Tacitus – Peace

Tacitus’ famous warning to the Romans: “They made a desert and called it peace.”

Globalisation, economic growth and the division of labour

“Individual economies grow and prosper as their inhabitants learn to specialize and engage in the division of labour.  So it is on a global scale.  Globalization – the deepening of specialization and the extension of the division of labour beyond national borders – is patently a key to understanding much of our recent economic history.  A growing capacity to conduct transactions and take risks throughout the world is creating a truly global economy.  Production has become more and more international.  Much of what is assembled in final salable form in one country increasingly consists of components from many continents.  Being able to seek out the most competitive sources of labor and material inputs worldwide rather than just nationwide not only reduces costs and price inflation but also raises the ratio of the value of outputs to inputs – the broadest measure of productivity and a useful proxy for standards of living.  On average, standards of living have risen markedly.  Hundreds of millions of people in developing countries have been elevated from subistence poverty.  Other hundreds of millions are now experiencing a level of affluence that people born in developed countries have experienced all their lives”. (Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence)

Hard work vs natural talent

“The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise.  In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.”

The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert – in anything,” writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin.  “In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again.  Of course, this doesn’t address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do.  But no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time.  It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve tru mastery.

This is true even of people we think of as prodigies.”  Malcolm Gladwell (Ouliers).


IQ testing & correlation with success – “People at the bottom of the scale – with an IQ below 70 – are considered mentally disabled.  A score of 100 is average; you probably need to be just above that mark to be able to handle college.  To get into and succeed in a reasonably competitive graduate program, meanwhile, you probably need an IQ of at least 115.  In general, the higher your score, the more education you’ll get, the more money you’re likely to make, and believe it or not – the longer you’ll live.

But there’s a catch.  The relationship between success and IQ works only up to a point.  Once someone has reached an IQ of somewhere around 120, having additional IQ points doesn’t seem to transate into any measurable real-world advantage. ”  Malcolm Gladwell.

“IQ differences in this upper part of the scale are generally of lesser importance for success in the popular sense than are certain traits of personality and character.”  Arthur Jensen (“The IQ fundamentalist”).

“A mature scientist with an adult IQ of 130 is as likely to win a Nobel Prize as is one whose IQ is 180.”  Liam Hudson (British psychologist).

Living a fulfilling life

“Those three things – autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward – are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.  It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five.  It’s whether our work fulfills us.”  Malcolm Gladwell.

An additional item relevant here is to be thanked for your work each day (suggestion by Magda).

Now’s the time to be greedy when others are fearful

“A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.”
Warren Buffett 2008