Thursday, January 18, 2018

Taleb Bed of Procrustes aphorisms Part 3

The Bed of Procrustes is Prof. Taleb's third book in the Incerto series (2010). We are following up today on his aphorisms or "shortcuts" to wisdom. Read Part I and II here.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has a new book coming out soon, Skin In The Game. I will do a review of it once I get a chance to read it. Although I don't follow Taleb any longer I remember he chose his book "endorsed" by random people on the Internet instead of the usual scholarly or reputable sources. I didn't jump in because I thought he was fishing for attention too hard, too often. I like to think that both myself and Professor Taleb agree on one thing [at least], that is, the overwhelming majority of people are dumb as fuck. That being said, why would you want your hard worked, researched book be endorsed by Joe Schmuck. That's not when you do a lottery.

This is what I picked for today:

1. "The difference between the politician and the philosopher is that, in a debate, the politician doesn’t try to convince the other side, only the audience."

2. "Distributive justice isn’t taking from a risk taker who earned honorably, it is keeping his probability of losing it very high". I guess you can call that skin in the game.

3. "The problem with the idea of 'learning from one’s mistakes' is that most of what people call mistakes aren’t mistakes."

4. "For a free person, the optimal—most opportunistic—route between two points should never be the shortest one."

5."You are free in inverse proportion to the number of people to whom you can’t say “fuck you.” But you are honorable in proportion to the number of people to whom you can say 'fuck you' with impunity but don’t.

6. "Contra the prevailing belief, 'success' isn’t being on top of a hierarchy, it is standing outside all hierarchies."

7. "The first, and hardest, step to wisdom: avert the standard assumption that people know what they want."

8. " When you cite some old wisdom-style quote and add “important truth,” “to remember,” or “something to live by,” you are not doing so because it is good, only because it is inapplicable. Had it been both good and applicable you would not have had to cite it. Wisdom that is hard to execute isn’t really wisdom." He's teaching us to avoid those terms.

9. "We viciously accept narcissism in nation-states, while repressing it in individuals: complexity exposes the system’s shaky moral foundations."

10. " Change your anchor to what did not happen rather than what did happen."

Greenlight Capital 2017 Q4 Letter

I don't comment on Warren Buffet's letters because Warren hasn't chosen me as a successor. But I do occasionally comment on David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital letter.

2017 hasn't been a kind year to GC. Interestingly, Einhorn brings up fantasy baseball plays in his letter.

"However, once in a while the morning box score would reveal that despite the Blue Jays scoring 10 runs, your slugger had an uneventful and useless 1 for 5 game. It’s disappointing and feels worse than if your player had the same result in a game where the Blue Jays were shut out (unless you are also a Blue Jays fan). And, it doesn’t matter if your player was swinging well and hitting the ball hard every time or whether his evening was marred by ugly strikeouts, pop-ups and double plays. 1 for 5 is 1 for 5. Fantasy baseball only counts the statistical result. Our quarter and year felt just like that. We had a non-descript result in a period where it seems like most around us did much better." -Letter

GM and a few other longs did well for Einhorn.

Einhorn started a position in Twitter (did he read my 2016 piece arguing for AAPL or private buyout of TWTR ?)

New rule ? Never short Deere &Co.

Quote: "close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades" [the full quote]

"At year-end, the largest disclosed long positions in the Partnerships were AerCap, Bayer, Brighthouse Financial, General Motors and gold. The Partnerships had an average exposure of 107% long and 66% short." In a market like this one, shorts don't play out too well.

Einhorn ends with the quote "No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides."— Baruch Spinoza

Monday, January 15, 2018

Gene Simmons' On Power book review; Fuck You ! Makes You Stronger (Wall Street Journal)

Today we'll have a book review of the newest from KISS rock band frontman Gene Simmons: On Power: My Journey through the Corridors of Power and How You can Get More Power. In a few days I'll put together a List of 10 Best Books of All Times for the Killer Underling. It's time to get this ball moving and win big this year. You and I are firing our bosses this year.

For those that don't know (shame on you !) KISS stands for Keep It Simple Stupid, one of the best acronyms I've seen.

Gene tells us his idea of writing this book came from reading Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince. "Machiavelli's worldview is referred to as consequentialism". Gene treads on a few classics including Machiavelli, Napoleon, Churchill, and contemporaries such as Oprah and Musk.

"When your enemy is executing a false movement, never interrupt them" -Napoleon.

"it behooves you to befriend your enemy as a strategy." Is that why dogs smell each others privates ?

"Self-actualization is so often looked at as something in opposition to the baser needs of Maslow's pyramid." Yes, right, What a joke.

"Before the boxer steps into the ring, he has to motivate himself. Gene tells you to become your greatest fan, to say out it loud to yourself, every day.
"Stand up, arch your back, and proclaim to yourself and to the world that you deserve power and everything that comes along with it".

"We are all born bald, toothless, and vulnerable." Probably going to die that way, too. What's going on in between is up to you.

"Unfairness, hardship, asymmetry: these are sources of pressure, and pressure turns coals into diamonds." -Gene Simmons.  This, folks is the recipe to power and greatness. The philosopher's stone. The magic.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Straw man goes to Vegas

When I was reading this yesterday, I couldn't believe it. Is this a joke ? I thought. It must be a joke.

I am talking about Trump going to WEF in Davos later this month. I talked about the World Economic Forum before in demystifying Davos .

The World Economic Forum Annual is the gathering of the economic, social, art and science globalist elite. It is the conference with the motto "committed to improving the state of the world". The kind of people that go there are Stephen Schwartzman, Ray Dalio, George Soros. The theme for this year is "Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”.

