Pseudo Random News and Comment

Scientists Dissect the Psychology of ‘Truthiness” Unrelated information can alter the perception of truth, as well as the way the information is presented.

Donor-Specific Antibodies after Ceasing Immunosuppressive Therapy, with or without an Allograft Nephrectomy  Leaving the failed organ in place as a diversionary tactic of sorts.

In a Race Between a Self-Driving Car and a Pro Race-Car Driver, Who Wins? I’d say they’re already safer based on the Google test runs to date.

Human Nature and Markets If human behavior weren’t stable in a broad sense no form of technical or fundamental analysis would work.

Supreme Court Puzzles: How There Can Be Oversight Concerning Warrantless Wiretapping If No One Can Sue?  But the sort of questions asked don’t seem to bear much relation to the eventual rulings, as Obamacare showed.

Julian Robertson On Why Hedge Funds Are Underperforming Competition and getting caught wrong-footed according to Robertson.

Emergence of Aspergillus calidoustus Infection in the Era of Posttransplantation Azole Prophylaxis. Another case of widespread prophylaxis causing problems with resistance.

Court Says Police Can Install Cameras On Your Property Without Warrant If Your Property Is A ‘Field’ So you might want to rethink that green roof you were considering, lest your house look too much like a field.

Help Discover Dark Matter in the Universe, Win Money Join the snipe hunt.

Men who do exercise produce better quality semen Better exercise = better hormone levels = better sperm > Smiling Bob

How A Drone Might Save Your Life This is really stretching it. More likely it would be chasing you through the streets for protesting, shoot and miss, hitting a real terrorist instead. The benefit to you would be short-lived.

Could It Get Worse Than 2008? Yes it could, and this makes a decent case for that. But even if that’s guaranteed, when and how are the difficult questions.

Prognostic impact of renal arterial resistance index upon renal allograft survival: the time point matters  Another reason to be glad I’m off CNI.


My One Investing Rule

There are many lists of investing rules, and many contain very worthwhile, valuable advice. I’ve even read some of them. The trouble is investing is a complex cognitive process, frequently accompanied by extreme pressure, and there are limited cognitive resources available to cope with it. In those circumstances, your odds of thinking of the most relevant principle out of a list of five, let alone a dozen or more, is near zero. So I try to stay out of trouble with one, and only one, rule:

It’s never that easy.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s freaking brilliant! Why didn’t anyone else think of that? But it’s not just the usual idea that you can’t get something for nothing that makes this rule important. It’s that very rarely it can seem like you can, and it’s those rare instances that are your worst enemy.

Investing is a process which takes time, effort, and execution in order to succeed. It also inherently involves a significant element of randomness. You may find a deal or trade that makes your head spin with the riches that await you, and the nature of the game means there’s always a chance you’ll be correct. Everyone has heard stories about some lucky bastard or other, and human nature makes it all too easy to believe it’s your turn to be that one lucky bastard. But it’s far more likely you’re simply overlooking something important and the seeming manna from heaven landing at your feet will later cause you to grab your head in both hands, wail and moan like a wounded animal, and wish that god had struck you dead before you got out of bed that morning.

Markets aren’t completely efficient, but they are mostly efficient. Easy money tends to be rapidly removed by the largest, fastest, most connected participants. In other words, someone other than you. When you’re in a groove, trading can indeed be easy, but not that easy. If you think it’s your lucky day, always think again. Twice. Do you really feel that lucky, punk?

A Theory of Flaky Celebrity Religions

As N2Taleb has often pointed out, much of success is determined by randomness, and nowhere more so than in the entertainment industry. The current crop of stars are where they are largely due to being lucky. Being in the right place and time to get noticed by the right person, having the right mix of qualities to capture public interest, and just enough talent not to blow it.

Having climbed to the top of the entertainment pyramid, it’s natural to wonder why you’ve succeeded while thousands of equally talented waiters and models have not. Compounded by the fickle nature of the consuming public, this form of survivor guilt gnaws at the soul, demanding an explanation, and the truth of randomness is rarely emotionally satisfying.

Humans assume agency behind almost everything that happens. When no obvious or satisfying culprit leaps to mind, it’s frequently a god-like being or cosmic principle seen to be lurking behind the curtain of causality. In this way, chanting a certain way, karma, The Secret, lizard aliens, doing god’s work, or any number of other “reasons” can be marshaled in defense of success.

With such a justification in hand, everything makes sense again. The sudden fame and wealth is no longer random and meaningless, but earned and therefore entirely deserved. The need for a Lindsay Lohan approach to coping is mitigated. The sad sack losers still toiling away in obscurity have no one to blame but themselves for failing to embrace the same beliefs. With the psychological salve of celebrity religions the world is again as it should be. The illusion of control is reestablished in a fickle world, and life is good.

