Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A couple of key concepts

A couple of concepts that have been rattling around in my head is the idea of a "non-working owner".  How can a person who has never worked for a company and never invested any money be entitled to a portion of the profits?

That is the definition of a non-working owner or "NWO".

The "stockholders" as these are known, then pressure to the CEO to increase revenue and depress expenses (read: wages) to maximize their dividend and stock price (unworked for profit).

Steve Jobs has died, but will Apple live forever?

Steve Jobs passed away on October 5th, 2011.  His passing deeply affected many people, myself among them. But many years before this, Steve Jobs said that Death is a natural part of Life and should not be feared; nay, we should contemplate it every day and live our lives in harmony with the knowledge that we will one day die.

He concludes that Death is just and proper, as it clears out the old to make room for the new and that every young person eventually becomes old, and is then moved aside to make room for the "new" new people.  Although Steve Jobs passed away, the company he founded is thriving robustly and is by some measures the largest company in the world with a brand positioning at the forefront of technology and communication.

Apple, with a market capitalization of over $400 Billion  dollars and thousands of patents, will surely survive for a while.  One year?  Ten years? 100 years? If it lives 100 years from today, it will live longer than me.  Even if it eventually goes bankrupt, some portion of its assets/patents/human talent will be bought up by another company, consumed and assimilated.

It is likely that Apple, Steve Jobs creation, will be functionally immortal.  It will never die.

It defies the natural cycle of life and death that Steve Jobs embraced psychologically.  And that is not a good thing.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Allen Iverson vs. Kobe Bryant

There is a great video on Youtube of Allen Iverson saying he doesn't understand how he could make his teammates better by practice.  What matters is games.  His presence on practice doesn't effect what his teammates work on or develop.

Contrast that with Kobe Bryant, who said he thinks the only reason they didn't win the championship in the 2010-2011 NBA season was that he wasn't able to practice with the team and keep the intensity level high.  He wasn't able to "crack heads together" to get people up to the level they need to be at.

Allen Iverson:  0 Championships
Kobe Bryant:  5 Championships

Friday, September 30, 2011

NFL Draft Remix by DJ Steve Porter

I've been listening to an awesome draft remix by DJ Steve Porter, which you can find here:

On of my favorite parts is 0:43 part, where everyone is chanting  J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS, and then when repeated, the JETS chorus is replaced by a bullhorn timed to sound just like JETS.  It adds a nice feeling of chaos to the chant, similar to the Matrix theme song.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Amazing Bears Trick Play

I watched an amazing trick punt return by the Bears, where Devin Hester ran left to return a punt, when actually the ball was kicked to his right, and another Bears player was running back and caught it over his shoulder, then started returning it for the touchdown.  It worked brilliantly.  I also saw that Hester (the Decoy) ran left towards his own sideline, and the punt was towards the Packers sideline.  This was because if Devin Hester was faking towards the Packers side, the players on the Packers sideline would clearly see what was happening and yell to their teammates on the field.  Instead, all the Packers players were fifty yards away from their teammates on the other side of the field.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chris Bosh is already over the NBA finals...and thats a bad thing

Chris Bosh said in a recent interview that he was over the NBA Finals loss and was ready to move on.  That is the response of an emotionally mature person with a large world view and a good perspective.  After all, its just sports and his self-actualization as a player.

But its bad news for the Miami Heat.  It means they'll be getting the same Chris Bosh they had last year, except a year older and a year closer to retirement.  He won't have been lifting all summer, upset over the way things ended like a Michael Jordan or Larry Bird type would have been.  He hasn't been pushed all summer by the humiliating defeat he experienced.

After all, it is emotion which separates people out.  I get the feel that if Chris Bosh were 6'2" instead of 6'10", he wouldn't even be in the NBA.  A guy like Kevin Garnett or Chris Paul would be in the NBA no matter what height they are.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Romney Campaign

I just read a very interesting article on the Romney campaign and their recent attacks on Governor Perry from Texas.  It was a very interesting and well written article on the Huffington Post.  The impression I got was that Romney was running a very disciplined, well thought out campaign that was planned in advance with much thought and historical knowledge going in to it.  They planned things out based not on what they wanted to happen, but on historically what happens, and they are ready for many occassions. 

Will Romney ultimately win the Republican nomination and the Presidency?  I don't know.  I can't see the future. 

