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The Luck Factor: Why Some People Are Luckier Than Others and How You Can Become One of Them by Max Gunther

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Chapter 3: Charms, Signs, and Portents

My father used to tell a story about causes and effects. Every day at precisely noon a fellow turns up on a busy street corner with a green flag and a bugle. He waves the flag, blows a few notes on the bugle, utters a mysterious incantation, and goes away. A cop, observing this exercise over a period of weeks, finally gets overwhelmed by curiosity. "What the hell are you doing?" asks the cop. "Keeping giraffes away," says the fellow. The cop says, "But there are no giraffes around here." The fellow says, "Doing a good job, ain't I?"

The characters in this story changed over the years, and often there were ribald elements in it, but the point was always the same. My father told it to refute what he called ...

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