interacting with organizations that have memberships far above Dunbar’s number are cited as inherently detrimental to the human mind as it has evolved. In a 1985 paper, “Psychology, Ideology, Utopia, & the Commons,” psychologist Dennis Fox proposed a number around 150 people. Recently some supporters of neo-Tribalism have put forth the argument that their ideas have been scientifically proven by the discipline of evolutionary psychology. This claim has been highly disputed, however.

a bearded guy on wall street

November 18, 2008

have you ever seen a bearded guy on wall street? Cromwell is now, but was not at the time

david cromwell ex 30 years at jpmorgan including president and CEO of jpmorgan capital. adjunct professor at yale som

32% IRR in 1990-1995.

30 years at wall street at the same place!

key takeaways:

  • big business maybe riskier than small business
  • type A people die. stress
  • people think ideas are stolen. the value is in the ability to execute on the idea, not the idea.


small business at 6m vs 20K large companies. 50% of economy, 75% of job places.

big companies are shriking

generalizations about entrepreneurs characteristics:

  • desire for personal responsibility
  • want to be in control
  • desire direct feedback, quick, too
  • high degree of commitment
  • tolerance for ambiguity. i prefer the term ‘uncertainty’.
  • persistence. not easily frustrated.
  • love working long hours
  • flexibility
  • organizing skills
  • spotting opportunities in the future
  • want to do something vs want to be something
  • rules are guidelines, not rules
  • manipulative
  • action oriented
  • focused, one problem at a time
  • do not earn more money, but more satisfaction

cromwell’s top 10 traps:

  • hire good people. any doubts? do not hire. integrity is the number one issue
  • stuck with ceo
  • blind optimism. enthusiasm and persistence are good, but need flexability. leads to ineffecient capital, no backup
  • lack of foucs
  • no boss. pick a ceo and treat her like one
  • spiraling costs
  • first class vs garage
  • no diversity. 3 engineers
  • market segment failures. size too large, no reason for customers to change
  • weak management: integrity, hire low, inflexibile. spend a lot of time worrying about the CEO

upside down marketing

November 18, 2008

barry nalebuff on coopetition. his books were very popular in israel

key takeaways:

  • gas station does well when it has a good convenience store. this is true to many business. think of the complement
  • co-opetition: making the pie bigger by increase demand/value. or reducing cost via effeciencies.
  • think of the unit.
  • e.g. gas per gallon or mile, but insurance all you can eat
  • pooling. e.g. zipcar in my driveway. bicycles in paris.
  • redefine the business to extract value. e.g GM in the transportation business. shared cars across geographies.

people’s park

November 18, 2008

urbanism with garvin – public parks

remember vaux-le-vicomte, near melun? garvin commented, ‘the world seemed rational’

think of italian park in the 16th century

french in the 17th century

english in the 18th century

key takeaways:

  • where do people do physical recreation? in private – home or around – in privately owned public spaces (semi private space, e.g. country club), or in open public parks?
  • public park as multi-purpose, multi echelon entity
  • government or municipality can invest in a park. e.g. drying a swamp, and collect rates from real estate around it and concessions within it.
  • trees as part of the public realm
  • interesting to assess planed communities
  • parks are not reserves, they are continuouly eveloving and will reflect differences in nature and society


public parks stated in london in mid 19th century. darby arboretum, birkenhead park. actually started as a consequence of a free day to workers and what to do with it. victoria park in london set up in 1845. fredrick olmsted, a failed farmer, then journalist, visited london and was fascinated with the fact that it is multi class.

his book: Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England described the beauty of peoples parks

“five minutes of admiration, and a few more spent studying the manner in which art had been employed to obtain from nature so much beauty, and I was ready to admit that in democratic America there was nothing to be thought of as comparable with this People’s Garden”.

Olmsted also commented on the “perfection” of the gardening:

“I cannot undertake to describe the effect of so much taste and skill as had evidently been employed; I will only tell you, that we passed by winding paths, over acres and acres, with a constant varying surface, where on all sides were growing every variety of shrubs and flowers, with more than natural grace, all set in borders of greenest, closest turf, and all kept with consummate neatness”.

avenue fauche, in paris is a ‘parkway’ , brinign the park to the city.

riverside, IL a city designed inside a park.

some keys to public parks success:

  • need a sense of enlarged freedom
  • providing for pysical and mental health
  • fun, available to all

softpower: terrorism and the next US president

November 17, 2008

war on terrorism

if an american city is attacked by terrorist nuclear power, the world as we know it will change. human rights issues out the window

this guys is a very biased and it is very difficult to listen to him:

  • lets call it extremism, not terrorism
  • the old testament is a very violent book
  • America supports: israel, saudi arabia, iran under the shah, undemocratic oppressive regimes
  • Islam is under attack post 6 day war, after israel did that thing

key takeaways:

intelligence vs human rights. no way to fight terrorism according if playing by the rules

claim: most moslems would chose moderation over violence

a violent response is ‘what divides you and unites us’

linguistics is very difficult to apply to this matter. what is the definition of terrorism? who gets to call whom a terrorist. this is a big issue

time: al-quida sees this is a 1000 year initiative. so time is on their hands


fresh – can restart, sometimes easier than continuing

credible and balanced approach

in 90s many US attempts to appease islam which did not play well.

when did terrorism start? actually the jewish zealots under roman rule in 66-73 AD are the first. called sicarii

historical lessons:

  • win the hearts and minds (in the Moslem world)


  • avoid over-reaction. makes terrorists strive. violent and repressive turns out to be a recruiting tool and create legitimacy. creates violent cycles of action and re-action. who started?
  • avoid under-reaction. latin american governments and marxist groups.

study algeria and FLN. movie ‘the battle of algiers’.

also bbc, 2004 dirty war. does a good job of people’s believes.

joseph nye, coined softpower:

The basic concept of power is the ability to influence others to get them to do what you want. There are three major ways to do that:

  1. one is to threaten them with sticks;
  2. the second is to pay them with carrots;
  3. the third is to attract them or co-opt them, so that they want what you want.

If you can get others to be attracted to want what you want, it costs you much less in carrots and sticks. [1]

busy, busy

November 17, 2008

students here at yale are really busy being busy. even i am impressed and as you know i am very busy doing busy.

a dear friend told me that she is trying to organize a 2 month summer internship for a student here. this is a relatively short internship and the host organization is concerned.

the student just made a claim, that they would prefer a a 1 month internship in brussels and a 1 month internship in thailand instead of 2 months in brussels.

my friend asked: ‘are you trying to achieve anything’?


how do you say ‘tafasta merube lo tafsta’ in english?