Inside Lulumahu Falls

No, it’s not a porn movie. Just a photo looking up the right side of the falls.

From earlier on the trail

These posts may generate more traffic on the trails than they do on the blog. When we got to the falls there were half a dozen people there, which was the first time I’ve seen anyone there. Previous post is here.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Get Ready for the New Investment Tax Make plans accordingly. The best response is to have no income at all, but it carries a few downsides.

On The Corrosion of Moral Leadership  “You cannot legislate for moral behavior, but you can make sure that everyone knows what’s right, and what’s not, and set an example.” Nothing funnier than the US complaining about Chinese censorship while working on a kill switch.

Report: Fujii faked data in at least 172 papers  As my dad used to say, if you’re going to do something, do it right. In this case, that attitude is demonstrated by showing a real commitment to fraud.

Rejection of Unfair Offers Can Be Driven by Negative Emotions, Evidence from Modified Ultimatum Games with Anonymity  The markets can be very anonymous and many feel the market is unfair. This study shows how that can lead to very unprofitable decisions.

Positive news from the EZ  It continues to amaze me that people think replicating the US bank bailouts is a positive for wealth creation.

Vital Signs  The importance of fevers, and rationality.  I’ve found just taking one baby aspirin every three days is enough to increase how often I get sick. I try to compensate by raising by body temperature through exercise.

New technique could reduce number of animals needed to test chemical safety Completely ignores genetic variation within species so will assuredly underestimate the risks.

Study of retired NFL players finds evidence of brain damage  Lawyers, start your engines.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Record radiation levels detected at Fukushima reactor  But they’ve already said everything is OK, and that should be enough since there are things we shouldn’t question, according to many in the media.

Geckos evolved sticky feet many times | Not Exactly Rocket Science  If Nature enforced IP and copyright there would be a lot of dead lizards, and probably everything else too.

Informed Consent and Placebo Effects: A Content Analysis of Information Leaflets to Identify What Clinical Trial Participants Are Told about Placebos  Inadequate information about placebos may be defeating the purpose of using them in studies by minimizing the effects.  One guess whether this is a problem in psychiatric drugs.

Avoiding unforced errors in investing  Praise for investment mediocrity.

Americans favor Obama to defend against space aliens: poll  Why? Not that it matters because the reasons for voting for one versus another are all equally ridiculous.

First Is Best  In getting chosen.

Swimming Exercise Prevents Fibrogenesis in Chronic Kidney Disease by Inhibiting the Myofibroblast Transdifferentiation  Interesting result. I’ve long wondered about alternating very intensive/extensive exercise with complete recovery as a means of recovering function.

Supreme Court has once again ruled in favor of who signs their paychecks. Power. For the next round of bailouts the middleman can now be cut out and people forced to directly pay banks and other losers in the marketplace who know how to win in politics. This must be the bottom for housing since the government can now force you to buy houses. Everything the government could ever do is in some way a tax. The kill list is a tax on your dependents. Discarding principles to get a desired outcome is always the path to ruin.

Sometimes, cheating is allowed  …and sometimes it becomes standard operating procedure.

DNSChanger Trojan Still in 12% of Fortune 500  In a couple of weeks IT graduates will have a much better idea which companies to target in their job search.

London Whale Trade Explodes, Current Estimate of JP Morgan Losses as High as $9 Billion  and that’s this week’s number. I have confidence it can be even more grand.

Good News For Spies and Dictators: ‘FreedomBox’ Is In Danger of an Early Death  If you have the skills, saving the world isn’t a bad use of your time.

PSA of the week: Guest Post: Americans Are Being Prepared For Full Spectrum Tyranny

Pseudo Random News and Comment

As I often say, you are the only thing over which you have real control. How To Deal With Crappy People, PART TWO  has some great advice on using that to deal with the inevitable.

Is General Intelligence Compatible with Evolutionary Psychology? Very interesting piece on general intelligence. It does seem to exist, despite what you may think.

The New King of Hawaii   I think most likely both residents and Ellison will end up unpleasantly surprised.

CNN journalist: don’t be nosy  Although pieces like this CNN fawning bootlicker’s are disgusting what has bothered me more in the last decade is that nobody tries to hide their evil any longer. Nixon had a lot of dirty tricks but tried hard to hide them, and ultimately had to resign when some of those deeds came to light. The response in the last decade has become near complete indifference to being discovered because they no longer have reason to fear any consequences, and mainstream journalists seem to take pride that they are the ones chosen to dispense the party line.

Half of inhaled diesel soot gets stuck in the lungs: study  I feel sorry for people in Beijing and elsewhere with similarly enhanced air.

Exercise is key in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Diet made little difference.

Ray Dalio: Don’t Assume That Germany Will Bail Europe Out; Consider The “Fat Tail” A Significant Possibility  I’d say very significant. The more the losers stick together and refuse to go, the more sense it makes for Germany to exit.

Fiat Money Kills Productivity  Numbers, like these, don’t prove cause and effect in economics but this is something long predicted by Austrian theory of the business cycle.

Stockton CA Files Bankruptcy, Largest City Ever; Unions and Pension Promises Primarily to Blame; Death Trap for Cities; What’s the Solution?  Sure took them long enough.

Falling Dominoes  Another shell game with credit explodes. Yet credit shell games remain popular, and nearly unquestioned, in the EU and elsewhere.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

RING / APOLLO Architects & Associates  Another one from Apollo. This does such a great job of keeping the city out while bringing the sky and light in, creating a nice oasis. I really like the way the spaces and details create a subtle flow within the minimalist style.

More potential support for intuitive decision-making. Continuous Evolution of Statistical Estimators for Optimal Decision-Making

Thinking of a loved one eases painful memories  Not as simple as it sounds since loved ones are often the source of painful memories.

