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Showing posts with label Vocabulary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vocabulary. Show all posts

February 11, 2018

The Quants (Scott Patterson)

Here's the vocabulary list for The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It.

ISBN 978-0-307-45337-2
Patterson, Scott. The Quants. Crown Business, 2010.

Representative Quotes

"The very real crash on Black Monday left very real scars on the psyches of the traders who witnessed it.... Meltdowns of such magnitude and ferocity were not supposed to happen in the world's most advanced and sophisticated financial marketplace. They especially weren't supposed to happen in a randomized, Brownian motion world in which the market obeyed neat statistical rules. A 27-standard-deviation event was tantamount to flipping a coin a hundred times and getting ninety-nine straight heads." (p. 54)

"Prices can gyrate wildly over short periods of time - wildly enough to cause massive, potentially crippling losses to investors who've made large, leveraged wagers." (p. 59)

"The value and momentum strategies they'd studied in academia could actually work for entire countries. It was a monumental leap. They would measure a country's stock market, divide by the sum of the book value of each company in that market, and get a price-to-book value for the entire country. If Japan had a price-to-book value of 1.0 and France had a price-to-book of 2.0, that meant Japan was cheap relative to France. The investing process from there was fairly easy: long Japan, short France.
"The applications of this insight were virtually endless. Just as it didn't matter whether a company made widgets or tanks, or whether its leaders were visionaries or buffoons, the specifics of a country's politics, leadership, or national resources had only a tangential bearing on the view from a quant trader's desk. A quantitative approach could be applied not only to a country's stocks and bonds but also to its currencies, commodities, derivatives, whatever. In short order, Asness' team designed models that looked for cheap-versus-expensive opportunities around the globe. Momentum strategies quickly followed." (pp. 134-5)

" 'We are seeing things that were 25-standard-deviation events, several days in a row....' According to quant models, the meltdown of August 2007 was so unlikely that it could never have happened in the history of the human race." (p. 239)

"Greed + Incompetence + A Belief in Market Efficiency = Disaster.... In their desire for mathematical order and elegant models, the economic establishment played down the inconveniently large role of bad behavior... and flat-out bursts of irrationality. The incredibly inaccurate efficient market theory was believed in totality by many of our financial leaders, and believed in part by almost all.... 'Surely, none of this could be happening in a rational, efficient world,' they seemed to be thinking. And the absolutely worst part of this belief set was that it led to a chronic underestimation of asset bubbles breaking." (pp. 290-1)

"In a September 2009 article titled 'How Did Economists Get It So Wrong' in the New York Times Magazine, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman lambasted EMH [the efficient market hypothesis] and economists' chronic inability to grasp the possibility of massive swings in prices and circumstances that Mandelbrot had warned of decades earlier. Krugman blamed 'the profession's blindness to the very possibility of catastrophic failures in a market economy.... As I see it, the economics profession went astray because economists, as a group, mistook beauty, clad in impressive-looking mathematics, for truth.' " (p. 291)

"Banks and hedge funds employ mathematicians with no financial market experience to build models that no one is testing scientifically for use in situations where they were not intended by traders who don't understand them. And people are surprised by the losses!" (p. 292)

"The Ph.D.'s might know their sines from their cosines, but they often had little idea how to distinguish the fundamental realities behind why the market behaved as it did. They got bogged down in the fine-grained details of their whiz-bang models. Worse, they believed their models were perfect reflections of how the market works. To them, their models WERE the Truth. Such blind faith... was extremely dangerous." (p. 292)

"To ensure that the quant-driven meltdown that began in August 2007 would never happen again, the two uber-quants developed a 'modeler's Hippocratic Oath:'
* I will remember that I didn't make the world, and it doesn't satisfy my equations.
* Though I will use models to boldly estimate value, I will not be overly impressed by mathematics.
* I will never sacrifice reality for elegance without explaining why I have done so.
* Nor will I give the people who use my model false comfort about its accuracy. Instead, I will make explicit its assumptions and oversights.
* I understand that my work may have enormous effects on society and the economy, many of them beyond my comprehension." (pp. 294-5)

"Markets are far less well-behaved than standard financial theory held. Out at the no-man's-land on the wings of the bell curve lurked a dark side of markets that haunted the quants like a bad dream, one many had seemingly banished into subconsciousness." (p. 296)

"A river of money had flowed into hedge funds in recent years, turning it from an industry with less than $100 billion under management in the early 1990's to a $2 trillion force of nature. But the actual amount of investing opportunities hadn't changed very much.... The edge had diminished, but hedge fund managers' and bankers' appetite for gigantic profits had only grown more voracious. That led to massive use of leverage - in other words, overbetting. The inevitable result: gambler's ruin on a global scale." (p. 299)

" 'The available edge has been diminished,' Gross agreed, nothing that Pimco, like Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, used very little leverage. "And that led to increased leverage to maintain the same returns. It's leverage, the overbetting, that leads to the big unwind. Stability leads to instability, and here we are. The supposed stability deceived people." (p. 300)

"As the financial panic of 2007 and 2008 had shown, liquidity is always there when you don't need it - and never there when you do." (p. 312)

SAT Vocabulary Words

Godfather: a man who is influential or pioneering in a movement or organization.
"Ed Thorp, godfather of the quants" (p. x)

Haut monde: fashionable society
"high-finance haut monde" (p. 2)

Cabaret: a nightclub or restaurant where entertainment is performed.
"singing folk songs in a funky cabaret" (p.5)

Savoir faire: the ability to act or speak appropriately in social situations.
"Though he lacked Muller's savoir faire, Asness was far wealthier" (p. 5)

Scourge: a person or thing that causes great trouble or suffering.
"Asness had been the subject of a lengthy and glowing profile in the New York Times Magazine. He was a scourge of bad practices in the money management industry, such as ridiculously high fees at mutual funds." (p. 5)

Wry: using or expressing dry, especially mocking, humor.
Self-effacing: not claiming attention for oneself; retiring and modest.
"wry, self-effacing sense of humor" (p. 5)

Noir: a genre of crime film or fiction characterized by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity.
"An old poster from a 1960s film noir by Jean-Luc Godard called Alphaville hung on the walls of PDT's office" (p. 9)

Catcall: a shrill whistle or shout of disapproval, typically one made at a public meeting or performance.
"Griffin rained catcalls on Muller" (p. 10)

Kitty: a fund of money for communal use, made up of contributions from a group of people.
"Citadel's kitty topped $20 billion." (p. 11)

Anabolic steroid: a synthetic steroid hormone that resembles testosterone in promoting the growth of muscle. Such hormones are used medicinally to treat some forms of weight loss and (illegally) by some athletes and others to enhance physical performance.
"trillions more in leverage that juiced their returns like anabolic steroids" (p. 12)

Puckish: playful, especially in a mischievous way.
"Many of the msot important breakthroughs in quant history derived from this obscure, puckish mathematician, one of the first to learn how to use pure math to make money - first at the blackjack tables of Las Vegas and then in the global casino known as Wall Street." (p. 15)

Swing shift: a work shift from mid-afternoon to around midnight.
"the swing shift at Doublas Aircraft" (p. 16)

Croupier: the person in charge of a gaming table, gathering in and paying out money or tokens.
"croupiers take bets after the ball is in motion" (p. 17)

Glad-handing: (especially of a politician) greet or welcome warmly or with the appearance of warmth.
"all smiles and glad-handing" (p. 24)

Absinthe: a potent green aniseed-flavored liqueur, originally made with the shrub wormwood.
"too much absinthe" (p. 30)

Touchstone: a standard or criterion by which something is judged or recognized.
"A quant touchstone, it soon became one of the most influential how-to books on investing ever written." (p. 32)

Stochastic: randomly determined; having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analyzed statistically but may not be predicted precisely.
"Scholes and Robert Merton, an MIT professor whose ingenious use of stochastic calculus had further validated the Black-Scholes model, would win the Nobel Prize for their work on option pricing." (p. 40)

Heady: having a strong or exhilarating effect.
"Thorp and Regan were managing about $130 million, a heady increase from the $10,000 stake Thorp had received from Manny Kimmel" (p. 41)

Peripatetic: traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
"After Merrill, the peripatetic Tartaglia went to five other firms before landing at Morgan in 1984." (p. 42)

Agog: very eager or curious to hear or see something.
Pointed: (of a remark or look) expressing criticism in a direct and unambiguous way.
"Adams was agog. Griffin was smart and focused, and he asked penetrating and coherent questions about the market - questions that were so pointed they made Adams stop and search for a coherent answer." (p. 70)

Scotch: decisively put an end to.
"scotched the plan" (p. 76)

Grizzled: having or streaked with gray hair.
"grizzled traders" (p. 77)

Brogue: a strong outdoor shoe with ornamental perforated patterns in the leather.
"Boston brogue" (p. 77)

Chino: a cotton twill fabric, typically khaki-colored. Casual pants made from chino or a similar fabric.
"a loose-fitting blue cotton button-down shirt and tan chinos" (p. 77)

Flatly: in a firm and unequivocal manner; absolutely.
" 'The evidence shows that trying to pick stocks is a complete waste of time,' Fama said flatly." (p. 78)

Crackerjack: exceptionally good.
Crack: very good, especially at a specified activity or in a specified role.
"crackerjack quant combo" (p. 80)

é·mi·nence grise: a person who exercises power or influence in a certain sphere without holding an official position.
"Samuelson was becoming an é·mi·nence grise of the economic community" (p. 83)

Acolyte: a person assisting the celebrant in a religious service or procession.
"It's a paradox that continues to baffle [efficient market hypothesis] acolytes." (p. 84)

Warren: a network of interconnecting rabbit burrows. A densely populated or labyrinthine building or district.
Storied: celebrated in or associated with stories or legends.
"Weinstein would visit after hours and roam the warrrens of the storied bank" (p. 91)

Swap: an exchange of liabilities between two borrowers, either so that each acquires access to funds in a currency they need or so that a fixed interest rate is exchanged for a floating rate.
"In theory, hundreds of swaps, or more, could be written on a single bond."

