So, I’m at TED.

In the opening talk, Nicholas Negroponte suggested that 30 years from now, if you wanted to learned a language, you’d take a pill.  By the next day, the vocabulary and grammar would have been absorbed through your bloodstream and delivered to the correct parts of your brain. Mon dieu!

We heard from a six-month resident of the International Space Station what lift-off and re-entry were like, but also how to overcome your fear of spiders and what it was like to go temporarily blind while outside on a space walk, with no way to rub your eyes to clear your vision when you’re in a space suit.

I saw some really interesting slow-mo cockroach video . . . heard Stewart Brand’s progress report on de-extinction (before too awfully long the woolly mammoth may roam the tundra once more) . . . heard encouraging news on wind and solar from Amory Lovins and on fission and fusion from Taylor Wilson (19) and plasmophysicist Michel Laberge, respectively.

Edward Snowden appeared from an undisclosed location in Russia.

I had dinner with a wonderful young Egyptian-American who has dedicated his life to repudiating the approach of his father.  (His father blew up the World Trade Center.)

Also with a Brit who’s spent the last two years in Kenya restoring sight to the blind.

There are hundreds of TED talks available on-line.  Enjoy!


Matthew Gattuso:  “What does a wealthy persons portfolio have that isn’t available or can’t be had by your average person?  What I mean by wealthy is a millionaire or white collar individual making in the 100s of thousands range and average individual would be below that.  I would think an example would be private equity or venture capital investments? Is that it or is there more?

☞ Well, maybe the most important things — even though this isn’t what you meant — are the wealthy person’s ability to diversify and to take risk.  If you’ve got $3 million, you can spread it across different asset classes and have a chance to protect yourself against, say, deflation OR inflation.  And still have something left for smart speculations to be made only with money you can truly afford to lose.

More to your point, there are enticing mutual funds — GENIX and GONIX are two I like (half in each, hold for the long-term) — that require high minimum investments.  And there are, as you say, hedge funds, venture funds, private equity funds with, often, much higher minimums than that.  And specific individual deals you make directly — you buy a strip mall or you invest in an outfit that makes homes more energy efficient or you put up the money to launch a new fashion line or in an off-Broadway show.

Of course, if you’ve seen “Blue Jasmine” (see it!  I saw it on the plane out to TED), you know this is not always a good thing.  And in one of my books I had a chapter called, “Trust No One,” with example after example of ways one could lose 100% of his money, as I several times did, in deals unavailable to the average guy.

So really, I’d put more emphasis on the first paragraph, above, than the second.  Over time, a good non-market-weighted index fund of the type I describe in my book is likely to do as well for you as — or quite possibly significantly better than — a lot of the investments available only to the wealthy.


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