Saturday, October 14, 2017

Taleb Procrustes aphorisms (Part I)

Someone here asked me to comment on Nassim Taleb's aphorisms found in his Bed of Procustes book. I believe there are 212 of them,  huge work considering that we are advised to ponder on no more than four of them a day.

They also follow a personal logic, so some of them will appeal more to you than others, depending on who you are and what your perspective is. It's logical for me, that I like these:

"If powerful assholes don’t find you “arrogant,” it means you are doing something wrong."

More:

"We need to feel a little bit lost somewhere, physically or intellectually, at least once a day."

"Never hire an A student unless it is to take exams." What if I turned this around and said: Never hire a HBS grad unless you're looking for failure. How many [more] haters would I get ? The more the better.

"Did you notice that collecting art is to hobby-painting as watching pornography is to doing the real thing? Only difference is status." -this is going to hurt some people

"The alpha person at a gathering of “high status” persons is often, delectably, the waiter." -very, very antifragile statement here

"Success in all endeavors requires the absence of specific qualities...6) But to succeed in life requires a total inability to do anything that makes you uncomfortable when you look at yourself in the mirror.

"Studying the work and intellectual habits of a “genius” to learn from him is like studying the garb of a chef to emulate his cooking." That's a tough one to swallow if you're a Buffett buff. Shorthand is you learn by doing.

"Never show a risk number, even if it is right." I don't know if I can let that sink in.

"A good book gets better on the second reading. A great book on the third. Any book not worth rereading isn’t worth reading."

"High Modernity: routine in place of physical effort, physical effort in place of mental expenditure, and mental expenditure in place of mental clarity."

"A heuristic on whether you have control of your life: can you take naps?" Is anybody out there who can raise out his hand ?

"In real life exams, someone gives you an answer and you have to find the best corresponding questions."

Ok, enough of these for today, especially considering we are to give thoughts to no more then four of these per day.

Today I'm giving a small win to my enemies:

How to Fire Anyone Video (starring George Clooney): 






Thursday, October 12, 2017

Activist or No activist: talking value from activist shareholder campaigns

In his Fortune Oct. 1st. '17 article "Resisting activists, and winning", Ryan Derousseau argues shareholders "fare better" when they fend of activists demands, that is, when management says no.

In the article, there's a run down of the Nelson Peltz (Trian Fund Management) campaign at P&G. Most of you working in finance are already familiar with it. Trian published a white paper awhile ago accusing Procter & Gamble of settling for "mediocrity", and the company replied to that the view was "outdated and misinformed." Stock up since.

The article gets into Trian's history with Pepsi-Cola, that Trian tried to split its beverage unit and snacks divisions back in 2013. That split didn't happen, Trian reached a "truce" with Pepsi giving Trian a board seat. Since then Pepsi has been doing fairly well. Another case looked at in the article is the 2011 Clorox (CLX) Carl Icahn campaign that didn't catch either. (Icahn didn't buy that company). However, since then Clorox's stock "has risen 95% compared to 87% for the consumer staples index." Clorox is richly valued and pays a healthy dividend of 2.4%.

There are more examples, the MGM Resorts(MGM)  spinning off Las Vegas real estate in a REIT in 2015 (the fight was with a group called Land and Buildings) and the all too familiar Bill Ackman-Herbalife (HLF) battle now going on 5 years (that's a short bet, of course). Derousseau points out HLF is up 16% since a settlement with the FTC, and 85% since Ackman's campaign began.

What do we see in these instances (and many more):

A definitive positive result in performance, years later, whether the campaign enriched the activist or not -Bill Ackman is the poor dog. We see the management piggybacking on the activist moves all the time.

To be clear, these activist examples are very different in nature, what Ackman does at HLF is totally different than what Peltz is doing at P&G and what Icahn did at Clorox.

Activists succeeding with implementing the plans they propose, which is the measure Derousseau uses when citing the FactSet 2012-2016 studies, is not the same as the final results of the companies that had activist involvement.  (Derousseau cites FactSet studies that essentially show poorer performance for the companies where activists were able to implement their initial plans).



Monday, October 9, 2017

We are the sum of our mistakes and trials

Watch me answer a question from a young man at the end of this post. Enjoy !

Beyoncé​ says that "our mistakes make us who we are."

In the movie "The Last Words" (2017) Harriet says: "You don't make mistakes. Mistakes make you." Very true.

A reader's comment on a previous post: "Monogamy is a tough sell to women" deserves a reply. I don't think anybody else on Wall Street writes on this theme, so I'll take a shot at it. What Wall Streeters are doing is lining up the pockets of marriage counselors and when they get divorced their ex-spouses get huge settlements. And there's no refunds from the therapists they saw. If I'm wrong, please call me out on it. Send me the names and tel. numbers of the therapists that offer a money-back guarantee with access to their guarantee payback records. "Settlements" as in getting set up for life. That's different than settlements in corporate battles, which aren't a permanent feature. In corporate finance, one party doesn't get all benefits in perpetuity.

You wouldn't have a divorce if you had a healthy relationship to begin with. A healthy relationship is forged in the beginning, not at the end. It then needs to be reinforced continuously. While I see normal for people to evolve (be wary of people that do not), "irreconcilable differences" are usually bullshit. It's the way of the woman saying: I want out, because a settlement looks better than anything else in my life. I've rewarded you with sex and companionship for _X_ years, and I want to get paid handsomely for it.