Hotbed: an environment promoting the growth of something, especially something unwelcome.
"At the time, the quants were known as rocket scientists, since many came from research hotbeds such as Bell Labs, where cell phones were invented, or Los Alamos National Laboratory, birthplae of the atomic bomb. Wall Street's gut traders eventually proved to be no match for such explosive brainpower." (p. 103)

Schlep, schlepper: an inept or stupid person.
"poor schleps at the end of the line" (p. 104)

Nefarious: (typically of an action or activity) wicked or criminal.
"The suit also hinted at a nefarious swaps deal that he described as a 'massive scam' " (p. 116)

Philosopher's stone: a mythical substance supposed to change any metal into gold or silver and, according to some, to cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely. Its discovery was the supreme object of alchemy.
"the holy grail, the philosopher's stone - the secret mythical Truth of the financial markets" (p. 117)

Unstinting: given or giving without restraint; unsparing.
"unstinting success" (p. 120)

Hamlet: a small settlement, generally one smaller than a village.
"hamlet of the queen" (p. 122)

Faux: not genuine; fake or false.
"faux village" (p. 122)

Apocryphal: (of a story or statement) of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true.
"One story - perhaps apocryphal" (p. 137)

Credenza: a sideboard or cupboard.
"water kept in an office credenza" (p. 137)

Auspicious: giving or being a sign of future success.
"a very auspicious, and lucky, start" (p. 138)

Beau: a boyfriend or male admirer.
"future beau of the supermodel Elle Macpherson" (p. 142)

Mentalist: a magician who performs feats that apparently demonstrate extraordinary mental powers, such as mind-reading.
"a magician and mentalist" (p. 144)

Gunslinger: a forceful and adventurous participant in a particular sphere.
Preternatural: beyond what is normal or natural.
"Hunter had a reputation as a gunslinger, doubling down on trades if they moved against him. He was preternaturally confident that he would make money on them in the long run, so why not?" (p. 155)

Mogul: an important or powerful person, especially in the motion picture or media industry.
"Hollywood mogul David Geffen" (p. 156)

Magnate: a wealthy and influential person, especially in business.
"publishing magnate S. I. Newhouse" (p. 156)

Filet mignon: a small tender piece of beef from the end of the tenderloin.
Tenderloin: the tenderest part of a loin of beef, pork, etc., taken from under the short ribs in the hindquarters.
"The dinner included lobster, filet mignon, and baked Alaska" (p. 158)

Tony: fashionable among wealthy or stylish people.
"tony, aging resort" (p. 165)

Hothouse: an environment that encourages the rapid growth or development of someone or something, especially in a stifling or intense way.
"a nerdy band of hothouse quants" (p. 176)

Regale: entertain or amuse (someone) with talk.
"regaling the table with tales of 'correlation' " (p. 179)

Byzantine: (of a system or situation) excessively complicated, typically involving a great deal of administrative detail.
"One of the problems with the Byzantine practice of carving up CDOs into all these slices was figuring out how to price them." (p. 180)

Fantasia: a thing that is composed of a mixture of different forms or styles.
"increasingly complex derivatives fantasia" (p. 191)

Veritable: used as an intensifier, often to qualify a metaphor.
"veritable quant fantasyland of riches" (p. 197)

Rout: a decisive defeat.
"The Chinese market began to collapse, falling 10 percent in a single day and triggering a global stock market rout that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average drop more than 500 points." (p. 198)

Pantheon: a group of particularly respected, famous, or important people.
"highest pantheon of the investing universe" (p. 208)

Scion: a descendant of a notable family.
"due to give birth to the first scion of the Griffin dynasty" (p. 246)

Hard-scrabble: involving hard work and struggle.
"a product of Chicago's hard-scrabble south side" (p. 253)

Brook: tolerate or allow (something, typically dissent or opposition).
Wrought: (of metals) beaten out or shaped by hammering.
"Asness had surrounded himself with yes-men... and brooked no deviation from the carefully wrought models that had made him wildly rich." (p. 255)

Manic: frenetically busy; frantic.
" 'We've got to act fast so this financial tsunami doesn't wash us away,' Fuld said to his underlings, a manic tone in his voice." (p. 256)

Red-eye: an overnight or late-night flight on a commercial airline.
"red-eye back to New York" (p. 258)

Patina: a green or brown film on the surface of bronze or similar metals, produced by oxidation over a long period.
"A patina of sweat glistened on his egglike dome." (p. 263)

Beholden: owing thanks or having a duty to someone in return for help or a service.
"banks would be far more beholden to bank regulators and would be subject to more restrictive capital requirements" (p. 275)

Mendacity: untruthfulness
"anonymous mendacity on the Internet" (p. 284)

Prosaic: having the style or diction of prose; lacking poetic beauty. Commonplace; unromantic.
"The answer, at the end of the day, may be as prosaic as this: The people in charge are smarter than everyone else." (p. 287)

Hobnobbing: mix socially, especially with those of higher social status.
"Griffin was in Beverly Hills hobnobbing with former junk bond king Michael Milken at the Milken Institute Global Conference, where rich people gathered for the primary purpose of reminding one another how smart they are." (p. 301)

Clearinghouse: a bankers' establishment where checks and bills from member banks are exchanged, so that only the balances need be paid in cash.
"Progress had been made in setting up a clearinghouse for credit default swaps to keep better track of the slippery contracts." (p. 312)

January 8, 2018

The Great Depression: A Diary (Benjamin Roth)

Here's the vocabulary list for The Great Depression: A Diary.

The Representative Quotes section is unusually long because this book is full of nuggets of wisdom written by someone in the midst of the Great Depression, not after the fact. I want to keep a record of what I learned for future reference.

I've preserved numerous spelling and grammar errors that appeared in the original diary (and, therefore, in the published work).

Knowing more about the Great Depression has helped me better appreciate elements of our popular culture like the songs Happy Days are Here Again (1929, pre-Depression, with Barbra Streisand's post-Depression, post-WWII performance in 1962) and Somewhere Over the Rainbow (1939).

Roth, Benjamin. The Great Depression: A Diary. PublicAffairs, 2009.

Representative Quotes

"In 1929 when the crash came all sorts of people were into the market on margins over their heads - doctors, lawyers, merchants, bootblacks, waitresses, etc. They bought stocks on tips, did not know what the company sold or made and did not know how to investigate a stock even if such a thought had occurred to them." (p. 6)

"June 5, 1931: The sheriff has been selling recently at public sale many vacant lots on which accumulated taxes amount to $500 or more. At these sales the lots are selling as low as $25 apiece clear of taxes. One of my clients bought ten of them ranging from $10 to $50. Of course they are mostly located in undesirable neighborhoods. Another client had 10 buildings razed because he could not collect rents and the taxes are exorbitant. This is a popular way to reduce taxes.... The constant supervision required by real estate, the costly upkeep, its illiquidity, the danger of a deficiency judgment - all have cooled me considerably." (p. 9)

"July 30, 1931: Magazines and newspapers are full of articles telling people to buy stocks, real estate etc. at bargain prices. They say that times are sure to get better and that many big fortunes have been built this way. The trouble is that nobody has any money." (p. xii)

"August 9, 1931: Professional men have been hit hard by the depression. This is particularly true of doctors and dentists. Their overhead is high and collections are impossible. One doctor smoothed a dollar bill out on his desk the other day and said that was all the money he had taken in for a week." (p. xii)