But its very interesting to read about a campaign that is essentially the opposite of McCain's campaign.

Romney is a very, very intelligent and educated person.  That doesn't mean he's a great politician or can get people "riled up" and to the voting booths, or that he will make a great leaeder, but it means he would do an amazing job as a high level administrator like Secretary of State at the very least. 

I'll continue to follow his campaign now that I know more about him. 

Ultimately, it comes down to fundraising.  Romney has to be very thorough and well-planned to compete with Obama's thorough and well-planned campaign.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Remembering someone's face but not one's name

I used to know a man who professed that he couldn't remember people's names well, but he always remembered someone's face.  And he was so proud of this accomplishment, like he had a supernatural ability to remember them.  And being young, I believed him and was impressed.

After reading Moonwalking With Einstein, I understand that humans have evolved to remember people's faces with great clarity, and to be able to detect even the slightest change in expression.  Everyone can remember faces, because as humans we've been doing that for thousands and thousands of years.  Even before language and names existed, people had to remember faces.  It would be critical to early humans survival to know as they approached another human if they had seen them before and what their relationship was.  To think you recognize someone, only to have never seen them before, could be deadly.  Strangers can be brutal to eachother, but friendships are valued.

My old mentor bragged about his ability, but it was reality an innate gift passed to him by our common ancestors over the millenia preceding us.  He no more worked on his ability to remember faces than I worked on my ability to breathe oxygen through the air.  We are just born with it.

Its like a fish bragging about how well he can swim through water.  Of course he can swim, he's a fish!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Don't Worry About Tiger

I read that Tiger Woods recently switched the middle of a tournament. Blaming the putter and not himself is a sign of weakness, something the old Tiger would never do. Prior to the tournament he said that his "goal was to win, as always" and he wouldn't be playing if he didn't think he could win.

That doesn't sound like the Tiger we know and love.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Problem With Memory

I picked up a copy of Ender's Game recently at the book store and read the first page again.  I couldn't remember any of it, which is a surprise to me because I have read the book previously and have a great memory.  I flipped through a few more pages and was reading it again like the first time.  Same great author.  Same excellent plot.  I know the ending, but I could easily re-read the book again and enjoy it just as much, maybe even more so because I will be able to pay closer attention to the plot development and less time surprised by every twist and turn of the plot. 

Why is that?  Why can I remember the basic outcome and emotions I felt but nothing else from a book I read when I was 16?

The mechanics of the human memory system mean that I don't have a photographic or absolute memory of anything, and memories slowly erode over time, so that a once sharply contoured design becomes a smooth surfaced rock after enough washings. 

In many respects, that is what mars the entire human experience.  We simply don't have a perfect memory, and memories get distorted over time.  Eventually, only the general facts are remembered, or an emotional impression.  Nothing else. 

The problem of predicting the future is most possible through a keen understanding of human nature.  The details of history are soon forgotten even by those who experienced them.  Those who did not experience them, how could they possibly be expected to understand the future if they can't even understand the past.

As regards to the financial crisis, I think that an accurate prediction could have been easily made by people with a strong understanding of human nature and human history.  Those two are equally intertwined. 

Another problem is that human history has no beginning.  It is a continuum, with each action echoing down through eternity.  The root causes of major actions are never discreetly definable because each of those causes has its own separate causes, which could be said to have made the major action inevitable. 

It is a very Tolstoy perspective on human history to believe that everything is virtually inevitable and all the talking heads and political leaders are no more guiders of history as they are the victims of it, the illusion of control something we all share because to admit that we have no control over our environment is a solipsist perspective, which we all (hopefully) grew out of. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Setting Goals

Goalsetting is an individual activity, a family activity, a group activity, a corporate activity, and a national activity.

The problem is goals often produce undesired, unexpected, and unanticipated results. Look at the mess and cheating scandal in the Washington D.C. school system, where it has been discovered that teachers systematically improved their students standardized test scores by erasing incorrect answers and writing in correct ones. They were threatened with being fired if their students underperformed and not surprisingly, when they discovered they could not raise the test scores fast enough, resorted to cheating.

This shouldn't be a surprise. Anyone who has lived through enough challenges in life knows that people will resort to nearly anything when threatened with the loss of their lives, their possessions, or even their jobs. In fact for many people, those three things are wound up like the Gordian Knot.

