Pseudo Random News and Comment

Study: Erections Tell Us About Our Hearts Fortunately I’m still a good-hearted man.

Erectile dysfunction drug also helps men ejaculate and orgasm But try L-Citrulline first since it’s cheaper and has fewer side effects. There’s also some evidence it, and other ED drugs, enhance exercise performance, especially at altitude. Plus it may also help counter CNI toxicity by up-regulating NO.

Study: How We Lose Our Virginity Shapes Our Entire Sexual Life Making associations in any intense situation can have lasting effects. If only we’d known…it probably still wouldn’t have made any difference.

When You Eat Is Why You’re Fat Early is far better than late – but I suspect “all the time” is still the worst.

Should You Eat While You Negotiate? Better outcomes when food is involved.

Crustacean Brain May Process Pain Pain is a great motivator so if a critter has any behavioral flexibility at all I think it’s likely something of the sort will be felt.

Computer Scientists Find New Shortcuts for Infamous Traveling Salesman Problem There must be some way to combine this with a farmer’s daughter joke.

Cracking the Retinal Code The basic method is applicable to controlling and connecting to almost any prosthetic device.

Dendritic cell vaccine for relapsed neuroblastoma patient induces complete remission Being able to control parts of the innate immune system would be useful in many medical conditions too.

Link found between insulin sensitivity, cells’ powerhouses Seems related to the low cal route to longevity.

Google unveils detailed N. Korea map… with gulags What would Miss Manners think of this thank you note?

Why do Chinese billionaires keep ending up in prison? Fascinating numbers on the fickle world of Chinese business/politics. The ones that stay out of prison become poorer at a high rate too.


Best Amazon Quote Ever

“That’s because Amazon, as best I can tell, is a charitable organization being run by elements of the investment community for the benefit of consumers.” From Slate: Amazon Profits Fall 45 Percent, Still the Most Amazing Company in the World

Maybe they should start a bank too.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

How to Pick a Career You Actually Like Surprisingly good guide.

What you need to know about America’s big immigration reform proposal Since they haven’t done anything about long wait times, anyone coming forward exposes themselves to the risks of a policy reversal after the next election while they are stuck in a queue. As always the qualifications required are ridiculous. Anyone who takes the huge risks to come here illegally, abandoning their family and friends, to pursue a dream of a better life is already far more qualified than any xenophobic nitwit whose only qualification for citizenship was being shot out a twat on US soil.

Human breast milk microbiome changes over time I always wonder what chain connects the trigger with the end result.

How Unlocking Your Phone May Now Be A Crime: $500,000 Fines And 5 Years In Prison For First Offense It’s not as big of a stretch as one would hope.

What Does Google Do If the Government Comes Looking for Your Emails?  Interesting look at how they decide when to comply. More stringent than I expected, but I had low expectations.

Court Again Says It’s Okay For The Feds To Snoop Through Your Digital Info Without Telling You Further proof the constitution is now totally irrelevant.

A Quick Guide to Mocking Your Boss on Facebook Without Getting Fired Legislative overreach (facilitated by administrative law) always leads to preposterous interpretive tangles like this.

Low-Carbohydrate Diets and All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies In brief: Atkins will kill you.

Thresholds for QE More movement toward using numeric targets to make their activities seem all scientific-y.

Feeling flirty? Wait for the sun to shine But only if you’re doing it with the intent to succeed.

We Need More Relatively Unattractive People to Be Naked on the Street I tend to think we need more stunningly attractive nude people, as a motivational tool for an obese nation. As far as I know eye candy has never been proven to cause obesity.

Dual-hormone artificial pancreas is a step closer for patients with Type 1 diabetes Aka closed loop. It’s been possible for a while but bulky and inconvenient.

Islet transplant may slow progression of atherosclerosis Since immunosuppressants often indirectly work in the opposite direction this is clearing a fairly high hurdle.

The Pavilion / Espacio EMA Add a shower and I’m moving in.

Backing Over Retirement

How much money you will have for retirement depends on only two things: How much you have to invest and the return on investment, i.e. Nest egg = Money to invest + Return on investment. When it comes to retirement planning I think people too often treat the size of the nest egg they need and how much they have to invest as given, then back into the return they need to make the numbers work. From there it’s a matter of taking on enough risk to meet those expectations [1].