Real House Prices and Price-to-Rent Ratio  This level of certainty about anything related to human behavior, especially markets, is dangerous. Especially when the supposedly impossible has happened before or the prediction rests on a host of shaky assumptions.

The Worldwide QE Quagmire  Money everywhere = 1/3 of world GDP in the last few years. I don’t know why they’re worried about counterfeiters.

E-Mail Accounts More Valuable than Bank Accounts  Considering how little the typical American has in their bank account why should they care?

Stem cell transplantation into mouse cochlea may impact future hearing loss therapies  Induced pluripotent stem cells from adults caused tumors.

Now you too can be a signed artist with the soon to be largest label in the world. Just don’t expect too much from it – just like the other labels.. Want To Be A ‘Signed’ Musician? Any And All Records Will Take You

Brain Activity in Fairness Consideration during Asset Distribution: Does the Initial Ownership Play a Role?  I get attached to my money too.

Dropbox Bans BitTorrent Startup Boxopus Over Piracy Concerns  That didn’t take long. Who says fear of punishment can’t change behavior? Uncle Sam is always watching.

Higher vocabulary ~ higher income | Gene Expression  People just think you’re smarter when you use words they don’t know, and that’s probably in part what leads to higher income. People are always concluding I’m smart before I think I’ve said anything remotely insightful and vocabulary seems to be the best explanation.

More sex, please. Hormone, oxytocin, shows potential as weight-loss treatment

Chinese Target U.S. Homes  It’s starting to sound so much like the late 80’s Japanese Invasion it’s scary.

Philip Pilkington: Neoclassical Economics and the Foreclosing of Dissent – The Inner Death of a Social Science  Excellent piece on how economics drives heretics from the church field.

4 Suggestions for Halting the Lethality of Cancer Nothing earth shattering but it’s best to do what you can.

A Serial Bomber in Phoenix  Just because they got hacked doesn’t mean they don’t write some good stuff. Very interesting.

How You Feel What Another Body Feels  The refinement of mirror neurons.

My First Year As An Orphan

One year ago today I became an orphan. My father died of multiple myeloma last year, following my mother’s death from acute myeloid leukemia in 2008. Since then I’ve done a lot of thinking about life and death. I’d like to be able to say I’ve learned some grand eternal truth that I can now reveal, but if I did I don’t yet know what it is. They both taught me more than I will ever realize, and in reflecting on their lives they will probably continue to do so for the rest of my life.

I think for the most part Mom got what she wanted from life. Raising a family seemed to always be her biggest goal and greatest reward – though she said having smart kids probably helped a lot in that regard. In 2007, after years of what she termed torture being treated for successive recurrences of lymphoma, when presented with the treatment options for acute myeloid leukemia she choose to refuse them all. I don’t think she ever regretted it. I had to admit, looking at the odds of the different options, it appeared to be the best trade possible. Five months later she died, on her second day in the hospice, having toughed it out at home as long as she could. Dad and my sister had taken her a TV the night before so I told Dad, “Well, I guess she really must not have liked that TV.” It got a laugh despite the circumstances, but in reality it was the only thing I could think to say.

Blinded by the ignorance and arrogance of youth, and having been a crime against nature from age six when I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, I used to think I would fight death every step of the way, by any means necessary. But after going through kidney failure and being so drained of energy I sat for four hours without the resources to muster even a single thought, I understood her choice. With enough age or illness you reach a point where the only choices that remain are how you want to be tortured, and where the step from being to nothingness no longer seems that significant.

Dad had an ischemic stroke less than two months before Mom died, and his Parkinson’s symptoms got sharply worse after the stroke as well. Unsurprisingly, when Mom died his motivation and frustration both took big turns for the worse. It was the only time I ever saw him cry, for which he needlessly apologized. But even with the effects of the stroke, Parkinson’s, and the rapid loss of energy and coherence as the multiple myeloma rapidly progressed, I never got the impression he was ready to call it a day. In contrast to Mom, I think he had significant regrets about how he had lived his life. He grew up in a very small town, leaving for the first time when he joined the Navy, and the love of travel and adventure he felt escaping its confines never left him. But with marriage and children he felt he never had much chance to act on it.

The most shocking thing he ever told me was that he admired me for walking away from my first real job and moving to Hawaii. It was so much at odds with the way he had lived his life it had never occurred to me he might feel that way. He said he wished he’d had the guts to do something like that when he was young. Instead he stayed more than 35 years in a job he found so frustrating and stressful he developed a heart arrhythmia and an assortment of other health problems. Almost all of them had disappeared within a year of his retirement and that unintended lesson was one of the biggest I learned from him. Some things people assume they have to do just aren’t worth it. Choices may seem daunting but they always exist.

It’s easy to assume a near death experience will change your life. Beyond the death of my parents, I’ve had a few of my own and they can certainly shake things up, but only temporarily. Without realizing it you soon drift back into something uncomfortably similar to your previous routine, in both thoughts and actions. When a revelation about your life hits, for fuck’s sake do something about it. It may be years before the combination of awareness and motivation comes along again. Make a change that lastingly alters your course before mean-reversion forces you back into the rut.

After my mother died I made some significant changes in my life. All she wanted was for me to be happy so I quit farting around on a number of fronts and finally did something about them. I quit working, I sold my house, and redoubled my efforts to find the right woman. All have turned out well. My father’s death has had more subtle effects, mostly in pushing me to always watch that my actions reflect my priorities in life. But I’m also trying to complete a circle of sorts. The first house they ever bought was a custom mid-century modern (with a pole lamp that I still have) that I think was always his favorite. He taught me a lot about building and remodeling when I was young so we’re looking for a place to put all those skills to use and do an updated version of that house for ourselves.

That someone like my mother should ever have to die is a great tragedy. She was a genuinely good person and a truly great mother, and the world could certainly use more of those. But, despite his relative shortcomings, I still feel my father’s death was the greater tragedy because he felt part of his life had been squandered and no matter how long he lived it could never be recovered.