This year, The Davos Meeting will be honoring Cate Blanchett, UNHCR Global Goodwill Ambassador for her work with refugees, Sir Elton John, for his leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, for his leadership in championing children’s and women’s rights in India. It makes more sense if Trump went to Hollywood and got a Golden Globes Award than it does for him to go to Davos. Is Trump trying to do some networking to show himself fit for a Nobel prize ? Hard to say...

Ultimately, Davos in the confluence of ideas and money. It is the place to be seen. It's just that "tell me who you're hanging with and I tell you who you are."

I was thinking "Happy as a horseshoe crab" then I heard this song: Hop Along -Horseshoe Crabs.

For those that love American folk music:

[Verse 2]
"Just look at my face
A vegetable beet red
I know you gave me money for the motel
But I came here instead
I came here instead."

Thursday, January 4, 2018

New Year, New Me: New Year's Resolutions: Part 2

Jason Zweig, writer of the  Intelligent Investor (WSJ) and editor of the revised Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor, put out an article last weekend on New Year's Resolutions "Set The Bar High for Your 2018 Resolutions"

Jason says that NY resolutions should be mid-level (not too easy but not that hard) in difficulty and be made in public.

One resolution "Say I don't know at least 10 times a day" is naive-to-childish, while being, of course, well-meant.

Most of the resolutions here are not resolutions because they're not specific; a resolution needs a measure of control and needs to be time-sensitive.

"Be more judgmental about ideas and less judgmental about people." ???

"Go outside more, a lot more." No, re-write that: I will take at leat 3 trips this year, one on each season, a three-day ski trip in Feb., a mountain trek up a volcano for a week in the summer, something like that. And will do a 30-minute walk each day when I get home from work. Now, that's a resolution.

"Don't laugh at the things you don't understand." That's dumb advice. The more you laugh, the better your health is. For example, today an e-mail in my inbox had this title "10 Things I Learned from Jesus" and I just started laughing out of control. Someone writes or at least sounds like he is high.

Two of Jason's examples caught my eyes:
  1. "Get home 15 minutes earlier." Yes, that sounds like a resolution, and it's tougher to keep than people realize.
  2. "Remember that to describe a cognitive bias is to commit it." This is not a resolution, but a conclusion.

"Call your mom."Re-write that "call your mom twice a week".

"Stop walking with your phone in your hand all the time." This is a behavioral change call-to-action.

"Never try to get other people to change their minds without first trying to understand why they think the way they do." If you understood that everyone looks out for themselves you'd never try to change their minds in the first place.

"Work harder at making the familiar strange. Walk or drive a different route than your daily routine." Well, there are probably only so many ways back to your place from work to begin with. A better resolution is "Leave the car at home. Take public transit for 3 months."

"Get better at accepting compliments." How about "Just say: thanks. DO NO more than that."

You can read the rest of Jason's list on your own and also read my suggestions below.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Year's Resolutions: What To Do and How To Do It -Part I

Stardate 95605.01

Does that mean anything to you ?

34,200 Seconds. What's that ? Huff, that is a lot of numbers.

01.01.2018 is the date, it might as well be the "stardate" (I used this site for the stardate, and Calculate me for the seconds into the day)

Did you set up the date ? Did you ? I know you didn't. It was somebody else. It was somebody else who made up the rules.

This is the time of the year when people make New Year's resolutions and it's been shown most of people fail them.

If I'm going to fail, I'm going to "fail" smarter !

This is How to Do It:

I gave the stardate and the seconds examples to show how meaningless the calendar is.

Getting things is done though failing inaccurate calendar goals.

Set up your goals, but do it in smaller time increments. Set up goals for the week, goals for week two, goals for January, goals for 3 months, and maximum stretch 6-months goals.

Live by the hour. I already showed you how meaningless the calendar is (anybody wanna tell me what year is in the Egyptian or Mayan calendar, please do so in the comments. It's the same shit).
Living by the hour brings a sense or order and urgency to your life. It is better than living by the month or year.

Suppose one NY resolution is to lose 5 pounds in 3 months. Make it losing 1.6 pounds in one month instead.

Imagine one month has passed and you've only lost one pound.

Do this

Friday, December 29, 2017

Vote for The Best Villains of 2017

Best Villains of 2017 (you can vote anonymously). The winner will be announced in 30 days. Meanwhile, please make suggestions if there are additional contenders you wished posted here. Thanks !

1. Donald Trump

(Picture: ReviewJournal)
Hometown: New York, NY
Biggest lie: Too many to tell
Big tell: There' a simp born every minute
Invented: Fake News
Pro-tip: If you fire everyone then you can be sure you are the only one standing.
Favorite past-time: Watching himself on TV

2. Vladimir Putin

Picture: The Telegraph UK
Hometown: St. Petersburg
Big tell: Robotic kikin' flab
Invented: Fair-play
Pro tips: 

1. If you eat enough cabbage soup, cutlets and pancakes you will grow old and cold. 
2. You have to lie enough in order to be a true believer.
Favorite past-time: Hitting below the belt.

3. Max Cantor

Hometown: Coruscant
Big tell: Don't go easy on yourself.
Invented: Badassery juice: fresh blood spiced with ginger, turmeric and nettles.
Pro tip: Walk this life like a tight roper does, for if you look too closely, you will fall.
Favorite past-time: peeing on Donald Trump's leg.

4. Snoke: The Last Jedi Sith

Picture: GamesRadar
Hometown: Unknown
Big tell: Don't have to use that much makeup remover anymore.

Invented: Death by Mentoring
Pro-tip: Keep your hoes on their toes.
Hangs out: The cemetery
Favorite past-time: Tinder game