So don't be surprised when you set goals for another person and then pressure them to do it, that quality goes down or is faked to get the desired results.

Sometimes pressure doesn't make diamonds, it just gives you crushed coal.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Achieving a hole in one in golf

I've been golfing for about four years now, and am still waiting on my first hole in one. 

A hole in one is dependent on the following number of factors:

1) Total number of par-3 holes played
2) Total number of greens landed
3) Distance that each ball rolls on the green (six inches of roll versus 13 feet of roll)
4) Ability to select the right club (for distance (controlling the y axis))
5) Ability to hit the ball straight and at the pin (controlling the x axis).

Therefore, to increase my chances of getting a hole in one, I need to work on all five factors, although factor two is related to factors 4 and 5 for obvious reasons. 

I need to play more short courses, and increase the number of par-3 holes played per round.  For example, at Pruneridge it is a nine hole course and six of the holes are par-3s.  That is a ratio of 6:3, or 6:9, depending on the metrics. 

The shorter the hole, the better chance I have of landing the green.

The more pure the swing I have, (high shot with back swing) the more roll I will get.

The more I can accurately judge the wind and distance of each hole (accounting for pin placement) the better chance I have of landing the green.

And the more I work on my technique, the more I can shoot the ball straight at the pin.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I work across the street from Tesla's Fremont factory, and see the enormous factory each morning as I drive to work. 

I read a recent report that said: 

Morgan Stanley provided color on Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA). In a research report published today, Morgan Stanley stressed that the company's outlook will probably remain grim until the launch of its Model S.
In the report, Morgan Stanley states, “Tesla is within one year of its targeted commercial launch of Model S. Until that time, sales volumes and quarterly EPS will likely be poor indicators of future success.”
At the moment, the rating agency has an Overweight rating and a price target of $70 placed on the company's stock. On Monday, TSLA added 2.13% to its value to finish the day at $28.77.

** end of the report.

There are a couple things going on here.  Morgan Stanley releases a news report which probably affected the stock price to some degree.  Surprisingly, the stock went up 2.13% despite the report of a grim future until the launch of the Model S, so there must be something going on here that I'm not understanding, which is no surprise, because I don't know anything about stock price valuations and the way the world really works. 

There is a target price of $70, which is pretty high.  Hopefully I can learn more about what these reports mean.  True value is found when I can more accurately assess the reality and predict the future than competitors. 

Just like the Black Swan, that will likely be painful and require going against conventional wisdom and what everyone else is doing. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Miami Heat Lose to the Dallas Mavericks

What an incredible ending to the NBA season.  After Game 3 it really looked like the best team in the series was the Miami Heat, but incredibly they choked away the NBA finals and have made LeBron James look like a complete head case.  I don't know what was going on with him but he really turned down his aggressiveness and didn't seem confident with anything.  It was really strange.

More importantly is the historical view of what happened.  It is important to record thoughts during the moment because there is a lot of mental re-writing that occurs going forward.  The Miami Heat were ultra close to winning the championship but this could easily be re-written as to why teams without a center don't win championships, etc.

So during the finals my thoughts revolved around the superior defense of the Miami Heat.  They seemed to have the lead in every game but their offense stagnated late in the fourth quarter.  It devolved in to them just hoisting up long shots because they couldn't pass it inside.  There was no interior passing going on.  LeBron has long been lambasted for not being willing to post up or to start out in the post.  It really shows now.  They did the same thing that worked against Chicago, hoisting up long three pointers off the dribble, but now they weren't going in. 

live by the three, die by the three.

"Se la guerre"


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Miami will win the NBA Finals

At this point, with Miami up 2-1, and watching the last three games, I'm convinced they will win the NBA finals. They won a tough game on the road, and if it weren't for a melt down in game 2, would be up 3-0.

We'll see what happens as the series unfolds.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Lakers had a leadership problem

I've been digesting the Lakers' defeat at the hands of the Mavericks, a team they shouldn't have been swept by, and one common theme is that fact that Kobe didn't practice during the regular season so he wasn't able to keep everyone as sharp and intense as they need to be.