For whatever reason people have often asked me about the meaning of life. Maybe because I don’t talk much they assume I must know some big secret. My answer is always the same: The meaning of life is whatever you make it. Not the sort of answer anyone wants since it lacks the panache of “42” and just leads to another question: What do you want to make it? But, if you look inside, you probably already know that answer. Have the guts to act on it.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

The unknown risks of China’s Trusts  I’ve read a few mentions of the Chinese trust business and got a few chills. This explains why.

Experimental insulin drug prevents low blood sugar  Interesting, but no mention of why it worked.

Prions and cancer: A story unfolding  Kinky little bastards apparently causing more trouble.

The Decreasing Impact of QEs / Twists  As always, those expecting miracles should expect to be disappointed.

Is There a Limit on Central Bank’s Ability to Inflate? Depends on the definition of inflate, but there are certainly limits. I agree the Euro is doomed. Either Greece starts the dominoes falling or Germany exits to avoid the specter of another Weimar disaster. Doesn’t mean the union itself has to fail, there’s no reason a union has to have a common currency, whether it’s countries, states or cities.

Exercise, even mild physical activity, may reduce breast cancer risk Development of a pill to eliminate the exercise requirement should be well underway soon.

5 Things Every Presenter Should Know About Humans

Confusion Helps Us Learn  I’ve always been a very fast learner, apparently due to consistently reaching a point of maximum confusion.

For the love of god keep the kids from reading this! Economist shows the value of moving back with mom and dad

Instead get the dream-crushing little brats to read this and change the locks once they move out.  How to Break Into Security, Ptacek Edition

Choosing when and how to die: Are we ready to perform therapeutic homicide?  I think the choice should be allowed but I also can’t help thinking about the Monty Python “But I’m not dead yet!” plague sketch.

China and the shiny stuff  Makes the case for higher demand in China. I’ve never heard it mentioned as an option but it could be like the brutal official now buried outside the village – something you just do but never talk about.

Thinking about choice diminishes concern for wealth inequality  Maybe deep down personal responsibility and choices are still important.

A Cruel and Unusual Record  Jimmy Carter continues his terribly unfashionable habit of trying to bring ethics and morality into politics.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Don’t Blame Money Market Funds  Makes an excellent point about the 300+ times money market funds have been privately saved from breaking the buck, and elaborates on the theme of out of the frying pan into the fire pushing money into backs.

Why Does Exercise Make Us Feel Good?  Because you aren’t going fast enough..

The Coasean Republic  Except the case mentioned is privatization in name only, still burdened by all manner of regulations and in no way a voluntary transaction. If the provider of a “privatized” service screws up the citizens are not allowed to stop paying them, even collectively.

Line blurs between man, animal: Monkeys do math, baboons seem to read, orangutans plan ahead  I think the lack of human specialness is probably the hardest part of evolution for many to accept. It’s too much like parents telling an only child they like the neighbor kid just as much.

Learn that tune while fast asleep  Great, soon taking work home will mean taking it to bed too.

Brain structure helps guide behavior by anticipating changing demands Interesting version of load management.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Plasma bilirubin and late graft failure in renal transplant recipients. I think it must be related to some drug – maybe aspirin.

Big four Chinese banks face decreased savings A big problem if it continues. Perhaps they are sitting on their hands due to Ag bank scandal.

Military Rolls Tanks Onto St. Louis Streets…But Why?  Yeah, why St Louis? Obviously because they might encounter live fire in Idaho.

Theories of Willpower Affect Sustained Learning  Even though you know it is limited it’s better if you believe it’s not.

Delayed Recovery of Skeletal Muscle Mass following Hindlimb Immobilization in mTOR Heterozygous Mice I guess this explains my poor exercise recovery on Rapamune. Statins seemed the more likely culprit.

Multi-tasking Will Kill You  Beyond the obvious ways, with a broader than usual definition of multi-tasking.

Tired? Watch What You Eat  Research finally confirms the tendency to substitute food for sleep.

Turns Out China IS Lying About Everything  Even the electricity numbers are chock full o’ fudge. I kind of doubt they are fudging them lower. Now the question is what about the loan numbers? It would be good if those were fudged too, since it would mean fewer foolish loans, but too many people get a cut on the deal for that to be likely.

The testosterone trio – including indirect support for my more sex reverses decline with age theory (here).

Declining testosterone levels in men not part of normal aging, study finds

Low steroid levels linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease

Long-term testosterone treatment for men results in reduced weight and waist size

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Rats Laugh, But Not Like Humans – Not only that, they’ll probably have the last laugh too.

20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Sex  Speak for yourself. I try to stay on top of that sort of thing. I wonder what the conversion rate is for men who have sex “to get a favor.”

Follow up to the China kleptocracy post  Forget the fact that all governments are criminal conspiracies and auditors knowingly sign off on fraud, the most horrifying thing is how much traffic Krugman gets.

Data Mining Exec Pays For Burgers In Cash To Keep His Insurance Company From Knowing His Bad Diet Habits  A very revealing choice.

PayPal Bans BitTorrent Friendly VPN Provider I may soon have to change my donation page.

Get Ready For The Political Fight Against Encryption  I have little doubt both encryption and VPNs (or anything that allows some anonymity) will be heavily regulated if not outright banned within a few years.

Privacy Lawyers Sell Out Facebook Users for $10 Million I had no idea their agreement allowed such unpaid spokesman usage.

Operation Twist 1.1  If it’s a complete success the yield curve will be flat and banks will have no loan revenue and become entirely dependent on trading, frontrunning, vig, and bailouts for their income. Sounds like a fabulous way to promote financial stability.

New evidence in fructose debate: Could it be healthy for us? More likely neutral, but anything in excess is a problem.

