Friday, December 23, 2011

More Good Blog Posts

What Makes a Great Trader?  Managing Risk by David Shvartsman via financetrends
The "Dirty Little Secret" of Successful Trading by Darrin Donnelly via darvastrader

bonus post:

Winners of the National Geographic Photo Contest, 2011 via theAtlantic with Alan Taylor

To view the annoyingly unsurfable NatGeo contest page go here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

There is no time like the present.

That's what dad says.

It is better for the Western World to deal with their problems right now, and head on, than it is to continue down the path.  As previously mentioned, "though the skeeball score of the S&P reads like a stuffed teddy bear payday" the reality is that a grand illusion has been conceived by the Central Banks in collusion with Global Banking leadership to fight a war on confidence in a manner which further erodes confidence.  The presupposition with all of these policies is that the general populace will be cowed into support with the threat of their wealth.  The truth is that their wealth is already gone and that the internet has made it easier than ever to unveil the precarious fiscal policies enacted by these leaders.  In short, the majority are better equipped to question the idiotic behaviors of their leadership, and they're smart enough to know what playing with fire looks like.

Without a robust economic backdrop, even if one were to buy a year or three at the cost of their present purchasing power, one dodges a near obstacle whilst launching headlong into the next.

In my view, any bailout plan through front or back door should include a front facing infrastructure package.  In truth, the public sector is an important one, economically speaking, as an offset against the constant cost cutting of capitalism.  Whereas capitalism seeks to improve efficiency and lower costs, public spending is decidedly ham-fisted, fulfilling the unwritten social contracts of policy makers to their puppet masters.  In recent history public sector growth has been in jobs which provide little to no economic return leading to a backlash against the size and cost of government.  [Insert your favorite anecdote about waiting at the DMV here.]  It is good that these officials are earning an honest living, it would be better if the world were a better place for paying them.

This is the root cause for a neo-WPA.  We musn't forestall any longer the idea that direct economic impact can be achieved in ways other than financial.  What we must do is halt these notional practices which offer no greater return, and increase overall reliance on confidence, which points to structural risk.  The belief that a number next to the S&P somehow offers a structural assessment of our economy is lame and overly simplistic.  This goes both ways.

see also Why you buy a road.  The cause for a neo-WPA

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saw this Diagram Twice Recently

The second time was on Alessio Rastani's blog in an article called The 4 Levels of Trading Mastery by Goncalo Botelho.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dude's Got Skills

Saw the following quote posted as a comment below this BusinessInsider piece about the Euro Zone Sovereign Crisis:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Good Blog Post

If you can sell a Bad Entry trade, DO IT!  by omen, via ibankcoin

bonus post:

12 Brilliant Insights from ... Seth Klarman by Julia LaRoche, via BusinessInsider

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How many is a trillion?

The universe is about 14 billion years old.
There are 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe.
The Milky Way Galaxy contains 200 billion stars.
At 100 mph you could travel from one side to the other in 80 billion years.
The solar system is 4.5 billion years old.
There are about 150 billion meters between the Earth and Sun.
The moon averages about 1.26 billion feet away from Earth.
The earliest evidence of man using tools dates to 1.4 billion hours ago.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is 2.4 billion minutes old.
Rachel Zoe is 1.26 billion seconds old.

Why you buy a road. The cause for a neo-WPA.

when you buy a road:
  • a contract is awarded, supporting a staff of local estimators, project managers and office staff, and their [shitty] 401k managers, and insurance salesmen;
  • sub-contracts are awarded, supporting a staff of local estimators, project managers and office staff, laborers and tradesmen, material suppliers, equipment rental companies, equipment builders, resource companies, and their [shitty] 401k managers, and insurance salesmen;
  • who spend their income on homes, food, water, utilities, schools, doctors, [las vegas] hookers, and cottage industry [marijuana].

Figure 1:  source graphic, - source info,

when you buy a tshirt:
  • a highly levered, cyclical, and, in all liklihood, public company (because what sucker would finance such a business out of pocket), pays a Bermudan REIT for rental space;
  • pays debt service while able;
  • pays high school kids minimum wage;
  • pays Sri Lankan taylors less than minimum wage;
  • pays a Liberian flagged shipper;
  • pays Chinese and Indian cotton producers;
  • who pay Amerians a pittance in return for easily acquired and difficult to protect intellectual property.
What is Western Financialism?

Even the most pugnacious recognize the overwhelming evidence supporting a libertarian stance in today's increasingly polarizing political climate, but we have to be realists, after all.  Abandon the banks and advance civilization.  Get behind projects that validate having such a nutty deficit number.  They should be of monumental undertaking.  People and the government would be better off having dole birds pick up one Starburst wrapper after another on the side of the road than afford those to collect shelter and food with an ample energy-time balance to procreate and scheme.

Las Vegas was built by recreating labor from the Hoover Dam project.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Football: Fucked by the Zebra

The spirit of the game of American Football has been thoroughly fucked by the ability of intransigent assclowns to make senseless decisions based on observable facts.  A good example would be tonight's end-of-game personal foul call against Texas A&M for personal foul, helmet-to-helmet contact, wherein the supposed victim didn't even fall to the ground.  Such bullshit application of the rules turns the tides of games in favor of late game officiating, leads to less competitive sport, and generally de-emphasizes the original spirit of combativeness that drove the sport for the past 50 years.

To be perfectly clear, I feel that my libertarian leanings are vindicated one fucking mis-applied rule after another from market theory, to football, to local politics.  If we consider that a major crux of the argument against college playoff football is legacy games like aTm/ut then why are we not investigating the idea of conference location, consolidation, and scheduling when the tough choice to break with 118 year tradition has already been made out of fiduciary reasoning?

Why the fuck aren't we blocking conferences into 10-13 team regional groups by school size and feeding conference champs into a playoff series?  Not only do you see shorter travel times, more focus on education, and a higher drive to be individually successful, but also a pyramid of goal setting like that of collegiate basketball.

