A Lesson from Lord Glasgow and His Exploding Tree Stump

23.07.2016 • Investing

From The Price of Everything (Independent)-

“Darling..

So No. 3 Commando were very anxious to be chums with Lord Glasgow so they offered to blow up an old tree stump for him and he was very grateful and he said don’t spoil the plantation of young trees near it because that is the apple of my eye and they said no of course not, we can blow a tree down so that it falls on a sixpence; and Lord Glasgow said goodness you are clever, and he asked them all to luncheon for the great explosion. So Col. Durnford-Slater D.S.O. said to his subaltern, have you put enough explosive in the tree ? Yes sir, 75 lbs. Is that enough? Yes sir, I worked it out by mathematics, it is exactly right. Well better put a bit more. Very good sir.

“And when Col. D. Slater D.S.O. had had his port he sent for the subaltern and said subaltern better put a bit more explosive in that tree. I don’t want to disappoint Lord Glasgow. Very good sir.

“Then they all went out to see the explosion and Col. D-S D.S.O. said you will see that tree fall flat at just that angle where it will hurt no young trees and Lord Glasgow said goodness you are clever.

“So soon they lit the fuse and waited for the explosion and presently the tree, instead of falling quietly sideways, rose 50 feet into the air taking with it half an acre of soil and the whole of the young plantation.

“And the subaltern said Sir I made a mistake, it should have been 7.5 lbs not 75. “Lord Glasgow was so upset he walked in dead silence back to his castle and when they came to the turn of the drive in sight of his castle what should they find but that every pane of glass in the building was broken.

“So Lord Glasgow gave a little cry and ran to hide his emotion in the lavatory and there when he pulled the plug the entire ceiling, loosened by the explosion, fell on his head. This is quite true.”

– Extract from a letter from the author Evelyn Waugh to his wife Laura, 31 May 1942.

Tricky things, numbers. Even when you do manage to calculate them correctly. What, for example, is the “correct” number for base rates ? Goldman Sachs employee Bank of England Governor Mark Carney thinks that here in the UK they should be at 0.5% – for the time being, at least. What about the euro zone ? Goldman Sachs employee European Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi thinks that they should be at -0.4%. And what about Japan ? Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, who by way of some administrative error hasn’t yet worked for Goldman Sachs, believes that they should be at -0.1%.

-Read more at thepriceofeverything.typepad.com (English)-

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