Personally, I’ve always preferred a more reasoned approach. Should I be afflicted by great wealth or fame, I understand that life has a very large random component and I’m fine with giving luck the credit…and as long as I keep putting my socks on in the same order and eating sour cream and onion potato chips every third Tuesday, I’m sure I’ll continue to have it.

Megaball Nightstand

We had been looking for a nightstand for a long time and had a large, solid wooden ball sitting around the house unused after several moves had sent it to the unemployment line. A recent late night spasm of inspiration by THE Woman caused her to implant a sudden desire to build furniture in my mind, resulting in this. It’s named for how I looked in the ICU a few days after my stroke (and isn’t as exaggerated as you might think).

[For the safety conscious, since it met expectations, it will be getting a thicker top next]

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Has a TV preacher declared Sandy to be punishment for New Yorkers’ sins yet? Or has that gone out of fashion?

Speaking of sin, Wall St. returns – NYSE, Nasdaq To Reopen Tomorrow

New York Paralyzed As Subways Shut Down Indefinitely: Subway Chief: “Worst Disaster Ever” Generally what that really means is worst engineering and design ever. I hope he wasn’t making fun of Beijing’s infrastructure in their recent flooding.

Blaming the Victim I never bought the predatory lending argument either. Everyone involved was just another pig at the trough. In 2004 I talked with quite a few people before they signed on the dotted line and was only able to talk one of them out of it. They only wanted to know that they could get the $250K home of their dreams on their $25K income and were more afraid of someone pointing out the fly in the ointment than the fact that it would blow up in their face later. But what I still find even more startling and baffling is that there were people 3 years later who still couldn’t see the train wreck coming.

Unveiling the Real Evil Genius The dark side of creativity.

The mobile free for all is over: Andreessen Horowitz funds ItsOn, hoping to keep data gouging at bay Mostly a PR puff piece, but for the entrepreneurs in the house the business model could also be applied to a number of other industries.

Exercise more beneficial on an empty stomach, research shows  Plus, if you do threshold work until you bonk, you’ll also increase the number of mitochondria in your muscles.

Man in Afghan police uniform shoots two British soldiers dead Can you say “false flag?”

House Price Comments, Real House Prices, Price-to-Rent Ratio Price to rent is still on the high side of history.

New findings on men’s genes could alter interpretation of PSA test Might allow the PSA test to come out ahead of giving you the finger.

New study reveals that every single junk food meal damages your arteries  To be fair, falling on the sidewalk causes damage, but it’s not necessarily permanent.

Hacking the President’s DNA  I guess the good news in this is race-based weapons have probably been abandoned now that it can be individualized.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Recent Asset Class Performance  Bonds and stocks still going opposite directions. Someday that will change.

Potty-training method won’t affect tot’s health, study finds It’s important to note that rubbing their nose in it wasn’t included in the study.

Breaking habits with a flash of light Manchurian Candidate here we come. For now it requires a drug + light to work.

Collateral damage: What effect do retractions have on scientific funding? Preemptive blowback might be in order.

I thought the iPhone’s popularity in China was due to the large number of rabid status seekers. Now the real reason comes out: iPhone’s Siri ‘directs Chinese to brothels’

Supreme Court Will Decide If You Actually Own What You’ve Bought I’m not holding my breath. You have no right to your income since the government can take whatever percent of it they want (and I can think of no precedent that would prevent taking 120% of it either), as well as take you house if you fail to pay rent in the form of property taxes, or prevent you from doing what you want to your own body. So why should this small corner of ownership be favored?

The End of Laughing at Marijuana Reformers It’s not just decriminalization this round; it’s legalization that’s leading on the ballots.

Washington Post: Yes, We Need To Give Up Liberty For Security But if they said otherwise they’d no longer get invited to the DC party circuit, or get the interviews/leaks they feel they need for content. Mainstream media is nothing but an unpaid PR firm for the halls of power. Be glad they’re dying off. Diversity of opinion is vital to a healthy democracy, if there is such a thing.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Influenza vaccine may reduce risk of heart disease and death Further confusing the issue since other studies showed no real benefit when better controls were used.

The Federal Budget as a Percent of GDP  It’s stayed fairly constant for decades, which is good news since it implies the politicians have the tacit knowledge or modicum of intelligence required to limit their pillage to sustainable levels.

Wen Jiabao’s family deny ‘hidden riches’ report Some carefully crafted statements in rebuttal. Even crooks don’t want to lie if they can avoid it.

The Coming Drone Invasion Nice video summary of where things stand. The battle is already lost.

OMG, the SEC is floating the idea of returning to fractions.  Dealing in Fractions of Sense

Scientists block toxic protein that plays key role in Lou Gehrig’s disease This seems a bit more promising than most supposed ALS breakthroughs.

A golden age of sibling comparisons Siblings don’t always have as much in common as you might think, and not just because of different fathers. Can make a big difference when trying to separate nature from nurture.

For the nerds: what’s wrong with this picture?  Quite a bit.

A case for legalizing insider trading Where’s my discount? Takes a different approach to the argument.