"October 10, 1931: Again and again I am forced to the conclusion that in prosperous times a man must be cautious and preserve his capital and be careful not to over-expand his business or to go too deeply into debt relying on a continuation of good business to pay the debt. In time of depression a man can be brave and if the depression is nearing an end he can invest his money or expand his business or open a new business with confidence that he is facing 5 or 10 years of prosperity. He can feel sure that the road will be up - not down. Many great and prosperous businesses were founded on the ruins of depression....
"A great many losses and failures in business and in investment are due to the reversal of this policy. At the height of prosperity they rush in to buy stocks or real estate or businesses and assume enormous indebtedness which can be liquidated only if the boom spiral mounts higher and higher. Then comes an abrupt end to prosperity - a crash - and down go these businesses and investments purchased at top prices. If the purchase was made mostly with borrowed capital as so often happens - then you can write finis to the chapter." (p. 28)

"April 6, 1936: I read an interesting thing today about Floyd Odlum and the building up of his Atlas Investment Trust. Started with $40,000 in 1924 - ran it up to a million in 1929. Sold out for cash and held on to cash until the bottom of depression was reached in 1932. With his cash he bought heavily in 'special situations.' Mostly in investment trusts hard up for cash. Stocks in these trusts were selling for less than 50% of their asset values. Since the assets were stocks quoted at depression levels - the buyer of such an investment trust bought the assets at 1/2 of depression values. He then held on and later liquidated at huge profits. He never took over the active management of a business but sold the stock to those who could run it. There were many such 'special situations' during the depression. He was actually buying stocks under the hammer. The same thing happened with railroads and other companies such as Continental Shares when they went into receivership. The person who had enough money to liquidate them could have had the assets for a song. Same principle as buying real estate at a foreclosure sold for price of the mortgage. Assets of the Atlas Corporation are now over $100,000,000 and they have literally become private bankers." (p. 171)

"April 28. 1936: For the last two weeks the stock market has been slowly sinking. Yesterday a bad break brought losses ranging as high as 10 points. It is funny how when the stock market is rising every piece of news is regarded optimistically and bad news is ignored. Now the reverse is true." (p. 171)

"August 24, 1936: It is an interesting sidelight on this depression that many companies which went into receivership during the depression are now being reorganized. In most cases the common stock was wiped out but bonds or preferred are good. In 1933-4 these preferred stocks could be bought for as low as 25 cents per share ($100 par) and are now worth as high as $14 (Continental shares). Here again a man with liquid capital and courage could have made a fortune on a comparatively small investment. Some who bought at low prices did not have the courage to hold on and sold at a nice profit of $4 or $5 per share. The real winnings went to those who held onto the receivership shares throughout the whole reorganization." (p. 176)

"January 2, 1937: "1932-1936 were bad depression years for the lawyer and even tho prosperity has returned for most people it has not yet returned for the lawyer. It will be a year or more before people will have enough money to buy real estate and do other things that require a lawyer. The lawyer who specialized in bankruptcies, receiverships and reorganizations reaped a harvest throughout the depression....
"Cash is king in every depression. A small investment in real estate or stocks or bonds in 1932 would be worth a fortune today.... Even though good stocks, bonds, and real estate were selling at giveaway prices but few men had both the cash and the courage to buy when things looked the blackest.
"When the final upturn came in 1935 it came very quietly and suddenly and kept going up.... the full effect cannot be appreciated unless you look back to see what progress was made in 1935-1936.
"During past depressions prominent bankers, business men, etc. were all wrong in most of their predictions. Use your own judgment and do your own thinking." (p. 194)

"March 11, 1937: President Roosevelt is still hell-bent for reform and his latest proposal is to pack the Supreme Court so it will hold constitutional his New Deal laws." (p. 197)

"October 12, 1937: During the past 2 years of general recovery, the law profession lagged behind. We are still badly in debt and have not yet had a chance to recover. It has been a long, hard pull." (p. 201)

June 24, 1938: Stock prices have continued straight up for more than a week now and many gains amount to 50% or more. Just as in 1932 the rise came after a lull of several weeks and a falling down in volume of sales - but no indication of improvement in business indices. It caught the economists flat-footed.
"Both 1932 and 1938 indicate there is no way to catch the bottom of the swing because it comes without warning. When liquidation has dried up and the situation looks hopeless - that is the turn. Your guess is as good as anybody's." (p. 213)

"July 20, 1938: In this depression at least the stock upturn came several weeks before business indexes showed any improvement. For the past two weeks these indexes have been turning slowly up. At the time of the stock market upsurge the indexes were very slowly moving down and some were stationary. Same with stocks. Volume was low and there were many indications of a sold-out market." (p. 214)

"March 10, 1939: Talked to W.W.Z. today. He said: During the past 10 years I lost half my life savings in local banks and corporations. The directors were personal friends and they advised my investments. I thought they were high-minded men and would look after the business. When the companies were broke I found out they had protected themselves and nobody else. If I had to do it over again I would invest only in outstanding national corporations with stocks listed on the N.Y. Exchange so I could sell when trouble threatened." (p. 216)

"October 16, 1940: From time to time people tell me of their experience in the stock market. For the most part they were within reach of large profits but did not take them. Dr. S.D. said: In 1929 I held $180,000 in stocks subject to a 40% margin. The crash caught me and I rushed in to sell but my broker strongly advised against it. Later I had to put up $10,000 additional margin. I finally sold out in 1930 and salvaged only the $10,000 margin. I put this $10,000 in the Home Savings Bank. It closed in 1931. In 1932 when the market was at low ebb I sold my pass book on the Home Savings for $4000 - and bought high grade stocks at 1/10 their real value. I determined to hold these until the market came back to normal. I did hold on until the first part of 1935 but then I needed money so badly I sold these stocks for about $10,000. Six months later these stocks shot sky high and I would have made an extra $50,000 if I had been able to hold on." (p. 235)

"July 9, 1941: As usual the law profession drags along in the vanguard and has reflected very little of the war boom." (p. 248)

"December 15, 1941: Stocks are selling today on a 20% earning basis. Even if taxes go higher they are a good buy for the long pull." (p. 251)

"December 31, 1941: This is the craziest business year I have ever been through. We are at war, steel mills have been humming, wages are high and everybody working - yet my law practice was worse in 1941 than in 1940. Because of war, high taxes, threat of inflation, government restrictions, etc. etc. business men are afraid to expand, buy real estate or do anything constructive and there is very little for the lawyer except an occasional divorce case or other domestic business.... Some businesses do record business and others go broke. It is all a matter of luck. Auto dealers sold a record number of cars in 1940 and now there are no tires to sell. Tires have been rationed - so dealers in new tires are out of business while second-hand dealers and re-treaders are busy. There may be a few people who are making money but I do not know who. This is truly a 'profitless' prosperity and it takes a strong heart to remain in business." (p. 252)

SAT Vocabulary Words

Racketeer: a person who engages in dishonest and fraudulent business dealings.
"Youngstown's steel industry was booming again, and racketeers were getting rich on illegal gambling." (p. x)

Receivership: the state of being dealt with by an official receiver.
Receiver: a person or company appointed by a court to manage the financial affairs of a business or person that has gone bankrupt.
"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had to be taken into receivership [in 2008]." (p. xii)

Kitty-cornered (cater-cornered): situated diagonally opposite someone or something.
"Visit the nicely appointed library or historical society at Youngstown (they are partically kitty-corner across Wick Avenue from one another)" (p. xx)

Palimpset: a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.
"As if constructing a kind of economic palimpset, Roth would occasionally go back and annotate his earlier entries and did not hesitate to prove himself wrong." (p. xxi)

Rouge: a red powder or cream used as a cosmetic for coloring the cheeks or lips.
"in the latter stages of the [1922-1929] delerium [women] wore their stockings rolled and their bare knees rogued" (p. 4)

Scalper: a person who resells shares or tickets at a large or quick profit.
Par: the face value of a stock or other security, as distinct from its market value.
"The scalper then sold these bonds on the market at par and with the money scalped some more bonds." (p. 6)

Pot: a toilet.
"June 28, 1962: The U--- family bought half of East Federal St. at sheriff sales in the 1930s. However down-town real estate has gone to pot because of the growth of suburban shopping centers. The U--- family still owns half of E. Federal St. but the buildings are empty and cannot sell." (p. 13)

Rabid: having or proceeding from an extreme or fanatical support of or belief in something.
"He was particularly rabid against his investments in real estate." (p. 17)

Stogy: a long, thin, inexpensive cigar.
"2 for 5 stogies are again in popular favor" (p. 20)

Vicious: (of language or a line of reasoning) imperfect; defective.
"This scarcity of money is what makes people think if more money were printed business would be better. This is a false and vicious theory." (p. 24)

Millinery: women's hats.
"millinery store" (p. 25)

Fraternity: a group of people sharing a common profession or interests.
"The whole banking fraternity is in public disfavor" (p. 26)