In conclusion, fuck the pants off of the idiot asshats calling the aTm/ut game tonight.  The outcome clearly did not represent the spirit of the game.  Also, fuck ut fans worldwide.  You are all bandwagon jumping asshats with no skin in the game, and nary an interest in the actual school, but only the fact that you are grew up when Texas was good and want to identify with the winningest team.  The worst of all fans are those that enjoy the reward with no effort and no pain, for they are the dumpster lickers, the sewer fuckers, the louse-infested, orphaned dogs of sporting joy.  A disgusting shame that they will never appreciate because only real fans know that pride and pleasure are a line bitterly tasted and sufficiently weathered.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Landfills: Appreciable Property

thesis: landfills are going to be worth more than the cost to maintain and license in the near future.

if we accept emerging market growth in middle class consumerism;
if we accept ongoing developed market consumption at median rates in electronics and packaging across a range of economic outcomes;
if we accept that past recycling efforts were minimal to non-existant;

then the market for plastics and electronic components will become bigger;
then input materials for plastics and electronics will become more scarce, more highly demanded, and/or more highly speculated;
then using scientific techniques certain strata of old waste piles will be mined for concentrations of useful materials;

therefore landfills containing concentrated volumes of recyclable content will gain in value;
therefore older landfills will gain value more quickly than contemporary ones

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Is Europe a "Sell the News" Event?

In a matter of weeks we will have some finality out of the EU.  That is, they will all adopt some form of austerity, losses will be had on bonds, and stagflation will take over arising from "dole bird" issues to go with forthcoming ECB rate cuts, and continual increases in the value of oil.

Along with European austerity, China PMI are coming in light, and though I believe there's a trade to be had on the development of a Chinese middle class, a period of digestion looms.

All of this, of course, against the backdrop of our own home-grown economic issues like declining confidence in the quality of the market, stagflation, polarizing political ideologies, lasting structural unemployment, and confidence concerns in municipal debt.

Accepting austerity and the condition of stagflation in 2 of the 5 major global economies doesn't seem like a great environment to be bulling up.

Monday, October 31, 2011

How the US is getting fucked by oil.

thesis:  increased global oil demand has put the United States on an irreversible path to stagflationary hell.

if emerging market growth and booming world populations are given;
if the United States continues to exist under the economic model of Western Financialism;
if every consumer good, from food through end-use products like buildings are touched by oil;

then the emerging markets will demand more oil causing its value to increase;
then the United States:
  • will import more than it exports,
  • aim to continue growth through middle class consumerism,
  • do nothing to stem the flow of its citizens onto welfare programs,
  • kowtow to the extortionist practices of its industrial unions,
  • and devalue its currency and exacerbate the effects of inflation in the cost of basics;
then every consumer good will cost more;

therefore middle class Americans will experience inflation at the daily level against a backdrop of declining job growth;
therefore corporations will be squeezed between Americans who can't afford to spend and the rising cost of inputs, causing GDP stagnation;

until serious effort is made to move away from fossil fuels;
until serious effort is made to return the United States to an export economy (without tricked up devices such as Yuan legislation, shoddy DoL suits against multinational producers [Boeing re:  Washington, SC])

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ideas for the continuation of our civilization.

In no particular order:
  • Chemicals;
  • Plastics;
  • Uranium;
  • Silver;
  • Foodstuffs;
  • Alternative Motoring Technologies;
  • Water and Water Distribution.
All else are ancillaries.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pounding the Table.

MFC Industrial Ltd.  (MIL)

** See Disclaimer at bottom.  Do your own due diligence.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

On being an electrician.

I just finished an eight hour electrical session with my dad.  He's a dude's dude, a mechanical engineer.  One of those types who if you happen to know him and mention in passing that your lawn mower doesn't work he'll tell you to bring it by.  When you do, he'll spend about 20 minutes looking it over and then unequivocally state that it wasn't the spark plug, it was the efflorescence on the spark plug wire that kept your mower from starting properly.

So why is it that I didn't understand 110 until today?  I have an idea.  But for all the bullshit he's dealt with from me, he never gave up.  So here's to you, Grandpa.  A man too humble to accept tribute, but one too great not to be saluted.

The Black Wire.

The White Wire.

Monday, October 3, 2011

We Need It.

As always, you can click to enlarge.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

HNHI: A Follow Up

By pageviews, Ruminations in the Wake of HNHI (January 2011) is the third most popular post on the BNB blog.

Figure 1 - Et tu, 50 Cent?  Et tu?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

This Article Pissed Me Off

In Perry Is Right: There Is a Texas Model for Fixing Social Security the author, Merrill Matthews, writes:
As with Social Security, employees contribute 6.2% of their income, with the county matching the contribution (or, as in Galveston, providing a slightly larger share). Once the county makes its contribution, its financial obligation is done—that's why there are no long-term unfunded liabilities.
The contributions are pooled, like bank deposits, and top-rated financial institutions bid on the money. Those institutions guarantee an interest rate that won't go below a base level and goes higher when the market does well. Over the last decade, the accounts have earned between 3.75% and 5.75% every year, with the average around 5%. The 1990s often saw even higher interest rates, of 6.5%-7%. When the market goes up, employees make more—and when the market goes down, employees still make something.
Emphasis mine.  How much is a mortgage?  How much was a mortgage?  PAY YOUR FUCKING MORTGAGE!  You get guaranteed return by not incurring future expense!  That interest is charged against a levered outlay, so you're looking at some big time savings, all the while staying warm and dry.

#winning  #tigerblood  #sensibility

I'll charge you the extra low, one time fee of nothing for that suggestion to consider.  Normal people do not belong in the stock market.  Learn how to save, and learn how to spend.  Why would you undertake to lose sight and grasp of your money when we've experienced 2 recessions + 1 depression since the middle 80's, with exploding debt and unfunded liability at the sovereign level?!  Dude ... guaranteed returns through the elimination of future expense.  Guaranteed.  Normal people shouldn't care about outpacing inflation.  I wonder what the actual market returns, brokered or self-directed, has been for the middle class in the last 20 years.  There's the lasting claim to need to combat inflation, but how does that work out when bouncing between bubble and calamity with fees and emotional distress attached?

It is a great and ongoing crime perpetuated against the middle class that they cannot elect to reduce their mortgages with these matching funds, and in a tax efficient manner, but that does not mean they should abandon the calling to make the best financial decisions.

In closing:  Pay.  Your.  Mortgage.