I think this approach is dangerously backward. For a host of reasons, people tend to devote far too much time to things over which they have little control while ignoring those over which they have sizable control. In investing for retirement it often looks like this (ranked high to low):

Degree of Control

Time Spent

1. Amount spent and saved 1. Return on investment
2. Amount needed to retire 2. Amount needed to retire
3. Return on investment 3. Amount spent and saved

Although it’s psychologically appealing, focusing too much on returns often fails due to one cold, hard fact: The universe and the market don’t give a rat’s ass what return on investment you need. There’s no guarantee you were born at a time and place where the return you need can be achieved by anything other than reckless gambling and luck – and the higher the required return the more luck you’ll need. Even an ostensibly realistic return goal (like 4% per year over the next decade) may not be achievable in practice. The psychological strain of volatile returns can make even conservative goals extremely difficult to achieve, and adding leverage or riskier assets only makes the roller coaster worse.

The better solution is to put yourself in a situation where you need as little return and luck as possible.

1. Save more money each month. Yup, that again. In basic terms return = cash + beta + alpha. There’s an excellent case to be made that alpha approaches zero (typically less than zero) over the long-term, while beta is simply another term for increasing risk, which leaves saving more as the only safe and reliable way to have more money in retirement. It’s not glamorous or exciting – Ray Dalio gets the press, not the person squeezing $5K a year in savings out of a $25K income. Yet a low-income penny pincher is relying more on skill than any stock market wizard, as well as generating a near certain [tax-free] payout. Who’s the genius now?

1a. Get out of debt. Paying off credit card debt can often yield double what Bernie Madoff was promising but with zero risk, guaranteed, in any market environment. What more do you want? You should fire yourself if you miss that trade.

1b. Make more money. I think most people are already sacrificing as much time to the pursuit of money as they can tolerate. However, keep in mind 21st century technology has made it easier than ever before to make money on the side. It’s hard for an old fart like me to believe that spending an hour writing a stupid Facebook app can generate $200 a week in ad revenue, but it can and it all adds up. Keep it at the top of your to do list and don’t rule something out simply because it seems unlikely at first glance. The entire Web 2.0 sector seems ridiculous to me but that hasn’t kept people from making equally ridiculous money from it.

2. Be a true pessimist in your projections.Whether the macro environment smiles or frowns on your investing life, there’s nothing you can do about it except to be unbelievably conservative in your projections about the future. I really do mean unbelievably. In the late 70’s and early 80’s who would have believed <1% money market yields for years on end? If your projections seem comfortably correct, they’re almost certainly wrong. Things will always go wrong, occasionally wildly wrong, so preparing for the worst and hoping for the best is always good financial practice.

3. Redefine retirement. This is the most unexplored avenue to retirement, largely because it goes against the shallow beer commercial portrayal of a life of leisure. Yet taken to the extreme it can allow you to retire tomorrow. Many people have only the vaguest notion of the details of their retirement, mere fragments of a hazy dream. Exactly what do you see yourself doing with your time each day (potentially for decades)? What’s the difference between work and retirement? You need to get paid either way. Is it getting paid by a nameless market rather than a specific person? Is it a matter of choice versus necessity? How much choice you do ever really have? It may not have been featured in your retirement fantasies but you’re going to end up doing something, if only to avoid losing your mind [2], and if you’re doing something why does it always have to be no charge? Help out a former colleague, try something new, be the first 80-year-old guy working at Victoria’s Secret. When you actually get there, I think the odds are high your retirement can produce income from something other than investments, without the constraints of ambition, career and responsibility. Consider it diversification. Is that the stuff of which dreams are made? Maybe not, but it can still be a very satisfying and liberating reality.

If you can generate a high return on your investments, congratulations! But don’t bet the farm and gamble away your nest egg on boosting returns when there are virtually risk-free alternatives. Being a mindless part of the herd is as dangerous when thinking about your retirement as it is in any investing decision. Continually redefining your retirement, your needs, and yourself will always yield a much more interesting life than nodding off in a rocking chair, no matter how great those arthritis pain pills make you feel.


[1] In some cases this strategy be written as: Money to invest * = Needed retirement savings.

[2] The opening scenes with Michael Caine in Harry Brown do a great job of showing how dreary and empty the daily routine of actual retirement can be. More importantly, people who are disconnected from society, without meaning and purpose, tend to die sooner (and I think the downsides of that outweigh any cost savings).

Pseudo Random News and Comment

The private drone industry is like Apple in 1984 Basic model was $679 where I looked. Would make some great hiking video.