SEC Chief Pushing for Money-Fund Vote  Some changes probably need to be made in money market funds but this is really nothing but another disguised bailout for banks – forcing money back to banks by knee-capping the competition. Maybe if they reimposed Glass-Steagall it would make sense but in the current environment it’s just forcing people away from a potential disaster into an even bigger certain one.

Chronic VEGF Blockade Worsens Glomerular Injury in the Remnant Kidney Model  Possible explanation for mTor inhibitor proteinuria.

Co-Morbidity between Early-Onset Leukemia and Type 1 Diabetes – Suggestive of a Shared Viral Etiology?

There’s No Magic Pixie Dust

One thing that seems to keep getting lost in all of the Eurozone bailout/default talk is that losses are the destruction of capital, of part of the productive capacity of society. Accounting rules can be changed, bailouts can be arranged, and free money can be dropped from the sky, but sooner or later someone somewhere is going to take that hit.

All government and central bank actions under discussion are nothing but trade-switching schemes. A coerced version of musical chairs with bureaucrats determining the losers, while the total wealth of society remains diminished. The prevailing assumption seems to be that by passing these trade-switching transactions through the halls of power, a magic pixie dust is applied which causes that problem to disappear. The negative effects aren’t immediately apparent in the statistics, speeches are given, the economy is saved. Hooray!

Unfortunately there is no magic pixie dust. Losses have an unavoidable impact. Increasing prosperity isn’t due to a historical imperative, but from the ability of human ingenuity to outpace the capital consumption of successive rounds of government waste, bubble blowing and socialized losses. Though in the very long-term human ingenuity has always prevailed, there is nothing to prevent destruction from taking the lead for centuries at a time.

This doesn’t mean markets can’t rally for long periods before succumbing to the death by a thousand cuts. The amazing resilience of human ingenuity can overcome great odds and mask the effects of incredible amounts of stupidity. Ever greater amounts of credit will be required to keep the bubbles expanding, with decreasing results each time, but since the purported resolutions of the resulting banking crises are all in some way infusions into the financial markets, they naturally tend to rally to some degree.

Is the leader board for the race between ingenuity and destruction about to change? There’s no way to be sure. However, when central banks all over the world are pushing uppers through garden hose IV tubes and the patient still can’t get out of bed, it’s likely not a good omen.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Fascinating study on Nigerian scammer tactics. Far-Fetched Scams Separate the Gullible from Everyone Else

Cloud House / McBride Charles Ryan Something a little different, reminds me a little of an action movie subway crash. Quasi sexual intersection of styles too.

Too easy for comfort. Mutant-Bird-Flu Study Fuels Fears of Airborne H5N1

Lab-engineered kidney project reaches early milestone  Cool, but still no pre-order available on Amazon.

Adiposity Is Associated with Blunted Cardiovascular, Neuroendocrine and Cognitive Responses to Acute Mental Stress  All the hormones and transmitters fat cells pump out may cause all sorts of mental changes.

Apple Patents Data-Poisoning  So if you try to screw with ad revenue they will now sue you.

Nice chart illustrating the perils of mean-reversion trades. Platinum to Gold Ratio

Changing pigs’ diets alters the gut microbiota  There have been a number of studies on changing diet changing the mix but the more interesting thing to me is if/how a changing mix causes a critter to change diet to promote a more favorable microbiota. Should be a homeostatic feedback loop somewhere.

The Fantastic Keynesian Endgame  Excellent piece. Ludwigvon Mises wrote at length on the attitudes of the intellectual elite in The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality

Diabetes linked to increased cause-specific mortality  Upside is it lowers risk of prostate cancer – but I’m still sticking with my use it or lose it strategy.

Is That Personal-Finance App Secure?  In a word, NO. Just another place to get hacked, have an accident, or sell your information to the highest bidder. Convenience always comes at a price but that seems a little steep to me.

Common blood pressure drug linked to severe GI problems Hopefully limited to just the one drug but likely to be an issue with all -sartans (ARB).

Researchers: Darwin’s principles say cancer will always evolve to resist treatment  Half a century on earth and I’m still surprised that something like this would need to be pointed out to a group well-versed in biology.

12 Reasons US Recession Has Arrived (Or Will Shortly)  Wasn’t this called “double dip” not long ago? I guess that term was declared verboten, (“corrupt” if in China).

Dad’s brains mean more to his son’s success than his money: study  After all, a fool and his money are soon parted.

Sorry, Your Bottom’s Not My Type

There are any number of objective measures of the financial markets, the current price being an obvious one. However, the meaning of any of these objective measures is unavoidably subjective and dependent on the individual.

When a pundit says it’s a bottom [substitute top if you prefer], people tend to implicitly assume what the speaker is referring to as “a bottom” matches their own idea of “a bottom.” After all, some agreement about words and the ideas they represent is the basis of all communication. But whether something is a bottom or not depends on the time frame, view of the market, and a variety of other personal factors. Even the question of whether the market is going up or down depends on the time frame in question. A boring, nothing bar on one time scale may be a nauseating roller coaster on another.

The best answer to any market question is “It depends.” Most of all it depends on you. Your trading methodology, market outlook, account size, position size, risk tolerance, your portfolio, and even what your spouse will do to you if they find out, can all change the meaning of a chart. Further, since those factors can all change over time so can the meaning of a particular chart pattern for the same individual.

I don’t mean to piss on the social parade, it’s great to learn from other opinions and trading ideas, as well as use them as a gauge of shifting sentiment. But never forget that markets, like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder. Regardless of the pedigree of the pundit, or quality of the trade idea, that beauty may just not be your type. Having a wingman is fine, but you still need to get your own girl (or guy).