Bated: in great suspense; very anxiously or excitedly.
"with bated breath we asked 'What next?' " (p. 32)

Ways and means: the methods and resources at someone's disposal for achieving something.
"a meeting... to consider ways and means.... the choir has been fired and other economies affected but this does not seem enough" (p. 41)

Go to the wall: (of a business) fail; go out of business.
"Many old businesses are going to the wall" (p. 44)

Dub: give an unofficial name or nickname to (someone or something).
"dubbed themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force" (p. 51)

Extraction: the ethnic origin of someone's family.
"of German extraction" (p. 56)

Plead: present and argue for (a position), especially in court or in another public context.
"pleading 'state rights' on the Prohibition question" (p. 63)

Shantytown: a deprived area on the outskirts of a town consisting of large numbers of crude dwellings.
"burned down the shantytown where some 15,000 veterans had camped" (p. 65)

Semi-annual: occurring twice a year; half-yearly.
"unfavorable semi-annual reports" (p. 66)

Thrall: the state of being in someone's power or having great power over someone.
"nearly one-third of the value of farms was in thrall, mainly to banks and insurance" (p. 79)

Magnate: a wealthy and influential person, especially in business.
"car magnate Henry Ford" (p. 90)

Indict: formally accuse of or charge with a serious crime.
"Indictment of bankers and investigations are the order of the day." (p. 104)

Terrific: of great size, amount, or intensity.
"Everything depends on the President. It is a terrific responsibility." (p. 108)

Brain trust: a group of experts appointed to advise a government or politician.
"Pres. Roosevelt's advisers are a group of college professors called 'the brain trust.' " (p. 116)

Piece work: work paid for according to the amount produced.
"the girls claim they work long hours on piece work" (p. 116)

High finance: financial transactions involving large amounts of money.
"A great deal of rotten-ness in high finance has been discovered." (p. 119)

Come to a head: reach a crisis.
"I believe the issue of more direct inflation will come to a head soon. In the meantime my law practice remains stagnant while commodity prices go up at a dizzying pace." (p. 131)

Tory: an American colonist who supported the British side during the American Revolution.
"The U.S. Chamber of Commerce takes a public stand against President Roosevelt's gold policy and demands a return to sound money and the gold standard. The President strikes back by calling them a bunch of 'tories.' Remembering that George Washington would not accept Continental currency in his business dealings I do not quite see the parallel implied by the use of the term." (p. 140)

Ejectment: the action or process of evicting a tenant from property.
"Radical socialism seems rapant in every class of society but mostly ministers and college professors. This has spread to the working class. They no longer ask for favors but 'demand' government work, cancellation of mortgages, reduction of debts, etc. They feel the courts will not permit foreclosure of mortgages or ejectments, etc." (p. 156)

Demagogue: a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.
Panacea: a solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases.
"the voice of the demagog began to be heard throughout the land. Socialism, Communism, more equitable distribution of wealth, new currency and other panaceas became ordinary table talk." (p. 159)

Avarice: extreme greed for wealth or material gain.
"avaricious and not satisfied with a fair investment return" (p. 179)

Scurrilous: making or spreading scandalous claims about someone with the intention of damaging their reputation.
"scurrilous anti-Semitic literature" (p. 182)

Pump-priming: the stimulation of economic activity by investment.
"March 1, 1938: After 8 years of pump-priming and other trick methods of bringing back prosperity, it is my conclusion that none of them are any good. In our capitalistic system we must let the forces of competition and demand and supply work things out in a natural way. No man or group of men is smart enough to control prices or supply and demand or currency in a nation so large as ours." (p. 210)

Cash and carry: a system of wholesale trading whereby goods are paid for in full at the time of purchase and taken away by the purchaser.
Embargo: an official ban on trade or other commercial activity with a particular country.
" 'cash and carry' embargo" (p. 223)

Ebb: (of an emotion or quality) gradually lessen or reduce.
"morality and religion have been at a low ebb" (p. 225)

Bait: torment (a trapped or restrained animal), especially by allowing dogs to attack it.
"Wilkie [FDR's opponent in the Presidential election] promises to hold on to the social gains but to put a stop to the baiting of big business; to the trend toward government ownership and national socialism." (p. 236)

Firm: (of a price) rise slightly to reach a level considered secure.
"a firming of money rates" (p. 240)

Harden: (of prices of stocks, commodities, etc.) rise and remain steady at a higher level.
"interest rates will not harden in the next 6 months" (p. 243)

November 26, 2017

SAT Vocabulary: The Undoing Project (Michael Lewis)

Here's a partial vocabulary list for The Undoing Project. Enjoy!

Lewis, Michael. The Undoing Project. W.W. Norton, 2016.

SAT Vocabulary Words

Ape: imitate the behavior or manner of (someone or something), especially in an absurd or unthinking way.
"In 2004, after aping Oakland's approach to baseball decision making, the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series in nearly a century." (p. 16)

Sui generis: unique.
"Trump seemed sui generis" (p. 16)

Chit: a short official note, memorandum, or voucher, typically recording a sum owed.
"used the draft pick as the biggest chit in a deal to land a superstar, James Harden" (p. 44)

Vagary: an unexpected and inexplicable change in a situation or in someone's behavior.
"vagaries of human judgment" (p. 45)

Fiendish: extremely awkward or complex.
"fiendishly complicated alarm clock" (p. 45)

Putative: generally considered or reputed to be.
"It was curious, when you thoguht about it, that such a putatively competitive market as a market for highly paid athletes could be so inefficient in the first place." (p. 51)
"If these putative experts could be misled about the value of their predictions, who would not be misled?" (p. 80)

Sweep: a comprehensive search or survey of a place or area.
Makeshift: serving as a temporary substitute; sufficient for the time being.
"after he'd been taken away in a big seep in November 1941... he was jailed in the makeshift prison in Drancey" (p. 53)

Chattel: (in general use) a personal possession; an item of property other than real estate.
"freet o travel to Paris to see what remained of their home and chattels" (p. 58)

Minaret: a tall slender tower, typically part of a mosque, with a balcony from which a muezzin calls Muslims to prayer.
"The minaret on the beach beside what is now the Intercontinental Hotel became an Arab sniper nest." (p. 63)

Preposterous: contrary to reason or common sense; utterly absurd or ridiculous.
Danny was younger, and dressed in a jacket and tie, which struck the other students as preposterous." (p. 67)

Platoon: a subdivision of a company of soldiers, usually forming a tactical unit that is commanded by a lieutenant and divided into several sections.
"Danny's platoon was meant to circle around the village and ambush any Arab forces." (p. 74)

Rebuff: reject (someone or something) in an abrupt or ungracious manner.
"who tried to lead and was rebuffed" (p. 77)

Halo effect: the tendency for an impression created in one area to influence opinion in another area.
"Danny knew of the halo effect.... [the interviewers] had been spending twenty minutes with each new recruit and from the encounter offering a general impression of the recruit's character." (p. 79)

Neurotic: abnormally sensitive, obsessive, or tense and anxious.
"psychoanalysts who tried to predict what would become of their neurotic patients fared poorly compared to simple algorithms" (p. 80)

Fog: something that obscures and confuses a situation or someone's thought processes.
Strafe: attack repeatedly with bombs or machine-gun fire from low-flying aircraft.
"In the fog of battle, he was strafed not just by Egyptian but also Isaeli warplanes." (p. 86)

Force: a person or thing regarded as exerting power or influence.
Operator: a person who acts in a specified, especially a manipulative, way.
"His mother, Genia Tversky, was a social force and political operator who became a mebmer of the first Israeli Parliament, and the next four after that." (p. 88)

Morose: sullen and ill-tempered.
Kibbutz: a communal settlement in Israel, typically a farm.
"She'd turned up one day, morosely, in their high school class. After her father's death she'd lived on a kibbutz, which she loathed" (p. 90)

Disquisition: a long or elaborate essay or discussion on a particular subject.
"a disquisition on the differences between Americans and Israelis" (p. 95)

Quotidian: ordinary or everyday, especially when mundane.
"He minimized quotidian tasks he thought a waste of time - he could be found in the middle of the day, having just woken up, driving himself to work while shaving and brushing his teeth in the rearview mirror." (p. 96)

Preternatural: beyond what is normal or natural.
"a preternatural gift for doing only precisely what he wanted to do" (p. 97)

Abnegation: the act of renouncing or rejecting something.
"abnegation of social responsibility" (p. 98)

Insouciance: casual lack of concern; indifference.
"His classmate Amia Lieblich witnessed Amos's insouciance after he'd been assigned by a professor to administer an intelligence test to a five-year-old child. 'The night before the work was due, Amos turned to Amnon and said, "Amnon, lie down on the couch. I am going to ask you some questions. Pretend you are five years old." And he got away with it!' " (p. 101)

Uzi: a type of submachine gun of Israeli design.
"Barabary was struck by how casually her new husband tossed his Uzi on the bed before taking a shower." (p. 120)

Ostensibly: apparently or purportedly, but perhaps not actually.
"the minds ability to defend itself from what it ostensibly did not want to perceive" (p. 131)

November 18, 2017

SAT Vocabulary: Flash Boys (Michael Lewis)

Here are the vocabulary definitions for Flash Boys. Happy studying!