How to Sell Your Spouse or Fiancé on Non-Monogamy

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Meta frames: the human mind is a bio-computer

Reader Michael posted a video and sent me this note:

"Max,

I love your blog. You got high impact stuff and you blow scam artists like Scott Adams away. You even take Trump for a ride. Never seen anything like it. "

Michael-

Thanks for your video and comments. I don't take anyone for a ride. What I write about comes from real pain, it comes from the blows scumbags had for me. So I proposed myself to gather the tools to defeat the scum, the boss, to liberate myself and control my career. About SC I don't want to make a statement since I don't know him, he sounds smarter than his audience. I can speak for myself and I don't desire an audience of nitwits. This blog has already been banned by some large companies. That alone tells you how influential my blog has become.

If you are average, don't read this blog. You don't need me, and I sure as hell don't need you. On the other hand, if you want to raise to the top and take down a few lowlifes in the process, you've come to the right place.

I am developing a system on How to Repeal and Replace your Boss. Some people giggle at the thought of "destroying" their boss. They think in terms of "the boss is who's paying my paycheck". Not so ! It's the shareholders that pay you and him. Even if you work for a founder, he/she typically owns 3-30% (Silicon Valley standards). If it is a sole owner, small business, outright owner, that fucker will beg you to stay or smash a glass on his head.

I'll show you:

Friday, September 29, 2017

The 10 Commandments of Poon

Considerations

If you believe that men and women are equal, which I do, are you a feminist ? What if you are a realist ? What if you are both ? Are you an empowered feminist ? Enlightened feminist ?

Life isn't fair.

Smart people will take advantage of dumb people (hello, Ray Dalio) I'd argue here the people most prone to emotions are the dumbest.

Sometimes you have a 24-year old woman from Harvard, for example, who takes the job of 40-year old veteran. A guy who's been sweating his way up from the janitor room to the boardroom for decades, loses his job, just like that. The Harvard BumperDoc is here.  Sometimes you have a woman who runs an internet company, company goes the way of the dinosaurs and she pockets 240 MM (over five hears).

Back to the subject of dating. We live in a different world today that we did 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Women are the largest, most powerful consumer force. They are also the wealthiest ones. That's how we coined the term she-conomy. Better learn that term. Check out the latest Wealth X report and you see who has accumulated wealth the fastest.

In our times, women have the moola, they drive the best cars (who do you think buys those big SUVs ? ) Men are like waffles somebody said, mushy gushy. Pour some syrup on that mess and it's a treat.

On the subject of sex

Did you know that music lights up the same center in women's brains that sex does ? Same stimulation, same reward. I am a man and I like good music, but...the two things are not the same to me. So good sex to women is like listening to a decent song. For men, sex has been shown to be more primordial than food ! Do you see the difference here ?  Women's testosterone levels are 12-18 times lower than men's and so is their libido.  So don't listen to those idiots that say women are as sexual as men are. They can't be.

The 10 Commandments of Poon for the enlightened feminist

1. Women only love themselves and their essence is solipsism. Women don't love men, they just love HOW men make them feel. If you don't have a plan for conditioning your own life and emotions, she will. Once a man becomes a pawn in a woman's emotional roller coaster, disaster ensues.

2. Women need no protection. From anything or anyone. Men need to stop being "protectors". We are not in the middle ages anymore.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wave function collapse

Is there a wave function collapse caused by consciousness ?

"The von Neumann–Wigner interpretation, also described as 'consciousness causes collapse [of the wave function]', is an interpretation of quantum mechanics in which consciousness is postulated to be necessary for the completion of the process of quantum measurement." -Wiki on the Von Neumann-Wigner interpretation.
Many of you that are in finance have heard of the Schrodinger cat experiment, where a cat is both dead and alive. The cat remains both dead and alive until the state is observed. "Schrödinger described how one could, in principle, create a superposition in a large-scale system by making it dependent on a quantum particle that was in a superposition." (Wiki)

Schroedingers cat film.svg
Image: Christian Schirm - Own work, CC0, Link
"The quantum-mechanical "Schrödinger's cat" paradox according to the many-worlds interpretation. In this interpretation, every event is a branch point. The cat is both alive and dead—regardless of whether the box is opened—but the "alive" and "dead" cats are in different branches of the universe that are equally real but cannot interact with each other."

In the video below, James J Traitz argues the substance of the universe it consciousness, not matter and that in the 4th Way method (aka the level beyond thought) we create a "pixel" like reality through the wave function collapse.

He trails on Carlos Castaneda and Gurdjieff teachings that "the universe" is consciousness, not matter.

For me it turns out reality is more art than science.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Past present and future

If you ever second guess your actions, I'll tell you the first reaction is usually the correct one. Don't second guess.

Ever wondered why any time the future is known, that future dissolves ?

Back in the nineties they used to make movies with masculine action heroes. Such a character was Captain Picard of the Starship Enterprise. In the last two-episode conclusion of the ST:NG (please click it if you are not familiar with the series or you need a refresher) "All Good Things Must Come to an End", Picard moves between three time zones and encounters an anomaly in the space-time continuum described as an eruption of anti-time. His challenge is to solve the puzzle..or everything is lost. He stands trial before Q of the omnipotent continuum.
"As Picard arrives at the anomaly in all three time periods, he discovers that the anomaly is much larger in the past, but does not exist at all in the future."
"I don't understand why it's bigger in the past." -JLP.
It appears that his actions based on multiple knowings were causing the anomaly. Rather than acting from the present, his future self caused it. I say there can be no multiple "knowings."

Let's leave Star Trek out of it for a moment, and ask: Is it possible that your future self is causing the anomaly [present] through your future actions ? Since you're not shifting though time, are your thoughts of the future causing it ? I brought the Star Trek episode because I am always interested in paradoxes.

To grasp the present moment as the only one that is means "enlightenment". Clarity. To think on the future, and not understand the future IS NOW, is to be stupid like 97% of people out there.

What about the past, Max ? That's real. I lived it. No, I say. The past is some neuronal nods, episodic mem nods. Semantic memory is not the same as episodic memory. (Wiki)

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