For more on this topic please view:  Why I think people should own homes, not stocks.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Jim Chanos talks about stuff ...

... with Carol Massar.  Win.  Win.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How traffic works.

I have been developing a Communist Driving Theory as a coping mechanism for the angst of my window time.  It's easy to excuse most of the rest of society for not understanding how traffic works - they do, after all, spend most of their time dialing into radio stations for free lawn tickets at the next Bieber show instead of guarding their own lives.

Do you want to see how traffic efficiency can  be decreased by 17% using shapes?  Fasten up.

Figure 1 - In a constant space 6 cars can travel a constant speed.

Figure 2 - Changing lanes decreases surface efficiency by 17%, trailing cars must decrease speed to create space.

Perpetual lane changers exacerbate the decline in traffic efficiency as constant speed, and space optimization can never successfully occur.  Worse yet, as they proceed ahead the results compound.  To ye I say:  Please stop being a dick.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Seeking Protection

If you're betting on the end times, utilities might catch some myootual fund flow, but I don't believe it's a stable choice in the longer term.  If we're heading into the dark times, you want to make your money from a bleeding heart government that will not let lazy, insolent, and zero value added dick bags starve:  namely, the Food Stamp Trade.

Interesting Reads and a Short Editorial

A Tweet is Worth (at least) 140 Words by Alemi << on efficiency and the English language
Stock Tiger Stalking Stocks by Stock Tiger << comprehensive market TA 9.6.2011
Try, Try Again, or Maybe Not by Leslie Berlin for The New York Times
Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult by Mike Lofgren

I used to work for a guy who treated performance not against a baseline, but as the difference between one outcome and another.  If you ended up writing a change order against a contract it wasn't the pure delta in the original and revised contract that got parsed, it was the difference in what the contract should have been written for originally and the final revised contract.

You only walked into Goodie's office one time thinking that you lost a grand.  After that you're prepared to explain why there was a 2k "swing" between what should have been and what it is now.  It used to drive me up the fucking wall because some of his what ifs were an octave below aliens dropping out of the sky with space concrete and diamond flake aggregates.

Winners want to know what the best possible outcome is and how far they have to go to get there.  I get that now.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

That was quick.

Postal Service Struggles to stay Solvent, and Relevant by Steven Greenhouse at The New York Times

Reference five day old post:  Macro Idea - Parcel Mail

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Macro Idea - Parcel Mail

With the Post Office in continual discussion about layoffs and delivery cutting it occurs to me that the current economic environment could finally catalyze action against words.  An immediate effect would be growth in private label shipping (UPS, FedEx), and after that, there will be interplay among internet purchasing taxation, shipping and handling costs, and the overhead of running a local store.

An early effect for the stocks should be EPS growth as extended labor hours cost less than infrastructure capex. Even after that, a small field of competition and high barriers to entry virtually ensure margins will be held for the medium term, despite growing operating expense.

This pullback could be a gift for longer term investors.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Teller Window

As witnessed in the media, small confusions can lead to shocking tales of customer abuse.  For example, The Bullingtons were covered last week by the major outlets after it was discovered that they had been foreclosed upon for the seemingly harmless crime of paying their mortgage too early.  How could such a benign act turn into a national disgrace?

The problem is lack of accountability, and the solution is more face time.

You've probably seen all the bells and whistles they're putting on ATM's now.  Some of them will take fist fulls of cash and deposit it directly into your account.  Some allow you to insert a check, et voila, check is deposited.  Have you ever wondered what a pain in the tailfeathers it would be if one of these whizbang machines screwed something up?  How much angst, and how many Indians named "Jason" you'd have to talk to?  Much less the automatic aspersions cast upon your claim due to the notion of mechanical perfection and the daily reminder [as you trudge through the swamp of customer service reps who deal with no one but pissed off clients all day] of the fact that you are nothing but an account number.

In the haste to create corporate profitability, America has, I feel, mortgaged its sense of personalism (not a word) and the cost of doing so is mounting Libertarian sentiment.

Libertarian - a person who advocates civil liberty.  What does civil mean?  Of or relating to ordinary citizens and their concerns, as distinct from military or ecclesiastical matters.  So you've got swelling ranks of folks disenchanted with being counterparty to a machine, whether literal like the ATM, or metaphorical like the Government and Big Business.  Has the pendulum of consumer abuse finally swung far enough that Americans will command back their Constitutionally protected rights to not being fucked by these inhuman monstrosities?  It remains to be determined.

From an old post, here, I posited, "... As if to say that moral hazard at the corner office is somehow different than the home office these banks have taken advantage of the whole of America."  How has that worked out?

We need more face time.  Pay the bank teller a visit.  Since you can hold that person accountable right at the time of the transaction there is virtually a 0% chance that you will ever be exposed to the back offices of the Machine.  Similarly, a move toward local government is underway.  Liberals and Conservatives should be able to agree.  California has virtually legalized marijuana, and that's fine.  Arizona allows hordes of armed civilians to patrol its borders, also fine.  They're fine because neither of these two behaviors negatively affect anyone else.  Californians who voted had the option to pay their Congress people a visit for some accountability without having to fly across the lower 48.  Good, but is that enough?  No.

Why in the world would a town preclude its citizens from buying beer and wine, otherwise legal substances under national statutes?  Dallas, Texas citizens had existed under generations old dry district rules whose original purpose cannot be known for certain.  Thankfully, liberty wins during a reassessment of such codes by voters.  That's the kind of locality you want.  Let people vote with their feet and wallets, and let them shop with their oppressors at the grocery store every week.  There's always the option to move to an African dictatorship if you're of the inclination that getting fucked by a Faceless Master is ok.

Ol' Red issued swift and decisive accountability for this unprovoked act of aggression.

Civil liberty equals harmony.

All our lives can be thought a series of choices.  Those who would narrow another's choices are laying claim to inherent liberties delineated under the founding principles of this country as measured by the Bill of Rights.  Such claims should be viewed as malignant deprivations if immediate recourse is not available.  Most national laws and corporate business policies do not offer such recourse.  We have witnessed what a country and its leadership have done with the political sway to behave in ways that individual citizens should not.  Go to the teller window.  Move to a local bank.  Call your City Councilman/Ombudsman.  Hold someone accountable.