Lewis, Michael. Flash Boys. W.W. Norton, 2014.

SAT Vocabulary Words

Sensibility: a person's delicate sensitivity that makes them readily offended or shocked.
"scored a direct hit on Canadian sensibilities" (p. 28)

Staid: sedate, respectable, and unadventurous.
"The RBC Christmas party had always been a staid affair." (p. 28)

Behest: a person's orders or command.
Cronyism: the appointment of friends and associates to positions of authority, without proper regard to their qualifications.
"At the behest of the SEC, in turn responding to public protests about cronyism, the exchanges themselves, in 2005, went from being utilities owned by their members to public corporations run for profit." (p. 35)

Extemporaneous: spoken or done without preparation.
"'I'll just wing it....' this first extemporaneous presentation" (p. 77)

Glad-hand: (especially of a politician) greet or welcome warmly or with the appearance of warmth.
"It's always seemed to me that the things you need to do to influence change had to do with glad-handing. It just felt so phony." (p. 88)

Pernicious: having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way.
Predation: the action of attacking or plundering.
"Reg NMS was intended to create equality of opportunity in the U.S. stock market. Instead it institutionalized a more pernicious inequality. A small class of insiders with the resources to create speed were not allowed to preview the market and trade on what they had seen." (p. 98)
"It wasn't high-frequency trading in itself that was pernicious; it was its predations." (p. 173)

Whence: from what place or source.
Midst: in the middle of.
"From whence came the regulation that made brokers feel comfortable not answering their phones in the midst of the 1987 crash?" (p. 100)
"jolted it back from whence it had come" (p. 195)

Loss leader: a product sold at a loss to attract customers.
"like bait in a trap - a loss leader... the goal was to spend as little as possible to acquire the necessary information - to make those initial trades, the bait, as small as possible." (p. 112)

Dutifully: in a conscientious or obedient manner.
"Gates was dutifully shocked: 'When I first saw the results of these tests, I thought: This is obviously not right. As far as he could tell, no one seemed much to care that 35,000 small investors could be so exposed to predation inside Wall Street's most prominent bank.' " (p. 116)

Schmuck: a foolish or contemptible person.
"I'm amazed that people don't ask the questions.... that they don't dig deeper. If some schmuck in West Chester, PA can figure it out, I've got to believe other people did, too." (p. 117)

Canvass: question (someone) in order to ascertain their opinion on something.
"Brad flew to Canada and sold his bosses on the idea of an RBC-led stock exchange. Then, in the fall of 2011, he canvassed a handful of the word's biggest money managers... and some of its most influential hedge fund managers..... They all had the same reaction." (p. 119)

Kingpin: a person or thing that is essential to the success of an organization or operation.
"There were maybe twenty-five guys I called kingpins - the people who actually knew what was going on." (p. 121)

Larceny: theft of personal property.
"It was riskless, larcenous, and legal - made so by Reg NMS. The way Brad described it, it was as if only one gambler were permitted to know the scores of last week's NFL games, with no one else aware of his knowledge. He places bets in the casino on every game and waits for other gamblers to take the other side of those bets." (p. 124)

On-board: go through procedures to effectively integrate (a new employee) into an organization or familiarize (a new customer or client) with one's products or services.
"managed on-boarding of all high-frequency clients to Crossfinder" (p. 125)

(Aid and) abet: encourage or assist (someone) to do something wrong, in particular, to commit a crime or other offense.
Infamous: well known for some bad quality or deed.
Rig: manage or conduct (something) fraudulently so as to produce a result or situation that is advantageous to a particular person.
"By mid-2007 Goldman's bond trading department was aiding and abetting a global financial crisis, most infamously by helping the Greek government rig its books and disguise its debt, and by designing subprime mortgages to fail, so that they might make money by betting against them." (p. 134)

Dissemble: conceal one's true motives, feelings, or beliefs.
Obfuscate: render obscure, unclear, or unintelligible.
"People on Wall Street were simply paid too much to lie and dissemble and obfuscate, and so every trusting feeling in the financial markets simply had to be followed by trailing doubt." (p. 156)

Glitch: a sudden, usually temporary malfunction or irregularity of equipment.
Queer: spoil or ruin (an agreement, event, or situation).
Systemic: relating to a system, especially as opposed to a particular part.
Quirk: a peculiar behavioral habit.
Exploit: make full use of and derive benefit from (a resource).
"The glitches at BATS and Nasdaq that queered the market for the benefit of HFT [high-frequency trading] weren't flukes but symptoms of a systemic problem... many other little market quirks there that were potentially being exploited" (p. 185)

Epithet: an adjective or descriptive phrase expressing a quality characteristic of the person or thing mentioned; an epithet as a term of abuse.
"Irish epithet" (p. 191)

Fractious: (of a group or organization) difficult to control; unruly.
Tranquil: free from disturbance; calm.
Coherent: united as or forming a whole.
Political: relating to, affecting, or acting according to the interests of status or authority within an organization rather than matters of principle.
"The car remained fractious and unsettled. The car holding his other friends was tranquil." (p. 195)
"It was a mistake to think of a bank as a coherent entity. They were fractious, and intensely political." (p. 234)

Biff: strike (someone) roughly or sharply, usually with the fist.
Ill-defined: not having a clear description or limits; vague.
"He'd been biffed from an ill-defined career path onto a nother, clearer one." (p. 197)

Ape: imitate the behavior or manner of (someone or something), especially in an absurd or unthinking way.
"the many foreign stock markets, bond markets, options markets, and currency markets that had aped the U.S. stock market's structure" (p. 201)

Quixotic: exceedingly idealistic; unrealistic and impractical.
"a possibly quixotic attempt to fix a financial system that had become deeply screwed up" (p. 208)

Rebuff: reject (someone or something) in an abrupt or ungracious manner.
Overture: an approach or proposal made to someone with the aim of opening negotiations or establishing a relationship.
"Before IEX launched, Brad had rebuffed an overture from Intercontinental Exchange (known as ICE), the new owners of the New York Stock Exchange, to buy IEX for hundreds of millions of dollars - and walked away from the chance to get rick quick." (p. 213)

Arbiter: a person whose views or actions have great influence over trends in social behavior.
"The more the big banks sensed that Brad was being regarded by big investors as an arbiter of Wall Street behavior, the more carefully they confronted him." (p. 214)

Troll: walk; stroll.
"John Schwall had found him while trolling on LinkedIn and asked him to come for an interview." (p. 221)

Heuristic: proceeding to a solution by trial and error or by rules that are only loosely defined; a heuristic process or method.
Mumbo jumbo: language or ritual causing or intended to cause confusion or bewilderment.
"We have heuristic data ******** and other mumbo jumbo to determine our routing." (p. 232)

Distinct possibility: with a high probability
"the distinct possibility that investors in the stock market were about to wake up to what was being done to them, and to go to war against the people that were doing it" (p. 235)

Rich: (of a color, sound, smell, etc.) pleasantly deep or strong.
"Our system of justice is a poor tool for digging out a rich truth." (p. 246)

Weedy: (of a person) thin and physically weak in appearance.
"this monstrous feast was now being served to a collection of weedy technologists" (p. 247)

Double jeopardy: a procedural defence that prevents an accused person from being tried again on the same (or similar) charges and on the same facts, following a valid acquittal or conviction.
"To avoid double jeopardy, the Manhattan DA's office had found new crimes with which to charge Sarge for the same actions." (p. 258)

Jeopardy: danger arising from being on trial for a criminal offense.
Cross: oppose or stand in the way of (someone).
Incidentally: in an incidental manner; as a chance occurrence.
Circumstantial: (of evidence or a legal case) pointing indirectly toward someone's guilt but not conclusively proving it.
Pick: criticize someone in a petty way.
Vivid: producing powerful feelings or strong, clear images in the mind.
"Just like on the street, there is life in prison, and random people get there based on the jeopardy of the system. The prisons are filled by people who crossed the law, as well as by those who were incidentally and circumstantially picked and crushed by somebody else's agenda. On the other hand, as a vivid benefit, you become very much independent of material property and learn to appreciate very simple pleasures in life such as the sunlight and morning breeze." (p. 259)

Motley: incongruously varied in appearance or character; disparate.
Queue: a line or sequence of people or vehicles awaiting their turn to be attended to or to proceed.
"motley queues of bikes, cars, pickup trucks, Amish horse-drawn carts, and farm equipment" (p. 262)

Festoon: adorn (a place) with ribbons, garlands, or other decorations.
"The tower was 180 feet high, with no ladder, and festooned with electrical equipment." (p. 270)

November 10, 2017

SAT Vocabulary: 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask

Here are the vocabulary definitions for 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask. Happy studying!