The problem was that he wasn't practicing and thus able to be as intense as need be, but also that he lacked the moral authority to yell at his teammates and really impose discipline on them.  Its just a fact of leadership that he has to be "one of the troops" and sometimes even a 5-time champion like Kobe loses credibility when he can't practice.  When he gets to receive treatment and lift weights while everyone else is sprinting around, banging bodies and hurting out on the practice court.  It adds up and takes a toll on his leadership ability.

Friday, April 29, 2011

All about physicality in the NBA

This quote from the Hawks center Collins ties in with what I've read elsewhere, but is worth repeating here:

"Just being in better shape," Collins said, "but also coach [Larry] Drew starting me against him. The refs, if you start off the game being physical, it's a difference, than if you come into the game and there's a change in the way that Dwight's being guarded."

Essentially, being physical pays off and allows a team to continue to be physical the entire game.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Re-reading good books

I'm strongly considering going through the process of re-reading certain books that I've read in the past, mainly because there simply aren't that many great new books coming out during any given year, and many of the ones I've read that are really good have been partially or wholly forgotten by me now.  Re-reading would allow me to re-learn some of the text and pick and choose what I want to read without having to read an entire book again.

Media Watch

The BP oil spill has been renamed the "Deepwater Horizon" oil spill, thus removing the association between BP and the oil spill.  The media is now referring to it as the Deepwater Horizon spill, which I think is kind of smarmy. 

Mr. Sokol was Berkshire Hathaway's #2 man but has now been accused of illicitly gaining $3M by duping Warren Buffet;  the two issues here are 1) why did he feel compelled to try to gain 3M when he already had tens of millions and an amazing job and 2) his lawyer, who called Sokol "a man of uncommon rectitude and probity" has previously defended the would-be assassin of Ronald Reagan;  not exactly a great character reference for one's lawyer if the lawyer previously defended RR's attempted assassin. 

Monday, March 7, 2011


A realization I made with poker is that if I am doing well, I need to keep playing.  This sounds obvious but when I played at GardenCity casino I was doing well and after success I decided to "lock in" my earnings and leave.  This was great and I did well, but in reality if I am winning then I need to keep playing against the same people and trust that success means I will have further success.

If I am losing, on the other hand, I should leave immediately and cut my losses rather than keep going and trying to make each session a winning one.

Its a bit like the old "taxi-driver" conundrum.  If cab drivers set a pre-set goal of earnings each day, then some days they will finish early because there is a lot of business, and other days they will work long hours to make that goal.  But the most profitable thing to do is the opposite:  quit on slow days, but work long hours on days that are busy because it is the busy days that they can make the most money.

Likewise, if and when I'm doing well at poker is when I need to stay at the table for a few extra hours playing against weaker opponents, but when I am doing poorly and playing against better people, I need to have the awareness to get up and leave and not stay indefinitely.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Laker's loss to Cleveland

In the words of Umberto Eco, everything is connected to everything.  So how do we explain the Laker's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers?

It ties in to their 60 point beat down of the Cavs earlier this season.  The Lakers will have let their guard down.
The Cavaliers will be nervous about it happening again and probably prepare extra hard for them.  It is the 7th game of a road trip by the Lakers, and the Cavs are at home.

This is a unique situation and poses an interesting research question:  how do teams that suffer huge road blowouts fare against that team the next time they play them at home?

I.e. the NBA embarrassment factor?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

NBA All-star game

I'm picking the EAST to win the NBA All-Star game.  This has a lot of similarities to the year the Pistons had four backups on the All-Star team on a team that had lost the Championship the previous year (in a game 7) and were motivated to take on the West.  

Also, it is in LA so Kobe/Gasol have a lot of stuff on their minds.  Kobe will want to win the game so he can be the obvious MVP of the game but honestly, the Celtics starting line-up plus Dwight Howard or whoever will be better than five random West Stars all gunning together.

Also, Fedor looked a LOT smaller than his opponent in weigh-ins and I didn't think he would do well.  Now I'm trying to put my thoughts on my blog BEFORE the game/fight/event.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cherry-picking Data

One of the biggest challenges for this blog is avoiding the cherry-picking of data.  Am I cherry-picking data?  Yes.  Most of my examples thus far have been anecdotal.  The Steelers lost their Pro-Bowl Center for the super bowl and lost.  The Raiders lost their Pro-Bowl center for the Super Bowl back in the early 2000s and lost.  Its tough to strike a balance between my need to track certain "black swan" events but still avoid cherry-picking, although that is what I'm doing with such low-occurrence events.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Cavalier's epic losing streak

The Cavaliers have now lost 24 games in a row, the longest losing streak in NBA history and are only two or three losses shy of the all-time professional sports losing streak (of the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL).  They averaged losing games by 13 ppg during the streak, but over the last four games they were only losing by 5 ppg. And that got me thinking about how they were likely trying desperately hard to avoid losing and setting the streak, ratcheting up their practice intensity, pre-game preparation and in-game effort.  All in all though, it didn't help them win games.  But relative to the spread, I bet they were doing better.