Start with yourself.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Does anyone peel their Oranges anymore?

I bought some Shiner Heffeweizen this afternoon and a fine looking specimen for the obligatory lemon.  After halving said citrus I observed the kind of thick white skin that gets in the way of getting any lemon into the bottleneck, and it tastes bitter, anyway.  So I'm standing over the sink kind of glancing out into the backyard and thinking about all this wacky shit going on in Washington DC while half going through the motions like I'm going to peel this fruit and you know what ... my mind flips like a movie effect, boom! [80's kitchen], into this memory of my dad and I competing to see who could peel the cleanest orange slices.  And the other guy would have to approve the other guy's slice if there were peel bits tangentially stuck to the outside or something that was ridiculously hard to remove without high risk of exploding the slice.

I sure hope my son has some good memories like that.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Link and Copy of Article from MoneyWeek

How you can avoid a Beating from these Thugs by Bengt Saelensminde


"Blaaaadyhell..." excuse me because I don't usually swear, but it was the only thing I could say:  "Blaaaadyhell!!"

I had just received a massive blow to back of the head and four very ugly men were standing over me, shaking their fists in my face.

‘Geldt... maaney - give, give' they demanded. But then, what a surprise...

I would have thought I'd be putty in the hands of a guy wielding a 3ft timber plank. But I was wrong - what actually came out was a belligerent wry smile...  That event happened some 15 years ago. Me and a mate had decided to bike it to Istanbul and we found ourselves on a deserted road alongside the Danube.

It was one of those moments when you surprise yourself. And there is a great deal to be learned from these situations - especially when you are investing. After all, we get roughed up all the time in the stock market.  Today I want to talk about how you can avoid becoming the victim of these beatings. What you need is a little bit of belligerence. That attitude served me well 15 years ago - the thugs didn't get away with anything worth having.  And it can help protect you against the constant threat of thuggery in the stock market too. Let me explain what I mean.

Market makers rough us up every day.

Market makers have a crucial role to play in the stock market. Without these banks and brokers offering to take your buy and sell orders, the stock market would just dry up. Ok you could probably buy and sell large cap stocks. But with small cap and illiquid stocks, you could be a long time waiting.

Market makers rule the roost. They are like the traders in a fruit and veg market - they offer a price to the stock exchange - and these prices aren't necessarily determined by pure demand and supply. By keeping the market liquid, they contribute to a more fair and open system.  But market makers have a dark side. And given the chance, they'll do their best to exploit private investors.  When you go to them, they will either be trying to get hold of stock or dumping stock. And they're not going to let you know which way their order book is lined up. MMs will send out fake price actions and they're designed to mug you of your property...

And when they want to get hold of some stock, they are not above resorting to a bit of ‘tree shaking' - especially after a decent run-up in the share price. MMs move the price down. And panicky investors will get scared and sell their shares.

Have you ever been tempted to sell your shares as you see the price start to drift after a decent run up? Of course you have. You'll have read that a stock has come off due to profit taking. But often it turns out not to be the case. What's actually happened is that the MMs have moved the price down to try to induce some profit taking.

And of course the MMs can play this game going the other way when they're trying to dump stock. It's known as a dead cat bounce. In this case it happens after a share has taken a big fall. MMs may move the price up to make it look like the rout has finished. But if the MMs still have large sell orders to fill then the price is going to head back south pretty soon. The aim here is to skin a few bottom fishers. Let the mugs mop up a few shares and then move the price back down again.

How do you know when this is happening to you? Well there are a couple of ways to recognise the work of a market maker...

Two things to look out for.

The first thing to be aware of is a sudden turn in the price after a run-up, or run-down. Beware of the fake inflexion point. Stocks never move up, or down in a straight line - and market markers are one of the main reasons why. The thing to keep in mind is the overall direction - is the stock in a long-term bull, or bear market? Stick with the game-plan.

MMs make money out of churning stock. They want action - if they're sitting at their desk twiddling their thumbs, then they're not earning any commissions. So they may simply want to stir things up a little. So the second thing to watch out for are price moves without volume.

You can get volume (the number of shares traded) data from many websites including the stock exchange. Download a chart with the shareprice and traded volumes - price moves without volume are suspicious. But beware, often large trades aren't published until after the event (there are specific rules on this), so it may take a day before the story becomes clear.

When confronted with MM manipulation our job is to ignore them. Just give them a belligerent wry smile and say to yourself ‘I know what you're up to' - I'm sticking to my guns.

These days with trading by the click of a mouse, it's easy to let your emotions lead you into quick and costly mistakes. When the markets give you a metaphorical whack on the head, you need to do the right thing. And when emotions are running high, it's difficult to predict what you're going to do...

The key is to have a game plan. Try to map out in your mind what to do when the MMs start with their fun and games. Belligerence is often the best policy.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Couple of Articles

Interview with Mike Bellafiore of SMB Capital by Damien Hoffman, Wall Street Cheat Sheet
American Apparel Update by Jennifer Galperin, Bigger Capital
ZAGG:  A Thin Film Between Love and Hate by The Financial Investigator
The Thoughts of a Professional Trader (BIDU) by Mike Bellafiore, SMB Capital

Bonus Post:
No One Cares if you Succeed or Fail:  Why I Walked 500 Miles Barefoot by Julien Smith

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

On Job Creation

For the jobs situation in America everyone has a grand idea:  payroll tax cuts, SBA lending programs (cause sub-prime mortgages worked so well), tax credits, bridge loan subsidy through unemployment insurance.  What makes people work?  Survival.  What is the enemy to survivalist instinct?  Food.  One needn't take a sledgehammer to the specter of unemployment in this country.  Indeed, by summarily excising subsidy and redeploying that money to people who do something useful means the creation of jobs.  Picking up roadside trash, sweeping the sidewalks, washing windows, who cares?  It is the back breaking monotony of the Collective that inspires innovation and change.

I accept that it's tough to make untenable decisions from the public altar, but for the love of garlic toast, if something ain't working, stop fucking doing it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Notes from the Wallet

I'm working on my second year without a cell phone.  It's rad.  If you want to own your world drop that cellphone on the street then run over it a few times.  For good measure, and in memoriam, pour a bit of your 40 over the electronic components.