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Apple peel compound boosts calorie burning, reduces obesity in mice. The original study: Ursolic Acid Increases Skeletal Muscle and Brown Fat and Decreases Diet-Induced Obesity, Glucose Intolerance and Fatty Liver Disease

What’s your name again? Why it might not be your brain’s ability but your lack of interest that causes a bad memory  I came to this conclusion many years ago when I realized I really didn’t want to know who most people were and it was only in the rare case they changed my mind that I became concerned I didn’t remember.

‘Brain pacemaker’ effective for years against Parkinson’s disease  Deep brain stimulation effective for up to 3 years.

Nepal launches drones to combat poachers  Not just for superpowers anymore. Remains to be seen if they will adopt the post-mortem classification schemes too.

Owning a home does not lead to happiness  Houses are often status symbols so they should fail to bring happiness – plus the costs and headaches of home ownership too.

There’s a lot going on under the hood. When I first learned the body was made of individual cells I immediately wondered why they would all want to cooperate and play well together. Still interesting to read about all the ways they don’t. Dendritic Cell Editing by Activated Natural Killer Cells Results in a More Protective Cancer-Specific Immune Response

The silent gorilla: Intense concentration leaves us ‘deaf’ to the world around us I don’t know what they are talking about. See here.

Ten ways to train like an elite athlete  They left out doping. You have to do everything possible to be the best.

Should We Want A ‘Cyberwar’? It’s A Lot Less Bloody Than A Real War  An excellent point on the difference.

As I told an architect friend last month, if that was a stock it would be a short/double top. AIA: Architecture Billings Index declines sharply in May

Performance of S&P 500 vs Long-Term Interest Rates These are definitely not last century’s markets.

Fossilized turtle orgy discovered! Palaeontologists catch turtles in flagrante

How humans predict other’s decisions  Could also be part of the neurological basis for intuitive trading decisions, which are essentially predicting the actions of people with values sometimes radically different from your own.

Breast Milk Therapies for Adults  Can I get that in fat-free, lactose free, chocolate?

BRUN / APOLLO Architects & Associates  I think I could stand living in this place.

A Brief Note on Expectancy

Positive expectancy is the true holy grail of trading. Regardless of the methodology used, if the odds aren’t in your favor you’re doomed. But this focus also obscures a broader truth: Life itself has a negative expectancy. Start with life, end without. A certain loss which no strategy can circumvent. How do you salvage this trade?

To maximize returns when forced to play a negative expectancy game the best strategy is to make one bet and go all in. Nature has already put a hard limit on how many times we can play the game, so the only choice left is how many chips to put on the table. Don’t hold back.

Follow the example of casinos in keeping people coming through the door for negative expectancy. By making it entertaining and exciting, by focusing your attention on something other than just money, you may not even notice you’re being fleeced.

[I'm still looking for the free buffet.]

Pseudo Random News and Comment

The Mysterious Brain of the Fat-Tailed Dwarf Lemur, the World’s Only Hibernating Primate  An amazing piece of evolutionary adaptation.

Look who pays for the bailout Somebody has to pay for all the foolishness and this group is an easy target since none seem to realize how ridiculous their complaints sound to Mr and Mrs Sixpack. The whole fair share of taxes argument reflects a very skewed view of fairness, where paying a higher percentage is somehow fair, but whining about making 6x the average family income while living a lavish lifestyle isn’t going to win many friends.  With the spending habits of many of these HENRYs they will never be rich regardless.

An ugly little data point. China continues to record capital outflow in May 2012

The Widespread Economic Myths Destroying the Economy  Excellent myth busting piece.

Followup: Benedetti on Placebo Ethics  A very difficult issue. When effective treatment is available I don’t think there’s any excuse for lying or misleading patients, but does the lack of any effective treatment justify lying? I don’t think so but maybe it could be handled along the lines of psychology experiments where full disclosure of what was being investigated is after the fact. There may be hope yet for my immortality placebo.

I’ve been waiting for the upside to prions. You can’t just go around messing with everyone and expect to survive so they had to have friends somewhere. Prions can improve the health of fungal populations

As the hygiene hypothesis would predict: Antibacterials in personal-care products linked to allergy risk in children   Apple should make a germ dispensing iPad to offset all the indoor isolation they’ve helped create in kids.

5 Things That Can Freak A Trader Out.  I have a problem with #3 too, so I will never be tweeting trades – and even going public with market opinions is dangerous since those opinions lead to trades and the publicity taint can spread faster than the clap at an orgy.

Some of these results scream ‘methodological problem’ to me but still very interesting. Can Mindfulness Meditation Make You Smarter? | The Crux

When Men Are Less Moral Than Women  …but, but we’re forced to do these bad things trying to impress women with our success so it’s really not our fault at all.

Retail therapy: Shopping to cope with future challenges  Never realized it was done preëmptively. Interesting that it’s more selective.

Why the Turing Test is a Flawed Benchmark  Another flaw is that it assumes humans are intelligent, which is very debatable, since the only evidence we are is that we say we are based on tests we created for ourselves to take. Hot damn! We aced it!   How to Pass the Turing Artificial Intelligence Test

Breaking your budget? Why consumers overspend on exceptional purchases  LOL, just like saying “just one cupcake” it’s assumed to be an isolated instance.

Attack Against Point-of-Sale Terminal  The modern version of stealing carbon copy charge slips.

How big a bazooka does the Fed need?

Ben smiled and unveiled it with a flourish, “Let me show you my bazooka.”

“Oh!”  _______________  (fill in the blanks)

  1. Her eyes widened, “It’s enormous!”
  2. She wrinkled her nose, “Are you sure it’s going to do the job?”
  3. She stifled a smile, “Well, it’s the thought that counts.”

Worse yet, it may backfire.

