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 putters...in 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.