A vacation without a cell phone is better than regular every day without a cellphone.

Don't lie.  You're always thinking about what you should be doing with it.  Is there someone to call?  Is someone about to text?  I better check in at work.  I wonder what the market's doing today.  Take the red pill, Neo.

So I'm on vacation thinking about population growth, developing world urbanization, floods, droughts, fertilizers, and I wonder:  Are we about to realize the exotic nature of pure cotton?  Lab fibers have been around since the 40's or so with the invention of Nylon.  Created by combining acids and alcohols, the controllable nature of synthetic fibers should make corporations integrate more of these fibers into their products, and possibility, bring synthetic production into their own shops.

So then I'm thinking, holy shit dude, they've already got these kids wearing "skinny leg" jeans with stretch fibers.  Those people in marketing are geniuses.

I imagine the conversation goes something like this:

Clothing CEO:  Ideas People!  We need to cut down on cotton because it's getting expensive.
Marketing:  Let's make the pants smaller.
Clothing CEO:  Good, what else?
Marketing:  Let's also put chemical fibers in them and market them as stretchy.
Clothing CEO:  Fucking brilliant, but won't that make everyone, including twiggy dudes, look like they have saddlebags?
Marketing:  We'll reference Europe alot.
Clothing CEO:  You're getting a raise.

And it occurs to me what a bitch it must be to be in marketing.  The transience of brand, the cowing of an entire populace.  But marketing is so well entrenched, you don't even realize it's happening to you until you go Gallagher on your cellphone.

I was watching some HD Net with a bloody mary circa 630 am.  That is an enjoyable experience if you've never tried it.  It's always nice to have a head start on big family events, especially if drinking around the kids is, er, frowned upon.  Anyway, they were playing travel shows of Western Ireland, the Isles of Greece, the lesser traveled villages of coastal Italy, and I think the Central part of Norway.  They weren't the PBS kind where Rick Steves beats your brains out with fun facts from inside the pub, these are helicopter pass overs with a pleasant, yet strikingly baritone voiced lady tossing the skinny on what you see.

I always consider the guy sitting at the table in front of the bistro.  Does he have as sweet a life as it looks like he should from the helicopter views?

Anyway, after those travel shows comes one about style in Paris.  For your consideration, a quote from a well known architect:

The worst part of my job is doing my job.  Seeing clients, making models.  Whenever I have something that I can't figure out I go to sleep.  When I wake up, POOF, the answer is there.  To me, to be successful is to be happy.  I must have a nice girlfriend, eat good fish, drink nice wine.  This is what matters.

I did a lot of fishing.  For all the work people put into buying expensive stuff, I get a yuk out of thinking about the Native First Americans with their sinews of buffalo and bone hooks.  Recently I have deployed one tackle with tidy rewards:  2 pieces of canned corn on a number 5 hook with a decent line weight about 8 to 12 inches above the eye.  If you want catfish go sans bobber.

We were near the end of a canoe trip on the day before heading home.  One of the other guys points atop the majestic bluff and talks about what a great trip capper that would be.  He's got a shade under a liter of Crown Royal in various stages of digestion, but I never grew out of the jumping off of high stuff phase.  After some consultation with the locals, it turns out that you can get up there.  Apparently the trip involves "shimmying" and the jump spot is on the order of 65 to 70 feet above the water's surface.

All canoes and kayaks are parked on the sandy beach at this point and there is lore about some dude supposedly ripping his taint open from jumping earlier that day.  Fucking locals and their ghost stories.  I know I'm going, but these other guys aren't looking so brave as I swim the 200 feet or so over to the landing area to inspect water depth.  12 to 16 feet, I'm in.  If by shimmying those yokels meant scaling a 20 foot rock face with an 18 inch crack in it, then shimmying is what I did.  I'm not sure if it's the fact that there was no going back after that rock climb, or that I just had that much resolve before heading up, but there was a pleasant relaxation in the air walking across that bluff.  According to Mythbusters, a normal sized dude hitting the water from 75 feet hits with an impact of about 29 g's.  But the best part wasn't the view, the jump, or the successful landing.

Thank you to the men and women who gave their lives in battle for our causes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Still Bullish on Nuclear.

I will go to the grave a nuclear bulltard.  Nuclear energy powers the universe, and at the risk of sounding like a lunatic, we must learn to appreciate this power if our civilization is to survive.

Six thousand years ago the Egyptians used techniques that still puzzle scientists to construct monuments of lasting scale.  Where will we be six thousand years from now?  We will be in space, and on other worlds, and nuclear power will not only get us there, but provide the energy necessary to power these outposts.

In the intervening time, margins between growth and palatability for environmental damage continue to narrow and nuclear is the leader in life-cost power production on fiduciary and environmental impact scales.  Apple and Google should build utility subsidiaries and finance the construction of new plants.  Alas, our government hamstrings utilities, and worse, nuclear facilities out of fear and tail-wag-dog responses to history.

For shame.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


by Bruno Mars

Easy come, easy go
That's just how you live, oh
Take, take, take it all,
But you never give
Should of known you was trouble from the first kiss,
Why were they open?
Gave you all I had
And you tossed it in the trash
You tossed it in the trash, you did
To give me all your love is all I ever asked,
Cause what you don't understand is
I’d catch a grenade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah) **
Throw my hand on a blade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
I’d jump in front of a train for ya (yeah, yeah , yeah)
You know I'd do anything for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Oh, oh
I would go through all this pain,
Take a bullet straight through my brain,
Yes, I would die for ya baby;
But you won't do the same

No, no, no, no
Black, black, black and blue beat me till I'm numb
Tell the devil I said “hey” when you get back to where you're from
Mad woman, bad woman,
That's just what you are, yeah,
You’ll smile in my face then rip the breaks out my car
Gave you all I had
And you tossed it in the trash
You tossed it in the trash, yes you did
To give me all your love is all I ever asked
Cause what you don't understand is
I’d catch a grenade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Throw my hand on a blade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
I’d jump in front of a train for ya (yeah, yeah , yeah)
You know I'd do anything for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Oh, oh
I would go through all this pain,
Take a bullet straight through my brain,
Yes, I would die for ya baby;
But you won't do the same

If my body was on fire, ooh
You’d watch me burn down in flames
You said you loved me you're a liar
Cause you never, ever, ever did baby...
But darling I’ll still catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
I’d jump in front of a train for ya (yeah, yeah , yeah)
You know I'd do anything for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Oh, oh
I would go through all this pain,
Take a bullet straight through my brain,
Yes, I would die for ya baby;
But you won't do the same.
No, you won’t do the same,
You wouldn’t do the same,
Ooh, you’ll never do the same,
No, no, no, no

** emphasis mine

Saturday, April 16, 2011

On Atlas Shrugged: Part 1

A visual odyssey marked by chance.  Elaborate in one vignette at the cost of deeper exploration.  Satisfyingly unsatisfying in the delivery of enough plot to prompt further questioning, but only for those who know what they're looking for.