FBI & DEA Warn That IPv6 May Be Too Damn Anonymous The horror of being forced to mind their own business can be very distressing to some.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

“In the end if they say they have no reason to believe the patient is conscious, I say ‘fine, but I have no reason to believe you are either’,” he says.  Very interesting article about trying to detect consciousness in patients in a vegetative state. The quote highlights the need to define it well beforehand. The primary reason to believe anyone is conscious is that we all feel we are and therefore assume things that look and act like us must be as well. No surprise then that animals and brain injured people are often assumed not to be. Do Brain Scans of Comatose Patients Reveal a Conscious State?

Don’t worry about China’s economy. It’s all good. This cash-strapped real estate company tells tenants to pay 20 years of rents now

Google reports ‘alarming’ rise in censorship by governments  Some interesting anecdotes. Best of all is the Canadian pissing on his passport and flushing it down the toilet on Youtube. Someone should point out to him that he’s stuck there unless he gets another one.

FOMC Preview: QE3 now or later? If something doesn’t work, clearly doing more of the same is not just the best response, but the only conceivable one. That level of stupidity makes my head hurt. Though that only applies is you assume they are actually trying to improve the lot of the average person. Dump that assumption and they are doing a fabulous job.

Just when I was thinking an August 2007 rerun was in the cards this tosses a wrench in the works.  Bullish Sentiment Reaches Highest Level Since February

How to Save Your Money And Your Life  In my darker moments this is almost exactly my view. In my lighter moments it’s party like it’s 1999. Wait, that party didn’t last long.

Honor System Farm Stands  I’ve never heard of anyone leaving money when then sneaking into an orchard but the farm stand makes intuitive sense, so maybe there’s some innate sense of paying for someone else’s efforts which isn’t triggered by picking off of a tree. Might explain the popularity of the ludicrous labor theory of value too.

On expectancy – and the perils of complete honesty with hot chicks. Are You A Ring Toss Or Coin Pitch Type Of Trader?

Buying life experiences to impress others removes happiness boost  The recent stories about China’s increased prosperity failing to increase happiness make even more sense because it’s one of the most status driven places I’ve ever seen in terms of % of disposable income spent on status-seeking..

Coenzyme Q10 study indicates promise in Huntington’s treatment

Study examines chronic inflammation in oral cavity and HPV status of head and neck cancers  I guess Mom was right when she kept telling me to watch my mouth.

Canton Island

This was made from a photo my father took when stationed on Canton Island in the 1940’s. He dropped the camera in the ocean while the film was in it, but still managed to develop some photos. Decades later, after he dug them out and scanned a few, I decided to create something he could hang on the wall to keep some part of those times alive for him. I miss him.


Pseudo Random News and Comment

Good pop quiz on what you feel about trading. Traders Psychological Profile

Stuxnetting the Eurozone’s Trust  Like a bad marriage, there is really only one peaceful solution.

A couple of pieces on the squabble with China over accounting transparency. More financial secrecy by China could simply be a move to better CYA on financial dealings in the wake of the Bo Xilai defenestration.

Can U.S. and China Avert Accounting Armageddon?

Criminalizing Hong Kong auditing

The perfect, painfully accurate, template for reporting on neuroscience – Dramatically titled neuroscience story

Happiness is a glass half empty | Oliver Burkeman  An argument for a more balanced view of the ups and downs of life.

Revisiting the Skyscraper Index. The ultimate contrarian sell signal for China?

Who’s Afraid of the Kill List?  Anyone capable of reason?

Optimised Anaesthesia to Reduce Post Operative Cognitive Decline (POCD) in Older Patients Undergoing Elective Surgery, a Randomised Controlled Trial  It wasn’t that long ago that anesthesiologists always told me there were no lasting effects. Maybe they were using the “one for you, one for me” method of administration so the effective dose was much lower.

Intestinal bacteria produce neurotransmitter, could play role in inflammation  What is the Eurozone’s problem? Billions of mindless bacteria in our guts can cooperate better than they can.

“Officials say” journalism  The template for what has increasingly passed for journalism over the last 20 years, to the point where actual reporting has vanished entirely in mainstream news outlets.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Wait a minute! I think I’ve been insulted – Abnormal Returns blogger wisdom. Apparently the brilliance Scott Bell previously bestowed on my post may be in danger of revocation. Probably jealousy since his blog is always comprehensible and worthwhile.

Lance’s Last Stand If you haven’t been paying attention to the Armstrong soap opera this is a pretty good summary. The fact is if you didn’t dope during that era you not only couldn’t win, you couldn’t even make the top 20 in the Tour de France. Did he dope? Absolutely. Did he cheat? Probably not. What made Lance so grating to many was that he didn’t stick to the standard line of most pro riders and say “I never cheated anyone.” He flat-out claimed he never doped – and went out of his way to bully and sue anyone who dared suggest otherwise, when it was obvious to anyone with half a brain it was a lie.

Weight loss linked to reduced cancer incidence, mortality  Unintentional weight loss generally means something is wrong already.

Study reveals secrets of a successful tweet  Credible sources make a difference. The death of mainstream media is imminent in that case.

Hospital volume and surgeon specialty influence patient outcomes  Practice makes [something closer to] perfect.

How Long Before VPNs Become Illegal?  It it very likely only a matter of time. There are some distributed solutions to the privacy problem under development (as well as DNS and certificate authority issues) that need all the support they can get.

Finance blogger wisdom: ten year horizons  Some great, and simple, ideas. I’ve been working on the Brian Lund and Sean McLaughlin ideas for a while.

Broken heart, broken bones: Falls among elderly tied to depression  A good illustration that parts of your brain may act on your feelings in ways you may not like.

Calcium Channel Blockers, More than Diuretics, Enhance Vascular Protective Effects of Angiotensin Receptor Blockers in Salt-Loaded Hypertensive Rats I’ve never been a fan of diuretics since they make any volume of exercise extremely difficult.

Spanish Assets Wildly Overweighted with Housing  Very sobering numbers, and I’m always sober.

