Optical Illusion / Optical Truth

Portion of original dot map by Dr. John Snow, the founding father of epidemiology, showing the clusters of cholera cases in the London epidemic of 1854. The visual representation of Snow’s data analysis convinced local authorities to shut down the contaminated public well at ground zero of the cholera outbreak, although it would be another …

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My Passion is Puppetry

Campaign Company Launch Date “Flo” Progressive Insurance 2008 “Rhetorical Question” “Happier Than A … “ “Did You Know?” “It’s What You Do” GEICO 2009 2012 2013 2014 “Mayhem” Allstate 2010 “University of Farmers” Farmers Insurance 2010 “Magic Jingle” State Farm 2011 2011 “That’s Not How It Works” Esurance 2014 “Chicken Parm You Taste So Good” …

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Snikt

As longtime Epsilon Theory readers know, I’m a big comic book fan. One of the joys of a comic done well is the effective representation of a dynamic multi-dimensional narrative within a static two-dimensional art form. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but occasionally so is a sound. Or rather, …

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You Can Either Surf, or You Can Fight

Kilgore: Smell that? You smell that? Lance: What? Kilgore: Napalm, son.  Nothing else in the world smells like that. – Apocalypse Now (1979) Hello, hello, hello, how low? [x3] – Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991) Outside the bus the smell of sulfur hit Bond with sickening force.  It was a horrible smell, from somewhere down in the stomach of …

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Storm Warning

Unfortunately for mariners, the total amount of wave energy in a storm does not rise linearly with wind speed, but to its fourth power. The seas generated by a forty-knot wind aren’t twice as violent as those from a twenty-knot wind, they are seventeen times as violent. A ship’s crew watching the anemometer climb even …

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I Know It Was You, Fredo

Sen. Geary: Hey, Freddie, where did you find this place? Fredo Corleone: Johnny Ola told me about this place. He brought me here. I didn’t believe it, but seeing’s believing, huh? Old man Roth would never come here, but Johnny knows these places like the back of his hand. – “The Godfather, Part II” (1974) …

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Rounders

Mike McDermott: In “Confessions of a Winning Poker Player,” Jack King said, “Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career.” It seems true to me, cause walking in here, I can hardly remember how I built …

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Season of the Glitch

When I look over my shoulder What do you think I see? Some other cat lookin’ over His shoulder at me. – Donovan, “Season of the Witch” (1966) Josh Leonard: I see why you like this video camera so much. Heather Donahue: You do? Josh Leonard: It’s not quite reality. It’s like a totally filtered …

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When the Story Breaks

The Three Types of Fear: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs. It’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around. It’s when the lights go …

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The New TVA

War is too important to be left to the generals. – Georges Clemenceau (1841 -1929) Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off. … If we call the method regulation, people will …

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Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar

Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity. – Sigmund Freud (1886 – 1939) To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most useful in times of stress and darkness. – Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Left Hand of Darkness” (1969) Is everything connected, so that events create resonances like …

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The Talented Mr. Ripley

The more I practice, the luckier I get. – Gary Player (b. 1935) Luck is the residue of design. – Branch Rickey (1881 – 1965) I’ve found that you don’t need to wear a necktie if you can hit. – Ted Williams (1918 – 2002) They say that nobody is perfect. Then they say that practice …

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It’s Still Not About the Nail

Reader reaction to the March 31 Epsilon Theory note, “It’s Not About the Nail”, was probably the strongest and most positive for any note to date. The message in a nutshell: financial advisors of all stripes and sizes would be well-served to do more than serve up old-school diversification platitudes in this Brave New World …

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It’s Not About the Nail

Do, or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda, “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations – one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it – …

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Ghost in the Machine, Part 1

  The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method? ― Confucius (551 – 479 BC) Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and …

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The Unbearable Over-Determination of Oil

Jett Rink: Everybody thought I had a duster. Y’all thought ol’ Spindletop Burke and Burnett was all the oil there was, didn’t ya? Well, I’m here to tell you that it ain’t, boy! It’s here, and there ain’t a dang thing you gonna do about it! My well came in big, so big, Bick and …

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