Pace could have supported at least 30 more minutes to develop parallel story lines and enhance character development.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reminiscences of a Retired Kindergartner

A few times a week the neighbor casts open his garage doors for twilight beer and darts.  He's Old School all the way.  We keep a beer fridge there which stays full through the honor code.  That took a while to get used to, the successful function of the Beer Code, but then last night it occurred to me that our little drunken Nirvana is founded on principles keen to any decently reared kindergartner.  So then I start trying to think of all the most basic societal ideologies taught to 5 & 6 year olds.
  • Be nice.
  • Don't tattle.
  • Take turns.
  • Help someone.
  • Mind your own business.
  • Don't take what isn't yours.
  • Ask to borrow first.
  • Share your things.
  • Everyone is equal.
  • Follow the rules.
  • Try your best.
  • Save some for the whales.

Kindergarten Libertarianism observed in the wild.

Are kids inspiring because they haven't been burned?  Because they buy into the lies their parents and teachers tell them?  Or because they rightly believe and adhere to the most basic societal codes, creating idealized microsocieties for themselves?  When do these fundamental tenets of human interaction get cast aside by the asymmetric whims of extra-personal asshats?  Haven't figured it all out quite yet, but I'm working on it, one cold beer at a time.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Why I think people should own homes, not stocks.

James Altucher wrote Why I Am Never Going to Own a Home Again citing a list of downsides to homeownership.  While we normally agree, especially on topics such as why kids shouldn't need to go to college, I have to disagree with the self-motivated reasons he gave in his post if trying to win-over Middle America.

I think:
  • Homes should not be considered financial investments.
  • Homes should be considered safety nets.  If citizens are buying prudently (ie - not over-spending, not over-leveraging, purchasing quality, etc.), and paying aggressively (in lieu of putting extra cash into the stock market), a few weeks or months of unemployment shouldn't drastically affect their living condition.
  • Mortgages are cheap, fixed-rate leverage, against an asset that will protect them for life provided they spend prudently, and maintain their property.
  • Most Americans are not as financially savvy, or as change-compulsive as Mr. Altucher.
  • The complete vertical integration of the markets into daily life equate renters to "putting all their eggs in one basket" if they are not savers.  Most Americans are not savers.  Purchasers lock-in their stead at one point in time.  Homeownership and aggressive principal reduction is a put option on the Economy.
  • We agree that the "tax incentive" citation to homeownership is misguided, and so is the notion that one should contribute to RSA's for the taxable benefits.  RSA's are also illiquid and saddled with penalty expenses, two other negative points Altucher makes.
  • We agree that closing costs are inane, but they are also a one time time expense, and his argument that tax deductions for mortgage interest are nominal don't square with his argument against closing costs.
  • If you do want to move, you're not trapped, you can rent to one of the swelling ranks of Altuchers out there, let the property management company mind your place and your people, and then rent in the new place.  If anything happens, you've got a place to go on short-notice.
  • "Stress."  What people went through during the Dot Com Bust and in 2008 didn't result from homeownership, but from living beyond their means.
Ultimately, both sides of this argument resemble a discussion about leasing vs. buying automobiles.  There are merits to each, but the deciding factors should be the length of assumed usage, as well as the amount of care one has toward their things.  In my opinion, James's discussion highlights the downsides to homeownership over a short time frame, and for someone that likes to rag their shit out.  It should also be noted that I deduce from his piece that he is a saver, so we may be making opposite sides of the same point.  If this is the case, the real point is that Americans need to revert to saving, by whatever means they choose to do so, and by reducing their mortgage principal they do not have the potential to "lose money" but to guarantee a certain way of life.  I believe that Americans should view homeownership as a long term investment in themselves, not in their wallets.  Doing so inherently reduces "beta."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dear Internets

Since 2007 I have toiled in the cellars of the capital markets, breaking off enough winnings to devote full attention to this gig.  One of my very earliest plays was a stock called Goldspring, which is now Comstock Mining (LODE).  By winter of 2007 I had become convinced that the gold bulls had it right, the case for hard assets was clear, and to a new trader, the requirements put upon resource producers in the wake of the Bre-X scandal make doing the due forthright, scientific.  Interest had been gathering in Goldspring for some time as they were early in a drilling program in the historic Comstock district of Nevada, and were consolidating properties with reckless abandon.  The choice was clear, I had to get my money in the game.  150%, unfulfilled financing activity, and broad market turmoil later, the exit hatch.  GSPG will always be close to my heart because it's the cornerstone of my career.

GSPG, entry and exit areas

Following that, I started trying to trade a little, hiding in "diversification" in the oil business, banks like FITB, and finally, GNW. In fact, James Altucher did a video in the snow during the spring of 2009 calling Genworth one of the best bets in the market.  I had 46,955 shares averaged in the 1.30's or 1.40's (even bought some for 0.78, I remember because that's my lucky number) about the time that he made that prediction, and sweet damn, traded them out in the high 1's.  Probably one of the worst trades of my life, but how the fuck should I have known better under the circumstances?  Thereafter, owned XTEX in the low 2's and sold covered calls against it for 20% profit on it's way to the 10's that same year.  Then KFN in the low 1's, and again sold in the high 1's because the financing situation looked terrible.  But about this time I found a company called Nanoviricides.  It also had the indications of a stock on its way up.  Gathering interest, an interesting story, and in one of those gray areas that markets seldom choose to penetrate, the bulletin boards.  150%, awful financing arrangements, and unfulfilled promises later, the exit hatch.