Woods, Thomas E. 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask. Random House, 2007.

SAT Vocabulary Words

Denounce: publicly declare to be wrong or evil.
"But to some critics, the bathtub was a dangerous luxury that would undermine the republican simplicity of American society. The medical profession even denounced it as a health hazard." (p. 2)

Banal: so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.
"What the actual history of the bathtub may be I don't know.... Digging it out would be a dreadful job, and the result, after all that labor, would probably be a string of banalities." (p. 2)

Burlesque: an absurd or comically exaggerated imitation of something, especially in a literary or dramatic work; a parody.
"That the article was a hoax - 'a burlesque history of the bathtub,' Menken later it, should have been clear enough from the beginning, he thought." (p. 2)

Myth: traditional stories or legends collectively.
Platitude: a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.
"The longevity of certain historical myths, and the slogans and platitudes used to support them, still manage to surprise me." (p. 3)

Shyster: a person, especially a lawyer, who uses unscrupulous, fraudulent, or deceptive methods in business.
"The less real history we know, the more susceptible we become to manipulation by shysters." (p. 3)

Comity: the mutual recognition by nations of the laws and customs of others.
"The United States consisted essentially of people whose religious and cultural traits were broadly similar and compatible, rather than widely divergent and a potential threat to social comity." (p. 9)

Chic: elegantly and stylishly fashionable.
"No matter how chic they remain in some quarters even today, socialism and interventionism lead to impoverishment and - as studies of the economic freedom of the countries of the world have shown time and again - worsen the lot of the poor." (p. 15)

Afoul: into conflict or difficulty with.
"running afoul of a large stone" (p. 19)

Reproach: censure or rebuke (an offense).
Reanimate: restore to life or consciousness; revive.
"The Cherokees did not reproach themselves for this, since they believed that deer felled in a hunt would be reanimated." (p. 19)

Putative: generally considered or reputed to be.
"Not especially flattered at being pressed into the service of white men's ideologies, Indian tribes have not always welcomed this putative alliance with environmentalists and other activists." (p. 22)

Weir: an enclosure of stakes set in a stream as a trap for fish.
"When the Indians had obtained enough fish they would remove the weirs from the river" (p. 23)

Quasi: seemingly; apparently but not really.
"a quasi-spiritual reverence for the things of nature" (p. 24)

Venal: showing or motivated by susceptibility to bribery.
"Jefferson once wrote, 'When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.' " (p. 26)

Impertinent: not showing proper respect; rude.
"scholars impertinent enough to mention nullification today" (p. 27)

Vis-à-vis: as compared with; as opposed to.
"Human nature being what it is, the federal government will tend to expand its own power vis-à-vis those of the states as it hands down rulings in favor of itself." (p. 28)

Depredation: an act of attacking or plundering.
"in respose to British and French depredations against American neutral rights on the seas" (p. 28)

Beg to differ: politely disagree.
"The Massachusetts legislature begged to differ." (p. 29)

Remonstrance: a forcefully reproachful protest.
Reporachful: expressing disapproval or disappointment.
"no longer a subject for the deliberation or remonstrance of the citizen" (p. 29)

Affidavit: a written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation, for use as evidence in court.
"The owner had to state in an affidavit that the slave in question had escaped" (p. 33)

Remand: place (a defendant) on bail or in custody, especially when a trial is adjourned.
"the accused was in effect remanded to slavery" (p. 33)

Pecuniary: relating to or consisting of money.
"To give the commissioner a pecuniary interest in the outcome of a hearing over which he presides and in which he must make findings of fact... is a violation of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment." (p. 33)

Antebellum: occurring or existing before a particular war, especially the American Civil War.
"antebellum America" (p. 35)

Polyglot: a person who knows and is able to use several languages.
"This amazing polyglot of men seeking rapid wealth, and with virtually no intention of building a lasting society, created a set of customary legal institutions which not only flourished in California but successfully adapted to conditions across the West." (p. 50)

Alcalde: a magistrate or mayor in a Spanish, Portuguese, or Latin American town.
"The miners settled disputes either through a district-wide meeting or by an elected jury of alcade. The alcalde kept his position only so long as the miners accepted his ruling as just." (p. 50)

Particularism: exclusive attachment to one's own group, party, or nation.
"particularism, state rights, limited government" (p. 55)

Watershed: an event or period marking a turning point in a course of action or state of affairs.
"If the Spanish-American war was a turning point, World War I was a great watershed." (p. 55)

Belligerent: a nation or person engaged in war or conflict, as recognized by international law.
"Wison believed that if the United States became a belligerent, the American president would be assured a seat at the peace table when the fighting was over." (p. 56)

Sordid: involving ignoble actions and motives; arousing moral distaste and contempt.
"[The progressive clergy] transported the war out of the sordid but understandable realm of national ambition, rivalry, and interests - where policies and goalscan be debated and defined - into the rarified world of ideals, abstractions, and politicized theology, where disent and limitations are moral failures or even heresies." (p. 56)

Meliorism: the belief that the world can be made better by human effort.
Ideological: based on or relating to a system of ideas and ideals, especially concerning economic or political theory and policy.
"global meliorism, an ideological model of global uplift based on American cultural, economic, and political models" (p. 58)

Wry: using or expressing dry, especially mocking, humor.
"some on the Right have observed wryly that the political Left is willing to use military force, just so long as no discernible American interest is at stake" (p. 59)

Armistice: an agreement made by opposing sides in a war to stop fighting for a certain time; a truce.
"Marshal Foch said of the Treaty of Versailles, 'This is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.' " (p. 60)

Hypochondria: abnormal anxiety about one's health, especially with an unwarranted fear that one has a serious disease.
"the emotional hypochondria that so often besets the 'civil rights' establishment" (p. 74)

Moribund: (of a thing) in terminal decline; lacking vitality or vigor.
"The fact that emancipation overwhelmed such entrenched plantation economies as Cuba and Brazil suggests that slavery was politically moribund anyway." (p. 76)

Chattel: an item of property other than real estate.
Peculiar institution: used in the 19th century to refer to the system of slavery in the southern states of the US.
"With chattels fleeing across the border and raising slavery enforcement's costs, the peculiar institution's destruction within an independent cotton South was inevitable." (p. 76)

Hegemony: leadership or dominance, especially by one country or social group over others.
"Instead of experiencing the hegemony of a universal empire... Europe evolved into a mosaic of kingdoms, principalities, city-states, ecclesiastical domauins, and other entitites." (p. 77)

Contingent: a body of troops or police sent to join a larger force in an operation.
Barbarous: primitive; uncivilized.
"landings of small naval contingents on barbarous or semi-barbarous coasts" (p. 92)

Ebullient: cheerful and full of energy.
"earned the praise of the ebullient Theodore Roosevelt" (p. 115)

Effusive: expressing feelings of gratitude, pleasure, or approval in an unrestrained or heartfelt manner.
Perfunctory: (of an action or gesture) carried out with a minimum of effort or reflection.
"Carver himself must share responsibility for the myth since he never really challenged even the most effusive praise of his work, except perhaps in the form of disclaimers that sounded more like perfunctory modesty." (p. 117)

Edifying: providing moral or intellectual instruction.
"Where does the Constitution authorize this? [T]he answer is rarely edifying." (p. 120)

Estate: all the money and property owned by a particular person, especially at death.
"[The king] was expected ti cover his expenses out of the revenues of his own estates, and anything beyond that required the consent of the various orders of society." (p. 122)

Immemorial: originating in the distant past; very old.
"immemorial custom" (p. 123)

Ipso facto: by that very fact or act.
Positivism: the theory that laws are to be understood as social rules, valid because they are enacted by authority or derive logically from existing decisions, and that ideal or moral considerations (e.g., that a rule is unjust) should not limit the scope or operation of the law.
"a measure was ipso facto constitutional because Parliament approved it. This is legal positivism" (p. 123)

Promulgate: put (a law or decree) into effect by official proclamation.
"a duly promulgated legislative act" (p. 123)

Viz: namely; in other words (used especially to introduce a gloss or explanation).
Gloss: an explanation, interpretation, or paraphrase.
"There must be in every instance a higher authority, viz. GOD." (p. 123)

Contraband: goods that have been imported or exported illegally.
"gave British officials sweeping rights to search businesses and even private homes for contraband" (p. 124)