Mutations in JAK3 gene identified in subtype of lymphoma provide potential drug target  My lone note on JAK3 inhibitors is “high infection risk” but in this application that shouldn’t matter that much.

Wow, maybe one less thing for me to worry about. No increased risk. HbA1C and Cancer Risk in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes – A Nationwide Population-Based Prospective Cohort Study in Sweden

In an effort to further confuse the Vitamin D and calcium supplementation issue: Vitamin D with calcium shown to reduce mortality in elderly  You’re welcome.

Don’t they know this is perceived as an admission of the worst imaginable guilt? Wells Fargo Closes Business Checking Account of “Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter” Citing “Credit Risk”

The boys are bad: Older male ants single out younger rivals for death squad  And you thought your family was dysfunctional.

Peer-to-Peer Lending: Will Aggressive Operators Screw Up a Promising Idea?  Actual performance of P2P lending is not that good. has these numbers:

Loans Originated November, 2005 – June, 2009

Seasoned Returns as of March 31, 2012
Prosper Rating(4) Loans (#) $ Amount Loans Avg Loan Amt Yield(1,5) Loss Rate(1,5) Return(1,5) Weighted Average
Credit Score
AA-B 2,703 $14,166,970 $5,241 8.24% 4.18% 4.05% 780
C-E 4,105 $29,114,533 $7,092 11.37% 11.18% 0.19% 725
HR 6,902 $67,669,105 $9,804 13.54% 23.34% -9.79% 705
Total AA-HR 13,710 $110,950,608 $8,093 12.31% 17.78% -5.47% 720
N/A*** 15,226 $67,609,614 $4,440 15.81% 22.27% -6.47% 598

And Now…The Arts

It’s been seven years since I picked up a paintbrush for something other than home improvement, but I finally had to paint over the last thing I did because I couldn’t stand looking at it any longer. This is the result. Like a stock chart, you can see whatever you want to see.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Must read for traders and investors. May be able to create a workspace that makes your choices less risky. Training people to inhibit movements can reduce risk-taking

Interesting demonstration that concepts alter visual memory. Conceptual and Visual Features Contribute to Visual Memory for Natural Images  So two people remembering the same chart won’t remember it the same way, let alone interpret it similarly.

Who Else Is Buying U.S. Treasuries?  Increased domestic purchases makes an eventual default even more difficult politically and economically, so it’s another reason to inflate the problem away.

USADA letter to Lance Armstrong, et al (pdf). Unfortunately, no email for Dr Michele Ferrari included so I can’t bug him with my oddball training questions.

On the other hand, an explanation for why doping can’t turn a donkey into a race horse (gene doping excluded). How many cells can our blood tolerate?

Cheating in Online Classes  I’m not sure whether these guys will be great traders, great online security experts, or great criminals. Perhaps the problems with Wall St are the result of very similar skill sets involved in trading and criminality. Both involve finding the overlooked angles and assessing the risks.

As the Chinese government gave up, the real estate market goes crazy  This could be where the real mania begins.

A couple of rounds in the exercise and depression debate. Holy Sacred Cow! Why Reactions to the Exercise and Depression Trial Go to the Heart of Scientific Controversy and Exercise and Depression part the second: a critique of a critique  All I can say is I haven’t exercised in 5 days and I’m already bummed and bad-tempered. A good sign for the next training cycle though.

The Follower Problem Saw this mentioned a few places and had to see what the fuss was about. An appalling homage to mindless bootlicking. He was born in 1961 so he’s definitely old enough to know better. How anyone could bemoan the lack of respect for authority after watching the news for the last 50 years completely baffles me. Maybe he never watched the news.

Tense film scenes trigger brain activity: New ways to predict how audiences will respond  Who needs focus groups when you can make bad films with neuroscience?

Somebody call the MPAA and RIAA! Humans may be taking credit for Neanderthal works. First Painters May Have Been Neanderthal, Not Human

Smoking history not assessed in cancer trials, study finds This is hard to believe

With secular bear markets typically lasting around 17 years, we should have 5 to go. This may be some confirmation of that scenario. Charting The Generational Shift In Equity Risk Appetite

Why Proxy Votes are a Giant Joke  The futility of voting in an oligarchy.

Plant uses chemical weapons to make mice spit out its seeds | Not Exactly Rocket Science  Pretty cool, binary chemical weapons in the plant world.

Physical activity reduces compensatory weight gain after liposuction  So…the only way lipo works is if they exercise afterward, but if they could exercise they wouldn’t need the lipo.

Choosy Moral Punishers  Punishment has a cost so it makes sense it’s dished out only in situations where there is a more direct benefit. Bonus question: How does this apply to the administration of justice by an elected government?

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Time will tell if the new rich in China will be as consistently atrocious as the Japanese in their market timing. China’s capital flight: to US real estate

Has the Chinese government given up on rebalancing already? Certainly seems so. More money and credit is the only answer any government knows.

Fishing for usable results rather than side effects and contraindications. Investigation questions motives behind post-marketing studies  Best left to a private third-party.

Radiation exposure from medical imaging has increased even at HMOs  Especially disturbing given recent studies showing risks from repeated lower exposures.

Older women should not take calcium, vitamin D: task force  Add in the negatives on long-term bisphosphonate use and the waters get even murkier. I guess there’s always exercise…

Don’t feel like exercise? Scientists find compound that may help you work out harder  A form of EPO engineered not to cause an increase in red blood cells, so the desire is independent of increased exercise capacity. No wonder pro cyclists love the stuff.

Teaching autistic teens to cope  More specifically, teaching them social skills.

What Ancient Greeks Can Teach Us about Drones and Cyber-War  Excellent post on the problems with arrogant, short-sighted strategy.

Good summary of the first results. Human Microbiome Project: First detailed studies describe diversity, variety, and function of microbes in people

The microbiome concept may already be paying off. Mutant gut bacteria reverse colon cancer in lab models

Bank and Broker Default Risk  If everything is OK, why have they all been rising?