On the dangers of fighting the last investment war Driving using the rear view mirror is always problematic.  But guess what? All quantitative methods work that way to a degree – even those based on social media and news.

Corrupt Chinese officials are racing to withdraw cash and sell property while they can

Chinese Politicians Are Buying Billions In U.S. Real Estate Sounds just like it was with Japanese investors in the late 80’s

Cancer prevalence higher with long duration of diabetes Cancer has a sweet tooth too? That’s just great.

Women in combat: Pentagon to overturn military ban Congratulations women! You’re now able to kill for the father homeland too, and it’s totally legal because someone else ordered you to do it (Note: In the US, orders coming from dogs, deities, or voices in your head probably don’t count).

A retrospective editing of consciousness The illusory nature of consciousness is my favorite subject. At least it would be if “I” existed.

Google hints at possible “X Phone” with long battery life, wireless charging, and an unbreakable case Could be interesting. But it would have to be less than 73g to get me to consider it.

Is Risk Parity A Savior Strategy? Even if it’s done with zero leverage it’s getting too popular, and at almost exactly the wrong time. TAA could allocate elsewhere but still suffers the popularity problem, as well as some epistemological issues that keep troubling me.

Study shows red pen use by instructors leads to more negative response This is so funny to me. One of my first bosses not only used a red pen but pressed so hard putting an F- on what I gave him that the pen broke. But it did get the point across.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Personal VPN for Secure Browsing Anywhere You Go

WikiCancel Is a Collection of Guides to Closing All Your Accounts

Scientists find cancer-causing virus in the brain, potential connection to epilepsy HPV shows another side.

There’s No Such Thing as Everlasting Love (According to Science) Interesting interpretation of what’s really rather old news. Seems a bit of a stretch to me.

Median Household Incomes: Down 0.5% in 2012 Real income that is. Other than with more lax lending standards I don’t see how this is supportive for housing prices – or rents.

Breasts don’t just bounce. They do figure-eights. No wonder they’re so hypnotic.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Eat Less by Altering your Food Memories Appetite isn’t as mechanistic as you might think.

The Bursting Of The (Mis)Education Bubble, pt 3: As Bad As Harvard Endowment Funds -0.05% ROI? The Levered Harvard Diploma! Reggie’s apparently gotten bored picking on Apple, so now he’s turned to education. Going to Harvard and majoring in Classical Mongolian apparently doesn’t pay off.

Thinking About Obscurity It’s harder to find you if they don’t know you exist.

The “crime” of working in America. Immigration laws need to catch up to reality Startlingly reasonable. Who other than young hardworking immigrants will pay for all the expensive social programs as the legals age?

John Mackey’s Political Correctness The chief benefactors turn on the invisible hand once again.

Expensive High Yield – II What I like about this is the demonstration that analysis is more than number crunching.

Men without a sense of smell exhibit a strongly reduced number of sexual relationships, women exhibit reduced partnership security – A reanalysis of previously published data. I always made a point of assessing smell before making a choice but I didn’t think most men were that picky about it. Subconscious decision-making wins again.

Study suggests link between regular aspirin use, increased risk of age-related macular degeneration As I’ve commented a number of times, the more benefits are claimed for a drug the more likely there are to be hidden costs.

Correlation-Based Allocation, January 2013  Interesting look at correlation between stocks and bonds as a timing tool. The more I think about TAA the more dissatisfied I get. It’s all slicing the same block of cheese and when the closing bell rings it’s still a slice of that same cheese. This time around you may avoid the mold or get a bigger slice, but it’s not at all clear the results are repeatable in the next round.

Give away your money, feel happier? But only up to a point.

We all react to ‘market signals’…eventually Good piece on the effects of globalization on those formerly insulated from competition. The title is also an interesting way to look at the stock market.

California Megaflood: Lessons from a Forgotten Catastrophe PDX is another place that’s been totally under water in the past.

Eric Schmidt’s daughter’s inside account of their visit to North Korea Interesting and amusing stuff.

Scientist: I’m NOT seeking a mom for a Neanderthal Some adventurous women are grieving today.

Encore, Encore!

Lupe made the most of the situation to get his anti-war message out. Startups deny censorship in wake of Lupe fiasco at Inauguration party  Bad news for the Obama recovery as unemployment will likely rise by at least one person after that booking.

For an authentic inaugural experience, put on a stuffed shirt, suck on a silver spoon, and don’t forget to keep hitting repeat…