Disingenuous: not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.
"The British had argued, perhaps disingenuously, that the colonists could have no objection to these tariffs, since Americans had accepted British tariffs in the past without protest (even if they were often evaded in practice)." (p. 125)

Excoriate: censure or criticize severely.
"Liberals who excoriate President George W. Bush for his exercise of executive power were often silent or positively enthusiastic when Bill Clinton acted similarly." (p. 134)

Yore: of long ago or former times (used in nostalgic or mock-nostalgic recollection).
Overwrought: (of a piece of writing or a work of art) too elaborate or complicated in design or construction.
"In case comparing the president to the kings of yore seems overwrought, Nisbet invites us to consider the nature of the official iconography, ceremony, and architecture that have come to surround the American presidency." (p. 135)

Tribune: a popular leader; a champion of the people.
Immediate: (of a relation or action) without an intervening medium or agency; direct.
"In a way that Washington and Lincoln had not done, and even Jackson avoided, [Theodore Roosevelt] became a very visible tribune of the people, a popular advocate whose personality seemed immediate, direct, and committed to their personal service." (p. 137)

Anthracite: coal of a hard variety that contains relatively pure carbon and burns with little flame and smoke.
"settling the anthracite coal strike" (p. 141)

Victimology: the possession of an outlook, arising from real or imagined victimization, that seems to glorify and indulge the state of being a victim.
Pantheon: all the gods of a people or religion collectively.
"these calls for 'diversity' referred only to those groups taht had a place on the Left's victimologocial pantheon" (p. 146)

Kangaroo court: an unofficial court held by a group of people in order to try someone regarded, especially without good evidence, as guilty of a crime or misdemeanor.
"Terrified of the kangaroo proceeding that is all too typical in discrimination cases, Denny's settled." (p. 152)

Specie: money in the form of coins rather than notes.
"In the remote frontier, whiskey usually had to substitute for specie as a medium of exchange." (p. 161)

Excise: a tax levied on certain goods and commodities produced or sold within a country and on licenses granted for certain activities.
"Americans had argued against excise taxes on philosophical grounds since the Stamp Act of 1765." (p. 161)

Alleged: (of an incident or a person) said, without proof, to have taken place or to have a specified illegal or undesirable quality.
"harmed the very people it was allegedly intended to help" (p. 172)

Stooge: a person who serves merely to support or assist others, particularly in doing unpleasant work.
"the popular rendition of these events continues to portray Hoover as the laissez-faire stooge who could have helped people during a time of great deprivation but callously allowed them to suffer" (p. 180)

Discommode: cause (someone) trouble or inconvenience.
"businessmen at the time 'were all too prone to regard as "unfair competition" almost any kind of active competition that discommoded them, particularly if it related to price" (p. 182)

Scholasticism: the system of theology and philosophy taught in medieval European universities, based on Aristotelian logic and the writings of the early Church Fathers and having a strong emphasis on tradition and dogma.
Guild: a medieval association of craftsmen or merchants, often having considerable power.
Apropos: very appropriate to a particular situation.
Contrivance: a thing that is created skillfully and inventively to serve a particular purpose.
"The medieval Scholastics criticized the guilds of their day for doing exactly this; now the same mentality had overtaken the American business community. Adam Smith's observation in the eighteenth century is apropos: 'People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." (p. 183)

Historiography: the study of historical writing.
"dean of the president-as-demigod school of historiography" (p. 190)

Collusion: secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.
"the joint policies of increasing labor's bargaining power and linking collusion with paying high wages prevented a normal recovery" (p. 192)

Auspice: a divine or prophetic token.
"a meeting of more than one hundred business executives and financial experts in New York, under the auspices of the American Management Association, submitted a report to Roosevelt" (p. 195)

Fateful: having far-reaching and typically disastrous consequences or implications.
"Chief Justice John Marshall put a fateful stamp on the commerce clause" (p. 200)

Plenary: unqualified; absolute.
"If the clause really did bestow plenary spending power upon the new government, what was the purpose of including specific grants of power to 'establish Post Offices and Post Roads,' 'constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court,' or 'purchase dock=Yards, and other needful Building'? " (p. 206)

Nugatory: of no value or importance.
"So expansive an interpretation of that clause would render 'the special and careful enumeration of powers which follow the clause nugatory and improper' " (p. 207)

Solicitor general: the law officer directly below the attorney general in the US Department of Justice, responsible for arguing cases before the US Supreme Court.
"In the 1990's Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia asked Bill Clinton's solicitor general if he could name a single activity on which the Congress might choose to legislate that in his view would go beyond its legitimate powers under the Constitution. He could not." (p. 209)

Libel: a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation.
"false, malicious, seditious and scandalous libel" (p. 217)

Endemic: (of a disease or condition) regularly found among particular people or in a certain area.
"Corruption became endemic." (p. 223)

Fief: an estate of land, especially one held on condition of feudal service.
Clan: a group of close-knit and interrelated families (especially associated with families in the Scottish Highlands).
"government has been seen as the personal fiefdom a leader uses to accumulate wealth for himself, his family, his clan" (p. 225)

Huzzah: used to express approval or delight; hurrah.
"Instead of the global huzzahs it expected, the White House heard only crickets." (p. 230)

Injunction: a judicial order that restrains a person from beginning or continuing an action threatening or invading the legal right of another, or that compels a person to carry out a certain act, e.g., to make restitution to an injured party.
"In addition to exempting labor unions from prosecution under the Sherman Antitrust Act, the act alsol prohibited the federal courts from issuing injunctions against labor unions in some cases and seriously crippled their ability to do so in others." (p. 235)

Enjoin: prohibit someone from performing (a particular action) by issuing an injunction.
"Once violence-ridden strikes were enjoined for a few days, they were difficult to revive, reorganize, and rekindle." (p. 235)

Reprisal: an act of retaliation.
"no threat of reprisal" (p. 238)

Brickbat: a piece of brick, typically when used as a weapon.
"beatings, stabbings, thretening of nonstrikers' families, destruction of property, blockng entrances to struck firms with broken glass and nails, and hurling brickbats" (p. 239)

Hoary: old and trite.
Trite: (of a remark, opinion, or idea) overused and consequently of little import; lacking originality or freshness.
"hoary myth" (p. 241)

Monopsonist: a market situation in which there is only one buyer.
Oligopsony: a state of the market in which only a small number of buyers exists for a product.
"If employer A is a monopsonist, the worker has little bargaining power. If the worker has several employment alternatives, he has strong bargaining power. There may have been instances of monopsony or oligopsony in the nineteenth century, but they were short-lived." (p. 241)

Lurid: (of a description) presented in vividly shocking or sensational terms, especially giving explicit details of crimes or sexual matters.
"The lurid claims of war supporters typically proved unfounded." (p. 255)

Bandy: pass on or discuss (an idea or rumor) in a casual or uninformed way.
"the fantastic figures once bandied about" (p. 256)

Diabolical: belonging to or so evil as to recall the Devil.
Retribution: punishment inflicted on someone as vengeance for a wrong or criminal act.
"an act of diabolical retribution" (p. 257)

Peacenik: a member of a pacifist movement.
"You can't expect Western peaceniks to protest against a war they themselves are waging." (p. 258)

Pogrom: an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group, in particular that of Jews in Russia or eastern Europe.
"What is happening in Kosovo must unfortunately be described as a pogrom against Serbs: churches are on fire and people are being attacked for no other reason than their ethnic background." (p. 259)

Fait accompli: a thing that has already happened or been decided before those affected hear about it, leaving them with no option but to accept.
"Some in the Kosovo Albanian leadership believe that by cleansing all remaining Serbs from the area... and destroying Serbian cultural sites, they can present the international community with a fait accompli." (p. 259)

Racket: an illegal or dishonest scheme for obtaining money.
"You almost have to give the architects of this system credit for the cleverness of the racket they have going: the same group of people who hold a monopoly on the power to tax and the power to initiate force also wield and effective monopoly to educate fugure generations of Americans." (p. 262)

October 14, 2017

SAT Vocabulary: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Here are the vocabulary definitions for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Happy studying!

Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Penguin, 2003.