NNVC, entry and exit areas

For better or worse, my losses were forgettable, if memorable.  I had some ETFC, and covered calls against them, that frankly, I got bored with and sold.  By the spring of 2010 I had produced 10x my initial investment from the fall of 2007.

So in the spring of 2010 I decided to make a career of the stock market.  Read the twitter feed and this blog for how that story goes.  It's been work, tough work, and with varying degrees of success, but my accountant and wife seem to think it's working out ok.  When reviewing my first 6 months performance early last fall, I discovered that picking winners comes naturally, and trading doesn't.  Philosophically, dude has decent market timing, but not the chops to execute said ideas, yet.  And so, when an opportunity presented itself, I knew what had to be done.

The following is taken from Soros:  The World's Most Influential Investor by Robert Slater:
To Stanley Druckenmiller, Schlesinger's "clarion call" made betting against the pound crystal clear.  "The real decision was not whether to take the position we took but how deep to go.  At first, I was thinking in the range of 3 or 4 billion.  But that's where George's instinct, his sixth sense or whatever, the thing that made him such a great investor, came in.  For him, it's not whether you're right or wrong, but when you know you're right, making sure you have the maximum in play.  Actually, he - we - would have bet more, but we just ran out of time."
Druckenmiller deserved no little credit for initiating the play on the pound, but Soros, as usual, provided the extreme self-confidence that encouraged Druckenmiller to bet so much.  "I told him to go for the jugular," Soros said.  "It's like shooting fish in a barrel.  As long as the barrel holds up, you keep on shoorting the fish."
As such, I have made the following proposal to a list of angel investors, VC's, and high net worths (Mark Cuban, for example):
I would like to raise $1MM to form a Special Purpose Vehicle for the purpose of owning only one stock.  It is NYSE listed, and trades over $6.  In my view, there is a serious price dislocation on this security, and I have been and continue to be willing to stake my worth on it.
In consideration for this proposed investment, I would back the first 10% of any losses incurred, and will post cash collateral up front, and in return would like to halve the profits after one year's time.  The SPV would contain only two conditions:  1)  The SPV has an explicit 1 year term, unless the stock doubles, at which time we would liquidate and split after tax profits;  2)  There is no trading, hedging, or any other simple or esoteric activity to be conducted in the account.
To be sure, I have no investment credentials aside from experience.  I am not tested, trained, certified, or otherwise.  I have been trading since late 2007, and will provide 3 full years of trading logs on my broker's header, upon request.
No takers.  So, dear internet, if there's anyone out there that wants to at least hear the pitch send me an email,  I'd rather lick the underside of a toilet seat than go to my deathbed asking myself "what if?"

ps - As a bonus, I offer up the email sent to NNVC's CEO (dated 5.12.2010) upon closing of the shitty financing deal that destroyed value for his "faithful shareholders":

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Macro Speculations

The cloud computing model of carrying an interface device without installed software should be a nice boon for software developers like MSFT because on-line licensing is more difficult to pirate and easier to track than traditional methods (CD's).

Uncommon times call for uncommon solutions.  I still like high speed rail and other infrastructure spend, and you know I want a modern WPA, therefore huge contractors like Granite and Sterling should get another look.

I also like natural gas.  Modern methods and large local resources point to a plentiful supply.  I think that the inflationary pressures in commodities cannot be assuaged because in addition to the monetary policy and unemployment bed we now find ourselves in, the developing world is beginning to fully embrace Western Financialism, and that exogenous demand affects input costs.  All these batteries and biofuels are wonderful, but they aren't scalable yet.  Natural gas is the bridge, and I think it's about time to pick a new secular bottom.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What it means to be a Libertarian.

I watched the following video on  If the Tea Party understood that they agree, without resorting to militant action by harmonizing and communicating their views more succinctly, we might actually achieve some important changes in this country.  The Mind Your Own Business Party would be a more fitting name.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Notes to El Presidente (3)

It's tough not to tee off in a medium like email, but by the time one gets to letter writing there's an inherent frustration level.  Exact transcript as sent through contact page as follows:
President Obama -
It's that time of year again, to pay someone almost a 1% of my personal, pre-tax take home salary in order to negotiate the stupidly complicated and opaque tax code.  Thanks in advance for making that a priority among your many tasks including browbeating China on their own monetary policy decisions, and pussyfooting around with oppressive jerks like Quadaffi, Somali pirates, and Mexican drug cartels.
Look, as a libertarian I just want to be left alone, also, I think other people should be left alone.  But if you're going to get elbow deep in other people's problems, at least have the sense to deal with real issues that would engender goodwill.  That means declaring war on pirates, and then doing something about it.  Set up live training exercises for our maritime special forces on a proactive basis.  The world doesn't need to know that the problem got fixed, or how, it'll just fall off the screen into the annals of time.
Also, put the pedal to the metal on these projects.  We are past the point of needing a modern equivalent of the WPA.  Incentivize work.  I am deeply concerned that large portions of those hitting Food Stamps rolls will never leave them.
As for drug cartels, and Qudaffi:  first, legalize marijuana.  You've smoked it, you understand.  Why not declare a war on allergies?  Swap marijuana for ragweed, now that's a plant that sucks the fun out of a fine spring day.  And secondly, get on TV and flat out say that it is wrong to impinge another's basic human rights.  Our Bill of Rights applies to all people, and it is not wrong to express a strong belief in a well-worded, deeply logical document that has withstood almost 350 years in the modern era.  It is the cornerstone of our way of life.  If you want other people to lay down arms, tell them directly how you believe in what we have done here.
Back to the issue at hand:  the idiocy of our tax code.  My guy says that our IRA money that was withdrawn for reasons including:  underperformance by managers, logical allocation of capital into a pay-down of the mortgage to guarantee a high savings rate, and because I want to control my own finances, will still be subject to penalties even though we used it to pay down the mortgage.  So tell me, we've got a problem with foreclosures, underwater mortgages, and a rash of unsavory market practices, does charging that penalty make any sense to you?  Over time the partisanship has gotten so out of hand that there is no "spirit of the law" anymore.  It's a codification of daily life that wrongly incentivizes and disincentivizes activity without notion for the repercussions of those codes.  Shrink government back to it's original purpose, to protect our rights and our country.
Good day, sir.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Letters to Mom-in-Law

In the middle of February my #1 lake house drinking buddy, mom-in-law, asked what I thought about the EPA and how ethanol affected the prices of corn.  Not one to pass on the opportunity to toot my own horn, here's the transcript of my response.  Don't forget to check out an article from today's Wall Street Journal, OECD Sees Real Demand Driving Commodity Prices.
I have strong feelings about food inflation, namely that the logarithmic growth characteristics in human populations, coupled with the increasing westernization of foreign countries leads to increasing demand against an increasingly small volume of arable land.  Corn, and other foodstuffs (Tyson has a project that converts chicken fat into biofuels), are inflated for two reasons, then:  demand against supply due to land constraints,  and compounded with supply dislocations caused by weather events like fires in Russia, floods in Australia, freezes in Mexico, as well as the disincentive of those without jobs to produce work in exchange for food.