Friday, February 4, 2011

An astronaut goes to space

Representative Giffords has a husband, who is an astronaut.  She is in a coma after being attacked by a madman.  He is scheduled to go on a flight mission in April.  Will he go, or remain with her as she tries to recover from a senseless attack?

I remember reading that and thinking about two things.  First, what I know about people in the Navy.  Second, what I think a marriage between an Astronaut and a Congresswoman would be like.  How often do they get to even see each other?  On her end, she much campaign across her district, has professional obligations in Washington D.C., on top of travel, political events, etc., etc.  He is an astronaut stationed in Cape Canaveral, Florida, with his own demanding professional obligations.  He must train, remain under the watchful eye of Nasa, and spend a lot of time flying to prepare.

Basically, they are probably never together.  It is kind of like a paper marriage.  Probably not even a real sense of togetherness.  Here are a few quotes from the article:

"If he does choose, and NASA management chooses, for him to fly this mission ... I am absolutely 100 percent confident that he will have no problem fulfilling his responsibilities the same way as if this incident would have never occurred."

Wow.  And he is being praised for that.  If my wife were in a coma and trying to recover from a terrorist attack, I wouldn't be going on a two-week trip to outer space when someone else would jump at the chance to do the job.  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

District 9

I watched District 9 last night at home.  It is a really really cool movie, produced by Peter Jackson and shot in South Africa.  It is a science fiction with a lot of undertones about xenophobia, fear, war crimes, etc.

The last third of the movie became kind of ridiculous, with bullets flying everywhere and never seeming to hit anyone, which detracts from it.  The movie did a great job with a documentary-style realism that made a pretty fantastical scenario seem plausible, but threw it all away to make a "good" action scene with thousands of bullets shot everywhere and the main characters escaping unharmed.  It felt more like a James Bond movie at the end than a good sci-fi film.  There are a number of narrative holes that I would hope to have filled in with a sequel, such as why the aliens appeared so disorganized and dumb despite having such great technology.  Why did the "smart" alien with the red vest seem so much smarter than the other aliens.  Why was he able to work to make a ship while the rest did nothing but goof off all day?

Also, I'm currently reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, so I'm surprised there were no interspecies diseases being passed about that would have either wiped out the aliens or wiped out the humans.  All in all there is a lot to be answered.

I was a big fan though of the whole "discovery" process where the two species are learning about each other and the various stages of human excitement and wonder at the aliens, to eventual frustration and hatred.

Also the acting was for the most part very good and believable.  I love watching good actors, they really nail the facial expressions and body language of the person they are portraying.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

UFC Lesnar vs. Velasquez

I remember watching the post-fight celebration when Brock Lesnar defeated Shane Carwin.  He looked relieved.  That was the first thing I noticed about his facial expressions.  He didn't look like he was on a mission, or confident, or anything.  He honestly looked like a kid who just had a shot from the doctor and realized it wasn't as bad as he thought it was going to be.  And his next fight, he lost to Cain Velasquez.  I don't know if the two are related at all, but it was certainly a weird facial expression to have.

Also, a couple years ago before Kimbo Slice was defeated in a Strikeforce X fight (I may be wrong about the brand) I noticed his facial expressions were really weird pre-fight.  He looked in the camera and and was frowning as though he was angry, but it looked like a fake frown.  Like he actually wasn't upset or angry at all.  It was very strange.  He lost his fight too and is now out of UFC entirely.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Upcoming Ohio State versus Arkansas bowl game

Based on the performance of SEC teams versus other Big Ten teams, my thinking is that Ohio State will be beaten soundly by Arkansas, despite being the higher seed.  I haven't watched a single game of Arkansas's this year, I'm simply looking at how common opponents are fairing against each other.