SAT Vocabulary Words in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

NOTABLE QUOTE: "Papa says if you don't watch it people will force you one way or the other, into doing what they think you should do, or into just being mule-stubborn and doing the opposite out of spite." (p. 180)

Cagey: reluctant to give information owing to caution or suspicion.
"I'm cagey enough to fool them that much." (p. 4)

Combine: a group of people or companies acting together for a commercial purpose.
Cull: select from a large quantity; obtain from a variety of sources.
"Across the room from the Acutes are the culls of the Combine's product, the Chronics." (p. 14)

Bent: a natural talent or inclination.
Goldbrick: swindle (someone).
"He says he was just a wanderer and a logging bum before the Army took him and taught him what his natural bent was; just like they taught some men to goldbrick and some men to goof off, he says, they taught him to play poker." (p. 20)

Sitdown: (of a protest) in which demonstrators occupy their workplace or sit down on the ground in a public place, refusing to leave until their demands are met.
"You look like Sittin' Bull on a sitdown strike." (p. 22)

Brawn: physical strength in contrast to intelligence.
Dandy: a man unduly devoted to style, neatness, and fashion in dress and appearance.
"My dear sweet but illiterate wife thinks any word or gesture that does not smack of brickyard brawn and brutality is a word or gesture of weak dandyism." (p. 39)

Fracas: a noisy disturbance or quarrel.
"The flock gets sight of a spot of blood on some chicken and they all go to peckin' at it, see, till they rip the chicken to shreds, blood and bones and feathers. But usually a couple of the flock gets spotted in the fracas, then it's their turn." (p. 51)

Passel: a large group of people or things of indeterminate number; a pack.
"You must of done something to make a passle of enemies here in this place, buddy, because it seems there's sure a passle got it in for you." (p. 52)

Clod: a lump of earth or clay. A stupid person (often used as a general term of abuse).
"an illeterate clod" (p. 52)

Castors: each of a set of small wheels, free to swivel in any direction, fixed to the legs or base of a heavy piece of furniture so that it can be moved easily.
"Some kind of castors under it I can't hear." (p. 77)

Snigger: give a smothered or half-suppressed laugh.
"He's being the clown,  working at getting some of the guys to laugh. It bothers him that the best they can do is grin weakly and snigger sometimes." (p. 90)

Maudlin: self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental, often through drunkenness.
"this maudlin display of nostalgia" (p. 95)

Bum: get by asking or begging.
"Sure, I always got cigarettes. Reason is, I'm a bum. I bum them wheneer I get the chance is why my pack lasts longer than Harding's here. He smokes only his own." (p. 158)

Bird: a person of a specified kind or character.
" 'What they do is' - McMurphy listens a moment - 'take some bird in there and shoot electricity through his skull?' " (p. 162)

Aplomb: self-confidence or assurance, especially when in a demanding situation.
Induce: bring about or give rise to.
"And here, before them, stood a man inducing seizures every so often with remarkable aplomb." (p. 162)

Bird dog: search out or pursue with dogged determination.
"You're just a young guy! You ought to be out running around in a convertible, bird-dogging girls." (p. 167)

Conniption: a fit of rage or hysterics.
"I had an uncle who through conniptions twice as bad as yours" (p. 167)

Hovel: a small, squalid, unpleasant, or simply constructed dwelling.
"I, for one, am not going inside that hovel." (p. 181)

Juniper: an evergreen shrub or small tree that bears berrylike cones, widely distributed throughout Eurasia and North America. Many kinds have aromatic cones or foliage.
Stetson: a hat with a high crown and a wide brim, traditionally worn by cowboys and ranchers in the US.
"sits down in the swing Papa built for me in the juniper tree, and sits there swinging back and forth a little bit and fanning himself with his Stetson" (p. 181)

Guinea hen: a guinea fowl, especially a female one.
Premises: a house or building, together with its land and outbuildings, occupied by a business or considered in an official context.
"Then Papa's guinea hen wakes up in the juniper branches and sees we got strangers on the premises and goes to barking at them like a dog, and the spell breaks." (p. 182)

Pullet: a young hen, especially one less than one year old.
"I tried to laugh with him, but it was a squawking sound, like a pullet trying to crow." (p. 186)

Mossback: an old-fashioned or extremely conservative person.
"the mossbacked old bastards" (p. 187)

Criminy: used to express surprise or disbelief.
"Are you kidding? Criminy, look at you." (p. 187)

Swagger: walk or behave in a very confident and typically arrogant or aggressive way.
Deck: a structure of planks or plates, approximately horizontal, extending across a ship or boat at any of various levels, especially one of those at the highest level and open to the weather.
Bosun: a ship's officer in charge of equipment and the crew.
Keelhaul: punish (someone) by dragging them through the water under the keel of a ship, either across the width or from bow to stern.
Stern: the rearmost part of a ship or boat.
"He was swaggering around the floor like it was the deck of a ship, whistling in his hand like a bosun's whistle. 'Hit the deck, mateys, hit the deck or I keelhaul the lot of ye from stock to stern!' " (p. 193)

Hornpipe: a lively dance associated with sailors, typically performed by one person.
"did a little hornpipe" (p. 209)

Flophouse: a cheap hotel or rooming house.
"Wait till the captain comes out and tells us that the phone number I gave him is a flophouse up in Portland?" (p. 209)

Gaff: a stick with a hook, or a barbed spear, for landing large fish.
"he got the gaff and jerked my fish into the boat" (p. 213)

Clutch: a mechanism for connecting and disconnecting a vehicle engine from its transmission system.
"He let out the clutch and started to drive, then stopped instead." (p. 220)

Pinochle: a card game for two or more players using a 48-card deck consisting of two of each card from nine to ace, the object being to score points for various combinations and to win tricks.
"What pushed him to keep up a full head of steam when everybody else on the ward had always been content to drift along playing pinochle and reading last year's magazines?" (p. 225)

Spoof: hoax or trick (someone).
"Some of the guys wondered whether if maybe that tale of him faking fights at the work farm to get sent here wasn't just more of his spoofing" (p. 227)

Croupier: the person in charge of a gaming table, gathering in and paying out money or tokens.
"How much do you suppose he made in the short time he was croupier of his little Monte Carlo here on the ward?" (p. 228)

Simon-pure: completely genuine, authentic, or honest.
Effrontery: insolent or impertinent behavior.
"McMurphy would be embarrased to absolute tears if he were aware of some of the simon-pure motives people had been claiming were behind some of his dealings. He would take it as a direct effrontery to his craft" (p. 230)

Barker: a person who stands in front of a theater, sideshow, etc., and calls out to passersby to attract customers.
"McMurphy drew eyes to him like a sideshow barker." (p. 239)

Gimp: limp; hobble.
"I could tell by the way McMurphy gimped around that he was as stiff as I was." (p. 241)

Peaked: (of a person) gaunt and pale from illness or fatigue.
"He seems to me to have a peaked look of late - tired blood, most likely." (p. 233)

Courtesan: a prostitute, especially one with wealthy or upper-class clients.
" 'Courtesan?' Harding suggested. 'Jezebel?' " (p. 271)

Tree: force (a hunted animal) to take refuge in a tree.
"the last sound the treed and shot and falling animal makes as the dogs get him, when he finally doesn't care any more about anything but himself and his dying" (p. 275)

Embankment: a wall or bank of earth or stone built to prevent a river flooding an area.
"I ran for miles before I stopped and walked up the embankment onto the highway." (p. 280)

SAT Vocabulary: The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

This post contains definitions for SAT vocabulary words in The Catcher in the Rye.

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Little, Brown and Company, 2001.

SAT Vocabulary Words in The Catcher in the Rye

Grandstand: the main seating area, usually roofed, commanding the best view for spectators at racetracks or sports stadiums.
"You couldn't see the grandstand too hot, but you could hear them yelling, deep and terrific on the Pencey side, because practically the whole school except for me was there." (p. 5)

Grippe: old-fashioned term for influenza.
"He had the grippe, and I figured I probably wouldn't see him again until Christmas vacation started." (p. 6)

Chiffonier: a tall chest of drawers, often with a mirror on top.
"He started walking around the room, very slow and all, the way he always did, picking up your personal stuff off of your desk and chiffonier." (p. 27)

Dopey: idiotic.
"I could see my mother going in Spaulding's and asking the salesman a million dopy questions." (p. 67)

Dope: a stupid person.
"She didn't look like any dope to me." (p. 72)
"If I were a piano player or an actor or something and all those dopes thought I was teriffic, I'd hate it. I wouldn't even want them to clap for me." (p. 110)

Putrid: very unpleasant; repulsive.
"The band was putrid." (p. 90)

Chateau: a large French country house or castle often giving its name to wine made in its neighborhood.
"He had this big chateau and all on the Riviera, in Europe, and all he did in his spare time was beat women off with a club." (p. 121)

Bourgeois: of or characteristic of the middle class, typically with reference to its perceived materialistic values or conventional attitudes. (in Marxist contexts) upholding the interests of capitalism; not communist.
"Even my fountain pen was bourgeois. He borrowed it off me all the time, but it was bourgeois anyway." (p. 142)

Lulu: an outstanding example of a particular type of person or thing.
"We were the worst skaters in the rink. I mean the worst. And there were some lulus, too." (p. 167)

Stenographer: a person whose job is to transcribe speech in shorthand.
"Or you may end up in some business office, throwing paper clips at the nearest stenographer." (p. 243)

Affected: artificial, pretentious, and designed to impress.
"She was pretty affected, but very good-looking." (p. 276)