The latter becomes complicated when considering the hardships endured by the unemployed, but there can be no hope of "recovery" while continuing to push those unemployed onto the government's rolls without creating some kind of modern Works Progress Administration.  Knowing that there's a backstop against which people will not starve, what motivation do they have to find work?  This is a major, major issue.  Present news outlets point to food inflation as primarily caused by supply dislocations.  I stridently disagree with this oversimplification.

To me, there exists a causal relationship between inflation in things that cannot be excepted (food, energy) and monetary policy.  As the price of housing accounts for a preponderance of notional value of the American economy, it gets an extra heavy weighting (~37%) in the figures our government likes to quote in the media.  So when they say, "inflation is muted," they're talking equations, and not credit card receipts.

To conclude, while I believe that ethanol adds to the demand for corn, and therefore drives demand and cost, human demand is the force that must be mitigated, and to do so means gaining real world production from those in exchange for the commodity they wish to receive.

Hopefully you realize that the chart was not meant to push you into hording corn or anything else, just that if you guys decide to visit with your farmers in [a southern state], you have strong leverage to request some rent relief ... especially if they're not treating your place like you want them to.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Compilation Show

Ever noticed that when a sitcom wants to mail one in they create compilation shows stuffed with flashbacks and old material?  I used to keep a list of stuff that people said in passing and so might otherwise be forgettable, except that the points were extra salient for the greater purpose, to me anyway.

A lot of these guys were from my working group and I don't talk to them anymore so you don't get names where celebrity isn't involved.


If you look good, you feel good.  You feel good, you play good.  You play good, they pay good.
Deion Sanders

This guy [a major decision maker] scares me because he just doesn't know [the implications of his decisions].

No one talks about what it takes to get things done, they just know when things don't get done; and take notice when they get done well.

Sometimes it's all about making the phone calls.

That's who becomes the fall guy, the one who brings the bad news [without explanation, or workable solutions].

It all boils down to:  is it costing what it's worth?

It tears him up to see people sitting around doing nothing, he'd rather not see anyone than see that.

I don't call and talk numbers until I know that shit.

Go out in front of any building.  How many statues do you see of committees?  The statues are of people who stood against the committees, people who bucked the system.
Kidd Kraddick

Don't let someone remain in a gamebreaker position if he's not performing.  In a position that's this important, average is absolutely unacceptable.
Customers for Life (a book)

You've got an owner who doesn't know, and an architect who doesn't know.  I'll tell you, there's two ways that deal can go down:  they can run the show and eat your lunch, or you can take charge and eat theirs.

People like Tiger and Jordan are greatness because the bigger the game gets the better they play.

There's always a need for people who can take a project and run with it without having to have someone look over their shoulder.

There's a balance there, when you get knee deep in details big shit is flying past you left and right.

When you're negotiating a deal it's a lot easier to get more scope [into the deal] than it is to get dollars.

All people are different, but one must refuse to allow a man to lose confidence in what it is he does.  He's gotta take some lumps and be resilient, but you can't let him get down on himself.
Troy Aikman

You have to understand the difference between being friends and being friendly.  You don't want to be friends with everybody, but it's very important to maintain friendly relationships where it's possible.

Success is determined when preparation meets opportunity.
Tony Romo

I think a great quarterback can be successful in any program, while a good, solid quarterback needs a strong system in order to be great.
Tony Romo

You have to have a common goal.  Two people working independently toward a similar, but separate goal are not in a relationship.  Why would you be together if you didn't think you accomplish more than the sum of your parts?

Things really aren't that complicated.  Don't give issues more weight than is warranted.

I had a producer tell me that if I ever commented on something that he could already see I'd be fired.  "Don't tell me that he made the putt while I'm watching golf.  I already know that."
Pat Sumrall

You can't buy experience.
Tony Romo

One is not entitled to respect, but to courtesy.

You don't want to sugar coat the truth, to yourself, anyway.

One of these days you'll learn:  Keep your head out of the jug and your dick in your pants.

My father-in-law was an old military guy.  The guy's seen it all, he told me the three keys to success:  cut your hair, shine your shoes, and shave.

Remember, you don't have to floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep.

Nothing is more rewarding that watching someone who says it can't be done get interrupted by someone actually doing it.

You miss 100% of the shots you never take.
Wayne Gretzky

Sometimes the race is won, not by the fastest, but by the guy who just kept running.

It doesn't matter how many pails of milk you spill ... just don't lose the cow.

Valued employees add value where none was previously expected.

If you get the lines out in the water all you have to do is let the fish come to you.  Then it's just a matter of cleaning and frying them up.

Playing the innocently ignorant card at the right time can be your best friend.

Golf taught me at a very young age I do some dumb shit when I'm on a roll.  Think the same is true with trading.

IF you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On Jinxes

Am I superstitious?  No.  Do I believe in the power of the jinx?  Yes.

How many times have you been watching a close game with your buddies when "Eighteen-pack" Eddie pipes up at the most inopportune time, "We did it baby!"  You know what happens next.  The jinx isn't a lightening bolt from the sports gods smiting you for having idiot friends.  Rather, it is a result of the collective subconscious leaning decidedly, uniformly in favor of a seemingly obvious result.  The jinx is an indicator.  An indication of complacency on the side with the upper hand, the application of an erroneously calculated likelihood of the opposite outcome.