Scientists see new hope for restoring vision with stem cell help  They really need to hurry up with this stuff, I’m running out of time.

Should Ritalin Be Distributed To Everyone Taking the SATs?  The trouble with mindless attempts to enhance the mind.

A company couldn’t ask for better ad copy than this – High-Quality Fake IDs from China

Ed Thorp on trend following: an excerpt from Hedge Fund Market Wizards  Trend following is something I totally suck at so it’s always interesting to read about. Mentions confidence about your edge as a factor in position sizing, to which I’d add that you should never be completely confident of your edge.

The US citizen numbers, as usual, show an appalling lack of empathy and perspective. U.S. drones deeply unpopular around the world

An explanation for much of college campus behavior Juveniles build up physical — but not mental — tolerance for alcohol in new study

HIV may have returned in ‘cured’ patient: scientists

Conscious perception is a matter of global neural networks  An emergent property, which should make a few theorists happy.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

This overlooks one factor in the current airport scene. Charging for checked bags has created a shortage of space for carry-on bags so if you are late in boarding you will be forced to check your bag and risk losing it. Why do we hurry to wait?

Prospectus for Silicon Valley’s Next Hot Tech IPO  If only it were true.

Finance blogger wisdom: unpaid investor interns  Since learning from mistakes is so important I think I’d pick John Meriwether, though this year it might be better to choose the Fed’s Open Market Operations desk since they are exerting such dramatic influence over the markets.

Losing money, emotions and evolution  Some neurological basis for the lasting effects of suffering unnecessarily large losses in the markets.

Excellent piece on the dangers of being too much smarts. Why Smart People Are Stupid  ..and in a closely related piece, a few judicial rulings which provide a real-life demonstration: Why The Supreme Court Needs To Make Sure That Selling A Used iPad Isn’t A Copyright Violation

Voicemail discovered in nature: Insects receive soil messages from the past  Good thing they didn’t patent it.

Capability of curry component to treat disease merits US patent  Are licensing fees to be due at the grocery store or when you finish cooking?

How to Minimize the Attack Rate during Multiple Influenza Outbreaks in a Heterogeneous Population  Somewhat counter-intuitive results for high-efficacy interventions.

Shooting Police Is Now Legal In Indiana  At least the ones that bust into your house in a no-knock assault with no identifying gear. But in practice I suspect anyone who survived defending themselves in that situation would find things redefined post-facto to allow their prosecution anyway.

Yet another victory for the hygiene hypothesis. Urban Kids Have More Food Allergies Than Their Country Cousins

This may explain my lack of energy. Statins shown to cause fatigue

Offspring of older fathers may live longer: study  This is great news. When I wrote this piece I was thinking it would take many generations to have much success.

Attitude towards age increases risk of dementia diagnosis  Dementia would certainly mess with my attitude about aging.

Is Dark Matter a Glimpse of a Deeper Level of Reality?   I always liked the simplicity of MOND over the fudge factor quality of the whole dark something explanation so I find this much more intuitively satisfying. To me a complex, convoluted theory always implies the larger reality is being missed somewhere. The gorilla analogy in this piece captures that very well.

The Beating Heart Donors  I thought I’d linked to this a long time ago but apparently not. It’s a good article on the difficulties in defining death and the incentives pushing the definition in a direction that you might not like when laying on the table. There are fees paid for organ procurement and in the majority of cases hospitals are getting paid a fixed amount per diagnosis – so the longer you stay alive the more money they lose. Very solid reasons to believe decisions are being biased by financial considerations rather than science. There has been some research demonstrating insurance type alters end of life decisions as well.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

A more refined criticism of the exercise doesn’t help depression study I posted before. Exercise doesn’t help depression? Let’s take a real look at that study.  Having someone encourage you to exercise doesn’t help depression, because people don’t respond to the encouragement by exercising.

New stroke treatment could prevent and reduce brain damage  Could even help in hemorrhagic stroke, where luck is more often the biggest factor in survival.

Ominous signs from China  Charts aren’t looking positive, other than being a bit oversold.

Will a little bouncy, bouncy lead to something long-term? Oversold Bounce Or Return to Risk On?

How blogging is revolutionizing dying  I’ll be happier when it prevents it.

The doping-drug Epo has an impact in the brain  So just think how stupid some of these athletes would be without it. Coming soon to a trading desk near you, if it hasn’t already. Last I heard black market prices for it are lower than via the legal route, which I still find interesting.

Mindfulness reduces anxiety and depression in cancer patients  …and pretty much everyone else too.

Proposed experiment would prove that quantum jumps are not objective events A new way of catching nature in the act.

It’s all in the name — predicting popularity through psychological science This could be applied to all sorts of things.

Some adults with sleep disturbances are actually afraid of the dark, study says

How Companies Can Beef Up Password Security  Given the rather simple Rx it’s rather appalling that so few sites are doing it right.

Mood Over Math…How to Profit In a Connected World  I think hidden somewhere in here must be a bubble metric that measures the divorce from reality.

Top risk of stroke for normal-weight adults: Getting under 6 hours of sleep  More sleep please.

‘Bad’ dieting increases cardiovascular disease risk  Atkins fails again.

Why Intuition Can be Better Than Analysis I think the situation is even more skewed. In markets it’s not just random change that destroys rule-based systems, it’s often deliberate competitive action to take away an edge.

What is globalization?  I think for once the internet may live up to the hype in preventing the total collapse of globalization when the bubble bursts. A bubble doesn’t revert to the prior state when it pops. Some things that came into being on easy money survive and prosper, while existing industries built on hard-earned savings die off. Radio, autos, PCs, internet all appeared on waves of easy money but stuck around despite that. If globalization vanishes it means a literal return to the dark ages. Hopefully the connections established on the internet will allow that fate to be avoided.